Home > Irresistible In Love (The Maverick Billionaires #4)

Irresistible In Love (The Maverick Billionaires #4)
Author: Bella Andre


Chapter One


It had all been lies.

From the moment Evan Collins met Whitney Ryan to the day their marriage ended a month ago, right after Thanksgiving. But that was all over now. He was setting his world to rights, reclaiming his life, moving on.

And he was home again.

Evan stood in the arched living room doorway of Susan and Bob Spencer’s Chicago home. Their house was fragrant with Christmas pine, mulled wine, and joy. The decorations still hung, stockings along the fireplace and brilliant poinsettias brightening the corners of the room, which was big enough to handle all of Harper Newman and Will Franconi’s wedding guests tomorrow.

When the money had started to flow for the Mavericks, the first thing the five friends had done was move the Spencers into a good neighborhood. At the time, this home was a palace compared to the apartment in the dreary, backwater neighborhood they’d grown up in. Now that millions had turned to billions, the Mavericks wanted to buy them a better and bigger house. But Susan and Bob insisted this was their dream home.

Now it would be the dream setting for Harper and Will’s wedding.

No one had noticed Evan’s arrival yet as he hung back, watching his foster family. For the past twenty-five years, they’d been a tight unit, going back to when they were kids out in the schoolyard. None of their childhoods had been innocent, and they’d each had their fair share of scars—both physical and emotional—by the time they left Susan and Bob’s home and headed out to conquer the world.

But only Evan had made the mistake of marrying the wrong woman.

Damn it, he’d already lost enough time over her—including the month he’d just spent in isolation in Europe beating himself up over his mistakes. It was long past time to move forward.

God, he’d missed his family and friends. All the people who were closer to him than blood. Closer than the wife he’d thought loved him.

Harper and Will would be married tomorrow, on New Year’s Eve, and tonight was the cusp of a new life for them. No matter how badly his life had imploded, he would never miss their wedding.

Harper was radiant in a burgundy dress that made everything about her shine—Will’s eyes certainly followed her everywhere she moved. He lit up with each of her smiles, every time she laughed. Harper’s brother, Jeremy, circled like a satellite, his usual enthusiastic, joyful self.

Sebastian Montgomery and his fiancée, Charlie Ballard, flanked her mother, Francine, who was perched in a wing chair. Francine’s lined face beamed with happiness—she and Charlie were a perfect addition to the Mavericks. Sebastian’s hand stroked over Charlie’s red hair, and she leaned into his touch.

Matt Tremont sat beside them, one hand on his son’s back, the other around the waist of his girlfriend, Ari Jones. Evan’s chest tightened at the sight of little Noah, who was almost six now, in Ari’s arms. Evan had planned to have his own kids by now, his hope growing with every passing year for the miracle of a healthy baby. Only to finally discover the horrible truth, a month ago, about why that had never come to be…

He put the brakes on the runaway locomotive of his thoughts. He’d deliberately left his raw, battered emotions behind after his European travels. From here on out, he was moving full steam ahead into a new world unmarked by his past.

Evan Collins had started over more than once in his life.

This time he vowed to get it right.

Thankfully, his friends had already gotten it completely right. Will had found his perfect match in Harper. Evan felt Sebastian’s joy in being with Charlie and was ecstatic that Noah now had a brand-new mother in Ari. Not for one minute would Evan let his own loss tarnish this celebration.

There had been so many moments during the last month when he’d wanted to punch in Will’s number, or Susan’s, or Matt’s, or God help him, call all his friends at once. To bare his soul. To tell them everything. And yet, in answer to all their queries after telling them a month ago that he was divorcing Whitney, the most he’d managed was a single curt text saying he was doing fine.

At least he’d sent them a response. Whitney’s sister, Paige, had reached out to him too.

Whitney just told me everything. I know you must be in shock right now. Call me as soon as you’re up to it.

But he hadn’t gotten to that point, not knowing what to say or how to say it. So he hadn’t replied at all, ignoring not only her texts, but her emails and phone calls as well.

Evan’s gut clenched as he realized Paige was nowhere to be seen tonight, as though she no longer felt welcome now that Evan and her sister had split up. As if she actually believed she was the “hanger-on” Whitney had always called her. He’d never felt that way about Paige. No one had.

At the very least, thank God Whitney hadn’t shown up. She’d been on the invitation they’d received before their marriage imploded, and he knew all too well how much she would relish causing her own special brand of trouble at the wedding.

At last, Daniel turned and spotted him. Evan could easily read the emotions on his friend’s face—shock, concern, maybe even a little anger. In a split second, however, it all disappeared beneath Daniel’s smile of welcome.

The Mavericks always accepted each other unconditionally. They didn’t take crap, but at the same time, they understood when a guy had to work things out on his own. And Evan swore that he had worked out all his emotions about Whitney. Even if it had taken a brutally lonely month spent halfway around the globe.

Separating from the group laughing at one of Bob’s hilarious stories, Daniel headed his way. “Glad you made it for the wedding.” He gave Evan a quick, hard hug.

Despite owning a home improvement retail conglomerate and hosting a DIY TV show, Daniel Spencer was the most muscular of the bunch. Making boatloads of money had never gotten in the way of his outdoor activities, which included personally building a cabin in Lake Tahoe.

“Glad to be here.” Evan glanced at Harper and Will. “I wouldn’t miss the wedding.”

“Some of us had our doubts. But we all know it’s been a rough month.”

Rough was an understatement. Evan’s mission in Europe had been about more than visiting his subsidiaries in London, Berlin, Paris, Rome, and Stockholm. The arms of The Collins Group, his investment corporation, reached out globally, and he believed in hiring local expertise. After all, they knew the markets, the economies, the politics, all of which affected investment decisions, and those people were the best at keeping him fully informed. He’d been determined to work himself out of the dark pit he’d fallen into when he’d learned the truth about the full extent of Whitney’s betrayal. At first, he’d fermented in that dark place, hating Whitney, hating himself for not seeing the truth. But now he refused to keep handing her that power over him, not when he’d just come home to his family again.

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