The Proposal, an all-new enemies-to-lovers fake-marriage standalone romance full of heat from bestselling author L. Steele is available now!
Wedding Planner meets Fifty Shades of Grey
I never should have agreed to become his…
Liam Kincaid. Super grumpy. Super grouchy. Super tall, dark …hottie.
Who’s engagement I was responsible for breaking up.
It was all a big mistake… honest.
Only he doesn’t see it that way.
He now has twenty-four hours to get married and claim his inheritance.
And he insists I pay for my error,
…by posing as his fake wife for thirty days.
It’s not like I have a choice.
If I don’t agree he’ll destroy my wedding-planning business.
Besides it’s only until he convinces his mother that he’s settled down, he says.
We only have to pretend to like each other.
Reassure his family and friends that we are in love.
We can’t stand the sight of each other.
Every time we are in the same space we almost come to blows.
But what happens when the chemistry between us detonates?
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“I need to be married and have a child before I can get ownership of my business.”
“You talk like this is a stipulation of some kind…”
He shuffles his feet. For the first time since he prowled into my office, he seems less than confident. In fact, he looks downright pissed. “My father’s will says, unless I marry and produce an heir by the time I’m forty, I won’t inherit my company or get access to my trust fund.”
“I see.” I lean back in my seat. “So, this is why you proposed to Lila and hustled her into marrying you.”
“If by that you mean I courted her—”
“You used your charisma to unduly influence her.”
“—I wooed her, took her on dates, to dinners, even the blasted opera, then bought her the biggest engagement ring I could lay my hands on.”
“You mean that tasteless hunk of stone on her finger?” I cover my mouth and cough. “No wonder it was so easy to convince her to walk away from you.”
His jaw tics. A nerve pops at his temple. He looks about ready to burst out of his uber-fitted suit. Oh, goodie. At least I got a rise out of him. That has to count for something, eh?
“That tasteless hunk of stone cost close to a million dollars,” he says through gritted teeth.
“Money isn’t everything,” I announce in a prim voice.
“You certainly weren’t complaining when you chose the most expensive venue possible for the wedding.”
I straighten my spine. “If you mean the All Villa in Bali, that was Lila’s choice. She wanted to get married in Bali, you know.”
“And, no doubt you jumped at the idea, considering you get a fifteen percent commission on the entire cost of the wedding.”
“Hey, you get what you pay for. I’ve been busting my ass for the past few months to get this event organized. Do you even know what an impossible task I’ve pulled off? I’ve managed to get all of the preparations completed in eight weeks. Eight bloody weeks. That’s just forty-two days. It normally takes close to a year to organize a ceremony of this scale. And I pulled it off in less than one-fourth that time.”
“Good, so it won’t be a problem to flip things around to accommodate yourself as the bride, too.”
“I never said I was going to marry you.”
“Haven’t you been listening to anything I’ve been saying?” His features grow even harder. Grays and greens shoot through the blue of his eyes until the color resembles that of a gathering storm. “If it’s custody of the child you’re worried about, once you deliver the child, we will separate. There’ll be a prenup, of course, but I’ll make sure you’re reimbursed for your time.” He says all of this in a voice so casual, he might as well be asking about the weather. No, strike that. I’ve heard people speak with more emotion about the weather changes in London than he has about his entire crazy-ass idea.
I curl my fingers into fists and resist the urge to leap up screaming. Won’t do to lose it. Need to keep my cool. Need to make him see just how crazy this entire conversation is. “Have you even heard yourself? We barely know each other, and now you’re saying you want me to marry you—instead of the woman the world thinks you’re going to marry. Not only that, you want me to produce a child, and then you’ll divorce me?”
“We’ll co-parent and have equal rights to the child.” He raises his arms in a conciliatory gesture. “I’m not the kind who’ll keep a mother away from her child.”
“Of course not,” I scoff. “But you’re the kind who’d force a woman to marry him.”
“Doesn’t seem fake when we’re supposed to produce an heir,” I protest.
“There are ways of doing it without my having to touch you. Unless,” he looks me up and down and a calculating look comes into his eyes, “unless you prefer it to be done the old-fashioned way. In which case, I might oblige you. If you ask me nicely, that is.”
My head spins. My heart seems to have taken up permanent residence in my throat. My stomach feels like a twister has become entangled inside.
“You’re not making any sense. You can’t walk in and threaten me into marrying you, then announce you need me to produce a child for you, in the same breath.”
His grin widens. “I just did.”
“There’s still time.” I raise my hands. “Walk away now, and I’ll forget any of this happened. In fact, I won’t even go to the media with news of how you intimidated me.”
“You’re not going to do that.”
“Oh, yeah?” I snap back my shoulders. “And why is that?”
“Because when you marry me, even though the marriage is fake, no one else will know. To the outside world, you’ll be the wife of Liam Kincaid, which means, doors will automatically open for you. Your past transgressions—”
“Transgressions?” I shout.
“Transgressions” —he firms his lips— “will be forgotten. Socialites and influencers will queue up to patronize your services. You’ll run the most successful wedding planning outfit in this country, if not all of the continent.”
I blink. Now that he mentions it… It’s true. Once I hitch my star to the Liam Kincaid reputation, it’ll be easy sailing. Everyone will want a piece of my wedding planning company. I’ll have more projects than I can handle.
“Your showpieces will, of course, be your own wedding. You can give it any twist you like; make it the kind of wedding you’ve always imagined for yourself.”
“You must have thought about how you’d like to get married.” He glances at his watch and straightens. “Well, this is your chance to execute it. Use it to show the world and all the headline seekers exactly how it should be done.”
“S-o-o-o, I can do anything I want for my wedding ceremony?” I pluck at the rubber band around my wrist.
“Unlimited. I’ll need to sign off on the bills, but nothing is too good for my bride. Whatever you want, you can have it.”
I squeeze my fingers together. Surely, I’m not considering this. I’m not actually thinking of going through with this insane proposal of his. On the other hand, if I do, I’ll have everything I want. The wedding of my dreams, the chance to prove a point to all the naysayers who thought I’d never make it, and a resounding ‘fuck you’ to all my competition. Hell, there won’t be competition. I’ll wipe them off the map with this showpiece of a wedding. No one will ever question my competency again. And I’ll have enough clients to keep me going for years. Even after I divorce him, it won’t make a dent in my reputation.
“Well?” He scowls. “What’s it gonna be?”
I pluck at the rubber band with more intensity. “So, I can transform it into the wedding of my dreams, the kind that’ll make every media outlet, gossip magazine, and wedding blog sit up and take notice?”
“Do you not understand English? Or have you not been listening to me?”
I straighten in my seat. “I heard you the first time,” I say in a low voice.
“Good, so what’s your answer?”
Meet L. Steele
L. Steele loves to write romance novels featuring dangerous men and feisty women. She enjoys trading trivia with her filmmaker husband, watching lots and lots of movies, and walking nature trails. She lives with her family in London.