Marriage of Convenience

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Romance

Chapter 4 (v.1) - Chapter Four

Submitted: July 12, 2019

Reads: 9

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Submitted: July 12, 2019



FOR an agonizingly drawn-out moment Freya thought he was going to refuse her without giving the matter any consideration at all. His body grew still, very still, before a ghost of a smile flickered briefly around the hard male mouth and was then erased as if it had never been as if she had dreamed it.

And then, as he still remained silent, her spine stiffened with impatience beneath the smooth, expensive fabric of her suit. Was he going to say nothing, nothing at all? What if he, like the gentleman he was, ignored her question?

Against all her expectations she felt perspiration slick the palms of her hands and, slowly, she ran the tip of her tongue over lips gone suddenly dry. At that, as if her physical unease had recalled him, made some impact on his mind, he gestured her to a chair with an almost imperceptible movement of his hand. And Freya sat, glad to because for some reason her knees felt as if they were about to give way.

'And?' he said, at last, his tone prompting, his eyes holding hers from beneath thick, dark lashes.

Thrown off balance by the softly put question, the probing she hadn't expected, not in that nebulous form, her smoky eyes widened again, filling her face, while a faint flush of color stole into her pale skin. 'And?' she repeated, parrot-fashion, her mouth dry.

'And why the unexpected interest?' Theo asked. 'We've worked together for twelve months, very amicably, I do agree, but I've yet to see signs of a deathless passion from you. Neither,' his voice continued, polite in  perfectly level, 'do you strike me as being the type of woman who would be desperate for the married status—at any price.'

He was wrong there, she was desperate, but not for the reasons he imagined. Marriage, for the sake of it, had never appealed. She had learned how to be sufficient unto herself, not to need emotional props. But marriage to someone as undeniably suitable as Theo Dylan would be in the eyes of her guardians was the only answer to her awful problem.

But now, at least, he was asking her to give logical answers to her own seemingly illogical question, and she could handle that.

She clasped her hands loosely together in her lap and her eyes were cool and frank as she told him, 'Under the terms of my father's will I don't come into my inheritance for another year, and I need a rather large amount now. However, if I marry before then, provided my uncle and aunt approve my choice, my father's money automatically passes to me. They would approve of you, and if we married within, say, three weeks, I could control my inheritance, use the money I need. It wouldn't be a great deal,' she assured him, in case he thought she would spend the lot and then expect him to keep her in luxury. 'Not when seen in context. My future inheritance is popularly known as the Dexter Millions'.

'Wouldn't it have been simpler to arrange a loan?' The amusement lingered for a while, sparkling in his eyes, then faded, leaving his face as it ever was—remote, cool, and intelligent. 'Embarking on the commitment of marriage seems rather drastic. Couldn't you approach the trustees of your late father's estate? Come to that,' his wide shoulders lifted fractionally, 'I could lend you what you need. Your credit rating is excellent,' he added drily.

He sat down then, taking his chair on the opposite side of the huge desk, his clever eyes narrowed as he watched her. 'How much? And what for?'

But Freya shook her head decisively, the shimmering silver fall of her hair swinging across her face. 'I'd prefer not to borrow.' She didn't want anyone to know why she needed the money, and anyone prepared to lend that amount would certainly demand to know where the money was going! And her eyes met his in unconscious, mute appeal and he asked her softly, 'Are you in some kind of trouble?'

Again the sharp swing of her head; the mess she was in was of her own making, she would save herself from it in her own way, without involving anyone else. She had made a mistake, a bad one, when she had allowed herself to be infatuated by Leo Isaac's silver tongue, his easy charm. But she had learned her lesson and was about to pay dearly for it. And sitting here, under the remote eyes of the man who was known never to suffer involvement—except with his work—suddenly became unbearable.

She started to scramble to her feet, wanting nothing more than to get away from those coolly analytical eyes, but his voice stopped her.

'I can gather, roughly, what you would stand to gain from marriage. But it involves two. So can you tell me what I would get out of a situation I've spent my adult life steering well clear of?'

'Rumor has it that you've never committed yourself to a woman because you're afraid of tying yourself to a gold-digger,' she snapped insultingly. 'If you married me you'd know I hadn't married you for your money. I've more than enough of my own—or will have! And I inherit a sizeable block of Dexter Securities shares, which I could be persuaded to turn over to you—and I'd have thought that might interest you more than somewhat! And if that isn't enough--'

Enough to be going along with,' he interrupted, and she was glad of that, because she'd run out of reasons, and all she had left was hot air and bluster.

The shares had been her best card; if he married her and she gave him her voting rights he would have the majority shareholding, and that, surely, would be tempting to a man such as he.

She held her breath, her heart pumping, sensing she had his interest now, and he commented, rising to his feet, almost smiling, 'May I have time to give your-- he hesitated, but only fractionally '—your delightful offer the consideration it deserves?' And, taking the carefully blank expression on her face for acquiescence, he glanced at his watch and returned his attention to the papers strewn on his desk.

'I shall be away over the weekend and in Paris on Monday. So shall we have dinner on Monday evening?' His eyes drifted over her slender height as she pushed herself to her feet, making her feel uncharacteristically gauche, dry-mouthed and tongue-tied. 'I'll send Benjamin to pick you up at seven-thirty.'

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