Heart of the Billionaire ~ Sam (The Billionaire's Obsession #2)


by J.S. Scott

Prologue

September 15, 1996

HE sat next to me again today. I have to assume it’s just a coincidence, because I can’t imagine why he would want to sit next to me or give me one of his incredible smiles that appeared to light up the rather dreary room of our college English Literature class. I’m not sure if I’m happy or not about the fact that he sat right beside me. Honestly, I had to look around to see exactly who he was smiling at. Certainly not me. Not Madeline Reynolds, the plain red-headed woman with the dorky glasses and too much meat on her bones. But there was nobody else in the room at the time, so I suppose he must have been smiling at me. I didn’t smile back. And I had a very hard time focusing on the classics with HIM sitting next to me.

September 16, 1996

HIS name is Sam Hudson. He introduced himself today. The man makes my palms damp and my mouth go as dry as the desert the moment I see him. When he reached out his hand today and introduced himself, I had to wipe my hand on my jeans before I stammered my name to him like a complete idiot. He was flashing that smile at me again and I went completely brain dead, unable to find even one intelligent thing to say to him. Why does he have to be so handsome…and tall? Everything about the man is just…too much. Maybe tomorrow he’ll sit next to someone else. I almost hope he does. He makes me too nervous. There’s something strange about a handsome guy paying attention to me with so many other gorgeous women in the same classroom.

September 17, 1996

Sam caught up to me tonight after class to ask me if I wanted to study with him. He’s doing the same thing that I am right now, working during the day and knocking out as many classes as he can toward a business degree in night courses. I have no doubt that he’ll be successful in business. He has a hungry look, a determination to succeed in those beautiful emerald eyes of his. I told him I wanted to be a doctor. I’m not quite sure why I told him. I tell so few people because it’s laughable that dirt-poor Maddie Reynolds, a girl shuffled from foster home to foster home, could actually aspire to be a doctor. Sam just smiled, but it wasn’t a mocking one. Then he told me sincerely that he thought I’d make a great doctor. How could he know that? He doesn’t even know me. But at least he wasn’t laughing at me.

November 14, 1996

I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had a chance to write for a while now. I’m doing all the double shifts at the nursing home that I possibly can, plus my classes. I have to have enough money to pay for my next semester. Sam took me to his apartment to study tonight, and he actually seemed embarrassed because it was a studio apartment that wasn’t in the greatest neighborhood. I don’t know why he should be embarrassed. He works so hard. His construction job is hard physical labor and I know that he usually works from early morning until evening nearly seven days a week. He’s trying to get enough money to bring his mom and his younger brother here to Tampa to live. Sam talks mostly about the future, probably because his past hasn’t been so good. I can relate to that. I’d rather think about the future myself. I’ve only known Sam for a few months now, but he’s become the best friend I’ve ever had except for Crystal, and she’s been gone for so many years now. I feel a little silly that I ever had doubts about Sam. He’s a very good person, the best man I’ve ever known. And he’s so supportive about all of my goals. I just wish he’d get over calling me his ‘Sunshine’ and pulling the rubber band out of my hair because he says it’s a shame to confine such beautiful hair. Is the guy blind? My hair is absolutely tragic!

December 12, 1996

Sam said something to me today that I thought was strange. He said his friendship with me made him want to be a better man. I’m not sure what that was all about and he just shrugged casually when I asked him what he meant. How much better could he be? He works his ass off, tries to help his family, and is working to better himself by getting an education. Does he think being rich makes a man good? If so, I wish he wouldn’t think that. Sam Hudson is fine just the way he is. He’s perfect. I just wish he didn’t have to work so hard.

January 10, 1997

Sam and I don’t have any of the same classes this semester, but there is rarely a day that goes by that I don’t speak to him. I don’t know if I could stand not talking to him or seeing his handsome face. He makes me laugh when I’m tired and crabby, and I try to keep a tube of muscle relief cream around for when his body has been pushed to the limit from working so many hours. He tries to uplift my spirits while I try to relieve his physical pain. I guess that’s what friendship is about. He stripped his t-shirt off today so I could put the cream on his back for him. Every time I do this, it gets more difficult to keep my hands from shaking, and I hate myself for it. Sam and I are friends. He gives me so much support and I’ve come to rely on his friendship. I’m a nursing assistant for God’s sake. It isn’t like I’m not familiar with the human body. It’s just…Sam’s body. His skin is always blazing hot and his muscles are tense. Sometimes he groans a deep, masculine groan of relief from his back pain when I apply the cream, and I flood between my thighs and my ni**les get hard. I start thinking about other things than just his back pain. I know I shouldn’t. But I do. I know most women have done “the deed” at my age, but I haven’t. I’ve never wanted to. Not until I met Sam. But he’s just a friend and I need to remind myself of that fact every single day, even though my heart and body want so much more.

February 14, 1997

It’s Valentine’s Day and something happened today, something extraordinary. Sam Hudson gave me a single red rose…and then he kissed me. It wasn’t the usual peck on the cheek he gives me as a friend. It was a real, hot, wet, toe-curling kiss that made my heart pound and my body burn for more. We both came out of the kiss panting. I’m sure I looked dazed and confused because that’s how I felt. Sam looked horrified. He cursed and started rambling about how he hadn’t meant to do that and how I deserved so much better. He said I should have dozens of roses instead of just one. I told him that one red rose was so much better than anything anyone could ever do for me because it came from him. I cried. I couldn’t help it. So he kissed me again…and again.

April 10, 1997

Sam and I have been a couple for two months now and he still won’t do “the deed” with me. I want to. I’ve told him that. My body responds to his every touch, every kiss. I love him so much it hurts, but I haven’t told him because he hasn’t said it either and I’m not sure he wants to hear it. He says I purr like a kitten when he touches me, kisses me. Sadly, I think I do, but it’s rather embarrassing. Not that I have a lot of experience, but I don’t think any man can kiss like Sam. He knows that I’m a virgin. I told him. He says he’s afraid to touch me sometimes because I’m too pure, too good. If only he knew the dreams I have about him. He wouldn’t think I was so very good at all. I love him so much and I want him to be my first. My only. I want to tell him that I love him, but I’m scared. What if he doesn’t feel the same way?

May 12, 1997

I’m alone again, as I’ve always been. Sam and I were supposed to meet for coffee yesterday and as I approached the coffee shop, I saw them in the alleyway. The woman was beautiful - tall, thin and pretty - everything I never have been and never will be. Sam’s back was against the brick building and the woman was all over him, her hands in his hair, kissing my Sam like he belonged to her. His hands were on her breast and her butt, holding her model-thin body against his, grinding against her. I froze and stood there like a damn statue. I’m not sure how long I watched, my heart ready to pound out of my chest, unable to believe that it was really my Sam kissing that woman. But, oh my God, it was. When they came up for air, his eyes immediately met mine, the look on his face unmistakable. Guilt. Satisfaction. In that moment, my heart shattered into a million little pieces, and Sam knew it. He knew it and he didn’t even try to explain. I doubt anything will ever put it back together again. I had to run away, and Sam just let me go without a single word. Was I really that stupid, that naïve? Did I really think that Sam Hudson was doing anything other than playing a game with me? Nobody has ever wanted me. Not as a child, nor as an adolescent. And not as an adult either. Most likely, no one ever will. I’ll cry some more and then I’ll sleep, and try to forget what it felt like to be wanted for a short time. It was all just a lie.

*****

Chapter 1

Dr. Madeline Reynolds chewed on her thumbnail, a look of total concentration on her face, as she flipped the pages of a medical file on one of her five-year-old patients at the clinic. It was seven p.m., way past time for her to get home and try to get some rest, but something about the case was nagging at her. She had to be missing something, something important. Timmy was tired, listless, having occasional vomiting and diarrhea, and it had to be more than a virus. The poor tyke had been that way for months.

Sighing, she leaned back in the chair of her office in the clinic, grimacing as she bit a little too hard on her fingernail. She’d need to consult with a pediatrician, run more tests. Sending up a silent prayer that Timmy’s mother would show up at her son’s next appointment, Maddie closed the file. The poor kid didn’t have an easy life, and his mother wasn’t exactly consistent.

“Hello, Madeline.”

A husky baritone sounded from the doorway of her office, causing her to leap to her feet, ready to push the alarm button on the side of her desk. The free clinic wasn’t in a good neighborhood and poor Kara had already come close to getting shot there while she was volunteering.

“I didn’t mean to scare you.”

A cold chill ran down Maddie’s spine, but not from fear. She recognized the voice. Eyes narrowing, she focused on the body and face behind that smooth-as-velvet masculine tone. “How did you get by Simon’s security? And what in the hell are you doing here?”

Her friend Kara was engaged to be married to Sam’s brother, Simon. Unfortunately, during the last year, that had forced her to be in close proximity to the man who had broken her heart so many years ago. Those meetings had been brief and incredibly tense. Luckily, she had managed to avoid any significant communication with him…until this moment.

Sam Hudson shrugged and stepped into the room as though he owned it. Even dressed casually in a pair of jeans and a burgundy cable-knit sweater, the man oozed power and arrogance, carried it on those wide shoulders like an elegant mantle. “They’re my security too, Sunshine. They work for Hudson. Do you think they would do anything other than let me by them with a polite good evening?”

Arrogant bastard. Maddie’s heart raced and her palms grew moist. Simon and Sam were both billionaires, co-owners of Hudson Corporation. So, it was Sam’s company too, but she tried to ignore that fact as much as possible. She wiped her hands over her denim-clad thighs, wishing she hadn’t showered and changed in the tiny shower in the back of clinic before coming into her office. Maybe it would have been easier to face Sam in her professional attire, her hair confined in a conservative knot. Trying to push a flaming corkscrew spiral behind one ear, she stiffened her spine, trying to make herself appear taller than her five-foot-three height. “What do you want, Sam? This is hardly your neighborhood. And I don’t think you need the services of a hooker?” Her voice was hard, brittle. Damn it. Why couldn’t she act nonchalant? So many years had come and gone since that heart-shattering event with Sam. He was a stranger to her now. Why couldn’t she treat him like one?

Moving closer, he answered darkly, “Would you care, Sunshine? Would it matter to you if I f**ked every woman in the city?”

“Ha! Like you haven’t already? And stop calling me by that ridiculous pet name.” She answered sarcastically, but her heart was racing and her breath caught as he moved close enough for her to catch a whiff of his enticing smell of musk and man, a spicy aroma that made her slightly dizzy. His scent hadn’t changed, and it was still as tempting as it had been all those years ago.