The Doctor's Fake Fiancée

By: Victoria James

“Then we’ll go shopping.” He tilted his watch toward him. “How about tomorrow afternoon?”

She opened her mouth, but the words were stuck.

“I’ll pay of course.”

“This seems really sudden. I mean, I don’t even know you—”

“You don’t have to. We’re not going to be living together. This is just for appearances. One or two social events—in public—and the secretarial position. This should be easy and mutually beneficial. Don’t make this into a bigger deal—”

“Uh, it is a big deal. I’m going to uproot my life and my child’s life and pretend that I’m your wife. I don’t even know anything about you or your family—”

“No problem. You’ll meet them. They hover like harmless, overzealous vultures. And then a couple weeks from now we have to go to this crazy lady’s wedding. I think you’d really like my family. For some reason, they have tons of friends.”

She broke his intense blue stare and looked down at her feet. Sensible running shoes. Cheap running shoes. Not the shoes this man’s future wife would wear. Panic and adrenaline began pumping through her veins. This was nuts. But if she said no and walked out of here, what was she going back to Toronto for? No job, crappy apartment, no friends…but how would she pull off being his wife?

“Hey, Grace, it’s not like we’re actually going to have to get married at the end of this. We’re not hurting anyone.” He darted a glance at Chris. “This might be a really good opportunity for you to put away some extra money for your son. To get ahead. A little something for yourself, too.”

She sighed. It would mean free expenses for a month. And a salaried position again. “I pay rent in Toronto—”

“I’ll cover it. I’ll pay your last month’s rent and any fee for breaking your lease, and you can give your landlord notice. That will give you time to slowly get your things on the weekends. No rush or stress. Plus a whole new wardrobe. Expenses at the rental house will be covered as well for at least a few months. And this job has a great salary. Think of this as a new start. Plus you’ll be living in a town that’s great for raising a family.”

“I don’t do spontaneous things. I like lists and making plans weeks in advance. I just need some time—”

“I’m afraid that’s the only thing I can’t give you. The receptionist walked out of here today leaving me with no one. I’m here helping out an old friend, and I can’t tell him that after a week I’ve lost his secretary.”

And here was the saint side of him again—he had put his career on hold to fill in for a doctor? He had saved her and Chris from a burning car, and now he was offering her a deal she just couldn’t refuse. This one man, this virtual stranger was doing more for her than Christopher’s father ever had. She squeezed her eyes shut. She owed him.

“Just pack up the essentials. Whatever you need you can get next weekend. I’ll have your place ready for you tomorrow.” He pulled out a notepad and scribbled out an address and handed it to her. “Here. Go to this address tomorrow morning at nine. Then we can go shopping after. You can spend all day settling in on Sunday. And you’ll be all set for Monday.”

She drew a deep breath. This was the craziest thing she’d ever contemplated. But what did she have to lose? The apartment she struggled to pay rent for in Toronto wasn’t anything to feel proud about. She didn’t exactly live in the nicest area of the city, and she wasn’t pleased with Chris’s school. Her neighborhood was nothing like this charming little town. Maybe this was a chance for a new beginning. Something positive. “My only other question is about my son,” she said, lowering her voice. “I don’t want him thinking we are really going to get married. I don’t want him getting attached to you or thinking you’ll be his father.”

He didn’t say anything, so she pressed on. “Dr. Manning, I don’t want him getting his hopes up that he’ll have a father in his life.”

Something flickered in his expression, and his mouth softened. “Of course.” His deep voice held a note of compassion, and the man she had already thought handsome had now become the hero she’d imagined.

She forced a smile and extended her hand. “Okay, my only stipulation is that if I’m not happy with the school or the house, I can back out of this deal. Or if I feel this isn’t working out for Christopher, I can walk.”

“Deal. But somehow, I think this town is going to grow on you. And this will be the best gamble you’ve ever taken.” He smiled, and her stomach dropped and fluttered in a way that made her aware of Evan Manning in every possible way.

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