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"That's exactly it, Rory," he said, reaching for her as she moved to climb back on his lap where she belonged.
"This is just to stay in character," Rory explained as she settled on his lap.
"Of course," he agreed as he wrapped his arms around her.
"We're not really dating," she said, leaning in and brushing her lips against his. "This is just for show."
"Exactly," he agreed even though he was pretty sure that no one would be able to see what they were doing, but he wasn't about to point that out.
"As long as you remember that I hate you," Rory mumbled against his lips.
"I'll remember," he promised.
"And you hate me," she reminded him as she continued to caress his lips with light, teasing kisses that had his arms tightening around her and his body trembling with the need to consume her.
"With a passion."
* * * *
"We're thinking of having you committed," Bryce announced as he tapped his finger on the clipboard where he needed her to sign.
"I see," Rory said absently as she looked through the paperwork describing all the lovely problems they were already encountering.
Thanks to her accident they'd lost two days of work. The day of her accident, all of their men had been ordered away from the manor as the rescue crews worked to get her out of the subbasement. After she was safely on a backboard and on her way to an ambulance, the fire inspector had apparently showed up and closed them down, something she was just finding out about now. The next day her brothers had worked their asses off to get the fire inspector to come back and allow them to return to work.
He had, but they'd lost most of the day. Her brothers and surprisingly a good majority of Connor's foremen did their best to keep the project going even though they were forbidden to set so much as a foot in the mansion. Instead of working on the roof, gutting the house or the few dozen major things that had to be done immediately, their men worked on clearing the land and tearing up the mile long private road that led up to the old mansion.
By the time the fire inspector showed up and cleared them to continue to work, it was already late and their men were exhausted. She wasn't happy about the lost time, but there wasn't anything that she could do about it now. She just wished that someone had told her. Starting off a project of this size and two days behind this early in the game was not a good sign. As she looked down at the paperwork authorizing overtime, she was tempted to authorize work on Sunday, something she'd never done before.
Sunday was supposed to be a day for rest. That was one of many rules that her father shoved down their throats over the years and one that she'd never been able to ignore. Her men worked hard, sometimes too hard. Working seven days a week would not only kill her budget, but it would also exhaust her men, make their work sloppy and increase the chance of accidents. So as much as she would love to make up for those two lost days immediately, she couldn't.
"Anything else?" she asked, handing the clipboard back over to her brother and pulled on the sling that her doctor demanded that she wear when she worked so that she wouldn't do anything stupid like trying to use her arm.
"No, that's it," Bryce said with a careless shrug, immediately drawing her attention and making her nervous.
As far as her brothers knew, she was dating Connor, a man she'd despised since she was a child. Sure, he idly threatened to have her committed, but he'd sounded more amused than anything. Besides, if they were really going to have her committed he wouldn't have said anything. They would have just tied her up and dropped her ass off on the front lawn of a mental hospital with a few grunted "good lucks."
Since they hadn't said anything or even threatened to beat the shit out of Connor as a standard warning, she was understandably concerned. They always threatened the guys she dated, even if they liked the guy he was well warned, but as far as she knew they hadn't done that to Connor. The fact that she was supposedly dating Connor really should have elicited some kind of rage fueled response, but so far nothing had happened.
Her eyes narrowed on her brother. "You're up to something."
"Damn straight," Bryce said with a shit eating grin.
"Are you going to give me a warning?"
"The only thing that you need to know is that we have your back and we figured out a way to make up for the time we lost," he said dismissively as he headed for the coffee truck, leaving her with no choice but to follow after him.
"How?" she asked a minute later when she managed to catch up to him.
"Don't worry your pretty little head, Rory. We took care of everything," Bryce said with a smug little smile that did not bode well for her or the project.
It was bad enough that she'd made a deal with the devil and was apparently addicted to his kisses, but now she had her brothers going behind her back and orchestrating something that couldn't possibly end well for her. When did her life start spiraling out of control? she wondered as she turned around and headed for her trailer and a much needed hot chocolate.
"What's going on with you and Rory?" Andrew asked as soon as they were out of listening distance of the rest of the men.
"We're dating," Connor said with a shrug as he dragged the large barrel the rest of the way to the shoot they had installed after they had the window torn out.
"Since when?" Andrew asked, moving to grab the bottom of the barrel and help him dump the barrel full of plaster and old horse hair insulation down the long shoot, but a warning glare from Connor had his friend sighing with aggravation and backing away. The man knew better and if Connor caught him pulling that bullshit again he would kick his ass.
"Why does it matter?"
"I'd like to know when you became suicidal, that's all," Andrew said as he grabbed the empty barrel and pushed it to the side.
"What are you talking about?" Connor asked as he walked over to the large blue cooler that he had filled with ice and bottles of water since the last thing they needed was for someone to pass out from this heat or get sick from breathing in all the dust.
"Her brothers are going to kill you," Andrew explained, shaking his head in disbelief.
He simply shrugged as he drank his water. Since they hadn't tried to kill him when they caught him kissing Rory behind the coffee truck a few hours ago he doubted that they were going to kill him. Kick his ass? Absolutely, and they probably planned on doing it tomorrow when he joined their old man for fishing and Rory wasn't around to get in the way.
That was more than fine with him. He'd take a few hits if it meant that he could prove that he was serious about Rory, which he wasn't. It was all part of his plan and so far his plans were moving along rather nicely. He'd use her and then-
"Honestly, I never thought Rory was that desperate," Andrew said, grabbing his attention.
"What the hell are you talking about?" Connor asked, tossing the empty water bottle in the barrel as he glared at one of his oldest friends.
"Well," Andrew mused as he crossed his arms over his chest, "she hates you, she's hot, and did I mention that she hates you?"
"She doesn't hate me," Connor said with a snort.
"Then what do you call it?" Andrew asked, grabbing a bottle of water for himself.
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