Fake engagements are a dangerous business.
Bryan James’s job is on thin ice unless he can secure a contract with a popular design house. He knows his best friend’s sister can help—but her terms are more than he bargained for.
Alexis Devers’s debut fashion line is a hit. But when Alexis’s publicist tells buyers that it landed her a wealthy, gorgeous fiancé, Alexis needs to come up with one—fast. Bryan’s offer to strike a deal is perfectly timed. She’s more than willing—on one condition…
It’s the perfect plan…until feelings start getting in the way. Suddenly, the dangers of mixing business and pleasure become much more real than either of them expected.
“Before I sign these, there is one more thing I want to request from you.”
Meeting her gaze, he asked, “What can I do for you?”
“Funny you should pose that question. I’ll warn you, what I’m about to ask is very unorthodox.”
His brow hitched. “I see the immense value in this account, Ms. Devers, and I plan to do whatever you require in order to gain your business.” He used that line often when a new account was on the line, but he didn’t remember ever meaning it as sincerely as he did at the present moment.
She smiled, gave a small chuckle. “I’m about to test that. Call me Alexis.”
“Okay, Alexis.” He settled in, giving her his full attention. “Let’s hear it.”
“When my partner was out drumming up retailer interest in our fashion line, she told one reporter that I was engaged to be married. For some reason, that made the line more saleable. Sydney’s little falsehood is now part of the public discourse, because the reporter mentioned it on television.”
He could feel his brow scrunch with confusion. “That’s an odd way to go about it, but whatever works. Though I’m not sure what this has to do with me.”
Another soft chuckle. “I’ll just ask you straight out, then. Would you be willing to pose as my fiancé? At least until the line gets off the ground and becomes well-established?”
He blinked several times. Did she just say what I think she said? “I’m sorry, what?”
“I told you it was unorthodox. I need a wealthy, handsome fiancé on my arm, and my cursory research tells me you fit the bill. So will you do it?”
“You researched me?”
She shrugged, her expression remaining casual. “All it took was a little bit of digging online to find out a few things about you. I also looked into Royal’s company history, and based on that and your illustrious educational and professional background, I’d wager you are financially set.”
He blinked a few times, unable to disagree with her assessment. “Okay, then.”
“And as far as the other thing, I’m not blind.” She fixed him with an appreciative stare. “You’re very easy on the eyes.”
His pulse quickened, his throat becoming dry as his body reacted to her words and her tone of voice. “You were right. This is the first time I’ve had a request like this.”
She said nothing but kept her eyes on him.
He met her gaze, arrested by the dark pools of her eyes, framed by a thick fringe of black lashes. “And what exactly would I have to do as your faux fiancé?”
“It depends on whether the line catches on. You have to be seen in public with me. We’d need to appear affectionate toward each other, of course.”
“I can handle that. Is there more?”
“If things go well, there will probably be television interviews and press. So you may have to appear affectionate in front of cameras. I won’t ask much else of you.”
He cupped his chin, thought about what she was asking him to do. He couldn’t deny that it appealed to him. “Is this strictly a business offer? Or is there more to it?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, I’m sure you could ask someone else, but you asked me. So what does that mean? How should I take that?” He searched her face, attempting to gauge her motivation.
She pursed her lips momentarily before answering. “I’m attracted to you; I can admit that. The way I see it, that will only make this easier. Our engagement will look like the real deal.”
She just admitted that she’s attracted to me. He’d thought as much, but to hear her say it was the best kind of confirmation. He quieted as he let the satisfaction of her admission sink in for a few moments.
“I apologize if you think I’m out of line or if I made you uncomfortable. If you’d like to think about it, I understand, and I can wait a few—”
“I’ll do it.”
Now she appeared surprised. “Really? Just like that?”
“I’m attracted to you as well. But I think you know that.”
She broke eye contact for the first time in several minutes, and a hint of redness crept into her cheeks. “I know.”
“And since I’m marriage agnostic, I don’t have any qualms about the whole fake engagement thing.”
One arched brow lifted. “Marriage agnostic?”
“I don’t have any strong feelings about the institution, one way or the other.”
“Hmm.” She seemed to turn that over in her mind for a moment. “So you’re sure you want to do this?”
“Why not? The two of us can have fun, at least until this little arrangement has served its purpose.”
She said nothing, watching him intently.
“You need a manufacturer as well as a fiancé. I need this contract. I’d say this is a pretty good way for us both to get what we want.” He nodded as he thought about it further, because he planned to make full use of his time as Alexis’s intended, fake or otherwise. “Whose brilliant idea was this, by the way?”
The blush in her cheeks deepened. “Mine…”