Angelle Prejean is in a pickle. Her family is expecting her to come home with a fiancé—a fiancé who doesn't exist. Well, he exists, but he definitely has no idea Angelle told her mama they were engaged. Tattooed, muscled, and hotter than sin, Cane can reduce Angelle to a hot mess with one look—and leave her heart a mess if she falls for him. But when she ends up winning him at a charity bachelor auction, she knows just how to solve her fiancé problem.
Cane Robicheaux is no one's prince. He doesn't do relationships and he doesn't fall in love. When sweet, sultry-voiced Angelle propositions him, he hopes their little fiancé game can finally get her out of his head. He doesn't expect her to break through all his barriers. But even as Angelle burrows deeper into his heart, he knows once their seven days are up, so is their ruse.
Each book in the Love&Games series is STANDALONE:
* Taste the Heat
* Seven Day Fiance
* Accidentally Married on Purpose
About the Author
Rachel Harris grew up in New Orleans, where she watched soap operas with her grandmother and stayed up late sneak reading her mama's favorite romance novels. Now a Cajun cowgirl living in Houston, she is still addicted to romance and staying up late reading her favorite romances, only now, she can do so openly. She firmly believes life's problems can be solved with a hot, powdered-sugar-coated beignet or a thick slice of king cake, and that screaming at strangers for cheap, plastic beads is acceptable behavior in certain situations.
When not typing furiously or flipping pages in an enthralling romance, she homeschools her two beautiful girls and watches reality television with her amazing husband. Taste The Heat is her adult romance debut. She's the author of My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century and A Tale Of Two Centuries.
Read an Excerpt
Seven Day Fiance
A Love and Games novel
By Rachel Harris, Alycia Tornetta, Stacy Cantor Abrams
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2013 Rachel Harris
All rights reserved.
Shivering as cool November air kissed her exposed skin, Angelle Prejean quickened her pace across the Magnolia Springs Banquet Hall parking lot. The rhythmic click of her toe-pinching heels sounded amplified in the dark, but it did jack squat to drown out her mama's voice still ringing in her ears. What Angelle needed was a distraction, and an event planned by her crazy roommate was sure to deliver. Digging through her beaded black handbag, Angie fished out her ticket and flashed it at the entrance, then stepped inside the toasty warm lobby with a hopeful smile. It promptly froze and withered on her face.
What the ...?
Looming directly across from her in the crowded vestibule stood an almost life-size poster of three faceless, shirtless men. The words FOR YOUR HOLIDAY Pleasure were written in elegant swirling letters along the bottom.
For her stupefaction was more like it.
Angie glanced at her ticket, confirming she had the date and location right, and promptly returned her gaze to the glorious sight before her. Her breath escaped in a rush. Heat crept up her neck. But a herd of wild horses couldn't tear her gaze away. And from the excited whirr of murmurs and giggles filling the entryway, she wasn't the only one enjoying the man-tastic view.
Together, the half-nude beefcake trio in the poster was devastating, each man impossibly gorgeous. But for Angelle it was one man in particular, the one in the center, who had butterflies doing the cha-cha in her belly and her limbs gushing with warmth.
It didn't matter that the image stopped at his throat. She didn't need to see his face to recognize the rugged bartender. The confidence in the man's stance, the ink on his skin, and the way her entire body shook with desire and trepidation gave his identity away. Thanks to the class they took together at Northshore Combatives, Angie had seen Cane Robicheaux in various stages of undress. But despite the overwhelming temptation, she'd never allowed herself the luxury of a thorough examination. In fact, she did everything she could to avoid eye contact of any kind—not an easy feat in a town as small as Magnolia Springs. Or with an attraction as fierce as hers. But now, alone with a bazillion other women doing the same, Angie let her eyes drink their fill.
Her gaze caressed the width of his broad shoulders. Traced the lines of his flat, rippled abdomen. And feasted on the artwork adorning his skin. A koi fish swam up one side of his smooth ribs, flames licked up a thick, muscular arm, and a cross with angel wings and his mom's name peeked from inside the other. An intricate yin-yang of a tiger and dragon covered the left side of his bulging chest, and she knew from prior, covert inspection that a fleur de lis marked his toned calf. The sound of her erratic pulse eclipsed all other sound in the room, but if Angelle were a betting woman, she'd put even money that a hum of feminine swooning was breaking around her. Cane Robicheaux exuded sex—sex and danger. And in spite of her many, many, many attempts to pretend otherwise, she was every bit as susceptible to that potent combination as the rest of the female population.
"Which is why I'm in so much trouble," she whispered with a disgusted snort.
A long shadow fell over the trio, breaking Angelle's lust-dazed trance. She blinked and shifted her attention to a statuesque brunette wearing a bright red evening gown and an amused smirk. "Sure puts you in the holiday spirit, doesn't it?"
"Uh, yeah." Angelle averted her gaze back to the poster as the heat of a blush extended to her cheeks. "That it does."
The annual Bachelor Auction was the town's official kick-off to the holidays and usually involved tuxedo-clad gentlemen and endless glasses of champagne. Of course, that was before her roommate and Cane's spunky youngest sister, Sherry, took control of the reins.
The brunette tapped a painted nail over Cane's chest. "Makes me want to do a little early Christmas shopping."
Irrational jealousy flared in Angelle's stomach. Cane's not really mine, she reminded herself. Despite what my parents may think. This chick's free to bid on him if she wants. But as the woman's lips tipped up in a cougar-like grin, that irrational flare grew into a blazing inferno of possession.
Chuckling to herself, the woman glanced at the elevated stage and catwalk centered in the room. "Good luck in there tonight. And may the auction gods be in both our favors, huh?"
Angelle nodded, forcing a brittle smile as the brunette sauntered away, hips swaying beneath the skin-tight fabric of her dress. Then, exhaling a frustrated breath, she began scouting for the bar. Normally, Angie wasn't much of a drinker, but if Cane was a bachelor up for bid—which she should've assumed considering he was Cane, after all—then she was gonna need the mental fuzziness. Otherwise, she'd likely do something to embarrass herself.
Such as win the man and then ask him for an incredibly crazy favor.
Looking past the image of forbidden flesh, her eyes slid over the long silent auction table boasting lingerie, jewelry, and highly questionable novelty items. Lining the floor beyond that were cramped cocktail tables decorated with what appeared to be whips and bright feather boas. A jolly, holiday-appropriate, yet completely incongruous Christmas tree was off in the far corner, holding ornaments she was sure would shock the country out of her if they were visible. To say Angie was out of her comfort zone would be an understatement of massive proportions. She was so far outside the zone she may as well be in a different zip code.
Why on earth had she thought an event by Sherry Robicheaux would be tame?
This was what Angelle got for not asking questions. She'd been too slammed between working shifts at the stables and volunteering at the firehouse to push for details, and her roommate hadn't exactly been forthcoming. Now she understood why. Sherry knew Angelle wasn't brazen like the brunette or a flirty vixen like herself. Nope, she turned five freaking shades of red simply ogling a damn poster.
Shaking her head with a grunt, Angelle turned to leave, her well-worn flannel pajamas and the Hallmark channel calling her name ... and locked eyes with Colby.
So much for her escape plan.
Colby was Angelle's former rival turned friend. She was also Sherry's sister, and together the two women had taken her under their wings, practically making her an honorary Robicheaux. Now that Colby had spotted her, there was no way Angelle could get out of staying. At least not without admitting her considerably non-sisterly feelings for big brother Cane. Which she'd never do. The two women would be like dogs with a bone if they ever caught wind of her feelings—matchmaking, plotting, and hankering for a love match. She loved her friends to death, but despite her town newbie status, there was one thing Angelle knew as well as any native ...
Commitment, in Cane Robicheaux's eyes, was a four-letter word.
Colby waved her over with a wide smile, indicating the empty chairs at her reserved table. A table located dead center facing the catwalk, giving them front-row seats to the debauchery beginning any minute.
"This is for charity," she reminded herself, propelling her feet forward. Her continued presence and the tightness in her belly had nothing to do with Cane being a bachelor. Or the fantasy of bidding on him. Nope, even her overactive imagination knew that was never gonna happen.
Audacious she wasn't. But oh, how she wished she were.
When she'd left her small hometown of Bon Terre, Angelle had vowed to reinvent herself. To leave the timid mouse behind in Cajun country, honor her sister's memory, and carve her own destiny for once. But nine months later, Angelle was still Angelle, just in a different town.
Her plans for taking on the big bad city of New Orleans had changed the moment she stumbled upon sleepy, sheltered Magnolia Springs. A suburb a mere thirty miles shy of her intended destination and a town that, while certainly different, was only marginally larger than the one she'd fled.
Her wish to be daring did lead her to become a local volunteer firefighter, a dream she'd held since she was nine years old. But it also only took three months of flinching at every creak of the floorboard and whistle of the wind to kiss her dream of living alone good-bye and move into a cramped apartment with Sherry.
And finally—and perhaps the most distressing—it was Angelle's overwhelming desire for more than a string of Cracklin Queen titles and a life of inactivity that had landed her in the biggest pickle of her existence.
The reminder of her ginormous lie, followed by the crazy promise she'd made her mama just an hour ago made her groan aloud. At least when I make a mess, I make sure it's a good one.
Angie cut to the right as Colby lifted two glasses high in the air. Either her friend was double-fisting for the night or she'd miraculously read Angelle's mind. She hastened her steps, the bright red drink calling to her like a beacon—then pitched forward abruptly when her heel snagged on the carpet.
Without thinking, she snapped her arms out to stop her momentum.
And whacked an elderly woman upside the head with her purse.
Time stopped. Then it fast-forwarded as Angie's eyes widened in dawning horror. Wincing, she raised her head and saw Colby sitting a mere two table-lengths away, mouth twitching with laugher. Sadly, it wasn't twitching with surprise, because this sort of thing was par for the course and, unfortunately, how Angie rolled: ungraceful and clumsy, with an added dash of socially awkward.
Bracing herself, Angelle turned to the poor blindsided woman, who smiled as warmly as she'd expected, because that was how residents of her new hometown rolled: forever kind and forgiving, even when randomly assaulted. "Oh, Mrs. Thibodeaux, I'm so, so sorry." She smoothed her hands along the beaded sleeves of the elderly salon owner's gown, wishing the ground would swallow her whole. "I didn't see you. I didn't—"
The gray-haired woman tsked, brushing her hands away. "Girl, that carpet's older than me, which means it's older than dirt. Your pretty shoes getting caught ain't your fault." She palmed Angelle's flushed face and gave it a not-so-gentle tap. "Now stop all this fussing over an old broad and go grab yourself a drink. It's almost time to win you a gentleman."
Angelle placed a hand over the woman's wrinkled one, grateful for the understanding. Of course, there wasn't a chance in Hades she'd win anything—or anyone. But that drink was sounding better and better.
After escorting Mrs. Thibodeaux to her table of friends, Angie finally made it to Colby's table. With a poorly disguised chuckle, her friend held out a tall glass. "You look as though you could use this."
"What gave me away?" she asked, making grabby hands for the drink. "My elegant stroll across the room or my cheeks flushing as red as my hair at your sister's welcome poster?" She took a long pull off the straw and made a yummy noise of contentment—hurricanes, nectar of the gods.
Colby laughed. "And here I thought that rosy flush was my brother's doing." Angie squirmed in her seat, and her friend winked knowingly. "As for the poster, I admit the majority of Sherry's schemes are questionable at best, but in this case I think she's onto something. Adding the Best Abs contest almost doubled advance ticket sales. Higher attendance means more money for Project Nicholas."
Angelle nodded, agreeing that anything that made more money for the local charity, which provided a Christmas for kids who didn't expect one, was indeed awesome. But then the rest of Colby's words sank in, and she choked on her drink.
Colby patted her back as Angelle slapped her chest. "Did you just say Best Abs?"
That explained the poster in the entryway.
Colby sat back with a frown. "Sherry didn't tell you anything about tonight, did she?"
She shook her head as lovely air made its way back through her windpipe. "That would be a gigantic nope. And I'm beginning to think that was intentional."
"You're probably right about that." A chorus of hoots erupted from the table behind them and Colby rolled her eyes, leaning in. "Well then, let's get you up to speed. The Best Abs contest kicks off the night. Instead of tuxes, I'm guessing the guys will be strutting around shirtless—most likely in Santa hats, if I know my sister. We'll vote for the bachelor with the most delicious six-pack, and then it's on to bidding on them like cattle." She grinned as she looked at the rock on her finger. "Well, I won't be bidding. But the rest of you will."
An image of a shirtless Cane in living hot color leapt into her mind, and Angelle's tummy fluttered. "I'm not bidding, either." Colby wrinkled her nose, and she clarified. "I'm making a donation, but I'm only here to support the guys Sherry roped into this thing."
Colby shot her a look of disbelief, but a woman with purple-streaked hair and a bright red getup a la Mrs. Claus chose that precise moment to walk out onstage. Angelle watched as Sherry surveyed the amassed crowd with a wide, maniacal grin, then waved enthusiastically when she spotted the two of them front and center.
"That girl has no shame," Angelle muttered. She pointed her finger with narrowed eyes, indicating her feelings on being bamboozled into coming, but Sherry merely sent her a dramatic air-kiss and Angie couldn't help but laugh. It was dang near impossible to stay annoyed at her quirky friend.
"Absolutely none," Colby agreed. "But to her credit, she offered to make tonight equal opportunity and let the women take part. Fortunately, no one thought Best Boobs on an event poster for charity would go over too well." They shared a look and broke into laughter. Only Sherry would suggest something like that with the genuine intention of being fair.
Magnolia Springs may not be the adventure Angelle had set out to find, but she was ever grateful for the detour.
Women began taking their seats, alerting Angie that the auction was about to begin. Her heart beat a strange rhythm against her breastbone and, removing her straw, she tipped her glass back and drained the remaining contents with one big gulp.
Colby gave the empty glass a pointed look. "So you're really not bidding tonight? Not even on an overbearing, good-hearted, bartender-slash-restaurant-owner?"
"Especially not on him," she answered emphatically, even as a voice whispered that doing so would solve her problem. Realizing that may sound harsh to the man's sister, she explained, "Not that there's anything wrong with Cane. Your brother's great. He's just not my type."
Colby snorted. Judging by that and the arch of her perfectly defined eyebrow, the talented chef wasn't buying the disinterested line of bull at all. Unfortunately, Colby had eagle eyes. She'd witnessed enough of Angelle's squeaks, blushes, and stutters whenever Cane flashed his dimples or showed her extra attention that she could call her bluff. But Angie planned on pleading the fifth to the grave.
The truth was that other than a passing, embarrassing interest in Jason (the fire captain who was now Colby's fiancé), Cane was the only man in town who'd even sparked Angie's interest. And he put the miniscule flicker of attraction she'd once felt for Jason to shame. That's probably because it hadn't even been Jason Angie had wanted. More like the idea of him. Her ill-advised crush had been back at the start of the summer, when her parents had first started hounding her.
Before her lies had snowballed. And she became short one fake fiancé.
"Then sweetie, enlighten me," Colby said, resting her chin on her hand. "What is your type? Because as long as we've been friends, I don't think you've gone on a single date."
Angelle blew out a breath as she flagged a passing waitress with her empty glass. It was always fun when that depressing truth made its way into a conversation. "To be honest, I don't know," she admitted. "I haven't been on a first date since I was seventeen." Colby's jaw gaped, and she shrugged. "I didn't really date much before then, either. Brady, my ex, was a family friend, and we actually dated until right before I came here."
Right after he proposed in front of God and everyone.
Excerpted from Seven Day Fiance by Rachel Harris, Alycia Tornetta, Stacy Cantor Abrams. Copyright © 2013 Rachel Harris. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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