The Only Thing (The Donnigans, #3) by Marie Harte
What do you do when a “fake” relationship is so much better than the real thing?
Hope Donnigan is finally getting her life together. She’s working a job she likes, has some amazing friends, and is steering clear of Mr. Wrong. Now if only she could get her mother to understand that. Maybe a hot tattoo artist from the other side town is just the ticket to teach her mom a lesson.
J.T. Webster fell for Hope months ago at his sister’s wedding. So when she propositions him to be her fake boyfriend to get her mother off her back, he’s all in. The only problem is J.T. had no idea their pretend relationship would be better than anything real he’s ever had…
The Donnigans Series:
A Sure Thing (Book 1)
Just the Thing (Book 2)
The Only Thing (Book 3)
Excerpt The Only Thing (The Donnigans #3) by Marie Harte
Hope couldn’t find it in herself to blink, focused on God’s gift to womankind. Her aunt’s invitation to dinner had come at the perfect time, giving Hope an excuse to avoid her mother’s weekly nagathon. Since her idiot older brothers had hooked up with the loves of their lives, her mother had deemed Hope fair game again. So much for their pleasant détente, where Hope stopped blaming her mother for her many issues and Linda Donnigan stopped getting on Hope for breathing wrong.
Yet Hope hadn’t anticipated seeing J.T. Webster. He hadn’t been at the last two dinners Aunt Sophie had invited her to. “Greg?” she asked, her mind on other things.
Like how incredible J.T. filled out a simple T-shirt and jeans. The man had the prettiest brown skin, like a smooth chocolate caramel. Light but so filling. She swallowed a sigh.
Liam was white, and she knew J.T.’s mom had been black. She also must have been gorgeous, because J.T. had his dad’s height and brawn, as well as the face of an angel who liked to sin. A lot.
She swallowed a sigh and continued to visually eat him up, wondering if the size of his hands and feet could be correlated to the size of other things.
God, get your mind off sex, Hope. His father is here! Aunt Sophie is here! And you’re off men, remember?
“Yeah, Greg,” J.T. said, looking concerned. “Gas Works Park ring a bell?”
Geez, she’d seen Greg and J.T. just last week. “Oh, no. No problems on that front.” To Liam, who studied her a little too intently, she explained, “Ex-boyfriend. A jerk I ran into. No biggie.” She shot J.T. a look, pleased when he kept quiet.
Last weekend, Greg, a guy she hadn’t dated or seen in over four months, had accused her of using her brother to bother him. But Hope hadn’t thought about Greg the Cheater since she’d dumped him, so she knew her brothers couldn’t care less about the guy. When Greg had tried to get a little gropey at the park, she’d taken him down, courtesy of the self-defense classes her brothers taught.
J.T. hadn’t had to do more than watch her take Greg out. She’d been so proud of herself… when she’d been able to tear her imagination from what J.T. would look like naked.
So sad those images replayed themselves over and over again.
“Right.” Liam stared from her to J.T., a question in his eyes.
“So who’s pregnant?” she asked, hoping to shift attention away from herself.
Rena squealed. “Del is! A tiny little bun in her McCauley oven.”
Del looked embarrassed, which was funny, because Del could out swear the mechanics she bossed around on a daily basis and took woman power to the next level. The woman had arms covered in tattoos, funky ash-blonde braids, and icy gray eyes that seemed to look through, and not at, a person.
Hope could see a faint resemblance from brother to sister despite their different skin tones. Both J.T. and Del had the same shape of their eyes and stubborn chins, just like their father. Only someone as obsessed with J.T. would have noticed that, she realized, and felt like a moron for being so enthralled with the man.
Fortunately, Liam and Rena started badgering Del for details, letting Hope off the hook.
Since she hadn’t yet greeted her aunt, Hope started to turn and found J.T. suddenly in her way. “Oh, sorry.”
He put a hand out to stop her from bumping into him. And sweet baby sexy, she felt the touch go from her arm all the way through her body, centering between her legs. Oy.
J.T. sighed and rolled his head on his neck then stretched his shoulders. The session had been three hours long, but so worth it. He’d done excellent work. He glanced around, pride in his efforts enforced by the artistic feel of the place. His place.
The funky lobby of Tull Paint & Body had been done in dark colors, the floors a clean gray cement. Artwork decorated the walls, using pictures the guys and Suke had done in the studio. A few Tull T-shirts and mugs sat on a rack by the counter, where whoever manned the desk would catch walk-ins and take payments. Where their apprentice Daisy would have been if she hadn’t left early to run some errands.
He froze for a moment, feeling déjà vu. He kept hearing Hope Donnigan’s voice in the weirdest places. Although she had actually been at his dad’s on Friday. He turned to see her standing by the wall-mounted screen to his right. Huh. She was really here.
She wore open toed sandals showing off dainty, blue painted toenails. Shapely legs disappeared under a knee-length, floral sun dress. A cropped sweater hid her shoulders. She looked like the essence of summer, and he wanted to kneel down in worship. Innocence radiated from her in waves, as if begging him to muss her a little and show her just what heels like those would look like on either side of his head.
He should have felt dirty for wanting to muddy that innocence. Instead, he grew more aroused. Hell.
“Hi.” She smiled at him.
His heart raced. Damn, that dimple slayed him every time.
“He says hi back,” Suke said dryly. “I’m Suke, one of the harder working artists around here. I take it you know J.T.?”
Hope nodded. “Great place. I hadn’t realized it was down here.”
As she and Suke spoke, he watched them interact. Hope didn’t seem to care that Suke had tattoos up and down her arms, piercings in her nose and lip, and spiked black hair in a dare-to-be punk style. Nor did she seem to mind the way Suke was eye-fucking her.
“Hey.” He growled; he minded.
Suke grinned. “I’m leaving for the day. You need me to stick around and lock up? Maybe walk Hope out to her car?”
Suke chuckled and left.
He laughed. “Suke? She busts our balls on a daily basis, but we love her. Now what brings you to the lion’s den?”
She grinned. “Is that what this is? The sign outside said Tull Paint & Body.”
“Yeah, a play on Auto Paint & Body, like a car paint shop. I worked for my dad before I opened the place, and some of him stuck.” Jesus, he was babbling.
He shrugged, searching for calm. “My dad was a Jethro Tull fan. Sounded cool when I was twenty-five.” He paused, shoving his hands in his pockets so he wouldn’t tuck a stray strand of her golden hair back behind her ear. “What’s up, Hope?”
She flushed, now looking uncomfortable. “Ah, this is kind of awkward. I have a favor to ask.” She didn’t say any more.
She looked so damn adorable. He couldn’t help himself. He had to mess with her. “Okay. So you want a baby without the commitment. I get it. You want to make one right here or in the back room? Do you have some paperwork for me to sign first? You know, about rights for the kid?”
“What? No.” She blinked at him. “Have you done that before?”
“Nah, but I can’t think of a more awkward conversation. So now that I know you’re not here to use me and abuse me, what can I do for you?”
“Ah, actually…” Her face turned bright red.
He gaped. “Shit. Really?” He took a step closer. “You want to abuse me? I’m game.”