Living the Charade(6)

By: Michelle Conder

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Miller sucked in a deep breath and gave the man in front of her a scathing once-over. He was boorish, uncouth and dirty—and he had the most amazing bone structure she had ever seen. He also had the most amazing grey-blue eyes surrounded by thick ebony lashes, and sensual lips that seemed to be permanently tilted into a knowing smirk. A sexually knowing smirk.

But clearly he was crazy.

She might need someone to pose as her current boyfriend, but she’d rather pay an escort the equivalent of her annual salary than accept his help. His brother would have been a different story, but no way in the world could she pretend to be interested in this man. He looked as if all he had to do was crook his index finger and a woman would come running. If she didn’t swoon first.


Miller pulled in the ridiculous thought. The man had holes in his jeans and needed a shower, but all that aside he was far too big for her tastes. Too male.

The loud clink of a rack of freshly washed glasses brought her out of her headspace and Miller felt a flush creep up her neck as she realised she’d been staring at his mouth, and that both Ruby and Sam were waiting for her to respond.

Her eyes dropped to the man’s tasteless T-shirt. Ruby must have be more affected by alcohol than Miller had realised if she seriously thought Miller would go along with this.

‘Well, Sunshine? What’s it to be?’

She hated his deep, smug tone.

About to blow him out of the water, she was choosing her rejection carefully when it struck her that he wanted her to say no. That he was counting on it.

Miller exhaled slowly, her mind spinning. The sarcastic sod had never intended to help her at all this weekend. That momentary soft-eyed look he’d got when his brother had mentioned their sister was just a ruse. The man was a charlatan and clearly needed to be brought down a peg or two. And she was in the mood to do it.

Pausing for effect, Miller steeled herself to let her eyes run over him. She was so going to enjoy watching him squirm out of this one. ‘Do you happen to own a suit?’ she asked sweetly.

                      CHAPTER TWO

TAPPING her foot on the hot pavement outside her Neutral Bay apartment building, Miller again checked to see if she had any missed calls on her phone. She still couldn’t believe that rather than squirm out of her phony acceptance of his help last night that thug of a man had collapsed into a full belly laugh and said he’d be delighted to help.

Delighted, my foot.

It wouldn’t surprise her one bit if Valentino Ventura did a no-show on her today. He seemed the type.

Something about the way his full name rolled through her mind pinged a distant memory, but she couldn’t bring it up. Maybe it was just the way it sounded. Both decadent and dangerous. Or maybe it was just the sweltering afternoon sun soaking into her black long-sleeved T-shirt combined with a sense of trepidation about this situation she had inadvertently created for herself.

She’d spent years curbing the more impetuous side of her nature after her parents had divorced and her safe world had fallen apart, but it seemed she’d have to try harder. Especially if she wanted to create a life for herself that didn’t feel as precarious as the house of cards she’d grown up in.

Miller sighed. She was just tired. She’d averaged four hours’ sleep a night this week and woken this morning feeling as if she hadn’t slept at all.

A pair of slate-coloured eyes in a hard, impossibly handsome face had completely put her off her breakfast. As had the dream she’d woken up remembering. It had been about a man who looked horribly like the one she was waiting for, trapping her on her bed with his hands either side of her face. He’d looked at her as if she was everything he’d ever wanted in a woman and licked his beautifully carved lips before lowering his face to hers, his eyes on her mouth the whole time...

Miller’s lips suddenly felt fuller, dryer, and she shivered in the afternoon heat and scanned the street for some sign of him. It must have been all those images of escorts that had set off the erotic dream, because no way could it have been about someone as reckless as she felt this man could be.

Okay. Miller gave herself a mental shakedown. She wasn’t waiting around any longer for Mr Ripped Jeans to turn up. He’d had no intention of helping her out—perfectly understandable, given they were strangers and would likely never see each other again—but she couldn’t fathom the tiny prick of disappointment that settled in her chest at his no-show.

Feeling silly, she shook off the sensation, frowning when a growling silver sports car shot towards the kerb in front of her and nearly rear-ended her black sedan.