The Favor:A Marriage of Convenience Romance(2)

By: Suzanne Wright

Damn, Dane was so good at acting that if he hadn’t been so clear about not wanting a real marriage, I might have believed him.

“She’s just a possession to you,” Owen insisted.

“My most prized possession, as it happens,” said Dane. “And I have every intention of keeping her. Deal with it. Accept it. Leave her alone. Get rid of this dream you have of winning her back. It won’t happen.”

“And if I don’t stay away from her?”

Dane’s mouth curved into a cruel, chilling smile that almost made me shiver. “I’ll make you wish you had.”

Owen’s eyes flickered. “She can do better than you. You don’t deserve her.”

“And you think you do? You, who just behaved like a complete asshole, think you deserve her?”

Shame flickered across my ex’s face. “Maybe neither of us do. But—”

“There are no ‘buts.’ You’re mistaken in thinking that you’d be married to her now if you hadn’t messed up. I’d have lured her away from you, even if it took me years. Don’t think for one moment she would be yours if A, B, or C hadn’t happened. I would have made her mine one way or another. You’d be wrong to think I don’t mean that. I’m ruthless about going after what I want. Quit banking on me fucking up and losing her the way you did. I’d never let someone so important to me walk out of my life.”

Owen narrowed his eyes, studying Dane hard. “Son of a bitch, I think you might just actually care for her in your own way.”

Dane’s gaze slid to me, burning with possession, impatience, and something … more. Something that made my pulse quicken and my breath catch. But Owen was wrong. Dane didn’t care for me. There was no way he’d want this marriage to be real. He didn’t even want a girlfriend, let alone a wife … right?

Chapter One

Six months earlier

Stopping at my desk, Hanna regarded me warily. “Uh-oh, your eyelid’s twitching. What’s wrong? Did someone mistake you for the model on the Syphilis Awareness billboard again?”

I narrowed my eyes at my friend and coworker. “No. And I don’t look anything like her.” We’d had this conversation already. But Hanna liked to poke at me in that way that only one of your closest friends would.

“You have the same pale blue eyes and high cheekbones. Her hair isn’t exactly the same platinum blonde shade as yours, but it’s close.”

People always assumed my hair color came straight out of a bottle. In truth, I’d inherited it from my half-Swedish grandmother.

“But she doesn’t have your blunt bangs or Jessica Alba-mouth,” Hanna went on because, yeah, she was a pain in my ass when bored.

“Can we not talk about the model who looks nothing like me, please?”

“Of course.”

“Great. If you’ve come to speak to Dane, he’s not yet back from his lunch meeting, but he shouldn’t be much longer.”

“I came to check on you. A little birdie told me they saw Travis enter the building earlier. The last time the idiot came here, you almost had to call security to remove him.”

And who was Travis? My boss’s sly, smarmy, self-entitled brother.

I sighed. “I’m fine, just annoyed. He wanted to wait for Dane in his office. I said no. He tried flirting with me to get his way. I said no. He claimed he had a migraine and just needed a quiet place to sit. I said no. Then he got all mean and demanded I let him in. Again, I said no. We went around and around like that for a while until, finally, he stalked off—but not before threatening to have me fired.”

Hanna shook her head. “He’s such a weasel. Why do you think he wanted access to Dane’s office?”

“He said he wanted to wait for him in there.” It wouldn’t have surprised me if he’d intended to nose around and sniff out some sensitive material that he could sell to Dane’s competitors. Travis seemed to harbor a deep resentment for his brother. I suspected it was petty jealousy since—in total contrast to Dane—the only thing Travis appeared to be successful at was being an absolute tool.

Hanna tilted her head. “Although he’s a boil on our butts, he generally doesn’t send that eyelid of yours twitching. It usually takes more than that to set it off. Come on, tell me what’s bothering you. You’ll feel better for it. And I’m nosy—help a girl out.”