Raven Industries got where it is today because my father knew how to find a great deal on a struggling business, make a sweet offer, and then turn it into a profit. He passed this knowledge on to me. The biggest challenge in this process was usually convincing the owner of the other business that our offer was the best they’d get not just from us, but from anyone else. It was a constant source of surprise when an owner would turn down our offer thinking it was too low and then only end up going bankrupt. Those idiots were too stupid to run a business.
I was pretty sure I was talking such an idiot right now. His resort was in Palm Beach, Florida, which meant it shouldn’t have any trouble bringing in business, and yet it was on the verge of being foreclosed on. Any hotelier that couldn’t make money with a beachfront property should get out of the way for the professionals. If he was smart, he’d have hired a consultant a year ago to help him identify why his resort was struggling. If I were the altruistic type, I’d tell him because, of course, I’d done the research and I knew exactly what was holding the place back from becoming a top vacation spot in Florida. But I wasn’t a nice guy.
With that said, I was offering him an opportunity to save himself financially. That was nice of me, right?
“I’ve got someone else interested in the property,” the resort’s CEO told me.
“Interested is one thing, I’m committed.” I paused. “Are you a gambling man?”
“All business is like gambling.”
I rolled my eyes. “Not if you do it right.”
“The economy is tight, and things are slow but it will pick up.”
My brother Ash poked his head in my door. I waved him in and Hunter followed. I turned my attention to getting off the phone.
“First, your competitor has seen an eight percent increase over the last year. The economy doesn’t seem to be slowing him down. Second, I’m not paying for what could happen in the future. Right now, your resort is going down the toilet, on the brink of bankruptcy. Say the word, and it will become a part of the Raven Industries family of resorts. Better for you, you’ll walk away with enough money to gamble on something else, instead of broke.”
“You New Yorkers have a way about you, don’t you?”
I laughed. “Sir, other businessmen might have more tact, but if they know what they’re doing, they’ll tell you the same thing. They’ll also tell you that the offer is only good for the next twenty-four hours. Let me know what you decide.” I gave Betts a second to say yes to the deal, but when he hesitated, I hung up. “Idiot.”
“The world is full of them,” Ash said. He’d gotten himself a drink from bar I kept for relaxing people I did business with.
Hunter stood to the side with his back against the wall. Always having an eye on the door was one of the tics he’d returned home from the military with. I felt bad for the guy. I couldn’t imagine going through life always feeling like I had to look over my shoulder for potential danger.
“What’s up?” I asked leaning back in my chair.
“I contacted a lawyer who doesn’t work for dad, and he said dad’s plan is crazy but pretty ironclad.”
I shook my head. “What happens if none of us get married or have kids?” I asked.
“We don’t get anything and the company stays in the trust,” Ash replied. He downed his drink and poured another.
I leaned forward. “Who runs it?”
“I’m pretty sure dad thinks at least one of us will get married,” Ash came to sit in one of the chairs in front of my desk.
“Ash will get it all,” Hunter said.
Ash’s eyes narrowed up at Hunter.
Hunter shrugged. “You’re the only one of us that has ever been in a committed relationship.”
Knowing that was as painful of a subject for Ash as war was for Hunter, I moved back to the topic at hand, “Who’d think dad would get so sentimental?”
“I need a baby mama like I need a hole in the head,” Hunter quipped.
Thank God Kade was off somewhere else. I could only imagine the insensitive retort he’d have for Hunter. I looked over at Hunter, noting the scars on his arms. At least one was from a bullet, whereas others were from shrapnel.
He shivered. “I can’t imagine spending the whole night much less a lifetime with a woman.”
I shook my head. He wasn’t wrong. I tended to keep my relations with women short, but Hunter was notorious for his womanizing ways. I wasn’t sure he’d ever been with the same woman more than once. It was a shame what war had done to him because he’d been a sweet kid. If he’d never gone off to war, he probably would have been the one married with a few kids by now.
“Speaking of spending the night, have you seen the new intern in the marketing department?” Hunter asked.
I shook my head and Hunter let out a low whistle. “I wouldn’t mind taking a ride with her.”
“Listen, I don’t care where you guys find your woman, but they can’t be from the office. Hunter you’re a sexual harassment suit in the making.”
He flashed a rare grin.
Ash rolled his eyes. “Come on Hunter, let’s get back to the security system upgrades.” While Ash ran the clubs, he was also a computer wiz and often worked with Hunter on our security systems.
I watched them leave, then turned my attention back to work, pulling out the most recent data reports for our golf club in California. There was another knock on the door.
Annoyed at another interruption from my brothers, I barked out, “I’m busy you fuckheads.”
The door popped open. “Your brothers are gone,” Alex said, pursing her lips in distaste at me.
I blew out a breath. “Come in.”
She walked in with another woman behind her. I was only half paying attention, but the young woman with Alex had me doing a double take and clearing my mind of everything except how stunning she was.
“Mr. Raven, this is Sara Shepperd,” Alex’s voice was almost bored. She’d long ago gotten used to how surly all the Raven men could be. The woman, Sara Sheppard, however, stared at me with wide, deep blue eyes. Most interns were at least a decade younger than me, and while attractive, it was usually in a cute, childlike way. This woman looked young, but not cute or innocent.
“She’ll be working with Mr. Larson in marketing,” Alex finished.
“I’m sorry for that outburst. I’m sure Ms. Oliver has mentioned to you how easily the Raven men can become irritated, particularly with each other.”
“There’s an understatement,” Alex said under her breath.
“Ah… yes sir.” Her voice had a sexy huskiness that matched the lusciousness of her body. I wasn’t joking with Hunter about not touching the staff, especially interns. For me, it had never been a problem. Plenty pretty, young, nubile women passed through the Raven Industries internship program, and while in another setting I might have been interested in them, none of them had me taking notice like Ms. Sheppard did.
She was petite in stature, but she had the curves built for a man. An image of her naked on my desk like an artists model, her long light brown hair flowing over the side, her tits hard and pink, and me fucking her, making her cry out in that husky voice flashed through my brain.
I shook my head to clear the carnal images. Hunter was right, she was a woman that made men want. And hell if I was going to give him easy access to her. Being in the military, Hunter was used to following orders, but his dick could make him forget the rules around here. The only answer was to find a way to protect her.
“She’s assigned to Larson?” I asked.
“Yes,” Alex said.
“I need help on this new Florida project.” Okay, so Betts hadn’t agreed to sell his resort, but he would. “Assign her to me.”
Alex’s eyebrows shot up to her hairline. “She’s interested in marketing.”
“Everything in business is marketing,” I said, cocking my head toward Alex to indicate that I wasn’t interested in arguing. “Life is marketing.”
Alex stared at me for a moment, but then nodded. “I’ll bring her back once I finish the tour and get her a badge.”
I leaned back in my chair and studied the stunning Sara Sheppard again. “Good. Welcome to Raven Industries.”
“Thank you, sir.” Her expression was uncertain, but she mustered a smile with full pink lips that would look fantastic wrapped around my dick. Fuck, I couldn’t think that. But if I was thinking about it, God only knew what was going on in Hunter’s head.
As they turned to leave, I called out. “Oh, and Alex, keep her away from Hunter.”
“Good idea,” she said, motioning for Sara to exit ahead of her. But her eyes suggested she wondered if she should keep Ms. Sheppard away from me too.
I wanted to touch her. In fact, chances were good that she’d show up in my fantasies the next time I decided to take the edge off by jerking in the shower. But I was strong enough to keep my hands off. I wasn’t sure Hunter was.
When Alex and Sara left, I stood and went to the bar to pour a drink. This was just another example of why I should be the next CEO of Raven Industries. My brothers were smart and very good at what they did, but they didn’t have the self-control or temperament to manage all aspects of the company.
I chuckled as I figured Alex wouldn’t think I had the temperament either. Of all us boys, I was the one most like my father. I could focus and ignore my dick. My father wasn’t a great husband or father, but to his credit, I don’t think he ever cheated on my mother. He was married to his work. Just like I was.
This ridiculous plan of his was insulting on so many levels. Who the fuck was he to change the rules so late in the game? All my life I was raised to put the company first and eventually helm it just as he did. He should have been praising me, not making me jump through more hoops.
If all I needed was a wife, I could probably easily arrange that. There were plenty of women I could pay to marry me for however long I needed, and then let her go. But having a kid? What the fuck? Why would my father want to subject more children to an absent father like we had?
I supposed there was a woman out there willing to marry me, give me a kid and walk away. Everyone had a price they’d take to do almost anything. Still, I expected it would be harder to find that since most women had a maternal instinct. And assuming I found a woman willing to walk away, I’d still need someone to raise the kid. I guessed that was what nannies were for.
I downed my drink, deciding not to worry about it now. We had time, and so far, none of my brothers seemed inclined to marry and produce kids.
Right now, I needed to focus on business, and making sure Hunter didn’t come sniffing around Ms. Sheppard. She was off limits to all my brothers. And of course, to me. But fuck, what I’d do to have a taste of her on my desk.