Emergency Engagement (Love Emergency)

By: Samanthe Beck



Her bed stood just a few steps away. Could she drag two hundred pounds of rock-solid male a couple feet? Maybe, if the male cooperated. She wrapped her arms around him and lifted. “Come on,” she groaned into his ear over the strains of “Hey Bartender.” Whoa, he smelled good. Like fresh-cut juniper…she sniffed again…grown in an oak forest, and stored in freshly soaped leather. She had to resist burying her nose against his neck and inhaling deep. “Let’s get you to the bed.”

Lady Antebellum drowned out his reply, but he slung the towel over his shoulder and braced his hands on the paint-slicked drop cloth. Then he flexed his long legs and helped her guide him to his feet. She barely reached his chin, which made the prospect of steering him to her bed somewhat daunting, but she backed him up a step, then another, and then, with her target in sight, she got overly ambitious and took the next step too quickly. She stumbled into him and unbalanced them both. His hands came out to catch her as they fell.

The music stopped.

They landed in a tangle of limbs on her bed, her fingers hooked into the waistband of his jeans, her breast cupped in one big, wide palm, and another hand that most definitely didn’t belong to her splayed across her ass.

“Hello, sweetie. We’re early!” an all-too-familiar voice chirped from the hallway.

Savannah looked over to see her mother’s smiling face appear at the bedroom door.

“Happy Thanks”—the smile faltered—“giving?”

“Mom!”

Savannah scrambled off her neighbor, inadvertently elbowing his unyielding abdomen in the process. Her mom inched into the room, followed by her sister, Sinclair, and her father. Three sets of eyes took in the Sun Shower wreck of her bedroom, the man sprawled across her bed, and then, strangely, the front of her shirt.

A weirdly fatalistic calm settled over her as she followed their gazes. Yep, a large, starkly yellow handprint decorated her left breast, and she had a sneaking suspicion the seat of her pants bore a similar mark. The voice of one of her more strident art school professors echoed in her head. I don’t care if you work with oils, charcoal, or garbage. Medium is irrelevant. You can create profound art with finger paint, as long as the result sends a message to the viewer.

This certainly sent a message. Something along the lines of, “Oops. My family just interrupted my X-rated paint job.” She switched her attention to the artist in question, still stretched across her mattress in bare-chested glory, propped on one elbow as if he spent all his free time languishing in her bed. Her gaze continued down his body and she swallowed a groan. Smaller but equally vivid handprints glowed against the wash-faded denim of his jeans, on the thigh, and…oh, nice aim, Savannah…the fly.

Her father cleared his throat—a sure sign he was preparing to speak—but she cut him off. “This isn’t what it looks like.”

Sinclair’s midnight-blue eyes sparkled. “I don’t think there’s a name for what this looks like, but I take it last night’s dinner went well. If you’d responded to any of the texts I sent, we would have driven slower.” Her eyes slid to the bed, and she winked. “Much slower.”

Crap. Sinclair assumed the half-naked man in her bed was Mitch. That’s what you get for jumping the gun yesterday afternoon and telling her you thought your six-month anniversary dinner with “M” might end with a ring.

Old habit. Growing up, she and her sister had always been each other’s closest confidants. When she’d secretly crushed on Mr. Casey, her sixth-grade art teacher. After she’d given up her V-card on a freshman year spring break trip to Fort Lauderdale. When she’d expected the ambitious-yet-romantic lawyer she’d been seeing to pop the question. Every time, she’d told Sinclair.

Her mother stepped toward the bed, her chin-length blonde curls swinging as she smiled and held out her hand.

Somebody had raised him right, because he straightened and shook her outstretched hand.

“Hello. I’m Savannah’s mother, Laurel. You must be the mysterious M we’ve heard so much about. I’m…oh my goodness, you’re bleeding.”

God, he was. Still. Though not as copiously as before. He needed medical attention, not a round of introductions to her misguided family. “I told you this isn’t what it looks like. I—he—”

“I surprised your daughter while she was painting.” He covered the wound with the towel. “We had a minor accident.”

His deep, calm voice sounded reassuringly steady, despite the head injury, but she didn’t plan on taking any chances. “Not so minor. He lost consciousness for a moment. I was about to call 911 when you arrived.”

“That’s not necessary,” he replied.

“Absolutely not,” her father seconded, his nod of agreement sending a wing of dark hair over his brow. “We’ll drive you to the emergency room.” He dug into the pocket of his khakis for his car keys. From the corner of her eye, Savannah caught a movement by the bedroom door, but before she could say anything, her dad added, “It’s the least we can do for our future son-in-law.”

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