Claudia Burgoa’s Paradise Bay Billionaire Brothers series continues this week with a brand new, slow-burning friends-to-lovers, fake relationship, accidental pregnancy romance, and I have an awesome excerpt for you.
The doorman opens one of the heavy glass doors. When we reach the hostess station, a chirpy teenager greets us. “Welcome to The 9th. Do you have a reservation?”
“Spearman, for two,” I say, hoping Lulu, Aslan’s assistant, came through with my request.
The girl offers her brightest smile as she grabs a couple of menus. “The table is ready for you, Mr. and Mrs. Spearman.”
Atzi frowns, but doesn’t say a word. When we reach the table, I pull out the chair for her and, after she sits, push it in. Then I take my seat right next to her. The hostess hands us our menus and says our server will be out shortly.
Atzi points at the red roses on the table. “Mr. and Mrs. Spearman?”
“They probably thought Aslan was coming. Lulu made the reservations for me.”
She cackles and shakes her head. “The irony.”
I cock a brow. “What am I missing?”
She shakes her head as she pulls out her phone and sets it on the table. I hate that habit, but I understand it. Sometimes her family calls her around this time, and she doesn’t want to miss them. “Nothing. I have an issue, don’t mind me.”
“Why don’t you try me, I could help.”
She releases a nervous laugh. “Nah, it’s something simple. Probably a trip to France will help.”
I’m more confused by the second. “Is Cécile okay?”
“Oh, yeah. She’s totally fine.” She straightens her posture, perking up slightly. “But you know what would help? If she broke an arm or a leg.”
My jaw almost drops. This doesn’t make sense. I reach out and hold her chin between my thumb and my index finger. I study her closely. “Your pupils look fine, but did you hit your head?”
She scrunches her nose and moves away from me. “Yes. No, I didn’t hit anything. I made a mess and I’m trying to figure out how to get out of it.”
“And how does Cécile breaking a bone fit into this?”
“Mis abuelos are coming to SanFran and I’m trying to avoid the visit.”
This woman confuses the fuck out of me. “Sweetheart, you’re not making any sense.”
She winks at me. “You don’t want to know. It’s for the best.”
I stare at the ceiling for a moment. This shouldn’t be my problem, but I hate when she’s stressed out. If she won’t tell me, I’ll try to guess. “Is this so you can go and visit them in Cancun?”
“Good evening.” Our server arrives. “I’m Axel, and I’ll be your server for tonight. Would you like to start with some wine, appetizers, or just order taapas.” The way he drags the a makes Atzi chuckle.
“Wine and tapas sound like a good idea,” she says, looking at me expectantly. I guess she doesn’t have headspace to decide what she wants to eat tonight.
I browse the menu and order a bottle of rosé and tapas to share. When Axel leaves, I turn back to Atzi. “So, you’re trying to score a trip to Cancun?”
“I tried that, but the house is under renovations. I offered to take them to France with me, but they refused. At this point, I would go to the end of the world, but they still want to come to San Francisco.”
“Why are you trying to keep them away?”
She waves a hand. “It’s not important. Let’s talk about you. Why did you choose such a fancy restaurant, Mr. Spearman?”
The suggestive tone makes my entire body react and my dick hardens. I don’t need her husky voice and sassy tone. I take several breaths, trying to compose myself. Once I’m in control, I say, “You’re hiding something from me.”
“You, of all people, don’t want to be involved. You’re welcome.”
“What the fuck, Atzi?” She dares to say, “you’re welcome.” Now I’m concerned. “Tell me what’s happening. Is the company in trouble?”
“Hey, I need to run to the ladies’ room, but can you order me some water too, please?”
I glare at her. “Don’t think I’m going to forget this conversation.”
Axel arrives with a bottle of rosé but leaves because he forgot the glasses. I don’t have the energy to deal with Atzi’s nonsense and this guy who might be either new or tending too many tables.
At that moment, Atzi’s phone rings. I glance to see if it’s important, and when I read Abuelita, I answer immediately. Atzi would hate missing her call.
“Finally, someone answered. Wait, who is this? Is Atzi okay?” she responds.
“Heathcliff Spearman. You must be Mrs. Rivera.”
“Chaparro, es su prometido.” I don’t understand who is the short one, if she’s calling me short or what a prometido is, so I don’t say a word. “It’s nice to finally meet you, Heath. We’ve heard so much about you.”
It’s nice to know that Atzi has been talking about me. “Same here. I heard you’re coming soon. That’s exciting.”
“Can you keep a secret?” she whispers.
“She thinks we’re going to be there in two weeks, but we arrive on Sunday.” She sounds so excited that the earlier conversation with Atzi makes less sense than before.
“Well, Mrs. Rivera, I’ll be happy to help with the surprise,” I offer. “Would you like me to make some hotel reservations? If you give me the information, I’ll pick you up at the airport. It’s my day off.”
“Hotel? No.” She sounds so offended, I want to apologize, but she continues, “We’re almost family, Heath. We want to get to know you better before the wedding, so we’re staying with you.”
“Yes, I know, I know. You two haven’t set up a date yet, but maybe we can talk about it when we’re there. I’m not getting any younger. I want great-grandchildren soon.”
“A date? Great-grandchildren… Okay.” What the fuck is she talking about?
“I hope I can meet your family too,” she says with so much excitement that I’m afraid to break the illusion, because this lady isn’t making any sense. “Atzi talks so much about them. I’m glad she’s going to marry a man with such a loving family.”
“I—” Marrying Atzi?
Atzi arrives at the table and gives me a suspicious look. “Hey, why are you on my phone?”
I glare at her. “It’s your grandmother,” I say with a warning voice.
“Call me Abuelita,” Mrs. Rivera corrects me.
“It’s Abuelita, darling.”
Atzi goes pale.
If I didn’t know better, I would think she’s having a stroke. Her breathing is becoming shallow, and her lips are almost white like the tablecloth.
“What?” she mumbles.
“Yeah, she’s so happy you’re marrying me—a man with a loving family.”
Atzi snatches the phone. “Te hablo luego, Tita. Si, te quiero much.”
I rise from my seat and pull out two hundred-dollar bills and set them on the table. “It’s time to go. Seems like we have a lot to discuss, Pinocchio.” I whisper the last word and tap her nose.