Tied to the Billionaire
Author:Amy Armstrong,Sam Crescent,Cheryl Dragon,Tanith Daven

Tied to the Billionaire By Amy Armstrong,Sam Crescent,Cheryl Dragon,Tanith Davenport

 

 

Chapter One

 

 

“Andy! Come play with us!”

 

Andrew MacIntyre peered over the edge of his newspaper. A diminutive, pastel-clad figure gazed up at him from the foot of the terrace where he was finishing his breakfast. Flaxen curls framed her fair, conventionally pretty face. At the moment, her rosebud mouth was twisted into an exaggerated pout that he found distinctly unappealing.

 

“I’m sorry, Miss Linton. Did you say something?”

 

“Come play croquet, won’t you? You so rarely join us. And you’re so very good at the game.”

 

He surveyed the vast expanse of lawn sweeping down towards the sea. A bevy of female forms attired in ankle-length summer frocks ambled about on the lush green backdrop, chattering and lazily swinging their mallets. They were far enough away that he could barely discern their features under their hats, but he knew who they were. Henrietta Linton, Mary Beth’s younger sister. Louise Vanpatten and her cousin Thelma. Cynthia Bellamy. Selena Larimer. Plus his own sisters, Letty and Ann. Aside from his siblings, all were guests whom his mother had invited to Wavecrest for a festive week leading up to Independence Day—all unmarried daughters of wealthy bankers and industrialists.

 

“Perhaps after I finish my coffee and the business pages.” He favoured her with a slight smile. Her ecstatic expression improved her looks considerably. “Maybe another ten minutes. Will that do, Miss Linton?”

 

“Oh, yes! Thank you, sir!” She added the honorific in an unconscious response to his formality. Andrew grinned wryly as she scampered away, back to her giggling friends. Indeed, he wouldn’t mind playing with them, but not the sort of game they had in mind.

 

Closing his eyes, he summoned an image of Mary Beth and Henrietta, naked save for their chemises, bound to two of his mother’s ghastly mahogany dining chairs. Their wrists fastened behind their backs, their thighs strapped open, their blonde tresses loosed and tumbling around their worried faces…the vision was delicious. He preferred his women dark-haired, but the Linton girls’ pale skin would mark nicely, either with the rope or the crop. If he married one of them, she’d have to submit to her husband’s desires, wouldn’t she? Still, it would be far more entertaining to have the two of them together.

 

He shook his head to scatter the lewd pictures and drained his coffee cup. In the distance, summer sunlight sparkled on Narragansett Bay, too bright to gaze upon for long. Later, it would be hot, and there might well be a thunderstorm by dusk. His cravat was strangling him. He felt the first twinges of a headache.

 

Any of the women on the lawn would accept his proposal in an instant. He was, after all, tall, athletic, well-favoured, intelligent and charming, not to mention owner of the second or third largest fortune in America. But none of them would willingly accede to his unusual sexual demands, he was certain. They were too young, too unformed and far too proper, more concerned about society’s expectations than their own desires.

 

He wanted a woman whose needs complemented his own, who craved the sort of discipline he so loved to administer. His social position and responsibilities made that a hopeless dream. No woman of his own class would risk her reputation by engaging in that sort of behaviour, even in private. If indeed any of his cohort had passions that matched his, they would never admit it, even to their spouses, for fear of divorce and disgrace.

 

Back at Yale, in desperation, he’d occasionally strayed down to the port and hired a woman of the town to play the role of his slave. No matter how tightly he tied her or how hard he whipped her, those experiences were never truly satisfying. How ironic that he could buy almost anything in the world, but not the thing he wanted most.

 

Leaning back in his chair, he lit one of his French cigarettes and drew in a lungful of fragrant smoke. Some ash tumbled onto the crisp white tablecloth. He let it lie. Give the swarm of servants that infested this place something to do.

 

“Andrew, dear—must you smoke?”

 

His mother swept out onto the granite-tiled terrace, the skirts of her orange tea dress swirling around her. She planted a proprietary kiss on the top of his head. He balanced his cigarette in the saucer so he could take her hands in his own.

 

“Good morning, Mother. You’re looking lovely today.”

 

With her flawless complexion and raven curls laced with silver, Catherine MacIntyre did cut a handsome figure for a fifty-year-old widow. His father had favoured more sombre hues and she had dressed to please him, but since the end to the mourning period two years ago, she’d taken to wearing bright colours and rich fabrics, in the most fashionable Paris styles.

 

“Don’t change the subject. Why do you persist in such a filthy habit?”

 

“I’ve many filthy habits,” he replied with a chuckle, remembering his recent fantasy. “In any case, it relaxes me. Now that Father is gone, I’m under a great deal of stress.”

 

“Your wife won’t appreciate it, I can tell you.” His mother seated herself at the table and signalled the maid hovering inside the portico to bring her some coffee.

 

“My wife will do as I say. If I ever have one.” Andrew took another puff of his cigarette and blew a cloud of smoke out over the lawn. He was not in the mood for another harangue about the fact that it was time for him to choose a bride and settle down.

 

Fortunately, his mother knew him well enough to drop the topic. She sipped her coffee and nibbled at the toast he’d left uneaten on his plate. “Saturday’s ball is taking shape quite nicely. Mrs Fisk has responded in the affirmative, and I’ve learned that Stephen Harper and his family—you know, the Philadelphia Harpers—are summering in Newport, so of course I invited them. Their daughter Charlotte just graduated from Mount Holyoke—she’s apparently brilliant as well as lovely. I don’t think you’ve ever met them, but Renata Harper and I got on splendidly at Sarasota last year…”

 

Andrew’s mood darkened. He despised the formality and superficiality of his mother’s parties. All his business rivals would be there, he had no doubt, nodding and smiling externally while tallying the cost of the food and the opulent furnishings and plotting how to outdo the MacIntyres at the next social function they organised. The women would be tarted up in their silks and jewels, all bare shoulders and perfume, flitting about like tropical birds. Heaven help him if he touched them, though. Fingertips resting on their corseted waists during a waltz—that was pretty much all he could expect, when he really wanted to strip off their finery, chain them to his bed and ravish them until they screamed for mercy.

 

His position required him to serve as his mother’s host. He’d have to smile incessantly and endure endless gossip, taunted all the while by the ripe, fragrant female flesh whirling around him.

 

“You will introduce her to the local girls, won’t you, dear?”

 

His mother’s hand on his forearm brought him back to the present.

 

“What? Who?”

 

“You’re a million miles away! Thinking about your railroads or oil wells, no doubt. I’m talking about Charlotte, of course. You need to introduce her to everyone important, make sure that Louise and Henrietta and that delightful Mary Beth take good care of her at the ball.”

 

“Oh, yes, of course. You know you can count on me, Mother.” Andrew stubbed out his cigarette, folded his newspaper and brushed the crumbs off his lap. “But speaking of Mary Beth, I promised her I’d join their croquet game. If I don’t follow through, she’ll be up here complaining again.”

 

His mother beamed. “Wonderful! I know you’re working hard, trying to learn the ins and outs of your father’s affairs, but you need a bit of relaxation every now and again.”

 

“I’m not sure I’d call the exercise of waiting on the whims of a half-dozen avaricious females ‘relaxation’…” His mother’s pursed lips and knotted brows made him grin. “Only teasing, Mother! I’ll be charm incarnate, don’t worry.”

 

He bestowed an affectionate peck on her cheek and she disappeared inside to continue contemplating her guest list. While he waited for the hat he’d ordered a servant to fetch for him, he scanned the lawn and its fair population once more. If he were forced to choose, which girl would he select? He could picture any of them stripped bare and roped to the gateposts of the ridiculous Chinese tea house his mother had constructed at the far edge of the lawn, overlooking the sea—but beside him in his bed, night after night? Across the table from him in the vast dining room, one morning after another for the rest of his life? He shook his head to banish the unpalatable notion. He’d die of boredom.

 

The maid arrived with his boater. Settling it on his head, he sauntered down the marble stairs that swept from the terrace to the grassy slope beyond. More impetuous than her sisters, Mary Beth raced up to meet him halfway.

 

“You must join my team!” Her breath came in short pants and her cheeks were bright pink. “Louise and Thelma are giving us a terrible beating, but I know you can help.”

 

I’d like to give you a beating. Andrew couldn’t suppress the thought as he smiled down at her. “I’ll do what I can, Miss Linton.”

 

She practically squirmed with delight. He saw that she wanted to grab his hand, but didn’t quite dare. He strode away towards the flatter section where the staff had installed the wickets, leaving Mary Beth to scamper behind.