I had three rules when I agreed to do this.
One of us is going to break the most important rule of them all.
My new boss has lost his mind.
Marc Ford is everything that I’m not. He wants a long term relationship that leads to marriage and a house full of kids, but I want nothing to do with being tied down to someone. In fact, I have never been in a relationship in my life.
But then he approaches me with a plea to be his fake fiancé because his boss wants someone in an established relationship to pass down ownership of the real estate agency we work for.
I don’t know how he expects me to spend the summer pretending we’re a happily engaged couple.
We’re opposites in every way that counts.
I told myself this would be easy because I don’t catch feelings and I’m a pro at keeping things casual. We both agreed to the rules. Except, things started to feel all too real, even on That First Date.
You have got to be kidding me, I think to myself as I see an incoming call from my boss.
It’s not unusual for Marc to be up my ass when I’m off work. When I accepted the position as his assistant a few weeks ago, I didn’t know he was the brother of my best friend’s boss. I use the word boss loosely, though. Peyton and Thomas have certainly blurred some of those lines in the professional workplace and are leaning closer and closer to an actual relationship.
Peyton met Thomas briefly a few years back at a charity event. Fast forward five years after no communication, she accidentally becomes the nanny for his son, James. Let's just say, fate dealt its cards for her, and I wouldn't be surprised if they got married soon.
Unfortunately for me, fate was not in my favor when I landed my new assistant job with Marc Ford. Who just so happens to be Thomas’ brother, and the biggest pain in my ass to ever exist.
An assistant might not seem like someone's dream job, but it’s certainly something that I actually enjoy doing. What’s that saying? If you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life? Something like that. Keeping people organized and together makes me weirdly happy. Plus, I’ve worked my ass off to climb the ladder in assistant positions when I started off as a nobody after I moved to New York. I answered phones for a popular fashion magazine making next to nothing until I worked my way up to higher paying assistant jobs like this one with Marc.
“Avery,” Marc cuts through my thoughts. “I need your help.”
“I’m not working today. I’m off.”
My best friend, Kali, and I took Peyton for her first experience at a waxing center. We spent the better part of the day getting her pampered so she’s ready for her big night at a charity gala with her boss. Except tonight she’s actually going as his date.
“Thank you, Captain Obvious,” he scoffs. “You know how I knew that? I’m here at the office and I’m looking at your empty desk.”
“Are you always this rude to all your assistants?” I ask him. “No wonder you needed a new one. The last one probably ran for the hills the second she learned how charming you were.”
Listen, Marc is hot. There's no question about that. The day I walked in for my interview, my jaw fell to the floor as I stood in front of all six feet of him. My first impression of him left me speechless as I fielded all the questions he asked me. He’s way more relaxed than your typical rich boss. He walks around the office in the classic white button up dress shirt, with his sleeves rolled up to show off his thick, corded forearms that are every woman's wet dream. Don’t even get me started on his tousled hair that begs me to run my hands through it.
However, he has the personality of a wet mop. He’s basically a grump one hundred percent of the time, but that doesn't make my job miserable. I can hold my own with a man who has a permanent scowl on his face. Plus, I make it a mission to piss him off any chance I can. Why? Because I just love to see him clench that perfectly chiseled jaw in frustration.
I am fairly confident that I’m the best assistant he’s ever had. His office was in shambles before I stepped in. Frankly, he needed me.
“Cute,” he deadpans. “Back to why I called. I need your help.”
“What ever can I help you with, Your Majesty?”
“As you know,” he starts, but pauses to let out a long breath, “Bill wants to pass down the agency to someone when he retires, and I’m up for consideration.”
“I don’t see how this is something I can help with.”
“Bill wants a family man to run the place. He wants someone settled down in an established relationship. Not necessarily with kids—”
“I’m not pushing a Marc Ford spawn out of my vagina for you,” I interrupt him. “Can you imagine how grumpy that child will be? No thanks.”
Peyton must have been taking a sip of water because I can hear water spray out of her mouth and Kali starts to giggle as if they’re eavesdropping on my conversation. I rush a few steps ahead, only to be stopped dead in my tracks by his next statement.
“And I’m not sticking my dick in you to create said spawn,” he quips. “I need you to be my date to that charity event Thomas and Peyton are going to. Bill is going to be there, and I just need to make a small show out of it so he can see that I’m who he’s looking for.”
“So let me get this straight…” A laugh sneaks out of me as I think about what he’s asking and how he might actually be drunk right now. That’s the only explanation. “You need me to be your fake girlfriend for the night to show your boss that you’re in a long-term happy relationship so he can pass the baton down to you?”
“Well, no. It’s not a baton, it’s a company. And more like fake fiancé so I can—”
“No, I will not be your fake fucking fiancé. Are you drunk?” I exclaim. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Peyton and Kali practically doubling over laughing.
“Avery.” I can practically feel the desperation in his voice. “Trust me, I hate to ask you this. You’re the last person on earth I want to be engaged to. Let alone fake engaged to.”
I throw my head back with the phone still pressed to my ear. “This sounds like my nightmare coming true,” I mutter. “Marc, I don’t do relationships and I have never had the desire to be in one.” I can’t even lift a single finger to show how many relationships I have been in. Because the answer is zero. I know this wouldn’t be a real relationship, but even just the idea of faking one has my skin crawling.
It’s all so painfully cliché. Let’s say it together on three… 1, 2, 3, daddy issues. When I was four, my dad walked out on my mom with his mistress. We haven’t heard from him since and have no idea where he even is in the world. He could be in Egypt for all we know. My mom hasn’t dated anyone since then. I saw the damage my dad did to her, and I never want to give anyone the chance to do that to me.
“Please, Avery,” he pleads.
“You owe me the biggest raise of my life, Marcus.”