THE THREE-WEEK ARRANGEMENT (Chase Brothers #3)
With him, there’s no faking anything…
Ethan Chase isn't interested in dating. After losing the woman he loved more than life itself, he'd much rather ride solo, but his family is dead set on fixing him up. To get them off his back, he hooks up with ultra-adventurous, ultra-temporary adventure photographer, Rue Campbell. All he has to do is survive three weeks in her orbit and he'll be single again, only without the pitying looks and pressure to move on.
Rue is literally counting the days until her plane leaves New York City. The last thing she wants is a relationship, but being Ethan's pretend girlfriend can't hurt, right? Wrong. With Ethan, there's no faking anything—in or out of the bedroom. With the sheets burning hot and the clock ticking on their arrangement, Rue realizes she's falling for a man guaranteed to derail her goals...and break her heart.
Ethan studied the picture. It was him, smiling. An unfamiliar sight, he realized with a pang. Shaggy, who was so ugly she was almost cute, had her chin resting on his shoulder, her eyes rolled toward him in a plaintive, pleading expressing that was somehow as funny as it was pitiful. He gave Shaggy’s leathery skin a pat. Upon closer inspection, he found the dog did have a sparse patch of hair on her side, and he scratched it lightly. Her tail thumped a fast tempo.
“You guys are ganging up on me,” Ethan said. As he spoke, two of the puppies tumbled simultaneously from the basket. He and Rue made a grab for them at the same time, both of them missing. They bumped shoulders, and when Rue tipped to the side, he made a grab for her, only for them both to end up in a heap. In the immediate aftermath, no one moved, and he became blissfully, painfully aware of her warm curves pressed and nestled against him. It had been years since he’d felt that kind of body contact; and while guilt wasn’t the first emotion that hit him, it quickly followed, extinguishing all the warmth that preceded it.
Then the puppy assault began.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw one lope, then tumble, landing in a tail-wagging, tongue-lapping ball of fur against Rue’s chin. She squealed and curled against Ethan, and he had little time to react before he felt a similar attack against his own cheek.
Until that moment, he’d forgotten just how ticklish he was.
Or how it felt to laugh. Really laugh.
By the time they extricated themselves from the ball of puppies, his face and stomach hurt in long-forgotten ways. He hadn’t felt so light in ages…at least not until his eyes met Rue’s, and an emotion he couldn’t identify socked him in the gut.
She smiled, and when his gaze tracked to her lips, he realized how close they were. Only inches separated them, and so few of those that he thought he felt her breath brush his face. Old feelings stumbled back from hidden corners of his heart. Like what it felt like for someone to look at him like that across a shared pillow, or to wake tangled in someone’s arms. But to his surprise, his mind’s eye hadn’t taken him back to Amy. Instead he saw Rue, blue eyes electric with laughter, mouth so perfect he couldn’t help but be drawn to it. Or her. He’d never met anyone like her. So much life. She made the somewhat smelly, decidedly unpolished back room of an animal shelter beautiful—not just because of how she looked, but for what she did.
“We should get back to work,” she said, breaking the moment. Not that it was a moment.
He’d probably freaked her out, staring at her like he had, but he couldn’t help it. He couldn’t help wanting that absolute zest she had for everything in life. He thought of her sharks and volcanoes and penguins. Definitely everything.
Not the kind of woman any man could hold.