Claimed: The Pregnant Heiress(4)

By: Day Leclaire



Her brows drew together. “Then how did you?”

He gave a short, hard laugh. “You think I’m here for you?”

A hint of warmth drifted across her cheekbones. “I take it you’re not,” she said drily.

“I’m here to help finalize the Worth deal, Ms. Worth.” He leaned on her last name. “Our meeting tonight is sheer coincidence since you didn’t even bother to tell me who you were when we first met.”

“I don’t recall you asking. Nor do I recall you sharing your name at the time,” she replied with impressive calm.

“Now you know it. It’s Larson. Chase Larson.” The name rang a vague bell, but she couldn’t quite place it. As though aware of that fact, he added, “I’m Rafe Cameron’s brother.”

She missed a step and Chase supported her weight while she recovered her footing. “Please tell me you’re kidding.”

“Problem?”

Where did she begin? Or perhaps she shouldn’t begin at all. If Chase was anything like his brother, whatever she said would definitely be used against her. “Suffice to say the list is long and detailed.” She focused on the knot of his crisp red bow tie, not daring to look at him in case her gaze reflected her distaste for his brother. “If you don’t mind my asking, what’s your involvement in the Worth Industries purchase?”

“I own Larson Investments, a financial investment firm. I’m helping Rafe put the purchase together.”

No wonder his name sounded so familiar. She’d heard of Larson Investments. Who hadn’t? That also meant that he was the illegitimate son of business tycoon, Tiberius Barron. Dismay filled her. How could her father possibly hope to negotiate a fair contract for the sale of Worth Industries when Rafe controlled such powerful factions? She moistened her lips. “I assume you’re in favor of the deal?”

“Why wouldn’t I be?” he replied, his expression giving nothing away. “Now that we’ve finished discussing our unexpected business connection, answer a personal question for me. That night we spent together, would you have told me your last name if I’d asked?”

Emma lifted a shoulder in a careless shrug. “I don’t see why not.” She glanced up at him and caught his guarded expression. “What about you? Would you have told me your last name?”

“Not our first night together.”

She stiffened, offended. “I see. I’m supposed to be forthcoming with you, but—”

“I’ve discovered it’s wise to protect myself.”

“Protect yourself,” she repeated, her eyes narrowing. “From what? Sexy little things who have an itch they’re hoping you’re rich enough to scratch?”

“Something like that.” His gaze impaled her. “Are you a sexy little thing?”

How could she have found him charming? He wasn’t the least bit charming. “Do you mean, am I after a wealthy husband or lover?”

“Are you?”

“No, thanks. You can relax. I have my own money.”

“See?” He flashed a smile that was all too—yes—charming. “Now I’ve insulted you. It’s not an easy question to ask on a first date, is it?”

She released a sigh. “Shall I assume that if I answered incorrectly when we first met there wouldn’t have been a second date?”

“No, there would have been.” Hunger flickered through his eyes so fast she wondered if she’d imagined it. “With you there definitely would have been.”

She scanned his expression, understanding dawning. “But it would have come with strings. Or should I say, a lack of strings? You’d be willing to share my bed, but I’d better not get any ideas.”

“Come on. Be fair, Emma,” he chided. “Is it any different for you? Aren’t you concerned that when men hear your name, learn of your connection to Worth Industries, they see you as their perfect shot at a life of leisure? To relax on a nearby beach sipping endless rounds of mai tais?”

Anger swept through her. “You give me far too much credit. Why would I object to that when it’s clearly my goal in life, too? At least, that’s your brother’s opinion of me, something he’s made abundantly clear the few times we’ve spoken.”

“I believe that’s because Rafe and I earned our fortunes the hard way.”

“Whereas I inherited mine?”

She could tell him that she chose to devote her spare time to working at It’s Time, the local women’s shelter, but why should she be forced to defend herself when she’d done nothing wrong? Exhaustion swept over her worsening the headache, which had been gnawing at the edges of her consciousness all day. “Are we through here, Mr. Larson? I’d like to go home, if you don’t mind.”

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