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A Virgin for His Prize

By:Lucy Monroe

being harmed in any way. Even by Madison’s own precipitous actions.

“You were willing to break your own rules for a price,” Romi sneered.

Ah. Now he understood. Maxwell was actually a little surprised that Madison had shared his offer with Romi. The Archer heiress had never seriously considered it and he hadn’t expected her to. That didn’t mean he would deny himself the opportunity to give Viktor Beck a few seconds of doubt.

They’d been friends and competitors since early childhood.

Still, Romi was upset Maxwell had made the counteroffer. That might bode well for his own plans where she was concerned.

“And that price wasn’t love.” He laced the last word with his own brand of disgust.

The overly emotional and incredibly naive heiress thought that sentiment the only motivation worthy of note. Even after the loss of that love had nearly destroyed her own father and what remained of their family.

“More like thirty pieces of silver.” Her blue gaze snapped with fire he wanted in his bed.

The small taste he’d had of her had only whetted an appetite Maxwell had come to accept would not be satisfied by anything but unfettered access to this woman alone.

“Your inference would imply I betrayed someone. I didn’t.” He and Romi had gone their separate ways nearly a year ago.

“Your own integrity maybe.”

“What is dishonest about a business deal where the terms are laid bare for everyone involved?”

“So, your ‘no commitment’ rule was only for me?” Romi’s voice betrayed pained disappointment.

He didn’t like hearing that from her. Even less than he’d liked the sound of “no thank you” spoken with a catch of desperation in her voice. “I didn’t offer Madison the kind of commitment you believe you need.”

“You offered to marry her.”

“I offered a business arrangement without conjugal rights or the promise of fidelity.”

“That’s horrible.” Romi was getting genuinely upset, her voice rising in agitation.

Soon, those around them would notice.

He took her by her elbow and began leading her toward the balcony doors. He was hoping the evening drop in temperature would mean it was deserted.

“Where are we going?” she asked, though she didn’t try to pull away.

“Someplace more private than here.”

Memory slashed across his brain…a similar question, an almost identical answer, but for a very different purpose.

He’d wanted to kiss her.

She’d been seething with an emotion very different from anger that time. She’d wanted the kiss, too.

Her response had nearly caused him to lose control of his own body for the first time since his initial foray into sex.

The balcony was as deserted as he’d hoped it would be, with only one other couple tucked away in the corner shadows at the opposite end. The low-level lighting and thirty feet separating the two couples insured a certain level of privacy so long as he and Romi did not raise their voices.

She shivered in the cool air and he moved them into the corner, where strategically placed potted greenery acted as both a privacy screen and wind barrier.

Anyone looking closely would see them, but only from certain angles. The other couple was not at that angle.

Even without the wind, the evening air was still chilly.

He removed his jacket and tucked it around Romi like a cape. “Better?” he asked.

Nodding, Romi bit her lip in a gesture of vulnerability that nearly derailed his intention to talk.

“You didn’t need to give me your coat.” She pulled it closer, a clearly unconscious action in direct opposition to the words she spoke. “We won’t be out here long. I’m not even sure why I came with you in the first place.”

“Because you are angry I considered Jeremy Archer’s business proposal and we need to talk about that.”

“I don’t know why.”

He merely waited in silence.

Romi huffed out a sigh. “Maddie deserves better than a business marriage.” She glared up at Maxwell with a mix of emotions he couldn’t quite read. “You do, too.”

“I do not find Madison particularly attractive. Foregoing conjugal rights would not have been a great sacrifice.”

“She’s beautiful.”

“I find beauty in a different package.” The red-headed Archer heiress was undeniably pleasing to the eye, but she did nothing for Maxwell personally.

He liked willowy figures, usually going for taller women because of his own six-foot-five-inch height. Though despite the foot difference in their height, Romi fit with him surprisingly well. He preferred dark hair and found her black tresses particularly appealing. Sharp elfin features were also unexpectedly attractive.

Before Romi, he’d never been drawn to blue eyes, but hers were so striking, so expressive, he found them intensely alluring. He liked knowing everything his sexual partners were feeling and thinking. Romi’s eyes revealed what her charming verbal honesty did not.

And unlike her SBC, who rarely blushed at all, Romi’s frequently pink cheeks—at least in his presence—that had nothing to do with her makeup were equally expressive.

“I just don’t understand how you were willing to marry her.” With a sound of frustration, Romi put her hand over her mouth, a sure sign she wished she hadn’t said that out loud.

“I was willing to entertain the idea, but she wasn’t interested in me as her future husband and I knew that before I ever made the offer of a marriage in name only.”

“What? How did you know?”

“Madison Archer may be better at hiding her emotions than you, but there can be no doubt that only one man in that conference room had the remotest of chances in fulfilling the contract her father had drawn up.”

Romi’s smile was soft. “They’re good together.”

“Let’s hope so.” Viktor and Madison’s engagement had already been announced, along with the whirlwind date set for their wedding.

He didn’t know Madison Archer well, but what he knew of her, he respected and liked. And while many would look on Viktor as Maxwell’s lifelong rival, the man who shared his