Where did the time go, and how on earth could I claim it back?
I turned to look at her again. Her face was twice its usual size, cut and bruised.
I knew the little idiot was going to walk away from this deal if I said no.
She did it before and would not hesitate to do it again.
A lamb marching straight into Colin Byrne’s arms for slaughter.
“You drive a hard bargain. Welcome to the dark side, Persephone. Leave your heart at the door.”
The next day, Devon Whitehall knocked on my apartment door, looking like sin in a stripy navy-blue suit and a dashing haircut. I, in contrast, was wearing Walmart’s finest dress from six winters ago paired with shoes that had seen better days and a discounted windbreaker from Salvation Army.
Carrie Bradshaw, right behind you!
“Mr. Whitehall?” I hugged my door, stifling a yawn.
He shouldered past me, soldiering into the studio apartment where Emmabelle was asleep in our shared bed, clad in nothing but a thin red negligee, one bronzed leg flung over the duvet.
She caught his attention, making him pause and admire the view.
“And who is this foam-born Aphrodite?”
“That would be my sister, Mr. Zeus. Now if you’d be as kind as to peel your creepy eyes off her legs…”
Devon turned toward me reluctantly, shoving a mass of paperwork in my chest. Like Cillian, Whitehall had the uncanny ability to make the air stir around him. But while Kill made me want to die in his arms, Devon sent off a different vibe. A mysterious one.
“I filled out most of it. Sign where indicated with arrow flags and your initials on the bottom of each page. Go through your spouse’s details one more time and ensure all the information is correct. There’s a list of outstanding documentation I’ll need you to hand over before the marriage can be resolved. It’s on the last page. Get it to me by tomorrow morning. It’ll take the court two business days to process the application, in which you agree not to claim any of your and Mr. Veitch’s mutual funds or possessions.”
“We have no mutual funds or possessions.”
Asking him how he planned to grant me a speedy divorce was futile.
Cillian Fitzpatrick was a resourceful man and only worked with the cream of the crop. With people like Devon Whitehall and Sam Brennan on retainer, he could do just about anything, short of plucking the moon from the sky just so he could enjoy a bit more darkness.
I clutched the papers to my rib cage, excitement and dread swirling in my gut.
“Thank you, Devon. That’s—”
“Bugger, don’t thank me, you silly little thing.” He lifted a hand, indicating for me to stop.
“I didn’t do this out of the goodness of my heart. I did it because your future husband needs a baby-maker, preferably the kind that would bring positive press to his doorstep. Which is why you will also find in this load of legal documents a nondisclosure agreement and a prenup, both of which I advise you to read carefully in the company of a proper solicitor.” He plucked a few notes from his wallet, tucking them between my fingers. “Here’s some cash in case you can’t afford one. Consider this my wedding gift to you. There’s a sheet of dos and don’ts attached, some stipulations you verbally agreed to yesterday. No house-sharing, a non-compete clause…”
“Non-compete?” I blinked. “I’m not planning to open a petroleum company anytime soon.”
I mean, never say never, but this was a pretty unlikely scenario.
“Having access to the Fitzpatrick clan means you can spy for the competitors or decide to work for someone who’d pose a conflict of interest.”
“I’d never do that.”
“Clearly, darling.” He patted my head as though I was a puppy he was about to turn his back on before adopting its sibling. “We trust you completely. And by ‘completely’ I mean, about eighty-three percent. The other seventeen is why we prefer to have it in writing. You’ll have to mortgage your inner organs if your never turns into a maybe.”
“How do you live with yourself?” I murmured absently, flipping through the pages. I meant that as a general statement. Devon, Kill, Sam…they were so jaded, I sometimes wondered if they believed in anything at all.
Devon laughed easily, his gaze sliding toward my sister again.
“Considering your face was smashed by mobsters, I wouldn’t judge your future husband for wanting to protect his assets.”
The words hadn’t sank in. Not yet.
“Do you mind?” I jerked my head in Belle’s direction. She usually slept like the dead, but I didn’t want to take any risks. “My sister doesn’t know what happened.”
“Is she blind?” He cocked an eyebrow, his eyes zeroing in on my black shiner.
“She thinks I got robbed.”
“No offense, but you don’t look like the type to carry extra cash.” A pause. “Or coins. Or food stamps. You’re dreadfully gaunt.”
I wanted him out of the apartment, out of this building, and out of my life before Belle woke up. I still hadn’t told her about Cillian. By the time I got home yesterday, she’d already left for work and returned sometime after five in the morning, when I was asleep. We were having dinner and drinks at Ash’s tonight, and I thought it would be a good idea to break the news then.
I shook my head.
“Look, can I have my future husband’s phone number?”
Devon plucked my phone from my hand, inserting Cillian’s contact info into it.
“How do you know my code?” I frowned.
“Had to write down your birthdate six hundred times when I filled in the paperwork last night. You seem like the predictable sort. Again, no—”
“Offense. I know.” His eyes were still on my phone, his thumbs flying over my screen. “You realize prefacing something with these words makes it automatically offensive, right?”
“The code to get to him is six six six. He only responds to texts. Sporadically.”
Devon slapped the phone over the pile of documents I was holding.
“Wait!” I called out. “What about Colin Byrne? Can I tell him I’ll have the money ready for him?”