The sickening feeling when he noticed both the Mexican and the Albanian trailing her wasn't pleasant. Fuck, the naive girl didn't even notice a thing, even ten men following her every move. He had no choice but to brand her his to make sure they knew Mia belonged to him, to protect her. If he hadn't decided to follow her himself this evening, either the Mexican or the Albanian would have gotten her by now. They would've forced Andy out of hiding and killed both brother and sister to shut them up.
Aria's voice came through loud and clear. "Oh, okay, then. I can't wait to see her, though." She giggled.
James chuckled. "Are you in bed?"
"Hmm?" came the reply.
"Daddy won't be home for a couple days. I have business, okay?"
"Oh." She sounded disappointed.
He chuckled. "When I'm home, your Mia will be there with me, all right?"
"I promise," he replied. "Now go to sleep."
"Okay, good night, Daddy."
"Good night, sweetheart," he replied and then hung up.
After putting the cups in the dishwasher, he headed upstairs. His eyes lingered at Mia's door for a brief moment before he finally went into his own bedroom.
He'd just finished showering and getting ready for bed when the phone rang.
"We have a problem," Scott said the moment he picked up.
James sighed. "What now?"
"It's Eric," Scott muttered. "He's fucking crazy."
James laughed as if Eric were never crazy, as were all them Maxwells. "What's he done now?"
"You need to talk to him, James. He's bloody leaving for Japan in a couple days."
"What the fuck for?"
Scott sighed on the other end of the line. "He wants to stop the wedding."
"Shit!" James swore. He'd known Eric was against their old man's wedding to this Japanese woman the whole time, but he didn't think he actually wanted to wreck it completely.
"You have to talk him out of it, James," Scott said. "Eric doesn't listen to me. He'd listen to you, though."
James sighed. "All right, I'll talk to him."
"We can discuss it over lunch tomorrow," Scott added. "I'll text him."
"Sure, thanks." He was about to hang up when Scott stopped him.
"So you found yourself a little rabbit, eh?" The brother chuckled. "I heard she's very pretty."
"Fuck!" James swore again.
Nothing could go past Scott without him noticing. He was as sharp and shrewd as their old man. There was no need to deny the truth.
"Yeah," he said. "She came to me."
Scott laughed. "She came to you? Lucky bastard."
"She came to settle her brother's debt," James said.
"Is it settled yet?"
James smiled. "I'm pretty sure it's a done deal."
Scott must have heard that light, amused tone in James's voice, and he chuckled. "I know exactly what's on offer."
"Fuck off, Scott," James muttered.
Scott ignored the warning and laughed hard out. "Bring her around. I want to meet the woman who makes my brother forget about two million."
"I will, as soon as she signs the contract," James said.
"Five years." There was no need to hide it from Scott. He'd figure it out on his own in a split second. In a way, they had the same taste in woman. Even Eric, who was a fucking nuisance.
James should have seen the signs with Whitney when both Scott and Eric said they couldn't understand why he'd marry the woman because they didn't see anything beautiful about her. They were right, of course, and he had come to realize it a bit too late.
"What if you get sick of her?" Scott voiced his opinion.
James smiled. "I won't," he replied confidently.
"What if she gets sick of you?"
A knot formed in his stomach. "She won't."
"You're a harsh man, James," Scott said. "Good luck."
James frowned. "What for?"
Scott just laughed, like he always did. "Good night, bro. See you tomorrow."
"Good night," James said and then hung up.
For a moment, James stared into space and wondered about Scott's words. Would Mia ever grow sick of him? The thought didn't sit well within him, and he felt sick. Fuck!
* * * * *
When I woke the next morning, it was bright, the sun just rising across the horizon. I turned my head to my right. Instantly, I sucked in a breath. The view before me was indeed spectacular. The city's buildings glittered like golden jewels beneath the glowing orange. I sat up, my eyes feasting on the sight before me with amazement.
"Beautiful." The voice reached me, and I jumped.
I turned my attention to the door and saw the man who had been on my mind the majority of last night.
"James." I voiced the name between my lips, my heart pounding within my chest. And it was so early in the morning, too.
Well, to be honest, it was hard not to be nervous around him, especially with him wearing only a pair of tight jeans and nothing else. His hair was wet, so perhaps he'd just showered.
He came into the room. "I did knock," he said, placing a shirt on the bed. "But you were otherwise occupied." He grinned. "I had to check in on you."
In case the men snuck in and stole me away? I thought. Or I ran away? Then I thought both hypotheses were outlandish because the security was so tight in this building.
I nodded in understanding, very aware of my unpleasant appearance. I knew my hair and face were a mess. Feeling self-conscious, I pulled the blanket closer around me as though to hide myself from him. The fact that I was only wearing the I "heart" LA T-shirt and my undies didn't help my feelings of insecurity, either, especially with him so near.
"I'm making some breakfast and coffee. Would you care to join me?"
Tentatively, I nodded.
James smiled and got up from his spot on the bed. "All right. See you soon, then. Oh, I noticed all your shirts are torn." He nodded to the new shirt on the bed. "It's probably too big for you, but it'll do for today." With that, he left the room.
Alone, I gazed at the shirt on the bed. It was a man's shirt. Mr. James Maxwell's shirt. My heart skipped a beat.
I pulled the duvet off me, jumped out of bed, and headed into the bathroom. Stripping myself naked, I headed into the shower and washed myself good. Once I was done, I got dressed in James's shirt and my only pair of jeans that was still intact and wearable. Indeed, his shirt was way too large for me, the hem almost down to my knees and the sleeves past my hands. To make it more suitable, I rolled up the sleeves and arranged the hem so it sat properly on me. Once done, I headed downstairs.
James had breakfast ready as I hopped onto a barstool. He placed a plate of hot toast with scrambled eggs and crispy bacon in front of me. Beside the plate was a cup of coffee.
"Thanks," I said, eyeing the meal, my mouth watering.