Grayson's Vow

Page 6


"Gray, dear, there's someone here to see you. Good morning." Charlotte smiled at me as I reached the bottom of the stairs. "Oh," she frowned, "you look just like something the cat dragged in, don't you?"
I ignored her last remark. "Who is it now?" First thing in the morning? What exactly couldn't wait until a decent hour? It was barely past sunrise. And I felt like hell. "I suppose it's someone else wanting a job? Someone with no limbs perhaps?"
Charlotte only smiled. "I don't think she wants a job, but I didn't ask what her business was about. And she has all the appropriate limbs. She's waiting in your office."
"Yes, a young woman. She said her name is Kira. Very pretty." Charlotte winked. Okay, well, maybe this wasn't the worst way to start the day. Unless it was someone I'd slept with . . . and likely wouldn't remember.
I downed a couple Tylenol, grabbed a cup of coffee from the kitchen, and walked to the large office at the front of the house that had once belonged to my father.
A young woman in a loose, cream-colored dress, in some sort of silky material, belted at the waist, stood with her back to me, perusing the large bookshelf against the wall opposite the doorway. I cleared my throat and she whirled around, the book in her hands falling to the floor as she brought her hands to her chest. Her eyes widened, and then she stooped to pick up the book, laughing tightly. "Sorry, you startled me." She stood, moving suddenly toward me. "Sorry, um, sorry. Grayson Hawthorn, right?" She placed the book on the edge of my desk and held her hand out. She was barely average height, slender, with hair a deep, rich auburn pulled back severely into some sort of knot at the nape of her neck. Not my type, but Charlotte was right, she was pretty. I tended toward tall elegant blondes. One tall elegant blonde in particular, actually. But I shut that painful thought down immediately. No use going there. It was only when the girl named Kira got close that I really noticed her eyes—large and framed with thick lashes, brows the same rich shade as her hair arching delicately above them. But it was the color of her eyes that stunned me. The greenest I'd ever seen. They were luminous, like twin emeralds. I got the sudden feeling those eyes saw things other eyes didn't. Bewitching. Magnetic. I felt like I couldn't take a deep breath.
I stepped back slightly and narrowed my gaze, but took her hand in mine. It was warm and small in my own. The warmth seemed to travel up my arm and down my spine. I frowned and removed my hand from hers. "And you are?" I hadn't intended on the hostility in my tone.
"Kira," she said simply, as if that explained anything at all. Okay. Kira closed those stunning eyes of hers, and I felt a momentary twinge of disappointment. She shook her head slightly, before she looked back at me. "I'm sorry, do you mind if we sit down?"
I inclined my head toward the chair in front of the large mahogany desk. I set my coffee cup down and moved to sit in the leather chair behind the desk. "Would you like a cup of coffee?" I asked. "I could call Charlotte." What did this girl want? She didn't look familiar.
"No, thank you," she shook her head, "she already offered." A lock slipped out of her pulled-back hair, and she made a small, annoyed frown as she attempted to smooth it back again.
I waited. My head pounded, and I massaged my temple absently. Her gaze followed my hand, and I wanted to squint against it.
She took a deep breath, straightening her spine, crossing her legs. As her chair was positioned away from my desk, my eyes could easily wander down her shapely calves, to her slim ankles that ended in a pair of blue, heeled sandals. The purse, which had been on her shoulder and now rested in her lap, had beads on it in the same shade as her shoes. I didn't know fashion, but I knew expensive when I saw it. My coldhearted stepmother had been the epitome of coiffed decadence.
"I don't mean to rush you, but I have a lot to get done today."
Her eyes widened. "Right. Of course. I'm sorry to hesitate. Well, I guess I'll just get right to it. I have a business arrangement to offer you."
I lifted one brow. "A business arrangement?"
She nodded, twisted the long gold necklace she was wearing. "Yes, well, in actuality, Mr. Hawthorn, I'm here to propose marriage."
I laughed, almost spewing the sip of coffee I'd just taken all over my desk. "Excuse me?"
Those magnificent eyes lit with something I couldn’t define. "If you'll just hear me out, I think perhaps this is something that could benefit both of us."
"And how exactly do you know anything about what might benefit me, Ms. . . . what is your last name? You didn't say."
She raised her little chin. "Dallaire. My last name is Dallaire." She eyed me with some sort of expectation.
"Dallaire?" I paused, frowning. I knew that name. "As in the ex-mayor of San Francisco Dallaire?"
"Yes." She raised her chin higher. Ah, haughty, that's what that gesture was. She was political royalty. An heiress. I didn't know a whole lot about Frank Dallaire, except that he’d been the mayor for two terms and was extraordinarily wealthy—a result of not only his political career, but I thought real estate dealings? Something along those lines. He was consistently on the list of the country's wealthiest men. So why in the hell was his daughter here?
"So I guess a better question, Ms. Dallaire, is how on God's green earth would a marriage to me benefit you?" This ought to be good. I reclined back in my chair.