The Millionaire's Deception

By: Wendy Byrne

She launched herself at him, wrapping her legs around his waist. He stumbled back but luckily didn’t fall on his ass and bring her with him.

After peppering his face with kisses, she rested her forehead on his. “I know my mom and pops would have loved you, too.”

“I’m not too sure about that. I’ve got a tattoo, you know.” He wiggled his eyebrows up and down. “I heard from a reliable source that only bad boys have tattoos.”


Frankie huddled against Rafe’s shoulder as they walked toward Rockefeller Center. The red wool coat he’d surprised her with was the icing on the top of the cake of her outfit.

“Tell me again why they thought it was a good idea to do this interview outside.” She shivered. “It’s freezing.” As she spoke, a snowflake plopped onto her nose.

“It’s the lighting of the Christmas tree and it’s a perfect setting for your Special Edition of Holidays with Francesca Cookbook.”

She wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him close. “Have I told you how much I love you?”

“Not in the last thirty minutes.” He nuzzled her neck. “I think you’re overdue.”

“Rafe McCall, I love you. You and your bad-boy self were the best thing that happened to me.”

“Admit it. I had you worried for a while, didn’t I?”

“But you came through in the end. And managed to make the new restaurant possible as well, thanks to your interest-free loan.”

“You have a couple grand in preorders on your book. I can’t imagine what’s going to happen tomorrow when it’s available for sale. You’ll probably crash the internet.”

She separated from him in order to grab his hand. “You’ve always believed in me. Now you have to trust me in one thing.”

“What’s that?”

“I want you to get in touch with your brother and invite him to our wedding in Iowa this spring.”

He seemed to pale despite the cold. “I haven’t talked to him in almost fifteen years.”

“That’s the point. He needs to be there when we get married.” She kissed his cheek. “Promise me you’ll try.”

He rolled his eyes but smiled as he did so. “For you, I’ll give it a try.”

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Thanks to Robin H.—editor extraordinaire—for her expert editing and infinite patience. I’m not going to lie. It took several passes for my story to go from one I really liked to one I absolutely fell in love with, but between her and Alethea, they stuck with me to make it shine like a precious gem.

To Alethea for recognizing there was a story in that short paragraph I wrote while waiting in my car. (iPhones come in so handy for jotting down writerly notes.) I fell in love with Rafe and Frankie in that first paragraph, and I’m so grateful Alethea saw the potential and chose my story for the Zodiac line.

To my friends and family who stuck with me through this writerly journey. As much as it pains me to admit it, it’s not always easy being around a writer.

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