Beth Wilmington is living a modern day Cinderella story, going from waitress to the girlfriend of one of the richest and most eligible men in America, Gabriel Reynolds.
But there are people who don't take too kindly to her living in the lap of luxury, inhabiting that mansion, owning all those designer clothes, and being introduced to impossible pleasures.
Will their relationship survive the obstacles blocking their path, or will Beth’s Cinderella story come to an abrupt end?
“I think I’m going to vomit, Gabriel,” Beth Wilmington said, clutching her stomach as a bout of nausea filled her. She peered out the window of the stretch limo, attempting to distract herself. They were on their way to a charity event in Manhattan. Everyone who was anyone was supposed to be there; corporate CEOs like Gabriel, actors, recording artists. They were way out of her league and she knew it. Even though they’d been together for a little over a month, this was the first time she’d been to an event on Gabriel’s arm and the pressure was nearly unbearable.
“Oh, I think you’ll be fine. You’re stronger than you give yourself credit for, baby.” Billionaire Gabriel Reynolds, owner of Gabriel Reynolds Enterprises, gave her hand a little squeeze.
Beth leaned forward and grabbed her glass of wine, drinking the remainder of the contents, and then reached for the bottle to pour herself a fourth glass. Gabriel’s hand shot out and grabbed the bottle from her and set it back into the ice bucket.
“Whoa, hey. What are ya doing?” Beth’s blue eyes narrowed as she shot him an annoyed look. She was insanely nervous; she needed at least one more glass to calm herself before arriving at their destination.
“You’ve had three glasses since we’ve left Portland and you haven’t eaten all day. Drink anymore and you will be puking all over the place. And this suit set me back ten grand so I’d prefer it not to be reeking of regurgitated alcohol.” Gabriel smiled at her, humor in his dark eyes.
“Yes, Sir,” she grumbled, crossing her arms over her chest and flopping back into the leather seat.
Gabriel laughed. Capturing her chin in his hand, he forced her to look at him and then lowered his lips to hers, kissing her tenderly. “Keep that up and I’ll put you over my knee right now.”
A smile tugged at the corners of her lips as she met his gaze. “Is that supposed to deter me?”
He let out a low, growl-like sound from the back of his throat as lust flared up in his eyes. “If we weren’t about to pull up to the hotel I’d follow through with my threat. Just remember, the event is only a few hours and then you’re all mine for the rest of the night, to do with as I please.”
“I’m just nervous. You grew up going to these fancy events and dating movie stars and models and such. The closest I’ve ever come was hearing a rumour that one of the girls from one of the other coffee shops started dating that rock star Bo Savage.”
Gabriel released her chin and clucked his tongue off of the roof of his mouth, his eyes taking on a far-off look. “You know, I think Bo and the band are supposed to be there tonight.”
“The girl from the coffee shop too?” That would be cool. She’d read a number of the tabloid stories about Bo’s girlfriend, the red-headed coffee shop girl, who worked at a different franchise of the company she used to work for before going to work for Gabriel. The tabloids were relentless bashing her. It’s what Beth feared, being with Gabriel. Gabriel wasn’t near the public personality that Bo was, but he still got his fair share of time in the public eye, especially in the society pages. The lives of the rich and powerful people seemed to be of great interest to New Yorkers, particularly those in Manhattan, although for the life of her she couldn’t figure out why. It made her grateful they lived in Portland where life moved at a slower pace and the rich weren’t treated like some sort of royalty, whose every movement was documented by society-type bloggers and news sorts.
It would be nice to know how Bo’s girlfriend handled the press. Hanna, she thought her name was. Yes, she was going to have to be on the lookout for Hanna and Bo.
“I would assume so. They’re usually together, aren’t they? Pretty much everyone there will be with a date.”
Beth nodded. “That’s what I gather from the tabloids. From what I hear from the girls I used to work with they’re inseparable.”
“If it would make you happy, I’ll see what I can do to get us some face time with them.”
A sudden rush of excitement came over her. “Are you serious? Really? You can do that?”
Gabriel shrugged. “My company owns the recording label Bo’s band is contracted with.”
“No way!” She turned to face him in the seat and gave his shoulder a little jab. “You never told me that!”
“I have interests in a lot of companies. Never thought it was important.”
Beth rolled her eyes at him. Of course he wouldn’t think it was important or interesting information.
He smiled. “Listen. These stars and society types are no different than anyone else. They’re not a big deal; if you start thinking that way then this nervousness you’re feeling will go away.”
“Easy for you to say. Again, you grew up fraternizing with them.”
“What’s so special about them? Really? They do a job like everyone else, except their job is to act or sing or whatever. Hell, a lot of them live off of trust funds and have never had a real job in their lives. They’re no big deal.”
“Yeah, but they’re glamorous and –”
“Spend hours a day with people fussing over them and in many cases surgery so they can look that way.” He took her hand and kissed it. “You’re so much more beautiful and you don’t need hours of daily maintenance.”
“Yet. Give me a few years.” Their gazes locked and his expression turned to a scowl. “I mean thank you.” He was such a wonderful man. How she got so lucky was beyond her, but she wasn’t about to second guess it, just be grateful.
He gave her hand a squeeze. “Oh hey, we’re here.”
She shifted her gaze to look back out the window. The car had stopped and they were now in a line of limos, high-end sports cars and SUVs, all with their occupants waiting for their turn to be let out and walk down the gated-off walkway and into the hotel for the event.
“Holy shit,” she said, giggling. “There’s actually a red carpet!”
Gabriel rolled his eyes. “Yeah. Rather pretentious I know.”
“No, cool.” She released his hand and scampered to the other end of the stretch SUV limo to get a better look at the people exiting the other cars. Her nervousness gave way to excitement. “Oh my God, isn’t that that guy from that show?” She pointed to a tall, lean blonde man and his equally tall and leggy date who she was positive was a model – the new Gucci girl to be exact. Photographers fought to get the best pictures of the couple, while fans and reporters attempted to gain the couple’s attention.
She glanced over her shoulder to see an amused look on his face, his brow cocked. “Beats me, babes. I don’t watch television, remember?”
“Sure you do, you watch that CSI show.”
He raised his hands, palms up in surrender. “I guess you’re right.”
Their car inched forward, drawing her attention back to the red carpet. She watched intently as several people she recognized from television made an appearance. After close to a ten-minute wait, it was their turn and her stomach did another flip-flop. She made her way to the back of the car to sit by Gabriel and waited for the doorman to open the door for them.