“Before you do that, I have a favor to ask. Although, maybe ‘favor’ isn't the right word. Anyway, what I'm about to ask is going to sound crazy, and I'll understand if you say no.”
He couldn't imagine what kind of favor she'd need from him. However, she'd captured Duncan's attention, and he'd hear her out. “Ask away.”
“The four dates aren't the real reason I bid on you tonight. A good friend is getting married soon, and I'm the maid of honor. Unfortunately, my ex is the groom's cousin and the best man. I ended things in August, but Grant still calls, and at my parents' dinner party last month, he never left my side.”
“The guy just showed up at your parents’ house?” Duncan knew a few people with the nerve to do that if it would benefit them in some way.
“No, my parents invited him. I know he's—”
“Hold on. Back up a minute.” It was rude to interrupt, but curiosity got the better of him. “Your mom and dad invited your ex-boyfriend to their dinner party? Did they know you're no longer together?” What kind of parents would do that?
“Grant's parents and mine have been friends for years, so they often invite him to events. Anyway, I know Grant will do the same thing at the wedding. If I'm alone.”
He already suspected what the favor was. Tory wanted him to be her plus-one for the wedding. Considering the circumstances, Duncan recognized why she didn't want to go solo, but spending twenty-four thousand dollars to ensure she had a wedding date was extreme. But it was her money; at least it had gone to a good cause.
“Hey, if you want the wedding to be one of our dates, that's fine.” It saved him from having to come up with ideas.
“Not exactly, Duncan.”
What the hell does that mean?
“Ivy and Preston are getting married in Puerto Rico. They have activities planned for the wedding party all week.”
He'd had a friend do something similar when he got married. It had only been the three days leading up to the wedding, though, and in Aruba.
Tory clenched her hands together. “I was hoping you'd come with me and act like you're my boyfriend.”
Yep, when Tory said it would sound crazy, she hadn't been lying.
“I know you donate your time and money to many charities.”
How do you know that? As much as he wanted an answer to that question, he wouldn't interrupt her.
“So, in exchange for your help, I'll donate fifteen thousand to your favorite one and, of course, I'll pay for everything related to the trip.”
Duncan donated to a handful of charities. However, he gave the most to an animal rescue organization in New Hampshire. His parents' neighbors had started it, and it was run entirely by volunteers. But unlike larger, nationwide animal rescues, it didn't have a multimillion-dollar annual budget. So a fifteen-thousand-dollar donation would help the organization a lot.
“I know it's an unusual request.”
Unusual? More like desperate. He might not have as much experience with women as some men, but he knew when to keep his thoughts to himself. And this seemed like one of those times.
Perhaps his expression gave him away, though, because Tory added, “Believe me, I wouldn't be asking if I wasn't desperate.”
At least we're on the same page there.
“You don't have to give me an answer tonight, Duncan. But I'll need one soon. If you come, I'll need to change my hotel reservation, because we'll need a suite with two bedrooms, and Ivy will need to add you to the guest list.”
As CEO of the company, Duncan didn't need to get his vacation time approved by his boss, but that didn't mean he could disappear for a week whenever he wanted to, either.
“When is the wedding?” Duncan asked as he opened the calendar on his phone. Thankfully, only his family and closest friends knew he struggled with saying no when someone needed help. And if Tory had paid out all that money just to ask him and was willing to dish out more if he agreed, she had to be beyond desperate.
“November twenty-third, but Ivy and Preston expect the wedding party to be in Puerto Rico on the seventeenth.”
He scrolled through the month of November. At the moment, the only things he had scheduled for that week were a haircut and dinner with his parents. He could easily reschedule both. But could he pull off pretending to be her boyfriend? Unlike Clay Bentley, bachelor number eight, he had zero acting experience.
If Duncan was smart, he'd play it safe and tell her he needed to think about it. But, instead, he'd follow his gut like he usually did. Right now, it was telling Duncan to help Tory out. “Yeah, sure, I'll go with you.”
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