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Harlow James

My Unexpected Vow

California Billionaires Book 2

Copyright © 2021 by Harlow James

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or transmittedin any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning, or otherwise withoutwritten permission from the publisher. It is illegal to copy this book, post it to a website, or distributeit by any other means without permission.

This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it arethe work of the author's imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localitiesis entirely coincidental.

Harlow James asserts the moral right to be identified asthe author of this work.

Harlow James has no responsibility for the persistenceor accuracy of URLs for external or third-party Internet Websites referred to in this publication and does notguarantee that any content on such Websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

Designations used by companies to distinguish their products are often claimed as trademarks.All brand names and product names used in this book and on its cover are trade names, service marks, trademarksand registered trademarks of their respective owners. The publishers and the book are not associated with anyproduct or vendor mentioned in this book. None of the companies referenced within the book have endorsed thebook.

First edition

Cover art by Abigail Davies from Pink Elephant Designs

This book was professionally typeset on Reedsy

Find out more at reedsy.com

To My Husband and to Our Marriage:

I promise to make the decision to love you even when it’s hard, because I’m aware no one is perfect and you and I are worth it.

And I know I promised to put the caps back on the pens, but you promised to close the kitchen cupboards too.

And well? At least we try.

Marriages last because two people make a choice:

To keep it.

To fight for it.

And to work for it.




Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22


About the Author

Also by Harlow James



“I’m dying, Hayes.”

My lips part as I register the words that just came out of my father’s mouth. “What?”

“I’m dying… wasting away.”

I gulp down a chord of emotion that lodges itself in my throat and then lean forward in my chair. This is not the conversation I anticipated when I arrived at my parent’s house this evening for dinner, especially a week before Christmas.

“Uh, okay. Is it… cancer?”

My mother steps down into the den and smacks my father on the back of his head. “Jesus, Alec. Knock it off. You can’t joke around with our son about you dying. If you’ve forgotten, you’re actually getting up to an age where that very well could happen sooner rather than later.” She tosses a wink in my direction as I feel my chest lighten and the breath I was holding leave my lips.

“Fuck, Dad. Seriously?”

“Well, I am dying, son. We all are every day.”

I roll my eyes. “Thanks for the life lesson,” I chastise him as I slink back in the large, navy cushioned chair and reach for my glass of red wine that my mother poured for me just shortly after I arrived. When I’m out at a club, whiskey is my go-to drink of choice. But nothing beats a glass of red wine, especially with my momma.

That’s right, ladies. I’m a momma’s boy through and through, and I have no shame at all admitting that.

“So what’s with the dramatics then?” I stare across the space at my father, who’s nursing his beer.

He sighs and then shifts in his seat. “I want to retire, Hayes.”

“Oh. Okay.” I scoot to the edge of my seat now, still holding my wine glass. “Well, I knew it was coming, but don’t worry, Dad. I’m ready to take over the company. I have been for a while.” My heart races as I realize that this is the moment I’ve been waiting for, taking over my father’s billion-dollar investment firm that I’ve been working tirelessly to help build over the last decade.

He shakes his head at me and then grimaces. “No, Hayes. You’re not.”


“You’re thirty-one years old, son. And although your mother and I are abundantly proud of the man you are and the work you do, you haven’t lived your life. Hell, I can’t remember the last time you brought a girl home for us to meet.”

Newsflash—I don’t bring women home to my parents, because the women I spend my time with aren’t usually of the variety that you bring home to Mom and Dad.

“I’ve been busy,” I reply, knowing that at least that response isn’t a lie.

“That’s exactly it. You’ve been so busy working that your life is passing you by.”

My mother takes a seat next to my father on the couch before resting her wineglass on the coffee table. “Hayes, don’t you want to get married one day? Have a family?” Her eyes are full of some intense emotion, but part of me can’t help but think it’s self-deprecation, like she blames herself for why I’m not married and impregnating my wife repeatedly by now.

“I mean, I guess. I just figured it would happen when it’s supposed to.” I shrug and then peer off to the side of the room, avoiding their eyes because part of me feels like I’m back in high school and they’re reprimanding me for the Playboys they discovered under my bed.

“And that very well could still happen, but I also know that you don’t even try to look for that, son.

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