When her employer offers the no-nonsense Shannon Nadjiwon the position of chauffeuring Séamus Daugherty, she jumps at the chance. To work for one of Toronto’s most powerful families means she can make her biggest dream of owning a fleet of limos come true, something her female relations tooling away at her Ojibway community want badly for her, and she won’t let them down.
His reckless need for speed cost Séamus Daugherty his license. If he doesn’t marry, as demanded by his overbearing father, he will lose not only his lucrative job with the family business—the only positive aspect in Séamus’ gilded cage life—but everything Daugherty.
The unpretentious and gorgeous Shannon will make the perfect bride, and Séamus is ready to strike a deal with her, one that will ensure he keeps everything he holds dear if she puts a wedding ring on her finger. However, they face three big obstacles: His family, her family, and a marriage neither truly wants, leaving both wondering if the sizzling sexual chemistry and cozy rapport they share is enough to create a happily ever after.
The letter stating Séamus’ demerit point interview had met with a red light lay open on Father’s credenza desk. Seated in the high-back chair was the very man who’d failed to pull a few strings with the judge for Séamus’ right to keep driving his three European sports cars and SUV. That came as no big surprise. Father only greased the right palm for his firstborn, his pride and joy—Cillian.
For the impending summer, Séamus’ most precious possessions would collect dust in the garage.
“It’s for your own good.” Father removed his reading glasses. He rubbed his brow, once a rich shade of red, now fading to gray. “I’d rather see you alive than dead.”
“Have I ever been in an accident?” Séamus helped himself to the coffee one of the servants had earlier set on the small table between the two chairs before he’d been called to the study.
“No. However, you can only try your luck at the well for so long before the water runs out.”
“Nice analogy.” Séamus sipped the strong brew served the way Father liked his joe.
The double doors drew open. Normally, Father cast a dismissive look to anyone who dared to interrupt. Instead, his green eyes the shade of the rolling hills straight out of Ireland lit up. That meant the intruder was Cillian. Nobody else within the walls of Daugherty Manor had the balls to displease the patriarch.
“Called to Father’s carpet again, hmm?” Cillian poured the steaming brew from the sterling silver coffee set. He added a lump of sugar and a dash of milk.
Séamus glanced down at the Persian rug, Great-great-great-grandfather’s first lavish purchase after making Daugherty Enterprises a success. “I think we’re both a little old to receive a tongue-lashing. We’re having a discussion.”
Cillian, the striking image of Father from his bright-red hair to his stocky build, sank into the opposite chair. “Did you tell him about the driver?”
Naturally, the two had conferred before informing Séamus about their plan. Maybe coming up five years short of his elder brother was the reason why the duo enjoyed planning his life behind his back. He really had to get his own place. Perhaps downtown. Enough with adhering to tradition and living as a family like a nighttime soap opera on TV.
“I was just about to.” Father cast his stern stare on Séamus. “You can use the Audi. Your driver will be here at eight-thirty sharp to retrieve you for the office.”
“My driver? The Audi? I see.” Séamus set his cup and saucer on his lap. “What’s wrong with using one of my cars? It’s spring. You know this is when I like to take one of them out.”
“The Audi.” Father’s tone matched the slant of his eyes and downward turn of his thin lips.
There was no point in arguing. Mom was right about living in a gilded cage. Séamus stood and straightened his suit jacket. “Is there anything else?”
“Yes, but we can discuss it over dinner. It’ll only be your mother and me.”
“Taking your wife out for some five-star dining?” Séamus looked to his brother.
Cillian raised the fine china to his lips and glanced up under his light-brown lashes. “You know Friday night is date night for us.” He sipped.
A date decided by Cillian’s wife, of course.
“Then I’ll see you at the office.” Séamus strode from the study straight into the grand entryway.
He’d find Mom in the sunroom where she liked to take her morning meal amongst the white wicker furniture, plentiful plants, and airy setting that overlooked one of the many flower gardens out back.
When he entered, Mom peeked up from her tablet. The remnants of eggs, toast, and fruit she hadn’t finished remained on her plate.
“I’m sorry.” Pity filled her emerald eyes.
“Sorry about what?” Séamus plucked a napkin from the setting and sat on the white cushion of the wicker chair.
“About his never-ending insistence on how you should live your life.” The sun shone down on Mom’s dark-brown hair with natural red highlights. Not a wrinkle was found on her heart-shaped face, thanks to the plastic surgeon who administered her Botox treatments.
A pity Mom believed she dare not age amongst their peerage. But that was the cost of being part of high society. “I lost my license. It’s only proper they took it away. One too many speeding tickets. The judge warned me—”
“Séamus…” She lifted the tiny silver bell beside her and rang.
The maid breezed into the sunroom. “Will that be all, Mrs. Daugherty?”
“Please get some breakfast for—”
“You don’t have to, Ellen. Coffee will suffice.” Séamus tilted his head up at the maid who’d been with the family since his birth. “Other than that, I’m good to go.”
“As you wish, Mr. Daugherty.” Ellen poured his coffee. She cast him a sassy smirk. Her teasing smile just as quickly vanished.
Heaven forbid Father caught the help behaving as nothing more than robots. “Thank you.” Séamus couldn’t resist and patted Ellen’s hand before she disappeared, holding Mom’s plate, back into the kitchen.
“I understand why you speed. I understand why you skydive. Why you put your life at—”
“Mom, you say this every time Father’s displeased. Don’t worry about it. He is who he is.” Séamus made sure the tension in his stomach didn’t spill over into his reply.
“I know.” She reached for her pack of cigarettes—one thing Father couldn’t take from her. “I wanted to prepare you for the discussion over dinner tonight.”
“Father did mention there’s something else.” Séamus rolled his foot in a circular motion. The stretching of his ankle muscle also helped relieve the knots in his shoulders.
“He’s going to discuss marriage.” Mom set aside her lighter and blew the smoke from her mouth.
Something resembling a knuckle hit Séamus’ gut. “My marriage?” He set his hand on his chest. He was only twenty-nine.