South - Vanessa Vale - E-Book

South E-Book

Vale Vanessa

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Beschreibung

Women want me for my money. My name. I’m South Wainright and winning my heart means the keys to Billionaire Ranch.
Getting in my bed’s one thing, but my heart’s off limits.
Until I see her. The maid. She’s new to town. A beautiful mystery.
Sweet, shy and… not interested.
For some reason, she doesn’t want a man with a fortune, which means we’re perfect for each other.
I fall and fall hard. Except Maisey’s living a lie.
She is a lie.
Because after a lifetime of deception, I need the truth.

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SOUTH

BILLIONAIRE RANCH - 2

VANESSA VALE

South by Vanessa Vale

Copyright © 2021 by Bridger Media

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the products of the author's imagination and used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from both authors, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

Cover design: Bridger Media

Cover graphic: Wander Aguiar Photography; Deposit Photos: designwest

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CONTENTS

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Bonus Content

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Also By Vanessa Vale

About Vanessa Vale

1

SOUTH

It was her ass I saw first. Perfect. Lush like a peach. Wiggling as it stuck out of the fridge. I paused and stared because… I wasn’t dead. I leaned against the mudroom doorway, crossed my arms and enjoyed the view. After a morning fighting with a piece of metal that wouldn’t bend the way I wanted, this was a treat.

She was a treat. I hadn’t seen the rest of her besides the way her jeans were molded, but so far, so good.

Hell, so far, incredible.

I’d hated this house for years, just now finally getting comfortable inside these walls that had seen too much when I was a kid. The view of a perfect ass was better. So much better.

One twitch of that perfection and I’m rock-hard. Like one stroke and I’d come kind of hard. A teenager who couldn’t control his dick kind of hard.

She tugged out a glass shelf and set it in the sink filled with soapy water. Food items like mustard and milk were on the counter. Then she saw me. Gasped. She yanked the earbuds free and let them dangle by the cord.

Fuck, the rest of her… my dick swelled and spurted pre-cum. Just like that.

“God, you scared me,” she panted, then offered me a shaky smile. One that said I’m not sure if I’m safe with you.

That voice. Soft, deep. Breathy. I imagined what it would sound like saying my name. South. Yes, South! More.

“Shit, you’re beautiful,” I told her, shifting in the hope my zipper wouldn’t leave a permanent mark on my dick.

She really was beautiful. Maybe it was the artist in me that noticed, because she sure as hell was trying to hide it. Dark hair pulled back in a sloppy bun that hid its length. I could tell it would fall to at least the center of her back by the thickness. Slide over pink nipples. Glasses hid her wide eyes, but I couldn’t miss the chocolate color. No, aged whiskey. Deep and rich. She wore no makeup, but she didn’t need it, especially the way a deep blush colored her cheeks.

I wanted to tug on that hair tie and let those thick locks cascade over her shoulders. Kiss those full lips. Yank off that loose t-shirt and see every inch she hid beneath. Not all that well because those hips were wide, that rack full and more than a handful. I’d surprised her and I was an ass for not apologizing—and for thinking so long with my dick.

“Beautiful?” She rolled her eyes. “I’m up to my arms in soap suds and smell like furniture polish. You get kicked by a horse or something?”

It seemed like it, looking at her. I’d never felt like this before. Never had a reaction so strongly. Oh, I’d had my fair share of women, but they’d fulfilled a need. Nothing more.

This? This was way fucking more than need. It was like something in me shifted. That I’d been waiting for this moment. For her.

She was young. Legal, definitely, but I had to wonder if she could buy herself a drink. No wonder I didn’t know her. A small town meant knowing everyone and their business, but she’d probably been in elementary school when I went off to college. That meant I’d been waiting for her to be old enough to be mine. That was if she’d even grown up here.

Who was she?

I was going to find out. I was at the big house to see Jed. He would know. Since he got together with North, he knew everything that went on around here.

As I took a step closer, she held up her hand. “Stop right there.”

I froze, then couldn’t help but smile at this pint-sized woman bossing me around. In my sister’s house. Hell, Jed could wait.

“What?” I asked. “I won’t hurt you.”

I needed her to know I might be a foot taller and probably a hundred pounds heavier, but I’d never do anything to harm her.

“Don’t bring all that dirt in here,” she said, looking me over. “You might be a hot cowboy, but you’re going to make a mess.”

I grinned. “Hot cowboy, huh?”

She rolled her eyes again, then pointed at me. “You don’t need that fact pointed out. The dirt though…”

I took off my Stetson and looked down at myself. My white t-shirt had dirt stains, a small tear where I’d snagged the fabric on a sharp corner of my latest work. Metal was unforgiving and messy. My jeans had seen better days, the knees soiled from where I’d knelt on the floor of my studio to weld a section in place. My boots were dusty and worn. Clearly, I didn’t look like one of the homeowners. While North was the only one who lived here now, I’d grown up in this mansion until I went off to college. She’d remained, stuck here with Macon, our father.

No, from what North’s ex-assistant Julian had said, he wasn’t our fucking father after all.

It didn’t matter. This was Wainright Ranch and I was a Wainright. I belonged here.

Obviously, she didn’t know that. I didn’t know who she was, but reading the white script on the t-shirt over her perfect right tit, she worked for Nancy’s Cleaning Service. She was one of the maids? If her last name wasn’t Wainright, she worked here.

I might have been a billionaire, but I respected anyone who earned their living the hard way. Through hard work. Unlike Macon, who’d married it. He might’ve earned a hefty salary as CEO of Wainright Holdings, but the real cash had been our mother’s.

“I’m a little dirty, huh?” I said, chagrined. As a sculptor, I never stayed clean on a project.

“Don’t tell me North gets mad at you if there’s a mess. Or a messy person interrupting you.”

“North?” she asked, pushing her glasses up.

“Mad?” She looked surprised. “She’s a sweetheart.”

I opened my mouth to argue. My sister? The ice princess? At least former ice princess since her man Jed had thawed her? Since most of her stress died with Macon?

“Don’t say anything otherwise,” she added, giving me a stern librarian look through those glasses.

I frowned. “You afraid of being fired?” That wasn’t going to happen. Although if I had my way, she wouldn’t be working here long. I didn’t know her dreams. Her plans. I doubted they were scrubbing someone else’s fridge. I’d help her with them. See them come true.

“No. Her father passed away recently, and she’s been through a lot. The entire family has. Just because they have money doesn’t mean they don’t have hardship.”

I blinked. “You’re right,” I agreed, knowing the truth of her words firsthand. I only wasn’t expecting her to say so.

She was defending North. And me. She didn’t even know it. I liked her even more. I was used to women flinging themselves at me. At my money. I didn’t look like a million bucks all the time like North. More like a billion. This place wasn’t nicknamed Billionaire Ranch for nothing.

I lived in a simple farmhouse down the road, refusing to live in this place. Worked with my hands sculpting metal from scrap to art. Lived off my commissions, never touching a dime of my trust. Sure, I ate the Wainright cook’s food when I came over. I enjoyed the liquor cabinet from time to time. I rode the horses. On occasion, I even flew in the helicopter that was North’s main commute to the office.

But I never wanted to be known for being South Wainright, billionaire.

I was just a man.

And I’d found my woman.

She didn’t know it yet.

“All right, beautiful.” I couldn’t help the endearment. She was so fucking lovely. Inside and out. “I don’t want to make more work for you.” I crooked my finger. “Come over here.”

“I really need to get back to my work.” She thumbed over her shoulder toward the fridge.

“North’s a sweetheart, you said. She’ll understand you wanting to take a minute to talk to a hot cowboy.”

She huffed out a laugh. “If I’d known it would go to your head, I’d never have said it.”

“Too late.”

Yeah, it was too fucking late for both of us.

“You’re cute,” she countered.

It was my turn to laugh. “Cute? Beautiful, I’ve never been called cute in my life.”

Fucker. Dumbass. Pansy. Stupid. Macon had tossed all that out and I’d let it stick. For years. But I’d still gone to art school. Gotten away from his poison and lived my life. Made something of myself on my own. Proved him wrong. I just hadn’t realized the price North paid for it until after the asshole had been dead and buried.

“You know what’s cute?” I said, steering my thoughts back to what was important. Her. “That ass of yours. Now get it over here.”

A pretty flush crept into her cheeks. I saw the interest in her eyes. The desire to obey. She thought I was more than hot. More than cute. I couldn’t miss the hard points of her nipples through her t-shirt. I’d bet my latest commission she was wet for me.

She came over but not close enough. I reached out, snagged her hand in mine and pulled her so my chest almost bumped hers. I wanted her in my arms, my mouth on hers, to drag her into some barely-used room and learn what made her gasp my name, but I was smart enough not to come on too strong. If she could read my mind, she’d run away screaming. Good thing she couldn’t.

Jed came into the kitchen from deep in the house. For some reason, he liked to work at Macon’s desk in that stuffy fucking office. The room had been filled with animal heads; conquests Macon had killed for sport. North and Jed had found a place to deal with the animals respectfully, so it wasn’t like a horror flick going in there any longer.

She flushed and tried to take a step back seeing Jed, but I curled my fingers around her elbow.

“Be with you in a sec, Jed,” I said, never taking my eyes off of her.

“Came to tell you I’m driving to Billings to get North. Too windy for the helicopter,” he murmured. “I’ll talk with you when I get back.”

“Sure,” I replied. “Got a phone, beautiful?”

She nodded as Jed’s footsteps got quieter. We were alone again.

“Can I see it?”

“Why?” she asked, even while pulling it out of her jeans’ pocket. She had a Band-Aid around the top of her pointer finger. I wasn’t the only one who had rough hands. I didn’t like the idea of her getting hurt, even something small that only required a simple covering.

“So I can put my number in there so you’ll call me,” I explained.

She handed it to me as she bit her lip. Yet she asked again, “Why?”

I leaned in so we were eye to eye. “Because I want to take you out. Get to know you. Kiss you.”

She laughed again. “You just met me five minutes ago.”

“Don’t need more than that to know what I want. Besides, you just met me and handed me your phone. You feel it, too.”

She looked up at me, her head tilted back because I was so much taller. Nodded.

Fuck, yes.

“But Jed—”

“Don’t worry about Jed. We’ve done nothing wrong.”

I texted myself from her cell and mine dinged from my pocket. Confident I wouldn’t be without her for long, I handed hers back. Stroked a knuckle down her cheek. “I respect you have work to do. I’ll let you get back to it. Text me.”

I leaned down, brushed my lips against her forehead, then left, confident. As I turned around to leave—the meeting with Jed delayed—I grinned. I didn’t even know her name, yet the woman was mine. I was leaving her now, but not for long.

2

MAISEY

I swiped at the steamy mirror in my tiny bathroom. Grabbing my glasses I’d left on the sink while I showered, I stared at myself and wondered what the guy saw in me. I took in my wet hair that clung to my neck and back. My plain eyes. Plain face. Everything about me was plain. Boring. Average.

Yet he’d called me beautiful.

I couldn’t stop thinking about him. He’d scared the crap out of me, then rocked my world. And all we’d done was talk. I’d given him my phone as if under a spell. Maybe I had been. Still was, hours later.

I thought of his broad shoulders and the way his dirty t-shirt had been molded to them. The worn jeans that cupped… everything just right. But it had been his eyes that had pulled me in. The deepest blue. I wasn’t used to being the focus of such intense scrutiny, instead usually ignored. He’d looked at me as if I was… everything. As if he’d been waiting for me.

It felt as if I’d been waiting for him. The guys I’d dated in the past, they’d been boys in comparison. Actually, they really had been boys. Mere high schoolers. After my sister’s I-want-what-you-have attitude had ruined any chance at a boyfriend in high school, I’d eventually given up because she stole every one of them. Any hint of interest on my part and she took it. Especially after Tommy, the only guy I’d slept with. Once. Then she’d sunk her claws into him, and they’d done things together I still hadn’t tried. Guys had always wanted her instead of me, even though we were identical.

She was the fun one. The wild one. She had the same plain hair and eyes and yet she wasn’t plain.

I’d never stood a chance, especially since she saw sex as part of the conquest. I still wasn’t sure if it was to prove she was better than me or solely because she liked new and shiny things. Maybe both. She was a narcissist through and through. She wasn’t satisfied until she had what she wanted that was mine, then twisted it around so it was my fault she’d taken it from me. A homecoming date. A paycheck. My entire bank account.

But Paisley wasn’t here. After what she’d done—this time—I cleared out in the middle of the night. Took whatever fit in my car and left. Ditched my phone for a cheap pay-in-cash model. Cut up my sole credit card—even though I’d be paying down the maxed-out balance she’d accrued for years. I paid the minimum on my student loans and was living hand to mouth.

If I had extra cash, it would go to the mammogram that was recommended. I set my fingers over my left breast, pressed on the spot where I’d found the small lump. I’d gone to the free clinic where the nurse had felt it too and told me to go to Billings or Bozeman for more tests. She’d said I was young and it was probably nothing. A fluid filled cyst.

Still, they were tests I couldn’t afford thanks to Paisley since I didn’t have insurance.

For the past two months, she didn’t know where I was. I’d get enough to pay for the tests and try not to panic in the meantime. I could think of better things. Like the guy at the ranch. Knowing Paisley wasn’t around had given me some confidence when I’d talked with him.

No one in town even knew I had an identical twin. So when Hot Cowboy—I didn’t even know his name!—looked at me like he wanted to lick me like a melting ice cream cone, he wasn’t mistaking me for Paisley.

It made no sense. Why me? I was a down-on-her-luck housecleaner. I was a college dropout, thanks to Paisley. I was broke, again thanks to Paisley. I had no idea how to date. How to be anything but… me. Average. Plain. I’d learned that didn’t keep men.

I closed my eyes and sighed, then felt the flutters in my stomach again. He wanted me to call him. It was getting late. I’d thought about what I’d say, if he’d even answer as I cleaned the hell out of the fridge and completed the rest of the to-do list at the Wainright house.

The guy wanted to go out with me, and I didn’t even know who he was. If he’d been hired by the Wainrights, he had to be an okay guy. And he was employed. That was a plus, even though whatever he did was a filthy job. Good thing I was a cleaner.

Gah!

It was insane, the attraction. How he made me feel. It had been instant. Like a switch had been turned on. There had been a connection, something I couldn’t explain, even with a guy who was probably a decade older. It wasn’t like I lived cloistered in a convent. I saw men all the time. Hot men. Hot cowboys, but I’d never felt like this. It seemed as if when he left a part of me went with him.

I grabbed the tub of generic moisturizer and smeared some on my face.

I wanted to feel his finger stroking my cheek again. Other places, too. The guy had said all the right things. Made me feel special. Pretty, even, and I’d been up to my arms in fridge cleaning.

Who was he? Why had he come into the house? What was his job on the ranch? Something that had him working hard for those muscles. Something dirty. I hadn’t missed the knicks and scratches on his hands. No fancy suits or manicures for him.

Paisley appreciated a sugar daddy, a trait she’d picked up from our mother. The life of luxury without actually working for it. Although living in a beat-up trailer with guy number… twenty wasn’t luxury.

I didn’t want that. I wanted a strong man to be there for me. To build a life based on hard work and love. Mutual respect and passion. Money was important, but it wasn’t everything.

I was so tired of taking care of others.

I’d always been the reliable one, the sensible one. My father had left when we were two. My mother never held a job for long. Nothing steady and nothing that had ever paid more than minimum wage. She’d often quit whatever her latest job was because of some kind of sure thing to bring in quick cash. There’d been a whole list of sure things growing up, but none had ever fixed the broken part on the trailer’s heater or paid the electric bill. I’d had to make a loaf of bread and peanut butter stretch by getting a job at fourteen.

Six years later, not much had changed. Mom was living in the trailer but with her latest boyfriend who was supposed to give her all kinds of shiny things, but instead moved in and mooched off her. Paisley had stolen from me, not just money but my chance for my degree. Needing cash, she went to my bank, withdrew my college money. Spent it on a trip to Mexico for herself and the Guy of the Week.

Mexico! I hadn’t even been out of Montana.

It still made me furious thinking about how hard I’d worked—while going to school full time—to save up and she’d blown it at the beach. That had been what had pushed me to the edge, discovering I’d overdrafted on my account at the registrar’s office. That they’d cancelled my enrollment. That was when I called her and she’d admitted to it by sending a photo of her tan lines.

Before she returned, I left. Cleared out before Mom could question, not that she was paying me much attention other than covering the electric bill. I’d moved to a tiny town three hours away in the hopes of starting over. Hoping Mom would have to figure out her own household bills and that Paisley would catch on that I wasn’t her meal ticket any longer.

It didn’t matter anyway. I had nothing left. Mom always took Paisley’s side and Paisley took everything. I literally had nothing to give either of them. I had my clothes, a few trinkets and mementos. My beater car that was more rust than running. I worked. I read. I slept. I was a loner.

So the idea of a guy like Hot Cowboy all alpha and bossy crooking his finger made me hot. I’d crossed to him in the Wainright kitchen without thinking. Just… obeyed.

My nipples were hard beneath my towel. A few minutes with the guy and he affected me.

I went to the dresser and pulled out a t-shirt and leggings, then sat on my bed. The house was tiny. It was an old miner’s shack or something with only one room with a bathroom. It had come furnished, was clean, cheap and safer than the trailer where I’d grown up.

Should I call him? Could I? I grabbed the phone I’d left on the bed, stared at my text display. Bit my lip.

Hot Cowboy was at the top. He’d texted himself one word: Beautiful.

I wasn’t sure if he was sweet or sexy or too good to be true.