Home > Fake Fiancée(17)

Fake Fiancée(17)
Author: Ilsa Madden-Mills

“Yeah,” Tate said, grinning. “Jock-ass is my favorite, though. I think you’re going to make me laugh a lot, new girlfriend.”

“You can call me Sunny.” I felt the blush rising up my cheeks. “Just so you know, I don’t always talk to myself.”

“Glad to know I’m not dating a loon,” Max replied.

“Nope. Those only pick the lock to your room,” I said smugly.

“You can pick it anytime,” was his quick comeback.

I blushed. Again. “Speaking of crazy, have you found Sierra?”

The grin slipped off his face. “No. I didn’t have a number for her—because I don’t encourage her—but I managed to get it from one of the other players. I texted her but got no reply. She’s not a student here, so I haven’t been able to track down her home address yet.” He rubbed at his temple. “I’m sorry about her. You know, you could have ridden with me tonight instead of insisting on taking an Uber.”

He had texted me earlier in the day to see if I wanted to catch a ride with him, but keeping it professional meant the less time we spent together alone, the better. “I’m fine.”

“At least let me pay for it,” he said.

“No.” He’d already done enough with offering to fix my car if Sierra didn’t pull through. In fact, yesterday he’d called a garage to come pick it up and give him an estimate.

“Is this our first disagreement?” he asked, an amused look on his face.

“First of many, I bet,” Tate murmured just as a cute redhead opened the door and called for Tate to come inside. By the eagerness on her pretty face, I imagined she’d been standing by the window waiting for him to show.

“I’ll catch you two later. My lady awaits.” He gave us a little grin as he brushed past us to the girl waiting on him.

“Is that his girlfriend?”

“For the moment. He flits from girl to girl. Not exactly a paragon for committed relationships.”

I thought about Bart. “Typical.”

He ignored that, his eyes coasting over me and lingering appreciatively. I’d worn a soft pink fuzzy sweater. Ultra feminine and cropped so that it showed a sliver of my stomach, it was something I imagined a girlfriend of his might wear. When I’d worn it around Bart, he’d barely kept his hands to himself in public. It was also itchy as heck.

I tugged at the hem, pulling it closer to my gray skinny jeans. I should have worn one of the shirts I’d made. At least I wouldn’t have felt so self-conscious. It was rather tight across my chest, probably because I’d tossed it in the dryer when I should have let it hang dry.

“You look nice,” he said softly.

“Thank you.” I stared at his mouth. I still wanted to touch his lips.

“You’re welcome.” He let out a little laugh. “We sound like we’re on a first date.”

“We are!”

A considering look came over his face. “That’s a problem. Everyone in that room needs to think we’ve been dating since this summer.”

I lifted my hands, feeling exasperated. “Well, I’m not kissing you on the lips again, so don’t get any ideas. Once was enough.” I sounded a bit like the virgin who protested too much, and I snapped my mouth closed from saying anything else. It wasn’t that I was a prude. I’m not.

Kissing him was a dangerous game. His lips tasted like forever—and they weren’t.

He tossed an arm around me. “Just follow my lead.”

We walked in the door and took in the crowded party. People milled around the house chatting and talking while music blared in the background. A few couples were headed upstairs to the bedrooms, and it didn’t take a genius to figure out why.

Everyone seemed to look at us, especially girls who sent me envious glares. Yeah. I understood that. I’d gotten those looks with Bart too. I stiffened, and I guess Max picked up on it. He focused on me, and I caught the barest hint of vulnerability on his face. “Yeah, everyone’s watching. They always are. Truth is, I only have a couple of real friends—the rest are just sharks waiting for me to fuck up. Just smile and wave and walk on.”

“Like this?” I did an exaggerated version of the Miss America wave.

“Exactly like that.” He tapped my nose, a lot like he had that first day we met. “Thank you for coming, Sunny.” His voice was low and husky and my body softened, drawn toward the warmth of his as we walked to a makeshift bar in the kitchen.

I liked this side of him. Protective. Real.

I glanced up at him. “So, every single thing you do with me tonight will be fake?”

He grabbed two cups of beer from a guy manning the bar and handed me mine. He took a long sip and stared at me over the rim. His lashes lowered. “Isn’t that the point?”

“Right. Of course.” I swallowed down a gulp, needing liquid courage.

“Come on,” he said. “Most of the players are out back where the fire pit is. I need to introduce you to everyone.” He laced our fingers together. “You ready for the dog and pony show?”

I smiled. “Only if I can be a big dog—no toy poodles for me.”

His lips curled in a half-grin. “Whatever. Just don’t called me Maxie-Pooh in front of anyone.”

“Doesn’t fit with the tough-guy image you got going on?” I asked tartly.

“Call me Maxie-Pooh, and I’ll call you Blondie.”

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