Wife for a Week(8)

By: Kelly Hunter


‘A brief stint washing dogs in a poodle parlour.’ The memory was dim, but still worthy of a shudder. ‘Too many fleas.’

‘So are you actually trained in anything?’

‘I have a fine arts degree, if that counts for anything. And I’m halfway through a Sotheby’s diploma in East Asian Art. That’s why I came to London.’

‘Why East Asian Art?’

‘My father’s a history professor with a particular interest in dynasty ceramics, and I hung out in his workshop when I was a kid, read all his books.’ It had been the crazy-cracks in the glazes that had first captured her interest. The rich history behind each of the pieces had held it.

‘So you’re following in your father’s footsteps. He must be proud of you.’

‘No, mostly my father ignores me. I learn anyway. I can spot a fake dynasty vase at fifty paces. In fact I’m absolutely certain the Ming in the Central Museum’s a fake.’

He stared.

‘All right, ninety per cent certain.’

‘So why aren’t you finishing your diploma?’

‘I will be. Just as soon as I earn enough money for my last two semesters.’

‘By selling shoes?’

‘It’s a job, isn’t it?’ she said defensively. ‘Interesting, well-paid jobs are hard to come by when you’re a student. Employers know you’re just filling a gap.’

‘Couldn’t you ask your family to help out?’

‘No.’ Her voice was cool; he’d touched a nerve. Her brothers would have lent her the money. Hell, they’d wanted to give her the money, and so had her father for that matter, but she’d refused them all. Little Miss Independent, and it galled her that they hadn’t understood why she’d refused. None of her brothers had taken money from anyone when they’d started out. She was staying with Tris because he had a spare bedroom and because London rentals were outrageously expensive. That was all the help she was prepared to accept.

No, money for nothing wasn’t her style at all. But ten thousand pounds for a week’s work…a week’s fairly unorthodox and demanding work…Well now, that was a different matter altogether.

‘How much do you need to complete your studies?’ he asked curiously.

‘Ten thousand pounds plus money to live on. But I’ve already saved five so with your ten thousand I figure I’ve got it covered.’

‘And then what?’ he said. ‘Will you roam the world in search of ancient artefacts and long-lost oriental treasure?’

‘Yeah, just like Lara Croft and Indiana Jones,’ she said, heavy on the sarcasm. ‘You know, maybe you need to get out more. You might just be spending too much time in fantasy land.’

‘See? I knew it wouldn’t take long before you started sounding like a real wife,’ he countered with a grin. ‘Don’t you want to be a tomb raider?’

Sure she did. She just didn’t think it very likely. And as for sounding like a nagging wife…Hah! Wait till she really put her mind to it. ‘Right now I’m thinking I want to be Xia here, because she’s really good at this alien butt kicking business, isn’t she? What does she get if she wins?’

‘Points.’

‘Points as in money? Does she get to shop afterwards?’

‘Only for a new weapon.’

‘What, no plastic surgery? Because I really think a breast reduction is a must here.’

‘Our target demographic is teenage boys.’

‘I’d never have guessed.’

‘Besides, there’s nothing wrong with her breasts—those are excellent breasts. Fantasy breasts.’

Hallie sighed.

‘Not that yours aren’t very nice too,’ Nick added politely.

‘Mine are real,’ she said dryly, slanting him a sideways glance. ‘Completely real. Just in case anyone should ask.’

‘I’m very impressed.’ His eyes were blue, very blue, and his smile was pure pirate. ‘Because they look to be in excellent shape. I should probably take a closer look; acquire a real feel for them, so to speak. I’m not a fact-file person either.’

‘Is your distributor’s daughter watching?’ she countered smoothly, even as her breasts tingled and her nipples tightened at the thought of him touching her there. ‘Are we in a public place?’

‘Sadly, no.’ And through eyes half closed, his attention back on the screen, ‘Man, I love kinky women.’

Oh, boy. ‘So what’s in this game for us girls?’ she said hastily. ‘Other than this very cool vibrating controller.’