Publisher: Cardinal Press, LLC
Formats: eBook, print
"This was such a sweet story and I was completely invested from the start." — Carol, Goodreads Reviewer
Fiancé for the Night
She needs a fiancé—for only one night.
Cassandra Daniels' parents refuse to accept that she doesn't need a boyfriend to be happy. To stop their meddling and matchmaking, Cassandra creates a fictional fiancé, a man who sounds so unlike their carefree and unconventional daughter that her mom and dad want to meet him for dinner, immediately.
No problem. San Francisco is a big city. Finding a fiancé won't be that hard.
All Troy McKnight wants is a beer after a long day at work. But when a pretty blonde asks him to dinner and wants him to pretend to be her fiancé, Troy agrees to help. Playing make-believe could be fun, especially since he gets a free meal, and he'll have a great story to tell.
When one lie leads to another, however, the fake engagement spirals into real wedding plans. Cassandra and Troy must stop the madness and put an end to their charade. But what if her fiancé for the night is the perfect husband for life?
Read an Excerpt
“Would you be my fiancé?”
Fiancé? Troy McKnight must have misheard the blonde standing next to him due to the noise in the jam-packed San Francisco brewery. She was attractive with wide blue eyes, freckles across her nose, a heart-shaped face, and no makeup, but she wasn’t his type. With multiple chains and pendants hanging around her neck, dangling silver earrings, and a flowery dress, she looked out of place in the popular, after-work hangout, which was filled with the suit-and-tie crowd from nearby financial offices. He preferred women who dressed professionally. She was too bohemian looking.
He stared over the rim of his pint. “Excuse me, but what did you say?”
Releasing a sigh, she brushed her wavy blond hair behind her shoulders.
“Would you be my fiancé?” she repeated. “Just for tonight.”
Troy had heard her correctly the first time. He half-laughed. Her matter-of-fact tone made her proposition sound almost logical, and he knew it wasn’t the beer causing that. He’d only had one—the half-filled cold glass he held in his hand.
He took another swig from his lager. The cool liquid ran down his throat. After a rough day at the office, all he wanted was a drink followed by another quiet evening at home, nothing else.
Especially not this woman.
She hadn’t introduced herself. She could be a scam artist—a she-devil in disguise—and he the target. Even without lipstick, her full lips were luscious enough to seduce unknowing prey.
Troy set his glass on the bar. “Why do you need a fiancé tonight?”
“It’s a long story.”
Her sunshine-and-sunflower scent cut through the smell of beer hanging in the air. Okay, that was nice. “I’m not going anywhere.”
She reached for his hand, pushed back the arm of his suit, and read the time on his watch—a present from his parents when he graduated business school. “Yes, I knew it.”
“You’re wearing a watch.”
He eyed her warily. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“That I asked the right person.”
“You’re being evasive.”
“I don’t have time to explain. Are you coming with me?”
“You’re asking for a lot without providing any explanation.”
She rolled her eyes. “I got myself into a jam with my family. It’s only one dinner. My father will pay, so the only thing tonight will cost you is time. Any other questions?”
Troy hesitated, unsure if he bought her explanation. “Nothing personal, but you don’t look like the kind of woman who hangs out here.”
“I’m not, but my parents would approve of you and the men who frequent an establishment like this.”
That sounded plausible.
“Look, will you be my fiancé or not?” The edges of her mouth turned up slightly. “I’m sorry to be impatient, but if you say no, I have to find someone else.” She glanced around the bar as if she were scanning the area for her next target.
In the crowded brewpub, she could easily find someone else. Men with rolled-up sleeves and loosened ties stood at nearby tables, relaxing after long hours at the office.
Troy didn’t know why he was considering posing as her fiancé. The woman had appeared out of nowhere, yet he couldn’t deny his curiosity about her and her strange proposition. The concern and sense of urgency in her eyes rang true, but he never took risks. Spontaneity wasn’t part of his plan—a life plan to ensure he achieved all he wanted and would never have to return to his family’s farm in that middle-of-nowhere town in Missouri.
Staring at him, she waited for his answer by tapping her unpainted fingernails against the bar.
If he said no, she seemed to have no qualms about asking another man to be her fiancé for the night. He doubted she was a con artist. She looked too much like an innocent love child from the sixties with a hint of vulnerability in her eyes. In a meat market like this, a veritable smorgasbord of male testosterone, she could end up with anyone.
At least she would be safe with him.
“This is important to you, isn’t it?” he asked.
As she tilted her chin, her earrings chimed. “Yes.”
A free dinner with an attractive woman. It almost sounded too easy. Troy thought of Jessica White, who worked in the office next to his. Now she was his type, but he’d seen Jessica’s fiancé pick her up this afternoon.
For three years, Troy had wanted to ask her out, but he’d been too busy working to get around to it. Now she was engaged to someone else, and he was sitting in a bar with a total stranger. Maybe he needed a little adventure in his life.
He took another sip of his lager. “Okay, I’ll be your fiancé.”
The woman threw her arms around him and kissed his cheek. “Oh, thank you.”
Her impulsiveness gave him a small thrill. The envious glances of other men in the bar made Troy sit straighter. Maybe this wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
Grabbing his arm, she pulled him off his barstool. “Come on. We’re going to be late.”
Whoa! That was fast. Maybe an adventure wasn’t such a good idea. “I need to pay for my beer.”
Before Troy could reach his wallet, she opened her purse, a multicolored cloth pouch with drawstrings, and pulled out a ten-dollar bill. “Will this cover it?”
“Yes.” Call him old-fashioned, but he wasn’t used to a woman paying.
She tossed the money on the bar. “Is there anything else?”
He wanted to say yes. Stop. “No.”
“Let’s go then.” She led him out of the double glass doors.
A cool breeze blew off the San Francisco Bay. Cars sped by on the Embarcadero. To his right, the lights on the double-decker Bay Bridge twinkled in the evening sky. The pleasant October weather was a refreshing change from a day spent in a skyscraper.
“Do you have a car?” she asked.
“Not with me.”
She rubbed her temples. “We’ll take a taxi. That will be faster than calling for a ride.”
“Where are we—”
“I’ll explain everything once we’re on our way.”
She flagged a yellow cab and muttered the name of a trendy restaurant known for creating mouthwatering dishes and attracting a crowd of see-and-be-seen patrons.
He would be getting a good dinner tonight. Troy followed her into the cab.
As they pulled away from the curb, she laughed incredulously. “I’m going to pull this off.”
He watched her for a moment. Her unrestrained joy and boundless energy captivated him. He’d never met anyone like her.
She wet her lower lip. “I don’t know your name.”
“Troy McKnight.” She repeated his name twice. “I like it. Well, Troy, I hope you don’t mind me calling you that. After all, we are engaged.”
The cab driver coughed, but Troy ignored him. “Would you mind telling me your name?”
Such a serious and formal name for such a lighthearted person. The name Cassie fit her breezy personality better. “Cassandra what?”
“Oh, sorry. Daniels, Cassandra Daniels.” She took a deep breath. “I can’t believe I found you, and you said yes.”
“Why do you need a fiancé?”
Her honey-gold eyebrows pulled together.
He couldn’t let this drop. “I need to know what’s going on. Otherwise…”
“You’re right.” She dragged her teeth over her lower lip. “Okay, here’s what happened. We met a few weeks ago, fell madly in love, and got engaged. My parents decided they had to meet the man who swept me off my feet, so they called this morning and told me they were driving up from Carmel to have dinner with us.”
“Are your parents retired?”
“My mother thinks so, and my father should be, but he does some business on the side because he claims he’s not ready for retirement. They split their time between Carmel and Palo Alto.”
She had to come from money. Both towns were expensive places to live. “What happened to the real fiancé?”
“What real fiancé?”
“I assume you told your family about a real engagement.”
“No,” Cassandra—no, he liked Cassie better—said. “I made it up.”
“There isn’t a real fiancé. If there were, I wouldn’t need your help tonight.”
Who was this woman? She wasn’t a compulsive liar, was she? “You told your family you were engaged when you weren’t?”
She nodded as if her actions were logical.
Cassie didn’t look delusional, but this was insane.
“Why?” he asked.
“It seemed like the right thing to do at the time. Sometimes, I’m, uh, impulsive.” She smiled mischievously, almost as if sharing a childhood secret.
The woman had to be crazy, but what did it say about him since he agreed to participate in her lie?
“I want to thank you.” Her eyes shone with gratitude. “I could tell you were a nice guy. You have a wonderful smile.”
When had he been smiling tonight? He’d been drinking his beer in solitude to relax before heading home to his studio apartment to do more work. Maybe tomorrow, he could look back on tonight and laugh.
A smile lit up her beautiful face. “I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t said yes.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
The way she turned toward him tightened the bodice of her dress and accentuated her full breasts.
This fiancé gig was looking better and better. He’d been working hard, trying to close the Micro-Psi deal, and get offered a partnership with the venture capital firm where he worked. But life consisted of more than reading balance sheets and making deals. He was no different from any other red-blooded male. He needed rest, relaxation, and fun too.
“No, it is a big deal.” She squeezed his hand. “You’re my McKnight in shining armor.”
“At your service, milady. We McKnights aim to please.” He wasn’t sure if the full moon or her perfume were getting to him, but he found Cassie’s playful spirit contagious.
When was the last time he’d had fun? Troy couldn’t remember. His shoulders tightened.
“By the way, is there anything else I should know about tonight?” he asked.
“You should know a little about me.” She bit her lower lip. “Let’s see. My favorite color is purple. I love flowers and hot fudge sundaes. I’m not a vegetarian. I love a good hamburger every now and then. Cooked medium. I think people who won’t eat veal but eat chicken are hypocrites. I love reading books. I like eight-hundred-thread-count sheets—any higher number than that isn’t better, just pretentious. Oh, and I sleep in the nude.”
Stunned, Troy stared at her. She’d spoken so fast. Hot fudge sundaes and sleeping in the nude. His temperature rose at the images filling his mind. He crossed his legs.
“What about you?” she asked.
He couldn’t think straight. He needed to cool down. “Uh, I like ice cream.”
“Chocolate’s my favorite. What else?”
Troy stared into her eyes and found himself transfixed. It was as if he were being hypnotized.
She smiled at him as if he were a lost puppy. “Any sports?”
“I like football.”
“What’s your favorite color?”
Her eyes were the color of a cloudless summer sky. “Blue.”
She patted his hand. “Don’t worry. We can make it up as we go along.”
What was wrong with him? He felt out of sync. Almost dizzy. Maybe he needed something to eat.
The cab slowed as it approached the restaurant. Cassie handed the driver a twenty-dollar bill and slid out of the cab. “Are you ready?”
Not at all. Troy cleared his throat. “Sure.”
Cassie brushed a lock of hair from his forehead and straightened his tie. She took his hand in hers. “Don’t forget—we’re madly in love.”
Her small hand fit snugly in his. Madly in love? Maybe they were just mad.