The Firstborn Prince

By: Virginia Nelson

There was too much to explain there—about how their father had made mistakes, nearly bankrupting the company while he was distracted with his wife, his family. He and his brother had been young then, but he’d never forget the night when his parents died. Their dad had been driving when he was too tired from work and two small boys at home. It’d ended with them both dead on a highway because he’d spread himself too thin. They might have been young, but he and Connor promised each other they’d never make the same mistake.

Business came first. Families and relationships were for people who didn’t have a multimillion dollar business to run.

Foster shook his head slowly, keeping her gaze captive. He wanted to make this one point clear, right from the outset. “If you sleep with Connor, you’re useless to me. Understood?”

She didn’t answer, but she leaned back in her chair. Swiveling away from him, she faced the wall behind her. He wasn’t sure if it meant she’d dismissed him or if she was thinking over his unique proposition.

When she finally faced him again, she looked decided. “If I take this job, and I do not manage to reform the Rogue Prince—” He cringed at the use of the ridiculous nickname the press had given his brother, but he didn’t interrupt her. “There is nothing in it for me, Mr. Boyd.”

“What do you mean?” he asked. When considering the proposition, he’d looked over her price points from various sources before her fall from grace. He could easily match—even double—her usual rates.

“You’re thinking to yourself that you came to my office, knowing I had no clients due to the Welles situation, and you’d throw money at me. Surely, a few months into this whole crisis you know I am dealing with, you’d assume that my client list has dried up. I’m penniless, and would grasp at a job, no matter how undignified and questionable, just to get my hands on a small portion of the Boyd fortune, correct?”

He didn’t feel it would be beneficial to his negotiation to agree, even if she was right. “I can pay you more than your rate prior to the incident,” he hedged.

“But that’s one client, Mr. Boyd. One short-term client, because I’m assuming you have a time frame in mind?”

“I do.”

“Great, so this one short-term project, which isn’t really a redemption of your brother, only a distraction technique, and one paycheck. We both leave with what we came in to the game with, no harm, no foul. Which, for you, is great. You’re walking away with your company, brother distracted away from it while you make your grab, and you give up a relatively small amount of money to ensure your success. Me? I’ll have another failed client for my resume, and no guarantee of future work. Basically, if I take this job, I’m great for now, but in the long run I’m back where I started. It’s like putting a piece of duct tape on a hole in a dam. I’m left with no one wanting to hire me, still, blaming me for things beyond my control.”

She had a point, dammit.

“What can I do to make it worth your while?”

“I have an idea about that.”

“Oh really?” He couldn’t help leaning forward, elbows on knees to get even a little closer to her. “Enlighten me.”

Her smile was slow and devious. “You pay me double and I reform both twins, you included. When the whole debacle is over and done with, you continue to follow my rules for your image, thereby proving that I have a top client with a successful record of image correction. You don’t have to do it forever, just until I pick up a few more clients. Then, we break contract and whatever you do after that is your problem.”

“How long?” he asked, getting to the point.

“One year, Mr. Boyd. For one year, you play the part of actual prince to the public, and I’ll distract your brother.”

“One month,” he countered.

“Nine months,” she responded without hesitation.

“Three,” he replied.

“Six,” she snapped.

He would have agreed to the year, so he smiled. He reached across the desk and took her hand into his again. The contact sizzled through his system, feeling a bit like conquest.

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