“It just means that you agree to live in my house during the course of the marriage.”
“Then why doesn’t it just say that?”
“Lawyers can’t just say things out straight. They have to wrap it up in complicated language so that we have to go to them to explain it to us.”
“Then how do you know what it means?”
“I went to law school.”
I looked up at him as he moved away, crossing the room to his desk. It was late. Most of his office staff were gone before I arrived, which is why I suspect he asked me to come after my shift at Starbuck’s. He was dressed, as always, in jeans and an old t-shirt, mud splattered on his pant legs despite the fact it hadn’t rained in weeks. He picked up a bottle of soda off his desk and took a long drink, sighing when he set it down again.
“You’re a lawyer?”
“No. I went to law school. There’s a difference.”
“Why didn’t you finish?”
He glanced at me, his expression tightened. “I never said I didn’t finish.”
“But if you’d finished—”
“I just didn’t take the bar exam.”
He shrugged. “Because it was what my father wanted. And I try very hard not to do what my father wants me to do.”
I turned back to the legal papers laid out in front of me, trying not to ask why that might be. It was obvious he didn’t like talking about it, but it seemed to answer a few questions, like why he’d moved so far from home.
I ran my finger over the words on the page, searching for the section I had been reading. He came back over—I could smell him again—and settled in a chair beside me.
“It’s all very straightforward,” he said, a touch of boredom to his voice. “It basically just says that you agree to marry me and act as my legal wife for as long as I need you to. Then, I agree to pay you a million dollars, as long as you don’t contest the divorce or the prenup.”
“I have the option of fighting the divorce?”
He shrugged. “Everyone has options. But I wouldn’t recommend fighting it. My father’s lawyers would keep you in court for so long that you wouldn’t get anything.”
I brushed a piece of hair from my face and turned back to the contract. To be honest, none of it really made much sense to me. Yet, I felt compelled to read it from beginning to end, just to be sure I knew what I was getting myself into.
After a few minutes of silence, Miles sighed quite heavily.
“Look,” he said, gathering the papers and shuffling them together, “there’s no reason to read the whole thing. If you agree to be my wife, I’ll pay you. That’s all there is to it.”
His hands paused for a minute. “Why is that so important to you?”
“Because I want to know what I’m getting myself in the middle of. Clearly you have a reason for doing this. If I know what the reason is, maybe I can avoid making a mistake that will make everything worse.”
“Don’t worry about that. Nothing can make this any worse.”
He stood up again, crossing the room in two, quick strides. He grabbed a pen from his desk and came back, setting a single piece of paper in front of me.
I took the pen he held out to me, but I didn’t open it. I just stared at the paper for a long minute, then sat back.
“I need to know more about you.”
He practically growled, clearly annoyed with me. He practically threw himself into a chair and stared at me with what I’m sure he thought was an intimidating looked. However, I didn’t turn away; I didn’t even drop my gaze for an instant. My aunts always said I was the most stubborn person they knew. When I wanted something, there was nothing in the world that could drag the thought from my mind. That was something Miles was going to have to learn about me.
“Why do you need to know about me?” he asked.
“Because people are going to ask about us. How we met. What our first date was like. How you proposed. And they’re going to expect me to know about you.”
“So lie. Women are supposed to be really good liars. At least, they always have been in my experience.”
There was a bitterness to his words that made me wonder what the women in his life had done to him. Was this about Claire Watson? Had she broken his heart?
That was something I should know if I was going to be able to convince people our marriage was real.
“I’m not a great liar. And if someone asks me what your favorite color is, I’d really like to be able to answer honestly.”
He stared at me for a long minute, a war going on behind his eyes. Slowly, a little resignation came into them, and he sat up. “Fine. What do you want to know?”