Wife for a Week(54)

By: Kelly Hunter

‘I love you,’ she said, bringing her hands up to frame his beautiful, beloved face, laughing when his arms came around her as if he’d never let her go. ‘Yes, I’ll marry you. I’m going to be the best corporate wife you’ve ever seen.’

‘No!’ He was half laughing and wholly alarmed as he picked her up in his arms and headed towards the bed. ‘I don’t want a corporate wife.’ And with a catch in his voice that pierced her to the core, ‘All I want is you.’

Jasmine, John and Kai were on hand to bid them farewell as they left for the airport the following morning. They didn’t feel like business associates, these lovely, generous people, thought Hallie; they felt like family. ‘Thank you,’ she said warmly, holding out her hand to John. ‘For your hospitality and your kindness. It was a pleasure meeting you.’

She turned to Jasmine next as Nick shook hands with John and added his thanks to hers. ‘I’m going to miss you,’ she said as she embraced the younger girl. ‘Keep in touch.’

And then there was Kai, standing by the front door, a little apart from Jasmine and her father as he waited to drive them to the airport. ‘Thanks for keeping me company yesterday. I appreciated it,’ she told him with a brush of her lips to his cheek and had the satisfaction of seeing him smile, just a little. ‘Still leaving for the Mainland?’

‘Maybe just for a visit.’

‘Maybe you should consider taking a travelling companion.’

Kai’s smile grew a fraction wider. ‘Take care, Hallie Cooper.’

Hallie watched as Nick completed his farewells, an affectionate hug for Jasmine and a simple heartfelt thank-you for Kai. They’d been through so much together—all five of them—that lies and half-truths no longer seemed appropriate. Had never been appropriate, thought Hallie wryly, not really. But she had no wish to upset things just as they were leaving. No wish to watch this comfortable intimacy turn to wariness and suspicion, so she kept her mouth firmly shut on the subject of her fictitious marriage to Nick and comforted herself with the knowledge that next time she saw them she would be married to him.

Nick joined her by the door and Hallie would have turned to leave but for Jasmine, who’d retrieved a bright red parcel from the entrance table and was holding it out towards her. ‘For you and Nick,’ she said impishly. ‘From my father and I.’

Oh, dear. With all the excitement of the past couple of days she’d completely forgotten to get a parting gift for them. The corporate wife had slipped up again. ‘I, ah, really wasn’t expecting a parting gift,’ she said awkwardly.

‘Open it,’ urged Jasmine.

So she opened it and stared down in astonishment at the little jade horse she’d so admired the first time she’d met John. ‘Oh, my Lord,’ she whispered, looking to Nick for explanation, but he looked as baffled as she was. What kind of parting gift was this? Had they gone nuts? Parting gifts were small, inexpensive mementos of a person’s stay. Chopsticks were parting gifts, or a pretty silk scarf…Nothing wrong with a packet of fragrant green tea leaves either, come to think of it, but this…This was crazy. She didn’t understand the gesture at all. ‘I don’t know what to say,’ she said frankly. ‘It’s absolutely exquisite. But it’s not a parting gift.’

‘Of course not.’ John Tey’s mischievous smile was remarkably like his daughter’s. ‘It’s a wedding present.’


FLIGHT 128 from Hong Kong to Heathrow touched down with a screech and a swerve at five p.m. on a grey and blustery afternoon, but neither the weather nor the bumpy landing could dim Hallie’s happiness. She was manicured, pedicured, pampered and polished and was corporate wife chic in her lightweight camel-coloured trousers and pink camisole and jacket. Her shoes matched her top, her handbag was Hermès, and Nick was at her side. She was the woman who had it all and it was all she’d ever dreamed of.

That didn’t mean she was a pushover.

‘I still can’t believe you didn’t tell me you told John we weren’t married,’ she said as she stared down at the little jade horse in her handbag. What with that and the funeral vase, customs was going to be a real treat.

‘I was going to tell you,’ said Nick. ‘Right after I proposed and you accepted, but I figured I’d leave it a few minutes on account of the timing not being quite right. I wanted you to be quite sure I was proposing because I wanted to and not because I’d just blown our cover.’