Unexpectedly His(10)

By: Maggie Kelley

“Sex?” he choked out.

She closed her eyes and tried to ignore the shock stamped across his face. Three nights ago she’d popped out of a cake wearing silver spangles and this morning she was talking sex inside a Jamba Juice. What was happening to her?

“Yes, sex,” she whispered.

And now she’d gone and said it again. Whispered, but still.

Nick dropped his voice, too, but the smile creasing his face was all kinds of wicked. And that voice. Even better lower. “Well, Marianne, anytime you want to add sex to our six-week agenda, let me know.”

She swallowed hard and ignored the flutter in her stomach. “I’m fairly certain I can resist you for the six week duration of our engagement.” His smile widened as if to say, “Don’t count on it, sweetheart.” “But that is not what I meant when I said no sex. I was actually referring to the rule that during our engagement there can be no sex outside the faux relationship.”

“No sex even outside the relationship?” His eyes widened comically. “At all?”

Of course, she should have expected this type of reaction from a man who went through women faster than his morning breakfast cereal, but it was still frustrating. Did he really think she’d meant sex between the two of them?

“No. Sex.” From one of the four chambers of her heart, a determined voice whispered, You can do this…stand your ground. “We’d be living together, and I’d be your fiancée, so it’s a matter of respect.” Keeping her voice quiet, she rushed ahead. “And while 84 percent of all couples engage in premarital sex, obviously there will be no sex inside this relationship.” She gave a short nod. “Six weeks, no sex.”

“84 percent, huh?” He sipped his coffee. “I’d have guessed 95 percent,” he said, scribbling a few words on the napkin. “No sex outside—or inside—the relationship.” The way he said the words inside the relationship sent her brain into overdrive. “So—it’s a deal?” he asked, as if it was the simplest contract this side of Manhattan.

She bit her lip, hard, not sure it was so simple. The probability of failure was high. A six-week engagement to a man who made her heart want to fly out of her chest and dive into his jacket pocket. A man who wouldn’t know commitment if commitment bit him on his backside…oh, hells bells…on his ass. His tight, firm, sexy, sexy ass.

If she was going to commit to this plan, she needed to lock down her side of the bargain. “I’ll give you six weeks and be the perfect fiancée as far as your colleagues are concerned, as long as you give me one weekend with my family and convince them we’re madly in love.”

“Madly in love?” Nick tapped his fingers on the table. “Only one weekend, right?”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake.”

“I’m in. Madly in love for the weekend.” A teasing smile formed on his face, more evidence that he was trouble. “Do we have a deal?”

Not allowing for second thoughts, Marianne thrust out her hand, all up-front and businesslike in her Zumba gear. If he was looking for an unemotional entanglement, she’d give it to him. And she’d get the perfect date in the process. “We have a deal.”

He reached out to envelop her hand in his warm, masculine grip, and a zing of pleasure shot through her body like a bolt of lightning streaking across a summer sky. Her hand tucked in his, Marianne wondered what she’d just agreed to with this engagement. Six weeks of heaven? Or six weeks of hell?

Nick let go of her hand and slipped the napkin into the inside pocket of his jacket. “I’ll draw up something more formal back at the office.” All business as usual.

“No need. I trust you to be a man of your word.”

He offered a short nod. “I’ll messenger a key over to Smart Cupid, but if you want to settle in before it arrives, let the doorman know you’re my fiancée, and he’ll make sure you get into the condo safely.”

“I’ll wait for the key.” Marianne was pretty sure if she told the doorman she was engaged to Nick Wright the poor man might have a shock-induced coronary and keel over.

He held her gaze for a long moment, one corner of his mouth lifted with undeniable mischievous intent. Almost as if she was…what? A challenge.

Still time to back out, a quiet, unadventurous voice whispered. Marianne took a moment to consider the well-timed warning. Men like Nick were trouble, and not just for a woman like her, for all womankind. Keeping him off the market for six weeks was like a public service, a Venus vs. Mars takedown allowing the female side a break from the risks involved in hooking up with a commitment-phobe whose skills of sexual persuasion rated high enough to fall off the charts. At least, she imagined his skills rated so high. Not that she planned to find out.

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