Home > Fake Fiancée(7)

Fake Fiancée(7)
Author: Ilsa Madden-Mills

Seriously? I gave him a look that said back off.

Wait. Why did I care?

I glanced back at Neighbor Girl, and the earlier palpable tension between us had eased somewhat although I could tell the jury was still out on if we were going to end this on a happy note. A grimace crossed her face as she checked the time on her phone. “Okay, we can deal with this later. I have to go.”

Thank you, baby Jesus.

She played with the bottom of her shirt.

We just stood there. Staring.

The air around us thickened, becoming charged with electricity.

Sometimes in the middle of a normal day, a life-changing choice is thrown in front of you. Right then, you’re one decision away from a completely different existence. You decide your future even though you aren’t even aware you’re doing it. Your choice might result in finding love or death or winning the fucking lottery—you don’t know.

Was it like that with this chick at my doorstep?

Losing my mom made me think about that kind of shit all the time. One minute she’d been there—and then she’d been gone.

“I really need a ride to class,” she said, pulling me back. She gave me a sheepish look. “I have Whitt first thing and he’s a jerk.”

Oh, right.

I cleared my throat and focused. “Sure, I can get you to class. And thank you for coming to me before you called the police.” I tilted my head. “Maybe this little incident brought us together for a reason.”

“Like what?”

“Like we should go out,” I said, my voice growing husky. “I can make it up to you.”

She flushed. “You mean like have sex with me? I’d rather have a car.”

My lips twitched. Again.

“I don’t hang out with jocks,” she added. “It’s a rule. Nothing personal.”

I shrugged. “I’m an athlete—not a jock. Big difference.”

“Not to me, Quarterback,” she said curtly.

I grinned. Her snippiness didn’t faze me. It amped me up like I was staring down a blitz and had to throw a Hail Mary to win the game.

I took a step back and snatched up my backpack off the floor. I slung a casual arm around her shoulders, much like I would any girl I was friends with.

“What are you doing?” she asked, giving my arm a bewildered glance. I noticed she didn’t pull away though.

“We’re leaving. Let’s get you to Whitt’s class. I’m assuming that’s Anatomy and Physiology?”

She nodded.

“I’m in the same class.” I grinned, broader this time. “Coincidence or destiny?”

Her mouth parted, a puff of air escaping as she stared up at me.

And what did I do? I stared right back at her, feeling a whole lot of déjà vu.

Her body brushed against mine, and I caught a whiff of her scent . . . vanilla with a hint of lemon. It was different. Fresh. Sweet.

I glanced down at her full pink lips, wondering how they’d feel pressed against mine.

Fuck no. Forget that.

Focus on football.

Right. No hooking up with Neighbor Girl. The season had just begun, and I didn’t need a girl mucking up my year. Been there. Done that.

I tweaked the tiny line of freckles across her nose. “Hope you like listening to Snoop Dog, Blondie.”



Please. Kill me now.

How easy did he think I was? Let’s go out. I’ll make it up to you. Yeah, right. He wanted to bone me and then kick back and watch me do the walk of shame . . . not going to happen.

I wouldn’t be the next girl stumbling around in his azalea bushes.

Yet, I couldn’t deny the absolute pure truth between us.

Ignore that, I told myself. So I did. I slammed the door on those feelings, stuffing them in the part of my brain that kept anything with the power to hurt me locked up tight.

He wasn’t who I thought he was. Not really.

I let out a sigh as we walked out the door. His irreverent attitude reminded me of my ex, and if there’s one thing I’d learned at Leland, it was that super star athletes were not to be trusted.

He was much bigger in life than I had imagined. Of course, I’d seen pics of him in his uniform on television for a big game, and sometimes I’d catch sight of him on the quad, usually surrounded by teammates or girls, but we’d never come face-to-face. He was popular and way out of my social circle.

I’m a plain and simple girl who kept my head down—even more so after my mom had died when I was sixteen. My father had made it his mission to make sure I didn’t turn out like her. A strict preacher, he’d yanked me out of public school to homeschool me after she passed. No more singing lessons. No more friends—or boys. He wanted me home and under his thumb. He’d managed to hide that dark side from his parishioners, but it lingered just on the edges of his personality.

I saw it every time he looked at me.

He hated me because I wasn’t her.

Mimi said it was because I was the spitting image of her, long blond hair, eyes the color of smoke, and an oval face. I even had a heart-shaped birthmark like hers on my right ear. We could have been twins.

Max opened the passenger door for me on a black Land Cruiser—cha-ching—and then proceeded to clear out the passenger seat that was stuffed with protein bars, books, and football pads. Besides the mess, the car smelled like him, all alpha male mixed with expensive leather.

I inhaled another whiff, feeling frustrated. Dang. Why did he smell so good?

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