Caught Between Two Billionaires by Skye Warren



Wind whips at my hair, salty and cool, as I step out of the hold.

I grasp the cold metal railing and let it ground me. Why does Christopher bother me so much? In my pocket there are a couple of joints and a lighter. I light myself something to calm down, because I would rather not know the answer to that question.

In a practiced move I swing my leg over the railing and pull myself up. This is my favorite place to sit, from the time I was six years old and my nanny would fall asleep in the room next door. I can pretend the yacht isn’t here, pretend it’s just me and the ocean, rocking and rocking. The movement bounces me softly, my ass against the metal bar.

Weed makes it better, more like a meditation. The more drags I take, the more it feels like the whole world is rocking, and maybe I’m the only one sitting still.

“Do you have a death wish?”

The question comes out of the darkness behind me, and I jump, almost slipping off the rail. I manage to catch myself, clutching the metal bar with one hand and the joint with another. Survival and sanity, the two most important things in life. “Do you always hide in the shadows?”

“Whenever possible.”

I snort, which is a friendlier sound than I want to make with him. “That doesn’t surprise me.”

He takes a step forward and holds out his hand. “You’re making me nervous.”

“That’s kind of my standard operating procedure,” I say, ignoring his hand and taking another drag. “You get good grades. I get into trouble.”

“So the death wish thing…”

“Pretty accurate,” I say, wishing he would go belowdecks. And wishing he wouldn’t. There’s something complicated about him, the way he makes me want opposite things at the same time. “I don’t want to die, but I want to live. People call that having a death wish.”

With clear reluctance he pulls his hand back and settles his arms on the railing a few feet away from my ass. His eyes are trained on the dark horizon, but I can tell he’s still watching me. “This is what living means? Falling into the ocean with no one around to rescue you?”

I point at the choppy water. “The captain dropped anchor before dinner. We aren’t even moving. What do you think is going to happen?”

“Head trauma. Hypothermia. Drowning.”

“For your information I’ve been coming up here by myself for a decade. No one ever comes with me. Haven’t fallen overboard once.”

“Then statistically speaking, you’re overdue.”

“Wow, you really are my dad’s heir.” Part of me is glad to have company on one of my nightly reveries. The other part of me feels the distinct intrusion of having a stranger in my space.

“What?”

“Go back down and play with your calculator.”

There’s a pained pause. “I can’t. Not when I know you’re up here, getting high and hanging off a two-hundred-foot yacht. If something happened to you—”

“Nothing’s going to happen to me.” The sea takes that moment to bump bump bump me, my ass a full two inches off the rail with every pull of the yacht. I’m holding on tight so I don’t go flying, not forward or backward, my perch secure.

“Are you sure you wouldn’t rather paint a mythical creature on the observation deck?”

“I know you’re making fun of me right now, but no. I don’t have enough paint for that.”

“Can you just sit on a deck chair like a normal person?”

“Do I look normal to you? Don’t answer that.”

There’s a flash of white teeth. That’s how I know he’s smiling even though the rest of his face is in shadow. The smile is there one second and gone the next, as temporary as his presence in my life but strangely momentous. “I’m sorry I called you a poor little rich girl.”

“Are you just saying that so I’ll get off the railing?”

“Is it working?”

“No, but I appreciate the effort.”

And strangely that was true. Not many people have ever cared enough to follow me up to the deck at midnight, to make sure I didn’t fall into the ocean. Definitely not one of the stepsiblings, who would probably have given me a little push to get rid of the competition for the inheritance.

It makes me want to prove myself to him, to convince him that I’m worth saving even if he apparently already thinks so. “Medusa wasn’t for attention. I mean, she was, but not because I wanted Daddy to pay for a new science lab.”