"Do you remember signing the prenup?"
“Yes, of course. The point, please, Geoffrey.”
“The point is that leaving now entitles you to nothing.”
“I don’t care about your money,” I told him, wounded that he’d think otherwise.
“I know, but all the same, it would have made things easier on you. Are you planning on moving back in with your mother? Getting a place of your own? Either way, I assume you’ll need a job.”
Having these questions I’d barely considered hurled at me when I was in no frame of mind to deal with them made me feel nauseous. I pressed two fingers to my temple and began to massage in an attempt to ward off the migraine I could feel looming. “You don’t need to worry about me. I’m not your problem anymore.” It came out sounding sharper than I’d intended.
“I never considered you my problem, Nicole. And I will worry, regardless.” There was no mistaking it now. That was definitely steel lacing his words. “I’m proposing to make the transition easier for you.”
I raised my tired eyes to his, interested despite myself. “How’s that?”
“I will give you the money that would have been yours if we’d indeed married and divorced.”
My brow furrowed. I wasn’t sure I was following him. If he was saying what I thought he was, that would mean…
“I’ll transfer a million dollars into your bank account, and sixty-thousand annually, on a date of your choosing."
When the meaning of his words registered, I nearly choked on nothing but the air that filled my lungs. He’d what? “That’s very kind, Geoffrey, but…”
“It’s not kind,” he countered, his tone pragmatic. “It’s business.”
I was shaking my head no, but even as I was nonverbally refusing his offer, I was doing the math in my head. A million dollars…I could hardly imagine it, other than in some cartoonish image in my brain where it disappeared the minute I tried to touch it. And that wouldn’t be all--sixty thousand dollars a year. That alone was more than I’d ever made for a year’s work, and I’d earn it doing whatever I wanted. I could spend my time Netflix binging and eating brownie batter, which I’d be able to buy plenty of, and it would roll in nonetheless, handed to me, just like that. It was absolutely mind-boggling. Was this how Geoffrey felt when he logged into his accounts every morning and saw that he had more money than he could ever spend? I’d never asked him, but I suddenly found myself curious.
I’d be able to do whatever I wanted. I could find a job I loved, whether that was volunteering at soup kitchens or pet-sitting. I would have the luxury of time to decide what I wanted to do, without having to worry about the size of my paycheck. Or, I could live frugally and never have to work again. Geoffrey was a man of his word. I knew that if I agreed to accept the money in exchange for whatever string was attached--because we both knew there was one, a mighty long one, from the sound of what he was offering in return—that he would keep it and I’d become, if not a rich woman, then one who was very well-off.
It was almost comical, because in the year and a half since we’d met, all I’d thought about was becoming Geoffrey’s wife. Now, it looked like he’d be needing to find someone else to fill that position. Would he take out an ad, I wondered, a smile curving my lips. Did rich people sign up for accounts on Match.com and the like, or was there some secret signal? A dollar sign that flashed in the night sky alerting all the eligible bachelorettes? I doubted I’d ever know.
Even as I played it over and over again in my head, I knew it was too good to be true. And my mama always said run like hell, advice I’d ignored when I’d fallen for the handsome man with perfect hair and a Hollywood smile. As it turned out, she’d been right and I didn’t want to make the same mistake twice. I would have loved to run and never look back, right then and there, but common sense stopped me. What he was offering was also too good to pass up without hearing the full scope of what he wanted.
Geoffrey was looking back at me stoically without a single muscle betraying how he felt about waiting for my answer. He had a good poker face.
“What’s the catch?”
“The catch?” he echoed, as though the phrase was foreign to him.
But I wasn’t buying it. “Yes, the catch. I go on a week-long vacation with you and suddenly you’re moved to give me a crap-ton of money and pay me to eat, sleep and breathe?” I let my arched brows say the rest--that I wasn’t born yesterday, thank you very much.
Once more, he pushed the paper toward me. Once more, I let it stay folded and clenched between his fingers.
“It’s a contract.”
I hope you enjoyed this excerpt! Tune in next time to find out what Geoffrey proposes to save their relationship! Here's a hint: I bet it involves a lot of trips over his knee and getting reacquainted!