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Home / Samples / Ruthlessly His: A Dark Billionaire Romance by Zoe Blake and Alta Hensley – Sample

Ruthlessly His: A Dark Billionaire Romance by Zoe Blake and Alta Hensley – Sample

Chapter 1: Luc

As I watched the bride dutifully walk down the aisle, I knew only a soulless bastard would ruin her day for his own selfish reasons.

Crushing the delicately strewn rose petal path under my shoes, I marched down the aisle in her wake, calling out in a clear, sharp tone, “I object to this wedding.”

I kept my gaze trained on the altar.

To look at the guests would imply I gave a damn about their reaction to my outburst.

I was a Manwarring, heir to one of the largest fortunes in America.

Their opinions meant less than nothing to me.

The bride and groom turned at my approach.

The groom, Marksen Dubois, stepped forward, his brow lowered. “If this is your idea of a joke, Manwarring, I’m not laughing.”

I cocked my head as I casually brushed nonexistent lint off the shoulder of his tuxedo. “No, old friend, this is just business.” I leveled a cold stare at him as I used the same phrase he had used in my office last week when he informed me that by marrying Amelia Astrid, his family would have the leverage and financial backing to go after mine.

I could have warned him at the time that I would never allow such an alliance, but this way was much more fun.

He curled his right hand into a fist. “You have two seconds to get the hell out of here.”

I quirked one eyebrow then raised my voice for the benefit of the rapacious guests shifting in their seats as they tried to overhear our exchange. “Why don’t you ask the bride what she wants?”

Marksen whipped his head to the right.

For the first time, I allowed myself to look at her, to observe the woman whose not only day, but life, I was about to ruin.

She met my gaze with an unexpected, strange forthrightness.

Her vivid, emerald eyes seemed to stare through me.

There was no expression on her face, no anger, surprise, or even confusion. Just a rigid calm.

It was unsettling.

I could feel myself rise to the challenge. I wanted to spear my fingers through her perfect, shiny hair and pull all the pins out until her curls were a tangled, unruly mess. I wanted to smear her lipstick and bring a flush to that pristine, porcelain cheek.

Anything to shatter her icy demeanor.

It was nothing against her personally.

It wasn’t her fault.

It was how all daughters of high society were raised.

Perfect ice maidens.

Precious little darlings to be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

Bred to have no personality or opinions or ambitions of their own.

The only thing I despised more than the idea of a society bride was the necessity of having to marry one.

But again, this was all just business.

If I had to marry an insipid debutante, I might as well fuck over the former friend who was trying to steal my family business out from under me in the process.

Of course, no one could know that.

As far as any of these horrible guests would be concerned, they had witnessed a tragically romantic moment.

Amelia looked between the two of us.

Before she could respond, her mother stormed the altar.

I was ready for this. Never go into a boardroom or battle without knowing your enemy.

Mary Astrid was infamous, for so many reasons.

She had the personality of a sucked lemon and resembled a plastic Barbie funhouse-mirror version of her daughter. The only outward indication of her rage was the way the ample strands of pearls heavily draped around her throat trembled and rattled. Otherwise, Botox and various fillers had frozen her face into suspended shock.

She lifted her bulbous lips in what I could only assume was a smile which she directed at the guests, not at me. Keeping her voice low, she hissed, “I know who you are, Mr. Lucian Manwarring.”

I smirked. “I’d be disappointed if you didn’t.”

She snorted through her surgically pinched and pruned nose, then pushed the words out through her painfully plumped and pursed lips. “If you don’t leave immediately, there will be severe consequences.”

I leaned in close and whispered for her ears only. “Funny, I don’t see your son’s real father here.”

Her pearls rattled.

I cleared my throat. “Right now, you’re wondering how much I know and are trying to calculate if you can take the risk and still have me thrown out. The answer is… I know it all…and I wouldn’t if I were you.”

The true foundation of power was knowing your enemy’s secrets… and making damn sure they never learned yours.

She grabbed the pearls at her throat. “You’re blackmailing me? What do you want? Money?”

“Don’t be so middle class. I don’t need your money. I want your daughter.”

The wedding guests murmured and shifted in their seats.

Marksen interrupted. “I am out of patience.”

I regarded the mother of the bride. “So am I.”

In order for my plan to work, I would need her to play along.

She swallowed, then nodded almost imperceptibly. “The wedding is off.”

Marksen ground out, “Now see here—”

She whipped her head to face him. “I said it’s off!”

I slapped Marksen on the back. “I’ll let you two talk. Excuse me for a moment…”

I pushed him aside and ascended the altar steps to where Amelia stood watching the proceedings curiously, as if she were observing a dramatic play and not her own life. Once again, I had this passionate urge to shake her out of her calm complacency.

I snaked my hand around her waist and pulled her against me.

Before Amelia could fight me off, I wrapped my other hand around her neck and leaned down to claim her mouth.

Her lips were soft and sweet, and she tasted of spearmint and honey tea. Where I’d expected her to smell of some cloying, rose-scented perfume, she carried instead the fresh trace of lemongrass shampoo in her hair. Whereas everything about her mother and her world was fake, preening, and pretentious, holding her, tasting her, felt clean and innocent.

The wedding guests erupted in shocked gasps and exclamations.

Amelia looked up at me. “Why are you doing this?”

“Because I love you,” I replied loudly.

“I’ve never even met you.”

I ran the backs of my knuckles over the smoothness of her cheek. My smile was for the benefit of the wedding guests. “Don’t spoil the moment for our audience. Your mother will explain everything later. Now be a good girl and smile…or I’ll be forced to kiss you again.”

She obliged with a smile. Through clenched teeth, she hissed, “I hate you.”

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