The Millionaire Claims His Wife

By: Sandra Marton



Eventually, though, he’d stopped going to Stratham. It was simpler that way. Dawn got old enough so she could take a train or a plane to wherever he was. And every time he saw her, she was lovelier. She’d seemed to grow up, right before his eyes.

Chase’s mouth thinned. But she hadn’t grown up enough to get married. Hell, no. Eighteen? And she was going to be some guy’s wife?

It was Annie’s fault. If she’d paid a little less attention to her own life and a little more to their daughter’s, he wouldn’t be standing here in a monkey suit, waiting to give his little girl away to a boy hardly old enough to shave.

Well, that wasn’t quite true. Nick was twenty-one. And it wasn’t as if he didn’t like the kid. Nick—Nicholas, to be precise—was a nice enough young man, from a good family and with a solid future ahead of him. He’d met the boy when he’d flown Dawn and her fiancé to Florida to spend a week with him on his latest job site. The kids had spent the time looking at each other as if the rest of the world didn’t exist, and that was just the trouble. It did exist, and his daughter hadn’t seen enough of it yet to know what she was doing.

Chase had tried to tell her that, but Dawn had been resolute. In the end, he had no choice. Dawn was legally of age. She didn’t need his consent. And, as his daughter quickly told him, Annie had already said she thought the marriage was a fine idea.

So he’d swallowed his objections, kissed Dawn, shaken Nick’s hand and given them his blessing—as if it were worth a damn.

You could bless the union   of two people all you wanted, but it didn’t mean a thing. Marriage—especially for the young—was nothing but a legitimate excuse for hormonal insanity.

He could only hope his daughter, and her groom, proved the exception to the rule.

“sir?”

Chase looked around. A boy who looked barely old enough to shave was standing in the doorway of the church.

“They sent me out to tell you they’re about ready to begin, sir.”

Sir, Chase thought. He could remember when he’d called older men “sir.” It hadn’t been so much a mark of respect as it had been a euphemism for “old man.” That was how he felt, suddenly. Like an old, old man.

“Sir?”

“I heard you the first time,” Chase said irritably and then, because none of what he was feeling was the fault of the pink-cheeked groomsman, he forced a smile to his lips. “Sorry,” he said. “I’ve got the father-of-the-bride jitters, I guess.”

Still smiling, or grimacing, whichever the hell it was, he clapped the boy on the back and stepped past him, into the cool darkness of the church.

* * *

Annie sniffled her way through the ceremony.

Dawn was beautiful, a fairy-tale princess come to life. Nick was handsome enough to bring tears to whatever eyes weren’t already streaming, though not to his former guardian’s, who stood beside him wearing a look that spoke volumes on his handsome face.

Chase was wearing the same look. Her ex was not just dry-eyed but stony-faced. He’d smiled only once, at Dawn, as he’d handed her over to her waiting groom.

Then he’d taken his place beside Annie.

“I hope you know what in hell you’re doing,” he’d muttered, as he’d slipped in next to her.

Annie had felt every muscle in her body clench. How like him, to talk like that here, of all places. And to blame her for—what? The fact that the wedding wasn’t being held in a church the size of a cathedral? That there wasn’t room for him to invite all his big-shot clients and turn a family event into a networking opportunity?

Maybe he thought Dawn’s gown was too old-fashioned, or the flower arrangements—which she, herself, had done—too provincial. It wouldn’t have surprised her. As far as Chase was concerned, nothing she’d ever done was right. She could see him out of the corner of her eye, standing beside her, straight and tall and unmistakably masculine.

“Isn’t Daddy gorgeous in formal wear?” Dawn had gushed.

A muscle twitched in Annie’s cheek. If you liked the type, she supposed he was. But she wasn’t a dumb kid anymore, to have her little heart sent into overtime beats by the sight of a man’s hard body or equally hard, handsome face.

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