The Millionaire Claims His Wife

By: Sandra Marton

Annie’s heartbeat quickened. She remembered Chase taking her out to the parking lot, where they’d moved oh, so slowly to the music drifting from the school gym, and the way Chase had kissed her, filling her with a need so powerful she couldn’t think. Wordlessly they’d climbed into his ancient Chevy and made the long drive to the Point, with her sitting so close beside him that they might have been one.

She remembered the softness of the blanket beneath her, after they’d spread it over the grass, and then the wonderful hardness of Chase’s body against hers.

“I love you so much,” he’d kept saying.

“Yes.” She’d sighed. “Yes.”

They shouldn’t have done it. She’d known that, even as she was opening his shirt and touching him, but to stop would have been to die.

Oh, the feel of him as he’d come down against her naked flesh. The smell of him, the taste of his skin. And oh, that mind-shattering moment when he’d entered her. Filled her. Become a part of her, forever.

Except it hadn’t been forever.

Annie stiffened in the circle of her husband’s arms.

It had been sex, and eventually, it hadn’t been anything at all. He was her ex. That’s who Chase was. He wasn’t her husband anymore. He wasn’t the boy she’d fallen head over heels in love with, nor the man who’d fathered Dawn. He was a stranger, who’d been more interested in his business than in coming home to his wife and child.

More interested in bedding a twenty-two-year-old secretary than the wife whose body had begun to sag and bag.

A coldness seized Annie’s heart. Her feet stopped moving. She jerked back and flattened her palms against her former husband’s chest.

“That’s enough,” she said.

Chase blinked his eyes open. His face was flushed; he looked like a man rudely awakened from a dream.

“Annie,” he said softly, “Annie, listen—”

“The by-request dancing’s over, Chase. The dance floor’s filled with people.”

He looked around him. She was right. They were on the perimeter of the floor, which was packed with other couples.

“We’ve played out the necessary charade. Now, if you don’t mind, I’ve reserved the rest of my dance card for Milton Hoffman.”

Chase’s expression hardened. “Of course,” he said politely. “I want to touch bases with some people, too. I see you broke down and invited some of my old friends and not just your own.”

“Certainly.” Annie’s smile would have turned water to ice. “Some of them are my friends, too. Besides, I knew you’d need something to keep you busy, considering that you made the great paternal sacrifice of not asking to bring along your latest little playmate. Or are you between bimbos, at the moment?”

Chase had never struck a woman in his life. Hell, he’d never even had the urge. Men who hit women were despicable. Still, just for an instant, he found himself wishing Annie were a man, so he could wipe that holier-than-thou smirk from her face.

He did the next best thing, instead.

“If you’re asking if there’s a special woman in my life,” he said, his gaze locked on hers, “the answer is yes.” He paused for effect, then went for broke. “And I’ll thank you to watch the way you talk about my fiancée.”

It was like watching a building collapse after the demolition guys had placed the dynamite and set it off. Annie’s smirk disintegrated and her jaw dropped.


“Fiancée.” he said. It wasn’t a complete lie. He’d been dating Janet for two months now, and she hadn’t been at all subtle about what she wanted from the relationship. “Janet Pendleton. Ross Pendleton’s daughter. Do you know her?”

Know her? Janet Pendleton, heiress to the Pendleton fortune? The blond, blue-eyed creature who turned up on the New York Times Sunday Society pages almost every week? The girl known as much for the brilliance she showed as vice president at Pendleton as for having turned down a million-dollar offer to lend her classic beauty to a series of perfume ads for a top French company?

For the barest fraction of a second, Annie felt as if the floor was tilting under her feet. Then she drew herself up and pasted a smile on her lips.

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