Who Are We Fooling?

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Chapter Five - Put A Ring On It

Brennan opened the box and pulled out a beautiful ring with a large princess cut diamond set as the show stopper. He lifted my hand and slipped the ring on to my left ring finger.

“That’s the right finger right?” he murmured softly, his hands still holding mine. I nodded, unable to speak for reasons I didn’t understand. I looked down at the ring, he felt heavy on my finger, foreign but not entirely unwelcome.

“It’s beautiful.” I smiled.

“It was my grandmothers.” He said ruefully. “I inherited it. Another point of contention with my parents. They wanted me to give it to my brother or my sister since they planned on settling down. I obliged, but both of my siblings of course refused.”

I gulped and ran the fingers on my other hand over the diamond. My fingers brushed Brennan’s and we both jumped apart, seemingly finally realizing our proximity.

“It’s not fake?” I questioned.

“No. My parents know I have this, this is the ring they’d expect me to use. Is that okay?”

I frowned, again with the insecurity. I smiled and nodded though, to appease him, although I was nervous about wearing something that meant so much in more ways than one to someone else.

“It’s beautiful, and it’s perfectly fine for our fake engagement. I’m just terrified that I might lose it or something. It’s sentimental and…” I stopped.

“You won’t lose it.” He said softly. “It fits you perfectly. I trust you Grace.”

I nodded and straightened my dress. Brennan paying me compliments felt weird. Complimenting one another wasn’t the kind of ‘friendship’ we had. Buying coffee for one another and eating lunch together was a sometimes thing, but talking was usually in the realm of work.

“I need to make a couple of calls and then we should go.” Brennan said suddenly. He turned on his heel and walked to his office.

I called my father and told him I’d be away for the weekend, but I’d call him as soon as I got back. He told me to have a good time and that I deserved a mini vacation.

Mini vacation. Hah. If only he knew.

“Ready?” Brennan’s voice broke me from my thoughts. I looked over at his office door. He had a black leather jacket on and his keys jangled in his hand. I nodded and pushed myself up off my seat. I didn’t take into account the fact the office still had a number of workers present. It was clear Brennan and I were leaving together in clothes no one had ever seen us in before while I had a giant rock on my hand.

The rumor mill would certainly go into overdrive and if I’d planned to return to work I would have had some explaining to do, luckily the only one who would have to explain anything would just eyeball anyone who dared to even ask. We walked to the elevator and I ignored the looks I could feel from the receptionist. Once we got to the car Brennan unlocked it and we sat inside for a moment.

“Our flight isn’t for a while, but we can get some dinner from the airport.” Brennan exclaimed, turning the key in the ignition.

“Sounds good to me.”

I was kind of hungry, I’d avoided eating all day and my stomach was beginning to grumble in response. It took a while to get through the traffic and then again to find a park at the airport. We walked together through the car park as the sun was beginning to set, pulling our cases behind us.

“What do you feel like?” Brennan asked as we walked through past the restaurants. The scent of New York pizza filled my nostrils. I pointed to the pizzeria closest to us.

“Beer and pizza sounds alright.” I replied.

Brennan laughed. “My kind of girl.”

I smiled but it was superficial, I wasn’t Brennan’s type of girl. I didn’t flirt, I didn’t dress to impress him, I was shorter and curvier than anyone I’d ever seen on his arm. So I liked beer and pizza, if relationships were based on a love of greasy takeaway and tap beer then maybe, but it just wasn’t the case and I didn’t care. I didn’t want to be another of Brennan’s one night stands.

“Deep in thought.” Brennan said as we walked into the pizza shop. I just nodded and looked around for some kind of intervention to change the subject in my head and to avoid Brennan’s statement. A waitress walked over and showed us to a booth. She disappeared briefly before returning with a notepad.

“What can I get you.” She asked.

“Three slices of cheese pizza and a large beer for me please.” I smiled up at her.

“Not a problem and you sir.”

I looked at Brennan who was grinning directly at me. He shook his head and turned his attention to the waitress.

“I’ll have the same thank you.”

“Great, it won’t be long.” The waitress put her notebook in her pocket.

Once the waitress was gone again I looked down at my hands, specifically the spot where Brennan’s family heirloom sat on my finger.

“Brennan?” I questioned. “We’ll need to act like a couple this weekend. I’m not even sure we’re capable of holding hands without behaving like morons.”

Correction: I wasn’t sure if I could hold his hand without behaving like a moron.

Brennan’s hands moved across the table and took my left hand between them. His skin was warm, soft but somehow more rugged than my own. I liked the feeling, probably a little too much for a ruse, but I ignored that. I didn’t start giggling, or impulsively yank it back either.

“Good, we didn’t burst into flames.” he mused, gently pulling his hands back. I drew mine back to my half of the table and linked them.

“Funny.” I replied.

“Relax, it’s going to be fine.”

I nodded but I wasn’t as confident as he sounded. Brennan was used to dalliances with girls, okay so he wasn’t so good with the relationship aspect but at least he knew how to behave with someone of the opposite sex in a romantic way. All I had was a failed college relationship years ago and my cliched knowledge of romantic comedies.

Our food and drinks arrived rather quickly, though my appetite was almost depleted by the sudden onset of nerves. I gulped back the beer and placed the empty glass down on the table.

“What’s on your mind Grace?” Brennan asked, picking up a slice of the cheese pizza. “Maybe I can help.”

I shrugged, though I was surprised that he was able to pick up on there being something wrong, the over attentive caring man I was seeing was not who I was used to.

“I don’t know how to be in a real relationship Brennan, let alone a fake one where I have to fool people into thinking I’m in love with someone.”

Brennan placed the pizza back down on the plate and leaned back in the booth. He chewed on his lip and tilted his head.

“Surely you’ve dated?”

“I had a boyfriend in college. Well, kind of. We’d study together on weekdays, sometimes fool around.” I felt my face redden and I swallowed hard. “Though every weekend without fail he’d proclaim he needed space, that things were moving too fast and then every Monday he’d be back saying he missed me. I was such an idiot I didn’t even realize what was happening for 9 months. I kind of swore off dating after that.”

Brennan shook his head and picked up his pizza. He took a bite and then shook his head again.

“He sounds like a jerk.” He replied finally.

“I should have realized sooner. Besides, aren’t you cut from the same cloth. He liked to have different girls on the weekends, you like to have different girls period.”

I felt bad the moment the words left my mouth but it was too late to take them back. Brennan nodded and took another bite of his pizza. He picked up his beer, took a sip and then looked at me. His brown eyes were darker than I’d ever seen them and there was no evidence of a smile anywhere on his face.

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