Welcome to Fortuna, Texas, where the men read romance novels. This sweet, heartwarming, romantic comedy is set in the small town of Fortuna and can be read as a standalone or as part of the Fortuna, Texas series.
When elderly Aunt Wanda announces she has cancer, playboy Sawyer must wed in order to fulfill her dying wish and to receive his inheritance: the manor house, an expanse of rolling hills, and a hidden family treasure. Frustrated by his aunt’s stipulations, he strives to find a loophole.
A fellow member of the Fortuna historical society, Wanda entices Stephanie to move into the apartment over the estate’s garage. As she becomes endeared to the older woman, the mystery surrounding the Cummings Estate and the treasure intrigues her.
Hoping to bring his aunt peace, Stephanie works with Sawyer to find a solution to Aunt Wanda’s will. When Sawyer proposes a fake engagement, she accepts, but soon reality blurs and pretend feels real.
Rumors swirl about the Cummings treasure and their relationship. Can they maintain appearances while keeping their feelings at bay, and will Wanda figure out it’s all a ruse?
The Playboy's Pretend Fiancée was originally included in Beauty From Ashes: Authors & Dancers Against Cancer Anthology published July 27, 2020
“This list of items will belong to Mr. Sawyer Hickey if he follows these two stipulations.”
Sawyer nervously stared at his boots. Wanda squeezed his hand. “Don’t worry.”
Warren peered over his reading glasses. “One—Mr. Hickey must marry in order to receive the Cummings’ manor house and the acreage surrounding it. Two—Miss Malone will be allowed to live on the premises until Sawyer marries or she decides to move out.”
Sawyer glanced up and met Stephanie’s gaze. “What the hell?” he mouthed. Stephanie shrugged, blushing again.
Nan came in carrying a glass and pill case. “Time for your medicine and a rest.”
Wanda yawned, then tried to stand. The fuzzy peach blanket fell to her stocking feet and she swiveled off balance, stooping for it. Sawyer caught her elbow and helped her into the bedroom. Stephanie brought the blanket and laid it on the foot of the bed.READ MORE
“Good night, Aunt Wanda,” Sawyer said, then kissed her cheek.
Nan waved them out of the room. “Goodnight, y’all.”
Warren handed them each a packet, then closed his briefcase. “My card is stapled to the top. Call if you have any questions or when you get engaged.” Warren winked as Sawyer threw his hands into the air.
“Married! I can’t believe her,” Sawyer groused. “It can’t be legal.”
“It isn’t,” Stephanie hissed. She put a finger over her mouth and motioned to the hallway.
Sawyer followed her as she continued down to the kitchen. “Your aunt only wants what’s best for you,” Stephanie said, hugging herself.
“What’s best for me?” Sawyer slammed a fist on the table. “I don’t think so.”
Stephanie’s sad eyes turned hard. She jumped in front of him, poking him in the chest. “You listen to me, Mr. Hickey. Your aunt is dying, and she doesn’t want you to be alone. Can you think about someone other than yourself for once?”
Words left him. He rubbed his face. The sweet smell of coconut caught his attention and calmed him. “You’re right.”
Stephanie’s eyes widened. “I am?”
He touched her face. She stepped back, bumping into the island.
Sawyer sighed. “I’m sorry, it’s just…” He turned around and glanced out the window. “I just found out about the cancer and now this—stipulation.” He shook his head.
“It’s fine.” She touched his arm. “It must be a shock.”
“Would you care to go to Hammered? I need a beer and to talk this thing out,” Sawyer said, throwing her a hopeful side-glance.
Stephanie had her bottom lip between her teeth. She sighed and finally mumbled, “I don’t know.”
“I’d really like to hear how the interesting caveat of Miss Malone living at the Cummings’ house came about.” Sawyer crossed his arms.
Stephanie blanched and sighed again. “Fine.”COLLAPSE