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Excerpt for His Dirty Bargain


A hand wraps around my arm as he drags me after him. “What the hell is going on with you?” he thunders once we’re out on the front lawn.

“Don’t yell at me, damn it! Are you fucking serious? You tell my boss a personal plan in a light meant to shame and embarrass me over brunch, you belittle me, you ignore me, then you want to know what is going on with me?”

Shaking his head, he takes a deep breath. “Don’t forget I let the tiny blonde close to me.”

Violence erupts from me and I shove him, hard. “She fucking touched you like she had every right to.” Oh god, I didn’t do that.

The bastard laughs as he tugs me close. I’m so ashamed I can’t look at him even though I want to push him away from me, pissed that he’s daring to laugh. “Fuck, woman, you are driving me crazy. Why can’t you be normal?”

With a sigh I give in to resting my head on his chest. All at once, the anger and pain disappears as I inhale his scent, feel his body against mine. “I’m not going to apologize. Normal is boring. If I were normal you wouldn’t look at me twice, you would have already moved on to your next bimbo.”

“Hmm…” His hand runs up and down my back soothingly. “I won’t lie, you’re right. Bimbos are boring, you could never be called boring. So I’ve been thinking…” He pulls out something shiny from his pocket. No, it can’t be. Holy fuck, it is. “I have another deal to offer you. Marry me and we’ll fill this place with laughter and memories. Help me turn it from a house into a home. I want at least two kids, any more is up to you, and in return I’ll buy you the multifamily property you want, and this place is yours free and clear as long as we hit ten years. We give it at least ten years and you’ll think you’ve won the lottery. If you want out any sooner, I’ll make you regret ever meeting me.”

I stumble back from him on shaky legs, staring at the enormous ring in horror. “What kind of marriage proposal was that? It was a marriage proposal, right?” How could he say such awful things at the same time as asking me to marry him? “Have you lost your mind?”

At least he has the decency to blush. “What? It’s an honest deal between two people, a hell of a lot more honest than ninety percent of the proposals happening any given day. I get it, you have a hard time trusting men are going to stick around, treat you well, and be faithful. The ring gives you the first one, and I don’t have a problem with either the second or third thing. I bought this house for you, you can make it anything you want. If we divorce you’ll get it in the settlement on top of the multifamily and more than generous alimony, as long as I get custody of the kids.”

This is a dream, a nightmare, a crazy Klonopin-induced nightmare because who the hell would believe this is real? I’m shaking my head, trying to clear it, trying to figure out what is happening. The ring is thrust in my face again. It’s enormous, an odd pinkish peach color. “What is it?”

“It’s a padparadscha, a kind of sapphire. Normally, I wouldn’t have gotten something so big at twenty-eight carats, but the only other one they had was only four carats and that didn’t seem right at all. A diamond didn’t seem unique enough for you. I’m also willing to admit I didn’t want any man thinking you were available.” He shrugs.

And it’s the sweetest thing I think he’s ever said. How could he say that while also saying all the other crap? “We’ve known each other a week, less than a week. I can’t marry you, it’s crazy.”

“How is it crazy? We both know what we want, we both want the same thing, and we both want each other. When something’s right it’s right. When you know you know. What difference does it make from one week to one year?”

“Because, I don’t know how you like your coffee. I don’t know your favorite food, color, or book. I don’t know if you sleep naked or in pajamas. I don’t know anything about you other than you have way too much money, an enormous ego, and okay, yes, I want to have sex with you, but that doesn’t make a marriage, not even one for just ten years.”

“We couldn’t make a marriage without the sex.”

“I don’t want to breastfeed. I’ll do everything I can to make sure I have a C-section up to and including bribing my doctor. Even if I didn’t have to work, I want to after my maternity leave is over. I want six kids, not two, not four, six. I want private school but not religious schools. I don’t want to take my kids to church on Sundays, I want them to choose what they believe in. I don’t want to do the Santa myth thing or the tooth fairy. I want my kids to know they’re important, but I refuse to let them believe the world revolves around them. Those are important, those things could break up a marriage. Those are the things you learn over the course of dating and having an actual relationship instead of just jumping into a marriage.”

“So you’re saying, no?”

Oh god, he actually looks sad, then he blinks and it’s gone. Deep down I want to scream yes, fuck caution, fuck that it’s too soon, he wants me, bought a house for me, he bought a ring, except he’s saying things like ten years and threatening me with horrors unknown if I dare to want a divorce before ten years. Fear outweighs everything. “I’m saying not yet.”

“I should have known.” He flicks the ring at me. I can’t catch it, it falls at my feet. “Keep it, I sure as fuck don’t want it. Use it to go toward your sperm donor.” I can’t believe he’s just walking away.

I’m frozen where I stand. It was real. Enzo Sabatini just asked me to marry him. No, he offered me a deal, a bargain, one with a whole lot of strings he would use to tie me up. The insane ring glints up at me. I bend down; it’s heavy. Don’t do it, Chloe. A sick curiosity has me slipping it on my left ring finger. My stomach flips a dozen times—it fits perfectly.

In the moment I was positive I did the right thing, but now…I’m not sure anymore.

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