Billionaire's Contract Engagement(9)

By: Maya Banks


His refusal of endorsement deals had gained him a reputation of eccentricity from some. Others regarded him incredulously as a fool to pass on the opportunity to make millions by doing nothing more than lend his name to countless companies willing to part with their dollars for his endorsement. But the simple fact was that Noah did meticulous research on all the corporations that approached him, and so far none had passed muster with him.

“E-mail it all to me. I’ll take a look. If it checks out, I’m willing to listen to his offer.”

She leaned over and kissed his cheek. “Thanks, Noah. You’re the best.”

“I don’t suppose you’ll be so grateful that you’ll volunteer to clean my apartment?”

She snorted and picked up her slice of pizza again. “Put it this way. I’d rather quit my job and let you and Adam support me than clean your place.”

He winced. “Well, damn. No need to be so mean about it.”

“Poor baby. Oh, hey, I need one more favor.”

His eyes narrowed, and he glared at her. “You just turn down my request for you to play cleaning lady and you insult me in the process and then have the cheek to want another favor?”

“How about I find you a replacement cleaning service? Then both of us are happy.”

He got a hopeful puppy dog look that would probably make mush of most women. Thankfully she was his sister and completely immune to any adorableness on his part.

“Okay, you find me someone to clear a path in my apartment and whatever this other favor of yours is I’ll do it.”

“Wow—and you don’t even know what it is.”

“Should tell you how desperate I am,” he muttered.

She laughed and punched him in the arm. “All I need are two very cushy seats behind home plate for the season opener. I’ll be taking Evan. Hopefully.”

“Anyone ever tell you how expensive you are?”

“Hey, wait a second. A minute ago, you were trying to convince me to quit my job so you could support me.”

His expression went from teasing to serious with one blink. “I just worry about you, Cece. That’s all. What happened in New York would have never occurred if—”

She stiffened and held her hand, halting him in mid-sentence. “I don’t want to talk about New York.”

Regret flashed in his eyes. “Sorry. Consider it dropped.”

She waited for her pulse to settle and then she forced a smile. “So you’ll take a look at the research I’ve compiled? You’ll like Reese. He’s a veritable Boy Scout. His employees love him. He has a cracking health-insurance plan. He’s had no layoffs since his business started and he’s not shipping jobs or production overseas. Let’s see. What else? He’s a regular contributor to a half dozen pet charities—”

Noah held up his hands in surrender. “Okay, okay, he’s a saint. I get it. How do other men ever measure up?”

“Cut the sarcasm.”

He checked his watch and let out a sigh. “Sorry to break this up so early, especially since I haven’t finished the pizza. Somebody talked too much. Very distracting. E-mail me the stuff. I’ll take a look. And the tickets will be waiting for you at the box office.”

“You always were my favorite sibling,” she said affectionately.

He dropped a kiss on top of her head then stood and stretched lazily.

“I’ll give you a call when I’m through reading everything.”





Three


Evan walked into the suite of offices he leased for the times he was in San Francisco. It wasn’t home, and though union         Square was a sumptuous neighborhood that catered to upscale businesses, he preferred the funky modern feel of Seattle.

He nodded a good morning to his receptionist but halted when she came out of her seat, a concerned expression on her face.

“You shouldn’t go in there,” Tanya said in a hushed whisper.

He raised an eyebrow when he realized she was gesturing toward his office.

“Why the devil not?” he demanded.

She put one hand up to shield her mouth and then she tapped her finger against her palm—in the direction of his office.

“Because she’s in there.”

Evan turned to stare down the hall toward his office, but the door was closed. Damn, but he didn’t have time for this. He looked back at Tanya and tried to stifle his growing impatience. The girl was highly efficient if a little eccentric. But he liked unconventional, and while she’d probably fit in better with his Seattle staff with her colored hair, multiple piercings and vintage 1930s clothing, he found she brought a sort of vibrancy to an otherwise stuffy office here.

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