Grand Master

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In the end, Riley decided to see Clint alone, for as much as she wanted Ashe with her, she didn't mean to drag him deeper into her family drama than she already had. And it was just as well, for as soon as Ashe hailed a cab, his agent called. Something urgent had come up.

Twenty minutes later Clint opened the door to the brownstone, grinning broadly. He was wearing a gray knit cardigan over a button-down shirt and slacks, his usual house attire. Dark-rimmed glasses framed his blue eyes, and two-day-old stubble graced his jaw.

"I'm so happy you could make it, Riley," he said, beckoning her into the living room. He offered her a drink and a seat on the couch in front of his favorite armchair. Though he seemed his usual easy-going self, Riley remembered that this version of Clint was the total opposite of the Clint most people knew, especially with the ones he did business. She learned this after Allen had approached Clint for a loan when the cafe wasn't doing too well and he had to pay for cancer treatments for his now-deceased wife.

Clint had been able to convince Allen that, despite Riley's brief lapse of judgment that had led to her overdose, she was still trustworthy—so dependable that Clint was willing to put his money behind her. He had done so, which was why Riley now owned fifty percent of the Library Cafe. This partnership allowed her to make changes in the decor, the choice of coffee blends and the hiring and firing of employees. It had also been Clint who'd taught Riley the basics of accounting, how to balance the books both by hand and using business accounting software.

Clint Caldwell III was the only son of a Manhattan socialite whose fortune had almost been squandered by her husband, Clint's father. It wasn't till the man died from liver disease when Clint was twenty-four that he managed slowly to bring the family fortunes back up to where they had been, and beyond. He did it by taking enormous risks in the stock market, and buying real estate when the prices were down, only to sell when they went up. He was ruthless in business affairs when he needed to be though she had always known him to put family first.

Riley found herself wondering what Clint would do if he learned of Paige's affair. Would he kick Paige out and leave her without a penny to her name? The thought made her stomach lurch, and she forced herself to think of other things. She was angry with Paige, but not that upset. No, Clint wouldn't do that. He adored his wife.

He'd been married twice before. His first wife had died of breast cancer three years into their marriage and the second lasted five years before society papers announced their split. She was now living in Texas and married to a congressman with whom she had two children.

Clint had met Paige three years after his divorce from his second wife. He saw her at a runway show his company was sponsoring and asked to meet her backstage. He wined and dined her for months. When Paige insisted that they take Riley with them on some of their 'dates' Clint was undeterred, unlike most other men who would have just scoffed at her suggestion. Riley would never forget the helicopter rides over New York, the ringing of the opening bell on Wall Street and the day she got to wear a big hat and fancy dress to the Kentucky Derby. There was even a last minute trip to St. Bart's once, where he owned a vacation home and a surprise trip to Paris.

Clint asked Paige to marry him a year and a half later, and it was a huge wedding, the biggest wedding Riley had ever been. Held in the Hamptons, the celebration lasted four days.

As Riley leaned forward on the couch, too nervous to relax, Clint poured himself a shot of bourbon. He handed her a glass of white wine before settling into the armchair in front of her.

Small talk came first. How are things? (Fine.) How is Ashe? (Great.) How are you both doing? (Going strong.) He seems like a good man. (He is.) Decent. (Yup.)

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