The Marriage Sham by Brenda Nyveld by Brenda Nyveld - Read Online



Jack Van Camp went to Hunter's Mills to run interference between his mother, Dutch grandmother and his very pregnant sister. When he finds Annie Wilson hiding out in his cottage, he's floored by her beauty and innocent nature--not to mention curious about why she was hiding. Jack soon finds himself persuading the lovely Annie to pretend to be his wife for as long as his grandmother is in town. With her mother's sudden return to Hunter's Mills, Annie finds herself without a place to live. While her mother entertains various men in her apartment, Annie finds Jack's request hard to turn down. A roof over her head, a handsome man at her side and the unconditional love of Jack's family. But Annie has a request of her own to make in return for her help. When Jack agrees, they begin the Marriage Sham. Falling in love wasn't supposed to be part of the game.
Published: Whiskey Creek Press on
ISBN: 9781593744038
List price: $3.99
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The Marriage Sham - Brenda Nyveld

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Chapter 1

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

Yeah, right, Annie snickered as she tossed the slip of paper from her fortune cookie aside. She may well require a teacher, but there were few to be found in Hunter’s Mills.

Annie was sick of being the town’s oldest virgin. Especially since most of the folks in town considered her the rotten apple that fell just beneath the proverbial tree.

She walked from the living room to the bathroom and discarded her clothes. A hot shower with lots of scented soap would help wash away the anguish of another bad day. Bad days that started soon after her mother returned to town.

It wasn’t that life in Hunter’s Mills was exciting. But mundane was a word that Annie grew to love after her mother’s departure when she was seventeen. She had finished her last year of high school on her own without her mother’s shoulder to cry on when no one asked her to the prom. Not that her mother would have offered her shoulder anyway.

Truth be told, even when her mother worked full-time at Mel’s diner, she had been anything but supportive. When she left, Annie should have been glad. Mel let her continue to rent the apartment above the diner in exchange for part-time work.

None of that mattered now. She’d been driven from her home to find refuge in a cottage in the hills above the town. Thank God for her best friend, Eddie Handler, who offered the use of her brother’s cottage.

Annie stretched and yawned as she adjusted the taps. A shower was definitely in order.

* * * *

Jack Van Camp wasn’t sure what he’d find when he walked into his cottage for the first time in years. For some reason, he wasn’t prepared to see that very little had changed since he and his family had last been there. The open concept cottage, which he had built to suit the whims of his then-wife, seemed empty in spite of the lavish furnishings. The leather love seat and couch still circled the primitive stone hearth.

Jack found himself thinking about the numerous times Joanne, his ex-wife, had chastised their three boys for playing on the expensive furniture. He would have gone with something inexpensive so the rough play his sons frequently indulged in wouldn’t have mattered.

In spite of the fact that the three boys had sprung from Joanne’s loins, she never seemed to understand them.

The last time he had been to the cottage had been with his wife. They had left their sons with a neighbor with the hope of sorting out their marital problems.

Looking back, Jack knew it was more about his sons than the fact he wanted to save a marriage that was doomed from the beginning. The birth of each of his sons was the only bright spot in his twenty-two year marriage.

Jack moved around the living room with a sense of foreboding. It was time to let this place go. Joanne was long gone and with two sons in college and the third in his last year of high school, there was no point in hanging on to it.

Jack frowned when he noticed empty Chinese food cartons on the coffee table. As he rounded the couch, his foot snagged on something. His frown deepened as he crouched to examine the open backpack. A lacy pink bra peeked out over the edge of the zipper.

Jack rose and walked slowly to the kitchen. It was then he heard the running water in the bathroom off to his left. His hand hovered for only a moment before he twisted the knob and pushed the door open.

Jack glanced at the steam emanating from the running shower. The sun through the west window offered a silhouette of the person in the shower. His eyes narrowed as he gazed at the figure, definitely the owner of the bits of lace he spied earlier. The form bent from the waist to rub her long shapely legs and then rose, with her chin tilted up to allow the spray of water to slide down her body. She turned, letting the water wash over her back and buttocks as her hands glided up from her waist to her sides and then grazed over her breasts.

Jack felt his body tighten in response. How long had it been since he’d watched a woman bathe? He felt himself grow hard as he saw her reach for the taps and turn them off.

It wasn’t until the long delicate fingers curled around the shower curtain and began to pull it back that Jack realized he’d be an unwanted visitor. He reached for the doorknob and began to back out of the room. Too late, she had pulled the shower curtain back and reached for a towel. Jack caught a glimpse of flesh before she noticed he was there.

He saw the towel rip from the holder and splay over her body as deep blue eyes peered at him in horror.

Get out! she cried as she grappled to hide behind the towel.

I’m sorry, he said as he began to back out of the bathroom.

You jerk! the woman cried.

The words vibrated against the bathroom’s steamy walls as Jack’s hand faltered on the doorknob.

Who the hell was she to call him a jerk? He was in his own cottage and she, this luscious woman, was the trespasser.

As she wrapped the towel around herself, Jack held his ground. He ordered his eyes not to notice just how little the towel covered. She held it over her breasts but she was too tall to hide everything. Jack couldn’t help but notice the dark V between her thighs just below the edge of the towel.

This is my property. I have every right to be here. He tried to sound as firm as he could, ignoring the fact there was something even more firm happening south of his brain.

Jack loathed how his body reacted to the sight of the woman.

Long lashes batted over brilliant blue eyes as she gazed back at him. Water dripped from her long blond hair over her high cheekbones. Can we please have this discussion after I’m dressed?

Jack considered her request. Why should he? She was the trespasser. And he quite enjoyed looking at her.

Yet, as she struggled to hide her sweet flesh from his gaze, he couldn’t help but make a few concessions.

If he used this kind of logic in his practice as a lawyer in Toronto, he would surely be a lost man. He just couldn’t seem to resist.

Jack cleared his throat, hoping he’d sound firm as he spoke. You have five minutes. One second longer, and I’m calling the cops.

* * * *

Annie blinked in disbelief as the bathroom door closed with a heavy thud. No doubt, she had just come face-to-face with Jack Van Camp, her best friend’s older brother.

Judging by his cold stance and brisk tone when he found her in his shower, he was none too pleased to find her here.

Annie quickly toweled off as she considered the dark eyes that had just recently roved over her body.

Her cheeks heated with embarrassment. The towel she had clutched over her breasts probably didn’t cover everything. He may well have seen what little she had to offer. It couldn’t hide all of her too-tall, too-thin frame at once. She subconsciously made a choice to cover her meager breasts with the towel while the rest of her body was probably exposed for the entire world to see.

As Annie quickly pulled on her panties and reached for her jeans, she realized she’d left her bra in the bag. And, of course, it was in the living room. Damn!

No matter. The red t-shirt was big enough and would hide her breasts well. After all, her mother always told her she was as flat as a pancake.

Annie peered into the mirror and ran a brush through her long blond locks. Without the time to carefully blow-dry her hair, it would dry into a mass of frizzy curls. She pulled it back into a ponytail and quickly secured it with an elastic band.

You’ve got about thirty seconds left.

Annie shivered with fear as she heard the man’s muffled voice through the door. She glanced at her makeup bag and then at the mirror. There was no time to cover the ugly red cheeks or line her lips to make them appear less fat. She had to get out there and she had to go now.

Annie’s hand settled on the doorknob. She took a deep breath, plastered a smile on her face and pulled the door open.

Deep brown eyes collided with hers as she stepped out of the bathroom. They raked over her body, from the top of her head to her bare feet. Then slowly traveled upwards again, resting on her breasts for a fraction of a second before they once again met her eyes.

He knew.

He knew she wasn’t wearing a bra. The assessment had taken only a millisecond, but he had noticed.

Annie felt a shiver of awareness as he folded his arms over his chest and let out a long breath.

So who are you? His rich, deep voice slid over her, causing her entire body to tremble with…what? She wasn’t sure what she was feeling.

My name is Annie Wilson. A friend of mine said I could use the cottage for a little while.

His eyes narrowed as he looked at her. Who’s your friend?

Eddie Handler, Annie replied. Are you her brother, Jack?

He nodded slowly. I own this place.

But you haven’t been here in years. Eddie has been looking after it. She told me I could stay here in exchange for looking after it. She’s going to have her baby any day now and—

I’m well aware that my sister and brother-in-law are expecting, Jack cut in.

Annie felt anger well inside her. Who the hell was he to act so pious? If he had told his sister he was coming, he would have known of her presence. Not to mention the fact that Eddie could have warned her about the impending doom.

Well, Annie said, trying to keep her anger at bay, I have to go to work this afternoon anyway, so the place is yours until I return this evening.

Jack’s brows rose slightly. Well, that’s very generous of you. The sarcasm dripping from his voice grated on Annie’s nerves. However, my plans do not include an uninvited guest. You’ll have to find another place to squat.



Annie felt her already too-red cheeks flush with anger. I’ll have you know that I am not squatting! Your sister offered this place as refuge for me and—

Refuge? Jack was quick on the uptake. Annie cursed herself for the letting the need to hide slip out. If Jack was the genius lawyer his sister often bragged about, then her little slip wouldn’t go unnoticed. She cringed.

Why are you using my cottage to hide?

Annie trembled; her body ached. Please God, let me stay here for just a little while. I just need to stay away from my apartment for a few days, she said grudgingly.

Why? Jack’s rich brown eyes connected with hers in a way that not only pierced her sensual soul, but also found her feeling like she was on the witness stand, her life about to be unfolded for the world to examine.

Annie squelched the urge to run and hide. Jack’s eyes examined her closely as he waited for an answer. There was no doubt that he expected an answer. Why did she require a place to hide?

Why indeed?

Annie’s gaze slid over the man in front of her. He was