Atlas (Billionaire Titans)(3)By: Alison Ryan
I hadn’t known who else to go to for help that would actually have the means to protect me. My mother and I were basically estranged at the moment. I had no siblings or family other than her. My next best bet was Emerson Titan. He was my stepfather for two years when I was barely a teenager but even after my mother had moved on from him, he’d stuck around and stayed in my life.
And he just so happened to be one of the ten richest men in America.
Before my mother had charmed him, we’d been barely making it. She was just a local news anchor in Manassas, Virginia at the time. My father had long been out of the picture and my life had been a revolving door of father figures who couldn’t measure up to my mother’s impossible expectations.
Suddenly Emerson Titan came into our lives and everything changed. Mostly for the better.
And now here I was, waiting for him to text me. He’d put me up at the Four Seasons with two of his guards at my door with instructions not to allow anyone into the room other than himself. It did help me feel safer but I couldn’t shake my anxiety. My ex had his ways and I found myself trusting no one.
You have no idea who is on my team he’d whispered in my ear.
I shuddered at the thought.
My iPhone buzzed on the nightstand. I picked it up, my hands trembling from nerves. I had changed my cell number but it was habit for me to jump when it rang.
But in this case it was just Emerson:
Take the car to Old Ebbitt. I’ll be waiting for you. Hungry? I’ll order something so it’s ready when you get here.
I texted back:
I wouldn’t mind the salmon salad. Thanks, be there soon.
Emerson sent a black Tesla to pick me up. As I settled into the back seat I looked around at the people walking on the sidewalk past the hotel, uneasily waiting for some kind of goon to appear to take me away to my doom. My heart raced.
Once we were on the road I calmed down a bit. I knew that Emerson had eyes on me, something I was grateful for, but sometimes I wondered if even he was capable of going against the kind of power my ex held.
It was a ten minute drive to Old Ebbitt, one of my favorite places to have lunch. Emerson had taken me there at least once a month while I was an undergrad at American. We’d catch up for a couple hours’ worth of Diet Cokes and sliders for me, and stacks of oysters and martinis for Emerson. He’d ask plenty of questions about my studies, about how Mom was doing, that sort of thing. I’d never told him how much those lunches meant to me back then.
Back then? It wasn’t all that long ago, I thought. My life before my ex-boyfriend seemed a really long time ago when in reality it had only been a few months.
At Old Ebbitt I stepped out and ducked into the restaurant quickly. The familiar mahogany bar was a welcome sight and I immediately saw Emerson across the way in our usual booth.
But he wasn’t alone.
I hadn’t seen him in years but I immediately recognized his chiseled features and his discomfort at folding his tall body into a restaurant booth. He had one muscled leg extended out past the table. His shoulders were broad under his tailored, collared shirt. His tie was loosened and his face was relaxed. He was still incredibly sexy, just like always. As a matter of fact, looking at him now, I knew he was the most gorgeous creature in all of DC. For a brief moment I forgot about my problems.
Atlas Titan had that way about him.
“Piper!” Emerson smiled, standing. He wrapped his arms around me, squeezing me so much that I winced involuntarily. Atlas looked at me funny then, and I tried to play it off like I was joking but the embrace really had hurt due to the bruises.
But they didn’t know that. My ex always left them in places no one would see.
“Hi, Emerson. Hello, Atlas,” I said. I scooted into the booth next to Emerson. I was across from Atlas now and it was hard not to stare.
“Piper,” was all Atlas said. He was still looking at me, his gaze intense. He’d never shown much interest in me when I was younger and I wanted to squirm having his eyes on me like this. Did every woman feel like this around him? Hard to believe they didn’t.
“I was just talking to Atlas about what’s been happening,” Emerson said. “And he’s agreed to stay with you for the time being. Until things cool down a bit.”