Wife for a Week(9)

By: Kelly Hunter


‘Shang.’

‘Excuse me?’

‘Shang. Paladin princeling.’

Nick flicked back to the main menu and a male figure appeared on the screen. He had dark, carelessly cut hair, an exotic face, a tough, lean body, and was no slouch in the ammunition department either. ‘Is that a gun in his pocket or is he just glad to see me?’

Now it was Nick’s turn to sigh. ‘You’re not taking this seriously.’

‘It’s a game, Nick. I’m not meant to.’

‘You’re right, you’re not. My mistake. I’m the one who has to take it seriously. My people have spent three years developing this platform, Hallie, and now it’s up to me to market it. I can’t afford to make mistakes. Not with John Tey, not with his daughter. That’s where you come in.’

‘Call me naive when it comes to big business, but I think lying to a potential business partner about your marital status is a mistake,’ Hallie felt obliged to point out.

‘You sound like my conscience,’ he muttered. ‘If you have a plan C let’s hear it.’

‘Ah, well, I don’t currently have a plan C.’

‘Pity.’

He looked tired, sounded wistful. As if having to deceive John Tey really didn’t sit well with him. Sympathy washed over her and all of a sudden she wanted to slide over to his recliner and comfort him. Weave her hands through that dark, tousled hair, touch her mouth to his and feel the passion slide through her and the heat start to build as she feasted on that clever, knowing mouth and—Whoa! Stop right there. Because that wasn’t sympathy.

That was lust.

‘What?’ He was looking at her strangely.

‘Indigestion,’ she said. ‘I think it was something I ate. Probably the clams.’

‘Probably the situation,’ he said. ‘What’s it to be, Hallie? Are you in or out?’

Hallie hesitated, tempted to say ‘yes’. Not for the adventure, the excitement, or the money, but so that she could spend more time with Nick. The same Nick who was prepared to pay her ten thousand pounds so that at the end of the charade she’d leave.

A sensible woman would refuse him now and save herself the heartbreak, the genuine heartbreak, that was bound to come if a woman was careless enough to fall for him. A smart woman would sigh over that Hermès handbag, maybe even spend a minute or two imagining what it would look like on her arm, but in the end she’d turn away. That was what she should do.

What she said was, ‘Do you believe in destiny, Nick? Do you believe in fate?’

‘Only as a last resort. Why?’

‘I think we should let the game decide. Xia and Shang against the Martians. If we win we go to Hong Kong as man and wife. If we lose, you throw yourself on the tender mercies of Mr Tey and spill your guts.’

‘You’re serious, aren’t you?’

She was.

‘Deal,’ he said, and the fighting began.

Two murderous hours later it was decided. They were going to Hong Kong.



Hallie’s bedside phone was ringing. She rolled across the bed arm outstretched, groping wildly. Because no way on earth were her eyes going to open at this hour. Her evening with Nick hadn’t been a late one by anyone’s standards, but it wasn’t morning by most people’s standards either. It was still dark, not even dawn. She found the phone, found her ear. ‘Lo,’ she mumbled.

‘Can you get some time off work this afternoon?’

‘Nick?’

‘Yes. Nick.’ He sounded impatient.

‘Couldn’t this have waited till morning?’ she mumbled.

‘It is morning. Were you still in bed?’

Hallie slitted her eyes open to glance at the glowing red numbers of her bedside clock. Five-fifty a.m! Ugh, he was a morning person. The notion was going to take some time to digest. She held the receiver to her breast and took several deep breaths before putting it back to her ear. ‘This is my one day off a week and, I’m warning you, there’d better be a good reason for this call. What do you want?’

‘To let you know we have an appointment at Tiffany’s at two this afternoon to get your rings.’

‘Rings?’ Hallie’s eyes snapped open. ‘Tiffany’s? As in Tiffany and Co. the jewellers?’ She was wide awake.

‘Wedding ring, engagement ring. It’ll be expected. The manager of the store on Old Bond Road’s a friend of mine; he’s going to let me borrow some pieces,’ said Nick. ‘After that we’ll go shopping. You’ll need suitable clothes as well.’

Shopping for clothes? This coming from the lips of a man? ‘You’re gay, aren’t you?’