Black Ties and White Lies: Chapter 6

Margo

On the outside, I hope I at least appear put together. With Beck no longer in my personal space, the spicy scent of his expensive cologne overtaking my senses, I’m attempting, yet horribly failing, to think straight. I’m at least attempting to appear normal. On the inside, I’m freaking the fuck out.

The only thing in my mind is a constant replay of Beck’s words. The mental image of me bent over this table, wondering what it’d feel like to have him take me from behind. These are absolutely thoughts I shouldn’t be having—especially about my new boss who is also my ex’s hotter older brother. I’m apparently about to partake in a fake fiancée charade with him; plus, I’m now having dirty thoughts about the two of us and this table. It all equates to a terrible idea.

“I don’t want to be embarrassed again, Beck,” I say, my voice lowered as I try my best to keep it steady. The last thing I need is for my voice to give away the effect his words have on me. “Everyone looked at me like I was pitiful when it came out that Car—”

I almost slip up and say the forbidden name, but quickly correct myself—“your brother had cheated on me for years. If people are going to think we’re engaged, you can’t be seen with other women. I refuse to ever be embarrassed like that again—even if it’s fake between us.”

There’s not a hint of deceit in his eyes when he says, “I wouldn’t do that to you, Margo. No one will be seen with me but you.”

My stomach unexplainably flutters from his words. It’s tragic. Carter messed me up so much that I think it’s romantic when my possible, soon-to-be, fake fiancé promises not to be seen with another when we’re fake engaged.

Men. They really can do a number on you and not even give a shit that they did so.

“I know that you have uh…needs,” I start, fumbling with my words. I’ve now committed to this train wreck of a topic though, so I keep trekking even though I feel my cheeks begin to flush. Without even meaning to, my eyes flick down to the crotch of his suit pants, furthering the redness coating my cheeks. “So, I understand that you’ll have to have those met with someone, but if we do this, I just don’t want that to be public. I don’t want anyone else to know of you, ya know, getting those needs met. I promise to do the same for any of my, you know…needs.” I never thought the word needs could cause me to blush in embarrassment, yet here I am, red as a tomato.

Beck’s nostrils flare. The angry look in his eyes has my gaze darting away from him in fear. Suddenly, two strong fingers are grabbing me by the chin and forcing my head to look up. His fingertips dig into my cheeks as his face hardens in anger. “Let another man even think about taking care of you when you’re my fiancée and they’re as good as dead.” His voice is seething. I have no idea where all of that anger came from, but it does something to my insides.

My lips part and close again as I think of what to say to him in response. He keeps a strong grip on my jaw, his eyes narrowed as he watches my reaction carefully.

“Margo,” Beck says through clenched teeth. There’s a muscle in his jaw ticking away. Our closeness is the only reason I’m able to see it. I wonder if it always feathers like that, or if it only does when he’s filled with rage.

I’ll have to find out.

“Tell me you understand,” he demands, his voice tense.

“Understand what?” I ask, my brain feeling like mush. Being this close to him has me at a loss for words. It’s the scent of him, feeling the heat radiating off his body, really it’s the overwhelming presence he exudes.

Ever so lightly, his thumb brushes over my cheekbone before he rips his hand away. His arms cross his chest in a defensive position. The movement has the fabric around his biceps bunching, the tailored suit almost too tailored to his bulging biceps. “If you agree to this, there will be no one else in your life, Margo. For the year, or however long it takes to get the point across, you’re mine.”

I’m still half wondering if I’m having some sort of bad reaction to the wine we had last night. Or maybe I’m having some sort of fever dream? There has to be an explanation for what’s happening right now. This can’t be real life. Beckham Sinclair can’t be asking me to be his fake fiancée. He can’t really be forcing me into being exclusive—even if fake—with him. I’m living in an alternate reality. Hearing Beck say “you’re mine” wasn’t real…

But it was. It is. This is all very, very real.

This is every woman’s dream, and I’m just waiting to find out what the catch is.

I straighten my body in the chair, crossing one leg over the other. “If I agree to that then you have to agree to it, too. It’s not fair for you to expect me to not be with anyone else if you’re going to be with other women.”

His indigo eyes flash, but I can’t pinpoint with what. I want to say it’s desire, but the idea is absurd. Beck can easily get any woman he wants. There’s no way he’s looking at me with that kind of desire. “Just you, Margo. No one but you.”

My heart pounds erratically in my chest. He isn’t even as close as he’d been a few minutes ago, but I still feel his presence everywhere. I’m losing a grip on the situation, and I need to regain it before my heart does something stupid like wanting him. “I have another rule,” I rush out, rising to my feet because it feels odd to be sitting down looking up at him.

Even standing in heels, I have to bend my neck to look up at him, and he’s not even standing to his full height as he rests up against the conference table. “Enlighten me,” he clips.

I point between us. “Nothing can happen between us. Lines can’t get blurred. No kissing or anything else,” I add as an afterthought.

His laugh takes me by surprise, making me jump. “Oh, Margo. We’ll have to convince many people that the two of us are engaged. We’ll most certainly have to kiss. As for the anything else”—he says it sarcastically, like the words are in quotations—“I can assure you that we won’t be fucking unless you beg for it.”

I don’t know how Beck manages to make the word “fucking” so hot, but every time he says it, I find myself clenching my thighs tighter and tighter.

My eyes narrow. “I can promise you that won’t be happening, so we’re good there. It’s a maybe to the kissing.”

His smirk feels like a challenge. “I’m not worried about it. Sooner rather than later, we’ll be kissing. And trust me, you won’t want to do it just for show.”

I snort. “You’re so full of yourself. That won’t happen.” Even as I say the words, lacing conviction into every syllable, I find my gaze resting on his full lips. Without ever kissing him, I’m confident that kissing Beck Sinclair will feel like sleeping with him. His kiss would be sinful. It would do things to me no man has been able to achieve. I know all of this without ever being touched by him.

It’s the reason nothing can happen between us.

He clicks his tongue. “Never say never, Violet.”

“Never,” I respond immediately, drawing out the word to get the point across.

Beck crosses one leather shoe over the other, his feet now crossed at the ankles. “Now you’re making this a game. It’s making me far more interested in kissing you.”

I snap my fingers, cutting whatever the hell is happening between us right now short. “Back to the agreement, Beck.”

He runs a finger down the wood top of the conference table. Bringing the finger to his face, his lip upturns at the small amount of dust that coats his fingertip. “Is there anything else holding you back from saying yes?”

“Just about everything,” I retort.

Beck sighs, clueing me in that he’s annoyed with my reluctance. Or is it anger? Maybe it’s a bit of both. He raises his wrist, the movement pulling the sleeve of his suit back to show off his watch. He checks the time on it, his eyes widening slightly in alarm. “Look, Margo, I’ve missed one meeting and I’m about to miss another in the time we’ve been in here. What’s it going to take for you to say yes?”

Rubbing my lips together, I think about how I want to answer his question. If I’m being honest with myself, I’m far more eager to say yes than I thought I’d be. It may be because I’m entirely curious to see what it’d be like to be Beck’s fiancée, even fake. Deep down, maybe I’m bitter enough about what Carter did to me to want to say yes just to make him jealous. Although, he’d have to give a shit about me to be jealous, and I don’t know even if me showing up to a family function as Beck’s fiancée would get any kind of emotion out of him.

The main things holding me back are leaving my friends and thinking of the aftermath of what happens when Beck and I end the fake engagement. To agree to his proposition, I’d have to trust him when he says we can handle it however I see fit.

“I’m really not a man that likes to wait.”

My mind is muddled with all of the reasons I should be saying no to him. First and foremost, I’m still hurt by what his brother did. Moving all the way across the country with somebody else, even if fake, probably wouldn’t be my best idea.

But I love New York.

My heart belongs there. I came out to California because it’s where Emma and I got job offers. I’ve told myself I didn’t move here because it’s also where Carter took a job, but if I’m honest with myself, I wanted a job here because of him. Winnie followed along because it’s Winnie. She can go anywhere—live anywhere—with all the money her family has.

I’ve always wondered what would’ve happened if I’d stayed in New York. I didn’t regret moving out to California, but I’m not meant for the West Coast. Now I have my chance to move back there, but not only move back, to have the chance to show my art to Camden Hunter. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. I just have to pretend to be Beck’s fiancée for a year to do it.

“If I agree, we’re doing it on my terms, Beck. I’m sure new rules will come along, and I need to know you’ll agree to them even if our charade has already begun.”

He thinks my words through for a minute. I can tell it’s killing him, to agree to relinquish some of the control he so desperately needs. He tucks his hands into his pockets while his gaze focuses on me. “Agreed.”

“So then it’s settled,” I say, wondering if I’ll come to regret this decision.

Rubbing his hands together, he stands to his full height. It only takes him two steps to close the distance between us. Looking down at me, his face is masked to all business once again. He reaches into the hidden pocket of his suit, pulling out a business card. The card is stuck between his pointer and middle fingers as he holds it out between us.

I look at it, confused. If he’s about to be my fake fiancé, why am I getting a business card? It seems a little formal in my opinion.

“We’ll be in touch,” he demands, pushing the card up against my chest. He leaves me no choice but to take it.

And without any other parting words, no thank you or even a goodbye, Beck leaves me all alone in the conference room.

All I can manage to think is what did I just agree to?

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