Ballerina Sofia Koslov’s career is on the line when she’s accosted at the airport by a rich, reckless playboy who thinks she’s his mail-order bride! But the playboy’s levelheaded brother, Quinn McNeill, solves the media snafu with a switcheroo. He’ll pretend to be her legitimate fiancé to protect her reputation—and to protect his family’s business deals from her father’s wrath. Sofia’s one condition: they’ll share the spotlight as a loving couple but won’t share a bed. But soon Quinn’s gentlemanly ways strike a chord, and Sofia’s dying to renege on that condition and have a real fling…
Did she realize how many complications would arise if they continued this fictional engagement? He’d really thought she would jump at the chance to say she’d turned down his proposal. But then again, he couldn’t deny a surge of desire at the prospect of seeing her again.
“I’m willing to continue with the appearance of an engagement if that’s simpler for you.” He wanted to right the mess Cameron had made. And this time, it wasn’t for Cameron’s sake.
It was for Sofia’s.
“It would be easier for me.” She twisted some of her windblown blond hair behind her ear and he noticed a string of five tiny pearls outlining the curve. “Just for three more weeks. A month, at most, until the rumor mill in my company settles down. I
need to get through that important audition.”
She glanced his way for the first time in miles and caught him staring.
“Of course,” he agreed, mentally recalibrating his schedule to accommodate a woman in his life. He would damn well hand off the trip to Kiev to Cameron or Ian since Quinn would need to remain in New York. “In that case, maybe we should draw up a contract outlining the terms of the arrangement.”
With Vitaly Koslov threatening to block his business in Eastern Europe, Quinn needed to handle this as carefully as he would any complicated foreign acquisition.
“Is that wise?” Frowning, she withdrew a tin of mints from her leather satchel and fished a couple out, offering him one. “A paper trail makes it easier for someone to discover our secret.”
He took a mint, his eye drawn to her mouth as her lips parted. He found himself thinking about that kiss again. The way she’d tasted like mint then, too. And how an engagement would lead to more opportunities to touch her. The idea of a fake fiancée didn’t feel like an imposition when he looked at it that way. Far from it.
“Quinn?” Her head tipped sideways as she studied him, making him realize he’d never responded. “If you really think we need the protection of a legally binding contract—”
“Not necessarily.” He should keep this light. Friendly. Functional. “But we’ll want to be sure both of our interests are protected and that we know what we’re getting into.”
“A prenup for a false engagement.” She shook her head. “Only in New York.”
“Your father will want to ensure your reputation emerges unscathed,” he reminded her.
The limo driver hit the brakes suddenly, making them both lurch forward. On instinct, Quinn’s arm went out, restraining her. It was purely protective, until that moment when he became aware of his forearm pinned against her breasts, his hand anchored to her shoulder under the fall of silky hair.
A soft flush stole over her cheeks as he released her and they each settled back against their respective seat cushions. The awkward moment and the unwelcome heat seemed to mock his need to put the terms of this relationship in writing.
“That’s fine,” she agreed quickly, as if she couldn’t end the conversation fast enough. “If you want to draw up something, I will sign it and you can be sure I will not cause a fuss when we end the engagement.”
She wrapped her mohair cape more tightly around her slight figure, the action only reminding him of her graceful curves and the way she’d felt against him...
... Excerpt from The Magnate's Mail-Order Bride by Joanne Rock 2017
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