Buying the BrideBy: Penny Wylder
I guess that’s why I wasn’t prepared for Sylph. She’s everything I could want in a girl. Nothing about her screams gold-digger to me. Though her clothes were clean and nice, and looked incredible on her, they were cheap and meant to look casual. Instead of an even spray tan, her skin had just a hint of color left over from summer on the high points of her forehead and nose, the way it occurs naturally. Also natural, were the streaks in her blonde hair, not something even the best beautician can reproduce in a salon. Her nails were short and painted a pastel green color, barely any makeup, but what she did have on was flattering. Jeans and a t-shirt are hardly the outfit a woman would wear if she were trying to get her hooks into a man for his money.
It’s almost as if she’d shown up on a whim. My friend who’d recommended her didn’t describe her this way. He said she could be Snow White: pale skin, black hair, big red lips, and giant breasts. He’d said this with a wolfish grin, but all I was concerned about was my family believing this could be a girl I would marry. Sylph is definitely not the girl my friend described to me. So who is she?
As I walk up the stairs and back to my office to finish my work, I’m having trouble focusing. My thoughts keep drifting back to Sylph. Her eyes were the softest pale blue, the color of shadow on snow. They were quite startling, actually. I’m not used to being taken off my guard simply from a glance. Not only that, but she was charming and real. Had I not known her services were being paid for, I truly would have believed she was falling for me. I guess that’s a good thing, because my family will need to believe it as well, and they aren’t nearly as easy to convince as I am. If anyone can get the job done, it’s Sylph.
I know the date that happened between me and Heath yesterday was just part of the act, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit there was something there. He was so gorgeous, nothing at all like I had imagined. He could have any woman in the world, so why would he possibly need to pay someone to pretend to be his bride? I’m glad he did, though. This is going to be the easiest job I’ve ever had, wrapped around the arm of a man who is handsome and surprisingly fun to talk to once you get past his rough, suspicious façade.
I find myself eager to see him again. I’ll have to tamp down those feelings, though; this is a job, not a real marriage. A real marriage will never happen, not after the horrible experience I had with my ex.
To get thoughts of Heath and our kiss out of my head for the moment, I decide to make myself a bowl of cereal and study the folder Heath gave me. I need to learn everything I can about his family and friends, the things I’ll need to know if this engagement is going to be believable. His family lives overseas in Europe where his father runs the headquarters of their family business. Says here his mother is kind, but naïve, his father is rougher around the edges. It says he’s severe and quiet. Heath also has younger twin siblings who can be somewhat suspicious and intrusive. That doesn’t help my nerves at all.
I sit back and rub my eyes. There’s so much to memorize. It feels like my brain has locked up. I need coffee.
There’s a knock at the door. I figure it’s probably a delivery man since Mandi has something sent to the apartment daily. I get up to open the door, but it’s not a delivery man. It’s Heath.
“Oh,” I say, surprised. This is not how I wanted him to see me. I’m wearing cut-off sweats and a tank top I slept in with no bra. The messy knot of hair piled on top of my head hasn’t been washed in two days. Thank God I shaved my legs and gave myself a pedicure, or this encounter would be a lot more embarrassing. Still, he’s so crisply dressed, his perfectly coifed hair looking as if it came out of a mold. I feel even more disheveled than I would if he were in casual clothes.
“Did we have a meeting?” I ask. He doesn’t seem like the type to just show up unannounced.
He has that same stern look he wore when we first met, as if he’s already shed away the thought of our wonderful first date. I don’t know why that bothers me so much, but it does. Part of me feels kind of hurt by the brushoff.