Million Dollar Devil
Million Dollar, Book 1
Big-city sophistication meets carnal hunger in this devilish contemporary romance from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Katy Evans.
Heir apparent to her father’s company, Lizzy Banks needs a man. The perfect man. But when the rich “fundbabies” she usually rubs shoulders with prove impossible to hire, she takes a chance on a raw beast of a man salvaged from the wreckage of a bar brawl.
James Rowan earns a modest income as a YouTube daredevil, but he can’t refuse Lizzy’s million dollar deal. As she polishes his rough edges, creating a sophisticated gentleman fit for the highest circles of society, not only does she bring out the perfect man—it’s like she’s making the man of her dreams. How can she resist?
Though Lizzy loves seeing James in his clothes—and out of them—he isn’t the kind of man you bring home to Daddy. Her father’s disapproval and the pressure of the campaign have her eyeing the straight and narrow, but Lizzy’s finding it awfully hard to resist the devil on her shoulder…
Wow. I must have switched streets without noticing, and now I’m in a not-so-nice part of town, with my Hermès purse and my Louboutin shoes. I furtively scan up and down the dark streets. Something moves in the shadows of the narrow alley beside me, probably a sinister figure, like all these neighborhoods have. Oh god. Suddenly I feel naked. I might as well have MUG ME written on my forehead.
I’ve never gotten seriously drunk at a bar, for fear of embarrassing my father. At this place, however, good ole Tim’s Bar, I’ll bet there’s no one who’s even heard of him or our products. That’s just what I need.
But I can’t go inside, can I? Who knows what kind of rough, scary people are in there. Growing up, the most badass person I ever met was Sensei Tim, my Tuesday-Thursday judo instructor, and he lived in the suburbs and had a side business selling scented candles.
As I’m debating, Sinister Man steps out of the shadows. He has no teeth and slits for eyes, and impossibly, he’s even more sinister in the streetlight. “Hey, sweetie,” he hisses.
Oh, hell no.
Exhaling, I push open the door and throw myself inside, skidding to a stop and scanning my surroundings.
About fifty heads swing in my direction, like I’m the entertainment for the evening. It’s like the record playing on the old jukebox in the corner suddenly screeches off its track too.
I tuck a lock of hair behind my ear. There’s a long, almost-empty bar and a couple of customers having nachos and chips and salsa at the tables.
But as I walk across the tilting cement floor, every single one of those eyes is on me.
What am I doing here, again?
Oh, right. Probably trying to get myself mugged.
No, this is a regular commercial establishment, like any other. I’m sure they’ll be happy to have my business.
Summoning my courage, I take a middle stool at the bar and tell the bartender, who’s busy watching something on his phone, “Tequila, the finest you have—straight up,” in a gruff voice that I hope makes me sound like I can hold my own, in case someone is eyeing up my purse.
He doesn’t look up, merely smiles down at whatever he’s watching as he pours me something from a bottle called Montezuma and serves with his free hand. What the hell is Montezuma?
Great service. “Um. I said the best you have.”
He looks up at me, finally seeing me for the first time. A frown of annoyance on his lips. “This is the best, princess. Also the only.”
I probably don’t want to upset him, seeing how he has arms the size of tree trunks, covered in tattoos.
I take my shot and guzzle it down. It’s awful, like paint thinner, squeezing tears from my eyes. Whatever. I tap the bar for another. When my curiosity gets the best of me, I ask, “What are you watching?”
“Jimmy Rowan. The stunt guy on YouTube? He’s going to get killed one day.”
“Hopefully not today.” I frown and peer at the screen. “What kind of stunts does he do anyway? That’s so dangerous.”
He tilts his phone completely towards me. A guy in a helmet and nylon jumpsuit is throwing himself off an airplane. He’s speaking into the camera, saying, “So I was dared to pull the strings fifteen seconds after any sane, normal human being would. So, let’s count down from right about . . . now.”
My eyes widen, and my insides clutch in concern for the idiot behind the camera.
Fourteen . . .
The static from the wind makes his voice sound shattered, strained.
“Thirteen.” The bartender is counting.
I watch the idiot continue his free fall as land grows closer beneath him.
“What an idiot,” I mumble, but I’m still unable to take my eyes off the video.
“Five!” the bartender says.
I look away. “Just tell me he lived.”
“Oh, he lives.” He shows me the camera when the guy finally pulls the cord on his chute, and a few seconds later, crashes into the ground. The guy growls, “Ouch,” then starts laughing, a low, rumbly laugh. I can’t help but smile and shake my head.
“And he did this all because . . .”
“They dared him to. Five hundred bucks.”
“He did all of that? For five hundred bucks?”
“He gets more from the video views. A man’s got to put food on the table.” He eyes me up and down. “Specially when he doesn’t have a trust fund coming to him.”
Hell, and all I want is a man to wear my suits and look pretty for a few events. “Why can’t I find such a man?” I ask out loud, shaking my head as I push my empty glass forward. “Bartender. Another drink. Please.”
I’m on my third.
He pours it for me. “Classy guy, that Jimmy.”
“In what dictionary?”
He frowns as he sets his phone back into his pocket and polishes a glass. “Huh?”
“What dictionary would define him as classy?”
His eyes widen as if I’ve just murmured something blasphemous. “Well, maybe not yourclass. He doesn’t own a Rolls. But around here, he’s royalty. Jimmy hangs out here all the time.” He nods at a dark corner booth situated to the right of the bar. “His office is right over there.”
I see the cluttered tabletop and wonder what kind of man leaves a tripod, camera, and old laptop set up in a bar. He must trust the people who patronize this place. Either that or the patrons fear him.
“Jimmy Rowan will do anything for a dare—he’s a man of honor.”
“If he’d do that for five hundred, what would he do for half a million or more?” I grumble, smiling and shaking my head at the thought. At least I can still smile.
“Hell, shit, ma’am, he’d do anything. What? You offering?” He eyes me with new interest, in kind of a smarmy way, as if he thinks I’m asking to buy Jimmy’s services. Who the heck does he think I am? “Ladies go for him.”
Oh god, he does think that.
“No, thank you very much,” I mutter. “Ladies or women? I don’t think a lot of ladies would go for someone that foolish.”
He raises his gaze past my shoulders. Silence falls over the room, and then the bartender murmurs, “Speak of the devil . . .”
There’s a loud crash, followed by a ruckus.
“What’s that?” I glance around at the commotion.
The bartender smiles. “Jimmy Rowan.”
I turn my gaze to the door, and my heart skips a beat.