The Millionaire's Deception

By: Wendy Byrne

She gulped as she suddenly noticed the place was filled to the brim with people. Where had her head been? Being regulars, they’d already started to help themselves, but getting distracted wasn’t something that normally happened to her. “I’d better get back to work.” She turned around and spotted the book club ladies coming inside.

Making an escape was foremost on her mind now. No doubt the ladies would zone in on Rafe—really, could he have a cooler name—and try to push the two of them together. Ever since her mother’s death, they felt honor-bound to find a suitable husband for her, and every stranger who waltzed into town was subjected to the third degree. It didn’t help that there weren’t any eligible men remotely close to her age in town, as they’d all left to find work several years ago.

If she were really lucky they’d start a loud discussion—since Bette was hard of hearing and insisted she didn’t need a hearing aid—about Fifty Shades of Grey again. Geez, could this day get any worse?

Rafe grasped her hand as she started to pull away. He’d spotted her interest in him, and that could only help with his plan. If he could discover her weaknesses, he could finalize this deal. There was no way in hell sticking around this town was something she wanted to do long term. As far as he could tell, this was a place for a bunch of gray-hairs, not a beautiful, vivacious young woman. No one was crazy enough to want to stick around all these old people.

“Seems like Crossroads Café might be the mecca center of Wilcox, Iowa.” He wanted to keep her talking; maybe getting one person on his side for this whole buying-the-town thing was the way to turn the tide. And cozying up to her wasn’t a chore.

Frankie sucked in the corner of her lip and all sorts of X-rated fantasies whispered through his brain. Wow, he needed to get his mind in control on this assignment.

“Small towns are like that. You can’t get away with anything without everybody knowing about it. Gossiping is part of the culture.” She gave him a mischievous smile. “Like right now the book club ladies in the corner no doubt have stopped focusing on the finer points of Fifty Shades of Grey and have homed in on why I’m spending so much time talking to you. The next logical conclusion they’ll come to is that we’ll be doing it on the back of your Harley by the end of the night, with me wearing nothing but a striped necktie.”

He choked on the coffee he’d just swallowed. For the first time in nearly ten years, words failed him. No doubt because the visual she’d described was way too tempting to dismiss. He shook off the thoughts, albeit reluctantly. “So that’s what little old ladies do in their spare time—talk about sex? And here I thought it was gardening.”

“They’re all widowed and alone and like to relive the good old days. And unfortunately for me, also seem to be fixating on my love life by finding me a man.” She tsked. “Pay them no mind. They mean well.”

“Don’t look now, but one of them is headed our way.”

She brushed an errant chunk of hair away from her eyes. “Oh crap. I knew I stayed here too long. What does she look like?”

“White-haired, blue flowery dress.”

“That’s Louisa. Don’t take the bait if she asks you if you like sex toys.” She shook her head.

He coughed. “Did you say sex toys?”

She didn’t get to respond before the woman ambled to the table and sat down next to Rafe. “I hope you’re a lawyer who’s going to help us skedaddle those Probst turds. The last group they sent frayed the remainder of my patience.”

“I’m not—”

“I can see you’re hot on our girl here. She’s quite a catch. And can cook like a dream”—the woman glanced at his empty plate—“but it appears you’ve already figured that out.”

“Thanks, Louisa, but Rafe is just passing through town,” Frankie said.

The white-haired woman raised her eyebrows. “Rafe is a very sexy name. Have you ever read Fifty Shades of Grey?”

“No, he hasn’t, Louisa.” Frankie pouted and placed her hands on her hips.

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