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A Bargain Marriage

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Andrew is the main character of this book, who must fulfill his grandfather's inheritance requirement by getting married and starting a family. Melissa , Andrew's assistant, stands up and agrees to marry him so he may receive his fortune when Andrew needs to find someone to get married to him. Andrew Kane, the eldest of the Kane siblings has always known that he would be the CEO of his family’s media empire. But his grandfather’s will stipulation requires him to be married to an heir to be eligible to be the CEO leaving Andrew reeling. So, determined to get his due, he proposes a marriage-of-convenience plan to his trusted secretary, Melissa . But what happens when hearts and feelings get involved? And with a known enemy just waiting to strike, will Andrew and Melissa get a happily-ever-after?

Chapter 1

He captures the attention of numerous servers who pass our table despite the rumpled state of his suit and his filthy blond hair, and Smith, my best friend, and my boss's brother, cuts me off and says, "It's a crime to celebrate a day like this all by yourself.

"I'm not getting married," you respond, and I'm able to hide a smile and lock my phone.

"No, but you're the puppeteer who pulled off the unthinkable," he says as his glance briefly crosses my face.

"It wasn't that bad."

"I see you have an issue now. Do you think Andrew's upcoming wedding will be sad? He uses a lower voice than usual when speaking.

I break out in laughter and say, "What? No."

"So then, what's wrong?”

My head hangs and a few spiral curls fall in front of my eyes. I run my hand down my dress, trying to smooth out a few imaginary creases. Because of the contrast between my brown skin and the vivid lavender cloth, I seem much happier than I recently got a message via email telling me I didn't get the job.

“Sh*t. Hearing that makes me sad. I'm aware of how meticulously you prepared for the presentation at the interview.

Having spent months preparing for a speech on the

I requested a job transfer, but David Company's human resources department denied me. It aches more than it should. I wasn't exactly shooting for the stars with an entry-level HR position, but I had a decent idea with a promising future. One that could support several dyslexics who are experiencing professional difficulty. My idea could help the company grow if they would simply give it a shot.

You can try your luck again later.

My smile wavers. It was not meant to be.

That's a lot of crap, in my opinion.

I laugh. Andrew was kept in the dark, so at least it's real. But what if I told him and then I didn't even get the job?

He would never have allowed me to apologize.

He does have a propensity for boasting.

I grin broadly and say, "Hence the party," pointing at the massive balloon arch.

The bright She Said Yes sign causes Smith to furrow his brow, "Understated. He will love it.

I bat my eyelids and smile sweetly, "I only planned a party at his request. He needed to be more specific about the kind of event he wanted.

She said, "Remind me never to annoy you."

I have a well-thought-out plan for the day in question.

Smith pretends to quake. The question is, "Where is the future wife?"

Before the reveal, Andrew wanted to meet with her.

Why the hell did you allow him to behave in such a manner?

Maybe it's because he hasn't met her yet."

"Exactly, and for this reason it is a bad idea," Smith says as he combs his thick hair with his hands.

Do you think he can persuade her to reconsider? I responded, "Knowing my brother, it wouldn't take much convincing."

She accepted the agreement. He shrugs, "If you say so, it will happen.

"Perhaps I should go check on them," I say as I head in the direction of the elevators.

My arm is caught in a loop by Smith, who says, "No, you're skipping out on the evening.

“But—”

"I think you're probably right. Andrew wouldn't risk losing everything right now by making a dumb decision. Even he understands when to use caution.

I know you're lying now that you've admitted it.

He chuckles. It's okay, let's go inside and wait for Andrew. Just picture how he'll fight heroiSmithly to keep his composure and yet fail. Hell, I don't believe I've ever seen him so much as a sneer at someone while turning his head in their way.

“Since?”

He avoids looking at me and says, "Ever and ever. I'm very certain that his d*ck must be perpetually sore from jacking off every night.

I tap his shoulder while giggling. Since he is my supervisor, keep silent.

I chuckled again and said, "I'm surprised stated appendage hasn't come off from that type of abuse.

Andrew yells loudly, "Smithlahan."

A few stragglers rush into the ballroom at the sound of Andrew's voice.

Smith observes, "He sure knows how to clear a room.

Any happiness I could have seen in Smith's eyes disappears the moment Andrew enters the room and frowns. Andrew's cold stare threatens climate change as the air becomes colder. His massive figure blocks my view of the entire foyer. The spotlight behind him only highlights the angularity of his features, emphasizing the blackness and depth of his eyes, as well as the angles of his jaw.

Andrew has a cold, gloomy, and unnervingly Smithm appearance similar to the deepest part of the ocean rather than Smith's golden boy image of blond hair and blue eyes. Like a predator lurking in the shadows, poised to pounce on prey. His dark hair and the enduring sneer etched into his face give off a feeling that turns everyone away.

Everyone, I mean, not just myself. Some would say he purchased my loyalty with a check, but that's not the case. We have stood the test of time in our mutual respect. Even though the first few months of our work were difficult, my commitment to succeeding as his assistant paved the foundation for our relationship today.

Even though we are almost total opposites, we manage to get along. I am an ethnic woman. He is a White male. I smile as he scowls. He works out in the gym first thing every morning, whereas I would never go unless I wanted to purchase a smoothie from the café. We get along despite the stark disparities between us. At least I do.

I approach the two brothers from behind. Andrew, what are you doing outside? Is it time to release the news at this time?”

Andrew turns his attention away from Smith and toward me. His intense gaze would make most people want to flee, but I straighten my back and meet him head-on like my grandma had taught me to do.

, "She left,"

I quake. Who departed? The wedding planner?”

“No. the partner. Belinda.”

"Has Bethany quit?"

Smith might come out as haughty.

Andrew doesn't even bother to turn around as he breaks all of my well-planned arrangements. "Yes. Her."

It was almost impossible for me to locate a bride who would consent to marry him and bear his child for him to succeed as CEO and collect his money. I refuse to acknowledge that he squandered months of my hard work, stating, "This can't be happening."

Reality is reality, whether you embrace it or not.

The reply from Smith is, "I hate to be the one to say I told you so."

I reprimand him, saying, "This is all your fault."

Smith raises both of his hands in the air and says, "No! It's not my fault; my brother's attitude is greater than his d*ck.

I circle them, pacing over the carpet, ignoring their quarrel, Andrew kicking Smith in the back of the head.

Before collecting my half-finished flute, Smith empties his glass and says, "You should have eloped while you had the chance."

"Do you speak from personal experience?”

Smith makes a nose wrinkle. He inhales deeply and closes his fists at his sides before allowing anger to consume him. He turns to face me and adds, "That's why my grandpa made that inheritance provision in the first place." He reasoned that a family could help him unwind because he was aware that Andrew wasn't ready to assume the post of CEO. He continually tries to destroy individuals around him, so how can he inspire the masses?”

Andrew clamps his jaw shut. Smith makes a sarcastic motion with his eyebrow.

"Stop acting like a child and use that big brain of yours to help us out of this mess," I tell Andrew as I turn to face him. "And you stop venting your rage on other people. Your mistakes are entirely your own and have nothing to do with Smith."

He always gives me that blank look, which I hate more than anything.

Smith laughs. "Of course, I screwed this up. His most recent software upgrade was missing a manual on how to act nicely as a human being.

I pick up my phone and Smithl Bethany, muttering under my breath, "You're both hopeless," before it rings twice and goes straight to voicemail. I try Smithling again, but this time the voicemail responds right away. "Sh*t!"

"No answer? Smith was so arrogant as to act amused.

What were you like? I hiss in Andrew's direction.

Andrew picks at a piece of invisible lint on the sleeve of his jacket, acting as though this is the most boring conversation he has ever heard. She lacked the qualifications needed for the job.

What do you want me to do with that information considering that there are a hundred individuals curious to learn about your engagement to an enigmatic woman? Please, be attentive.

He looks at me with narrowed eyes, and I look back while putting my fists on my hips.

Smith slurps loudly as though to remind us of his presence. Andrew's failed engagement will make Father very happy, so I'm curious to see how this will all pan out.

God, oh God. His father may not be aware of the letter Andrew received from Brady David outlining the terms for receiving his inheritance, but he is a successful businessman for a reason, and he is not a fool. He will contact Brady's attorney as soon as he gets the slightest inkling that this engagement is a lie, and Andrew might lose everything if the attorney accepts his story.

The little phone's speaker makes the voicemail loud and clear, so I Smith Bethany's number again in the hopes that the third time will be the charm.

Smith whistles before making an explosion sound; "That sound is Andrew's future dying," someone remarked.

You must be somewhere, don't you? Perhaps a dive bar?Andrew shrieks, "

Why should I pay for alcohol when I can get it for free on your dime? Smith smiled and held up his champagne flute.

I try to ignore them as I consider my options.

Have you given up forever and how can you help?

No, I won't give up now, not while I'm so close to helping Andrew accomplish his goal.

You might have gotten in touch with your backup plan, but Andrew made her cry—

"No," Andrew yells, "because no one knows you better than she could step into the role like a natural." Smith sneakily smiles, "You know, Melissa is single."

Wait.

Yes.

Me!

Since I don't have a significant other or other duties, it's not like I face many challenges in taking on the character of Bethany.

However, you shouldn't act merely because you have the option.

Time and acceptable fiancées are running out, so who else but me?

Tati, Andrew's wedding coordinator, interrupts me before I can say anything by squealing, "You're here! I was wondering where the future husband-to-be snuck off to.

You can't pay for this kind of entertainment, Smith says while draining my glass and leaning on the table with a smile.

What happened to the fiancée I've hardly heard of? Tati waves her clipboard about like a magic wand.

I'm glad I kept Bethany's identity a secret in case the same thing happened. Are u thinking about getting married to him? You love him even less now.

I don't have to love him. It's a contract, not a romance.

Andrew cuts me off and says, "Beatr—"

He stiffens, and I pat him again, signaling for him to act naturally, saying, "Her name is Tati, dear." I put my palm against his chest and say, "Her name is Tati, dear."

His black brows knit together as he looks down at my hand as though he wants to peel it off finger by finger. What's the purpose of that? His words are sharp enough to pierce right through my carefully constructed façade.

I give him the greatest smile I can given the situation, "saving you the trouble of having to introduce me and explain our story."

Melissa, are you certain you want to forward with this? The voice of logic becomes louder.

There don't appear to be many options.

The union has taken place! You cannot avoid something when you are terrified.

Any opinions that didn't fit my agenda were silenced. I have a very short lifespan.

Consider establishing a family.

I suppose having kids has always been a dream of mine.

Yeah. in ten years!

I can at least get a head start on my five-year plan.

The lump in my throat is spat out, and I turn back to Tati. Andrew has me in a firm grip, so I back away and take his hand. The fabric of his suiitssitatitGreat. We'll have to deal with his aversion to your touch later. "Tati, I wasn't completely honest with you over the phone."

Her smile waned. “Oh.”

I was a little hesitant to introduce myself as anyone other than Andrew's assistant before our meeting. You see, I've worked for the David Company for a while, and you know how fast rumors travel.

She bobs her head and holds her clipboard close to her chest. "I get what you mean, sure.

Without even trying, my voice quivers, "We don't want to hide the fact that I am dating my boss because I was so terrified of what people would say.

Andrew only gives me two distressing blinks. He has never caused me to blink twice. Not when a deal he had been working on for two years fell through, and most especially not when his grandfather passed away.

It gives me a queasy feeling.

I clench my teeth and return to Tati. There is no longer any rationale for keeping our love a secret, and we are ready to go forward with our future.

Behind Tati's back, Smith shakes his head in agreement and adds, "Oscar-worthy," before pointing in Andrew's direction with his two middle fingers.

Tati grins widely as she takes our hands and says, "Wow! This must be such a big deal for you both then, for many reasons," her eyes flitting to my ring finger.

"Oh, right. The group! I direct my attention to Andrew's face.

Everyone can notice that he titickssdticks sorry, but even though it may not seem that way right now, I'm saving you from obliterating your entire future.

Andrew seems to be removing his hand from mine. He takes out a platinum band with a magnificent solitaire diamond from his pocket. I've been a little taken aback by the elegant ring. I'm even more confused because it's completely different from the godless monster I chose to be his future wife. Did he make the wrong buy at the store? I knew I shouldn't have trusted him with something so important, but he insisted.

I'm abruptly brought back into the present when Tati raises an eyebrow inquiringly.

I urged Andrew to hold onto it because we need to have it enlarged since when he proposed and I threw myself into his arms, the darn thing flew off my finger. Tati is unhappy.

I warned my brother against proposing in the middle of a downpour, but he insisted that it was a perfect time because Melissa loved them. Smith moves into Tati's field of sight.

I grin at Tati, who blushes and says, "I've never seen anyone get down on their knees quicker than him."

Andrew continues to grumble, which only makes me chuckle.

The man nearly tore his Tom Ford slacks in half while pursuing that ring. Andrew pushes Smith away as soon as Smith puts his arm around his shoulder. Andrew says, "It's a good thing he found it before it slid down a storm drain because my brother has never worried like that before.

Have you recorded everything with a camera? I want to display it for guests! Tati beams.

The back of my neck warms up. “Oh no. Andrew made a hasty suggestion. I breathe out as the devil holds my left hand, and shivers spread throughout my entire body. It was quite beautiful. He traces my fingers as he slides the ring up.

Tati claps her hands. "Oh, see! After all, it works! She only has two level options, loud and ear-splitting, I swear.

He must have found some time in his hectic schedule to have it finally resized, I think as my cheeks begin to heat up.

Andrew pulls the band once to make sure it fits before slipping his hand into his pocket.

I trace the diamond with a finger before pulling the ring, but the band stays put. I spit out my throat and try to smile, but I think it's stuck.

Do I have any luck tonight? Bethany's finger is smaller than mine, which makes sense.

I take a large breath as he moves away from me, his voice drops so that only I can hear him say "in more ways than one," and something about the richness of his voice sends me another chill.

Time to continue the presentation when his jacket has been changed once more.

A fake union set up to keep my employer from losing everything he has worked his entire life to establish is nothing more than a show; it is neither more nor less.

Nothing seems to stop the beating in my chest, despite my best efforts to remind myself that it is only marriage on paper, I have a brand-new surge of panic that is stronger than ever when I think about it.

My reality hits me like a bad sunburn, and with every second that passes, it becomes harder and harder for me to breathe. Andrew's eyes meet mine as if he can see my growing anxiety.

I recently vowed to support Andrew regardless of the outcome, until our most recent split.

I recently vowed to support Andrew regardless of the outcome.until our most recent split.

Chapter 2

I'd like to have a private conversation with my fiancée right now. The words feel like sandpaper rubbing against my tongue.

My eyes meet those of Melissa. They enlarge before turning to face Smith in a wordless cry for assistance. She is effective at her job because she can read me like a polygraph machine, but for now, it is just a hassle.

Smith starts to speak. Whatever signal I give him, he slowly retreats.

"See you inside, guys." He salutes Melissa half-heartedly and walks into the ballroom.

The wedding planner looks at her watch to see the time. "I'll collect you two when I get back in five minutes. Don't elude me once more. Before going into the kitchen, she winks.

I try to take three deep breaths to slow the rate at which my heart beats against my chest.

You did instruct her to locate anyone who possesses a XX chromosome and the capacity for reproduction. Only you are to blame in this situation.

I've

Heroes

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