His 24-Hour Wife

By: Rachel Bailey


 Callie Mitchell straightened her skirt, took a deep breath to calm the butterflies in her stomach and followed the receptionist to Adam Hawke’s office on the top floor of a downtown LA office building. The central operations of his company, Hawke’s Blooms, took up the entire floor and, as CEO, Adam had a corner office, which had to have killer views.

 In hindsight, it had probably been a bad idea to stop on the way for a little Dutch courage—especially because it had been alcohol that had started this whole crazy mess—but she’d needed some help. It wasn’t every day a woman had an appointment to see her secret husband.

 In fact, she hadn’t seen him once in the three months since their wedding day, so this was quite the momentous occasion. They’d met at an industry conference in Las Vegas just over two years ago and spent an amazing night together, then had hooked up again at the following year’s conference. Third time had been the charm—this year they’d added vows to their rendezvous.

 The receptionist opened the door and waved her through and suddenly Callie was standing in front of him. The man she’d spent the most explosive times of her life with. The rest of the world faded away, leaving only him. The oxygen must have faded away, as well, because suddenly she couldn’t get her lungs to work.

 The receptionist had slipped out and closed the door behind her, leaving them alone, but Callie couldn’t find a word to say. Although Adam wasn’t saying anything, either.

 He was as perfect as she remembered, which was a surprise—she’d been certain her imagination had embellished things, that no man could be that gorgeous. Yet here was over six feet of proof standing before her. His green eyes were as intense, his frame as broad and powerful as the image she had in her mind’s eye. But he was wearing a suit with a crisp white shirt and dark blue tie. Most of her memories were of him stretched across the Vegas hotel sheets wearing nothing but a smile.

 He cleared his throat. “You look different as a brunette.”

 She’d gone back to her natural caramel brown about three weeks ago, but instead of telling him that, she heard herself say, “You look different with clothes on.”

 His eyes widened, and she covered her mouth. That Dutch courage had been a very bad idea.

 Then he laughed, a low rumble that seemed to fill the room. “I’m starting to remember why I married you.”

 “And what drove you away again,” she said and smiled. After a day spent in bed, gradually sobering up, Adam had suggested a divorce. She’d been having so much fun—and was, in all honesty, so dazzled by the Adonis who’d proposed to her—that she would have given their marriage a shot. But she’d had no rational argument for staying together, so she’d agreed.

 Still, after three months, neither one of them had started those divorce proceedings. She didn’t know Adam’s reasons, but there was a small kernel of hope deep in her chest that maybe he wasn’t quite ready to cut all ties with her yet.

 He indicated two upholstered chairs near the windows, which, sure enough, offered a premium view of Los Angeles below. “Take a seat. Can I get you a drink?”

 She knew he probably meant coffee or tea, but still she winced, remembering the gin she’d stupidly had before coming. “No, I’m fine. I won’t be here long.”

 He nodded and took the chair across from her. Then his expression turned serious. “What do you need, Callie?”

 For a moment all she could focus on was the sound of her name on his lips. His voice was deep and still sent a warm shiver through her. Three months ago he’d whispered her name in the heat of passion. Had murmured it when she’d kissed the smooth skin of his abdomen. Had shouted it as he’d found his release. More than anything, she wanted to hear him say her name again. Then his question registered, and she straightened her spine.

 “Why do you think I need something?”

 His forehead creased into a row of frown lines. “I just assumed...” He let the sentence trail off. “After all this time, I figured if you were contacting me, you must—”

 “I don’t need anything,” she said, holding up her hands, palms out. “I’m here as a courtesy, to let you know something.”

 His jaw hardened. “You’re getting married?”

 The way his mind worked was intriguing. She remembered that from their short time together—she’d been constantly fascinated by the things he said.

 “No, I’m up for a promotion.” Her PR firm had finally given her a chance to make partner—something she’d been working toward for years—and she wasn’t going to let the opportunity go.

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