A Deal with Alejandro (Rival Brothers 1) - Page 16

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‘Not that. Blood and gore turn my stomach.’

‘Perhaps you need a stronger disposition,’ he mocked.

Choosing not to take the bait, she sipped her wine, a little surprised when it slipped down smoothly. ‘The looking-into-the-whites-of-their-eyes approach works, Alejandro. Nothing beats a personal touch. How many times have you met the Ishikawa brothers face to face since deciding to pursue this merger?’

He swirled his wine glass. ‘Twice.’

‘After you had your team investigate their viability and profit margins?’

‘Of course.’

‘I’m guessing both times were here in the States where you wined and dined them at the best restaurant in town?’

‘Their every wish was catered to. They left happy.’

‘In your opinion.’

His gaze probed hers. ‘What’s your point?’

‘I’m willing to bet my sizeable manga collection that you didn’t divulge a single personal detail about yourself.’

‘At the risk of repeating myself, I don’t do—’

‘Touchy-feely. Yes, I’m aware. But letting them see you as remotely...human may have prevented this from happening.’

‘That might work for the average Mom and Pop ice-cream-parlour business. If they can’t see their way past those...feelings to a multibillion-dollar merger, then perhaps I’m dealing with the wrong business.’

She sent him a droll look. ‘We both know this isn’t a mistake. The Ishikawa Corporation’s business record is outstanding. So is SNV’s. A successful merger would be the stuff of breaking news headlines and serious accolades. All you’ll need to do is...bend a little.’

‘Is that what you’d do in my shoes? Bare your life to strangers in order to secure a deal?’

She lifted her glass and took a healthy gulp, relishing the warmth that blanketed her insides. ‘We’re not talking about me here.’

‘You’re fond of hypotheticals. So let’s have it. Would you give yourself the same advice, were you in my position?’

‘Maybe.’ She bore his intense scrutiny for a minute before she sighed. ‘Yes, I would.’

‘And what would you tell them about yourself?’

Elise shook her head. ‘That’s too broad a question.’

‘Let’s streamline, then. You attended a university on the west coast when your family is based in a state with excellent universities. Why?’

Nerves began to eat into the warmth. She took another sip, despite the faint warning that this form of Dutch courage hadn’t been her best idea. ‘The need to broaden my horizons?’

‘If you had such a need, why did you return to work with your parents?’

She stiffened at the other raw subject that grated her nerves. ‘Is there a law against that?’

‘Is that the answer you’d give a prospective business partner?’

‘No...’ She paused, aware she had skidded towards a chasm of her own making. ‘I agreed to work at Jameson in return for my parents paying for my university tuition.’

A slow frown gathered on his brow. ‘They expected you to pay for the education they gave you?’

Elise chose to blame the Malbec for loosening the tight leash she normally had on her emotions. ‘They expect a lot of things. Including not giving free rides to anyone, including their daughter.’

The enlightened gleam in his eyes further unnerved her. ‘Things aren’t cordial between you and your parents?’

Tags: Maya Blake Rival Brothers Billionaire Romance
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