Dirty Sexy Saint (Dirty Sexy #1)

By: Carly Phillips & Erika Wilde

Harrison pushed his hands into the front pockets of his slacks, impatience etching his features. “I care about you, Samantha. That’s enough for me.”

She shook her head, while her father stood by, saying absolutely nothing. He wouldn’t change his mind and stand up for what she wanted. None of this was really about her, anyway.

“It’s not enough for me. I want more than just you caring about me. I deserve better, and I will not marry you. Ever.”

Conrad sighed in extreme annoyance. “Stop being so dramatic, Samantha. The arrangements have been made. You and Harrison will be getting married.”

The mandate made her stomach pitch, because she knew if she stayed in this house, she’d eventually end up Harrison’s wife. “It’s going to be hard to have a wedding when there isn’t a bride,” she said, then turned and headed for the door.

“Where are you going?” her father demanded.

That booming tone never failed to make her heart race in apprehension and usually caused her to obey. But she showed no signs of fear as she stopped and faced her father again. “I don’t know where I’m going, and I don’t care. I’m leaving this house, and I’m not coming back anytime soon. Not until you accept that I will not marry a man I don’t love.”

Conrad narrowed his gaze, his expression shrewd. “If you walk out of this house tonight, you leave with nothing but the clothes on your back.”

Her father wasn’t bluffing. The threat was real, because Conrad Jamieson would do anything to ensure he won this battle of wills. He very well could win, considering she depended on her parents for everything—a deliberate tactic on their part, and now she knew why. But she was more than a pawn in her father’s business, and if she hated how weak and vulnerable her dependency made her feel, it was time she did something about it. The threat of being cut off from the conveniences she’d always taken for granted was a terrifying prospect. But not as terrifying as remaining subservient to her father, marrying Harrison, and being miserable for the rest of her life.

Decision made, she continued her exit out of the study.

“Don’t worry, she’ll be back,” she heard her father reassure Harrison. “She’s not going to get very far without any financial resources.”

Tears of anger tightened in Samantha’s throat, and she swallowed them back. The fact that her father thought she was that incapable of taking care of herself felt like a knife in her heart and only helped to solidify her need to prove him wrong.

She rushed into the hall and nearly ran into her mother, who was standing just outside of the study, so beautiful and ageless, courtesy of fillers and plastic surgery. Judging by the horrified look on her face, she’d done her share of eavesdropping tonight, as well.

“Samantha, you can’t leave,” Cassandra said, a desperate note to her voice. “Why don’t we have Maggie make us a cup of tea and we can talk about this.”

Samantha loved Maggie—their sweet, kind, live-in housekeeper for the past twenty years. The older woman who’d rocked her to sleep at night when her own mother couldn’t be bothered and who’d dried her tears when some boy hurt her feelings.

Samantha swallowed hard and held firm to the choice she’d made. “There’s nothing to discuss, Mother. I love you, but I won’t be bartered in a business deal, and I won’t marry a man I don’t love.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Samantha. Let’s sit down and talk. You can’t possibly mean to leave all this behind.”

“My life has to be about more than this,” she said, encompassing everything around her with a wave of her hand—the ostentatious twelve-thousand-square-foot estate home they lived in and the wealth and opulence she’d grown up with that had provided her with the best of everything.

“Your father is right. You’re not going to get very far before you realize what a huge mistake you’ve made,” Cassandra said in an attempt to change her mind.

She smiled sadly at her mother. “That’s a chance I’ll have to take.”

She headed to the foyer and grabbed the Louis Vuitton handbag she’d left on the entry table earlier and kept walking right out the massive double front doors. Car keys in hand, she slid into the Maserati GranTurismo her parents had given her on her twenty-fifth birthday. Her mind never stopped churning as she drove away from the massive estate in River Forest, until she’d reached the outskirts of Chicago.

Knowing it was just a matter of time before her father tracked her car to its location, she pulled into a parking lot of a twenty-four-hour grocery store. She brought her car to a stop in a front row slot so the security guard on duty would be able to keep an eye on the vehicle for a few hours. Because she was sure that’s all it would take for her father to locate the Maserati.

She had a small amount of cash on her, and there was no telling how much longer she’d have access to her credit cards before they were put on hold. She called a cab company, then got out of the car, tossed the keys and cell phone beneath the seat—since her father could track that, as well—and manually locked the door.

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