The Billionaire's Burden (Key to My Heart #2)

 

 

 

The Billionaire’s Burden

Key to My Heart Book 2

 

 

 

 

 

Ella Cari

 

 

Copyright 2016 Ella Cari

This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be resold. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems – except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews – without permission in writing from the author.

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious or used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.

Cover Image courtesy of Victoria Andreas at bigstockphoto.com

Chapter One

 

 

 

Outside my window, I could hear the soft hooting of an owl. Its wings fluttered as it slowly dropped from its branch, scouring the vast green lands that made up the huge Davis estate for a tasty dinner.

How long had I been here already? It felt like a millennia. It felt like it would never end. To be honest I was a little lonely. Billionaire Sebastian Davis and I were married, that was true, but we had yet to define the strange parameters of our relationship.

We’d married for money and convenience, not even for a hint of love, but was it silly of me to dream of a romantic future?

With a saddened chuckle, I dragged my pillow over my face to drown out the shine of the moon spilling onto the elegant floorboards beside my king size bed.

Two months ago, I never would have even imagined living a place like this. It was more grand than the finest hotel I’d ever slept in, though that was probably a Motel 8. It was more large than anything I could have ever dreamed of.

It was also cold. Not the kind of chill that kept you wrapped tight in a blanket at night, shivering away. But, the kind of cold where you never quite feel at home or safe, even with the high tech security cameras everywhere.

I curled my left hand fingers into a ball, noting the tight metal band that clung to my finger. A matching ring sat on the hand of my husband, wherever he was now, assuming that he kept it on when he wasn’t around me. I had no idea what that handsome man did when I wasn’t around.

Sebastian Davis, sexy beyond measure, intelligent beyond belief, and my husband. He and I barely even knew each other.

It’d only been two months past that he came into my bakery in hopes of seeing my parents again. Instead, he only got me. That quaint little shop they owned had been the highlight of his boring, wealthy childhood.

Had it really been over an entire year since my mother and father had passed away? It felt like generations ago, it felt like yesterday. The ache was still there, clinging to my heart. I wanted so very badly to make them proud, I wanted so very badly to keep their dream alive.

To do that, I had to make a compromise with Sebastian that day he walked into the shop.

We both needed each other, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I needed money, and he needed a wife in order to keep control of his vast business empire.

And so, we did what we had to. We stood there at the altar, gazing at each other, barely knowing even the slightest about each other. I couldn’t tell you Sebastian’s favorite food or his middle name.

I could tell you, however, that his ocean eyes are the kindest I have ever seen. I could tell you that his heart is good and his shoulders strong.

I could also tell you that his family is bat shit crazy.

Karina Davis, mother bear extraordinaire, cared for only one thing in her life – her handsome son. She hated the fact that it was myself who married Sebastian. Imagine, gasp, a woman without pedigree, a college degree, or a famous last name marrying into the Davis clan.

She herself had married George Davis, the patriarch of the family, in a situation very similar to mine and Sebastian’s. It was their vows that helped seal the Davis name in entrepreneurial hall of fame, which I strongly suspected did actually exist.

Unfortunately for Karina, George lust long and strong over their Sebastian’s personal assistant, sexy redheaded Alissa Grant. There was nothing secret about their torrid affair, they all but flaunted their lust for one another in all of our faces.

Alissa wasn’t happy with just George on her hook, however. She also wanted Sebastian, and had no problem making that claim equally well known. Alissa was not a woman of subtlety. 

Sebastian and I were only just beginning to discover our relationship. Though we were married, we were not in love. There were days when I believed that spark would never light within our souls. Our wedding had never been consummated, we shared only a single kiss on that day, in front of all the people watching.

There were days I dreamed about that kiss.

That surge of heat, boiling through veins as his perfect, soft mouth pressed against mine. The barest hint of his tongue brushed delicately against my lips.

A shudder rolled slow and long up my back, pressing the pillow just a bit more firmly against my face as though I could force myself into slumber.

He was far, far away this evening, his private jet had been sure of that. Sent back overseas to his London branch, Alissa had pointedly told me of her attendance as well.

I’d almost asked Sebastian if I could come with them, but we’d only just begun this bizarre liaison and I didn’t want to smother him, despite the ] growing need inside of me to get to know my husband.

That wasn’t too much to ask, was it?

We were married after all, why not build something of that? Did Sebastian even wish for such a thing? Though his tan face was beautiful, his emotions were kept under strict lock and key somewhere deep inside of him. At times it felt as though I would never truly get to know the man.

With a groan, I rolled onto my side, pulling the pillow away from my damp face and flopping my head onto it.

At least after all of this mess, there was one good thing that emerged.

My parent’s bakery was sky rocketing. Sebastian had put together a small PR team, led by Alissa of course, that managed printed and digital marketing. They’d also set up a cute little social media page for it as well, with excellent reviews coming in all the time. You couldn’t watch the TV or listen to the radio without hearing the familiar jingle of its newest (and only) taped ad. My parents had previously used only word of mouth to spread the word of their bakery. Perhaps that was why it failed so quickly after their deaths.

I barely had to do anything with all of the business, which was what I wanted I supposed. I’d only taken control of the bakery to keep it from being bulldozed after my parent’s death. Did I even want to run the thing? I’d spent so much time actively disliking the bakery and my involvement in it, it was rather strange to miss those nights spent sleeping in the old office, smelling the faint hint of sugar and spices.

Now that it was taken care of, I could do whatever I wanted.

I still stopped by the bakery occasionally, and while it filled my heart to see it so full of people and to smell the sweet scents of pastries and pies, I couldn’t deny the fact that in the back of my mind, it was almost painful.

In all honesty, I felt completely unneeded now. Did my feelings even matter when the goal was still accomplished though?

I couldn’t believe how selfish I sounded. Every time I got something, all I wanted was more and more.

The phone next to me on the small mahogany end table vibrated suddenly, going still and quiet at my side. I stared at the dim screen intently, too nervous to pick it up. There was only one person who had the number, there was only one person who would bother to get in touch with me.

Sebastian.

Was time was it in London right now? I had no idea. Sebastian had given me the fancy phone, telling me to call him any time I needed.

Of course, I hadn’t called him, not in the two weeks he’d been gone. What was I supposed to say to him? That I missed him?

After a few more moments of silence, after the LED screen of the phone had turned off and total darkness resumed in the room, I abruptly snatched it into my hand, swallowing as I pressed the home key.

Sebastian’s name lit up the screen, a short message underneath.

“How are you?” It read, and though it was just simple text, I could hear his deep tenor speak those words, I could hear the soft British accent lurking beneath.

Though I had no idea what the time difference was, surely he did. Why was he texting in th meddle of the night? It was almost three AM.

I unlocked the screen, eyes flickering over the keyboard.

What was I supposed to say back?

I felt like I was back in high school, agonizing over what a boy said. It was pathetic, really. I hadn’t been good at it then and I certainly wasn’t going to be good at it now.

Slowly, I typed out my reply, working hard to sound as casual as possible because, you know, some girls just like to be up at three in the morning for no reason.

“Fine.” I sent back, watching as it appeared on the screen below his words.

We were having a conversation. I was almost pathetically giddy. It was silly, as we knew each other so little, but I’d missed having the handsome billionaire around lately.

For a brief second there was nothing, and then three tiny dots appeared. He was typing back?

“I thought I was texting Alissa.” The text illuminated in front of me, heart dropping into my stomach. Just like that, my happiness shattered in despair.

I was a fool.

Blinking in shock, I could only watch as the dots reappeared for a moment, “And what are you doing up?” He questioned.

Instead of answering, I turned off the phone, letting it fall onto the end table beside me. I stared at it, utterly betrayed by that tiny piece of technology.

Of course Sebastian wasn’t attempting to contact me, we’d had no contact since the day he left. Even then, our goodbyes were stiff and awkward, neither of us sure of what to do or how to act with one another.

That short hug had been almost as painful as Alissa’s smug grin and wave as they slid in the back seat of a taxi together.

What did they talk about? Did it bother Sebastian that she spent her nights in George’s city apartment? Did he even care about the relationship she had with his father? Did it not matter?

Why was he texting her? To call her to his hotel room?

I flipped hurriedly back over onto my stomach, as though I could banish those painful thoughts from my mind. They remained, however, pricking away at my self-confidence.

It wasn’t long ago that I’d stared into my mirror, forcefully telling myself that everything was going to be alright.

At this moment, in the dark quiet of my new and huge room, with a successful business and a heavy heart, I’d never felt like that was farther from the truth.

Chapter Two

 

 

 

The bright morning sun was cheerful as ever the next day, despite my gloomy disposition.

More than anything, I would have appreciated some rain or clouds or something just to echo the resentment budding inside of me. Maybe I’d play some angsty music on that phone Sebastian got me, though I was afraid to turn it on and see if he’d sent more messages.

A small little red bird flocked to my window, watching me with tiny, beady black eyes of curiosity, whistling cheerfully as if to mock me.

"Go home to your family, Mr. Bird." I grunted as I all but threw myself out of bed, "Or go home to your little mistress!"

I tossed a pillow towards the bed as the alarmed cardinal took flight.

Geez.

I needed help. Accosting a bird because of my own frustration? That was a new low.

Pouting, I carefully placed the flung pillow back in the center of the bed, leaving the sheets a mess as I stormed into the bathroom.

Though I still had not quite the grasp on being served by a staff of people, the one thing that I had taken to quite quickly was not having to make my own bed anymore.

I'd never met the ninja of a person who took care of it. Sometimes I was out of my room for only five minutes the entire day, and it was always taken care of.

Maybe they lived under my bed...

I splashed water on my face, flinching at the coolness. Slowly, I straightened, eyeing myself in the mirror.

The face that stared back at me was as plain as ever, though I wondered if I'd lost weight recently. My appetite had never quite returned. Whether that was because I was so far out of my element or a deep seeded restlessness within me, I wasn't sure.

It was still surprising, given how amazing Harry Bircham's food was every night.

The man was a wizard in the kitchen, and an even biter baker. HIs banana bread was completely out of this world. He had all the talent of both of my parents put together, or at least the professional culinary schooling.

It was amazing to watch him work, his movements were all so smooth and subtle. HIs plating was exquisite. He could make scrambled eggs look like a freaking piece of art in the louvre.

Speaking of scrambled eggs, the scent of bacon wafted up the stairs towards my room. Chef Harry was hard at work.

It'd been lonely, living in this giant mansion while Sebastian was out of town. I'd almost gone back to stay at my bakery just for the familiarity, but that would mean abandoning Harry.

I got the feeling that we were the only ones who kept each other sane in this place. Harry loved cooking, but not so much working for the Davis brood. I couldn't blame him there, I wasn't crazy about having married into them.

As I brushed my hair out of my face, securing it loosely in a bun on the crown of my head, I wandered back to the closet.

It was packed with clothing of Alissa's choice, meaning that nothing fit properly and it all looked more like a nun's choice of clothing than anything else. She’d made it enormously clear that she had no intention of helping me out my transaction to this new Davis life.

I could have just bought more things, Sebastian had left me a credit card with my name printed right on it, but it still felt wrong to use his money.

He'd already done so much in turning my bakery into a stellar success, I didn't want to leech off of him anymore.

Eventually, I settled on the least ugly piece in the closet, a pair of dark slacks and a blouse of orangesicle color. I would have preferred a shirt and jeans, but those simple items were nowhere to be found in the huge walk in closet. Alissa wouldn't have wanted me to be comfortable anyway.

With a sigh, I exited the room, heading down to the dining hall. No doubt that bed making ninja was creeping out from their hiding place to fix up my room once more. I sent a curious glance over my shoulder, but the hall remained still and silent.

Fortunately for me, I'd gotten much more used to the winding halls of Sebastian's huge home since I arrived two months ago. Though I still didn't know what most of the floors or doors were used for, I knew my way from bedroom to dining room like the back of my hand.

Most days, those were the only two places I went.

I knew I had to get out more, but where was I to go? The bakery just depressed me, seeing how much it'd spun out of my control. I didn't enjoy shopping or jogging. I needed a new hobby, or a new friend.

Maybe I was just sinking into a depression. I was too apathetic to even care at that point.

"Good morning, Macy," Came a shrill voice that unluckily did not belong to Harry, "I was wondering when you would bother to climb out of that bed."

"Good morning, Karina." I replied, trying to hide my pained grimace.

My dark haired mother in law turned in her chair, watching as I approached. Too late to run away, I reluctantly sank down into the chair across from her.

"How are you this morning?" I asked, struggling for polite conversation.

I glanced up appreciatively as Harry handed me a big mug of coffee.

Though Karina and George did not live in the same manor as their son, they stopped by all too frequently.

"Quite well." She replied primly, sipping at her cup of earl grey tea, "You know that Sebastian is due to return in a few days, yes?"

"Of course." I replied quickly, clearing my throat.

Or at least, I probably would have known that if he and I had talked for more than a single awkward text.

"No doubt he will be jet lagged and cranky. I trust that you will be able to take care of him?” She continued, ebony eyes shooting up to pierce me harshly.

I swear, her stare was like looking into the pits of hell. At any moment, she could spring up and wring my neck like a crazy woman.

I needed to get out of here.

"Sure." I shrugged, just trying to keep her wrath at bay.

How exactly did she expect me to care for Sebastian? He was a thirty year old man, I was pretty certain he could look after himself. He probably didn't even care to see me.

The older woman hmph'd under her breath, all but rolling her eyes. Her confidence in me was astoundingly low.

"What are your plans this afternoon?" She asked accusingly, flipping the page of her newspaper over. Did people even still read the news anymore?

My plans? I never had plans. Or perhaps that was her point.

For some reason I had the feeling that hanging out with Harry would not have been an acceptable response to the prissy woman.

What else did she expect me to do, though? Was she planning on hanging out all day?

Escape. Escape. I needed to get the hell out of here, and I needed to do it five minutes ago. I could feel my head inching closer and closer to explosion.

"Actually, I was just going to head on over to the bakery." I said hurriedly, taking another sip of my coffee as I climbed to my feet, "I need to make sure that all's well on that front."

I chuckled, a bit manically, as I began to edge towards the grand arch of the dining room.

I was going to miss out on Harry's magnificent breakfast, and that bacon smelled more appealing than anything else in the world, but I absolutely could not spend one more minute with my persnickety mother in law.

I'd never forget how often she drilled into my head just how much I did not deserve her son's last name – whether or not she was right.

"You're actually leaving the house today?" Karina Davis replied, in mock surprise, "How enthralling. I'll alert the press right away."

This time it was my turn to somehow resist a huge roll of my eyes.

I wasn't sure why she insisted on tearing me down at absolutely every point possible. I'd done my best not to engage with this behavior, to let it roll right off my back, but my patience was fraying thinner and thinner.

"Alright then," I sighed airily, "I'll be off. Have a good afternoon, Karina."

She grunted slightly in response, not even glancing at me as I slid from the dining room and basically ran towards the front door.

It wasn't until the heavy mahogany wood slammed behind me that I finally sucked in a deep breath of relief.

Being around that woman was like being drawn closer and closer to a black hole.

With a firm shake of my head I wandered over to the red BWM Sebastian had purchased for me. I'd never driven it, afraid to ruin such an expensive gift. Desperate times called for desperate measures, however.

I climbed into the driver's seat, sending another glance towards the front door as though Karina were going to come running out of it to hound me again for wearing improper shoes or something.

When all remained calm, I sent a mental apology to Harry, who was no stuck with my mother in law, and started the car. Obediently, the engine quietly rolled to life.

In a matter of seconds, I was on the road to freedom.

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