A Contract for His Runaway Bride - Page 3

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She had come perilously close to losing herself in their relationship in the past.

Could she risk the same happening again?

Elodie narrowed her eyes and leaned forward to place the papers back on his desk. ‘Is this some kind of joke?’

Lincoln picked up a gold cartridge pen and rocked it back and forth between two of his long, tanned fingers. ‘It’s no joke.’

His gaze remained marksman-steady and it sent a shiver of reaction through her body. Could he see how much his presence unsettled her? Could he sense the magnetic power he still had over her? A power she fought to resist with every cell of her body...

She swallowed and tried not to stare at his fingers—tried not to recall how those fingers felt when they touched her, excited her, pleasured her. She forced her gaze back to his, her heart thumping so loudly she was surprised he couldn’t hear it. ‘You know I can’t do that.’

He tossed the pen to one side and it rolled up against a glass paperweight with a soft tinkle that seemed overly loud in the silence. ‘Your call. But I should warn you this offer is only open for twenty-four hours. After that, it’s off the table and won’t be repeated.’

Elodie rose from her chair in one agitated movement, her arms going around her middle. She wanted to slap him for being so arrogant as to think she would accept. She wanted to grab him by the front of his shirt and...and...press her mouth to... No. She slammed the brakes on her wayward thoughts. She did not want to go anywhere near his sensual mouth.

‘I can’t believe you’re doing this. What can you possibly hope to achieve?’

‘I need a wife for the period of six months. It’s as simple as that.’

She curled her top lip. ‘I’m sure you have plenty of willing candidates to choose from.’

‘Ah, but I want you.’

The silky smoothness of his tone threatened to put her willpower on life support, but Elodie raised her chin at a defiant angle, determined to hold her ground for as long as she could.

‘What about the woman I saw you with last time we ran in to each other? She looked like she was madly in love with you. I was surprised you could still breathe with her arms clasped around your neck like that.’

His smile was indolent, his eyes glinting. ‘She was in love with me. And that’s why she’s not suitable for this position.’

Elodie frowned so hard even a hefty shot of Botox wouldn’t have prevented her wrinkling her brow. ‘I don’t understand... Are you saying you don’t want—?’

‘I can hardly want someone to be in love with me if I only want them to be my wife for six months.’

Elodie stood behind the chair and grasped the back with both hands. Something low and deep in her belly was doing somersaults. Rapid somersaults that made her intimate muscles twitch in memory of his rock-hard presence.

‘Why only six months?’

He rose from the desk and slipped off his jacket, hanging it on the back of his chair. His movements were methodical, precise, as if he were mentally preparing a speech. His expression was cast in lines of gravitas she was not used to seeing on his face.

‘My mother is terminally ill. She wants to see me settled before she dies.’

Elodie’s frown deepened to one of confusion. ‘Your mother? But you told me your mother died a couple of months before we met.’

His lips moved in a grim smile—a stiff movement of his lips that had nothing to do with what a smile was meant to be. ‘That was my adoptive mother. I only met my biological mother a couple of years ago.’

Her eyes widened and she became aware of a sharp pain underneath her heart. A burrowing pain that almost took her breath away. He was adopted? Why had he never mentioned it? She knew every inch of his body, knew how he took his coffee, what brand of suit he preferred, knew his taste in literature and film, knew how he looked when he came... But he had never told her one of the most important things about himself.

‘You never told me you were adopted. Did you know when we were—?’

‘I always knew I was adopted.’

‘But you chose not to tell me, the woman you asked to be your wife?’

Anger laced her tone and the pain in her chest burrowed a little deeper, a little harder, as if working its way towards her backbone like a silent drill. Why hadn’t he told her something as important as that? It only confirmed the suspicions she’d had all along—he hadn’t been in love with her. He’d been attracted to her, but love hadn’t come into it at all. He had chosen her for her looks, not for her.

And wasn’t that the miserable story of her life?

Tags: Melanie Milburne Billionaire Romance
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