Home > Fake Fiancée(8)

Fake Fiancée(8)
Author: Ilsa Madden-Mills

I snuck a quick glance at his well-developed biceps in his tight shirt, taking in the orange and brown tiger tattoo, our school mascot, peeking out from the sleeve. My gaze shifted to his face, and part of me—the crazy part—yearned to reach out and touch his chiseled jawline, maybe run my fingers over his full and pouty lips. I sighed. We may have gotten off on the wrong foot, but holy cow, he was hot.

With a smirk that said he’d caught me staring, he wiped errant crumbs off the seat and gestured for me to sit as if it were a queen’s throne. “Here ya go.”

“Thank you.”

He climbed in the driver’s side, popped on a pair of Tom Ford shades, and pulled out of the drive. I tried to act cool, but the truth was I was nervous as heck. I opened my purse and applied a rose-colored lipstick I found in there. I’d freaked when that groupie hit my car, and I pretty much ran out of the house with what clothes I could find. I smoothed down my shirt and raked a hand through my unruly hair.

I probably looked like a deranged person.

You are a deranged person, I reminded myself. You asked—maybe demanded—Max Kent take you to class.

In what universe did any of this make sense?

He put his hand on the radio, but instead of cranking up the music like I thought he would, he turned it off. Ocean-colored eyes assessed me.

“So what’s your name? Have we ever met before? Class? Maybe a party?”

“Sunny Blaine, and no, I don’t even like football. I prefer reading—or chess.”

I didn’t know a knight from a pawn!

I hadn’t read a good book in months!

What was wrong with me?

He laughed. “You must be new. Football’s practically a religion at Leland.”

“I went to Southwest Community first and started Leland last year. I’ll graduate this May,” I said. Leland was a private institution with a price tag that boggled the brain. The only way I’d been able to pull off the past two semesters was with an art scholarship and federal grants. Of course there was still the basics to pay, like food and rent—which is why I worked twenty hours a week at the library.

“Big plans after graduation?”

“I love art, so I’m hoping for something in a gallery.” I bit my lip, feeling self-conscious about telling him my dream, but it came out anyway. “Someday, I’d like to own a store that sells clothes I designed. Depends on how much money I can save.” I shrugged, playing it off. “I’ll probably end up working at The Gap.”

“Where you from?”

“North Carolina. I moved here a while back to live with my grandmother Mimi.”

He shot me an interested glance. “What part are you from? We used to vacation there in the mountains. Pretty place.”

“Why the twenty questions?” I asked stiffly.

He shrugged, drawing my attention straight to those ridiculously broad shoulders. “Just making conversation. Why so defensive?”

He was right. Anytime anyone brought up North Carolina, I clammed up. I kept my life before moving to Atlanta tucked away, and that didn’t make me an easy person to get to know.

“Sorry. It’s just . . .” I sucked in a sharp breath, thinking about the other reason for my rotten mood. “My boyfriend . . . we recently broke up, and he’s going to be in our class. We picked out all our classes together last spring.” My teeth tugged at my bottom lip. “I dread seeing him. We had the biggest non-breakup ever. No closure.”

His gaze shot to me. “That sucks. Been there myself recently. I get it.”

“We were supposed to be living together this semester, and I had to find somewhere last minute,” I added. “Thank goodness I knew a professor who wanted me to fix up his house while I live there.”


“Just pulling down wallpaper and general repair stuff.”

“Sounds like work,” he murmured, giving me a once-over, as if surprised.

“Tuition isn’t cheap and books don’t buy themselves.” It was no secret he came from money. Heck, his dad was a famous NFL player turned sportscaster.

“There you go—being prickly,” he smirked, but looked oddly pleased.

“It’s been a heck of a day, okay? And I still haven’t had coffee.”

“We can’t have that.” He whipped the car into the Circle K, told me to wait a minute, and then came back five minutes later with two Styrofoam cups. He tossed sugar and packets of creamer in my lap. “It’s not Starbucks, but it’ll hit the spot.”

My heart flip-flopped when I accepted the cup, cradling it like the Holy Grail. I tore the lid off and inhaled the first sip. Maybe he wasn’t a douche like all the other athletes in my life.

He chuckled as he pulled back out to the street. “You should have mentioned coffee was the way to tame you.”

“Yeah,” I murmured, settling back in the seat. “Muffins and scones work too.”

He pulled into the lot behind the Clark Science Building, parked, and turned the ignition off. But for some reason, neither of us moved to get out. He fiddled with his keys, as if he wanted to say something. Then he took off his sunglasses and twirled them around his fingers. He was a live wire, and I couldn’t help but follow his every move. A lock of dark hair had come loose from his bun, the chestnut and honey highlights begging for my fingers to push it out of his eyes.

Don’t do it, Sunny.

I wanted to fill in the silence, though.

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