His Forever Family

By: Sarah M. Anderson

One

“Come on, Ms. Reese,” Marcus Warren called over his shoulder. “It’s not that hot.”

He paused in the middle of the jogging path to wait for his executive assistant, Liberty Reese, to catch up with him. He looked around, checking for any vans with dark windows that didn’t belong. It was an old habit, keeping an eye out for danger. But as usual, aside from some other runners, he and Ms. Reese had the shoreline to themselves. Thank God. The past was in the past, he repeated to himself until his anxiety faded.

Man, he loved Lake Michigan. The early-morning light made the rippling water a deep blue. The sky was clear and warmed by the sun, which seemed to hover just about a foot over the surface of the water. Later today, the heat would be oppressive, but right now, running along the lakefront with a cool breeze blowing in from the water?

This was as close to free as Marcus got to feel.

He checked his Fitbit. His heart rate was falling. “You’re not going to let the heat beat you, are you, Ms. Reese?” he teased, stretching out his quads.

Ms. Reese puffed up next to him. “May I take a moment to point out—again—that you’re not taking notes while you run?” she said, glaring at him.

But he wasn’t fooled. He saw the way the corner of her lips curved up as she said it. She was trying not to smile.

He kept stretching so she could catch her breath. “But I’m talking. That counts for something, right?”

She rolled her eyes and finished off the water. That made him grin. He was Marcus Warren, heir to his father’s Warren Investments financial empire and his mother’s Marquis Hotel empire. He was the sole owner of Warren Capital, a venture capital firm he’d started with his trust-fund money. He owned half of the Chicago Blackhawks and a quarter of the Chicago Bulls, in addition to 75 percent of the pro soccer team, the Chicago Fire. He was one of the richest bachelors in the country and possibly the richest one in Chicago.

People simply did not roll their eyes at him.

Except for Ms. Reese.

She tucked the bottle back into her belt. Then, her fingers hovering over the Bluetooth earpiece she wore at all times, she asked, “So how do you want to proceed with the watchmakers?”

Rock City Watches was a boutique firm that had set up shop in downtown Detroit and wanted a fresh round of investing to expand its operations. Marcus looked at his watch, made just for him. The 24-karat gold casing was warm against his skin. “What do you think?”

Ms. Reese sighed heavily and began to plod up the jogging path again. She was not a particularly graceful runner—plodding was the only word for it—but she kept up with him and took notes while they ran. It was the most productive time of day. He did his best thinking while they ran.

Which was why they ran every single day, in rain or heat. Ice was about the only thing that kept them indoors, but he had a treadmill in a room off his office. Ms. Reese could sit at a small desk and record everything and provide her opinion.

He let her get a few feet ahead of him. No, she was not terribly graceful. But that didn’t stop him from admiring the view. Ms. Reese had curves—more than enough curves to give a man pause.

He shook his head, pushing all thoughts of her backside from his mind. He was not the kind of billionaire who slept with his secretary. His father had done that enough for both of them. Marcus’s relationship with Ms. Reese was strictly business. Well, business and running.

He caught up to her easily. “Well?”

“No one wears watches anymore,” she panted. “Unless it’s a smart watch.”

“Excellent point. I’ll invest twenty-five million in Rock City Watches.”

Ms. Reese stumbled a bit in surprise. Marcus reached out and steadied her. He didn’t allow his hand to linger on her warm skin. “You okay? We’re almost to the fountain.” Buckingham Fountain was the point where they turned around and headed back.

She gave him a hell of a side eye. “I’m fine. How did you get from timepieces are a dead market to let’s invest another twenty-five million?”

“If no one wears watches anymore, then they become what they once were—a status symbol,” he explained. “Only the wealthiest consumers can afford a watch that costs several grand. The timepiece market isn’t dead, Ms. Reese. The mass-market timepiece market is. But the luxury timepiece market?” He held out his wrist. “It’s a hell of a nice watch, don’t you think?” This particular watch went for $4,500.

She nodded. “It’ll be great PR, as well. Made in America and all that.”

“But they need to accept the realities of the market.”

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