A nice girl wouldn’t even consider making her ex jealous with a sham marriage, so why does she chance it with Roman?
Acting the role of devoted husband, Roman soon becomes fascinated with more than Jules’s sweet smile and poetic soul. As her band’s fame grows in Vegas so do his feelings for her and what started out as revenge against his miserable cousin turns into something deeper.
But bad boys don’t settle down. So why does Roman risk everything to win Jules’ heart?
All bets are off in this modern and sleek tale of star-crossed love!
She absolutely adores Bollywood and bonnet movies; i.e., Jane Austen.
Presently, she lives in Salt Lake where she’s living the life of the starving artist.
The ideas for the song just kept coming. Jules made notations on her notepad, talking to herself like she did when she was deep in creation mode. She muttered something about Roman’s name and how it didn’t rhyme with anything good, but that was okay because she didn’t want to give away that the song was about him anyway. She tried out a few different names when she was interrupted.
“That’s the song you sang last night.”
Jules sucked in her breath when she saw Roman leaning on the glass doors, and her cheeks burned. What exactly had she said aloud and what had he overheard? Too much—judging by his grin.
“I’m sorry if I’m offending your ears,” she said. “The creative process isn’t pretty.”
“Oh, it’s very pretty,” he said with a wink. His admiring gaze ran over her and showed her exactly what he meant.
As if to change the subject, he held up two plates of his kung pao chicken and her stomach rumbled at the smell. She hadn’t known she was so hungry. “That’s about Romeo and Juliet, right?” he asked. It was safer to admit that and so she nodded. “Or is it about Roman and Jules?” he added cheekily.
She burst out in a laugh. He was shameless. She desperately tried to find something else to talk about. “If I’d known you were a chef, I’d have married you sooner, like before we’d met.”
He smiled and set her plate on a marbled table in front of her, though he stopped her before she set her guitar aside and sat next to her. “No, you’ve got to play our song all the way through for me first.”
“Oh really? You’re making me play for my supper now?”
“Sure, let’s make it a tradition.”
She knocked him back with her shoulder. “You’ll be sorry.”
He rubbed his arm, pretending to be deeply wounded before he relaxed back in the love seat and put his arm around her. “No, no, even after you touching me, I’m still not sorry. Maybe even less than before.”
Roman lost no opportunity to flirt with her. Shaking her head, she brought her hand back to her guitar and ran her fingers across the strings. He seemed mesmerized by the sight of her ring as much as she was, though she was probably imagining it. She sang their song, keeping the melody as light and cute as she’d meant it, but then something changed in the middle somewhere. It was a lot more romantic than she’d thought. Almost wistful. How had that happened?
His brows drew in and he pulled forward, resting his chin over his closed fist as he watched her fingers slide down the frets. The last of her lyrics left her lips and seemed to float in the air between them in the sudden silence.
She didn’t know where that depth of feeling came from; she’d almost forgotten herself as much as she had last night, but she shouldn’t. Bad boys didn’t fall in love. No, Ty was the sensible one, who helped out with charities and ran his mother’s business. Between the two men, he’d be the one who’d take her seriously.
Roman’s fist left his chin and he reached past the kung pao chicken and ran the back of his hand down her cheek. Her skin tingled at the contact, and she realized that she wasn’t the only one who’d fallen under the spell of their song. Was he going to kiss her? Again?
She wanted him to… but no, she didn’t. Shouldn’t. Her eyes lifted to his and they searched hers like he was trying to read her. Her mouth opened in a protest that didn’t leave her lips because she couldn’t utter the lie—she did want him to touch her. He closed his mouth firmly and a tick worked in his jaw until he snatched his hand back. “That was beautiful.” It came out strangled and he smirked and cleared his throat. “Let’s take the food inside. We’ll play a game while we eat.”
She set the guitar aside and picked up the plate. It was for the best. They couldn’t confuse their relationship further. He held the door open for her, his whole face stiff like she was torturing him.
That made her smile because he was doing the same thing to her. “Cheer up,” she said, and with great daring, touched his bristly jaw, liking the rough feel of it under her fingertips.
She probably shouldn’t have done it, because he caught her hand and pulled her closer like he’d reached the end of his resistance. “Hey.” His dark brows lowered as he took her in, and then he settled for a kiss on her cheek. “Let’s make this a ‘good night’ we never forget.” Too late, she realized how much he’d listened to her lyrics.
If he kissed her again, she wasn’t sure how much she could keep back the stirrings in her heart, but he spared her the dilemma by guiding her inside his apartment to his indoor bowling lane. When he’d said a game, she’d thought something less active, but bowling was the perfect distraction, even if she was a lousy player. Her cheek felt hot where his lips had touched her moments before.
She settled into a seat next to the bowling balls and noticed that he expected her to eat the kung pao chicken with chopsticks. She held them up and squinted one-eyed at them. “I’m not this coordinated.”
“Sure you are!” He sat on the other side of her and picked up his own chopsticks. “See?” He expertly stole a mouthful of food with them. “Delicious.”
“That doesn’t help me.”
“Oh, let me.” He captured more of her food with his chopsticks and fed her this time.
She almost choked over her sputtering laughter. “You can’t do that with my whole meal.”
“Just watch me.”
She wrestled the chopsticks from him and gave it a clumsy try until she pointed at the bowling lane behind him. “Hey, what’s that?”
He turned and she escaped him to get a fork in the kitchen. “Cheater!” he shouted at her back. When she returned, she avoided his laughing eyes and dug into her food to show him how it was done. “You’re no fun,” he accused.
“Yeah? Well, I don’t believe in starving to death.”
“I said I’d feed you.”
She made a face until she took another bite and savored the food he’d made—the flavors serenaded her taste buds. He was really a good cook, and they drifted into silence while they ate, though even impaired with chopsticks, he finished up his food faster and pushed from the table to approach the bowling balls on the side rack.
Picking up a light blue one, he tested the weight of it, one-handed. He glanced back at her. “You can have this one.”
She hid her face with an embarrassed laugh. Was tonight about showing her up? “Why do I have a feeling that you’ve had more practice at this game than I’ve had?”
He straightened to give her a challenging look. “You want to even the odds? I’ll give you four tries to my two.”
She pushed away from the table. “Yeah right—then I’d feel four times worse if you won.” It had been a long time since she’d played, but she hoped that by some miracle she’d improved. This was such a fun setup that she’d play every day if she ended up being any good. He sat down at the table while Jules picked up the ball and approached the lane. She let the bowling ball go and it flew over the side and landed on the wooden floor near the entertainment room. Mercutio came running, the oversized puppy yapping loudly at the scare as he scrambled from the entertainment room. She felt her face go hot. “Yeah,” she conceded. “Let’s go with four tries to your two. I’m totally good with that.”
He didn’t move, though his brow shot up. “Should I get out the bumpers first?”
“I need a heavier ball,” she argued against his sarcasm. “Obviously.” She found the heaviest one on the rack and kissed it for luck before she threw it. It was so heavy that it wasn’t going anywhere. It slowly rolled to the pins until it almost came to a stop before bumping a single one over.
“You have just won the prize for the slowest ball,” he remarked from the table.
“I don’t want that prize.”
He made a sympathetic sound and stood up to hug her. The warmth behind his strong hold was appreciated, but his pity wasn’t. He stepped back. “You want a lesson on form?” Before she could ask, he was sliding his arms around her waist and guiding her movements as if she held a ball.
She couldn’t stop giggling. “Are you trying to get close to me?”
“My own wife?” he asked. She liked the sound of that and then gave herself a stern lecture—this wasn’t real—but it was too late. Roman Verona was capturing her heart without even trying and she hadn’t seen it coming. “No, no,” he said. “I’d never.”
She covered her mouth and shoved him back, blushing. “Do you use that line on all the girls?”
“Just the ones I fake marry.”
“Okay, then… hubby, let’s see if you’re as good at teaching as you are at lying.” She picked up another ball and let it go, praying she could show him up this time. It rolled much faster than the last one and still kept in the lanes. It crashed into half of the pins, knocking them over.
He instantly took credit for it.
“Not so fast, hot stuff,” she said. “That was just a lucky shot.” She retrieved her bowling ball and took her last turn. And then screamed out when it took out the rest of the pins. She might actually be good at this. Who knew?
“You do your teacher proud,” he said, ruffling her hair and messing it all up. “I’ve got the magic touch.”
She fumed, though happily so. It was his turn, and he picked up the ball and bowled a strike. There was no way she’d win against him. Jules lost no time trash talking—and while she was at it—cheating. She tackled him from behind, holding him back before he could get to the lane for his next shot. She might as well be as clumsy as Mercutio for all the good it did. She held onto him as he dragged her forward, laughing down at her. “You’re such a poor sport,” he said.
“Yeah, yeah, I am!”
Mercutio jumped around them, adding to the chaos. Roman twisted and tickled Jules until she let him go and then he threw his ball. The dog let out a yelp and chased after it. Jules cheered him on, but the gangly puppy wasn’t able to push it off course before Roman got in another strike.
Jules slapped the floor in dismay and Roman reached over and untied her shoe as he passed by. Groaning, she leaned over to retie it while Mercutio bounded around her legs to go after her bowling ball too. Jules was half afraid of letting it go for fear of hitting the dog.
“Oh no, you don’t.” Roman hauled Mercutio back.
Smiling her gratitude, Jules bowled and took out eight pins. She threw her hands up in the air. “Take that, Roman!”
He wasn’t taking that lying down. “Let’s see you do that again, you little braggart.”
Jules made a little gasp, her spine tingling at the fun. What was he up to? She put nothing past him now that she’d cheated herself. She pinned him with stern eyes. No way was she turning her back on him. “I’m on to you, Roman.”
He scratched the dog’s neck with his most innocent look. “I didn’t do anything yet.”
“Yeah, because you’re tricky. I know you.”
“You sure about that?”
There was more truth to that than he’d intended, and she hid her smile and bowled again, one after another until she took out the last of the pins with her final turn.
“Oh, you weren’t supposed to do that,” he said behind her. “You’re supposed to let me win.” He rose from his seat, sliding the large puppy from his legs with his muscular arms.
“I thought that was your job,” she teased, “and you’re doing very poorly at it, might I add.” She took hold of Mercutio’s collar to stop him from dashing out.
“No more cheating this time,” Roman said. “Do I need to hold you next?”
She turned a mischievous grin on him. “I’d like to see you try.”
His hand grazed the bowling ball as he turned back to her. “You mean that?”
Her heart jolted and she held Mercutio tightly to her. More than anything, but maybe she’d taken the flirting too far?