Home > The Engagement Arrangement(6)

The Engagement Arrangement(6)
Author: Jaci Burton

   She leveled her gaze at him. “I need you to be my fiancé for four days.”

   He arched a brow. “Say that again?”

   “They’re going to be here for four days. Around me all the time. In my business. Driving me crazy. I need you to pretend to be engaged to me so I don’t have to deal with the ‘Oh, poor Brenna is all alone’ shtick from Allison.”

   “Who gives a shit what Allison or your ex thinks? You’re an independent woman, Brenna. And a successful one at that. Look at all you’ve accomplished since high school. You run a vineyard, for Chrissakes.”

   “I know that.”

   “And you sure as hell don’t need a man at your side to prove your worth.”

   “I know that, too. It’s just . . . will you do it or not?”

   He shrugged. “Sure. Do I get to kiss you in front of them?”

   “Absolutely not.”

   He knew that would get to her. “How about holding hands?”

   “I . . . that’ll be fine.”

   “We should set some ground rules.”

   She frowned. “Like what?”

   He stepped forward and smoothed his hand down her arm. “Like knowing whether I can touch you like this.”

   Her breathing increased. He saw it when her breasts rose and fell more rapidly. Not that he watched her breasts or anything, but it was hard not to notice her deep inhales and exhales. She didn’t step away or ask him to stop, so he continued to touch her, keeping his movements light, easing his fingertips across her neck, to her jaw, teasing her earlobe.

   She shivered, but it wasn’t revulsion. It was excitement. He liked that.

   “They’d expect an engaged couple to be familiar with each other’s touch.”

   “Right,” she whispered.

   “So touch me, Brenna.”

   She reached out, hesitated. “You should put a shirt on.”

   “Why? I’m clean.”

   “That’s not what I mean. Your chest . . .”

   “Is what?”


   “It is.” He took her hand and laid it on his chest. Now he was the one breathing heavily as the coolness of her palm splayed across his pecs.

   “You’re shaking, Brenna.”

   She snatched her hand away. “I am not. And anyway, it’s not like you’re going to be bare-chested in mixed company.”

   “True enough. But if you start shaking every time you stand next to me, no one’s going to believe we’re engaged. Or anything else.” He picked up her hand and massaged it between his. “You need to relax.”

   “I am relaxed!”

   She’d yelled the words at him, which made him smile. “Are you?”

   “Okay, maybe not. But I just came up with this idea today. It’s not like I’ve had the time to settle it in my head.”

   “You don’t have to do it at all, you know,” he said, keeping her hand between his, getting her used to his touch. “You can just be yourself. Proud. Single. Telling them both to go fuck themselves.”

   She laughed at that, and he felt the tension in her hand ease. But then she shook her head. “No. I’ll have enough to deal with that week without Allison’s annoying voice buzzing in my ears about how I can’t get a man. It’s just four days, Finn. We can do this for four days, can’t we?”

   “Sure we can.”

   “Okay.” She pulled her hand from his and then held it out to his for a regular handshake.

   She was joking, right?

   “Then it’s a deal?”

   He arched a brow. He might agree to do this, but he wasn’t going to make it easy for her. “It’s a deal. Should we kiss?”

   She laughed and headed to the door. “Nice try, but no.”

   She turned the knob and opened the door. “Thanks for doing this, Finn. You’re a good friend.”

   She closed the door behind her.

   His lips curved and he went into the bedroom to grab his shirt.

   Friend his ass. The way she reacted to him had nothing to do with friendship and everything to do with a woman who was attracted to a man.

   And he wasn’t going to let that one lie. If Brenna wanted to pretend to be engaged for four days, then they were going to have to get close.

   Really close.

   Besides, she could have asked anyone to be her fake fiancé. But she’d asked him. Why was that? He already knew the answer, but did Brenna?

   This was going to be fun.




   • • • • • •




   THERE WAS NOTHING more fun than wedding dress shopping, as long as Brenna wasn’t the one trying on said wedding dresses. She’d already had one disaster of a marriage and never intended to make that colossal mistake ever again.

   Erin and Jason, though? They were perfect for each other. Other than her parents, she’d never seen two people more in love. Like, sickeningly in love. She couldn’t help but be happy for her sister. After what she’d gone through with her ex, Owen, Erin deserved some happiness. Even if Owen dumping her two days before their wedding had been for good reasons. They’d all worked it out and everyone was back to being friends now. Owen was just about finishing up with his chemotherapy treatments and seemed to be on the road to beating his cancer.

   Now it was Erin’s time for her happily-ever-after. They had all finished up work early that day, then piled into Mom’s SUV and took off for the city.

   “I’ve already made contact with two bridal shops that are willing to work with me on such short notice,” Erin said. “I’m really lucky because normally they require a minimum of six months, preferably a year.”

   “You’ll have to get a dress off the rack, though, right?” Honor asked. “It’ll be too late to order one.”

   Erin nodded. “Yes, but that’s all right. I can’t have everything I want and I know that. And if the dress needs alterations, I know a wonderful seamstress who’s agreed to do the job.”

   Brenna was glad Erin was so at ease about this. And she knew her sister was organized to the max, so if something needed to be done, it would.

   They got to the first shop forty minutes later and parked in the lot.

   “Are you nervous?” Brenna asked as they all got out of the SUV.

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