I Only Have Eyes for You - Bella Andre Page 0,2

knew better than to give him the power to hurt her, a handful of his careless words did more damage than her twin’s hair-pulling ever had.

Had she imagined that hunger, the longing, in his eyes? Or had she simply wanted to feel those sparks so badly that she’d manufactured a split-second connection that would never actually be there between them?

Oh, how she hated the way he’d just talked to her—like she was still a little girl rather than a fully grown, successful, adult woman. Princess. He’d called her princess.

Somehow that was worse than Nice. At least her family nickname had been born of love.

In one fell swoop, all the resolve she’d had such a hard time holding on to where Jake was concerned gathered up inside her, settling in just over her breastbone. What she wouldn’t give to shock him, to show him that he didn’t know a darn thing about who she really was, that the “nice” girl he’d seen grow up was more than woman enough to run him in circles.

Growing up in a family of extraordinary siblings, Sophie had known better than to try to compete with them. She’d never glide across a dance floor like Lori, or lead a team to a national championship like Ryan. She didn’t save people’s lives on a daily basis like Gabe. She’d never be passionate enough about photography or cars or vineyards to turn them into successful careers and businesses.

But as she stood with Jake in the middle of Marcus’s vineyard barely an hour before Chase and Chloe’s wedding, Sophie couldn’t have been happier that she’d read thousands of novels. Enough, she hoped, to pull together a quick plot that would give Jake a taste of his own medicine...and at long last, a run for his money.

“You’re right,” she said softly, “I should leave soon to get pretty.” The words tasted like grit on her tongue and she could have sworn he almost winced as she repeated them back to him. “But there’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you first.”

“What’s that?” he asked in an easy voice. One she thought sounded a little too easy.

“Well,” she said slowly, “I just found out that an ex-boyfriend is one of Chloe’s last-minute guests.”

It was true, she’d dated the guy—Alex—for a few months last year. Neither of them had been particularly serious about the other, however. She hadn’t even slept with him.

Still, that didn’t stop her from spinning the truth a bit for Jake’s benefit. “He’s someone I’d really like to make jealous.” She slowly lowered her eyelashes as if she still wasn’t over the pain of being left so callously.

Although she’d only been in the chorus of a handful of elementary-school stage productions, she tried to channel the way she imagined Smith would play this scene onscreen. With pathos. And a faint hint of shame at the way she’d never managed to be good enough for her ex no matter what she did. She waited a beat before lifting her gaze to Jake’s again.

“Would you help me?”

He stared down at her, clearly unable to believe what she was proposing. “Hold up a second, Nice. You want me to help you make some loser ex-boyfriend jealous?”

She gritted her teeth at his use of her nickname—and the fact that he immediately assumed any boyfriend of hers had to be a loser—but forced herself to let it go. For now.

“You didn’t bring anyone to the wedding, right?” A few weeks ago he’d told her he was coming stag so that he could keep watch over his staff at the bar. Sophie figured it was also a good way to make sure he had his pick of hot single guests for an after-party in his bed. She forcefully tamped down the surge of jealousy at that vision as she said, “Please, Jake, will you help me?”

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