Emergency Engagement (Love Emergency)

By: Samanthe Beck

Beau bit his tongue. He had no qualms about the CT, but if compassion kept her at his side, he’d play along. “I’d appreciate the company, if you don’t mind.”

Her off-center smile tugged on his balls. “Of course I don’t mind.” To Isaiah, she added, “Lead the way.”

The heels of her silver…stilettos? pumps?—he didn’t know what to call them—tapped along the marbleized linoleum as she walked beside him. Her fuck-me shoes from her date last night, he decided, and experienced a strange surge of satisfaction knowing One-for-Three had fucked nothing but himself.

They turned right at an intersection of corridors, and followed the signs to the radiology department. Isaiah wheeled him into the waiting area, paused at the reception desk to drop his version of a charming smile on the admin minding the desk, and then sent him a salute along with a pithy, “So long, sucka,” on his way out.

Savannah took an empty seat beside his chair. “I’m sorry I conked you in the head.”

He waved off the apology. “It’s not like you saw me coming and took aim. I frightened you. You obeyed a standard reflex to defend yourself.”

The crinkle reappeared between her eyes. “You know, I still have no idea what brought you to my apartment in the first place.”

Admitting he’d come over with a noise complaint seemed counterproductive. “Maybe I wanted to borrow a cup of sugar?”

“Ha. You’re not exactly the borrow-a-cup-of-sugar kind of neighbor. The entire time I’ve lived next door we’ve exchanged less than three words. I never dreamed you were the same lady-killer who tried to impress me when I was five by riding his bike no-handed and ended up crashing into the garage door.”

Oh, yeah, he’d done that, hadn’t he? Her little laugh fluttered the fine hairs on his arm. He imagined her breath ruffling other sensitive zones, and shifted in the chair as his jeans turned into a self-inflicted bondage game. “Did it work?”

“I might have had a weakness for risk-takers back then, but I know better now. We’ve both changed a lot since those days.” Her eyes drifted down his body, provoking an instant response from a part of him still eager to impress her, and then snapped up to meet his. “A lot. We definitely don’t know each other well enough to convince our families we’re engaged.”

His hard-on backed off. Mentioning the lie he hoped to perpetrate on their families had that effect on him. The good news? She was still considering the deception. The bad news? She had a point. But not an insurmountable one. “You’re Savannah Smith: snake hater, lover of yellow walls and black lace.”

She laughed. “Well, okay, I stand corrected. You got me in a nutshell. But for the record, I haven’t forgotten about you chasing me around our backyards, terrorizing me with that creepy rubber snake. I’m afraid we have irreconcilable differences.”

His lips threatened to stretch into a smile. “How can you say that to the man who gave you your first flowers?” He remembered picking daisies with her in the backyard.

“Those were your mom’s flowers, and they don’t make up for the snake.”

“Not so fast, Smith. I outgrew the snakes some time ago.”

“’Round about the time you developed an appreciation for black lace?”

“A man’s interests evolve. I can go either way on yellow walls, if that helps.”

“Very accommodating of you.” Her smile lingered, though he still saw plenty of reservations lurking in those clear blue eyes. “You really think you know me well enough to pull this off?”

“We just have to make it through this afternoon. After that, like I said, our parents live a safe distance away so it’s not like we have to keep this up on a day-in-day-out basis until January. As far as today goes, I think you’re underestimating my powers of observation.”

“Okay, Sherlock, tell me something about me.”

He racked his brain for details. The piece of mail tucked in his back pocket sprang to mind. He retrieved the embossed envelope from the Solomon Foundation for Art, and held it out to S.E. Smith in apartment number 202. “You’re into art.”

“Yes. What’s this?”

“The mail carrier put it in my box yesterday by mistake.”

She took the envelope and slipped it into her purse. “Misdirected mail brought you to my apartment this afternoon? You could have slipped it in my box.”

“Mail delivery was my cover, to further my real goal of getting you to lower your music.”

“Oh.” Her cheeks colored a bit. “Sorry. I didn’t realize I was disturbing you. I guess I got caught up in my redecorating.”

“I figured something along those lines. I heard you moving stuff around last night, too.”

“Crap, I’m really sorry. I don’t mean to win the most annoying neighbor award. I’m usually not so loud. Especially at night.”

Not purposely, no, but the echo of her voice through the wall replayed in his mind. Breathless snippets of, That’s good. A little more. Almost…almost…oh, no, not yet…

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