The Alpha's Temporary MateBy: Victoria Davies
Manicured nails tapped against the desk. “I detest the woods. A week away from work will also hamper some of my projects. Should I agree, I’d expect my sacrifices to be reflected in my payment.”
“I’m sure we can incorporate those realities,” Chloe agreed.
“You will need to play your part convincingly,” he added. “My people are very physical. In public you will need to be comfortable with open displays of affection.”
He didn’t miss the flash of distaste that crossed Aoife’s features, but she inclined her head. “I am aware of your people’s…baser instincts. I am a good actress when I wish to be.”
“Excellent,” Chloe said. “That’s exactly what we’re looking for.”
“I also need to go over the proposed contract before I commit myself,” Aoife said. “I’d like to see all clauses involved.”
“Of course. I have a copy right here.” His matchmaker passed over the papers.
“And you assure me sex is not a requirement of this pretense?” Aoife said, ruffling through the file. Her voice was bland, as if speaking about the weather and not about trading her body for money. “I trust outside of the public eye you will keep your hands to yourself, wolf?”
“Absolutely,” he muttered. On paper this woman might be perfect for him, but both he and his wolf agreed it would never work. No one would believe he was madly in love with her.
They sat in silence while Aoife read.
“Everything looks to be in order,” she said finally. “I’ll expect a fifty percent deposit of my fee up front with the remainder to be transferred after the successful completion of your plan. Should anything go wrong, I’m happy to forfeit the final payment, but I would keep the initial fee to cover the disruptions to my life.”
“Sounds fair,” Chloe replied. “We’ll talk it over and let you know Kieran’s decision before the day is done.”
“Excellent.” She stood with just a cursory nod in Kieran’s direction.
Chloe rushed forward to walk her the short distance to the door. “Thanks for coming in,” she said.
“My pleasure. Sounds like an amusing enterprise. While I have you, Chloe, could you go ahead and set up that meeting with the griffin you mentioned in our last conversation? For after this charade is over, of course.”
“Yes, not a problem,” Chloe replied, her voice betraying a hint of surprise.
Kieran’s lips twisted. The fey seemed to be a busy, efficient woman but even he thought it was a little cold to set up another date in front of a man she was considering moving in with.
“Perfect. Ring me with your decision.” The fey swept from the room without another word.
Closing the door, Chloe moved back to her desk. “So what do you think?” she asked. “She’s pretty perfect, right?”
Her long-suffering sigh filled the air. “What’s the problem this time? Aoife is incredibly professional. She’ll follow your requirements to the letter. Plus she is beautiful and powerful enough to put any wolf in their place. She’s perfect for you.”
“If that woman is what you think I’m attracted to, you don’t know the slightest thing about me.”
She leaned forward on the desk. “This isn’t about attraction. This is about finding someone to help you avoid an arranged mating.”
“Everything is about attraction,” he replied, shifting in his chair. “My people will be watching me like hawks, and if they see me touching my supposed mate-to-be without any fire they will know immediately it’s a trick.”
“So act the part,” she snapped. “I can’t find a woman to meet all your needs and turn you on. Handle that part yourself.”
“Aoife is beautiful, to be sure, but I would never willingly touch her. She’s too cold, too controlled. She makes my wolf want to bare its teeth and howl.”
“Your plan is cold,” Chloe said bluntly. “Aoife is exactly what you need. Someone who won’t let her emotions enter into the equation.”
He pushed away from the desk to prowl her office. One hand ran through his dark curls as he paced the confines of the room.