“Pick. Up. Your. Towel,” she hissed, pulling the duvet over her flaming face. He wrapped the towel back around his waist.
“You can uncover your eyes now. I’ve seen women less horrified by Stephen King flicks than you were by my nudity. I’m hardly an exhibitionist. I am, after all, in my own bedroom. Now that modesty is restored, and you’ve expressed your terror at my naked body, can you take that stupid blanket off your head?”
Bella meekly peeled the blanket down from her eyes and looked at him, squinting as though suspicious that he intended to disrobe again suddenly, “Why am I in your room?” she said, and he could tell she was making a big effort to speak calmly, “Did we? Did you—did you and I do—anything? Together? In—in bed?”
“You don’t remember anything, do you? This is hell for a man’s ego. We shared some of the most intimate moments a man and woman can experience together. You wept, at one point, because you said you felt transformed by the experience, like you were truly a woman now,” he said, his voice insinuating as he sat on the edge of the bed near her.
“Oh, crap. We did, didn’t we? I mean, I had sex with you. I got drunk and slept with my boss. This is horrible! I can’t believe I did something so stupid. I mean, I guess I was super grateful that you shut Marnie and Jade down at the bar, and I got too enthusiastic with the drinking. Or was it because we were celebrating our fake engagement scam. I’m not much of a drinker if you couldn’t tell, and usually three beers will have me so buzzed I could barely find a bus stop. I swear I never left a bar with a guy before! I never went home with some random dude no matter how much I had to drink.”
“Don’t worry. I didn’t steal your virtue or anything. I got you on my plane to Vegas at midnight and we took our vows there.”
“What? No. No, no. I cannot be married I cannot be drunk Vegas married to you!”
“Would you rather be drunk Vegas married to someone else? No. Don’t answer that,” he said.
“No. It isn’t that. It isn’t you specifically. It’s the idea of just being so…out of my head drunk that I would get on a plane and marry somebody I barely know and wake up in his bed. It’s so sordid. So absolutely tacky. I’m so sorry, Harvey. I’ll sign anything we need to, so this goes away. We’ll get a quickie divorce. Can we do that today? Before anyone finds out? Oh my gosh, you don’t want to, like, stay drunk Vegas married for your job review do you? Please say no. Please say you’re not going to try to make me stay married to you, so you look like a family man or something!” her voice got high and squeaky. “I can do fake engaged. But really marrying you! And playing the part of happy bride, yet, having to fake it with you.”
He winked. “I promise you, you’d never have to fake it with me.”
“I didn’t mean it in a sexual context. I mean, I’d have…”
“I know what you meant. That we wouldn’t really be sharing a bed, because it wouldn’t be real. It’d just be a hoax to the public. And that’s way too big of a hoax for even me to pull off.”
She cocked a brow. “What?”
“Bella, relax,” he said with a chuckle. He couldn’t sport with her any longer. She seemed really upset. “I was joking. We didn’t do anything. If we had, I assure you it would have been unforgettable.
“We didn’t?” she said, disbelief and hope warring on her face. She pulled the covers down and saw that she was still wearing last night’s jeans and tank top. Frowning, she threw her pillow at him, “Was that supposed to be funny?”
“Yes, actually I thought it was. I would never take advantage of an intoxicat
ed woman. Besides, I prefer to be more memorable than that. I really had you going, though.”
“Yeah, you did. So is there paperwork I need to sign for this fake girlfriend thing you want me to do?”
“We can’t really have a paper trail on this deal. I’ll ask that you don’t disclose our arrangement to anyone either during or after the fact. And I expect you to be monogamous during the fake engagement. No Tinder, no OKCupid, no dating or screwing guys. I know two months is a long time to be celibate, but you’ll be financially compensated.”
“Two months is not a long time to be celibate. I literally have only slept with two people. I have been celibate for, oh, let’s see, about a year and a half.”
“Yeah. I don’t sleep with anyone I’m not serious about. So that narrows down the prospects. You see why I was freaked out about thinking I went to bed with you. That’s not me at all.”
“I see. So unless you meet your soul mate during the next couple of months you shouldn’t even be tempted. Makes things easier.”
“I didn’t say I wasn’t ever tempted. Everyone’s tempted. I just don’t act on it.”
“Then I appreciate your discretion. I’ll make sure Greta gets you set up with a shopper and PR said we should go out to dinner, someplace high profile and exclusive, but make a big deal about separate cars and going in the back entrance, only to be photographed holding hands or gazing at each other or something that creates speculation about a romantic involvement”
“Makes sense to me. I’ll go to my room and shower and get to work. I’m late and my boss, well, I hear he’s a real jerk if you show up late.”
“I think you can get by with it. You are, as of today, no longer a maid.”
“What do I do then?”
“Shop, get your hair done, go get a massage. Your credit card should be here this afternoon and I expect you to make use of it for any personal spending.”
“I guess I could use a new bus pass. I only bought the one month pass when I moved here, and it’s about to expire.”