The Firstborn PrinceBy: Virginia Nelson
“Natalie Stolen,” she said, offering her hand.
“Foster Boyd,” he said in response, taking her delicate hand into his own.
Usually, he didn’t notice how much smaller a woman was compared to himself, but Natalie Stolen was exceptionally feminine in a way that made the contrast with his masculinity all the more noticeable. Even her fingers were girly, elegant and graceful, as they lay across his palm.
“I know who you are,” she replied, stepping over a box and moving behind her desk. She tugged on a lightweight tan jacket, which instantly made her look a bit more businesslike. If he wasn’t mistaken, she was armoring herself in professionalism to regain some control over the situation, suggesting she felt off-kilter.
His lips curled in a small smile. Somehow, he liked the idea that his presence made her unsettled. Something about this woman affected him, and the visual proof that she was equally affected pleased him on some primal level. Now dressed in a white V-neck T-shirt, jeans, and the businesslike blazer, she sat in her chair and faced him.
“It saves us time, that you recognize me. We can get right to business.”
“Your reputation precedes you,” she admitted. “Bad boy billionaire who makes headlines… You’re not exactly flying very far under the radar.”
Since Foster sensed no judgment in her words, he gestured to the chair opposite hers.
“May I?” he asked.
She nodded, flushing a pretty pink as she glanced at the box sitting on the chair. “Sorry about that. Just getting moved in.”
“I noticed,” he answered, smiling again.
She might know what the headlines said about him, but he wasn’t coming into this particular battle unarmed. He prized control over everything, and maintaining that meant he was used to doing his homework. Forewarned was forearmed, after all, and he knew quite a lot about the beautiful woman behind the desk.
Natalie Stolen had come out of college and managed to score a no-name rocker client right out of the gate. What set her apart from a lot of other budding people in the industry was the fact that she actually managed to deliver—taking her client from nobody to hitting the Billboard Top 100 within a year.
A lot of her original clients were part of the music business, but she quickly picked up a few models and helped them make the transition to acting pretty flawlessly. Before long, she’d scored a few big names upon the fall of Howard’s Image Consulting—a company that went belly up when rumors of sexual harassment on the part of Jerry Howard, the owner and chief exec, hit the internet. Margo Welles was among that original batch Natalie picked up.
And likely the one Natalie Stolen regretted snagging most in the long run.
After moving the box, he sat across from her, and Buffy set her head on his knee. Absently stroking the dog’s ears, he waited for Stolen to make the first move. Since he would ultimately control the situation, the first move was no loss to him, so he could afford the generosity.
Natalie shifted in her seat, shoving a bit of that luxurious hair behind her shoulder before resting her elbows on the thick glass desk. “How can I help you, Mr. Boyd?”
One of her brows arched above those stunning eyes, a visual question mark. He refused to be rushed, breathing in slowly before he began. “I have reason to believe that you’re taking on new clients.”
There, that was a particularly delicate way of wording it. Surely, he’d get points for diplomacy, considering. He didn’t mention he knew for a fact she had zero clients at the moment, and zero prospects based on the fact the media hadn’t tired of the Margo Welles debacle.
The brow dropped, and her eyes narrowed slightly. “Currently, I am taking on new clients,” she agreed. “But I usually like to find out how I can help you before I commit to anything. Let’s put all of our cards on the table.”
“I’m okay with that,” he agreed.
“Since you seem to have come in here with some previous information about me, I won’t bother you with the details about myself and my company. Instead, let’s focus on what I know about you. You’re Foster Boyd,” she began, ticking the point off on one elegant fingertip. “I know of you, but only because you’re known more for your ability to misbehave than anything to do with the tons of money you’ve accumulated over the duration of your working life.” The second point was ticked off on her middle finger. She tapped her ring finger twice before continuing. “But, your reputation is only half that of your brother’s, who is—if it’s possible—even more well-known for reckless and wild behavior in questionable company.” She made it to her pinky and tilted her head at him. “Somewhat further down the list is the fact that your net worth has a lot of zeroes in really appealing places because you both own a very successful company that deals in cosmetics and skincare products.”