Final Offer (Dreamland Billionaires, #3)

Final Offer (Dreamland Billionaires, #3)

Lauren Asher

To everyone who has been underestimated.

I hope you prove everyone wrong, including yourself.



If I had known I was going to die tonight, I would have worn sexier underwear. Or at the very least, I would have dressed in something far nicer than mismatched pajamas riddled with holes and bleach stains.

My mother is probably lecturing me from heaven right now, wondering where she went wrong with raising me.

Perdona me, Mami. Debería haberle escuchado.

I do a quick sign of the cross before I aim my handgun at the shadow standing in the open doorway. My heart pounds furiously in my chest, the duration between beats growing smaller by the second. “I’m giving you until the count of five to get out of my house before I shoot. One…two…”

“Fuck.” Something heavy smacks against the wall before a switch flips, flooding the entryway of the house with light.

My hold on the gun tightens as I come face-to-face with the one person I never thought I’d see again. Our gazes collide. His blue eyes trace the shape of my face like an invisible caress, sending a rush of warmth through my body.

Despite the blaring alarm in my head warning me to run far away from him, I can’t resist taking in all six-foot-four-inches of Callahan Kane. Everything about him feels familiar, all the way down to the ache in my chest that never left, even after he did.

His easygoing smile.

His unruly dirty blond hair, always unkept and begging to be tamed.

His blue eyes the color of the clearest sky, sparkling like the surface of the lake under the noon sun.

It’s been over six years since I last saw him. Six long years that have hardened me enough to spot his allure for exactly what it is.

A trap.

If I look carefully, I can spot the cracks in his fa?ade that he tries to hide behind his beauty and charm. He was always careful about letting people look too closely at the broken person beneath his mask. It was what captured my attention in the first place and what resulted in my downfall.

I was twenty-three when he broke my heart, yet the pain feels like it happened just yesterday. Rather than ignore it, I lean into the hurt and use it to fuel my rage.

“What the hell are you doing here?” I snap.

His smile falters before sliding back into place. “Excited to see me?”

I motion him forward with my free hand. “Thrilled. Why don’t you come a little closer so I can get a better shot? I’d hate to miss an important organ.”

His eyes flicker from my face to the gun in my hand. “Do you even know how to shoot that thing?”

My eyes narrow. “Want to find out?”

“Where did you get that?”

“A gift from my mom.” My chest swells.

His brows raise toward his hairline. “Se?ora Castillo bought you a gun? Why?”

I lower the gun and flip the safety. “She always said a woman should be two things—armed and dangerous.”

His mouth drops open. “I thought she was joking about having a gun to keep us in line.”

“Not everyone grew up in a safe little Chicago suburb with a rotation of nannies and a full waitstaff.”

“The same can be said about those who grew up in a happy little summer vacation town where the local cop can be bought with booze and a crisp Benjamin.”

I scowl. “For your information, Sheriff Hank officially retired last year.”

“A pity for delinquent teens everywhere.” His bright grin widens.

Butterflies take flight in my belly. With the way my stomach dips and dives, it feels like thousands of them awoke after spending the last six years trapped in their cocoons.

He broke your heart. Start acting like it.

The muscles in my shoulders tense. “Do you plan on explaining what you’re doing breaking into my house, or are we just going to stand around here all night?”

“Your house?” His forehead creases. “I think you’re mistaken. My grandfather might have let your family stay here because your mother looks after the property, but you don’t own it.”

My mom didn’t just look after the Kane house, but she loved it like her own ever since she was hired by Brady Kane to manage the property and help watch after his grandchildren.

Yet he left you the property, not her.

My chest throbs. “According to your grandfather’s deed of the house, I do.”

His body stiffens. “What do you mean?”

“That’s between me and him.”

“Seeing as I can’t exactly go ask him to explain since he’s six feet under and all, I’m going to need you to elaborate.”

The pain above my heart intensifies. “He said this is my property, and I have a right to shoot anyone who questions otherwise.”

He crosses his arms against his chest, drawing my eyes toward the muscles straining beneath his shirt. “Now I know you’re lying. My grandfather always hated guns.”

“Then how do you explain his little collection in the attic?”

He rubs his chin. “What collection?”

My head tilts. “Maybe you didn’t know your grandfather as well as you think you did.”

“Oh, and you did?” His chuckle comes off condescending.

I raise my chin. “He spent every single summer here until his accident, so yeah, I think I might know him better than the person who couldn’t even bother to call for his birthday.”

His eyes dart away. “He and I weren’t exactly on speaking terms before his coma.”

“I wonder why.” Sarcasm seeps into my voice.

He rubs the back of his neck. “I made a lot of mistakes the last time I was here.”

“Like getting together with me?”

The muscle in his jaw flexes. “I shouldn’t have pursued you the way I did.”

My chest might feel as if Cal plunged a serrated knife through it, but my face remains devoid of emotion—a skill perfected over the years.

“No, you really shouldn’t have.” My fingers tighten around the handle of the gun.

“I regret ruining our friendship.”

The invisible knife twists, sinking deeper into my flesh. “Dating didn’t ruin our friendship. Your addictions did.”

Painkillers. Alcohol. Sex. Cal used all of them to escape the demons in his head, and I was too stupidly in love to see otherwise.

You can’t blame yourself when he was a master at hiding it.

Yet I still struggle with believing the words I tell myself. My throat tightens from years’ worth of repressed emotions, making swallowing difficult.

His jaw clenches, and his sharp bone structure stands out even more. “Believe it or not, I didn’t drive all the way out here to fight with you about our past.”

“Then why exactly did you come here?” Out of the hundred questions I want to ask him, that feels like the safest one.

“I came to check out the house.”

“After six years? Why?”

“Because I plan on selling it.”

I blink twice. “No. Absolutely not happening.”