Wife By Approval

Wife By Approval
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Billionaire Richard Anders needed Valentina to claim the spectacular Castle Anders.But he hadn't counted on her breathtaking beauty and playing the part of husband proves more pleasurable than he'd imagined. Valentina's given Richard her innocence in the bedroom, and her word at the altar. But when she learns the truth, will she give him her heart?


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Wife By Approval

Lee Wilkinson














SEATED at her desk in her first-floor office, Valentina Dunbar was gazing absently through the rain-spattered window which overlooked Cartel Wines’s long, narrow car park and, beyond the high wall, the River Thames.

Dusk had begun to creep stealthily out of hiding and lights were coming on, gleaming on the dark water and glowing orange against the cloudy purple sky.

Most of the day staff tried to get away early on a Friday night and a steady stream of vehicles were already leaving the car park to join the London evening rush hour.

Responsible for organising the social gatherings and the informative literature that invariably accompanied Cartel Wines’s latest sales push, Tina was endeavouring to put the finishing touches to the pre-Christmas campaign. But for once she wasn’t giving the job her full attention.

It was Friday the thirteenth. A day that, for her at least, had lived up to its unlucky reputation.

First thing that morning she had slipped and hurt her ankle getting out of the shower. Gritting her teeth, she had been forced to stand on one leg while she had dried and dressed and taken her thick, silky hair, naturally blonde on top but with darker undertones, into a neat chignon.

By the time she’d finished, the pain had eased quite a bit and she was able to hobble into the living-room to get her toast and coffee.

Ruth, her friend and temporary flatmate, who was breakfasting in her dressing gown, looked up to ask, ‘Why are you limping?’

As Tina finished telling her, the phone rang.

‘I hope this is Jules,’ Ruth exclaimed eagerly, grabbing the receiver.

It was.

Her fiancé’s firm had transferred him to Paris for six months and she was missing him badly.

‘He’s coming to London for the weekend,’ she said after a minute or so, her elfin face full of excitement, her black hair standing up in spikes. ‘He’ll be arriving this afternoon and going back Monday morning.’

Then, apologetically, ‘By the way, he’s expecting to stay at the flat with me…’

The ‘flat’ was nothing more than a large bedsitter, which meant that Tina would have to make other arrangements for the three nights.

Her own flat was in a run-down Victorian house that the new owner had decided to have refurbished and modernized, and Ruth had offered her a put-you-up for the ten weeks or so that would elapse before she could move back in again.

‘Perhaps you could ask Lexi or Jo to give you a bed for the weekend?’ Ruth suggested.

‘I’ll think about it,’ Tina said non-committally. Then, seeing Ruth’s concerned expression and knowing she owed it to her friend, she added cheerfully, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll get something fixed up. You just make sure you have a great time.’

‘I will,’ Ruth assured her as she went to shower and dress.

Both Lexi and Jo had resident boyfriends and, with no intention of playing gooseberry, Tina had already made up her mind to book into a hotel.

As soon as she had pushed a handful of underwear, a few changes of clothing and some necessities into a small case, she collected her shoulder bag and mac and, calling, ‘Have a good weekend…see you Monday,’ let herself out.

When she had descended the stairs with care, she crossed the foyer to check for mail. In Ruth’s pigeon-hole was a single redirected letter addressed to her, which she thrust unopened into her bag.

Until now the autumn weather had proved to be glorious, an Indian Summer of warm golden days and balmy nights. But today it was grey and chilly, a thin curtain of drizzle being blown along by a strong blustery wind.

She turned up the collar of her mac and, her ankle still a little painful, made her way to where her car was parked in the residents only space that belonged to the building.

Her offside front tyre was flat.

By the time the local garage had checked the tyre, repaired the damage and re-inflated it, she was late for work.

The morning had passed in something of a whirl and it had been practically twelve o’clock before she’d realised that, owing to the earlier upheaval, she had forgotten to pack her usual sandwiches or her small flask of coffee.

But there was a delicatessen just around the corner that made up rolls and sandwiches to order. If she could get there before the rush…

As she reached in her bag for her purse she came across the forgotten letter. Glancing at it, she noticed that in red, on the left-hand side of the envelope, was stamped what appeared to be the name of some firm.

Dropping it on her desk to read when she got back, she pulled on her mac and made her way out of the rear entrance.

In a few minutes she returned, carrying a ham and salad roll and a fruit yogurt in a paper bag. She was crossing the deserted car park, her head down against the now driving rain when, glancing up, she saw a man watching her.

Tall, dark-haired and arresting, he was standing quite still beneath the roofed loading bay, his eyes fixed on her.

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