Gabriella Benito fell for wealthy Rufus Gresham the first time she saw him. But Rufus believed Gabriella only wanted a rich husband--just like her mother.
Five years later, Rufus and Gabriella must marry to obtain their inheritances. On their wedding day, Gabriella is shocked when Rufus kisses her passionately! Will Rufus use their marriage as an excuse to have her in his bed--whenever he wants?
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April 30, 2007
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Excerpt from Wife by Contract, Mistress by Demand by Carole Mortimer
Five years later, as she gazed across the lawyer's office at Rufus Gabriella knew that she still hated him!
"If I could get straight on to the terms of Mr Gresham's will--?" David Brewster prompted politely once they were seated.
"Go ahead," Rufus instructed tersely.
He didn't want her here, Gabriella knew. Or his cousin Toby, if the way the two men had greeted each other a few minutes ago was anything to go by. On that she could agree with him however, after what Toby had done.
But although she knew Rufus wouldn't believe her, she really wished she weren't here.
Given a choice, she would rather James hadn't died at all. She'd much rather he were still here giving her the fatherly advice and love that she had found so invaluable since her mother's death a year ago.
James had been devastated after Heather was killed in a car crash last year, and never really seemed to fully recover from the blow. He had suffered a heart attack six months later, and then another, fatal one, a month ago.
No, given a choice Gabriella would rather have had both James and Heather still alive than being summoned to this lawyer's office--as must Rufus and Toby have been--at this time, on this day, for a meeting about James's will.
She and Rufus hadn't spoken at all since they had arrived separately. As they hadn't spoken for the last five years. As they wouldn't ever speak again once this last link with James was severed.
David Brewster's expression was grave as he opened the official-looking document on top of his desk to look at them over the top of the half-moon glasses he had perched on top of his nose. "First things first," he said slowly. "I have already informed by letter the recipients of small bequests in Mr Gresham's will, members of the household staff and suchlike," he dismissed. "And there is, of course, a trust fund for his granddaughter Holly, to be administered by her father and myself until she is of an age to receive the bulk capital."
"Lucky old Holly," Toby said cheerfully, an actor by profession, his dark good looks unfortunately not matched in talent, meaning that he was very often 'resting' rather than actually working. "Pity she isn't eighteen rather than seven, then I could have married her!"
"Over my dead body!' Rufus growled in response. "If necessary," Toby came back tauntingly.
Gabriella barely listened to the exchange, her earlier tension rising to an unbearable pitch as David Brewster dismissed so lightly those 'small bequests'.
What did that mean?
That she was a recipient of a large bequest--?
If so, Rufus was just going to dislike her more than ever. If that were possible!
Rufus's gaze narrowed on the elderly lawyer. "Can I ask if this is a recent will of my father's?"
"Indeed it is, Mr Gresham," the lawyer answered him lightly. "In fact, it's dated only two months before your father's death."
Rufus's uneasiness about the contents of his father's will increased.
Of course, that uneasiness could have something to do with the fact that Toby, his disreputable cousin and a constant sponge on James's good will until uncle and nephew had fallen out about three months ago, was also here.
He had rarely seen her the last five years, Gabriella having lived and trained as a chef in France for three years after that--incident--in Majorca, and their paths had rarely crossed since she came back to England to live two years ago.
But whenever they had chanced to meet, he had been very aware of the burning intensity of her dislike.
Those five years had done nothing to lessen her beauty, he noted clinically as he looked at her between narrowed lids. In fact if anything she was even more beautiful, none of that youthful eagerness in her face now as she sensed his gaze on her and turned to look at him challengingly.