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TO WANT by Daniella Brodsky
Such a Bad Idea, #2 | Available Now
Buy Now: Available on Amazon KindleUnlimited)
I should have known better than to want Finn Wheatley.Two years after his wife’s death,
Australian Billionaire Finn Wheatley
finds himself catching me as I literally fall from his desk into his arms.
The stuff of fairytales, no?
No. Because he’s a widower and so not ready to move on.
Only I don’t know that.
I just get the hot for Veronica one moment, let’s just be friends the next rollercoaster from Finn.
And it is one up and down ride.
He’s driving me mad.
All while making me fall in love with him.
But it’s all okay!
He wrote me a letter saying we should just be friends.
And everyone knows there’s nothing easier than being friends with a man . . .
Especially one you can’t stop having naughty daydreams about.
When he’s grazing the back of your neck with his fingers.
Then running off without an explanation.
It’s a great idea.
What could go wrong?
You’ll want to read every billionaire romance in this series!
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I’m dressed in board shorts and a tee shirt, not exactly the attire the president of a multinational wears in an executive office—even this one who makes surfing gear. But I'm not meant to be here. I am supposed to be at the VIP tent of a surfing competition at the world famous Bondi Beach. But I can’t face it without Milly.
And not because it won’t be nearly as good without her final touch on everything—which it won’t—but because it was her favorite event of the year, the place where we had made the switch from friends to lovers.
The grand idea of renaming it the Milly Wheatley Memorial Surfing Competition was mine, but that was six-months-ago-Finn. And honestly, I don’t know what in God’s name I was thinking.
The me avoiding the questioning eye of the security guard in my building's lobby—who’s just told his driver to turn a hard left back to the office instead of heading to Bondi—has no idea what he’s doing. But I can’t go home to the Milly-less house.
So I press the up button on the private penthouse elevator and wait.
The doors part too quickly, and the ride up twenty floors isn’t nearly enough for me to forge a plan. The open-design space is blessedly empty. At least that’s a relief. I hear myself exhale loudly. I hadn’t realized I’d been holding my breath.
I cross the floor, then realize this hammering sound is not coming from my chest. Someone is banging on a wall. What the f**k? The closer I get to my office, the louder it gets.
At the threshold of my office, my eyes search for something heavy in case I need to protect myself. The only thing around is a potted plant. I pick it up and take a step toward the door. Poised to turn the knob, I hear one final bang, then silence. Is that good or bad?
I turn and flex the arm holding the potted plant. Sh*t, I am a terrible heavy. My only hope is that I might laugh them into submission.
Through the glass wall, I can see there is a woman I don’t recognize standing on my desk, which she’s pushed against the wall and climbed onto. Her hands push gently at the bottom of a timber-framed canvas. I’ve never seen someone look so stunning from the back.
She doesn’t know I’m there. And then I realize why as a faint soul beat makes its way to me. She’s wearing ear buds. My chest nearly explodes when she shakes her majestic ass right there on my desk. There is so much going on that my brain doesn’t seem to know which way to go. Look away from the ass.
The canvas is a riot of color and movement that I can’t seem to look away from despite the fact that I’m gripping a potted plant and wondering what the hell is going on. It looks familiar. Finally I put it all together. I chose this painting.
Milly and I actually had an argument about it. I'd always let her choose that kind of thing for the company, but I happened to see the printout of the artwork pieces she was considering for our company’s art investment, and this one—rather than the one she’d chosen for my office—blew my mind.
Just as it is doing now. It had been incomplete then, and now it still has a sense of—I don’t know how to put it, waiting, I guess is the best way to say it. The bottom corner, which had been blank upon my original viewing of the printout, still doesn't feel done.
Milly wanted a different one. It was structured and rigid and had a balance of light and dark that felt forced to me. “I can’t look at that every day,” I’d said of her choice for my office when she tried to dissuade me from this painting.
“That’s not a very nice thing to say,” Milly said, indignant.
She was right. There had been time and consideration put into her decision. But also, I had a very strong reaction to that painting. It felt like everything I was against in this world, all the things we did because we were meant to, the disingenuous part of what we did.
She’d taken it personally. “I know you are a person who values the truth, Finn, but sometimes it’s nicer to lie.”
I didn’t let it go. I said some sh*t about how it was my office, and how I didn’t need her making my decisions like she was my mother, just the type of unkind sh*t I’ve spent the last two years mind-grinding on in-between reliving our best moments.
The thing is when someone you love dies, you can’t apologize. And you look back at those arguments and feel like the biggest asshole on the planet. Hindsight is a mother**ker.
But as much as I’m hating myself at the onslaught of the memory, the painting is magnificent, and perhaps even worth the argument. As I recall, we didn’t speak for two days. A record for us. Did Milly know she wasn’t going to be around forever and want to leave a legacy of her choosing to hang over me day and night? So she could continue to mold me into the man she believed I should be?
That would be very Milly, but probably untrue.
I put the plant down with a thump on the desk, hoping she’ll hear me, but she doesn’t appear to. She scoots back to get a look at her hanging efforts. I watch as she continues backing almost into the plant, my hands instinctively reaching up to stop her from knocking into the plant and over the edge of the desk.
As I'm about to shout a warning, she does exactly that. The plant topples, dirt scattering everywhere. She looks over her shoulder while her arms pinwheel and she loses her balance. Incredibly, I catch her in my arms. I don’t know who’s more shocked to find her there.
She looks up at me, her eyes the craziest watery green, confused, shaken, but also not moving, looking as if she feels caught by me the way I feel toward her. Her beguiling gaze, her beauty, the painting, the memories, the shock, it’s all crescendoing into this moment packed with intensity.
She blinks twice, slowly, her lashes meeting and parting, meeting and parting hypnotically. Then two more times, faster now, as if trying to get up to speed. Confusion invades her features, her brow furrows, her mouth forms an O. And then her finger waves. “You’re Finn Wheatly. This is your office. And you’re wondering why I’m hanging this painting on the absolute last day of our contract, instead of months ago, like I had insinuated to your wife.”
She finds her feet and I let her go, then she turns to me, rubbing at her dress. My hands feel empty. I glance at them as if trying to make sense of the fact that she is no longer in them.
But wait. What’s that she said about Milly? For a second, the way she’d said it makes me think Milly will jump out and yell, Surprise!
The idea is off-putting. Suddenly I'm aware of soil all over the floor as if this represents the idea of how dirty my attraction to this woman makes me feel.
I open my mouth but she speaks over of me. “You’re right to be angry. I’m sorry. The artist was, um, struggling to finish the canvas. Some artistic struggle about meaning and questions, you know the sort.” She rolls her eyes in a funny way that seems out of step with her presence.
What do you know about her presence? You don’t even know her name.
Why is she here today of all days? Why am I so drawn to her?
She puts out her hand. “Veronica Castle.”
“Finn.” I mean to shake her hand but I can’t bring myself to. If I touch her again, those fireworks are going to set off again, and I might yell at her if that happens. Because it felt so good the first time that I instantly felt like I was stomping on MIlly’s grave.
Bless her, she slowly, discreetly lowers her hand, as if that’s what she meant to do in the first place.
“Do you have a brush and pan, so I can clean this up?”
“Leave it,” I say. I need the ugliness because the brightness she’s shining into this room nearly blinds my grief.
“Okay, if you’re sure.”
She gathers her things—a handbag, a professional looking toolset in a steel box, and a phone without a case.
We both stand back and look at the painting.
“She’ll love it.”
Instead of correcting her, I nod.
“I remember she liked this other one,” Veronica says. “The artist was new to me. I’d taken six of his pieces. Milly originally wanted all of them. But then the next day, she said she wanted this one instead. I asked her why and she said she didn’t know why. In fact, she said she thought it was a mistake.”
She looks dubious, like she wants me to elaborate, as if the whole thing is a mystery to her and she’s eager to have it sorted for her now.
But I don’t. I look at the painting, feeling too many things. Blessedly, she seems to catch the vibe. “Well, that’s me done,” she says. “I’ll miss that canvas.”
“You can come and visit it,” I say.
Her brows rise. Yes, that is an inappropriate thing for a husband to say to the woman hanging the painting his wife arranged to have hung in his office. And yet, I don’t inform her my wife isn’t alive anymore. I have to make this better. It sounds horrific, like I want to cheat on my wife. “She isn’t in the picture anymore,” I say.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she says, looking sincere. Her eyes seem to have darkened a dozen shades instantly. She doesn’t know Milly is dead. It’s a shocking relief.
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