Home > Billionaire Undaunted: Zane (The Billionaire's Obsession #9)(13)

Billionaire Undaunted: Zane (The Billionaire's Obsession #9)(13)
Author: J.S. Scott

Tate was younger, closer in age to her and Chloe, but she’d never had more than a casual acquaintance with him. It was Zane who had caught her attention back then, probably because he was so much more approachable, so much more like her. He was almost always alone, and probably felt like he didn’t fit in. They’d struck up a friendship when she’d seen his frustration at the tediousness of organizing his research. She’d offered to help put everything in a likely order after questioning him about the different portions of his notes. Even though the material was way over her head, she had put things in a logical order, which didn’t take a genius.

He shrugged. “I liked you. And I don’t like all that many people.”

Ellie laughed at his bluntness, a part of Zane she secretly adored. He wasn’t much for small talk. If he appeared socially awkward sometimes, she attributed that to his intelligence. He didn’t communicate on the same level as most people did. It wasn’t that he couldn’t; he just didn’t, probably because most people were too intimidated to have a conversation with him. If she didn’t know him, Ellie wondered how daunting it might be to approach a man who had one of the smartest scientific brains in the country. Fortunately, she knew there was so much more to him than just the geeky science nerd he claimed to be.

As Ellie thought about all of the things Chloe had shared with her about her brothers over the years, she suddenly remembered something, a fact that had eluded her until today. “Don’t you have a girlfriend who’ll be upset if I’m staying with you? Isn’t she coming here for the holidays?” she asked curiously.

“No. I’m not interested in a woman who just pretends to like me for my money or Colter status.”

Her heart sank as she thought about the fact that women probably did pursue him just because he was a billionaire Colter. “Not all women are like that, Zane. Haven’t you met somebody you just connected with on another level?”

“No,” he said simply.

“But you’ve dated. Chloe told me you had a girlfriend at one time.” Ellie could still remember how she’d felt when she knew Zane was getting serious with a woman from Denver. Even though she hadn’t seen him in a long time, Ellie had still felt an odd sense of…loss.

“I did. But it didn’t last long. She got bored and moved on to someone else. She found out I didn’t live a glamorous life full of endless parties and exotic vacations. After a while, she figured out I actually worked. A lot. I gave her all of the material things and money she wanted, but not the lifestyle she’d dreamed about.”

Ellie crossed her arms angrily. “Then she wasn’t worthy of you. Good riddance, I say.” She hesitated before asking, “Did she hurt you?”

He was silent for a moment, as though he was considering her question. Finally, he said, “Not really. That was when I figured out I was better off without a relationship. Now I just fuck and forget about anything long-term.”

He tried to sound nonchalant, but Ellie could hear the underlying sadness in his voice. The girlfriend had hurt him, and she’d made him cautious and wary. “I’m sorry she hurt you,” Ellie said quietly.

“She didn’t hurt me,” he argued huskily.

“Yes, she did. But she just wasn’t the right woman. I think there’s someone for everybody if you’re lucky enough to find them,” Ellie replied wistfully.

“Then why are you still single?” he grunted.

“I was waiting. Someday I’m hoping somebody will really see me, and not just what I look like on the outside.”

“You’re fucking beautiful. If anybody sees you any differently, they’re an idiot.”

“I’m plain, I was chubby, and now I’m too skinny. I’m not much for going to bars or parties. I’d rather be reading a good book or making candles most of the time. Does that sound exciting to you?” she asked drily.

“There’s nothing wrong with being different, Ell,” Zane replied gruffly.

“I could say the same thing to you,” she answered lightly, but her heart was smiling from his words.

He didn’t answer as he pulled up to the entrance of his enormous home. The iron gates were incredibly high and the posts along the top looked sharp. Nobody sane was going over one of the walls of his fortress.

She watched as he punched in a code and the iron gates began to swing open.

“Paranoid much?” she asked curiously.

“I have to be. I’ve had people try to steal my research too many times. I can’t use electric fences because of the wildlife, but it’s as safe here as possible.”

Ellie could believe that. She saw video cameras and motion lights click on as they went down the driveway. “Is it that bad?”

“Bad enough to be cautious,” he answered as he pulled his vehicle into a massive garage. “Since I keep a research lab here, I’m careful. I’m rich enough, and my lab has made me even richer. I might not care about the money, but there’s a lot of it to be had with the right research in biotech.”

“Your lab here…it’s in the house?” Not that she doubted that a lab would fit inside the enormous mansion she’d gotten a brief look at on the way down the drive. But it was getting late, and it got dark early in the winter. She hadn’t seen much except the enormous size.

He shook his head as he shut off the engine. “Not in the main living area. It’s underground.”

Ellie held up a hand when he headed toward the passenger side to help her out. “I can walk. I want to.” After lying in bed for so long, it felt good to be up and walking.

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