Beautiful Bitch (Beautiful Bastard, #1.5)


by Christina Lauren

ONE

My mother always told me to find a woman who would be my equal in every way.

“Don’t let yourself fall for someone who’ll put your world before theirs. Fall for the powerhouse who lives as fearlessly as you do. Find the woman who makes you want to be a better man.”

I’d definitely found my equal, the woman who made my life a living hell and lived to antagonize me. A woman whose mouth I wanted to tape shut . . . every bit as much as I wanted to kiss it.

My girlfriend, my former intern, Miss Chloe Mills. Beautiful Bitch.

At least, that’s how I used to see her, back when I was an idiot and blind to how hopelessly in love I was with her. I’d most certainly found the woman who made me want to be a better man; I had fallen for the fearless one. It just so happened that most days I was unable to get more than two minutes alone with her.

My life: finally get the girl, never actually get to see her.

I’d been traveling for the better part of the last two months in search of office space for the Ryan Media Group branch we were setting up in New York. Chloe stayed behind, and while our recent—and rare—weekend together here in Chicago was full of friends, sunshine, and leisure, the time alone with her wasn’t nearly enough. We’d socialized the entire weekend, from morning until well past midnight, stumbling back to my place each night, and would barely manage to get our clothes off before having quiet, sleepy sex.

The truth was, our lovemaking each night—which had grown both more intimate and more wild over time, and allowed us only minimal sleep—still never felt like enough. I kept waiting for it to feel like we were settled, or had established some solid routine. But it never happened. I was in a constant state of longing. And Mondays were the worst. Mondays we had wall-to-wall meetings, and the entire workweek stretched out ahead of me: bleak and Chloeless.

Hearing the familiar cadence of heels clicking on the tile, I looked up from where I stood at the printer waiting for some documents to appear. As if hearing my inner plea, Chloe Mills walked toward me, wearing a slim red wool skirt, a fitted navy sweater, and heels that, quite frankly, didn’t look very safe outside of the bedroom. When I’d left early this morning to prepare for an eight o’clock meeting, the only thing she’d been wearing was a pale beam of light from the sunrise through the bedroom window.

I suppressed my smile, and tried not to look too desperate, but I don’t know why I bothered. She could read my every expression.

“I see you’ve found the magic machine that takes whatever is on your computer screen and puts it on paper,” she called. “In ink.”

I slid my hand into my pants pocket, jiggled some change there, and felt a trickle of adrenaline slip into my veins at her teasing tone and approach. “Actually, I discovered this wonderful contraption my first day here. I just liked the moments of blissful quiet when I’d make you get up and leave the outer office to retrieve my documents.”

She stalked toward me, her smile wide and eyes mischievous. “Asshole.”

Fuck, yes. Come to me, lovely. Ten minutes in the copy room? I could easily make your day in those ten minutes.

“You’re in for a workout tonight,” she whispered as, without slowing her pace, she patted my shoulder and continued past me down the hall.

I stared at her ass as she gave it a little shake, and waited for her to come back and torture me some more. She didn’t. That’s it? That’s all I get? A pat on the shoulder, some verbal foreplay, and an ass-wiggle?

Still, tonight: our first full evening alone together in weeks.

We’d been in love for over a year—and f**king longer than that—and we’d yet to have more than the length of a weekend alone together since San Diego.

I sighed and pulled my papers from the printer tray. We needed a vacation.

Back in my office, I dropped the files on my desk and stared at my computer monitor, which, to my surprise, displayed a mostly empty calendar. I’d pulled insanely long workdays the entire week before just so I could get home to Chloe early, so aside from Payroll grabbing me early this morning, my schedule had remained open. Chloe, however, was clearly busy in her new position.

I missed having her as my intern. I missed bossing her around. I really missed her bossing me around in return.

For the first time in months, I had time to sit in my office and literally do nothing. I closed my eyes and a hundred thoughts filtered past in mere seconds: the view of the empty New York offices just before I’d left for the airport. The prospect of packing up my house. The far preferable prospect of unpacking in a new home with Chloe. And then my brain went down its favorite path: Chloe naked and in every conceivable position.

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