The Millionaire Affair

By: Jessica Lemmon

“Angel.” She stopped speaking. “I’m not going to ask Evan to bail me out.”

“Okay. I’m sorry. I just… I want him to succeed.”

He smiled. Although a few years younger than him, Angel had always acted the part of mother hen to her brothers—Landon included. She’d gotten worse since Mom died. But Angel wasn’t the only one who wanted the best for Ev. Landon wanted him to succeed, too. His brother’s tattoo shop was profitable, successful, and, until the artwork of his heart had gotten attention in the literary world, all he’d wanted to do. Now his paintings were all he could talk about. Landon wouldn’t deny him this opportunity. No way.

“Can you delegate a portion of your work and lessen the load?” she asked, back on task. “You’ll still be able to get things done… just maybe not as much as you’re used to.”

This account was too important to take his hands off it. But he wouldn’t miss an opportunity to tease her. What were big brothers for? “Sure. You want to set a project aside and take the lead on Windy City? Maybe today while you’re in town?” She was scheduled to fly in this morning to handle a pitch for Holstein Electronics. A pitch he needed her, as the head of his art department, to nail. A pitch he’d never in a million years ask her to skip.

Predictably, she took him at his word. “You can’t be serious!” Her voice went an octave higher. “You asked me to bump up the Holstein account so we can get the billboard design done by next Tuesday! I’ll barely have time to breathe between flights from Tennessee to Chicago and back.”

“Exactly. And like you, the rest of my staff is buried. The delegation thing? Not going to happen.”

Angel heaved a sigh, then blew out the word “okay” before falling silent while she thought. A moment later, he heard her snap her fingers, a sign she’d landed on an idea. “What about the day care in your building?”

“What? No.” He wouldn’t abandon his nephew in a strange place, not even the day care at work, which he knew was staffed with well-trained professionals. Last night, Lyon had a nightmare because of the change of scenery. Evan had warned Landon it might happen, but nothing had prepared him for the helplessness of holding his nephew and being unable to comfort him. He remembered Lyon’s eyes, wide with terror and filled with tears, his little heart racing against Landon’s chest.

“No,” he repeated firmly.

“Okay… Well, what about a nanny?”

A plump, proper woman with a British accent popped into his mind and he made a face. “You can’t be serious.”

Angel’s voice dipped conspiratorially. “What if she was someone you knew? Someone we all knew?”

He crossed an arm over his chest and narrowed his eyes at the lake view outside. She was up to something. Plotting and scheming as per her usual. “Spit it out, Angel.”

“You remember my friend, Kimber Reynolds? She came down to visit me last month and I mentioned she owns a vintage clothing store in Chicago.”

“The girl who stayed at Mom and Dad’s house one summer when we were kids.” The same summer his college girlfriend had given him the worst news of his life.

“Yes!” Angel said with game-show-host enthusiasm. She sounded proud he recalled who Kimber was. “While she was here she’d mentioned she could use some extra money. And since she lives not all that far from you…”

Kimber. He remembered bits and pieces about the girl who’d lingered in his peripheral for an entire summer. He remembered she had red hair, liked to read, and drank Mountain Dew. She’d offered to help him with his creative writing paper, the makeup assignment to save him from failing his college class after Rachel’s pregnancy time bomb. He recalled balking at first—what help could a sophomore be to a college senior?—but Kimber had insisted, and then surprised him. She was smart. Turned out she’d had some helpful advice.

“… sure she would be willing to help you out,” Angel was saying.

He blinked out of his daze and tuned his sister back in.

“Want me to use my three and a half minutes between stops to pay her a visit while I’m in town?”

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