A little late, but still Friday, so I bring to you all Toby Aden and the Billionaire Playboy!
"I never thought it possible to feel an attraction for anyone."
I'm an artist and I have a new contract with The Golden Gallery. I've got best friends who get me and my jokes and a family who supports and loves me. What more could I possibly want or need? I have it all except, I just don't know what it means to be in love. I've never experienced it nor been attracted to anyone in my life. I don't think it's a bad thing and despite the fact that most people prefer to slot me into the ace spectrum, I don't necessarily see myself in that category. I am happy the way I am, content even or at least, I tell myself that, shoving away the idea that there's something wrong with me.
"I never thought I'd ever be attracted to a man."
You probably know me as the Billionaire Playboy. I come from generations of old money and started my first business venture at age nineteen. The Golden Gallery was my baby and I watched it grow into a huge success all over the world. The first time I set eyes on Xavier Fernando, my world was rocked and turned upside down. I couldn't get him out of my mind and I tried to write it off as being impressed by his genius skills as an artist. It worked too until we bumped into each other again, literally, and the same heady feeling came over me. In an attempt to understand why I was feeling this way, I decided to get closer to Xavier, and to know the man behind the art.
I had no idea how long I’d stood there peering at the collection, lost in my own world, when a voice spoke from behind me. I was greatly startled and jumped slightly before spinning around to see who it was. I had been unprepared for the sight which greeted me as well as the strange feeling that flitted through me too quickly for me to pinpoint or even recognize.
With my throat dry, the only thing I’d been able to whisper was, “What?”
“I said beautiful art,” the stranger repeated, nodding towards the piece I was standing in front of.
The stranger peered back at me from eyes so golden it was a shock, as I’d never seen eyes this color before. They were framed with dark long lashes most women would kill for, which only served to further highlight his features. With a head full of lush, dark, sable locks, high cheekbones, a strongly cut jaw, and regal nose set into the face staring back at me, I was completely lost in his stare.
The stranger was dressed almost like me in plush, ash cashmere, turtleneck, high enough to be folded down over his neck and hug his skin, without an inch of skin showing there. Unlike me though he wore form hugging, dark jeans and a long below-the-knee length, blue casual coat. Even to me who had never found the human form particularly pleasing before, the stranger cut a striking look. As I trailed my eyes back up his body, I was surprised to see him staring back at me, one brow cocked upwards. It was then I realized he’d spoken to me, and I’d been staring rudely at him, without responding, and he’d obviously caught me at it too.
“Oh. Oh, yes.” I turned to face said piece and together, we both stood there, neither saying a word until curiosity made me inquire, “What do you see when you look at it? What do you feel?”
“Well, looking at it, I can see it was very beautifully done.” The stranger said and I was unsure as to whether he was teasing or mocking. Then he continued, “It reminds me of an old Indian story about an older Indian Chief who told his grandson, ‘Kid! We have two wolves within our hearts. One wolf is evil with rage, envy, jealousy, arrogance, and inferiority. The other one is a good wolf. He brings with him fullness, peace, love, hope, and beliefs. These two wolves are always in battle within us.’ The grandson then asked his grandfather, ‘Grandfather, which wolf wins then?’ And the grandfather responded, ‘The one you are feeding the food to.’”
“I know the story,” I said with a nod.
“Fair enough. Then you recognize the significance of it in this piece. Although the artist truly outdid himself making the piece look so real, as though the story could come alive any minute.” The stranger took a sip from his wineglass, stared at me with a contemplative look in his eyes, before turning back to the serial pieces arranged together, but still showcased in a way that displayed the individualistic trait of each work. “That’s not all though, as it’s seen as only one point of view. If you take a careful look around, you realize the art shows two sides of a coin. As though each side could be alluring but with one final deciding factor. The one each scene highlights. There’s light and darkness, trust and despair, joy and pain, each side tells a story. But which story is the most influential and which is ruthlessly locked away despite how alluring, how easy or hard it would be to listen, to give in."
I sucked in a deep breath as the stranger succinctly described the scene to me, seeing the picture of what he was saying so clearly in my mind. Biting my lips, I turned to face him, respect and awe in my gaze as I allowed his words to sink in. “You saw all that?”
When he nodded, I swallowed, impressed as hell. “You really got what I was trying to say. Right down to the last minuscule of it too. I haven’t met any here tonight who got it in one go.” I stared at the stranger for a while, suddenly besieged by an emotion once more which I couldn’t place.
“You’re the artist?” The stranger asked, letting me know he hadn’t missed my word.
“Yeah,” I responded, saying nothing else as we both stood, peering at each other. My stare soon turned into a frown though and when I realized, I shook my head and extended my hand towards him, “I’m Xavier. Xavier Fernando.”
When he took my hand in a handshake, I was surprised to feel a tingle go through my body and quickly yanked my hand back from his. I stared down at the offending appendage, wondering what that had been. I turned my hand over and over, staring at my palm and the back of my hand but there was nothing there, shaking my head, I thought it must have been my imagination and soon forgot all about it.
It was then I realized I wasn’t alone and the stranger was staring at me peculiarly. God, I must have looked like someone who was nuts to him, well, at least he hadn’t walked away. I could already see steam pouring out of the usually unflappable Brant if I lost a potential buyer by acting like someone who was bonkers.
Although I couldn’t help being flustered, I drew myself to my full height, ignoring the blush of embarrassment which was no doubt high on my cheekbones. “I’m Xavier Fernando.”
“I know. You already said.”
I was taken aback by his word then left more flustered. “Oh, I uh… yeah, that’s me. Xavier, you know, the artist.” Inside, I was yelling at myself shut up, shut up, shut up. Where was the earth when I needed it to swallow me?
“I don’t think it’s a good thing to be wishing for though. It would be such a waste with a talent like yours,” the stranger said, amusement coloring his words and when I looked at him in confusion, he added, “The earth swallowing and all, you know.”
I stared at the stranger, my jaw dropping, and heat climbing faster into my face. Palming said face in both hands, I shook my head, “Mortified. I’m completely mortified, and I cannot believe I said that out loud.”
The stranger threw his head back at my antics and let loose a full belly laugh, the sound so intriguing, I was unable to stop myself from peeking from between my fingers at him. Slowly, I let my hands fall down away from my face and stared at him openly, as though he was a work of interesting colors I was trying to blend and decipher. We’d attracted some attention from other patrons, but neither of us seemed to care about that.
“Your mind’s very interesting, Xavier. May I call you Xavier?”
I nodded in response to his question then said, “That’s what you think.”
“Well, I’ve been thoroughly entertained all the same,” the stranger said, “And you can call me Andre. Andre Toma…”
“Tomasine!” I cried in surprise, shocked I hadn’t immediately recognized one of the Tomasines and had made a fool of myself in front of him too. God, I hissed under my breath. Could things get worse than this? “I didn’t recognize you. I’m such an idiot. Excuse me while I go bash my head on the wall somewhere private.”
“Not on my account, please don’t.”
Shawn Pierce is a freelance photographer. He makes his living taking pictures of any and everything. Just when he hits the biggest contract of his career, a surprise visit from his estranged twin’s boss turns his life upside down. Billionaire Alejandro Rivera lives by the code, work hard and play harder, except, all he ever seems to do is play. With his money basically managing itself, no one ever expected him to keep a close watch on his finances until he noticed amidst his vast wealth, the huge chunk missing.
Tracking down the traitor Shane Pierce seemed the logical thing to do except his search turned up Shawn instead of Shane. With the gorgeous twink pushing all his buttons and Alejandro unwilling to forgo his leverage, he whisks Shawn away to his private island, keeping him prisoner until he gets what’s owed him.
“Ah. About that…” Charlene started. Only to be cut short by a voice so familiar that it took a lot for Shawn to hide his irritation.
“Darling.” Alejandro Rivera called, his voice silky smooth as he slid his hand around Shawn’s waist and laid a kiss on his cheek. “Hope I’m not interrupting anything?” He said, turning his megawatts smile on Shawn’s client.
Shawn stifled the urge to groan and jab Alejandro with his elbow, silently fuming and wondering what the billionaire was up to. So help him God if the man created problems for him with his client, he would unleash his wrath on him and that was not an idle threat. He peaked up at Alejandro and even annoyed, couldn’t deny the masculinity and beauty of the man wrapped around him.
Fuck but he was a gorgeous bastard and Shawn felt heat climb onto his cheek at his thoughts regardless of the inner conflict washing through him. He turned his gaze to the group in front of him and noticed the look of recognition in their eyes, seeing for himself that even they weren’t immune to his charms.
“No. Definitely not Mr. Rivera. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Surprised and awed, Charlene fawned all over the billionaire. “We’ve never had the pleasure of meeting but I’m Charlene McCarthy.” She said, holding out her hand for the notorious billionaire.
“The pleasure’s all mine.” Alejandro responded, stepping away from Shawn and flashing her with an irresistible smile. He took her hand in his, but instead of shaking it, he brought her hand to his lips and placed a kiss on the back of her hand. His grin stretched wider as he noticed the flush climbing up her face. “I hope you don’t mind me tagging along with Shawn here. He doesn’t feel it’s necessary for people to know about us yet and we’re taking a long break after his shoot today.” Alejandro elaborated, sliding his left arm around Shawn’s waist once more and pulling the man against his side.
Shawn was ready to murder Alejandro. Just plain bash him over the head but it seemed even his boss was not irresistible to Alejandro’s lethal charms. Apparently, the man’s reputation preceded him and men and women fell all over themselves to get to him and now was no object at all. Totally cringe worthy!
And pretending that they were dating, cozying up to him in front of others, Shawn couldn’t decide between attraction and annoyance. He was extremely irritated but apparently, his body didn’t get the memo especially with Alejandro dragging his thumb up and down his side. Gods, but the infuriating bastard was distracting. He tried to discreetly slip out of Alejandro’s grasp but the man simply tightened his hold around his waist and dragged him flush against his side and all without sparing him a glance too. What an arrogant bastard!
“Oh sure. No problem at all. We love his work so far so he should be able to finish off everything today. I’m sure the crew will find a place for you if you’re interested in watching the shoot.” Charlene simpered, batting her eyelashes and fawning all over the damned man.
“That sounds good to me. Don’t you think so darling?” Alejandro asked, eyeing Shawn with a challenging glint in his eyes, daring Shawn to contradict his words.
Shawn furrowed his brows, so badly wanting to tell off the billionaire but knowing the man would drag him out of here if he wished and to hell with his contract. That was the only reason he pursed his lips, hard, knowing if he opened his mouth, he might not be able to keep his snarl out of his words. His nod of assent though generated him a response which made him feel like punching Alejandro but he showed great restraint in holding himself back. Especially since Alejandro gave him a triumphant smirk and leaned in to kiss his cheek and the corner of his mouth.
“I’ll stay out of the way.” Alejandra said with a grin that melted all of them right there and then. No doubt, they were seeing the dollar signs and the prestige that came with having The Alejandro Rivera’s boyfriend doing their photo shoot. Damn but Shawn could just see how much they would want to milk this for. “Later, love.” Alejandro said, kissing Shawn right there on the lips for everyone to see before moving away and leaving a stunned group behind, Shawn included.
Turning back to the group of executives, Shawn said. “Well, I’d like to begin shooting for the day. Since I’m sure you must be busy. Charlene, I’ll send the slides over to you by courier once I’m done sorting it and have my assistant work with you until you’re satisfied with the shots, yes?”
Charlene nodded, her gaze slowly returning back to Shawn and she cleared her throat before responding. “Good, good. You know our deadline.”
“I’ll have it to you before then.” Shawn confirmed.
“Alright. We’ll let you get back to work.” She said before leading the rest of the executives away but not before casting one last long look at Alejandro. Shawn heaved a sigh, knowing that today would be an especially long one.
I fell in love with romance novels at an early age and ever since, kept reading everything I could get my hands on from historical to contemporary. I especially love to read anything paranormal but ever since coming across MM romance books, I seem to lean more towards this genre in keeping my mind occupied.
I am an avid reader who spends much of my time, immersed in the world of romantic novels whilst letting my over-active imagination soar. When not seen with my nose stuck in a book, I’m tapping away at the keyboards, writing something down.
Find Toby Here:
Visit her website at: www.tobyaden.wix.com/author
Email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Find her on Facebook at: facebook.com/toby.aden
Follow her on Twitter at: @AdenToby
Find her on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/Toby-Aden/e/B01DQ17XDQ/
Mondays: Free post days where I post about anything I feel like talking about.