Home > The Marriage Bargain (Marriage to a Billionaire #1)(11)

The Marriage Bargain (Marriage to a Billionaire #1)(11)
Author: Jennifer Probst

Nick tried to save them both. “I understand, Jim, but Alexa and I talked about this and we both don’t want a big fuss. We decided we want to be together and start our lives right away.”

“It’s romantic, Dad,” Izzy ventured.

Alexa mouthed a thank you but she was suddenly double-teamed.

“I agree.” Maria held a dishtowel in her hands as she stood in the doorway of the kitchen. “Let us enjoy the wedding. We’d love to throw you an engagement party so Nick can meet the rest of the family. There’s just not time for everyone to come down on Saturday. All your cousins will miss out.”

Jim stood. “Then it’s settled. You’ll postpone the date.”

Maria nodded. “Excellent idea.”

Alexa grabbed Nick’s hand. “Darling, can I see you in the bedroom for a second?”

“Of course, dear.”

She dragged him down the hallway and pushed him into the bedroom. The door swung partially closed. “You’ve ruined everything,” she whispered furiously. “I told you to pretend but you suck at it and now my parents know we’re not in love!”

“I suck at it? You’re acting like this is some stupid play you’ve put together for the neighbors. This is real life, and I’m doing the best I can.”

“My plays were not stupid. We made a lot of money in admission tickets. I thought Annie was excellent.”

He snorted. “You can’t even sing and you cast yourself as Annie.”

“You’re still pissed because I wouldn’t let you play Daddy Warbucks.”

He plowed ten fingers through his hair and made a noise deep in his throat. “How the hell do you get me on these ridiculous subjects?”

“You better come up with something quick. God, don’t you know how to treat a girlfriend? You acted like I was some polite stranger. No wonder my father suspects!”

“You’re a grown up now, Alexa, and he’s still interrogating your boyfriends. We don’t need their permission. We get married on Saturday and if your parents don’t like it, too bad.”

“I want my father to walk me down the aisle!”

“It’s not even a real wedding!”

“It’s the best I’m going to get right now!” The grief leaked out for one moment as the truth of her predicament hit full force. This would never be a real marriage, and something would be forever ruined once Nick’s ring slipped onto her finger. She’d always dreamed of love everlasting, white picket fences, and tons of children. Instead, she got cold hard cash and a husband who politely tolerated her. She’d be damned if her sacrifice failed because of his inability to fake enough emotion for her parents.

She stood on tiptoe and grabbed the upper arms of his T-shirt. Her nails dug into the fabric and cut flesh. “You better fix this,” she hissed.

“What do you want me to do?”

She blinked. Her lip trembled as she bit out the words. “Do something, damn it! Prove to my father this will be a real marriage or—”

“Alexa?” The echo of her name drifted into the open door from the hallway, her mother’s gentle, concerned voice checking if they were okay.

“Your mother’s coming,” he said.

“I know—she probably heard us arguing. Do something!”

“What?”

“Anything!”

“Fine!” He grabbed her around the waist, dragged her body flush against his, and ducked his head. His lips crushed hers as his hands wrapped around her tightly so they were plastered against each other, hip to hip, thigh to thigh, br**sts to chest.

The breath whooshed out of her lungs and she swayed as her feet cut out on her. She expected a precise, controlled kiss to calmly show her mother they were lovers. Instead she got hot testosterone and raw sexual energy. She got warm lips melded over hers. His teeth nipped. His tongue burrowed inside and plunged in and out with sheer command, bending her back over his arm to take every last drop of her resolve.

She hung on and gave it all back. Ravenous for his touch, she got drunk on his musky scent and taste, reveled in the hard length of his body as animal heat rose between them and pushed them over the edge.

She moaned deep in her throat. He slid his fingers into the heavy weight of her hair to hold her head still as he continued the sensual invasion. Her br**sts grew heavy and full, and liquid heat pulsed between her thighs.

“Alexa, I—oh!”

Nick ripped his mouth from hers. Dazed, Alexa searched his face for some sign of emotion, but he focused on her mother. “I’m sorry, Maria.” His grin was wry and totally male.

Maria laughed and looked at her daughter, still snug in his arms. “Sorry to interrupt. Come join us when you’re finished.”

Alexa heard footsteps retreating. Slowly, Nick’s gaze traveled downward.

She shuddered. She expected to see a fog of passion. Instead, his chestnut eyes were clear. His face seemed calm. If not for the hard length pressed against her thigh, Alexa would have thought the kiss hadn’t affected him. She was dragged back to another time and place, deep in the woods, when her thoughts were freely spoken and her trust shattered. The first touch of his lips over hers, the boyish scent of cologne rising to her nostrils, the gentle bite of his fingers on her hips as he held her.

Icy fear trickled down her spine. If he laughed at her again, she’d call off the whole thing. If he laughed…

His arms released her and he stepped back. Silence surged between them like a heavy wave gaining speed and ready to crash.

“I think we solved our problem,” he said.

She didn’t respond.

“Isn’t this what you wanted?”

She stuck her chin high in the air and hid every messy emotion that writhed like snakes in her belly. “I guess so.”

He paused, then reached for her. “We better present a united front.”

Five fingers closed around hers with a graceful strength that brought tears to her eyes. She fought them back and decided she was in major PMS mode. There was no other reason why a kiss from Nick Ryan should bring so much pleasure, yet hurt so deeply.

“Are you okay?

She gritted her teeth and smiled so brightly she could have done an advertisement for toothpaste. “Of course. Brilliant idea, by the way.”

“Thank you.”

“Just don’t stiffen up again like a corpse out there. Pretend I’m Gabriella.”

   
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