Player: A Secret Baby Sports Romance(8)By: Aubrey Irons
She’s still talking, saying something about her mother, but I’m not really following as the dots start to connect in front of my eyes.
You can’t ACTUALLY proposition someone like this.
I grin, thinking of all the crude, dirty, and straight inappropriate shit I’ve said to girls over the years.
By that scale, asking one to fake marry me for money really is pretty tame in comparison.
Natalie shrugs in front of me, dropping her spoon into the paper cup on the picnic table in front of her. “Anyways, for now I guess I’ll go stay at a friend’s-”
“So, I might have a job for you.”
She blinks as I cut her off, frowning at me. “What?”
This is a terrible idea…this is a truly stupid idea.
I don’t know this girl at all, aside from thirty whole minutes of conversation and knowing how her tongue tastes against my lips. I don’t know a damn thing about her, or her family, or really even if she’s some sort of ax murderer.
The smart thing to do here would be to walk the fuck away. The smart play here would be to drive her to this friend’s house, send her on her way, and then go play Derek’s public image game.
Except, I don’t do, or say, any of those things.
Instead, I lean across the table, level my gaze at her, and say literally the last thing I’d ever in a million years have imagined myself saying to a girl.
“How’d you like to get married?”
I stare at the man across the table from me, for a moment putting aside how attractive he is, or how grateful I am for him rescuing me from the hotel, and realizing that I actually know nothing about him.
Who the hell is this guy?
He’s a crazy person, right? He’s some rich psychopath with a warehouse somewhere where he uses power tools on unsuspecting women making horrible choices during emotionally unstable times – women that get in cars with strangers.
And for that moment, I’m pushing aside how dreamy those eyes are, or how primally biologically attractive that jawline is, or the tight muscles of his chest through his t-shirt. My eyes dart behind him, measuring how far it is to the ice cream stand window, and wondering if I could make it there barefoot before he caught me.
“I- uh.” I smile innocently at the gorgeous psychopath sitting across from. “I should go.”
He grins. “Hang on, let me explain.”
Exactly what a psychopath who wants to murder me in his garage would say.
My eyes dart again to the ice cream attendant about thirty feet behind him, and I’m literally about to make a break for it when he rolls his eyes.
“Relax, I mean fake married.”
I freeze, turning my eyes back to him and raising a brow questioningly. “What?”
“Fake married, like an arrangement.” He shrugs. “Look, you need money, I need a fake wife. I think we can help each other out here.”
I frown. “Why do you need-”
“It’s a long story,” he shrugs and waves his hand. “We’ll get to that.”
I stare at him, peering at him and trying to figure out if I’m on hidden camera, or if this is some bizarre joke I’m just not getting.
“So, what do you think?”
He can’t be serious.
No way. This is insane. This is even more insane than me kissing him last night, or more insane than getting into his freaking car an hour ago when I don’t even know him.
I take a deep breath and shake my head. “You know what, this is getting weird.” I stand. “Look, thank you for the ice cream, and for everything back at the hotel, but I need to get out of-”
“Five-hundred thousand dollars.”
My head jerks back to him. “What?”
Austin looks at me evenly. “I’ll give you five-hundred thousand dollars if you fake marry me. Six-month contract, tops, and then we can go our separate ways.”
I narrow my eyes at him. “Am I on camera or something?”
He grins. “If you’re into that.”
I roll my eyes and grab my clutch from the table. “I’m leaving.”
“And I’m totally serious you know.” There’s something real in his voice that stops me, and I half-turn back to him.
“Pretend to marry me, stay in my place, go out in public with me. Six months, and the money’s yours.” He shrugs. “And in the meantime, it’s a place to stay and all your expenses covered.”
My brow furrows. “Look I’m not a hooker you know.”
Austin laughs. “Yeah, I sort of picked up on that.”
He snorts. “Look, princess, I don’t exactly have to pay for that. And besides, that’s not what I’m saying. Nothing sexual implied.” He grins wickedly at me in a way that has my pulse skipping a beat. “I mean, of course if you want that, I’m not gonna say no-”
“I don’t,” I say sharply, and he winks.
“You seriously want me to fake marry you.”
“I seriously want you to fake marry me. You’ll live in my house, do public events and media shit.” He grins. “You’ll probably have to at least hold my hand, you know.”
“I think I’d manage.” I raise a brow at him. “Look, don’t let this go to your head, but I have a hard time seeing why a guy like you would do this. I mean you’ve obviously got money, and it’s not like you’re unattractive.”
“So you’re saying I’m attractive?”
I roll my eyes. “I did just say don’t let it go to your head, didn’t I?”
He grins that easy, cool smile at me. “My image,” he shrugs again, “my image needs a makeover.”
“You seem classy.”
This time, I laugh. “You don’t even know me.”
“I know women, believe me. And you’re one of the classy ones.” He winks at me. “Plus you seem a little prudish.”
I bristle, frowning at him. “Excuse me?”
“No-no, that’s a good thing.” He pushes his fingers through his mop of hair, his brows knitting as if thinking through something. “Yeah, no, I think a little frigid might be good for this situation.”
My jaw clenches, my hands go to tight fists at my sides, and the heat rises in my face. “Watch it.”
He puts his hands up. “Hey, okay, nothing meant by that. I just mean you being professional about this and not being all over me could probably make this work better.” He smirks. “As long as we stay away from hotel bars and elevators I guess.”
“That was…” I purse my lips together. “Believe me, that will not be happening again.”
I look down at the rest of my melting ice cream turning into a pink puddle in the little paper cup. “So you want to marry me-”
“Okay, fake marry me, because I ‘seem classy’ to you? After meeting me once, and drunk, in a bar?”
“You realize how insane that sounds, right?”
“Are you saying you’re not classy?”
I roll my eyes. “I meant what makes you think I’m classy.”
“Ever fucked a famous person just because they’re famous?”
I wrinkle my brow. “Are you famous?”
Austin grins wickedly at me. “Interested?”
I feel my cheeks go red as I quickly frown and shake my head. “Eww, no. And certainly not.”
“Well, there’s one.”
“Reason I think you’ve probably got some class.” His eyes drop to the front of my dress, and I can feel a warm tingle run up my back as he nods openly at my chest.
My face burns hot as I quickly cross my arms over my breasts and scowl at him. “Of course they are.”
Austin chuckles and shrugs again. “Well, there’s two.”
I shake my head, turning to glare out over the Pacific.
You’re not actually considering this, are you?
Except, I am. And there’s no empty stomach and three drinks this time to blame my irrational behavior on. There’s no late-night bar, and handsome and mysterious strangers this time.
This time, I just might actually be crazy.
“This is insane.” I say it softly, almost to myself, as if saying it out loud is a way of trying to rationalize this thing.
“Life is insane, princess. This’ll help us both.”
He brings his hand up and runs it through his hair again. “Look, seriously. Nothing implied. Like I said, I don’t pay for that. Just play the part, be the good little wife and smile for the cameras, and you walk away with half a mil in six months. Plus spending money while you’re doing it.”
I frown. “What, like an allowance?”
I can feel my brow furrowing as I turn away from Austin for a second to look out at the ocean. God, is this the only way? A rich guy’s trophy wife? Look pretty, smile for the public - there’s even an allowance. I groan at the idea of willingly becoming everything my mother always wanted me to become, no matter how hard I’ve tried otherwise.
But I need money. And on the upside, Austin does seem leagues above Vince, and this isn’t even a real marriage. It’s a job, that’s it. I take a deep breath, letting the air tease over my lips. It’s a means to an end, that’s all.