The Pryce Family, Book 4
The last thing wedding photographer Ginger Maxwell wants to do is face her high school sweetheart, who shattered her world when he disappeared after proposing. But when his powerful family wants her to bring him home or suffer utter financial ruin, she has no choice.
Amnesia left billionaire adventurer Shane Pryce with no memory of the golden beauty who claims to be his fiancée, but her gentle soul pulls at his heart. Together they create new memories to replace the ones that drove him away…but will those be enough when Shane finally remembers everything?
“I’m really sorry.”
“Yeah, me too.” Ginger Maxwell’s hand tightened around her phone as another of her clients canceled. They were going to lose their thirty percent deposit, but unless she could book replacements, she was screwed. It was the fifteenth—or was it sixteenth?—cancellation in the last few days, and that left her calendar blank for months.
Sighing heavily, she sat on her living room couch and buried her face in her hands. Think, think, think. Should she run some kind of promotion or sale? The deposits gave her a little leeway. Some couples might be looking for a last-minute wedding photographer. Anything to fill up her schedule.
The doorbell rang and she thought, Finally, my pizza. She pulled the door open and shoved a limp twenty-dollar bill out with one hand, her eyes and mind on the food. Just as she realized that there was no cardboard box, a cool voice said, “I don’t need your money.”
She looked up into the face of Dane Pryce, older brother of her former fiancé Shane. Her brain sputtered for a moment. Was this some kind of nightmare? Finally she managed to say, “What are you doing here? How do you even know my address?” She’d moved a month ago.
“It’s not like you’re in witness protection.” Annoyance put an edge to his tone. “If you hadn’t refused to talk to my assistant, I wouldn’t have had to come.”
She crossed her arms. “We have nothing to say to each other.” Shane’s parents had never cared much for her. His siblings had been nice enough, but ever since his sister had seen Ginger on a date with another man and called her names, she didn’t think the rest of Shane’s family had much in the way of warm and fuzzy feelings left for her.
Dane’s eyes grew hard. “Trust me. You’re the last person I want to hang out with.” He stepped around her and walked inside. Dressed in a ridiculously overpriced suit, he looked completely out of place in her modest one bedroom apartment.
Notes and memory cards were scattered everywhere on her dining table, and her laptop whirred, processing images. She cringed at the three old pizza boxes under the coffee table and shirts and shorts tossed carelessly over the back of her couch. She really should keep her place cleaner…except she hated cleaning.
“Pack your things and grab your passport,” Dane said, his gaze sweeping over the mess that was her apartment. “There’s a car coming in two hours.”
“For you to go to Thailand. There’s a jet waiting. Once you land, a driver will take you to our family vacation home.”
Her jaw dropped at his high-handedness. “I can’t just fly off to Thailand!”
“Of course you can. I’ll arrange for pizza to be delivered.” Dane gave her a frosty smile. “And you’ll be paid quite well for your time.”
She narrowed her eyes and crossed her arms. “Is somebody getting married in Thailand?”
He ignored her hostility. People were right. Ice water flowed in his veins. “I don’t particularly want you there, but Shane’s doctor recommended we send somebody. The requirement was that it be someone he’d had a positive relationship with for a long time.”
Doctor? She’d told herself she no longer cared about Shane. He’d betrayed her, treating her like he didn’t even know her when she’d gone to him. But her heart stuttered anyway, panic flooding through her body. “Is he all right?”
“He had a head injury. I sent some men, but he doesn’t want to come home, and none of us are in a position to drop everything and go. That leaves you.”
“I have a job,” she said, although that wasn’t technically true. Every one of the clients she’d booked for the next six months had cancelled…
“Is that a fact?”
She scowled as a thought crossed her mind. “Did you get my clients to cancel?” When he merely looked at her, outrage closed around her neck. “How dare you!”
“You’ll make more money from this than those wedding jobs. People have said a lot of things about me, but stingy isn’t one of them.”
“Just asshole and bastard.”
A corner of Dane’s mouth lifted. “And proud of it.”
She glared at him. “I can just wait you out. I have the money and resources.”
“And I have more of both. You aren’t going to win this one.”
As infuriating as that was, he was right. She wouldn’t win this one at all.
“It’s hot and muggy in Thailand,” he said. “Pack accordingly.”
* * * * *
The camera shutter clicked as he took another shot of the name on a heavy ivory card in front of him. The late afternoon light was hitting it just right, and the paper took on a warm undertone.
Shane Lawrence Arthur Pryce.
His full name supposedly, although he didn’t remember. He snapped some more photos. Somebody—he couldn’t recall who—had told him pictures didn’t lie. They captured everything, and if he sifted through them later, he might see something about Shane Lawrence Arthur Pryce, something that might trigger his memory.
Had his parents considered the initials, or had they simply not cared?
His stomach twisted at the thought of his parents, and Shane grimaced. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t recall a thing about them. But his gut always had the same reaction. Maybe they’d been abusive. Had they beaten him? Were they high-functioning alcoholics or cocaine snorters?
Just because his family was rich didn’t mean they were nice or well-adjusted members of society. He glared at the men standing around the huge living room in the beach house in Thailand. They’d claimed Dane had sent them to take Shane home. They didn’t say it outright, but they’d hinted that Dane was worried. Yeah, right.
On Shane’s phone were several contact groups. One of them was labeled Assholes, and Dane was the only one in it.
The men wouldn’t go back without Shane, so he’d started to ignore them. Dane would give up soon enough. Or not. Shane frowned. Did assholes call it quits that easily?
A car rumbled outside, and Shane felt his eyebrows pull together. Who now?
The engine stopped. Doors slammed, and voices came, words indistinguishable from the house. A man’s voice and a woman’s.
Was it his mother?
Shane’s jaw muscles tightened automatically. Dane—apparently his brother—had threatened to sic her on him if he didn’t come home. Damn it. Shane turned his attention back to the camera he’d been holding in his hands and snapped a few more shots of the card. If he kept taking photos, she might let him be. He didn’t want to go back with his mother either. He didn’t want to go with anybody.
The door opened from behind him. He pretended not to hear it, clicking even faster. There was a massive memory on his camera, and the RAW files were uploaded to some online storage site automatically. Of course he had no idea what his login ID was supposed to be, but he felt no need to find out.
He heard the housekeeper Peeraya welcome the guest. “Sawadee-ka,” she said, her voice lilting, and he knew that the greeting had been delivered with a slight bow while her hands were held together in a prayer-like pose. That, he knew. “Let me take your bags, madam.”
Shane heard a woman’s footsteps come through the foyer, even as his stomach clenched harder.
“Shane?” came a soft voice.
He finally swiveled around. It wasn’t his mom, rather the blonde who’d barged into his hotel suite in Johannesburg. She was as gorgeous as he remembered, if a bit thinner. That bothered him, although he wasn’t sure why. The white t-shirt on her hung somewhat loosely, and her cropped denim shorts revealed slim legs. She’d probably been on a diet. All the women around him seemed to be on one, trying to shed every ounce of fat from their bodies. This one seemed to have been successful. He ought to congratulate her.
Her leanness accentuated delicately shaped facial bones. The sky-blue eyes that had looked at him with fury were guarded now, her full, rosy mouth set in an uncertain line. It was as though she was approaching a rabid dog. And he hated her for it. She was the one who’d brought out his temper in South Africa. No need for her to act like she was the victim.
“Ginger, right?” he said, keeping his voice light and mocking.
Her voice washed over him like a silken dream from long ago, allusive and achingly sweet. He didn’t know why she had this effect on him. Ever since he’d lost his memory, he’d relied on his gut feelings, and right now, they were urging him to simultaneously wrap her in his arms and throttle her. Damn contradictions. She’d had the same effect on him in Johannesburg, which had been why he’d kicked her out of the suite. She’d told him they’d been engaged, but he wouldn’t have committed to a woman who gave him that nasty feeling, would he? Women fell to their knees at the sight of him, ready to do anything he wanted. Why wouldn’t he have chosen one of them?
Nothing clears the head like sex.
He blinked. Who’d said that? He couldn’t place the voice, but he’d heard it often enough. “Why are you here?”
“Dane sent me.”
That explained why Dane had the Asshole group all to himself. “You can’t stay.”
“Apparently, I can.”
He got up and deliberately moved closer to her, invading her space. She smelled like orchids and butter cream. He inhaled sharply, his body tightening. He wanted her with an intensity that stole his breath.
If she didn’t want to go, why not keep her and fuck her? See if she was the one who could help him shake off the sense of wrongness every time he’d tried to sleep with somebody in the past year.
He studied her mouth, the way her lower lip was slightly fuller than the upper one, and how rosy and delicious they both looked. They’d be sweet under his own lips…or wrapped around his cock. He didn’t even know if she was any good, given how angelic she looked, but he wanted something so dirty and hot it could incinerate all the annoying things on his mind.
“I don’t let women who aren’t warming my bed stay here.”
She gave him a slight smile. “If you want me gone, find me some comparable lodging. Any five-star hotel will do. If not, I’m staying here and I’m definitely not sharing your bed.”
He snorted. She talked big now, but she’d change her tune soon enough when she realized he was serious. Either way, he was going to have her in his bed that night.
He dialed the travel concierge on his speed dial. Unlike most travel agents who only booked hotels and flights, the one his family used arranged for everything related to family travel.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Pryce. How may I help you?” came a professional voice.
“Need a room at a top hotel near our family vacation home in Thailand immediately.”
“Certainly.” A few moments later, the woman said, “I’m afraid there aren’t any.”
There aren’t any? “I thought May wasn’t the high season.”
“It’s not, but none of the acceptable hotels are showing any availability. The earliest is three weeks from now.”
“But that’s June!”
His hand clenched around the phone. Suddenly all of the resorts and hotels were fully booked from May until June? He didn’t think so. What the hell was Dane playing at? “Did Dane tell you to do this?” he asked point-blank.
“No, sir. I haven’t heard from Mr. Dane Pryce since—”
“Forget it,” Shane managed to maintain a civil tone. That jerk-off had probably reserved every vacant room in the area.
When he hung up, Ginger quirked an eyebrow. “Well?”
She didn’t seem surprised. “Well, guess that’s it.”
“There’s a reason why Dane’s an asshole.”
“Oh, there’s more than just one. And don’t forget to add ‘bastard’ to the list.” She punctuated that statement with a smile. It was so unexpected and sweet it hit him like a punch to the gut.
Before he could recover, she went upstairs, her hips sashaying. He ran his hand over his mouth. It didn’t matter.
He’d have her anyway.
* * * * *
Ginger went upstairs to the bedrooms. Peeraya had put her bags in the guest suite across from the master bedroom suite, which she assumed Shane was using.
If the housekeeper was surprised at Ginger’s request to be in a separate room, she didn’t show it. But then Shane’s family wasn’t known for normal interactions. Ginger had often wondered why his parents kept the property on the beach anyway since the family rarely vacationed together anymore. And she knew for a fact that Shane’s parents had remodeled the master bedroom suite so it now had two connecting bedrooms.
The guest suite was smaller, with a queen-size bed, but decorated with a feminine touch in pink and pale gold. Shane’s sister Vanessa used the suite whenever she was in the area. The vintage four-poster bed was done in wrought iron, and a pale lace canopy hung over the frame. Ginger ran her hands along the pink sheets, enjoying the cool silk.
She perched on the edge of the mattress. Her heart had slowed now that she was away from Shane, and she felt like she could breathe normally again. She couldn’t believe how he could affect her like this even after everything that had happened between them the previous year. When he’d looked at her mouth with that scorching intensity, all the wicked things they used to do had flashed through her mind, and she’d wanted to pull him down for a kiss as her panties grew moist.
But she knew better than to give in to temptation. The Shane she used to know was gone. This new Shane was different…harder and more cynical. Besides, she still had no idea why he’d fled. Everyone around them said he’d “left”, but that wasn’t the right word.
When she’d come home after an out-of-town photo shoot, he’d been gone. Just…gone. No note, nothing. The walk-in closet they shared looked like it had been ransacked; piles of clothes were on the floor, and some of the dresses and jackets were hanging lopsided. His dressers had been in the same condition, and the bathroom had been missing all of Shane’s things.
She’d been so worried and concerned. But no matter how many emails and texts she’d sent, he never responded. She’d called him numerous times, but they’d all gone to his voicemail. Eventually she’d needed to talk to him, and it was his older brother Mark who’d told her Shane was in South Africa taking nature photos.
“Is he in a jungle or something?” she’d asked.
“What do you mean?”
“He isn’t responding to my emails or texts.”
“Huh.” Mark shifted his weight. “Well. I don’t know. I heard from him not too long ago.” He cleared his throat. “It sounded like he’s a little busy. I’m sure he’ll call you soon.”
Sure. If Mark had believed that, he wouldn’t have looked at her with such discomfort. She didn’t think he knew exactly what was going on with Shane, but he knew something was up. And the worst part of it was she couldn’t just wait until Shane worked out whatever problem he’d had.
When she’d flown to Johannesburg to see him, she’d found him with another woman. A tall, gorgeous blonde who looked like she should be on the cover of a fashion magazine. Ginger had been paralyzed, feeling by comparison like a drab mouse in her comfortable travel t-shirt and Capri pants. She’d been so stunned she hadn’t even been able to tell him the reason why she’d traveled all that distance to track him down, even as he pushed her out of the suite.
It had taken her over a month to bring herself back home, and more months before she’d started to feel normal again. She wasn’t going to let Shane shake her now. All she had to do was drag him home. The time for reconciliations was long past. She was never going to leave herself vulnerable again.
“This was my favorite book in the Pryce series so far, and I read it in one night. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again in this review…there is something different and special with Nadia Lee’s Billionaires in Love series and Pryce Family series.” — Lisa McGuire
“Family drama that only billionaires can afford to have, family suspense with gut feelings and sizzling chemistry is by the truckload in The Billionaire’s Forgotten Fiancée. I may have said this before, no one writes updated ‘Dallas and Dynasty’ drama rolled into one than Nadia Lee. This is a hit.” — PW Reader
“Nadia Lee is a brilliant writer who’s works keep me captivated and intrigued the entire time. I love the Pryce family series. So far there hasn’t been one single complaint; nothing but satisfaction.” — Sherry Millitzer