His Forbidden Love (Manhattan Billionaires #2) - Ava Ryan



“This is bullshit.”

I reluctantly turn my attention away from my ongoing perusal of the women in this black-tie crowd—still no sign of her, to my intense displeasure—and frown.

“Come again?”

“This. Is. Bullshit.” Jake Quinn, one of my longtime best pals from freshman year at NYU umpteen years ago, scowls. “Remind me. Why am I here?”

This idiot.

“I told you,” I say, not bothering to hide my impatience. “We’re celebrating the retirement of one of my mentors. Dr. Smith. We’re enjoying his lovely dinner cruise along the scenic Hudson River.” I lean a hip against the railing and gesture at Lady Liberty with my drink hand (scotch and soda) and then downtown Manhattan with my free hand. It’s a balmy June night, not too humid, and my hopes are high despite my best efforts to keep them in check. Nothing else conveys glamour, excitement and limitless possibilities like the glittering skyline stretching in front of us. With the jazzy music, strong drinks and tasty hors d’oeuvres, this little shindig has the makings of a decent event. Good things happen on nights like this. Hopefully tonight will be no exception. “Don’t you want to wish a fellow doc well in the next chapter of his life?”

“Not particularly. I don’t even know the guy. You’re the plastic surgeon here. Not me.”

“I need moral support, and you were the only one available. Which means that you’re my plus-one,” I say. “Congratulations.”

“Yeah, well, I’m not fucking you at the end of the night. Just so you know.”

I choke back a laugh. “Noted.”

“Where the hell is Liam tonight?” he continues sourly. “Why didn’t he get the honor?”

“Holed up at home with my sister, I’m assuming. Living his best life.”

The third member of our college crew, Liam Wilder, recently reconciled with my twin sister Mia, who also attended NYU. The two of them had a nasty breakup after graduation but now seem to be on their way to a happy ending after all those years apart. Thank God. I’m close to both and maintaining my neutrality this whole time has not been easy.

“Lucky bastard. I should be home, too,” Jake says, checking his watch for the umpteenth time. “I’m not sure the sitter can handle my kids.”

I somehow manage not to roll my eyes. Life has been tough for Jake ever since he and his wife split a couple of years ago, leaving him a single dad with two small children. I get that. What I don’t get? His persistent refusal to make things easier on himself and get full-time help.

“I keep telling you, for the love of God and the sake of my sanity, hire a nanny. You need one now more than ever.”

Jake, Liam and I are all physicians. In addition to our full-time practices, we recently sold a medical device that Liam invented (Jake and I were initial investors) for a shit-ton of money. If you’ve come up with a number, throw a few more zeros behind it and you’ll start to get the picture. We’re all suddenly rich beyond our wildest dreams, which means we’ve got a lot more money for luxury living. None of us has plans to head to Barbados and bask in the sun for the rest of our lives, though. We all enjoy what we do and work insane hours. Hence Jake’s need for a nanny.

Jake grimaces, sips his drink and does his best to avoid my gaze.

“This isn’t about me,” he says. “Why do you need moral support? You’re a grown man.”

I hesitate because he’s right. It sounds way too overblown to tell him the truth, which is that I’m still inexplicably fixated on a resident I trained four years ago—and who’s hopefully somewhere in the crowd tonight.

But the thing is, I’m divorced now, and…

And nothing. I don’t know what I’m thinking, exactly. Can’t even roll it into a ball of an idea to toss around. The time isn’t right for me to be engaging in, I don’t know, stuff. The ink is barely dry on my divorce. Said divorce was my fault because I proposed to my ex-wife despite my whispering doubts (we met at the gym and, while smart and beautiful, Patricia possesses all the warmth of Saturn’s outer rings and always resented my commitment to my career) and then took five years to reverse the mistake. I went so far as to follow her to L.A. when she got a killer tech job, and only came back to NYC recently. So the wreckage of my personal life is