The Firstborn Prince

By: Virginia Nelson

“Sweetheart, why does anyone go to a club?” He tried to charm her, but she rolled her eyes.

“If you want to party, you have enough money and connections to ensure that the venue is private. If you don’t want the press there, don’t invite them.” She flipped the page in her own folder while both brothers sputtered.

“Natalie,” Foster began. “We do not invite the press to anything. They follow us around like hounds, on the scent trail of fresh blood.”

She held up a fingertip, tilting her head at him. “And there we have the root of the problem. The scent of blood.”

“Excuse me?” said Connor.

“You’ve been feeding the sharks for years, constantly getting into one escapade or another. They follow you because, if it’s a slow week, you’re sure to give them something to print. If you stopped for a while, they’d move on to other waters. That’s our goal, gentlemen. For the next week or so, I’d like you to be simply boring, not to mention wholesome.” She waited for them to protest, but neither of them answered for a long moment.

Finally, Foster said, “There are more articles about Connor than me.”

Connor snapped his folder shut. “Yeah? Well, I bet I can make less headlines than you. It’ll be easy, actually.”

Foster sat up, glaring at his brother. “Bet? You sure you want to go down that road, brother? The last bet we had, I won pretty easily.”

“House in the Hamptons,” Connor replied.

“House in the Keys,” Foster answered, holding out his hand.

Once they shook, Connor stood and faced Natalie. “Pleasure seeing you again, Ms. Stolen. I’ll look forward to our meeting tomorrow. Over lunch?” he asked.

When she offered her hand, he didn’t shake it. Instead, he slowly lifted it to his lips and brushed the backs of her knuckles with a soft kiss. His eyes were twinkling as he did it, and heat flooded her face, but what really stood out was the fact that he shot his brother another glance before exiting the room.

Looking for a reaction. Which he got, because Foster looked positively pissed off.

Once the door closed behind him, Natalie grinned at Foster. “It worked! Did you see how he looked at you?” If his plan was to distract his brother by making him compete, he’d clearly managed it. Not only had his brother just bet that he could be saintly for a week—and if she wasn’t mistaken, put property on the line as well—but he’d checked to see if Foster was jealous of his attention to her.

It worked brilliantly, and she was thrilled Foster came through at the last second and remembered to play his part.

But Foster didn’t look thrilled. He still looked annoyed. He stood slowly, stalking the couple feet to her and again caged her body with his big hands on either side of her on the desk.

“I was more focused on how he looked at you,” he replied.

She opened her mouth to ask what he was doing, when he dipped his head and kissed her.

Foster couldn’t fault his brother for the way he looked at Natalie. After all, wasn’t that part of the plan? That said, it was one thing to look and another to touch. When his brother kissed her fingertips in that lingering way, pure fury flooded Foster’s system in a way that he hadn’t felt in many years.

If ever.

And her, all bubbly and happy about the entire exchange, when she should’ve corrected Connor for overstepping the boundaries of what was professional. Her cheeks had flushed, and she’d looked up at Connor like…

Well, he didn’t know like what, exactly, but it infuriated him. Without thinking it through, he stood to correct her. To point out that she needed to be careful around Connor. To warn her…

Of what, exactly? That his brother was good at being charming and talking women into taking off their clothes? She had to know that much, having read about him and now having met him in person.

In seconds, he’d moved to stand over her. Find some measure of control in the position. Something. But all he could focus on was the way she gasped, just a little, and her ripe lips parted, as if she expected a kiss.

One he was happy to provide. Dipping his head, he told himself he’d only just taste her. Sample those tempting lips for a second, to show her she was playing with fire.

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