One Night to Wedding Vows (Wedlocked!)(4)

By: Kim Lawrence


The last man standing.

Whether I want it or not...and I don’t!

‘That power brings responsibility,’ Sergio warned.

It wasn’t the time to point out that many considered Raoul a powerful man already. While Jamie had chosen to work for his grandfather, after Harvard Raoul had joined a New York law firm, refused the opportunity to become the youngest partner in the history of that prestigious firm and had instead struck out on his own, ignoring all the voices that said he’d regret it.

No voices now, when just a few years later he had offices in several global capitals with a client list of some of the richest companies and private individuals in the world.

The perfect life, but without the rush of the courtroom he was bored out of his mind! At some point he had stopped being a litigator and become a glorified manager. But his brother was the only person Raoul had confided his frustration to. Damn you! Why did you have to go?

‘And wealth, of course, but more importantly you will carry on the name. And don’t launch into one of your egalitarian rants—’

Raoul cut across him. ‘Is this where you say something that begins with, if you want to make a dying old man happy...?’

‘Yes.’

‘So, moral blackmail.’ He spoke without resentment; he could see the logic in his grandfather’s approach.

‘I may never see my grandchildren.’

He lowered his gaze, though not before Raoul had seen a sheen form in the old man’s eyes. But when he looked up again the only thing in those deep-set eyes was a familiar ruthless determination. Raoul dropped the hand he had stretched out and rubbed it along his thigh, his square fingertips white as he pressed into muscle. He sighed.

‘But I have time enough to see you married to a woman who will give you children. You can’t recapture what you had with Lucy and it’s about time you accepted it.’

An image floated into Raoul’s head, a laughing face, perfect and beautiful, the way the world had seen his wife... Recapture...? Only an insane person would want to recapture the life of undiluted hell he had lived with his blackmailing, toxic wife.

Raoul was not insane!

His marriage had not left him a woman hater. He liked women; women were gorgeous! The problem was him. It was a fact painfully proven that when he allowed himself to be emotionally involved with a woman, he simply couldn’t trust his own judgement. It was fatally flawed.

So when his grandfather had accused him of screwing around he had not been wrong, nor had it been an accident. Casual sex satisfied a basic need, and if occasionally he was conscious—regardless of how great the sex—of a nebulous something missing, it was something that he was willing to live without.

‘Anyone in mind?’

His grandfather ignored the sarcastic tone. ‘Obviously the choice is yours.’

‘Generous of you.’

‘This is not a joke. Our family name is not a joke. I do not want to die with a playboy grandson as my sole legacy in life. It’s time you faced up to your responsibilities.’

Raoul bit back a retort that hovered over his tongue, hands digging deep in his pockets as he walked towards the ornate marble fireplace. ‘So what do you suggest—should I draw up a job spec and work my way through a shortlist of applicants? Or are you, God forbid, suggesting I follow my heart?’ The sarcasm spilled over, but Raoul didn’t care. The day couldn’t get any worse now.

Again his tone fell on infertile ground; instead his grandfather looked thoughtful.

‘That is actually not such a bad idea.’

‘What, following my heart?’ His experience with Lucy had cured Raoul of any trust in following his heart. The fact that there had been clues with Lucy only rubbed salt in the wound, clues that in any other situation he would not have ignored, but he had been in love and seen only what he had wanted. ‘Or advertising?’

The older man flashed him a look. ‘Sometimes putting things down in writing focuses the mind. After all, your wife will require certain q...qualities...’ Without warning Sergio reached out for support, a sound close to a groan escaping his clamped teeth.

It was all so unexpected that for a moment Raoul froze. Then as the old man staggered the paralysis broke. The resentment of moments earlier evaporated as he sprinted to his grandfather’s side, reaching him before he crumpled.

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