Home > Fake Fiancée(14)

Fake Fiancée(14)
Author: Ilsa Madden-Mills

I shrugged noncommittally. Class had been a show, but pretending was what I did best. I pretended that losing my mom hadn’t slayed me my freshman year. I pretended that my dad was the best guy in the world. I pretended that Bianca hadn’t hurt me last year.

I pushed those thoughts aside.

“Okay, this is going to sound nuts, but maybe we could continue our little charade about dating?” I said. The idea had taken root in class, and the more I thought about it, the more stoked I became.

“Why would you want to?” she sputtered.

“It’s simple. I want the Heisman, but with all the rumors about me fighting last year with Felix—it’s a long shot. The award isn’t just about achievement and skill. It’s all hype and to get hype you need a feel-good story that resonates with people. Maybe finding a serious girlfriend and falling in love could be the story that tips the voters over.” I paused. “Heck, we could even go all the way and say fiancée. The reporters would eat up that romantic shit—just like that classroom did.”

Her mouth opened. “Fake fiancée? Falling in love? What is this . . . a Hallmark movie?”

“We could be the best damn Hallmark movie ever made, Sunny.” My voice was dead serious.

“And what do I get?”

I leaned in closer, feeling drawn to her, inhaling her sweet scent. “A thousand bucks. You’re always working. You need money, right?”

A little puff of air came from her parted lips. “I don’t know. This seems crazy. You’re crazy.”

Maybe I was—but football was everything.

“I’m just focused—it’s what it takes to be the best. Plus, it’s not just the Heisman. You could keep the groupies off my back. And Bianca. Hell, I could have the best season of my life—and all because I have a pretend girl next to me . . . one that I don’t really have to invest a lot of work in. See? It sounds like the perfect plan.”

A long exhale came from her as she took her eyes off me to focus on the students milling past us to head to the stairwell. I watched her face with keen interest, looking for a chink in her armor, some way to convince her that this was a spectacular idea. She chewed on her bottom lip.

“I’ll even help you study for this class. I am a pre-med major, you know. And . . . I can put in a good word for you with Whitt. He loves me,” I said in a sing-song voice. “Come on. You know you want to. I’m fun and hot. You’d be so popular—”

She held her hand up. “I get the picture. How long will we have to—you know—be together?”

“They announce the finalists the first week of December, so that’s around three months, give or take. We could come back after Christmas and say we’d broken up. You can even say you broke my heart. Easiest thing ever.”

She mulled that over. “Don’t you have a girl you could ask—like someone you already have on the hook?”

“It’s got to be you. I trust you.”

“Why?” Her brow wrinkled.

“I don’t know. Maybe it’s because you’ve got guts enough to stand up to me.” I carried on, rushing through the words, making it sound easy. “There’d be minimal obligations—of course. We’d have to be a couple in public—maybe attend some frat parties together or have lunch at the Student Center. Nothing crazy.”

She frowned. “I don’t get out much. I bake cookies and watch sitcoms. I’m nothing like Bianca. I can’t be all girly and stuff.”

“I don’t want to be with anyone like her,” I said rather sharply. “It’s football season anyway. I go to class, train, and play. I’ll be gone some weekends for the away games. We can keep appearances to a minimum. Besides, the less people see us, the less likely they’d know we’re fake.” I shrugged. “Just, if we do this, don’t fall in love with me. I don’t want anything serious.”

“Trust me,” she said with steel in her voice, “that won’t happen.”

“Good.”

“Good.”

My lips curved up at her snippy tone. “So what’s the answer?”

She pursed her lips and thought. “Five thousand—and it’s just girlfriend. None of this fiancée stuff. It sounds complicated—class was already a mess with Bart—plus

I don’t want to lie to my grandmother.”

Why did I feel disappointed?

Not at the money part, but the fact that I couldn’t get a bigger commitment out of her.

Whatever. Take what you can get.

“Fine. Girlfriend it is, then.”

She sent me a nod, her face set as if she’d made up her mind. “It’s a deal. You’ve got yourself a fake girlfriend until December.”

I sent her a smooth smile as we shook hands, not impervious to the zing when we touched. I was attracted to her—obviously—but I was determined to not ruin a good thing.

No groupies.

No Bianca.

No drama.

Just the Heisman and my future in the NFL.

We talked a bit more as we walked down the stairs, our steps in sync as we came out the metal door to the lobby. I felt good about this. Confident. Sunny would be perfect for the outsiders looking in. She wasn’t a rich girl. Hell, she worked. She didn’t have a volatile temper like Bianca, and she was nice, except for when she was being prickly, but my gut knew that was her defense to protect herself from jerks like me.

   
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