The Spanish Billionaire's Hired Bride(9)

By: Rachel Lyndhurst



“I will pay you one million euros if you agree to work with me for three months.”

Her hands froze on the tabletop. “As what, might I ask?”

“As my wife.”

Helen stared at him in horror for a second, and then she began to smile. “Oh, very clever. How long did it take for you to cook that joke up with Alfonso? Was it when you were quietly discussing the house red? Or was it when I went to the loo? Well, I must say I’m relieved, because for one awful moment I thought you’d brought me out here to sell me a dodgy franchise. Or a timeshare.”

“I am serious.”

“Yeah, sure you are. I might be unsophisticated, but I’m not a complete fool.”

“Let’s hope not, because I get very tired of the sound of my own voice saying the same thing over and over again.” He leaned forward across the table, his fingertips pressed together in a tent shape. “My offer is genuine. A marriage in name only for, say, three months and you get one million euros. Go away and think about it for twenty-four hours. Don’t say another word now or you may regret it. Believe me, I do deals like this all the time.”

“I’ll just bet you do,” she said, pushing her coffee cup with a scraping noise to the center of the table. “I can only begin to imagine what sort of a woman you think I am, but don’t expect things to go your way this time. I’m not one of the local whores you can pay to do your bidding.”

“You do me a disservice. I’m only marrying to satisfy an outstanding matter of honor, not to slake some perversion, and you’re perfect for the job. Attractive, intelligent, the perfect trophy wife.”

“You can’t be serious.”

“You also want to leave for home within six months, divorced by then obviously, so we both win. This is a once in a lifetime offer. The last thing I want to do is get married, but I need to before I’m thirty or I’ll lose a long-standing bet. A very big bet.”

“A bet? My God, you really are as shallow as a puddle. I can never see a time where I’d willingly enter a contract of marriage with such an arrogant, spoiled, and insensitive man. The only way I’ll ever consider marriage is when I fall in love, so the answer is no. Double plus no. And now,” she said with a flourish as the chair tipped over behind her, “I’m leaving.”

.

Early morning sunshine cut through the dirty windowpane and seared across Helen’s eyelids. She had slept badly, and as she forced herself out of bed, the nausea of extreme fatigue washed over her. She eyed the magnum of champagne Ricardo had quietly left outside her door the previous night. The expensive bottle looked extremely out of place on the aluminum sink, and memories of shouting at him to leave came flooding back. She shook her head and groaned, realizing the events of the night before really hadn’t been a dream.

Ricardo Almanza must be out of his arrogant mind thinking he could pay her to marry him! The idea was ridiculous, and he certainly had too much time and money on his hands if he spent his life getting involved in bizarre wagers. He’d even had the nerve to push his flashy business card under the door before he left. She brushed her teeth roughly in the rust-tinged sink, and it wobbled as she turned off the tap. The entire plumbing system was vintage 1960s by the look of it, air bubbles clattering around the building like loose marbles.

While drying her face, her cell phone began to ring and she considered not answering it. “Go away!” she muttered into the towel. It was probably the Condesa wanting her to bring something particular from the market for her breakfast. It had been goji berries the day before. She’d seen them featured on TV overnight and had become like a woman possessed until she had some.

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