Home > The Billionaire's Final Stand (Billionaire Bachelors #7)

The Billionaire's Final Stand (Billionaire Bachelors #7)
Author: Melody Anne

Prologue

“I can’t believe how the time has passed. It seems like just yesterday I was sitting in my empty house, worried I’d never have grandkids. Now, not only do I have a brood of them climbing the walls, but also several great-nieces and nephews. I can’t imagine life getting much better than this.”

“You won’t hear any arguments from me. Before I decided to move the family back home, we were falling apart. Look at me now. I’m a grandfather, and our life is how it should be. I’ll miss my Amelia until the day I die, but I finally feel like it’s okay to let go of the sorrow that’s been present since her death. What helps the most is having my children close to home, and those grandkids of mine have brought joy to my life I never thought possible again,” George replied to his twin brother, Joseph.

The two men flew down the interstate, driving with the top down, enjoying a rare warm evening in the normally cool city of Seattle. They acted more like teenage boys, than men in their sixties, as their laughter was quickly carried away on the wind, deep into the sparkling sky.

“I thought Katherine told you to get rid of this deathtrap several months ago,” George remarked.

“She did, so you’d better not tell her what we’ve been up to. A little wind in our hair and bugs in our teeth rejuvenate these old bodies far more than those stinking spas she drags me to. What she doesn’t know can’t hurt her – or me.” Joseph laughed at his own joke. It didn’t take long for George to join him.

Knowing he was doing something a little dangerous felt good. His doctor told him he had to cut back on salt. His wife said he needed to get more exercise. He was tired of doing everything that was healthy and good for him. He didn’t see anything wrong in seeking adventure once in a while. When he felt a craving for an adrenaline rush, it was either stay home and go crazy, or pull the convertible out of the garage.

“Only one more kid to marry off. What are we going to do once we take care of Austin?” George asked.

“I’d say you’re looking at getting married, yourself,” Joseph quickly replied.

“Don’t you even try your matchmaking on me, Joseph Anderson. We’re a team. We don’t plot against each other,” George said in a huff. Joseph laughed at the sour expression on his brother’s face.

“Ah, don’t worry about it, George. I wouldn’t think of doing that,” he finally said, though he made sure to cross his toes. He knew something was going on between George and Esther, but he hadn’t been able to catch the two of them yet – just give him time…

“I know we don’t talk about it, George, but since your heart attack, I’ve felt my mortality a little more with each passing day,” Joseph said, his voice growing quiet, barely audible above the screaming wind whipping through the car.

“I was scared, Joseph. More scared than I let anyone know. I wasn’t worried about dying. I’ve lived a good life. I was worried about my family. They’ve had enough loss with losing their mother. They don’t need to go through it again,” George said, his own voice low.

“Maybe I should sell this car, though I love it. I don’t want to admit we’re aging, but growing old does have its advantages. I get to be a grandfather, which is better than I ever imagined it being, plus I get to watch my wife grow more beautiful with each passing day. I have too much to be grateful for to risk throwing it away.”

“Well then, brother, I’m sure glad we’ve gotten one last ride in,” George said with laughter.

As they approached their exit, Joseph reluctantly slowed down and departed the freeway. The wind from their hundred-mile-an-hour ride decreased as they slowed to thirty and turned a corner. Neither of them was ready for the night to end, but Katherine would be home soon, and they had to get the car parked and hurry inside, or they’d be busted.

“There was definitely something going on between Austin and Kinsey last year, but nothing came from it. I’ve watched them since then, and there are certainly sparks flying. He’s been chasing her, though trying to be cool about it, and she’s running as if the hounds of hell are nipping at her heels. I’ve also noticed some simmering looks she’s shot his way when she thinks no one is paying attention. I think it’s time to push the two of them together. I know it’s only a matter of time before they can’t resist the temptation.”

“What do you have in mind?” George eagerly asked.

“Well-” Joseph began.

“What the-” George cried out.

Joseph turned his head in George’s direction, just in time for his heart to jump into his throat as bright lights bore down on them. He didn’t even have time to blink before a full-size truck crashed into the side of their vehicle, sending the car flying through the air.

Joseph looked at his brother for one endless, terrifying second, time standing still as they floated high above the ground.

“I’m sorry…” Joseph whispered, not knowing if the words left his throat, let alone registered to George.

Their car came hurtling to the ground with a sickening crunch. Glass shattered as metal twisted in on itself, making the convertible unrecognizable. The only movement was one wheel as it spun in circles on the mangled wreck of a car.

For a brief second silence reigned in the busy city of Seattle.

House lights began flickering on as people rushed from their homes to investigate the noise. Several brave citizens rushed forward to see if there was any hope for the people in the car.

Neither Joseph, nor George, stirred as sirens broke the eerie silence of the dark night. Still no movement when the ambulance arrived, paramedics struggling through the twisted remains of the vehicle as they attempted to get to the two men. They were shaking their heads as they began mouth-to-mouth and chest compressions. It didn’t look good…

Chapter One

One Year Ago

“You’re radiant. I’m incredibly grateful for persistent reporting, an especially for snow storms in Alaska because right now I’m the luckiest man in this room,” Max told Cassie as he suddenly dipped her low to the ground, before lifting her back up, bringing her body close to his.

“You make me tremble,” Cassie sighed, her eyes devouring him.

“I want to drag you out of here right now,” he growled while his hand drifted down her satin wedding gown and gripped her hip, pulling her tight against him.

“I’m not stopping you,” she purred, a seductive smile on her face.

Max’s eyes rounded as her words sunk in and he realized she was giving him permission to haul her away. He stopped dancing and grabbed her hand, prepared to cart her to the nearest room.

“You may not be stopping him, but I am. Do you know how many hours I’ve spent planning the perfect wedding for you? Joseph and I have worked night and day, and there’s no flippin’ way you’re sneaking off,” Kinsey said in a stern voice. The smile she was trying to hide was showing though, taking any bite out of the words.

“I’ll make it up to you, Kins,” Cassie pleaded with her.

“No way. Don’t you dare give me those doe in the headlight eyes. I’ve known you too many years for that to work. We have a cake to cut, toasts to make, and a bouquet to throw,” Kinsey insisted.

“Fine, but when you’re trying to sneak off with some hunk of a man, I promise you that I’ll be there to run interference,” Cassie threatened.

“Don’t worry, I can’t see that happening in the near future. I think I’m safe.”

“Yeah, you never know…”

“Hey, trust me. I really want a niece, but you have plenty of baby-making time on your month long honeymoon. I can’t believe how spoiled you are. I really can’t believe your job is willing to wait that long for you,” Kinsey pouted.

“I guess I’m just worth the wait,” Cassie said with a chuckle.

“You are, Cass. You really are,” Kinsey said, all joking aside.

“Thanks for making this day perfect, Kins. You know I love you to death,” Cass said, no longer pouting about not getting to run off with her husband.

“I love you, too. Let’s go cut the cake before you make me cry and ruin this expertly applied makeup,” Kinsey said.

“Fine, but you owe me. You owe me big time,” Cassie pouted as she followed her best friend.

The night flew by in a whirl of dancing, laughing, eating, and visiting. The Anderson family certainly knew how to throw a huge event. Yes, Kinsey had spent hours with Joseph planning, but she knew he was really the one in control.

She’d insisted on certain things for the wedding, those special little touches she knew would matter to Cassie, but for the most part, she’d tried to just stay out of Joseph’s way. The man was a force to be reckoned with. She found it quite funny that the giant of a man liked planning weddings so much. Maybe he’d gone into the wrong business.

“My feet are killing me. I’m thinking right now I should’ve opted for the flats instead of the three inch heels. I just like to pretend I’m taller than I really am, but that always ends up biting me in the butt,” Kinsey said to another bridesmaid as they stood on the edge of the dance floor.

“I know what you mean. I refuse to take them off because, well, look at them. They’re stunning, but I won’t be able to walk for a week. It’s worth it though, or at least that’s what I keep telling myself,” Shelby said.

“How many times have you been hit on tonight?” Kinsey asked with a smile.

“About seven. I think Cassie picked out the, um, how do I say it nicely? Ah, most revealing dresses she could, for her bridesmaids. I keep double checking to make sure everything’s still covered.”

“I know. I don’t remember the dresses being this short or low cut when we tried them on. I think she had them modified,” Kinsey said with a laugh.

“How about you? Any offers to see the historic hotel? Come on, does a pickup line get any cheesier than that?”

“Oh yes, yes it does. One guy came up and asked me if I was going to be in line to catch the wedding bouquet? I thought he was doing a count or something, so I told him I would. You know Cassie would kill me if I wasn’t there. Worse than that, she’d stop the proceedings and have me paged over the loudspeaker. So then he says, Is it just me, or are we destined to be married, as he holds up a garter belt. I don’t know where he got it because Max hasn’t even thrown Kinsey’s yet. I just walked away. Really! What else was I supposed to do?” Kinsey said as she started laughing.

“Oh my gosh. Okay, you win. That’s freaking fantastic,” Shelby said between fits of laughter.

They shared more lines they’d received at various weddings through the years. Kinsey didn’t understand how men ever got dates with some of the things they said.

“Excuse me, but I noticed you looked thirsty,” a man said, interrupting the two women.

Kinsey looked up, her body vibrating as she recognized Austin Anderson. He was gorgeous, melt-in-your-mouth good looking.

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