Wife for a Week(3)

By: Kelly Hunter

‘No kissing,’ said Hallie. ‘I’m heartbroken, remember?’

‘There has to be kissing,’ he countered. ‘It’s part of the job description. Who knows? You might even like it.’ There was a subtle challenge to his words, lots of amusement.

‘Kissing would cost extra,’ she informed him loftily. What did she have to lose? It wasn’t exactly the sanest of conversations to begin with.

‘How much extra?’

Hallie paused. She needed ten thousand pounds to finish her Sotheby’s diploma in East Asian Art; she had five of it saved. ‘I’m thinking another five thousand should do it.’

‘Five thousand pounds for a few kisses?’ He sounded incredulous, still looked amused.

‘I’m a very good kisser.’

‘I think I’m going to need a demonstration.’

Now she’d done it. She was going to have to kiss him. Fortunately common sense kicked in and demanded she make it brief. And not too enthusiastic. One step put her within touching distance; a tilt of her head put her within kissing range. She stood on tiptoe and set her hands to his chest, found his shirt soft and warm from the wearing, with a hard wall of muscle beneath. But she digressed. With a quick breath, Hallie leaned forward and set her mouth to his.

His lips were warm and pleasant; his taste was one she could get used to. She didn’t linger.

‘Well, that was downright perfunctory,’ he said as she pulled away.

‘Best I can do given the circumstances.’ Hallie’s smile was smug; she couldn’t help it. ‘Sorry. No spark.’

‘I’m not sure I can justify paying five thousand pounds for kisses without spark.’ His lips twitched. ‘I’m thinking spark is a must.’

‘Spark is not part of the negotiation,’ she said sweetly. ‘Spark is a freebie. It’s either there or it’s not.’

‘Ah.’ There was a gleam in his eyes she didn’t entirely trust. ‘Turn around, Mother.’ And without waiting to see if his mother complied, Nicholas Cooper threaded his hands through her hair and his mouth descended on hers.

Hallie didn’t have time to protest. To prepare herself for his invasion as he teased her lips apart for a kiss that was anything but perfunctory. Plenty of chemistry here now, she thought hazily as his lips moved on hers, warm, lazy, and very, very knowledgeable. Plenty of heat as her mouth opened beneath his and she tasted passion and it was richer, riper than she’d ever known. She melted against him, sliding her hands across his shoulders to twine around his neck as he slanted his head and took her deeper, tasting her with his tongue, curling it around her own in a delicate duel.

If this was kissing, she thought with an incoherent little gasp, then she’d never really been kissed before. If this was kissing, imagine what his lovemaking would be like.

His smile was crookedly endearing when he finally lifted his mouth from hers, his hands gentle as he smoothed her hair back in place. ‘Now that was much better,’ he said in that delicious bedroom voice, and she damn near melted in a puddle at his size-twelve feet. ‘We’ll take the shoes.’

Right. The shoes. She boxed the sandals with unsteady hands, swiped his credit card through the machine, fumbled for a pen and waited for him to sign the docket before she risked looking at him again. His hands were large like his feet, and his hair was mussed from where her hands had been.

What would it be like to pretend to be this man’s wife for a week? Foolish, certainly, not to mention hazardous to her perfectly healthy sex drive. What if he was as good as his kiss implied? What if they did end up doing…it? Who would ever measure up to him again?

No. Too risky. Besides, she’d have to be crazy to go to Hong Kong for a week with a perfect stranger. What if he was a white-slave trader? What if he left her there?

What if he was perfect?

He was halfway across the room before she opened her mouth. Almost to the door before she spoke. ‘So you’ll get back to me on the wife thing?’

At five thirty-five that afternoon, Hallie counted the day’s take. It wasn’t hard; she’d only made three sales and that included the shoes Nicholas Cooper had purchased for his mother. Next, she shut the customer door, turned the elegant little door sign to ‘closed’, and was about to set the alarm system when a breathless courier rapped on the display window and held up a flat rectangular parcel.

Not shoes, thought Hallie. Shoes did not arrive by courier in flat little parcels, even designer ones. But the courier’s credentials looked real, the address on the parcel was that of the shop, and the name on the paperwork was hers so she opened up with a sigh, signed for the parcel, and locked up behind him before turning back to the parcel.