Title: The Clothing Mogul
Author: Aubrey Parker
Series: The Trillionaire Boys' Club
Publication date: December 6th 2016
Genres: New Adult, Romance
“You have to fall in love,” Alyssa suggests. And then, because she’s my publicist, she adds the key word: “Publicly.”
My name is Ashton Moran, and I’m CEO of the $2.2 billion Hurricane Apparel company. You’d think that’d be enough, but it’s not. Not for Alyssa. She says my public image sucks. She says my being a womanizer is hurting Hurricane’s brand.
So she found this girl, Jenna, who I’m supposed to pretend I’m in love with for the press. I’m not supposed to sleep with any other women for as long as this farce goes on. Only with Jenna — if she’s into it, which she will be.
I understand what Alyssa is trying to do by making Hurricane more “family friendly,” but … Me? In love? With only one woman?
There’s no way this is going to work.
The Clothing Mogul is part of the Trillionaire Boys’ Club series by Aubrey Parker. Each book tells the story of one of the Club’s powerful members … and you’re going to want to collect them all.
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“Ashton? What’s wrong?”
“Nothing’s wrong.” He slides closer. “Not anymore.”
I turn to look at him. “What’s gotten into you?”
“Nothing’s gotten into me.”
But it’s too much. Too weird. I sit up straighter. I watch his dark eyes in the sparse light filtering up from the street. “Don’t you want to …?”
“Don’t you want to have sex?” For a second I’m embarrassed — ridiculous, given the things we’ve done.
“I just wanted to take a moment.”
“To do without. As if you’ve denied me.”
“I’m not denying you.” The words stir something. My hair against my shoulder, bare but for the straps of my nightshirt, is like the brush of my lover’s fingers. I forget why I was put off by the idea that he’d come here and simply expect to fuck me.
This change is even stranger than the one at dinner. Stranger than the one I saw when he spoke to my father, deferring to the older man’s authority like a proper suitor. His lack of action is making me more aroused, not less. I want to be the aggressor. I want to take him all without asking.
“I know,” he says. “But you could.”
“Anyone can. What’s so special about denial?”
“You don’t know, Jenna. You can’t know what it’s like to be me. Everything is so hard at first, but at a certain point everything gets too easy. You’re the only person who challenges me, who pushes back, who made me work to have you.”
“I’m yours.” I lick my lips, finding control harder to summon. “You don’t have to work to have me anymore. We have a deal.”
“Don’t mention it. Don’t talk about our deal.”
“Why not?” I don’t understand. I’m uneasy, nervous.
“Because I’m sorry we made it. Too many lies to keep track of.”
“You mean the lies about us being together?”
“I mean the lies about how we’re not.”
I look down at him. He can’t mean what he seems to. His hand is at my breast. He’s stroking it idly, almost as if he doesn’t realize what it does to me. “What are you saying?”
“I don’t really know who I am anymore, Jenna. I thought I did, but tonight I found I was wrong. The old me would have been different. He would have lapped it all up. But I didn’t want to. It just made me angry. All I could think about, the entire time, was coming here.”
To my house? It’s so ridiculous.
“You’re Ashton Moran.” It’s such an empty thing to say, but some of the disorientation and confusion leave his expression. I don’t know if it’s what he honestly needs to hear, or if it’s more that he needs me, of all people, to say it.
“Am I? We’ve lied so much, I’m not sure. There’s the old story of Ashton Moran, and now there’s this new one. I’ve been in the new story for months now, but tonight I re-entered the old one. I didn’t feel comfortable in it, like I don’t know or like the old Ashton anymore. But that’s the problem, isn’t it? Because if I don’t like the old Ashton, it means I like being the new one instead. But the new one is a lie. The new Ashton doesn’t exist.”
“How can you say that?”
“Because it’s all bullshit. Everything we’ve said in those interviews … bullshit.”
I look down. I don’t know what to say.
“Tell me it wasn’t all bullshit, Jenna.”
“I … I don’t know.”
“All I know is that tonight, I didn’t feel like myself. I didn’t like me or who I’d become. I only like myself these days when I’m here, in the belly of the lie.”
He raises my shirt and bares my breasts. He kisses them sweetly, one by one. His hand his on my leg, moving slowly, warming me.
Then his hand goes to the center of my chest. To my heart. It’s ironic — he made his billions manufacturing clothing that monitors vital signs, relaying them to an app. But right now the great clothing titan is feeling my vitals using only the biometric device of flesh and bone offered by God. A connection born not of Bluetooth, but skin to skin.
He comes to my lips and kisses them.
“Don’t deny me now.”
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