The Bet by Rachel Van Dyken


“I have a proposition for you.” Kacey should have run the minute those words left Seattle millionaire Jake Titus’s mouth. It’s been years since Kacey’s seen her childhood friend Jake, but the minute Jake mentions his ill grandmother, Kacey is ready to do anything for the sweet old woman. And if that means pretending they’re engaged for her sake—so be it.
But Kacey wasn’t counting on Jake’s older brother Travis still being there. She calls him “Satan” for a reason: she’s never forgotten the way he teased and taunted her. Yet when they meet again, Travis’s gorgeous smile is a direct hit to her heart . . . and Kacey’s more confused than ever. As the days pass, only one thing starts to become alarmingly clear-she never should have accepted Jake’s deal . . .
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 Travis sighed next to her. “You don’t need a man like Jake to give you what you want.

Believe me. When you have the perfect house and tons of money, you still won’t be complete if the man you share it with is out paying whores to do things you would never do.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that,” Kacey joked.

“Kace! Jake isn’t worth it!”

“No.” She laughed. “I meant things that strippers do. Pretty sure I know how to please my man. I could drive circles around those girls. I just need the right guy.”

Travis tensed next to her. He cleared his throat and pushed away from the chair. He walked over to the counter and began cutting the pie.

What was his deal lately?

“Let me guess.” Kacey leaned over the counter. “Raspberry pie?”

“How’d you know?” He smirked. His voice was hoarse.

“It was the only pie your grandma taught you how to make, and if I remember correctly, you made it for your senior prom date.”

“Ugh.” Travis carefully cut it into eighths. “If I remember correctly, she spilled it on her dress and blamed me for making raspberries red.”

“She always was such a charmer. What was her name again?”

Travis chuckled. “Oh no you don’t. That’s just what I need. You digging up my past girlfriends and making fun of them. Besides, I don’t date girls anymore. I date women.” He eyed her up and down before slowly licking the fork.

Kacey averted her eyes, mainly because the picture of him licking that fork was so erotic she nearly jumped across the table and assaulted him. Apparently, this is what happens when you don’t have boyfriends and the closest relationship you’ve had in the past year has been with your e‑reader and a fictional duke named Henry.

“So . . .” Kacey nudged him a bit with her arm. “Women, hmm? What women are you dating? I don’t see any of them here for family dinner night.”

“There are no women.”

Kacey’s heart hammered in her chest.

“If you must know, there is one woman. One being the key word.”

She clenched her fist and cursed herself for bringing the subject up. “What’s her name?”

“Oh no you don’t!” Travis placed the knife on the plate and grabbed Kacey by the shoulders. “That’s just what I need, you stalking the one woman I’m interested in.”

Did he say he was interested in only one? Damn the man. Be unattractive! She wanted to yell. “C’mon, Trav, you know me. What harm could I possibly cause?”

“Junior year—” he began.

“Forget I asked.”

“Junior year.” He held his finger in the air as he was making his point. “Somehow you discovered I had a crush on Ashley Willis. I still don’t know how, considering I’m a guy and I don’t keep a diary.”

“No.” Kacey dipped a fork into the pie and licked the tangy berries off it. “But you did moan her name one time in your sleep. But carry on.”

He glared. “You told her.”

“Okay, Trav, come on. I did nothing of the sort. I merely hinted that you had a tiny bit of a crush on her.”

“Kace, making a poster with my face on it and heart stickers is a hell of a lot more than hinting. God, I don’t even think you know the meaning of the word discreet.”

“Do too!” she argued.

He walked around the table and pulled her into a tight headlock.

“Do not!” She fought against him but was helpless. “Do you give?” he whispered into her ear.

His hard-​muscled chest was heaving behind her. Did she give? Oh God, what she wouldn’t give for something, anything. Ah! Red alert! What was she thinking? It’s Travis, Travis!

“Travis!” she screamed, totally unintentionally. He released her and winked.

“Come on. Let’s take the pie in before they think you stabbed me or something.”

“Close,” Kacey grumbled, though stabbing wasn’t necessarily what she had in mind.

Rubbing his body down with berries and licking it off? Yes. Violence? Only that of a sexual She needed to trip and hit her head or something to shake Travis’s smile and scent out of it before she lost her mind.

“There you two are!” Grandma winked as they rejoined the family and began to enjoy the pie. “I thought maybe Travis was having an encounter in there with you, little girl.” Grandma winked again. Unfortunately, at that exact moment, Kacey, having taken a ginormous bite of pie, began to choke.

It worsened when Travis lifted his hands in the air and said, “I was trying to be discreet.”

Kacey glared.

His entire family laughed, and she kicked at him again under the table. He moved his foot in time and then stuck out his tongue like a two-​year-​old.

And really, maybe it was the sexual frustration, but she lunged for him, his chair tipped backward, and she straddled him, shoving pie into his beautiful face all the while screaming, “I’ll get you!”

In her mind, the family was cheering, when really everyone was completely silent. Except Travis, who was yelling and cursing and spitting pie back out at her. Luckily, they had hardwood floors instead of carpeting.

Finally, when the pie was done, she wiped a berry off his face and licked her fingers. His eyes darkened, and for a minute it looked like he was going to kiss her.

He leaned forward and reached up behind her. And suddenly she had hot pie all over her “I win, Kace,” he whispered huskily into her ear.

Yes, yes, you do.

Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she’s not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor. She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband and their snoring Boxer, Sir Winston Churchill. She loves to hear from readers! You can follow her writing journey at www.rachelvandykenauthor.com.
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