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How to fake out a meddlesome matchmaker – fake date the match!
International real estate broker Grady O’Hara, unkempt, miserable, and nursing his battered heart, is holed up in the Landseer Motel in Last Chance Beach. A first-class grump, Grady’s appalled that enthusiastic sprite, Farren Parks wants him to open his motel to single parents looking for love. He suspects his sister has sent Farren to lure him into a romance. Again. The last one ended in disaster.
Farren expects him to tolerate children laughing, splashing, and squealing. Big no! Crowds of happy families? Bigger no!
He does not want a second chance at life. Or love.
Unless Farren agrees to fake date him to fake out his meddlesome matchmaking sister…
Grady soon plays handyman, painter, and business advisor to Farren’s fledgling business, Singles Fest. The happy sound of children in the pool doesn’t grate on his nerves as he expected. He sees parents making romantic connections that stir his heart.
But an old flame of Farren’s has arrived and Grady wakes up to another looming loss if Farren gives her first love a second chance. The rival has brought his adorable kids to the motel. A rival who’s clearly looking for a new wife…
FAKE ME is a standalone novel in a new line of contemporary romances set in Last Chance Beach, written by bestselling and award-winning authors who deliver something for every romance lover.
May 31 – The Landseer Motel, Last Chance Beach
Grady O’Hara liked a bit of meat on a woman. Curves were luscious and soft and deserved his attention. But what he didn’t care much for was the look of bossy persistence worn by the fireball standing outside his back door. From where he stood in the shadows in his kitchen, he watched her animated, determined face. He’d seen her curves yesterday, so he focused on her expression today. She pouted, she frowned, she glared at the curtained window in his kitchen door as if her eyes could set it aflame.
This was day three of her determined assault on his privacy. She’d come the first time in the morning before any decent person would arrive, as if she wanted to catch him before he left for the day.
Yesterday, she’d shown up around noon and tried to get him to answer his door while he ate his lunch. Not content with grimacing through the square window in the door, she’d stomped around to the living room window on the other side of the house. The private side that faced away from the motel’s center court.
She’d peered in, covering her eyes with her hands to see better. The pose had given him a perfect chance to see her lush shape through the gauzy curtains. She’d been wearing shorts that clung to her round, pert bottom, a bright pink blouse that was tied at her waist, and sand on her legs. She must’ve walked the beach to the motel. The light dancing off the gold sand had accentuated her perfect calves and ankles.
He’d almost opened the door to her then, but when she rapped on the glass of the window, he’d changed his mind. Besides, a man deserved to have a ham and Swiss cheese on rye in peace.
But today—today—she stood in the breezeway pounding enthusiastically on his kitchen door at seven-thirty p.m. What? Had she smelled the scent of grilled steak and come running like a bloodhound?
The only woman he knew who was more tenacious and ballsy than this one, was his sister, Delphine. And he avoided her, the Queen of Bossy, like the plague. Not always, of course, but these last weeks, she’d been banished from his life. Totally ghosted, like most of the world. Not that he’d told her, but surely by now she’d gotten the hint. He’d never tell her why. He wasn’t cruel, just angry about the way she’d taken a wrecking ball to his life.
Sure, she was his twin and felt a compulsion to take care of him. Born ten minutes earlier, Delphine had always seen herself as the caregiver. Had always been bossy. When their mother had passed in their early teens, Delphine had become unbearable. He’d rebelled. Any fourteen-year-old boy would have. She’d become smothering and his grief had not allowed for it. They’d been prickly with each other ever since.
He blinked away his too-common mental lament and heard the woman hit the door again. Faster this time, a tattoo of sharp rapid knocks.
“Mr. O’Hara, I can see you through the window in the door,” the woman called. “Won’t you please let me speak with you? I promise I won’t bite or try to sell you something.” She put the lie to her words by biting her full, red lower lip. Then she brightened as if she’d thought of a new tactic. “I’m not selling religion if that’s what you think.”
But the booklets in her hand told a different story. If he growled with the right tone, she’d never come back.
Plus, he was curious to see what she wore today. More sand? Maybe wedged between her toes?
He opened the door.
Later, he realized that was his first mistake. His second was looking into her incredible purple eyes. If he’d seen the intriguing color before this, he never would’ve looked into them up close. As it was, his breath failed.
* * *
“Thank goodness, you opened your door. I was about to give up,” Farren Parks said, as she placed her shoulder on the doorframe so Grady O’Hara couldn’t slam his door in her face. She smiled beguilingly. It was her best smile and had gotten her out of her share of scrapes in her youth. It worked exceptionally well on men, her brothers in particular. And she should know because she had three.
Delphine, Grady’s energetic sister, had told her Grady had gone to ground and no one had seen him in months. Which might work to her advantage. Lonely men could be chatty and the more she got him to talk, the better. Because if he talked, he’d have to listen, too. That’s how conversation worked.
Both heavy eyebrows rose as he noticed her lean into his space. His eyes were stormy ocean blue. Appealing in a way. She dismissed her wayward thought. The man was a mess, emotionally and physically. And she had to get inside his house. Inside his head.
If she could make him listen for a few minutes, she could make him love her plans for The Landseer Motel. She’d shown up for three days trying to get him to talk to her, and this was the closest she’d gotten to him. She wasn’t about to let a grumpy recluse get in the way of her plans, so she batted her eyes at him for good measure.
She knew the power of her eyes. The color was striking and most people who looked this deeply into them noticed. What she didn’t expect was her reaction to his interested study of them. Rearing back didn’t break his stare.
She was in battle with a master. He used his intense glare the way she used her eye color and her smile. They were in a stand-off she had no intention of losing.
Clearly, Grady O’Hara glared to take adversaries off-guard, while she used her eyes to entice and get her own way. Two sides of the same coin. She gave herself a mental shake and leaned in closer. Batted her lashes again. Smiled more deeply. Coaxed with a tilt of her head.
She would not fail. If she backed down now or ran like a coward, Singles Fest was doomed. Well, that might be harsh, but her fledgling business would take much longer to take off, and she’d have to reconfigure her plans and budgets. Not going to happen.