The Honeymoon Arrangement

BOOK: The Honeymoon Arrangement
2.81Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

‘Holiday romances seldom work out,’ she murmured.

‘That’s what I’ve heard.’

‘Keep reminding me that this is nothing more than a few weeks of fun, okay?’

Finn rubbed his jaw. He had to acknowledge that it would be easy to forget who they were and why they were here. They were on a fake honeymoon—emphasis on the
fake
—surrounded by romance and luxury, and they might easily get swept away and inadvertently slip on a pair of those rose-coloured glasses.

He—they—had to keep their eyes open, their heads in the game.

Callie turned her head and sent him a small, almost sad smile. ‘We’re on the same page?’

He rubbed his hand over his jaw before nodding briskly. ‘Just to be clear—are you saying that you’ll sleep with me?’

The tip of her tongue touched her top lip and he saw her skin flush with anticipated pleasure. Yeah, she would be his as much as he would be hers. Tonight.

Callie held his eyes as she sucked in her bottom lip. ‘Well, sleeping isn’t what we would be doing, exactly.’

Dear Reader

When I wrote THE LAST GUY SHE SHOULD CALL I got so many messages from readers asking for Callie’s story. Something about the vivacious, independent, flirty character grabbed them, and—Callie being Callie—she hasn’t stopped nagging me for her happily-ever-after since then!

When a condom falls from the pocket of a gorgeous blonde’s jacket into his lap on a flight back from New York to Cape Town, travel writer Finn Banning knows that Callie Hollis is trouble with a capital T. She’s bold and flirtatious, and somehow he finds himself in a discussion about his upcoming wedding and her feelings about love and marriage … She’s cynical and sceptical and she doesn’t buy into the concept of happy-ever-after. But Finn needs a wedding planner, and Callie gives him the name and number for her friend Rowan, who is doing just that.

Three months later the wedding is off and Finn finds himself all at sea. He’s not particularly upset about losing his fiancée, but he is devastated at the loss of his dreams to have a family. He also has a huge problem in that he’s been contracted to write a series of articles for an important publication on upmarket honeymoon destinations, to be researched while he’s on his honeymoon, and he can’t let them or the magazine down.

Nobody is more surprised than Callie when she finds herself agreeing to act as Finn’s fake wife. But needs must: she needs to vacate Cape Town to avoid meeting up with her mother, who left her and her brother Seb when they were very young, so she jumps at the chance to spend three weeks with the über-delicious Finn Banning at various luxury honeymoon destinations in Southern Africa.

It’s a perfect arrangement—she’ll be his rebound girl and he’ll be a fling, and in three weeks they’ll wave each other goodbye.
Hmm…I don’t think so!

I hope you enjoy Callie’s story as much as I loved writing it.

Happy reading!

Joss
xxx

Come and say hi via Facebook: Joss Wood Author or Twitter:
@josswoodbooks
or visit
www.josswoodbooks.com

JOSS WOOD
wrote her first book at the age of eight and has never really stopped. Her passion for putting letters on a blank screen is matched only by her love of books and travelling—especially to the wild places of Southern Africa—and possibly by her hatred of ironing and making school lunches.

Fuelled by coffee, when she’s not writing or being a hands-on mum, Joss, with her background in business and marketing, works for a non-profit organisation to promote the local economic development and collective business interests of the area where she resides. Happily and chaotically surrounded by books, family and friends, she lives in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa, with her husband, children and their many pets.

The Honeymoon
Arrangement
Joss Wood

www.millsandboon.co.uk

To Sandi, so far away but still so close to my heart.

Also for Sandi’s Chris, who brings my little technie toys.

Thanks bunches!

Table of Contents

Cover

Excerpt

Dear Reader

About the Author

Title Page

Dedication

PROLOGUE

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

CHAPTER ELEVEN

Copyright

PROLOGUE

‘M
INIMALISM
, M
ODERNISM OR
I
MPRESSIONISM
?’

Finn Banning looked up from his seat in business class into the lovely face of a navy-eyed blonde with her hand resting on the seat in front of him. A ten-second scan told him that her body was long, lean and leggy, her waist tiny, her bright blonde hair falling way past her shoulders. Another five seconds of looking into those impish flirty eyes told him that she was Trouble. With a capital T. God, he hoped she wasn’t sitting next to him on this long-haul flight back to Cape Town from JFK.

Over the past two months his life had been turned upside down and inside out and he didn’t want to make small talk with a stranger—even if she was supermodel-gorgeous.

But he couldn’t help the corners of his mouth kicking up in response to the mischief in those amazing eyes.

‘Graffiti,’ he replied when she cocked an arrogant sculpted eyebrow.

Her mouth twitched in what he suspected was a smile waiting to bloom.

‘Whisky or bourbon?’

‘Beer.’

She tipped her head and tapped her foot, encased in what looked to be, under the hem of dark jeans, low-heeled black boots. ‘Rugby or cricket?’

He’d never played either as he’d spent every spare moment he had at the dojo. ‘I was on the UCT crochet team.’

Her mouth twitched again with amusement as the other eyebrow lifted. ‘You went to the University of Cape Town? Me too! What year? Degree?’

‘Journalism. Is there a point to these questions?’

‘Sure. I’m trying to decide whether you’re worth flirting with or whether I should ignore you for the rest of the flight.’

She flashed him a megawatt smile that had his groin twitching and his heartbeat jumping. An elegant hand gestured to the empty seat next to him.

‘My seat.’

‘Ah …’ he replied. Of course it was.

Finn watched as she tossed that bright head of relaxed curls and pushed some of them out of her eyes. Reaching for the strap over her shoulder, she dropped her leather rucksack to her feet and shrugged out of her thigh-length brown leather coat to reveal a taut, tight white T-shirt that covered small and perky breasts.
Nice
.

She folded the coat and stood on her toes to push it into the bin above their heads and that white T-shirt rode up to reveal a tanned, taut stomach and a beaded ring piercing the skin above her belly button. He watched, bemused, as she picked up the leather rucksack, pulled her tablet and earphones from the bag and tossed them on the seat. Holding her rucksack in her hand, she pulled a shawl from it, and as the bag tipped a thin, familiar silver foil packet fell out of a side pocket and landed on his thigh.

Finn picked up the condom and held it between his thumb and forefinger, waiting for her to look at him. When she did, instead of giving the blush he’d expected, she just flashed him another lightning bolt smile and nipped the condom out of his grip.

‘Whoops! Maybe I should introduce myself before I throw prophylactics in your direction. I’m Callie Hollis.’

‘Finn Banning.’

She wasn’t shocked that he wasn’t shocked, Finn thought as she tucked the condom into the back pocket of her jeans. Then again, after eight years as an investigative journalist before switching over to travel journalism nothing much shocked him any more. He’d seen the worst of what human beings could do to one another and, since it wasn’t the first time he’d had a condom tossed in his lap by a beautiful woman, it didn’t even make a blip on his radar.

Callie brushed past his knees and dropped into the seat next to him, wiggling her butt into the soft cushions and letting out a breathy sigh. She was all legs and arms and he would bet his last dollar that she hated economy class as much as he did—at six-two, for him it was like trying to sit in a sardine can—and that she figured the ridiculous price for a business class ticket was worth every cent.

Callie dropped her head back against the seat and then rolled it in his direction. ‘So … married or single?’

‘Why does it matter?’ he asked.

Callie grinned. ‘Well, I do this flight every month or so, and it’s been a
looooong
time since I’ve had someone sitting next to me who I’d want to flirt with—normally my travelling companions are old, dull or ugly. And besides, when the guy is as hot as you flirting is fun—and I’m really good at it.’

He had no problem believing that and told her so. ‘It must be because you’re so shy and timid,’ he added, his tone super-dry.

Callie laughed—a deep, belly laugh that made his stomach clench and his groin jump. ‘That’s what my best friend Rowan says all the time. Anyway, we were talking about flirting … If you’re single you get the full treatment. If you’re married I behave like a normal person.’

‘I’m in between. I’m engaged.’

‘Pooh.’ Callie pouted. ‘Well, your loss—because I flirt really,
really
well.’

He absolutely believed that.

Callie wiggled in her chair again, and tucked her legs up and under her. ‘So when are you getting married?’ she asked, and he could see that she’d dialled back the charm.

‘In three or so months’ time.’

She fiddled with the clasp of her seat belt and looked at him, puzzled. ‘I don’t get the whole marriage thing. What’s your reason?’

Finn stared past the lovely face to the darkness beyond her window, frowning when a quick, instinctive answer didn’t fall from his lips. Shouldn’t that be a minimum requirement when he was contemplating spending the rest of his life with someone?

Her question raised all the issues that he’d been struggling with lately. Were he and Liz doing the right thing by getting married just because Liz was five or so weeks pregnant? It was the twenty-first century—they didn’t need to get married to keep living together, to raise a child together. Were they complicating an already complicated situation? It wasn’t as if their relationship had been fantastic lately, and he was mature enough to know that a baby was hard work and might put more strain on the frayed rope that was keeping them together.

On the other hand, being parents might bring them closer …

God—a baby. He was still taking it in. He wanted to be an integral part of his child’s life and he was excited about becoming a dad. Maybe the birth of his own child would fill the hole that had appeared in his life when James died three months ago. A birth for a death, it seemed …
right
.

Fitting. Fated.

Finn rubbed his jaw. He was approaching his mid-thirties
and he wanted to be a brilliant father to someone. James had been one to his stepbrothers, to him. He wanted to create a family of his own—something he’d only truly experienced when he was fourteen and he and his mum had joined the Baker gang—a single dad and his three sons. He wanted to be part of something bigger than himself and he and Liz had been good together once. Maybe they could be again. Actually, they didn’t have an option. They
had
to make it good again.

‘So, why are you getting married?’ Callie asked again.

He frowned at her, warning her off the subject. ‘None of your business.’

Callie’s low chuckle floated over him. Warning ignored, then.

‘Of course it’s not, but I’m always fascinated as to why someone would be interested in tying themselves down for ever and ever and ever …’

‘Love?’


Pffft
. That’s just an easy excuse—a myth perpetuated by movies and books.’

BOOK: The Honeymoon Arrangement
2.81Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Mestiza by Jennifer L. Armentrout
The Chinese Egg by Catherine Storr
The Other Man by R. K. Lilley
The Best Medicine by Elizabeth Hayley
Sword of Mercy by Sydney Addae
Landfalls by Naomi J. Williams
The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes
From This Day Forward by Margaret Daley
A Boy and His Dragon by Cooper, R.