Spectacle
Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World

The Marriage Agenda

By: Sarah Ballance

Chapter One

Chloe Lochlan swallowed in an attempt to chase away the nervousness bundled in her throat. It was useless. Somewhere in the crowd, a man waited for her. Not just any man, but the man—at least as long as Chloe was inclined to believe her best friend’s forward opinions on the well-worn topic of Chloe’s love life, or lack thereof.

Of course, if she’d learned to dodge Lila Powell’s bright ideas, Chloe would be on her sofa with a spoon and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. Instead, she stood with her feet uncomfortably crammed into heels no sane woman should wear, four inches taller and uselessly scanning the clientele at Off the Record, an upscale hotel bar that doubled as Washington, DC’s premier place to see and be seen.

Blind date. If only she could have said no, she would have avoided the whole awkward situation, but Lila knew Chloe too well. A blind date gave Chloe absolutely nothing to reject—it was impossible to find flaw with someone she’d yet to meet. But truthfully, her serial incompatibility with just about every man she’d ever encountered had less to do with failings of the opposite sex than with her admittedly one-track drive to be a kick-ass investigative reporter. Chloe had always harbored an ambitious streak, but a year ago, a devastating breakup narrowed her focus to a laser-like precision. Her job wouldn’t break her heart.

But Lila wouldn’t hear of excuses. A night with a carton of ice cream was no comparison to a man, as far as she was concerned, but Chloe had stocked her freezer anyway. She’d endure the date, all the while thinking of the threesome with Ben and Jerry waiting for her at home. A couple of hours wouldn’t kill her, right?

Maybe not, but she was beginning to think they might come close. As she stood alone in the bar, second thoughts closed in. No one had approached claiming to be her date. Had he taken one look at her and left? Patience—and nerve—waning, Chloe scoured the room, hoping for a sign she should leave. And she found one. A big one.

Watching her intently from a corner table was her ex-everything. And in spite of a strict never-again policy for all things Knox Hamilton, her body melted in traitorous anticipation. His trademark bedroom-tousled hair, the same luscious brown hue as those smoldering eyes, did little to kill the energy coursing through her at the speed of orgasm. Her knees weakened, further threatening her unsteady perch on the stilts a salesclerk had tried to pass off as a wardrobe staple.

Chloe stared at Knox, an uneasy feeling crawling through her chest.

All her synapses fired “flee,” but her GPS was off. Her attempt at escape landed her at the corner of his table, where she nearly collided with a waiter setting something in front of Knox that was suspiciously akin to Chloe’s favorite drink, a strawberry daiquiri. Though the drink beverage seemed to confirm her suspicions, she eyed the glass with a touch of misplaced jealousy. It wouldn’t surprise her if he had a date. Well-known and filthy rich, up-and-coming politico Knox Hamilton had everything, including his pick of eligible women.

“Chloe.” He drawled her name, adding a seductive syllable or two. “You look amazing.”

Her mouth watered at the sound of his voice. “Hi.” Her voice squeaked with a less-than-dexterous reply.

He grinned. “It’s been too long. Have a seat.”

She eyed the daiquiri. “Actually, I have a date. As do you, it seems.”

His gaze met hers over the deep amber mouth of his beer bottle. “I ordered that drink for you.” The words simmered with the husky promise of the bedroom, slipping from his lips with an odd amount of reckless, deliberate ease.

Entranced, she caught herself staring at his mouth.

He leaned back in his chair, giving her a good, long look at the way his torso shaped his neatly buttoned and pressed shirt. “Will you join me?”

He had no right to look so good. She swallowed, getting a full taste of memories she’d sooner forget. “My date—”

“—is one unlucky bastard tonight. That is, of course, if you’ll sit.”

If she was smart, she’d give Knox a view of her amazing legs and phenomenal ass as she teetered out of the bar on those damned stripper heels. But curiosity would make a dead cat out of her yet. She pushed back the logic screaming at her not to risk involvement—a year ago, he’d made it clear the two of them had no future, and she had no interest in being a serial plaything to a confirmed bachelor—and assessed the offered chair. It appeared benign enough, and a reprieve from those shoes would be heaven. Sitting across the table from him didn’t have to mean anything, and a free daiquiri made for good incentive as far as she was concerned.

Hot Read

Last Updated

Recommend

Top Books