I had noticed a car following me from Fabian’s house as Lindsey and I were driving around.  I wasn’t sure how they found me so fast, but they always seem to. I also noticed they didn’t follow me as I left her apartment.  I’m glad I had the forethought to have James tail us just in case there was a problem.  This was already complicated enough without the paparazzi scaring her off too.

I got hourly reports from James while I gathered all the things I wanted Lindsey to have.  I had my lawyer get her a copy of the contract as well as all the documentation she would need once we were married, the paperwork seemed to be endless for women who just want to change their name. Knowing her brother, I wasn’t sure she had access to family funds, so I set her up with an account in her name and added her to one of my credit cards for her to use until her own came in.

I sent my assistant with the portfolio to James and gave him instructions to introduce himself when it looked like the press was going to hang out all night.  I wanted him to do a full sweep of her place, purely for her safety of course.  We really did need to know what kind of vantage points the press had for pictures and for some of the more daring ones, I wanted to know how easy it would be to break in.  I also told him to try and gather as much information about her as he could from her belongings.  I didn’t even know she existed until yesterday and if I was going to keep her around, I needed at least a basic knowledge of things she liked.

A ring from my phone startled me out of my thoughts. I felt my heart jump at the name in the ID.

“Hello Lindsey, how can I help you?” I mentally smack myself. She’s going to be my wife and I am acting like she’s another high maintenance client calling too late, but I have to pretend to be polite. 

“Umm, Hi, Reece.” She stutters out, well at least she feels the awkwardness as much as I do. “I just had a couple questions, is, is that okay?” she says quietly.

“Of course, you can ask me anything. I’m sure the contract is long and pretty complicated.” I start, but she cuts me off.

“For the most part the contract is perfectly clear, I just wanted to clarify a couple things to make sure I understand them right, that’s all.” She leaves her shyness behind and is all business now.  Did I offend her somehow?

“Okay, shoot.”

“Are you really planning on maintaining my brother once the marriage and merger happens? And in his current supervisory capacity?”

“That was part of our arrangement, yes. Did you have something else in mind?”

“You have been dealing with my brother as far as business goes, you must know he’s a spoiled moron who couldn’t find the sharp end of a pencil if it stabbed him.” I let out a laugh that I tried to cover up as a cough.  That was definitely something that I wasn’t expecting. “He needs to feel like he’s in charge of something without actually having any influence.  I think he forgot that now that I am 18, I have dual ownership of the company and an actual say.  I’ve been doing my best working with our employees and trying to keep the company afloat.  I want full control of our portion of the company. Just give my brother a fancy title and an allowance, he won’t know the difference.  Also make sure he doesn’t use you or I as name drops to get anything.  He has been known to say I will cover things as a gift to him.  He used half of my college trust that way.”

Now I’m seeing red, I had a feeling she was mistreated, but Fabian is on my list now. “Done. The less I have to work with Fabian the better, for both of us I think. At the risk of sounding like an a**hole, what experience do you have with running your company?” 

“Enough, I lost my parents when I was ten and many of the managers and my grandma helped raise me.  When I was about fifteen the COO Ralph started teaching me the ropes little by little, so I could handle the business when I turned eighteen.”

“Fair enough, I would like to sit down with you and Ralph at some point to go over things. Was there anything else?”

“With the marriage documentation, the ten year mark is mentioned several times. What does that mean?”

“That is something my grandmother added to all of our prenuptial agreements after one of my uncles was married six times.  Each ex-wife made off with a million dollars after they divorced, and we later found out that four of the women worked together to marry him and then seduce him to cheat so they could file for divorce. My grandmother went after them with a vengeance, and won of course, but it’s there now to help prevent gold diggers from chasing our last name and bank account.”

“Speaking of last names. Do you expect me to change my name?”

“It’s customary right? Do you want to keep your name for some reason?” She’s got me worried a bit, does she want to keep her name to stay separate from me for some reason?  I’m not sure why I care, I barely know her, but for some reason it stings a bit.

“I haven’t really thought about it until now. You also gave me a credit card” she said quickly changing the subject. 

“Yes, as you may have noticed, my company is high profile, which makes me and by extension you high profile. There is a certain appearance expectation, which is tedious, but it’s there all the same.  I want you to get whatever you need for the wedding, honeymoon and, if you are going to be working closely with me, the office. If you want, I have a personal stylist that can help you.”

“Nope, that is what I keep Anton around for. I hate shopping and he adores it.  Do I have a spending limit? He may go a little crazy, having one might reign him in a bit.” She giggles and it is amazing.  I have never had a giggle give me butterflies before.  I’m mentally finding ways to make her do it more often along with figuring out who Anton is.

“There is no limit on the card, but I have a feeling you are not the type of person who needs to be limited.  Get what you need and we’ll figure it out.”

“If you say so. You said honeymoon. Are we going somewhere? What do I need to plan for?

“I really haven’t decided yet, is there somewhere you want to go?

“Surprise me! Let’s see how well you get to know me in a week.” She giggles again and I can’t help smiling at my phone at the sound and her little bit of flirting.

“Challenge accepted.” I say smiling.

“As far as the wedding, how many people are going to be there?” She groans the question.

“Don’t tell me you are shy.”

“No, just, this is kind of rushed and I suck at being nice to a**holes.  Meeting people I don’t know, judging me at our shotgun wedding is not my idea of a good time. The smaller the better and my brother is not allowed to bring a plus one.”

I huff a laugh under my breath, we at least feel the same about her brother. My family however will have a fit if they cannot attend my wedding.  I am the last male with the name Raines, and they are old-school when it comes to the name thing.  They will want to witness me getting married and bringing a new Mrs. Raines to the family.

“To be honest, my family is kind of big and attendance is expected.” I trail off trying to find a compromise here.

“My family is just me and my brother and then people from the company.  I have a few aunts and uncles, but most of them ghosted after my parents died, so we aren’t close.  And I literally just graduated high school.  That is definitely not what your family wants at their high end name exchange party.”

I close my eyes, trying to think, silently laughing at her description of our wedding. “You’re right, I keep forgetting how young you actually are.  You don’t talk like any eighteen year old I have ever come across. And I’m not really keen on meeting any of the little wannabe frat boys you used to date.”

“Did you just try and act jealous while almost not insulting me?”

“Maybe, do you like that?” What? Why am I trying to flirt now? What is wrong with me? I roll my eyes.

“Maybe.” She fires back. “It’s getting late, I should go, apparently I have a wardrobe to plan for.”

“Just a couple more things while I have your attention. I will get everything planned, just let James know if there are people you really want to attend with you.  And any special requests.  He will get everything to me. And please take him with you whenever you go anywhere, the press can be really bad and you are very new to all of this, I don’t want anything to happen.”

“Okay, if you insist.  I just feel bad, doesn’t he have better things to do than babysit me?”

“I do insist and that’s his whole job description, so no, he has nothing better to do with his time. Alright rapid fire questions, answer quickly, gut reaction only.”


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