Steve cheerfully started explaining. “Calm
down, your face dropped a hundred
storeys. It’s not going to be real. Just real
to the rest of the world. We’ll hire a girl
to become your fiancée -”
“Jessica Alba!” I immediately exclaimed.
Yes, she was every man’s dream. She
was tantalizingly exotic and had always
been on my top list of hottest women,
no matter how old she was.
“She’s taken you idiot! And she has a
kid! Anyway, not someone famous.
Someone who is not like Lindsey Lohan,
someone sweet, who the press will like.”
“That sounds incredibly boring,” I
remarked with a frown. Sweet? Why
would you want sweet when you could
have sexy? “Why that type of girl?!”
Steve looked at me like I was an idiot. In
his mind, I probably was. “Well, everyone
will think you’re serious about
relationships since you’ve finally settled
down and not with someone who’s just
rich and hot.”
“Everyone will think otherwise when it
ends,” I pointed out. He obviously hadn’t
thought of everything, so I felt quite
proud of myself for pointing out that
little flaw in his grand plan. If this was to
be a fake engagement, it would have to
end sometime right? And the press
would think I was a player for leaving
the girl again.
Steve shook his head. Ok … so maybe he
had thought of everything. “The break
up will be seen like this: your fiancée
realises she can’t marry you after all
because dating someone famous won’t
allow her to lead a normal life and have
her dream job, which would be
something smart, such as a doctor. It
will make you look like a good guy,
because you did nothing wrong … and
oh! I have just the right person!”
My frown deepened. I didn’t think
Steve’s perspective of the ‘right person’
was the same as mine, which s—-d.
This was going to be bad.
“But we haven’t even interviewed
“We don’t need to interview anyone! My
niece is perfect! I don’t know if she’ll
agree but I think she would, if I offer to
cover her college fees. I know it’s her
biggest wish to go to Harvard. She’ll get
in too; she’s so smart.”
I was about to scoff, “She can’t even
afford college?!” but Steve had
disappeared – probably to ring up his
Dusk soon settled over my bedroom,
making me sigh with relief. Now I
wouldn’t have to stay up to finish my
college applications. Smiling proudly at
the small stack finished applications on
my study desk, I decided to head
downstairs to grab myself some orange
juice to celebrate. As I passed the lounge
room, my eyes strayed to the two people
on the sofa: my mother and one of her
gorgeous dates. God, how public could
she get? I cleared my throat loudly as I
walked past them. As I poured juice for
myself in the kitchen, I heard a deep
“I’ll see you tonight, Hazel?”
I heard my mother giggle girlishly. I
could even imagine her twirling a lock of
her blonde curls. “Oh yes!”
I rolled my eyes. My mother is, as one
would say … promiscuous. I hated
acknowledging that, but it was the truth.
I felt like strangling her most of the time
because she was like that. Usually
mothers were kind and protective and
baked cookies for you when you came
back from school. Not my mother. I was
basically stuck with a teenage girl.
“Lainie, make dinner will you? I’m
“Yeah,” I muttered.
See what I meant? It felt like I was the
mother sometimes. I took out the
leftover lasagne and watched as my
mother laid on the couch and put a
dainty hand to her forehead. Her dirty
blonde curls fell around her slim
shoulders as she closed her eyes. She
was undeniably beautiful, but it didn’t
negate the fact that she was
selfish. Meanwhile, I was her total
opposite: a brunette with brown eyes
and olive skin.
In comparison, my father had been a
generous and loving doctor. There was
one time when my parents had been in
love, but not now. Not ever since he
The ring of the phone interrupted my
train of thought and I picked it up.
“Hello?” I said breezily.
“Lainie! Is that you? Wow, you sound
I laughed happily as I recognised the
familiar voice. My uncle, Steve, who I
haven’t seen for years was calling me
while I waited for the lasagne to cook!
Living the high-life as a publicist and
manager to various celebrities in Los
Angeles meant that he couldn’t afford to
visit us all the time, so whenever the
chance to see him popped up, I took it –
anything to get away from my mother.
“Hi Steve! Yes, it is me and I’m pretty
sure I still sound the same.”
He chuckled. “How’s my older sister, hey?
Is she behaving?”
“You know mom never behaves,” I
murmured with a frown. I wish she did
though, because life would be so much
better that way. I could invite friends
over to our house without being
embarrassed, I wouldn’t have to work
so much in order to support the both of
“Touché,” Steve replied in a crisp tone.
“Well anyway, the reason I’ve called is
because I have a proposition for you.”
I tensed automatically. Well, that didn’t
sound good. Since when did uncles
make propositions for you?
“Proposition?” I asked.
“Yes, it’s a big one but I hope you will
agree to it.”
I nodded cautiously and twiddled a lock
of my hair around my free hand. “Ok, I’m
“I’ll get to the point. You know how I’m
Henry Parker’s manager? Yes well, at the
moment his reputation is in shambles,
so I’ve been thinking … a short-term fake
engagement will help boost his image. A
girl who isn’t famous, who’s sweet and
smart and not ‘Hollywood fake’ if you
know what I mean.”
“I get it,” I said, a grin lighting up my
face. “You want me to think of
Steve laughed. “No, I’ve already thought
of someone. You.”
“Me?” I squeaked. Why would he pick
me?! How in the world did he think I
“Before you say no, I’m prepared to
cover your fees for college if you agree
to this. Your stay in LA will be covered by
me,” Steve quickly added.
I gasped. I had a really good chance of
getting into an Ivy League and studying
architecture and now Steve was
planning to pay for my fees. Could life
get any weirder? Or better, the devilish
voice in my head whispered.
“How long would I have to do it?” I
asked in a whisper.
“About three or four months?”
I thought carefully and bit my lip in the
process. Three or four months
pretending to be Henry’s fake fiancée
wouldn’t be too bad, I guess. I’ve heard
of him, but I had no idea what he looked
like and what his personality was like. If
I wanted to get into my dream college, I
would have to make some sort of
sacrifice right? But this was
a big sacrifice. Could I do it? Was I ready
to be thrown into the world of the rich
I could feel my thoughts running in
circles, giving me a headache. I rubbed
my temples and thought about my
situation now. I had money and that
was only my savings from working as a
waitress for two years. I didn’t have
much. Then there was the small amount
of money my father had left me. It was a
lot to me but it didn’t cover all the years
I’d spend studying. My mother used her
pay checks from work on brand new
clothing and fancy dinners with her
handsome dates, so she wasn’t useful.
With a frown I realised I was quite poor.
Hah! I really, really needed the money for
college funds but agreeing to Steve’s
proposition seemed a bit drastic. But I
could handle it right? Just a fake
relationship. Fake. I would have to act
like I liked the guy for a few months and
then I would be able to go to college,
finish my Master’s degree in Harvard and
finally have a place of my own. I would
in no way be tied to my mother.
A smile blossomed on my face. I could
do it – a short term sacrifice for long-
“Count me in Steve.”
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