Billionaire CEO. Bad boy of Miami. Shameless Casanova. Daniel doesn’t care what he’s called as long as he gets what he wants—and what he wants is to never be tied down. Lexi, meanwhile, is a wannabe Disney princess who only wants to make a life for herself. After their disastrous first meeting, Daniel and Lexi find themselves reluctantly drawn to one another. They challenge each other in unexpected—and not wholly unpleasant—ways. But can they heal from their pasts in order to build a shared future?
Age Rating: 18+ (Child Abuse, Drug Use/Overdose)
“Schedule an appointment to have that thing removed,” Daniel ordered his assistant.
He had slept with Gloria unprotected for two weeks, and now she had just muttered the two words he hated most: “I’m pregnant.”
The moment they decided to mix business with occasional pleasure, Daniel had listed his expectations. He couldn’t have made it any clearer that he hated condoms and the idea of kids crying and shitting all over the place. He didn’t understand what was so hard about remembering to take a goddamn pill every morning or to go get a shot every couple of weeks.
Gloria leaned on one of the chairs across from Daniel’s desk. A satisfied smile spread across her face.
“I already made an appointment. Birth control made me gain weight last time I took it. I’d rather kill the kid than work out any harder than I already do.”
Clearly, she was just as nonchalant as he was.
This wasn’t the first time that Daniel had paid for an abortion, but it was the first time the woman didn’t give a damn about the consequences.
The women who dated Daniel visited the most exotic places—he knew how to pamper a woman when it benefited him—but he had them all sign a “No Baby” agreement. If a woman refused to go on birth control before they hooked up, she was prompted to have an abortion as soon as possible.
While Daniel also had women sign a “No Disease” clause, stating that all their medical records were recent and thorough, he didn’t give a damn about NDAs. No woman ever got close enough to know anything real about him anyway, so what could any of them possibly tell the media? What was the worst thing they could say?
“Daniel didn’t cuddle after sex?” or~ ”Daniel didn’t call or text after he had his fill of me~?” or ”~Daniel doesn’t love anyone but himself.”~
He’d laugh at their honesty. The media never claimed he was a saint, and if someone was ever stupid enough to admit he had paid for their abortion, they would also be subjected to public scrutiny. After all, sex was a mutual decision; he never forced any of them into anything. They wanted him, and they knew the price they had to pay if it resulted in pregnancy.
Please, that was a foreign subject. He wielded nonchalance like he ate I-don’t-give-a-fuck cerealfor breakfast.
“Give me a number by the end of the day, and I’ll write you a check,” he told Gloria robotically.
Her smile widened, though it seemed physically impossible to stretch one’s cheeks that far apart. “Insurance doesn’t cover it, so just cover the cost and my recovery time, and we’ll call it even,” she said, never breaking her smile.
“Done. Ten thousand enough?”
The smile she had plastered like an expensive painting slowly deteriorated.
“Twenty?” he renegotiated.
Just like that, Gloria’s broad smile returned.
Daniel hardly ever smiled, not without a strategic plan anyway. He never understood how anyone could just smile for no reason. After experiencing harsh realities in his life, he learned that smiling was a sign of weakness, and he intended to show only the opposite.
Magazines painted him as Miami’s bad boy, but that was clearly an understatement. With beautiful yet dangerous gray eyes, masculine facial features, deliciously defined muscles, broad shoulders, a deep voice, and a tall, sexy frame, Daniel could make any girl wet in all the right places. The headlines should’ve instead read, “WARNING! Stay away from this one!”
Daniel didn’t ask; he ordered. He didn’t beg; he took what he wanted when he wanted it, and no one ever tried to stop him. Not in business, and certainly not when it came to women.
This man was a shameless Casanova, but despite his anything goes approach~, ~he had a few rules:
Never fool around with a married woman.
Never date a virgin.
Never have sex without having the woman thoroughly tested.
Never sleep with one woman for more than six weeks—feelings could somehow develop, and he had no time for that shit.
Never call first after sex, unless it was about an issue unrelated to the deed.
And the most important rule of all…
No fucking babies!
The man was a stone-cold asshole, and he didn’t give a fuck. He knew he’d never change, and he reveled in his undefeated race to the city of nonchalance.
Daniel didn’t keep many friends. Only a handful of people had the pleasure of saying they knew him at all, and most of them shared his preference for having casual encounters and nothing more.
When his therapist told him he was avoiding commitment to ensure he would never be hurt, Daniel laughed in her face. He didn’t have to avoid commitment; he told every woman from the start, “I just want to fuck you.”There was never or would never be a woman he’d fall for.
He was convinced of this.
Daniel’s therapist then prodded him about his childhood, but he didn’t see any connection to his dalliances. His father, Mr. Carlos Jackson, created Jackson Corp (or J’Corp) when Daniel was only two years old. He used his research to create software for easy in-flight communication.
At first, J’Corp only appealed to private sponsors of the military, but within a year, the company had evolved into a multi-billion-dollar business. Where it once only created software for war planes, J’Corp now invested in other areas of technology for private and commercial clients as well. Daniel took over from his father three years ago.
Daniel’s mother, meanwhile, passed away from cancer right before he started high school. She had battled the disease for most of his childhood, but eventually, she couldn’t keep fighting. There were some holes in his memory when he thought of his mother, but the way she died was still very clear.
She gave up.
Or at least that’s how he saw it.
Okay, maybe losing his mother played a part in his reservations toward women and his hatred for the L word. It was crazy—no, insane—that he felt unquenchable anger toward the woman who gave birth to him, but the man he was now would rather die than say that word to any woman ever again.
Daniel had begged his mother not to go, had promised he’d be a good son and get better grades. He’d promised to love her unconditionally and never disobey her ever again.
But did that save her?
All the promises he’d made and meant did not keep her in his life. She still decided to leave. No matter how much he begged and wished for her to stay, she left his life forever, and he never forgave her.
Since then, Daniel had met any woman who crossed his path with acidic authority and disdain. After he got what he wanted from them, of course. After he felt he had punished them thoroughly enough.
Daniel treated some women terribly on the first date, and yet they still kept crawling back. They felt the need to change him, tame him—butno one ever did.
A rational person would see his mother’s death as life just doing its job of give and take. But he didn’t see it that way. And no one could convince him otherwise.
“Women are going to leave no matter what you do. So, never trust them, never open your heart to them, never believe anything they say.”
Those words got him through the funeral, high school, and college, and now that he was in his twenties, Daniel still recited them in his mind every morning.