Expensive - Amy Bellows



The knock on the door comes at exactly 2:00 p.m.

Marjorie reaches over and takes my hand. “Are you ready?” Her brown eyes are kind as she waits for my answer. Even though this was her idea, I know she won’t make me do it. If I want her to send him away, she will.

“I think so,” I tell her.

As ready as I’ll ever be.

Although it’s a bit pretentious, she’s the one who leaves the library to answer the door. She’s wearing a suit today, like a proper butler. She said it would make the agent take me more seriously.

She’s quick on her feet, and only a moment later, I hear the oversized front door creak open, and the two of them exchange pleasantries. I wait patiently for them to walk down the grand halls of the Monroe mansion. I remember the first time I walked through this house. The ornate archways and priceless art on the walls whispered of the enchanting world of ice dragon shifter wealth that had always been a far-off dream, despite my Sullivan name. My alpha grandfather had gambled away our fortune long ago.

But the Monroe fortune was mine for the taking, or so my father had promised me. All I had to do was bond to a seventy-year-old man. My eighteen-year-old self had recoiled at the idea. I wanted to find my fated mate. I wanted love.

But I wanted to get away from my father’s drunken rages a lot more.

Davey Abbott walks into the library. His eyes are wide as he scans the towering bookshelves that made me truly fall in love with this house. Twice as high as the tallest alpha and lined with staircases, they’re breathtaking.

Every dragon shifter collects something that speaks to their soul—their hoard. Mine is books. When I stepped inside this room for the first time, I remember thinking I could tolerate the touch of any man if I could retreat to a library like this.

I was so young back then. I had no idea what I was giving up.

Davey’s a gangly omega with a cheap blue suit and thick dark hair. I’ve seen him in a few videos with Timber. I’ve watched every single one of Timber’s videos, even the low production value films he did at the beginning of his career.

“Good afternoon, Mr. Abbott,” I say in my best domineering Sullivan voice. I stand up stiffly and hold out my hand. Marjorie nods encouragingly from her place in the corner.

It feels odd to act all superior. Davey may not realize it, but I’d made my money the same way he did. On my back. Someone even took a video.

Since my intended alpha wasn’t well enough to shift into his dragon form to give me a bond bite, my father wanted proof that our bond was consummated. They played the video at the reading of the will to remind the Monroes I’d earned my fortune.

The minutes had felt like hours as everyone watched the worst experience of my life. Someone even laughed. I’d never felt so humiliated.

Davey shakes my hand. “Hi. It’s good to finally meet you.”

I gesture to the armchair across from me. He sits down. Like the bookcases, the chair is an antique that was made when people were shorter, so Davey’s knees pop up.

The loveseat I sit back down on isn’t an antique. I’m taller than him. On purpose. Marjorie said it would make me seem more powerful. I’m not really sure that’s possible, but I try to sit up straight anyway. She made it clear that what I’m going to ask Davey for isn’t something that Scalene Studios usually offers, so I’ll need to talk him into it.

She also told me that anything can be bought if you have enough money.

I wish that wasn’t true, but I know from experience it is.

“So, you’re interested in commissioning a video?” Davey asks.

I nod. “I’d like a video of Timber.”

“Great!” He grins a little too eagerly. He doesn’t understand what I’m asking for yet. “Timber with who? Or does that matter?”

I sit tall and lift my chin, just like I practiced with Marjorie. “With me.”

Davey opens his mouth, then shuts it again. He’s going to argue with me, which means the intimidation isn’t working. Maybe I should just be honest with him.

“Do you know what a bond ache is?” I ask.

He shakes his head. That doesn’t surprise me. Most people don’t. I certainly didn’t when I agreed to let a warlock magically tie me to an alpha who couldn’t