Living the Charade(7)

By: Michelle Conder


About to give the owner a piece of her mind for dangerous driving, she was shocked to see her nemesis peel himself out of the driver’s side of the car. She crossed her arms over her chest and puffed out a breath. He sauntered towards her, a slow grin lighting his face.

The man oozed sex and confidence, and moved with a loose limbed grace that said he owned the world. Exactly the type of man she detested.

Even though she was five foot seven, Miller wished she’d worn heels—because Valentino was nearly a foot taller and those broad shoulders just seemed to add another foot.

After her dream she had been determined to find him unattractive, but that was proving impossible; in a white pressed T-shirt and low-riding denims, he was so beautifully male it was almost painful to look at him.

And by the shape of his biceps the man clearly spent a serious amount of time in a gym.

Fighting an urge to push back the thick sable hair that had a tendency to fall forward over his forehead in staged disarray, Miller rallied her scrambled brain and tried to conjure up a polite greeting that would set the weekend off on the right foot. Polite, appreciative and unshakably professional.

Before she could come up with something he spoke first. ‘The suit’s in the back. Promise.’

His deep, mocking tone had her eyes snapping back to his and she forgot all about being polite or professional.

‘You’re late.’

His lips curved into an easy smile as if her snarky comment hadn’t even registered. ‘Sorry. Traffic’s a bitch at this time on a Friday.’

‘You’ll have to watch your language this weekend. I would never go out with a man who swore.’

His eyes sparkled in the sunlight. ‘That wasn’t in your little dossier.’

He was referring to the pre-prepared personal profile Ruby had insisted she hand over last night before she’d hightailed it out of the bar at the speed of light.

‘I didn’t think writing down that I had a preference for good manners would be necessary.’

‘Seems like we’ll have some things to iron out on the drive down.’

Miller bit her tongue.

Seems like?

Was he being deliberately thick-headed? His brother was a lawyer—a good one, according to Ruby—but perhaps nature had bestowed Valentino with extreme beauty and compensated by making him slow on the uptake.

‘Did you fill out the questionnaire attached to my personal profile?’ she asked, wishing she had checked what he did for a living.

‘I wouldn’t dare not.’

His humorous reply grated, and she flicked a glance at the shiny phallic symbol he was leaning against. Was it even his? ‘I want to be on the Princes Highway before every other weekender heading out of the city, so if you’d like to fetch your bag we’ll get going.’

‘Ever heard of the word please?’

The muscles in Miller’s neck tightened at his casual taunt. Of course she had, and she had no idea why this man made her lose her usual cool so completely. ‘Please.’ She forced a smile to her lips that grew rigid as he continued to regard her without moving.

‘Are you always this bossy?’

Yes, probably she was. ‘I prefer the term decisive.’

‘I’m sure you do.’ He pushed off the car and towered over her. ‘But here’s a newsflash for you, Sunshine. I’m driving.’

Miller stared at him, hating the fact that he made her feel so small and...out of her depth. ‘Is that a rental?’

‘Actually, yes.’ He seemed annoyingly amused by her question.

Closing her eyes briefly, Miller wondered how she had become stuck with the fake boyfriend from hell and how she was ever going to make this work.

‘We’re taking my car,’ she said, some instinct warning her that if she gave him an inch he’d take the proverbial country mile.

He crossed his arms over his chest and his biceps bulged beneath the short sleeves of his T-shirt. Alarmingly, a tingly sensation tightened Miller’s pelvic muscles, the unexpectedness of it making her feel light-headed.

‘Is this our first official argument as a couple?’ he asked innocently.

Okay, enough with the amusement already. ‘Look, Mr Ventura, this is a serious situation and I’d appreciate it if you could treat it as such.’ She could feel her heart thumping wildly in her chest and knew her face was heating up from all the animosity she couldn’t contain.

Valentino cocked an eyebrow and stepped back to open the passenger side door. ‘No problem, Miss Jacobs. Hop in.’

Miller didn’t move.

‘It would flay my masculinity to let a woman drive.’

Miller hated him. That was all there was to it.