Jessica Hart

Fiancé Wanted Fast!

Release Date: 2003

Phoebe is stuck: she has to go to her ex-fiancé’s wedding, put on a brave face and pretend that her life is just perfect. So her best friends devise a plan to help her out: she can hire their gorgeous new flat-mate Gib to pose as a doting new fiancé! It sounds like a perfect plan – except Gib’s not all he seems … He’s actually in disguise, to prove that he can be friends with a woman without getting involved! Easy, Gib thought – but that was before he met Phoebe.

Order Online


A few moments later, Gib himself breezed into the kitchen. As usual, he brought with him a surge of energy that swirled around the room as if a fresh wind had blown in with him, and as usual Phoebe found herself braced against the impact of his smile.

‘Hey, girls,’ he said and lifted a carrier bag in their direction. ‘I bought more tonic.’

‘You see!’ whispered Kate. ‘How can you say he’s not perfect?’

Phoebe pretended not to hear. Draining her glass, she began to get to her feet. She was not going to let Kate and Bella push her into this stupid idea. There was nothing wrong with going to Ben’s wedding on her own!

‘Gib, we were just talking about you,’ said Bella.

‘Oh?’ Gib turned from the fridge where he was stacking the bottles of tonic.

‘Phoebe’s got something to ask you.’

Jerking upright, Phoebe glared at her friend. ‘Bel-la,’ she said warningly.

‘Look Phoebe, you’ve been going on and on about how much you’re dreading this wedding,’ Bella said in a firm voice. ‘You were worried about your pride. Well, here’s a way to get through it with your pride intact. What’s the harm in at least asking Gib?’

Gib looked from one to the other. ‘Ask me what?’

‘Come on, Kate, we’ll let Phoebe ask him herself,’ said Bella, getting up. ‘We’ll leave you two alone, and then she can tell you it’s all our fault,’ she added kindly to Gib, who raised an amused eyebrow and turned to Phoebe with an enquiring look.

She put up her chin. ‘I don’t want to ask you anything,’ she said bravely, but Kate and Bella had already whisked out of the door, and she couldn’t follow them because Gib was standing in front of it, his blue eyes alight with that disturbing laughter that never failed to send the air leaking out of her lungs.

‘Yes,’ he said.

Phoebe looked blankly at him. ‘Yes, what?’

‘Yes, I’ll do whatever it is you want me to do.’

‘But you don’t know what it is yet!’

‘Is it illegal?’

‘Of course not!’



Gib shrugged. ‘Then why would I refuse?’

To her chagrin, Phoebe realised she had been manoeuvred into beginning to talk about Kate and Bella’s idea with Gib, exactly the thing she hadn’t wanted to happen! But she could hardly walk out in mid-conversation.

‘Because it’s embarrassing,’ she muttered.

‘For you or for me?’

‘For both of us.’

‘This is beginning to sound like fun!’

Gib strolled over towards her, and Phoebe found herself backing down into her chair once more. ‘Come on,’ he said encouragingly, sitting on the arm of the sofa. ‘You’ve got this far, so you might as well tell me the worst!’

He wasn’t anywhere near her, but Phoebe was desperately aware of him. She wished he’d go back to the fridge. If only he wasn’t so … so overwhelming.

‘It was just a silly idea,’ she mumbled.

‘All the best ideas are silly to start with,’ said Gib. ‘If they were sensible, somebody else would have thought of them before.’

‘Well, this one really is silly,’ she told him almost belligerently.

He smiled. ‘Why don’t you let me be the judge of that?’

Phoebe tore her eyes away from the warm blue eyes and scowled at the mess on the table.

‘All right,’ she said, giving in. ‘I need a lover.’

There was a tiny silence. ‘In that case, I’m glad I said yes,’ said Gib, and although she wasn’t looking at him, she could hear him smiling and the colour deepened in her cheeks.

‘Not a real one! Don’t be stupid,’ she snapped.

‘Right,’ he said, humouring her.

‘The thing is …’ Somehow Phoebe stumbled through the whole sorry saga of Ben’s wedding and her attempts to keep everyone in the family happy. ‘So we were wondering – it was Kate’s idea, I’d never have thought of it – and it’s entirely up to you, of course – you can say no, it won’t be a problem at all ….’

She floundered to a halt, lost in a morass of sentences, and looked a little helplessly at Gib, who was studying her with a disconcerting half-smile.

‘Well, I’ve already said yes, so I’m sure it won’t be a problem,’ he agreed, ‘but I’m still not entirely clear what it is you want me to do, other than not be a real lover.’

Wasn’t it obvious? Phoebe was hating this. If she had to spell it out for him, she would, but she couldn’t help resenting Gib for not being able to make immediate sense of her incoherent ramblings.

‘OK.’ She drew a breath. ‘I wondered if you’d be interested in earning some extra cash, that’s all.’

Gib’s brows rose. ‘You’re offering me a job?’ he said blankly.

‘We had the impression that things weren’t very easy for you at moment,’ said Phoebe stiffly, borrowing Kate’s comment. ‘In the circumstances, I’d be prepared to pay you to come to wedding with me and pretend … well, pretend …’

‘That I’m in love with you?’ he finished for her, a smile lurking around his mouth, and she let out a breath that she hadn’t been aware until then that she had been holding.


His lips twitched. ‘You want me to be a male escort?’


There, it was out. Phoebe sat back, oddly relieved. Maybe Kate and Bella were right. He could only say no, and when it came down to it, all she had done was offer him a chance to earn some extra money. What was so embarrassing about that?

‘Well, I’ve never been offered a job like that before!’ Gib shook his head, but he was grinning.

‘It would be just a job, of course,’ said Phoebe hastily. ‘There wouldn’t be any … any of the reason why you might normally pay for a male escort.’ She could feel the treacherous colour creeping back up into her cheeks. So much for not being embarrassed! ‘I’d be paying you to be an actor, that’s all.’

Gib didn’t answer immediately. ‘You know, Phoebe, you don’t need to pay me,’ he said carefully at last. ‘We’re friends, aren’t we? If Josh was sitting here now, you wouldn’t even think of offering him money to help you, would you?’

It was true, of course. Phoebe wished that she had been able to ask Josh. He was so nice and reliable, he would have been ideal, but unfortunately her parents had already met him and knew about his friendship with Bella. They would never believe that she had come between those two.

Gib wasn’t like Josh. He wasn’t calm and he wasn’t safe. He didn’t make her feel comfortable the way Josh did. Phoebe couldn’t think of him as a friend like Josh when all her nerves jangled and twitched the moment he walked into the room. Friends were people you could relax and be yourself with, not people who made you feel as if the earth was unsteady beneath your feet.

‘I’d feel more comfortable if we both thought of this as a financial transaction,’ she said firmly. ‘That way I’ll be able to ask you do things I wouldn’t want to ask if you were just doing me a favour.’

‘Like what?’

‘Like …’ Phoebe didn’t really want to get into what she might have to ask him to do to convince her family they really were in love. ‘Well, I can’t think of anything right now,’ she prevaricated, ‘but there’s sure to be something. Anyway, it’s already asking a lot for you to give up a whole day to spend it at a wedding with a load of people you don’t know.’

‘I’ll know you,’ Gib pointed out, unperturbed by the prospect.

‘You’ll have to get to know me a lot better before you can face an interrogation by my mother!’ she warned him.

Gib’s mouth quirked in a smile. ‘I’ll look forward to it.’

There was an odd little silence.

That was the thing about Gib, Phoebe thought edgily. He would say something perfectly innocuous like that, and suddenly the whole atmosphere had changed without you realising how or why it had happened.

She cleared her throat and strove for a businesslike tone. ‘Well, as I say, I’d prefer to keep it a business arrangement. I’ll pay you for your time, and also for the hire of a suit and anything else you might need.’

Her face was scarlet by this stage. Gib hesitated. The last thing he wanted was to take money from Phoebe, but he could see what it had cost her to ask him to help her. Paying him was a way of saving her pride, and if he argued with her, it would only prolong her embarrassment. It wasn’t as if he had to do anything with the money, and he could always find a way to give it back to her later.

Meanwhile, here was the perfect opportunity to prove to all those Doubting Thomases like Mallory and Josh that he was just as good a friend as the next person. Phoebe needed him, and he wouldn’t let her down. He would be doing this for her.

The fact that helping her would mean spending a day in close proximity was purely incidental. If he had to touch her, maybe even kiss her, as part of the pretence, well, that was hardly his fault, Gib reasoned virtuously. It was just a lucky side-effect of being a friend, and Josh wouldn’t be able to claim that he had broken the terms of their bet.

‘OK, if that’s what you want,’ he said briskly, deciding that it would make things much easier for her if he played along with the idea that he needed the money. At least that way, she could think that she was doing him a favour too. ‘You’re the boss. How much were you thinking of paying me?’

‘Well, I don’t really know …’ Phoebe was a bit taken aback by his abrupt volte face. ‘I suppose I could ring an agency and find out how much one their escorts would cost,’ she offered awkwardly, conscious of a quite unfair sense of disappointment that he had turned out to be interested in the money after all. He must need some extra cash very badly. ‘I could pay you the same.’

‘It’s a deal,’ said Gib and leant forward to offer his hand to seal the bargain.

Alternative covers: