A Deal with Alejandro (Rival Brothers 1) - Page 59

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He took the case and waited, silent and powerful as she gathered the small picnic basket and blanket, then escorted her down the hill to the ranch house.

When she saw the sleek SUV parked in front of the ranch house, her heart jumped into her throat. ‘When do you need me to come to Chicago? I’ll look into flights tonight and email you tomorrow...’

She trailed off as he shook his head. ‘I didn’t come all this way to return without you, Elise. You’ll pack what you need and we’ll take my plane back tonight.’

She didn’t see the point in arguing. Apart from the fruitlessness of it, going back with Alejandro would mean she wouldn’t have to raid her meagre savings to pay for her flight.

Handing in her notice and turning her back on Jameson PR had been freeing, but it’d also left her without an income.

As for her parents, they had tried to guilt her into staying. There’d been accusations revolving around the loss of the SNV contract, but Elise had been too steeped in the fog of pain to pay them much attention. Her debt to her parents was paid. Her father had made a half-hearted attempt to stay in touch during her first weeks in Montana. Her mother had emailed.

Elise had answered dutifully, but her heart had been too heavy to make much of an attempt. It still was. But she’d accepted that the only way her parents would truly embrace her was if she shared their dreams. It hurt to know that would never happen, but she would learn to live with it.

Steven stepped out onto the porch. He nodded at her, then his gaze swung to Alejandro.

Her old college friend’s offer of room and board in return for odd jobs around his ranch had saved Elise six months ago. Steven Bosworth had for the most part let her be, content to share the odd beer with her on his porch when his busy day was done.

She’d seen the concerned looks he’d sent her when he thought she wasn’t aware, but thankfully he hadn’t pushed her.

‘Steven, this is—’

‘There’s no need to introduce us. We’ve already met,’ Alejandro inserted, his voice tight.

‘Everything all right, Elise?’ Steven asked.

‘Yes, I’m just—’

‘I’m on a tight schedule, Elise. You have five minutes to pack,’ Alejandro said, his deep voice thick with formidable authority.

‘You’re being rude. And I’ll be more than five minutes. If you’re in that much of a hurry, leave without me. I’ll catch the next available flight,’ Elise said firmly.

Eyes the colour of frozen moss glared at her. She glared right back, but, in some corner of her being, excitement leaped. She’d never thought she’d ever cross paths with Alejandro again, never mind lock horns with him. Now that she was, she wanted to argue with him for ever.

The thought was frightening enough to propel her back a step.

He shadowed her move. ‘Ten minutes, Elise.’

‘Twenty, Alejandro.’

He didn’t respond, only made the short trip to his SUV, her sketch case still in his hand. Pressing on a fob, he tossed the case into the back and slammed the boot.

Returning to the front of the vehicle, he leaned against the bumper, arms crossed, eyes laser-fixed on her. ‘You have nineteen minutes, and counting. One second over that a

nd I’ll drag you out.’

The sound she made was unladylike. Turning, she startled, having forgotten Steven’s silent witnessing of their exchange from the porch. Heat rushed up her face as she grimaced.

‘I guess from all that...spiky conversation that you’re leaving?’ he murmured.

She nodded as she climbed the porch. ‘I’m sorry, Steven. I don’t really have a choice.’

His eyes narrowed, but she waved him away. ‘It’s not as grim as that. I just have...unfinished business to attend to,’ she said, repeating Alejandro’s words.

‘Okay. Will you be back?’ he asked.

About to answer in the affirmative, Elise stopped. ‘I don’t know,’ she murmured. Steven’s ranch had been a much-needed sanctuary, but she couldn’t hide out here for ever. Once Alejandro was well and truly behind her, it would be time to forge the path she’d always dreamed of.

She swallowed past the ragged pain still lodged in her midriff, and smiled at Steven. ‘I’ll let you know in a day or two, okay?’

Tags: Maya Blake Rival Brothers Billionaire Romance
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