I wanted to kiss her and throw her out of the car, preferably at the same time.
Fortunately for my legal department, I did neither.
“What else would our marriage entail?” She lowered her lashes, licking her lower lip.
“You will be available to me for social gatherings, volunteer at my charity of choice, and play your part as a dutiful wife.”
“Hmm.” She relaxed into the seat, cherishing the luxurious leather like a spoiled cat. “Anything more?”
“You will have to sign an airtight NDA and a draconic pre-nuptial agreement. But as long as you’re my wife, you’ll be provided for. Generously so.”
“What if you decide to divorce me for someone else?”
I can barely come to terms with one marriage. Two would be a stretch.
“I wouldn’t let that worry keep you up at night,” I said tersely. “I don’t have feelings, Flower Girl, which means I can’t give them to you nor can I take them from you. I will not develop any toward anyone else.”
“Other than our heirs,” she said the last word in a terrible English accent, peppering it with air quotes.
I suspected my neutrality toward people would extend to my future children. But telling her that seemed counterproductive to putting a baby in her.
“Naturally.” I moved on to the other topic on our agenda. “As previously mentioned, sex is not a part of the bargain. I will satisfy my sexual needs elsewhere. The encounters will be discreet and confidential, but they will happen, and I expect no fits of drama from your end.”
For all my faults—and hell knew there were many—increased sexual appetite wasn’t one of them. Twice a month was enough to keep me sated.
She scrunched her nose. “You mean you’ll still go to hookers?”
“They prefer to be called sex workers these days.”
“I imagine because hooker has a degrading connotation and implies both criminal and immortal activity. Though I do not engage in deep conversation with the women I hire to suck my cock.”
“No, why do you hire escorts? You can have any woman you want.”
“And I can have any woman I want because of my bank account. Which brings us to square one—why not pay for the service and skip the dinner and chitchat?”
“What’s wrong with dinner and chitchat?” she pressed.
“They require socializing, and I am firmly against the concept.”
“What made you the way you are?”
“The way I am?” I snarled.
“Cold. Ruthless. Jaded.” Her eyes roamed my face as though the answer was written plainly on it.
“A mixture of crushing expectations, a bad year, and lackluster upbringing.”
Everything about my life had been designed to keep me on the straight and narrow. That was the only way for me to run the empire I’d been born to lead. I came into this world with a certain disadvantage, knowing my family frowned upon weaknesses. I had to fight the way I was created to survive and took it day by day.
Her gaze clung to mine. “I don’t buy your story.”
“Lucky for me, I’m not James Patterson.”
“Will we be sharing joint custody of our poor children?”
“We could,” I answered evenly, “if you don’t mind them growing up with nannies half the time. I’ll be busy running Royal Pipelines and expanding the Fitzpatrick empire.”
Real estate. Commercial banking. Private equity. I wanted to take over the world.
“Let me get this straight.” She rubbed at her forehead, frowning. “You want to have kids, but you don’t want to take care of them or make them with your wife?”
“You seem to be figuring it out well all by yourself.” I puffed on my cigar. “That’s exactly what I’m saying.”
“Well, then I suggest you drop me off right here, go back to Minka, and pick up where you both left off.”
Right here was the middle of the highway. Although throwing her out was tempting, it was a headline I was less than eager to explain.
“I can’t raise children,” I said evenly.
“You will not be a deadbeat dad. You will take care of them half the time. And I mean really spend time with them. Change diapers, take them to T-ball practices, and reenact their favorite Disney movies. With full-blown costumes.”
T-ball? Disney? Flower Girl was clearly planning on raising a state university educated dental hygienist, not the next CEO of Royal Pipelines. Luckily, I would be there to steer my spawns in the right direction.
“Sure,” I quipped. “I’ll do all of that nonsense.”
Twice a year since they’ll be in Evon and other European institutions year-round.
She munched on the tip of her hair, which I found surprisingly not disgusting. “I have other conditions, too. I’ll be able to keep my job and move around unrestricted. You will not be putting any surveillance or security on me. I want to live a normal life.”
“You won’t need to work a day in your life.”
The girl was slower than an airport Wi-Fi.
“So?” She looked at me strangely as though she wasn’t following the conversation. That was fine. Between my Mensa member IQ and her beauty, our kids wouldn’t be a complete waste of oxygen. “I don’t work because I have to.” She narrowed her eyes. “I work because I love what I do.”
That word again.
“Fine. Keep your job.”
“What about security?”
“No security.” That would be a waste of my precious resources.
“One more thing—as long as other men are off-limits, so are other women.” She raised a finger in the air.
“This is not how it works.” I put out my cigar, losing patience. I’d negotiated putting three hundred-foot deep holes in the belly of planet Earth in less time than it took me to close a deal with this woman. “You’re the one at my mercy. I make the rules.”
“Am I?” She blinked at me innocently. “Because, correct me if I’m wrong, but you seemed to have told me you have another wife lined up, and a nice, long list of potential candidates if she doesn’t work out. Yet here you are with me. For a reason I can’t fathom, we want each other. Let’s not pretend otherwise, Kill.”
Only my friends called me that. All two of them.