The Firstborn PrinceBy: Virginia Nelson
But maybe he’d overestimated the skills of Natalie Stolen, and her failure in business was caused by the fact that she was disorganized. After all, based on the small, cluttered space of her office, she sure didn’t give off the first impression he’d hoped for. He glanced at the handwritten slip of paper from his pocket again, verifying he’d gone to the right location, but it was kind of futile. Her name was proudly written in permanent ink on a yellow Post-It on the door. Clearly, she had to be the Natalie Stolen.
Rumor had it that the woman was discreet. Even if no one else realized it, her willingness to keep secrets for her clients to the point of sacrificing her own career at the feet of the Welles debacle proved she was skilled rather than a failure, as she’d been marked publicly. The gossip kept her from getting clients, but he considered himself a good judge of character. Based on everything he’d researched, the woman had skills. She was also in a desperate situation and likely to accept unusual offers in the hopes of regaining her former position. There were other image consultants out there, but he picked her in the hopes that they could help each other.
If not each other, at least him.
He cleared his throat again, because perhaps she hadn’t heard him. The woman responded, her sweet voice sounding downright annoyed. “Sorry, Marc, I’m busy. I already told you I didn’t have time to take lunch.”
Foster opened his mouth, prepared to correct her, when Buffy jerked against her leash and lunged at the woman.
For a second—an overly long second, while he stood with his mouth open like an idiot—Foster didn’t respond. Buffy never yanked away from him, nor did she ever jam her giant head between the legs of a lady.
The woman shrieked, waving her arms comically as she twisted and tried to keep her balance. To her credit, she tried to avoid stepping on his dog, awkwardly managing to get both her legs on one side of the animal without kicking Buffy in her big, daft head. But beyond that, she was going to fall. He lurched forward and captured her elbows in an attempt to steady her before she cracked her head on the thick glass of the oversized desk.
She blinked up at him from the bluest eyes he’d ever seen. She must wear those contacts, the ones that enhanced eye color, because he’d never seen a person with eyes that shade of violet blue. Silver rimmed the pupils, a widening rim as she focused on his face. Then she blinked, dark lashes slowly hiding the vibrant hue and freeing him from his temporary state of shock.
“Hi,” he said with a little smirk of amusement.
“You’re not Marc,” she said.
“Nope,” he answered, waiting for her to regain her composure.
Foster found himself considering her face, the oval shape of it nearly model perfect. Her nose was a bit too long, and it swung a little too far to the right. Maybe she’d broken it at some point? Lush lips, currently puckered in confusion, made a lovely counterpoint to the peaches-and-cream tone of her skin. Vibrant hair cascaded in mermaid waves over his arm, and all in all, he had to admit that Natalie Stolen was a breathtaking beauty. Somehow, although he’d seen her picture in his research, he’d not noticed that about her.
It made her more perfect for the job, honestly. Yeah, she was gorgeous. His brother wouldn’t be able to resist her.
How dumb was it that the idea of his brother holding her in his arms made him a little jealous?
Mentally shaking off the thought, he realized he was still holding her past the point of being useful, so he shifted his weight, ensuring she’d found her balance before he stepped back and away from her.
“Sorry about that,” he began, gesturing to Buffy. “She never does that.”
“Oh, she’s beautiful,” Natalie said as if she’d just noticed, bending at the knee to face the dog. “Hello, there.”
The dog glanced at him, apparently remembering she wasn’t supposed to hurl herself at strangers. “Yes, she is. Buffy is her name. Again, sorry.”
Much to his surprise, she cooed at the animal, despite the fact that the dog knocked her over and could’ve caused major head injury moments before. The fact that she was paying more attention to the dog than she was him grated on Foster’s nerves. He wasn’t used to people not paying full attention to him when he was in the room. Before he could comment on the oddity, Natalie stood back up and faced him.