A man of means….
Troy Christian had more money than he knew what to do with in this lifetime and probably the next one. He could pay and get anything he wanted without breaking a sweat, but the one woman he desired from the moment he laid eyes on her. Just as he was about to make his move Headley Rose moved away taking his heart with her.
Troy never thought he would see her again, but fate brought her back into his life ten long years later and this time Headley wasn’t getting away. The chase was on.
The woman he wanted….
Headley Rose left her thriving business in New York. She hurried back to Paris, Texas to take care of two things: her sick father and Troy Christian. She hadn’t seen her teenage crush in years, but she wasn’t about to let him steal her family’s land from them.
She would do everything she could to keep it out of his hands even if it meant doing something she hated seeing Troy face to face.
“Where in the hell is he? Is he in his office? I want to talk to him now! He isn’t going to hide from me, not after the shit he’s pulled.”
The sound of a woman’s voice yelling outside his office caught Troy Christian’s attention a second before the door flew open and she stormed inside like a tornado. She didn’t give him a second to say one word before she was standing in front of his desk, glaring at him.
“How dare you pull something like this on him? My God, he’s an old man. You should be ashamed of yourself. How can you even sleep at night? I can’t believe it. I’m not going to let you get away with this. I knew you hated my family, but I never thought your dislike for us ran this deep. Tell me what I have to do to get it back,” she demanded. “I will fight you until I win. You won’t beat us.”
“I’m so sorry, Mr. Christian. I tried to stop this woman but she just shoved me to the side and ran on in,” Mariah, his secretary, said, rushing up to his desk. “I can call security and have her escorted out.”
Leaning forward in his seat, Troy Christian drummed his long fingers on the glossy surface of his oak desk. It didn’t take twenty-four hours before she came to him. He knew that she would once she found out what he had done. All he had to do was be patient and here she was, standing not ten feet in front of him ready to do battle. She was more beautiful than he remembered her. God, he could barely contain his excitement.
“No, it’s fine, Mariah. You can go back to your desk and I can handle this. Will you please shut the door behind you? I don’t think my visitor is going to be a problem,” Troy answered. He watched as Mariah glanced at his guest one last time, then made her way across the room and out the door, closing it behind her like he requested.
“Ms. Rose, I don’t know why you’re here. Douglas signed those documents in good faith and I can’t do anything about it. Now, I think you should leave before you say something you can’t take back. You don’t want to be in more trouble than your family already is with me, do you?”
Headley Rose’s big, dark brown eyes pinned him with a stare so hard he almost flinched in his chair, but he stopped in the nick of time. He couldn’t let her see she had any chance of getting to him. All of those legal papers were binding and she wouldn’t find a way out of them for her father.
“I could care less if I said something to hurt your damn feelings. You’re so cold and unfeeling that you probably have a huge hole where your heart should be. My poor father worked himself into that hospital bed for our ranch and now you’re taking it away from him…no, us, without a second thought. I knew I should have come home sooner when my dad told me you came by to see him. The ruthless Troy Christian never does anything unless it’s for his own gain. God, I despise you.”
Troy brushed off Headley’s comment without blinking an eye. He understood the young woman was angry with him, but she had no right to be. Instead of running off and trying to be a fashion consultant in New York, she should have stayed here and helped her father with their failing business. He wasn’t going to take any blame for doing what he did best…make ruthless business deals.
It was how he made his money.
“Douglas was going around town begging people for help to save his deteriorating acreage. So when I paid him a visit and gave him a reasonable offer for his property, your father practically jumped at the payment plan. I had my lawyers draft it out for him. How am I to blame that he couldn’t keep making the monthly payments to me on time? I’m a businessman. I’ve a right to take what’s mine,” he commented, watching as Headley’s gorgeous eyes darkened in anger.
“You’re a bastard,” she hissed, slamming her purse down on his spotless desk. “I hope you know that. You have so much money that you could give millions away to charity and not even feel it. My dad worked hard and kept our ranch going after my mom and baby brother died, so he wouldn’t lose his mind. You even came to the funeral and offered your support and sympathy to me. Now I see your kindness back then wasn’t genuine. How could it have been? It was all part of your plan.”
“What plan?” Troy asked, not liking the turn that this conservation was suddenly taking.
“For years, you dear old father was pissed my father got the land he had wanted. He tried ways after ways to get it from us and eventually he died before he could,” Headley said, pointing her finger at him.
“So, you befriended my dad and made him think you were nothing like your father. You pretended to be on his side and slowly built up your own fortune until the right time came along, and then stabbed him in the back. I promise you, this isn’t going to work. God, for all I know my father didn’t have a heart attack while he was repairing that fence. You or one of your men could have done something to him,” she accused, shocking the hell out of him. “I wouldn’t put it past you, not at all.”
Jumping up from his seat, Troy raced around his desk and grabbed Headley by the arm, jerking her against his body. “Listen here, little girl,” he growled. “I don’t try to kill people to get what I want. I was the one who found Douglas out there lying in the hot sun barely breathing. I thought he was dead until I checked his pulse. If it wasn’t for me your dear old father would be buried six feet under. I could have ridden away on my horse and left him there to die.”
“How do I know what you’re telling me isn’t a lie?” she demanded. “I remember quite clearly before I left for New York. You threatened my father outside our house while I was standing right there next to him. You swore that you wouldn’t let him sell that property to anyone but you, Mr. Christian.”
He swallowed down the real reason that he had been at her house that day. But, he didn’t have the time to get into the past with her now. There had been a lot more going on than him wanting Douglas’s land, but Headley wasn’t here to listen to him bring up his version of the incident.
“You shouldn’t accuse me of doing something that you’ve no proof of, Headley. I’m tired of telling you that you’re wrong. Furthermore, you might not like what happens if you keep it up.”
Titling her head back, Headley looked him in directly in the eye without flinching. “What can you do to me? I’m not scared of you.”
I could kiss the hell out of you like I have wanted to do since you barged into my office, Troy thought before he let go of Headley’s arm and took a step back away from her. He had finally gotten her this close to him. He couldn’t ruin it by moving too fast and scaring her away.
“Nothing. Why don’t you just go to the hospital and check on your father before visiting hours are over? I’ll talk to you later about a way to work something out to catch up on his missed payments.”
Reaching around his body, Headley snatched up her purse off his desk and glared at him. “I won’t set up any payment arrangements with you like my father did. I will find another way to get my father’s debt paid off before he gets out of the hospital,” she promised as she spun around and then headed for the door. “I’m not an eighty-year-old man you can trick with a few well-rehearsed words.”
He didn’t like the sound of that. Headley had always been headstrong and he was worried about she would do to get the money. “Your father owes a lot of money and I want every cent of it paid back to me. There’s no way you can get his debt paid off in time.”
“I bet I can,” Headley promised before she stormed out the door, slamming it behind her.
Headley made herself not think about Troy again until she was back from visiting her father at the hospital. She was unpacking her suitcase in her old room at the ranch and he wouldn’t leave her mind. How in the hell could he still be so damn handsome after so many years?
His hair was still thick and full despite him being nearly thirty-nine years old. In addition, the gray hairs streaked throughout the black only made him sexier and more desirable. He was just too… No, she wouldn’t do this. Not with him….not now. She couldn’t let herself fall for him again—too many years had passed between them.
What was wrong with her, still lusting after a man who was determined to steal her father’s dream away from him? Rose Ranch had been the best in its time until Troy’s family moved into town while she was still in high school.
She would never forget how the older girls in town constantly did outrageous things to draw Troy’s piercing blue eyes towards them. If she remembered correctly, he was around twenty-one or twenty-two when his family moved on the property adjacent from hers.
Headley doubted anyone knew that, while she was still in high school, she had secretly lusted for Troy herself but never told any of her friends about it. Why would she? Troy was almost seven years older than her and had a line of gorgeous girls his own age flirting with him. He would have never looked in her direction.
Anyway, back then her father and Troy’s dad weren’t getting along. Samuel Christian didn’t like having competition for his ranch and tried several times to buy theirs, but her father always told them no. It wasn’t for sale. Every blade of grass and speck of dirt was his pride and joy. The only thing that had meant more was their family, but all of that changed when her mother and brother didn’t come home from the hospital.
Days after her mother died during childbirth along with Justin, her father had gone into a deep depression during her senior year of high school and never fully came out. She remembered sitting beside him during the graveside funeral in shock, trying to hold it together while he broke down in tears.
She had been holding back her own tears, listening to the pastor, when a light touch on her leg had made her look up. She was completely stunned to find Troy squatting down in front of her. He’d placed his warm hand on top of her cold one and squeezed it as look of sadness passed over his handsome face. She was so taken back all she could do was gape at him. He never showed her any kind attention until that day.
“Are you okay?” he asked with genuine concern in his deep, rich voice. “Can I help you with anything?”
“No,” she finally replied when she regained her voice. “I’m fine, but I’m worried about Dad. He’s taking all of this very hard.”
“Give him some time. The pain will pass. I was the same way when my mother died in a car crash when I was fourteen. I never thought it would get easier and the pain would go away, but it eventually did.” Leaning forward, he had planted a soft kiss on her cheek that almost made her faint on the spot.
“Please call or come over if you need to talk. I’ll be glad to listen,” he whispered in her ear. Giving her leg one last squeeze, Troy had gotten up and left the service.
“Why did I ever think back then he was a nice guy? Men who look like him are always looking out for themselves and no one else,” Headley complained as she changed her clothes and climbed into bed.
“Well, I’m not going to let him win this battle. He isn’t going to steal my father’s hard earned work away from him. I will make sure of it.” Turning off the light, she turned on her side and tried to get some sleep without thoughts of the dangerously sexy Troy Christian sneaking into her dreams.