The Bad Boy Billionaire's Girl Gone Wild(5) by Maya Rodale

I had done it: written and published a novel with a little help from my fake fiancé and my good friend.

Chapter Three

New York Public Library

FOR A MOMENT there, it seemed like my life was coming together perfectly. I lived in the greatest city in the world with an awesome friend and roommate, I had published a novel like I said I would, and there were even rumors about the possibility of a promotion at work when another librarian planned to quit to be a stay-at-home mom. For a moment there—that night at the bar—it seemed like I could have my pick between Duke and Sam.

I agonized over which guy I should give my heart to—and for nothing. Duke didn’t call (or text, or tweet, or Snapchat, or IM or Facebook message or any of the thousands of forms of communication guys like him had invented)—other than a quick text to say he was slammed with work. Apparently, Project-TK wasted no time in using the investment money to get bigger and better, fast.

Also, Sam posted something on Facebook about “a sexy and chill weekend getaway with my girl,” otherwise known as the loathsome Kate Abbott.

While on Facebook, I happened to notice that Kelly Valdastono was pregnant, Leslie Jackson was engaged, Lisa Webber got a promotion and everyone else’s life was moving on while I was spinning my wheels in the city.

As I was monitoring the reference desk at the library, I tried not to think about Duke, but I just ended up trying to convince myself not to take his radio silence personally. I knew he was working like crazy. It seemed the whole Internet was abuzz with news of a new, top secret product that they were prepping to launch any day now. Thanks to his updates on Twitter, I knew that he was hiring a ton of new staff now that they were flush with cash—all the better for them to grow quickly enough to IPO sooner rather than later.

I also tried not to think about how many copies my book had sold. More to the point: how many copies it hadn’t sold. Roxanna told me I had to do more to promote it, so I had planned to make that my project for the weekend. You know, since I apparently wasn’t going out with my pretend billionaire boyfriend.

When Roxanna called that afternoon, I was grateful for the distraction. In a whisper, I told her I’d call her back when I got outside. I took a seat on the front steps of the library under one of the lion statues, shrugged off my cardigan to better enjoy the sunshine and called her back. She launched right into her news after the first ring.

“So Jane, remember that bitch Karen from my office?”

“I’ve heard you complain about her.” She and Roxanna had an ongoing professional rivalry in which they constantly vied to have the articles with the highest traffic.

“Well, she was jealous because my story about you and Duke’s engagement had so much more traffic than her stupid post on twerking. So when she found out that you wrote a book . . .”

I inhaled sharply and then forgot to exhale. The only reason a site like Jezebel.com, which Roxanna wrote for, would care about a book like mine was if they exploded the whole Duke-Austen’s-possibly-fake-fiancée angle.

“How did she find out?” I asked.

“I told my friend, Molly, that she should read it. And Karen overheard me.”

“Tell me there’s not a scathing story about it online right now,” I said. Roxanna fell silent. I knew she hadn’t hung up because I could still hear her breathing. Finally, after a moment in which her point was made, she said, “So there’s a scathing story about it online right now.”

“How bad is it?” I asked, switching the phone from one ear to another.

“Could be worse. Probably.”

“Tell me no one’s reading it,” I groaned.

“Let’s look on the bright side. It’s really hard for shit to go viral on the Internet,” Roxanna said optimistically. “So in a way, this is kind of an accomplishment for you.”

Roxanna’s logic often baffled me. This was no exception.

“How horrified am I going to be when I read it?”

“Immediately after you finish it, check to see how many copies you sold. I bet that’ll make you feel better.”

A second later I clicked the link Roxanna sent me and started to read.

Did the Bad Boy Billionaire Fake His Engagement?

His “Good Girl” Fiancée’s Bodice-Ripping Novel Suggests They Did

Just when you thought bad boy billionaire Duke Austen had reformed and settled down to blissful, boring domesticity—depriving us all of his outrageous antics (remember the time he lost a billion dollars? Or that time he was photographed with the na**d supermodel and topless Oscar-winning actress on a yacht in the Mediterranean?), this happens. THIS being one of those books found at the supermarket—bare-chested rogues, throbbing members, trembling maidens, heaving bosoms, and strapping men—written by under the pseudonym Maya Rodale otherwise known in real life as Jane Sparks aka the future Mrs. Duke Austen, or so we’re led to believe. With thousands of these smutty books pubbed each year, it wouldn’t be that remarkable—except this one, The Wicked Wallflower, is about a couple faking their relationship in order to score a ton of money.

And people have been asking questions—given the whirlwind nature of their “relationship” which took the tech world by surprise, one can’t help but wonder if this is a case of art imitating life. And if it is a case of art imitating life, one has to freaking marvel at lines like this:

“Allow me to confirm that I am understanding you correctly,” Emma said slowly. “You would like us to pose as a betrothed couple to swindle your wealthy, elderly aunt out of her fortune.”

ARE YOU READING, AUGUSTUS GREY? Do you want your 150 million dollars back? I want you to have your money back because I bet you just got played.

Since we’re all busy ladies, here are some choice excerpts with an emphasis on the smutty bits. Because smutty bits:

He kissed her hard. And she . . . she kissed him back. Her tongue, tangling with his. Frantic breaths, hers and his. He couldn’t breathe. His heart was pounding. He couldn’t taste her or touch her enough. This kiss . . . they would not stop with this kiss. There was not enough time in the world for this kiss . . . it would take a lifetime.

GAWD.

Claiming her mouth for a kiss, he slowly eased in, inch by inch until he no longer knew where she ended and he began.

I’m blushing.

But then she tightened her legs around him and dragged her fingertips down his back, and kissed him hard. But she was quite a minx.

TMI.

I sat on the dramatic front steps of the New York Public Library only vaguely aware of the city happening around me. My whole world had suddenly been reduced to this snarky article that hit a little too close to the truth. OK, way too close.

And, God, it had been one thing to write those sex scenes and quite another to read random excerpts taken out of context. And besides, my book was more than just sex! It was about love, and a woman’s confidence, and a man recognizing a great woman when she’s pretending to be his fiancée!

I groaned and rested my head on my knees. Everyone was going to read this stupid article. And then everyone—read: Duke—was going to know how I felt and then . . . I groaned again and hit my head against my knees repeatedly until my phone chimed with a text message.

Roxanna Lane: Remember to check your sales numbers

I logged into one of my self-publishing accounts. And then I dropped my phone.

“Holy shit,” I muttered to myself. I picked up my phone and zoomed in.

Yup, that number was there. Before this article was published, I had sold maybe 10 copies, and two of them were to Roxanna and myself. And now . . .

I had sold waaaaay more than ten.

I felt a bit of pride. I felt a surge of relief and joy when I saw the royalty statement I was due. But any feelings of triumph were tempered by the awareness of what damage that bitch Karen might have inflicted on Duke’s career because of her article. I had only wanted to write. I didn’t want to hurt anyone in the process.

Maybe he didn’t see the article. Or the book! And really—Augustus Grey wasn’t the type to bother himself with self-published romance novels or news blogs for women.

But I couldn’t help but wonder: had Duke bought one of those copies?

I checked Twitter to see if he had, say, mentioned it. My attention was immediately drawn not to a tweet from Duke but a tweet about him from TechCrunch. Warily I clicked the link and started to read the article.

Duke Austen’s Product Launch Overshadowed by “Fiancée’s” Smutty Self-Pubbed Novel

The launch that has all of the Internet talking isn’t the much-anticipated reveal of the new product and plan to monetize by Duke Austen’s newly funded Project-TK. He and his bold (and loaded) investor, Augustus Grey, had high hopes for the product which they hoped would revolutionize their market, capitalize on their massive user base, and lay the ground work for a $20 billion IPO. Instead, the Internet is buzzing about his “fiancée’s” bodice-ripping romance novel that suggests their whole engagement was a giant ploy to score a fortune.

Everyone was surprised when the bad boy billionaire suddenly settled down with a demure librarian after what has been described as a “whirlwind” relationship. But given the premise of Ms. Spark’s book, The Wicked Wallflower—published under the pseudonym Maya Rodale—people are wondering if the Duke + Jane relationship is fake, too. Lines like this make it hard to believe otherwise: “Allow me to confirm that I am understanding you correctly,” Emma said slowly. “You would like us to pose as a betrothed couple to swindle your wealthy, elderly aunt out of her fortune.” His aunt, by the way, is named Agatha Grey.

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