Bought: One Bride(2)

By: Miranda Lee


But he had never, ever envied him.

Till now.

Suddenly, Richard wanted this penthouse. Wanted to live in it. Wanted to come home to it every night, instead of the cold, soulless apartment he’d occupied since his wife’s death eighteen months ago. He even wanted to share it with someone, which was a surprise as well. Up till this moment, the thought of sharing his life—and his bed—with another woman had been anathema to him. He’d been in total emotional shutdown since he’d buried Joanna. Total sexual shutdown as well.

No wonder he’d been capable of putting in twenty-four-hour days at the bank. His male hormones had to be directed somewhere. It seemed, however, that his male hormones were about to emerge from their cryogenic state, for when Richard looked at the king-sized bed in front of his eyes, he didn’t envisage sleeping in it alone.

His flesh actually stirred with the mental image of himself making love to a woman on top of that blue satin quilt. No one he already knew. An attractive stranger. Brunette. Soft-eyed. Full-breasted. And very willing.

His flesh stirred even further.

“You really like this place, don’t you?” Reece said.

Richard laughed. “I didn’t think I was that obvious. But, yes, I really do. Would you consider selling it to me?”

“Nope.”

Frustration flared within Richard, alongside another surge of testosterone. “Damn it, Reece, you already own a mansion on the water just around the corner. What do you want this place for?”

“To give to you.”

“What?” Richard’s eyebrows shot ceiling-wards.

Reece smiled that disarming, charming smile of his. “Here are the keys, my friend. It’s yours.”

“Don’t be ridiculous!” Richard exclaimed, though his heart was hammering inside his chest. “I can’t let you do that. Hell, this place has to be worth a small fortune.”

“Five point four million the other penthouse sold for, to be precise. But this one is bigger and better. Here.” And he pressed the keys into Richard’s right hand.

“No, no. You have to let me pay for it!”

“Absolutely not. It’s all yours, in appreciation. You were there for me, Rich, when no one else was. And I’m not just talking about the money. You gave me your hand in friendship. And you had faith in my judgement. That’s worth more than all the money in the world.”

Richard didn’t know what to say. Only twice in his banking career had he made personal friends of men he’d lent money to. It was generally advised against. But he’d never had any cause to regret either decision.

Reece, of course, was always a hard man to say no to, and impossible not to like.

Mike had been a different kettle of fish entirely. As dark in looks and personality as Reece was light and bright, the young computer genius had come to the bank several years ago for backing to start his own software company. A one-time juvenile delinquent who had a permanent chip on his shoulder, Mike had no ability to sell himself at all.

But he was creatively brilliant, cripplingly honest and unashamedly ambitious. Richard had been so impressed, he’d invested his own money into Mike’s company as well as the bank’s.

Over time, Richard had found himself really liking Mike as well, despite his gruff manner. He’d persuaded Mike to go along to one of Reece’s famous parties and the three of them had soon become close friends.

Nowadays, Richard counted Reece and Mike as his best and only true friends. Other male colleagues in his life pretended friendship, but Richard knew that they had knives ready behind his back, to be used if he gave them a chance.

“You have no idea how much this means to me,” Richard said, his hand closing tightly around the keys. “But to accept a luxury penthouse as a gift—especially this one—would put me in an impossible position at the bank. My enemies would have a field day. There’d be all sorts of rumours about corruption and paybacks and Lord knows what else. You must let me pay for it.”

“You and that bloody bank and those pompous pricks you work with!”

Richard laughed. “Yes, I know, but it’s my bloody bank now and I’d like to keep it that way. I’ll give you the proper market value. What would that be? Six million?”

“Probably.” Reece sighed. “Very well. Six million.”

“Look, it’s not as though I can’t afford it,” Richard pointed out. “I made a packet out of the house at Palm Beach I bought.” And which he’d sold a week after Joanna’s funeral.

Richard didn’t add that in the eighteen months since Joanna’s death, he’d also tripled his personal fortune in the stock market. Amazing what profits could be made when you were uncaring of the risks you were taking.