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Lorana Hoopes

The Billionaire's Secret

The Billionaire's Secret

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First Chapter

Maxwell Banks smiled at the buxom blond across from him. Her name had escaped his memory, but she would make a suitable companion for the night. The image of her long blond hair splayed like gold across his pillow filled his mind, sending his pulse into overdrive. Her yoga instructor body was just calling out for his attention if the tight shirt she was sporting was any indication.

Discreetly, he turned his wrist to check his watch. Fifteen minutes since they finished dinner. Surely that was a long enough segment of small talk. “You want to finish this somewhere more comfortable?” He reached across the table to stroke her hand as he said the words. A little flattery went a long way. He had mastered that art in the last few years.

Her tongue darted out and swiped across her lips, and her teeth bit the bottom one, causing the blood to flow to it and tint it a shade darker. “Um, sure, I guess that would be okay.”

Her words were hesitant, and Maxwell knew he would have to turn up his charm. He didn’t usually have to work hard to get women to come home with him. With his dark hair, blue eyes, broad shoulders, and chiseled chest his looks alone attracted many. The fact that he came from money attracted the rest. Those were the harder ones to get rid of, the ones after his money. They tended to show up uninvited and blow his phone up all hours of the day.

But this one wasn’t looking for a sugar daddy. This one he picked up in yoga class. Yoga was not usually his thing; he preferred lifting and running, but his friend Justin had dared him to try the class, and as the instructor was hot, Maxwell had taken the chance.

He could tell when he entered the large room that she found him attractive as her eyes followed him as he crossed the room to grab a mat.  His blue cut-off t-shirt had showed off his muscular arms and brought out his eyes, and his playing dumb had kept her by his side most of the class. Asking for her number had been easy after that.  He had simply put on his puppy dog face and emphasized the need for private lessons if he was ever going to improve. She had fallen for it; hook, line, and sinker. Now it was time to seal the deal.

“Great.” He whipped out his wallet and placed four twenties on the table. It was more than enough money as she only had salad and water–another perk to taking out weight conscious women. Then he stretched out his hand to her.

“Don’t you need to wait for the change?” she asked, glancing around for the waiter.

“No, I believe in big tips.” He flashed his best smile, hoping it would soothe some of the hesitation in her voice.

She shook her head in disbelief, but accepted his outstretched hand. He gave it a squeeze for good measure and then led her out of the restaurant and back to his black BMW Z4.

“What about my car? Shouldn’t I just follow you?” She glanced around for her car in the full parking lot.

“Don’t worry about it. I’ll bring you back to your car later.” Her smile relaxed as he opened the car door for her, and she slid into the grey leather seat.

After shutting her door, Max walked to the driver’s side, folded himself into the driver’s seat and turned on the engine. As the air had cooled considerably, he pressed the button for the heated seats before pulling out of the restaurant parking lot.

The girl—he really should remember her name—pulled on her skirt to stretch it back down. It had crept up her leg revealing her smooth, toned thighs underneath.

“Can I turn on some music?”

Max mentally kicked himself. He’d been so distracted with her thighs that he hadn’t realized they were driving in silence. Silence was never good. It let them think. “Of course, whatever you’d like.”

She punched the buttons on the dial a few times before landing on some newer pop music. Inwardly, he cringed–he was more of a hard rock fan himself, but he knew the payout would be worth it.

Fifteen minutes later, he heard the sharp intake of her breath as he pulled into the driveway of his house. While not a mansion, the 4000-foot ranch home was impressive. The craftsman style boasted three slanted roofs, two chimneys, a grey-brick exterior, and a white wraparound front porch. A small working fountain sat in the middle of the circular drive.

“You live here?” The awe was plain in her voice.

He smiled inside. The deal was almost sealed now. “Yeah, it’s a little big for one person, but I hope one day to fill it with a family.”

When she turned back to him, he could almost see the stars in her eyes.

He pulled into the three-car garage and parked next to his Harley Davidson. The third bay contained no vehicle. At least not yet. The garage was neat as Max detested messes, and the few tools he owned meticulously lined the shelves along the wall.

Her heels clicked across the cement floor as he led her to the door into the house. It opened onto a large laundry room with a washer, dryer, and table to fold clothes on. The door from the laundry room led into the hallway. To the left was the kitchen, dining room, and family room. To the right were the bedrooms. Max turned left, leading her to where he had a bottle of wine waiting on the counter. It was yet another tactic he had learned would loosen women up and lower their inhibitions.

The large kitchen was half the size of the first floor of most houses. Stainless steel appliances filled the room, and a marble topped island in a crème color with brown and gold flecks sat predominantly in the middle of the room. A large silver light fixture hung above the island, and a deep sink took up a portion of the space under the light. The island hosted a bottle of red wine and two glasses, and across from the sink four plush barstools covered in black leather lined the island. The cabinets that circled the room were a deep brown, and a large walk-in pantry covered most of the back wall, but it was the wine Max focused on.

“Drink?” he asked as he uncorked the bottle and began pouring the glasses.

“Oh, I don’t know if I should. I can’t stay too long. I teach an early class tomorrow.” The hesitation was creeping back into her voice, and her eyes darted around as if she might bolt. It was time to turn up the charm.

Max pushed his lower lip out in a slight pout. “You wouldn’t make me drink alone, would you? Besides, what will one glass hurt?” The glass he extended to her was half full, and he focused his steely blue eyes on her. Many women had told him that his eyes were what drew them in, and Max knew how to use them to his advantage.

Her eyes flickered back and forth, but returned to his gaze, and he knew he had her. “Okay, maybe just one.” Her arm rose and accepted the glass.

“To a wonderful night with a beautiful woman,” he said, clinking her glass ever so slightly. A blush spread across her face, and she dropped her eyes to the murky red liquid as she took a sip. Max was about to suggest they retire to the living room, where his leather couch would be more inviting and conducive to his seduction, when the doorbell rang.

A glance at his watch revealed it was nearly ten p.m. No one he knew should be ringing his bell, and it was too late for solicitors. “Make yourself comfortable,” he said to her, “I’ll be right back.”

As his shoes echoed on the hardwood flooring, he cursed the timing of whoever stood on the other side of the door. He had worked hard to get this woman here, and she had proven more skittish than many before her. If he lost her because of this interruption, there would be retribution.

Max was fully prepared to lash into the unfortunate soul on the other side of the door, but when he swung it open, his heart stopped, and his words failed him. The anger sizzled as if doused like a campfire, and he blinked not believing his eyes.


A firefighter’s life torn apart by unspeakable crimes in bestselling author Lorana Hoopes’s new page turning novel of romantic suspense…

Could you let your family believe you were dead if you thought it was the only way to save them?

Five years ago, Billy “Bubba” Campbell had a different name, but after narrowly escaping an attempt on his life, he fakes his death and leaves town to keep his family safe. He’s adjusted to life in Fire Beach, but when Makenna re-enters his life, he is forced to make a gut-wrenching decision: Continue living his lie or return to his hometown to help her catch the killer.

Captain Makenna Drake believed she was saving Matt Fisher’s life when she convinced him to leave his life behind, but now the fires have started again. As the only victim to survive, she hopes seeing Matt will fluster the killer enough to make a mistake. But can she protect him this time or will the killer finish the job started five years ago?

USA Today best-selling author Lorana Hoopes takes you on another fantastic ride full of secrets, romance, and suspense. A page-turner until the end, this story will send your heart racing and having you reading late into the night as you work to figure out the killer. With over 1,648 copies sold and over 615,943 pages read, find out why The Men of Fire Beach is the hottest new series in Christian Romantic Suspense. Includes questions for a discussion group. Grab your copy by clicking above, but be sure to hang on to your hat.

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