Jared's Counterfeit Fiancee - Page 22

Jared’s last thought as he captured her mouth with his was that having her seep into his heart was something he could not let happen. No matter what.


“T hanks for being here, Dana.”

Dana gave Jared an assuring smile when he reached out and took her hand in his and tightened his fingers around it as they sat side by side in the hospital’s waiting room. His features were solemn and she knew he was worried about the outcome of his mother’s surgery. “You don’t have to thank me, Jared. I wanted to be here.”

She glanced at the clock on the wall. The doctors had indicated it wouldn’t be a long procedure and that someone would be out to talk to the family when it was over. Jared’s youngest brother, Reggie, had accompanied Mr. Westmoreland downstairs to the coffee shop, and every so often Jared’s cell phone would ring when one of his other brothers called for an update on their mother’s condition. His aunt and uncle were here and so were several of his cousins and their wives. One thing she had learned about the Westmorelands was that they were a close-knit family who bonded in a crisis. She admired that about them.

Dana glanced up at Jared. “Can I get you anything?”

He gave her a reassuring smile. “No, thanks, I’m fine.” He then leaned closer and whispered softly, privately, “What I really want is something I can’t have right now, but there’s always later.”

Dana felt heat flare into her cheeks and hoped no one noticed the blush that came into her features. After returning from Jekyll Island they had begun spending more and more time together. They had dined at his place and gone out to eat a couple of times this week, had taken in several movies and had also joined his cousins last night at Chase’s Place to celebrate Thorn’s birthday.

And each time they made love it was better than the last. On the nights that he stayed over, she enjoyed waking up in his arms. There were never any regrets, only complete fulfillment. She could not resist Jared any more than she could stop breathing. The intimacy they shared was tangible, special and so profound, that more than once it brought tears to her eyes.

Tonight she was having dinner again at his place and was looking forward to it. She hoped they had reason to celebrate, and remained positive about his mother’s condition.

For the next few minutes she tried engaging Jared in small talk since she knew that he, like everyone else, was watching the clock. His father had returned and was now nervously pacing the room.

Everyone looked up when the doctor walked into the waiting room with an unreadable expression on his face. Mr. Westmoreland, with Jared and Reggie on his heels, quickly walked over to meet the doctor.

“How is she?” James Westmoreland asked in a somewhat shaky voice.

Dr. Miller smiled and he reached out and touched the older man’s shoulder. “She’s doing fine and test results confirm the lump was nothing but fatty tissue. Sarah is fine and once the anesthesia wears off, she’ll be able to leave. Of course I want to see her for a follow-up visit next week.”

James sighed deeply and Dana could see relief and happiness in everyone’s eyes. “Thanks, Dr. Miller.”

“You’re welcome.” Dr. Miller glanced over at Jared and Reggie. “Which one of you is engaged to be married?”

Jared lifted a brow. “I am. Why?”

The doctor chuckled. “Because that’s all your mother talked about from the time they wheeled her into the operating room to right before the anesthetic kicked in. She’s really happy about it and is anxious to start planning a wedding. Congratulations.” He then turned and walked out of the waiting room.

Jared turned his head and met Dana’s gaze. Her fingers tightened on the straps on her purse. It was an unconscious gesture that only he noticed. She had agreed to play out this charade for an additional two weeks, but he understood how everything was placing a toll on her. It was placing a hell of a toll on him as well.

He studied her face, knowing that even after their “engagement” ended, memories would remain that wouldn’t leave him alone, that were bound to creep into his thoughts at any place and at any time.

He sighed deeply as he crossed the room to where Dana was standing, needing the contact, the closeness. “Mom’s fine,” he said.

Her smile was soft. “I heard and I’m glad,” she said so quietly that he barely heard her.

Elated with the news that his mother was okay, and because he was dying to taste Dana’s lips, Jared bent his head and brushed his lips across hers.

“If you two keep this up, your Mom’s prediction is bound to be true,” James said, grinning, coming to stand beside his oldest son.

Another deep sigh escaped Jared’s lips. He had an idea but knew he was expected to ask, so he did. “And what prediction is that?”

Mr. Westmoreland looked at Dana then back at his son and chuckled. “That there will be another Westmoreland wedding before the end of summer.”

Dana had fallen in love with Jared’s home the first time she had walked through the double doors a week ago. The two-story structure, located in one of North Atlanta’s most exclusive and affluent communities, was huge and spacious.

When Jared had given her a tour she’d seen that each and every room was breathtaking and expensively decorated, and that included the state-of-the-art theater room she had heard so much about, and a beautifully designed swimming pool. He had five bedrooms, six bathrooms, a huge country kitchen, a living room and dining room as well as a breakfast room, a library and game room. He even had a four-car garage and she had been surprised to discover that he owned a motorcycle. He had explained that because of Thorn, all the male Westmorelands owned a Thorn-Byrd, the brand of bikes that his cousin built.

The house, Dana thought, was very much like the man who owned it, fascinating, interesting and compelling. With all the vaulted ceilings, rich thick carpeting, costly paintings that lined the walls and the expensive antique furnishings, it signified wealth but wasn’t overdone. There was nothing ostentatious about the house or the man. It was obvious that Jared liked nice things, but she definitely wouldn’t consider his likes eccentric or outlandish.

“Make yourself comfortable,” Jared said as he glanced over at her. It was early evening. They had spent the majority of the day at his parents’ home after his mother had gotten released from the hospital. He had made all the necessary calls to his brothers, assuring them that things were fine and their mother was okay.

“Do you need my help?” Dana asked as she sat at the breakfast bar and watched how efficiently he moved around in the kitchen.

“No. We’re having something light and simple.”

Dana chuckled. “Umm, let me guess, hot dogs and lemonade?”

Jared smiled. “No, it’s something a lot more filling than that. In fact it’s one of the few Westmoreland family secret recipes that Chase will share—a chicken-and-rice casserole. I prepared it this morning before leaving for the hospital, so all I have to do is warm it up. I’m also making a salad to go along with it and thought a glass of wine would be nice, as well.”

She watched as he pulled a casserole dish from the refrigerator and proceeded to place it in the microwave. He then pulled out all the items he needed for the salad.

“And you’re sure there’s nothing I can do to help?” The last time she had shared a dinner with him here, he’d had everything catered.

He glanced up at her and smiled. “I’m positive. You’ve done enough already. I meant what I said about me appreciating you taking off work to be at the hospital today. It meant a lot to me and I know it meant a lot to my family, especially Mom. I’m so thankful that the test results were good. In a way I had prepared myself for the worse.”

Dana heard the catch in his voice and immediately got out of her seat and came around to stand in front of him. She reached out and placed a hand on his arm. “But like you said, Jared, the results were good and that’s what’s important. She’s okay.”

Jared nodded and thought that Dana’s touch felt hot on his arm. A seductive silence hung over the room as he held her gaze. Desire swirled around in his belly and he hung tenuously on to his control. He wanted her. Always wanted her. Constantly wanted her. And was always amazed at the depth of that wanting.

He recalled vividly and in living color every aspect of making love to her last night. They had returned to her place from the movies, and as soon as the door closed shut behind them, desire, the likes of which he’d never encountered before, had taken hold of him, racked his mind, rammed through his body. He had hauled her to him, picked her up into his arms and had taken her into the bedroom where he had stripped her of her clothes, and then quickly removed his own, barely taking time to protect them both before covering her body with his and making love to her.

The same way he wanted to make love to her now.

He made a move to reach out for her the exact moment the alarm on the microwave sounded. Inhaling deeply, a faint smile formed on his lips. “I guess it’s time to eat.”

She smiled in return. “Yes, I guess it is.”

“Will you go swimming with me?” Jared asked later when they had finished dinner, cleared the table and loaded the dishes in the dishwasher. The last time she’d been over, the lining of the pool was being redone.

Tags: Brenda Jackson Billionaire Romance
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