I only have eyes for you, p.2
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       I Only Have Eyes for You, p.2

         Part #4 of The Sullivans series by Bella Andre
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  Author: Bella Andre

  But he was already shaking his head. “No one will ever believe it. And your brothers will kill me if they think I’m looking at you that way. ”

  Damn his bad reputation and her crystal clear one.

  And damn her brothers for being so protective.

  Jake was right. They would tear him to shreds if they ever thought he’d so much as had an impure thought about her or Lori. But she refused to give up now, not with his disdainful, “You’d better go get pretty then, shouldn’t you, princess?” still running through her head.

  “Are you kidding?” she said with a laugh. “Of course none of them would believe it. You?” She laughed harder. “And me?” She shook her head as if the whole idea were utterly preposterous. . . even though she’d written their love story a thousand times in her dreams. “We’ve all seen the kind of girls you go for. I would be surprised if half of them can even spell their own names. ”

  When he scowled, she belatedly realized she might have gone too far.

  Oops.

  “Don’t worry,” she reassured him, “we’ll make sure none of my family or friends sees us. Just my ex. ”

  “Does this guy have a name?”

  The way Jake looked right then, like he was going to tear her ex apart with his bare hands, she didn’t think it would be fair to give him Alex’s name.

  Thinking fast, she said, “I don’t like saying it aloud. ”

  “Did he hurt you?”

  She was glad she hadn’t had too much to eat for breakfast, otherwise it would have threatened to come back up as she moved her hand over her heart and said, “Only here,” in an overly theatrical way.

  Sophie was certain anyone else would have seen through her terrible acting job, but Jake was so bound and determined not to notice anything about her it looked like she was actually going to get away with this.

  Knowing it was make-or-break time, she played her final card. “Please, Jake. You’re the only one I can ask to help me get a little revenge on a big jerk. ” She leaned in close to his ear and said in a hushed voice, “It will be our little secret. ”

  God, he smelled good, so good she wanted to rub her lips over the faint stubble on his cheek. Instead, she forced herself to shift her weight away from him.

  Finally he said, “Fine. If you’re that desperate, I’ll do it. Although I still don’t think this plan of yours has much of a chance of working. ”

  “Oh,” she said softly, the word desperate grating along with princess and Nice, “it will work all right. I’ll make absolutely sure of it. ”

  * * *

  What the hell had just happened?

  Jake McCann knew how he was supposed to feel about Sophie Sullivan. He was supposed to love her the way a guy loved his little sister, to watch over her, to make sure she was safe and happy. He was supposed to be blind to the way Sophie had filled out over the years.

  He shouldn’t have been appreciating her curves beneath her clothes as she’d stood in the middle of the vineyard and surveyed the wedding preparations. And when he was putting her hat back on her head and her eyes had gone all dreamy, he sure as hell shouldn’t have felt the crazy urge to drag her against him and kiss that soft mouth.

  But he couldn’t take his eyes off her as she walked away, couldn’t stop thinking about how soft her cheek felt against the pad of his thumb and the way her hair slid like silk through his fingers.

  Damn it.

  How long had he worked to deny the way he felt about Sophie? How many years had he told himself it was nothing he couldn’t work out of his system with other women? Women who were good for a few hours in the sack, but who didn’t have an ounce of Sophie’s natural elegance. Her brains. Her gentleness.

  How was he going to make it through an entire wedding with Sophie when his self-control had slipped a little more each time he saw her over the past months? Sitting close to her as she ran through the wedding plans with him, breathing in her sweet scent, wondering if she would taste just as sweet against his tongue, had been slowly driving him crazy. Day by day she’d crept into his thoughts, his dreams, more and more.

  Standing in the middle of Marcus’s vineyard with Sophie near enough to pull her into his arms, he’d been caught between two impossible choices. Reach out and finally claim her the way he’d fantasized about taking her for far too long. . . or push her away for her own good.

  His chest clenched with regret as he remembered Sophie’s wounded expression after he’d made those cracks about her clothes and needing to be made pretty for the wedding. She was the last person in the world he wanted to hurt, which was exactly why he’d made sure to keep his distance as much as possible over the years.

  Jake hated to think that some guy she’d dated had done a number on her, and actually had the nerve to show up at her brother’s wedding. She deserved to be with someone who would give her everything. A house in the suburbs and a white picket fence. A handful of cute kids with big brains like their mother.

  He knocked his knuckles hard into his sternum to physically shove away the tightening at those images of Sophie being picture-book happy with some other guy. Jake wasn’t sure about her plan to make her ex jealous, but he was already planning to get the guy alone and teach him a lesson about what happened when somebody messed with a Sullivan.

  Just then, Chase stepped out onto Marcus’s terrace and called Jake’s name, jolting him out of his thoughts.

  Chase’s brothers were all groomsmen with Marcus officiating the wedding. Jake was the only non-Sullivan to be given the honor of standing up with Chase, even though he had plenty of cousins who could have been chosen.

  The ninth Sullivan. It was always how they’d made him feel, like he was one of them. All those years he’d hung out at their house, Jake had pretended he was home. And the truth was, Mary Sullivan’s house had been the only real home he’d known until he bought his own place with the profits from his Irish pubs.

  Jake was happy for Chase. Sure, he was surprised by the way his friend had fallen so quickly, and by how happy he was about the whole husband/father thing being dropped into his lap, but just because Jake wouldn't ever let himself get caught up in that ball and chain, he would always support a Sullivan.

  Being a groomsman at Chase’s wedding and running the bar was all part of giving back to the family that had helped raise him when his own family hadn’t given a damn.

  “How’re you feeling on the big day?”

  Chase grinned. “Good. ” His grin widened. “Really good. ”

  Jake had seen Chase and Chloe together enough to know this was one seriously happy dude. Chase didn’t seem to have one regret about giving up having his pick of hot models.

  “Have you seen Chloe?” Chase asked. “Do you know if she needs anything?”

  As soon as Chloe had announced her pregnancy, Chase had become a carbon copy of every other overprotective dad-to-be. It was exactly the kind of crazy behavior Jake would never understand. Which was why he made damn certain none of his sexual partners could get knocked up.

  “I was just talking with Sophie,” he told Chase. “Sounded like everything is under control with the girls. ”

  “Good. ” Chase nodded, then grinned at him. “Come inside. Smith is telling us about an orgy he walked in on a couple of weeks ago. I’m guessing it’s a warm-up for his speech after the wedding. ”

  “So you’re really not going to miss giving it all up, huh?”

  Chase didn’t hesitate before shaking his head. “Chloe is worth a thousand orgies. ”

  Jake could hear the Sullivans laughing as he walked inside. He loved that family as if they were his own, would take a bullet for any of them. Especially the dark-haired beauty he couldn’t manage to shake out of his head.

  Or his heart.

  Chapter Two

  “We were just about to send out a search party for you. ” Kalen, the makeup art
ist Chase usually worked with on his photo shoots, grabbed Sophie the second she stepped into the guest house. “Everyone else is putting on their dresses already. Fortunately, all you need is some light mascara and lipstick. ”

  Normally, Sophie would have agreed to keep her face close to bare. She’d never been all that comfortable in makeup. Lori had been the one who’d always liked to play with their mother’s eye shadows and powders. Sophie had been more interested in finding the books to tell her sister how to put it on, rather than playing mannequin.

  “Actually,” she said, “I was hoping you could work a little of your magic on me. ”

  The woman raised an eyebrow. “Magic?”

  Sophie nodded. “There’s this guy. . . ”

  Kalen gave Sophie a slow grin. “Well, in that case, I’d be happy to work a little of my magic on you. He won’t know what hit him. ” She called out to the hairstylist friend she’d brought with her. “Jackie, can you come here for a sec?”

  A few minutes of hushed conferencing later—in which Sophie made it clear that she didn’t want to look overly made up or trashy, just a whole lot sexier than she normally did—the three women had a plan.

  Sophie sat back in her seat and tried to ignore her rapidly beating heart as they transformed her from Nice to something entirely different.

  * * *

  Thirty minutes later, after Kalen and Jackie had helped Sophie change into her bridesmaid’s dress without messing up her hair or makeup, Lori walked into the room and stared at Sophie in shock.

  “What the heck have you done with my sister?”

  The two of them hadn’t been getting along so well for the past year. Sophie hated to see the way Lori was letting that jerk she’d been dating in secret walk all over her. Everyone saw her twin as so fierce, so fearless, but Sophie knew Lori was simply better at hiding her emotions than the rest of them.

  Every time Sophie had tried to bring up the situation, her sister had blocked her out of her life more and more. Lori was a master of sharp, sarcastic barbs, as Sophie knew all too well, and she’d been lashed out at one too many times in recent months. But beneath everything that had come between them in the past year, she loved her sister. How could she not, when they’d always been two halves of a whole?

  Today was one of those days when Sophie needed her twin, the other half that should automatically understand everything on a DNA level, to reassure her.

  In the heat of the moment, as she’d made the decision to shake things up, it had seemed so empowering to let Kalen and Jackie make her up, but for someone like her, who’d always been happy disappearing into the background, this hair, this makeup was a big departure.

  What if people laughed at her?

  What if Jake laughed?

  She’d die. Oh yes, right then and there in the middle of Chase and Chloe’s special day, in front of three hundred people, she’d wither up and drop dead.

  Lori moved closer, did a full circle of Sophie in her deep pink satin strapless dress. She’d been the last one to meet Chloe at the bridal store to pick out her maid of honor dress. Although it was definitely more conservative that Lori’s, Sophie had forgotten how well the satin hugged her curves, closer than anything else she owned, that’s for sure. It was classic movie-star style, a la Marilyn Monroe’s “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” dress, with a long slit up one leg.

  Finally, Lori said, “You look amazing, Soph. ”

  Sophie breathed a heavy sigh of relief. “Thank God. ”

  “But,” Lori added with a slight frown, “you don’t exactly look like you. ” Her frown deepened. “Did Kalen convince you to try something new?”

  “The makeup was my idea. So was the hair. ”

  Lori frowned again. “I don’t get it. You’ve never wanted to try anything new before. ”

  Sophie forced a shrug, as if it didn’t matter to her at all if her sister got it or not. Even though it did matter. So much. “I just wanted to see what it would be like to look different for one day. ”
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