Bound by the Millionaire's Ring

By: Dani Collins

“It seems extreme. Trella’s pregnancy can’t be denied. Not forever.”

He folded his arms, not used to defending his decisions to anyone. He didn’t bother to soften the condescension in his tone as he explained, “I’m choosing to announce it now to distract from the rumors about her, but quitting racing was inevitable once Cinnia turned up pregnant. Henri can’t travel as much as he used to.”

He and Henri jointly ran Sauveterre International, but work had been Henri’s sport of choice for mental distraction. Ramon had never shirked his responsibilities, but he had never felt guilty handing something to his brother if he had to race.

Henri had greater concerns now. Ramon was more than willing to pick up the slack so his brother could look after his young family.

“So you’ve been planning this all along?”

“I knew once the babies came, my role would change.”

“We all knew you were taking over this office so Henri could move to Madrid, but I don’t think anyone expected you to quit racing.”

“We planned to make all the announcements next month. With the babies coming early, we’ve moved up the timetable. I will begin restructuring today. Starting with you.”

Her eyes widened. “Me? I arranged a transfer to Madrid. It takes effect with Cinnia’s due date, but—Are you saying that with the babies coming early, I need to move that up?”

“You’re staying here.” He probably shouldn’t take so much pleasure in making that statement, but he found enormous satisfaction in it. “My sisters came to Paris with me. They’re sorting things at Maison des Jumeaux in preparation for Angelique leaving. Her engagement will be announced soon and there are details with Kasim’s family that need your delicate touch.”

Isidora’s jaw dropped behind her sealed lips, making her cheeks go hollow. Her thick lashes quickly swept down to disguise what might have been a flash of...fear? No. Fury? Why? He wasn’t being sarcastic about her delicate touch. She was very good at her job or she wouldn’t have the position she held.

He wasn’t in the habit of giving anyone ego strokes, however, so he simply continued. “With Trella in the hot seat again, I’ll do my best to draw fire with the retirement announcement, but you’ll have to manage all of that, as well as the press releases on the restructuring.”

“I can do that remotely.” She folded her arms, posture stiff and defensive, face turned to the window, where vertical blinds held out most of the July sun along with the building’s excellent view of the Seine. “I’ll speak to Henri—”

“He just brought home twins, Isidora. He’s working as little as possible and mostly from home so he can enjoy his children and support his wife. Henri is not your employer, we are. We speak for each other and this is something we decided together.”

“You decided between you to deny my transfer? Without discussing it with me?”

“Yes.” It hadn’t even been a discussion. As often happened, Henri had voiced what Ramon had already been thinking. “It’s a matter of response time. Some of your work can be done remotely, but when a crisis arises, like today’s, we need you on the spot to defuse it.”

Her mouth tightened. He could see her wheels turning, searching for an alternative. He knew why she was acting like this and he was losing patience with it.

“Perhaps we could coax your father out of retirement?” he said facetiously.

“Don’t think I’m not tempted.”

“Stow your grudge, Isidora. You’re a professional. Act like one.”

She lifted haughty brows. “It’s not my ability to keep things professional that I’m worried about.”

“If I was the least bit interested in frostbite below the belt, you’d have something to worry about. I’m not.”

He always hit back. Always. It came from never wanting to be a victim again.

But when her nostrils pinched and she sniffed like she’d taken a hard jab to her slender middle, he felt a pang of conscience. A shadow of hurt might have flickered in her eyes, but she moved behind her desk, ducking her head and sliding a nonexistent tendril of hair behind her ear, the screen of her hand hiding her expression from him.

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