Faking It With Damian Black (2024)

1|Role Playing

~Millie~

‘Baby, are you coming home?’

I fought a grin, reading Hunter’s message.

‘Sorry, I can’t make it. Still swamped with work.’ Phone clutched in my right hand, I looked outside the window as I toyed with my engagement ring.

Hunter and I had been engaged for six months. We dated for two years before he proposed to me at the same bar where we met in Boston three Christmas back. He saved me from a drunken college jock who wouldn’t take no for an answer. It became an inside joke between us that he paid that college guy so he could come to my rescue and sweep me off my feet.

‘[pensive face emoji] I miss you so much. It’s been three weeks since I last saw you,’ Hunter replied.

I can’t help but giggle. The cab driver’s curious eyes locked with mine in the rearview mirror.

‘I promise to make it up to you [pleading face emoji],’ I replied as the cab exited the highway and entered the familiar route of Roslin City.

Excitement made my insides giddy, anticipating how Hunter would react once he saw me on his doorstep. He hates surprises, but I bet he’d like this one.

After finishing college, I took permanent residence in New York, only coming home for holidays. But when I got engaged, I decided it was time to go back home and start building a future with the love of my life.

The cab pulled to a complete stop at Hunter’s apartment building. After paying the driver, I flung my messenger bag over my shoulder and dragged my luggage through the lobby. As the lift door closed, it felt like my heart would burst each floor we ascended. My steps were extra springy as I bound towards Hunter’s unit, toying with the keys in my hand.

Pushing the door open, I meant to sing out Hunter’s name. I knew he was home since it was Saturday, and it was his day off from the department. But no words came out of my mouth when I heard a woman’s voice. Frowning, I shut my mouth and listened closely, looking left to right in the hallway.

My frown deepened. The sound of a woman’s moan became more distinct, and it wasn’t coming from his neighbor’s unit but from inside my fiance’s place.

Dread annihilated all excitement in my system. As my heart drummed in my ears, beads of sweat formed on my spine. With my lower lip trapped between my teeth, I entered the apartment, my stilettos jabbing the floor. My steps weren’t silent by any means. They were just so caught up in f*cking one another, lost in the thunder of their moans and groans.

Crossing the entry towards the living room, the fervent sound of lovemaking - no, scratch that, f*cking, to be precise - intensified.

“Ah! f*ck me harder, Officer!” The woman’s zealous scream was accompanied by flesh slapping against flesh. Then a loud smack echoed, followed by a man’s chuckle. “Ah!”

“You like being punished like a dirty little slu*t?” Hearing Hunter’s voice was the final nail in the coffin.

Part of me hoped that Hunter’s friend might have stayed in his place and brought a woman with him. But Hunter was a clean freak. He was unlikely to allow a friend to use his bed.

“Y-yes, Officer!” the woman whimpered, squealing as a series of smacks echoed from the room.

They were even role-playing? Hunter was dominant in bed. I knew this all too well because he introduced me to all sorts of role-playing inside the bedroom. I was hesitant at first, but because I wanted to please him, I agreed to try his ways. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one he liked to play with.

I pinched my eyes shut. Warm liquid rolled down my cheeks.

I didn’t even realize I was crying. An iron hand suddenly materialized around my neck, clutching my throat so tight I couldn’t breathe. I lift my trembling left hand on my lips, suppressing my sobs. The ground I’m standing on turned into marshmallows. I staggered on my skyscraper shoes, feeling lightheaded. Instinctively, I reached out for something to keep me upright. The back of my knees bumped on the coffee table. I lost my balance and fell on my ass. Cups, plates, and utensils above the table crashed on the floor, then complete silence engulfed Hunter’s apartment.

Measly seconds later, the bedroom door swung open, and a half-naked Hunter, pointing his gun around the apartment, stepped out. His gaze dropped to the floor, widening like saucers.

“Millie?” he blurted out. Then, a woman wrapped in the cerulean sheets I gifted Hunter stepped out behind him.

I specifically ordered that color since it was the color of his eyes.

“Wha… what are you doing here?” Hunter stuttered, taking in my current state. He dragged an inked hand over his messy hair, wild and confused blue eyes locking with mine. As though he finally gathered himself together, he kneeled before me and offered to help me stand.

I slapped his hand and used the couch as leverage, standing on my wobbly legs.

I wiped my tears to take in the woman he was f*cking seconds ago. Realization hit me like a freight train.

“Natalie?”

“Millie…” Natalie whispered, wild eyes meeting my wounded ones.

Eyes bouncing back and forth between my fiance and my friend, a hairline crack materialized in my heart. It spread so fast; with one poke, it would break into a million pieces.

Natalie was a friend from high school. She reached out to me about the same time Hunter and I got engaged. She was in tears and pretty shaken, told me she had made a few poor deals as a social media influencer. It was so bad that she faced plagiarism charges and lawsuits and lost her apartment in the process. I let her stay in my apartment here in Roslin City until she could get back on her feet and even offered a partnership on some of my contracts. She was supposed to be in California, making a vlog for the newly opened resto bar we recently signed a contract with.

The tangy taste of betrayal made me scowl.

“I... I can’t f*cking believe this.” I clenched my trembling fist, molten anger coursed through my body. “How long have you two been f*cking behind my back?!”

Natalie lowered her head. Her soft, chestnut curls stuck out in every direction, mascara circled her brown eyes like a raccoon. “We didn’t mean to-.”

“You didn’t mean to?!” I cut off whatever lies she was about to spew. “What?” I huffed. “You didn’t mean to spread your legs, and my fiance just happened to be ready to shove his dick in your vagin*?”

Offended, Natalie narrowed her eyes, biting her lower lip. She was never one to keep quiet in a confrontation, but she was wise not to argue with me. I’m not in the mood to patronize her sh*tty explanation for backstabbing me and stealing my man.

Looking at Hunter, he opened his mouth to speak, but before he could utter a word, my hand landed on his cheek, the crack rang through the apartment.

“How could you?!” my voice rose an octave.

Cheeks red with my palm print, he stared at me with a storm raging in his eyes. Those same eyes that made me feel like the queen of his world every time we made love, those same eyes that looked into my soul each time he said he loved me for the past two and a half, those same eyes that are gazing at me now with uncertainty, pain, and anguish.

“I can’t believe you’d do this to me,” I said, took off my engagement ring and tossed it on his face. The diamond caught the morning light as it bounced on his cheek, falling somewhere on our feet. “We’re over...” I sobbed. “I guess that’s pretty f*cking obvious since you two were already f*cking, anyway.” I glared at Natalie. “I want you out of my apartment, ungrateful bitch.”

I hastily picked up my carry-on bag and ran out of the apartment. Vision blurred with tears, I tripped over my forgotten luggage on the doorstep and fell on my knees. Cursing inwardly, I wiped my tears harshly as Hunter offered a hand to help me.

How many times did this scenario make my heart swell with love? He’d always been there to save me. And now he’s the one who shattered me into a million unrepairable pieces.

“I don’t need your help!” I stood, grabbed my bag and luggage, and proceeded to the elevator.

“Millie, don’t leave like this.” Hunter kept murmuring, following me through the hallway.

“Leave me alone, Hunter,” I frantically jabbed my forefinger on the elevator button. Hunter reached me, wrapping an inked hand around my biceps.

He spun me around, eyes soft and filled with remorse. Seeing him this close, hair disheveled from his obviously busy night with my friend, reeking of another woman’s perfume on his body, threatened to break my hold on my emotions. I refused to break down in front of him, yet the pounding pain in my chest rapidly grew.

“Would you f*cking listen to me for a second?” I’d never heard him so unhinged before.

I wiped the tears my stupid tear ducts kept spewing.

“What is there to talk about?” I said, fingers frantically punching the ground floor button.

Why is this elevator so slow? We are only on the fifth freaking floor!

“You don’t understand-”

Facing him, I pushed the same finger jabbing the elevator button in his chest. “You know better than to start with that line, Detective Lean. You deal with liars and criminals for a living.”

His thin lips pursed on a hard line, eyes narrowed to slits. “This isn’t all on me, Millicent.”

I gaped at him. Is he actually pointing a finger at me right now?

“You were never around.” His remorseful tone took a complete turn. He made it sound as if I was an accomplice to his crimes. “When was the last time you spent an entire weekend with me? Since we got engaged, I’ve only seen you four times! I got f*cking lonely!”

“Seriously, Hunter? You’re pinning this on me? If you weren’t happy with our relationship, you should’ve ended it, not f*ck my friend!” my chest was rising and falling fast, my voice echoing through the hallway.

The farthest door on the floor creaked open. I usually avoid confrontations, but I cannot let this one slide.

Silence befell us. Our chest heaving in unison. The annoying elevator finally arrived. I stepped inside the lift. Hunter was hot on my heels, nose flaring, and his gaze could melt steel. “If you would just listen. I know I f*cked up, and I’m sorry.”

“Good.” I matched his burning gaze with a razor-sharp one. “Would you like a medal for admitting that?”

Now, I was just being difficult, impatiently tapping my shoes on the floor as the lift descended. Why was this elevator so f*cking slow? I need to get out of here. Why was the air suddenly so thin, and why were the walls closing on me?

f*ck. It felt like I was drowning. I closed my eyes and breathed through my nose, counting from one to ten.

“Millie.” Hunter released an exasperated breath, the lift reaching the ground floor. Hunter blocked my exit and pressed the emergency button. “Just f*cking listen, Millicent! I can’t lose you. I love you.”

Hearing those words from his lips used to swoon me, and made my heart beat so fast. My f*cking stupid heart that’s on the brink of exploding.

Did he even mean all those I love yous he told me before? Did he tell Natalie he loved her, too? All I could see when I looked at him was his betrayal and this pain in my chest.

“Get out of my way,” I said through gritted teeth.

He reached for my face, clutching my chin. I slapped his hand away, glaring at him. He dropped his hand to the side. His smile was solemn. “Let’s just go back to my place and talk. We can figure this out together.”

“Figure out what, exactly?” my voice was broken, and my eyes began to sting. “Figure out how you can’t keep your dick in your pants? Or how you can’t keep being faithful despite proposing to me?”

My tears streamed. I lifted my hand to my chest, fisting my blouse as I stared at Hunter straight in the eyes.

“I told you to take care of my heart, Hunter. You promise not to break it. You f*cking promised!” I wiped my tears. “But you didn’t just break my heart. You tore it out of my chest and stomped on it with your stupid, stinky feet! So no... no matter what you say, no matter what f*cked up explanation you have for f*cking Natalie, I won’t get back with you! Even if you grovel before me.”

2|A Guitar Player

~Damian~

“Goddammit, Sonja!” I roared, black dots danced on the back of my eyelids as my body shuddered with my release.

“Oh, Damian…” Sonja moaned, her eyes rolled to the back of her head, her puss* choking my co*ck as I thrust to the hilt, enjoying her warmth.

“f*ck…” I groaned, pulled out, and collapsed in the space beside her. I pinched my eyes shut, heaving chunks of air, catching my breath. Although it was past midnight, the balcony lights cast a dim glow inside the room. Silence swelled between Sonja and me. Slowly, the world started to make sense again.

Like every time we were together, everything around me faded into the background. All that mattered was this woman who meant the world to me. I could f*ck her all day, sleep, eat, and do it all over again the next day.

I met Sonja in my third year at the university. She was an ambitious woman, so f*cking tenacious, and it drove me crazy how she wouldn’t fall for my tricks; eventually, she did. We were insatiable back then until she moved to France to pursue her modeling career.

Through the years, I’ve had a few girlfriends, but there was never one as perfect as Sonja. And when we crossed paths a year ago, she declared the same feelings for me. She started pursuing me, a persistent temptress who wasn’t willing to take no for an answer until I fell for her trap.

I did my best to avoid her, knowing she was a married woman now, but like a druggie needing a fix, I kept going back for more. She was a temptation, my kryptonite. One touch and I was on my knees, and when I got back to my senses, the claws of guilt appeared around my throat and chest, choking me back to reality.

I pushed off the bed. Sonja’s lithe hands reached for mine. “Come back to bed. Give me five, and we could go for another round.”

What a f*cking tempting offer. We’ve already done it three times. I knew we could go f*cking all night if I’d stay.

This was f*cking messed up.

Nobody out there could pull me out of this mess other than myself. I am better than this. Nancy would be ashamed of me if she learned that I am f*cking a married woman. And for f*ck’s sake, I am a man, and I deserved better than this.

Deep in my thoughts, I went to the bathroom and took a shower; breaking things off with Sonja was the only thing on my mind.

It wasn’t as if I hadn’t tried the first time I learned she was married. When I told her I’d stop coming over, she threatened to take suicide. My conscience wouldn’t let me rest if she took her own life, so I stayed.

Wrapping a white towel around my waist, I returned to the room. Sonja was sitting on the bed, her back resting against the headboard, the light from her phone illuminating her soft jaws, big doe eyes, and swollen lips. Her brunette hair was wild and messy from all my pulling and tugging. She was so f*cking beautiful it hurts to even just think of not seeing her again.

My co*ck jerked to life, knowing this woman could satisfy my cravings in bed. My needy organ protested at what I was about to do.

“Lyndon’s bar is opening tomorrow.” She looked up, her blue eyes hopeful. “Please be my date?”

Date. I scoffed. She just wanted to show me off to her friends. Her husband, Silverio Blanchet, was twice older than me, with a beer belly and stale breath. With all the money in his bank accounts, he couldn’t even find a good f*cking mouthwash to save his dear life.

I know her husband so f*cking well. He was one of my father’s business partners. Dad hired me to do a background check on him. That guy’s business is f*cked up, and it’s only a matter of time before the Bureau of Investigations pin their eyes on him.

“I can’t,” I murmured, picking up my boxer briefs on the foot of the bed, my jeans close to the bedside table and my shirt on the door, her thong hanging on the doorknob.

Did we f*cking play slingshot with it?

We’ve ravished each other like there was no tomorrow. I would miss f*cking Sonja.

Suddenly alert, Sonja put down her phone and turned the lampshade on, a frown creasing her forehead. “You’re leaving?”

I searched the room for my socks. I found one under the bed but couldn’t find the other.

“This has to end, Sonja. My conscience won’t let me rest at night anymore.” f*ck the socks. I sat on the edge of the bed and wore one, then shoved my feet into my boots.

Sonja crawled to me, wrapping her arms around my waist from behind. “We’ve talked about this, D. You know I can’t live without you.”

I sighed. I hate hearing her voice breaking. “I can’t do this anymore. Let’s just take some time off. I need to think.”

“No!” her hands tightened around me. “I’m not letting you go!”

Anger simmered within me. I wrung her hands off me and stood, pinning her with a searing gaze, but once my eyes dropped to her perfect tit*, nipples as stiff as a pole and so f*cking pink, I swallowed hard. The space between my eyebrows wrinkled, struggling to keep my eyes above her shoulder. “Then divorce Silverio so we can be together. I can’t be your little secret anymore. I love you, Sonja, and I want to show the world you’re mine.”

A storm of emotions swirled in Sonja’s eyes. It was the first time I had admitted my feelings for her. Deep down, I hoped this would finally push her to file the divorce.

She stood before me; still very f*cking naked. Long lashes fluttered as she looked up at me with those beautiful eyes.

“I love you too, Damian,” she said, wrapping her arms around my neck and pressing her lips against mine. I clenched my fist on the side, stopping myself from taking her into my arms. I’ve heard her say that a thousand times, but I was waiting for a different confession this time. “But I cannot divorce Silverio. The doctor said we should avoid stressing him out. His heart is enlarged, and filing a divorce...” She shook her head, stepping away from me. “He can’t survive that, and I don’t want to be blamed if something bad happens to him.” Then she turned, her eyes gleaming with hope. “He’s already seventy this year... we just have to wait a little longer. He had very little time on his clock before he...” she swallowed hard, “dies.”

My jaw ticked. The tabloid quoted Sonja as a gold digger and social climber, but my feelings for her blinded me. But this... She just slapped me with the truth.

“He’ll live for another decade, Sonja,” I swallowed the bitter taste of her rejection and searched for my leather jacket. “I can’t wait that long.”

“If you really love me like you said,” she waved a hand in the air, “you’ll wait!”

My eyes narrowed to slits. “Don’t even question what I feel, Sonja. What is it, huh?” I said through gritted teeth. “Is it his money? Is that why you are clinging to a man good enough to be your grandfather?”

She recoiled, lips quivered, and I watched her shock morph into anger. “You think I’m doing this for myself? I am doing this for us, Damian! Once Silverio dies, his money will be mine... will be ours. This world is cruel. The more money you have, the more friends you have, and the happier we will be!”

“Money isn’t everything, Sonja,” I said, my chest tightened in disbelief. I can’t believe the woman I worshiped and dreamed of marrying since I was in college was this shallow. “It can’t buy you happiness and fulfillment in life.”

She scoffed. “You’re just saying that now. Tell me, if I divorce Silverio, can you support my needs with your income as a guitar player? And where will we live? In your stinky apartment above that small time bar?”

“Yes, Sonja.” I finally found my leather jacket. It was hanging on the vanity chair across from the bed. I skirted past her and grabbed it. “Because that’s all I f*cking am. A poor guitar player living in a stinky apartment.”

I headed for the door. Sonja came rushing to me, hugging me from behind again. “Wait, Damian... I’m sorry. Sorry for saying those things to you. You know I love you.”

I removed her hands from me, repulsed that I f*cking fell for her tricks. How could I be so stupid? Looking down at her right now, crying and begging me to stay after belittling me the way she did, I’m glad she didn’t know who I truly was. At least she showed her true colors before I even put a ring on her finger.

“Don’t be sorry. At least now I know how you really see me. This was f*cking enlightening.” I turned to leave again. Sonja skirted past me and stood before the door, blocking my exit.

She shook her head, tears streaming down her cheeks. “Please, Damian... Don’t do this to us.”

“Then f*cking divorce Silverio!” I roared.

“You want me to choose!?” she sobbed. “I told you already, I will not divorce Silverio.”

Dark clouds loomed over my head. “Then we’re f*cking over.”

Her eyes narrowed to slits. “Fine! But mark my words. You’ll come back to me when you miss me. I know you, Damian. You love me, and you won’t be able to resist me.”

It hurts that I know she was right. I’m f*cking crazy about her. But I’m doing this for myself. I stepped forward. Sonja stepped back, a pinch of fear crossing her face. “Once I step out of this room, you are nothing to me, Sonja. You made your choice. Now I’m making mine.”

3|I Moved On

~MILLIE~

“Have a nice evening, Miss,” the elderly cabby smiled at me through the rearview mirror.

“I sure hope, sir,” I murmured, slurring each syllable.

I’d like to consider myself a bit tipsy, but who was I kidding? I was borderline drunk after drinking nine glasses of wine at home. There’s an extremely unhealthy bond between alcohol and I. I leaned on it for courage every time sh*tstorms hit my life.

It’s a love-hate relationship. The only relationship I could keep, apparently.

On wobbly legs, I stepped out of the cab and inhaled the familiar Roslin City summer air.

I smoothed my hand down the skirt of my black mini-dress and combed my hair with my fingers. I walked to the entry of the Black Hotel as confidently as possible, careful not to trip on my three-inch black stilettos.

Attending my high school reunion drunk was not how I pictured spending my weekend back in my hometown. I envision Hunter and I coming here together. But things got out of my control like a derailed train wagon.

All I wanted to do was watch FRIENDS rerun and drink myself to oblivion. But my pride wouldn’t let me rest in peace in my childhood bedroom.

There’s a high chance that I’d cross paths with Natalie tonight, but why would I change my plans? I wasn’t the ungrateful bitch who stole my friend’s fiance.

I can look her in the eyes and make her feel my wrath. I can’t let her win and let her play the victim card.

And the break up and cheating wasn’t the only thing that pushed me to drink nine glasses of wine while getting dressed. Apart from going public on social media with her relationship with Hunter hours after I found them f*cking in his apartment, Natalie been accused of plagiarizing content for one of our collabs. My backstabbing friend threw me under the bus, publicly stating that I was the mastermind of that vlog, and she merely followed my lead.

Where was I when all of these were happening? I was on Malyons Lake, nursing my broken heart, only to be bombarded with more betrayals from someone I considered my friend when I opened my phone.

A party, a walk down high school memory lane after my engagement ended, and my career as a social media influencer imploded in my face was just what I needed to complete this catastrophe I call my life.

I easily found the function hall. The name and year of our class were written on a glittery banner set on a canvas stand.

A hotel staff member smiled as I approached, watching over the door.

“Name, please?” The woman in a sharp suit asked.

“Millicent Alejandro,” I smiled. She scrolled through the tablet before nodding at me.

I inhaled a huge breath as the double doors opened. Live music instantly spilled through the silent hallway. The party was already in full swing. People were seated at round tables, filling plates at the buffet, waiting in line at the bar, standing in groups with drinks at hand, chatting, laughing, and having fun.

Everything appeared to be in place, just like I assumed. But Candice, my best friend and our class president, was a planning freak. She’d be proud of the outcome of her planning. Too bad she wasn’t here to see it in person.

She recently tied the knot with her high school sweetheart, Aaron. They’re in Palawan for their honeymoon, but their flight got canceled because of a storm.

Somehow, I’m glad she wasn’t here to witness how Hunter tore my heart out of my chest. She’d probably killed him by now if she was here.

I crossed the dance floor and smiled at a few people as I passed them. Their existence was a mere shadow of thousand-dollar suits and designer dresses. With every step I made, the sinking feeling this was a bad idea pulsed louder in my ears.

Since when did I give a sh*t about what people think about me? Since when did I let my pride rule over my rational thought? Coming here was a mistake.

“Millie!” I heard a familiar warm voice over the pulsing music from the speaker.

Madeline. She was at the bar, talking to a group of girls in sparkly designer dresses. Seeing her familiar face made my feet move with a strained smile on my lips, but as soon as I realized who she was talking to, I paused and thought of going back the way I went in.

Too late, though. Madeline waved at me with a huge grin.

“Millie!” she called again. The girls around her turned in my direction. The mean girls of our batch. Felicity, the homecoming queen and cheer captain, with her minions Hallie and Luna.

So much for not drawing attention to myself.

I wore an Oscar-worthy smile as I walked to the bar.

“Oh, look at you. I love that dress! You look stunning.” Madeline wrapped her arms around me, air kissing my cheeks.

I locked eyes with Felicity. She smirked at me as if she knew something I didn’t.

‘Oh, this is bad.’

Madeline pulled away, and Felicity’s smirk turned into a cunningly sweet smile.

“I missed you, Maddie. You look hot in red,” I slurred, taking in her sequined red dress. My eyes were unfocused, so I didn’t really know if it looked good on her or not.

“I know, right?” Madeline giggled. “Too bad Candice couldn’t come. She did an amazing job planning everything!”

Everyone in our small circle agreed.

“She’s in Palawan for the honeymoon, right?” Felicity pressed a hand on her chest, eyes roaming around the circle of people around her. “I hear a storm is about to hit the Philippines. I hope they’re safe.”

“They are,” I murmured, turning to Madeline again. “She just wanted to make sure you have me if you need help. You know how she is.”

Madeline giggled. “Her plan was spotless. I’m just enjoying my time reconnecting with our high school friends.”

They all hummed and complimented the venue, the food, and the music. Candice would be happy to hear this.

“I saw her prenup and wedding video,” Felicity butted in, a diamond ring on her left hand catching the light from the bar. “It’s every bride’s dream.”

“Maybe you can ask Max to hold your wedding at Amalfi Coast as well,” Luna suggested. “I heard Candice planned her own wedding. Oh, you work for Candice at Effortless Events, right?”

My eyes twitched at her last statement. I don’t work for Candice. We were business partners, and they knew that. They’ve been our client on more than one occasion.

I kept my cool and nodded a yes.

“Felicity is engaged,” Hallie added, oblivious to the annoyance stirring inside me.

“Oh, wow…” My poker face was worth millions. “Congratulations. We would be honored to plan your wedding, Felicity,” I said, batting my eyelashes.

Everyone quieted down, their gaze pinned on something behind me. Looking over my shoulder, Natalie had just walked in a skin-tight white dress, a pageantry smile plastered on her fake face.

The way the circle of people around me quieted down meant that they knew every detail of Natalie’s accusation against me. I had hoped she would somehow have the decency to keep a low profile after everything she did to me, but who was I kidding? She f*cked my fiance. She doesn't give a sh*t about respect.

A hundred sets of eyes bore holes in my body from every direction. Some were prying, but most people were just waiting for my reaction.

“Nat!” Felicity waved at Natalie. They were besties in high school. She was fifteen steps away from coming into the bar. I had ten seconds to walk away from this catastrophe, but I chose to stay. I wasn’t the one who wronged Natalie, but that doesn’t mean this situation was gonna be a walk in the park.

I took one of the glasses available on the bar counter. It was blue with lemons and ice. I nearly spit it out. It tastes like astringent and rotten eggs blended together.

Natalie’s eyes flew in my direction as she greeted everyone, exchanging pleasantries. I stayed in the background, keeping my fury at bay. I badly wanted to throw the contents of my shot glass in her face. Better yet, get a bucket of ice-cold water and pour it over her head to wipe off that fake smile on her face.

I never knew I could loathe someone the way I despise her. She doesn’t seem a little remorseful of what she did to me. How did I not see how f*cking fake she was?

“Oh, I hate to make things awkward for Millicent,” Natalie replied when Felicity asked her to stay.

“What?! Why would it be awkward?” Felicity gasped, feigning innocence.

Natalie wasn’t the only one who could pretend that we weren’t in the state of World War III. “Yeah, Natalie,” I smiled. “Why would it be awkward?”

Unphased, Natalie shrugged. “Coz you know, about you and Hunter’s break up and that plagiarizing issue.”

I hummed, nodding. “Why? Did you backstab me? It would only be awkward if my fiance cheated on me with you before we ended things, right? And that issue…” I dismissed her with a hand. “The truth will come out in due time.”

Our friends’ eyes moved from me and Natalie as if they were watching a tennis match.

“Right-”

“Oh, my God!” Luna cut off Natalie’s reply, snatching her left hand. “You’re engaged?”

Nothing prepared me for the pain of seeing my engagement ring in another woman’s hands. A whirlwind of emotion sucker-punched me in the face. I had to clutch the counter edge to keep myself upright.

Natalie’s cheeks reddened, retracting her hand from Luna. “Hunter insisted that we tie the knot soon,” she murmured, looking at me with wary eyes.

Was she afraid that I’d make a scene? She shouldn’t have come here in the first place. She shouldn’t have f*cked my fiance in the first place!

I want to scream. I want to break something. Natalie’s face would be an excellent place to start. But no. I wasn’t brought up that way. Besides, I honestly don’t get why Natalie accepted that ring. If it were me, I wouldn't have my boyfriend's ex-fiancee’s engagement ring. What was going on inside Natalie’s head? I guess I would never understand.

“Okay… that was freaking fast.” Surprised, Felicity turned to me, the space between her brows knitted. It was rare to see a genuine expression on her face; I wanted to laugh. “When did you two even break up?”

His betrayal stings. It’s breaking me inside, but no one has to know that. I have to fake it to make it through this night.

“Recently,” I replied, reaching for a glass of wine. “Congratulations on your engagement, Natalie. That’s a fancy-looking ring.”

Two karat diamond in six prong setting on a platinum band. My dream engagement ring now rests on another woman’s finger. Though I kept my relationship with Hunter away from social media, I posted a photo of that ring on my profile.

That definitely made things awkward in our circle. The shame that crossed Natalie’s face was priceless, but the ever-persistent Felicity butted in once again, hoax empathy masking her face. “I don’t know how you’re handling things this well, but I guess this calls for a celebration?”

Everyone followed Felicity’s lead and grabbed a glass of wine from the counter, raising a toast for Natalie’s engagement. Maddie locked eyes with me, mouthing ‘are you okay?’ I nodded and down my drink in one go.

I knew this night wouldn’t go down without anyone rubbing my failed engagement in my face. And I happened to flock around the right people for that job.

The conversation circled around Natalie’s engagement. She kept spitting lies after lies about how she and Hunter started dating. She said they started dating about five months ago. The whole time she spoke of how happy they’ve been since they got together, she didn’t dare look my way. Maybe there was truth in her story, but I was too drunk and hurt to listen and give a sh*t anymore. I just want to get out of here.

Zoning out, I searched the crowd for anything to save me from this situation. Probably someone I knew who I could go to and extract myself from this conversation.

That’s when my eyes landed on the guy at the other end of the bar. Damian Black, Candice’s stepbrother. I used to have a massive crush on him. He was already looking at me, nodding, acknowledging me.

“Excuse me,” I murmured and skirted past Madeline.

“Hey, you good?” Madeline gripped my arm gently.

“Never been better,” I flashed another award-winning smile, giggling when my legs almost gave out on me.

God. The world was f*cking spinning.

“Where are you going?” Madeline gripped my arm tighter; concern blanketed her pretty face.

I patted her hand, my drunk mind driving my mouth to spit lies. “To my date,” I murmured, smiling at her sweetly.

Five pairs of intent eyes burned holes in the back of my head as I made a beeline for Damian.

He lifted a rock glass to his lips, watching me remove the distance between us.

“Damian.”

“Millicent.”

We were at eye level since he was sitting on a barstool. I had to slot myself between his long legs so I could grab his tie, lean forward, and whisper in his ears. “I need a favor.”

“What?” His breath was warm against my skin. Gooseflesh coated my body.

“Act along,” I murmured as I ran my fingers along the lapel of his suit. He doesn’t flinch. He doesn’t say anything. Dark lash gaze pinned me with intense curiosity, waiting.

I ran my hands over the planes of his chest. He was solid, hard… everywhere, like a wall of warm and delicious muscles.

Knowing everyone was watching, I continued my plan. Stood on the tip of my toes and pressed my lips against Damian’s.

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Faking It With Damian Black (2024)

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