A Family for the Billionaire(4)

By: Dani Wade


She reached out for six-month-old Rosie. She was in her snuggly jammies, her skin lavender-scented from her bath. As she settled into Jasmine’s lap, Jasmine breathed deep. “I love you, baby girl,” she whispered against Rosie’s curly black hair.

Then she smiled up at the older woman. “Thank you, Auntie.”

“You’re most welcome,” Auntie said, bending to hug Jasmine and the baby together.

Jasmine would never have made it through the first six months of Rosie’s life without Auntie. Technically, she wasn’t their aunt. She’d been their mother’s nanny when she’d been small. She’d returned to Savannah when their mother hadn’t needed her anymore.

But when the girls’ parents had died, leaving them with no family at a very young age, Auntie had brought them home to Savannah. Jasmine had been a young teen, but her sisters were even younger. Auntie had finished raising them in this house and never once complained. She was as close to a mother as she could get without being a blood relation.

Each of the girls loved her just the same.

Jasmine’s baby sister, Ivy, joined them at the table with a plate of oatmeal cookies Auntie had made while they were all at work that day. “I’ve seen Royce Brazier at some of the meetings of the transportation planning commission, since he owns one of the biggest shipping companies on the East Coast,” she said, her bright blue eyes wide. “He’s pretty hunky.”

Jasmine could practically see every set of ears around the table perk up.

Ivy continued, “But I’ve heard he’s all business, 24/7.”

Jasmine agreed. “He made that very clear.”

Willow pouted. “What’s the fun in that?”

“Dealing with demands is a lot easier when they’re pretty,” Ivy said, with a grimace that still managed to look cute.

Jasmine threw her napkin across the table at her sister, making a sleepy Rosie giggle.

“The last thing I have time for right now is a man,” Jasmine insisted.

Her cell phone gave a quiet chirp, which was the ringtone she used at home so she didn’t accidentally wake the baby. She glanced at the screen. “He certainly is a workaholic,” she mused as she handed Rosie over to her youngest sister. She hadn’t expected to see Royce’s name on the caller ID at this time of night—or at all, really. She’d assumed he would never go for her conditions. Which had made her sad, because she could have used the work. But she had her principles.

She needed to remember that.

“This is Jasmine,” she answered, walking toward the door to the front parlor as her sisters mimed something and Auntie watched them indulgently.

“Brazier here.”

She smiled. I know. “What can I do for you?”

“After careful consideration, I’ve decided to renegotiate our terms, if that’s still possible.”

Interesting. “May I ask why?”

“Well, you certainly have a lot to offer.”

Was she just imagining his voice growing deeper?

He went on. “So I’ll agree to your terms—within reason.”

“Meaning?”

“I’ll attend meetings with the charity and vendors and such, but I’m not decorating rooms or tying bows or stuffing bags. Understood?”

Good thing he couldn’t see her smile. “Feel free to email me your demands and I’ll consider them.”

“You can’t talk now?” he asked.

“Roy—Mr. Brazier. It’s a little late. Almost nine o’clock.” And Rosie would need to go to sleep soon.

“Is your husband impatient for you to get off the phone?”

Okay, no way had she imagined that change in tone. Choosing to ignore his question, because it was fun to keep him guessing, she countered, “Don’t you have a family waiting for you to shut down?”

“No. A man with my schedule shouldn’t have a family—it isn’t fair to them.”

She thought of the little girl in the other room—how sometimes it was hard to force herself out the door in the morning because being away from Rosie left her feeling incomplete. Of course, life hadn’t afforded her the chance to stay home with Rosie—and there were plenty of family members in the house to keep her occupied until Mommy came home. “Commendable of you to realize that.” Though most men usually didn’t think that way.

“Simply practical—but you didn’t answer my question.”

And she didn’t plan to... “Working 24/7 isn’t good for anyone.”

“You enjoy your beauty sleep?”

This conversation was definitely off the business track—her brain derailed into forbidden thoughts of him in her bed. “I’ll watch for your email,” she said, hoping she didn’t sound too breathless.