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Authors: Frankie Love

KING: Las Vegas Bad Boys (9 page)

BOOK: KING: Las Vegas Bad Boys
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Chapter Twelve
Claire

I
fall
asleep for most of the flight, and wake only as Landon gently nudges my arm.

“We’re here, love,” he says, tucking a piece of my hair off my face.

That gets me sitting up straight.

“Love?”

He laughs. “I was trying it on for size. You know, to make this believable. We need pet names.”

“And mine is
Love
?”

“Right. It rolls off the tongue. You can call me anything you like. However, we should think on it as we walk. The rest of the plane has already disembarked.”

I unbuckle and look around. “You let me sleep while everyone walked past me?” I swat his arm. “Was I drooling?”

“You looked perfect.”

I eye Landon cautiously. He’s being ridiculously nice. Which, actually, he’s been pretty generous with me the entire time we’ve been hanging out. And by
hanging out
I mean planning on conning his loved ones, and having sex.

I stand and get my purse. “Okay, Babycakes.”

“So you’re going with Babycakes .then?” he asks, deadpan.

I walk off the plane with him trailing me. “It’s better than Toots.”

“It’s better than a lot of things. That doesn’t mean you should consider calling me Fuck-machine.”

I laugh, swatting his arm as he reaches for my hand again. We walk into the crowded airport. The Las Vegas airport suddenly seems minuscule, compared to this place. People from everywhere on the globe cross our path. Dialects and languages circle around us, and my face brightens as I realize that I really did it. I travelled to another country.

Looking down, I see Landon’s hand holding mine.

“You know you don’t have to hold my hand until we get to your parents house,” I tell him, as our fingers lace together effortlessly.

“Do you mind? I want to be in the habit of it, so it seems natural.”

“I don’t mind. We’re in England—this is your turf, your rules. Your wish is my command.”

“Okay, then.” He stops in the middle of the airport terminal.

Hundreds of people swarm around us. Huge windows are on either side of us, and planes are landing and taking off. It’s the place people go to leave. The airport is where stories end, the place stories begin.

The place where Landon is kneeling down on one knee.

Ohmigosh
. I silently will him to stand. He could just slip a ring on my finger without a show ... yet here he is, pulling out a black box, holding my hand, looking into my eyes.

“Claire, the moment we waltzed, arm in arm, I knew you and I were destined for greatness. You literally glided into my life, and you are the only person I want to have this crazy adventure with.”

“You don’t have to do this,” I whisper out of the corner of my mouth. People have stopped walking; they’re watching, cameras poised at their faces as literal strangers begin documenting this proposal. My face is hot, my chest pounds. This is so not happening.

“Claire, I have to do this. Right now. Before another moment passes us by. Will you make me the happiest bloke in the world and be my bride?”

My eyes are basically falling off my face—and not because that diamond ring is beyond enormous, but because Landon looks so ridiculously handsome, so absolutely out of my league. He’s in a tie and collared shirt, a suit coat and nice slacks; he has on cufflinks for God’s sake. No one would believe we were together.

But then I look down at myself, with my high heels and manicured hands. My gorgeous clothing, and my three-thousand-dollar purse.

We fit. We match.

“Say yes,” he says, holding the solitaire flanked with two emeralds.

“Yes,” I say breathlessly.

“She said yes!” someone in the crowd calls, and everyone is clapping, calling out congratulations, and hollering.

I blink back tears, tears that make zero sense. This isn’t a real proposal. Landon and I aren’t actually in love.

Still, Landon slides the ring on my finger and stands, pulling me into a hug, and then a kiss as natural as our hands lacing together.

He picks me up off the ground and twirls me in a circle, grinning like a lovesick fool.

Then he sets me back down, and the crowd keeps moving—because everyone in this airport has a place to be. He cups my face in his hands and says, “For the record, you are a beautiful fake fiancée.”

“You aren’t so bad yourself.” I kiss him again, because I want to. Because this fake proposal took my breath away. I knew he’d give me a ring at some point, but I didn’t expect it to make me weak in the knees.

I can’t let my guard down, though. Landon sees this as a job, and so do I. I’m not in the business of making myself look like a fool.

Right now, I’m in the business of making two hundred and fifty thousand bucks in one week’s time.

He wants this to look as real as possible? I can give him that. I can give him exactly what he wants.

There are worse things than pretending to be in love.

* * *

Landon

I haven’t been to the family estate in nine months. I came last Christmas for two days, before flying to Bali for a week. Mum kept wiping her eyes the whole time, giving me a royal guilt trip for not being there longer, doing more. I shouldn’t have come at all, because being there only proved to them what I’m not.

No one wants to think about what I actually am.

Least of all me.

“So your mother is Helen and your father is Arthur. Tell me something else I should know,” Claire says, tucking her hair behind her ear. She holds her phone in her lap, and is texting as we travel the one-hour drive to Hertfordshire. I have no bloody clue who she’s speaking with ... and I have this strange curiosity to know.

She’s quizzing me, but I want to know everything about her.

“Right,” I say, stretching my legs in the back of the sleek town car. “Fiona, of course, is a bitch. And her sister hates me, so avoid asking about the family.”

“Why does she hate you?” she asks.

“Because I slept with her. But it was a long time ago. And the thing is, Fiona doesn’t even know the half of it.”

“What’s the other half?”

I snort, feeling my cheeks heat up. “I slept with her mother too.”

“Landon!” Claire punches me in the arm. “That’s terrible.”

Wincing playfully, I add, “It was holiday, I’d gotten drunk on eggnog. I was barely legal. She pounced. She was the original cougar.”

Claire rolls her eyes. “What else should I know? Because I know you’re a player in Vegas ... but, Landon, were you really that wild here, too?”

“Honestly? I was probably worse.”

“Did you intentionally omit these details when you offered me the job?”

“What, you don’t think you can do it?”

“I can do it.” She silences her phone and shoves it back in her bag. “I can do anything for a week.”

I take her hand in mind, resting them on leather seat of the town car. The diamond gleams between us like a million bucks. Scratch that—like two million bucks. Because that was what it bloody cost. However, using a perk of being the owner’s son, I borrowed it from the Vegas branch of The King’s Diamond ... since I don’t actually have that sort of cash yet.

Soon enough I will. Soon it will be my store. My company.

“It’s so beautiful,” Claire says, sighing as she looks out the window. It’s late—after dinner—and the sky is heavy with the colors of a setting sun. “Did you go to school here?”

“Primary school, yes. Then I went to boarding school in Edinburgh and uni at Cambridge. Where did you go to school?”

Claire licks her lips. “We should probably make up my whole back story, don’t you think? Falling for a cocktail waitress is not going to win the family over.”

“I suppose. It’s kind of bollocks though, isn’t it?” I run my hand over my jaw, confused as to why I feel protective of Claire and her feelings.

I don’t want to offend her with the truth of the people I come from. They would judge the hell out of her if they know she serves rum and Cokes for a living, while wearing a corset and fishnets. How the fuck do I know this? Because they have been judging me for the past decade for doing nothing with my life as well.

Not that Claire isn’t doing something with her life—she seems happy-ish—but she isn’t exactly riddled with life-passion or motivation, is she?

Okay. I’ve got to stop this. I don’t want to become an entirely different sort of ass the moment I land in the Heathrow airport. An ass like Geoffrey. I can live with being a womanizing prick, but a judgmental one? Not at all.

“I know that my job is usually a stepping stone for most people—but, Landon, I’m not most people. I don’t even know what sort of job I’d want if I weren’t a waitress. The money is decent. And the hours are great.”

“Are they really?” I can’t help but ask. “Because it’s actually something I’ve always wondered. Why do you work the crappiest shifts at the Spades? Surely Ace would give you a leg up? Let you work weekend nights and make more in tips?”

Claire shifts uncomfortably in her seat, her soft wool coat covering so many inches of her, the inches I want to run my hands over.

“I don’t want to talk about it, Landon,” she says briskly. “I like my job, and the shifts I have are the ones I want.”

“Duly noted.”

“But, honestly, we need a backstory. How we met. What I’m doing in Vegas. Hell, what
you’re
doing in Vegas. We need to know why they should give the company to you.”

“We really should have discussed this before we were fifteen minutes from my parents house.”

“Fifteen? Fuck, Landon.” She covers her mouth. “Shit. I can’t say fuck around them. They’re proper, right? Like rich, and have tea and a maid? Tell me, is it going to be like an episode of Downton Abbey?”

“First of all, Downton takes place, like, one hundred years ago. You do realize that? But yes ... they have a staff. And afternoon tea.”

“I’m so over my head.” She takes deep breaths in and out, closes her eyes. Grips my hand tight in hers.

“Are you going to have another panic attack?” I ask. “Because, really, this is not at all what I envisioned. I need put-together Claire. Claire who’s always, you know, responsible.”

“But, Landon, you’re the one who needs to be cool, calm, put together. You’re the one who needs to win them over, not me. I’m an accessory.”

“Fuck.” I match her breathing pattern, realizing she’s absolutely right. I brought her along to prove how reliable I am. To show my parents that I’m able to commit.

The truth is, their eyes will still be on me. I have Claire here, hoping she’ll solve my problems. But she can’t. She can only hold my hand and smile. I’m the one who needs the fake identity.

“It’s okay, Landon. We can do this. Together. One thing at a time.”

Claire leans over and kisses my cheek. I know it’s an effort to be as natural a couple as possible, but her kiss genuinely does cause my shoulders to drop, my eyes to open. I feel grounded with her next to me.

“What kind of woman would they like you to marry?” she asks. “A girl like Fiona?”

“Absolutely. They love Fiona. She goes to bridge with my mum. And they play tennis at the country club together. Also, they like to shop. On vacations, they seem to talk about books. I don’t know. It’s all boring stuff.”

“I got this. I can do boring.” She smiles, nodding her head, assuring me. “And you, Landon? What would your father want from you? To be like Geoffrey?”

“They would want me to be like Geoffrey, only more friendly. Outgoing. Not so stick-up-my-ass. My father is always riding my brother about being rigid, no fun, a bore. My father likes to have a good time—not too good, but he certainly doesn’t want to sit stoically and discuss finance.”

“So, you’re your father’s son, only you have a tendency to be more wild than you should.” Claire cocks her head, looking me up and down. Her eyes land on the bulge in my pants. I can’t wait to get her in the house, in a bedroom, and tear off her clothes. Which will be soon. We’ve just pulled up to the estate.

“Let’s not talk about my father right now. Let’s talk about all the things I plan on doing to you.”

“Um. I’d love to hear all about it ... but, Landon, this cannot be your house. This is a freaking castle.” Claire’s gorgeous eyes are wide in surprise.

“Technically, yes.”

The driveway leading to the estate is filled with autumn foliage and the house itself looks as regal as ever. Towering spires and stonewalls, barred windows and sweeping views of the property.

“Everything will be fine,” I tell her. “Remember, you told me we’ve got this.” I kiss her again, because I can’t fucking help myself. Everything about her makes me insane. Her vulnerability, her innocence. Her absolute naiveté of the world around us. The way she holds herself together, not thinking she’s less than, or inadequate. She is enough.

“I like it when you kiss me,” she says, her lips lingering on mine, her words soft breaths that I want to inhale. When the driver stops the car at the front of the estate, and opens her door, I squeeze her hand.

“They’re going to be so shocked that I’ve actually come.”

She half-laughs in disbelief. “You didn’t tell them you were coming? That I was coming?”

BOOK: KING: Las Vegas Bad Boys
10.16Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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