If I haven’t been replaced by then. “Deal.”
We hang up, and I stare at my duffel bag. I don’t know how long I’ll be here, but whether it’s for a day or a week, I should unpack what I have with me. In addition to my honeymoon attire, I have a couple of outfits from Teagan, but regardless of how quickly I’m dismissed, I’ll definitely need to buy some clothes that are appropriate for Michigan winter. My sundresses and bikinis aren’t gonna cut it.
When I’m done hanging my clothes in the closet, I set to the task of filling the drawers. Of course, I have my hands full of panties when Ethan walks into the room.
Because that’s my life.
“Hey, do you—” He stops, his eyes frozen on the pile of lace and cotton in my hands. Is it my imagination, or do his eyes darken? Do his lips part incrementally?
Don’t do this to yourself. He’s only looking at your underwear because you’re holding it in front of him like some sort of peace offering. You don’t want him to want you anyway. He called you an easy screw!
I force my feet to move and go to the drawer to put away the underwear, angry about the “easy screw” thing all over again. I’m just gonna hold on to that for all the moments that his ridiculous hotness makes me want to fantasize about him.
Ethan clears his throat. “Have you eaten dinner? Lilly and I were just about to have some tacos.”
We can’t have a simple conversation without my skin blazing from the awkward. I’m sure dinner at the same table will be a total blast. “I’m actually not hungry, but I’ll be down in a bit to hang out with Lilly. I’d like to spend time with her this evening so she can get comfortable with me while you’re around.”
“That makes sense.” His gaze shifts from me to my bag on the bed—still half full of the sexy lingerie I packed for my honeymoon. I’m not sure how useful a dozen negligées and four bathing suits are going to prove for a nanny gig in winter-stricken Jackson Harbor, but thankfully, Ethan doesn’t seem to process what’s in the bag—or the giant box of condoms sitting next to it. Those were for my honeymoon too. Marcus wanted to have kids right away, but I wasn’t sure I was ready, so I packed them just in case, and never stopped taking my birth control.
In retrospect, there were a lot of signs that I shouldn’t have married him.
Ethan runs a hand through his hair, and the light catches on his wedding band. His wedding band. “Listen, I’m sorry about how I reacted when you came to the door tonight. Seeing you here definitely took me by surprise.”
I tear my gaze off the wedding ring. It shouldn’t matter that he wears it or that he wasn’t wearing it last night, but it feels like it matters. It makes me feel like the other woman, even when I know his wife is gone. “It was unexpected for me too.”
He takes another breath. “And I’m sorry about last night. I should never have done more than walk you home.”
My heart sinks—which is absurd, since he called me an easy screw, but my heart doesn’t seem to care about cruel words and unfair judgments. It never bothered discriminating before, so why start now?
I didn’t expect anything to come of my night with Ethan, and now that he’s my boss, that hasn’t changed. Honestly, the best-case scenario is that we forget about last night, so I shouldn’t care that he’s apologizing. But if I had the choice to undo it, I don’t think I’d want to. He made me feel precious and special exactly when I needed it the most.
“I promise I’ll rein in those behaviors while you’re living here,” he says.
I burst into laughter. “Oh my God, you make it sound like you’re some sort of sexual deviant who can’t control his impulses.”
He arches a brow. “I didn’t control my impulses very well last night.”
I shake my head. “Last night wouldn’t have happened if you’d known who I was.” Or who I’m pretending to be. “Give yourself some credit. Let’s just . . .” I want to say forget it ever happened, but my mouth won’t obey. I think he might beat me to it, but then his gaze shifts from my eyes to my lips, and I hold my breath.
“I’ll see you downstairs.” He leaves the room, and I rush to the door.
“Ethan,” I say, stopping him when his back is to me and he’s two steps into the hall.
He turns. “Yeah?”
I’ve spent my whole life letting people think what they want about me because I hate confrontation. Hell, I almost married Marcus when I was sure he was cheating on me just because I was scared to confront him about the phone call I overheard. I can’t be that girl anymore. I won’t. If I’m going to be here pretending to be my sister, I might as well channel her self-confidence.