A Family for the Billionaire(7)

By: Dani Wade


Not today.

Days spent wondering what that tattoo was on his neck, whether his hair was mussed when he rolled out of bed in the morning or if he ever did anything but work had taken her to places she hadn’t wanted to go. And the stupid ring wasn’t helping.

She glanced down at the emerald she wasn’t used to having on her right hand. So stupid. But if she backed down now, her sisters would never let her hear the end of it. So she’d prove to them that the legend wasn’t real—and teach Rosie there were plenty of special things in life without magic.

Her phone started vibrating in her hand. Glancing down, Jasmine mumbled under her breath, “Well, it’s about time.”

“Hello, Mr. Brazier,” she said.

His tone was as clipped as hers. “I need to postpone. Please come to my office in an hour.” He was so short, she wondered if he even realized he was talking to an actual person.

“Excuse me?”

“Come here in an hour,” he repeated.

Click.

An hour? Jasmine paused to scroll through the calendar on her phone. Oh, my. Since Royce had only allotted an hour for their meeting, Jasmine hadn’t worried about the tight timeline she had for this morning. An hour would put her right smack in the middle of Auntie’s doctor’s appointment. Willow was in class. Ivy was at work. Which left...well, no one to watch Rosie. Except her.

He probably wasn’t going to like how that went... But then again, he hadn’t really given her much choice in the matter. It was time Mr. Brazier got his first lesson in seeing the person behind the business opportunity.

When Jasmine walked into the outer office a little over an hour later, Matthew’s eyes widened. “Miss Harden, I’m so sorry.” His eyes widened further—if that was even possible—as he glanced down. “I—”

“Just announce me, please, Matthew,” she said with an overly sweet smile.

Her stomach fluttered from the nerves rushing through her in waves, but she reminded herself necessity took this out of her hands. Besides, he’d brought it on himself.

Jasmine went through the door while Royce continued to talk on the phone. His back was to her. Taking advantage of his distraction, she turned and smiled down at her surprise. Then she lifted Rosie from her stroller and turned to find Royce staring at her backside.

Jasmine should have been offended, but his distraction played to her advantage in this instance. When he finally realized where he was staring and looked up, the switch from lust to shock in his normally schooled expression was priceless.

“What’s this?” he sputtered as he jumped to his feet.

Jasmine ignored Rosie’s cooing, because breaking her businesslike facade wouldn’t be to her advantage right now. “You told me to meet you here.”

He frowned, proving himself to be heartless. No one could look at Rosie and refuse to smile. No way could he be human. “My office isn’t a day care,” he insisted.

“And my time is very tightly scheduled today,” she said with an arch of her brows. “I have commitments, just like you.”

“I can’t help that my earlier meeting ran over,” he said defensively, straightening in his seat.

Jasmine took a deep breath, then blew it out slowly, pulling her chaotic thoughts from the last hour together. “Let me ask you a question,” she began.

After Royce nodded, she continued. “Would you have called any of your fellow businessmen and given them commands about when to show up at your office?”

The surprise on his face only confirmed her suspicions.

“If I were one of your managers or the owner of one of your supply companies instead of an event planner, would you have had Matt contact me to reschedule instead of rudely cutting off our conversation earlier?”

“That’s not why—”

“I made arrangements for a sitter as soon as this meeting was scheduled. I don’t like to disrupt my daughter’s schedule by carting her around to my business meetings. But by changing our scheduled time and refusing to discuss it with me or give me any options, I had no other choice...unless I wanted to be a no-show myself.”

He didn’t respond. His narrowed gaze still made her want to squirm, but she refused to back down.

“Now I’m very much looking forward to working with you, but my business is people. Is our phone conversation earlier how you conduct business? How you deal with your fellow business people and the community at large? Because it isn’t how I conduct my business.”

Lesson number one was over. The ball was in Royce’s court now.

Rosie continued to coo, then snuggled against Jasmine as she settled into a chair with her child in her lap. This would never have worked if Rosie had a different temperament, but Jasmine happened to know that her daughter was one of the most easygoing babies in the world. She just hoped this was Royce’s only lesson in seeing the people behind the business.

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