The Firstborn Prince

By: Virginia Nelson

Once she’d gotten the brothers to agree, if hesitantly, she thought that they’d arrive in separate cars, as she often did with other clients. Instead, she found herself bundled into a town car, trapped in close confines with two of the sexiest men in America. She managed to survive the drive to the hospital, mostly because both brothers were intent on their devices, but once in the open air of the parking garage, she again had their undivided attention. “If you’ll follow me, gentlemen?”

Foster moved to open the door to the wing for her, putting them in close contact for a brief moment. Their eyes met and held, and she had to force herself to look away. She reminded herself, for about the hundredth time since coming to work for them that whatever signals she thought he was giving off were in her head or were pretended for the sake of the plan.

And for about the eighty-seventh time, she wondered how many times she’d have to actively check her own impulses when it came to him.

Doc met them at the nurse’s station, as planned. Natalie was still thrilled to see how well both brothers managed to field the questions the veteran news anchor threw at them. In what seemed like moments, Connor was seated cross-legged on a colorful carpet, children’s book in hand, while he read to a group of sick kids. The photo ops were media gold.

It was going perfectly, and the cameraman Doc brought was packing up her stuff in what seemed record time.

“Thanks again, Doc. This means the world to me,” Natalie admitted.

“My pleasure, dear. You’ve always been a joy to work with, and I hope to work with you again in the future. We’ll air this on the Sunday night program, and it will be a wonderful humanitarian piece. I should be thanking you. Speaking of the Boyd men, where’s Foster?” Doc replied, glancing over Natalie’s shoulder.

“Restroom, probably,” Natalie responded. She hadn’t noticed that he’d snuck off until Doc pointed it out.

“Well, tell him I said thanks for the exclusive. It isn’t every day I get a peek inside the Boyd Cosmetics team.”

Natalie nodded and went to watch Connor finish his story to the children. Once he was done, Natalie again glanced around for Foster. Connor said he’d head out to the car, but Natalie couldn’t leave yet. Not until she found the missing Boyd…

Where was Foster, anyway?

After a quick check at the nurse’s station, Natalie was directed to one of the patient rooms. Apparently, Foster had heard from one of the children that a teenager who was sick refused to come to do the meet and greet, so he’d decided to go say hello to the child on his own. Which was sweet, since the men were handing out gift cards to the kids for toy and video game stores in a local mall. Nice of him to think of giving one to the kid who was too sick to attend…

Natalie finally spotted him laying on a hospital bed next to a child of about ten or eleven. “Foster?” she asked.

“Shh,” the billionaire replied. “We’re winning.”

In Foster’s hand was a controller and both he and the bald-headed kid on the bed were intently focused on a flat screen on the wall. The display showed zombies falling at a speedy and gory rate as two players gunned them down with what appeared to be laser pistols of some kind.

“On your left,” the kid shouted in a voice that was almost too deep for his body.

“I got him, kid. You focus on your side of the screen.” Foster nudged the child with his shoulder.

Natalie backed out of the room, staring at the man in confusion. There were no cameras, no press, nothing in the room to make it worth Foster’s time. He’d seemed so dedicated to his business—to plotting and planning—that it felt like she was peeking at a different man altogether. Wandering back to the nurse’s station, Natalie did what she did best.

Research. Turned out the kid was a lot older than she’d guessed—sixteen, although the meds he’d been on since he was nine stunted his growth. Bastian Pergola was the child’s name, and his cancer was aggressive. He’d gone into remission twice, but both times the sickness came back. More interestingly, apparently this wasn’t Foster’s first visit to the child’s room. The billionaire was a regular in the ward, donating a few hours of his time here and there whenever he was in town.

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