The Firstborn Prince

By: Virginia Nelson

The man in question adjusted his tie. His too-long blond hair hung slightly in one eye, because he’d been running his fingers through it as time ticked by. “He’s going to come,” Foster insisted. But she heard the tension in his voice. She wasn’t sure if it was because he was alone with her or because his brother wasn’t there yet and he was worried about his plan.

Either way, him being twitchy wasn’t doing a thing to settle her own jumping pulse.

The office door opened abruptly, and Connor Boyd rushed into the room. “Let’s make this quick,” he said by way of a greeting. “I have another appointment in ten minutes.”

“Sit down, Mr. Boyd,” she said without missing a beat.

Both Boyd brothers stared at her, as if surprised to have someone else giving the orders.

That said, they both sat. She refused to smile, but the familiar sense of being in charge filled her, and she breathed out her tension on an exhale. There was no room for nerves, not if she wanted these two powerful men to listen to her.

“As you both know, the board hired me in an attempt to curb some of your more impulsive choices because of negative connotations implied by your choices. I’m here to help, but I can only do so with your cooperation.” Natalie considered each brother slowly, allowing the silence to stretch out while she stared them down.

They didn’t look like twins, although she could see them as brothers. Both had gorgeous thick hair, but while Foster had sandy-blond locks that hung straight, nearly to his nose, Connor’s was shorter, curlier, and much darker. More of a chestnut than a blond at all, really. Their eyes were matching gray, but Foster’s were just more intriguing, in her opinion. If she were a casting director faced with the two men, she’d pick Foster to be the hero. Neither man was apparently a fan of shaving, as they both had manly scruff. Not too much, but enough to add a little sizzle of sexuality to their smiles. From there, their bodies were quite similar. Both had broad shoulders, golden tans, and were crazy tall.

Basically, they were hot. Really hot. And she had them both to herself. The feminine part of her couldn’t help but smile like a cat with cream. The logical part recognized this as a dangerous situation, if handled badly.

Standing, she paced around the desk to lean on it and face them without the barrier. The openness of the motion suggested they were on the same team, in this together. She intentionally rested both palms on the desk behind her, crossing her legs at the ankle while she continued to stare them down. “In the current unstable market, things like reputation can be the difference between coming out of the quarter ahead of the game or way under the red line. Upon doing a little research into recent history, I know that you had an ad campaign that went off a little less than successfully—”

Connor interrupted her with, “It was a simple mistake.”

“Simple?” Foster replied before Natalie could get a word in. “The campaign slogan said, ‘young equals sexy.’”

“The perfume was called Young,” Connor defended.

“Women don’t like it when you point out that they’re aging. That’s why you don’t ask women their ages.” Foster barreled onward with his point as if his brother hadn’t spoken.

Shaking his dark head, Connor defended the campaign. “How was I to know that it would be interpreted as creepy? We sell makeup. Hell, we sell age-defying creams to help women look younger longer. The entire industry is all about making women look and feel young and beautiful.”

“Making them look and feel younger and coming across as a pedo bear are two very different things, Connor,” Foster said. “And if you hadn’t been distracted—”

“Gentlemen!” Natalie snapped. When they both swiveled in her direction, she gentled her tone and added a smile. “If you let me, I can help you both ensure that Boyd Cosmetics not only stays on top, but sees positive growth this quarter, failed ad campaign notwithstanding.”

“Look,” Connor said, but he was staring at her legs. Perhaps Foster was right and this might not be too hard after all. “Quantifiable data is the only thing I’m interested in, and you’re claiming that if we follow your directions, we’ll have that? Actual numerical evidence that your consultations have positively impacted sales for Boyd Cosmetics?”

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