Claimed As His (Mail Order Brides, 2)

By: Jenika Snow & Sam Crescent


“I want you to meet my family,” he said, taking her hand and kissing her knuckles.

Lucy was a beautiful woman.

She had that glow that drew people to her, and a kindness that most tried to exploit. He’d recognized it on the first date they’d shared and she was the first woman he’d ever felt an overwhelming need to protect.

“I thought you didn’t have a good relationship with them,” she asked.

He sighed, running a hand down his face. They’d talked a little before the wedding about his family and hers, how life had been growing up, all the usual prerequisite things a “couple” would discuss. “I don’t.” He’d been open and honest with her from the start, letting her know without a doubt that the only reason he was marrying her was to rub it in his family’s face that he’d picked his bride. He’d told her how his mother pushed women on him, and how Lucy was very different than the females his family probably saw him with. “Look, I promise you I won’t let them hurt you or anything. We’re married now. That changes a lot of things.” He took her hand, locking their fingers together.

They still had to talk about their living arrangements and he needed her to quit her job so that she could live with him full time. He was a demanding man, and he always wanted all the attention.

Lucy pulled her hand out of his, and he sighed. She didn’t seem to be the most willing of brides and he found that infuriating.

Running his fingers through his hair, he pressed the button to give them some privacy. He didn’t trust the driver’s beady little eyes watching them.

“What’s the matter?” he asked. When they were alone he didn’t have to be the asshole that he liked to portray to the outside world.

He’d learned a long time ago that showing weakness allowed people to walk all over you, and he’d gotten his heart broken one time too many.

With Lucy, though, he wanted to make that effort. She turned toward him with a frown. “You confuse me.”

“We barely know each other. I imagine that’s confusing. We’re married.” He held up his hand that now had a ring. It was a simple gold band that he’d picked out but it also branded him as taken. Lifting up her hand so they were side by side, he smiled. He couldn’t help it.

Even though the marriage was a complete farce, he was fucking excited about it. Lucy seemed to fill with him with a hope of something amazing happening, and he didn’t want to lose that, not any of it.

She sighed. “It’s not that. Why do you want to hurt your parents? Why not let it go?”

“If I was willing to let it go, then I wouldn’t have married you. I told you everything on that first initial date. I haven’t fooled you into thinking this is a love match.”

“I know. You’ve been honest with me. It’s the one thing you promised you’d do and I appreciate that.”

“Then what’s wrong?” he asked. Stroking a finger down her arm, he tried to be comforting. Lucy stared down at his touch, holding her body stiff.

He didn’t like how closed off she always was. She was the first woman he actually had to encourage to talk to him.

****

Lucy couldn’t believe she was married, especially to a man who only wanted to rub it in his own family’s face. There were times Ian seemed cruel, but whenever he looked at her, that faded away, and he was nice to her.

Being on a mail ordered website was a joke, only it had been on her. She’d not known that she’d even been put up on the website until she received Ian’s first email. Some assholes from work had done it, thinking it would be funny to humiliate her.

And it was because of that bullshit that she quit, just gave her two weeks’ notice and said to hell with them. She’d had a little money saved up, her nest egg, her in-case-of-an-emergency fund. She didn’t have much, but it was enough to support her until she found something better, something that didn’t eat away at her daily.

And although she could have declined the proposal, deleted the account, and never looked back, this part of her had wanted to go through with it. Maybe it was because she was lonely, or because Ian, a rich, powerful, and darkly attractive man, actually showed interest in her. Maybe it was because she’d never had that kind of attention from a man in her life, or the fact she was still a virgin, with curves that a lot of people found unattractive.

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