Hate to Lose You

By: Penny Wylder

Crazy. He’s crazy. That’s a month away. And I’m not going to just marry some random woman to please him, to do what he says. It’s my life. I get some damned say in it, don’t I?

“He told me I had to be married by the reunion  ,” I inform the ceiling. “Or he’s giving Quint Motors to someone else in the family.”

Greg laughs. Then he catches a glimpse of my expression, and sobers immediately. “But that’s in a month. That’s insane.”

“I know.” I roll my eyes once more.

Greg, on the other hand, gets a new expression. A tight-lipped one that I recognize.

His thinking face.

“Uh oh.” I side-eye him. “You only ever look like that when you’re about to suggest something completely batshit, you know.”

“Because I think I am.” Greg turns to face me. “You only need a wife for the reunion  , right? Your father is stepping down, naming the new CEO at the retirement event they’re all planning on day, what, four of the weeklong reunion  ?”

“Something like that,” I agree.

“So you only need a wife for that long. Once he signs Quint Motors over to you, it doesn’t matter what he wants—the company becomes yours.”

I tilt my chair forward and tear my eyes from the ceiling, sensing where this is going. “Good thought, but unfortunately, it’s not quite that cut-and-dry. Once he makes me CEO, Dad’s still going to retain the majority share in the company stocks. Not to mention our family holds the rest of the stocks. He can bully and strong-arm them into ousting me the minute I ditch any temporary wife I show up with.”

“True. Unless your father approves of the divorce,” Greg says with a laugh, because my father, Mr. Family Man’s, favorite rant topic is about kids these days and how little they value lasting marriages.

But… “Hang on.” Lightbulb. I look at Greg. “Say that again.”

He frowns. “Unless your father approves of the divorce?” he repeats. “But, he never would, I mean, he doesn’t approve of that unless…”

“Unless it’s someone like the crazy cheating woman Luke left before his second wife?” I say, mind racing. “The one trying to get her hands on his inheritance. Or like the one Chloe split up with, the one she married when she was a teenager, he was a real trip, utterly classless…”

Greg sits forward in the chair, following my drift. “So if you do find a wife, but she’s absolutely completely awful…”

“Then Dad would be begging me to divorce her. He’d be completely apologetic for forcing me into marrying so quickly in the first place too. And I can tell him I’ll only divorce her if he makes me CEO without any of his crazy conditions.”

“That could work,” Greg agrees. “But where the hell are you going to find a woman like that? Just start scouring local bars for a pick-up?”

He keeps talking, but I don’t hear the rest. My eyes have landed on a cast-aside stack of papers, and my brain is already ticking into overtime. I reach out and snatch up the pile of intern assignments once more. “It has to be someone desperate,” I hear myself saying. “Not an ounce of class in her. Someone who doesn’t fit in our world, someone who’ll take to rich like a fish out of water. The most untrustworthy gold-digger type you can find.”

Greg slides the stack of intern files out of my hands then. “In that case,” he says, flipping through it with the practiced eye of a man who’s already read through this file at least a dozen times today. “I have the perfect candidate in mind…”

With that, he withdraws a single slip of paper with my one last chance at freedom written on it.

“Deeandra Smith,” I read aloud.

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