Bridget picked up the pen and cringed. “I just didn’t think anything was going to come out of it.”
Madison stared at her, nose wrinkled in concentration. “God, are you ready for all of this, Bridget? It’s going to be insane. People are going to start following you around. Oh! I can pretend to be your assistant!”
Bridget rolled her eyes.
“And we can double date.”
“And Chad always comes to the Daniels Family Christmas Dinner Extravaganza, which you never come to even though I’ve invited you every year, you hooch.” Madison clamped her hands together. “Now you can’t get out of it.”
She so wasn’t a fan of the holidays, and honestly, it hurt to see Madison making happy plans. She was going to be so disappointed when, at the beginning of the year, Chad and Bridget went their separate ways.
Madison finally settled down, and Bridget opted to eat in for lunch. She was half afraid to visit any of the local joints. Just before three in the afternoon, their office door opened and a delivery guy stood there, awkwardly carrying four dozen red roses.
Four dozen roses.
Wow. Last night must’ve been amazing for Chase to send Madison an arrangement like that.
Bridget went back to staring at her computer screen. She needed to e-mail the catering company if they hadn’t gotten a definite amount back for the—
“Is there a Bridget Rodgers here?”
Lifting her chin, her gaze landed on the flower guy. Confused, she glanced over at a grinning Madison. “Um, that’s me.”
The man smiled as he moved toward her desk. She hastily cleared off a little section on the corner. “Someone must really love you,” the man said, placing the vase down. “Have a nice day.”
Bridget stared at the delivery guy as he strode out of her office, and then her gaze fell back to the roses. Holy crap…
Miss Gore must’ve ordered them or made Chad do it. That could be the only reason why they were for her, but they…they were beautiful.
“Is there a card?”
She looked up, barely able to see Madison from behind the forest of stems. There was a card, tucked neatly between a dewy green stem and baby’s breath. Very carefully, she pulled the card out and slid open the little envelope.
Written in pretty calligraphy was a short message that might not have told why the flowers were sent but definitely who had sent them.
I’m still very relevant.
As she stared at the little card, there was no fighting the slow smile that crept over her face. Yeah. He was still relevant.
After getting an earful from Chase about “dating” his woman’s good friend and then putting up with Chandler’s snide-ass comments about going the way of every guy around them and settling down, Chad was ready to bang his head through the wall when his cell went off.
Expecting the hourly check-in from Miss Gore, because who knew what kind of trouble he could get into in his own apartment, he swiped the cell off his kitchen counter. The text wasn’t from his babysitter. Oh, no, it was Bridget. His publicist all but forced them to exchange numbers before they went out to dinner.
Thank you for the roses. They’re beautiful.
About two seconds later another text came through. Still not relevant, though.
A smile hit his lips, and it was a good thing his brothers had left by then because he was sure he looked like a dumbass. He liked her response—a lot—and he also liked that she didn’t text like a sixteen-year-old girl.
Like most of the women he hung out with.
Chad put the phone back on the counter and went to the fridge, grabbing the chicken he’d marinated earlier. Dumping it on the Foreman grill, he poked the breasts around with a fork until they were placed perfectly in the middle.
He closed the lid. Juices sizzled.
And then he glanced over the counter at his phone.
He turned back to the counter and tossed the fork onto the countertop. Rocking back on his heels, he stared at the grill. That lasted about thirty seconds.
“Hell,” he muttered, spinning toward his phone.
Picking it up, he tapped the screen and stared at the message. There were no plans tonight, but tomorrow was supposed to be a movie. He hadn’t gone to a theatre since he was in high school. Movie premieres not included.
Technically, he had no reason to be in contact with Bridget, since this was kind of like a day off. And he really hadn’t had a reason for sending her flowers other than…he’d wanted to.
Okay, there was more to it.
Turning around, he leaned against the counter and stretched out the kink in his neck.
It wasn’t because of the kiss they’d shared. Although just thinking about that kiss got him hard as a rock, but it was what she’d said. That she’d agreed to pretend to be his girlfriend because it would help out her dating after him.
What. The. Fuck.
First off, he doubted she needed the help. Secondly, he wasn’t too keen on being a stepping-stone. So he sent her roses. Strange response to something like that, sure, but he doubted she was thinking about her future boyfriends now.
He sent her a text back. Glad you liked the flowers.
Before he could put the phone back down, his fingers just kept on typing. And glad you liked the kiss.
He dropped the cell and checked his chicken. About a minute later, his phone went off and he piddled around the kitchen for another three minutes before he went to check it.
I never said I liked the kiss.
A grin pulled at his lips as he sent a message back. You didn’t have to. I know.
The response was immediate. Do I need to remind you that YOU kissed ME both times?
Chad tipped his head back and laughed, but he checked his chicken before responding. Otherwise it looked like he was just standing in the kitchen, holding his phone, which he was.
After slopping the grilled bird on a plate and cutting it up into tiny pieces like he was preparing it for a child, he sent another text. Do I need to remind you that YOU enjoyed it both times?
The response was pretty quick. Le sigh.
Chuckling to himself, he carried his food to the couch and ate his dinner while watching the evening news. Exciting stuff there. He let his food settle before he hit the treadmill in his library for the obligatory evening run. Afterward, he stripped off his sweat-soaked shirt and unbelievably did a load of laundry.
Each time he passed his phone, he looked at it. Each time it rang, there was a stupid feeling in his stomach. By the time he got done cleaning the guest bathroom downstairs and taking a shower, he found himself holding his cell. It was past ten, probably too late to call, not that he was planning to call Bridget. Miss Gore had already set plans for the movie date. He was to pick her up at her place and blah blah.
Once in bed, his fingers got the best of him. He texted: Good night, Bridget.
Two minutes later he got the same kind of response, and then he put the phone on the farthest corner of the bedside table. Having an early morning with his off-season trainer, he needed to sleep.
An hour later, he was still staring at the ceiling, tired, but his mind started messing with him, bringing forth images of Bridget against that very wall of his bedroom, her head thrown back, breasts jutted out as he watched her from his knees. He breathed in deeply and swore he could still taste her sharp arousal.
He threw the sheet off and moved his hand down his stomach. Palming his heavy erection, his back bowed clear off the mattress. Jesus. He hadn’t been strung this tight since college.
His hand stroked down his throbbing shaft and his eyes fell shut. Immediately, the image of Bridget formed in his mind, except he was standing against the wall and she was on her knees. Her mouth replaced his hand and yep, that was all it took. His release pounded down his spine and his hips punched up at his own hand.
It was much later when his heart slowed down, and he was hard again, Bridget’s face firmly planted in his thoughts. This was going to be a long, long night.
Come Thursday night, Bridget stared at her reflection in the mirror. A movie date…
She laughed out loud.
Pepsi meowed in response.
Glancing over her shoulder, she smiled. “I can’t believe I’m going to the movies with Chad Gamble.”
The cat cocked its head. Shell had the same response during lunch when Bridget had told her that going to the movies with Chad wasn’t that big of a deal. Apparently everything with the ball player was a big deal.
Bridget turned back to the mirror and tucked her hair behind her ears. The distressed blue jeans and red sweater seemed casual enough for a movie date. Sticking her leg out, she turned her ankle. Her heels were red, blue, black, and yellow. Striped. Awesome.
Straightening the hem on her sweater, she turned. The roses sat beside her bed. She hadn’t planned on bringing them home yesterday, but she couldn’t leave them in the office. Her ex had sent her flowers once, and they’d been the kind that came in a box. Somewhere between the card, the text messages, and tonight, Bridget decided she should at least enjoy some of the advantages of having a pretend boyfriend, especially the three Fs.
Flowers. Fine dining. Fine-looking man.
And threw in an N: No expectations.
The whole blackmail aspect was terrible and still irked the hell out of Bridget, but she wasn’t the type of person to continuously dwell on the negative. She had her bitchy moments that lasted a couple of days. She had a right to be ticked off, but this was the hand she was dealt. Though spending the next month mouthing off to Chad might be entertaining for the masses, it wasn’t particularly fun for her.
So she might as well enjoy it because a part of her did like hanging out with him. When they’d been in the club, they’d really clicked. All she had to do was keep her head in the game. Don’t read into anything and most of all do not fall for him. And to keep that from happening, all she had to do was remember the three girls in the paper he’d slept with a few days after they met at the club.
And when was the last time she went to the movies with a guy? Too long.
On the way out, she stopped by Pepsi and scratched him under the chin and then placed a quick kiss on his furry little head. She grabbed her bag and rushed down her apartment steps before he got there. She didn’t want him to be in her apartment. The place was her sanctuary and that was entirely too intimate for them.
Chad in her place was a line she wasn’t going to cross.
As she hit the front lobby door, she saw Todd Newton. It was strange seeing him wearing more than boxers.
He smiled when he saw her and caught the door, holding it open. “Hey, Miss Rodgers…”
Bridget grinned. “Hi, Todd.”
His gaze dipped. “You’re looking good.”
Considering their conversations had always been limited to seeing each other across the hall, this was the first time they were within breathing distance. Up close, she noticed Todd’s hazel eyes were more green than brown.
He’s really good-looking, she realized. “Thanks. Same goes for you.”
Todd’s smile spread. He didn’t have dimples like Chad, but it was still a great smile. “You heading out?” he asked.
Before Bridget could respond, a deep male voice cut in. “Yes. She’s going out with me.”