A Family for the Billionaire

By: Dani Wade

“Just announce me, please, Matthew,” she said with an overly sweet smile.

Her stomach fluttered from the nerves rushing through her in waves, but she reminded herself necessity took this out of her hands. Besides, he’d brought it on himself.

Jasmine went through the door while Royce continued to talk on the phone. His back was to her. Taking advantage of his distraction, she turned and smiled down at her surprise. Then she lifted Rosie from her stroller and turned to find Royce staring at her backside.

Jasmine should have been offended, but his distraction played to her advantage in this instance. When he finally realized where he was staring and looked up, the switch from lust to shock in his normally schooled expression was priceless.

“What’s this?” he sputtered as he jumped to his feet.

Jasmine ignored Rosie’s cooing, because breaking her businesslike facade wouldn’t be to her advantage right now. “You told me to meet you here.”

He frowned, proving himself to be heartless. No one could look at Rosie and refuse to smile. No way could he be human. “My office isn’t a day care,” he insisted.

“And my time is very tightly scheduled today,” she said with an arch of her brows. “I have commitments, just like you.”

“I can’t help that my earlier meeting ran over,” he said defensively, straightening in his seat.

Jasmine took a deep breath, then blew it out slowly, pulling her chaotic thoughts from the last hour together. “Let me ask you a question,” she began.

After Royce nodded, she continued. “Would you have called any of your fellow businessmen and given them commands about when to show up at your office?”

The surprise on his face only confirmed her suspicions.

“If I were one of your managers or the owner of one of your supply companies instead of an event planner, would you have had Matt contact me to reschedule instead of rudely cutting off our conversation earlier?”

“That’s not why—”

“I made arrangements for a sitter as soon as this meeting was scheduled. I don’t like to disrupt my daughter’s schedule by carting her around to my business meetings. But by changing our scheduled time and refusing to discuss it with me or give me any options, I had no other choice...unless I wanted to be a no-show myself.”

He didn’t respond. His narrowed gaze still made her want to squirm, but she refused to back down.

“Now I’m very much looking forward to working with you, but my business is people. Is our phone conversation earlier how you conduct business? How you deal with your fellow business people and the community at large? Because it isn’t how I conduct my business.”

Lesson number one was over. The ball was in Royce’s court now.

Rosie continued to coo, then snuggled against Jasmine as she settled into a chair with her child in her lap. This would never have worked if Rosie had a different temperament, but Jasmine happened to know that her daughter was one of the most easygoing babies in the world. She just hoped this was Royce’s only lesson in seeing the people behind the business.

“If that’s going to be a problem,” she said, “then I release you from your contract right now.”

He glanced back and forth between her and Rosie, as if he still couldn’t catch the connection between his earlier behavior and having a baby in his office. But then he slowly shook his head. “No. I don’t want to cancel our contract.”

She wanted to ask why, but figured she’d pushed her luck enough for today.

“Maybe we should reschedule?” Royce said, staring down at them with a frown.

“Why?” Jasmine asked. “I’m here now. Your schedule appears to be free at the moment, which it hasn’t been for the last two weeks. Let’s talk.”

When he hesitated, she prompted. “If we don’t get started soon, we’ll miss your window of opportunity. I can’t work miracles in two months. And neither can the vendors I hire.”

Royce’s careful expression returned as he took his seat. “I’ve found most people have a price that will motivate them.”

“And that’s the difference between the two of us.”

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