On a Wednesday afternoon, I ask Trevor Bentley to marry me. He might be the most arrogant, obnoxious man I know, but I need him to be my husband for a year.
There are reasons.
He’s not going to be a real husband. Just part-time. Yes, I have to live with him. And, okay, I also have to share his bed. And, sure, he’s the sexiest and most exciting thing to ever happen to my controlled, organized life.
But still… It’s only a part-time marriage. I’m not going to give him my heart. I know what I’m doing, and I’m too smart to fall for my husband.
The flash of annoyance I feel at his smug expression is enough to get me going again. I say in my most poised voice, “I have a proposition for you.”
No sense in wasting time in small talk. That’s not my way or Trevor’s.
He leans back in his chair, his eyes lingering on my face. Instead of looking like he’s descending from a pedestal, now he looks more like he’s solving a riddle. “A proposition?”
“Yes. A good one.”
“I realize Pop’s needs help with advertising, if those tacky commercials you’ve been running are any indication, but you have to know I’m no longer interested in working for you.”
My fingers tighten around the portfolio I’ve just picked up again, but I manage not to display my resentment on my face.
He just said it outright to my face.
Yes, I happen to agree with his assessment, but still… Who does that?
“I’m not offering you a job with Pop’s,” I say, my voice almost prim in its coolness. “I actually have a favor to ask you, and so I’ve got something to offer you in return. Something you’ll want.”
His lips part just slightly, and I notice because my eyes keep slipping down to his lips.
So kill me. He’s got the sexiest mouth I’ve ever seen.
“What do I want?” he asks after a moment’s pause.
This part is easy. I slide a contract out of my portfolio and hand the stack of papers to him. He reaches to take it and then scans the top sheet with a bullet-point summary of the contract.
Basically, it’s an agreement for his company to develop a regional advertising campaign for Pop’s for a very large amount of money. I had to pull from other budget lines to find the financing for it, but I know any campaign Trevor puts together will at least double the money expended. He’s that good.
Both his eyebrows go up as he reads.
Very slowly his eyes (like dark chocolate) rise again to my face. “You must need a very big favor.”
While I don’t know the ins and outs of Trevor’s contracts with other companies, I have a general sense of the level he’s working at. He’s good enough that he could have made a success of it in New York or LA, but for some reason five years ago he moved back to Charleston, where he was raised. Most of the jobs his agency handles are local or statewide. The one I’m offering him has to be bigger than anything else he’s done yet.
He looks back down at the top sheet. “This is for real?”
“Yes, it’s for real.”
“Pop will never go for this. He despises me.” It’s not at all surprising that Trevor knows Pop’s opinion of him. Everyone knows.
“Yes, he does. But advertising got moved last year, and now it’s under me. I make the decisions. This is real. I’m willing to sign that contract right now.”
“But it’s not just because I’m so good.”
“No. It’s not because you’re so good. We need some better advertising, but we’re not desperate. I’m going to have to put up with a lot a grief from my in-house folks and from Pop to make this deal with you, so I need something in return.”
“Yes. A favor.”
I’ve been killing it so far—sounding cool and professional and exactly on his level. I’ve even managed to keep my expression perfect and not blush the way I sometimes do when I’m emotionally discomposed.
But now the moment has arrived, and the truth is I’m nervous.
More than nervous. Scared as hell.
I’m about to ask this arrogant man to marry me.
Trevor waits a beat. “Are you planning to tell me what the favor is?”
It’s time. I have to just say it. “I need you to marry me for a year.”
Noelle handwrote her first romance novel in a spiral-bound notebook when she was twelve, and she hasn’t stopped writing since. She has lived in eight different states and currently resides in Virginia, where she reads any book she can get her hands on and offers tribute to a very spoiled cocker spaniel.
She loves travel, art, history, and ice cream. After spending far too many years of her life in graduate school, she has decided to reorient her priorities and focus on writing contemporary romances.