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"W e're not for sale, Mrs. Larson," Lucien Garnier refused flatly. "And I'm sure you'll agree that
trying to build a relationship of any kind at this stage is out of the question."
Completely unaffected by his blunt statement, Emerald Larson stared across her highly polished Louis
XIV desk at one of her recently discovered grown grandchildren. She could understand his and his two
siblings' anger. It had to have been quite disconcerting to discover that instead of the struggling artist
he'd portrayed himself to be, their father Neil Owens was really Owen Larson, the philandering,
footloose offspring of one of the richest, most powerful women in the corporate world. But then, she
hadn't been overly happy to learn that in his youth, her late son had left a bevy of women pregnant and
on their own.
Since learning of her grandchildren, Emerald had arranged for all of Owen's children to claim their
birthright and take their rightful place within the Emerald, Inc. corporate empire. She had successfully
built a relationship with her three other grandsons and set them up with companies of their own, but the
trouble was, she didn't know exactly how many children Owen had fathered or even if she'd found all of
them. It was only in the past few months she'd learned that her son had impregnated yet another woman
-not once, but twice. His affair with a young Frenchwoman visiting the San Francisco area on a student
visa had resulted in a set of twin sons, Lucien and Jacques. Then, ten years later, Owen had returned to
the woman and rekindled the affair, only to leave the poor dear girl pregnant again, this time with a
The fact that Francesca Garnier had been the only woman Owen had returned to was bittersweet for
Emerald. It was heartening to learn that her hedonistic son had loved the woman as much as he was
capable of loving anyone, but disappointing to realize that in the end, his self-absorption had won out
and he'd left Francesca behind-just as he'd done with the others.
But the past was just that-the past. There was little Emerald could do about what had taken place all
those years ago. The only thing to be done now was to forge ahead and focus her efforts on righting
things between herself and the three Garnier siblings.
"I can well understand your irritation, Lucien, but think about what I'm offering you and your brother
and sister. Each of you will receive a multimillion-dollar trust fund, as well as complete control of one
of my companies."
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"We don't need your money or your company," Jacques reiterated.
"I understand that you and Lucien are wealthy enough in your own right now to never want for
anything," Emerald acknowledged, nodding. Turning her attention to her only granddaughter, she
smiled. "But what about you, darling? I'm sure your teaching salary is adequate enough to provide you
with the basics, but what I'm offering is financial security for the rest of your life. You'll never have to
worry about taking care of yourself or your-"
"Arielle is fine," Lucien interrupted, his glare formidable. "Jake and I have always taken care of our
sister and we always will. We'll see that she has everything she needs."
"And you should both be commended for the sacrifices you've made to raise her." Emerald was
completely impervious to his dark expression. "After your mother's untimely death, you not only did an
excellent job of taking care of your sister, you both held jobs, as well as finished your education. That's
a huge undertaking for two boys barely twenty years old."
"We wouldn't have thought to do it any other way," Lucien countered, shrugging off her compliment.
Emerald watched the girl eye one brother and then the other before Arielle sat forward in her chair.
"I could never express how much I appreciate everything the two of you have done for me throughout
the years," Arielle spoke up, finally breaking her silence. "But I'm a grown woman now, Luke, and I'm
perfectly capable of taking care of myself and making my own decisions." She turned her full attention