Home > Let It Burn (The Barrington Billionaires #4)

Let It Burn (The Barrington Billionaires #4)
Author: Ruth Cardello


A Note to My Readers


I fall in love with each of my heroes as I write them, but Andrew Barrington holds a special place in my heart. It could be because he’s so damaged at the beginning of the book. I cried as I wrote that scene.

No, it’s more than that. I knew Andrew would be a character who always stayed with me when my husband, a retired Marine, read the opening over my shoulder then sat down beside me. It’s not unusual for my husband to read my stories and make suggestions, but the first chapter moved him enough that he started sharing stories of men he’d known who came back in the same heartbreaking condition.

It was important to my husband that Andrew was portrayed in a way that honored the real struggle veterans often face when they come home. If you read a scene and tear up, know that my husband and I wrote it with tears in our eyes. If you feel yourself cheering for him to make it, know that we cheered for him, too. He became real to us.

This is a photo of my husband who retired after serving for twenty-two years. He’s not afraid to come to someone’s defense, but is also an incredibly kind and supportive soul.

 

We wrote a wild adventure for Andrew and, Helene Franklin, the woman he falls in love with. My husband and I spent about as much time laughing our butts off as we did wiping tears from our eyes. Helene is a quirky virgin with a strong sense of self, and exactly what Andrew needs.

Come fall in love with my favorite Barrington brother, Andrew.

My billionaire world at a glance:

 

 

Chapter One

 


A month earlier

A repeating loud noise in the distance pierced through Andrew Barrington’s dreamless sleep, pulling him grudgingly back from the only part of the day he found comfort in. Lately, sleep required a substantial combination of alcohol and sleep aids. It was a dangerous game of chemical Russian roulette, and one he was beginning to think he’d rather lose.

He threw an arm out to see if he was alone. Christy, or maybe her name was Christine, had attached herself to him a couple weeks ago after they’d hooked up at a bar. She said he was not only gorgeous, but fucked up just enough for her. He didn’t ask and she didn’t say if she was a prostitute. In the last month, she’d tracked him down several times to spend the night with him. The next day there was always money missing from his wallet, but she was a good fuck who didn’t ask questions so he hid his credit cards and padded his wallet with extra bills for her. He couldn’t remember if she’d come home with him the night before or not. The days had begun to blur into each other.

Realizing the loud noise was someone knocking on his door had him cursing. “Whoever you are, go the fuck away,” he snarled.

The door crashed open and a man walked across the room toward him.

What the fuck?

He closed the now damaged door behind him. “The name is Emmitt Kalling. I was hired to find you.”

Andrew sat up slowly, hating how the room spun almost as much as he hated the stranger before him. “By my family?” Only they would resort to something this dramatic. “I’ll pay you double what they paid if you say you couldn’t find me.”

Emmitt looked around the room at the trash and piles of clothing. He kicked a pair of women’s underwear out of his way as he stepped farther into the room. “How long have you been like this?”

After rubbing a hand over his throbbing temple, Andrew swung his feet around and stood with a groan. He left Emmitt standing in the middle of his hotel room while he took a much-needed piss then caught his reflection in the mirror and curled his lip in disgust. It hadn’t taken long for his outside to reflect how he felt on the inside. He leaned on his hands and looked into his bloodshot eyes. Did I finish the Jack Daniels last night? I could use it now.

Emmitt spoke from the doorway of the bathroom. “What the fuck happened to you?”

A flash of a memory pierced through Andrew, and he clutched the sink counter. Her smile. Her fucking smile. He couldn’t get it out of his head. Lofton’s seven-year-old, pretty-as-ever, chocolate-eyed daughter had run to him when she’d seen him, assuming her father was one step behind him. Her bright smile had filled his mouth with the taste of his own vomit. “Is your mother here, Giniya?”

“She’s in the bathroom and told me not to answer the door, but I saw you in the window.” She’d looked past him, not asking, but she didn’t have to.

Gabrielle Lofton was quickly at her daughter’s heels, but her reaction to him was much different. When she saw he was alone, she knew. Fear. Shock. Horror. Her eyes had pleaded for Andrew to deny the reason he was there. “Gini, go get a bottle of water for Uncle Andrew. I bet he’s real thirsty.”

“But, Mom—”

“You run along and get it, Gini. And before you come back, clean your plate from your snack.”

“Is Dad—?”

“Go Gini, now,” Gabrielle had cried, and the smile had faded from her daughter’s face.

Pulling himself back from the memory, Andrew used the palms of his hands to roughly wipe at his eyes. Fuck. “How much is it going to take?”

Emmitt leaned on the doorjamb and shook his head. “I’m not leaving.”

The anger that held him in a dark grip found an outlet. He rose to his full height. “Yes, you are.”

With a shake of his head, Emmitt pushed himself off the doorframe. “Calm down, man. I don’t want to hurt you.”

“I’m not the one you should worry about.” Andrew turned and stepped toward Emmitt without a clear plan; all he knew was that Emmitt was leaving, one way or another. Unfortunately, the speed in which he’d turned undermined his balance and the floor came up quickly to meet him. He broke his fall with his arm and was on his knees in front of the other man, failing at first to get back to his feet. “Enjoying the show?” he growled.

“Not particularly.”

“Get the fuck out of here.” No one needs to see this. Not him. Not my family.

Emmitt crouched down in front of Andrew. “You don’t need to tell me what happened, but I’m not going anywhere. I’ve been where you are in here.” He tapped his own temple. “I’ve done things and seen things no man or woman ever should. There are days when I think I don’t deserve to be the one who came home, but then I remember that my miserable life, insignificant as it sometimes seems to me, matters to my family. You matter to yours.”

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