A Family for the Billionaire

By: Dani Wade

Good thing he couldn’t see her smile. “Feel free to email me your demands and I’ll consider them.”

“You can’t talk now?” he asked.

“Roy—Mr. Brazier. It’s a little late. Almost nine o’clock.” And Rosie would need to go to sleep soon.

“Is your husband impatient for you to get off the phone?”

Okay, no way had she imagined that change in tone. Choosing to ignore his question, because it was fun to keep him guessing, she countered, “Don’t you have a family waiting for you to shut down?”

“No. A man with my schedule shouldn’t have a family—it isn’t fair to them.”

She thought of the little girl in the other room—how sometimes it was hard to force herself out the door in the morning because being away from Rosie left her feeling incomplete. Of course, life hadn’t afforded her the chance to stay home with Rosie—and there were plenty of family members in the house to keep her occupied until Mommy came home. “Commendable of you to realize that.” Though most men usually didn’t think that way.

“Simply practical—but you didn’t answer my question.”

And she didn’t plan to... “Working 24/7 isn’t good for anyone.”

“You enjoy your beauty sleep?”

This conversation was definitely off the business track—her brain derailed into forbidden thoughts of him in her bed. “I’ll watch for your email,” she said, hoping she didn’t sound too breathless.

She disconnected and returned to the other room. Her sisters were silent until she tried to pass, then they started in.

“Oh, Royce,” Ivy said, gasping with an extra dash of drama. “I must, simply must, have your email.”

“Is your wife waiting for you to get off the phone?” Willow teased.

“He asked first,” Jasmine protested.

“Which just gave you permission to dig.”

“It’s a business deal.” Why did she have a feeling she was trying to convince herself?

“It doesn’t have to be,” Auntie said as Jasmine lifted a sleeping Rosie into her arms.

Jasmine lowered her voice. “Not you, too, Auntie.”

“Your mother would not want you to be alone.”

The sisters froze at Auntie’s words. She rarely butted into their personal lives; though she was free with her help and guidance, her one very short marriage hadn’t qualified her to give advice to the lovelorn—according to her. So this was rare.

“I’m not,” Jasmine insisted. “I have you, the girls, Rosie. What do I need a man for?”

“I love the little one, too, and all you girls,” Auntie said. “But you keep yourself tucked away, protected. Your mother, despite everything she lost, still pushed forward and allowed love in. She would want that for all of you.”

Jasmine studied her sisters, who looked at each other slightly abashed. Theirs was a tight circle, and other than casual dates in high school and college, no man had ever infiltrated it. No man had even come home for dinner. And the sisters had always lived together, even through college.

They were their own island oasis. The thought of that changing sent a streak of unease through Jasmine.

As if reading her mind, Auntie nodded at her. “Keeping your circle small is not going to protect you from pain, Jasmine.” She smiled sadly. “It’s time, my sweets.”

“For what?” Willow asked when no one else would.

Jasmine didn’t want to know. Rosie was all the change she could handle in her safe little world. Her only challenges were in her career and she preferred to keep it that way. But when Auntie spoke in that all-knowing voice, things usually happened. Whether anyone wanted them to or not.

The older woman got up and crossed to the door. Jasmine could hear her progress up the stairs and eventually back down in the historic, but sturdy, home. Auntie came straight to Jasmine, leaving her with the feeling she’d been found by an unerringly accurate arrow.

Dropping into the chair next to her, Auntie held out a small jeweler’s box. Willow and Ivy leaned across the table for a better look.

“Your mother wanted you girls to have this,” Auntie said as she opened the box. “I found it with her things, packed away with a letter.”

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