The Billionaire Bride Pact
by Jeanette Lewis
All Rights Reserved
In the hollow behind the cotoneasters, Holly dropped her head onto her knees as confusion and resentment flashed through her. Brit didn’t look at her the way Darrin had looked at Nikki—and she didn’t want him to look at her that way. He was a friend, nothing more, yet she was expected to make a lifetime commitment to him. Had her parents even considered what that meant? Their marriage wasn’t the best, but at least it had been formed from love. Why didn’t they want the same for her?
Her muscles were starting to cramp, and her secretary was probably wondering where she was. It wouldn’t do any good to sit here moping. Holly unfolded herself with a sigh and crawled back through the tunnel toward the patch of sunshine at the end.
She poked her head out from around the swing in time to see a man pick up one of the shoes she’d left by the fountain.
“Hey!” Holly yelled.
Startled, he dropped the shoe, which bounced off the rock edge of the fountain and into the water with a splash.
Holly bounded to her feet and stalked across the grass. “Those are Jimmy Choos and they’re expensive!” Glaring at him, she plunged her hand into the fountain’s pool and pulled out the shoe, the soggy green suede now much darker than its original shade of celery.
“I’m sorry. I thought someone had gone off and forgotten their things.” The man gestured to the grass, where Holly’s other shoe sat alongside her soft leather briefcase. “What are you doing lurking in the bushes like some kind of goblin?” He dug in his pocket and offered her a folded white handkerchief.
“None of your business.” Holly snatched the handkerchief and tried to sop up some of the water from the suede. “These are ruined.”
“To be fair, only that one is ruined,” the man said. “The other one seems fine.”
She stared up into his eyes. They were dark, almost black, and were dancing with mirth under his heavy brows. He was several inches taller, broad-shouldered and big. She took in his clean-shaven, rather square jaw, and full lips set in a slightly cocky smile and felt the stirrings of butterflies in her stomach. His light brown hair curled over the edge of his collar and was adorably tousled.
Adorably? Wait … no.
“I’m very sorry for baptizing your shoe,” he said, keeping the grin in place. “I’ll reimburse you for it. Also, did you know you’re bleeding?” He reached out and plucked the soggy handkerchief from her fingers and lightly brushed it over her cheek.
It must have been a scratch from the bushes, but Holly didn’t feel anything beyond the zing of her nerves igniting at his touch. She jumped back.
“Whoa, settle down.” He extended the handkerchief, showing her the small spot of red. “Bleeding … see?”
“Thanks.” She took the handkerchief from him and pressed it to her cheek. “I’m Holly Clarke; who are you?”