Coming out of a turn onto a straightaway, Warner accelerated and blew past a Suburban that was doing 60 at most. Jessica would be fine. She had her luggage, her purse, and her phone. He doubted she would call Grafton to complain. If she did, Warner was sure the old man’s first response would be to ask her what she’d done to deserve it. If he felt uneasy about anything, it was leaving her so close to a project site. As fired up as she was to get involved in the business, he may have left her in the perfect place to do it.
Up ahead, he spotted a state trooper parked off the road next to a sign for Elephant Head Lodge. He eased up on the gas, coming closer to the posted speed limit. His lips twisted in a grimace, not at having to slow down but at the fact that Jessica was his one weakness. It wasn’t his deep, devoted love for her, but because she was the key to his future. Sure, he had liked her from the start, but the furthest his feelings had ever progressed to had been fondness. Love wasn’t part of the deal he’d made with Grafton, but he had kept an open mind. He’d already decided he could be faithful to her, and not only out of a sense of duty. The physical attraction was there, no question. Jessica was beautiful, and she kept that little body of hers in great shape. The mere thought of their sizzling chemistry had him shifting in his seat.
A lascivious glint gleamed in his eye as he set the Bentley’s cruise control and mentally relived the first time he’d seen her undressed. It was the night he’d proposed at a dinner with Grafton and a few close family friends. A wicked grin spread across his face at how easy it had been to romance her into bed after that. She’d been so caught up in the suddenness of it, her father’s delighted reaction, and the beautiful ring. Poor little rich girl had thought it was the beginning of a fairytale. It could have been, too, if she would be happy to play her part instead of trying to usurp his. He’d have done and said all the right things, acted out an epic love affair, and let her think he worshiped her. Once the partnership with her father was finalized, he had plans to triple the company’s value, making it more successful than it already was. They would live in more luxury than Jessica was used to now. If only she could control her misguided impulses to get involved with the business.
A scowl darkened Warner’s features. When she’d wheedled her way onto the trip under the guise of discussing wedding plans, he should have known she had an ulterior motive. It became obvious long before they’d reached the Cedar Ridge project. For most of the trek across Wyoming, he’d been entertaining a string of fantasies that ended with Jessica out of the way and him still moving forward into the CEO’s position.
Whether or not Grafton found out about what he’d done with Jessica, Warner remained confident of where he stood with the old man. Warner had taken the time and care to cultivate a unique relationship. One that gave Grafton Hayes the son he never had combined with a business partner who shared the same interests, goals, and drive as himself. Warner was almost a decade older than Jessica, but the age difference wasn’t too broad to make marriage out of the question. The fact was, after Grafton confided he wanted to keep the company in the family but could never see it in the hands of a woman—including his own daughter—marriage seemed like the perfect solution. Too bad Jessica didn’t understand how things worked in the real world. Leaving her in Cedar Ridge was meant to give her a reality check. She needed to know how tough life could be if she didn’t adjust her attitude and start acting like the wife of a successful developer.
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