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More Than Crave You (More Than Words #4)
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I’m Evan Cook—billionaire tech entrepreneur and widower. Professionally, I’ve got it all. But since my wife died, my personal life has fallen apart. Remarrying seems like the obvious answer, so I place an ad. I’m not asking for much. The ideal woman only needs to be smart, organized, pretty, and helpful—both in and out of bed—without expecting romance. I never thought to look right in front of me…but it turns out that Nia Wright, my sexy, sassy assistant, just might be the perfect candidate.
After an unexpectedly hot night together, I’m ready to stop interviewing strangers and simply marry her. On paper, she ticks every box on my list. Best of all, she’s far too sensible to fall for me. I didn’t see the flaw in my logic until it was too late. I never thought I’d lose my heart for the first time. And I definitely never imagined Nia could consume me. But she’s harboring a secret that could tear us apart. Can I prove I more than crave her before it’s too late?
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Thursday, November 2
Successful young entrepreneur seeks wife, business hostess, and sexual partner. Ideal candidate is between twenty-two and thirty, polished, intelligent, organized, educated, and attractive. No children or romance. Sense of humor optional. Must relocate to Hawaii.
As I read the words I printed moments ago, I make my way to my assistant’s desk. “What do you think?”
When I hand Nia Wright the page, she scans it, then scowls at me with incredulous dark eyes. “A personal ad? This is how you’re going to replace Becca?”
I pluck the paper from her grasp, jaw clenched. “No one can replace her.”
My wife and unborn child were killed in a car accident just over six months ago. Since I turned sixteen, Becca was my constant. Without her, the penthouse we shared feels too quiet. I have no one to talk to. My sex drive is raging. I’m empty.
“So why would you try with a stranger?” Nia shakes her head.
She asks a fair question, and I’m forced to reexamine my original conclusion. But no. The answer still seems obvious.
“Training one woman to fulfill my corporate and personal needs, then compensating her with money and job security seems far more logical than paying a handful of contractors who aren’t invested in our business relationship.”
I could do that, of course. At almost twenty-seven, I helm a growing company that’s worth over a billion dollars, so money isn’t the problem. But hiring five people to do what one can seems inefficient and wasteful. Illogical. Imbecilic. And while I don’t have a moral problem paying a professional and see little difference between engaging a chef or a prostitute for their services, Becca would have seen it very differently. Yes, she would want me to move on. Until now, I haven’t. But I would never intentionally disgrace or dishonor my wife.
“Do you think having a stranger beside you will really improve your quality of life?” Nia asks pointedly.
It’s a calculated risk, but one I’m prepared to take. “I don’t think it can be worse.”
She scoffs at me like I’m an idiot. From any other employee I wouldn’t abide the insubordination. Nia is different. She’s repeatedly proven she’s both loyal and levelheaded—two qualities I require. I value her opinion; it’s the reason she’s my right hand in all things related to Stratus Solutions, the tech infrastructure powerhouse I started six years ago with nothing but twenty-five hundred dollars, a little hardware, my coding skills, and serious grit.
“Then you haven’t thought this through. And your ad is a lie.”
It’s my turn to scowl. “What? Every word is true.”
With a sigh, she stands and snatches the page from my hand once more. “What this should say is: Brilliant workaholic seeks June Cleaver in the living room and Lolita in the bedroom. Ideal candidate is a supermodel who’s mute until I require her to serve guests or service me. No risk of emotional entanglements. Must be at my beck and call.”
Okay, maybe there’s a smidgeon of truth to her version of the ad. “Somehow, I suspect that would bring in far fewer responses.”
“You think?” She rolls her eyes. “The whole idea is inane. The way this reads, I don’t know whether to post it on eHarmony or LinkedIn.”
“If I want the right woman for the job, I have to outline all the duties I expect her to perform so I can find the most qualified candidate.”
Nia huffs at me. “You’re talking about marriage, not a middle manager. Why not take someone you know on a date? See if you like them. Spend a few months together, figure out if you’re suited for a deeper relationship. Use the time to get over Becca. Why are you shaking your head at me?”
“I intend to be married before Christmas. Everything in my non-work life is a disaster, and I’m too busy preparing for the move to Maui and fending off this hostile buyout to clean it up.” Best leave tidying my mess at home to a professional. “So I want you to place this ad everywhere you can think of today, screen all the replies, then give me a slate of the most qualified applicants by next Friday.”
She braces her hands on her hips, which are covered by a snug charcoal skirt. “You want me to help you pick this wife?”
I’m confused by her question—and her obvious displeasure. “It makes sense. You know me well, and you’re an excellent judge of character.”
“Have you ever been on a dating site?”
“Of course not.” Until Becca’s death, I was happily married.
“Do you have any idea how many crazies and gold-diggers an ad like this is going to attract?”
“I’m socially awkward, not naive. Of course I do. That’s why I’m lucky to have a savvy woman like you.”
Nia sits stiffly. “Fine. I’ll get it done. But really, have you at least thought about trying to date someone in your social circle? Someone you know isn’t crazy?”