Planning on Prince Charming(9)

By: Lizzie Shane


Yes, if she was honest she’d sort of had a crush on Josh Pendleton ever since she’d first seen him hosting the Brainiac quiz show ten years ago—but she was meeting Mister Perfect tomorrow, she certainly hadn’t planned to fall into the arms of another man tonight.

Or be awkwardly lifted into them.

This strange electric feeling in her blood wasn’t attraction. It was just a reaction to meeting her first bona fide celebrity. If he seemed to glow with the force of his personality—well, that was probably just what celebrities did.

She trailed after him to the door, waiting as he opened it and peeked outside before closing it again and giving her a nod. “All clear.”

“Thanks.” She moved to stand close to him in the small space near the door. She might never be this close to Josh Pendleton again.

His hair was thick chestnut, messier than she’d ever seen it on television, when it was always neatly trimmed and gelled into position. It made him seem more approachable somehow, that disordered mop. Touchable.

A hint of wryness shadowed his eyes, something just a little bit cynical that he’d never revealed to the cameras. It gave him an edge—and made him more real. This wasn’t Josh Pendleton the host. This was Josh Pendleton the man.

And what a man.

“I’m sorry about your divorce.”

He shrugged, looking away. “It happens.”

“Not always,” she said with quiet emphasis. It was suddenly irrationally important to her that he realize the entire institution of marriage wasn’t a lost cause because his had ended. “Sometimes love finds you when you’re least expecting it.”

He studied her then, his gaze so intent she could almost feel it tracing her features. “This show is going to eat you alive,” he murmured low.

“Maybe,” she said. “But I bet I come out the other side believing in love just as wholeheartedly.”

His expression turned quizzical. “Why?”

“A girl has to believe in something. Why not love?”

“Because it hurts like a bitch when it ends.”

“But what if it doesn’t end? What if the next guy will be the one that goes the distance and I might have missed my destiny if I was too scared to take that chance?”

“You’ve been watching too much Marrying Mister Perfect.”

“Listening to all the things you say every week on the show, you mean?”

His dark eyes gleamed wryly. “What can I say? I’m a peddler of false dreams.”

“Have you always been this cynical or is it a product of your divorce?” His relaxed face tightened and she lifted a hand. “Never mind. Don’t answer that.” She’d rather believe he was speaking from pain rather than core-deep cynicism. “It was nice to meet you, Josh Pendleton.”

It was the most natural thing in the world, going up on her toes to kiss him. One hand rested gently on his chest as her lips brushed his.

It could have been innocent. It could have been a sweet, inconsequential goodbye kiss.

It wasn’t.

His head angled, his lips parted, and suddenly he was kissing her back with the taste of scotch on his lips, and she melted against him, lost in the searing rightness of the kiss.

*

It ought to feel wrong. He hadn’t kissed any woman other than Marissa in over seven years. He shouldn’t even remember how, but damned if it wasn’t all coming back to him. And damned if he didn’t like it. Probably far more than he should.

She was sweet and soft and smelled heavenly. Daniel didn’t know what he was in for.

Daniel.

Josh pulled away, his good sense returning in a rush as soon as he wasn’t kissing her anymore.

She was there for Mister Perfect. And his job was to smooth their path to love. He couldn’t want her. Not without losing the job that was the only thing left of the life he’d worked toward for years.

“You should go.”

Wide teal eyes gazed back at him. “I should?”

“It’s late. We both need to get some sleep. Busy day tomorrow. You’re meeting the man of your dreams.” And that man wasn’t him.

Questions darkened her eyes. “Josh, I—”

“Good luck this season,” he said, more forcefully than necessary, as if emphasis would make his wish more sincere. “I’m sure you’ll go far. Mister Perfect will love you.”