THE BET by Rachel Van Dyken (; Forever Trade Paperback; $12.00)
"I have a proposition for you." Kacey should have run the minute those words left Seattle millionaire Jake Titus's mouth. It's been years since Kacey's seen her childhood friend Jake, but the minute Jake mentions his ill grandmother, Kacey is ready to do anything for the sweet old woman. And if that means pretending they're engaged for her sake—so be it.
But Kacey wasn't counting on Jake's older brother Travis still being there. She calls him "Satan" for a reason: she's never forgotten the way he teased and taunted her. Yet when they meet again, Travis's gorgeous smile is a direct hit to her heart . . . and Kacey's more confused than ever. As the days pass, only one thing starts to become alarmingly clear-she never should have accepted Jake's deal . . .
“Kace!” Travis strolled into the room, absolutely shirtless and wearing nothing but pajama pants. Was her tongue hanging out of her mouth? Oh God, she was beginning to sweat. Geez, at least turn the air on in this place.
Averting her eyes, she managed an awkward laugh. “What’s up?”
“Movie night.” He threw a pillow at her and went to the DVDs.
“Um, is it naked movie night? I’m not sure I got that memo.”
She looked him up and down when he turned around.
“I’m sorry. Does my masculinity frighten your prudish nature?”
She snorted. “Please. I just don’t want to get last night’s skank on me. I hear diseases travel through too much skin contact.”
He rolled his eyes. “I’ll put on a shirt if you take off yours.”
How tempting that was . . . “Take off my shirt? So you can finally see my boobs? Oh gosh, Travis. Let me think. Give you the fantasy you’ve been dreaming of for years or keep my pride? Yeah, I think I’ll keep my pride.”
He shrugged. “Suit yourself, but it really isn’t a slumber party if you’re not naked.”
“What the hell kind of slumber parties were you subjected to as a child?” Kacey asked.
Travis grinned shamelessly. “Only the good ones. Now seriously, go change into sweats. I’ll wait.”
“Fine.” She hopped off, her heart beating erratically out of her chest. This witty banter had to stop. For crying out loud, they were adults! Not teenagers! She grabbed some short Victoria’s Secret shorts and a black tank and put on her slippers to make it look less . . . seductive. Not that she was seducing him. Her stupid skin betrayed her in the mirror as it turned a very nice crimson color.
She really needed to start dating more.
Taking the stairs two at a time, she went back down to the living room and saw Travis opening a bottle of wine; thankfully he had put a shirt on. She wasn’t sure she could handle any more of his glistening muscles that evening. “Thought you could use this, even though it’s not good for the baby.” He winked.
“I would drink that whole bottle if I knew it wouldn’t get me completely drunk. I miss wine.”
“Um, you haven’t had it for one night, and you miss it?”
“Clearly, you underestimate my relationship with wine and what I do on the weekends when I’m by myself reading.”
“You wild thing, you.” Travis nudged her and filled her glass to the brim. He should be sainted, immediately.
Their fingers brushed slightly as he handed the wine over. His eyes flickered to her shorts, and he cleared his throat. “Those are nice.”
“Thanks.” She inwardly smiled.
“Are they shorts or underwear?”
Was he being serious? “Shorts, you ass. Now, what movie are we watching?”
“Not in the mood, not near enough wine in my system for me to embark on such a strenuous activity.”
“Ah, pregnancy brain, it does it to ya; it really does.” Travis got up and turned off the lights, then pressed Play. “I thought you might want to watch a horror movie.”
A cartoon popped up on the screen. Kacey blinked as the music came on, then nearly fell out of her seat. “Oh my gosh, we can’t watch this, Travis. I can’t watch this. It’s been forever and . . .”
“Conquer your fears, Kace.”
Kacey scooted a little closer to him, just in case some of the cartoons did in fact decide to pop out and devour her.
He pressed Pause and laughed. “Kace, really? I thought you’d be over this fear by now.”
“It’s not a fear.” Kacey drank her wine faster. “It’s a scary movie!”
“It’s Alice in Wonderland.”
Kacey shook her head a few times and drank some more wine.
“Damn that Cheshire cat.”
Travis held up his wine. “To conquering old fears?”
Something shifted between them then. His eyes, though it was dark, seemed to be hiding something, as if he were talking about more than her stupid phobia. She leaned in, now completely relaxed from downing half her wine already, and whispered, “To conquering old fears.”
About the author:
Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she's not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor. She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband and their snoring Boxer, Sir Winston Churchill. She loves to hear from readers! You can follow her writing journey at www.rachelvandykenauthor.
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