TO KEEP HIS FORTUNE,
THIS WAYWARD HEIR NEEDS A WIFE.
Eric de Vries.
Looks like millions. Worth billions.
Unfortunately for this wayward heir, to keep his money, he needs a wife.
And of all the women in the world, he chooses me.
Too bad I've hated him for five years, since he took all my tears and tossed me away.
The guy slept his way through half of New England and discarded women like hotel toiletries.
Been there. Done that.
Still...what would you do for twenty million dollars?
Would you wear the dress? Fake a smile for the man who broke your heart?
Or would you run far, far away?
Yeah, that's what I thought.
I'll see you at the church.
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“Wait, wait, wait...you’re asking me to be your...bride?”
The statement was so preposterous that I immediately burst out laughing and collapsed on the table so loudly that a number of passersby startled. Eric just sat like a statue, rubbing his brow, which only made me laugh harder.
“Me?” I repeated between gulps of breath, though I was nowhere near done laughing. “Marry you? Playboy, consummate-bachelor, super-bro lawyer, and soon-to-be shipping magnate you? You don’t even believe in marriage!”
It was the one thing we’d always had in common. I believed in marriage. Just not for me. And Eric felt the same. We were birds of a feather that way. We knew ourselves well enough to know that regardless of what others did, neither of us was ever going to be the type that could be with someone forever.
“We’ve been over this. I do now. I have to.” Eric checked his watch. I ignored the way the movement made his forearms flex under his rolled sleeves. What did he do, bicep curls while he gave his opening statements? No lawyers were that fit.
“And you...you want to take me, confrontational, unfiltered, half- Korean, candy-haired me, home to marry?” Now I was crying, and I had to take off my glasses to wipe away the tears and keep them from spoiling my eyeliner. “Oh, God,” I creaked. “Oh, God, that’s good. Can you imagine it? They’ll think I’m a mail-order bride. I’d be the end of your poor grandmother. Your uptight family would freak!”
When I finally stopped crying-laughing, Eric had a very satisfied look on his face. He leaned over the table, bending down so we were eye to eye, then reached out and twirled a strand of my newly dyed locks around his finger. The tug pinched slightly, sending a current of something other than mirth down my spine.
“That’s kind of the point...pretty girl.”
That shut me up. “What?”
He leaned even closer so I could smell again that intoxicating combination of cologne and fresh linen. Like a magnet, I couldn’t help but mirror the action until we were almost nose to nose. Pretty girl. How long since I had heard that?
“It’ll be mutually beneficial,” he said as he dropped my hair and took my hand. “Jane, you’re the only one who could make it bearable.”
His fingers were long, and a few more memories flashed through my head of the things I knew he could do with them. He curled two into my palm and applied just a bit of pressure like he used to somewhere...else. Hot damn, Batman.
“I can save my family’s fortune and stick it to my grandmother at the same time,” he said. “What’s not to like about that?”
“Right. Well. As funny as the Christmas cards will be, I’m not sure I want to be a tool for you to engage in some delayed teenage revenge,” I said, transfixed by the way his thumb pressed into my finger pads, one at a time. “What’s—what’s in it for me?”
“Twenty million dollars.”
I froze. “Come again?”
Eric replaced my hand on the tabletop and sat back, crossing his arms once more with a satisfied half smile. The action made his biceps bulge. Lord above.
“Twenty million dollars,” he repeated. “We get married. You live with me for five years. That’s it.”