Angus's narrowed gaze shifted to Alex, then back. "Little People Toys."

Madison nearly choked on her wine and tried not to look shocked. "A very reputable company, Angus. You should be proud." There was a faded set of L.P. Toy trucks and dozers in her father's backyard right now for her sister Claire's son to play with.

"I am."

Alex read the message in the older man's glance. He wasn't letting his company go to just anyone. It made Alex want it more.

"How come you didn't know?" Angus said.

"Alex rarely discusses business with me and frankly, after five years in the New York financial world, I don't want to know about it."

Angus eyed her. "I can't picture you in New York."

"Neither can I anymore. I worked for Hughes & Rollins." After receiving her college degree, she'd worked for a large corporation. Although the money had been good, the lifestyle wasn't hers. She hated crowds and noise and preferred the solitude of the rural area. The country was her home, in her blood, and she refused to fight it.

It only made her unhappy when she did.

It was old-fashioned to want to be a wife and mother and love a family, but just the thought of it gave her a satisfaction the corporate world never offered. Peace in her heart was all she'd ever needed. When Katherine asked for her help starting her business, Madison had jumped at the chance to return home and be closer to her family. She hadn't regretted it for a second. Except she wondered when she would be the lady of her own house, since she'd been the lady of her father's house since she was fifteen.

Alex's brows shot up. Good lord. Mean territory.

Angus whistled softly. "A corporate raider, huh?" he said, oddly amused and stealing a quick glance at Alex. "Aren't you afraid she'll try raiding your stock?"

Madison turned her head and met his gaze. "I guess you should keep me very happy in our marriage, huh?"

Angus chuckled.

Alex stared, then his lips curved slowly as he leaned closer, looking at her as if his entire world rested on her next breath. "I think I know how to please you, darlin'," he said, a willing prisoner in her gaze and for an instant, his surroundings narrowed to the softness in her eyes, the scent of her, her breath brushing his mouth. Without conscious thought, he tucked his knuckle under her chin, tipped his head and kissed her, a light, sweet brush of his lips.

Until she kissed him back.

She couldn't help it. She wanted it. Wanted to see if their first kiss held the unexpected shock of newness, or if this hunger she felt for him was as powerful as she imagined. Unfortunately it was, the hot knot of desire looping around her, snaring her as she worried his lips. Angus chuckled and she drew back sharply, a blush stealing up her cheeks. She wondered how Alex could make her feel both angry and desired in the space of minute.

Angus was smiling like a proud father. "You two definitely need a honeymoon."

"I need to check dinner." She stood and vanished into the kitchen.

Alex watched her flee, frowning. Angus asked where he could wash up and as he headed to the bathroom, Alex stepped into the kitchen.

"You're mad." He braced his shoulder against the kitchen door frame, watching her move from counter to stove.

"You could have told me about the toy company." Madison still couldn't understand why he wanted it when he had a multimedia company. It just didn't jibe.

"And you could have mentioned being a corporate raider."

"You never asked." She slid stuffed capons onto a platter. "Did you really think after graduating with honors, that this was all I could do?"

His features tightened at the verbal slap. "No. Why did you quit?"

"My conscience. My firm bought up stock of a small company and when the results hit my family, more specifically, my father and the livelihood of my hometown, I decided I'd forgotten what was important. When Katherine asked me to help start Wife Incorporated I left at the first chance." She glanced up, frowning. "Why are you looking at me like that?" That stare was too hot to be legal.

"I didn't think anyone could look … appetizing in an apron."

"Angus isn't around. You needn't play the role." He pushed away from the door and came to her side. "Was that kiss part of the role?"

"If you have to ask, you don't know me at all."

She wouldn't look at him, busy with shifting food into serving dishes, yet he stopped her. She met his gaze. "Was it?"

She scanned his handsome face for the bitterness surfacing, yet she saw only a sweet vulnerability that nearly broke her heart. "No, Alexander. Despite your tactics with Angus, and your numerous failings—" he scowled "—I like you." He smiled. "But then, it hardly matters, hmm?" She pushed a platter into his hands, took one up herself and inclined her head to the dining room.

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