Big Shot

By: Carly Phillips

Chapter One

Wes Sinclair tossed his cell phone onto his desk, dropped his head into his hands, and pressed the base of his palms against his eyes in a futile attempt to stem the sudden throbbing in his temples. “I can’t believe she fucking did it again,” he muttered irritably to himself.

“Who did what again?”

The amused voice of Connor Prescott, one of his business partners, only spiked Wes’s displeasure. So much for being alone and being able to vent his frustration. Instead, he lowered his hands and glared at his good friend, who was also directly related to the person Wes was currently annoyed with.

He watched as Connor casually sauntered into the office, the dust on his jeans and boots a good indication that he’d just come in from working on a jobsite. “The who is your sister. The what is stealing yet another million-dollar listing right out from under me,” Wes snapped, even more perturbed that Natalie Prescott could push his buttons more than any other woman ever had, and make him rock hard at the same time.

Not that she knew what kind of effect she had on his dick, and she never would. Because one, she was his best friend’s little sister and he’d known her most of his life. And two, he’d never give her that kind of leverage or smug satisfaction when they were business adversaries in an industry where any weakness was exploited. And clearly, Natalie had no qualms about playing dirty. This was the third real estate listing she’d yanked right out from under him in the past month, with either client incentives or a higher bid on the property for sale.

Connor sat down in one of the chairs in front of his desk, not bothering to hide the smirk tugging at the corners of his mouth. “What’s the matter, Sinclair? Is your ego so fragile that you can’t handle a bit of healthy competition from a girl?”

“Fuck you, Prescott.” Wes followed that up with a middle-finger salute, which only made his friend laugh. “This has nothing to do with my ego.” He had a reputation to uphold as one of the top luxury real estate agents in Chicago, and Natalie was threatening his status. Not to mention his sanity. And okay, his goddamn ego.

He’d worked his ass off the past six years to build Premier Realty into a powerhouse firm along with his three good friends—another real estate broker and two other guys, including Connor, who previously worked construction but now flipped high-end, multimillion-dollar houses under the Premier Realty umbrella. Wes had industry awards to attest to his business acumen, a stable of high-profile clients any broker would envy, and he was the one who usually swooped in and snagged properties from unsuspecting real estate agents. And now, one single woman was starting to make him doubt his own abilities.

Wes leaned back in his chair and gave Connor a direct look. “Is your sister trying to prove some kind of point by aggravating the shit out of me like this? By coming in at the last minute with a higher bid that my client can’t top on my own fucking listing?”

“I’m sure she is, and it’s your own damn fault,” his friend said with a shrug. “She wanted to work for Premier, remember? I told you she’d be an asset to the firm. But if I remember correctly, you not only said no but set down the gauntlet with an adamant hell no.”

Wes inwardly winced. He was totally guilty of voting hell no on that particular issue, and he’d held firm on his decision despite Connor’s strong, valid arguments in Natalie’s favor. He’d counter-argued that it wasn’t smart to mix family with business, that it was difficult to keep things impartial and make crucial decisions that could affect one family member over the other, that didn’t result in hard feelings or resentment all the way around.

Wes knew of companies that had split or gone under because of family disputes, and he’d likened the situation to his parents’ divorce. The split between his mother and father hadn’t been amicable. Not even a little. The anger and bitterness had caused so much tension between Ethan and Andrea Sinclair that it had forced friends and relatives to choose sides. Lines were drawn, and no matter who was to blame for the dissolution of the marriage—which had been, hands down, Wes’s father’s fault—his mother had been the one who’d lost the majority of friends they’d made in the twenty-two years they’d been together.