Caught Between Two Billionaires by Skye Warren



“Then why’d you do it?”

“This girl got roofied at a party.”

He sucks in a breath. “Harper.”

“It wasn’t me.” I glance sideways to see his black eyes staring at me, so hard and fierce it almost seems possible that he can go back in time and rip the balls off a frat boy. What would he say if he knew my past? “It wasn’t me, I swear. I wasn’t even friends with her.”

After a searching look, he turns back to the ocean. “A girl got roofied.”

“Everyone knew about it, like the next day. One of the football players slipped it in her drink, and then the football team, I mean the entire football team, took advantage of her.”

“Christ.”

“They suspended the guy who brought the roofie to the party, one of the players, but not the one who gave it to her—the quarterback. And not the rest of the team. A big game was coming up. You can’t play a game without all your players.”

He’s quiet a moment. “I’m sorry.”

For that I pass him the joint and watch while he takes a drag, his lips touching where mine have been. “The honor society set up a protest and everyone who went got suspended. And after all that there wasn’t a single word about the party in the local papers. The morning before the game there was going to be a big pep rally with the cheerleaders and the school’s donors. The press was going to be there. They had the janitors stay late shining the floor. Real press, from a newspaper that wouldn’t take money not to print the story.”

He passes the joint back to me. “So you painted Medusa.”

“She was raped by Poseidon, who so happened to be the school mascot.” I have to blink away stupid tears. I don’t know why it would make me cry now, when it didn’t before. Not when I had to walk down the hallway next to boys who would hurt me if they had the chance. When I had to wear my skirt a certain length and my hair a certain way, as if I was the reason they were cruel.

“Did everyone turn to stone?”

I look down at the water, where I can see more white crests against the ink. It looks rough for a calm night. “The reporter took pictures and started asking questions, but he didn’t get the whole story that day. A week later the story was printed. The entire team was suspended. The headmaster was ready to suspend me too, but Daddy flew down and smoothed it over.”

“The science lab.”

“Which means I’m no better than those players, using my family money.”

His voice is soft enough I have to strain to hear it over the murmur of the waves. “You’re plenty better, Harper. Don’t you ever doubt that. You’re fucking gold.”

My heart skips a beat. I should know better than to fall for a line, but this boy has me messed up. I’m caught by his eyes, which are somehow darker than the sea beneath us and infinitely more deep. I’m drowning there; that must be the reason I don’t feel it coming.

Lurch.

Dip.

My hand finds cold metal, and I have a moment of sweet relief—until the slickness of sea spray coats my palm and I lose my grip. For a moment I’m suspended in air, my gaze still locked on his, my shock reflected in that black mirror.

And then I’m falling.





My parents both tell the story of when I was two years old. One minute I was standing on the deck. The next I had fallen into the Massachusetts Bay. They both had a heart attack, or so the story goes, until they ran to the edge and saw me swimming around like a fish, more comfortable in water than on land.

I’m not sure whether I really learned to swim quite that naturally or why I was left to toddle around the docks without someone holding my hand, but I do love to swim. I’ve even jumped off the deck of the yacht into the water, too impatient to climb down the long swim steps.

I’m falling backward and twisted, unable to see how far I’m falling. Unable to see anything—but I can feel it, the slam of the surface at my back, the shock of freezing cold. And then it surrounds me, heavy weight dragging me down. The air leaves me in a rush; by the time I can take another breath, I’m fully submerged.

It’s pitch-black, impossible to know which way is up. Any direction I go could be taking me deeper. My throat burns with salt. Panic threatens to overwhelm me. My whole body clenches, fighting the instinct to breathe in deep and fill my lungs with water.

Something touches my side, and I squirm away in terror. Even stoned and in shock I remember there might be sharks. What if they heard me splashing? What if they sense my fear?