Stealing the Groom

By: Sonya Weiss



“That’s not all there is to it.” Chad shook his head. “For the past year, Walker Industries has been operating in the red.”

Amelia gasped. “How can that be?”

“My father stole a great deal of company funds in a pathetic attempt to bribe my mother to come back to him. When she didn’t, he gambled the money away in casinos and then covered it up. He’d lied to investors and the board of directors for years.”

“What does that have to do with you getting married?”

“My grandfather is an old man. The board of directors wants me at the helm because they no longer trust his judgment. But he’s stubborn and won’t relinquish my full shares unless I get married first. He thinks that will prove I’ve grown up, settled down, and can handle the company.”

She shook her head. “No way. I’m calling BS. Your grandfather knows you’re responsible and can handle any business situation. And being distracted by a new wife isn’t going to help you run a company, it’s just going to draw your attention away from it.”

“Agreed. That’s why I think there’s a deeper ulterior motive. Lately he’s been harping on me to settle down, get married, start a family. Claims I’m working myself into an early grave for no good reason. As if saving the company was ‘no good reason.’” He rolled his eyes. “I explained there was no rush, there was time to think about the other stuff once the company was in the clear.”

She laughed, swiping a loose strand of hair behind her ear. “You’ve never wanted to think about the ‘other stuff.’”

“God no. But my grandfather doesn’t know that.”

No, Chad had only confided in Amelia about that. “So he didn’t believe you?”

“I thought he did. Then I announced my plans to merge the company with another local business to help increase profits and rebuild our base. Grandfather immediately said he would block it. The only way I can move forward with the merger is if I hold those shares.”

“And the only way you can hold the shares is to find a wife.”

“Bingo.”

Amelia couldn’t believe his grandfather, Henry, would be so calculating. Usually the man was an old softy. Then again, her own grandfather said that Henry hadn’t been the same since Chad’s father died. Perhaps that is what motivated Henry’s newfound “embrace life” attitude.

But unfortunately, his “embrace life” scheme had turned into just another one of his grandson’s business deals.

Amelia exited the interstate and pulled into a parking space at the rest area. She killed the engine and shifted to face him. “You don’t love Claire.”

Was it her imagination or did his Atlantic-blue gaze drop to her lips? Linger there long enough to heat the car to the temperature of an oven on broil? Of course not. He wasn’t any more romantically interested in her than she was in him.

Amelia was the first to look away. “You don’t love Claire,” she repeated as the burrito she’d had last night rumbled around in her stomach.

Chad gave up on finding something to write on and slammed the glove compartment. “No, I don’t.” He seemed lost in thought for a moment, then shook his head as if to clear it.

“You know how I feel about love. How I’ve always felt about it. So me not marrying for love shouldn’t come as a shock to you, Ame. That particular emotion belongs in fairy tales and movies, not in real life.” He looked down to brush a speck of lint from his tuxedo trousers.

“You’re not your father, Chad. And you don’t have to marry someone like your mother. You have the choice to find someone trustworthy and loyal.”

He raised his head, the muscle working in his jaw the only indication of how much he hated discussing his father. “No, I’m not my father, which is why I refuse to go down the same road he did. It was love that destroyed him, not a lack of it, like I incorrectly thought years ago when we made that silly promise. It wasn’t because he hadn’t taken a chance on love, it was because he loved too much and got burned. Things have changed. Times are different. I won’t marry a woman I love and I don’t want one who loves me. No emotion. No heartbreak. Keep it all strictly business. My plan is perfect. Or it was, until you groomnapped me.”

Amelia could only imagine the heartache in store for him if he committed to living without love.

“No plan is perfect,” she finally offered.

“This one was.”

The man defined stubbornness. Weary from having failed to convince him, she said, “Fine. Do you want me to take you back to Sweet Creek?”

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