Kisses From Jack (A Prequel to Saltwater Kisses)
Kisses From Jack (A Prequel to Saltwater Kisses)
Author: Krista Lakes

Chapter One

Author’s note: This free side story is the first half of "Saltwater Kisses” as told from the billionaire’s point of view. If you enjoy it, check out the rest of the Kisses series, also available here!


“They always do that, don’t they?” Owen Parker had slurred as Jack Saunders half-carried him out of the bar and back toward the house. “They just want us for something, and it’s never just us.”

“I hear ya, buddy,” Jack agreed, shifting Owen's weight more evenly across his shoulders. Jack was still slightly surprised that the girl had only been interested in drinks from Owen. As far as men went, most women thought Owen was beautiful. Tall, blonde, blue eyes and built like a viking, Owen never seemed to lack for feminine interest. Just goes to show, Jack thought, there's no accounting for taste.

Jack wasn't bad looking himself. Tall, with sandy hair that always seemed to be falling into his hazel eyes, he liked to run and kept himself in fighting shape. Every magazine article said he was a catch. He sometimes wondered if that was referring to his physique and handsome appearance, or to the fact that he owned a multi-billion dollar oil company. Either way, girls always seemed to flock to them, though they never seemed to stay.

“How you doing, Owen?” Jack asked. He didn't regret going out to the small local bar, but he was a little disappointed at just how drunk his friend had gotten. While Jack sipped on a simple jack and diet, Owen had found a pretty little blonde who had promptly drunk him under the table. The girl then went on to find another willing suitor to buy her drinks. Once Owen's desire to pay for her beverages stopped, so did her interest.

“Dude, I think Brandy's bad news,” Owen said, stopping in his tracks and nearly pulling Jack over. Owen's face was pale and the sweat on his forehead gleamed a little in the moonlight.

Brandy. Thinking about her made Jack's blood pressure rise to levels requiring a doctor. Bringing her on his “boys” trip had most certainly been a mistake, but he couldn't figure out where he had gone wrong. The sexual tension in the office had been palpable, but out on vacation all she did was grate on his nerves. He had been grateful when her headache had kept her in for the night.

“Come on, Owen,” Jack said. “I know you aren't the biggest fan of her, but give her a chance.”

Owen's lips thinned and his eyes went glassy. “I just don't think she has your best interests in mind. I don't like her.”

Jack took a deep breath. Owen wasn't the only one who didn't like his relationship with Brandy. Rachel, Jack's personal assistant and friend, had basically said the same thing. Only Rachel had used less nice words. He was beginning to think the relationship was doomed.

“I appreciate your concern, and-” Jack started, but Owen suddenly leaned to the side and started regurgitating all the alcohol in his stomach. Jack sighed. At least Owen had avoided hitting him with projectile vomit.

“The milk was a mistake,” Owen groaned, clutching his stomach. Jack rolled his eyes. He hadn't even seen Owen drink any milk, but knowing the lengths Owen would go to impress a girl, he wasn't surprised.

“Let's get you to bed.” Jack waited a moment before taking Owen's arm over his shoulder again to make sure he was finished. “I'm pretty sure Janet stocked the fridge with some Gatorade.”

Owen moaned in answer but started to shuffle his feet toward the beach house. Jack walked slowly, nearly dropping Owen whenever he started to make retching sounds. Luckily, Owen kept the rest of his stomach down for the remainder of the short walk back.

The beach house gleamed in the moonlight like a beacon of hope as the two men staggered forward. Jack had always liked the place. Technically, it was Owen's beach home, but Jack had stayed enough times that it felt like his own. The house was one of the few places that Jack actually felt comfortable in.

It was that feeling of comfort that had made him choose to have his “bachelor party” here. Jack wasn't getting married, at least not to a woman. The party was more symbolic of his job taking over his life completely. He knew that with the amount of work on his plate this next year, he'd be lucky to have enough time to shower, let alone meet a woman to marry.

As much as he hated it, Jack accepted the fact that he was probably never going to get married. It was just a cold fact of life. He was marrying his business; DS Oil and Gas was his life partner now. Once he signed those papers next week, he would be as off the market as any married man. Thus, the decision to throw a blow out bachelor party.

“Okay, Owen, time to sleep,” Jack said gently as he laid Owen down in the first available bedroom. Owen mumbled something and buried his face in the pillow. “You can sleep until the party tomorrow.”

He had friends flying in from all over the world to come stay at Owen's lush beach house to celebrate one last time. Tomorrow couldn't come fast enough. He couldn't wait to see the few people in the world that he didn't feel awkward and rich around. For at least a couple of hours, he would get to be “Jack” and not have to be the billionaire.

Jack went to the kitchen to find the Gatorade for Owen. Jack smiled when he opened the pantry to find his two favorite flavors neatly lining one of the shelves of the pantry and several cooling in the fridge. He would have to thank Janet, one of the housekeepers, for doing such a wonderful job. She always knew when Jack was coming to visit and stocked his favorites accordingly.

Owen was already snoring when Jack dropped the bottle off in his room. For a moment, Jack considered finding a sharpie or even some some shaving cream to prank his friend, but decided against it. It wasn't the threat of retaliation, but rather the bone-weary tiredness that decided him. The company's transition next week was already exhausting him.

Jack climbed the stairs to his room, stripping his shirt off as he entered. He didn't bother taking off his pants or even turning on the light before flopping into bed. All he wanted to do was sleep and not think about what he was doing. Nothing in his life felt right at the moment.

“Ooof!” A voice said in the darkness. “What are you doing? You reek.”

Brandy. Jack closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He had completely forgotten about Brandy.

“Sorry, baby,” he whispered, leaning over to kiss her cheek. “We just got back.”

“Well, you can go take a shower,” she said shortly. “You smell like a bar.”

Jack frowned. Of course he smelled like a bar, that's where he had been all night. “I'll take one in the morning, I'm just really tired and--”

“Then don't sleep in here with me,” she snapped. “Either stop smelling like crappy whiskey or find another place to sleep.”

Jack stared at the dark in disbelief for a moment before getting up and going to another room. He was exhausted. It shouldn't matter that he smelled like a distillery. That was his room too. This whole place was his.

He flopped down in the guest bedroom down the hall, annoyed. The pillow here wasn't the kind he liked and the bedspread in this room was too heavy. He wanted his room. He scrunched the pillow up under his head in an angry attempt to make it more comfortable.

Bringing Brandy was a mistake. Owen and Rachel both had tried to warn him but he hadn't listened. He had wanted to be in love. For the last week before his father's business took over everything, Jack had wanted to find some happiness.

On the surface, everything had been perfect. Brandy was beautiful with a body that made men's heads spin. She laughed at his jokes and she fawned over his gifts. She had made him feel powerful and wanted.

He shook his head, staring up at the ceiling. She had fluttered her eyelashes and taken him in. Every time he closed the blinds to his office with her inside, he had gotten a rush. But, now that they were on vacation, all the spark from their clandestine meetings in the office was gone.

Jack sighed, holding the breath out for as long as he could, relishing the physical ache. After this trip, everything would be different and yet exactly the same. He knew was after his money, but at least she had made the effort to give him the illusion of having feelings for him.

She must still just have a headache, Jack thought to himself. Everything will be back to normal in the morning.

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