The Man Must MarryBy: Janet Chapman
“No, thank you. I’ll be fine.” She frowned down at her purse, then started shoving everything back into it. “Will we all be going to dinner tonight?”
“We’ll pick you up at seven,” Sam told her. He stepped out of the car behind her and watched with wry amusement as Ronald handed her defeated luggage to the porter, noticing some kind soul had wound it shut with packing tape. The porter, bless his training, didn’t even bat an eye when he took it. Once Miss Kent was safely on her way, Sam climbed back into the car and headed back to the office. Maybe he could salvage something of this hellacious day—as well as do an Internet search for a casket company inMaine .
As the elevator doors were closing back at the parking garage, Sam saw a scrap of material caught in the door track. Shoving against the doors to open them again, he reached down and retrieved what turned out to be a pair of iridescent lilac panties.
They were a little larger than he was used to.
With a smile of anticipation for the evening to come, Sam shoved them into his pocket. It appeared the little partridge didn’t always wear brown.
Willa dropped her ruinedbag onto the floor of her hotel room, only to watch it break open and spill her laughable wardrobe onto the carpet.
What a mess. And not just her clothes, either, but the bigger mess she was in—including what was sure to be the evening from hell. She was going to have to sit through dinner facing three hostile men who likely wanted to tar and feather her and put her on the first plane north. After each one tried to charm her vote.
Damn Abram Sinclair. This was all his fault. She didn’t belong here. Those people in that boardroom today, and his grandsons, they were all way out of her league. She was a small-town girl. The biggest business decisions she made were what new designs she could carve into the covers of her caskets. She had no business deciding who should head a multibillion-dollar company. Willa moaned in frustration, kicked off her shoes, collapsed onto the bed, and rubbed her forehead. She’d gotten a pounding headache within minutes of sitting between those monstrous props on the plane, and she still had the damned thing, only now it had gone from pounding to splitting. Hell, even her hair hurt.
And her day was not over. Willa opened her eyes and squinted at her watch. In four hours, there would be three angry men taking her to dinner. Oh, they’d be civil enough, considering that each one wanted her vote. They all would probably spread on the charm so thick she’d likely drown in it. Except maybe Sam Sinclair. He hadn’t tried very hard to hide his feelings about the situation—or her. She didn’t blame him. Abram had run away from home, hurting all three of his grandsons. They obviously loved the old man and needed to say good-bye to him. Willa understood both the grandsons’
points of view and Abram’s; she also understood everyone’s pain. To top everything off, Sam clearly considered her a slap in the face. Abram had brought a stranger onto both the familial scene and the business scene. And not just a stranger but a klutz. Willa had never worn heels in her life and couldn’t seem to get the hang of them. The ones she had on today had belonged to her mother. And she hated elevators. If the boardroom hadn’t been on the thirtieth floor, she would have walked up the stairs—though thirty floors was a bit much. Then her luggage had been eaten. And when she’d gone to the bathroom and gotten a look in the mirror, she’d nearly screamed.
She’d laughed instead, until she cried. She’d come toManhattan , to a high-powered meeting, looking like something her cat had dragged up from the beach. No wonder everyone had been horrified to think she had the tie-breaking vote. She’d been horrified herself.
Now she was simply scared.
And that was unnatural for her. She was twenty-nine years old and considered herself fearless. She had confidence in her ability to read situations and people. She made her own decisions. And even if those decisions turned out to be wrong, she always stood by them.
That was why she was there, facing Abram’s three grandsons. When the wild-haired, sharp-eyed old man had appeared on her doorstep, asking to rent her cottage, he’d stolen her heart with his disgraceful charm, atavistic arrogance, and failing body. He’d told her bluntly that he’d come toMaine to die and that he wanted to do it on his own terms. And Willa, being a pushover for anything in need, had taken him in and given him love and understanding—and her promise to come tell his grandsons he was dying. She should have guessed they would be younger versions of Abram. All three grandsons were gorgeous—tall, imposing, and downright intimidating. Willa was sorely tempted to write her vote on a piece of paper and leave it at the front desk, so when they came to pick her up that evening, she would already be on a plane back toMaine . She didn’t want to be near either of the losers when they realized the results.
With more willpower than ambition, Willa forced herself to crawl off the bed and strip out of the suit she’d borrowed from Maureen, one of her senior employees. Rummaging around in the mess on the floor, Willa found the dress she’d bought for this trip. Shaking it out with a growl of disgust, she fished a hanger from the closet and hung the dress in the bathroom. Then she turned on the shower, hoping the wrinkles would leave the dress while she steamed the wrinkles out of herself.