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Mother Faker: Chapter 12


Oh my God, this man’s hands are heaven,” Delia says from her pedicure chair beside me.

I can’t help but agree as the woman in front of me digs into my heel, making me practically purr.

“Ha! I think this is the first time you’ve been excited about a man touching you since college,” Dylan quips.

On her far side, Shayla practically spits out the green juice she’s always trying to force on the rest of us.

“That’s mean,” I say, though I cover my mouth to hold back my smile.

Delia rolls her eyes and sinks into her chair. “Speaking of men I don’t want touching me, we need to put locks on all our bedroom doors and install cameras so we can see what the bastard is up to.”

Tilting forward, I gape at her. “Beckett can be a grump, but he’s not dangerous, you lunatic!”

“A camera to see what the twins are up to, though…?” Dylan murmurs without moving her lips.

Shayla laughs over the top of her smoothie, but Delia’s glare has all of us quieting.

“My girls have high IQs. They need to be challenged. They’d never actually hurt anyone.”

“That’s what all the white-collar jailbirds say when they’re charged.” Dylan snorts.

“We’re not spying on anyone in the house. Not your kids,” I shift my attention to Delia, “and not my boss.”

“Husband,” Dylan corrects.

“The devil,” Delia grumbles.

Shayla shrugs, tucking a lock of her short dark hair behind her ear. “I kind of like him.”

“Yeah, well, you like that green juice too,” Delia snipes, “so I wouldn’t be too excited about your blessing.”

“I can’t believe you convinced me to buy this.” Standing in front of the mirror in the corner of my room, I flatten my hands along my sides, smoothing the wrinkles in my dress. It’s an impossible task, considering the wrinkles are caused by my flabby skin beneath the fabric. The girls had tried to convince me to buy a red dress, but I knew I’d look like a tomato in red. Then they rallied around a blue number, but the last thing I wanted was to look like the inside of a blueberry coming out from the tops and the sides. I grabbed a black dress, but Dylan pushed this green one in my hands and told me I couldn’t possibly come up with a food to compare myself to in this color. It’s evergreen and absolutely gorgeous. Though she might be right on the food comparison front, I could absolutely compare it to a Christmas tree if I really wanted to be an asshole right now.

“You look beautiful,” Shayla says from her spot on my bed. She’s sipping a glass of organic wine, looking more relaxed than I’ve seen her since she moved across the country to live with us.

“You look like I want to fuck you.” The crude comment comes from a voice that sounds eerily similar to Beckett’s.

I spin around and give Dylan a pointed look. She’s got her head on my pillow and her legs crossed in the air.

“That is so freaky,” Delia chides. “If you do that damn mime shit when Beckett moves in, I’ll kill you.”

Shay giggles. “It’s ventriloquism, not mime shit.”

Dylan jackknifes up and hops to her feet. Her dexterity is almost as impressive as her vocal skills. “No idea what you’re talking about. However, I agree with Beckett; I’d fuck you. Emerald green is totally your color.”

Toddling over, Adeline holds her arms up and makes grabby hands at me. Dylan jumps in before I can scoop her up, simultaneously stepping between me and a Nerf bullet as Finn runs past our room, screaming, “Captured!”

Winnie lets out a responding screech and ducks into our room, followed quickly by Liam, who holds out his hands to take Adeline. Dylan passes her off, then helps Winnie off the floor.

“Enjoy your date,” Dylan sings as she disappears with both of my girls. “I’ve got home base covered.”

Beckett blinks, and a deep grunt emanates from his throat as I open the front door.

Behind me, that Beckett voice from earlier pipes in. “What I meant to say was, you look gorgeous.”

Standing in the dim entryway—the light in here is on our to-do list; currently, there’s nothing but wires hanging from the ceiling—I whirl around, ready to lay into Dylan and her damn impersonations in Beckett’s voice, but I can’t find her. She must be hiding. Asshole.

Beckett clears his throat. “You do.”

He ushers me out the door and is practically mute the entire ride to the restaurant. Unsurprisingly, he has chosen Prime, the hottest restaurant in Boston. For today, at least. It’s a well-known fact that wherever the Langfields decide to have dinner today is where everyone else will want to be tomorrow. So it’s safe to say this place is good for another day at least.

“Welcome, Mr. Langfield. It’s good to see you,” the hostess says as she leads us to our table. She’s flirty, batting her lashes and swinging her hips as she glides through the restaurant.

Beckett rests his palm at the base of my spine. The heat radiating from him sends a flush straight to my cheeks.

“Regular table?” she asks, pointing at a corner table set up to garner the attention of everyone in the place. The lighting is adjusted just right to give it an air of superiority. Seen but untouchable.

So Beckett.

“I called ahead and asked for a booth,” he replies, all business.

She spins, her eyes wide and her mouth ajar. “I assumed that was a joke.”

My throat clogs with insecurity and my stomach twists itself into a knot. Of course he doesn’t want to be seen at his regular table with me. All of Boston knows that Beckett’s dinner companions consist of models or his brothers and that’s about it. I’m surprised he brought me to this restaurant at all. The courage I gained from my friends’ commentary and from getting dolled up deflates in an instant.

I choke back my absurd feelings and remind myself that this is all fake. We’re on a date because we need to sell this, not because he actually wants to be seen with me. His team has probably already strategically leaked our location. He doesn’t need photos of him next to his frumpy wife circulating. That would ruin the story.

“No. When I’m here with my wife, please make sure we have a booth.”

Her mouth practically falls open, but she schools her expression. “Of course, Mr. Langfield. Congratulations.” Her eyes drift over me quickly, and without another word, she turns and shows us to a much more private booth in the corner.

“Is this spot okay?” he asks as we sit. “I should have asked rather than assuming you’d like a steakhouse.”

“As long as no one throws food at me, it’s perfect.”

He chuckles and leans forward. “I have to know how you ended up living there.”

I shrug, clasping my hands in my lap. “It actually happened the weekend you forced me to go to the Keys instead of on my girls’ trip.”

A server appears at the end of our booth, and Beckett orders a bottle of pinot noir. Something about the way he looks at me as he orders it sends a flutter in my belly.

When the server nods and leaves us, he responds. “You mean when I hosted your girlfriends for the weekend on my private island.” He’s got one brow hitched, like he’s daring me to correct him.

“I was supposed to go to wine country,” I pout. “I’ve never been to wine country. I was really looking forward to it.”

Sliding his hand across the table, he grasps mine and squeezes. “Want to go for our honeymoon?” Then the cocky bastard breaks into a smile.

With a huff, I throw my cloth napkin at him. He catches it, laughing, and folds it up perfectly like the good Mr. Langfield, and hands it back to me. Maybe that’s why he asked for a booth in the corner. Throwing napkins is certainly not appropriate etiquette for a Langfield.

Ducking my head, I lay it on my lap. “It probably sounds ridiculous, but moving in with the girls saved me.”

“And why did you need saving, Olivia Langfield?” The way he says it, earnestly but also with heat… Damn. Every time he says my fake name, my heart skips. It’s utterly stupid and juvenile, but God, it’s almost like he’s possessive over that damn name.

“You saw my kids.” I lift a shoulder and peek up at him. “They’re a lot.”

“Your kids are incredible. Your friends’ kids, though…”

Shaking my head and fighting a smile, I fidget with the silverware on the table. “Parenting is hard. But even more than that, I work long hours.”

He winces at my words, but I continue on.

“It’s fine. I love my job, but I leave the house while Winnie is getting ready for school. I can’t be around when she gets off the bus. Can’t help her with her homework. Without a nanny, I’d have to get Finn and Adeline up early and haul them to and from daycare every day. Doing it on my own?” Sighing, I admit the cold hard truth. “I was drowning.”

I snap my mouth shut when the server returns with a bottle of wine and give him an appreciative smile.

Once we’re alone again, Beckett tips his glass to mine. “To us, Mrs. Langfield.”

My lip turns up as I take a sip. I hum at the burst of flavors on my tongue.

Beckett’s green eyes brighten as he watches me, still holding his glass aloft. “You recognize the bottle?”

Bringing the wine to my lips again, I shake my head subtly.

“It’s what we drank at the bar the night we got married.”

I laugh. “Now you’re going to get all sentimental about a night neither of us remembers?”

For a long moment, he studies me. There’s more tenderness in his expression than I thought he was capable of. “I remember…”

My mind goes blank as I try to think of a quippy retort, but I’ve got nothing. Fortunately, the waiter returns to go over the specials. Beckett pulls his attention from me, giving me a reprieve from the intensity of his focus, and listens, unsmiling, to the man. He nods along and asks pointed questions—all business in everything he does.

Except for when he’s looking at me like he just did. Dammit, my mind is taunting me just like Dylan would if she were here. Like she’s perched on my shoulder, chirping her silly little thoughts.

Stupid brain, you’re drunk.

“So, you went on vacation with your friends and ended up moving in with them. Then you went out of town with me, only to wind up married. Can I assume that when we go on our honeymoon, you’re going to get pregnant?” he teases.

Eyes bugging out, I practically spit out my wine.

Grumpy Beckett I can handle, even riled up Beckett is fine. But flirty Beckett? Flirty Beckett is going to steal my panties, and he may not be too far off with his prediction. If he keeps showing me this side of himself, I may just end up knocked up. This is so not good. “R-rules. We need rules,” I stutter.

“We’re married, and we’re going to be living together. Let down your hair and let go of the rules a little.”

I run my hand over my perfectly coiffed bun and grimace. “It’s important.”

“Fine. Tell me your rules,” he says in an almost patronizing tone.

“We can’t tell the kids that we’re married. If you need a few photos with them for the media, that’s fine. We can figure that out. But they’ve lost so much already. I don’t want them to get attached to you just to lose someone else.”

He sobers, his face taking on the stony appearance I’m used to. “Done.”

I swallow. “And PDA. I’m okay with limited PDA in front of your family if necessary, but at home, we’re roommates. At work, we’re colleagues. Nothing changes there.”

He swallows, then runs his tongue along his teeth like he’s tasted something bad. “You don’t want people at work to know we’re married?” Slumping a little, he drops his focus to my hand. His eyes warm slightly at the sight of the ring on my finger.

I slid it back on before I left tonight. I don’t want the kids seeing it. That will lead to too many questions I don’t want to answer, and I don’t want to lie to them if I can help it. But it’s important I’m seen wearing it when I leave the house.

“No, people at work are going to find out, if they haven’t already. I just don’t want it to change how they think of me or how they treat me.”

“You’re a Langfield now; of course they’ll treat you differently.”

“Beckett,” I warn. “I’ve worked hard to get where I am, and I did it on my own merit. I don’t want to be given any special attention or accommodations because my last name has changed.”

He lets out an annoyed sigh. “Fine, but I want to add a rule to this list.”

My chest tightens. God, what could this man want now?

“Okay,” I hedge, “what is your rule?”

“Date nights. Every Friday.”

I stare at him, dumbfounded. “What?”

“My parents have had the same rule since we were kids. Come to think of it, that’s probably why there are so many of us.”

The chuckle he lets out is like a hit of the most potent drug. Now I get why the man doesn’t laugh. If he did, women everywhere would be tripping over themselves just to get him to do it again. It’s so light and airy, and it scrapes at the space between my clavicles. When his green eyes meet mine, I swear he knows precisely how stupid that sound has rendered me, and he has the audacity to smirk. Holy hell, a smirking Beckett Langfield is dangerous. He’s like poison-under-the-sink dangerous, and for a mom, there’s nothing worse.

Someone call poison control. I think my heart may have stopped.

“You want to take me out on Friday nights because that’s the secret to your parents’ happy marriage?” I ask, dubious.

He takes another sip of his drink, cool, calm, and collected—the exact opposite of me—and gives me a nod.

Our marriage is fake. Why does my fake husband care more about our fake marriage than my real husband ever cared about the genuine thing?

He’d make a good real husband. To someone he actually meant to marry, I mean. Not to me, obviously.

“Why did you never get married before?”

His easy demeanor shifts to his default seriousness, and he leans back in his chair. “I told you. I never wanted to.”

“But why?” I press. Why did this seemingly perfect man not get snatched up long ago?

“Exactly as Sabrina said; I don’t want kids, and most women do.”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the bucket of cold water thrown on my head I needed. Only I’m a glutton for punishment just begging for a little ice to add to that cocktail, so I push a little further. “Why don’t you want kids?”

“I don’t have some sad story that will explain this and make you like me more, Liv.”

“I don’t like you much at all, so don’t get too worried.”

That comment earns me a signature Beckett glower. His eyes go hard and his jaw practically turns to stone.

“I’m teasing. You’re fine.” I wave my hand dismissively.

That expression morphs in an instant. His eyes dance in amusement now, his irises almost emerald in the light hanging above the table. “I’m fine? Stop the presses. We need to get that down. My gorgeous wife thinks I’m fine.”

We’re staring at one another, stupid smiles on our faces, and I can’t breathe. Beckett Langfield just called me gorgeous. I can’t even let myself think about the whole wife thing he keeps doing.

“You don’t like kids, so obviously this marriage is destined to fail,” I tease, only partly joking.

“I don’t dislike kids; I just don’t want my own. Those are two very different things.”

“True.” I’ll give him that. “So why don’t you want kids of your own?”

Our food arrives, and we’re quiet for a moment while we cut into our steaks.

“I don’t have a lot of free time. You know that already. When I was a kid, my father ran both teams, so time with his kids was almost nonexistent. I’m fortunate enough to share the load with Gavin, though we’re looking into acquiring a basketball team, so that’ll add more to both our plates.”

This isn’t a surprise; I’ve been working on preparations with both Beckett and Preston.

“Growing up, the only time I spent with my father was at sporting events or family vacations. He was never around, and I don’t say that lightly. Every night, he was at an event, and at least half those nights, my mother would go with him.”

I bite into my steak, a little crestfallen. I see exactly where this is going.

“Don’t get me wrong, he loves us. I’ve never doubted that. And he was a great father, but I spent half my childhood raising my younger siblings. Sure, we had nannies, but actual attention? The kind you get from a loved one—Gavin and I had to step up and be the ones to give it. If I had kids?” He shakes his head and studies his plate for a long moment. “I don’t want to do that to them. I love my job, and I’m afraid I’d be no good at balance, so…” He shrugs and takes a sip of his wine.

My heart aches for little boy Beckett. “I get it.”

He lifts his head, his brows raised in surprise. “You do? But you have three kids and a full-time job.”

I smile. “And sometimes I feel like I’m drowning.” Clearly, I’ve had too much wine. This is the second time I’ve admitted that to my boss tonight. “I can handle work,” I add, suddenly feeling the slightest bit defensive about my abilities in the office.

His Adam’s apple bobs, and his jaw clenches. “Liv, you’re excellent at your job, and you’re a great mom.”

“And somehow, I manage to do both,” I tease.

He smiles. “No one’s ever claimed that you’re not exceptional, Olivia Langfield.”

But not exceptional enough to keep that name for real. It’s a good reminder. Because while this stupid smile won’t leave my face, the man sitting across from me has just told me exactly why fake is all we’ll ever be.


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