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Santa's Plus-One Surprise

Written by Melissa Senate

Chapter Six

I need to earn their trust,” Drake explained. “Volunteering here at the school with kids. Being in a committed relationship with a lovely kindergarten teacher.”

Ah. Now she got it. And now she also knew why he’d asked her out the other day. He wasn’t attracted to her or interested in her at all. He needed her for her “image.”

Part of her understood and part of her wanted to bop him over the head.

“You know what’s crazy?” he said. “I didn’t even think I wanted kids. Marriage, family, the house and dog and camping trips and Disneyland. I’ve never been able to commit to a relationship. But knowing that I have a child out there—seeing his face. Felicity, I’ve never felt anything like this before.”

“What do you feel?” she asked.

“Like I finally get it. People have always told me that one day someone was going to come along and steal my heart and I’d know what love was, what it felt like to put someone else first. Colt is that someone, Felicity.”

She was so surprised, so touched, that she took his hand and squeezed it. His skin was warm and slightly rough, clearly from his work as a rancher. Unnerved, she slid her hand away.

“I need to show the Cartlands that I’m worthy of being Colt’s father. Hell, I need to show myself. But they’re so set against me that I need some help changing their opinion of me. Being in a relationship with a kindergarten teacher who everyone in Wedlock Creek loves and respects is the way.”

Except for one major problem, bucko.

“Drake, faking a committed relationship is exactly the kind of bad behavior the grandparents don’t want to see. Why not meet someone for real? Fall in love for real? Be real?”

“Because I’m not cut out for a relationship. I’m just looking to gain custody of my son without a court battle, without hurting the Cartlands. I just need them to see me in a new light. To give me a chance. And they won’t unless I have some proof that I’m not a heartbreaking player.”

Even though you are? she wanted to ask.

“And that,” he continued, “is where you come in. You need a fake perfect boyfriend for a wedding for six hours. I need a fake perfect girlfriend for one hour, tops. It’s a good deal. So, yes or no?”

She stared at him, thinking about how Christmas was coming. Would Drake miss his son’s first Christmas if she didn’t help him out?

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