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Mixed Up with the Millionaire Episode 2

Everett﹒

I snagged my suit jacket off the back of my chair and laid it over my arm before exiting my office. It was too hot and too Friday to put it on for the short distance to my car. At the elevator, I punched the button hoping to escape before my father or uncle waylaid me.

As if I willed it into existence, Parker Carson straddled the threshold of his office. “Everett, a moment.”

Sighing, I shook out my jacket and slid into it as I entered the CEO’s corner accommodations, fifteen hundred square feet of over-the-top luxury. Curated art pieces adorned the proper surfaces. A teak conference table with ten black leather chairs dominated one half of the office. A desk and credenza, the other half.

“Shut the door,” the 63-year-old version of myself said as he landed in his thousand-dollar ergonomic chair. He was six foot, still trim, and his hair stylist was finally letting some distinguished gray peek through the thick ebony waves.

With deliberate ease, I did as he ordered. I left the tantrum slams to my uncle on my mom’s side where the flare for the dramatics ran rampant. Dad and I employed the stoic staring game, as we did now. I waited. He dragged it out. Both of us playing chicken with our silence.

However, if I wanted to make it home for a shower before I met Piper at the rehearsal dinner, I was going to have to flinch first. “You wanted to see me?”

“Your mother expects you at the house this weekend.”

I shook my head. “Not going to happen. I have plans.”

He rubbed his forehead, the creases shifting under his fingers. “Break them, or she’s going to make both our lives miserable.”

We may have had opposing ideologies on just about everything, but in the management of Carrie Cox Carson, we were united. Meaning we did as little as possible to set her off. That was more of a chore for my dad now. I only had to deal with her during family dinners, holidays, and quarterly board meetings. Dad, the schmuck, dealt with her all the time.

“Correction,” I stated, “CeCe is going make your life miserable. I won’t be there.”

He twisted in his chair, the atmosphere thickening. If anyone walked in they’d think my father was admiring the impressive view of downtown Dallas out of his floor-to-ceiling windows. They’d be wrong. His signature move when he didn’t approve of one of my decisions was to stare at a photo on his credenza. The only personal object he allowed in his space.

Lifting a shaky hand, which I wasn’t sure was real or fabricated, he rubbed his chin. “She’s invited the Wyatts for the weekend.”

A bit back an audible sigh. The Wyatts were only second to my mother and older sister of people I did my best to avoid. For six months, CeCe had been maneuvering Melody, the only child of Cathy and Will Wyatt, into my orbit, hoping to spark some Marie Kondo joy between us.

“That ceased to be my problem,” I glanced at the Phillipe Patek watch, my most prized possession. “Two minutes ago.”

“She’ll send Darcy to find you.”

My sister and Melody were two pearls in a pod. Stuck up, haughty, and vacuous to the point of mind-numbing annoyance. “Send her. She won’t find me.”

No one, and I meant no one, in the family knew of my connection to the wedding. I kept ECI, my side investment business, separate from the real estate development machine of Carson Foundation. As long as it never interfered with my duties as VP of Operations, no one hassled me about my questionable practices.

Like how I tied up assets I shouldn’t have and invaded space where I wasn’t welcome. Stalked websites and YouTube videos for nanosecond glimpses, all to maintain fragile links. A fluttering sensation winged through my chest before dropping lower to my groin. I’d planned to be in my Range Rover barreling north on I-35 before I let my mind go there.

“I’m running late,” I said backtracking out of Dad’s office.

As if pulled from a dream, and he probably was, he attempted one more volley. “At least make an appearance tonight. You’d be in and out in a flash.”

Bullshit. We both knew if I showed tonight they’d all pester me until I agreed to come again on Saturday. Then wash, rinse, and repeat for Sunday.

“Not going to happen,” I said, twisting the doorknob.

“Sunday. Brunch.” Dad negotiated with the best of them. “The Wyatts always leave right after.”

While I wasn’t certain what Sunday would bring, I was leaving myself open in case anything transpired after the wedding.

“Can’t.”

“Come on,” he said loosening the knot of his tie as if CeCe had a hold of it, choking the life out of him. “You’ve got to give me something to go back with.”

“Tell Mom I send my regrets. Perhaps had she asked me or given notice I could’ve made it work.” I walked out on the tiny lie.

As I punched the elevator call button again, my dad caught up with me. “What’s so important you’ll risk your mom’s wrath and leave work early?”

It was five fucking o’clock.

But Parker Carson was a hard ass, giving little leeway. Had to be to run the top real estate development company in the city and go head-to-head with CeCe. Disappointment flared in his dark eyes before they turned hard. The message clear: I was not acting as a proper Carson heir, the one who would one day eventually succeed my father and take over the family dynasty.

Another signature move. One that usually did the trick.

But even as guilt eroded my insides, no Carson obligation was going to fuck up this weekend for me. By a cruel twist of fate, I would have to take over the foundation one day, and that day was rapidly approaching. Before I accepted the mantle of my family legacy, I was doing something for myself.

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I write contemporary romance and romantic suspense why-choose stories.

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