Billionaires Contract Engagement eBook: Page2

Maya Banks (2010)

Page 2

 

  She turned to walk toward the exit. She’d done what she’d come for. There was no reason to stick around and be social. If there was any gossip over her dance with Evan, she certainly didn’t want to hear it.

  On the way, she passed Brock and Elle, who were standing somewhat awkwardly to the side. Brock didn’t say anything. He just lifted an inquiring brow. Of course he would have seen her dancing with Evan. Brock probably hadn’t looked at anyone but Evan all night. A shame, really, since Elle looked fabulous in her black sheath.

  “Friday,” she said in a low voice. “I meet with him Friday. No formal pitch. He wants to hear my ideas first. If he likes them, he’ll arrange a time for us to hit him with both barrels. ”

  Brock nodded, and she saw the gleam of satisfaction light his eyes.

  “Good work, Celia. ”

  Celia smiled and resumed her path to the door. She had a lot to do before next Friday.

  Evan Reese loosened his tie as soon as he walked into his hotel suite. He left a trail of clothing from the door, where he threw his jacket over one of the chairs, to the bedroom where he peeled off his socks and left them on the floor.

  The desk with his laptop and briefcase beckoned, but for once, the idea of work didn’t appeal to him.

  He was too preoccupied with thoughts of Celia Taylor.

  Beautiful, seductive, impossibly aloof Celia Taylor.

  His body had been on heightened sense of alert ever since she walked into the ballroom, and though he’d known the moment she left, he was still tense and painfully aware of her scent, how she felt in his arms, how her skin felt under his fingers the one time he’d been bold enough to touch her.

  He wanted to do a hell of a lot more than just touch. He wanted to taste her. He wanted her underneath him, making all those feminine, breathy sounds of a woman being pleasured.

  He wanted to slide his hand between those gorgeous legs and spread her thighs. He would spend all night making love to her. A woman such as Celia wasn’t to be rushed. No, he’d get to know every inch of her body. Find out where she liked to be touched and kissed.

  His fixation with her couldn’t be readily explained. It wasn’t as though he lived as a monk. He had sex.

  He never lacked for partners. Sex was good. But he knew that sex with Celia would never be just good.

  It would be lush and delicious. The kind of experience a man would sell his soul for.

  She was indeed a beautiful woman. Tall, but not too tall. She would fit perfectly against him, her head tucked just underneath his chin. She often wore her long red hair up in a loose style that told him she didn’t pay a lot of attention to whether every strand was in place.

  He wanted to take that damn clip out, toss it in the garbage and watch as her silken mass spilled down her back. Or better yet, let it spill over him while they made love.

  He cursed under his breath when his body reacted to that image. Cold showers didn’t do a thing for his hunger. He ought to know. He’d taken enough of them over the last few weeks.

  Perhaps her most mesmerizing feature was her eyes. An unusual shade of green. At times they looked more blue but in certain lighting they were vivid green.

  The more cynical side of him wondered why a woman that beautiful hadn’t tried to seduce him into hiring her agency. It wasn’t like it hadn’t been attempted before. In fact, he’d received two such propositions tonight at the fund-raiser.

  He wasn’t saying he’d mind. Right now he’d use just about any reason to get into Celia Taylor’s bed.

  But there was a reserve about her that intrigued him. She was a cool customer, and he admired that. She wanted the account. She’d made no bones about that. But she hadn’t actively pursued him.

  No, she’d waited for him to come to her, and maybe that made her damn smart since he’d done just that.

  The ring of his BlackBerry disturbed his fantasy and brought him sharply back to the present. He looked down in disgust at the unmistakable ridge in his trousers then reached into his pocket for his phone.

  His mother. He frowned. He wasn’t really in the mood for anything to do with his family, but he loved his mother dearly, and he couldn’t very well ignore her.

  With a resigned sigh, he punched the answer button and put the phone to his ear.

  “Hello, Mom. ”

  “Evan! I’m so glad I caught you. You’re so busy these days. ”

  He could hear the disapproval and worry in her voice.

  “The business doesn’t run itself,” he reminded her.

  She made a low sound of exasperation. “You sound so much like your father. ”

  He winced. That wasn’t exactly at the top of the list of things he wanted to hear.

  “I wanted to call to make sure you hadn’t forgotten about this weekend. It’s important to Mitchell that you be there. ”

  There was a note of anxiety in her voice that always seemed to creep in when his brother was mentioned.

  “You can’t think I’d actually go to their wedding,” Evan said mildly. And the only important thing to Mitchell was that Evan be there to see his triumph.

  His mother made a disapproving sound. “I know it won’t be easy for you, Evan. But don’t you think you should forgive him? It’s obvious he and Bettina belong together. It would be so nice to have the whole family back together again. ”

  “Easy? It won’t be easyor difficult, Mom. I don’t care, and frankly they’re welcome to each other. I simply don’t have the time or the desire to attend. ”

  “Would you do it for me?” she begged. “Please. I want just one time to see my sons in the same room. ”

  Evan sank onto the edge of the bed and pinched the bridge of his nose between two fingers. If his dad had called, he would have had no problem refusing. If Mitchell had called, Evan nearly laughed at that idea. Mitchell wouldn’t be calling him for anything after Evan had told him to go to hell and take his faithless fiancée with him.

  But this was his mother, whom he harbored real affection for. His mother, who was always caught in the middle of the tension that existed between him and his father and between him and Mitchell.

  “All right, Mom. I’ll come. But I’ll be bringing someone with me. I hope you don’t mind. ”

  He could practically see her beam right through the phone.

  “Why, Evan, you didn’t tell me you were seeing someone new! Of course you’re welcome to bring her.

  I’ll very much look forward to meeting her. ”

  “Can you forward all the details to my assistant so she can make arrangements?”

  His mom sighed. “How did I know you wouldn’t have kept the original e-mail?”

  Because he’d immediately sent it to the trash folder? Of course he wouldn’t tell her that.

  “Send it to Vickie and I’ll see you on Friday. I love you,” he said after a short pause.

  “I love you too, son. I’m so very glad you’re coming. ”

  He ended the call and stared down at his BlackBerry. Friday. Hell. Friday was when he was meeting Celia. Finally meeting Celia.

  He’d planned meticulously, not wanting to seem overanxious. He’d flirted, exchanged long, seeking glances and had spent a lot of damn time in the shower. He was surprised he hadn’t come down with hypothermia.

  And now he was going to have to cancel because his mother thought that he should go see the woman he was supposed to have married instead marry his younger brother.

  He needed to find a date. Preferably one who would convince his mother he wasn’t secretly pining over Bettina. He wasn’t. He’d gotten over her the moment she’d dumped him for his brother when Mitchell was appointed the CEO position in their family jewelry business.

  She preferred the glitz-and-glamour facade of the jewelry world over the sweaty, athletic image of his company. It was just as well she wasn’t bright enough to have done any research. If she had, she would have known that Evan’s company??
?s earnings far exceeded those of his father’s jewelry business. And it had only taken him a few years to accomplish it.

  His mother wouldn’t believe it but Evan was grateful to his brother for being a selfish pinhead. Mitchell wanted Bettina because Evan had her. Thanks to that deep need for one-upmanship, Evan had narrowly escaped a huge mistake.

  But it didn’t mean he wanted to spend quality time with his controlling father and his spoiled, self-indulgent sibling. He’d agreed, however, and now he needed a date.

  With a shake of his head, he began scrolling through his address book in his BlackBerry. He had narrowed his options to three women, when the solution came to him.

  It was brilliant, really. He was an idiot for not having thought of it immediately. It certainly solvedall his problems.

  Finally he had a way of luring Celia to him. It would be business, of course, but if the setting happened to be intimate and she was for all practical purposes stranded with him on Catalina Island for three days…

  A satisfied smile raised the corners of his mouth. Maybe the wedding wouldn’t be such a bad thing after all.

  Two

  When Celia pulled into her father’s driveway, she was relieved to see Noah’s Mercedes parked beside their father’s pickup. She pulled her black BMW on the other side of the truck and grinned at how the two expensive cars flanked the beat-up old piece of family history.

  As she got out, she heard the roar of another engine and turned to see Dalton pull in behind her. To her utter shock, Adam climbed out of the passenger seat.

  “Adam!” she exclaimed, and ran straight for him.

  He grinned just before she launched herself into his arms. She hit his chest and as she’d known he would, he caught her and whirled her around. Just like he’d done when she’d been five years old and every year since.

  “How come I never get greetings like that?” Dalton grumbled as he climbed from behind the wheel.

  “I’m so glad to see you,” she whispered fiercely.

  His big arms surrounded her in a hug that nearly squeezed the breath out of her. Adam always gave the best hugs.

  “It’s good to see you too, Cece. I missed you. Took you long enough to come back home. ”

  She slid down until her feet met the ground again, and she briefly looked away.

  “Hey,” he chided as he nudged her chin until she looked at him again. “None of that. It’s all in the past, and it’s a good damn thing it is otherwise your brothers would hop the first plane to New York and beat the crap out of your former boss. ”

  “Hey, hello, I’m here, too,” Dalton said, waving a hand between them.

  She held Adam’s gaze for a moment longer and then smiled her thanks. Her brothers were overbearing.

  They were loud, protective and they certainly had their faults. Like not believing she needed to do anything more in life than look pretty and let them support her. But God love them, they were fierce in their loyalty to her, and she adored them for it.

  Finally she turned to Dalton. “You I saw two weekends ago. Adam I haven’t seen in forever. ” She glanced back at Adam. “Why is that anyway?”

  He grimaced. “Sorry. Busy time of the year. ”

  She nodded. Adam, her oldest brother, owned a successful landscaping business and spring was always a hectic time. They rarely saw him until the fall when business started to slow.

  Dalton slung an arm over Celia’s shoulders and planted an affectionate kiss on her cheek. “I see Mr.

  Baseball is here. Must have caught a break before the season starts. ”

  “You guys going to the season opener?” she asked.

  “Wouldn’t miss it,” Adam said.

  “I have a favor to ask then. ”

  Both brothers looked curiously at her.

  “I’m bringing a client and I’d like to keep my relationship to Noah on the down low. ”

  Curiosity gleamed in their eyes. She knew they wanted to ask, but when she didn’t volunteer her reasons why, they didn’t pursue the matter.

  “Okay. Not a problem,” Adam finally said.

  “Are you three going to stand out there all day or are you coming in to eat?”

  Her father’s voice boomed from the front porch, and they turned to see him leaning against the doorframe, impatience evident in his stance.

  Celia grinned. “We better go in before he starts muttering threats. ”

  Adam ruffled her hair then tucked his arm over her neck so he had her in a headlock. He started toward the house, dragging her with him.

  When they got to the porch, she laughingly stumbled from Adam’s hold and gave her dad a quick hug.

  He squeezed her and dropped a kiss on the top of her head.

  “Where’s Noah?” she asked.

  “Where he always is. Parked in front of the big screen, watching baseball. ”

  She slipped past her father while he greeted his sons and entered the home she’d grown up in. When she got to the living room, she saw Noah sprawled in the recliner, remote in hand as he flipped through footage of past baseball games.

  “Hey,” she called.

  He looked up, his eyes warming in welcome. As he got up, he smiled broadly at her then held out his arms.