MidReal Story

The Billionaire's Game of Desire

Scenario: Ava Anderson, desperate to save her family's art center, breaks onto the estate of billionaire Ashton Adams, who promised to give her the money she needs but only if she can win it from him in a series of twisted games; as they compete, their intense attraction grows, but they must confront the question of the price of victory in lust and love.
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Ava Anderson, desperate to save her family's art center, breaks onto the estate of billionaire Ashton Adams, who promised to give her the money she needs but only if she can win it from him in a series of twisted games; as they compete, their intense attraction grows, but they must confront the question of the price of victory in lust and love.
I’m breaking and entering.
I know that as soon as I push open the door, but it’s the only way.
We need the money.
There’s no other choice.
I can only hope he’s as good as his word.
The heavy door swings inward on silent hinges.
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I’m not surprised, but I am dismayed to find it unlocked.
Tiptoeing inside, I wait with bated breath for the lights to flick on, for guards to come running, for something to happen.
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But the only sound is the creak of the door as it swings shut behind me.
I’m in the den of a billionaire, but I’m not here to steal anything.
I’m here to save my family’s beloved art center.
Founded by my grandmother over sixty years ago, Anderson’s has been a haven for dreamers and artists ever since.
It’s been a place for them to gather, to learn, and to grow.
But now it’s a place that needs help.
We’ve struggled financially for years, but we always managed to get by.
Until last month.
Reaching into my pocket, I pull out the key card that will let me past the security door at the back of the building, where he should be waiting for me.
I check my watch and curse under my breath when I see that it’s after midnight already.
What the hell is he doing?
Did he forget about me?
The art center is going under, but when he offered us thirty thousand dollars to help us keep our doors open, he made one demand in return: that I come play his games with him on his estate.
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He could give me the money right now, but he won’t do it until I win it from him first.
It’s a stupid game and an unnecessary delay that we can’t afford, but what choice do I have?
We’re out of options.
Anderson’s is more than just a building to me; it’s my home away from home.
I grew up there, watching my mother paint while I played with my toys.
It was at Anderson’s where I found my passion for painting, and it was there that I met my best friend, Emily.
It’s a place where countless other artists have grown up, too, and now it’ll be a place with locked doors.
I don’t know what went wrong this time.
I’m not sure if the world lost interest or if we’re just too old-fashioned.
But we can’t close.
I won’t let that happen.
My heart pounds in my chest as I step up to the security door and slide the keycard into the slot, then hit the call button.
An intercom crackles overhead, and I press my lips against the speaker.
The door swings open, and I hurry through before it can close again.
The switch at the end of the hall is a full twenty feet away from me, but I’m already walking toward it.
I need light, lots of light if I’m going to paint again tonight.
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And then I see him.
He’s standing just inside the door of the den, with his hands in his pockets and a scowl on his face.
He looks as though he’s been waiting for me for hours, but something about the way he watches me from beneath his lowered brows makes me think he just now heard me coming.
“Where were you?”
The lights don’t turn on when I flip the switch, so I check the bulbs and find them burned out.
That figures; nothing has been going my way lately.
Ashton Adams is watching me; I can feel his eyes on me even though they aren’t touching my skin.
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I can feel his gaze caressing my legs as they move beneath my dress and traveling up to my chest as it rises and falls beneath my cardigan.
He never said what to wear, but when he gave me the address and told me to come alone, something about his voice had made me think of an evening gown and not my usual jeans and T-shirt.
I’d dug through my closet until I found a little black dress that was still in decent shape and pulled it on over a lacy white bra and matching panties.
The dress is short, but not too short, and it’s tight, but not too tight, and I think it’s just right—in theory.
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It’s a little sexy for my taste, but then again, I’ve never been good at dressing up, so what do I know?
I turn back to face him and lift my chin as I meet his gaze, which is focused on my legs—or more specifically, where they meet beneath my skirt.
His eyes are dark as they rake over my body, and suddenly I see a completely different Ashton than the one I expected to find.
He’s not a man at all; he’s a monster, one who’s as twisted and dark as the games he plays.
And I think he might be insane; why else would he want to play games with someone like me?
But I can’t let him scare me—not now—and I refuse to be intimidated by him or by anything else.
I take a deep breath, then force myself to meet his gaze head-on, though it takes everything I have not to look away again.
“Is there a reason you’re staring at my legs?”
“I’m not staring at your legs,” he replies.
But he doesn’t look away.
If anything, his gaze grows more intense as he meets my eyes.
“I’m staring at you.”
His words are enough to send a shiver down my spine—every word of them.
But I refuse to let him see me shudder.
“I came here to play your games,” I tell him as I take another step forward.
“So why don’t you tell me what they are?”
He says nothing for a moment, and his eyes never leave mine.
But then he nods and steps aside to let me pass.
“The first game is for you to come inside,” he says as he turns and starts to walk away.
“You’ve already won round two.”
The house is even more impressive on the inside than it was outside.
I follow him down a long hallway that leads from the den to the foyer, and as we walk through it, I catch sight of a grand ballroom on one side and an expansive library on the other.
The only sound I hear is the song of a violin being played in another room.
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I guess it’s a recording or something; it just seems too perfect to be real.
And then we step into the foyer, and I’m hit by a wave of wonder as I take in the grand staircase and high ceilings and crystal chandelier hanging from above.
It’s beautiful—and it’s big.
It’s so big that it makes me feel small and unimportant as I stand there with my heart pounding in my chest.
But then I remember why I’m here in the first place—for the art center and for all the people who depend on it—and suddenly it doesn’t seem so big anymore.
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I’m just a girl on a mission to save her grandmother’s art center.
That’s all.
He’s waiting for me at the bottom of the steps when I turn back to face him.
He has his hands in his pockets and his eyes on me as he waits for me to make my next move.
And when he sees me looking back at him, he gives me a slow smile and an even slower wink.
“Now we’re even,” he says.
I don’t know what he means, exactly; I don’t think I want to.
But suddenly I don’t feel like smiling anymore—or winking or playing games.
I came here to do a job, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
He nods then as if he can read my thoughts on my face, and then he gives me another slow smile—one that tells me he knows exactly what I’m thinking.
“Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” he tells me.
He takes his hands out of his pockets and puts them at his sides as he waits for me to make my next move—and this time his smile is gone, replaced by something much darker and more intense than before.
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And when he speaks again, his voice is low and deadly serious.
“No, you’re not,” he tells me.
“I’m going to show you no mercy at all.”
I don’t know what he means by that, but I don’t have time to think about it right now.
Instead, I take a deep breath and do everything I can not to let him scare me.
I bite down on the inside of my cheek and tell myself over and over again that I’m not scared of him or of anything else.
And then I lift my chin and meet his gaze head-on as I prepare for whatever he has planned next.
“Let’s play,” I tell him.
For a moment his eyes never leave mine.
But then he takes a step back and nods toward the darkness behind me.
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“Watch your step,” he says.
“There are stairs and sharp objects all around you.
I’ll give you thirty seconds, then I’m coming after you.”
“What do you mean?”
I ask, even though I’m not sure if I want to know the answer.
“I mean that you should find a place to hide,” he tells me.
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