“Aren’t you here as Blake’s counsel?” She turned in her seat to face Blake. “I can call you Blake, can’t I?” What was she saying? They were to be married soon. What was she supposed to call him other than his given name?

He smiled at her gently, almost indulgently. “Everybody else does.”

“I’m sorry. I’m not normally this obtuse. It’s just that…” she trailed off unable to say what really bothered her. It’s just that when you’re near me I can’t seem to think at all. “It’s just that this is all very new to me,” she said instead.

“That makes two of us.”

Once again Blake’s gaze focused on her nose. He picked up the pre‑nuptial agreement and handed it to her. “Look this over and ask when you come to something you don’t understand. Take your time.”

Paige read the paper carefully, trying to make sense of the legal jargon. Then her eyes centered on a number, and her mouth went dry again. She turned her gaze to Blake with her mouth agape.

“A hundred and seventy‑six million dollars? If you marry me, you’ll inherit a hundred and seventy‑six million dollars?”

“176.3,” he solemnly corrected with a half nod.

She looked around the small group for their confirmation. Both Masters and Noah nodded in agreeing unison.

Maddie’s words of the night before came hurtling through the fog of her brain. “Why me?”

Blake shrugged, still not meeting her eyes. “Why not?”

“I read the papers. You could have any woman in this town, in this state. What about—” She had been about to ask, What about Anna Rivera? Her name had been linked to his most often in the past few weeks, but the answer hit Paige like a runaway freight train. There was only one reason why any of the many women Blake had ever dated wouldn’t marry Chicago’s most eligible bachelor. “You’re gay.”

“No, I’m not.”

“I understand, and it’s okay. I can keep a secret.” Her entire being had been disillusioned, but she managed to keep her voice calm and level. Maddie was right; of all the good ones were gay.

“Paige, the only secret I need for you to keep is that my aunt is blackmailing me into marriage.”

“Being gay is nothing to be ashamed of.”

“I’m not ashamed!”

“Good. There’s no reason to be. Millions of people are gay.”

“I am not gay!” Blake thrust his fingers through his hair.

“But you just said—”

Before her despondent heart could beat even once more, he came around the chair. Before she could blink, his hands were on her arms pulling her to her feet. Before she could say or do anything his lips met hers, and Paige’s world exploded into a million fragments of light and color. She understood nothing but the feel of his lips on hers, coaxing and probing. She opened her mouth for him. Accepting all he offered. Melting against him. Putty in his hands. Oblivious to their audience.

Noah cleared his throat.

Blake’s lips left hers abruptly as his hands released her arms. Paige collapsed into her chair. His eyes, their hazel intensity almost golden, locked with hers, and she felt herself still twirling in the whirlpool of desire. She had come in awed by his presence, and now…well, now she was more than awed. Did he feel it too? Was that why he stared at her, that peculiar expression on his handsome features?

“A very touching display I must say,” Masters said interrupting the quiet, heart‑pounding moment. “But I do believe the time has come to sign the papers. I don’t know about the rest of you, but this is not my only appointment today.”

Blake dragged his gaze from hers, but Paige’s temperature didn’t lessen even a tenth of a degree.

“I’m not gay.” Blake repeated, his eyes meeting her nose once again.

“Definitely,” she whispered.

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