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Fake Husband, Real Daddy.
The second Penny walked into my office, I knew I was f*cked.
Faking It is a standalone romance with bonus content, an Extended Epilogue and a Deleted Steamy Scenes section! Holly Hart always gives you a Happy Ever After, and she hates cheating and cliffhangers just as much as you do!
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Glass. Glass everywhere. That means reflections: everywhere.
I can’t hide from the reflections; nor can I hide from myself. Everywhere I look I see a ginger girl with an ironing board chest and a bowling ball ass staring back at me. Oh, and she’s pale, to boot. I need some sun: except – even if I get some – I’m not going to get a killer tan, just freckles.
I accepted long ago that I’ll never be on the cover of Vogue.
But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
“Don’t just stand there, girl,” Miss Casey says. “How did you get this job, anyway?”
I can’t believe I have to call this woman Miss Casey. I feel like I’m back in kindergarten. She’s a stern woman in her late fifties, and it shows. She wears her hair in a tight bob, pulled back, and a freaking tweed skirt pours all the way down past her ankles.
Seriously; I kid you not.
But the worst part of all this? She makes me feel exactly who I am – a nineteen-year-old virgin, and hopelessly out of my depth.
“Sorry,” I squeak. The tray of hot drinks rattles in my hand, betraying my nervousness.
Now that I’m here, it all feels so real. It’s my first day, but I’m not just working behind the counter at a Starbucks – not even close. A security lanyard dangles around my neck. I’ve been background checked like you wouldn’t believe.
Just getting into the skyscraper headquarters of Thorne Enterprises was, well, thorny. I had to dance through half a dozen security checkpoints. The closer I got to the CEOs office, the more intense they got: hard-faced men – all ex-special forces – eyeballing me, hands twitching on their weapons.
I dunno. It all seems a bit much. But – I made it here: to the inner sanctum. Miss Casey’s desk sits right in front of the frosted glass doors to the CEOs office. New York stretches out ahead and below of the skyscraper’s huge windows – all the way to the horizon, and fifty stories down.
“Give me that,” Miss Casey huffs.
Close, but no cigar.
“I can do it,” I squeak. But it’s too late.
I’d done my research – just like anyone should do when they get a new job – and a whole lot more. But Charlie Thorne’s secretary is an enigma cloaked in mystery. As far as I can tell, she’s been with Mr. Thorne from the start. He took her with him on his meteoric rise to billionaire-dom: lucky woman.
She reaches over to grab the tray. At that same moment, a harried-looking executive in a tailored suit storms into the office lobby. It would be a cliché to say he’s leaving sheets of paper in a trail behind him, but that’s close enough.
“Ella,” he grunts. “I need to see Charlie: now.”
He doesn’t even bother looking at Mister Thorne’s secretary. I know his type: self-important; myopic; bearing the weight of the world on his shoulders. I recoil in distaste. The tray rattles, again.
I wish you could see the look on Ella – no – Miss Casey’s face. A stormy darkness, worthy of a summer Oklahoma tornado, crashes across her visage, and that’s just when she’s facing me.
“Excuse me?” she hisses. Her voice is chilling. It reminds me of every terrifying schoolteacher or imposing headmistress I have ever had in my life. “Precisely what did you just call me, Michael?”
The executive glances up. His thin eyelashes brush each other rapidly as he realizes his mistake. Unfortunately, he’s got too much pride to back down.
“Ella,” he says, doubling down. “This is none of your business. I need to see Charlie – now. You’re just a secretary –”
Oh, crap. You should not have said that. You should NOT have said that.
Miss Casey holds up a single finger. Michael freezes, as though she’s reached in and squeezed his vocal chords. “You,” she says, “wait.”
She turns to me. She fixes me with an intense, questioning stare. I just stand there, steam wafting from the hot drinks. I know she’s about to really test me; I just don’t know whether I’ll pass.
“Penny, please go into Mr. Thorne’s office and deliver this tray. If you can accomplish this task without being seen or heard that would be lovely. Don’t spill anything.”
She turns away.
My throat clenches. A tiny shudder of adrenaline passes through my body. This is what I wanted – of course it is. I couldn’t be closer to power than I am about to be. Yet: after all this work; the research; the job hunting; the hours of careful preparation for the interviews; I couldn’t be more terrified.
“Sure thing, Miss Casey,” I say. I twist on my heel and face the big frosted doors. Be seen and not heard. I can do that. I’ve been doing it all my life.
“And dear?” She says more than asks. I turn my head. “Remember the nondisclosure agreement you signed. Believe me, it’s ironclad. If you reveal a word you hear in there, I’m afraid that’ll be it for you.”