Since I Fell For You

By: Bella Andre

CHAPTER ONE





Suzanne Sullivan didn’t need a bodyguard.

No one was jumping out at her from dark corners as she headed down West 22nd Street toward D’Oro, the New York City gallery hosting a show tonight for her brother Drake. She hadn’t been hit with any calls from untraceable numbers or had her computer servers taken down during the past week either.

Tonight, the air was crisp, the stars were shining brightly in the sky, and she felt great. As though anything was possible—and nothing could possibly go wrong. Especially not all the horrible things her brothers were worried about.

Okay, so during the past several months she’d been bombarded with thousands of calls from untraceable numbers, and several attacks had been made on her personal and corporate computer servers. But she wasn’t a top digital security software specialist for nothing. She could take care of herself and her business—no matter what her brothers seemed to think.

The fact was that when you were competing in an industry worth billions of dollars, not every competitor was totally aboveboard. Though she didn’t roll that way, she understood better than nearly anyone how to defend herself from cyberattacks. When pressed by her brothers for more information a few weeks ago, she had told them the calls were likely coming from one of her many competitors. Unfortunately, since she’d been too busy working on her new software release to actually pin anything on anyone yet, her brothers now seemed convinced that she was dealing with more than just corporate high jinks.

They worried that someone was after her.

Then again, they worried every time she went out on a date too. Which was why she’d stopped telling them about her dates a long time ago.

She didn’t blame them for being overprotective, not when the four of them had been looking out for one another since they were little kids. A mother who had taken her own life and a father who had subsequently checked out emotionally for the next twenty-five years had made the Sullivan siblings a unit as tight as they came. But she did wish her brothers would stop pestering her about hiring a bodyguard.

In any case, she was still on a total high from the fabulous Monday she’d had at the office. After six months of sweating over the design of her new digital security software—one so cutting-edge, yet so affordable that technology insiders around the world had said it could never be done—the new code had finally fallen into place. Tomorrow morning she would be giving her investors the good news that Sullivan Security was ready to move into its first round of beta testing for the product she had named MavG1. The five billionaires who made up the Maverick Group might be family friends, but they still demanded the best from the companies they invested in. And she wouldn’t dream of giving them anything but the best.

Though she still had half a block to go, Suzanne could see throngs of people out on the sidewalk hoping to get inside the gallery. And no wonder, considering her brother Drake had created a dozen of the most stunning pieces of art Suzanne had ever seen.

He was considered one of the best painters of his generation, and his shows were always very well attended. Tonight, however, it wasn’t just the quality of his paintings that had people going crazy for his work, it was also his subject. Rosalind Bouchard was not only an internationally famous reality TV star—make that ex reality TV star, now that she’d quit the show. She was also Drake’s new girlfriend.

After spending time with Rosa during these past weeks, Suzanne understood precisely why her brother had fallen so hard for her, pretty much at first sight. Rosa was smart, funny, and incredibly brave. Rosa’s bright light shone forth from every brushstroke on Drake’s canvases. If only Suzanne could find a guy as intelligent, as loyal, and as handsome as Rosa was pretty…

Alas, the only part of Suzanne’s life that wasn’t coming up roses right now was her dating life. More than once she’d wished that she could tweak the guys she dated the same way she could rewrite lines of code—until all the bugs were gone. But by thirty-one, she knew better: You couldn’t change people.

And you definitely couldn’t make them love you unless they wanted to.

That was why her brothers were so important to her. They might think they knew how to run her life better than she did sometimes, but she never doubted for one second that Alec, Harry, and Drake loved her for who she was—a brainiac geek who got a rush from staying up all night writing computer code the way other women got a rush from buying shoes.

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