The Billionaire's Counterfeit Girlfriend

By: Nadia Lee

Chapter One

Exactly four weeks before his family’s Fourth of July party, Mark Pryce walked into Omega Wealth Management. He’d tried to come up with a solution on his own, but the problem wouldn’t go away. Only one person could bail him out of the mess he was in.

It was late, but he knew for a fact that Hilary Rosenberg rarely left at five.

A woman moved in his peripheral vision, and there she was. He turned to admire her. Unlike the other receptionists at the firm, Hilary was curvy, with generous breasts and hips that flared out in luscious slopes. She was dressed in a pastel mint-green blouse and cappuccino-colored pencil skirt that reached a single conservative inch below her knees. A simple updo revealed the kissable line of her neck. The only non-conservative item on her was a pair of sexy open-toe stilettos that improved the shape of her already gorgeous legs. He itched to reach out and touch her to see if she was as soft and sweet as he imagined, but he kept his hands to himself.

“Hi, Mark. You here to see Gavin?” Hilary walked past him to her desk. His body tightened at her delicious apple and cinnamon scent.

“Actually, I’m here to see you.”

“I wish you’d called first. I’m leaving right now to meet some friends at Z.” She dumped a thick stack of papers into her briefcase and picked up her purse and a gold-plated stainless steel travel mug etched with “A Woman Worth Her Weight in Gold.” Her boss Gavin had given it to her a few years ago on her birthday, saying it described her perfectly.

Her brisk tone pricked his pride. Most women fawned over him. “It won’t take long. We can talk in the elevator.” He offered her his arm and almost chuckled when she predictably pretended not to see it. Well, no problem. If she didn’t want to take his arm, he could do the next best thing—putting his hand at her elbow to guide her in a courtly gesture.

* * *

Generally, Hilary’s interactions with Mark were limited to simple two- or three-minute conversations, mostly consisting of polite greetings. He was a playboy, and she didn’t like playboys.

But she could see why other women succumbed to his charms. He was classically tall, dark and handsome with the clean profile his family was famous for. His blue eyes never failed to make her heart skip a beat, and his face often broke into a killer smile that was as lethal as a strychnine martini. Most importantly he wasn’t some brain-dead idiot who’d inherited all his money. His father had given him a sizable trust fund, but he’d more than quadrupled its value with some wise investment decisions and a series of highly successful restaurants.

God must’ve been in a really good mood when Mark had been conceived. Grossly unfair, but such was life.

As they stood waiting for the elevator, she felt his gaze on her shoes and legs and did her best to ignore the warm sensation slowly spreading upward from her ankles. “So… What do you want to talk about?” she said, keeping her eyes on the elevator doors.

“I need a date for my family’s Fourth of July party.”

An interesting choice of topic. Mark was well aware it wasn’t her job to provide him with dates. She sipped her coffee, taking her time…until he cleared his throat discreetly and rocked on the balls of his feet. She lowered the mug and took a deep breath. “Don’t you have a girlfriend?”

“No. We broke up two months ago.”

“What a shame.” Not. Everyone knew Mark never dated anybody for more than three months.

“I know. That’s why I’m asking you.”

She choked on her coffee, and he pounded her lightly on the back. Wheezing, she drew away from him. “Are you serious?” she asked, looking into his eyes.

His gaze didn’t waver. “Yes.”

Why wasn’t he laughing at her gullibility? Her skin prickled. A serious yes was not the right answer to her question. She turned away, looking straight ahead. “Surely you can find someone before the fourth.” The mirror-like elevator doors reflected everything, and he made eye contact with her reflection. “You have a month,” she said into her mug.

“I could, but ‘someone’ won’t do. I need somebody Mom can’t intimidate or manipulate to get to me.”

“What’s your mother trying to do?” Everyone also knew that Ceinlys Pryce wanted her children to marry into impeccable families.

“She’s either giving my dates false hopes about marrying me or trying to get them to stay away.” Even as his tone remained even, he rolled his shoulders. “I can’t deal with that. Not all relationships were meant to go somewhere, and every time she tries to get them to leave me, they start clinging like scotch tape.”

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