Home > His Reluctant Lover (The Alfieri Saga #3)

His Reluctant Lover (The Alfieri Saga #3)
Author: Elizabeth Lennox

Elizabeth Lennox - The Alfieri Saga #3 - His Reluctant Lover

His Reluctant Lover (The Alfieri Saga #3)
Elizabeth Lennox



Chapter 1

He needed gills. Lungs just weren’t going to cut it in this humidity.

New Orleans might be one of the most beautiful cities he’d ever visited, but Dylan Alfieri was already regretting starting this particular project during the summer months. He should have adjusted his schedule so that it began in January or February.

Dylan rang the doorbell of the elegant mansion, thinking that the house had probably been built before the Civil War. “Good evening, Mr. Alfieri,” a dignified butler said as he opened the door. “Mr. Charding is waiting for you in the parlor.” The cool air from the home encircled Dylan’s body like a gentle, welcoming breeze, made even more refreshing in comparison to the nighttime humidity that never seemed to leave this city.

Dylan almost laughed as the white haired servant bowed slightly, an elegant, old-fashioned gesture that somehow seemed right here in the south. The reference to the parlor also fit. A house built more than two hundred years ago definitely needed a “parlor”.

Dylan was buying up several of the abandoned warehouses that Philip Charding owned. This dinner was simply a social way of concluding the business arrangement. Dylan wished he could avoid these sorts of social niceties. He would much rather be in his office going through the data for his next project, confirming the numbers on his current enterprises or even just sitting in his hotel suite, relaxing with a good, stiff scotch.

But the social niceties must be observed. Soothing any hurt feelings was just as important for future business ventures as having enough cash to get the job accomplished. This project in New Orleans wasn’t going to be one of the largest neighborhoods Alfieri Properties had done, but if he worked this correctly, it could be one of the more profitable projects. At only thirty-five years old, Dylan had created an extremely large empire already but he wasn’t done. Not by a long shot. He specialized in buying up abandoned tracts of land and building new neighborhoods that brought jobs and great living environments to aging cities. He loved to see areas that had once been riddled by crime and gangs turned into thriving communities again. He not only built the homes for families to live in, he also built the stores that would support those neighborhoods. His company worked with the municipal governments to ensure that schools and libraries were also built to support the new communities.

Dylan followed the butler into the large elegant room that obviously needed a great many repairs. Dylan suspected that the house was about two, maybe even three hundred years ago. Despite the obvious wear, he liked the house. It felt lived in and comfortable. Many of his acquaintances considered their homes to be a showcase, and this approach translated into the house feeling like a museum. Not this one. He could feel the vitality of the house, could sense the history and the generations that had grown up here and worn down the wood floors.

Stepping through the door the butler had led him to and was holding open, Dylan looked around at the tall windows and extra high ceilings, impressed with the “bones” of the old-style mansion. “Good evening, Philip,” Dylan said, walking briskly over to the older man who was sitting by the window in one of a group of winged back chairs that had definitely seen better days. “You have a lovely house.”

Philip took Dylan’s hand and chuckled, waving his cigar to indicate Dylan should take a seat in the other chair. “It’s a pain in my ass,” the man replied abruptly. “It’s old and needs about a million dollars in repairs,” he grumbled. “Bourbon?”

“Thank you,” Dylan replied. He actually hated bourbon but he didn’t want to be rude, so he would take the foul stuff and pretend to enjoy it.

Philip laughed again, a sound that was starting to grate on Dylan. “Bring the man a scotch,” Philip said to the butler who was already standing by a liquor table.

Dylan was startled by the older man’s perceptiveness. “How did you know?” Dylan asked, his eyes narrowed as he sat back in the leather chair.

Philip puffed on his cigar, leaning back in the wingback chair with a mischievous look to his old, blue eyes. “I read people, young man,” he explained. “I didn’t used to be this old and cantankerous. In my younger days, I was quite a shark.”

Dylan smiled slightly as he received the glass from the butler. It was true. The man had been feared. Philip had taken over Charding Industries from his father and had grown the business into a respectable empire. Not nearly as large as what Dylan now controlled, but it had been large back in the day. “About the sale,” Dylan started off.

Philip waved his cigar again. “All in due time,” he said, dismissing the subject for the moment. “You’re going to offer ten percent more than discussed earlier today when tonight’s dinner is over.”

Dylan almost laughed at the outrageous assertion, but he was also impressed despite himself. Did the older man have some information that Dylan would need? Or was he just losing his mind? Either was possible, he thought. “Doubtful, but I’m intrigued. Why would I offer you more than the agreed upon amount for the land?”

Philip chuckled and puffed again. “Because I have something even more important than my company,” he said mysteriously.

Dylan’s eyebrows went up. “And that would be…?”

Philip considered his words carefully. “You’re down here buying the Charding warehouses by the river.”

Dylan waved his glass of scotch, neither confirming nor denying the statement.

“But buying me out will only give you half of what you need.”

“What’s the other half?” Dylan already knew what he considered the other half, but he wasn’t going to give away his strategy.

“You need the land on both sides of the river. Wouldn’t do to have lovely homes looking out onto the mighty Mississippi, only to see empty warehouses on the other side. And you can only get that land by buying up one of three companies. Either Inus Corporation, which is probably too expensive for you right now, or Demisis, which isn’t for sale nor will it ever be. Acton’s land might be easier for you to acquire, but it is probably too small.”

Dylan intended to acquire all three of those companies, but there was no need to tell this man that. “Which do you think will suit my purposes the best?” he asked.

Philip’s eyes narrowed. “You probably need all three,” he said, knowing the answer. “But you can’t get them. You won’t even get one of them without my help.”

Dylan almost laughed out loud but held back, not wanting to offend this man. That in itself was unusual – he generally didn’t care who he offended. Business was business. Feelings had no place in the work place.

“What can you offer me to help me achieve the goals you think I’ve set for myself?” He didn’t mention that he was already in discussions with Demisis for the land on the other side of the river. No need to knock the man down when he felt he was on a roll.

There was a knock on the door and Dylan saw the moment of triumph in the older man’s eyes. “This is what I can give you,” he said in a lower voice. “Come in, Georgette!” the man called out.

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