Home > Fake Fiancée(2)

Fake Fiancée(2)
Author: Ilsa Madden-Mills

He came back and collapsed down next to me, eyes searching my face in the darkness. “You hurt?”

I shook my head. I didn’t think so. If I was alive, I was okay. Images of the wreck flashed in my mind. Being trapped. The dark water. A shudder racked my body, and I made a guttural noise in the back of my throat I’d never heard before.

He gathered me in his arms, his hand palming my scalp. “I’ve got you. You’re safe. Shhh.” His neck smelled male and spicy, and my fingers dug into his shoulders to pull him closer. We stayed that way for a while, and after my shivering stilled, I eased back and glanced up to the bridge, noticing there weren’t any other cars.

Where had he come from on this dark and lonely night?

He’d braved the water to cut me out, and the average person wouldn’t—couldn’t—have done that. If he hadn’t been here in this exact spot when I’d gone over, I’d be dead and swimming with the fishes.

No one crosses our path without a reason. I believed this.

“You sure you’re okay?” He pushed hair out of my face, his voice incredibly gentle.

I nodded. “Thank you.”

We locked eyes, and a spark zinged from my head to my toes. One, two, three moments passed, and something—I couldn’t tell you what—fell gently into place. In the space between my near death and waking up, is it crazy to say I recognized him even though I didn’t know him? How is that even possible?

A siren wailed in the distance, pulling me back, and I visibly flinched as fear swallowed me again. The cavalry was on its way—police or an ambulance. Either way it all led back to my father and his rules. And I wasn’t going back. Ever.

Rolling out of his arms, I stumbled to my feet, grasped a nearby pine tree to steady myself, and scoured the dark forest beyond the lake. There was a town a few miles from here; maybe a phone. I grimaced as pain shot through my leg, and I touched it, finding a three-inch gash on my inner thigh. Blood dripped. It wasn’t a main artery, but I’d need to get something on it. It would probably leave a scar—another one to add to the list.

I whipped off my T-shirt, thankful I wore a bra as well as a camisole. Pulling on the neck, I ripped the Snowden High School Lions shirt into two pieces, my strength a heck of a lot stronger than I’d anticipated, probably from the high that came from nearly biting the dust. I dabbed the gash with one of the pieces then used a clean corner of it to wipe the tears from my face. The other piece I tied around my leg.

“That looks bad,” he said softly, coming closer to me with his eyebrows drawn in tightly. For the first time I noticed he was practically naked, wearing tight black briefs and nothing else. He must have ripped his clothes off to dive in. A Viking of a man, he stood well over six feet tall, his body perfectly sculpted with well-defined muscles.

Up close, I watched a droplet of water drift down his chest to his six-pack abs. I sighed. God had been using his A game when he’d created my hero.

Part of me was . . . excited. I’d never seen an almost naked guy.

I tore my gaze away from him and looked around at the picturesque shoreline and how the moonlight shimmered on the lake. Maybe I was dead and this was heaven?

The sirens inched closer, the high-pitched sound crawling up my spine.

I took a step backward, further into the woods, my foot crunching on the sound of pine needles and fallen leaves.

“Don’t run, please,” he said, raising his hands up hesitantly. He studied my face. “I know you’re scared, but I won’t let anyone hurt you. I promise.”

How did he know I was running?

Because you look like you just stole something, stupid.

I chewed on my bottom lip, contemplating what to tell him. Not the truth—that was for certain. “You didn’t see me here,” I went with, my voice still scratchy. “You never pulled me out of that car.”

“Why?” His brow knitted again. “People will be worried about you.”

“Please—just don’t tell them.” Desperation rang in my tone as I tried to convey to him everything I didn’t have time to explain.

“Wait,” he said, his warm hand brushing against mine, but then he let it fall to his side, a confused expression on his face as if he didn’t know what to make of me.

I was confused as well. And scared. Yet in the middle of those tumultuous emotions, I was drawn to him. My body hummed with an acute awareness of our proximity, and my heart thumped so loudly that I pressed my hands to my chest. I was sure he could hear it.

What was this thing between us? Adrenaline? Lust? Destiny? I didn’t know.

But I did know he sent a buzz straight to my heart.

I wished the moon had been bright enough to see the color of his eyes.

I wished I knew his name.

I wished . . . I wished fate would bring us together again, some other time, some other place.

But not today.

With one last lingering look at his face, I turned and ran into the woods.

Three Years Later


MY ALARM BLARED AND I reached over to click it off.

God, it was early. I rubbed my temples, wishing I’d passed on that last shot of celebratory tequila.

Welcome back to Leland University, I muttered under my breath.

A naked female body jostled into mine, and I froze, distinctly remembering going to bed alone.

I jumped up and yanked my jeans on. “Who the hell are you?”

A brunette raised her head up, eyes like road maps. Nice.

“Shit,” I groaned, recognizing one of the groupies who hung around the football team. At least when I’d had a girlfriend, they’d left me alone.

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