Authors: Kelly Favor
COMMIT (The Billionaire’s Rules, Book 7)
By Kelly Favor
© 2015 All Rights Reserved
Cullen Sharpe wants to marry me.
Ivy sat in bed next to the handsome, sexy, mysterious, yet oh-so-confusing CEO and tried to make sense of his proposal.
Wants to marry me.
He wants me.
It was exciting. It was mystifying.
In a flash, however, she knew that she had to tell him no. After all, they didn’t have any semblance of a normal relationship. They both hardly knew each other, and their brief courtship had already been riddled with mishaps, confusion and secrets.
Besides, he wasn’t proposing this union out of love, but merely due to circumstance. Somehow, he believed that getting married would minimize the threat she posed to him.
This was just another typical Cullen Sharpe chess move.
There was no way that a marriage between them could ever work, and it would only lead to heartbreak.
So the answer has to be no.
Cullen was holding her hand, looking expectantly into her eyes in the low-lit bedroom. Even in the shadows, Ivy could still make out the expression on his face, which was something between happiness and excitement.
For the first time since this relationship had started, she had some power. The ball was in her court.
She opened her mouth to say no, and what came out instead was, “Yes.” Ivy blinked a few times, her skin feeling hot as blood rushed to her face.
You just said yes! What is wrong with you? Didn’t you just come to the conclusion that you had to tell him no?
“You’re sure?” Cullen asked, as if he was also surprised by her response to his impromptu marriage proposal.
“Let’s do it,” she said, and her voice sounded so certain. She was puzzled by the discrepancy between what she rationally had intended to say and what had actually come out of her mouth.
Cullen leaned in and kissed her, and for a moment, his lips made her forget the fears and uncertainty hanging over her head.
I just agreed to marry Cullen Sharpe. I really might have lost my mind.
Cullen Sharpe, a man who is wanted by the FBI and has more hidden skeletons than a mass grave.
But as he kissed her, her body responded to his lips as it always seemed to do, and Ivy knew why she’d said yes after all.
The truth was that she was falling in love with this man, and she didn’t want to be without him. However crazy this ride was going to get, deep down she wanted to take it all the way and see where they ended up.
After his long kiss, Cullen broke away and slid his hand to her cheek, stroking her skin softly as he looked into her eyes.
She felt tingly all over.
Looking at her future husband, she saw a gorgeous man that most women would kill for a chance with. He was undeniably hot, sexy, with a mind like nobody she’d ever met.
As much as his body tempted her, it was truly his spirit and his mind that captivated her emotions like nothing else she’d ever encountered.
Ivy smiled at him, her cheeks flushing that much more.
“I’m glad you said yes,” Cullen told her. “That was a good decision.”
Ivy laughed, looking down momentarily. “What happens now?”
His hand trailed away from her cheek and then he slid off the bed, stood up and walked over to the window. As he looked outside, a faint stream of light illuminated his perfect features. “What happens now is we get married as quickly as possible.”
“So like, six months from now or…”
He laughed loudly at her suggestions and turned to face her once more. “Six months?” Cullen chuckled and shook his head. “I meant more like six hours from now.”
“You’re kidding.” Her stomach lurched and she put a hand on her belly and tried to calm down.
Breathe, Ivy. Just breathe. Don’t panic.
Cullen folded his arms. “I’m not joking in the slightest.”
“Six hours? Don’t we at least have to get a marriage license?”
“We’ll fly out to Las Vegas in the next four or five hours,” Cullen told her from where he stood, over by the window. “We can get a license and a quickie wedding ceremony out there and return here in time for dinner.”
Ivy sat back against the headboard. Her throat had gone suddenly dry. “That seems awfully fast, Cullen.”
“Ivy, the whole point of this marriage is for your protection. It has to be fast or it becomes pointless. Until you and I get married, I can’t tell you anything and you’re a threat to everything I hold dear.”
She shivered, giving him a sidelong glance. “I don’t see why marriage changes anything.”
“Right now you don’t know any details about my life. You have no real knowledge that can be used against me,” he said. “But if I tell you anything now, even accidentally, or you happen to see something—“
“What would I see?” she asked, sitting up straighter. “Have you done something illegal or not?”
Cullen stared at her. “I can’t answer that,” he replied, flatly. “Not until we’re married.”
Ivy threw her head back and gave a frustrated groan. “Talking with you is maddening. It’s just around and around in circles we go.”
“Where we stop, nobody knows,” Cullen said, shooting her a grin.
“I don’t see how I can marry you if you won’t tell me anything,” she said.
“That’s the point, Ivy.” He walked over to the bed and climbed onto it, sitting closer and taking both of her hands in his. “Once we’re married, we’ll be protected by what’s called Spousal Privilege.”
“It’s a law that protects a husband and wife from having to give incriminating testimony against each other in civil or criminal court.”
Ivy couldn’t believe the genius—or was it insanity—that was Cullen Sharpe’s ability to think ten steps ahead of the rest of the world. “So once we get married, you could tell me you killed someone…” she said, and then caught herself.
His lips tightened and he looked down momentarily.
She realized she’d inadvertently brought his mind back to the surgical mishap, and gave his hands a squeeze. “You know that’s not what I meant.”
He nodded. “I’m not going to tell you I’m a killer,” he replied, looking back up again. “I’m a lot of things, but I’m not that.”
“Once we’re married, I won’t be able to testify against you in court.”
Cullen shook his head. “They can’t force you to testify against me. It protects both of us from the FBI.”
“This can’t work,” she whispered. “Can it?”
“I’ll need to be certain that you’re going to be on my side in every way,” Cullen told her. “This isn’t a sham marriage, Ivy. This will be real. It has to be real.” His hands squeezed hers so tightly that she pulled out of his grasp.
“What will people say?” she asked, thinking first of her mother.
He shrugged. “I don’t care what people say.”
“My mother, your family—“
“It’s not about them. It’s about us.” He looked at her intently. “If you don’t want to do it, just say so.”
She sighed. “You know I want to be with you.”
“And this is the only possibility that allows us to be together. There’s no other way.”
“But…” she started to speak and then stopped.
“But what?” he said.
But what about love? Don’t we need to be in love to get married? How can a marriage be real without that connection, that commitment to only want each other forever?
She couldn’t ask him any of those questions. Somehow, Ivy was afraid of his response. On the one hand, she was afraid he might admit that he wasn’t in love with her and might never be.
And on the other hand, she was just as terrified that he might tell her loved her.
“It’s nothing,” Ivy said, shaking her head as if to clear out the bad thoughts. “I’m not going to overthink this. I’ve made my decision.”
Cullen gave her a slow smile. “So have I.”
Ivy had trouble falling back to sleep, but Cullen was unconscious in minutes. She heard him lightly breathing as he lay on his back, content and untroubled by the recent discussions.
Meanwhile, she felt like her nerves were exploding with energy, and her thoughts were racing as she tried to make sense of it all.
You’re seriously going to marry him?
This is going to go down as one of the craziest and stupidest things anyone has ever agreed to.
You know the FBI is after him, he won’t tell you why, and now you’re going to legally bind yourself to him for the rest of your life.
Ivy tossed and turned for the rest of the night, as her thoughts raced in circles, going over and over the same ground but not coming to any different conclusions.
She wanted Cullen so badly—was attracted to him in every single way. And yet, he also deeply frightened her. He was a mystery, a puzzle, and she feared what she might find when all the pieces finally came together.
As dawn started to break and faint light streamed through his bedroom window, Ivy found her eyes closing and her body relaxing.
She drifted into a restless sleep.
What felt like mere seconds later, Cullen was waking her. “Ivy,” he whispered, touching her shoulder and gently shaking. “Ivy.”
She opened her eyes, moaning softly. “Yes?”
“It’s time to get up. We have a flight to catch.”
“What time is it?”
“Almost seven,” he replied, checking his watch.
She saw that Cullen was already fully showered, shaved, dressed in one of his perfectly tailored suits, his hair styled, smelling of his familiar cologne.
Ivy groaned and rolled out of bed. “I didn’t sleep very well,” she muttered, rubbing her eyes.
“I tried to let you sleep as long as possible,” Cullen told her. “But now we need to go. Can you be ready in half an hour?”
She nodded. “Is it all right if I take a quick shower?”
He checked his watch again and nodded. “Quickly, though.”
“Yes, quickly,” she agreed, rolling her eyes.
Nothing like being rushed to shower and hit the road on your wedding day.
Cullen turned toward the large, ornate mirror on the far wall and began fixing his suit, adjusting his tie, cuffs. “We’ve got a big day ahead of us,” he said, like he was talking about a series of important business meetings instead of becoming man and wife.
“That’s an understatement,” Ivy replied, as she shuffled towards the bathroom.
Cullen turned and grabbed her wrist as she went by, pulling her into his body.
“Cullen!” she squealed.
His hand grabbed her buttocks with a slap as he pushed his body against hers. She could feel his hardness pushing into her, as Cullen’s nostrils flared and he leaned his head towards her cheek. “You’re going to be mine in every way now. Every way.”
She nodded, feeling her skin break into goose bumps. This was why she couldn’t resist him. Her body, her mind, her soul was attracted to him in every way, and she wanted him to take her and possess her.
Even if it means destroying everything in your life to have him?
His lips kissed down her neckline, as his one hand gripped her wrist tightly and the other squeezed her ass, massaging her willing flesh. Cullen’s lips were burning as he touched her skin, and she moaned.
Her nipples stiffened.
“Now go,” he said, releasing her.
She stumbled to the bathroom, flustered.
Moments later, she’d walked inside the incredibly large shower with its marble tiled floors and walls, and double shower heads that poured a hot, steady stream of pulsating water onto her body.
Cullen’s products were everywhere. His fancy shampoo (a brand she’d never seen or heard of before), his soaps, and even body wash were there to be picked up, smelled, sampled.
She could smell him in his products, and it felt nice to think of him having been here just minutes before, using this stuff himself.
Imagine using this bathroom and this shower—let alone the bed and the rest of the house—over and over again. Not just using Cullen’s home and amenities, but belonging in this place because you live here.
She might find him shaving as she strode by to have a shower, or brush her teeth.
Unless Cullen was one of those extremely private people who didn’t like someone using the bathroom to brush their teeth when he was shaving.
Of course that’s the type of man he is
, Ivy thought. What other type of man could Cullen be? He was the most private person she’d ever encountered.
And what about his money, his business?
Was this marriage going to provide her access to those things? Wasn’t that a bit risky for him to do without even knowing her?
As she washed her body and rinsed, her brow creased. None of it made an ounce of sense.
He was either a criminal mastermind, a misunderstood billionaire, or perhaps some combination of the two.
But whatever Cullen Sharpe was, he certainly wasn’t going to allow Ivy to come in and turn his life upside down. He had to have a plan for her and how she would fit into his life as his spouse.