The Doctor's Fake Fiancée

By: Victoria James

She cleared her throat. Maybe it was a joke. Obviously it was a joke. He was joking and had an odd sense of humor. “That’s funny, I thought you just said you ‘need a wife’?”

He gave her a nod. “Or fiancée. Maybe that would be easier to spin, actually.”

He was not joking. Those sky-blue eyes of his didn’t have an ounce of laughter in them. “I’m not following this,” she whispered. “You need a secretary, slash, wife, slash, fiancée?”

He nodded again. “Right. It’s fake. Just for a month. All I need you to do is attend a few social events with me. But the receptionist job is yours to keep. I’m only here for a month, and the doctor who normally runs this clinic will need a secretary.”

“Are you sure you can’t find someone else willing to attend a few social functions with you?”

“I need someone that no one in my usual circles knows.”

“What kind of a job would make you have to fake a wife?”

His jaw clenched, and a shadow passed over his eyes. “It’s a position to head up a new set of medical clinics that are owned by a company with strong family values. No one said that I have to have a wife. But a good friend of mine on the inside told me that the frontrunners for this position were all married with children—and that was intentional on the part of the people doing the hiring. I’m not willing to lose this opportunity because I don’t have a wife.”

It all sounded surreal and like a lot of trouble to go through just for a job. She didn’t need someone else’s problems in her life. She had more than enough on her plate. “This sounds deceitful—”

“Grace,” he whispered in a voice that was deep and filled with an honesty that contradicted the lie he was pushing. “I was a surgeon. I was at the top of my game. Fast-tracking it to become chief of surgery. After the accident, I lost it all. I have a faint tremor in my hand that will not ever heal and be steady enough for me to perform surgery. So this…career change would give me a chance to reclaim some of what I’ve lost.”

“I’m sorry,” she whispered, feeling the sting of tears. She blinked rapidly, trying to rein in the emotion that was making it hard for her to breathe. She had cost this man his career? There wasn’t a day that went by that she didn’t remember that accident. The burning smell of exhaust and oil still haunted her dreams at night, and the sound of that man’s cry mingled with her son’s still had the power to stop her heart. Sometimes she relived that day as a reminder of all the things she had to be grateful for. And sometimes she relived that day as a reminder of what she’d come so close to losing.

Maybe this could be her way of repaying him, if only a little. She was indebted to him. How could she say no to the man who had saved the most precious person in the world to her? Guilt swam through her, threatening to drown her. But she couldn’t afford to sink. She needed to be strong. If she knew exactly what he needed of her, then she could make a To-Do list and everything would be okay…

She drew a shaky breath. “Exactly what do you need me to do again?”

He broke out into a smile that had the same effect as clouds parting on an overcast day to let the most glorious light in. Evan Manning was gorgeous. “You can start work on Monday. I’ll just go over your résumé, make a few calls for references, and we’ll be good to go.”

She nodded. She owed him. She would do this for him. “I’ve worked in doctor’s offices since high school, and always in the city. This could be a nice change.”

He nodded. “Good, good.”

There was just one thing she needed a little more clarification on. She leaned forward. “Can you give me a few more details about the fiancée thing?”

“Right. Just a few events. I’ll be having a meeting here with the director, and he said he wants to meet my family—which would be you. Oh, and I guess you could attend this crazy person’s wedding I have to go to. That way my family will meet you, and that’ll get them off our backs. Then there’s a huge hospital gala in Toronto,” he said walking back to his desk.

Grace stood in the middle of the room, feeling as though she were on some alien vessel ready to fly off to Planet Crazy. Galas and weddings? The last event she went to was the kindergarten spring concert. And even there she’d felt out of place. She would disappoint him. She didn’t move in his circles. She was wearing a freaking Spider-Man shoelace in her hair.

“Dr. Manning, I don’t know I could pull that off.”

He walked back over to her, standing close, and she tilted her head back slightly to meet his blue eyes. She didn’t know if she was comforted by the knowledge or not, but his expression wasn’t laced with even a hint of insanity or doubt. “You can. I’ll take the lead. Just follow along and pretend we’re in love.”

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