Marrying Mr. English:The English Brothers #7(73)

By: Katy Regnery

“No,” answered Barrett. “She won’t read into it, and it won’t get messy.”

“Just don’t crap where you eat, Barrett.”

“Screw you, Alex. You’re in no position to talk. How many girls have we had to quietly pay off now? And there was that charming situation with the videotape.”

Alex flushed, but Barrett could tell it was less out of embarrassment than pride. Barrett rolled his eyes at his little brother.

“I’m all about business, boys. And I can guarantee you—without any shadow of doubt—that Emily’s all about business too.”

“Business?” asked Fitz, eyebrows furrowing, sensing some ethical quandary, no doubt.

“The Edwardses have always worked for the Englishes.”

“So she’s working for you?”

“She’s not on the payroll,” said Alex, their chief financial officer.

“It’s under control, Alex.”

“Oh, I’ll just bet it is,” said Alex, giving up the argument. He stood and pushed his chair back under the lip of his oldest brother’s desk, turning to leave.

Fitz hesitated, and Barrett could see the moral dilemma taking place in his brother’s head. There was a reason Fitz was a natural at compliance. Following the rules was innate to him. Almost always.

“Fitz,” said Barrett in a more gentle tone, mostly reserved for family gatherings and out-of-the-office social occasions. He leaned forward, capturing his brother’s blue eyes, so much like his own. “There’s nothing to worry about. I promise.”

Fitz took a deep breath and surrendered, bracing his hands on the front of Barrett’s desk to stand and follow Alex out of the room.

As soon as they were gone, Barrett swiveled in his chair, looking out over Philadelphia as he tightened his jaw, then released it. It was under control, wasn’t it? Of course it was, despite the fact that Barrett had been captivated by Emily Edwards for almost as long as he could remember.

He clearly remembered the day, twenty-four years ago, when Felix and Susannah had brought their newborn daughter up to the main house to meet the English family. She’d been this tiny perfect person with bright blue eyes and fuzzy light hair covering her otherwise bald head. Like most other eight-year-olds, Barrett wasn’t very interested in babies, especially since there’d been a new English baby brother in his life every other year since he was born. But from the beginning, Emily was different.

First of all, she was the first baby girl he’d ever seen, and it surprised him how much more delicate and soft she looked. Weston and Emily were right around the same age, but Weston’s face was always knitted intensely, as though he knew he’d have to fight for his place among four older siblings. Weston’s bellow was loud and demanding, whereas baby Emily lay quietly in her mother’s arms, wrapped up in a pale pink blanket, taking in the world with those cerulean eyes from the warmth of her snug nest.

Susannah, noticing his quiet interest in her daughter, had asked Barrett if he wanted to hold Emily. Barrett had nodded eagerly, sitting on the silk brocade love seat beside her. Susannah had gently transferred the little girl to Barrett’s arms, and he’d stared down at her, dumbstruck, for several long moments as their parents visited. His father had even opened a bottle of Champagne, and the four adults had toasted baby Emily while Barrett held her carefully, reverently, on his lap. Fitz and Alex wrestled in the corner, Stratton quietly looked at a picture book on the floor, and Weston—predictably—started bellowing from his cradle for attention. But Barrett was in his own world, where nothing else existed but the little girl in his arms, with her brand-new eyes locked on his.

“Ridiculous sentiment,” he muttered, swiveling his chair back around and picking up the phone. “Get Lox and Ravers now. I want to go over the Harrison numbers once more before I leave today.”

“It’s seven o’clock, sir.”

“I don’t care if it’s midnight. Get them here.” He hung up the phone.

Barrett clenched his jaw, forcing her blue eyes out of his mind, as he’d done a million times before, and opened up a new spreadsheet. He’d learned long ago the only antidote to useless longing was hard work, and there was always more to do.

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