His Reluctant Lover

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