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Best Friends with the Billionaire: A Clean and Wholesome Romance (Billionaires with Heart Book 2) by Liwen Ho (1)

Chapter One

Noah

 

There were two things Noah Carter was sure of when Laurene Brooks grabbed his hand: one, maybe the gorgeous redhead finally saw him as more than a friend, and two, his boss was going to fire him.

“Did you see Gabe’s face?” Laurene squealed in delight. She continued to lead him away from her brother’s Hawaiian vacation home where they were currently staying. Her three-inch stilettos clicked against the pavement as they strode toward her gold Porsche 918 Spyder parked at the end of the driveway.

“Yeah, I saw it.” Noah forced out a smile for Laurene’s sake, but his stomach was knotted with worry. The disapproving glare Gabriel shot him moments ago when he and Laurene made their exit was burned into his memory. Noah thought Gabriel had been too distracted by the kiss he’d been sharing with an old flame of his to notice Laurene holding his hand, but no such luck. “I don’t think we should’ve interrupted their kiss.”

“Oh, but it was priceless to see him caught off guard like that.” Laurene dropped Noah’s hand as they reached the passenger side of the car. She fished her keys out of her designer purse and tossed them to him. “Wanna drive?”

Noah’s jaw dropped. “Are you serious? You trust me to drive your baby?”

She rolled her eyes as she placed one perfectly manicured hand on her hip. “Of course I trust you. And anyways, it’s just a car. I could easily buy another one like it if I wanted to.”

He nodded. Wasn’t that the truth. A 2.2 million dollar car was nothing in light of Laurene’s total worth as a billionaire. She had more zeroes to her name than the stars in the sky. Or so it felt like it to Noah. He still couldn’t wrap his mind around how wealthy the Brooks siblings were. It had taken Gabriel, Laurene, and their brother, Devon, a while to accept it, too. When their father passed away five years ago, he’d left a secret stash of four billion dollars to his name, which he left in equal shares to his wife and children.

Gabriel and Devon had immediately started their own company, hiring Noah in the process. Laurene had quit her career as a second-grade teacher and turned into a glamorous socialite. Gone was the reserved teenager he first met over a dozen years ago when he had visited Gabriel and his family during their senior year of college. In her place was a confident and attractive woman he had come to admire. Over the past year, they’d gotten to hang out often whenever she dropped by the office to see her brothers. This was the first chance, however, that he had to spend an extended amount of time with Laurene, something he had been looking forward to for a long time.

Yes, it so happened that he was that guy. He’d fallen for his best friend’s younger sister. To make things even more complicated, Gabriel was also his boss. So as much as Noah wanted to date Laurene, it was in his best interests to stay away from her. But he hadn’t had the heart to turn her down when she asked him to go shopping today.

“I’d love to drive,” Noah replied. “I promise to be careful.” He unlocked the car and opened the door for her. She slid in gracefully, folding her long legs to the side and smoothing out her yellow dress as she sat down. He took care to close the door then walked around to the driver’s side. Once he was behind the wheel, he turned on the ignition. The powerful engine roared to life, sending a surge of adrenaline through Noah’s body. That, coupled with the sweet scent of Laurene’s perfume, caused his head to spin. He couldn’t believe how amazing this vacation was turning out to be. “I see now why you had your car flown in for this trip. I wouldn’t want to drive anything else after driving this.”

“It is pretty sweet, isn’t it? It sure beats the beat-up Honda I had before this.” She sat back in her seat with a pleased smile. “It pays to have money.”

Noah stepped on the gas and turned the car onto the main road. The car accelerated from zero to sixty in a matter of seconds. He took the shades that had been hanging from the front of his polo shirt and slipped them on. The tropical breeze blowing through his window whipped through his sandy brown hair, giving him a sense of freedom he’d never known. He felt like a king driving down the empty stretch of freeway which was flanked by hills on one side and the sparkling ocean on the other. The best part of it all was the gorgeous woman by his side.

He could get used to this kind of life. Especially the feel of Laurene’s hand on his arm. His whole body warmed as her long, tapered fingers ran along his skin. Her touch caused his thoughts to jumble like sand in an overturned hourglass.

She leaned over the center console to murmur in his ear. “Thanks for coming with me, Noah. I really appreciate your company.”

Her minty breath tickled his ear, but he didn’t dare move. To be this close to Laurene was a dream come true; he didn’t want to risk cutting the moment short. He smiled and wondered if whatever was going on between them was just a vacation fling. “Of course. It’s been a while since we saw each other, so this gives us a chance to catch up.”

“I’d love that. I’ve really missed hanging out with you.”

Noah couldn’t miss her flirtatious tone. Ever since Laurene had arrived at the villa yesterday, she’d been laughing at all his jokes and standing so closely they often bumped elbows. Even as a tech geek with limited dating experience, he could tell she was paying him special attention. He only wondered why. Short of his relationship with the Brooks family, he didn’t have any connections to money. He wasn’t the most well-spoken man or particularly handsome either. But he’d been raised to be a gentleman, so he at least had a heart of gold, as his mother liked to say.

Were manners and etiquette enough to win over a billionaire’s heart? If he were to try. Laurene was off limits though, he reminded himself. As much as he wanted more than friendship with her, he was going to keep his distance. Even though one look in her emerald eyes made him lose the will to fight.

 

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