The Marriage Clause - Book cover

The Marriage Clause

KristiferAnn Thorne

Age Rating


Appearances are everything in a world ruled by power and money, a world Silas and Emory are bound by. The terms of their contract are clear: stay married for a year and everyone gets what they want. But when one stands to lose everything and the other falls for someone new, will they fulfill their commitments or break the terms of their contract?

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Chapter 1


“You look gorgeous, Em.” Her dad, Alex Edwards, watched Emory as she smoothed a hand down her wedding dress.

“Thanks, Dad.” Emory closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and looked back at her reflection. She could do this. She could be married to Silas Bishop for a year if it would save her family’s business.

“I feel so guilty standing here and looking at you. I swear to God, I will make this up to you, Em,” her father said, frowning.

“It’s only a year, right?” She glanced at him, her eyes meeting his in the gilded mirror.

“Yes. If you stay married to Silas for twelve months, he gets the keys to the Bishop fortune, and in return, we get the business connections we need and a hefty dowry. More than enough to save us from ruin. If you call it off before the year is up, we forfeit all our holdings to Bishop Industries,” her father said sadly.

“I understand, Dad,” Emory said, adjusting her veil. She’d read the contract carefully with her lawyer. She knew what was at stake.

“It’s not what I wanted for you, Em. What your mom wanted for you, but we have no choice. Silas needs to show he’s over his playboy ways if he wants to run Bishop Industries. A marriage to you offers that stability. Our family name and your outstanding reputation are well-respected.”

A knock on the door interrupted them. Marcus Bishop, Silas’s father, stuck his head in.

“You look beautiful, Emory.”

“Thank you, Mr. Bishop,” Emory said graciously.

“Alex,” Marcus said, looking at Emory’s father. “Are you ready to get these kids married?”

Alex gave Marcus a brief nod before turning back to Emory. “You ready, Em?” He held his arm out to her.

“Yes, sir.” She gave him a brilliant smile.

Arranged marriages were common in their high society for a myriad of reasons, financial security being the biggest one. Emory had hoped to marry for love, but she’d do whatever was needed to save her family’s reputation. In their world, appearances were everything.

Her father escorted her down the aisle of the tiny church. Silas stood at the altar with the officiant. She plastered a smile on her face and he did the same as a photographer snapped pictures of their private nuptials for the press.

A few minutes later, Silas placed a quick kiss on her lips and laid her hand in the crook of his arm. They walked back down the aisle as Mr. and Mrs. Bishop. Their year as husband and wife had officially started.


Silas hardly took notice of his bride during their brief ceremony. He was still hungover from the bachelor party the night before and thought this whole thing was pointless.

Who cared if his playboy reputation and reckless ways made the board members nervous? He was heir apparent to the Bishop fortune. He deserved to be in charge of Bishop Industries. They owed it to him.

But his father had demanded Silas sign this marriage contract and show the board he could settle down, or they’d find someone else to take over the company when his father retired. Word was that a major investor had already made an offer.

Silas signed it out of spite. This was just a minor inconvenience for the next year. Then he’d get to keep everything and live however he wanted. He could manage that.

He glanced at his new wife, his eyes traveling down her figure.

At least she’s attractive, he thought as he rested her hand in the crook of his arm. ~Who knows, I might enjoy this year after all~.


“Silas?” Tanner snapped his fingers in front of Silas’s face.

Silas slid his eyes toward his right-hand man. “I’m sorry, Tanner. I’m not focused today.”

“Come on. Let’s get the hell out of here and go blow off some steam.”

“It’s got to be private,” Silas said as he stood up and smoothed out his suit jacket. He shoved his discarded tie into his pocket.

Emory had made it clear that their marriage was strictly business. She’d taken one of the guest rooms when she moved in, and though she was pleasant to him, she didn’t seem interested in anything more.

Silas wasn’t used to having to try when it came to women. He was Silas Bishop. He was rich, attractive, and always looking for a good time. Women lined up to sleep with him. So, he’d gone back to his playboy lifestyle, spending most nights in hotels or at his penthouse in San Diego.

Tanner rolled his eyes. “You know, there’s a clause in the contract that says you can get divorced in less than twelve months if she’s the one that pulls the trigger.”

“What? What the fuck are you talking about?”

“Jackass. Did you not read the terms? If she files before the year is up, you’re free.”

Silas pumped his fist in the air and let out a whoop. “Seriously?! That’s awesome! I was so fucking pissed about my dad twisting my arm to get married that I never read the whole contract. So, all I have to do is make her want a divorce?”

Tanner nodded as Silas’s phone dinged. He looked down. It was a calendar reminder for a dinner with Emory. He showed it to Tanner and laughed as he deleted it.

“Come on. Let’s go celebrate my impending divorce.”


Emory glanced at the clock again. Silas agreed to come to this dinner, benefiting the new breast cancer wing she was helping raise money for, but he hadn’t shown up yet. Bishop Industries had generously agreed to donate a hefty check, and Silas was coming to schmooze some of the potential donors she was hosting tonight.

Silas had only been home a few times since their wedding day. They had been out to dinner once together, as required by their contract, but he’d left forty-five minutes in, citing a work commitment.

Emory heard things. Silas wasn’t acting like a married man, nor was he being very discreet about it. He’d been seen all around town with several women, and his indiscretions reflected poorly on her.

Emory sighed and plastered a smile on her face as the caterer announced that dinner was ready. She politely ushered everyone to the large dining table. She talked with her guests throughout the meal before excusing herself to check on dessert. In the kitchen, she glanced at her phone to see if Silas had messaged her, but there was nothing.

“Dessert will be served momentarily,” she announced when she came back to the table. Her heart sank at the sight of Silas’s empty chair. “Unfortunately, Silas was called into an emergency meeting and won’t be able to join us.”

She hadn’t asked much of him, just his presence at this dinner. He knew this project was personal for her. She tucked away the thought of her mother and started sharing her ideas for the charity auction.

She was in the middle of her presentation when Silas burst through the front door. He stumbled into the large dining room, lipstick smeared across his face and shirt collar. His tie was hanging out of his jacket pocket, and he smelled of alcohol and cheap perfume.

He mumbled to himself, holding onto the wall for balance. His eyes snapped up, and he saw everyone at the table looking at him.

“Who the fuck are you people? Why are you in my house?” Silas sneered. He glanced at Emory, who was staring wide-eyed at him. “Imitating a fish, dear wife?” Shaking his head, he snickered at his own joke.

Emory turned back to her guests as Silas shuffled off toward the kitchen. Her face was on fire as she blinked back tears.

“Thank you, Chairman Rogers and esteemed guests, for your time this evening, but I think it’s best if we end here for the night. My apologies for my husband.”

“No apologies necessary,” the hospital chairman said as he stood up and signaled to the others that it was time to go. “Thank you, Mrs. Bishop. Dinner was excellent.”

Emory escorted her guests out, shaking their hands and thanking them before shutting the door. She headed into the kitchen, where the caterer was busy cleaning up. She helped as Silas milled around with a drink in his hand, eating cold leftovers. The tension was thick enough to cut with a knife.

When the caterer and her crew had finished cleaning, Emory thanked them and walked them out. She secured the alarm and headed to bed, locking her bedroom door behind her. The last thing she needed was a drunk Silas barging into her private space.

It wasn’t until she was in the shower that she let herself finally break down and cry. Silas’s behavior had absolutely mortified her. It was one thing to make a mockery of her behind closed doors but to make a mockery of her mother’s memory was disgusting.

Emory eventually got out of the shower and robotically went through the rest of her nightly routine. She also checked her small overnight bag, making sure she had everything she needed and double-checking her reservation on the Bishop’s private plane before crawling into bed.

She was meeting a potential donor for the new hospital wing on the East Coast over the weekend. They had a very hefty check as well as several items for the auction and had requested she pick them up herself. She was glad she was going to be gone for a few days. Some time away from Silas would do her good.


When her alarm went off the next morning, Emory felt like she hadn’t slept at all. She had tossed and turned most of the night, reliving Silas’s embarrassing entrance over and over. Anger coursed through her veins. She got up and dressed, ready to leave him behind for a while.

The driver messaged her when he arrived, and she texted him a quick thank you as she grabbed her wrap, purse, and overnight bag before heading for the door. It was early, and she hoped Silas was still sleeping it off in his room.

As she passed the dining room, she found him sitting at the table with her presentation folders spread out in front of him. Glancing up from his open computer, his bloodshot, blue eyes locked onto her.

“Emory,” he said, standing up from his seat and smoothing his messy, dark hair.

A knock on the door sounded as they stood silently staring at each other. Emory turned and opened it for the driver. She had never been more thankful for an interruption in her life. She handed him her things and followed him out, shutting the door behind her and leaving Silas standing there alone.

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