The Marriage Bargain: Book Excerpt & Giveaway Reminder!

The Marriage Bargain by Sandra Edwards

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BOOK EXCERPT

“So, once we’re married, as long as I don’t leave you or tell anyone the marriage is merely a business contract, at the end of six months we’ll go our separate ways and I’ll get five million dollars for my troubles?”

“That is the deal,” he said through a half-smile with nothing behind it but teeth.

Damn. This guy must be really loaded.

“What do you want to pretend to be married for, anyway?” she asked. The reason he gave seemed a little extreme. “Why can’t you just tell your dad to get off your back?”

Julian stood. “Chéri, you will understand that better after you meet him.” He buried his hands in his trouser pockets and towered above her like a hungry vulture eyeing his cornered prey.

“I see.” The words tumbled from her mouth. But frankly, she didn’t see at all. It made no sense.

“So, do we have a deal?” he asked, carefree and smoothly. He slid his hand out of his pocket and volunteered it as a gesture of good faith.

“There’s just one more thing.” She evaded his handshake overture. “We have to get married before we leave the States.” Considering she was born to distrust people, she insisted on a formal guarantee before her feet left American soil.

“If that makes you feel better. Sure.” He shrugged, way too calm, or foolish. “But we have to keep the American marriage under wraps.”

“Why?”

“There will be another, more elaborate wedding when we arrive in France. The six months will start after that one—”

“Wa…wait.” Camille flew up like a bottle rocket and teetered at his side. “When will the French wedding take place?” she asked, intrigued by the lengths he’d go to in order to pull off his ruse.

“Two weeks. A month.” His eyebrow quirked as if amused. Apparently he’d seen disapproval in her reaction, rather than intrigue.

Displeasure clamped her mouth shut and bulleted her head back.

“Surely, Chéri, for five million dollars an extra couple of weeks won’t matter?” Julian said, reading her all wrong.

But since he had, maybe she should just go with it. Evidently, it was what he expected and Camille thought it better to please. “You said six months.” She made it up as she went along. “Not six months and two weeks, or seven months.” Agitation echoed in her voice, unnerved and alarming. It scared even her. She added for good measure, “Six. Months.”

The rant made her question the whole crazy notion more than it solidified her decision to hop on board. What kind of idiot agrees to become some stranger’s wife for six months, anyway? One who’s lost her job, thanks to him. One who has a ton of student loans coming due, and no way to pay them. One who was afraid of being penniless and forced to live on the streets. That’s who.

Margo’s promise to blackball her on the L.A. circuit hadn’t done a thing to temper that fear. In fact, it magnified it. Whether her ex-boss could do that kind of damage or not was overshadowed by the possibility. And when she added all that to Julian’s vulnerable expression when he talked about not wanting to get roped into a loveless marriage, Camille found saying ‘no’ impossible.

That settled it. She was a desperate idiot who was about to agree to marry a hopeless fool.

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