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Accidentally Married to the Billionaire 1(6)

By:Sierra Rose

First, boot camp, then shopping. After she sweated for an hour, climbing, jumping and doing push-ups until she was sure she would pass out, she took a quick shower at the gym and headed for the boutique she always ogled on the way to the bus stop. Obviously no more bus for her, but she could, at least, peer in those aspirational windows and get an idea of what she wanted to look for.

In her post-workout flush, she stood outside the display window and took in the deep blue cocktail dress, form hugging and strapless but for the shadow of navy lace that ran from the bodice to the throat in a sheer panel of alluring faux modesty. She practically pushed her nose up against the glass to stare at it. It was perfect. She would wear it with her boots...no, too hooker. Her red stilettos? Too desperate. Hmmm...it would require new shoes. And probably a bank loan. She bit her lip.

Britt had accused her of having no idea how to overspend. She was about to prove her wrong. Because something about that dress captured her. She needed it. Marj had always believed fashion was an art form, and this spoke to her, saying everything true and hard about her life and how there wasn’t anything sumptuous in it, and the lace reminded her of how she tried and failed so many times to hide her heart. She had cared for Luke, and he had cheated on her and dumped her. And even her best friend’s husband thought it was as much her fault as Luke’s—because they were both players.

Except she wasn’t a player, not really. She was a woman with her eyes wide open, and if that meant there was no prince at the end of the story, then she would have to face it. Because she wasn’t Britt—she wasn’t sweet and lovable. She was practical and hard and lonely as hell. And maybe in that dress, maybe someone would see it and think it wasn’t so bad to be who she was.

So Marj walked inside the shop and bought the dress from the window. When the clerk suggested she buy the eight instead of the six, she refused. She knew that her shape took up space. She also knew it would look fantastic a little too tight. She wasn’t afraid to be uncomfortable. She’d been uncomfortable most of her life, after all, so she might as well show it. Six days a week of working out for as long as she could remember had given her a body with nothing to spare—no bulges anywhere that a tight dress might reveal, no extra fat, no extra anything. So she bought the six and vowed to soap the zipper if she had to in order to zip it up. She cringed when she paid for the dress because it was so expensive, but hopefully it would be her lucky charm, the thing to start her new life. No man, new job, maybe a hope somewhere.

Chapter 4

Everything at the hotel and casino in Las Vegas where she was booked was red and gold. Not gold but gilt—every table leg, every mirror frame, everything. The opulence managed to look both fancy and tacky, a little bit like me, she thought cheerfully. She rode the mirrored elevator to her floor, checking out her reflection from every angle, tugging at her leggings a little where they were bunched up behind her knees. So she was bent over, yanking on her leggings when he got on the elevator.

“Going down?” he asked archly.

She stood up and tried not to look flustered, despite the fact that she was embarrassed—cheeks flaming—and he was gorgeous.

“Hardly,” she said with what she hoped was a dismissive expression.

He was tall with broad shoulders and chiseled features, your basic fantasy. Dark hair swept back from his forehead. Dark, penetrating eyes, a square jaw that spoke of authority or, at least, stubbornness. She stared. She was riveted; it couldn’t be helped. He was wearing, she observed, black trousers fitted perfectly, a deep purple polo shirt, a slim chronograph watch—everything tailored, of the highest quality and ruinously expensive. He didn’t have a smartwatch or any sort of obvious tech toys of the kind.

Everything about him said rich and classic and nothing to prove. His forearms were muscled, his wrists thick. She always looked at wrists because, despite the urban legend about finger length and certain masculine attributes, she’d often found men with strong and sturdy wrists were far better endowed than their slender and elegant counterparts. Forget artistic hands or pianist’s fingers. Give Marj broad, strong wrists and capable hands any day of the week.

She didn’t meet his eyes. She was too captivated by the rest of him. When the elevator pinged to signal its arrival on floor 34, she sashayed past him, dragging her weekender suitcase on its lopsided wheels with as much dignity as she could muster. He warranted a hair flip, so she gave one, not too extravagant, but enough to draw attention to her lustrous mane of naturally auburn hair.

Once she was in her room, she flopped on the bed with a groan. He was no doubt the hottest man she’d meet this weekend—or in her life—and she’d glowered at him and assumed his probably innocuous inquiry to be a solicitation for oral sex. This was what came of being so jaded—she assumed everyone was obnoxious and out for themselves. The hot rich guy could have been trying to say something civil, to inquire if she needed a button pressed on the elevator panel. As if she were incapable of pressing her own button...which sounded both filthy and sadly accurate these days.