She needs arm candy, he needs her insurance, but first, they need to drive across the country without killing each other.
Since the first day of kindergarten, I have hated Alexandra Hartford.
And twenty-something years later that hasn’t changed.
But she has.
She’s still a tomboy with a chip on her shoulder, but now she’s a hot tomboy with a chip on her tattooed shoulder who can fight like a badass.
I’d still rather have a bath with fire ants than spend ten days in a car with her, but she has something I need.
Once the deal is done, we can go our separate ways.
That is … if I want to.
Eli Evans is my nemesis.
He blames me for his sister’s death, our parents’ divorces, and probably global warming, too.
Why on Earth would I help him?
Because he’s as easy on the eyes as he is the bane of my existence and I need a hot date to a wedding in San Diego.
Can we drive across the country without me leaving him at a truck stop somewhere? I doubt it.
But, I’m willing to try.
Ten days in a car, a wedding, and a marriage of convenience, then I’m done with him forever.
Swallowing, I did as he said, following Allegra and her posse to their table with my eyes and keeping a super big, super fake smile on my face.
Murmurs behind us at their table made my ears perk up and the hair on my arms began to tingle.
“They did it on purpose. It was a joint effort,” Eli said. “They’re talking about how we foiled them right now and deciding whether it’s worth causing a fuss over. If they come to our table, you do not say a word, understand?”
I sipped my wine, hating that my hand trembled as I brought it to my lips.
A throat cleared behind us.
I set my wineglass down on the table and lifted my head, turning away from Eli. He squeezed my hand.
“Allegra, you look beautiful,” Eli said. “Tavia, Kymberli, Selena, Gina, radiant, ladies. Radiant.”
“Thank you,” they all said, their voices breathy and croony.
“I think there’s been a mix-up,” Kymberli said. “Eli, you’re supposed to be at the table with us.”
Eli sipped his whiskey and fixed them all with a very bored look. “Yeah, I saw that. But I figured it had to be a mistake, since why would I, a plus one who all you guys have never met before, be with the bride and groom and the bridesmaids? And why would Alex be at a table with a bunch of single aunts and uncles?” He glanced at the table I was supposed to be at. “So I just fixed things. Besides, based on the horrible shit Keith was saying about his wife last night, I figured they wouldn’t want to sit with each other. And he’s the best man, isn’t he? Shouldn’t he be there?”
The women’s faces all went red.
“We just wanted to get to know you better,” Tavia said, her eyes darting to Allegra for approval as she twisted her fingers in front of her.
Eli shrugged. “Appreciate it, but I wouldn’t feel right having laughs with you guys while my wife was all the way across the room. We’ll be sitting here tonight.”
I risked another glance at their faces as I sipped my wine.
It was all I could do not to smile, let alone laugh.
They were all opening their mouths and closing them, but no words were coming out.
“No harm, no foul,” Eli said. “Return to your tables, ladies. I’m sure we can catch up and you can get to know me better a little later.” He left zero room for argument and basically told them to git, only in a much more commanding, alpha, hot-as-fuck way.
I could see all their spines straighten, but at the same time, they melted.
Yeah, Eli had that effect on people. Women in particular, anyway.
He lifted his brow at them. “Anything else?”
They shook their heads.
“All right, good girls. Bye.”
Four sets of pupils dilated, and not that I was thinking about their underwear, but I would bet a lot of money that from those two little words, good girls, that all four women were wet as fuck. I know I was.
They turned around and walked back to their table, and only once they’d sat down did Eli remove his hand from mine, cup the back of my head and pull my mouth to his for a kiss.
I was breathless and wanting more when he pulled away, his eyelids hooded and filled with lust. “You are ten times the woman, person and wife those harpies are. You don’t need them. You don’t need their validation, approval or friendship. They are not your friends. Got it?”
“But if this is what you need to do, I will support you. I will have your back. I will always have your back.”
I nodded again.
“Drink your wine.”
I lifted the glass and took a sip, flushed from how turned on I was right now.
Well, shit, now I had to worry about a damn wet spot on my dress.