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Home > Wife by Wednesday (The Weekday Brides #1)(8)

Wife by Wednesday (The Weekday Brides #1)(8)
Author: Catherine Bybee

“Don’t you want to meet them first?” Suddenly, the thought of him picking a wife from a photograph felt shallow, even to her. Were men so easily swayed by a beautiful face? The short answer was “yes.” She knew it was possible that Blake Harrison was as superficial as the next guy, but disappointment hovered over her as he proved it with his actions.

“The women in the pictures?”

Sam shook her head, confused. “Of course those women.”

“No.” He picked up his fork and took a bite.

No? Oh, shit. He’d decided to marry someone else. The dollar signs she’d seen from the first mention of his name started to float out to sea. “You’ve found someone else who has agreed to marry you?”

“She hasn’t agreed, not yet anyway.” He took another bite, casual and in control.

If he wasn’t going to use her service, then why the hell was she here? “So Alliance is a back up plan?” Maybe he wasn’t kissing her off quite yet. Men like him didn’t do things without reason.

“Not entirely.”

Samantha dropped her fork and fixed him with a stare. “I’m sorry, Mr. Harrison, but I’m confused. Just this morning you were looking for a contractual woman to meet your needs and that has changed in a few hours? Or are you not satisfied with the ladies I presented?”

Blake gave up the pretense of eating and placed his hands on the table beside his plate. “The women you picked were perfect. Too perfect. My time frame to choose a wife is narrow. Getting to know each of those lovely ladies and making a decision is a luxury I don’t have.” He reached below the table and grasped onto a briefcase she hadn’t seen. He removed a file folder and pushed it on the table in front of her.

“What’s this?”

“The agreement my lawyer and I wrote up this afternoon.”

She itched to open the folder, but laid her hand on it instead. “What agreement?”

Blake’s grey eyes held onto hers. “I’m offering you a marriage contract.”

Her heart fell in an audible thump. “I’m not on the menu, Mr. Harrison.” She pushed the papers back toward him. He caught her hand under his and held it firm. The contact shot that sizzle she’d felt when she’d first seen him straight to her toes and back up again. The constant thud of her heart started to rise and gooseflesh spread over her bare arms. Sam’s entire body tingled and the only part of them touching was their hands.

“Everyone has a price, Samantha.”

“Not me.” She tried to pull away, but he squeezed her fingers to keep her from running.

“I’m setting up a trust fund to take care of Jordan for life. Even if something were to happen to you, Jordan would be taken care of.”

Sam’s mouth opened with that guppy look again. A bomb going off couldn’t have shocked her more. Blake had done his homework, knew of her sister and her needs. “My sister is only twenty-two years old. She could live to be a hundred.” Not likely, according to the doctors, but there wasn’t proof she’d die young.

“And her care costs you a hundred and six thousand a year. Those expenses will only go up.” His hand loosened on hers, but she didn’t pull away.

“You’re willing to pay me over eight million dollars to be your wife for a year?”

“Plus twenty percent. That is your fee, right?”

Samantha nodded slowly then shook her head. “Why me?”

“Why not you?” His thumb started to move over her hand but she was still too stunned to move.

“I’m not your type.”

“My type?”

“Tall, blonde, and gorgeous.”

He chuckled and the laugh grounded her. This was a business deal, after all, nothing more, nothing less. Blake had turned her hand over and was rubbing the inside of her wrist with soothing circles. Okay, maybe a marriage contract was a bit more than a business deal. She removed her hand from under his.

“What would marriage to you look like?”

“Your life wouldn’t have to change,” he said as he lifted his wine to his lips. “A quick trip to the justice of the peace, maybe Vegas. We’d have to make a few appearances over the first few months to satisfy the lawyers my father hired before his death and my cousin who stands to gain should this not work out. I spend half of my time in Europe, half here in Malibu so we wouldn’t cramp each others’ daily life.”

“Why not find a wife in Europe?”

“To minimize the relentless media eyes in Europe. The States don’t have tabloids dedicated to Kings and Queens, Dukes and Duchesses. The newness of my nuptials will wear off quickly.”

The stipulations in Blake’s father’s will stated that Blake had to be married and settled by his thirty-sixth birthday in order to inherit the man’s wealth and keep his title. After much debate, the lawyers determined that after a year of marriage, they could relinquish his inheritance and lift any further legal restrictions. This was what Samantha’s contacts in London had told her.

“What kind of appearances?”

“A small reception and a few appearances in public venues. I’d need you to come with me to London to sign papers with the lawyers in regard to my title, our titles.”

She swallowed; she had forgotten about the whole Duchess thing. “I’ve no idea what being a Duchess is about.”

Blake lifted his fork and started eating again. “I’ve never had one, so I’m not completely sure either.”

Samantha couldn’t help but offer a laugh. “This is crazy.”

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