Crushing On The Billionaire (Part 2)

CRUSHING ON THE BILLIONAIRE

 

Part 2

 

 

By: Lola Silverman

 

Copyright © 2015

 

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.

Chapter 1

 

I tried hard not to panic as various sickening puzzle pieces fell into place—the way Shawn’s touches and glances would linger, my professor’s comment that he was in love with me—and he still looked at me, expectant, flush with the excitement of coming clean with me.

Telling me he was in love with me.

Even though I was in love with his father.

My cheek still felt seared from where Shawn’s lips had pecked my skin—right after he told me he wanted to take our friendship to the next level. He didn’t understand; he didn’t have a clue what he was doing. What I was doing. What his father was doing.

“Loren?” Shawn peered at me, his smile fading a bit. “You look like you’re going to be sick. I have to say that’s not a reaction that makes me feel very good about what I just said.”

I opened my mouth and closed it again. What could I say? What was there to say? Patrick had warned me against telling Shawn the truth about us, wanting to wait for a better time to do so. I was starting to realize that there just wasn’t going to be a good time to tell my best friend that his father and I were in love with each other.

The worst time, however, was probably right now…right after Shawn had revealed all to me.

“Say something,” he urged, his face taking on a greenish hue. “Anything. Please. Put me out of my misery at least.”

“I…um….” Why was this so hard? Up until this very moment, Shawn had been my best friend. I knew I could tell him anything and everything.

Now, however, I was already hiding the biggest secret of my life from him—that my years-long crush on Patrick had blossomed into something mutual, something wonderful, and something that felt a lot like love.

I didn’t love Shawn. Not like he was hoping for.

“I do love you, Shawn,” I said, the words coming out of my mouth sounding like somebody else was saying them. “Like a brother. You’re my very best friend.”

He winced like I’d said something offensive. “You’re my best friend, too, Loren, but it’d be creepy if I loved you like a sister. I…want to be with you. I love you…romantically.”

It was becoming increasingly clear to me that I was going to have to tell the truth—all of it. Everything. Shawn was going to need to have a reason why I couldn’t be with him, and that reason, beyond having absolutely zero romantic inclinations toward him, was his father. Patrick.

“That’s the thing that I was going to tell you earlier,” I said, swallowing hard and feeling like there was some kind of dam within me that was fighting to keep my words from tumbling out of my mouth. “I wanted to tell you that I’d met someone…well, no, that I’d fallen for someone. That I was in a relationship.”

Shawn’s dark eyebrows drew together, his brown eyes puzzled. “What do you mean, you’re in a relationship?” he nearly demanded. “We’re together almost all the time. I haven’t seen you with anyone.”

That was the not-so-funny fact; Shawn saw me with his father all the time, usually at this very house. He just hadn’t realized the feelings that Patrick and I shared—nor the passionate night we’d had—just inside the house, among the floor pillows in the comfortable den.

Shawn’s car was still running, and we were still parked in the driveway. I didn’t know if it would be better or worse if we went inside. Patrick’s car—well, one of them, anyway—was also parked in the driveway, meaning there was a good chance he was inside. Would it be a good thing or a bad thing to have this conversation in Patrick’s presence? The confines of Shawn’s vehicle made my throat tighten a bit in panic.

“Don’t you want to go inside?” I asked, forcing myself to meet Shawn’s eyes. The light that was usually there was dulled with shock and hurt. I hated the fact that I was causing this, that I was hurting my friend.

“What I want are answers, Loren,” he said, his voice a worrying monotone. He still hadn’t even bothered to turn the ignition off. “How could you be in a relationship without me even knowing? You just said we were best friends.”

“I did, and we are,” I said, quickly realizing that whatever I was going to say was going to require a lot of damage control. “It’s just that everything happened so soon. I…we…just sort of fell in with each other.”

That was true. It hadn’t been any time at all since Patrick and I shared that catalyst of a kiss beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, the kiss that had opened the floodgates of feelings we apparently shared for each other. Even if I had been so inclined, there hadn’t hardly been time to tell anyone about the blossoming relationship, let alone Shawn.

“Who is he?” Shawn stared at me, perfectly still. “Do I know him?”

And here it was—the realization that I was going to have to tell the truth. I’d wanted to this whole time, but it had been Patrick who’d discouraged me from doing so. Shawn was my best friend; none of this changed that. But I knew how he was…how he could get. On his bad days, he could be moody, at best—and meteoric, at worst.

I wondered how he was going to react to this news. No, not wondered…feared. I was going to have to tell him. There wasn’t a way around it. I couldn’t stand to lie to my friend, or to prolong our mutual suffering.

“You do know him,” I said, that dam inside of me fighting each syllable.

“Then who?”

“It’s…it’s Patrick.”

It was a little bit duplicitous with a healthy dose of cowardice that I’d said ‘Patrick.’ I watched the wheels in Shawn’s head turn, as he paged through his memory. Where had we known someone around our age named Patrick? That was the deceit; Patrick wasn’t around our age. He was old enough to be my father. He was Shawn’s father, and he didn’t think of his own father by his given name.

“I don’t know anyone named Patrick except…”—Shawn narrowed his eyes as a possibility—the correct possibility—sunk in—“…except my dad. If this is your attempt at a joke, Loren…?”

I took a deep breath. “It’s not a joke. I’m in love with your dad, Shawn.”

“Does he know?”

I tried to shake off the cruelty of that statement, as if Shawn were implying that I wasn’t even important enough to be on Patrick’s radar.

“He is very much aware.” I couldn’t keep all the acid out of my voice.

Shawn snapped the keys out of the ignition and hurled himself out of his vehicle, slamming the door behind him as he stalked to the door. I had to run to catch up, and even then, I was still outside when I heard him bellow for Patrick.

There might not have been a good way to tell my best friend that I was in love with his father; however, this was shaping up to be the absolute worst.

When I finally got inside, edging away from a visibly seething Shawn, Patrick had just entered the room. His eyebrows were drawn together, almost a mirror image of his son’s expression. Shawn’s darker features were more of an echo of his mother, and it was often hard to discern a father-son resemblance between the two. Yet, now I could see it, clear as day. They looked like doppelgangers when angry.

“What the hell is your problem, Shawn?” Patrick was in the middle of demanding when he noticed that I was there, all but cowering behind a vase on display in the foyer. Patrick was a smart man. He’d earned his billions at a tech startup. He glanced again at Shawn and the nearly visible rage radiating from his hunched shoulders before glancing back at me, trying stupidly to go unnoticed in this debacle, before relaxing his brow abruptly.

Patrick knew exactly what had transpired. I didn’t know whether I was relieved or fearful of what would happen next.

“Are you dating Loren?” Shawn demanded without so much as a preamble.

Patrick’s gaze didn’t even flicker. “I’m not sure if
dating
is the correct word,” he mused, looking at me coolly, as my own fury began to rise.

“What do you think is the correct word then?” Shawn asked, his hands balled at his sides.

“We’ve recently become intimate,” Patrick said candidly, surprising both Shawn and I. “And we’re exploring the feelings we have for each other. You can understand why I don’t think that’s called dating. We haven’t actually been on a date anywhere.”

That was maybe a little too much information for Shawn, who looked like he wanted to crumple to the ground. My own face was burning. Yet, I could appreciate Patrick’s attempt at transparency. This was what I’d wanted—not subterfuge, hiding, and lying. Even if I didn’t have romantic feelings for Shawn, I still cared about him deeply. He really was my best friend, and I wanted to be honest with him.

“I can’t believe this is happening,” Shawn said, his voice faint, shaking his head, as if he could shake the idea of his best friend and his father being intimate together out of his mind.

“I don’t know what there is to believe or not believe,” Patrick reasoned. “We’re two human beings who just happened to discover that we fit well together. It happens to people all the time. If you’re lucky, Shawn, it’ll happen to you.”

“I wanted to be with her!” he howled, slinging his car keys across the foyer and shattering a picture frame. “I wanted it to be Loren!”

Patrick looked distraught for a fraction of a moment—an expression so swift that I wasn’t sure I’d seen it at all—before reasserting a look of calm.

“Did you stop and ask Loren what she wanted?” Patrick asked, his voice still even despite the angst I’d detected in his face. “Even if you wanted it to be with her, she’s the other end of that equation.”

“Of course she wants you,” Shawn spat. “You’re the one with the money. I’m nothing.”

I gasped sharply at the verbal barb and plunged into the fray. “How dare you,” I hissed. “I thought you were my friend, Shawn. If you were my friend, then you would’ve known that this was never about the money. I can’t tell you why Patrick and not you. I don’t know. But you’re starting to show your true colors. I’m glad it’s not you.”

Maybe it wasn’t the right thing to say, but every word was true, and I was always a firm believer in truth. I wouldn’t have been a good friend to Shawn if I’d let him plunge forward, acting like an idiot and an asshole. I felt like it was my duty to inform him that he was screwing all of this up.

He made a sound in his throat, like maybe he wanted to say something but couldn’t, then turned and fled from the foyer, back into the driveway. I heard his car start up, and Patrick rushed out, sparing one searing glance for me. I tried to swallow the dread that was building within me. None of this felt right. If Patrick couldn’t stop Shawn and talk some sense into him, then I didn’t know what would happen. Shawn’s mood could range into the extremes. It didn’t help that Patrick was furious with me.

I flinched at the squeal of tires against the pavement and a revving engine at the road that faded into the distance. A grim-faced Patrick reentered the foyer.

“He won’t be reasoned with,” he said, shaking his head. “Goddamn it, Loren, what did I tell you?”

I narrowed my eyes at him. I didn’t like this tone of voice, this accusation, or this condescension.

“There wasn’t going to be a good time to tell him about us, obviously,” I said. “But it would’ve hurt him more if we hid it for even longer than we did.”

“I don’t think he could be hurt any worse than he was just now,” Patrick said, running a hand through his hair. “He’s gutted. Did you know that he was in love with you?”

“No!” I exclaimed, dumbfounded and offended. “Did you think I’d just plunge into something with you if that was hanging over my head?”

“I never would’ve so much as entertained the thought of being with you if I’d known how he felt,” Patrick groused, pacing. “Surely you had some kind of indication of what he was thinking or feeling for you.”

“He is my best friend,” I said, holding my hands out, incredulous. “Of course we’re close. I told him everything—everything, except about you and me. Because you asked me not to, not because I didn’t want to. He deserved to know the truth, Patrick, and none of us can help that it’s not pretty.”

“This is a mistake.”

His words chilled me to the bone, making me feel like I was going to be sick. This was the man I thought I was in love with, who’d admitted that he was falling in love with me. To hear him admit aloud that trying to have this relationship was a mistake wounded me deeply.

“I don’t think it’s a mistake,” I said, holding my head up high in spite of the roiling doubts threatening to topple me. “You and me. We’re not a mistake. The mistake is ignoring what we have. This mistake is lying about it and hiding it away from the people who are important to us.”

“Whatever we have, Loren, it isn’t conventional,” Patrick said, sighing heavily. “I’m obviously old enough to be your father. My son is in love with you. This isn’t good for either of us.”

“Just because things are complicated doesn’t mean we should give up,” I said. “What we have is real. I’m not in the business of quitting on something real because it’s difficult, or because I think I might not be up to the challenge. If you want something badly enough, you just keep going. Giving up—is that how you became so successful? Tell me.”

“I just want my son not to hate me!” Patrick burst out, his shout echoing in the room. “It’s harder than you think.”

“What do you want me to do?” I demanded, feeling ugly and angry and desperate. “Want me to pretend that we’re not together to placate Shawn? Want me to run after Shawn and fall to my knees and lie to him…tell him that he’s the one, not you? Want me to offer myself up for your son’s happiness and forget what I actually want? Want a threesome—father, son, and the girl who’s driving them apart? How does that sound? A little sexual healing?”

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