A Limited Engagement
By Bethany Michaels
Lilly Harmon used to daydream about her childhood crush Derek proposing to her…but not like this. Of course, she just lost her boyfriend and her job, so her five-year plan is already smashed to hell. Pretending to be with Derek might help her get her PR career back on track.
But the oil baron’s daughter won’t give up that easily, and Derek’s parents believe the engagement proves he’s become the son they always wanted.
Money. Family. Love. The truth could destroy everything. And to think this engagement was supposed to be the easy way out.
“I know this is a lot to ask, but I need to sleep with you tonight.”
“What?” She was still dreaming. She had to be.
“I woke up about five minutes ago and Serena was in my bed.”
“In your bed?”
“Holy shit.” The last of the dreamy cobwebs cleared.
He shoved a hand through his hair. “She said that if I was really getting married, then this was our last chance to have each other, because she didn't get involved with married men.”
“But she doesn't have a problem with engaged ones. Nice to know she has some standards. What did you say?”
“That I wouldn't do that to you. She said there must not be any heat between us, because if she and I were engaged, there was no way we'd be sleeping in separate rooms.”
“She's got a point. I suppose it is a bit odd.”
“I told her you were old-fashioned, and she laughed.”
“And that was that?”
He shook his head. “No. Then she reached for me and said she’s not old-fashioned. I grabbed her shoulders and told her she was right. I couldn’t deny my passion a second longer.”
Lilly’s eyes went wide. “And then you…?”
He smiled. “Then she got this look on her face. Like she’d won.” He chuckled. “I only got a glimpse of her expression when I said I had to storm into your bedroom and demand you give in to my manly passions.”
“Manly passions.” She rolled her eyes. “She bought that?”
“I didn’t stick around to find out.”
“So you had to come here. You couldn’t have sneaked into another guest bedroom? There must be a dozen.”
“No choice,” he said. “Only way to get rid of her. I’m sleeping in here with you tonight. And probably tomorrow night, too.”
She frowned. “I don’t know. What about earlier?”
“We both agreed it was a mistake, right? A fluke. I'll keep my lips and hands and all my other parts to myself.” He gazed at her with guileless blue eyes. Too bad she knew better. “I just can't go back to that room. We sign the sponsorship contract tomorrow. I can’t blow this, Lilly.”
He grabbed several of the oversize extra pillows she had tossed to the foot of the bed, and he built a little wall between them on the king-size mattress. “You won’t even know I'm here. Promise.”
She rolled her eyes. “Fine. Sleep here where big bad Serena can't get to you.”
“She's scary. Seriously. You weren't there.”
“Did she threaten your virtue?” She couldn’t help teasing him a little. He'd probably been the big-bad no maiden could withstand more times than he’d crashed his car. It served him right to be on the opposite side of things for a change.
“Shut up. It was scary,” he said, but he was smiling. “Turn out the light before Serena figures out we’re not naked yet.”
“You think she'd break down the door and drag you out by your manly passion? Seriously?”
“Look, I wouldn't put anything past that woman at this point. Turn out the light.”
She rolled her eyes and switched off the light. “You'd better not snore.”
“I don't snore.”
“How do you know?”
“Well, I’ve never had any complaints.”
“No, your women never have time to complain—they’re already out the door by the time you fall asleep.”
“You make it sound like I have a harem. I’ll stay on my side of the wall. Promise.”
When not working on her next book, Bethany enjoys movies, traveling, camping, hiking, and volunteering with her kids' scout troops. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and four teens.