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Darcy Does Dallas: Gay Pride and Prejudice Variation: Poor Little Billionaires, #3

Darcy Does Dallas: Gay Pride and Prejudice Variation: Poor Little Billionaires, #3

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Darcy Does Dallas: Gay Pride and Prejudice Variation: Poor Little Billionaires, #3

ratings:
2.5/5 (4 ratings)
Length:
189 pages
3 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Nov 28, 2019
ISBN:
9781393896418
Format:
Book

Description

After a betrayal like Wickham's there's no hope for a second chance...

Will Darcy is in Dallas to close a merger, not to rekindle an old flame. And there's no room left in his heart for George Wickham, his childhood friend and the man who squandered every opportunity ever given to him. It doesn't matter that he still feels all that old desire when they're in a room together. The past belongs in the past.

George Wickham has no idea of the secret merger planned between his company and Pemberley Industries—not until a last minute reassignment brings Wickham onto the transition team. Without warning, he's in face-to-face negotiations with the only man he's ever loved. Forgiveness is impossible after what he did a decade ago, but that doesn't mean he doesn't still want.

Their passionate encounters in the boardroom lead them to the bedroom, but is it just a fling? Or can Wickham prove he's a better man than he once was and gain Darcy's trust for good?

Darcy and Wickham steam up the pages of this modern day Pride and Prejudice variation.

Publisher:
Released:
Nov 28, 2019
ISBN:
9781393896418
Format:
Book

About the author

Andrea Dalling lives in the sexy Southeast U.S., where the summers are hot and the romance hotter. She loves to torture her characters but eventually rewards them with a happily-ever-after.  Married to her college sweetheart, she's an ally and an advocate for LGBT rights. When she's not writing, she enjoys gardening at her Raleigh home and scuba diving in the clear blue waters of the Caribbean.  You can follow her on Facebook (andrea.dalling.romance) or on Twitter (@Andrea_Dalling). For news about upcoming releases, sign up at http://eepurl.com/00WxP or visit her website at http://andreadalling.com. Want free books? Sign up for her ARC Club to receive advance reader copies. http://eepurl.com/2c4DH


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Darcy Does Dallas - Andrea Dalling

Chapter 1

It’s a universal truth that if a business trip can go wrong, it will.

Weather delay, check. Lost luggage, check. No car to meet them at the airport, check.

You can ride in an Uber like a normal person, Will. This impertinence came from the mouth of Pemberley Industries’ chief counsel, Mandie Price. And a pretty mouth it was—or so Will would have thought, if he were straight.

Mandie had the look of an underwear model—tall, blonde, willowy, with hair down to her waist. She was possibly the smartest person Will had ever met. That combination made her a formidable adversary in negotiations. Beauty like hers short-circuited the brains of most men.

But Will Darcy was not most men, and he was not accustomed to his employees smart-mouthing him. He put up with it from her because she was worth it.

A gray sedan pulled up to the curb in front of baggage claim. The driver loaded their carry-ons and Mandie’s checked bag into the trunk. Will’s checked bag was not lost, the woman at the customer service desk had insisted. The airline just didn’t know where it was.

He had tried arguing the finer points of semantics, but Mandie had rolled her eyes at him and squeezed his arm. He understood the futility of the enterprise, so he gave in. He was still rehearsing in his head all the things he wished he’d said.

Mandie looked across the car seat at him with her incisive blue gaze. If you keep your jaw clenched like that, it will give you a headache.

I already have a headache.

She smirked at him. Then I guess there’s no point in listening to me. She rooted through her bag, pulling out some Tylenol and an unopened bottle of water. Take this.

He obeyed, because it was easier than arguing with her. He supposed this must be what marriage was like.

Not that Will was likely to find out anytime soon. His last relationship had ended in disaster, again. He came home early from a business trip to find his boyfriend Trevor asleep, and a strange man coming out of the shower.

Life as a CEO wasn’t conducive to monogamy. He was on the road more days than he was home. His boyfriends felt neglected. Inevitably, they strayed.

Will wasn’t even surprised by it anymore.

I hate traveling, he said, a simple truth muttered under his breath, not really meant for anyone else to hear. But Mandie reached over and squeezed his hand.

It wasn’t a very businesslike gesture. Mandie had been the one he called after he ordered Trevor out of his penthouse. She had taken him out and gotten him drunk. She was, he supposed, his best friend.

They drove across twenty miles of flat land to downtown Dallas. He forced himself to focus his mind on the reason for this trip. The merger would be a turning point for his company. It would make Pemberley a major player in emerging technologies that would help reverse climate change.

It was the future. And Pemberley would lead the way.

He felt good about the plans the transition team had made. They had set themselves up for success. And yet, his stomach began to churn when they reached the city.

It had nothing to do with business.

He hadn’t been to this part of Texas since he was eighteen. Hadn’t expected the place to bring back memories. But somehow, it did.

Memories of George Wickham, his first love. How perfect it had been. And how it had all gone to hell.

Heading toward the sights of downtown, Will’s chest tightened. Images floated in his mind. The funeral. Holding Geo’s hand. That night in the hotel room.

The night his world had changed.

The car lurched to a halt in front of the hotel. In a rush, Will and Mandie left their bags at the valet stand. Will handed a thick tip to the gray-haired Latino gentleman who would take their bags to their rooms at check-in time.

They were late for the meeting, and Will hated to be late. Even when his travel plans had been shot to hell, and it wasn’t his fault.

Fortunately, the offices of Crisanto Software were on the next block, so they didn’t have to wait for a cab. After a short walk, he and Mandie entered the professional building. They stopped to freshen up in the restrooms off the lobby.

Will let out a sigh of relief. This buyout would be good for Pemberley Industries. They’d been using Crisanto’s software to operate their factory equipment for years. The smaller company’s products would be a good fit with their portfolio.

The meeting that morning was a formality. The deal had been struck, and all that was left to do was sign the papers. Then would come the trickier task of merging the operations.

Will liked to involve himself personally in those decisions, at least at a high level. He hated laying off good people because of redundancies. He preferred to assimilate them into the organization in some other capacity when he could.

He brushed his fingers through his hair and adjusted his tie. His perfectly tailored suit looked neat despite the first-class plane ride. He stepped out, and Mandie soon joined him. They made their way to the elevators.

The receptionist at Crisanto placed a call, and they were immediately met by Chanisse Littleton, the CFO. A Black woman of about fifty, she was on the plump side, her dark hair highlighted with silver.

Will had gotten to know her on the conference calls over the past few months. He appreciated her quiet wisdom, the way she steered the conversation back on topic when they went off on tangents. The Crisanto CEO and his assistant were both idea people, and they often moved from point A to point 29 while everyone else was still on point B.

How was your flight? Chanisse asked.

Aside from being late, it was fine, thank you.

Mandie let out a sigh. She said to Chanisse, He’s a little cranky today. If we can get him caffeinated, he should be fine.

I don’t need a nursemaid, Melinda.

It’s Amanda, she countered, as you know, Fitzwilliam.

Chanisse chuckled. She led them into a conference room where three others waited.

A woman in her twenties with sleek black hair sat at the long wooden table. Will’s eyes were immediately drawn to her fuchsia suit. She stopped keying at her computer and stood as they entered. He recognized her as Suki, the executive assistant. He shook the hand she offered.

His gaze then traveled to the dark-suited men in front of the window. His heart lost its rhythm. That man, the younger one—no, it couldn’t be. It was the strangeness of being back in Dallas again. It had been ten years, after all. Would Will even recognize George Wickham if he saw him again?

The man turned toward him, and those eyes. Will could never forget those turquoise eyes. People didn’t believe Geo when he said they weren’t colored contact lenses. But Will knew. Will knew because they’d been friends since infancy, and Geo’s eyes had always been that color, as bright and clear as the Caribbean Sea.

And that same lock of hair fell over his forehead, the one that stubbornly refused to stay in place. No matter how his mother had fussed over it when posing him for photos, that one brown curl would not be tamed.

Will expected a sudden rush of fury to rise inside him. But ten years had softened the edges of his anger. He was shocked, he was discombobulated, he was empty, but the rage refused to come.

And he needed the rage. Because right now, his body was vibrating with the memories of the other man’s touch. His heart was pounding like a timpani. And his brain was screaming mine.

What the hell? George Wickham hadn’t been his since college. They had made a clean break. After that awful night in Vegas, they’d never seen each other again.

Until now. What the fuck was Geo doing here? Will had teleconferenced with all the members of the transition team, and Geo hadn’t been one of them. This merger was supposed to be kept secret until the formal announcement was made. And Geo was the least trustworthy person Will knew.

Oscar, good to finally meet you face to face, Mandie said, addressing the Crisanto CEO. He was in his forties, of medium height, his dark hair graying at the temples. A broad smile brightened his round face.

You as well, Oscar said. This is George Wickham from our legal team.

She stretched out her hand. I’m Amanda Price. You can call me Mandie. This is Will Darcy. You can call him Mr. Darcy. Everyone does.

Will shot her a look, but in truth he was grateful she had made the introductions. His brain had left the building. But he was back now. He had to be. He couldn’t afford to screw up this deal.

Good to see you, he said, shaking Oscar’s hand. He looked straight into Geo’s face but said nothing.

It’s an honor, Mr. Darcy, Geo said with a smirk. "Or shall I call you your highness?"

The sound of that voice woke something long-buried in Will—something buried so deep, he’d thought it dead. But now it resurrected, as full of life as it had ever been. And it was screaming with a desire Will couldn’t escape.

He bit his cheek hard. He hadn’t risen to the position of CEO of Pemberley Industries at the age of twenty-seven by letting his emotions get the best of him. True, he and his sister owned a majority of the company stock, but the board of directors had voted him in unanimously. That was five years ago, and the company was thriving under his leadership.

He would not let Geo rattle him.

"Usually, I prefer my lord and master, Will said. Geo flushed and looked like he might swallow his tongue. But since we’re all friends here, you can call me Will."

Thank you. You can call me Geo, he said as he turned his gaze to Mandie.

Where’s Becca? Will asked, referring to the Crisanto lawyer who had negotiated the deal.

Her mother had a bad fall, Geo explained, so Becca had to fly to Florida. She and I have been conferencing all morning to catch me up.

Oh, I’m sorry to hear about her mom, Mandie said. I hope she’ll be okay.

Nothing too serious, Oscar replied. She’ll need help getting around for a few days.

In the meantime, Geo said, his tone casual, his eyes wary, you’re stuck with me. The papers are all in order, from what I understand.

Good. Shall we get started? Will asked. Oscar motioned for him and Mandie to take a seat.

Mandie looked through the contracts, huddling with Geo. Will chatted with Oscar while Chanisse showed Suki photos of her grandbaby. More coffee was brought in, along with an assortment of breakfast pastries.

Every few minutes, Will’s eyes wandered to Geo and Mandie. He was sitting close to her, a flirtatious smile on his lips. Of course he was. Geo was bi, and no one was off limits.

Not even Will’s sister.

But that was in the past. Ana was married now, finishing up her residency in pediatrics. Geo was no threat to her.

And Mandie was practically engaged. At least, that’s how she had been describing herself for the past year. Will didn’t know why her boyfriend hadn’t put a ring on her finger yet...

She wouldn’t stray, certainly. A woman like Mandie wouldn’t let a smooth talker like Geo take her in. She was too smart for that.

So what was that hot, tight sensation in the pit of Will’s stomach? Not jealousy, certainly. And what was taking them so long? Mandie and Becca had ironed out the contract already. The signing was supposed to be a formality.

Maybe Geo was trying to sabotage the deal. If it went through, Will would technically be his boss. Was Geo worried Will would fire him?

Would Will fire him?

The idea had its appeal. But to swoop in and shatter Geo’s life ten years later over an old vendetta seemed petty. That wasn’t Will’s style.

Clearly Geo had worked hard and cleaned up his act. Will didn’t begrudge him that. But he didn’t trust him. And he didn’t like the idea that Geo had any say over the future of Pemberley.

Will walked over and sat next to Mandie. Everything all right here?

Geo found a couple of points where the language could be clarified.

We’ll have Suki make the changes, Geo said, and print off new copies. Shouldn’t take more than fifteen minutes.

I want to approve the changes first, Will said.

Mandie scowled. Of course. It’s just boring legalese, though.

Afraid I might try something nefarious? Geo asked, oozing charm and wearing a mocking smile.

Will ought to tell Mandie the truth. About the terrible breakup, about Geo’s betrayal, about

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