The Firstborn Prince

By: Virginia Nelson

“Yes,” she said without hesitation. Although Foster hired her for his own purposes, she was confident that she could enact positive change in their company. Although she didn’t believe for a minute she could magically make the Boyd brothers saints overnight, she could do a lot to avoid some of the bigger scandals…and spin the ones they couldn’t avoid.

“Fine, where do we start?” Connor asked. She tried not to note how quickly he’d shifted from angry at his brother to pouring on the charm, but it came across as inauthentic to her. That said, his smile was freer than his brother’s, given without hesitation or qualifier. For that reason, Natalie instantly found it less sincere.

“You’re just going to agree to this?” Foster asked, surprising her. He stood, pacing closer and towering over her. “Look, lady, I’m not sure what your plans are exactly, but we like our lives the way they are. Our business has thrived for years without…”

“Sit down, Foster,” Natalie said simply. She didn’t raise her voice, but her tone was stern.

Foster blinked at her, the shock on his handsome face as visible as his nose.

If she was playing her part, she was playing it well.

After a long moment of staring her down, he stepped closer, caging her with his body. He smelled absolutely wonderful. Her pulse kicked up a notch, but she worked to keep her expression unimpressed. “Or what?” he asked softly.

His voice stroked across her senses, but she focused on keeping her breathing even. Reaching behind her, she snagged a folder. Then she slapped the folder onto his chest. He caught it automatically when she let go, releasing her from her short-term imprisonment. “Or I’ll point out all the ways you’ve self-sabotaged yourself in the past year. Thanks for volunteering to go first.”

As Foster turned to sit, Connor laughed. Without missing a beat, she handed him a folder as well. “Don’t worry, I didn’t leave you out, handsome.” She winked at him. Flirting tone accomplished.

Connor quirked a brow at her, his laughter still not entirely subsided. “I would have been disappointed if you had,” he said.

Foster growled.

Glancing at him, Natalie tried to send him a nonverbal question. What are you doing?

He apparently didn’t speak eyes, because he just looked annoyed.

“Foster, I see here that you were photographed in Vegas…a month ago?” She checked her own file, but she’d memorized the points she wanted to make before facing off with the men. It made a nice prop, though, to scan her fingertip down the page before stopping and staring the Firstborn Prince down. “The headline on that one was Model Posts Post Coital Pics with Prince. Do you recall that incident?”

“I’m not a prince,” he pointed out.

She raised a single brow at him. “Your family history has nothing to do with the headline. The thing about image is we have to accept the things we cannot change, spin the things we can. In this case, I can’t change the fact that some media outlet dubbed all the billionaires of America as some kind of prince or another. What we can change is your willingness to let pictures leak of yourself in compromising situations.”

“I don’t know,” Connor interrupted, leaning back in his seat with a smile. “I thought that one of his behind on the cover of that weekly rag was particularly artistic. I mean, with the sunrise backlighting him and all…” Connor laughed as his brother punched his shoulder.

“I wouldn’t laugh too hard, Mr. Boyd,” she said to Connor. She intentionally didn’t use his first name, an attempt to signify that she was more comfortable with Foster than him. If Foster was right, and the goal was to imply a budding relationship, how she addressed them might actually matter. “If you’ll look in your folder, I think you’ll find an equally well-spread rumor that you got into a drunken fight with a photographer outside a club in Paris around the same time.”

Connor’s smile darkened, and he practically glared at her. “I wasn’t drunk, and it wasn’t a brawl, regardless of what the headlines said. I just pushed a camera out of my face.”

“Why were you at a club in the first place?” she asked calmly, refusing to be deterred.

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