Chapter 2 | SAMPLE

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The sun was a huge ball of fire, floating low on the horizon. I gazed into the ocean lost in thoughts. The restaurant scene kept replaying in my mind.

"You promised, Orlando."

I didn't even hear him coming in. With a deep sigh, I turned to face my younger brother, Enrique. He used my name only when he was pissed. He must have found about my meeting with Desmond.

"I'm sorry, Enrique. You know how much expectation we had from this deal."

My brother glowered, running a hand through his unruly hair. His honey-brown eyes pinned me with accusation. His eyes were the only feature he inherited from the woman who brought us into this world.

"And, I tell you we don't need this deal anymore. That bastard is dating her, brother." He stabbed the air with his index finger. "The gossip magazine is full of their photos. Didn't you read how she dated his son for a year before jumping into his father's bed?"

"I didn't know." Turning away from Enrique's scrutinizing gaze to hide the storm in my eyes, I stared at the intense orange hues in the sky through the window; Outside, the wind ruffled the trees. Lazy blue waves kissed the beach in the distance. Such a calming sight. Only it didn't ease the turbulence in my mind. "I don't follow the gossip columns."

No one knew about Kenzie except, Enrique and our father. My brother wouldn't have discovered if it wasn't for his playboy habits. I never spoke about my past to anyone. The way he found about us still made me sick. No. Don't go there now. Pulling the leash on my thoughts, I met his gaze.

His shoulders slumped and he cocked his head to the side. "Tell him no and move on. We have enough wealth for generations to come," his gentle tone pacified.

He was right. This deal wasn't a priority. But this partnership would open job opportunities for thousands of blue-collar workers. Losing this deal won't affect the Cortez business, but I didn't want my personal feelings to destroy the promising future of many. Moreover, I don't want to back off just because of her. No. That wasn't me. I always stared at my problems in the eye while I made lemonade out of the lemon life handed me.

"This isn't about us, Enrique."

"I can't talk you out of this. Can I? But you promised you won't work until my wedding. Two weeks. That's all I asked, brother."

"I'm sorry, Enrique. I promise these two weeks are yours."

"Good. But it's not just about me." He sighed and gave me his trademark smile. "It's time for dinner."

"I'm not hungry." Kenzie's smile flashed in my memory, churning my stomach. I walked back to the dresser, removing my watch and emptying the contents of my pockets on the table.

"Tell that to grandpapa. I dare you." His right brow shot up as I unbuttoned my shirt.

"Can't you handle for tonight?" I urged, meeting his gaze through the mirror.

"I'm not letting you off tonight, brother. Did you forget Ari and Rosie are here?"

Ah, yes, Arianna. There was that fluttering in my heart again. She was joining after a long time. Why wasn't her boyfriend here? Perhaps, he would join her for the wedding. My jaws tightened. There was no explanation of the sudden hatred spread across my chest at the thought of her boyfriend. Fuck.

"Give me five minutes."

Too much to handle in a day. Kenzie's face with a mocking smile popped in my memory. The way her nails traced Desmond's arm made my skin crawl. Bile rose from the pit of my stomach. My head throbbed from the day's exhaustion. Massaging my forehead, I walked toward my bathroom. I didn't know why thinking about Arianna had my heart clench, especially now of all times.

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