The Bet
Author:Rachel Van Dyken


She couldn’t believe it! What the hell? Travis had to pick them up? Wasn’t Jake rich enough to get them a car or something? Curse his family and their closeness. Mr. Titus wouldn’t allow it, that much she knew. For as much money as they had, they sure reminded her of “Father Knows Best.” Grinding her teeth, she walked to the baggage claim and cringed when she heard the voice that still haunted her every waking nightmare.

“Well, well, well. Look what we have here.” Travis’s smooth voice seemed to rumble in her chest.

Stupid man.

Dear God, please have mercy and let him be bald and fat.

Slowly, she turned and faced her nemesis.


Would it have been too much to ask for him to at least have not grown into his perfect nose?

“Kacey.” He nodded.


“Your hair’s different.”

Kacey flinched. “You’ve grown into your nose.”

Jake walked up and stood between them. “Can you guys at least pretend to play nice?”

“No,” they said in unison.

“Look…” Jake glanced at his phone. “This is work. I’ve gotta take this. Travis, can you drop me off at the Portland office and then take Kacey to the house?”

“Pretty sure Mom’s going to be upset if you don’t make it home for dinner. Not that I’m scared to be alone with this one.” He pointed to Kacey. “But last time we were alone in the car, she nearly killed me.”
“Don’t be a drama queen,” Kacey huffed.

“Drama queen?” Travis raised an eyebrow. “There was a cliff, snow, and I’m pretty sure Benadryl was involved.”

“Always is.” Jake shook his head.

“Anyway, she’s really looking forward to seeing you, and Grandma refuses to take a nap until she sets eyes on you.”

Jake shrugged. “I won’t be long. Now let’s grab our stuff so we can get a move on.”

Suddenly exhausted, the fight left Kacey. She mumbled bastard under her breath, not really caring who took offense, considering both Titus brothers deserved the title, and hauled her bag over her shoulder.

They hadn’t checked any bags, so she followed the men to the waiting car. A limo! That was more like it! Visions of seltzer water and leather seats danced in her head. That is, until Travis by passed the limo and went to the driver’s seat of a Ford truck with a lift kit.

She’d have to beam herself up in order to even reach the door.

“Hey, Travis, can you help Kacey? I’ve got another email I need to answer really quick.” Without even glancing in her direction, Jake hauled himself into the truck and slammed the door, leaving Kacey very much ticked off.

“We’re so in love.” Kacey sighed to herself as Travis walked around the truck to help her in.

God alive, he was ridiculously gorgeous. Since when had his looks surpassed his brother’s? No doubt, he was the most eligible bachelor in Portland. With his curly golden brown hair and hazel eyes, he looked dangerous and brooding. Not to mention the way his hair fell over his forehead or the biceps that bulged out of his t-shirt. Must. Stop. Looking.

“Kace?” Travis leaned in, his breath hot on her neck. What the heck was he doing? “Don’t move, Kace.”

Don’t move? How about stop breathing? She couldn’t think, couldn’t respond as Travis reached around and grabbed something off of her back and threw it to the ground. “No biggie. Just a spider.”

“It was huge!” Kacey gasped and grabbed at whatever was in front of her, which just so happened to be Travis’s biceps.

“Hmm.” His eyelashes fanned across his cheekbones, his very chiseled, cursed cheekbones. “If I knew you would react this way, I’d have put spiders in your bed.”

“You and your spiders are not welcome in my bed. Ever.”

“I wasn’t offering myself, just the spiders.” He winked. “Besides what makes you think I’d find you appealing? I have seen you naked, twice.”
“I was ten and you were an evil little boy with a stutter!” Kacey pushed past him then realized she still had to be lifted into his giant truck. “Would it be too much to ask for you to at least drive a normal car in the city?”

“I don’t live in the city.” He smoldered. Wait, did guys smolder? She looked again. Apparently they did.

“Where do you live?”

“On my ranch.” Merciful Lord above. That explained the biceps and tight jeans and truck and… where was the Benadryl when she needed it?

“So you’re a ranch hand?”

Travis chuckled. “Sure, I’m a ranch hand. Now get in.” His touch was quick, too quick, as he eased her into the truck. “Don’t forget to buckle up, Princess. I drive like I ride.”


Kacey forced her cheeks to stay pale instead of burnt crimson. She pulled out her cell phone as the truck door slammed. Soon Travis was in the driver’s seat and they were taking off.

Jake turned around. “So, I know we’ve gone over specifics on the plane, and I think the kissing really did help set the mood, don’t you?” He winked.

The truck swerved.

Jake swore. “Been driving long?”

“Sorry,” Travis muttered.

“So what I think we need to do is stay in the same room. You know, really sell the whole thing. Thoughts?”

Memories of their one night together came flooding back. Was he really trying to do what was best or was he seducing her? She had no idea. Besides, why was it so important for him to show his parents that he could be in a committed relationship? It’s not as if they lived under a rock. They read the newspapers. His mom would probably laugh in their faces the minute she saw the ring.

Travis cleared his throat. “Actually, Mom would never go for that. She’s real protective of Kacey. You know that, Jake. She’ll have to stay in my old room. I’ll stay in the new part of the house.”

“Oh.” Jake shrugged. “Okay. Now remember, Kacey, we’re in love, we’re getting married, and you have to make it believable. Think you can do that?”

Why was he talking to her like she was a five-year-old? “Yeah, I think I can handle acting like a normal human being in front of your family. They won’t suspect a thing.”

Jake turned around and gave her a brilliant smile as he reached for her hand. She felt his lingering kiss and suddenly was repulsed by his haughty attitude. She really did feel like a stripper, and a poorly-paid whore.