The Firstborn Prince

By: Virginia Nelson

“If he’s going to think he’s stealing you from me, he needs to think we’re at least on the road to becoming intimate. Which means you really must call me by my first name, Natalie.”

She choked on the excellent scallop and noted it didn’t taste nearly as wonderful when lodged in her windpipe.

After thumping on her back, Foster resumed his seat. At least she hadn’t run out of the restaurant altogether. “I take it you didn’t anticipate that I hoped he’d assume we were more than associates, hence your statement.”

“Do you always have to talk like a dictionary? And not even a good dictionary. You’re, like, Chaucer’s dictionary,” she grumbled. Taking a sip of water, she likely had no idea the sensual picture she made. It was a miracle Conner hadn’t paid more attention to her.

She wore some delicate, floaty dress in dark blue under a tailored jacket. Keeping it casual for daytime, she’d worn flat shoes, and her hair was pulled in a messy cluster of untamable waves on top of her head. The up-do made her neck look longer, more elegant, so that even while choking, she’d looked stunning.

That was talent. The woman managed to look good while inhaling a scallop.

“What is a good dictionary?” he asked, amused at her frustration.

“I don’t know. But it’s super annoying. Can you talk normal?”

He didn’t point out to her that he’d traveled extensively and English wasn’t even his first language—Japanese was, ironically, since his parents were mostly working out of Tokyo around his birth. He didn’t mention that between school and the help, he would have paid dearly for speaking in anything less than a proper fashion for years, so although her comfortable use of slang and local vernacular might be natural to her, it was foreign to him. Instead, he simply said, “For you, I’ll try.”

She smiled, rewarding him for the words rather instantly. Spending time with her was dangerous, in ways he hadn’t calculated, but the same traits that tempted him should drive his brother into reckless choices.

Which was the goal.

Clearing his throat, he added, “But you need to lose the jacket.”

Her eyes widened. “Excuse me?”

“The jacket. You’re supposed to be a distraction. Which means we need you to look a bit more feminine. It will trip his trigger,” Foster said.

“Okay, I lied,” Natalie said.

“About what?” Foster asked.

“Don’t try to talk normal. It sounds weird when you do it. All stilted and awkward.” Natalie nibbled another bite of scallop before she returned to the topic with, “Let’s go back to the beginning. You say you and your brother have the same taste in women, is that accurate?”

“Yes.” Connor was dangerous, brave, and somehow cocky in a way that women tended to find irresistible. He had problems with his temper, but women tended to find that kind of explosive passionate outburst sexy rather than off-putting. Although Foster was better known by the media as being popular with the ladies, the fact was that his brother tended to compete with him in that arena.

Or compete with him in everything. When they were kids, Connor would try to take preferred toys away. As a man, he liked the thrill of trying to steal women Foster expressed an interest in.

It was just the way things were. Which was why he felt that Connor seeing them together a few times would be enough to pique his interest.

“Can you clarify?” she asked, pushing her plate away.

It satisfied him to see she’d eaten it all, and with relish. He’d chosen well, and feeding her pleased him on some primal male level. “We’re very competitive. You probably know we’re twins…”

“Everyone knows you’re twins,” she pointed out.

He shrugged. “I’m older. By a few minutes, but still older. Connor was always the baby, the adorable one—”

She was going to get a headache if she kept rolling her eyes at him. “You’re three minutes older, according to the internet. You were both the baby at the same time.”

“It’s a twin thing,” he tried to explain. “I don’t know if this is true with all brothers, but Connor is my best friend and my arch nemesis, all rolled into one package.”

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