The Firstborn PrinceBy: Virginia Nelson
From Natalie’s rules for Foster Boyd, v2
Rule #5: It is not funny when you tell people at a public venue that Buffy is a bomb-sniffing dog or a drug sniffer… this is the stuff I was talking about. You’re feeding the press. Knock that shit off, or I swear to god, I’ll buy you a Chihuahua. Good luck looking manly with a Chihuahua.
The visit to the children’s hospital was a no-brainer when it came to image. The press would likely see through the move for what it was—an attempt to clean up the twins’ reputation—but the public still ate up this kind of thing, which was what Natalie banked on when she planned the visit.
What she didn’t plan was the shock of both brothers when she presented the idea. “What do you mean, you don’t do that sort of thing in front of cameras?”
Connor lounged in the chair, taking up as much physical area as possible with his body. One of his long legs was thrown over the arm of the padded seat, the other stretched into the space in front of him. The dark-haired man shook his head at her, as if she’d said something almost funny. “We don’t do meeting people like this. Yes, we help a lot of charities and have a few foundations that we’ve started, but one-on-one interactions…it just doesn’t really work out like that, so we don’t do them. When we do, we never invite camera crews or reporters. It just isn’t how we do things. It feels too much like using them to further our own cause rather than helping.”
“Exactly,” Foster agreed. Unlike his brother, he didn’t sprawl in the chair as if he wanted to take up as much of the room as possible with his muscular body. Instead, he sat composed and dignified—even though his presence seemed to suck up all the excess oxygen in the room, leaving her breath quick and stilted.
There was something about him, Natalie couldn’t help thinking. Focusing on the problem at hand, she decided more questions were in order. “Why don’t you do one-on-one interactions? The media loves to see their darlings doing good deeds. And a children’s hospital—”
“Is a press nightmare. They surround whatever building we’re in, blocking up traffic, and it just causes chaos. If the idea is to help the children, blocking up traffic hardly serves the purpose. It won’t work,” Connor explained. He tossed her a charming smile, as if to take the edge off his words.
Natalie had no interest in his charm, tapping her fingertips on the arm of her own chair in annoyance. They’d met to discuss her plan for the day in one of the more comfortable rooms of the Boyd building, yet the surroundings were still posh and luxe. A glance behind her at the towering windows was sufficient reminder of her situation.
Either make this job work or give up views like this forever.
Straightening her spine, she said clearly, “Just because it didn’t work in the past, doesn’t mean it won’t work now. I’ve scheduled an exclusive interview with Doc Waters—”
“How did you manage that?” Foster asked.
A tiny thrill zinged up her spine. Was it her imagination or did he sound impressed that she’d landed an exclusive with Doc? The woman was famous for both her longevity in the business and her ability to scrape past polite veneer and ask really tough questions. Doc mostly scheduled this interview to pay back an old favor to Natalie, rather than in any active interest in a non-scandalous story about the Boyds.
Outwardly, Natalie ignored his interruption, barreling onward. “At the children’s hospital. We’re meeting Doc in the cancer ward, so you don’t have to worry about the children involved being contagious or anything.”
“Do you think we’re that heartless?” Connor asked, considering her with increased interest.
“No,” Natalie sputtered. Breathing deep, she reminded herself of how tenuous her control over these two men really was, and that if she let her composure slip for even a moment, they’d likely devour her in one easy gulp. In more modulated tones, she explained, “Not at all, Mr. Boyd. As I was saying, it is an exclusive interview, and we’ll arrive through the basement parking garage. In and out, less than a half an hour, and that should avoid any media frenzy. You go in, read to some children, talk to Doc, and we’re back out again. Easy as pie.”