author of sexy romantic comedies comes the story of a meddling grandmother
searching for lifelong love. For her hockey player grandson…
Aphrodite’s Boutique, a store that specializes in all things love-related. A
store that I adore with all my heart, and which is at risk of being shut down
and replaced with a condo development.
all I have to do is pretend to be Travis Hamilton’s girlfriend.
simple enough. Right?
and I have a history together…but he doesn’t seem to remember me.
well-meaning grandmother raised me after my parents died, but now she’s
determined to help me find The One. But when most women I meet tend to
be puck bunnies or women only interested in my hockey-player salary—and let’s
not forget the nutcase of an ex-girlfriend—why bother?
girlfriend will deter my grandmother’s matchmaking scheme.
one woman who can help me is the sexy redhead who wants to assist me as much as
she wants her eyeballs dunked in hot sauce and barbecued.
her, I promise to help her with her own dilemma. But sometimes fire and ice
really do mix. Now I have to decide if love is in the air—and if together Emma
and I make something hotter. Something stronger. Something real.
the fountain’s ledge, I pulled on my rubber boots. Why the boots?
expect me to climb into the fountain in my heels or go barefooted, did you?
looks like so much fun,” Hannah said, laughing. “If I didn’t have to go to work
in a few minutes, I would’ve volunteered to help you. But alas…” She snickered.
“Why are you doing this when there are no birds in the store to crap on the
because there are no birds doesn’t mean Aphrodite doesn’t get dusty.” I had no
idea if the woman in the toga really was supposed to be the Greek goddess of
love, but she looked similar enough. “Plus I need to remove the coins, and it’s
a lot easier to do that by climbing in the water to retrieve them.”
so.” The laughter in her voice was still there.
above the door jingled and I glanced up to see if I was about to be busy—or if
Lisa could handle things. Several people already were milling around, checking
out the merchandise or trying on the lingerie in the fitting room.
entered the store and his gaze settled on me.
should be good,” Hannah said. “Too bad I have to leave now if I want to make it
to work on time.”
head to look at her. “What should be good?”
you were scowling at the other day is obviously here for a repeat. And this
time he’s minus the senior citizen squad. On that note, I’m off now. I’ll call
you later for the scoop.” She started backing away. “And have fun with your
could respond, she was out the door, pausing only long enough to give Travis a
quick once-over and wave good-bye to me.
the only one to be given a once-over. Except in my case, his gaze slowly
traveled up my body as if he were undressing me—removing my ever-so-sexy rubber
boots; my whimsical blue floral sundress that brushed against my knees; my
white lacy bra and underwear, which he couldn’t see but I was sure he was
imagining on me. That, or he was imagining I was in a thong.
gaze was on my face, his mouth slid up to one side. “The boots are definitely a
nice touch. But I must admit I’m more a fan of stilettos.” He leaned in closer,
his breath brushing against my ear…and my body decided to go rogue and ignore
my brain telling it to take a step back.
when the legs they’re attached to are wrapped around my waist,” he added.
No—the girlie part between my legs did not release a longing sigh. Not. At.
requirements for next boyfriend.
away from him, the back of my calves hitting the low fountain wall. “What are
you doing here? I thought we weren’t checking out any more retail spaces until
talk to you.”
that, but now’s not a good time.”
the fountain. “I have to clean it and remove the money. So unless whatever you
need to tell me can be done while I’m working, you’ll have to come back later.”
Or preferably never.
have to be at work or something?” I had no idea what he did for a living, but
it probably didn’t involve hanging around my store.
his mouth to answer but didn’t get that far.
aren’t you, like, Travis Hamilton?” A tall teenage girl asked him. She was
pretty, with an athletic body and long dark hair spilling down her back.
wait for him to reply. “I also play defense. You’re like my idol.”
eyebrows climb north. Idol? Why would she idolize him?
she even know him?
should have Googled him…like I had with some of my past dates.
was going out with him.
her a friendly smile—not like the smiles that threw me off kilter. “Nice to
was looking at Travis as though she also had no idea why the girl was excited
seeing him here.
Travis Hamilton,” the dark-haired girl explained. “He plays defense for the San
Francisco Rock. The NHL team.”
chatting to him, mostly about hockey. Since I still had work to do, I grabbed
the cloth on the ledge and climbed in. I’d already turned the water off before
putting my boots on.
ever tried walking through a fountain while wearing rubber boots? It’s not
easy. And I don’t care how graceful you normally are, this sucks all the
gracefulness from you in one easy swoop.
figured the sacrifice was worth it. For Aphrodite’s sake…which could only help
benefit the store.
Aphrodite could help me with my lease problem.
a little spa treatment?” I asked the statue in almost a whisper. No need for
the customers to believe I was crazy.
the cloth in the water and began cleaning her.
you doing?” Travis asked.
it look like?” I spared him a glance over my shoulder. The girls he had been
talking to were no longer with him.
like you’re giving her a sponge bath. Very kinky, by the way.”
eyes. “I’m cleaning her and then I have to remove the money.”
you do with the money?”
charity,” I said, my attention on my task.
center for underprivileged kids where I volunteer.”
local youth center for underprivileged kids?”
around and glanced at him from over Aphrodite’s shoulder. “Why not there?”
of his mouth twitched up to one side. “I asked you first.” At my silence, he
continued, “The Rock encourages its players to be active in the community. Some
players donate large amounts of money to a charity of their choice. Some
participate in various events at the children’s hospital, which are always
popular with the kids. For some players, they do it simply because publicity
recommended they give back to those less fortunate—because it makes the player
look good. Others do it because their charity has special meaning to them. So
which is it for you?”
of player are you?” I replied. Or maybe he donated neither time nor money.
money to a charity that provides sports equipment to kids. Because of the cost,
they might not otherwise be able to play hockey. And I participate in the annual
wheelchair hockey game at the kids’ hospital.”
“selfless” on my list of requirements for potential boyfriends? No—but it was a
given. I’d written off a few individuals in the past because they didn’t
believe in donating either time or money to a worthy cause.
heart had warmed up a little bit more toward Travis. Not that it mattered. He
wasn’t looking for a girlfriend, and I wasn’t looking to be a fake one.
that charity and event?” I asked.
was back on his face. “Uh, uh. You first. Why the youth center?”
in the water shimmered under the bright store light overhead, almost as if
encouraging me to tell him.
understand what it feels like to be underprivileged. I grew up in foster care.”
would know if he remembered me from school.
didn’t—so what was a girl to do?
Aphrodite had an answer for that. The pump that I had turned off before
climbing into the fountain suddenly turned on. Water burst up from the jets,
hitting me full on—and I shrieked. Ugh!
fountain turned off as quickly as it had turned on, leaving me standing there with
water dripping from my hair and down my body. My now-wet dress clung to me,
leaving not much to the imagination, including my white lacy bra and underwear.
Lisa called out, returning from the back. “I accidentally hit the switch to the
fountain.” Her gaze landed on me, soaked and still standing in the water, and
her hand flew to her mouth. Not from shock. She was attempting to hold back a
over the fountain’s low wall. Squish.
sorry,” she said, her hand still covering her mouth. The corners of her eyes
crinkled with barely held back laughter.
wasn’t doing much better.
yank off a rubber boot—which wasn’t easy when your foot was wet and you were
standing. Swaying on one foot, I grabbed the closest thing available to hold on
to: Travis’s arm.
the man worked out.
think about his hot, muscular body.…
removed my hand from his arm, but it was either touch him or risk falling over.
eventually slipped free of my foot. I tilted it, pouring the water back into
the fountain. Once it was empty, I placed the boot on the ledge and proceeded
to do the same with the other one while still holding on to Travis.
dignity I had left—which was pretty much zero—I walked toward the back where my
office was located. With my body shivering, thanks to the air conditioning, I
tossed an “I’ll be back in a moment” over my shoulder to Lisa.
office, I scanned the area for something to dry off with.
clicked shut behind me. I startled and spun around. Travis was standing in
front of the closed door, his eyes dark and focused on my breasts. Or more
specifically, my perky nipples pressing against the wet fabric of my thin bra and
my arms in front of me, doing my best to hide the view. Doing my best to warm
my girls up.
good time to ask you again about being my fake girlfriend?” In his hand was a
soft wool throw from the store. Red on one side and white on the other, it was
covered in hearts of the opposite color.
the deal? You’ll give me the throw if I agree to be your fake girlfriend?”
There might have been some teeth chattering when I said it. “And just so you
know, that’s not going to work. For one, I can’t sell the blanket if it’s
take a lot more than a blanket for me to agree to be your fake girlfriend.” A
deliciously warm blanket.
that mean you’re considering it?”
head. “There’s nothing you can offer me that will make me change my mind.”
you not being forced to relocate? Would that cause you to change your mind?”
laugh. “How exactly do you expect to do that? The owner doesn’t want my store
in the building anymore because it won’t fit with the new image.”
able to change his mind.”
help you and at the end of the day I’m still screwed?”
not it at all.” He stepped closer. “The blanket’s now mine. And I don’t care if
it gets dirty.” When I didn’t say anything, he wrapped it around my shoulders.
His finger accidentally brushed against my bare arm. And this time when I
shivered, it was for an entirely different reason.
welcome. Now back to you being my fake girlfriend.”
head again. “Not happening.”
if I can’t get the owner to change his mind about your store by October first,
I’ll help you find another location that fits your needs.”
enough. If I’m pretending to be your girlfriend, I won’t be able to date a real
looked, I am a real man.” He gestured
at his shorts…and the noticeable bulge there. A bulge that wasn’t so noticeable
burst free. “Sorry. I wasn’t laughing at your manhood,” I quickly said, doing
my best to not start giggling.
an eyebrow and my attempt to curtail my giggle failed.
Brighton England, Stina Lindenblatt has lived in a number of countries,
including England, the US, Finland, and Canada. This would explain her mixed up
accent. She has a kinesiology degree and a MSc in sports biological sciences.
In addition to writing fiction, she loves photography, especially the close-up
variety, and currently lives in Calgary, Canada, with her husband and three