CHAPTER ONE

Evan

At least fifteen people stood ahead of me at Snack Attack, Willow’s coffee truck. When she spotted me over the sea of people, a smile curved her lips. The flash of happiness on her face at seeing me sent a shock of lust to my crotch.

Every day for the past two months, I’d asked her out.

And every day for the past two months, she’d turned me down.

She thought me asking her out was a joke. It wasn’t. I’d tried everything from flirting to flowers. Still nothing, and that made me want her even more.

My brothers, Noah and Cade, constantly busted my ass about my inability to pin her down. What would they know about dating? Noah hadn’t had a serious relationship since Myspace was a thing, and Cade hadn’t gone on a date since Claire died in a car accident five years ago.

Neither of my brothers were in a place to judge my inability to get a date. Jerks.

Willow had dyed her hair pink this week. Last week she’d gone for yellow and green. The week before blue.

When I got up front, she already had an espresso and a double chocolate chip muffin waiting for me.

“This is the last one. I saved it for you.”

“You know the way to my heart.” And dick.

“I know the way to all of my customer’s hearts.” She nodded over my shoulder toward the umbrella-shaded tables. “Have you met your latest employee? She said Noah offered her a job.”

I glanced back at a cute but anxious-looking woman in a charcoal pantsuit. Much too conservative for my tastes. Noah hadn’t mentioned to Cade or me he’d planned to interview anyone. These days, we usually left that stuff to HR. Whoever she was, she must be something special.

Not caring why Noah had interviewed someone in the park, I changed the subject. “Thought any more about coming to the ball with me?”

She twirled her pink ponytail around her fingers. “I already told you. I’m coloring my hair that night.”

“It’s still over two weeks away. You can color your hair any night before then. Come on, say yes. You know you want to. You’ll have fun.” I held up my hands. “No strings attached. It’ll be just you, me, and a thousand other people eating, drinking, networking, and bidding on things they don’t want or need.”

She blinked and chewed on her lower lip as if mulling over my invitation. Could she have finally changed her mind? Every other time I’d asked her out, she’d flat out refused.

“Evan, you’re a sweet guy and all, but I can’t go somewhere like that with you.”

“Sweet? Saying that is like giving me the kiss of death.” Her refusal wouldn’t put me off. It never did. “Give me one good reason why.”

“No is a good enough reason.” She glanced over my shoulder and frowned. “You need to get out of line. I have twenty other customers waiting for their drinks. Besides,” she said with a quick shrug, “I’ll see you again in an hour. I don’t know how you get any work done with all the caffeine you drink, or maybe that’s how you get your work done.” She laughed, the tinkling sound making my dick twitch.

She might’ve said no, again, but one day soon, she would say yes. Willow Sanders would go to the ball with me.

She would also date me.

She would also kiss me.

And she would also fall in love with me.

“Until later,” I said, picking up my drink and muffin. “You’ll say yes next time.”

“Don’t you ever give up?”

“Never.”

As soon as I sat at my desk, Josie, the call center and customer service director, barreled in. Steam billowed from her ears. Great. She was the last person I wanted to deal with.

She’d worked with my brothers and me from the beginning, but these past few years, she’d become a thorn in our sides. We took care of our own and had given her a five percent stake in our company. But lately, she’d been pushing for more and more and more.

Her anger issues all stemmed back to when she and Noah briefly dated when we first started The James Group. After they broke up, her bitterness grew like a silent virus until all that was left was a sour, mean-spirited woman who loved nothing more than dragging people down.

She still hinted at getting back with Noah. Wasn’t going to happen. Ever. My brother had a lucky escape.

“Something bothering you, Josie?”

She marched back and forth in front of my desk, her steps jerky and irritated. “The person I’d scheduled to interview for the position as my new assistant blew me off and didn’t show up. I’m fucking pissed. I spent days going through résumés.”

I rubbed my forehead. I didn’t have time for this. We had enough going on with someone trying to buy up all the shares in our company. “She probably took a better position somewhere else.”


Tags: Jamie Knight Billionaire Romance
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