Five Dates with the Billionaire - Alyssa J. Montgomery

Chapter One

Connor’s attention jumped to the heart monitor the second his grandmother’s eyes fluttered closed.

The regular sinus rhythm on the screen assured him all was well and he released a breath; she was simply resting.

It’d been a long night at London Bridge Hospital with a lot of medical staff buzzing in and out of the room and countless tests being conducted.

‘You look rumpled, dear.’

Shifting his attention away from the screen he saw a weary half-smile on Gran’s face. ‘I thought you were dozing off.’

She shook her head. ‘You’re definitely in need of a shave.’

‘You don’t look so hot yourself,’ he teased, but she did look unnaturally pale.

She reached out her hand and Connor held it. Swallowing down on the constriction in his throat he realised that this woman, who’d always been a powerhouse of strength and vitality, was as vulnerable as everyone else to the problems of ageing.

‘Make certain you don’t work too hard, Connor.’

‘I don’t need to work as hard as you did. The company’s in a great position.’ His grandparents had taken the Stewart family’s small import company and expanded it into the world-renowned Stewart Luxe Hotels and Cruise Liners. After his grandfather, Archibald, had a major stroke, his grandmother had taken over as CEO. Under her guidance, the UK-based business expanded into the USA. She’d made it a Fortune 500 company, but she’d also worked damned long days in the process.

Five years ago she’d handed the reins to Connor, but hadn’t retired completely. At eighty years old, she was still a very sharp and energetic member of the Board of Directors.

Obviously, she needed to slow down.

‘Good morning.’ The cardiac specialist, Dr Forrester, entered the private room.

‘Good morning, doctor. Please don’t beat around the bush.’ Violet’s tone was stoic, but Connor felt a slight tremble of her fingers. ‘Tell me the news.’

The specialist took the chart at the end of the bed and scanned it. ‘All the test results are back.’

Connor squeezed his grandmother’s hand and tried to read the doctor’s face.

Let it be good news.

‘You’ve had angina, not a heart attack. However, this is a fortunate warning and gives us the chance to act.’

Connor felt his world tilt with uncertainty. ‘What needs to be done?’

‘One of the arteries is almost completely blocked. It’ll require a surgical procedure to insert a stent to open it up.’

‘I see,’ Violet ventured a little shakily after the doctor finished detailing the procedure.

‘How soon does this need to happen?’ Connor asked.

‘As soon as possible. If left untreated, this condition can lead to either a heart attack or stroke.’

Hell. A heart attack was bad enough but remembering what his grandfather had been through, the prospect of a stroke was worse. ‘How soon can you perform the procedure?’

‘Tomorrow. I’ll have you added to my list, Mrs Stewart.’

Violet’s eyes widened. ‘So quickly?’

‘Thank you, doctor.’ Tomorrow was great as far as Connor was concerned.

Violet drew herself up against the pillows. ‘No. Not tomorrow.’

‘Gran!’ What the devil…? ‘Why not?’

‘There’s something I need to arrange first.’

‘Nothing that’s as important as this,’ Connor declared.

A light appeared in his grandmother’s blue eyes—one Connor recognised as sheer stubborn determination. Her pallid cheeks became tinged with colour. ‘That’s my decision to make.’

Connor had inherited the same stubborn determination and wielded it with ruthless efficiency in his position as CEO at Stewart Corporation. When armed with facts and convinced his points were sound, there’d never been an argument he couldn’t win in the boardroom—no deal he couldn’t negotiate to everyone’s satisfaction.

That was the boardroom.

This was his grandmother.

‘Whatever it is, I can take care of it for you,’ he insisted with growing concern.

‘That’s my intention, but it can’t be done in one day.’

What the hell is so important?

‘You need to understand that this condition is like a ticking bomb,’ the doctor emphasised firmly. ‘It’s a race against the inevitable.’

‘I understand, doctor, and I promise I’ll have the procedure as soon as I can.’

Damn it all! She’ll have it tomorrow.

‘Doctor, would you give us a few moments, please?’ Connor asked.

‘Certainly.’ After a nod to Connor, Dr Forrester replaced the clipboard at the end of the bed. ‘If you have any questions let me know, but I want to see your name on my list tomorrow, Mrs Stewart.’

The second the door closed behind the cardiologist, Connor turned to his grandmother. ‘Tell me what it is you need and I’ll get right on it. Don’t stall on this, Gran.’

She sent him a tremulous smile. ‘This trip to the hospital has made me aware of my mortality.’

‘You’re not dying