Amanda Pendleton is more than just a pretty face. She’s the president of a wildly successful office supply company, a doting single mom, and a billionaire. All great qualities. Too bad they weren’t enough to keep her deceased father from making stipulations in his will. If she wants to retain ownership of her company, she must find a husband before the next board meeting. Easy peasy, right?
Mike Everslee is a single dad, the manager at Mr. Fixit’s Hardware, and a hard-working guy just trying to make ends meet. But none of it affords him the discretionary income to pay the fees at his daughter’s preparatory school. When his daughter’s friend’s mom offers to pay the theatre fees and take them out to dinner, he’s just glad for a rare night out.
But Amanda shows up with an astounding proposal—marry her in the next five weeks and stay with her for a year so she can save her company. If he does, she’ll set him up with a new house, a new truck, and pay his daughter’s fees and tuition until high school. Get a ready-made family, a sister for his daughter, and a beautiful successful wife, all for the price of a year-long marriage. What could go wrong?
What the actual FUCK?
The words echoed in Amanda’s head though she tried to keep her gaze focused on the man reading the hidden clause of her father’s last will and testament, and away from the other occupant of the room. Staring at the lawyer was safer but only increased her rising ire. At least he didn’t smile at her like she’d starred in all his spank bank fantasies while he read the damning indictments. Instead, he looked nervous and apologetic.
Walter Tisdale, on the other hand…
Walter sat in the chair beside her in the lawyer’s office, dressed in his signature pinstriped suit with a solid silver tie and matching pocket square. He’d shaved his pale face shaved so close to the skin, his whole head resembled a cue ball from his favorite billiard set. Nine ball was his game, as she recalled. His expression remained calm, but his body hummed with excitement and his eyes danced, as if he was about to win a game.
Something caught her attention, and she raised a hand. “Stop. I didn’t hear that correctly. Read the last clause again.”
Amanda’s voice cracked like a whip in the room and startled everyone. Good, I want these bastards to sweat.
“If, at such a time as my daughter, Amanda Lynn Pendleton, is not married by the first board meeting after the first anniversary of my death, my shares in Pens2Paper, Inc. shall revert to Walter Tisdale, Jonathon Cartwright, and Albert Montgomery, or their beneficiaries. For Amanda Lynn Pendleton to remain as CEO and majority owner of Pens2Paper, Inc., she must have a real and legal husband by the next board meeting following the anniversary of my death.”
You’ve gotta be fuckin’ kidding me!
Again, she screamed the words in her head but kept her lips together. Sorting her words carefully, she met the lawyer’s gaze.
“Why was I not told the stipulation when his will was originally read a year ago?” She’d thought everything had been taken care of and sorted out.
The lawyer’s gaze shot to Walter’s. He pulled out his pocket hankie to dab away the sweat on his forehead before meeting her eyes once more.
“Uh, well, it was a hidden clause. Per the conditions of the will, it was meant to be read at a specific time, Ms. Pendleton.”
She narrowed her eyes. In other words, it was only hidden because Walter wanted it to be. If she’d had the full year plus to find herself a suitable husband, Walter would lose out on any leverage he had to force her to fail, thereby gaining the company he’d been salivating over.
Only because it’s hugely successful. And it’s only hugely successful because of me.
“When was the stipulated date for the hidden clause to be revealed?”
Again, the lawyer glanced at Walter and mopped his forehead. “Uh, well, there wasn’t a date written in the will.”
“So, the hidden nature of the clause was only stipulated by the executor of the estate, not my father?”
“Uh…” The guilty look he threw at Walter set her nerves on fire. “Yes, Ms. Pendleton.”
“I see.” She gathered her purse and her coat. “You’ll be hearing from my attorney very soon.”
Walter rose. “Now, Amanda—”
“Please excuse me.”
She didn’t look back as the men in the room floundered to follow her, but she was done with them. Fury rode her hard, but she kept it all locked behind her façade. They wouldn’t win by claiming she was being overly emotional. Men in the business world loved to throw that at women, particularly strong women when they stood up to male overreach. She’d seen more men in her line of work throw tantrums because they didn’t get their way, but no one ever called them over-emotional.
She was out the door and down the stairs before Walter could get his ass extricated from the lawyer’s office. Amanda shrugged into her coat and pulled out her cell phone as her low heels clacked on the steps.
“Zoe? Gather the troops and get a copy of my father’s will—the complete copy, with the ‘hidden clause to be shared at a later time’ part included.”
The silence on the other end of the phone followed her outside. “There was a hidden clause in your father’s will?”
“Apparently. Call everyone in. We’re going to need everyone’s expertise on this one.”
“Will do. I’ll have the chocolate, croissants, and chamomile tea waiting.”
“Thanks. See you soon.”
Amanda sighed as she ended the call, her anger seething in her chest like a living thing. She’d beat this, just like she had every other underhanded male management effort. She just had to figure out how.