Dante's Temporary Fiancée(6)

By: Day Leclaire

“He.” That didn’t bode well for his little project. “Former lover?”

“No. Nothing like that.”

He pressed. “Who are you trying to find?”

“That’s not really any of your business, Mr. Dante,” she said gently. “What I will tell you is that it won’t have an impact on any job you might offer me.”

He let it go. For now. “Fair enough.”

His cell vibrated and he checked it, surprised to find that Juice had completed his preliminary check. Had to be a new record. Either that or Larkin Thatcher didn’t have much history to find. The text simply said “Clean,” but he’d attached an email that went into more specifics.

Rafe excused himself long enough to access his computer and scan it. Nothing unusual other than a long and varied work history. Considering she was only twenty-five, it was rather impressive.

“Still interested in offering me a job?” she asked.

It was the first time she’d betrayed any nerves, and it didn’t take much thought to understand the cause. “How far behind are you on your rent?”

She tapped her pocket. “As I said, this will catch me up.”

“But it won’t leave you anything to spare for utilities or food, will it?”

She lifted a narrow shoulder in a wordless shrug that spoke volumes.

He took a moment to consider his options. Not that he had many. Either he made the offer and put Draco’s plan into action, or he forgot the entire idea. He could still find a position for Larkin. In fact, there was no question that he’d do precisely that. The question was…Which job?

If it weren’t for the Parade of Brides, it would have been an easy question to answer. But the unpleasant truth was, he just didn’t know how much more of his family’s interference he could handle. It had gotten to the point where it wasn’t interfering just with his private life, but with his business life, as well. These days, he couldn’t turn around without running into one of his many relatives. And for some reason, they were always accompanied by a young, single woman.

He needed it to stop…and soon.

Before he could decide, Larkin stood. “Mr. Dante, you seem hesitant.” She offered an easy smile. “Why don’t I make it easy for you? I really appreciate your concern, but this isn’t the first time money’s been tight. I’m sort of like a cat. One way or another, I always land on my feet.”

“Sit down, Larkin.” He softened the demand with a smile. “My hesitation isn’t whether or not I have a job available for you. It’s which job to offer.”

She blinked at that. “Oh. Well…I can handle most general office positions, if that helps. Receptionist. File clerk. Secretary or assistant.”

“What about the position of my fiancée?” He folded his arms across his chest and lifted an eyebrow. “Do you think you could handle that?”


For a split second Larkin couldn’t breathe. It was as though every thought and emotion winked off.

“Excuse me?” she finally said.

“Yeah, I know.” He thrust his hand through his hair, turning order into disorder. For some reason, it only added to his overall appeal. Before, he’d seemed a bit too perfect and remote. Now he looked wholly masculine, strong and authoritative with a disturbing edginess that most women found irresistible. “It sounds crazy. But actually it’s fairly simple and straightforward.”

Larkin didn’t bother to argue. Nothing about this man was the least simple or straightforward. Not the fact that he was a rich and powerful man. Not his connection to one of San Francisco’s leading families, the Dantes. Not his stunning good looks or the intense passion he kept so carefully hidden from those around him. How did the scandal sheets refer to him? Oh, right. The lone wolf who was also, ironically, the “prettiest” of the male Dantes.

True on both counts.

To her eternal regret, it was also true that he was still so madly in love with his late wife that he never wanted to marry again. Too bad he’d married a woman who, while as beautiful to look at as the man pacing in front of her, possessed a single imperative—to take and use whatever she wanted in life, regardless of the cost or harm it might do to others.

“I overheard you, you know,” she warned. “I heard you tell your brother you never wanted to marry again. Not after Leigh.”

“Leigh was my late wife,” he explained. “And you’re right. I don’t ever want to marry again. But I do need a fiancée. A temporary fiancée.”

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