When Seth called for the third time in as many minutes, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to ignore my brother today. And that made my stomach hurt as I considered my ever-growing list of things I had to do. He was never this persistent—he knew I rarely answered my phone during work hours—which meant whatever he was calling to talk to me about, it was something important. And Seth Hastings didn’t take importance lightly.
Could he have picked a worse time, though?
Sighing, I picked up my phone and hovered over the answer button for a moment before I connected the call and held the phone to my ear.
“So you are alive,” he said before I even took a breath to greet him.
I winced. He was literally on the other side of the country, and he still managed to put me on edge with his growl. If I didn’t know he was one of the kindest, sweetest men on the planet, I might have believed his anger. But it was really just a mask, and he was using it on me for the first time in a long time. I didn’t like that. “Nice to talk to you too,” I muttered, and my eyes returned to my computer screen.
I still had a presentation to prepare, and if my assistant, Travis, didn’t come back soon with the report I’d sent him for, I was going to have a whole lot of nothing to show the firm’s board. It didn’t matter how good of a financial analyst I was; I had to prove I was worth the consideration for the promotion. Someone had to lead the team, and I wasn’t going to let Cal Mikaelson pass me over yet again. This was my year.
“Would you stop working for two minutes, Lissa?” Seth grumbled into the phone. Either he was a better super soldier than I thought and had somehow managed to set up surveillance in my office, or my half-brother knew me a little too well for a guy I’d only met a few years ago.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said and pulled up my projection sheet for Sonya Yun’s portfolio. This info was a start, but I needed Travis to come back with that report. Without it, this was just a bunch of numbers. “Was there something you needed, Seth?”
“Yeah,” he replied. “I need you to stop working for two minutes so I can know you’re actually paying attention and not just tuning me out while you browse stock markets.”
I rolled my eyes, even if he couldn’t see me. I figured he could probably sense my annoyance, since he was pretty much superhuman. It was a pity he had given up his Special Forces days to be a private bodyguard; his skills were a bit wasted on the quiet life he lived now. “You clearly have no idea what I do for my job,” I said. “Which is rich, coming from a guy who has a degree in Economics.”
“Not the point,” he replied.
I quickly sent yet another message to my assistant, asking him where he was and why it was taking him over an hour to go two floors down and grab a folder. “But seriously, Seth,” I said, “I have to get back to work. What is this about?”
“I’m getting married on Saturday, Liss.”
I nearly dropped my phone. This Saturday? But his wedding wasn’t until December. I had a whole… I stared at the calendar on my wall, realizing with a twist in my stomach that it was December.
“That’s what I thought,” Seth said, apparently reading into my silence. “You forgot about Thanksgiving—again—so I figured I would give you a reminder for this one. I’m only getting married once.”
If you’re lucky, I thought to myself. I had no reason to doubt his marriage would be a lasting one, since his fiancée, Catherine, was quite possibly the most perfect woman in the world, but I had seen love fall apart—especially in my own life—way too many times to not be a bit cynical.
“I didn’t forget your wedding,” I lied.
“So you’ll be here?”
If I got this promotion, which was the plan and had been for years, I was going to have to dive right in and completely overhaul the whole department to get it running smoothly. And that wasn’t something I could do overnight. I couldn’t just drop everything and leave Boston for a whole weekend.
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