Unexpectedly His(6)

By: Maggie Kelley

Jane shot him a pointed look as another message hit his phone. “Apparently, your type hasn’t gotten you very far. Maybe it’s time to try someone different.”

“Not that different.” Nick powered down in order to avoid any more shit, wondering how the hell he’d managed to put his career in the love-thirsty hands of Smart Cupid. Even the one he was related to, no strike that, especially the one he was related to.

“Nick, remember the decent, protective side of you. Remember that guy? The rock that held our family together after Dad lost his last bet, racked up a stack of bad debts, and took off. Why don’t you try being that guy for a change?” His sister leaned forward, her elbows on the desk, a recognizable gleam in her eyes. He was going to pay for coming here. “Never know. Might improve your attitude about love.”

Nick crossed his arms over his chest and let his silence speak for itself. Life had dealt them a lousy hand, and yes, he’d put school on hold to make some badly needed income for his family. He’d waited up for his mother to come home from her second job and watched out for Jane and Jake, making sure they never saw their father drunk enough to take his shit out on their mother. He’d do anything for his family. But he’d survived, hell, they’d all survived, no reason to dwell on it now.

Jane let go a sigh. “Fine, since you seem to need additional inspiration to make this work for you,” she said, her expression telegraphing her irritation, “I happen to know she’s in need of an escort…”

“An escort?” Even he was shocked.

“Not that kind of escort,” she said, shaking her head like he’d lost his mind, “A date. For an important family…event.”

“Jesus, not a wedding.” Nothing worse than a damned wedding.

“No, Romeo, not a wedding…never mind, forget I said anything.”

A charged silence filled the office. Nick turned his phone over in his hand a few times. She was playing him. He knew it, but he’d backed himself into a serious corner by claiming a fiancée he didn’t have. He shoved the damn cell deep into the pocket of his pants, not believing what he was about to say. “Think she’d be willing to make a deal?”

“I think so,” she said, all eagle-eyed. “If you’d be willing to help her out of her situation.”

“Better not be anything illegal.”

Jane laughed aloud. “No, counselor, she didn’t do anything illegal. If you want to negotiate, she’s spending her morning at the New York Sport Club. Better go over there now, so you can catch her before she finds another date.” He opened his mouth to speak, but she waved him off. “Yes, I’ll call ahead and plead your case.”

He cruised over and planted a fast kiss on her cheek before hitting the exit. “Just make sure New Girl knows the relationship is all business.”

“Be grateful. You’ll be damned lucky if she agrees to this scheme of yours.” Hustling out from behind the desk, she called to his retreating back. “And don’t call her New Girl.” He waved a hand in the air and kept walking as her voice leaped up an octave. “Seriously, Nick, if you hurt this girl, I will be forced to go all Don Corleone on your ass.” At the sound of her palm hitting the doorjamb, a smile creased his face. “Remember the cannoli.”

“Love you, Janey.”

Nick turned to give his sister a wink. He was unafraid of her jabs about the cannoli. But he got the point. Assuming the new girl agreed to play fiancée, Nick’s rules did not apply. He wasn’t about to screw around with his sister’s friend. This engagement was a totally hands-off situation, which was completely fine by him. He was growing tired of sleeping around. His phone always pinging. Feminine texts with emoticon hearts interrupting him at work. A new woman every other week had worked fine until a recent ex-hookup set him up with a fake Tinder account that sent his phone ringing off the hook. Yeah, a break from dating might be nice. And who knew? As long as there was no danger of commitment, this engagement deal could be a good thing, especially considering the women hassling him for promises and the bind his reputation had gotten him into at work. Yes, this could work, and despite the fact that New Girl was as far away from his type as a woman could get, he was already grateful to her for saving his ass.

Potentially saving his ass. If she agreed. God, please let her agree.

Only one issue left on the table. One possible glitch. He’d seen the scheming glint in his sister’s eyes before she’d switched over into Mafia mode. Cupid had strapped on her wings. But if she thought for one second he was going to fall for her matchmaking tricks and ride off into the sunset with Little Miss Cardigan, well, she had another thing coming.

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