Needed: One Convenient Husband

By: Fiona Brand

Kyle Messena’s gaze narrowed as the bridal car pulled up outside Dolphin Bay’s windblown, hilltop church. The bride, festooned in white tulle, stepped out of the limousine. A drift of gauze obscured her face, but sunlight gleamed on tawny hair that was heart-stoppingly familiar.

Adrenaline pumped and time seemed to slow, stop, as he considered the stunning fact that, despite his efforts to prevent Eva Atraeus marrying a man whose motives were purely financial, she had utterly fooled him and the wedding he had thought he had nixed was going ahead.

Kyle had taken two long, gliding steps out of the inky shade cast by an aged oak into the blistering heat of a New Zealand summer’s day before the ocean breeze whipped the veil from the bride’s face.

It wasn’t Eva.

Relief unlocked the fierce tension that gripped him.

A tension that sliced through the indifference to relationships that had shrouded him for years, ever since the death of his wife and small son. Deaths that he should have prevented.

The unwanted, brooding intensity had grown over the months he had been entrusted with the duty of ensuring that the heiress to an Atraeus fortune married according to a draconian clause in her adoptive father’s will. Eva, in order to get control of her inheritance, had to either marry a Messena—him—or a man who genuinely wanted her and not her money.

Acting as Eva’s trustee did not sit well with Kyle. He was aware that his wily great-uncle, Mario, had named him as trustee in a last game-playing move to maneuver him into marrying the woman he had once wanted but left behind. Confronted by the mesmerizing power of an attraction that still held him in reluctant thrall and unable to accept that the one woman he had never been able to forget would marry someone else, Kyle had been unable to refuse the job.

A gust of wind whipped the bride’s veil to one side, revealing that she was a little on the plump side. Her hair was also a couple of shades lighter than the rich dark mane shot through with tawny highlights that had been a natural feature of Eva’s hair ever since he’d first set eyes on her at age sixteen.

Kyle’s jaw unlocked. Now that he had successfully circumvented Eva’s latest marriage plan, he was ready to leave, but when a zippy white sports car emblazoned with the name of Eva’s business, Perfect Weddings, pulled into a space, Kyle knew he wasn’t going anywhere.

Eva Atraeus, dressed in a pale pink button-down suit that clung in all the right places, closed the door with an expensive thunk. Cell held to one ear, she hooked a matching pale pink tote over her shoulder and started toward the church doors, her stride fluid and distractingly sexy in a pair of strappy high heels. At five feet seven, Eva was several inches too short for the runway, but with her elegant, curvy figure, mouthwatering cheekbones and exotic dark eyes, she had been a knockout success as a photographic model. Gorgeous, quirky and certifiably high maintenance, Eva had fascinated gossip columnists for years and dazzled more men than she’d had hot dinners, including him.

Every muscle in Kyle’s body tightened on a visceral hit of awareness that had become altogether too familiar.

A faint check in her step indicated that Eva had spotted him.

As the bridal party disappeared into the church, she terminated her call and changed direction. Stepping beneath the shade of the oak, she shoved the cell in her tote and glared at him. “What are you doing at my wedding?”

Kyle clamped down on his irritation at Eva’s deliberate play on the “my wedding” bit. It was true that it was supposed to have been her actual wedding day. Understandably, she was annoyed that he’d upset her plan to leverage a marriage of convenience by offering the groom a lucrative job in Dubai. The way Kyle saw it, he had simply countered one employment opportunity with another. The fact that Jeremy, an accountant, had taken the job so quickly and had even seemed relieved, more than justified his intervention. “You shouldn’t have arranged a wedding you knew couldn’t go ahead.”

Her dark gaze flashed. “What if I was in love with Jeremy?”

He lifted a brow. “After a whole four weeks?”

“You know as well as I that it can happen a whole lot faster than—” She stopped, her cheeks flushed. Rummaging in her bag, she found sunglasses and, with controlled precision, slipped them onto the bridge of her nose. “Now you get to tell me what you’re doing at a private wedding. I’m guessing it’s not just to have another argument.”

He crossed his arms over his chest. “If you think you can kick me out, forget it. I’m a guest of the groom. I manage his share portfolio.”