Authors: Aimée Duffy
Never Say Never
Never Say Never
Copyright © 2013, Aimée Duffy
Publisher: Beachwalk Press, Inc.
Electronic Publication: April, 2013
Editor: Antonia Tiranth
Cover: Fantasia Frog Designs
eBooks are not transferable. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations in articles and reviews.
This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.
Back Cover Copy
When pretend turns to desire, heartbreak is unavoidable.
Sander Chase needs a date for his ex-fiancée’s engagement party, but he doesn’t have time for a woman in his life. Between working on the TV show
Do You Have What It Takes?
and his band reforming, he’s too busy for a relationship. What he needs is a pretend girlfriend. He thinks he may have found the perfect woman for the job, and the bribe he offers means she’s sure to accept.
After losing her job in the film industry, breaking up with her movie star boyfriend, and finding out her mum has dementia, Chloe Butler returned to the UK determined to put her life back together. The last thing she needs is to parade around London on the arm of a celebrity, and after the heartbreak caused by her ex, she swore she’d never again date a star. But when Sander offers her a chance at her dream job, it’s not something she can turn down.
As Chloe gets to know Sander she learns he’s nothing like her scumbag ex. But she struggles to fight her attraction to him, knowing their relationship is only for show and their separation date is closing in fast.
Ignoring the insane chemistry between them should be easy for Sander, especially since he carries a secret that means there can be no future for them, but the more time he spends with Chloe, the harder it is to keep his hands to himself.
Content Warning: contains more denial than you’ll find in a courtroom, more sexual tension than most people could handle, and explosive sex that some readers may find long overdue.
As always I’d like to thank all the lovely ladies at Beachwalk Press, my super CPs (Michelle, Amalie, Andrea, Incy, Meg, and Joanne) and you, the readers.
Chloe Butler’s mouth dropped open. She struggled to remember how to close it as she stared at the man with the expectant expression on his avenging angel face. She couldn’t have heard him right. Sander Chase would never ask someone like her out on a date.
He flashed his Hollywood smile. “Come on. Don’t make a guy ask twice.”
Nope, she’d not misheard him, nor had she gone mad. Months of serving him coffee and this was the first time he’d shown any kind of interest in her.
“I’m sorry.” She retreated a few steps. She couldn’t date a celebrity, not after what happened the last time. She was just beginning to get her life back together. Not to mention the fact her mum needed her around more than ever. “I can’t. Thank you for the offer.”
Chloe tried to smile politely, but it was harder than usual. She turned to head back to the counter to get on with her work. If her boss Richard caught her talking to a celebrity, he’d get the wrong idea and hand her a P45 before she could explain. After all, the coffee shop was a classy place. Not even the press were allowed in.
A large, warm hand ensnared her wrist and drew her to a halt. Electrified jolts shot up her arm from the contact.
“Can’t or don’t want to?”
She turned back to Sander and saw his brow was raised and amusement glittered in his baby blue eyes. Pushy, wasn’t he?
“Don’t want to,” she replied, determined not to give him any hope.
left wiggle room, and there was definitely no wiggle room. She’d sworn off men after the last one had taken her for a mug.
Her reply seemed to please him. His grin grew huge and her heart sped. She frowned at the reaction and put it down to the stress of the situation. After all, as far as she was concerned, her libido was extinct.
mad? From her experience, celebrities could be a little…odd. But she’d never met a full-blown lunatic before. “I’m sorry, I don’t know what you mean.”
Why wasn’t she backing away? Better yet, why wasn’t she demanding he let go of her arm? She darted a glance around the coffee shop. Most of the customers’ attention was on their morning papers.
“I don’t need a date. I need a pretend one.”
Hmm, definitely time to call the men in white jackets. Sander had clearly lost his marbles. “I really have to get back to work.”
She couldn’t believe a man who’d been in one of the best male vocal pop groups of all time had lost his mind. Or maybe that’s what the pressure of it did to him. She vaguely recalled the rumors surrounding their split, but hadn’t paid much attention to the international news. At the time she’d been in LA and stupidly in love with a jerk.
Sander released her arm and sighed. “I’m not saying this right, am I?”
He raked a large hand through his golden hair and blew out a breath. She smiled at his exasperation, but still didn’t move away. Chloe shook her head in answer to his question.
“My manager called today.” Sander waved his hand to urge her closer. She obeyed. “He wants to get the group back together.” His hot breath caressed her neck and she shivered. The smell of espresso mingled with his spicy aftershave resurrected those bloody extinct hormones. “One of his conditions is that I attend Paul’s engagement party next Friday to show the world I’m over our…fallout.”
Chloe pulled back and frowned. Memories flooded through her fuzzy mind. Now she remembered. Sander had left because his fiancée had run off with the lead singer, Paul. Her heart throbbed for him. She understood what it was like to be betrayed by a loved one.
“So, I need to take a date. To prove I am over it,” he surmised.
With Sander now a safe distance away, she could think clearly. The hairs on the back of her neck prickled and she imagined her friend Rachel’s intent gaze on them. Her co-worker’s curiosity must be piqued. Chloe didn’t usually converse with the customers for this long. Never mind the celebrity kind.
“Will you come?” he pressed.
Chloe understood why he didn’t want to go alone and she felt bad for him, she really did. But she’d just got her life together—although it wasn’t exactly the kind of life she wanted—and her mother’s illness meant she couldn’t leave her alone for long. Being on the arm of a celebrity would only remind her of what she’d never had with Dane, and she didn’t want to be reminded of that jerk.
Regretfully, Chloe said, “I can’t do that either. Sorry.” This time when she turned to go, Sander let her leave and her relief mingled with disappointment.
Rachel unashamedly ogled her from behind the chrome counter. “What was that all about?” her friend asked.
Chloe shrugged. “Nothing.”
“Smells like bull.” Rachel’s dark, accusing gaze shone with curiosity.
Rolling her eyes, Chloe made her way behind the counter and then picked up a cloth. She wiped the surface with more vigor than necessary, but it felt good to release her frustration. It had been so long since anyone had asked her out.
She never went out anymore—much to her friend’s irritation—not since her mum’s diagnosis of dementia. The only men she met were there in the coffee shop where she was dressed down and did her best to blend into the crowd. Sander’s request for a non-date was the first scrap of attention that had thrown her way in a long time.
She felt Rachel’s gaze burning a hole into her head and sighed. Her friend wasn’t going to give up. “How did the audition go?” Distraction was a surefire way to avoid the line of questioning.
Once done with the counter, Chloe turned around and began wiping down the machines. Anything to resist the temptation of looking over her shoulder to see if Sander was still at his table.
“I made an arse of it.”
Chloe turned to see Rachel’s crestfallen face. “I’m sorry, Rach. Maybe next time?”
After all, her friend was a great actress and had scored a few parts in LA. The only problem was, when the director yelled ‘action’, Rach clammed up. Chloe had no idea why Rachel was insecure. Her friend sported a mass of wavy blonde hair and had a figure that would make most men give away their right arm to spend the night with her.
“Yeah. There’s always next time.” Rachel shook her head as if dismissing her disappointment, then grinned. “Nice diversionary tactic. So, what did the hottie want?”
“Nothing. Honestly. We were just talking.” Chloe turned her attention back to the coffee machine. “I got a letter this morning saying I didn’t get the job at the theatre.”
“Aw, sweetie, you’ll find something soon. There are still the department stores.”
Chloe forced a smile onto her face, but she knew it would look false. “Yeah.”
After working for five years as a makeup artist to Hollywood’s finest, all her interviews in London had went down the same road. The
thanks, but no thanks
had come, saying the same thing, over and over.
Thank you for applying for the position, but we feel you are overqualified for the job.
How she could be overqualified when it came to applying makeup, Chloe didn’t know. But apparently she was. Unless that was just a nice way of saying ‘
not what we’re looking for’.
“I mean it, Chloe. You’re an excellent makeup artist. You’ve worked on the set of blockbuster movies and
! Someone will hire you. Soon.”
Chloe threw Rachel a more genuine smile this time. The sound of a throat clearing made them both spin around to face the counter. Sander’s golden waves shone beneath the spot lighting. Her heart fluttered and her skin prickled. What was it about him that made her feel…alive?
“Can I help you, sir?”
* * * *
Sander cringed internally at the word ‘sir’. He couldn’t believe she was still calling him that now that he’d asked her out. Maybe she didn’t know his name. There was an American lilt to her English voice when she spoke, so perhaps she’d only just returned to the UK and hadn’t seen him judging the reality singing contest
Do You Have What It Takes?
yet. Still, he’d been in an internationally famous pop group for years.
“Call me Sander.”
The blonde standing next to Chloe grinned before she turned back to the coffee machine and filled a cup.
Chloe frowned. “Okay.”
Chloe shook her head frantically while her dark eyes pleaded with him.
Sander lowered his voice to a whisper. “Isn’t there anything I can do to change your mind? You’d be doing me a huge favor.”
She’d be doing him more than a favor. Jack, the band’s manager and owner of Tango Records, had called this morning and demanded Sander work out his differences with Paul—after all, he’d given him a year to cool off. Jack’s patience had expired, and Sander was still under contract. Jack thought he’d spent enough time wallowing over Paul and Sienna’s betrayal. Which was true, and he had gotten over it…a long time ago. Still, it pissed him off he’d been unable to break the contract and was at the mercy of someone else. One thing he was sure of, he’d be damned if he was showing up dateless at the engagement party.
And when Chloe had brought him his espresso today, same as she did every morning, her pretty smile and wide, golden brown eyes had made his frustration and anger ebb.
If she could do that with a smile and a coffee, maybe having her on his arm at a function which promised to be worse than a day trip to hell would help. Not to mention he’d been watching her for weeks. She was quiet, faultlessly polite and patient with even the most awkward customers. He didn’t think she was the kind to sell a story to the press.
And from Chloe’s instant refusal, he knew she wouldn’t gush over him, which was perfect for what he had in mind. A few outings together within the next two weeks should attract enough media attention so when they turned up at the party, it wouldn’t look like he’d picked up a random woman off the street to pretend to be his date.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered before shimmying along to the cash register. She pressed several buttons. “Do you want your bill?”
Sander nodded. She ran up some numbers and he handed her a ten. He pursed his lips in thought while she opened the register and counted out his change. There was something he could do to persuade her to come, but he had a call to make first. Guilt had simmered in his gut when he’d listened into Chloe and the other girl’s conversation, but now he had the perfect bribe to dangle in front of her.
“Here you are.” Chloe handed him his change. He dropped the notes and coins into the tip jar, like he did every day. “Um, thanks.” Pink scored her high cheekbones.