Home > Billionaire Unmasked ~ Jason (Billionaire's Obsession #6)(10)

Billionaire Unmasked ~ Jason (Billionaire's Obsession #6)(10)
Author: J.S. Scott

I can’t do this.

“Hope?” Jason put a hand behind her head and forced her to look at him. “What’s wrong? Why are you crying?”

Hope looked into his passion-laden eyes, and felt helpless to explain. Gone was the jackass Jason, and the compassionate man she knew slowly returned. Unfortunately, his multiple personalities made everything more confusing. She wanted to confess everything to her old friend, the man who had given her such exquisite pleasure earlier in the year. The man who tried to extort her into staying with him—she wanted nothing to do with him. The problem was, deep inside, Hope knew that wasn’t the real Jason. His cold ruthlessness might be a part of him, but it wasn’t all that he was.

“Everything is wrong,” she muttered. It felt as if the whole world suddenly crashed down around her. She pushed at his chest. “This is wrong. We should have never gotten married, Jason. I can’t imagine either one of us behaving that way, but we did.” This wasn’t all Jason’s fault. Certainly, he was playing a dirty hand right now, taking advantage of the situation, but she’d gotten drunk and apparently jumped on the chance to have a man she’d wanted for such an incredibly long time. Then, her lies had caught up to her with a vengeance. “I don’t believe you did this for completely selfish reasons. Not if you were worried that I was marrying the wrong man at the time. Maybe some rational part of you was trying to save me.”

Jason raised a brow. “Don’t try to make me into a hero, Hope. I’m sure it was completely selfish. And my requirement for you to stay is definitely hedonistic.”

“Then it was a waste of your time,” Hope spat out at him. She stalked into the living room with Jason on her heels.

“I don’t think you understand how badly I want you,” Jason said ominously. He snaked an arm around her waist and pulled her down to the couch. “Let’s hear about why you lied in the first place. Talk to me.”

Hope landed on his lap, but she scrambled off him and seated herself on the other end of the sofa. She couldn’t be close to him right now. She needed to out herself about some of her life and take her chances with Jason, even if she was still ticked about his highhanded tactics in trying to get her to stay. She swiped at the tears on her face. “You know about my photography career?”

“Obviously,” Jason said acerbically. “It’s hard to miss a portfolio full of pictures. It’s also clear that you didn’t want anybody to associate you with the billionaire Sinclair family, which is why you used your initials. What I don’t understand is why you never told anyone.”

Hope saw a flash of hurt in Jason’s eyes. “Do you think my brothers would have been supportive?” She snorted. “I love them with all my heart, but they would have done everything they could to stop me from doing something I wanted to do. You know they would. For God’s sake, they wanted me to have security even when I was in college. The only way I talked them out of that was by telling them that nobody associated me with the Boston Sinclairs, and I’d never tell anybody. After college, I had to let them think that I was living a very quiet, very anonymous life. Otherwise, they would have had security all over me, whether I wanted it or not. “

“Why does it have to be extreme weather?” Jason grumbled. He couldn’t disagree with her point about her brothers.

Hope shrugged. “It started out as a fluke. I’ve always loved storms: the thunder, the lightning, and the unstoppable power of Mother Nature. Thunderstorms are brutally beautiful and fascinating because there’s still so much we don’t understand about extreme weather. Maybe it’s the mystery that first intrigued me. I started right after school as a freelancer, most of my photos of lightning strikes and thunderstorms. Newspapers and other companies began to buy them, wanting more. I moved into it gradually, noticing that what I was photographing was what was most in demand. Eventually, I didn’t wait for the storms to come to me. I went to them.”

“So when most sane people were running away, you were running toward the storms?” Jason rumbled, still sounding upset.

Hope nodded. “Yes. I’m always as careful as I can be. Tornados are unpredictable, but David and I tried to be as cautious as we could be. Sometimes I wasn’t so careful when I started. I was too naïve and intoxicated with being free to care. When you grow up beneath the iron fist of a raging alcoholic, and then are left to a mother who blames you because she can’t move away somewhere else to forget the past, you learn to appreciate freedom. “

“Your mother blamed you?” Jason said angrily.

“Every single day. I was constantly reminded that if I didn’t exist, she’d have her freedom. The day I graduated from high school was the happiest day of my life. I could finally stop feeling guilty for just existing.” She cuddled Daisy on her lap as the feline leapt onto the couch.

Jason nodded his head toward her cat. “The same day that you got a deaf cat as a graduation present.”

“I never regretted having her,” Hope told him honestly. “She gives me unconditional love. She’s been a great companion, Jason. She goes with me when I can take her, and she adapts to any environment, which is very strange for a cat.” Hope wasn’t about to tell him that she cherished Daisy just that much more because she’d gotten her from Jason.

“How did none of us ever figure this out for ourselves? Why did none of us know you were a photographer? How did your brothers never discover it?” Jason said, disgruntled.

“Because I didn’t want anyone to know. I wanted my freedom. They believed I was living an idle, anonymous life in Aspen, traveling occasionally with friends. It’s what I wanted them to believe.”

“You know what you’re doing is crazy, right? You’re risking your life for pictures.”

“It’s my life to risk,” Hope threw back at him. “And I don’t think it’s crazy. It’s my job.”

“I saw the pictures, Hope. The destruction and loss of life has to take its toll on you.” He gave her a sharp glance.

That was the hardest part, the area of her job that ate at her soul. “It’s horrible,” she admitted. “I help when I can. I took first responder training. But yes, it’s…difficult.” She swallowed a lump in her throat at the truth. “Extreme weather is going to happen whether I’m there or not, and the victims are going to suffer horribly. I had to suck it up and try to help.”

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