Home > Serves Me Wright (Wright #9)(9)

Serves Me Wright (Wright #9)(9)
Author: K.A. Linde

“Jen!”

I whipped around, hastily stashing my pills again. My eyes widened in shock at the sight of Julian Wright heading in my direction.

“Hey, wait,” he called.

I froze in place. Why was following me? Hadn’t I embarrassed him?

“Hey.” He smiled that charming Wright smile when he caught up to me. “You move fast.”

“Uh, yeah. What’s up?” I clutched the keys tighter to keep my hands from shaking.

“I didn’t mean for Hollin and Campbell to run you out of there.”

I could barely manage a smile. “No, it’s fine. I really do need to feed the cats.”

“Of course.” He took another step forward. “But…maybe what they were saying wasn’t actually that crazy.”

I winced at the second use of that word tonight. Crazy was a word that had been used about me enough that hearing it in other contexts still hit me a little too hard.

“Unless you really don’t want to do it?”

“The…fake dates?” I asked in confusion.

“Yeah. I mean, I think it sounds like a great idea.”

My eyes widened. “You’re serious?”

“Yeah.”

“But…why?”

“Think about how well we worked together tonight. I saved you from Evan, and you saved me from Ashleigh. We played it all off fine then. We could do it again for bigger stakes. You really don’t want to go to that graduation, and I can think of nothing less I’d like to do than attend that gala.”

“Yeah. I mean, I don’t want to go to the graduation, but I couldn’t subject you to that.”

“To what?” he asked with a laugh. “It’s a graduation. We’ll tell them I’m your boyfriend. Parents love me.”

“But I haven’t told them we’re dating.”

“So? Make it a surprise. You didn’t know how to tell them on the phone or something.”

“I guess I could do that,” I said.

The possibility materialized before me. Bringing Julian Wright to graduation would make everything better for me. He could keep my mom from vocalizing her biggest disappointments in me. She was usually better around strangers than when it was just me. Usually. Not to mention, I’d have someone to talk to and laugh with about all the rest of it. And no one was immune to the Wright name. It would make me look good either way…even if it was fake. It would get me through graduation.

“But what about you? I don’t make Ashleigh Sinclair jealous,” I said with a self-deprecating laugh.

“You did today.”

I scoffed, “Did you hear her?”

“Don’t let her poison infect you,” he said immediately, reaching out to touch my arm. “There is no hierarchy like her bullshit. She shouldn’t have even said it.”

But it was true. Ashleigh Sinclair might have a shit personality, but she had everything else. Even Julian for two years. If she had been satisfied with where he worked, she’d still have him. They hadn’t broken up because he’d stopped caring about her.

“Okay. I just…don’t know that I’m the kind of person she’d take as a threat.”

Julian waved his hand. “It’ll be fine. You don’t have to do anything about Ashleigh. I’d actually prefer if you weren’t anywhere near her. As long as you’re there, it’ll be good. Just like me being there for you.”

My face flushed at the comment. I’d been so adamantly against this at the mere mention from Campbell and Hollin. But that was when they were pushing it on Julian. It’d felt like they were forcing him into something that he didn’t want. Now, he was trying to convince me to fake date him.

Julian Wright.

The man I’d been pining after for years.

Why wouldn’t I say yes?

It might be a disaster to have him around my parents. I was sure that I wasn’t going to make Ashleigh jealous in the slightest. If we could even keep her thinking we were dating for a whole month. But still…that meant I would have a whole month of his time.

Didn’t I want that?

Yes, it’d be fake. It wouldn’t mean anything. If I was going to have ninety days of no dating, it’d be better to fill that time with fake dates with a friend than nothing.

“All right,” I said tentatively.

“Is that a yes?”

“Are you sure that you really want to do this? It’d probably be a whole month, right? The gala isn’t until the end of June.”

“Yes, I’m sure.”

And he looked so damn sincere. Those dark eyes considering me so carefully, looking deep into the windows of my soul. For a second, it was as if he knew how much I wanted this in reality and not just as a fake date.

Then he smiled and held his hand out.

I blinked down at it.

“Partners?”

I laughed softly. Of course he didn’t see the real me underneath. It was an arrangement. A fake relationship that meant nothing else. And I wanted it regardless.

I put my hand in his and shook. “Deal.”

 

 

Part II

 

 

A Fake Relationship

 

 

7

 

 

Jennifer

 

 

Buzz. Buzz. Buzz.

I half-opened one eye and reached for my phone. I swiped at it to silence the alarm, only managing to throw it onto the floor. I groaned loudly, but it did nothing to turn off the alarm.

“Shut up.”

It didn’t listen.

I pushed the covers off of my chest and reached for the phone. I finally hit the button to cancel the alarm.

“Finally,” I said as I flopped back into bed.

I yawned and checked the time—seven a.m. Ugh. Normally, I was up at six thirty without an alarm. I’d forgotten that I even had an alarm set. It must have been from my last sunrise graduation shoot. I was and always had been a morning person. Anything past seven felt like I was wasting the day. But today, I wouldn’t have minded a few extra hours of sleep.

I’d been at Wright Vineyard until past midnight. It might be lame, but I was usually in bed by ten and sometimes even earlier. Today was definitely going to be rough since I was also a terrible napper and I didn’t drink coffee. Which Annie thought was sacrilege.

My yawn was as wide as the Grand Canyon as I fumbled out of bed and into a super-hot shower. I blew out my brown bob—which almost reached my shoulders by now—and got into lounge clothes. I grabbed my camera and computer and headed for the dining room table, where I would likely live the rest of the day. Editing was the bulk of the job. If I was lucky, I wouldn’t get carpal tunnel for at least a decade from all the micro-clicks as I worked.

I deposited my work on the table and grabbed a banana and the cat food. Another yawn hit me full on as I went outside.

“Avocado! Bacon!” I called into the early morning.

I nudged their two bowls before pouring cat food into each of them. Everyone made fun of me for feeding the stray cats, but I didn’t want them to go hungry. Yes, they could probably fend for themselves. It made me uncomfortable to think that they might be hunting and not find food. I couldn’t do it.

I didn’t even like cats. Yet here I was. The cat lady feeding cats that didn’t even belong to me.

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