An Inconvenient Plan

By: Kylie Gilmore

Chapter One

The Night That Went Wrong…



Josh Campbell drove an oddly quiet Hailey Adams to his apartment, the tension thick in the air. So, okay, maybe there’d been some bad blood between them over the years, but it was mostly in good fun. At least that was how he’d seen it. But tonight at Garner’s Sports Bar & Grill, Hailey had been shaken by the news that their parents—his dad and her mom—were shacking up after only five weeks of dating. He’d never seen his dad in love before, but it was written all over his goofy lovesick face. Hailey’s mom, Brandy, had the exact same dopey expression, so they were a good match.

In any case, he’d been enjoying his usual sparring with Hailey when she blew up at him and then got all teary. Her friends had made it clear that he’d hurt her feelings and needed to make things right. It was ladies’ night and he’d been way outnumbered. But it wasn’t just that. Now that their parents were serious about each other, he figured he should be the bigger person and apologize. Not like she was a complete innocent in all their sparring. Whatever. He’d apologized and offered to right the wrong between them—the wrong that had started it all—him keeping her money for his work as her paid escort. He never should’ve taken her money and he knew it. Part of their twisted history. Now she was going back to his place to get the money with all the enthusiasm of a prisoner on death row.

Yup, Saint Josh here, taking the high road with Hailey for the sake of their families. If he and Hailey kept fighting, it might cause a rift between their parents. His dad hadn’t had a serious relationship since Josh’s beauty-queen mom walked out on him and their six kids more than twenty years ago. No visits, no phone calls, not even a card. His dad deserved this happiness with Brandy.

The Josh-Hailey feud must die.

Their one-upmanship had gotten a little out of hand. He took full responsibility for his part in it—calling her princess for her snooty ways, slipping a ghost pepper into her nachos that probably torched her taste buds for a week, refusing to serve her favorite mojito drink for months at a time, tweaking her nose at every opportunity. She was so easy to rile up that he found it impossible to resist.

Hailey’s part in their feud had been much worse than his. First off, she’d started a rumor that he was impotent that had tanked his sex life and led to a lot of sympathy from the women who came into the bar. And then she’d “fixed” that terrible rumor by implying the real issue was a tiny dick. Devious brilliant woman knew just where to strike. No guy could prove himself without whipping it out. She was a worthy opponent, he’d give her that.

He parked in front of the old Victorian in Clover Park he called home, at least the first-floor apartment on the right. Hailey stayed frozen in place in the passenger seat of his Miata convertible, staring straight ahead. He got out, walked around, and opened the passenger-side door for her. His dad had drilled gentleman manners into him. Most women were ridiculously grateful for his manners like they were starved for a kind gesture from the opposite sex. He liked being the guy who showed them not all men were scum.

Hailey got out without a word, and he shut the door behind her. She glanced sideways at him like maybe she was nervous. No big deal, just a simple exchange. Sure, he could’ve brought the stupid shoebox of money to her, but it was the principle of the thing. If she was going to renege on their original agreement, then she could go to his place and get it. Which he’d told her many times, admittedly just to see her blow up at the idea of being alone with him at his place. She hilariously called his place a “den of sin.” Even better, she called him beast or cad or, his personal favorite, scoundrel. Her old-fashioned turn of phrase slayed him.

He walked ahead of her to the front door of the house, unlocked it, and held it open. She took her time catching up to him. Once she was in the front foyer, he unlocked his apartment door and held it for her. She cautiously stepped inside, looking all around. Maybe she was looking for the whips and chains in his so-called den of sin. The beige sofa and worn wooden coffee table were probably a shock.

She removed her white wool coat, setting it over the end of the sofa. She wore a blue dress that clung to every perfect tempting curve. Add in her long silky strawberry blond hair, pale blue eyes, and flawless skin and it was easy to see why she’d won so many beauty-queen pageants. He reminded himself of every reason why he shouldn’t be with her—they fought nonstop, their parents, his aversion to beauty queens—and turned from temptation. Not only was his crap mom a beauty queen, so was his ex. No more beauty queens for him.

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