Wife by Wednesday Page 2

The hard weight of someone’s stare rolled down his spine. His eyes scanned around the room to see who watched. Instantly, his gaze fell on a set of emerald green eyes that narrowed as they took him in. The petite woman sitting alone wasn’t listening to music, or reading a magazine. She was staring directly at him.

Her striking gaze returned to a small notebook computer before bouncing back his way. Recognition flittered over her. He’d seen the expression before whenever someone placed his name with his image. Here in California, the frequency of that awareness didn’t happen as often as it did at home, but Blake recognized it nonetheless.

The woman seemed harmless enough. That was until she opened her mouth and spoke directly to him. “You’re late.”

Two words. It took two words in a voice so low it dripped like sin and put phone sex operators to shame to render Blake speechless.

Red’s words registered. “Excuse me?”

“You are Mr. Harrison, right?”

The question was simple, but Blake couldn’t quite comprehend it. He answered on auto-pilot, completely derailed by the woman in front of him. She stood and only met the top of his shoulder. “I am.”

“Sam Elliot,” she introduced herself and stuck out her hand for him to shake.

It wasn’t often that Blake was kicked back a few notches. Yet with only a couple of words, the woman in front of him had done so. He reached out and took her hand in his and a wave of heat surged over him. Her penetrating stare and knowing smile wavered when they shook hands. Her palm was cool, even if her demeanor was one of complete control.

“You’re not a man.” Blake wanted to groan. That had to be the stupidest thing he’d ever said to a woman in his life.

Ms. Elliot however, was nonplused. “Never have been.” She offered him a smile and exposed perfect teeth as she removed her hand from his. He missed it instantly.

“I was expecting a man.”

“I get that a lot. Most of the time it works to my advantage.” She indicated the chair across from her. “Would you like to sit so we can get started?”

He hesitated, not sure if he should continue this “interview” or insist on the woman’s gender to change. He didn’t consider himself sexist, but musing over the woman who was taking her seat and crossing her slacks-covered legs drew his attention away from his goal, and placed it squarely on her. Sam Elliot could be the poster child for contradiction and Blake hadn’t learned anything about the woman… yet.

Ten minutes was what he would give her to prove she could meet his needs. If she didn’t, he’d move on and explore other options.

Blake unbuttoned the top button on his suit jacket before taking his place at the table. “Is Sam short for Samantha?”

“Yes.” Samantha didn’t meet his eyes as she removed a stack of papers from a small case she’d placed against the side of her chair. The brief smile she’d given him was gone and replaced with a thin line between her lips that didn’t reveal her thoughts.

“Do you use Sam to fool your clients?”

Her hand stalled as she pushed the stack of papers in his direction. “Would you have come if you knew I was a woman?”

Probably not.

Without voicing his words, Samantha tilted her head to the side and continued. “You make my case, Mr. Harrison. Let me see if I’m reading your intentions. In your mind, you’ve set a time limit for me to prove myself. What was it… twenty minutes?”

“Ten,” he blurted out, not meaning to. What was it about this woman with the bedroom voice that stole his ability to hold his tongue?

She smiled again and his stomach knotted with a shot of unexpected and unwanted desire.

“Ten minutes,” she repeated. “To outline exactly how I plan on finding you the perfect wife for your short-term goals. A businessman like yourself expects quick efficiency and no emotional baggage to complicate matters. Am I right so far?” She watched him now. Her green eyes never wavering, her freckled nose pert over pink lips that moved to usher her erotic 900-number toned voice.

“Completely.”

“Women are emotional, which is why your assistant looked into my service to begin with. My guess is, there are many women who would sell their souls to marry you, Mr. Harrison, but you don’t trust them enough to give them the title.”

Most of the time, it was him outlining his needs. Having the tables reversed should have left him feeling exposed. Somehow listening to Sam Elliot, who was definitely not a man, spelling out his dilemma didn’t strip him bare, but rather blanketed him with comfort. He’d come to the right place to fix his problem.

“How do I know I can trust a woman you come up with?”

“I prescreen every lady in my directory just as thoroughly as I do the men. Background checks, financial obligations, family skeletons hiding in their closets, personal habits.”

“You sound like a private investigator.”

“Not hardly. But I can understand why you’d think that. Matching people is what I do.”

Blake sat back and crossed his hands over his chest. He liked her, he decided, mentally adding another ten minutes to his predetermined time.

“Shall we continue?”

He reached for his coffee and nodded.

Sam grasped onto a pen and twisted the papers she’d pushed in front of him her way. “I have a few questions for you before I allow this to move forward.”

Blake’s brow rose with her words. Interesting. “How long do I have to prove myself to you, Ms. Elliot?”

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