Home > Reluctant Husband (Whiskey Men #1)(9)

Reluctant Husband (Whiskey Men #1)(9)
Author: Hope Ford

Whatever it is, he’s not happy about it. That much is obvious. “What is it?”

He doesn’t even blink. “I want you to marry me.”

My mouth drops open, and I gasp at the same time. Of everything I thought he’d say, that wasn’t anywhere on the list, that’s for sure. I try to keep it together and stutter back to him, “You want me to marry you?”

He nods. “Yes. My grandmother is worried about me, and I recently found out that if I marry you, her worry will be gone.”

I shake my head because none of this makes sense. “Yes, she’s worried about how you’ll take her passing, but you getting married is not going to fix that, Lucas. She doesn’t want you to get married just because that’s what you think she wants. She wants you to love and be loved by someone. She wants to know that you’ve opened your heart again. She wants to know that when she’s gone, you have someone unconditionally by your side.”

He runs his hands through his hair and then across his face before squeezing the bridge of his nose. “Well, I don’t have time for all that, and you know it, Isabella. I don’t have much time left, and I thought that knowing how you feel about Granny, you would be willing to help me out.”

“She’ll know it’s not real.”

He lifts his shoulders. “We’ll have to show her it is. What? Can you not act like you love me for a few months?”

I bite my lower lip. My heart is wrenching in my chest because he thinks he has months with his grandmother, but I know that her time is even more limited than that. But I can’t tell him that. “What about you? Can you do that?”

“Yes,” he says, but by the look on his face, he’s not even convinced of it himself.

I shake my head and squeeze my hands together in my lap. “No one is going to believe you’ve just fallen in love with me, Lucas.”

He shrugs as if it’s no big deal. “I can be convincing.”

If only this was real. Already I can feel my heart breaking in my chest. There’s no way I can play this game and come out unscathed. I’m about to tell him no when he leans forward. “I have a contract already put together. I can pay you to be my wife.”

I jump out of my seat and stand over him. Surprise and shock floods through my body, and I say the first thing that comes to my mouth. “Fuck you, Lucas Blaze.”

I turn to walk out, knowing I need to cool down when his hand circles my wrist. “Stop. I’m sorry. Fuck, I’m sorry, Bella. It’s not like I’ve ever done this before, and obviously I’m not handling things the right way. Listen, forget the money...”

I spit the words at him. “Yeah because I’m not a prostitute.”

His brows lift, and he tugs me toward him. “Look, I know. Or I should have known you wouldn’t take any money. All I’m saying is that I want the time Granny has left to be in peace. That’s all. I don’t want to live with the guilt knowing that she’s worried about me... and about you.”

A lump forms in my throat. “Me?”

He nods. “Yeah, she said she’s worried about you too, Isabella. She knows you won’t have anyone when she’s gone.”

Pain shoots through me like a pinball. My grandma is gone, and so are my mom and dad. He’s right. I won’t have anyone when G leaves us, but Lucas has to know what Lottie is doing. I pull my wrist from his hold and grab on to both of his forearms. “Lucas, listen, you know she’s just trying to fix us up, right? In her head, you and I make sense, and she’s just trying to play matchmaker.”

He nods. “I know all that. I also know that she’s eighty-one years old. Let’s give her what she wants.”

“Have you mentioned this to Kelly?”

He scrunches up his eyebrows thoughtfully. “My assistant?”

I nod, and at the same time, he shakes his head. “No, but I don’t see what she has to do with this.”

Surely he knows how his assistant feels about him. “She’s not going to like it.”

He’s looking at me, his face unreadable. “I don’t care.”

I realize that I’m still holding on to his arms, and I release him quickly before taking a step back. “Can I think about it?”

He doesn’t let me get far. “Of course you can, but we don’t have long.”

I nod in understanding and leave the room in a hurry. Instead of going to the front door, I run up the steps and don’t let out a breath until I’m in my room behind closed doors. I lean back against the hard wood and look at the ceiling. I know if I want to keep my heart intact, I need to tell him no. But how can I?






I wanted to demand an answer from Isabella, but I knew I couldn’t. I was asking a lot from her, and I needed to give her time to think about it. So when Austin texted me right after she left and asked me to go to Jasper with him to meet with a potential client, I said yes. I made sure to tell Granny goodbye so she wouldn’t expect me in the morning, and I met Austin at the distillery so he could leave his car there.

The drive to Jasper was short, and we met the client at the hotel restaurant. He’s only in town until the morning.

We met with the client for a late dinner, and everything went smoothly. Usually this was my department, but this is one of Austin’s contacts that he made when he was in college. I guess I came for the moral support.

After a successful dinner, Austin and I make our way to the bar at the same hotel. Austin is on his second shot as I nurse my first beer since I keep getting lost in thought. I asked someone... fuck, not just anyone–I asked Isabella to marry me. I wait for the panic to settle over me, but it never does. Maybe it’s because I know it’s fake and it’s not going to last. I’m doing this for Granny.

Austin’s smile drops from his face, and he throws his hands up and yells at me in the loud bar. “All right. What’s up? What’s going on with you?”

I lift the beer bottle to my lips. “Nothing is going on with me.”

Austin shakes his head and looks at the women standing at the table next to us. “Well, smile. Act like you’re having a little fun.” He nods at a pretty blonde before looking back at me. “Get your game face on, brother. Incoming.”

He barely gets the words out and the two women come over to our table. The brown-haired woman comes to stand next to me and bats her lashes. “Hi.”

My first thought is that her hair reminds me of Isabella’s. It’s long and straight too. But that’s where the similarities stop. “Hi,” I mutter to her.

I take another drink of the warm beer. I’m not normally an asshole, and this time last week, I’d probably entertain the idea of whatever this woman is offering, but today there is no part of me that’s interested. But the woman doesn’t seem to take the hint.

She slides closer to me and presses the side of her breast to my arm. “It’s loud in here. You want to go somewhere so we can talk?”

I shake my head. “No.”

She laughs but doesn’t take the hint. I stand awkwardly. I don’t want to be a complete dick, but I’m about to be. “I’m going to get out of here,” I tell her before turning to my brother. “Hey, I’m going to the room.”

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