From USA Today Bestselling Author Danielle Duncan…
When BBW Sophie begins her new job as chef in William Blackwell’s mansion, she wants a new start. Her last job led to a romance with her billionaire boss which ended in heartbreak. This time, she swears she’ll stay away from workplace romance…a vow that’s put to the test when she meets the enigmatic Rhys, one of the mansion’s gardeners.
William “Rhys” Blackwell might be a billionaire, but he still loves digging in his gardens. When he meets Sophie he feels instantly attracted to her. But Sophie says she doesn’t want to date anyone from the mansion, and Rhys knows that goes double for him, so he keeps his identity quiet. Maybe if she gets to know him first, she’ll change her mind.
In the midst of the growing attraction between Sophie and Rhys, they have other problems to deal with, too…a lawsuit, a billionaire ex-lover and more. In the end, there’s just one question: what are they willing to risk for a chance at love?
The Reluctant Billionaire Excerpt
“What did he do to you to make it too painful to see him?” Rhys said.
Her eyes filled with tears. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
She’d made it to the opening in the treehouse floor when Rhys grabbed her arm.
“Tell me. Please. Because right now I’m imagining awful things.”
The truth was pretty bad, although who knew what he was thinking. She didn’t want to talk about it though.
“Please,” Rhys said.
Sophie gazed at the tree, trying to forget that Rhys was behind her. “He told me he loved me, and that we’d get married. I was a fool, and I believed him, so when we slept together I didn’t always make him use protection.” Make that never. She’d never insisted. She’d been stupid blind with love for him. “When I got pregnant, he gave me a stack of bills so I could get an abortion.”
She paused. “I told him I didn’t want an abortion and that I didn’t see the point, since we were going to get married. That’s when he laughed at me and told me it had all been a lie to get me into bed.” She’d been so gullible. What had made her think a rich, good-looking man would marry a round-in-the-middle cook?
Rhys squeezed her arm, just a little. “And the baby?”
“Miscarriage.” She spat the word out, trying not to think about what it meant. “I’m sure he was happy. Took me a while to get myself together again. Then I found this job, and here I am.”
Rhys put his arms around her from behind and hugged her. “That’s terrible.”
She put her hand on one of the arms around her. She’d gotten plenty of hugs from her family when she’d lost the baby. Somehow, this felt different. Maybe because Stanford hadn’t once consoled her. And now this man who hadn’t even known her then was giving her what she’d needed all along.
Sophie leaned her head back and rested it against his chest. “It’s over. But sometimes I still think about my little baby. I wonder if it would’ve been a boy or a girl, and what it might have grown up to do. And I wonder if I would have lost it if he’d kept his promises.” She’d never know. But she’d always wondered if the stress of losing him had somehow hurt the baby.
Rhys squeezed her tighter. They sat like that for a while. Then he loosened his arms and said, “Let’s get back.” He helped her find the wooden slats so she didn’t fall climbing out of the tree house. When they’d both reached the ground, he put his hand on her back and steered her down the path.
“Isn’t this away from the house?”
“We’re taking another route. There’s something I want to show you.”
They wound through the wooded area and emerged into the sun. More gardens and wild patches ranged for as far as she could see. “This is all Mr. Blackwell’s?”
“He must love the outdoors.”
Rhys didn’t say anything, just guided her down another path through shrubs and flower beds bursting with reds and pinks and purples. They seemed to be edging back toward the house, though she couldn’t see it through the trees.
“Here we are,” Rhys said.
They stepped into a small clearing still wild with clover and pretty little wild flowers scattered through the grass. As they stepped closer, she could see the ring of stones and the unhurried flight of ten…no, twenty, maybe even thirty…different butterflies.
“It’s beautiful,” she said.
“I built it thinking someday my kids could come here and play. These flowers are designed to attract butterflies, and we’ve done other things as well to make this a sort of butterfly refuge.”
She took a few steps closer. Butterflies flew all around her.
“I would think, wherever your little baby went, it might be something like this.”
Sophie blinked back tears. She’d often wondered about where her child had gone. “Thank you.”
Rhys put his arms around her again and kissed the top of her head. They stood like that for a while and eventually, a butterfly landed on one of Rhys’ arms. It flapped its wings lazily not far from Sophie’s face.
She’d never been anyplace that felt so peaceful. This is exactly where she’d have wanted her child to have gone.
Sophie rubbed her cheek against Rhys’ arm. “Thank you,” she said again.
Quietly, without talking about it, they disentangled themselves and left the butterflies. Rhys took her down a different path that led back into the forest.
“You can go there anytime,” he said at length.
“I think I will.”
He walked her all the way to the kitchen door before wandering back into the garden. She still thought she needed to avoid a relationship with him. But was she making a big mistake in pushing him away?