Kane:Steele Brothers #5By: Cheryl Douglas
“Look, I don’t expect you to understand how much my career means to me.”
“I get it, believe me.”
He probably did understand. Kane had once confessed to me that being a cop was more than a job. It was his life.
“Brendan and I are finally on our way,” I said, curling my hand around his forearm. “We have a chance to open for some really big names if things keep going our way. We’re getting our music out there. We’ve even written a few hit singles.”
“You do?” I rarely talked to people about my success because I didn’t want it to seem like I was bragging, and even though Kane and I had gotten close the last time I was in Tampa, I’d only spoken to him about my career in very general terms. “How?”
“Your sister told me.” He smiled. “You have to know how proud she is of you.”
“I’m proud of her too. Anyhow, we really need this, Kane.”
At the urgency in my voice, his eyes dropped to my lips, and I could have sworn my heart stopped beating for a second. This had happened a time or two before, but then I had a boyfriend and we couldn’t act on it. Now, nothing and no one was standing in our way…
“You, uh, need what?” he asked, shifting closer.
To the casual onlooker, we probably looked like a couple sharing a moment of intimacy, or two strangers getting ready to seal the deal. If only…
“I need…” You. Right now. “To make the most of this opportunity Brendan and I have, you know, to cash in on the momentum we’ve got going.”
“And you’ve tried talking to the guy?” he asked, tucking a strand of hair behind my ear. “Reasoning with him?”
Oh, wow. Was he flirting with me? “I’ve tried everything.”
I knew I sounded desperate, verging on miserable, but that was how I felt whenever I thought about what was waiting for me back in Nashville. Brendan had probably written another love song about how much he missed me and needed me back. There would be flowers waiting on my kitchen table, or a note on my pillow. Because he had a key so he could feed my cat while I was away. Yes, our relationship was complicated and marginally twisted.
“So just tell him you got married. You don’t have to actually go through with it.”
“That would never work.” I sipped my wine. “He wouldn’t believe me, and marriages are a matter of public record, right? It wouldn’t be hard for him to find out I was lying.”
“So let’s do it for real then.”
I clapped my hand over my mouth when I started laughing in his face. “You and me? Get married? Here? In Vegas?”
He frowned. “I don’t see what’s so funny about it. We’re friends. Hell, we’re practically family. You say this is the only way out of this mess you’re in. I’m willing to help you out.”
“By marrying me?” I’d never seriously considered getting married. Not even to Brendan, and we’d lived together.
“You got a better idea?”
“No.” And I’d been racking my brain trying to find one for months.
“Okay then.” He slid off his stool before peeling a few bills off the roll in his pocket to cover our bar tab. “Let’s do this.”
“Wait,” I said, grabbing his arm. “I can’t. How would we explain it to our families?”
“Who says they have to know? I’m sure after a few months your ex will start dating someone else, fall in love, and we can get the marriage annulled or get a quickie divorce, whatever. No one will be the wiser.”
Could it possibly be that easy? I shook my head as his crazy proposition started to take root. “It’s not fair to you. I can’t make my problem your problem.”
“Mace, nothing’s going to change for either one of us. It’s a piece of paper, that’s all. Just to convince your ex that you want to be his business partner and nothing more. I’ll buy you a ring to make it look good. You can take my name if you want…”
Macy Steele. That shouldn’t sound so right. “How many drinks have you had?” I asked, glancing at his half-empty glass.
“Just a few.” He chuckled. “Believe me, that’s not the reason I’m suggesting this. I’m trying to help out a friend. That’s it.” He raised his hands. “But if you don’t think it’ll work, no problem.”
“I do think it’ll work,” I said, biting my lip as I considered the consequences of my actions.
I was about to marry the guy I’d been crushing on for years. The man I’d been fantasizing about for months. Someone I was desperate to sleep with. How was I supposed to behave myself if he was my husband? God, just the thought of that word scared the heck out of me.
I’d always been impulsive, according to my sister and brother. A troublemaker, according to my parents. Wild, according to my friends. But this was out there, even for me.
“So?” he asked, sliding his hands into the pockets of his jeans. “Whaddya say? You ready to become Mrs. Steele?”
I released a shaky breath before taking the hand he offered. “I’m ready.” But was I? Really?