When pretend turns to desire, heartbreak is unavoidable.
Sander Chase needs a date for his ex-fiancée's engagement party, but he doesn't have time for a woman in his life. Between working on the TV show Do You Have What It Takes? and his band reforming, he's too busy for a relationship. What he needs is a pretend girlfriend. He thinks he may have found the perfect woman for the job, and the bribe he offers means she's sure to accept.
After losing her job in the film industry, breaking up with her movie star boyfriend, and finding out her mum has dementia, Chloe Butler returned to the UK determined to put her life back together. The last thing she needs is to parade around London on the arm of a celebrity, and after the heartbreak caused by her ex, she swore she'd never again date a star. But when Sander offers her a chance at her dream job, it's not something she can turn down.
As Chloe gets to know Sander she learns he's nothing like her scumbag ex. But she struggles to fight her attraction to him, knowing their relationship is only for show and their separation date is closing in fast.
Ignoring the insane chemistry between them should be easy for Sander, especially since he carries a secret that means there can be no future for them, but the more time he spends with Chloe, the harder it is to keep his hands to himself.
Content Warning: contains more denial than you'll find in a courtroom, more sexual tension than most people could handle, and explosive sex that some readers may find long overdue.
"Hey," Sander greeted her. His blue eyes were set with determination.
Chloe swallowed. "Hi, what can I get you?"
A smile crept across his face and highlighted a dimple in his right cheek. He was pretty for a man. Even considering all the mouth-watering muscles.
"Are you seeing anyone?"
Chloe blinked. "No…" she started but immediately regretted it.
If he was going to ask her out on a 'pretend date' again, telling him she was spoken for would be a better way to nip it in the bud. Not to mention she still couldn't understand why he wanted her. Surely he could find someone who didn't come with the commitments she had.
"Then I have a proposition for you."
A proposition? Was he serious? She opened her mouth to object, but he cut her off.
"Hear me out," he insisted. The set of his mouth told her there was no room for arguing. Definitely pushy. "I've been talking to my friend at Studio Four. He's looking to hire a makeup artist."
Chloe's heart rate kicked up a notch and excitement zipped through her. Was he saying what she thought he was saying? Then realization dawned. "You got me a job so I'd go out with you?"
Pushy, crazy, high-handed. The list of faults the male Adonis had was growing.
"No. I got you an interview this Friday in exchange for your company next week. You'll have to prove you can do the job to get it."
Something inside her relaxed. He wasn't handing the job to her on a plate, just giving her a foot in the door. But when she'd sent her CV to the studio a few months back, they'd said they didn't have an opening.
"Did you pull strings to get me the interview?"
His dimples flashed. "Does it matter?"
Couldn't he answer a straight question? "It matters to me."
After a sigh, he said, "Yeah, I pulled some strings and asked them to consider you for the job."
"But there weren't any positions available." Or had they just told her that because they didn't think she'd fit?
"New shows will start in the next few months and one of the makeup artists is about to go on maternity leave. Dave, the owner of Studio Four, said he was going to advertise for the positions next week."
"Oh." She couldn't give up the coffee shop for maternity cover, could she?
As if reading her mind, or the disappointment on her face, he added, "I told them you'd be applying for one of the permanent posts."
Could he read her mind, or was she really that transparent? She wiped all emotion from her face—a skill she'd learned in LA—and offered him a polite smile.
He leaned forward and placed his palms on the granite counter. Chloe's eyes widened when she took in the size of them. The man was huge. Warmth trickled through her veins and she quickly pushed the thought away. It did no good to wonder whether he was in proportion all over. She met his gaze with her chin held high.
"And if I get the job, how do you know I won't back out?"
Sander's lips curved in a way that should be illegal. A tingle skittered down her spine and licked hotter in her belly.
"A favor for a favor? You don't seem like the kind of girl who'd back out of a deal."
No, she wasn't, she was loyal to the point of stupidity. Even to those who didn't deserve it…like Dane.
"No, I'm not." Chloe took a deep breath. "Why me, Sander?" She didn't think sir, or Mr. Chase, would be appropriate considering he'd asked her out twice now.
His smile brightened and her heart stuttered. "I don't have time to date. Work is crazy and I'll be back on the show in a few months. I'll probably be on tour with the band late into the year. You don't want more than I'm offering, so you're perfect for this."
Sander shrugged, as if that explained everything. Chloe supposed it did. He really didn't want anything more than a woman on his arm for show.