“Never mix business with pleasure,” my father warned me.
Did I listen? No. But now, on a flight to visit my old university mate, Alec McCrae, I thoroughly regretted that decision.
A week ago, I was engaged to be married. Now, I’m single and humiliated. My wife to be, also my business partner, eloped with her ex, and left me, not only without a fiancée but also with a mismanaged, almost bankrupt business.
My parents, of course, berated me. How could I be so stupid?
Now I’m stuck in coach instead of a private jet until I can redeem myself. One thing for sure. I’ll never mix business with pleasure again.
When Baylen, middle son in the wealthy McFann family, discovers that his fiancée has left him, he is devastated and heartbroken. His parents come down hard on him and he escapes Scotland to find business advice from his friend across the pond, Alec McCrae. When Alec presents his newest statistical analyst, Harlee Sumpter, he’s already smitten.
Is Baylen really done mixing business with pleasure, or will Harlee be too tempting to avoid?
Find out in Business or Pleasure, the latest story in M. S. Parker’s bestselling series, The Scottish Billionaires.
The University of Glasgow
Fifteen years ago…
The sun was shining, and with temperatures above average, it was a perfect omen for my first day of university, if only I’d believed in such things. The McFanns, however, had not come from superstitious folk. We believed in facts and science.
Sitting in my car, I was still the same person as yesterday. Newly eighteen-year-old Baylen McFann. The middle child, who does well in school, but nothing uniquely remarkable about him. I had yet to make a mark on the world, for good or bad.
But my time was just ahead.
Steeling myself for what to come, I exited the car and retrieved two suitcases from the boot.
By the time I’d unpacked and settled in my new apartment, the sun was low in the sky. A glance at the kitchen clock told me it was half five, and my stomach growled, reminding me I’d hardly eaten today. I’d grown up on my family’s estate outside of Glasgow but spending much time in the city I knew several excellent pubs nearby.
Twenty minutes later, I walked into The Smokin’ Fox. I’d been there before, and the food was better than anything I could cook up at the flat. The place was crowded, so I lingered near the door looking for a place to sit.
“Yer bum’s oot the window!”
The yelling drew my attention to a trio of men standing near the bar. They were sweaty and red-faced, their shirts proclaiming their loyalty to Aberdeen Football Club. They’d played Glasgow Rangers today and judging by the way the men threw their hands in the air, I assumed they’d won.
One shoved another, earning a shout of, “Get tae fuck, arsepiece.”
The trio attracted more attention now, cursing louder and more inventively as they moved from pushing each other to bumping into others. The bartender glared at them. But even from where I stood, the cast on his arm was clearly visible. He wouldn’t be able to do anything.
I decided to go somewhere quieter, when all hell broke loose.
A pretty waitress, hardly a day over eighteen, weaved between the men when one of them grabbed her ass. With a loud crack, her hand slammed against the man’s cheek, silencing the room.
His meaty hand closed around her wrist. “Bitch!”
As his two buddies stepped closer, I moved forward without thinking. The girl looked more angry than afraid. But if things kept going in the same direction, that’d change soon.
She tried to pull away, but he held her tight, his insults and curses drowning out whatever she was saying. His other hand went up, and I wasn’t close enough to stop what was coming.
Before his blow landed, another man intervened, blond about my age. He’d grabbed his arm, pulling him back. When his two buddies moved forward, I stepped between them, catching one of them with a hand on his chest.
“Leave the lass alone,” I said.
“Or?” The redhead grinned wide, showing gaps where several teeth were missing.
The tension in the air was thick enough to choke on when he finally took a swing at me. I avoided the hook, and the rest of the fight was a blur of fists and feet as my new friend and I took on the hooligans. A blow to the ribs had me gasping, but I dodged a punch to the face. Pain radiated up my arm when my knuckles met the redhead’s jaw. As he staggered back, I caught my foot behind him and sent him tumbling.
I turned to fight another asshole, when other hands grabbed the men and shoved them towards the door. As quickly as it’d started, it was over.
“Are you alright?” the blond guy asked the waitress.
“Aye, I am.” She smiled at him and then turned to me. “Thank you.”
I nodded, still out of breath. I caught her when she threw her arms around me, the adrenaline in my body making me tense.
“I’ve got to call my mum.” The girl released me and ran off.
The blue eyes of my new friend danced with amusement. He looked familiar, though I couldn’t place him.
As everyone went back to what they were doing, the two of us stood alone. I wasn’t sure what to say, so I held out my hand.
He smiled and gave me a firm shake. “Alec McCrae.”
I knew that surname. “McCrae? Any connection to the McCrae International Research Institute?”
“Aye.” His eyes widened with surprise. “I’m Patrick McCrae’s eldest.”
I realized I’d seen him before, even though it had been over ten years. We’d been children at an event with our families.
I gestured toward a table. “I’ve yet to eat. Care to join me?”
“You should get the girl’s number first,” Alec suggested. “Be the hero.”
I raised an eyebrow. “You’re not interested?”
He shrugged. “Not at the moment.”
The waitress was on the phone. She sure was a pretty thing. “Maybe later. She’s had a rough day.”
“Aye,” Alec said. “Later then.”
We ordered and settled around a table, as we spoke of our families. The McCrae’s had moved to America, which was the reason I hadn’t seen him in a decade. As Alec spoke of moving to another country, the shadow on his face prevented me from asking why they had left. Instead, I teased him about sounding American and coaxed out another smile.
Our food arrived and I grabbed a fork. “Can I ask why you came back to Glasgow for university if your family is in California?”
Alec didn’t answer right away.
“We moved because Da remarried,” he said, his eyes fixed on his food. “I remember my mother better than my siblings do, but sometimes I feel like I’m losing the memory. But here…whenever we visit, I can…see her better.”
It made sense. Alec wasn’t here just to remember his mother, but also to share the experience with her.
“Will you be takin’ the business route, then? Plan to head the family business here?”
He shrugged. “I haven’t decided where I’ll locate, but aye, I’ll be takin’ over MIRI one day, so I’m going the MBA route.” He cleared his throat. “And you? Do you know what you’re going for?”
“An MBA as well for me,” I said. “My parents expect all of us to grow the family empire.” I gave him a wry smile.
Alec’s forehead furrowed for a moment. “McFann? Would your parents be Charles and Elsa McFann? One of the wealthiest families in Scotland and contributors to medical research?”
I nodded. “Aye. That’s them. My eldest brother is already following in their footsteps.”
“But you’re going your own direction?” The shrewd expression on Alec’s face led me to believe that he saw far more than most people.
“That I am, in a way.” I gave him a rueful smile. “Unlike my father, I want to be involved, help businesses become successful and thrive, rather than just invest, take over, and then sell the business in pieces.”
I rarely spoke of my family’s money with such candor. To consciously draw notice to such things was the height of vulgarity. However, Alec came from the same background and understood our world.
Initially, I hadn’t been sure I could relate to anyone here.
Find a friend.
I’d never believed in signs or intuition, but suddenly I had an insight with no logical basis.
Alec McCrae and I were going to be great friends.
Business or Pleasure (The Scottish Billionaires #8) is coming soon.
If you’re new to the Scottish billionaires series, start with Alec McCrae in Off Limits (The Scottish Billionaires #1), available here.