Billionaire's Contract Engagement(6)

By: Maya Banks

He grinned just before she launched herself into his arms. She hit his chest and as she’d known he would, he caught her and whirled her around. Just like he’d done when she’d been five years old and every year since.

“How come I never get greetings like that?” Dalton grumbled as he climbed from behind the wheel.

“I’m so glad to see you,” she whispered fiercely.

His big arms surrounded her in a hug that nearly squeezed the breath out of her. Adam always gave the best hugs.

“It’s good to see you too, Cece. I missed you. Took you long enough to come back home.”

She slid down until her feet met the ground again, and she briefly looked away.

“Hey,” he chided as he nudged her chin until she looked at him again. “None of that. It’s all in the past, and it’s a good damn thing it is otherwise your brothers would hop the first plane to New York and beat the crap out of your former boss.”

“Hey, hello, I’m here, too,” Dalton said, waving a hand between them.

She held Adam’s gaze for a moment longer and then smiled her thanks. Her brothers were overbearing. They were loud, protective and they certainly had their faults. Like not believing she needed to do anything more in life than look pretty and let them support her. But God love them, they were fierce in their loyalty to her, and she adored them for it.

Finally she turned to Dalton. “You I saw two weekends ago. Adam I haven’t seen in forever.” She glanced back at Adam. “Why is that anyway?”

He grimaced. “Sorry. Busy time of the year.”

She nodded. Adam, her oldest brother, owned a successful landscaping business and spring was always a hectic time. They rarely saw him until the fall when business started to slow.

Dalton slung an arm over Celia’s shoulders and planted an affectionate kiss on her cheek. “I see Mr. Baseball is here. Must have caught a break before the season starts.”

“You guys going to the season opener?” she asked.

“Wouldn’t miss it,” Adam said.

“I have a favor to ask then.”

Both brothers looked curiously at her.

“I’m bringing a client and I’d like to keep my relationship to Noah on the down low.”

Curiosity gleamed in their eyes. She knew they wanted to ask, but when she didn’t volunteer her reasons why, they didn’t pursue the matter.

“Okay. Not a problem,” Adam finally said.

“Are you three going to stand out there all day or are you coming in to eat?”

Her father’s voice boomed from the front porch, and they turned to see him leaning against the doorframe, impatience evident in his stance.

Celia grinned. “We better go in before he starts muttering threats.”

Adam ruffled her hair then tucked his arm over her neck so he had her in a headlock. He started toward the house, dragging her with him.

When they got to the porch, she laughingly stumbled from Adam’s hold and gave her dad a quick hug. He squeezed her and dropped a kiss on the top of her head.

“Where’s Noah?” she asked.

“Where he always is. Parked in front of the big screen, watch ing baseball.”

She slipped past her father while he greeted his sons and entered the home she’d grown up in. When she got to the living room, she saw Noah sprawled in the recliner, remote in hand as he flipped through footage of past baseball games.

“Hey,” she called.

He looked up, his eyes warming in welcome. As he got up, he smiled broadly at her then held out his arms.

She hugged him then made a show of feeling his ribs.

“They don’t feed you in training camp?”

He laughed. “You know damn well that all I ever do is eat. I think my tapeworms have tapeworms.”

She glanced back to make sure they were still alone and then lowered her voice.

“Are you going to hang around later or do you have to be somewhere?”

His eyes narrowed, and he lost the smile.

“I don’t have to be anywhere today. Why do you ask?”

“I need to talk to you about something. I have a favor to ask, and I’d rather not get into it in front of everyone.”

He frowned now. “Is everything okay, Cece? You in some kind of trouble? Do I need to kill anyone?”

She rolled her eyes. “You’re too valuable to go to prison. You’d have Dalton do it anyway.”

Noah smirked. “The pretty boy would be popular in prison.”

“You’re a sick puppy. And no, nothing’s wrong. Promise. Just want to run something by you that could be beneficial to us both.”

“Okay, if you’re going to be all mysterious on me. I guess I can wait until later. You want to go back to your place for a while? I’d invite you to mine but the maid quit on me last week and it’s not a pretty sight. You do have food, right?”

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