The Mating Game: Big Bad Wolf(7)

By: Georgette St. Clair

Now Ryker was starting to get mad. She had the snooty southern debutante accent, and she carried herself like she’d just walked out of some high-falutin’ prep school. He could tell what kind of girl she was. The kind that had looked down on him and his family all their lives – until he became a celebrity. Thought they were trash.

“There’s no need to be a snob,” he snapped at her.

“And there’s no need to arrive late, dirty and smelly for a date and act like you’re doing me a big favor just by showing up at all.” She yanked her seatbelt on and clicked it into place.

“Hold on!” Walt pleaded, grabbing her car door. “Listen! I’ve researched your pedigree. You’re exactly the kind of girl Ryker needs to fix his image. You could just pretend to be his mate. All we have to do is last through the investors’ meeting, which is in three weeks.”

She looked up at him in astonishment. “Pretend to be his mate? Why on Earth would I do that?”

A shrewd look crossed Walt’s face. “You’ve been trying to raise funds for an after-school rec center near that school where you work.”

Daisy frowned up at him suspiciously. “It’s creepy that you know that.”

“I just told you I did my research on you before I arranged this date. I wouldn’t fix my nephew up with just anyone.”

“Oh, I am so grateful that I made the grade,” she scoffed.

“If you pretend to be his mate for the next three weeks, just until the investors’ meeting, our company will make a substantial donation to your cause,” he said.

“Hey, did you ask me if I’d agree to this?” Ryker said to his uncle, annoyed. “I might have an opinion on the subject.”

“Why, you smug, obnoxious jerkwad.” Daisy glared at him.

“Better than a stuck-up princess,” Ryker snapped. “I’m not sure I still even want to have sex with you. Well, yeah, I actually do, but—” It was too late. He was talking to her slammed car door, and fending off more purse-blows from Wynona.

* * * * *

Meanwhile, back at the ranch… The Harrison ranch, that is…

“Did he blow it?” Lemuel Harrison asked his wife, who was glaring ferociously at her cell phone. Lemuel wouldn’t have wanted to swap places with that cell phone at that particular moment. His wife might be five foot nothing and sixty-five years old, but she was no one to mess with.

“Of course he blew it,” Harriet fumed. “Your son is the most pig-headed mule this side of tarnation.”

Lem cast an annoyed glance at his wife. “So he’s my son when he’s an idiot, but your son when he does anything right?”

“Well, obviously.” Harriet looked up from the phone to stare at her husband in bafflement. They’d been married thirty-five years, and he still had to ask such damn fool questions? No wonder her son was a cement head.

But cement head or not, her son was going to marry a nice girl and provide her with grandcubs.

She was sick of sitting around twiddling her thumbs and waiting. She wanted a baby to bounce on her knee again. Harriet Harrison was a very good seamstress, and excellent at crocheting. She wanted to sew little outfits and crochet little booties – but not until there was an actual baby to sew and crochet for, because that would be just weird, crocheting booties for someone who didn’t exist. She wanted to sneak her famous home-made fudge to her grandcubs when their parents weren’t looking, and then look at the parents with wide-eyed innocence and denial.

And the girl her brother-in-law Walter had talked about sounded perfect. School teacher, did volunteer work, loved to bake, and the fact that she wasn’t into sports was actually a big plus. It meant the girl would love Ryker for his big, stupid self rather than his fame. She and Walt had planned everything out. She’d even given him hints as to what he should say when he called up the Mating Agency pretending to be Ryker.

And now Ryker was about to blow everything, because he was the opposite of smooth when it came to women.

Of course, Lem had been the same way. She’d had to chase him and chase him, all the while pretending that he was the one chasing her.