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His To Keep
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1974504301 (ISBN13: 9781974504305)
Nothing this fake should feel so good.
CEO Connor Cavanaugh is a man in charge. He dominates in meeting rooms and at the gym, and his sinfully sexy body is proof. His upcoming wedding is supposed to seal the deal, putting his company in the spotlight and making it rain.
That all goes down in flames when he walks in on his bride-to-be with another man.
No one can know that a woman tried to make a fool of Connor Cavanaugh.
Cancelling the wedding is the only option… until he spots a gorgeous brunette at the wedding planner’s office. Samantha. The perfect fake fiancée.
She has a body that makes him want to walk her over the threshold, but she’s sweet. Harmless. She’ll suit the position perfectly.
The only problem? Samantha has a wicked smile that keeps him up at night. Every day, she’s more tempting than the last.
He swore he wouldn’t f*ck around with his fake fiancée. He signed a contract. He paid. But the more he sees, the more he wants… too bad Sam has plans of her own.
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Connor’s mother hugged him tight. She smelled of that familiar blend of vanilla extract and fabric softener. “Bye, baby,” she said. She held him out at arm’s length as tears threatened to spill from her eyes.
“Mom, don’t be sentimental,” he said. “You act like I’m leaving forever. I’m thirty years old and have been on five deployments, and you’re sad that I’m going to my fiancée’s place?”
“You’ll always be my baby boy, no matter what. And I’m sure your dad and Sean will be upset that you’re moving out, too.”
“Right, heartbroken,” he said.
In his Mercedes-Benz, he revved up the engine and waved to his mom. She looked more like their housekeeper standing out front of the Georgian mansion, dwarfed by the soaring pillars. He angled the car out of the curving McLean neighborhood, and tried to shake off the dread that came from living with his parents and Sean again. All three are miserable in their own ways, he thought. Thank God I’m out of there.
Connor couldn’t forget how many glasses of whiskey Sean had knocked back during his homecoming dinner out. “Think you ought to slow down, bud?” he’d asked him. Sean had given him a hateful look he’d never seen before.
“What, you’re a SEAL for eight years, and suddenly you think you’re in charge of everyone?” Sean had asked.
“Connor, don’t be a prick to your brother,” his father had said without even lowering the menu. “Some of us are trying to enjoy a nice meal out. Oh, can you tell me where your halibut is sourced? It’s not frozen, is it?” his father had asked the waiter, who’d scrambled to satiate him.
His mom had done nothing but stare at her lap. When did she get so depressed? She’d always been emotional, but he thought returning from deployment would give her some sense of happiness.
He sighed as he turned a corner. A cyclist suddenly appeared, nowhere near the bike lane. “Jesus!” he yelled, and swerved into the suicide lane.
“Watch it, dick!” the cyclist shouted over his shoulder, speeding off down the hill in his padded red spandex.
Connor gripped the wheel, closed his eyes and counted backward from ten. That’s not an insurgent. That’s not an insurgent. That’s just an asshole, he repeated to himself. He maneuvered the car back into the lane, and his heart pounded. For just a moment, as that flash of red had shot out in front of him, he’d reached for the gun in his ankle holster. Maybe the therapist was right. Maybe you do need to stop being armed.
But he couldn’t help but see flashes of the war all around him. Last week he’d passed by a group of kids as they waited for their bus, and suddenly thought they were beggar children clawing at his coat. Just yesterday, the cashier at Capitol Supermarket looked exactly like the civilian in Kunduz who’d screwed him over for less than a dollar.
They were still everywhere.
Connor’s phone rang, his father’s name lighting up on the control panel. He pushed the talk button and the domineering voice filled the car. “Connor? Are you planning on coming into the office to finish up the paperwork today?” It was his annoyed tone, which came right before his raging lunatic tone.
Fuck. The papers. “Yeah, I’ll be there this afternoon,” he said. “I just need to stop by Sandra’s for a minute.”
His father sighed heavily into the phone. “I don’t understand what you see in that girl. She’s not quite up to par with what we expect of you.”
“You haven’t even met her,” Connor countered, though he knew he was opening a can of worms.
“Met her? I don’t need to meet her. Is she a member at Rolling Meadows? What does her father do—assuming she knows who he is? Where was her debutante gala held? You can’t answer a damn one of those questions because she’s nothing.”
Connor sucked in his breath and gritted his teeth. His dad wouldn’t get the best of him, not this time. “I’ll be there before five,” he said.
“You bet your ass you will. Connor, I don’t understand,” his father said. “I did all the work for you. All of it. Do you think becoming CEO of the country’s biggest security firm was easy? And all you have to do is waltz in here, sign your name, and you’re the COO of the company. You’re basically heir to the throne, and you’re pissing it all away on some piece of tail that doesn’t mean shit.”
“I said I’ll be there before five,” he said.
“Oh, I know you will. Because I’m sure Sharon is just bursting at the seams to tie the knot with her meal ticket.”
“It’s Sandra,” he said, curtly.
“You just make one bang-up mistake after another, don’t you? First the SEALs, now her,” his father said with a deep sigh. “Although, you can’t really compare the two. The SEALs worked out for you, but that was sheer luck. You won’t be so fortunate this time around.”