The Temporary Wife - By Jeannie Moon

Chapter 1

Very few things shocked Jason Campbell. Building a multibillion-dollar business, he’d met his share of power-hungry narcissists, and he’d never let anger influence his decisions. Until now. Now, he was pissed.

His parents’ latest scheme beat all. They had always played games with people, manipulated them for their own benefit. That was why he followed his own path and rejected his parents’ influence the minute he left home for college.

But this time . . . this time was different. They weren’t messing with a business associate or a rival at the club, they were playing with a five-year-old’s life, and Jason wasn’t going to let them win. Not this time.

He stood in the library of his parents’ home, the warm wood paneling a total contrast to the cold people who were lounging in the leather club chairs nearby. Late afternoon sun streamed in the windows, and Jason felt the pain of his sister’s death even more acutely now that he heard what they were planning to do.

“You can’t,” he said to his parents. “It’s wrong. Do you know what this would do to Molly?” His sister’s wishes had been clear, the will specific, and Jason knew exactly why Grace didn’t want Molly, his five-year-old niece, with her grandparents. It was the same reason he’d separated himself from the formidable and well-connected Will and Alicia Campbell—his parents were about as nurturing as a pair of pit vipers.

Molly was to be raised by Grace’s childhood best friend, Meg Rossi. But no matter what Grace may have wanted, that arrangement wasn’t acceptable to his parents, who’d started planning their offensive the minute the will was read. Jason knew he had to stop them.

“It’s already in the works,” said his mother. With her sleek blond bob and her perfect makeup, she sucked the olive that had been soaking in her third martini right off the toothpick. She looked anything but maternal. “I almost feel bad. She can’t afford a lawyer, so she can’t exactly put up a fight.”

“Who needs a fight?” His father blew out a stream of cigar smoke. “Nice, neat, done. Molly belongs with us. The girl means nothing. All she wants is the trust fund, anyway. Hell, she’s tried to get at our money before by going through you.”

“She wasn’t after money. Jesus, Dad.” Jason was so sick of that story. Meg was like a sister to Grace, they were inseparable, and to him, well . . . Memories of Meg came rushing back when he least expected them. Memories of how much she meant to him—of what they meant to each other.He knew she was no fortune hunter, and his father could say whatever he wanted, but it would always be a load of bullshit. He wished he’d had the nerve to tell his father that fifteen years ago. Shaking off the regrets of the past, Jason tried to focus. He had to get back to the issue at hand—his niece and his sister’s wishes

“Look, Grace knew how she wanted Molly raised. Living here wasn’t part of it.” Jason remembered the long talk he, his sister, and her husband had when Molly was born. They wanted their child to have a normal upbringing, away from the iron gates and servants of the estate. This life had been so toxic that Jason and Grace, both of whom had trust funds that could rival the GNP of a small country, had decided to make their own way in the world. Even their brother Josh, who was still in their parents’ world, worked like a dog to get ahead rather than rely on his inheritance.

His parents didn’t care, though, and they were going to snatch Molly back into this hellhole and destroy anyone who got in their way. That included his late sister’s best friend, Meg Rossi, who had been making every effort to involve the Campbells in their grandchild’s life since Grace and her husband, Mark, died in that car crash.

Molly didn’t really know his parents all that well because his sister had limited their contact to holidays and birthdays. Meg had given the Campbells more access to their grandchild than they’d ever had, and her reward was going to be a court fight that could bankrupt her.

“Darling,” his mother sniffed, “I don’t know what your sister was thinking. We are Molly’s family. Megan shouldn’t have ever been brought into this. Honestly, you’d think she’d be thankful. She’s not married, and she’s a teacher, for God’s sake. They live in a tiny little