A single administrative assistant accepts her temporary boss’s offer to masquerade as his fiancée to keep his matchmaking grandmother out of his personal life and out of the way while he negotiates a high-profile merger for his family-owned company. In exchange, she’ll get the down payment for the loan she needs to keep her ex from selling her condo out from under her.
But neither of them counted on the lines blurring between real and pretend--or for the temporary arrangement to leave them both longing for something more permanent.
PRINT ISBN 1-60154-263-1
(204 pages) Spicy
Andi crossed her arms to avoid the temptation to touch the dime-sized princess cut diamond in an ornate antique platinum setting.
"What do you say, Ms. Goforth?"
"You want me to be your temporary fiancée?"
"Yes, ma'am." His soft pleasing drawl accompanied a smile.
Andi swallowed hard and pressed a hand to the involuntary reaction that fluttered low in her belly every time he used the simple affirmative phrase.
"For how long?"
"Technically, it would only be for the afternoon."
There was another long pause. For the first time she noticed the dark shadows under his eyes and the strain around his mouth.
"I know what this sounds like. Believe me, I've been thinking about it all morning." He rubbed at his tired features. "When I was named CEO, there was a clause which stated I'd become engaged within twenty-four months of taking office." He shrugged. "I didn't think my grandmother would hold me to it. But my time is up and she's decided to exercise her option."
"Exercise her option?"
"To have me removed as CEO," he said dully. "If I don't comply with the clause."
"Did you explain to her this was the twenty-first century? She can't just expect you to get engaged to the first woman who wanders through your door. It's archaic."
"She's made her priorities clear." He let out a pent up sigh. "I need a fiancée, Ms. Goforth. Quite simply, my lack of a significant other at this moment jeopardizes everything. The future of the entire company depends upon this merger. Everything my grandfather and father worked for is on the line."
"Why would she jeopardize the company for an engagement?"
"My family history is complicated. It's not that I don't want those things someday." He paused. "When the time is right."
"Isn't there someone else you could call? An old girlfriend or something?" She forced air around the tight ball of tension in her chest.
"I already thought of that. This has to be a business favor. Make it personal and there's too much potential for things to go wrong." He raked a hand through his hair. "Besides, I don't trust any of my ex girlfriends the way I trust you."
Andi tried not to let the compliment go to her head. "Why don't you ask your grandmother for more time?"
"I did that three months ago. Her answer was no."
"It's a lot to ask, I realize. But you'll be compensated. I'll have HR double your salary for the week. Is that fair?"
"I don't know." It seemed a lot of compensation for a couple of hours of pretend. Still, there was something about the situation that didn't feel right.
The phone on his desk buzzed loud in the hushed office. Cole leaned over and picked up the handset. He spoke briefly then hung up.
"She's in the elevator," he stated flatly. "I need your answer now."
"Let me get this straight; you want me to lie to your grandmother?" Okay, she was no catholic school girl. She knew people lied for all kinds of reasons. She just didn't happen to be one of them.
"A temporary lie, Ms. Goforth, guaranteed to do more good than harm."
Andi chewed the inside of her cheek. It wasn't as if she were lying to her own grandmother, she rationalized. Cole Greene had asked her to lie--and offered to compensate her. Besides, he trusted her to help him.
It was a job, nothing more. And the money would bring her bank account balance closer to the down payment she needed for her condo.
She wanted to ask more questions. But the way Cole touched his Rolex and glanced at the door with hooded eyes told her there wasn't time. She wiped her damp palms against the smooth texture of her pants. Was Cam right? Had she lost more than her nerve since her break up with Sam? She cleared her throat.
"Okay, I'll do it."