A wife on paper...
Jasper Caulfield is outraged by the terms of his father's will: marriage for one month with Hayley Addington--or lose everything!
In his bed?
Hayley's determined to be a wife on paper only! But the art of seduction is this tycoon's specialty....
Where she belongs!
After thirty-one days, Jasper must decide if he's to return to his bachelor lifestyle--or keep his new bride for his very own pleasure....
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October 01, 2007
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Excerpt from Willingly Bedded, Forcibly Wedded by Melanie Milburne
'MARRIED?' Jasper Caulfield almost choked on the word.
'Are you out of your cotton-picking mind?'
Duncan Brocklehurst gave his client an empathetic look. 'I guess it's your father's way of still exerting control from the other side of the grave.'
Jasper's dark brows snapped together irritably. 'You mean there's no way out of it?'
The lawyer shook his head. 'I'm afraid not, Jasper. If you want the Crickglades estate you're going to have to fulfil the terms of the old man's will, and soon, otherwise the whole lot is going to your brother Raymond.'
Jasper sprang to his feet and began to pace the room in agitation. 'This is totally outrageous. Raymond's a priest for God's sake. What's he going to do with a place the size of Crickglades?'
'Look, it might not be so bad,' Duncan consoled him. 'All you have to do is convince Hayley Addington to be your wife and live with her for a month and the place is yours.'
Jasper turned around to glare at him. 'Hayley Addington? Are you completely nuts? Even if I was the marrying type, which I'm very definitely not, she's practically the last woman I would consider tying myself to, even temporarily. Besides, she hates my guts.' 'Which is probably why Gerald constructed his will this way,'Duncan pointed out. 'But for all that it does seem a rather strange caveat.'
'Strange?'Jasper gave an incredulous snort. 'It's bloody ridiculous, that's what it is. Who on earth gets married for a month?'
'I know it's unusual but I'd think about it very seriously if I were you,'Duncan said. 'This is a property developer's dream. The land is worth a fortune in terms of redevelopment. Surely it's worth putting up with a short term marriage?'
Jasper blew out a breath as he sat back down. He had his own reasons for wanting Crickglades--and he was damned well going to make sure he got what he wanted. He scraped a hand through his thick black hair before fixing his gaze on the document on the desk as if it were something poisonous. 'So how am I going to convince Hayley to marry me?'
Duncan chuckled with amusement. 'You are such a comedian.'He leaned back in his chair, still grinning. 'Why not use some of that lethal charm you're so well known for? You have a veritable drove of adoring women following you about all the time if what's reported in the press is to be believed.'
Jasper rolled his eyes. 'Yeah, well, it's going to take a lot more than charm to get Hayley to agree with this. Anyway, what does she get out of the deal? I was under the impression she'd sweet talked him into leaving her the lot. Did the old guy change his mind at the last minute?'
'His previous will had been pretty straightforward but he drew up a new one a few days before he died.' Duncan's eyes flicked back to the legal papers in front of him. 'This time around she gets a lump sum from Gerald's estate, but only if she marries you and lives with you for the month as stated.'
'How much is the lump sum?'
Duncan told him an amount that made Jasper's dark brows shoot upwards. 'That much, huh?' 'Yep,' Duncan said. 'A nice little carrot, if you ask me.' Jasper's expression twisted cynically. 'It wouldn't matter what size carrot my father had organised, she'd never agree to marry me,' he said, his frown deepening. 'What was the old man thinking of?'
'I don't know, but your father insisted no money must change hands between you. You can't pay Hayley to be your wife. And no pre-nup either.'
Jasper jerked upright in his chair. 'What?'
Duncan pushed the document across the desk for him to inspect the fine print. 'There it is in black and white. No pre-nuptial agreement.'
'That's just financial suicide!' Jasper raged. 'This is total madness, especially when you consider what happened to my father when Hayley's bitch of a mother Eva stripped him of half his assets. Come on, surely there's a way around this?'
Duncan shook his head. 'Sorry, Jasper. Your father has tied this up so neatly it would take more than Houdini to get out of it. You really have no choice but to do as it says. Get Hayley Addington to be your wife, then hope and pray she doesn't still hate you at the end of the month and take you to the cleaners.'
Jasper rubbed at his jaw for a moment. 'Does she know the details of the will?'
'I met with her yesterday.' 'And?'
Duncan gave him a sober look. 'You've got yourself one hell of a challenge on your hands, Jasper,' he said. 'Not only does she hate you to hell and back, she's currently engaged to another man.'
Jasper felt as if someone had punched him in the midsection. 'Engaged?'
Duncan nodded. 'You'll have to work quickly as she plans to get married some time next month.'