Billionaire's Contract Engagement(8)

By: Maya Banks

“Weeeell, no. But I did just order pizza.”

“You’re forgiven, but I refuse to have a reasonable discussion until it gets here.”

She laughed and punched him on the arm when he flopped on the sofa next to her. “If I didn’t need a favor from you, I’d make you pay for it.”

His expression grew serious. “So what is this favor, anyway?”

“Oh, no. I’m not asking you for anything until you have a full stomach. Again, since you ate not even three hours ago.”

He grunted but didn’t offer any argument. His stomach was too important.

He reached for the remote and flipped on the TV. A few seconds later, the sports recap was on, and he settled back against the couch.

The pizza didn’t take long—thanks to the bistro right around the corner offering delivery service. Soon the decadent smells of a completely loaded pizza filled her apartment. Despite all she’d eaten at lunch, her stomach growled in anticipation. She eyed the gooey dripping cheese and grimaced. It might taste good, but it would go straight to her hips. Then again, that’s what the treadmill was for.

She dropped the box on the coffee table in front of Noah, not bothering with plates. He eyed the mountain of toppings with something akin to bliss.

She waited until he’d grabbed the first piece before she carefully took a slice and nibbled on the end. It was, in a word, sheer heaven. She leaned back and waited for Noah to down the first slice. When he was on his second, he turned and said around a mouthful of pizza, “So what’s this favor you need?”

She sat forward, putting half the slice down on a napkin.

“I have this client … well he’s a client I want to land. Evan Reese.”

Noah stopped chewing. “The guy who sells athletic wear?”

She nodded. “Yeah. He fired his last agency and has yet to sign with a new one. I want him. Maddox Communications wants him.”

“Okay. So where do I fit into the picture?”

For a moment her nerve deserted her, and then she mentally slapped herself upside the head. In her profession there was no room for the spineless. She hadn’t worked her way into the confidence of Brock Maddox acting like a jellyfish.

“I want you to agree to front his new line of athletic wear.”

Noah blinked then he frowned, and finally he put down his half-eaten slice. For a moment he was quiet. She waited, fully expecting him to say no or to launch into all the reasons why he didn’t take endorsement deals. She knew them all. But he did none of those things. Instead he studied her carefully, his gaze sliding over her features as though he was reaching right into her head and pulling out her every thought.

He wouldn’t ask why him. He was a huge name in baseball, and he was more sought after than any other professional athlete mainly because of his refusal to take endorsement deals. Instead of deterring companies, it made them all the more determined to be the first to lure Noah Hart to their brand.

She could beg. She could hurry through a prepared explanation as to why she needed him, but she wasn’t going to wheedle and cajole.

Noah was still frowning as he studied her. “This is important to you.”

She nodded. “Evan is a big client. My boss is trusting me to land the account. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll get him with or without you, but you’d be the nail in his coffin. Plus it would be huge for you. Reese will pay a lot to have you be the spokesman for his sportswear.”

Noah sighed. “I wish you’d just quit this job. You don’t have to work, and you know it. You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone, Cece. Certainly not to your family. Adam, Dalton and I make more than enough money to support you. It would make Dad happy if you didn’t have such a stressful job. He’s convinced you’ll have an ulcer before you’re thirty.”

She smiled faintly. “I am thirty.”

He shot her an impatient look.

“Look, Noah, would you quit baseball just because your brothers make enough money to support you? They do, you know.”

A derisive, strangling sound rose from his throat. He licked his lips as if to rid himself of a really bad taste.

“It’s different.”

“I know, I know. You’re a man, and I’m a woman.” Her lips curled in disgust. “Noah, I love you dearly. You’re the best brother a girl could ask for. But you’re a chauvinist to your toes.”

He huffed but didn’t dispute her accusation. Then his expression grew thoughtful again. “I assume you’ve done your research on this man and his company.”

Celia nodded before he’d even finished. On the surface, Noah looked and acted laissez-faire. He had all the appearances of a golden-boy jock whose only concern might be fast cars and faster women. But beneath that illusion lay a man who had a deep social conscience.