The Billionaire Mentor | Verso.ink

The Billionaire Mentor

A Clean Romance , Book Four of "The Billionaires of Gramercy" Series

By Deb Goodman

3
~ 8
225
Chapter One
A wedding reception at the castle Bellynanny.

Ryker Montgomery fiddled with the buttons on his shirt sleeves, thinking of all the things he’d rather be doing than getting dressed up. Right then, preparing to attend a wedding was on the same level of excitement as shopping for knitting needles or attending his dentist’s dog’s funeral.

His cousin, Owen, was nearby to commiserate with. If Ryker had his choice, he would spend the evening hanging out in Owen’s guest suite. But the brother of Owen’s wife, Natasha, was getting married, and Ryker had been asked to check out the venue’s offerings.

“The best women are Gramercy women, Ryker,” Owen said in the doorway of the suite, before bending to kiss Natasha’s temple. “And this reception will give you access to lots of them.”

“Mmm hmm.” Natasha nodded and traced her fingers along Owen’s face. “I guarantee there will be at least a dozen Gramercy ladies for you to get to know there. And he’s right. They are the best.”

“I snagged the cream of the crop.” Owen glanced at Natasha and smiled. “But there’s something in the air here. Guys can’t resist Gramercy women.”

“I’ve been all over the world.” Ryker sighed and stood. He walked to the closet. “As fantastic as Natasha is”—he offered her a smile— “the chances of two Montgomery men finding their wives in this small town are slim to none.”

Natasha walked down the hall as Ryker found the navy blue tie he’d unpacked a couple of days before. He heard her start to sing a 1960s beach hit, but she changed the tune slightly.

“I wish they all could be Gramercy Girls.”

He laughed at the way she held out guuurls.

Owen had been after Ryker to settle down ever since he’d found Natasha. It had become something the whole family had started saying: Settle down, Ryker. Come on, do it. It’s fun. You’d like it.

Ryker hadn’t had the heart to tell him—or anyone else in the family—that the woman he’d been dating for a few months, Morgan, just broke up with him.

It wasn’t a surprise and Ryker had known for a while they weren’t a good fit, but it had still hurt, especially because Morgan had ended things via text. Right after he’d made a personal promise to his long-time next-door neighbor and godmother, Sandie.

Two hours later, after leaving Owen’s house, Ryker sipped from his glass in the grand ballroom of Bellynanny, the Irish castle replica in the middle of downtown Gramercy, Utah. A spiced citrus scent wafted through the air, and the light from candlesticks threw shadows across the walls of the vaulted room.

The ceremony had been short, and the reception wasn’t too objectionable, as far as receptions go. He took another long drink from his glass and scanned the room again, making mental notes about what he could tell Sandie. The location would be big enough for the group events she’d described. They could bring in comfortable seating. And the food from the catering company the bride and groom had hired tasted good. He could offer Sandie that information as well.

It was the other information, the truth about his couple status, that he wasn’t sure how to tell Sandie about. He’d tell her soon. He had no other choice.

A mix of guilt and sadness swiftly settled in his chest. He had to tell her. But he couldn’t stand the thought of disappointing her like that. She’d been so excited he’d been going out with someone longer than a few dates.

Ryker the screwup. At it again.

A few couples slowly danced to the string quartet, but the candlelit room mostly contained small clusters of people talking, snacking, and laughing. The large windows that flanked either side of the ballroom showcased calmly falling snow. And the bride and groom, Felix and Kendall Campos, were making the rounds amongst the guests, hugging and speaking with everyone.

“Hiding from someone?” a woman standing next to him asked. She had her arms crossed around her middle and was facing the center of the ballroom, like he was. She continued to stare out into the crowd, a smug smile on her face.

“Why do you ask that?” Ryker felt a jolt of surprise at the unfamiliar woman speaking to him.

“Well, for one thing, you’ve been standing here by yourself most of the night.” She shook her head and adjusted the jeweled pin in her hair. “Not that I’ve been watching you all night.” She cleared her throat, scanning the room instead of meeting his gaze. “But when a handsome gentleman such as yourself is at a wedding reception alone, he needs to stay on guard for unsavory individuals.”

“Unsavory?”

“You really should be more prepared.” She arched an eyebrow and smiled but wouldn’t turn to face him. “There are many single women here tonight.”

Was she one of these “unsavory” single women, too? Her thick, auburn hair hung in waves past her shoulders, part of it swept up with a shiny barrette on the side. She didn’t seem unsavory.

“Well, since you have superior powers of observation,” he said, “you should know I’m here undercover. I’m a lot more prepared than I look.”

Her bottom lip dropped open slightly before she recovered. “I see. And what would your alias be? It wouldn’t be a problem to tell me that, would it?”

Ryker itched to see all of her face. He quite liked the half of it he could see.

“My alias is Ryker Montgomery.” He couldn’t take it anymore. He stepped in front of her and grinned, sticking his hand out to shake hers.

The other half of her face was as attractive as the first. Her delicate features, sprinkling of freckles, and large, blue eyes drew him in. She was wearing a snugly fitting navy lace dress that reached the floor.

She slid her hand into his and a warmth spread through his fingers and up his arm. “Mine’s June Banks.” She lifted her shoulder in a slight shrug. “You on the groom’s side or the bride’s side?”

He couldn’t tell if she was shy or only pretending to be. “I’m here under the guise of being Owen’s cousin.”

June’s eyebrows shot up and she smoothed the back of her hair. “Owen Montgomery. Right. It all makes sense now.”

“Well, it would. If it were true. But like I said, I’m undercover, so that really isn’t why I’m here.”

“Because it’s not your side of the family who’s having this wedding. It’s Felix who got married today. So that doesn’t make any sense at all come to think of it.” Her eyes narrowed and she appraised him closely. “Why are you here?”

“That’s classified information.” He set his empty glass on a tray held by a passing waiter. “But I can’t help wondering why you’re here.”

“The woman whose identity I’m assuming for the evening, June”—she placed a hand on her chest—“has known the Campos family forever. So, naturally, I had to come.”

“Naturally.” Ryker nodded. He was enjoying this back-and-forth thing with a fun and beautiful woman who smelled like newly laundered cotton. “If your alias has known the Camposes a long time, does that mean she’s lived here in Gramercy awhile?”

“I shouldn’t divulge this, Mr. Montgomery.” She paused, her gaze darting around the room in a teasing display of uncertainty. “But yes. June Banks was born and raised right here in sleepy little Gramercy. And your alias’s cousin, Dr. Montgomery, even treated her a few months ago for a broken finger in the Overton County Hospital E.R.” She waved a healthy looking pinky.

“What happened to your finger?”

“I—” She squeezed her eyes shut for a moment before looking at him again. “She was a klutz and wasn’t paying attention to where she was going. She fell and landed on it. It wasn’t pretty. But she’s good as new now.”

“That’s a relief that your finger’s healed up. I love that we—I mean our aliases—have a connection, then.”

Her giggle drew him to her even more.

Maybe Owen had been right. Maybe there was something to be said about the bewitching properties of Gramercy women after all.

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About Deb Goodman