Chapter 3

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3

Emerson was red in the face and overheated as she hunted down Liam Wyatt.

Lost in a maze of hallways and wings, she finally caught the scent of something sweet, possibly chocolate, and sped up her pursuit, determined not to let hunger deter her from the fight she had in her.

After many failed attempts at pushing through doors, she finally pummeled through a swinging door and arrived in a kitchen that had long sweeping white marble counters, a center island the size of her entire kitchen, and appliances that looked more like technological inventions than kitchen apparatuses.

"Cookie?" Liam asked, pulling a sheet of chocolate chip cookies from the oven.

"I don't want a damn cookie."

The man was an enigma—simple surrounded by complexity.

"More for me." Overlooking her tone, figuring she'd explain it eventually if she wanted to, he transferred cookies to a plate. "Can I get you something to drink?"

"No," she said sternly, refusing to let go of her bite. "I'm mad at you, and you're going to listen to me. You tricked me into coming here and I don't care to be tricked. My CEO is pissed as hell that you didn't invite me here to talk about a partnership because he's..." she considered her words, "misleadingly intrigued by your business sense, and wanted to do a deal with you."

"Misleadingly intrigued? You mean because no one should be intrigued by an unscrupulous, arrant butt-face?" Unaffected, he bit at a cookie, decided the batter required more nuts.

"This isn't funny, Liam. My CEO is pissed because he thinks I'm not doing my job, which technically he's right. My stomach is still woozy from the ridiculous helicopter ride, my shirt is filthy from your unruly dog, flights are cancelled at least until tomorrow which means that I'm stuck here with you, and my son needs his damn cupcakes!" The eruption of anger finished with some huffs and paces around the kitchen.

Liam mixed more pecans into the bowl followed by a quick, barely perceptible pause.

"You have a son?" He considered the idea as he strong-armed the thick batter.

"I have a son who needs his mother at home. I'm supposed to bake cupcakes and deliver them to daycare tomorrow."

"Do you need a nanny too? Is he being cared for while you're gone?"

"What? What kind of response is that? He's with my mom and is just fine. She's probably happy she gets him all to herself a little longer. What're you doing?"

She watched him pull his phone out, press a couple buttons then hold it to his face while he piled clumps of dough onto a cookie sheet.

"I'm sorry, is my life boring to you?"

"Not in the least," he responded matter-of-factly. "Calling my assistant."

She threw her arms up in the air. "And why does your phone work in here and mine doesn't?"

"I tweaked it."

She huffed out a sigh. The man was infuriating, that was all there was to it. It was simple, he was simple. And complex and arrogant and entitled and manipulative and maddeningly attractive.

"Need you to hunt down some cupcakes and have them delivered. Emerson here will give you the details. Hold on."

He handed his phone over. "Here's April. Just tell her what you need, when you need it, and where it's going."

A wave of parental guilt swamped her. "That's cheating. I'm a mom. I'm supposed to be there to make the cupcakes myself."

"But you can't. Weather. This is next best." He kissed the top of her head as if the act were routine.

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