Aaron took it and nodded. “Okay.”

“Remember. Only sixty seconds. Now, let’s go.” The man headed toward the brightly lit stage and gestured for Aaron to follow him. As the pair passed me, I met Aaron’s eyes and gave him a quick smile. Gripping the brim of his baseball cap, he tipped it at me.

The lights on the stage extinguished, and I saw a glimpse of Taylor running off stage, a trio of attendants offering her water and fanning at her face as if they were a pit crew. A spotlight activated and Aaron stepped into it, the roars of the crowd settling into a hushed silence.

When he lifted the microphone to speak, every single eye in the stadium was on him. I clutched Easton’s arm and wondered what Chelsea was thinking.

“They told me I have sixty seconds,” Aaron drawled. “Which doesn’t seem like enough time to make a woman fall in love with me.”

There was uneasy movement in the crowd and a mumble of what seemed to be approval from the thousands of women before him. Easton pointed to a monitor and I moved over, focusing on the close-up view it afforded.

“But that’s okay, ’cause I don’t need Chelsea Pedicant to fall in love with me. I only need her to forgive me. I’m a guy. We do stupid things, and what I did didn’t have anything to do with her. I wasn’t even thinking about her because, to be honest, I never thought I had a chance with her. And maybe I don’t, but if I do, then, Chelsea, I’d like to take you on a date. I’d like to pick you up and take you to dinner and treat you the way you deserve to be treated. Like a lady. Like, maybe…” He glanced down at the floor for a moment, then shyly back up. “Like maybe my lady.”

“Oh my God, he’s running over time.” Some bitch with a side mohawk turned away from the monitor and wildly gestured to a grip. “We need someone to pull him off.”

“Are you kidding me?” The stocky guy who had escorted Aaron on stage shot the woman a glare. “The audience is eating this up.”

And they were. There was a ripple of sighs and awwws and several crude comments screamed out from various corners of the civic center. Then, so close to the stage that I could see the reflection of sequins on her shirt, I heard a loud and unmistakable voice. “Aaron Talbot, I will go on a date with you.”

On the monitor, Aaron’s face widened into an ear-to-ear grin. “You will?”

“Hell yes!” The monitor view changed, focusing in on Chelsea, who was in the process of trying to crawl over a lighting rig to get to the stage. Aaron bent over, offering her his hand, and when he lifted her up and onto the stage, the stadium erupted into cheers.

He looked down, his arms still around her, and when she spoke, it was captured clearly by his mic.

“I think you’re supposed to kiss me now.”

“Kiss her! Kiss her! Kiss her!” The chant rolled through the crowd. Aaron glanced at the audience, then dipped her back, true Hollywood-style, and kissed her squarely on the mouth.

My jaw dropped. Between the kiss and the speech, I’m not sure why we were even here. Aaron seemed to have the swoony romance act down pat.

“This is going to go viral,” the gaffer beside us mused.

“Okay, we’re rolling RIGHT NOW with Taylor,” the mohawk screeched. “We need lights and start the music. Three, two, one, GO!”

The beat started and I heard the opening lines of “I knew you were trouble” bursting out of Taylor as she swept onto the stage, her smile big, her hand raised. The crowd turned their attention to her, and Aaron and Chelsea faded into the background to everyone except Easton and me.

“You did good,” Easton whispered in my ear, wrapping his arms around me and hugging my back to his chest. “Really good.”

I watched as Chelsea pulled Aaron down off the stage and toward her seat and hoped it was good enough for her to forgive me too.

31

“Mr. and Mrs. North?” The receptionist peered at us from the far end of the cramped waiting room. “You’re up.”

I glanced at Easton, then stood, smoothing the front of my white cotton sundress into place. Underneath it, I wore my sexiest bra and panty set, the thong already beginning to stick in between my legs.

Easton waited for me to go and I walked through the crowded area, apologizing as I bumped into an older woman’s knee, then high-stepping as I moved over a toddler sprawled out on the carpet. I reached the desk and smiled at the receptionist, who waved a bored hand in the direction of the double doors. “Go through there and to suite 4A.”

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