When the size of his rack fails to impress, this moose has to resort to bribery.
Get married or you’re out of the will. Blackmail pure and simple, but Bryce doesn’t have much of a choice if he wants to remain Grandfather’s heir. With the old man on his deathbed, the clock is ticking, so he’d better get cracking because a supposed cousin has just shown up looking for a pint of the maple syrup business.
I’ll gore him with my rack first! Lucky for Bryce, he sniffs out the perfect woman and makes her a deal. What he doesn’t expect is to lose his heart in the process.
Get ready to indulge in an over the top romance with a paranormal twist on some favorite tropes.
“Marry me.” The words were distinct enough to startle. Who proposed in the middle of a lineup for burnt, put-hair-on-your-chest coffee? Melanie wanted to know and craned to peek behind her, her view blocked by the impossibly wide chest of the man behind her. A chest that went up, up, up—
Oops. Caught looking by tall, dark, and handsome, who smiled down at Melanie while his blue eyes danced with mirth. She averted her gaze and faced forward again.
“Marry me.” Again the words sounded so close. Whoever was asking must have been hiding behind the linebacker-wide body of the guy behind her.
Doesn’t look too good, buddy. If you’ve asked her twice and not gotten a reply, then perhaps you should quit now before things get really embarrassing.READ MORE
The line shuffled forward, and the big guy behind her bumped into her back. Before she could flash him a look because really, cute or not, respect the space, a rumbled whisper came right by her ear. “Marry me.”
Tall, handsome dude was talking to her? Her mouth spoke before she could think. “Are you insane?”
“Only on full moons.”
“Bug someone else.” What Melanie said. Yet her kitty perked right up. Turn around.
Next in line for service, she ignored him to step forward and place her order with the barista, only she didn’t step forward alone. The big guy stayed close, inside her bubble. Which meant she could smell him.
Smell the thick cologne and a hint of something else...Something—
“What do ya want?” asked the barista, snapping her gum.
“A small black coffee please,” Melanie said.
“You’re waiting in line for a small coffee?” the big guy said a touch incredulously.
“It is a coffee shop.” Counting out her change, Melanie handed over a good chunk of it, and then the rest was dumped in the cardboard cup marked “tips” in black marker.
“In a place like this, you’re supposed to get something over the top.” He stepped closer, angling his way into the register. “I need a café mocha, heavy on the whipped cream, with a double toasted everything bagel with extra cream cheese, plus a large espresso, no sugar, a half-dozen honey glazed donuts, and a bran muffin.”
“A bran muffin?” she couldn’t help but mutter.
He heard and tossed her a smile that melted her insides. “Not for me. My grandfather. He’ll bitch and moan if he gets nothing.”
“Is the espresso to kill him?”
“No, that’s for me. The café mocha,” said as he swiped her small cup off the counter before she could and tossed it in a bin, “is for you. As are the donuts.”
Who the hell did he think he was? “I don’t need you buying me stuff.”
“You might not need it, but I’m going to buy it anyhow.” He presented the cup with the clear top, showing off the thick whipped cream and the cherry nestled in it.
It did look good.
She shook her head. “I can’t accept it.”
“You have to. I can’t have my future wife saying I cheaped out on our first date.”
She blinked. The conversation had veered into psycho territory. “We are not on a date.”
“Are you sure? I mean I just bought you breakfast, which we are now going to eat together. Dice it any way you like, but that’s a date.”
The arrogance of the statement was almost too much. Rather than grabbing the donuts or the upgraded coffee, she turned around and stalked out, murmuring under her breath, “And this is me ditching you on our first date.”
Melanie didn’t bother to turn around and see his expression. Mr. I-think-I’m-so-hot was probably soothing his bruised ego over having gotten rejected.
Did women seriously fall for this corny marry-me line? Probably, which was why he had perfected his stalking by following her outside.
“You should have said you preferred to eat and walk. I love exercise.”
The inflection had her whirling to glare. “This is harassment.” What she said. Yet her inner kitty seemed to think, This is fun!
“I would have said this was more friendly banter. Just getting to know my lovely bride-to-be.”
“Are you off your meds? On drugs? Hallucinating? Because I have no interest in you.”
He smiled, and she couldn’t help but think what a shame he was obviously a few cards short of a full deck. The man was stupidly handsome.
“Nothing wrong with me. And you are perfect.”
“Me, perfect?” The casual compliment shouldn’t have caused her heart rate to speed up.
“More than perfect, given I need a wife, a certain kind of wife, and you need”—he paused—“something.”
Pride straightened her. “Is this your way of remarking on the fact I look like a poor hag?”
“More like a shabby rose in need of some TLC. Let me give you that care.”
She gaped. “Did you just proposition me?”
“Yes. No. I mean, yes, because I am not joking when I claim I need to get married.”
“Yes need, and quickly too.”
The entire conversation had a surreal feel to it. “So you’re just proposing to strangers out of the blue?”
“Not exactly. You’re the first person I’ve asked. Hopefully the last. Just say yes, would you? I don’t have time to be picky. He’s already ahead of me.”
“Rory. My so-called cousin.”
The name meant nothing. “What does your cousin have to do with me?”
He sighed. “It’s complicated.”
“You think?” A bit of sarcasm in there.
“I promise I’ll explain in greater detail, but the short version is Rory’s the reason I need to get married. Actually my grandfather is the one who started this nonsense. See, he’s dying, and he wants me married before he goes.”
“Sure he does.” She crossed her arms over his chest and sneered. “Let me guess, he’s worth millions.”
At that, she made a noise.
“Do I really look that dumb?” That kind of scenario happened only in movies and books.
“It’s the truth. Which is why I’m proposing a marriage of convenience with a few extra perks.” The sensual tilt of lips again alluded to a more sensual pursuit.
It gave her a little tingle. She ignored it. She’d not remained chaste through college by falling for pretty smiles. Her mother might not have taught her much growing up, but she had taught her not to spread her legs. The yelled, Don’t be a whore, every time she walked out helped.
“If this is how you get girls into bed, it’s pretty slimy.”
“This isn’t a game.”
“Really? Then tell me how your grandfather became a billionaire. Did he invest in diamonds? Oil?”
“Maple syrup.” He said it so seriously. So proudly.
Melanie couldn’t help but snicker.COLLAPSE