Billionaire's Contract Engagement(5)

By: Maya Banks


“You can’t think I’d actually go to their wedding,” Evan said mildly. And the only important thing to Mitchell was that Evan be there to see his triumph.

His mother made a disapproving sound. “I know it won’t be easy for you, Evan. But don’t you think you should forgive him? It’s obvious he and Bettina belong together. It would be so nice to have the whole family back together again.”

“Easy? It won’t be easy or difficult, Mom. I don’t care, and frankly they’re welcome to each other. I simply don’t have the time or the desire to attend.”

“Would you do it for me?” she begged. “Please. I want just one time to see my sons in the same room.”

Evan sank onto the edge of the bed and pinched the bridge of his nose between two fingers. If his dad had called, he would have had no problem refusing. If Mitchell had called, Evan nearly laughed at that idea. Mitchell wouldn’t be calling him for anything after Evan had told him to go to hell and take his faithless fiancée with him.

But this was his mother, whom he harbored real affection for. His mother, who was always caught in the middle of the tension that existed between him and his father and between him and Mitchell.

“All right, Mom. I’ll come. But I’ll be bringing someone with me. I hope you don’t mind.”

He could practically see her beam right through the phone.

“Why, Evan, you didn’t tell me you were seeing someone new! Of course you’re welcome to bring her. I’ll very much look forward to meeting her.”

“Can you forward all the details to my assistant so she can make arrangements?”

His mom sighed. “How did I know you wouldn’t have kept the original e-mail?”

Because he’d immediately sent it to the trash folder? Of course he wouldn’t tell her that.

“Send it to Vickie and I’ll see you on Friday. I love you,” he said after a short pause.

“I love you too, son. I’m so very glad you’re coming.”

He ended the call and stared down at his BlackBerry. Friday. Hell. Friday was when he was meeting Celia. Finally meeting Celia.

He’d planned meticulously, not wanting to seem overanxious. He’d flirted, exchanged long, seeking glances and had spent a lot of damn time in the shower. He was surprised he hadn’t come down with hypothermia.

And now he was going to have to cancel because his mother thought that he should go see the woman he was supposed to have married instead marry his younger brother.

He needed to find a date. Preferably one who would convince his mother he wasn’t secretly pining over Bettina. He wasn’t. He’d gotten over her the moment she’d dumped him for his brother when Mitchell was appointed the CEO position in their family jewelry business.

She preferred the glitz-and-glamour facade of the jewelry world over the sweaty, athletic image of his company. It was just as well she wasn’t bright enough to have done any research. If she had, she would have known that Evan’s company’s earnings far exceeded those of his father’s jewelry business. And it had only taken him a few years to accomplish it.

His mother wouldn’t believe it but Evan was grateful to his brother for being a selfish pinhead. Mitchell wanted Bettina because Evan had her. Thanks to that deep need for one-upmanship, Evan had narrowly escaped a huge mistake.

But it didn’t mean he wanted to spend quality time with his controlling father and his spoiled, self-indulgent sibling. He’d agreed, however, and now he needed a date.

With a shake of his head, he began scrolling through his address book in his BlackBerry. He had narrowed his options to three women, when the solution came to him.

It was brilliant, really. He was an idiot for not having thought of it immediately. It certainly solved all his problems.

Finally he had a way of luring Celia to him. It would be business, of course, but if the setting happened to be intimate and she was for all practical purposes stranded with him on Catalina Island for three days …

A satisfied smile raised the corners of his mouth. Maybe the wedding wouldn’t be such a bad thing after all.





Two


When Celia pulled into her father’s driveway, she was relieved to see Noah’s Mercedes parked beside their father’s pickup. She pulled her black BMW on the other side of the truck and grinned at how the two expensive cars flanked the beat-up old piece of family history.

As she got out, she heard the roar of another engine and turned to see Dalton pull in behind her. To her utter shock, Adam climbed out of the passenger seat.

“Adam!” she exclaimed, and ran straight for him.

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