Read Playing the Perfect Boyfriend (Gone Hollywood) Online

Authors: Julie Particka

Tags: #opposites attract, #fake relationship, #bait and switch, #Brazen, #Julie Particka, #Entangled, #sexy, #Hollywood, #contemporary romance

Playing the Perfect Boyfriend (Gone Hollywood) (5 page)

BOOK: Playing the Perfect Boyfriend (Gone Hollywood)
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Chapter Five

Jade had told Dean to make himself at home, so by the time she came out of the bedroom, wearing her robe but with her long hair brushed sleek down her back, he already had coffee ready. He’d also found eggs and bacon in her fridge and was busy cooking.

“You took that rather literally, didn’t you?” She perched on one of the bar stools, staring at the cup of coffee that was waiting for her.

Not taking his eyes from the pans in front of him, Dean barely suppressed his smile. “Hey, a guy’s gotta eat, and as epic as I kn
ow my oral sk
ills are, I don’t think your legs were shaking in the shower just because of one orgasm. When’s the last time you had food?”

Jade lifted the coffee mug in two hands and sucked in the scent. Her eyes were closed, and the expression on her face borderline blissful, but she set it back on the bar without even taking a sip. Slowly, she rolled the mug between her palms. “I had half a salad and a double shot of vodka before your shoot yesterday. Bagel and cream cheese for breakfast before that.”

And she’d dug up a couple granola bars at the studio last night. They’d been too busy with each other to worry much about sustenance. “Then you need this even more than I do.” He scooped up a big serving of scrambled eggs and bacon onto a plate then passed it over the bar.

“I really shouldn’t eat this much.”

“Don’t tell me you’re one of those chicks who counts every calorie she puts in her mouth.”

“Hardly. I just prefer not to have a closet full of clothes that suddenly don’t fit.” She picked up her fork and then took a bite of eggs, chewing thoughtfully. “These are phenomenal, though. No personal chef for you, I take it.”

“Nah. Learned to cook when I was young. It was kind of a necessity when… It was just kind of necessary.”

Stupid, Dean-o. Really stupid. Sure, you can let your guard down around her, but not that far down. Reality bites. Remember that.

When he turned around, plate in hand, he had a smile back on his face—camera ready, like he’d been trained to be. Like he didn’t want to have to be around her. “So, about that chat.”

With the slow way she settled her fork on the edge of her plate, part of her didn’t want to have this conversation any more than he did. “I suppose you need a little history first. Isak and I were involved a couple years back. He got serious, and I wasn’t ready.”

“Fair enough. I would have bailed, too. He looks like he’d be boring as hell.”

“He’s not boring; he’s safe. But that isn’t the point.” She breathed in her coffee again but didn’t take another drink, just held it near her face as if craving the warmth and the aroma more than the taste or caffeine. “As a general rule, I don’t
do
relationships.”

That made sense with her insistence on a one-night stand. “Okay, but what? You’ve suddenly had a change of heart?”

She set the mug down on her granite counter, slowly again, deliberately, clearly taking time to choose her words, which didn’t seem at all like the woman he’d met yesterday. Why was it every time Alfredsson was involved, she closed up like this?

“I recently had my eyes opened to the fact that I’m almost thirty-two, I’ve never been married, and if I want to settle down and raise a family, now would be the time to take a serious look at doing so.”

Dean braced his hands on the counter and stared past Jade, out the windows on the other side of the room. She couldn’t be serious. The way she acted around that wet blanket, it wouldn’t be raising a family, it’d be burying the amazing woman he’d met yesterday. “With Isak Alfredsson? Is he moving here? I thought he said he was heading back to Sweden in a couple of months.”

“He is, and if things go according to plan, I’ll be going with him.”

And, just like that, Dean’s appetite disappeared. “You’d give up your career, your friends, your life here…for a chance with a guy you once pushed away? Did he even bother trying to come back for you after that?”

“I believe that’s exactly what he did this morning.” She met his gaze like it was a challenge, like she really believed waiting two years then showing up meant
anything
.

This was a crystal clear example of why he had a hard time believing in forever. Jade and Alfredsson were polar opposites, yet she seemed convinced he was the guy she wanted to spend the rest of her life with. Why? Because he was “safe”? That was all well and good for a while, but basing a lifetime relationship on a sense of security was about the stupidest thing he’d ever heard.

Shaking his head, he rounded the counter to sit at her little table. He needed a few seconds to think without looking at her and without pondering the way she changed when she talked about Alfredsson. No matter how much he didn’t like what she was planning, this wasn’t Dean’s life. It wasn’t, in any way, his choice to make. But damn it, he liked this woman—a lot. Ignoring the slim possibility of forever, the idea of not even having the opportunity to explore what they had between them chafed in ways he didn’t want to examine too closely. It was as if Jade were perfectly comfortable dismissing any other possibility simply because Alfredsson was the easy choice.

A bird swooped down to perch on the ledge outside her window, picked up some bit of something another animal or the breeze had left behind, and then flew off again. Gone with its pilfered treasure.

Dean blinked. That was it. Alfredsson had left
her
behind, and it was the perfect opportunity for someone else to swoop in and pick her up.

Whether she meant to or not, Jade
was
giving him a chance with her—this whole fake boyfriend thing was his way to see how well they clicked. To show
her
how well they clicked. She might have history with Alfredsson, but it wasn’t all good or she wouldn’t have sent him packing the first time around.

Dean might have just come on the scene yesterday, but he had a few points in his favor—there was no breakup in their past. There was no crappy, too-tired sex. There were no fights over the proper positioning of the toilet seat. They had intense chemistry and twenty-odd hours filled with heavy flirtation and more orgasms than he’d bothered counting.

And if, in the end, it didn’t work between them, if he was wrong about who she was and the type of guy she should be with—he’d still get a
chance
with her, and she’d still get exactly what she’d asked him to deliver. A fake relationship that culminated in a dramatic breakup so Alfredsson could dive in and save the day. There was no way he could lose. And if he played things perfectly…

Forever is an illusion, dumbass. Don’t make that your goal or she’ll break your heart.

He tamped down the voice in his head. He wasn’t looking for forever—just longer than two months. And he was hoping to keep her from making a terrible mistake, which he couldn’t do if he wasn’t here. “All right. So what exactly do you want me to do, and what are the rules of this little game we’re about to play?”


That was easier than expected. For a minute, right around the time he picked up and moved to the table, Jade had worried Dean was going to tell her to take her friends-with-benefits, fake relationship and shove it up her ass.

And they totally hadn’t discussed anal at all yet.

Then it was like he’d done a one-eighty and come right back to where they’d started when Isak had left them at the studio. She wasn’t sure what it meant, but this wasn’t the time to worry about it. “Well, I think you got the gist of the plan already. Isak never liked my no-strings attitude, so he needs to believe I
can be a one-man woman or he’s going to put me in his rearview and not look back again.”

“Pretend to be your boyfriend so the guy who doesn’t approve of how you currently live your life skips the summary judgment. Got it.”

Speaking of judging…

“Look, I’m seriously contemplating a change in my life. I’d planned on you as my last hurrah, and then… The timing was just horrible with him finding us this morning. If he doesn’t believe I’m ready to be serious, then he’ll leave. All my friends are settling down, getting married, having kids, and I need to figure out if that’s something I want before it’s too late to change my mind.”

“And what if you don’t?” He held up a hand before she protested. “I’m not trying to tell you not to do this, but you really need to go in with your eyes open. He lives in Sweden, and you’ll be leaving your life behind to go with him. You’ll give up your career, and your condo, and your friends. That’s a lot to risk on a maybe.”

It was. She couldn’t argue with him, but she could work like actors did—travel for shoots, photograph celebrities around the world instead of just in her backyard. And her friends had means, she had means. They could travel to visit each other. It could work; she could make it work. But that wasn’t Dean’s concern. His job was to play her boyfriend and, for that, all he needed to believe was that she loved her life—which she did.

“Look. The
only
guy I ever came close to making it work with was Isak.” She didn’t need to explain why someone safe and solid was the only person she could contemplate as a forever partner. Like her acceptance of what living in Sweden would entail, that wasn’t faux-boyfriend territory. Vicky was the only one who knew all the details of her past, and she preferred to keep it that way. “For my own sanity, I have to give this a chance. Are you going to help me or not?”

Sighing, Dean pushed back from the table and strode purposefully to her bar stool. His fingers traced a path up her arms, shoulders, and neck, stopping only to cup her face and tip it higher to meet his gaze. “Yes. I said I would, and I keep my word. You said there would be rules, so let’s go through those.”

Her skin felt alive everywhere he’d touched, and it was hard to focus on her thoughts while losing herself in those crazy, changing eyes. She had no choice, though; she had to be stronger than his pull on her.

“First, you get a parking space and one drawer—just for the necessities. We need to keep up the image of a relationship, but you’re
not
moving in.” Strong. Totally strong. “Second, my friend Vicky and her husband will know this is fake. They’re smart enough to pretend it’s the real deal, but I’m not going to lie to them.”

“Those are both easy enough. Though my roommates will know, too. I suck at keeping secrets from them, so it’s better they’re in on everything from the beginning. Besides, unless someone really goes digging, the guys will never come into play.”

“Fine.” And there went the first of her fortifications. More people knowing meant more opportunities for someone to spill, but she didn’t see a compelling argument that wouldn’t involve him just telling his friends anyway.

“Anything else?”

There should be more. There should be a lot more, she was sure of it, but right now, all she could think about was his hands reversing course down her body, sliding her robe off, and taking her on the bar—or the floor, or the couch. She wasn’t picky.

Boundaries. They were in desperate need of some boundaries. She forced thoughts of sex away. If there was one thing she valued more than sex—or security—it was privacy. “We only share enough details about our lives to make it realistic that we’ve been together for a while. I had a therapist once upon a time. They mess people up as often as they help, so you and I don’t need to be in each other’s heads.”

He kept his gaze locked on hers, and his face was perfectly serious as he said, “Good plan—my mind is a dirty, dirty place.”

Mine, too.
More than that, however, was her need to keep her past firmly in the past. No meet-the-family bullshit discussions that would only end in more questions, would only end in more emotional baggage to claw through. “And lastly, no randomly showing up at photo shoots. After is fine, before less so, but when I’m working, I don’t need the distraction of trying to keep up our story.”

“Agreed.” He kissed her forehead, his lips lingering a second before letting her go. “By the way, what is our story exactly? We haven’t really discussed that yet.”

And she hadn’t quite figured it out. “The problem is that my assistant had to text to let me know you’d shown up early. If we were involved already, even secretly, it would have made more sense for you to let me know you were surprising me.”

“Ah, but you don’t like surprises at work, as we just established. So, it
also
makes sense that I was planning to fend off my fangirls while waiting for you, because I didn’t expect my cab to make it to your studio as quickly as it did during the lunch rush.”

He was good—
at a lot of things—
she had to give him that much. “Okay, and why is no one aware we’ve been seeing each other? Because me with a guy for more than a few days is noteworthy among people who know me.”

“It started as a few days. Hell, it started as one night that turned into a few days that turned into what-the-fuck-are-we-doing-and-do-we-really-want-to-stop? And we finally decided to come out in the open.”

“And how long should we have been seeing each other?” She’d gone back and forth about it too many times. Too long and Isak would question getting involved post-breakup. Too short and he’d think she was still in love ’em and leave ’em mode.

“How long were you and Alfredsson together?”

“Three months.” Looking back, it sometimes felt longer, but it had only been three months.

“A month then. That means if we last the whole time Alfredsson is in town, we’re breaking up at roughly the same time in the relationship that you guys did.”

She liked the symmetry, even if it might hedge toward the too-long concerns. “Okay. Together a month, finally coming into the open about it—which is why Vicky didn’t know to tell Isak—and you suck at estimating taxi times. I think we’re good.”

That was a load off. Now she could get ready for the day, drop him at his place, and go back to work.

“Not so fast.”

Or not.
“What’s wrong?”

“I have a rule of my own.”

This isn’t going to be good.
“We already established sex is fair game.”

BOOK: Playing the Perfect Boyfriend (Gone Hollywood)
5.82Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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