The Contract: Sunshine
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African American heiress Sunshine Dupree will gain her independence from
her domineering grandmother if she remains married for one year per the
terms of her father’s will, but she will have to partner up with a
handsome Korean stranger offering her a marriage of convenience to
achieve her goal. As passions ignite, pretense becomes reality and
Sunshine is forced to give up her happiness or risk the man she loves
losing everything he’s worked a lifetime for.
 
Yoon Min Young, an immigrant of South Korea, worked hard for the reputable multimillion dollar investment firm he established in America. After finding out his
mother is determined that he remarry, he thwarts her plan by offering a
marriage of pretense to a young Black woman that finds herself with
nowhere to go, no one she can call on and no money. The perfect plan
until soon after he marries her Yoon finds he’s married the
granddaughter of one of his biggest clients. He thought he was
pretending at marriage until the marriage is threatened to be destroyed.
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The Contract: Sunshine

Prologue

 
 
Mothers know best and sometimes fate needs a mother’s hand...
 
The Red Hat Society Charity Tea Party
 
“Well?”
“Well what?”  The expensively dressed woman peered over the delicate herringbone china tea cup in her hand.
“Aren’t you glad I recommended my son’s investment firm?”
“Why do you ask?”
“I read in the financial news section that your corporation was close to getting the approval for an expansion into the Asian market,”  the more petite in stature of the two elegantly clad ladies in red suits with their matching red and purple hats remarked.
“Yes, things seem to be going a lot quicker since I entrusted your son with the transaction.”
“Did you meet with him in person?”
“I did.”
“He’s a handsome boy, is he not?”
“He is indeed, but I was more impressed with his astute mind and great patience.  I spoke of everything but business and not once did he steer things back to business.  Actually, he seemed to be very interested in my family and our beginnings.”  The darker of the two smiled and chuckled.
“Did you speak of your granddaughter to him?”
“Indeed I did,” she nodded.
“Did he get to see a picture of her?”
“Yes.  However, I made sure it was one of her most unbecoming pictures.”
“What?”  The other woman’s eyes narrowed.  “Are you deliberately trying to sabotage this?  I thought we both wanted the same thing?  Have you changed your mind about getting your granddaughter to settle down?”
“I have not.  However, I want my heir to be loved for who she is not because of her family and our wealth.”
Offended, the other woman said, “I assure you my son is by no means a pauper.”  In a softer tone, she added, “His father and I made the mistake by forcing him to marry a woman that he did not love for all the wrong reasons.  When it ended unhappily, it jaded my son of the idea of marriage.”
“I must say I was a little concerned seeing how he has been married before.”
“As I said, that was not his fault.  He was being an obedient son, but unfortunately he also feels he’s done his duty to us by marrying the first girl.  I can’t well order him to do so again with your granddaughter.”
“I wouldn’t ask it of you,” the woman said haughtily.  “My granddaughter is a treasure.  She’s not the prettiest in our lineage. However, she is good natured and tries hard to please.”
“Still, as much as I would like for my son to find someone to settle down with, it has to be the children’s decision.  We can set up the chance meeting, but we can’t force them to notice each other.”
“True,” the woman sighed.  She took another sip of tea and swallowed.  “However, let’s do what we can and decide on the rest as it comes along.”
“Okay.”
“Be warned, I will not make it easy for your son.  I must know he can think on his feet and not give up when things get tough.  I have a few tests that I will be putting him through.  Not only do I need a grandson-in-law that is good in business, I need to know my granddaughter’s happiness will be just as important to him as his own business.”
 “That goes without a doubt,” she replied smoothing the hem of her silk dress over her knees as she crossed one pale slender leg over the over.  “As long as you know I first must see it with my own eyes that your granddaughter can make my son happy.  If she cannot, I will not allow this to go any further.”
“That girl has had her heart broken so many times because of her momma’s scheming.  She almost married this man that was in it for a pay off.”
“It is difficult when your wealth is so obvious,” the woman sympathized.
“Since I paid him to get loss before she stupidly married him, she has been obsessed on learning every ‘wifely and motherly’ skill there is to know.  I was hoping she would use all her energy learning the business but the girl just doesn’t have it in her.”
“I will give Leslie a call.  With her in the picture, it will get my son feeling motivated and hopefully thinking about marriage,” the woman laughed softly.
“What if he falls for this Leslie person?” 
“Her family and I are good friends but the girl is much younger than he is and he sees her as a little sister.  She’s always fancy marrying him someday but I think she is too spineless for my son.  If he makes it clear enough, she will not be a problem in the future,” she assured her.
“Good, we don’t need a stalker on hand interfering in any progress we’re making.  Are you positive your son is the heroic type you say he is?  I don’t want victimize my granddaughter and have her humiliated for nothing.”
“You make your granddaughter a damsel in distress and I guarantee my son will be there to save her.  However there is always a margin for error in these things.”
“I’ve made things hard on her but I’m hoping she knows that no matter what she is going through, she can call me if she needs me.  But I would like to see how she gets out of this mess without family money or help.
“I guess we will soon find out, but if for some reason they aren’t drawn together like we think they will be, we will take it as a sign that they aren’t meant to be and let it go.”
“Of course,” she murmured placing the empty tea cup down on the matching saucer.
“Okay, what’s next?”
“My granddaughter’s rent is due soon.  I called her mother and told her what I wanted her to do to assure she would use her rent money and be unable to pay her bill.”
“Her mother actually went along with it?”
“She’s in between marriages and need money desperately.  She would probably sell her to the highest bidder if they offer the right amount.”
“That’s a shame.”
“The woman is quite shameful.  You make sure your son is at that restaurant.  The manager will make sure they are sitting side by side and hopefully your son will notice her.”
“What about the picture he saw of her.”
“Looks nothing like she looks today,” the woman laughed with a wink and a smile.  “Lord, she was a homely child.”
“This all feels so risky and if we somehow succeed in helping them to discover each other and they were to every find out...” The woman suppressed a shudder at the thought.  “Let’s just say I would like to be able to see my grandchildren one day.”
“They won’t if I can help it.”  She looked the other woman in the eyes.  “But sometimes fate needs a motherly hand; and speaking of grandchildren, do you think your son would change his last name to my family name if they were to marry?”
“Goodness, I hope not.  It would devastate his father.  He’s our only son.”
“You know I will try and sway him to take my family name.”
“I wouldn’t have expected any less from you,” the woman gave her a serene smile.  “However, my son is an honorable man.  He is as proud of our family name as you are of yours.”
“Everyone has a price, chèrie.”
“Mianhae, sorry,” she shook a “no-no” finger as she spoke to her friend with a grin. “Not...my...son.”
“It’s been awhile since I felt excited about a challenge.”  The other woman laughed.”
“As long as you remember I will not allow my son be scarred by this in any way, Sophia,” she said firmly.  Leaning forward in her seat she added, “I will not have Min Yoon in a second failed marriage.  Until him, no one in my family had ever divorced.  However, girls these days do not work at anything.  She gave up after a couple of years, leaving my son feeling like a failure.  He had never failed at anything and since then he swore to never marry again, thinking he’s not ‘husband’ material.”
“All good husbands think that until an even better woman prove them differently,” Sophia nodded.
“You think your granddaughter can be that woman?”
“Oh please, Hye Da,” Sophia stared down her regal nose.  “My granddaughter, Sunshine, has many centuries worth of strong women of color flowing through her veins.”
“Don’t give me that ‘Grand Madam’ stare you like to use on weaker individuals.  You don’t intimidate me.  I’ve come to know you too well,” Ha Da snorted on a laugh.  “Min Yoon has the Korean blood of great warriors running through his veins.  You better be glad I like you or I would not ever have considered allowing my son to marry a non-Korean girl.”
“Oh yeah, friendship,” Sophia said sarcastically.  “I’m sure your son obtaining stock in a multi-billion dollar grocery chain after being married to my granddaughter a year is not motivational enough.”
“Well, I already take a lot of flack, from family, when I visit Korea because I have the only divorced son in the Young and Park families.  If my son marries your granddaughter, that will be a first also,” she fretted.
Sophia rolled her eyes, “Just tell them your son is laughing all the way to the bank; that will shut them up.”
“It’s not always about money,” Ha Da released a long sigh.  “My son’s heart will not be an easy win.  He refuses to even consider marrying again.”
“You want to bet on it?”  An excited gleam appeared in Sophia’s stare.  “Sunshine is a Dupree woman.  Men find us irresistible.”
“You’re starting to buy into your own publicity stunt after all these years,” the Asian woman chuckled with a shake of her head.
“However,” Sophia continued choosing to ignore her friend’s interruption.  “Because Sunshine was born the most unattractive one in our family, I’m afraid she has yet to realize even a small dose of an ‘average’ from her mother’s side, I assure you, doesn’t take away the poised charm that comes from my side.”
“Oh my,” the younger woman groaned.
“What say you?  How about a small wager that my granddaughter makes your son fall head over heels in love with her?”
“I don’t see it happening.  I just want him to be happy enough with his choice to settle down and give me grandbabies,” Ha Da reasoned.
“A passionless marriage,” Sophia shuddered, “how boring.”
“It worked for me and Yoon’s father.  Our marriage was arranged and we grew to mutually respect one another.  Our ambitions in life were so similar, we grew to love one another.”
“How’s the sex?”
“Whah...how...whah...” Ha Da sputtered fanning herself with the cloth napkin she held in her fist.
“Hell’s bells!  Calm down woman before you embarrass us both by actually swooning on the sofa.”  Sophia leaned forward and hissed, “I swear if you faint Ha Da I will pretend to not know you.  I hope your son is not as prudish as you are.  Dupree women need hot kinky sex from time to time to keep the blood flowing.  It’s why I look so young.”
“I do not care to hear these things,” Ha Da said recovering quickly.  Her Asian eyes narrowed on Sophia’s face.  “You would do that?  You would actually leave your best friend passed out on the sofa without helping?”
“I don’t have any best friends.  Especially with a female,” Sophia muttered.  “Women are only acquaintances and potential competition, mind you.”
“I know you don’t have any friends.  This is why I felt sorry for you and became your friend; your only friend, which makes me your best friend.”
“Peasant Korean stock cow,” Sophia insulted.
“Snooty American Bijou Bitch,” Ha Da insulted back.
“Are we playing poker tomorrow with the ladies?”
“Yes, we are playing bridge tomorrow.”
“Bridge is an old lady’s game!”  Sophia’s aging but still quite stunning face screwed up in a frown.  “There is no money to be had.”
“I will give you a hundred dollars to shut up right now.”
 
 
 
Chapter 1
 
The Contract...
 
Yoon Young, the only son of the South Korea’s Ambassador to the United States dropped down into a chair across from the eldest daughter of the Lee Group, a large import export company well known in South Korea.  She was extremely attractive; her body was a bit thinner than he had grown accustomed to since living in America for the past six years, but her smile and intelligence made up for any physical attributes he found lacking.
His mother had done well this time.  He could see this woman elegantly hosting a room of potential investors and he knew she was from a good home and a prestigious family.  Their fathers were also friends and business associates.  Out of the last twelve arranged meetings his mother had setup for him in the past two months this one had taken the most of his time. 
Not because he was actually interested but because she refused to allow him to end the evening like a gentleman.  Leslie Lee knew he didn’t want to displease her father and she was taking full advantage.
Yoon knew if he didn’t choose a bride soon, the Seons—arranged meetings for marriage—would continue forever and frankly he was too busy to continue along this vein.  Being a loving and accommodating son to a determined stubborn Korean mother was not working for him.  He was going to have to sternly tell his mother this date was the last one she would be allowed to set up for him. 
It was his fault that she thought he was a willing participant; but Yoon thought after the third woman he dismissed as a potential suitable bride, his mother would get the hint that he wasn’t ready to give up his freedom yet.  It has been this way since he’d turned thirty.  Now that he was thirty-two, his mother obviously was getting desperate. 
His mother, Hye Da Young, wanted grandchildren and Yoon had hope the pressure would be taken off of him once his younger sister Sa Rae married Leslie’s brother, Bong Tae, but because she was having difficulty conceiving, the pressure was on him once again.
His mother was always in the state of “dying” and the older she got, the more she used her age and pending death to control him.  Of course there was absolutely nothing wrong with her health.  During her last physical, her blood pressure was lower than his; but that was understandable considering he wasn’t harassing her every day on the phone.
For him, the struggle with his mother started at age ten when he started to exert independence by refusing to take dance lessons.   “Yoon, you must take dance lessons,” his mother had crooned... “Before I die, Yoon, I must know you are gracefully inclined so that you can guide your bride—my future daughter-in-law—across the dance floor.  I would be a bad mother if you don’t do this.”  Yoon had taken three years of dance classes.
When he quit and played soccer instead, being athletic wasn’t good enough for his mother.  Her son needed to be musically inclined and once again she cried...“Before I die, Yoon, I must know you are musically inclined so that you can serenade your future bride—my future daughter-in-law—like the handsome actors play the piano and sing in the dramas.  Do you want my future daughter’s parents to think I’m a bad mother?  Hey?”  Yoon took five years of piano lessons because he actually liked it and still played the piano to relax.
This line of argument with his mother ended with him learning English and Japanese fluently, and obtaining the status of a licensed chef, which he never had any intentions of using.
Yoon felt smothered and pressured into a perfection he felt he could never obtain for this “future bride” he couldn’t imagine marrying.  During his childhood all he thought about was relocating to America.  He worked twice as hard to get out of school as quickly as possible and graduated early with honors. 
He had been prepared to go straight from secondary school to college in America but the thought of him being that far from home caused his mother to worry herself physically ill.  His father convinced him to attend his alma mater, Seoul National University, instead.
Afterwards, Yoon insisted on following his own dreams and like his Korean entrepreneur hero, Chung Mong Joon, he attended MIT Sloan School of Management and the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. for his Ph.D.
Yoon returned to South Korea, met and married the girl his parents chose for him and had never been so miserable in his entire life.  He was restless and unhappy, working late into the night and leaving early in the morning.  His bride divorced him after three years of a loveless marriage.  His parents had been very disappointed in him. 
He moved to America and for once his mother didn’t try to stop him.   
Yoon swore he would never marry and make another woman as miserable as he had made his first wife.   It was the only thing he failed at.  As he thought about it now—while missing half of what his dinner date was saying across the table from him—why hadn’t he tried to save his marriage? 
Why hadn’t he used the dance, piano and cooking lessons he had taken to “romance” his wife into remaining with him?  Instead, after all those years of being a complacent son, he did the one thing he never wanted to do.  He shamed his father’s name and broke his mother’s heart.  No one had divorced in the Young family for over six centuries.
All those lessons went to waste because he sucked at relationships.  However, he was flawless when it came to business and therefore immersed himself into regaining his parent’s approval once more with hard work and undisputed success in the international world of business.
He started by taking struggling small businesses from South Korea, accumulating investors and expanding them; then plopping them down into the United States offering services that only they could supply and vice versa with failing American businesses by opening the Asian market to them.  Yoon also did the same with trade agreements to several other countries.   Everyone had benefited, especially him.
Years passed and he watched them grow into huge conglomerates, garnering him outrageous finder fees and making him an obscenely wealthy man at an early enough age to enjoy his success.  With the success he had also become a preverbal workaholic.  It was better than going home to an empty high-rise apartment.
Yoon’s corporate headquarters was in Washington D.C. and he now held dual citizenships. 
The one thing he never thought would happen were his parents eventually relocating to America also. 
His father was appointed as the South Korean ambassador to the United States and once again he was close enough for his mother to interfere in his personal life.  He felt like he was a child again.  He imagined it was his guilt with failing at the marriage she groomed him for as a boy that made him accept dinner dates like the one he was on right now.
Yoon released an inward sigh.  His fingers tapped out a beat to the song he had on replay in his automobile.
He blinked away the memories of his life as he sat with his dinner companion, Leslie Lee, the youngest daughter of his father’s schoolmate and business partner.  The last time he’d seen her was during a barbecue in her parents’ back yard.  It was during the summer of his second year at college.  She was as tall as his hip, with ears out to “there” and braces on her teeth.  There were no signs of that quiet homely little girl anymore. 
“Excuse me,” Leslie smiled at him.  “I need to go to the ladies room.”
He stood as she left the table, briefly glancing at the occupants in the booth next to him long enough to notice it was a Black couple.  He returned to his seat.  His back was resting against the adjoining booth the Black woman occupied.
 Yoon was relieved by the reprieve from Leslie’s animated chatter.  Her brief exit would give him an excuse to wrap the night up early by saying he had an early business meeting without offending the daughter of a close family friend. 
His mother would be pleased to hear he took consideration of Leslie’s feelings once he informed her that he wasn’t interested in Leslie and her interfering in his love life was over.
“How can you ask such a thing?  We hardly know one another,” the woman sitting behind him hissed at her companion in hushed tones.
Yoon’s voyeuristic nature to watch and pay attention to people was a skill he found useful in business and hearing the woman’s voice directly behind him immediately caught his attention.  Even in her angry tone, it was a nice sultry throaty voice without the nasal indentation he’d spent the last two hours experiencing this evening.
“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my mother’s need to interfere,” she continued.
Yoon could relate to that statement.  He nosily tilted his head to eavesdrop more.  At least this was interesting, but unfortunately for him the conversation was one sided for he couldn’t hear what the other person said.  The voice was deep enough to determine it was male, but the low murmur was lost to his listening ears.
“Hell no, I’m not going to have sex with you!  Are you crazy?  We just met!  What exactly did my mother say to you about tonight?”
Ah, that explains her tone. Yoon thought with amusement.  What a loser.  The man didn’t even wait until they made it back to the car to proposition the woman.
  “My mother told me you were a preacher.  Ha!  You guys got to be the worst,” the woman spoke bitterly.  “Pay the bill and take me home.”
Yoon still couldn’t make out her date’s reply, but it obviously wasn’t in her favor.
“Wait a minute!  Who’s going to pay the bill?!  You ordered a hundred dollar bottle of wine that I didn’t even drink.”
“Guess you should have thought about that before you turned me down.”
The man stood as he spoke and Yoon had no problems hearing what he said that time.  He stared after the suited Black man as he rushed past his table and out of the restaurant.  
“Damn!  I should have waited until after he paid the bill.”  He heard her mutter.  “What am I going to do now?”
“Excuse me; Miss, would you and your guest like to see the dessert menu?”  Yoon heard the server.   “The gentleman is...”
“No, we’re fine.  He...he’s in the restroom,” she spoke quietly and surprisingly calm Yoon thought considering her current circumstance.
“I see,” the server replied.  “Would you like me to bring you your bill?”
“I...uh...well, you see--”
Yoon cleared his throat and held up his hand to motion the server over.  The server muttered a polite “excuse me” to the woman and within a couple of steps stood next to Yoon’s usual booth and table.  
“Are you finding everything to your liking this evening, Mr. Young?”
“Exceptional service as usual Tony,” Yoon smiled at the attentive man.  “Even the silverware was polished to perfection.  Tell Luciano I am quite pleased as usual.”
“I will do so, Mr. Young,” the server preened.  “Would you and your guest like another after dinner espresso?”
“Thank you, no.  I’m ready to settle my account, please.”
Yoon’s eyes drifted towards the Black woman quietly tiptoeing behind the server.
“I will get that bill for you right away, Mr. Young,” he nodded.
“Excuse me miss,” the already suspicious of her server said.  “I will get your bill ready also.”
 “Oh...okay, my date should be back to the table any minute now.  Excuse me,” the woman stammered.  “Excuse me; I need to go to the ladies room to freshen up.”
“Of course,” the server commented.
Yoon glanced up at the agitated woman as she hurried forward making her way towards the restaurant’s entrance where the restrooms were located also.
He swallowed.  Fascinated, he watched the swishing of the Black woman’s bottom as his gaze followed her graceful movements in what looked to be a pair of expensive designer heels.  Yoon wasn’t a connoisseur of female fashion but he would bet she didn’t find that smartly fitted navy pantsuit off the rack at the local Wal-Mart.  Surely if she could afford that getup, she could pay for the meal her date stiffed her with.  Maybe it was a matter of principle.  No, if she was making a mad dash for the door to stiff the restaurant with the cost of the meal, then she had no sense of principle, he thought grimly.
That would be a bad move on her part.  This wasn’t the type of restaurant one could eat and run out of so easily.  As if proving the point, when the woman left to exit, she was politely blocked by the doorman who with a smile directed her to the door marked “Ladies.” 
Hurriedly she rushed inside and Yoon knew she was trapped because they were on to her.  If she tries to do anything foolish now, she would most assuredly find herself in a holding cell downtown for the rest of the night.  At least she would never have to worry about her mother setting her up with that man again.
Unfortunately, he thought—standing as his date returned to the table and waiting for her to take her seat before he sat back down—he wouldn’t be so fortunate for his date to want sex so he could tell her “no” and watch her storm out of the restaurant, allowing him to tell his mother she was as unacceptable as the rest of the women she’d set him up with.
“I really have enjoyed this evening,” Leslie Lee spoke softly as the server returned with the dinner ticket. 
“Thank you,” he murmured to the server, sliding his platinum card in the clear slot of the leather holder housing the bill.”
The server disappeared again.
He could have paid with cash but he was trying to buy a little more time.  His curiosity had the best of him.  The Black woman had yet to exit the bathroom.  He wondered if she was in there fretting.  Maybe she was making a call on her cell phone in the bathroom for backup resources.  Either way he didn’t know why he had made it his business.
“I’m glad you enjoyed the evening,” Yoon absently replied to his dinner companion.
“I must insist that next time you allow me to choose the place and treat you to dinner.  As a matter-of-fact, my parents have a private orchestra box for the season.  I would be delighted if you and your parents would join us.”
His eyes drifted back to his mother’s latest choice of “future daughter-in-law” and kept his face void of the agitation he was feeling.   Yoon knew what that meant. 
To accept her offer for another outing that included their parents would indicate he was in agreement of a future match between them that could lead to an offer of marriage.  He overplayed the friendly card with her and now she believed him interested.
She took another demure sip of the chilled desert coffee.  Leslie was attractive.  She had wealth, a good family name, prestige, breeding and a traditional Korean upbringing.  His mother would be overwhelmingly pleased if he were to call her this evening and tell her that Miss Lee was the one.
Only Yoon couldn’t do it.   At this time in his life, he didn’t know if he would ever be able to please his parents by settling down with a woman of their choosing.  His first marriage had been for the sake of the family business and she divorced him because he simply never fell in love with her.  When they rehashed their marriage, he still can’t understand why it mattered if he loved her or not because they got along so well as a couple.  It mattered a lot to his ex-wife.
He’d become adjusted to sleeping and living alone.  He no longer had to dread going home to face aloofness or indifference staring at him from across the table.
Addressing Leslie, Yoon said, “I must apologize for my mother taking advantage of our fathers’ relationship, Miss Lee, by asking you to meet me for dinner.”  His lips curved into a slight smile.
She smiled demurely.  “No need to apologize.  In all honesty, I was wondering when you would finally arrange for us to meet to discuss our future marriage.”
  “There has been a grave error and again I apologize for any misunderstandings my mother led you to believe about this evening; but I’m not here as part of a Seons.”
“Oh?”  The Asian woman’s perfectly penciled eyebrows lifted almost to her hairline in question.  “I don’t understand.”
Yoon allowed his discomfort to show, “I’m already engaged,” he lied smoothly while convincing himself it was for her own good. “However, I have not told my parents about my chosen bride yet.”
“Excuse me?” 
“Leslie,” Yoon’s voice deepened in feigned sincerity.  “I have fallen in love with a woman that I’m sure my mother will disapprove of.  As a matter of fact, I told her about this meeting and she insisted on coming here, but I asked her to give us time to eat dinner before I tell you the truth.”
For a moment she stared blankly at him, unblinking.  “I...I don’t quite know what to say.  This must be embarrassing for you having me show up this way with expectations that we are to be married.”
He admired her calm rationality and felt relieved she didn’t seem to be the type to make a scene like the woman that had sat behind him during dinner. 
“I’m only embarrassed that my mother is being so persistent,” he flashed a timid half smile.  “I’m also embarrassed for asking you to not say anything to my mother if she were to call you this evening to ask how things went.”
“I won’t lie to your mother, Young Yoon.”  Leslie Lee’s relaxed pose became tense.  “If you are going to dishonor your family, I will go with you to explain why.”
“Err...well, I will do so but I don’t want you there, Leslie,” Yoon murmured.  “Nor is this your secret to tell.”  Standing, he moved to the outside of the booth preparing to speak with the Black woman before she made a mistake that could land her in jail.
“I want to meet her,” Leslie surprised Yoon by saying.
“Pardon me?”
 “Our families are close friends.  Begin by introducing her to me first,” Leslie replied. 
“I think it would make her uncomfortable considering you came here expecting to leave with some marriage agreement between us.”
“If she is to marry you, we will be running into each other from time to time.  If I like her, I will become your ally when you go up against your parents,” Leslie reasoned with a serene smile.
Yoon knew she was calling his bluff and if he didn’t produce a fiancée real quick, he was screwed.
Maybe being with her would prove entertaining after all.  He silently surmised.  However, if there was one thing Yoon didn’t like, it was being manipulated and he was beginning to believe he was the one who had been played.  Leslie Lee wasn’t the demure socialite she had led him to believe.
Yoon’s eyes drifted to the restaurant entrance and saw the ladies room door crack open and the woman that was trying to ditch her bill peep her head outside the door.  Her hair was a shimmering auburn and too rich not to have come from a bottle.  It swung about her shoulders with silken strands clinging to her fitted blazer as her head pivoted from side to side scoping out the traffic of people in the area.
She made an agitated face and ducked back into the washroom as the maître’d gave her a haughty knowing stare.  He found the animation of her character humorous and as if by divine intervention, the most delicious idea entered his head.
“Leslie, please tell the server to wait right here when he returns with my credit card; there is something else I need him to take care of,” Yoon requested. 
“Where are you going?”
“To see if my fiancée has arrived yet,” he stared her in the eyes.  “You did say you wanted to meet her.  Have you changed your mind?”
Yoon noticed the woman had emerged from the ladies room blending into a crowd of people leaving the bar area of the restaurant.   He rushed forward in heavy pursuit.
As he dashed through the revolving door, the lingering effects of winter hung in the evening air and he shivered from the back draft as it ruffled his tailored black dinner jacket and blew the swoop of blue-black hair off his broad brow.
He smiled in appreciation seeing her racing up the sidewalk.  For a woman wearing stiletto heels high enough to cause serious injuries if she were to trip, she moved very fast.  Her back was rail straight and her stride was confident for one that had just committed a crime, Yoon thought to himself.
Without breaking a sweat, Yoon caught up to her, reached out to cuff a small wrist with his hand, bringing her to a jolting stop that pivoted her around to stumble against his chest.
She released a breathless gasp and her expressive eyes went wide in alarm.  “I’m sorry!”
“Miss, didn’t you forget something?”  He asked.  When she wasn’t sneaking past as she had been earlier he was able to see not only did she have a nice bottom, but a somewhat pretty face to match.  However, if he were to pick out something on her face that stood out the most, it would have to be her amazing sleepy deep-setting eyes.
“I will give you my driver’s license with all my information on it and you can hold it until I return with your money,” she answered.
He admired the fact she didn’t seem to be nervous or intimidated by the fact even in her high heels he stood at least another four inches over her.
“I will pay your bill if you pretend to be my fiancée,” Yoon said bluntly. 
“Huh?”  Her sexy eyes widened with surprise and as she realized he wasn’t an employee of the restaurant, she struggled against his hold.
He dropped his arm that had wrapped around her instantly to keep them from tumbling when he grabbed her, but kept his hand around her wrist.  He wasn’t in the mood for anymore criminal pursuits this evening. 
“I need you to come inside and pretend to be my fiancée,” he repeated.
“Yeah, I got that,” she remarked, her voice coolly disapproving.  “My question is why should I help you—do what?—ditch some unsuspecting female that you’ve probably duped into sleeping with you and now that you got what you want, you’re trying to dump her and worse yet, in a public place?”
“It’s not like that.”  His voice was cold and exact.  He was offended she would think he would do something like that.  Well in a way he was doing something like that, but he hasn’t slept with the woman and he had no intentions of doing so.
“Let go of me and I won’t scream,” she had the nerve to threaten.  She showed her disbelief in the tone of her voice.
Yoon didn’t know why but he was aroused and pissed at the same time.  “If you scream, I will just be another good Samaritan doing my civil duty bringing a thief to justice and turning you over to the proprietor of this restaurant, who is a very good friend of mine I might add.”
“You’re hurting me,” she gave him a pretty pout and fluttered those damned long lashes at him.
She was lying, but Yoon eased his hold.  Yet he wasn’t foolish enough to let go.  She was ready to bolt like a trapped rabbit and since he went through all this trouble, he damn well wasn’t going back in there without a fiancée.
“What will it be?”  He asked, spacing the words evenly.
“Why did you pick me?”  She eyed him suspiciously.  “Did you really see me not pay my bill or do you think because I’m a Black woman in a hurry to leave this snazzy overpriced five-star restaurant I’m skipping out on the bill?”
“I was in the booth dining next to yours and heard everything.  Don’t try to play the race card on me.”  The words were playful but the meaning was not.
“Okay,” her voice hardened as she retorted tartly, “What do you want me to do exactly?”  
“Just in case Leslie did see you in the next booth, you will tell her that you were here having dinner with a friend and keeping an eye on me,” he explained.
“What if she starts asking me a lot of questions about us?”
“You won’t be in there long enough for that.  Just a brief introduction and we’re out of there.”
“How about I just pretend to be your girlfriend?”
“Girlfriends come and go,” he reasoned the obvious.  “Being my fiancée will tell Leslie you are the woman I choose to be with for the rest of my life.”
“Shouldn’t you be beating your chest when you say words like that?”  She snorted on a chuckle.  “I am Tarzan and she’s my mate!”  She mocked in what she thought to be a masculine sounding voice.
Yoon sighed.   “This is serious business here.  I need Leslie Lee to go back and tell her parents that I’m no longer a viable candidate for marriage,” he voiced sternly.
“Have her parents met you?”  Her eyes twinkled.
He hesitated to answer but he couldn’t help himself.  “Yes.  Why?”
“You mean to tell me meeting you wasn’t enough to make them change their mind about you being good enough for their daughter?” 
“This is not funny.  I have no time for nonsense,” he added for her benefit.  She shouldn’t push him too far.  His expression was so strained it was almost comical. 
“You don’t know me well enough to determine if I am joking or not.”  The woman reminded him and he couldn’t argue the point. 
“How about I make this even more profitable for you?”  Yoon’s eyes swept over her.  “I will pay your bill plus add another thousand dollars for your trouble.  I’m sure you would love to be able to waste your money on another pair of those expensive Jimmy Choo shoes you’re wearing.” 
“How did you know these are Jimmy Choo’s?”  She came back with her surprise evident on her expressive face.
“I had an ex-wife with taste as expensive as yours,” Yoon found himself answering honestly.  “However, the difference was she could afford them.  What kind of work did you have to do to pay seven hundred and fifty dollars for a pair of shoes?”
“I didn’t buy them,” she snapped.  “And I don’t like what you’re implying.”
“Hah!  Did you run out of the store with them like you were trying to do with a belly full of food you stole from this restaurant?”
“No.”  She smiled cleverly as if he had paid her a compliment.  “I got mine the same way your wife probably got hers.”
“How is that?”
“Someone I know met a sucker like you and put them on his charge card.”
“Well my wife didn’t need a ‘sucker’ to buy them for her.  She had her own charge card.” Yoon’s eyes narrowed on her lovely brown face.
“Who paid the charge card bills in your household?” 
“I did of course,” Yoon replied.  “Of course I would take care of my wife’s needs,” he shrugged his shoulders. 
“Of course you did,” she nodded.  “Why else would she marry you if you weren’t making it worth her while?  You think it’s your blooming personality that won her over?” 
Yoon winced at her remark.  It was closer to the truth than he cared to admit.  His marriage had been one of finances.  His family name had money attached to it and her family name came with political entitlements that his father had desperately needed while running for office.
“I’ve come to realize everyone has a price; so name yours.” Impatiently he added, “Surely there is something you want that I can give you.”
“Hmm...”  She eyed him from head to toe.  “I will take one night of hot sex with a Chinaman so I can see if the rumors about you guys are true or not.”
“Okay,” he murmured through clenched teeth.  She winced and he realized he was still holding her wrist.  He quickly let go.  “I will find you one.” 
She rubbed her wrist with her other hand and took a step back from him.  Warily she asked, “Aren’t you one?”
“I’m South Korean.”
After a long quiet moment, she shrugged and said, “You will do.”
He realized she was intentionally being obtuse.  He would show her it took more than insults to get under his skin.
Yoon waited for her to say more.  When she didn’t, he decided to call her bluff, “I’ll bite, sweetheart.  If you do your part by helping me tonight... tomorrow night I will show you anything you’ve heard about Asian men is pure conjecture on the part of other races of men to keep their women from us.”
“You will?”
“Do we have a deal?”
“Are you serious?”  Her eyes grew round and her mouth grew wide.  “You really would sleep with me just to get me to help you out?”
“No, I will have sex with you,” he corrected.  Yoon leaned closer and softly whispered, “All night.  Then the next morning, I will take you home and you can sleep in your own bed after we’re done.”
“Oh man!”  She snapped her fingers together.  “If you’re willing to do all of that, I should have asked for a million dollars.”
“A night with me is worth so much more,” he teased.  A dimple flashed.
He was pleasantly surprised by the blush that spread across her face.  It was quite unexpected from a woman that had just propositioned him for a night of hot sex.
Being a man in his position of wealth and connections, Yoon was accustomed to all sorts of propositions from women and men, but this had been the first time a Black woman had propositioned him.  He could only assume the hearsay about Asian men that she spoke of must have not been too flattering in the sex department or he might have been propositioned from other women of color a lot sooner. 
Yoon wasn’t aware he could appreciate a woman who spoke her mind so boldly until now and admittedly there were a few myths about Black women and sex that he too was curious about.
“You do know I’m joking, right?”
 “I’m hoping you’re not because now you got me looking forward to it.”  He pointedly looked at her luscious mouth.
Yoon got the pleasure of seeing her luscious impertinent mouth drop wide.
“You can’t be serious.”
“I never joke about money or sex, Miss...by the way what is your name?”
“Nunya.”  Her forehead puckered in a frown.  Her words spaced enough to insult a lesser man, but he wasn’t fazed.
“Nun-ya,” Yoon repeated.  “That’s an odd but pretty name.”
“None-ya-business is what I was saying.”
Yoon released a long sigh.  “You really are beginning to get on my nerves.”
“Join the club,” she muttered.
Yoon laughed and shook his head.  What a mouth she had on her.  It was shaped for all kinds of sinful things he thought but yet he would be too scared to put parts of his body precious to him, which was all of it, near anything that housed a set of perfect sharp teeth.  Her flawless smile was probably another thing some “sucker” paid for. 
However, wasn’t she a contradiction?  If she didn’t mind giving men favors for gifts, then why did she spurn her date tonight leaving her in this predicament?  Or did she just have some misguided honor about bonking preachers?
He put his hand over his mouth rubbing it back and forth catching the warm and sensual scent of neroli and sandlewood.   It was her scent.  She must have perfumed her wrist as she prepared for her date tonight.  Yoon wondered if the preacher would have gotten lucky and talked her into sex if he had taken the time to seduce her instead of asking outright for it as soon as they finished their meal.
“Wasted time is a luxury for me,” he sighed.  “If you tell me what you really want we can settle this matter; but frankly I would think anything beats the alternative option of you spending the night in jail.”
“It might be better than spending a night with you.”
“Let’s get it straight,” his voice hardened.  “You’re the one that was curious.”
To his delight, her brown face grew flush again.
“It’s bad enough you approached me...” she seemed to flounder for the right words.  “Ah...a woman you don’t know and this late in the evening scaring me half to death--”
Yoon rudely snorted as he tried not to laugh at that one.  Scared my ass he thought.
 “You put your hands on me, forcing me to stand here and listen to your threats or risk getting arrested,” she sounded off his list of perceived crimes. 
So far she wasn’t incorrect so he didn’t interrupt.
“When that doesn’t work, you ask for sex and offer a ridiculous amount of money--”
“I did no such thing, Lady!”  He interjected in her tirade because now she was outright lying.  “You asked for it; for both and I simply complied with your request.”
“Yet...you didn’t say no,” she reminded, shaking her finger in his face. “You bargain with your money and that sexy...err...that...that body of yours!”
“You think my body is sexy?”
“I didn’t say that,” she dropped her finger from his face and gave him her profile. 
He smiled.  “You did too.”
“Did not,” she huffed.
“Did so.”
“I didn’t mean it.”
“Yeah!  Right!”
“Okay call the cops.”  She stomped her foot and quickly lifted her foot to make sure she hadn’t done any damage to the back of her shoe heel against the stone sidewalk.  “Damn, now you owe me a pair of shoes.    Look at that scratch on my heel.”
“You can throw that in as a tip for me after we have all-night sex and I leave a million dollar check on the bedside table,” his lips turned up at the corners as he crossed his arms across his chest.  “Didn’t I tell you I was worth every dollar?”
It had been awhile since he had so much fun with a woman.
“Ass,” she hissed at him.
Yoon leaned closer as the valets at the stand they were near returned to their post.  For anyone that might take notice of them, the appearance was intimate, but there was nothing intimate about his tone.
“Help me and I will help you,” he necessitated.  “I bet you don’t even have enough money on you to catch a taxi ride home.”
“At this point I will just go back inside the restaurant and explain my situation to the manager.  I will tell him who I am and give him a copy of my driver’s license.  I assure you once he finds out exactly who I am he will allow me to return tomorrow with the money,” the woman replied.
“Really?  Who are you exactly?”
“Sunshine Dupree.”  Her chin lifted a notch and he would have sworn she just declared herself the Queen of Egypt.
“Should that mean something to me?”
“Dupree?”  She emphasized, staring at him as if he didn’t have any working brain cells in his head.
He just stared at her.
“Dupree Foods?  You know the grocery stores.  There are six locations in Washington alone,” she said, holding up six fingers in his face.  She dropped her hands.  “There is even one in Annandale, Virginia in Korea town...just ten minutes from here.”
“You’re assuming I frequent Korea town,” he lifted an eyebrow in question.
“I’m assuming you at least heard of the place.”  She had the nerve to roll her eyes at him.  “You do live here, don’t you?”
Yoon frowned.  “Yes, to both.”
“Jeez, don’t be so sensitive.”
He let out a hiss of frustration at the time she was wasting.  But he had to ask.  “You’re claiming to be one of the heiresses to the Dupree Foods fortune?”  He asked with his deep voice full of disbelief.
“Not one of them, but the only one,” Sunshine said smugly.
He shook his head as if she were a quack.
 
 
 
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