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Bad Boy (An Indecent Proposal)

By:Jackie Steele

Chapter 1


Why is it always that the moment you’ve let a guy into your heart—or panties, for that matter—he turns into a big, ugly frog?


Or a jerk.

Or a lying bastard, who’d do anything to keep manipulating you so you fall for whatever agenda he’s going for. A hidden motive that made him want to fuck with your mind in the first place.

Less than twenty-four hours ago, I had married a man I knew nothing about.

A stranger.

An enigma with more layers to him than I cared to admit, because my intelligence refused to let me acknowledge the fact that I had been fooled by gray blue eyes and a hard body that belonged on a men’s health magazine; not to mention a tongue that knew how to fill me and lick me until I panted his name. Or maybe it was his deep, sexy voice, able to arouse me with sweet words of nothingness, that had made me lose my sanity.

Exactly those sweet words of nothingness and hot bundles of defined muscles, as my best friend Jude liked to call them, had pushed me into more than just his bed.

They got me married—fake married—to an even faker jerk with a fake name.

They got me completely screwed.

Those were the kind of dark thoughts running through my mind as I stepped out of the airport in Acapulco and into the blazing heat, a huge tee shirt and black shades shielding me from the afternoon sun that did nothing to improve my mood.

My two, brand-new suitcases were filled with dresses, shoes, and books—anything the shop assistant thought I would need for my trip. A “recovery trip” she’d called it when she saw my unshed tears and found out I had booked a plane to Mexico. She’d instantly assumed I was running from a bad break up. A bad breakup was theoretically correct, though the guy did not do the dumping.

I broke up in writing, like the coward I was, or used to be, right before I ran away from him, and now I was more than ready to embark on my next adventure in a quest to forget him.

Because, to be honest, I was sick of my mascara-smeared face.

I was sick of guys with blue eyes that could melt your heart.

Sick of being the pushover of a guy who thought he owned the world.

Who the hell did he think he was?

Thor?

Just because he so happened to be perfect: tall, handsome, and tanned, with a smile that melted your reserve, didn’t mean he could get away with whatever the hell he wanted.

Maybe he was Loki—Thor’s evil and hot brother. He sure could lie just as well.

I pushed my glasses higher on my nose and plastered a fake smile on my face. I wouldn’t let some god-faced idiot ruin my life just because my wits left me the moment he pulled off his shirt. Or because I gave him my V-card. And most certainly not because I soaked up all his I-care-for-you bullshit, like some stray puppy, while trying to maintain my dignity by playing hard to get.

Seriously, who had invented the notion of playing hard to get?

It got me nothing but trouble.

Call it my ego, my feelings being hurt. Call it even obsessive. But I couldn’t stop checking my phone, even though it was switched off.

Holy shit.

It was hot in Mexico.

I paused to take shallow breaths and raised my head to feel the warm rays of sun on my face. I pushed the image of ocean blue eyes on a cloudy day and dark hair out of my mind, and focused on the narrow strip of blue stretching in the distance. I couldn’t wait to slip into a bikini and hit the beach with a good book, ready to forget the world around me. Suddenly I couldn’t wait to get to the hotel.

“Taxi.” I stopped a tourist cab before it could drive off. “Habla inglés?” I asked the driver, a man in his fifties with a mustache. His head was cleanly shaven. His shirt looked like it had seen better days.

He looked from me to my suitcases, then nodded. “Un poquito. Where do you want to go?”

Sweat trickled down my back as I took my time checking the license on the right window, the taxi number plate to see if it was an official cab. The last thing I needed was to get into a pirated one, or worse yet, be kidnapped and held for ransom. But the taxi looked as official as they came.

I handed him a piece of paper with the address of the hotel and what I would be willing to pay for the drive, mentally thanking the shop assistant for her advice to settle for a price before getting into any taxi in Mexico.

The driver looked the paper over, then nodded again. “Muy bien, pero le advierto que ahora mismo hay mucho tráfico por allí.” When he saw my confused expression, he explained. “Lots of traffic here, but I take a shortcut.”

Shortcut?

The old me would have said no.

It was safe to say she would not have traveled to Mexico at all.

But the new me?

Gone were the days of being pushed around. I wanted to take charge, to discover and find myself.

“Sure,” I said brightly, ignoring the pang of uneasiness settling in the pit of my stomach.

I just hoped his shortcut didn’t involve a drive through all the areas that were frequented by the drug cartels.

That could really happen.

“Gracias.” I slumped into the backseat, then leaned back exhausted, fanning myself with some old newspaper as the taxi sped off through the traffic.

The smell of the old car was repugnant, the décor colorful. The fact that there was a Virgin Mary bumper sticker and pictures of what I assumed were the old man’s kids and his wife consoled me a little.

He was religious.

He loved his family.

He was probably a hardworking man trying his best to make a living for his family.

People like him didn’t do bad stuff.

Then again, I was the idiot who fell for Chase Wright’s shit.

My knowledge of the human nature sucked.

I relaxed a little until I noticed the driver’s glance in the rearview mirror, catching me looking at his pictures.

“Are you married?” the man asked when he stopped at the traffic lights.

“Um…” I paused, watching the red lights ahead. Should I tell him the truth? I fiddled in my seat, nervously. “I am,” I said. “I mean, I only got married like yesterday.”

The man’s eyes narrowed. He didn’t believe me. Of course he wouldn’t. What married woman would arrive at an airport—alone?

Obviously, the lying kind.

“Where’s your husband?” the driver asked.

“He’s waiting for me at the hotel.” I forced a smile to my lips, hoping it was convincing enough to fool him. “I work for a paper in the city,” I lied. “My boss called me in for some last minute changes. I was barely able to make it out of that office.” I waved my hand, like he’d know what I was talking about. “This is my first vacation in seven years. That’s how demanding she is.”

The man gave a short, humorless laugh, completely bored by my made up story.

I couldn’t blame him.

I was the worst liar ever.

“You will like it here,” he said. “But a young woman like you should always be in companion.”

“Yeah, I should be,” I muttered and turned my head back to the window, taking in the unknown streets, the unknown territory, a whole lot of unknown everything, some part of me wishing that I had asked Jude to come along with me.



***



Half an hour later, the taxi came to a halt in front of an old, whitewashed building surrounded by a tall wall and an iron wrought gate. I paid the driver and got out, making sure to tip him well in case he was related to some mafia boss who decided I had not paid enough in fares.

I mean, you never knew.

The last thing I needed was another bad surprise. The discovery that Chase was a bad boy who might be after my inheritance was already bad enough. Now I needed some days away from reality, from my old life. I needed time to think how I could possibly divorce him without breaking the stupid contract I’d signed.

And for that, I needed to be safe.

His terms had been quite clear: stay married to him for one year and engage in some sexual fantasies of his.

God, I couldn’t wait to get divorced.

Does that make me sound crazy?

At least I had negotiated the part about living with him. The way I saw it, I could spend a whole year abroad and never see him.

Pulling the heavy suitcases behind me, I greeted the uniformed security guard, and then I walked up the path to the hotel.

It wasn’t the luxury kind.

Far from it.

I would even go as far as saying that it was shabby, which wasn’t surprising given that it had been the cheapest hotel I could find.

With my credit cards maxed out I couldn’t afford more than a simple room. But it seemed safe and clean—at least I hoped that part was true. It would certainly be more than I could say about the messy life I had left behind in California.

“Hi. My name is Lauren Hanson,” I said to the female receptionist and handed her my passport and credit card. “I booked a room last night.”

“Welcome to Casa Estevan,” the receptionist said in heavily accentuated English. She looked in her forties. Her hair was over-bleached, and her eyebrows looked like they had been tattooed to her forehead. Smiling, she began to type on a computer, and then pushed a few forms and a swipe card over the spotless counter. “This is your room key. Take the stairs to the fifth floor.”

The fifth floor?

My eyes swept over my two heavy suitcases.

It would take me half a night to get them up there.

“Could you get someone to take my bags up to my room?” I asked.

She didn’t even blink as she grabbed the phone. “Sure. I’m going to call one of the boys to help you.” Her phone in hand, she smiled, exposing perfect teeth. “Anything else I can help you with?”

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