Merger By Matrimony

By: Cathy Williams

‘At which point you decided to break into the scene, once you’d checked out where the weak spots were,’ she filled in, reading the situation with the same logical clarity of thought that she’d inherited from both her parents.

‘It’s called doing business.’

‘Business without a heart.’

‘The two, I might as well warn you, in case you’re foolhardy enough to stick around, don’t go hand in hand.’ He hadn’t felt so alive in the company of a woman for as long as he could remember. He sincerely hoped that she stuck around, just long enough for him to enjoy the peculiar sparring they were currently establishing that was so invigorating, but not long enough to thwart his plans. His eyes drifted from her face to the swell of her breasts jutting out against the thin dress and he drew his breath in sharply.

Dammit, he was engaged! He shouldn’t be looking at another woman’s breasts, far less registering their fullness, mentally stripping her of her bra. The thought felt almost like a betrayal and he glared at her with unvoiced accusation that she had somehow managed to lead his mind astray.

‘Why did you call him a miserable bastard?’

‘You won’t be able to revive the company, you know,’ he said conversationally, standing up and prowling through the office, casually inspecting the array of legal books carefully arranged in shelves along one wall, then moving behind the desk to the picture window and idly gazing through it. ‘You haven’t the experience or the funds. My offer is wildly generous, as Abe would have been the first to admit.’ He turned around to look at her, perching against the window ledge. ‘Wait much longer and you’ll end up having to sell anyway, for a song, so it’s in your interests to give it up sooner rather than later. And then you can get back to your jungle, where you belong. It’s a different kind of jungle here. One I don’t imagine you’ll have a taste for.’

‘This is more than just business profit for you, isn’t it?’ Destiny said slowly. ‘You speak as if you hated my uncle. Did you? Why? What was he like?’

‘Use your imagination. What sort of man wills his fortune to someone he’s never met?’

‘I was told that it was because I was his only blood relation. I gather he had no children of his own. He and my father weren’t close, but I was his niece.’ It had been a straightforward enough explanation from Derek, but Callum’s words had given her pause for thought. Abraham Felt, after all, had never met her. He and her father had maintained the most rudimentary of contact over the years. Surely in all that time he should have filled his life with people closer and dearer, to whom his huge legacy would have been more fitting?

‘He left it all to you because Abraham Felt was incapable of sustaining friendships.’

‘He had hundreds of wives, for goodness’s sake!’

‘Four, to be exact.’

‘Well, four, then. He must have shared something with them.’

‘Beds and the occasional conversation, I should imagine. Nothing too tricky, though. He was noted for his contempt for the opposite sex.’

‘How do you know that? No, don’t tell me, you made it your business to find out. I’m surprised you have time to do any work, Mr Ross, since you seem to spend most of it ferreting out information on my uncle and his company.’

For a split second, Callum found himself verbally stumped by her sarcasm. Oh, yes. He had to confess that he was enjoying himself. How on earth the depths of a Panamanian forest had managed to satisfy this woman, he had no idea. She was sharp. He wondered what life on this compound of hers really was like. Having spent his entire life in concrete jungles, he wondered whether a close community in the middle of nowhere might not be a hotbed of conversations stretching into the wee hours of the morning. Not to mention sizzling sex. After all, what else was there to do? For years and years on end? Cut off from civilisation and surrounded by hostile nature?

‘Actually, your dear uncle was always very vocal on most things, including his short-lived romances.’

‘He left some shares to Stephanie Felt, your fiancée,’ Destiny pointed out. ‘What about the rest of his step-children?’

‘There were none.’

She could feel unanswered questions flying around in her head like a swarm of bees. There was something more personal to his desire to gain control of her company. What? And was her stepcousin all part of his plan? A useful arrangement because she brought shares with her? Not enough to enable him to gain downright control of the company if he married her, but enough to ensure that he remained active in whatever was happening within it. Active and, through Stephanie, with a voice.

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