“How long do the jobs last?” I ask.
“A few weeks, usually.”
A few weeks. Again, my head is flooded with images of more money and less problems. How hard could it be to pretend to marry someone, unless …
“Do you have to sleep with these men?”
“God, no. I’m not a prostitute. All you would have to do is meet with the guy, come up with a plan about your history together, meet the family or the people he’s trying to either impress or get off his back, have a pretend ceremony to make those people happy, then when the client is ready to exit the marriage, you part ways with a fat check in hand.”
“I guess that sounds easy enough,” I say.
Maybe too easy. The guy is probably a troll. Anyone who has to pay someone to pretend to be their fiancée must need a bag over his head to get laid, but I suppose that doesn’t matter. I don’t have to sleep with him. All I have to do is pretend to be his bride and I get paid more in a few weeks than I have in a year.
“I’m in,” I say. Though the money sounds amazing, I’m still skeptical. It sounds too good to be true.
Mandi squeals and wraps her arms around my neck in a bone-crushing hug. “Thank you so much. You’re saving my skin.”
Mandi goes over the client’s information with me. Heath Starre is a billionaire heir for a huge international real estate development company. He’s never been married, has never had a real girlfriend of any kind. I bet he looks like Lord Farquaad from Shrek: short, so hairy he would be shot in the woods during hunting season, and probably an honest-to-god asshole too. People with that kind of money don’t have to be nice. All they have to do is wave some bills around and people will do whatever they want. I can already picture the kind of shit-show I’m getting myself into. I just have to keep my eye on the prize. I need that money. Do it for Greece, Sylph.
“You ready for this?” Mandi asks.
I shrug. What choice do I have? My job prospects are basically nothing and I’m drowning in debt. If I’m not careful, I’ll find myself homeless, or worse, back at my parents’ house. “Ready as I’ll ever be.”
“Good. I’ll arrange a meeting for you at his office. He’ll go over the details for the background of your relationship and the things he needs you to do going forward.” She sounds far more excited about this than I feel.
“Okay.” I square my shoulders and take a deep breath. “Let’s do this.”
I look down at my watch again. I’m surprisingly nervous about meeting with the woman who I’ve hired to be my make-believe wife. Her name is Sylph. It’s a different name. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard anything like it before. I wish I knew more about her going into this since I’m going to have to spend several weeks with her—or more, depending on how long my family decides to stay in town. I can’t help but wonder what she looks like. Probably plastic. Big fake breasts, bleached hair, too much makeup, too much surgery. Maybe I’m being too harsh or too judgmental about her looks, but that’s just what I picture a girl-for-hire would look like. That might be what most men in my financial position prefer—a swimsuit model with a thirst for the finer things in life—but that’s not what I’m interested in.
Those tend to be the types of women who throw themselves at me at any given time. I can’t go to the gym or dinner with potential clients without women shoving their numbers in my pockets. Those aren’t the kind of women I would ever dream of calling my wife. I want someone who’s down to earth, who I can have actual conversations with, who sees more than a bank account when she looks at me. I’m starting to think maybe a woman like that doesn’t exist.
Maybe this was a bad idea, hiring someone to pretend to be my wife. I got the idea from a friend of mine who hired a girl because his dying grandmother wanted to see him happy and married before she passed. He said the process was easy and the girl was reliable. But will she be a good enough actress to fool my family? By nature, my brother and sister—twins a couple years younger than me—are suspicious. Neither of them have real jobs, and they don’t contribute one minute of their time to the family business, but they are very concerned about the money.