Not My Lover Ch. 03byJazzMatthews©
"Well I'll be damned."
Gage crossed his feet together at the ankles upon the broad desk of his FBI office, shifting the phone's receiver to tuck it between his shoulder and his ear. Once he had gotten back from the meeting, he immediately called his brothers to describe briefly what his latest assignment would entail him to do.
Gage scoffed. "Yeah, you're puttin' how I feel lightly."
His younger brother, Grant, chuckled, clearly amused by Gage's misfortune. "When's this blessed event gonna take place?"
"Two weeks in Stallings' office."
"I'm wonderin' if you can have extra witnesses," Grant speculated. "This is an affair I don't wanna miss. I'm sure Alexa would just love to come and see you two get hitched."
Gage's brows knitted firmly together as he formed a frown. "It ain't real," Gage retorted defensively, his voice growing loud to make even himself aware that his current situation wasn't real. He was wishing the whole damn day was just an illusion.
He still didn't understand why they were going through this whole charade of a wedding when it wasn't necessary. Numerous agents before were able to pose as a couple without going through the ceremony of a damn wedding, but for some reason, Stallings wanted that of Summer and himself to teach them civility toward each other or whatever the hell Stallings was up to. Either way, this kind of stuff wasn't done in the FBI and it made him wonder if this was still one of the numerous jokes that Stallings was capable of and if so, how long will his boss willing to let it go on?
Easing back into the cushioned, worn leather of his favorite chair, Gage cleaned his nails with the Bowie knife he kept locked in his desk. For some reason, he wanted anyone who walked by to see that he had it. He personally felt like killing someone.
"It's only a show to humiliate us both," he shrugged. "I still think it's all bullshit. Having to pose as Eddington's husband on this assignment is enough. It's an insult for me to virtually walk down the aisle with the last woman I'd ever marry."
"Looks like you're in for it," Grant replied. "Marriage life can be hell."
Gage frowned at that light response, though it was the truth in some cases. "But you've been a helluva lot happier since you married."
"Hell, that's 'cause my woman loves me," Grant countered. "Your bride-to-be would rather be your widow." He paused briefly to chuckle. "You tell Graham?"
Gage's memory briefly flickered to the phone conversation he had with his youngest brother earlier and the teasing and retorts he received. Graham, being the youngest and the most educated out of the three, was also the brother who smiled just as much as Gage and Grant frowned altogether.
"Yeah, I told the lil' bastard," he sulked. "He died laughin' his ass off and told me I was gonna die on my honeymoon. Thang is, our honeymoon is our assignment, and the only way for me to live through it is that there be no touchin', kissin', or sex, period."
Grant noted the list of things Gage didn't wish to act on and knew for what reason. "You did that already or been thinkin' about it, haven't you?"
"All but the last," Gage admitted immediately. "Right in the elevator after we were informed about our assignment. Can you believe that?"
"Yeah, I damn well can," Grant readily agreed. "It's about damn time you showed some kinda reaction for the woman. We were beginnin' to worry and grow slightly tired of your mopin' around us. It's time for you to take charge."
Gage's handsome face dimmed into another scowl. "Of what?"
Grant released an aggravated sigh. "Your emotions. It's been obvious like hell you want her, but you won't admit it even under oath. You got space now."
"What the hell are you talkin' about?"
"Think about it," Grant growled faintly at his last attempt to put it into terms his Gage could understand. "You're about to become her husband. That's all you need to know."
Things were becoming clear at last. Gage could call anyone to fulfill the need that heatedly filled his veins, but he only wanted one person and she wouldn't touch him with a ten-foot pole. But he knew one pole he wanted to touch her with.
He shook his head. "It'll never work, badass. She hates my guts enough to splatter them on the sidewalk and run over them with her car."
"You've got to get in good with her. She's the main reason why I've called."
Gage frowned. They always called when they wanted something. "You didn't want to talk to me?"
Grant laughed. "What kinda brother would I be if I did that? I'd sound like a desperate married man."
Gage would hardly say that Grant was desperate. From what he knew, his brother appeared to be the happiest out of the trio of Ryan brothers and he was the one with a wife. Four months ago, he had married Emmanuel Harden's daughter, Alexa, and they were now living in her hometown in North Carolina. Emmanuel Harden was a former senator up to a few months ago. He resigned his position when complications dealing with his life and the life of his daughter's came into play last December.
Gage was still surprised that despite the secrecy, Alexa still loved the pure stubbornness that Grant presented to anyone. How he got such a treasure was past Gage's understanding, but it must be love for their relationship to survive such terrible trials.
"How's the wife?"
"She's gettin' along great," Grant answered. "She complains of aches and pains, but she's got one month left to go."
Just like his brother to never use protection and getting the girl pregnant the first time he slept with her. At least Gage always had the decency to wear his helmet while working his jackhammer. Never know what "debris" would backfire to strike him hard. After all, his sex life was his pride, even if Summer didn't think so.
"You've been holdin' out on the sex of that baby," Gage grumbled almost intolerantly. "Which is it?"
Grant chuckled. "We don't know either. We decided to be surprised, I'd wager on a boy, but you can never be to sure. Anyway, the baby and Alexa are the reason I called. I need you to ask Summer for a huge favor on my behalf."
If it was up to Gage, he'd rather attempt to jump the Grand Canyon than ask the woman who wasn't moved by his kiss, or so she wanted him to think. Still, the seriousness of his brother's voice allowed Gage to realize that this was important.
With a calm sigh, he gave. "Like what?"
"I would like to have Summer throw Alexa a baby shower."
Gage pondered silently on this, unable to comprehend why, out of all the women in the world, Grant would want Summer to plan a baby shower for his wife and unborn child. It put Gage at unease to know that this woman could plan his future niece's or nephew's shower, then plan his funeral a few days later.
Gage shivered. "Why her?" he sneered. "Can't you get someone else?"
"Look, I know you and her aren't on good terms, but Alexa likes Summer a lot and it'll mean the world to her and me. And you know damn well that Alexa's relatives ain't really of the lovin' kind when it comes to me. They haven't exactly welcomed me into the family. I'm just tolerated as it is by her father, despite how he's warmed up to Granny and Granddaddy."
That part was true. Alexa's side of the family at the wedding was pretty close to none. They had expected better than someone of Grant's circumstances, which has been reduced to protecting Alexa. However, Emmanuel Harden has been seeing to it that Grant received a job as an U.S. Marshal. Grant's application was still being processed, and if all went well, Alexa and Grant would move to Washington after the baby was born.
"Surely there are a few who would do this, Grant."
"Not enough, not as long as she's my wife and the mother of my child. They'd rather be kicked in the ass by a mule." Grant laughed dryly for a few seconds. "For some of them, that ain't such a bad idea. But you can ask her and I'm sure she won't mind."
Gage was resigned to do this. He knew that this was the set expectation, and what Grant wanted, Grant got.
Closing his eyes, Gage rubbed his rough palm over his face. Lord, this assignment was going to be the pain in his ass. "Fine, I'll do it, but I make no promises. Bride-to-be or not, she'll still say no."
On the other side of the phone, Grant smiled with indicative knowing. "With enough persuasion, I'm sure you can find ways to change her mind."
Summer was merrily sipping on her herbal tea while curled up with a new novel she had purchased the other day when she suddenly heard the doorbell. She cursed placed the book down and ambled toward the door. She was dressed in her comfortable lounge about clothes and ever since she had acquired a fiancé, she didn't want to step foot outside her door.
But she couldn't disguise her surprise when she opened to door to find Gage standing on the other side of the threshold. The last person in the world she would have thought to be standing there. Then again, with the assignment hovering over her like death and her boss' threat for them to get along, she reckoned she had no choice.
Still, she would act difficult in the meantime. "What are you doing here?"
The man was just arrogantly sexy in his leather jacket, black shirt tucked inside jeans that molded to his built body. He jammed his hands into his pockets. "Thought I'd stop by, since you've been screenin' your calls."
After all this, no one could blame her. "I didn't feel like talking to you or anyone."
Gage nodded, clearly as resign to this as she was. "I understand." His crystal green eyes lifted to glance behind her. "You gonna invite me in?"
Summer released a brusque sigh. "I guess." She moved to one side. "Come on in."
Gage came inside, looking around. He instantly noticed that the house had been redecorated since the last time he had been there that fateful night. The inviting colors of blue intertwined with green made her living room warm and inviting. She had throw pillows everywhere on her couches and chairs. Even the huge pillows that could be used as sitting cushions upon the floor for comfort.
After his survey, he turned to glance at her and found her leaning against the door, watching him with eyes filled with suspicion.
"You've got a comfortable house," he complimented. "You changed it up."
"I try to keep things up to date and in style," Summer shrugged slightly. "Tell you the truth, I didn't know you remembered where I lived."
"I had to. It was the only way I could avoid passin' through your neighborhood when I was in your part of town."
Summer frowned. He didn't have to say it like that. For a moment, she thought he was an amicable guy. Now he was the arrogant bastard she knew him to be. "Yeah, well, why didn't you avoid it this time?"
Gage scratched the back of his neck, momentarily brushing his slightly long, black hair. "Uh, Stallings has informed me that you've been closin' up so I had to do some thangs with you to get us on the right foot." His gaze cruised up and down her body in a brief scrutiny. "Which is why you need to get dressed."
Summer hastily glanced down at herself to retrace the tour Gage's eyes took. Her dark chocolate eyes glared at him, already feeling herself getting angry at his silent insolence. "I wasn't planning on going anywhere today."
"Me neither, but I couldn't sleep after I heard my answerin' machine clickin' over at the threatenin' messages Stallings left on it. I went by his office today. He told me to drag your ass outta your house for a day."
Gage cleared his throat. "Frankly, darlin', we have a shoppin' spree, courtesy of the FBI."
Summer blanched in color. This was her worst nightmare come true. This was the assignment from hell.
"Why would they do that for us?" she asked in a strained voice. "I always considered them broke bastards for some of the things they lack."
Gage freed a sensual chuckle. "Cheap, yes, but the FBI's far from broke. They spend it on things that matter and ride the rest."
His eyes tore into her and it was enough to make Summer quiver to very her soul. His eyes were so hauntingly beautiful. Green, though she despised the color, looked good on him. He was able to persuade the color well into his favor.
"We gotta long day ahead of us," Gage said, "and a lot of time to waste between now and our blessed weddin' day. Let's get a move on."
Summer sighed despairingly again to her fate. She hated her life. "Fine. Let me change and I'll be right with you."
As she turned to go to her bedroom, she heard, "And wear somethin' nice. Don't want my woman lookin' like trash around town."
Summer whirled around, dark daggers aiming true to their target: Gage's chest. No wonder she couldn't stand him. Comments like that were out of the question. Especially about that being his woman. "I'm not your woman," Summer dismissed as she walked into her room to change. She didn't hear the faint statement that trailed behind her.
"You could be," Gage said to himself.
Summer left him alone for a few minutes before she came out, dressed in khakis with a nice lavender shirt. Her hair was done up in its usual curls, tight in its height and balance. Gage was on the couch, his head supported by his hand and his eyes closed. She repressed a smile. The lazy, sexy bastard.
"I'm ready," she chimed.
Gage unhurriedly opened his eyes, his slumberous gaze latching onto Summer's body in a sluggish study. His eyes widened at finding a very well-dressed and groomed Summer. A lazy smile softened his features.
Summer glanced down at herself, feeling pretty good to impress Gage for something. "Thanks," she replied awkwardly. She shifted her purse. "Can we go?"
Gage eased to his towering height of six feet, two inches. "Sure, let's ride."
Leading the way, Gage led her to his bike sitting in her driveway. When Summer witnessed the vehicle that would take them shopping, her face was suddenly hot. She had dressed with such care and he expected her to look nice on a bike? He must have lost his ever loving mind! Why didn't he bring his truck?
Summer stalled, folding her arms irritably across her chest. Gage turned to look at her, his brow scrunching. "What's wrong with you?"
"I don't do bikes," Summer huffed babyishly.
Hands went to his lean waist, his eyes narrowing into vehement slits. "Woman, it's questionable if you do anythang, let alone a man."
He walked on to his bike with ease and his beautiful body sunk down upon the broken leather. Gage took time to put on his helmet before reaching back and tossing the spare one to Summer. Luckily that her dad had signed her up for softball all those summers when she was a little girl, or else, she would have dropped Gage's precious helmet on the pavement.
She glared at the silver helmet as if it was possessed by the devil. Gage snapped his fingers rudely, clearly displaying his impatience. "C'mon, sweet thang. You're wastin' daylight. I know you're dyin' to shop." He turned his head and Summer almost missed his next, almost quiet comment. "All women are."
Furiously, Summer placed the helmet upon her head, fastened it, and eased in behind him. "And I guess you're the connoisseur of all women?" she asked testily.
Gage glimpsed briefly over his shoulder. "I know enough to deem myself an expert in areas most men lack."
And there was nothing Gage lacked in, except for sense and credibility. However, as Summer came to realize in what position she was in, she swallowed awkwardly. It was disturbing as hell to be thigh to thigh and back to chest with Gage. Through his black leather jacket, the warmth of his body radiated and it made Summer's nipples want to bury themselves past the barrier of that jacket to snuggle with that warmth. The thought of it gave her the chills as Gage started up the bike.
The vibrating power nestled between her legs hummed as he gave it more power. Summer leaned into him, wrapping her arms snugly around his waist on impulse. Gage glanced between him once more, Summer already having her eyes tightly closed. She didn't catch the sinful grin behind his helmet.
"Hold on to your clothes, baby," he charmed. "You're in for the ride of your life."
Summer was trying on clothes in a store she had only imagined stepping foot in. If someone was giving you money to spend on yourself for a good cause, take what you can get. She left her Gage to stalk the world outside. She was a little irritated at the asshole because he was as stubborn as ever. He plain refused to try on clothes, assuring her that the ones he had picked out would fit all too well.
And what good did it all do? Because of his stupid bike, all their newly bought clothes would have to be delivered to their homes. He hadn't admitted that he was in the wrong for that, but Summer didn't expect him to.
"Stupid male slut," she mumbled beneath her breath. She was vulnerable now in a dressing room that was widely circular with thick maroon curtains. Summer took off her bra to try on an exquisite midnight blue evening dress that technically rested off the shoulders and depended on a woman's bust size to hold the dress up.
"I got plenty of that," she replied as she measured her chest from the mirror. They were ample when it came to the average, but they were what men considered treasures. But at least hers were homegrown instead of imparted from a silicon farm.
As she slipped out of her previous pair of dress pants, Summer had the uncanny feeling that someone was watching her. Slowly turning toward the entrance, surprised brown eyes came in contact with licentious green ones fixed to her chocolate brown breasts that were bare for him to see the dark nipples crowning them.
The liquid heat she read in that gaze was burning and fervent as he licked his lips in lust. Summer feared that he would snatch her up and take her right there in the store. What scared her was that half of her wouldn't mind.
"Mmmm...nice," Gage appreciated with a devilish smile. "I'd pay some good money to pop a nipple of yours into my mouth."
Summer freed a quiet shriek as she finally covered herself up from his welcoming glance. "Gage! What the hell are you doing?"
"Sorry, honey," Gage apologized, "But my curiosity got the best of me. I just wanna see what exactly my bride-to-be was tryin' on, but I must be honest and say I'd rather see what's been hidin' beneath them clothes of yours. I ain't satisfied with the sneak preview. I wanna see the whole show."
"Show's cancelled!" Summer gritted as she gave his brawny chest a good shove. "Get the hell away before there are serious repercussions. Like you losing a damn eye."
Gage was forced roughly out of the stall. Summer stilled when she heard the voice of the sales attendant who had helped her.
"Sir, I'm afraid you're going to have to leave the store before I call security."
Summer stifled a giggle. That's what he got. Vengeance was sweet and hers.
Gage, on the other hand, was thinking of the same. His wife-to-be had gotten him into trouble. Now he had to find it within him to sweet talk this woman, but he knew the best way to con someone was with the truth, even though their circumstances were false.
"There's no need for that, sweetheart," Gage purred with his southern accent. "That's my fiancée in there. We're gettin' married. I just got a lil'...curious about what awaits me on my honeymoon."
"That's fine, sir," the petite attendant replied, "but we are a respectable store and do not wish to have such activities." She placed a hand on his broad shoulder to steer him away. "Come away from the dressing area, Mr....?"
"Ryan," Gage charmed. "Gage Ryan. I'm sorry 'bout that. Just an eager man in love."
Like hell I am, he thought before he paused. He turned to the attendant, an idea lighting the bulb above his head, and a mischievous, boyish grin surfaced leisurely. "Say, do you happen to know what sizes my lil' darlin' asked for?"