His to Keep (Beauty and the Brit)(4)

By: Terri Austin

Stan Daniels sighed deeply. He seemed to do that a lot around Iain—who had probably paid for the three-thousand-dollar suit the prat was wearing. So he could save his sighs for other clients, because Iain wasn’t having it.

“Cut the drama, mate. Just give me the highlights already.”

“Let the man talk, Iain. It’s why we’re paying him, innit?” From the window overlooking the busy street, Marcus Atwell turned to face them, all the while stroking his chin—a sure sign he was worried. But that was nothing new. It was when Marc started playing with his floppy hair that Iain knew real trouble was brewing.

“What this means,” Stan said, “is you’ll pay more in taxes, shell out more for inspections, and have to jump through more governmental regulation hoops. Get used to it.”

“How much more are we talking about here?” Iain asked.

“A couple million, give or take.”

Iain pushed back his chair and stood, pocketing the dice as he walked across the room. “That sounds like pocket change to you, does it?” Stan came from money and had gone to a fancy Ivy League school—probably grew up using hundred-dollar bills to wipe his privileged ass.

“Do we really have to do this today?” Stan asked. “It’s pocket change to you too, Iain. You have a multimillion-dollar project you want to implement. This is a drop in the bucket.”

“He’s right, Iain,” Marc said. “We’re not the poor lads from Manchester anymore. It’s all a matter of perspective.”

At the credenza in the corner, Iain poured coffee from an antique silver pot. Drinking from the delicate china cups always made him feel faintly ridiculous, but it added to the traditional British decor. No sense in having four-thousand-dollar Chippendale chairs only to drink from a cheap ceramic mug. Presentation was important. And two million really wasn’t much in the bigger scheme of things, but he didn’t take any of it for granted, not a bloody penny.

“Send us copies detailing the changes, and cc my project manager, yeah?” Iain sipped his coffee—strong, black, bitter. He glanced over at Stan. “Was there something else? I’m getting billed for every moment you stand there looking like a twat.”

The bald man smiled. “I don’t charge for looking like a twat. That one’s on the house.” He bent to pick up his briefcase. “Always a pleasure, Iain.”

“Fuck off.”

“Nice seeing you, too.” Stan nodded at both men and left the room.

Once he was gone, Marc paced the floor. “She’s coming this morning?”

“Yeah. Should be here in a few.”

“We don’t need to do this,” Marc said. “There are other investors. We could develop the properties slowly, take our time.”

“And we may have to,” Iain said with a shrug, “if this doesn’t pan out.”

“It probably won’t. Brynn Campbell might hate you on sight—and I wouldn’t blame her, because you’re a bit of a blighter, truth be told. And if she finds out you set her up, she could turn Trevor Blake against us.”

“It’ll work, trust me. Hiring Brynn’s firm is a stroke of genius. We need a fresh partner for this project. One with deep pockets. Who better than Trevor Blake? If we’re really lucky, Brynn’s other brother-in-law, Cal Hughes, might throw in with us. Those two have loads to spare, good business sense, and Trevor’s name carries weight in this town. I went over every other angle I could think of, and Brynn Campbell is the weak link.” A lovely one at that.

The first time he’d laid eyes on her had been at an evening garden party, a benefit for her family’s cancer foundation. He’d paid a fortune for a ticket in hopes of meeting Trevor. While wandering through the garden, Iain had spotted Brynn, and he’d been struck immobile. It wasn’t just her beauty or that delicate, graceful quality that captured his attention. No, it was the way she held herself apart from the crowd and observed everyone around her, as if, despite being who she was—the sister-in-law of the wealthiest man in Vegas—she didn’t quite feel comfortable in her posh surroundings. It had reminded him, uncomfortably, of himself.

And he hadn’t been able to look away.

He’d watched her for the better part of an hour. Though she tried to hide in plain sight, Iain couldn’t take his eyes off her. He saw her clearly, so why couldn’t anyone else? And when he’d begun to approach her, she’d turned on her heel and flitted away, into Trevor’s monstrously large house. Trevor had also disappeared before Iain could introduce himself. Nevertheless, he’d stayed until the end of the party, hoping to catch another glimpse of Brynn, without any luck. She’d stuck in his head ever since, though he couldn’t for the life of him say why. Now he was finally going to meet her properly. About bloody time, too. All it took was an elaborate ruse and several thousand dollars to draw her out of her hidey-hole.