With: Kira Archer
Constance wants nothing to do with Luca. But a poorly timed paparazzi photo lands her in the middle of a media nightmare, and Luca is her only way out. He proposes an idea that will help them both—be his fiancée to gain him some respectability and he’ll make a huge donation to her organization…and save her reputation.
But when their lie starts feeling like the truth, and the chemistry just won’t stop, they have a hard time separating what’s real and what’s fantasy…
Copyright © 2016 by Kira Archer. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Publisher.
Chapter OneLuca Vasilakis stirred, sensing someone’s presence near his ear. He really should open his eyes and see who it was, but the pounding already starting in his head made him rethink that decision. The faint aroma of garlic wafted over him and he grimaced, his stomach churning. It had to be Joseph, his personal assistant. The man put garlic in everything.
Before Luca could shoo Joseph away, he heard a quick intake of breath and then the word “Sir!” was shouted so loudly in his ear he was certain his head would explode.
Luca reared up from the chaise, his eyes squinting against the sun that seared his corneas. He brandished the champagne bottle in his hand like a weapon, hoping he’d get lucky and make contact with some part of Joseph’s anatomy. Unfortunately, Joseph, pristinely put together as always in an impeccably tailored suit, his graying hair gelled into submission, stood out of range, waiting for Luca to pull himself together enough to remember where he was.
“What the hell are you doing, Joe?”
“We need to discuss the meeting with your father, sir.”
Luca waved him off and took a swig of the champagne, grimacing when he swallowed it. “Cancel it.”
“I did that moments before waking you, sir. You didn’t look up to it. It has been rescheduled. But I was only able to buy you a few hours, I’m afraid.”
He gave Joseph a wry smile. “I knew there was a reason I keep you around. Get someone to clean this up, will you?”
“Already done, sir.”
Luca surveyed the utter destruction around him. Servants picked their way through the mess with garbage bags, rousing his guests and setting things back to rights. He let out a long, slow breath. Looked like last night had gotten a little out of hand. The raven-haired beauty who’d curled herself around him on the chaise stretched, the movement shifting her bikini in what should have been a tantalizing fashion. Luca barely noticed. He couldn’t remember her name or anything else much about her. The only thing he was certain of was that they hadn’t had sex.
He didn’t do public displays of affection. Any displays of affection, really, and certainly not where some hidden paparazzi lens might capture it. He ran a hand through the unruly mane on his head, frowning when his fingers snagged. Apparently, someone had braided several clumps of his shoulder-length hair. He glanced down at one and swore under his breath at the bright blue ribbon threaded through the black strands.
“You have got to be kidding,” he muttered. He made a new resolution—no more getting so drunk that someone could braid his hair with pretty ribbons without him noticing.
“Sir,” Joseph said, picking his way through empty bottles and passed-out partygoers. “This can’t continue. Your father is quite determined. You will lose everything if you keep on this way.”
Luca waved him off, knowing he spoke the truth but not wanting to hear it at the moment.
“Sir,” Joseph persisted. “The meeting with your father was rescheduled for later this afternoon. He also asked me to remind you…”
“I’m aware of my father’s ultimatum, Joe. I shape up, grow up, find a nice girl, and settle down, or I’m out of a job, family, money…did I leave anything out?”
Joseph smiled. “No sir, that about sums it up.”
“Well, then, let’s save the rest of the dire threats for my father then. Wouldn’t want to leave him with nothing to say.”
Luca rubbed his hand over his face. He’d better get cleaned up and over to his father’s office. Keeping the old man waiting had never improved his temper. And while he’d made these threats before, something was different this time. His father seemed…fed up. Sad, even. This time, he might actually follow through.
Not that Luca had a damn clue what to do about it. He’d tried to curb his partying. Well, he could try harder in that department, but he certainly wasn’t going to find himself a wife and settle down just to make his father happy. The last thing in the world he wanted was to be tied down to some nagging harpy determined to make his life hell. Time enough for that when he was past his prime and too old to have any more fun. For now, he’d say what he needed to appease his father and get on with his life. Easier said than done.
About the Author:
I reside in Pennsylvania with my husband, two kiddos, and far too many animals in the house. I tend to laugh at inappropriate moments, break all the rules I give my kids (but only when they aren’t looking), and would rather be reading a book than doing almost anything else. I have odd, eclectic tastes in just about everything and often let my imagination run away with me. I love a vast variety of genres and write in quite a few. As Kira, I write contemporary and urban fantasy romance. If you love historical romances, check out my alter ego, Michelle McLean.