Home > Dirty Money (Roughneck Billionaires #1)(6)

Dirty Money (Roughneck Billionaires #1)(6)
Author: Jessica Clare

For now, we can pretend that.

She relaxes a little, but there’s a bit of wariness still in her posture. Ivy gestures at a nearby set of chairs in the lobby, and we move over to them. As we do, she sits down and crosses her legs, and I swear to god, I nearly bust a nut in that moment. She’s effortlessly beautiful, and I’ve never been filled with so much lust and possessiveness for a woman in my life. I’m not a big dater, and now I know why.

I was waiting for her.

As I sit, I notice a fine cloud of dust leaking from my hat. Actually, I notice there’s a trail of dust from where I was standing, now over to this chair. Whoops. “Sorry about the dirt. I came in straight from the field.” It’s been another long day in West Texas, but this time I found myself a new spot for a well—and not on Bates’s property. He can go fuck himself.

She waves a hand. “Work is work, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of.” She pulls out a small notepad and a pen and writes my name across the top in a girly, looping scrawl and then underlines it. “So tell me about you, Boone. What are you looking for?”

You, I want to say. “In a house?”

She nods.

I shrug. “Haven’t really given it much thought. Something classy, I think.”

Ivy writes a note under my name. “Fixer-upper? Move-in ready?”

I shrug again. “Which do you think is better?” Right now, with the way my cock is aching at her nearness? I’d live in a cardboard box if she told me it was a good idea.

“It depends on your budget. Have you given much thought to how much you want to spend?”

I rub my neck. “Not really? I haven’t paid much attention to the market. That’s why I thought I’d come to you.” That, and because I want you. Now that I’ve seen you, I need you.

She gives me another little smile, and I feel like I fucking won the lottery. “We’ll find you the right house. Bachelor pad or something for a family?”

“You askin’ me if I got a woman?”

Her cheeks turn bright red again. “I-I-I—”

I lean in. “I’m just teasing you, Miss Ivy.”

She gives a high, nervous laugh that’s adorable and a little shake of her head. “It’s so I know how many bedrooms you’re looking for, Mr. Price. That’s why I asked.” There’s a curve to her mouth that’s an almost-smile, though, and I know I’m winning her over. I can be a charming bastard if I need to be, dirt and all.

“I know, but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to tease you.” I glance down at her list and notice again that her smooth, pretty fingers have no rings on them. Another possessive surge rushes through me. She ain’t married. Just like I thought.

That means she’s mine for the taking. Good.

“So—rooms?”

I stroke my beard. “Not sure how many yet. I would like a big place.”

Ivy nods, scribbling notes in her pad. “In this area? Or is there a particular location you need to commute to?”

“Here’s fine.” San Antonio ain’t that close to West Texas, but my brothers like living here, and she’s here, so that’s good for me. I don’t mind a long drive, and I’m only out west when it comes time for a new well, anyhow.

Behind us, the receptionist starts to put away the things on her desk. “Will you be long, Ivy?” she calls out, giving me a pointed look that tells me she doesn’t approve of me taking up her friend’s time. “Or should I leave the lobby open for you?”

Ivy fumbles in her purse and pulls out a phone. She taps the screen a few times before it reacts, and then she bites her lip as she notices the time. “Gosh, yeah, it is getting late. Mr. Price, would you like to set up a meeting time? Maybe tomorrow or the day after? You can email me your list of needs and we can go over them—”

“I’ll do you one better,” I tell her, giving Ivy my most charming smile. “How about I take you out to dinner and tell you what I’m looking for in a property?” When she freezes, I add, “As business partners. Not a date.” I rub my stomach. “I haven’t eaten all day and I’m starving.”

“Oh.” She hesitates and looks at her notes. “I’m not sure. I have a lot to do tonight . . .” Her voice dies as a man comes strolling through the lobby with sunglasses perched atop his head. He winks at Ivy in a way that makes me grit my teeth, and then pauses to speak to the receptionist. They put their heads together and laugh softly, and I’m guessing they’re laughing at me.

Hate burns in my gut. Ivy isn’t like those assholes at all.

“Gosh, Mr. Price,” the object of my desires says, shaking her head. That long ponytail flips back and forth over her shoulder, tormenting me. “I really shouldn’t, because I really do have a lot of work I need to get started tonight. Why don’t I just get the basics of your information and call you in the morning?”

I give her an easy nod, like I understand. She’s gonna make me chase her. Fair enough. I can chase. “Tell me what you need.”

“Okay, we can wrap this up fast. Rooms? How many were you thinking?” Her pen poises over the paper.

I purse my lips, glancing over at the assholes laughing by the front desk. How big of a house would I need to shut those two up? How many rooms? “Forty,” I decide.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t catch that. Four?” Ivy says politely, writing.

“Forty,” I repeat.

She blinks at the paper, and then looks up at me. Her pink, sexy mouth is parted, and I have this incredible urge to kiss her despite the dirt on my clothes. Ivy shifts in her seat and leans forward. “Did you say forty?” Her voice has dropped to a whisper.

I lean in. “Yes,” I whisper back. “Too many? You think thirty-five will do?”

Ivy licks her lips—god help me—and then glances over at the front desk, where the two smirking assholes are still chatting. “Mr. Price, how much money do you have to put down?”

This is where I’m good. I grin at her. “I got a couple billion. Like I said, I don’t know how much houses run in this area. How much do you need?”

Her mouth parts and she blinks up at me. I’ve knocked her on her ass, haven’t I? Can’t say I’m not feeling a little smug about that.

“You know what? I think I will take you up on that dinner invite after all.”

I just grin. Thought she might.

Ivy

My heart is thundering in my chest as I get out of my chair. A million thoughts are whirling through my head.

This guy’s rich. Unless he’s messing with me—entirely a possibility—he’s rich. I can’t even imagine a house with forty bedrooms, much less selling one to someone. And it’s clear he wants to go out with me, because he hasn’t stopped giving me heated looks since I met him. I know I shouldn’t go out to dinner with him . . .

But Winky Jack is right there, very close nearby. And if he so much as smells the money on this guy, he’s going to steal the commission from me.

And I could really, really use the money.

But what if he’s lying? What if Mr. Price isn’t who he says he is? I’m torn. It doesn’t make sense to meet up with a client and immediately go to dinner with him two minutes after he asks me out. It also doesn’t make sense that he’d work with someone like me if he really is rich.

I ponder all these things even as Mr. Price opens the office door and puts a hand on the small of my back to lead me out into the parking lot. Am I being stupid? Dazzled by the promise of money?

I hesitate the moment the door shuts and look over at him.

Bright white teeth flash under that enormous, scraggly beard. “You need to Google me?”

It’s like he can read my mind. I give him an apologetic smile. “Would it be terribly offensive if I did?”

He laughs, throwing his head back, and in that moment, I realize he’s no more than thirty, maybe thirty-two. And under that beard and dirt? I wonder if he’s cute.

Oh god. That’s so gold-diggery of me.

But he waves a hand at the phone I’m holding. “Go ahead.”

I start to type in his name on my smartphone . . . and then stop. How rude am I being? Just because he’s thrown me off my game with his dirty, disheveled appearance doesn’t mean that I need to start running a background check on the guy. “You know what? I don’t need to do that. I’d sell you a house either way.”

“Because you’re a lady,” he says approvingly. “Knew it the moment I laid eyes on you.”

His praise makes me feel all flustered all over again. He has no idea how hard I’ve worked to shuck off the trailer park dust from my shoes so I can bring in big clients and make a real living at this. “Let’s just go to dinner,” I tell him. “We can talk more there.”

If Winky Jack sees me out here, I worry he’s going to smell a big fish and beeline his way over. I don’t trust him not to.

“All right,” Mr. Price drawls. “Your car or mine?”

I start to say my car and then I freeze. My car is a 1992 Geo Metro with no bumper. Whenever I have clients, I check out one of the “company cars” of the day so I can show my clients around in style. I can’t let Mr. Price see my real car, or he’ll know I’m a fraud.

And if I go back inside, Winky Jack will know Mr. Price is a client important enough to go out to dinner with, and he’ll sneak in for the kill.

So I look over at Mr. Price. “If we take your car, can I send a picture of your license plate to my sister? Just to be safe?”

“Of course.”

“Then let’s take yours.” Of course, I worry that makes me sound like a complete ninny, so I add, “A client spilled a latte on my front seat earlier and I haven’t had a chance to take it in to get the upholstery cleaned.”

“Gotcha.” He pulls out his keys and gestures to an enormous red truck parked right in the center of the Three Jacks Real Estate parking lot. The tires and the sides of the car are covered with reddish dirt and I’m pretty sure there’s a metal step-up on the side. “Let me get the door for you.”

   
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