Home > The Marriage Bargain (Marriage to a Billionaire #1)(7)

The Marriage Bargain (Marriage to a Billionaire #1)(7)
Author: Jennifer Probst

She bit her lip, hard, and forced out the words. “Fine. You have a deal.”

“Anything else?”

“I guess that covers it.”

“Not quite.” He paused as if about to approach a delicate topic. Alexa swore she’d remain calm, no matter what he said. Two could play this game. She’d be an ice queen, even if he verbally tortured her. She took a breath and slid back into the chair, then picked up her coffee cup to sip at the brew.

He steepled his fingers and took a breath. “I want to talk to you about sex.”

“Sex?” The word dropped from her lips and fired into the air like a gunshot. She blinked, but refused to show any change in expression.

He jumped from his seat and they switched places, as he paced the luxurious burgundy carpet. “See, we need to be extremely discreet with, uh, our extracurricular activities.”

“Discreet?”

“Yes. I deal with some very high-end clients, and I have a reputation to protect. Let alone the terms of the agreement would be broken if our marriage was questioned. I think it best if you agreed to remain celibate for the year. It’s doable, don’t you think?”

“Or a lot of non-doing.”

He gave an obvious fake laugh and she wondered if she caught a gleam of sweat on his forehead or if it was just a trick of the light. He stopped pacing and watched her almost warily. Suddenly, the true meaning of his words caught fire in her brain and the lightning rod of knowledge sizzled. Nick wanted her to be the perfect wife, which included holding a chaste marriage bed under their ruse.

But he hadn’t mentioned his own celibacy. Maggie had spilled all the details about Gabriella, so she knew Nick was involved in a relationship. Alexa still didn’t understand why he wouldn’t marry his girlfriend, but his choice wasn’t for her to judge. All she cared about was the chauvinistic, male pig before her and her desire to call the whole deal off.

Almost.

She shook with anger but kept her face serene. Nick Ryan wanted to cut deals. Fine. Because when she walked out this door, Nicky would sign the deal of a lifetime.

She smiled. “I understand.”

His face practically lit up. “You do?”

“Of course. If the marriage is supposed to be real, how would it look to find your wife the gossip of an affair so soon after the wedding?”

“Exactly.”

“And you shouldn’t have to deal with humiliating questions regarding your manhood. If your wife is sleeping around, it’s obvious what the problem is. She wasn’t getting it good enough at home.”

He shifted his weight. His nod was half-hearted. “I guess.”

“So, what about Gabriella?”

He drew back in surprise. “How do you know about her?”

“Maggie.”

“Don’t worry about Gabriella. I’ll take care of her.”

“Are you sleeping with her?”

He flinched, then tried to pretend he didn’t care. “Does it matter?”

She lifted her hands in defense. “I want to clarify the sex issue. At least I’ve filled the number one and two spot. I sure as hell don’t love you, and we’re not attracted to one another. You’re saying if I want to have a rollicking one night stand, I can’t go for it. So, what are the rules for you?”

Alexa pursed her lips and wondered how the man intended to get himself out of his freshly dug grave.

Nick stared at the woman before him and tried to swallow. Her smoky voice set off even smokier images of her naked and demanding and…rollicking. He bit off a curse and reached for more coffee, trying to buy some time. Her whole demeanor screamed sex. The innocence of youth had burned off and left behind a pure-blooded woman with pure-blooded needs. He wondered what kind of man satisfied those needs. He wondered how ripe her br**sts would feel in his hands, or how her lips would taste under his. He wondered what she wore under the clinging red dress.

“Nick?”

“Hmmm?”

“Did you hear me?”

“Yeah. Sex. I promise you’ll never find yourself in an awkward situation.”

“So, you’re telling me you still intend to sleep with Gabriella?”

“Gabriella and I are involved in a relationship.”

“But you won’t marry her.”

Tension snapped the air around them. He took a few steps away, desperate for some distance. “It’s not that kind of relationship.”

“Hmmm, interesting. So, you’re saying I can’t screw around because I don’t have anybody steady to screw around with.”

If ice cubes were available he would have sucked them down one by one. Her accusation made a strange heat rise to his skin. Her tone was mild. Her smile seemed easy and genuine. Nick felt poised on the edge of some female power trip, and he recognized he was on losing ground. He rallied for the upper hand.

“If you had someone steady in your life, we’d work out the situation. But strangers are too dangerous. I can guarantee Gabriella knows how to keep a secret.”

She smiled then. A delicious, feminine smile that promised delights beyond imagination and promised it all to him. His heart stopped, paused, then went on beating. Fascinated, he waited for her next words.

“No way, baby.”

He fought for concentration as her refusal slipped from that luscious mouth. “Pardon?”

“No sex for me. No sex for you. I don’t care if it’s Gabriella or a stripper or the love of your damn life. If I don’t have any fun, you don’t. You’ll just have to get your kicks out of this very proper business marriage and build your buildings.” She paused. “Get it?”

He got it. Decided not to accept it. And realized this was game, set and match, and he needed to win. His smile promised compassion and understanding and the money she needed. “Alexa, I understand this doesn’t seem fair. But a man is different. Gabriella has a reputation to uphold, also, so you’ll never be put in a bad position. Do you understand?”

“Yes.”

“So, you’ll agree to the terms?”

“No.”

Annoyance surged. He narrowed his eyes and studied her. Then decided to go for the close. “We’ve been able to agree on everything else. We’ve compromised. It’s only one year, and then you can walk away and have a damn orgy for all I care.”

   
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