Marriage of Inconvenience (Knitting in the City Book 7)(10)

By: Penny Reid

Just before the elevator doors closed, I hiccupped. Loudly. Violently. Lifting my eyes as I covered my mouth, I found Dan watching me. He hadn’t moved from his spot by the desk, and a painful squeeze constricted my heart just before I hiccupped again.

A tempting but completely impractical thought whispered through my mind. Another, Why not?

This time, Why not Dan?

I sighed, leaning heavily against the wall of the lift, and rubbed my hairline where a tension headache was now forming.

Dan O’Malley was a good guy. A great guy. Because I avoided him, we hadn’t talked much, especially after what happened between us in Vegas.

But we’d known each other for over two years and he’d always been kind. He’d always taken great care of our overlapping circle of friends. He was the kind of guy who’d give someone in need the shirt off his back, and then offer a beer and a place to stay. If I asked him to help, there was a real chance he might agree. He was just that good.

And yet, a marriage of convenience to the man of my dreams?

That sounded like a nightmare.

Chapter Two

Marriage fraud: A marriage of convenience entered into purely for the purpose of gaining a benefit or other advantage arising from that status.

—Wex Legal Dictionary


My violent hiccups persisted, even while waiting for and grabbing takeout from Steven’s favorite sushi restaurant; even while walking along the long stretch of North Michigan Avenue enjoying the summer sun; even while trying to come up with an alternative—any alternative—to marriage.

I’d held my breath several times. Likewise, several times, I’d been convinced the hiccups had passed, only for them to sneak up like a ninja and strike when least expected.

Unexpected hiccups were the worst, mostly because of their volume. My hiccups sounded like a shrill gasp if I wasn’t careful to keep my mouth closed. A few people eyeballed me as I walked, as though attempting to determine if I were in distress or just a weirdo making truncated shrieking sounds.

I supposed it was a mixture of both: I was in distress; I was a weirdo making truncated shrieking sounds.

Thankfully, my diaphragm decided to take a chill pill about two blocks from Dan’s apartment. Aside from the hiccups, the walk had been good for me, calming. Once I’d accepted my fate, that marriage was the most expedient and efficient answer to my conundrum, I’d prepared a speech, hoping it would help Steven make the right decision.

I had to ask, I didn’t feel I had a choice, but I didn’t want him to feel pressured.

Dan’s apartment building, which was owned by Cypher Systems, was situated in New East Side. The structure had views of Lake Michigan as well as the green space—including Millennium, Daley, and Grant Parks—all the way to the Field Museum to the south.

Because Quinn’s company owned the apartment building, and because he was particular about security, several employees and individuals associated with Cypher Systems also lived there.

For example, Cypher Systems provided the security detail for my friend Elizabeth’s famous comedian husband, Nico Moretti. Nico and Elizabeth lived in one of the penthouses. Janie and Quinn lived in the second penthouse on the same floor. Sandra—another member of my knitting group—and Alex—her hacker husband who worked for Quinn—lived on the floor below the penthouse level, the same floor as Dan and my friend Steven.

A very friendly doorman I recognized as Charles, who looked more like an MMA fighter than a doorman, grinned when I came into view. “Where is everyone meeting tonight?”

“What?” I stopped to converse with him; I had no way to enter the building without Charles opening the door.

“Isn’t your knitting group meeting tonight?”

“Oh. No. That’s on Tuesdays.”

“Right. That’s right.” Charles gripped the large door handle, waited a moment for it to scan his prints, and held the door open for me, winking as I walked past. “See you later, Kat.”

I gave him a polite nod, unable to stop myself from adding him to my list of potential marriage candidates.

Obviously, first I have to find out if he’s single.

Scrunching my face at myself, I struggled to shake off the desperate turn of my thoughts.

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