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Home > Wife by Wednesday (The Weekday Brides #1)(7)

Wife by Wednesday (The Weekday Brides #1)(7)
Author: Catherine Bybee

She watched him pour the pale liquid into a stemmed glass and did her best not to stare. “Are we celebrating?”

“Perhaps,” he said as he shifted the bottle over to his glass.

She wanted to rush and ask him whom on her list he approved of. Of course, he hadn’t met the women yet, and she sincerely doubted he’d chosen one.

Blake lifted his glass, and waited until she joined him in a toast. “To a successful business relationship.”

A shiver of uncertainty flittered over her hand as she reached for her wine. The way Blake said relationship didn’t sit well. After clicking her glass with his, and sipping the wine, Samantha placed her hands in her lap to hide the slight tremor that would give away her feelings.

“I hope your drive wasn’t awful.”

Okay, so they weren’t going to start with business as she’d have liked. Instead of pushing him, she allowed the casual conversation to continue. “PCH is always difficult to traverse at dinner time.”

“Thank you for agreeing to meet me here.”

“I’m surprised you picked this location. I’d think that a business dinner would be in a place less formal.” Less romantic, she wanted to add.

Blake relaxed into the booth. His sinfully handsome features made it nearly impossible to concentrate on the reason she was sitting across from him. It was entirely too easy to wade into his amazing grey eyes and fall into the warmth of his smile.

“It’s against my nature to invite a beautiful woman to a bar for cocktails.”

Oh, boy, time to swing this train around. Samantha knew she wasn’t beautiful, attractive maybe, but the kind of beauty this man was drawn to was way out of Samantha’s league. “You’re charming, Mr. Harrison, but you’re wasting it on me. I take it you’ve had an opportunity to look at the portfolios my assistant faxed over.”

His eyes narrowed but he didn’t say a word. Samantha swallowed and clutched her hands together in her lap. Instead of running from his eyes, she met them head on and kept her lips sealed.

It took a waiter stepping to the table to break the tension. The twenty-something server detailed the chef specials while Samantha picked up her menu. This was her client, and etiquette dictated that she be the one to pick up the bill, even if the restaurant was out of her budget. She settled on the swordfish and a small dinner salad and did her best to ignore the prices on the menu. She’d put it on her credit card, and hope Mr. Harrison’s check would clear before it came due.

When left alone, he asked, “Tell me, Samantha… why would I be wasting my charm on you?”

He pronounced her name like a lover’s caress, smooth and silky. She heard a hint of an English accent. An accent she thought would be thick on his tongue because of his title.

“We’re here to discuss your pending marriage to one of the three women from my service,” she reminded him. “I’m not sure how charming me can work to any advantage for you.”

“Does everything have to have an angle?”

“In business, yes.” In her world anyway.

“What about in your personal life?” He sat forward, his jacket opened as he did and she noticed for the first time that he wasn’t wearing a tie. His dress shirt’s first two buttons were undone and his bronze skin underneath caught her eye.

“We aren’t here to discuss my personal life.”

“I wouldn’t be too sure about that. Your summary of my life this morning prompted me to do some digging of my own.”

Samantha braced herself for his judgment. She never tried to hide her past, but always stood a chance and losing a client because of the sins of her father. “One doesn’t have to dig deep to unveil my past, Mr. Harrison.”

“I thought we decided you’d call me Blake.”

First names and talk of relationships… this was not going well. Samantha poured a little more wine down her throat, suddenly wishing it was something stronger. “My father is a horrible man, my mother was a coward. Neither of them reflects who I am or how I tend to my business, Blake.”

“I didn’t suggest otherwise.”

She hated the defensive tone in her voice, and the transient look of pity on Blake’s face.

“You purposely left the last names of the women out, why is that?”

Oh, good, back to business. “I’m not the only one whose parents have darkened people’s perceptions. I realize that family can pose a problem to any relationship, even if it’s a business relationship, but starting out with information about the women themselves helps keep the door of possibilities open.”

“Are the women all trust fund babies or daughters of convicted felons?”

“Hardly. All three have severed their family ties… financially anyway. Which is why they’re searching for security and not love.”

Blake fingered the stem of his glass. She watched his movements and wondered briefly, what it would feel like to have his hands on her skin, running up and down her arms, her thighs. Heat rushed up her neck and she shifted her gaze away. “I can give you their names now if you insist. If it’s going to weigh on your decision, then it’s best you know.”

“That’s not necessary. I’ve already picked the woman I’m going to offer a contract to.”

Samantha’s head shot in his direction right as the waiter brought their salads. She held her tongue while the waiter crushed fresh black pepper over their first course and topped off their glasses with the wine. The anticipation was eating her up. Whom did he pick, and why? How could he actually decide to offer marriage to a person without even meeting her? That was extreme, even for the titled millionaire sitting across from her. Then again, maybe it wasn’t. What did she really know about Blake Harrison? He liked his women busty, leggy, and lean. She’d not found one picture of the man without a model type hanging from his arm, hence the reason Samantha picked the three most beautiful women in her little black book, which was actually a little black notebook. Still, how did a man pick from three pictures?

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