Their love was unexpected but strong and deep.

e if he'd be up for pretending to be your boyfriend?"

"What? Nate, you're crazy!"

"Why? He can pretend to date you and come by your office a few times. You could even arrange a visit for those times you know Curtis will be around."

Lizzie laughed but stopped short. Nate watched her and could see the wheels turning in her head. "You know, that might just work."

Nate nodded.

"He could be very possessive and jealous. Give every man in my office a dirty look. I wouldn't want to single Curtis out."

"Why? Are you being harassed by others?"

"Not exactly. He's definitely the most persistent and disgusting." Lizzie pondered for another moment before jumping up and hugging her brother. "Thanks, Nate. I can't wait to meet him."

Nate hugged her back with a smile. He had no idea at that point that his life would be turned upside down in just a few short weeks.

****

As promised, Nate talked to Lance and when the other man agreed, Nate gave him Lizzie's mobile number. He didn't see his sister for a couple of days after that, as he had a company function late one afternoon and she was out for a couple of nights with friends. The next time he saw her, it was as she was coming home. First thing Saturday morning.

He sat at the kitchen table, drinking his coffee and reading the morning paper when he heard the lock on the front door click. Looking up, he listened as the door creaked open and he heard Lizzie's careful footsteps on the hall carpet.

With a grin, he waited until she'd locked the door again and started to walk down the hall. When she walked past the kitchen doorway, he called out.

"Good morning!"

She screamed and Nate heard a few thumps and clatters as her purse and whatever else she'd been carrying scattered on the floor. She stomped into view and glared at him. "Are you trying to give me a heart attack?"

Nate raised his eyebrows but didn't respond. He lifted his coffee mug to his lips and took a sip as he eyed her appearance. She was wearing a work outfit; a straight, dark skirt with pinstripes and a fitted, lavender blouse. However, the front of her blouse was buttoned unevenly and he was pretty sure her skirt was on backwards.

Noticing the direction of his gaze, her eyes narrowed further and she tugged at the hem of her blouse. "What are you doing up so early?"

"What are you doing coming home so early?" he countered.

"I... I asked you first."

Nate chuckled at her stammer. "I'm usually up this early on Saturdays. You're the one who likes to waste half the day lounging in bed."

Lizzie rolled her eyes and walked into the kitchen to get herself a coffee. Nate remained silent as she fished out the sugar and cream. When she faced him again, she looked less on edge. She walked over to sit down across from him. "I don't think of it as wasting half the day. It's more like catching up on sleep."

Nate laughed at her logic. "Sure. Whatever you say." He laid the newspaper aside and rested his elbows on the table. "So? Fess up. What were you doing out all night?"

"If you must know, I was out with a guy."

"Really?" Nate hoped he sounded less shocked to her than he had to his own ears.

"Yeah. We met up for dinner and drinks after work and we just got to talking..." She waved a hand in the air as her sentence trailed off, a dreamy look crossing her pretty face.

A vague feeling of unease settled in Nate's stomach. He swallowed, unsure of what it was. "So you... talked all night?"

Lizzie's gaze focused on Nate again and she shook her head. "Not exactly." She pointed a finger in his direction. "And get your mind out of the gutter, Nate. I didn't sleep with him."

Well, you didn't sleep here. He just managed to keep the words from escaping. It was a little too much like something an angry parent would say, which would just be weird.

He cleared his throat and met his sister's direct look. "What's his name? Don't tell me it's Curtis from the science department."

She laughed and shook her head, her shoulders hunching in a mock shudder.

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