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Breathless In Love (The Maverick Billionaires #1)(3)

By´╝ÜBella Andre & Jennifer Skully

Jeremy opened his notebook, flipping through, then held up a picture pasted to a page. “James Bond. Aston Martin DB5. I love James Bond.”

“Sorry, buddy, I don’t have that one here.” Will kept that car at home because the Aston Martin was great on the rural roads of Portola Valley, like driving through the French countryside of a Bond movie.

The boy’s features drooped. But not for long. “That’s okay, Will. I love the Challenger, too.”

Smiling at Jeremy’s eagerness, Will opened a metal box on the hangar wall and punched in the security code. When the red light flashed to green, he tapped another button for the roll-up door. Inside, two rows of overhead lights popped on one after another, stretching to the back of the hangar, spotlighting each classic car in turn.

“Wow.” Jeremy’s voice went soft with awe.

Harper merely smiled her appreciation, though not with Jeremy’s delight. She was clearly the indulgent older sister, here to make her brother happy, and Will liked that about her. Liked it as much as he liked looking at her.

Jeremy tiptoed between the two rows of cars arranged at an angle, each ready to be driven out of the hangar at a moment’s notice. Rolling tool chests lined the metal walls, along with a couple of floor jacks for lifting the cars. Will had a full-time mechanic, Leland, who kept the engines tuned and clean, and the bodies spotless. Leland worked both here at the airport and out at Will’s Portola Valley property.

“1965 AC Cobra,” Jeremy recited as if he’d memorized a list. “Wow.” His gaze was bright in the lights shining down on him as he held his notebook close to his chest, his mouth open slightly.

First on the left, the Cobra was cream in color. Will had thought about topping the paint job with a blue racing stripe, but Leland had rolled his eyes heavenward as if commiserating with the paint gods, then asked if Will wanted to be like everyone else. Of course, Will had never been like anyone else, and Leland had an excellent eye. The cream finish was like glass.

“It’s a very nice car,” Harper said in that polite voice that totally revved Will’s engine. “And it looks brand new.”

“It’s a kit car,” Will explained. “I had all the parts shipped here, and assembled it from the frame up. It’s a replica of a ’65 Cobra.” The project had taken a year. He could have done it faster, but he’d enjoyed the work and hadn’t wanted to rush. There was pleasure not merely in the end result, but in watching something grow.

“You built this yourself?” She looked surprised to hear it. She ran a finger along the finish, as if finally perceiving the beauty that Will saw.

“Cars are my thing.”

Very few people knew Will’s story—that he’d been barely eight years old when his father had taught him how to hotwire his first stolen car, with illegal drag racing coming a handful of years later. It wasn’t until Will had turned eighteen that he’d vowed to turn his life around. Now, though he still spent his free time playing with cars, he always did it on the right side of the law.

“What’s that one?” She pointed to the model opposite.

“1965 Mercedes 300 SL Roadster,” Jeremy said before Will could supply the answer.

“He’s been studying you. Your classic car collection, I mean.”

Maybe she was afraid he’d think her brother was coming across like a stalker, but it was the farthest thing from Will’s mind. On the contrary, he was flattered. Jeremy seemed so open, so hopeful, so happy. All the things Will had never been in his youth. He couldn’t actually say he felt those emotions now either, despite how far he’d come from the derelict Chicago neighborhood of his childhood.

He also liked watching the bond between the two of them, the way Harper looked at Jeremy, the light but warm touches, her affection easy to read on her face. The bonds of blood could be meaningless—or worse, they could utterly destroy you if you let them—but Harper clearly loved her brother with everything she had.

Will had the same kind of connection with the Mavericks. That’s what the five of them—Daniel, Sebastian, Evan, Matt, and Will—called themselves. The Maverick Group. Back in Chicago, they’d been five kids brought together by misfortune and neglect. Their bond had been forged in need, not by blood. Most people believed blood relations automatically deserved devotion, but he knew better. Devotion had to be earned, and family and blood didn’t go hand in hand, not in his experience. Susan and Bob Spencer—Daniel’s parents, who had taken them all in—were exceptions, just as Harper Newman and her brother were.