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Home > Executive's Pregnancy Ultimatum (Kings of the Boardroom #2)(7)

Executive's Pregnancy Ultimatum (Kings of the Boardroom #2)(7)
Author: Emilie Rose

Carol stiffened. “An oversight, I’m sure. You may have him temporarily distracted, but whatever the reason you came looking for him, sooner or later he’ll see through your innocent act to the opportunistic tramp you are.”

Renee’s nails bit into her palms as she fought to control her temper. She yearned to tell the supercilious witch that stud service and a desire to dilute the Maddox pedigree was the only thing on her agenda, but Renee bit her tongue. She’d promised to try to make the reconciliation look real.

During their marriage she’d been so afraid of losing Flynn or turning him against her that she’d never told him about his mother’s barrage of insults. Today she didn’t have those concerns. In fact, if they were going to split up, it would be better if they did so before she invested her time and money in expanding CGC and before she became pregnant.

“FYI, Carol, Flynn came looking for me. In fact, my moving back in was completely his idea. He drew up these plans for me to convert the basement into my business.” She gestured to the blueprints. “And he asked me to have his baby. We’re discussing trying right away since we’ve already wasted seven years.”

“You’re lying.”

“I’m not. We’re going to make you a grandmother. Granny Carol. How do you like that?”

The horror in the older woman’s eyes didn’t alter her chemically paralyzed face, but Carol looked as if she had caught a whiff of something malodorous. “If you care anything for Flynn, you’ll go back where you came from and let him find happiness with Denise. He loves her,” Carol repeated, “and the marriage plans are already under way.”

The arrow hit its target with another burning barb. Don’t let her get to you.

She stared her mother-in-law down. “And if you care anything for your son, you’ll keep your nasty comments to yourself. Because I’m warning you, Carol, if you dare to play any of your spiteful, undermining mind games with me this time around, I won’t hesitate to tell your son how hateful you’ve always treated me.”

“Tell me now,” Flynn said from the basement doorway, startling Renee. Slapping a hand to her chest, she spun around.

“Flynn, I didn’t hear you come in.”

“I used the basement entrance. I thought you might still be down there studying the plans.” He walked deeper into the room, his blue gaze unblinking on hers. He didn’t even acknowledge his mother’s presence. “Tell me what you meant about my mother playing spiteful undermining games.”

Renee winced. “How long have you been standing there listening?”

“Long enough to know you kept something from me during our marriage. Something important. Spit it out, Renee. All of it.”

She wasn’t a tattletale. Her words had been mostly bravado, and one glance at Carol’s superior, daring look told Renee her mother-in-law didn’t believe she had the guts to reveal the truth. Resignation and determination settled over Renee. If she didn’t follow through with her threat, then Carol would walk all over her. Again.

Speak now or forever hold your peace.

Flynn had never gotten along well with his mother, but still…She was his mother.

Renee tried for diplomacy. “Your mother has never made it a secret that she didn’t approve of me or our marriage. If you recall, she tried to talk you out of marrying me. That’s one of the reasons we went to Vegas.”

“Was she rude to you when we were married before?”

Renee hesitated. But again, she couldn’t back down without losing ground. “Yes. And more than once she implied that you weren’t working late. That you were with another woman. This morning she informed me you were in love with someone named Denise and that I needed to step aside and let you marry her as planned.”

“What?” The genuine astonishment on his face said more than any denial could have. Carol was lying.

“I take it you haven’t proposed to Denise?” Renee asked, just to be sure.

“No. How could I propose to another woman when I’m still married to you?” He closed the distance between them and lifted a hand to firmly cup her face, then he looped an arm around her waist, pulled her close and kissed her so tenderly her knees nearly buckled. He pulled back until his forehead rested on hers. She smelled fresh sweat and Flynn’s unique scent—a devastating combo. Her heart pounded.

What was he doing?

“You are the love of my life, Renee. I don’t want any other woman.” His soft voice and gentle touch melted her, but pure command filled his eyes. He leaned forward and nipped her earlobe.

“Play along,” he whispered in a rush of warm breath across her skin.

She shivered as arousal raced through her like water through a broken dam. Did he mean what he’d said? He couldn’t. Otherwise, why would he have stayed away until now?

When he kissed her again, she kissed him back. Not because he said to, but because she couldn’t have resisted even if she’d wanted to.

Trouble. SOS.

Slowly, he released her, then turned to his mother. He loomed over Carol, his body language threatening. “Get the hell out of our house and don’t come back. You are no longer welcome here, Mother. If I find out you’ve so much as looked hard at Renee, you’ll regret it.”

“You can’t possibly believe her?”

“I have no reason not to. Renee has never lied to me. You, on the other hand, have a habit of doing and saying whatever it takes to get your way.”

“Flynn, I do not lie,” Carol protested.

He grasped his mother’s bony arm and frog-marched her out of the room. “You just did when you said I was going to marry Denise.” Flynn’s voice carried from the foyer. “She and I dated twice, nothing more, and you know it. There won’t be a wedding. I already have a wife.”

The front door opened, then slammed a moment later. Flynn returned to the kitchen, his steps heavy with anger.

“Thank you, Flynn.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

She plucked at the seam of her jeans. “I didn’t want you to have to choose between me and her.”

He assessed her through narrowed eyes. “You thought I’d take Mother’s side.”

Yes. “She is your mother.”

Heaven knows she’d been forced to cover for hers often enough.

“Because she’s my mother I know how she operates. She’s a bitter, unhappy person who infects those around her with the same ill temperament. I’m sorry she worked her sorcery on you, but if you’d told me, I would have put a stop to it.”

Touched by his support, Renee pressed a hand over her heart. Would he have been as supportive if she’d told him about his mother’s nastiness years ago? Moot point. She’d never given him the chance. “You had enough on your plate then, trying to learn a new business and grieving for your father.”

“I insist on total honesty from you this time, Renee. I’ll settle for nothing less.”

“And for better or worse, you’ll get it.”

Flynn looked into the pleading blue-green eyes of Celia Taylor.

“Flynn, please let me put together a pitch for Reese Enterprises. Other Maddox ad execs may have failed, but I know I can get to Evan Reese.”

“What makes you so sure?” The male ad execs of Madd Comm believed the attractive redhead used her looks to lure new clients. Flynn wasn’t so sure. While Celia was beautiful, she seemed too sharp to rely on something so superficial. And while her looks might be a great asset, appearance alone couldn’t deliver the goods the way Celia did time and time again.

“I’ve met Evan several times over the past few months. We’ve…connected.”

He frowned, not liking the sound of that. “Is this going to be a conflict of interest?”

She shook her head and her hair swung over her shoulder. “We’re not dating or sleeping together, if that’s what you’re asking.”

“I wasn’t, but thanks for clarifying. We can’t risk pissing off a potential client due to a romance with one of our staff going sour.”

“Not an issue. I’ll put together an irresistible package—if you’ll give me a shot.”

Her enthusiasm and confidence were admirable and made him inclined to believe her. “Why come to me, instead of Brock?”

“Because Brock is so obsessed with landing Reese Enterprises that he only wants to send in someone like Jason, our current Golden Boy. Brock’s not willing to let an underdog like me take on the task.”

Celia was right on one count. Brock was obsessed, and if his brother’s grouchy attitude and the bags under his eyes were an indicator, Brock hadn’t been getting enough sleep. Flynn had been meaning to talk to him and remind him how destructive tunnel vision could be. Brock’s broken engagement and Flynn’s failed marriage were perfect examples.

Speaking of his marriage, his wife was due any minute. He checked his watch and rose. “Give it your best shot, Celia. I’ll speak to Brock on your behalf and let him know you have my support.”

Celia sprang out of her chair, raced around the desk and threw her arms around Flynn’s neck. “Thank you. You won’t regret it.”

“Make sure of it or Brock will have both of our heads.”

The exterior of the seven-story building housing Maddox Communications on ritzy Powell Street hadn’t changed, but Renee’s feelings about entering the building had undergone a drastic transition. The joy and anticipation she’d once experienced when meeting Flynn at work had turned to trepidation. Entering those doors meant entering a web of deception.

Flynn hadn’t been born when his father had purchased the soon-to-be demolished Beaux Arts–style building back in the seventies, but Flynn had told her the photo documentation of the renovations had fascinated him from an early age and launched his interest in architecture. He’d never intended to join the family advertising agency. He’d wanted to design buildings. And then his father had died and his priorities had changed.

She neared the doors and her muscles tensed. Trendy restaurants and retail stores still occupied the first floor. In the past Madd Comm had occupied the second through sixth floors, and the top floor had contained a penthouse suite with a huge roof garden. Who lived there now?

Renee entered the building and made her way to the elevators. A dark-haired muscular man about her age held the doors open for her. Renee stepped into the cubicle. “Six, please.”

He nodded and pushed the button. “Are you a Maddox client?”

“No.” She hesitated, unsure who this guy was or what Flynn had told his coworkers and clients about her. But Flynn had said to make the marriage look real. Let the games begin. “I’m Renee Maddox, Flynn’s wife.”

If her response surprised him, his gray eyes didn’t show it. “Gavin Spencer. I’m an ad exec for Maddox. Flynn’s a nice guy.”

“Yes. He is.” She shook the hand he extended. “It’s nice to meet you, Gavin.”

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