Trust in Me

Book 4 in the All I Want Series.

Sexy professor Sawyer Hudson needs me to be his date for a charity dinner. I accept because I need help too.

It’s when he asks me to be his fake girlfriend that things get too real. Who knew he rode a motorcycle, talked dirty, and was hiding all those muscles under his suits? Who knew it was the quiet ones you had to watch out for?

I’ve clearly been dating the wrong guys. But how can I trust him when every guy I’ve ever dated cheated on me?

I’d never date anyone like her. Stella Lewis is too outgoing, too impulsive, and too loud. She’s the life of the party and I can’t talk to women. She’s a journalist searching for her next story and I need to avoid drama until I’m granted tenure.

That was until my boss told me to socialize more if I wanted a promotion. I need a date who can teach me how to schmooze the higher-ups and she's the perfect choice.

I’ll fake date her until I get tenure. After that—all bets are off.

+ Excerpt +

With all of the stops and starts, I’d barely even reached the field when someone in the crowd jostled me and I slammed into a very defined back. The person spun around, placing his large hands on my shoulders to steady me. My eyes traveled up from the sweat-soaked T-shirt to amused brown eyes partially hidden behind glasses.

“Sawyer?” I asked, breathlessly. Since when am I breathless around Sawyer?

“Stella? What are you doing on campus?” His low voice sent a shiver through my body.

I breathed in his scent, a combination of sweat, leather, and something musty from working in the historic buildings. I cleared my throat, taking a large step back, causing his hands to drop from my shoulders. We were total opposites—he was quiet and intelligent—I was loud and said whatever was on my mind. He was analytical and I was flighty.

At Sawyer’s raised brows, I knew I’d been quiet for too long. “Oh, I’m the newest advisor for the student paper. My boss didn’t want to do it anymore, so one more thing on my plate.” I smiled wide to cover my thoughts. I was always expected to be the happy, carefree person. I knew my role and played it well.

Sawyer’s eyes widened. “Wow, Stella, that’s great.”

“Is it so surprising?” I couldn’t help asking in a small voice. Of course, someone as smart and accomplished as Sawyer wasn’t impressed by me—I was voted the class clown my senior year.

“Not exactly.” He coughed into his hand and shifted on his feet.

I took a step to pass him, but his hand closed around my arm, drawing me up short. My breath caught at the contact, and my gaze paused on the long tan fingers circling my arm.

“I’m sorry, Stella. I guess it surprised me a little.”

I nodded, my lips drawn tight at his honesty.

“I’m sorry. That came out all wrong.” He sighed, clearly frustrated with himself causing my heart to clench.

This man was upset that he’d hurt my feelings? When was the last time that had happened?

Then quieter, he said, “I think it’s great you’re working with the kids on the paper. Being younger, I’m sure they’ll relate better to you.”

I smiled. “Yeah, that’s true.” The fact that he’d referred to his students as kids stuck out to me. My mind flashed back to the young co-eds on the quad wearing baby doll-size shirts and tiny shorts.

He smiled, drawing his lip between his teeth, like was uncomfortable letting loose. “I guess we’ll be seeing more of each other now—since you’re working on campus.”

“Oh yeah, for sure.” For sure? I was talking like the students now. Sawyer had reduced me to a simpering sorority girl. “Anyway!” My voice rose an octave as I tried to continue speaking in my best reporter voice, “I need to get to my meeting so I’m not late. It was great seeing you, Sawyer.” I glanced pointedly where his hand still gripped my arm firmly.

His face flushed, he dropped my arm. “Right. Sorry about that.”

It was on the tip of my tongue to say I wasn’t. That he could touch me anytime he wanted to, but I remembered what he said when our group of friends gathered at Logan and Ashley’s home for their housewarming party:  “No man, she’s too much for me. She’s impulsive and loud. I need a nice, quiet—” I have no idea what else he’d said because I’d fled the party before he saw me.

He’d been clear that night. He saw me as this flighty airhead who didn’t take anything seriously. Not that I’d ever seen him for more than what he was, the brother of a friend in my tight circle of friends. I couldn’t blame him. He didn’t know me. No one did. But I couldn’t get his softly spoken words out of my head. It cut to the core of my insecurities—wishing I could be more like other women—not someone so easily dismissed and discarded.

I managed to walk away without tripping, but I swore I felt his gaze on my back as I continued across the quad, dodging Frisbees. A lightness filled me as I replayed the interaction with him—the first time I’d noticed Sawyer as a man and not an acquaintance—his defined chest and chiseled abs. Who knew sweat looked so good on a man? I’d told him before he was Clark Kent sexy with his glasses before and it was so true.

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