The MillionaireBy: Victoria Purman
He played at looking taken aback at her words as he thumped an open palm to his chest. “I don’t know what you mean, Evelyn.”
“Yes, you do. He feels your judgment, you know, but he’ll never tell you. Someone had to stay here in Sydney and run the company. You’re off god knows where, almost getting yourself killed.” Evelyn’s voice hitched and damn if there weren’t tears welling in her eyes. “And Cooper… where is your youngest brother this week?”
Chris had to think a moment to remember. “Last I heard, he was surfing in Wales.”
“There’s surfing in Wales?”
“And what about you? When did you get back?”
He didn’t want to admit he’d been back a month and hadn’t even seen her. A flare of guilt hit him. “Hey, I almost forgot to ask. You a grandma yet?”
Evelyn’s face broke into a beaming smile. “Two months to go. I can’t wait. My son and his wife aren’t half as excited as I am.”
A deep voice bellowed and echoed in the cold space. “Chris.”
Chris and Evelyn turned to see Callum standing at the double doors to the main office.
Chris stood, winked goodbye to Evelyn, and walked towards his brother. “Mate.” He held out a hand. Callum took it reluctantly.
Anyone looking on would instantly know they were brothers. Callum matched his big brother in height and weight and they shared the same blue eyes and strong jaw. But while Chris’s hair was long, Callum kept his short and businesslike, and the style cut most of the blond out of it.
“Your hair is fucking ridiculous,” Callum rolled his eyes.
“And your short back and sides makes you look fifty, not thirty-two. Loosen up, bro.”
“Someone’s gotta be the grown up in this family.” Callum let go of his brother’s hand. “Speaking of which, how is it possible that you’ve landed us in the shit again? That’s so typical of you.”
All Chris saw as Callum turned and walked back into his office was the back of his neatly trimmed hair and the expertly stitched seams of his handmade Italian suit.
“The PR people are on standby,” Callum announced as he walked to his huge desk in front of the wall of windows overlooking Sydney Harbour.
Chris had never been envious of the corner office – or any office at all, ever – but he liked this view. It was more than that. He damn well loved the view. He would never get sick of looking at the Sydney Harbour Bridge from up above, its steel arches flexing into the blue sky and its sand-coloured granite pylons at each end like chunky ballast. In the harbour, a cruise liner was moored, and smaller boats beyond it looked like kids’ toys in the spectacular setting. The towering office blocks of the city to his left and right gleamed and sparkled, and the blue summer sky went on endlessly, to the Blue Mountains and beyond.
“On standby for what?” Chris asked, distracted by the shimmering summer day.
“To rescue us from this mess, that’s what.” Callum straightened his tie and sat at his desk, his back ramrod straight, his mouth tight.
Chris crossed his arms. “Listen, mate. It’s not what you think. A woman approached me at One Mile Beach to donate one of my photos to a charity event and I said no. She didn’t mention the Flying Doctor Service. That’s it.”
Callum narrowed his eyes at his brother. “For someone who works in the media, you have no idea how damaging this is. Everyone thinks you’re a tight arse. And worse than that, a mean tight arse. And that reflects on this family and our business.”
At least Callum had cut to the chase.
“Of course,” Chris said. “The family reputation. Now I know what this is about. How could I forget? Why the hell are you so worried about me looking like a tight arse, huh? It means I fit right into this family and this company, doesn’t it? You know, little brother, Malone Enterprises has never given away one red cent to anything. Not sick kids. Not poisoned rivers. Not to cure cancer or build a well so someone in Africa can drink clean water or get vaccinated. Not friends in trouble. Nothing.”
Callum narrowed his eyes. “Don’t put that on me. That was our father. I had nothing to do with it. We have a generous philanthropic mentality. We give away millions each year.”
Chris felt his jaw clench. “Oh sure, there’s always money to add a new wing to the old school, isn’t there? Or the club? Or to sponsor a boat in that godforsaken Sydney to Hobart yacht race every Boxing Day. But none of it’s about people. Did you ever realise that?”
Callum glared at his brother and shook his head cynically. “What a luxury to be so holier-than-thou. Don’t you think I would if I—” Callum stopped.