"You're angry with me." A pained expression crossed his face.
"I thought that was obvious."
"Let me help." Liam crouched down beside her and picked up one of the boxes.
. She wanted him to act like the bad guy he was. Saving her from a fall and crouching on the floor of a conference center to help her stuff pads back into boxes were not the actions of a villain.
"That's a lot of . . ." His faced reddened and he cleared his throat. "Products."
She snatched the box from his hand. "My boss needed one for a pitch and I accidentally got too many."
"Who do you work for?"
"Organicare. We're in the personal care business." After leaving Madison behind, Daisy had taken some time off from her work as a software engineering consultant to help Layla start up her new recruitment business. Office management involved too much social interaction and hadn't given her the intellectual challenge she craved, so she'd responded to Tyler's ad for a senior software engineer who could support his rapidly hemorrhaging engineering department. He'd been up front about the financial state of the company, but Daisy didn't mind. She'd spent her career hopping from start-up to start-up, moving on before she made attachments that would make it difficult to leave.
"I haven't heard of them."
"Why would you?"
"I'm with Evolution Ventures, a venture capital company based in New York. I moved out here a few weeks ago to head up our new West Coast office. We mainly fund start-ups in the food services industry, but we've been expanding into tech so I'm here for the pitch sessions."
Even more irritating
. Hopefully Tyler hadn't put Evolution on the pitch list. Bad enough that he'd dragged her along to answer questions about the software system and pour blue liquid onto pads to demonstrate the superior absorbency of Organicare's products. But to have to beg Liam Murphy for money to save the company . . . She couldn't imagine anything worse.
"I'm glad things worked out for you, Liam, but honestly, if we weren't in public, I'd slap you across the face."
"That's very considerate of you." He held out a hand to help her up, but she waved him off as she stood, cradling the boxes in one arm.
"I'm surprised you even know what that word means."
His behavior on her prom night had been all the more devastating because Daisy had seen another side of Liam when he had first started coming to her house to hang out with her older brother, Sanjay. He joked with her, teased her, even played video games with her if Sanjay had homework to do. Although he'd become more distant after she turned sixteen, he was more protective of her than her own brother, volunteering to pick her up from late-night study sessions, and showing up to drive her home on the few occasions Layla managed to drag her to a party.
"Let me take you for a drink after the conference." He handed her the last box. "We can catch up, and you can tell me about your dad and Sanjay . . ."
Her anger finally peaked, crashing through her veins in a tidal wave of emotion. Every moment of her prom night was etched into her mind—from the heartfelt emotion in her father's eyes when she walked down the stairs in her dress, to the tears on her pillow as she cried herself to sleep. Liam had been a fixture in her life for eight years, and he had disappeared without even saying goodbye.
"Are you serious?" She rounded on him, now grateful for the heels that put her a few inches closer to his eye level. "I don't want to have a drink with you. I don't even want to breathe the same air as you. I don't want to catch up or talk about the fun times we had. And you don't deserve to know about Sanjay and my dad because you didn't just leave me; you left them, too."
Liam went utterly still, his eyes intense, brows knitted together in a puzzled frown. She moved to step past him, but he caught her arm in a gentle grip.
"Daisy . . . wait."
She spun to face him. "I don't owe you anything."
"What if I beg?" He tipped his head to the side, his seductive smile so achingly familiar her heart squeezed in her chest. This was the Liam she'd fallen for when she was ten years old. Reckless. Charming. Handsome. Charisma flowing off him in waves. Despite her antipathy toward him, it was impossible not to still feel the pull of attraction.
"Daisy!" Madison waved from the crowd, tugging a reluctant Orson along; in the distance, relentless like the tide, came Salena Auntie and poor Roshan.
There was nowhere to run. No graceful way to extract herself from the situation without losing face. Daisy tipped her head back and groaned.
Liam frowned. "What's wrong?"
Gritting her teeth she gestured to the left. "That's my aunt coming toward us with the man she wants me to marry. And in three seconds, we'll be accosted by my old boss. She's with my ex, Orson. I got him a job at my last start-up, and the next thing I knew, she'd stolen him away. This day is getting worse by the second."
Liam twisted his lips to the side, considering. "I can see why you—"
"Shh." She held up a warning hand. "I'm praying for a natural disaster—earthquake, flood, tornado, murder wasps, even a plague of locusts will do."
"How about a kiss?"
Daisy frowned. "How is that going to fix anything?"
His gaze dropped to her lips. "You can't get married if you're seeing someone else, and you'll be able to show your ex and your boss that you've moved on. It's a perfect solution."
This excerpt is from the hardcover edition.
Monday we begin the book The Most Eligible Viscount in London by Ella Quinn.