My One Week Husband by Lauren Blakely



“That’s not true,” I say as he lifts his cup.

“I bet you can survive on numbers alone. You eat them for breakfast, right? I suspect the waitress is going to bring you a side of equations with your berries. They’ll power you through literally the entire day. All of your strength, all of your intensity comes from your financial reports.”

“I like numbers,” I say, but inside, I’m trying to suppress a grin.

“No. You love numbers.”

I arch a brow. “I believe my insane love of numbers is why you and Cole were so happy to have me invest. Same thing that has allowed us to expand, which is what the two of you wanted when you offered me a share. So there.”

“You have made many things possible, and for that, I’m incredibly grateful,” he says, taking a drink of his tea.

I take another pull of my coffee and set it down. “And also, thank you for what you did last night.”

He waves his right hand in front of his chest. “You mean giving you a wonderful view of all my assets?”

I shake my head. “Making sure the guests in rooms adjacent to chandeliers had other places to stay. I can’t believe that thought slipped my mind. I’m ashamed. But I’m glad that you caught it.”

He puts his cup down, his expression gentle but earnest. “Scarlett, we’re a team. You don’t have to do everything. That’s why we work together.”

“I know, I know. I just, I wish I had thought of it. But you did, so I’m glad.”

“I’m all about making my lovely wife happy,” he says as the waitress returns with our food.

As she sets down Daniel’s egg whites and my cup of berries, she asks if we’ve visited the Helen Williams winery.

“Hmm. I don’t think so,” Daniel says, leaning back in his chair, clearly enjoying the marriage ruse. “Are there lots of dark corners to tug my bride into and smother her with kisses?”

The woman laughs knowingly. “It’s perfect for when you can’t keep your hands off each other. My husband and I were married a few years ago, and we stayed in Aix-en-Provence. We toured the city, went to terrific restaurants, visited fabulous wineries. And we stayed at this fantastic boutique hotel that made you never want to leave. All sorts of dark corners for kissing, and an elevator that played sensual music,” she says, then blinks as if the memory of her honeymoon just flashed before her eyes. “But of course, this place is like that too.”

Sure, but it could be better. Better mirrors, better lighting, better mood music.

And I’m intrigued by her mention of this other place.

Especially since this waitress doesn’t seem to recognize us. Not that we’re rock stars or celebrities. But she isn’t talking to us as if we’re the new owners. She’s talking to us like we are, indeed, the honeymooning guests.

And she’s dropping a tip, as waitresses do.

“Thanks. What was the name of the boutique hotel?” I ask.

She screws up the corner of her lips, deep in thought, then her green eyes twinkle. “Le Pavillon de Aix-en-Provence. But last I heard, it was for sale, so probably not worth checking out. Besides, why would you want to when you could stay here at our sister hotel?”

“Grand. Thanks so much,” Daniel says as the redhead takes off to tend to other customers.

He lifts his fork, holds it midair, and levels me with a knowing gaze.

Three years doing business together, and I do know this man.

His blue eyes are twinkling with dollar signs.

I bet mine are too. I cross my arms, a satisfied grin on my face. “I know what you’re thinking.”

“That’s either scary or incredibly sexy.”

“Daniel,” I chide, though sexy is right because I happen to think untapped potential is wildly arousing.

He leans closer, so close I can smell the pine of his aftershave and the clean ocean breeze of his shampoo. They make a delicious cocktail of manly scents that drift through my nose, that go to my head, that remind me how utterly intoxicated I was at seeing him in the hall last night.

But it’s not only that. It’s the potential we both sense here. Business deals are the antidote to heartbreak. They’ve carried me through some of the toughest years of my life. And nothing, nothing in the whole entire universe, has healed me more than making deals.

His voice is low, hushed. “Are you thinking we should check out that hotel?”

“And that we have time to pop over to Aix-en-Provence before we return to Paris for our meeting with Cole tonight?”