JT kept his expression bland. No need for her to learn the truth. He’d promised himself that nothing would happen between them. He needed her in his corner far more than he needed her naked in his bed. He wasn’t about to ruin their fledgling connection over something as fleeting as lust.
“It should.” But he didn’t feel as confident as he sounded. “And it isn’t forever.”
“Right. We only need to be married long enough for me to vote my shares at the annual meeting. It’s at the end of August, right?”
“That’s only six weeks away.”
JT had another thought. “Your family isn’t going to be happy if you marry me without some sort of a prenup.”
“At the moment I’m not worth more than the stock I inherited from Tiberius and what I’ve saved towards retirement. We can sign a simple agreement that states we leave the marriage with what we arrived with.”
She made everything sound so reasonable. So why was he resisting?
Sure, marriage wasn’t on his to-do list. He enjoyed playing the part of confirmed bachelor. Las Vegas was the perfect place to find attractive, single women looking for a little fun. They came in for a weekend and he gave them the royal treatment. Then they were gone. No fuss. No muss.
Violet was a whole different package. She was in Vegas to stay. Getting involved with her would be complicated and undoubtedly end in heartbreak. His.
But it wasn’t as if they were getting married for real. He just needed to remember that.
“So are we going to do this?” She’d plucked her palm from his thigh, leaving behind a distracting tingle.
“You’re sure you want to marry me?” His heart thumped hard against his ribs as he reminded himself this was a business deal.
“Want to marry you? Absolutely not.” Her lighthearted laugh had a slightly wicked edge. “But I feel like I owe it to Tiberius to finish what he started. And I’d like to see you take back your family’s company.”
He scrutinized her lovely features, finding only altruism in her expression. Her self-sacrifice made him uncomfortable.
“I get that you feel an obligation to Tiberius, but I’m not sure this is the best idea.”
“I don’t feel obligated.”
From her earnest expression he could tell she didn’t. And that’s what worried JT the most.
“Okay, but you’re also looking for a way to make your shares pay off too, right?”
She cocked her head and regarded him in silence for several seconds. “You yourself said the company isn’t doing well with your father at the helm. If he continues, the shares will lose value. Maybe even become worthless. I know you’ll make a much better CEO. I’m protecting myself the best way I can.”
Her answer rang with conviction. JT’s resistance eased minutely. Still, he should refuse. The only way this wasn’t going to backfire on them both was if he turned down her help. But the idea of getting that much closer to Violet was a temptation of the hard-to-resist variety.
But marriage? Was the opportunity to rescue Stone Properties from his father’s clutches worth the danger of getting too attached to Violet? He already liked her far too much for his own good. Watching her walk into the lounge was enough to make his day. What if he started to rely on spending lots of time with her? He knew himself well enough to know that just being friends wouldn’t cut it. He wanted her. Badly. It was only a matter of time before he did something about it.
After a fast and furious debate, JT kicked self-preservation to the curb.
“Then I’m in.” He was on the verge of getting on one knee and proposing to her properly when she spoke up.
“I think we should do this sooner rather than later. Before either one of us comes to our senses.”
“How soon?” She’d saved him from going all romantic—even if it was just for show—and making an ass out of himself. “Like Saturday?”
“What about now?” Seeing his shock, she rushed on. “Too fast?”
“A little.” But what the hell. If they waited, the anticipation might prompt him to do something stupid. Like let her see how badly he needed her. “But it’s doable. Your chapel or mine?”
“How about someplace neutral. The Tunnel of Love Chapel?”
Some of JT’s tension faded. She really was approaching this as a business arrangement and he needed to do so as well. But ignoring her effect on him was easier said than done.
“Positively romantic,” he said, his tone dry.
“Good.” She glanced at her phone. “I booked it for midnight.”
“You were feeling pretty confident I’d say yes.”
She shrugged. “It made perfect business sense that you would.”
But business was the furthest thing from his thoughts at the moment. He was contemplating all the delightful things a husband did with his brand-new wife. “Are you going to leave the booking of the honeymoon suite to me?”
She looked positively horrified. “Perhaps I wasn’t very clear. A marriage in name only means no sex.”
“Not even on our wedding night?” he couldn’t resist asking. She was so delightfully earnest. It made teasing her a pleasure.
“I thought I wasn’t your type.” Her voice lacked any trace of amusement.
“Since you’re going to be my wife,” he said, “I figured I should make an exception just this once.”
“It’s a lovely thought but we should really keep this all business between us.”
“Whatever you say.”
“It will make things easier.”
She was oh so wrong about that. Nothing about being married to Violet was going to be easy. In fact, he’d better brace himself because things were about to get a whole lot harder.
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