Followed: Billionaire Rules - Nikki Snow
My borrowed designer heels clicked onto the pavement as I descended from the passenger seat of Stacy’s pickup truck. Arriving at a formal event in a beat up, old farm truck didn’t look good, but it couldn’t be helped. I adjusted the borrowed black gown and swept my strawberry blond tresses over my shoulder.
Stacy trotted around from the driver’s side in a shimmering, silver mini-dress that accentuated her ample curves. Her bleach blond hair curled around her shoulders, making her look like Marilyn Monroe.
We strutted, arm in arm, down the sidewalk, under the glowing streetlights of downtown Seattle. We’d parked a long way from the Space Needle, and by the time we made it to the elevators of the monument, my feet already hurt.
Lines of well-dressed socialites surged toward the narrow entrance. When we finally had our turn in the elevator, we shot upward a hundred feet to emerge far above the city. The skyline twinkled around us. Stacy gasped at the view, but I took her hand, drawing her toward the entrance to the restaurant. We didn’t have time for gawking. I was already late.
Inside, I stood on my tiptoes looking over the crowd to find Markus. Several of his photographs would be auctioned off tonight, and he wanted me to accompany him for better publicity.
After five years as a top erotic art and fetish model, I shouldn’t be borrowing clothes or arriving in Stacy’s old truck. But I hadn’t made the best choices, with guys in particular.
I spotted Marcus’s crimson dreadlocks and made a beeline for his location with Stacy in tow. We made it to the round banquet table and collapsed into the two empty chairs waiting for us.
“Welcome, darling!” Marcus said in his over animated, high-pitched voice. Marcus had a tendency to overdo it. He had a nice body and face for a man in his mid-forties. His creamy brown skin looked youthful, and his full mouth had a vibrant pink hue. I curved my perfectly lined red lips into a slow smile and winked at him.
“Marcus,” I said, leaning to air kiss his cheek. “When does the auction start?”
“After dinner, Isabella. What’s your rush? Enjoy yourself. Here, have a glass of champagne. On the house.” He laughed. “Well, it’s on Liam Black really. Remember him girls?”
“Billy?” Stacy said bringing her attention back from staring at the diamond clad crowd.
“Liam Black has hosted this function since OpenPortal went public two years ago,” said the middle-aged woman across the table. She fingered the silver pearls at her throat and sipped champagne while eyeing Stacy’s cleavage. “His charity organization has done wonders for inner-city youth. Wouldn’t you agree Lorenzo?”
The well-built young Latino to her right wore a youthfully cut tuxedo that accentuated his toned body. He shifted in his chair and flashed his date a smile. “Absolutely, Camille. Entire neighborhoods have been revitalized. It’s done wonders for the underprivileged youth of our city.”
While the rest of the table chatted about Liam Black’s philanthropic work, my head writhed like a boat tossed at sea, until it spiraled downward and settled like a lump of salt in my stomach. I felt faint and looked at Stacy, who had a massive grin on her face.
I didn’t want to see him. I didn’t want him to see me! I had to get out of there. I stood from the table, nearly toppling over the chair behind me. A deep frown dug into my face. Stacy looked up at me. Her dazzling smile turned into an expression of concern.
“Do you need to find the restroom, hun?” she asked, under her breath.
“I have to leave, Stacy. I can’t be here.”
“Oh come on, Isabella. It was a long time ago. Just sit down and enjoy the party. He probably doesn’t remember you anyway.” She shoved a glass of champagne in my face.
Her words stung. How could he not remember me? Of course, Liam Black had gone on to found a multibillion-dollar company around his revolutionary social media integration website. I was still doing exactly the same thing I was doing five years ago; the very thing that broke us apart. A cold shiver plunged down my spine as I sank back in my chair. I took the glass from Stacy and drank it in one quick gulp.
Marcus laughed from across the table and stood up to pour me another glass. “Our boy’s done well for himself, hasn’t he, Isabella?”
“Why didn’t you tell me who hosted this event, Marcus?”
“I thought you knew,” he said innocently.