Love in Bloom (De La Fuente Family #3)(3)

By: Lexi Buchanan

Erin chewed on her lower lip—a nervous habit.

Her heart pounded in her chest. She wasn’t a bitch. She wasn’t even sure she’d be able to pull that part off. However, the money would go into her bank account, which meant that she’d have enough to survive while she finished her degree. The rest would tie her over for a short while after graduation.

Would her conscience let her do it? She wasn’t a bitch…as far as she knew, she’d never been one to anyone before and wasn’t sure she wanted to start now, whether it was for pay, or not.

The more she thought about it, the more she wondered. “Why do I have to be a bitch? Surely his fiancée would be loveable. No one gets engaged to a bitch. That doesn’t sound right.”

Roger’s toad like face grew puffier and redder with everything she said and there was a small tick of agitation in his left eye. “Look, don’t worry about the whys or whatnots. You’ll be paid month to month providing you play the part well. He’s a wild card and needs reigning in…definitely needs some of his own medicine. The ‘bitch’ stays between us. You tell him, or anyone else, then our deal’s over and you’ll receive no more money.”

Something was off with the whole thing because surely the man should know what was going on. “Did the guy agree to all this?”

“He agreed, but no reason to trouble him with the minor details about your personality. You do it well, without anyone finding out and you won’t have to worry about staying at the university, or having a roof over your head, which I know is currently on the line.”

“It sounds…wrong.” She watched Roger, anger and irritation flashing in his eyes as he tapped his fingers on the desk. It was clear that he was getting annoyed with her.

“There is nothing wrong with making his life hell, like he’s done to others.” Roger moved to his window and kept his back to her.

The money tempted her more than it should have.

But she had no family.

No friends.

No benefactor.

No one to help her if she lost her apartment.

No one to help her finish at the university.

She was alone…

At least her mother wasn’t alive to witness her fall from the sweet girl next door.

“Whose life do you want me to make hell?”

Roger turned and grinned. “Mateo De La Fuente.”

She was in trouble…

Chapter One

Present Day

The moment Caprice had strode into his downtown Dallas apartment, Mateo noticed immediately that she looked…different. Gone was the over confident woman that had irritated him for months and in her place was someone less sure of herself.

As soon as she realized he was limping from over taxing himself at the gym, she’d shoved him into his favorite chair and gotten him some ice. Now, she was sitting opposite him and he could see her fidgeting…so unlike her. He knew that she was sorry about his accident for which he’d blamed her as he’d been arguing with her at the time of the crash, but in truth it hadn’t been her fault at all. He’d been the one behind the wheel. He shouldn’t have been going as fast as he had been on the ice. All that was old news, so with her nervousness, she had his stomach in knots.

“Why are you worrying about me all of a sudden?” he finally asked, wanting it out in the open.

Her gaze slid off of him as she sighed. “I’ve always been worried about you Mateo…you just wouldn’t let me see you after the accident to know that.” Her nonchalant shrug told him more than words—she’d been hurt by his curt dismissal at the hospital when she’d tried to visit.

“I’m sorry.” He rested his head back against the chair and stared at the ceiling. “I wasn’t in a good place after the accident. I just didn’t want to be bothered with anything, and yeah, that included you.”

“I should have expected how you treated me, after the way I’ve treated you and your family.” She looked away, and he thought he heard regret in her voice before she moved to stand at the window.

The first time he’d seen her, he’d thought his luck was in because he’d noticed her long slim legs, rounded hips, and lush breasts. Her face was flawless and her lips were plump—just ready for him to devour—but after their initial meeting and getting to know each other, he’d thought, hell no.

Once or twice, she’d appeared a heck of a lot more intelligent than she usually was, which had given him pause. On those occasions, he’d wondered whether she was acting in more ways than them being engaged…like now.

Turning, she met his gaze. “Why did you want to see me?”