A Deal with Alejandro (Rival Brothers 1) - Page 58

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Arctic green eyes snapped at her. ‘Not quite.’

Dread found a foothold inside her. ‘What are you talking about? You terminated the contract with Jameson. I saw the paperwork.’

‘I suspended it because I had no interim work to make up for the unfinished commission, but I paid the full commission your parents demanded.’

Cold disbelief engulfed her. ‘You can’t possibly want me back. What do you need me for that your PR department can’t handle?’

Emotion flicked in his eyes, but the slant of the mid-afternoon sun made it difficult for her to read it accurately. ‘The Ishikawa deal is back on. Kenzo insists you be part of my team.’

Her heart lurched. Squashing the despondency that came from knowing Alejandro was truly only here for business, she shook her head. ‘I can’t just...leave.’

His face tightened. ‘Why not?’

‘Because I have responsibilities. Jobs I have to do around the ranch in order to pay my way.’

He frowned. ‘You left Chicago to mess around with cows and horses? What about your art? Or pursuing your dream?’

Elise took a few more steps away from him, as if that would stop the probing questions. ‘I’m not playing twenty questions with you, Alejandro. Especially about my personal life. What I would like to do is to work something out with you about how to pay off the rest of the commission—’

‘You can pay it off by coming back to finish what you started. I’m afraid it’s non-negotiable.’

She raised her head then, stared into his beautiful, implacable face. The thought of going back to work in close proximity with Alejandro, suffering his presence while knowing that there would never be a future for them together, slayed her. She couldn’t do it.

‘I can’t.’

Restless energy charged from him. ‘Sí, you can. You speak about responsibilities and obligations. You have a responsibility to finish what you started with SNV.’

‘Or what?’ she flung at him, desperation fuelling the brazen demand.

He stared down at her for a handful of seconds, before he shook his head. ‘I won’t threaten you, Elise.’ His voice was low, a little ragged around the edges. ‘You showed me your true colours in Kyoto. So I’ll leave it entirely up to you as to whether you want to do the right thing or not.’

If only he’d threatened. Or tried to blackmail her. She would’ve stood a chance. But Alejandro hadn’t achieved global success without knowing which buttons to press to achieve the results he wanted. And by striking at the heart of her integrity, he’d left her with nothing to fight back.

‘So is that a yes?’ he pressed. He’d moved closer. Enough for her to feel his body heat. She locked her knees to prevent herself from closing the gap between them, inhaling the scent she hadn’t realised all those months ago that she would miss until it was gone.

‘That depends.’

‘On what?’

‘On how long until you expect this merger to be finalised.’

His eyes narrowed. ‘What’s the hurry?’

‘I have a life to get on with. I may be contractually obligated to finish what I started with you, but that doesn’t mean I’m content to put my life on hold indefinitely.’

His mouth compressed. In the distance, a tractor droned on. ‘Are you in such a hurry to get back here? To your lazy afternoons under the apple tree?’ he sneered.

‘If that’s your roundabout way of asking if I miss the cut-throat world of high finance, then no, I don’t miss it. I miss nothing at all about Chicago.’

Ripples of emotions ghosted over his face, and had she wanted to fool herself, she’d have imagined her words had wounded him somehow. But she was too busy convincing herself of the lies she told her heart to fathom his feelings.

Besides, she needed to remember that the only reason he was here was because of his precious merger. ‘How long, Alejandro?’ she asked briskly.

‘One month. Six weeks at the most, to accommodate visits to the countries we settle on for the initial satellite bases of operation. Is that agreeable to you?’ he asked.

Six weeks to draw a definite line under her association with Alejandro. To train her heart to live without him all over again.

She swallowed past the rock of anguish lodged in her midriff, and, with a single jerk of her head, sealed her fate. ‘Yes.’


Tags: Maya Blake Rival Brothers Billionaire Romance
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