Billionaire's Contract Engagement(113)

By: Maya Banks

He hoped that if she had even the slightest suspicion of his intentions, he had dispelled that when he pretended not to be sure about wanting kids. Although admittedly, until recently anyway, he hadn’t even considered it. He’d never planned to get tied down again, so it had just naturally never entered his mind. And his ex had never expressed a desire for children.

Now he knew, if they were his and Mel’s, his life would never be complete without them. Natural or adopted.

He opened his top drawer, pulled out the ring box and flipped the top up. It wasn’t as flashy as the ring he’d given his ex. The stone was smaller and the setting more traditional, but after Mel confessed how much she had disliked the ring for their fake engagement, he knew she would love this one. A sturdy ring, the jeweler had told him, one that would hold up through diaper changes and baby baths and dirty laundry. And with any luck that would be the scene at their condo for the next several years.

There was a knock on his office door. Ash closed the ring box and set it back in his drawer just as Gavin Spencer stuck his head in. “Am I bothering you?”

“Nothing that can’t wait,” Ash said, gesturing him in.

Gavin strode over and sank into the chair opposite Ash’s desk. “It’s getting really weird out there.”

Ash didn’t have to ask what he meant. The mood around the office had been tense for the past couple of weeks. He could only assume it was due in part to the security leaks. It wasn’t openly discussed, but at this point everyone knew.

“That’s why I stay in here,” Ash said.

“You’re lucky you can. You should try working with Logan Emerson.”

“I did notice that he doesn’t exactly seem to fit in.”

“He kind of creeps me out,” Gavin said. “It seems like every time I look up, he’s watching me. Then I caught him in my office the other day. He said he was leaving me a memo.”

“Did he?”

“Yeah. But I could swear the papers on my desk had been moved around. There’s something not quite right with him. There are times when he doesn’t even seem to know what the hell he’s doing. Doesn’t seem like a very smart hire to me. If it were my firm, you could bet I would do things differently.”

But it wasn’t. He knew Gavin dreamed of branching out on his own, of being the boss, but talk like that could make some people nervous. Ash just hoped Gavin wouldn’t undermine the integrity of Maddox and leak information to Golden Gate to suit his own interests.

Gavin’s cell rang and when he looked at the display he shot up from his chair. “Damn, gotta take this. I’ve got a lead on a new client. I don’t want to say too much, but it could be very lucrative.”

“Well, good luck.”

When Gavin was gone Ash looked at the clock. It seemed that time was crawling by today. It was still four hours until he picked up Mel for dinner. It was going to be tough sitting through the entire meal, knowing the ring was in his pocket. But he knew that the water was one of her favorite places, so that was where he wanted to do it. He’d timed it so that the sun would be setting and the view would be spectacular.

He’d planned it so precisely, there wasn’t a single thing that could possibly go wrong.

Melody was running late.

She leaned close to the mirror and fixed the eyeliner smudge in the corner of her eye. Boy, she was out of practice.

Ash stuck his head in for tenth time in the past fifteen minutes. “Ready yet?”

“One more minute.”

“That’s what you said ten minutes ago. We’re going to be late for our reservation.”

“The restaurant isn’t going anywhere. It won’t kill us if we have to wait a little longer.” It was their first real night out since the accident, and she wanted it to be special. She’d bought a new dress and even curled her hair and pinned it up.


“Fine! Jeez.” She swiped on some lipstick, dropped the tube in her purse and said, “Let’s go.”

He hustled her into the elevator, then into the car. Her new car sat beside his, and though she had been a little nervous at first being back in the driver’s seat, now she loved it. She even made excuses to go out just so she could drive it.

Ash got in the driver’s side, started the car and zipped through the garage to the entrance. He made a right out onto the street. Traffic was heavy, and Ash cursed when they had to stop at the red light.

“We’re going to be late,” he complained, watching for a break in the traffic so he could hang a right.

“What is it with you tonight?” she asked, pulling down the mirror on the visor to check her eyeliner one last time. “Are you going to turn into a pumpkin or something?”

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