My Darling Clementine Part 5
Check out other parts of this story on my author’s page.
Clem stared at the ceiling of her room, her mind refusing to rest. How had she let things get so out of control? Her father had disowned her, she was responsible for Mae’s care, her vile aunt was somehow still alive, and she had a fake fiancé. She ran through the list for the hundredth time.
The last one weighed on her mind the most—a fake fiancé. A fake fiancé who was clearly lying as much as she was, and she couldn’t figure out why. It must be about the money. It always was.
Maybe she should tell him the truth. She could offer him a cut of her aunt’s money if he agreed to marry her. She shook her head, her curls rustling against her pillowcase. If they married, he would have control over everything. She needed that money, and she certainly didn’t need a husband telling her what to do with it.
Damn her Aunt Viola and her outdated thinking. They were on the verge of a new century! A woman should get to control her own life! She needed to have that will changed before her aunt died. But until she figured out a way to do that, she needed to keep Max. Just in case. Money and a husband were better than no money and destitute.
Somehow, she had found the one man in the country who didn’t know she was unmarriable, who didn’t seem to care if she was. She wasn’t about to let him get away.
Too worked up to sleep, she yanked the blankets off and swung her legs out of bed. Grabbing her dressing gown from the hook, she padded down the stairs to the library. The soft yellow light spilled out into the dark hallway. She wasn’t the only one who couldn’t sleep.
Max was in one of her father’s worn leather chair, a book in his lap and a glass of whiskey at his side. She stayed leaning in the doorway until he lifted his head from his book and noticed her. He smiled in that lazy way of his, and Clem would be lying if she said it didn’t make her stomach flip.
She needed a little more insurance that Max wasn’t going anywhere.
“I didn’t imagine you’d be much of a reader.”
He closed the book and took a swig of his drink, the ice clinking against the sides of the glass. “I’m insulted.” His voice was husky from disuse. “But you’re not wrong. Books aren’t my thing, but I couldn’t fall asleep.”
She slunk into the room, feeling her silk nightgown brush against her thighs. He watched her, and the heat rose to her cheeks.
He shifted in his seat. She had hit on something there.
“You could say that.”
She slid into the chair opposite him and reached for his glass. “Do you mind?”
He shook his head, so she took a swallow of the amber liquid. It burned all the way down. She licked her lips, and his gaze followed her tongue.
“What’s it like? Your home”
He tore his gaze away from her mouth and met her eyes. “Like a different planet.”
“Do you plan to go back?” She held her breath, waiting for the answer.
His brow furrowed, and he ran a hand through his hair. His smile, when he gave it, was tinged with sadness. “If I can figure out a way.”
She nodded, pushing the hair behind her ear. It was down around her shoulders, the curls brushing her bare collar bones. She wrapped a strand around her finger.
“Is there anything I can do to make your stay more comfortable?”
He raised an eyebrow. “More comfortable?”
“Well, you are my fiancé, even if only for the moment. A fake engagement can come with real benefits.” She got up before she lost her nerve and stepped between his knees. His lips parted in shock.
Deep breath Clementine. A means to an end. She put her hands on his shoulders and pushed him back in his chair, planting her lips on his. He sat stunned before he brought his hands to frame her face and kissed her back.
Her lips were so damn soft. He groaned against her mouth. He wrapped his fingers in her lush curls as she lowered herself into his lap. His mind raced while his hands roved over her silk-clad body. She was seducing him for a reason. This was nothing more than another lie. His body screamed at him, not to care.
He pulled away but kept her face trapped in his hands. She was breathing heavily, and her eyes were huge and bright. “What are you doing?” he asked. She ran her hands through his hair and squirmed a little in his lap.
She smiled a predatory smile. “I had hoped it was obvious.”
He bit back a groan and released her face. “Stop. Moving.” He held her hips steady, and she giggled as she nuzzled into his neck. An act. It was all an act.
“Why are you doing it?”
“Why?” She pulled her mouth from his neck and met his eye. “Why not?”
“You hardly know me.”
“I know enough.”
“You think I’m a liar.”
“You are a liar.” She raised an eyebrow. “Most men would not be arguing right now.”
“What happened to protecting your reputation?”
She laughed ruefully, and he saw genuine pain cross her face. “My reputation was ruined long ago. I thought you would have figured that out by now.” She was no longer squirming seductively, and her cheeks were pink with something other than desire. He had embarrassed her.
“Look, I don’t know the rules around here. But I don’t want you to get hurt.”
“I’m a big girl. I make my own choices.” Her eyes flashed in anger, and she tried to get up, but he held tight to her hips.
“And you want to do this with me? Or is this fake too?” He held her stare, watching the emotions flicker across her face. “I like you, Clementine.” He knew she was studying his eyes for a lie, but she wouldn’t find one. He was telling the truth. This was a terrible idea, but he liked spending time with the little liar in his lap.
She softened in his arms. “Why can’t you go home?” she asked quietly, pushing back a piece of hair that had fallen across his forehead.
“I just can’t.” His voice caught in his throat. “There’s no one left there for me anyway.” Her eyes filled with such sympathy. He knew she was lonely too.
She leaned closer, and he ran the tip of his nose down her cheek. Her floral scent wrapped around him.
“I want to kiss you,” she whispered onto his lips. He nodded, and she pressed her mouth to his, softly at first and then more, melting into him. And this time, she was telling the truth.
Oh my. Things are getting steamy. I like it. Nice work on part 5.