Twenty-one-year-old Kayla Turner has lost everything. After spending most of her life taking care of her ailing mother, she just wants to spot a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. So when her late father-a man she barely knew-leaves her an inheritance, she finally breathes a sigh of relief . . . until she learns the inheritance comes with strings. Strings in the form of handsome playboy Daren Ackwood, her father’s protégé. To see any of her inheritance, she’s forced to team up with him. From his expensive car to those sexy dimples, Kayla’s seen his type before. But Daren isn’t who he seems to be . . .Struggling to make amends for his family’s mistakes, Daren has a life more Oliver Twist than Richie Rich these days. He’s beyond grateful that James Turner included him in his will, but working with Turner’s princess of a daughter to fulfill his cryptic last wish is making Daren wonder if being broke is really so bad. Still, she’s just as beautiful as she is stubborn, and the more time he spends with Kayla, the less it feels right being without her. Soon Daren and Kayla begin to wonder if maybe the best gift Kayla’s dad could have left them . . . was each other.
The inheritance really could be only twenty dollars—or less—and spending an afternoon chained to Daren Ackwood to find it could be a complete waste of time, not to mention horribly awkward given our romantic encounter last night, but it’s worth a shot. Because if it turns out to be a substantial amount of money, everything could change.
Not only could I go back to nursing school, but I could afford a decent apartment and buy myself some time to find a new job—one where my boss isn’t demanding I work for free or flash him in order to pay off my mother’s debt.
Ugh. My life can really only go uphill from where I’m at.
I know money can’t buy happiness, and I believe that. But it would be nice to be out from under Big Joe’s threatening thumb. And sleeping in a cockroach-free apartment while eating regular hot meals wouldn’t be bad either.
I hurry down the sidewalk toward Mr. Perkins’s office, tripping a little in my shoes. Maybe wearing the skirt and heels again wasn’t such a great idea. But I wanted to look professional and responsible, and the gray dress is too hot and the only other pair of shoes I own are my beat-up sneakers from last night. I didn’t think a pencil skirt and a pair of dirty sneakers really said I can be trusted with my deceased father’s money. So I went with the pumps.
I wobble as my shoe catches on a small pebble and curse under my breath.
High heels really are a bitch.
Up ahead, I see Daren round a corner and hurry toward the office, now just a few yards down the sidewalk. I relax a little, knowing he’s not there yet. As we near each other, my stomach fills with butterflies. I don’t know what I’m more anxious about—the inheritance or seeing Daren.
We reach Eddie’s door at the same time.
“Good morning.” He smiles broadly.
“Morning,” I respond with a cheerful smile of my own.
Our smiles are exaggerated, like we’re trying to prove just how “okay” we are with the thing that never happened last night. Then our eyes meet in brief a clash of lust, and tension fills the air.
Daren is the first to break it. “So. You ready to do this?”
“I am,” I say.
The tension returns, but this time it’s laced with nervousness. We’re about to lock ourselves together. For money. The morning after we dry humped each other against a bar. It’s nothing less than weird and desperate. Which begs the question, why is Daren doing this?
I know why I’m subjecting myself to this craziness but I’m still not sure why Daren has agreed—especially without knowing how much money is at stake. Is he in it for the thrill? Is he just bored?
Whatever his reasons are, I’m grateful.
We enter the office and Eddie looks up from his messy desk, his glasses perched on his shiny head. Today he’s wearing a yellow button-up shirt with a plaid bow tie to match his plaid pants. The look suits him.
“You’ve returned,” he says brightly, standing to greet us. “I guess this means you’ve come to a decision about Mr. Turner’s letter?”
“We have,” I say.
Daren nods. “Yes.”
“Excellent.” Eddie clasps his hands together. “What have you decided?”
Daren and I exchange an anxious look. My stomach does a flip-flop, afraid he’s going to change his mind, but then he gives me a subtle nod and I nod back.
We turn to face Eddie, hold out our wrists, and at the same time say, “Cuff us.”