It’s only pretend…
And it’s only three months.
I’m in the midst of scrawling “I QUIT!” onto his fancy cardstock letterhead when my boss corners me. He needs a favor, he says. And then he asks how well I can act …
Hudson Rutherford needs a fiancée.
With his old-moneyed parents forcing him to marry some bratty hotel heiress and his hedonistic, playboy lifestyle at stake, the only way to get them to back off is to make them think he’s truly, madly, deeply in love … with me—his third personal assistant this year.
But I can hardly stand working for him as it is.
Hudson is crazy hot and well-aware. He’s arrogant, spoiled, and silver-spooned. He checks me out when he thinks I’m not looking, and his life is a revolving door of beautiful women. Plus, he can’t even pronounce my name correctly—how’s he going to convince his family he’s in love with me?!
I’m seconds from giving him a resounding “no” when he flashes his signature dimpled smirk and gives me a number that happens to contain a whole mess of zeroes …
On second thought, I think I can swallow my pride.
But, oh baby, there’s one thing I haven’t told him, one teensy-tiny thing that could make this just a hair complicated …
Here’s hoping this entire thing doesn’t explode in our faces.
“What? What are you thinking?” I ask.
Her brows lift. “That this entire thing sounds insane. And that you’re insane.”
“Maybe it is. And maybe I am. But I know it could work.”
She turns to me, her eyes holding mine. “Why me, though? I can’t stand you and you’re well aware.”
“That’s exactly why it has to be you.”
“You can’t tell me that out of the assortment of women I’ve seen waltzing in and out of your life the last two months, not one of them would be jumping at the chance to help you with this.”
“You’re right. They would be. But then they’d want something more, and quite frankly, I have nothing more to give than my last name and a comfortable lifestyle,” I say, checking my wristwatch. “You, Mari … you wouldn’t want more from me, and that’s exactly why you’re the only one I trust.”
“I don’t know how I could convince anyone I’m in love with someone who gets under my skin the way you do, Hudson.”
“You said you could act.” I lift a brow.
“I … yeah … I guess? But can you?”
Stepping toward her, I take her by the wrist and guide her off the bar stool, pulling her body against mine, meeting her curious gaze with my own sultry version. Cupping her soft cheek in my right hand and letting my fingers graze the nape of her neck, I lift her mouth, holding mine inches from hers.
She breathes me in, her stare unblinking. My left hand circles her waist, feeling it cave with my touch.
“I’ve never told you this before … but the day I met you, I knew there was something special about you. And something tells me you’re about to become the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” I say, my words slow and gentle as our eyes lock. “I want to spend the rest of my life with you, until we’re old and gray. We might drive each other crazy, our path may be a bit bumpy at times, but we’re going to love every minute of it. Marry me, Maribel Collins. Be my wife. I don’t want anyone but you.”
Stillness lingers between us, and then she releases a shuddering breath before blinking. Peeling herself from me, she tucks her thick blonde hair behind her ears before resting her hands on her hips.
“That was …” Mari leaves her thought unfinished as she moves a few paces back. “That was … cheesy. But passable.” Her lips pull into a bitten grin as she recovers her composure. “You’re good at that.” Glancing up at me, her expression dissolves. “Not that I’m surprised. You’re a professional manipulator.”
Rolling my eyes, I exhale. “Do you want the money or not?”
Her hand rests on her stomach briefly, and then she continues pacing. She’s going to wear a beaten path into the wood floor by the time she’s finished.
“Five million dollars.” I fold my arms. “Final offer.”
Mari stops in her tracks, her gaze flicking to mine. “I don’t want to do this. I think it’s a bad idea. But you’re making it impossible for me to say no.”
My mouth curls at the sides. “I knew you’d see it my way.”
Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author Winter Renshaw is a bona fide daydream believer. She lives somewhere in the middle of the USA and can rarely be seen without her trusty Mead notebook and ultra portable laptop. When she’s not writing, she’s living the American dream with her husband, three kids, and the laziest puggle this side of the Mississippi.
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