Matchmaker, Aiko Vaughn needs a husband, preferably one with a bit of cold cash to spare. When billionaire, Damián Colter walks into her office looking for a bride-in-name-only, she jumps at the offer. But there is one condition to the offer – no romantic entanglements involved. It seems like such a simple rule to follow. After all, they’ve both survived this long without a partner. What’s a couple more years, right?
As it turns out, it’s not that easy. Especially when cupid’s playing dirty.
When love finds two people who are the perfect match for each other in every way, it doesn’t care about the rules.
To say he was surprised to see Aiko was an understatement. After yesterday’s encounter, she was the last person he’d expected in his office and had in fact already spent the morning at another matchmaking service. They’d been all too willing to take his money. He was right; money could buy anything. For some reason that’d left him feeling distaste instead of victory.
He was disappointed to see Aiko here. There was no doubt why she was here. After leaving that other service, he’d had grudging respect for her for not being so easily bought. Her presence here, however, was indication that once again he was right.
There was a price for everything – even Aiko Vaughn.
Twirling a pen between his fingers, he asked, “How can I help you, Aiko?”
“Aren’t you going to offer me a seat?” she arched one perfectly curved eyebrow. He didn’t answer for a moment, taking the time to let his gaze journey over her body. It skimmed the hair pulled back in a loose chignon that left a few curls hanging loosely by her face and slightly concealing her scar. If she was wearing makeup, he couldn’t tell because her skin glowed a healthy coffee-brown while the light sheen on her lips drew attention to their plumpness.
His senses gorged on her beauty, taking in the long column of her neck and the bountiful breasts hidden from his gaze by the chiffon blouse. His cock stirred as his eyes touched the broad width of her thighs emphasized by her green pencil skirt.
“Are you done?” She interrupted his perusal. If his examination had discomfited her, she didn’t show it in her expression.
Damián relaxed his features letting his lips curve into a lazy smile as he gestured to the seat adjacent to his desk. “Please.”
While she set her purse on the carpeted floor and took a seat, he pressed on the remote control to fog up the glass walls of his office and buffer them from curious eyes. He turned to her. “If you’re here to help me with my search, I’m afraid you’re too late. I’ve already hired another agency.”
“Then you should drop them,” Aiko said, “because I’ve already found you a wife.”
Damián sat up in his chair. “You have?”
“Yes.” She paused. “Me.”
For a moment he was suspended in shock and his “You?” was tentative at best.
“Me.” She smiled, seemingly undisturbed by his surprise. “I fit every one of your requirements. Twenty-eight, single, I’ve got a child and a flexible schedule.”
This is not where he’d seen this going. Not in a million years would Aiko’s offering herself even have crossed his mind. It took him a couple of quiet seconds to rally his thoughts. She watched him silent expectation. He finally said, “You don’t even like me.”
She didn’t bother refuting it. “Was liking you one of the requirements?”
She had him there. Damián smirked. “Couldn’t resist the money, huh?”
“It’s ten thousand dollars. Who wouldn’t?” She shrugged. Her gaze met his with steely determination as she asked, “Well?”
Considering that she was the one who was begging for his money, she was irritatingly confident that she had the upper hand. Eager to knock her down a peg, he said, “Stand up.”
She narrowed her eyes. “Why?”
“I want to see what I’m getting offered.”
“I’m not a cow at an auction.” Her smile didn’t reach her eyes. “You’ll just have to be satisfied with what you’ve already seen.”
Damián should’ve been irritated instead he found himself oddly stirred. He liked that she had backbone. She’d need it dealing with Zoe. The moment the thought occurred, he realized that he’d already accepted her offer. He didn’t know why he hadn’t even thought of her in the first place. If he’d analyzed his research into her more carefully he would’ve realized that she was exactly what he needed.
She was uniquely different from the women he regularly interacted with. The ones in his social circle were too tame to handle Zoe, and the aero-technology field wasn’t exactly brimming with women – let alone those interested in raising someone else’s child. With Aiko’s military background and management savvy, she was the perfect candidate for this position. But he wasn’t about to let her know that.
Tapping his chin and staring at her pensively, he said, “I’m not sure I want a bride who can’t obey simple orders.”
“Then you should’ve stuck to nannies and escorts,” she retorted, her voice dripping of fake sweetness.
His brow hiked up a notch. “I could say no.”
“But you won’t.”
She really thought she had all the cards, didn’t she? Driven by the need to wipe out some of that bravado, Damián rose from his seat. She watched him as he made his way to her side of the desk. Reaching for the hand she’d rested on the tabletop, he tagged her upwards. Resistance flirted briefly in her expressions, but she stood anyway.
Even in her heels, she only barely touched the tip of his nose but she didn’t seem intimidated by the height difference. She tilted her head and met his eyes with resolute challenge in the brown depths of hers. “What?”
He didn’t answer. Being this close to Aiko was intoxicating to say the least. Her soft flowery scent tickled at his senses and he was supremely aware of her warm curves only a few inches from his. He took a step forward closing the distance between them. Her soft breasts pressed against the hard planes of his chest and her mouth parted in a startled exhale drawing his attention there.
He expected her to take a step back. She didn’t but her voice was a little shaky when she repeated, “What?”
“This.”He bent his head and slanted his mouth over hers.