Grayson's Vow

Page 21


"Is that so? What else does Mr. Grayson say, Virgil?"
Grayson laughed tightly. "Well, I think that's enough chatter," he said. "We should be—"
"He says the reason he likes you is ’cuz you have a whole bunch of money," Virgil continued cluelessly. "I'm gonna have a whole bunch of money someday so people like me, too." His brow wrinkled up in thought. "’Course, my mama says it's not what a person has, but how he treats others, so I don't know . . ." He scratched the back of his neck, looking confused.
José rocked back on his heels, a quiet smile of amusement on his face. He was enjoying this.
"Well, Virgil, if I were you, I'd listen more to your mama than to Mr. Grayson." I shot Grayson a dirty look. What was he thinking flapping his jaw in front of this innocent man? Plus, he'd let more people in on our business arrangement. Hadn't he heard a word I’d said about my father?
My consternation had nothing to do with what he'd said about me. None at all. It was information I knew already anyway. He didn't have to like me. And he could think I was a witch if he liked. What did I care about the regard of a dragon?
Grayson took the T-shirt that must have been hanging from his back pocket, removed his cap, and pulled the shirt over his head. I let out a silent sigh of relief. Naked reptiles disturbed me. "Gentlemen," Grayson said, nodding to José and Virgil. "See you in the morning."
He took me by my elbow and led me away as I smiled and waved to the two men watching us. Then I looked disinterestedly up at Grayson. I would not let on that I cared in the least about his assessment of my character. I needed him for one thing and one thing only.
Grayson chuckled. "Come on, I'll drive you back to the house. Then we'll go find out if we're getting hitched or not."
I looked at the woman sitting next to me. The woman who was going to be my wife in a matter of days. My wife. I shook my head subtly, hardly able to believe the course of events that had transpired in the last twenty-four hours. The marriage was nothing more than a business venture, but still, the fact remained, fake or not, I was going to have a wife. When I was younger, I had always assumed I'd get married someday—hell, I'd even thought I'd known exactly who that woman would be. I'd had a deep desire to create a family of my own—the type of home life I'd always longed for, but never had. And then Vanessa . . . and well . . . suffice it to say, life was full of surprises. And not all good ones either.
She shifted in her seat, chewing on her lip. "Do you think it's wise to tell your workers that our marriage is anything other than legitimate?" she huffed out. "I told you about my father, and the fewer people that know, the—"
"I trust José like a brother," I interrupted, pulling into a parking space and shutting off the ignition. I couldn't help the non-humorous chuckle that rose in my throat at my own words. Not all brothers were trustworthy—who knew that better than I?
"José can be trusted," I amended. "As for Virgil, I doubt if anyone is going to listen very carefully to his account of anything."
Kira shot me a look that was a cross between disdain and nervousness as she opened the door. I opened my door as well and hopped out. "He seems to be a wise judge of character," she said when we met on the sidewalk.
"Sure, in the same way dogs and children are. In any case, I wouldn't worry about what either of them knows." Someone was approaching on the sidewalk. I got in her space and walked her backward until she was pressed up against my truck, a look of utter panic on her face. I grinned as I pressed my body into hers.
"What are you doing?" she hissed.
"Convincing the general public our relationship is very legitimate," I said close to her ear. God, she smelled good. Not just good—incredible. Her scent was faint, like distant flowers on a breeze. I hadn't known what she smelled like until my nose was right up against her. I nuzzled my face into the side of her neck, inhaling deeply and feeling the warmth of her skin against my own. She felt as stiff as a tree branch. I pulled away. Jesus, despite the fact that it'd only been a couple days since I'd been with fruit-flavored Jade, I needed a woman. "You're going to have to do a better job than that if you hope to persuade anyone I'm marrying you and not molesting you." I turned and started walking. After a second, she caught up to me. When I glanced in her direction, I chuckled at the stiff set of her shoulders and the way that little chin was thrust in the air. Why did I enjoy needling her so much?
During the meeting with Mr. Hartmann, the executor of Kira’s grandmother’s trust, he went over the terms with both of us. It was straightforward, he said. The payout would occur immediately once we brought him a copy of our officially filed marriage license. Kira and I had sat next to each other, holding hands like a pair of lovebirds, the heat of her skin searing into mine. Mr. Hartmann seemed delighted as he looked between the two of us.
"Your grandmother was a fine woman, Kira. She would be so pleased to see you in love."
The wince was slight and Kira covered it immediately with a smile. "Thank you. She would have loved Grayson. I just know it."
"I don't doubt it. And of course, she'd be so pleased you were planning to make your life here. She did love this town."
"Yes, she did," Kira said, smiling a gentle smile. Clearly she'd loved her grandmother very much. Guilt coiled in my gut, but I ignored it as best as I could. This was Kira's choice. I hadn't even known her grandmother. I had no loyalty to her—or her money.