Lucas glanced at his brother. “What’s the climate with Moore?”

Since Matthew was pretending she was invisible, Cia openly studied her authoritative, remote brother-in-law. A widower, Lucas had said, and often dateless, as he was tonight. Clearly by choice, since any breathing woman would find Matthew attractive—as long as he didn’t stand next to Lucas. When he did, he was invisible, too.


“Better than I expected.” Matthew signaled a waiter and deposited his empty champagne flute on the tray. “He’s on the hook. I booked reservations in your name at the Mansion for four. Take Moore and his wife to dinner on me. Since closing the deal is your forte, I’ll bow out. Bring it home.”

As if they’d practiced it a dozen times, Lucas kissed Cia’s temple, and she managed to lean into it like his lips weren’t hotter than a cattle brand. Nothing like a spark of Lucas to liven up the prom.

Not that she’d know anything about prom. She’d missed that and the last half of senior year, thanks to the accident that had taken her parents.

“Do me a favor,” Lucas said, “and hang out with Matthew for a minute. Looks like we might have different plans for the evening.”

Then he strode off through the crowd to go work his magic on some unsuspecting guy named Moore.

Matthew watched her coolly through eyes a remarkably close shade to Lucas’s. “Having a good time, Cia?”

Oh, so she’d miraculously reappeared. But she didn’t mistake the question as friendly. “Yes, thank you. Your clients are impressive.”

“What few we have, I suppose.” His shrewd gaze narrowed. “I’ll be honest. I have no idea what got into Lucas by marrying you, but I see the way he looks at you and I hope there’s at least a chance you’re making him happy.”

What way did Lucas look at her—like a spider contemplating a particularly delectable fly? His brother should find a pair of glasses. She narrowed her gaze right back. “So, you’ll hunt me down if I hurt him?”

He laughed, and the derisive note reminded her again of Lucas. They didn’t look so much alike but they did have a similar warped sense of humor, apparently.

“I highly doubt you have the capacity to hurt Lucas. He’s pretty good at staying emotionally removed from women. For example, he didn’t blink when he found out about Lana. Just moved right along to the next one.”

As warnings went, it was effective—if she’d been harboring some romantic illusion about Lucas’s feelings toward her. “How many of the next ones did Lucas marry?”

“Touché.” Her brother-in-law eyed her and then nodded to an older couple who’d swept past them on the way to the bar. “I know you’re not after Lucas’s money. I checked out you and your trust fund. I’m curious, though, why didn’t you stay at Manzanares?”

The loaded question—and Matthew’s bold and unapologetic prying—stomped on her defenses. “I worked there for a year to appease my grandfather. I’m probably the only one he’d trust to take over.” Shrugging, she wrapped it up. She didn’t owe him any explanations. “It’s not my passion, so he plans to live forever, I guess.”

Matthew didn’t smile. Thank goodness Lucas had been the one in need of a wife and not his brother. There was a brittleness to Matthew Wheeler, born of losing someone who meant everything, and she recognized it all too well.

In contrast, Lucas played at life, turning the mundane fun, and he smiled constantly in a sexy, self-assured way, which sometimes caught her with a lovely twist in the abdomen. That was the thing she liked most about him.

Dios. When had that happened?

“Family may not mean much to you, Cia. But it’s everything to us.” Matthew’s expression hardened, and she revised her opinion. The frozen cerulean of his irises scarcely resembled the stunning smoky blue of Lucas’s. “Lana punched a hole in Lucas’s pride, which is easily dismissed, but in the process, she nearly destroyed a century of my family’s hard work. That’s not so easily overcome. Be an asset to him. That’s all I’ll say.”

Matthew clammed up as Lucas rejoined them with a deceptively casual hand to the place where her neck and shoulder met. The dress she wore nearly covered her from head to foot and yet her husband managed to find the one bare spot on her body to brush with his electric fingertips.

She’d missed him. And no way would she ever admit it.

“Dinner’s on,” he told Matthew. “I’ll call you later.”

Matthew’s advice echoed in her head as she let Lucas lead her to his car. Well, she was here, wasn’t she? There was also a contract somewhere in Lucas’s possession granting him the sales rights to the Manzanares complex, which Abuelo had gladly signed.

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