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The Marriage Sacrifice
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Sage Boyle doesn’t want to get married, and she certainly wants nothing to do with ultimate playboy Dominick “Dom” Duke. She has her own life far away from the limelight, and she doesn’t want her life to change to satisfy her greedy parents.
Dom has a problem. His father made one too many bad investments, and the company is on the verge of bankruptcy. So even though he once promised Sage he wouldn’t force her into marriage, he doesn’t have a choice. He has to marry her for the sake of the company and all the people relying on him to keep it going.
He has to make Sage fall in love with him, or all is lost. Women do love him, and he’s had more than his fair share of experience, so getting Sage to fall shouldn’t be too hard.
What Dom never anticipated doing was falling in love himself. Sage is not like anyone he’s ever known. She’s funny, strong, independent, kind, loving—everything he’s ever wanted in a woman.
When she learns the truth, is it too late for Dom to be honest with her? Or have his secrets risked losing Sage forever?
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If Sage Boyle had to listen to her mother flirt with her supposed fiancé one more time, she was going to throw up. Her mother was in her fifties whereas Dominick Duke was thirty-three years old. Not that it was a problem with her mother going after a much younger man—her husband of twenty-four years was sitting right beside her.
Sage sipped at her drink while trying to ignore the embarrassment that was her parents. It wasn’t like her father cared, as he’d spent the entire lunch checking out the female waitresses’ asses. This was why she avoided her parents at all costs, that, and the shiny ring on her finger. Instead of sitting in this restaurant just to be seen, at her parents’ demand, she could really do with going home and working. She had a self-imposed deadline, and so far, she was on schedule, but her parents seemed to be determined to work against her.
All of this was fake anyway, just like her relationship had always been with her parents. She finished off her water, which had been poured into a wine glass as her mother didn’t want to look like a drunk.
“Well, this has all been nice. I really do need to get going,” she said.
“Oh, honey, all of that shopping can wait. Please, stay with us. You know how we miss you. We can’t stand for you to be away.”
The “shopping trip” was in fact the Friday afternoon she went and helped at the homeless shelter. She offered out clean clothes, and also served in the kitchen. Her mother hated her charity duties. She thought it was beneath a woman of her station.
Sage could do without the social climbing today.
“I’m sorry. Those branded bags won’t buy themselves.” Sage had never taken to shopping. Her mother had tried so many times, but she just found it all boring. There was so much more to do with life than shop.
Sliding out of her seat, she rounded the table, kissing her mother on the cheek, then her father.
“Goodbye,” she said.
“How about I come with you?” Dominic, or Dom, to most of his friends, asked. They were of course friends she’d never been allowed to see or to talk to. She and Dom were engaged to be married, but it was one that had been organized by their parents.
She didn’t want to marry Dom, or anyone else for that matter. There was a time she had hoped to have her own life far away from the demands of her parents, but that didn’t look like it was happening any time soon.
“I’m sure you’d be very bored,” she said.
“I need a new belt.” Dom wiped his lips before throwing down the napkin. “I think we should spend some time together. Allow the press to get a few shots. I’ve had several newspapers get in touch telling me how little time I spend with my woman.” He placed a hand at her back.
“Brilliant idea,” her father said.
Where her mother hated all of her charity work, her father was the opposite. He slept around with any woman who would have him, but he was the most supportive of her choices, which did always surprise her.
“It’s for the best, honey. It’s time you and Dom here started to act like an engaged couple. You know what it means for everyone to uphold that image. Have fun, you two. I’ll take care of the bill.”
She glanced over at Dom and saw his jaw was clenched.
One thing Sage didn’t want was conflict, and for some reason, she believed these two men were close to coming to blows.
“Let’s go,” she said.
Without waiting for Dom, she headed for the exit, thanking the maître d’ as she passed. She didn’t arrive by car; she walked. Yes, if her parents knew, they would be so ashamed.
Growing up in a world where she was constantly on view was so tiring, but she had grown used to it. Once the press realized she wasn’t a party animal and following her around was boring, they found another daughter of a wealthy family to go and pressure.
“Wait up,” Dominic said.
“Look, I don’t know what it is you want to do, but it’s not spending the afternoon with me.”
“What’s wrong with me wanting to spend some time with you?” he asked.
She sighed. “I know this marriage is just some business contract. I don’t want any part of it.”
“You think I do?”
“Our parents are the ones that negotiated this. I don’t care what you think. I just want to carry on with my life, and it doesn’t mean hanging out with you.” She spun on her heel and began walking. The shoes she wore were biting and impossible to walk in.
Moving to the wall, she placed her hand on the brick work, kicking them off. The moment she felt the solid pavement she breathed a sigh of relief.