Zach Harper was the last person Kaitlin Saville expected
to see standing in the hallway outside her apartment
door. The tall, dark haired, steel-eyed man was the
reason she was packing her belongings, the reason there
were cardboard boxes scattered in every room of her
suite, the person who was forcing her to leave New York
Facing him, she folded her arms across her dusty, blue
Mets t-shirt, hoping her red eyes had faded from her
earlier crying jag and that no tear streaks remained
on her cheeks.
"We have a problem," Zach stated, his voice
crisp, and his expression detached. His left hand was
clasped around a black, leather briefcase.
He wore a Grant Hicks suit and a pressed, white shirt.
His red tie was made of fine silk, and his cufflinks
were solid gold. As usual, his hair was freshly cut,
face freshly shaved, and his shoes were polished to
within an inch of their lives.
"We don't have anything," she told him, curling
her toes into the cushy socks that covered her feet
below the frayed hem of her faded jeans.
She was casual, not frumpy, she told herself. A woman
had a right to be casual in her own home. Where Zach
Harper had no right to be in her home at all. She started
to close the door on him. But his hand shot out to brace
His had was broad and tanned, with a strong wrist and
tapered fingers. No rings, but a platinum Cartier watch
with a diamond face. "I'm not joking, Kaitlin."
"And I'm not laughing." She couldn't give
one whit about any problem the high and mighty Zach
Harper might encounter during his charmed life. The
man not only got her fired, he had her blackballed from
every architectural firm in New York City.
He glanced past her shoulder. "Can I come in?"
She pretended to think about it for a moment. "No."
He might be master of his domain at Harper Transportation
and at every major business function in Manhattan, but
he did not have a right to see her messy place, especially
collection of lacy lingerie sitting under the window.
He clenched his jaw.
She set her own, standing her ground.
"It's personal," he persisted, hand shifting
on the briefcase handle.
"We're not friends," she pointed out.
They were, in fact, enemies. Because that's what happened
when one person ruined another person's life. It didn't
matter that the first person was attractive, successful,
intelligent and one heck of a good dancer. He'd lost
all rights to...well, anything.
Zach squared his shoulders, then glanced both ways
down the narrow corridor of the fifty year old building.
The light was dim, the patterned carpets worn. Ten doors
opened into this particular section of the fifth floor.
Kaitlin's apartment was at the end, next to a steel
exit door and a fire alarm protected by a glass cover.
"Fine," he told her. "We'll do it out
Oh, no they wouldn't. They wouldn't do anything anywhere,
ever again. She started to step back into the safety
of her apartment.
"You remember that night in Vegas?" he asked.
His question stopped her cold.
She would never forget the Harper corporate party at
the Bellagio three months ago. Along with the singers,
dancers, jugglers and acrobats who had entertained the
five-hundred strong crowd of Harper Transportation's
high-end clients, there was a flamboyant Elvis impersonator
who'd coaxed her and Zach from the dance floor to participate
in a mock wedding.
At the time, it had seemed funny, in keeping with the
light-hearted mood of the party. Of course, her sense
of humor had been aided that night by several cranberry
martinis. In hindsight, the event simply felt humiliating.
"The paper we signed?" Zach continued in
the face of her silence.
"I don't know what you're talking about,"
she lied to him.
In fact, she'd come across their mock wedding license
just this morning. It was tucked into the lone, slim
photo album that lived in her bottom dresser drawer
beneath several pairs of blue jeans.
It was stupid to have kept the souvenir. But the glow
from her evening on Zach's arm had taken a few days
to fade away. And at the time she'd put the marriage
license away, those happy moments on the dance floor
had seemed somehow magical.
It was a ridiculous fantasy.
The man had destroyed her life the very next week.
Now, he drew a bracing breath. "It's valid."
She frowned at him. "Valid for what?"
Kaitlin didn't respond. Was Zach actually suggesting
they'd signed a real marriage license?
"Is this a joke?" she asked.
"Am I laughing?"
He wasn't. But then he rarely laughed. He rarely joked
either. That night, she'd later learned, was quite the
anomaly for him.
A cold feeling invaded her stomach.
"We're married, Kaitlin," he told her, steel