Nov 192019
 
 19 November 2019  Posted by  Tagged with: , ,  No Responses »

Top Secret by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy

Bestselling authors Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy return with their first Male / Male romance in 3 years.

LobsterShorts, 21
Jock. Secretly a science geek. Hot AF.

LobsterShorts: So. Here goes. For her birthday, my girlfriend wants…a threesome.

SinnerThree: Then you’ve come to the right hookup app.

LobsterShorts: Have you done this sort of thing before? With another guy?

SinnerThree: All the time. I’m an equal opportunity player. You?

LobsterShorts: [crickets!]

SinnerThree, 21
Finance major. Secretly a male dancer. Hot AF.

SinnerThree: Well, I’m down if you are. My life is kind of a mess right now. School, work, family stress. Oh, and I live next door to the most annoying dude in the world. I need the distraction. Are you sure you want this?

LobsterShorts: I might want it a little more than I’m willing to admit.

SinnerThree: Hey, nothing wrong with pushing your boundaries…

LobsterShorts: Tell that to my control-freak father. Anyway. What if this threesome is awkward?

SinnerThree: Then it’s awkward. It’s not like we’ll ever have to see each other again. Right? Just promise you won’t fall in love with me.

LobsterShorts: Now wouldn’t that be life-changing…

Q&A about Top Secret:

Q: Have we met these characters before in another book?
A: No! These guys are brand new, and we can’t wait for you to meet them.

Q: Is this story MM? Or is it a MMF / MFM / menage?
A: This book is MM.

Q: Is this a love triangle story?
A: Not really. You’ll see.

Excerpt Excerpt Top Secret by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy

Chapter One

Keaton

“Look,” Annika whispers in my ear. Under the table, her small hand squeezes my thigh, while her cheek gently nudges my chin toward the doorway. “He’s cute.”

“Subtle,” I tease before giving the object of her attention a cursory glance. He’s just a tall guy with brown hair, nothing special as far as I can tell. “How about we save this conversation for later?”

She rolls her eyes. “We both know there won’t be a conversation, Keaton. You like playing along, but you won’t actually go through with it.” This time she forgets to lower her voice.

“Go through with what?” one of my frat brothers asks from across the table. Tanner, Judd, and I had popped into the campus Starbucks for a caffeine fix after practice. Annika’s next class is directly across the street, so she’d come to say hi before class.

“Nothing,” I tell Tanner.

If you can call your girlfriend wanting a threesome with another dude “nothing.”

Yup, my girlfriend wants a threesome. And here I’d thought that, after six years together, Annika couldn’t surprise me anymore.

She and I have been inseparable since junior year of high school. I know every last detail about her, from her food preferences to her pet peeves. I know she gets anxiety in long lines, that she sneezes any time she gets a whiff of cinnamon, that she loves the beach but hates skiing.

What I didn’t know was that my girlfriend fantasizes about threesomes. The first time she brought it up, I thought she was kidding around. Annika Schiffer, heiress to a home-furnishings fortune, wants to bang two guys at the same time? Yeah right.

My girl is the president of her sorority, wears a pearl necklace (and not the fun kind) on a daily basis, and made me wait until we were eighteen to lose our virginities to each other. Don’t get me wrong—she’s not some uptight rich bitch with a stick up her butt. She’s fun and warm and fierce when someone tries to mess with her or her loved ones.

But she’s also… I’ll just say it: vanilla.

I didn’t think she was serious about the threesome thing until last week, when I’d asked her what she wanted for her birthday and she brought up the idea again.

I move my lips to her ear so Tanner and Judd can’t overhear. “Don’t you worry, babe, there’ll be more than just a conversation,” I rasp.

She shivers, and then flashes me a dazzling smile. Her face is flawless. Classic features, pouty lips, and smooth skin that’s just the right amount of dewy. She works hard and spends a lot of money for that skin. I’ve been in her bathroom at the sorority house, so I’ve seen all the products she puts on her face to keep it looking so perfect. Not to mention the monthly facials, which require her to fly to New York every month because this little college town we live in doesn’t have a “competent aesthetician”—her words, not mine.

It helps that her father owns a helicopter that can accommodate her monthly treks. I’m not one to judge, though. My dad has his own jet.

“I can’t wait,” she says before hopping off my lap. “Come over tonight after practice, okay, baby? I have to go to class now.”

“I’ll see you later.”

“Bye, boys.” Annika’s hand flutters in a wave on her way to the door.

“Later!” Tanner calls after her. And if I’m not mistaken, he takes a longing look at her ass.

“Dude,” I say. “If you’re going to eye-fuck my girlfriend, you could at least be subtle about it.”

“Why?” Tanner argues. “She’d be flattered. And you should know how good you’ve got it. Besides, I’m harmless.” He flashes me a big smile. “What are we doing this weekend, anyway?” Tanner asks. “The Presidential Dance-off, right?”

I shake my head. “That’s, like, in two weeks, man.”

“Really? Why did I think it was sooner?”

“Because you’re stupid,” Judd offers helpfully.

Tanner gives him the finger, before turning back to me. “Do you know what you’re doing for yours yet?”

I have no clue. And no, dancing isn’t an actual requirement for our fraternity’s presidential race. But it used to be. A few decades ago, the candidates running for frat president decided a dance-off was the only way to decide who was more fit to lead. Hence, the Presidential Dance-off was born. On our living room walls, there are old photos of well-dressed men with slicked-back hair and girls in poodle skirts on their arms.

My fraternity has long-held traditions that began well before the invention of the red Solo cup. But these days, Alpha Delta has evolved. Or devolved, depending who you ask. Instead of perfecting his twist and his mashed potato, the presidential candidate is expected to dazzle the other members by planning a kickass event. I’m talking epic. Monumental. The kind of party that will be remembered for years to come.

Although, like dance moves, I’m not entirely sure that party planning is a solid indicator of what makes a good president. Sure, frats throw a lot of parties, but there’s a social committee for that.

The role of president is actually pretty lame, according to Reedsy, our current prez. He pulled me aside after I threw my name in the race and admitted that it’s a boring gig and that I should reconsider. “So much fucking responsibility on your shoulders, dude,” he’d bemoaned.

For a moment, I’d almost bailed. To be honest, I’m only running because my dad was president of Alpha Delt in his heyday, and my granddad before him. But that’s also the reason I couldn’t bail. My father would lose his shit if the Hayworth legacy ended with me.

So I have ten days to plan a legendary party.

“Maybe I can just hire an event planner?” I suggest.

“No way.” Judd’s response is immediate. “If that fuckhead Bailey finds out, he’ll have you impeached.”

“You can’t impeach someone until he’s elected,” Tanner points out.

Still, I don’t want to be accused of cheating. What a pain in the ass this whole thing is. “We can brainstorm about this on Sunday night. We have a game to win on Saturday.”

“Oh, we’re going to win,” Tanner promises.

But I’m not so sure. Not only am I worried about the Northern Mass offense, I think my father is driving up for the game. So winning isn’t even enough. If the Northern Mass players aren’t crying into their helmets after the fourth quarter, my father will still give me hell at brunch the next day.

And here I thought weekends were meant to be relaxing.

“Fine,” Judd says. “We’ll talk about your campaign after the other meeting on Sunday night.”

“What other meeting?” I search my brain and come up empty.

“Pledge Committee,” he says, gulping the last of his coffee.

Oh, phew. “I don’t have to go to that one. I’m not on PC this year.”

“But I sent you that email?” Judd whines. “I told you I need you there. Initiation night is coming up and my committee is lame.”

“Who’s on it, anyway? What do you have planned?” Note to self: be conveniently unavailable on Sunday night. There is no way I’m sitting on the Pledge Committee again. Dealing with last year’s pledge class was a total pain in the ass.

“There’s Ahmad, who’s smart but boring. Paul, who’s just boring. Owen, who’s fun but not exactly creative. And Paxton, who’s just a tool.” He sighs. “Whatever. At least Bailey isn’t on it this time. Remember what a buzz kill he was last year? I fucking hate that guy.”

No big secret there. Judd’s had it in for Luke Bailey ever since the guy rushed Alpha Delt sophomore year. And say what you will about Judd, but he’s not an asshole unless he feels you’ve given him a reason. He’s a bro to the core—he believes in male bonding, high fives, and, in his mind, a friendship isn’t official unless you’ve bled together, partied together, and nursed your twin hangovers the morning after.

Luke Bailey doesn’t subscribe to this philosophy. The moment he scoffed at Judd’s attempt at a fist bump, he earned himself an enemy in Judd Keller.

Since then, their tumultuous acquaintanceship has only gotten worse. Luke is a cocky ass when he wants to be, and Judd hates feeling like he’s being mocked or judged.

Oh, and then Bailey banged Judd’s ex. So there’s that.

“You exert too much mental energy on that guy,” Tanner informs Judd. Tanner’s a psych major, so he’s constantly dishing out (pretty good) advice that everyone mostly ignores. “Holding onto anger isn’t conducive to robust mental health.”

“First of all, say the word robust one more time and I’ll clock you. You know how I feel about that, bro.” Indignation flashes in Judd eyes. “And second of all, Luke Bailey screwed my girlfriend! I’m never not gonna be angry at that prick.”

“Ex-girlfriend,” I hedge, but it earns me a deep scowl from Judd. The two of us are teammates, and I do feel loyalty to him, but I’m also not afraid to call it like it is. “You and Therese were broken up for months.”

“Me and Therese are never broken up. Sure, we take short breaks, a hiatus or two. But she’s my girl,” Judd says tightly. “Everybody knows that.”

“Bailey says he didn’t,” Tanner says.

“That’s bullshit. He’s a liar. And now he’s trying to screw K over!” Judd growls. “He joined the presidential race to get back at me. I just know it.”

“You think?” Tanner looks skeptical. “Because that would be sociopathic lengths to go to just to spite you.”

“Yeah,” I agree with a chuckle. “Bailey’s a prick, but I can’t see him taking on the huge responsibility of running a fraternity just to flip you the metaphorical bird.” Although if I’m being honest, I don’t know why Luke Bailey is running for prez. The guy hasn’t shown much interest in frat activities since he joined us.

“He totally would,” Judd argues.

“Hey, we got class now,” Tanner reminds our sulking buddy. “We should book it over there.”

“Fine.” Judd scrapes his chair back and gets to his feet. His cloudy gaze meets mine again. “I’m serious, man. Bailey is bad news, and we need to kick his ass in this campaign. There’s no way I’m letting him be our president.”

“Don’t worry. He won’t be.”

Once my friends are gone, I let out a tired sigh. I don’t particularly care about Judd’s beef with Bailey at the moment. I have a football game to win, a campaign to plan, and a father to impress.

And a girlfriend to please.

I go up to the counter to get a refill, then settle in my cozy corner of the coffeehouse and open the app I downloaded last night. I hadn’t lied to Annika earlier—her birthday request is in the forefront of my mind. I just need to do some investigating first.

Welcome to Kink!

Add a profile pic.

Add bio.

I’d wanted to fill all this out last night, but my frat brothers suckered me into an epic session of Red Dead Redemption that lasted till three a.m. Now I quickly scroll through the camera roll on my phone until I find a suitable one. It’s of Annika and me, taken in Easthampton last summer. She looks smokin’ hot in a teeny string bikini, and my abs are looking tight, if I do say so myself. I crop out our faces and load the photo.

I skip the bio for now, because I’m feeling impatient. I want to see what this app has to offer more than I want to break my brain thinking of one hundred and forty-five characters to describe how my girlfriend wants to bang two men at the same time.

Actually, that’s pretty much the gist of it.

Still, I’m curious to check out the goods. Kink is more hookup app than dating app, and I’m pleased to discover it lets you search for users who’ve expressed interest in certain arrangements.

I click on the threesome box in the search section. There are an eye-opening number of options, combinations that hadn’t even occurred to me. Annika wants another guy, though, so I ponder the easiest combos.

m/f/m

m/m/f

My finger hovers over the m/f/m button. The other option means the men are allowed to touch, I think. It’s the moment of truth. Some guys would hate this idea. I don’t, though. I’m a scientist. Experimenting is what I do.

I even dreamt about sex with men once. Or twice. I never mentioned that to Annika. But why would I? I’ve also dreamt of meeting a dragon who smoked clove cigarettes. The things my brain invents while I’m sleeping aren’t newsworthy.

But I’d be lying if I said that Annika’s shocking birthday request turns me off. I’ll try anything once. And the app lets you click as many boxes as you want. So after looking over my shoulder once more just to make sure nobody I know is watching, I tap both options and usher in the possibility of taking a walk on the wild side.

The threesome has to be with a stranger, though. I’m certain that any one of my frat brothers would be down to help me give my girl a night to remember. Well, except Dan, who’s only down for dudes. And, well, Bailey, who thinks I’m an ass. I think he’s an ass, too, so I guess we’re even.

But I can’t do this with someone I know. What if the whole night is awkward as fuck? If it’s a brother, I’ll still have to live with him. If it’s a teammate, I’ll still have to see him in the locker room.

And then there’s the opposite scenario. What if it’s not awkward as fuck? What if I like it a whole lot?

Yeah, I don’t want my buddies judging me. A stranger for the win, then.

I lean back in my chair and start swiping.

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Nov 192019
 
 19 November 2019  Posted by  Tagged with: , ,  No Responses »

Him (Him #1) by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy

They don’t play for the same team. Or do they?

Jamie Canning has never been able to figure out how he lost his closest friend. Four years ago, his tattooed, wise-cracking, rule-breaking roommate cut him off without an explanation. So what if things got a little weird on the last night of hockey camp the summer they were eighteen? It was just a little drunken foolishness. Nobody died.

Ryan Wesley’s biggest regret is coaxing his very straight friend into a bet that pushed the boundaries of their relationship. Now, with their college teams set to face off at the national championship, he’ll finally get a chance to apologize. But all it takes is one look at his longtime crush, and the ache is stronger than ever.

Jamie has waited a long time for answers, but walks away with only more questions—can one night of sex ruin a friendship? If not, how about six more weeks of it? When Wesley turns up to coach alongside Jamie for one more hot summer at camp, Jamie has a few things to discover about his old friend…and a big one to learn about himself.

Warning: contains sexual situations, skinnydipping, shenanigans in an SUV and proof that coming out to your family on social media is a dicey proposition.

Excerpt Him (Him #1) by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy

Jamie and I are still laughing as we duck into the locker room to ditch our skates and change into our sneakers. When we leave the building a few minutes later, I feel like I’ve just left an icy pool and stepped into a sauna. The humidity in the air is stifling, causing sweat to roll down my back. My T-shirt sticks to my chest like plastic wrap.
Shrugging, I yank it over my head and tuck the fabric in the waistband of my gym shorts. The atmosphere in Lake Placid is as casual as it gets—nobody’s gonna care if I walk through town rocking a bare chest.
Canning keeps his shirt on. I think I might prefer it that way, because his shirt is paper-thin and doing the same clinging thing mine had done, which gives me a decadent view of every hard ripple on his broad chest. Fuck, I’m yet again jealous of his shirt. I want to be the one plastered to his chest, and the ache I feel for him brings a spark of guilt.
We’re good now. We’re friends again. So why can’t my traitorous body just be cool with it? Why can’t I look at him without imagining all the dirty, dirty things I want to do to him?
“So what’s the deal with you and that girl?” I hear myself ask. I don’t particularly want to hear the answer, but I need the wake-up call it’ll bring, the reminder that lusting over this guy is a disaster waiting to happen.
“Holly?” He shrugs. “Nothing, really. We just hook up. Or rather, we used to hook up. I don’t think I’ll be seeing much of her now that we’ve graduated.”
I arch a brow. “Just a hook-up? Since when are you into a friends with bennies arrangement?”
Another shrug. “It was convenient. Fun. I don’t know, I’m just not looking to settle down with anyone right now. Holly understood that.” His voice takes on a note of challenge. “What, you disapprove?”
“Nah, I’m all about fuck buddies.”
We pass the toy store and duck out of the way of two moms pushing strollers. Both women swivel their heads in my direction and stare at my tats. Not with contempt, but intrigue. It happens again on the next block, when a group of teenage girls stop in their tracks at the sight of me. The words “tattooed hottie” tickle our backs as we walk past.
Jamie chuckles. “You sure you don’t want to go the bisexual path? ‘Cause I’m pretty sure you won’t have any trouble in the chick department.”
“S’all good. Wouldn’t be fair to the straight guys if I threw my hat in the pussy ring. They wouldn’t stand a chance.”
His expression turns thoughtful. “I’ve seen you fool around with girls before. You seemed interested.”
I know he’s thinking about all those nights we snuck into town and flirted with the locals. But we were fifteen, maybe sixteen then, and I was still experimenting, figuring things out.
“Were you just pretending to enjoy it?” he asks curiously.
“Not so much pretending as trying to enjoy it,” I admit. “And it wasn’t awful. I didn’t go home afterward and scour my skin off in the shower. Making out with those girls was…I don’t know…it just was. I did it, it was all right, but it’s not like I was dying to rip their clothes off and get inside them.”
The way I’m dying to rip your clothes off and get inside you.
I clench my teeth, annoyed with myself. Christ, enough. It’s not going to happen with Canning. I need to stop this.
“Got it.” He nods, then tips his head. “Who does it for you, then? Like, what’s your type, looks-wise?”
You. “Ah, I’m not picky.”
We reach the corner pub, but he doesn’t make a move to open the door. He just lingers on the sidewalk and chuckles. “Really. So you’ll just stick your dick in anyone?”
“No,” I concede. It feels so fucking weird discussing this with him. “I’m not crazy about twinks, I guess. I don’t like the whole scrawny, young boy vibe.”
“So you like ’em big.” A broad grin fills his face as he winks at me. “So to speak.”
I roll my eyes. “Yeah, big’s a nice bonus. Tall, athletic, not too hairy—” that makes him snicker “and, I don’t know…” I start to laugh. “You seriously want to hear all this?”
His eyes flash with hurt. “Why, because you’re talking about guys instead of girls? I already told you, I’m not some uptight prude who—”
“That’s not what I meant,” I cut in hastily, and he relaxes slightly. “It’d be weird even if I was describing a chick. Like, what two guys stand around describing their perfect sexual partner?” I widen my eyes and look around. “Did we wander onto the set of Sex and the City? If so, I’m Samantha. Called it.”
The tension diffuses instantly, as Canning’s lips twitch uncontrollably. “You know actual character names from Sex and the City? Shit, if you hadn’t told me you were gay, I would’ve figured it out just now.”
“That was an extremely insensitive case of stereotyping, Jamie,” I say primly. “Just for that? You’re springing for lunch. Asshole.” But I’m grinning to myself as I flip him the bird and stride into the bar.

HIM

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Nov 152019
 
 15 November 2019  Posted by  Tagged with: , ,  No Responses »

Stay (WAGs #2) by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy

Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never even met?

Hailey Taylor Emery has a hunch that her favorite client at Fetch—an anonymous virtual assistant service—is actually hockey star Matt Eriksson.

Although it’s against the rules for her to check his file, she’s 95% sure she spends at least part of each day texting with her lifelong crush and catering to his every need. Still nursing a wounded heart thanks to her recent breakup, Hailey is perfectly content with some harmless online flirting… until she has to meet her client. Face to face. Cue: utter panic.

Matt Eriksson is no stranger to heartbreak. He’s still not over the destruction of his marriage, and it sucks to be the only guy on the team who knows the truth—that hockey and long-term relationships are a toxic mix. He barely sees his kids, and dealing with his ex makes him feel insane. The only person in his life who seems to understand is someone who won’t show her pretty face.

But it’s nothing that a pair of fourth row hockey seats can’t fix. Hailey can’t resist the offer. Matt can’t resist Hailey. Good thing he doesn’t have to. Fire up the kiss cam!

Warning: Contains rabid hockey fans, misunderstood dick pics, hockey players at the opera and exploding ovaries

Excerpt Stay (WAGs #2) by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy

“Everyone shut it,” I hiss. “Here comes my date. Pretend you’re normal.”

“Good luck with that.” Wes snickers.

“Mamma mia,” Lemming mutters under his breath. “That can’t be your date, Eriksson. She’s too hot for you.”

I want to tell him to keep his trap shut, but there isn’t time. Hottie spots me and smiles. I watch her navigate the busy sidewalk, and I descend a couple of steps to greet her. “Hey, you made it.” I take her hand, then lean in and give her a kiss on the cheek to show my appreciation. Her perfume invites me to linger, so I take a deep breath before I step back. “Thanks for coming.”

She blinks at me for a long moment, then looks down at our clasped hands. “It’s my pleasure.” Her voice is soft and a little tentative, her blue eyes sparkling. I feel the warm buzz of arousal, and I wish I could just hail one of these cabs and ask the driver to take us back to my apartment.

But I can’t, of course. And that’s not what Hailey signed up for.

Right. Opera it is.

“I’ll apologize in advance for my friends,” I say, stalling.

“Why?” She smiles at me again, and it hits me full force. If this is how Hottie looks at me after she’s gotten a little used to me, I may not survive it. “They didn’t shower after practice?”

“It’s not quite that bad,” I manage, smiling back at her. We’re both standing here grinning like a couple of idiots, but I can’t stop. “They’re just kind of rowdy. Not opera fans. Except for Jess.” I tip my head toward Blake’s girlfriend on the stairs.

Hottie glances at my fellow players and shrugs. “I’m from Toronto, Snipes. I’m not afraid of a few hockey players.”

I chuckle. “Snipes?”

“If I have a nickname, you get one, too. It’s only fair.” She gives me an appraising look. “Nice tux. Some smart person must have helped you pick it out.” She licks her lips and glances up at the theater.

I am in so much trouble.

Taking her arm, I lead her up the steps. “Guys, this is H…” I almost say Hottie. “Hailey Taylor Emery.”

“Awesome!” Blake bellows with his usual deafening enthusiasm. “I love a chick with three names! Like, um…” He pauses. “James Earl Jones!”

“Not a chick.” Jess sighs, shaking Hottie’s hand. “Welcome to the asylum.”

“Sarah Jessica Parker,” Wes offers.

“Julia Louis-Dreyfus,” Lemming adds.

I cut off this recitation of stupidity by introducing each of these chuckleheads, and then the lights flash outside the theater, prompting everyone to go inside.

“C’mon, guys!” Jess says, clapping her hands. “I don’t want to miss the beginning!”

“I wouldn’t mind,” someone else mumbles.

We enter the theater and I give Hottie my arm as we climb a curving staircase. Someone shows us to a private box, where another usher waits to hang our coats in a little closet right outside.

“Fancy!” Jess says approvingly.

But I can’t even hear her, because I’ve slipped Hailey’s coat off her shoulders. And now I almost swallow my tongue. She’s wearing a sparkling, backless dress. That’s not even why I’m speechless. Hottie has an intricate tattoo of ivy vines all across her shapely back.

I let out a little moan of longing, and she turns her head with a questioning look. “Everything okay?”

“Yeah,” I say, my voice a rasp. But no, it ain’t okay. The opera just doubled in length if I have to sit beside her all night trying not to imagine the full picture of those tattoos across her naked body. “Where would you like to sit?” I ask, dragging my reluctant eyes off the swell of her ass.

“Anywhere.”

The box has six armchairs upholstered in velvet. I steer Hailey toward the ones in the front. The others are for Blake, Jess, Wes, and…

“Made it!” Jamie says, appearing in the doorway in a tux.

“Baby!” Wes exclaims with no small amount of surprise.

“My second practice got cancelled. Ran home and changed.”

“Aw. Now I know you love me.” He pulls Jamie in for a kiss.

And then something beautiful happens. Someone on staff offers us glasses of champagne from a cart in the hallway. I hand one to Hailey.

“Classy,” she says.

“We definitely didn’t have drinks last year,” Blake recalls. “It must be the box seats. Sit on my lap, Jessie. It’s almost a party now.”

She perches on his thigh and they clink their glasses together, then kiss.

I’m the last single man on the planet, apparently.

“This is so civilized,” Jess remarks, slipping off Blake’s lap and into her own chair.

“That’s exactly what we don’t like about it,” Wes agrees.

Hailey smiles, and I relax by a degree or two. “Thank you for coming with me tonight,” I tell her. “Maybe the opera wouldn’t be your first pick, but I really enjoy your company.”

She glances down for a second, as if she finds it difficult to accept this bit of praise. “It’s nice to step outside my rut sometimes, Snipes.” She lifts her elegant chin. “Have you seen Rigoletto before?”

“I have no idea,” I say without any shame, and she laughs.

When the house lights fade to black a moment later, I smile into the pregnant stillness inside the theater. A couple of coughs and the rustle of clothing are all we hear for a moment.

“Freebird!” Blake whispers from behind me, and I hear Hailey’s giggle even if I can’t see it.

The orchestra starts up with a swell of brass and timpani. When the curtains part, it’s on a bright stage where a big party is taking place, just as Jess described. I try to settle in and watch, but it’s not easy. I’m too aware of Hottie beside me. I want to watch her instead of the opera…

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Nov 152019
 
 15 November 2019  Posted by  Tagged with: , ,  No Responses »

Us (Him #2) by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy

Can your favorite hockey players finish their first season together undefeated?

Five months in, NHL forward Ryan Wesley is having a record-breaking rookie season. He’s living his dream of playing pro hockey and coming home every night to the man he loves—Jamie Canning, his longtime best friend turned boyfriend. There’s just one problem: the most important relationship of his life is one he needs to keep hidden, or else face a media storm that will eclipse his success on the ice.

Jamie loves Wes. He really, truly does. But hiding sucks. It’s not the life Jamie envisioned for himself, and the strain of keeping their secret is taking its toll. It doesn’t help that his new job isn’t going as smoothly as he’d hoped, but he knows he can power through it as long as he has Wes. At least apartment 10B is their retreat, where they can always be themselves.

Or can they? When Wes’s nosiest teammate moves in upstairs, the threads of their carefully woven lie begin to unravel. With the outside world determined to take its best shot at them, can Wes and Jamie develop major-league relationship skills on the fly?

Warning: contains sexual situations, a vibrating chair, long-distance sexytimes

Excerpt Us (Him #2) by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy

At long last, I’m twenty paces away, then ten. Then I’m opening our door. “Hey babe!” I call out like I always do. “I made it.” I drag my duffel over the threshold, then toss my suit coat on top, abandoning these things beside the door, because all I need now is a kiss.

Only then do I notice that our apartment smells amazing. Jamie has cooked dinner for me. Again. He is the perfect man, I swear to God.

“Hey!” he calls, emerging from the hallway leading to our bedroom. He’s wearing jeans and nothing else except—and this is unusual—a beard. “Do I know you?” He gives me a sexy smile.

“I was going to ask the same thing.” I’m staring at the sandy-blond beard. Jamie has always been clean-shaven. I mean—we’ve known each other since before facial hair. He looks different. Older, maybe.

And hot as blazes. Seriously, I can’t wait to feel that beard against my face, and maybe my balls… Jesus. The blood is already rushing south, and I’ve been home fifteen seconds.

And yet I’m just stuck there in the middle of the room for a moment, because even though it’s been eight months since Jamie and I started up together, I’m still a little stunned at my own good fortune. “Hi,” I say again, stupidly.

He walks forward, his easy gait so familiar that my heart breaks a little bit. He puts his hands on my traps and squeezes the muscle there. “Don’t go away for so long. If you do that again, I’m going to have to sneak into your hotel room on the road.”

“Promise?” I ask, and it comes out like gravel. He’s close enough now that I can smell the ocean scent of his shampoo and the beer he drank while he waited for me.

“If I ever get a winning lottery ticket and a day off, I’ll do it,” he says. “Hotel sex after a game? Sounds hot.”

Now I’m measuring the distance to our sofa and counting the layers of clothes I’ll need to remove in the next ninety seconds.

HIM

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Oct 032019
 
 3 October 2019  Posted by  Tagged with: ,  No Responses »

The Play (Briar U #3) by Elle Kennedy

A brand-new standalone novel in the New York Times bestselling Briar U series!

What I learned after last year’s distractions cost my hockey team our entire season? No more screwing up. No more screwing, period. As the new team captain, I need a new philosophy: hockey and school now, women later. Which means that I, Hunter Davenport, am officially going celibate…no matter how hard that makes things.

But there’s nothing in the rulebook that says I can’t be friends with a woman. And I won’t lie—my new classmate Demi Davis is one cool chick. Her smart mouth is hot as hell, and so is the rest of her, but the fact that she’s got a boyfriend eliminates the temptation to touch her.

Except three months into our friendship, Demi is single and looking for a rebound.

And she’s making a play for me.

Avoiding her is impossible. We’re paired up on a yearlong school project, but I’m confident I can resist her. We’d never work, anyway. Our backgrounds are too different, our goals aren’t aligned, and her parents hate my guts.

Hooking up is a very bad idea. Now I just have to convince my body—and my heart.

Excerpt The Play (Briar U #3) by Elle Kennedy

He’s obviously hiding something as he presses a few buttons on the machine to trigger the cool-down setting. When he glances at me again, his expression is sheepish. “I have a confession to make, but you have to promise not to be mad.”

“I will never promise that. Ever.”

“Seriously?

“Seriously. Tell me at your own peril.”

“Fine. I jerked off the other night—”

“Congratulations. Did your penis tingle when you came?”

“I wasn’t finished.”

“So you didn’t come?”

“I meant I wasn’t finished speaking,” he growls. “I jerked off the other night…fantasizing about you.”

My jaw drops.

Um. What?

“Oh. My. God.” I stare at him in utter disbelief. “Why would you ever tell me that?”

“Because I felt guilty about it. Like I needed to go to church and confess.”

I can feel myself blushing, and I suspect I’m redder than a tomato. Yes, I have many male friends, but this is the first time one of them has confessed to pleasuring themselves while fantasizing about me. I mean…it’s flattering, I guess? If TJ or Darius or—

I shudder at the mere thought of it.

Okay. Interesting response. The idea of my other guy friends masturbating to me is extremely unappealing. But the idea of Hunter stroking his cock and fantasizing about me is…

My thighs actually clench together at the dirty image.

Oh my God.

No.

Nope.

In. Ap. Propriate.

Hunter heaves a big sigh. “I feel so much better now that I got that off my chest.”

“Well, I don’t!” I can’t get the image out of my mind now, and that is so, so wrong.

His dark eyes twinkle. “Take it as a compliment.”

“No, thanks.”

He uses the hem of his shirt to mop up the sweat on his brow, which means he literally just flashed his entire chest to me and the rest of the gym. His washboard abs are glistening.

“Anyway, aside from the teeny little hiccup of me yanking it with you in mind, I’m truly digging this thing we have.” He gestures between us. “Promise me this will never change.”

“That what will never change?”

“That you’ll never want to sleep with me,” he says dramatically.

The sheer arrogance… I release a sigh of my own and reach over to pat his stupidly muscular arm. “I promise I will never want to sleep with you, Hunter.”

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Jul 102019
 
 10 July 2019  Posted by  Tagged with: ,  No Responses »

Heat of Passion by Elle Kennedy is part of Hot & Bothered – Book 1 of the Out of Uniform Series.

Hot & Bothered (Out of Uniform Book 1)
by Elle Kennedy

Three sizzling-hot stories from New York Times and international bestselling author Elle Kennedy!

Give a SEAL an inch, and he’ll take your heart.

Heat of the Moment

For almost a year Shelby has lusted over swoon-worthy Garrett, but she can’t figure out why he’s not interested…until she overhears him saying she’s too vanilla for his taste. When a heat wave sends the sexy Navy SEAL into her bakery, she finally has the opportunity to show him exactly what he’s missing…

Heat of Passion

Holly has too much on her plate to think about a serious relationship. A hot fling with a SEAL, though, is the perfect way to take the edge off. The last thing she expects is to run into her gorgeous one-night stand weeks later, and to discover that Carson wants the one thing she doesn’t: more. In the face of his methodical seduction, her resistance is crumbling…

Heat of the Storm

Will has waited fifteen years for the storm that sends Mackenzie into his arms. He’s the one man not scared of her psychic gift, and their one night of passion is enough to convince this tenacious SEAL that they are much, much more than friends. Now he just has to convince her of that…

Warning: Contains dangerously hot Navy SEALS, and heroines not afraid to take them on one—or two—at a time.

Heat of Passion Excerpt

“I think…” She moistened her dry lips and met his gaze. “I think maybe we should have a fling.”
He raised his eyebrows. “A fling?”
Uncertainty tugged at her belly. “An affair then? I’m not sure what people call it, you know, not dating, but, um, spending a couple of weeks having sex with someone…”
“So you want to have sex with me, but not date me?”
She nodded.
A pained expression creased his handsome face. “Well, then, that might be a problem.”
She fought back disappointment. “Why?”
“Because I’m not really interested in flings anymore.” Carson’s jaw tensed. “After the night at the club, I decided I’m not that kind of guy anymore.”
“What kind of guy?”
He frowned. “The kind who screws random strangers in closets.” He shook his head, looking upset. “I’ve done the casual thing all my life and I think it’s time to stop it.” Something that resembled vulnerability flashed across his eyes. “I want to go on a date with you.”
“What? Why?”
He shot her a cute grin and shrugged. “Because I like you. You’re…well, you’re kind of weird.”
She bristled. “Thanks.”
“In a good way,” he added quickly. “I mean, you’re gorgeous, sure, but there’s something else that draws me to you. Maybe it’s that good girl image you’re determined to lose. And you’re funny, and interesting, and…I don’t know, I just wouldn’t mind getting to know you.”
She had no response. It was really sweet, everything he was saying, but she wasn’t sure she wanted sweet right now. The night she’d slept with Carson, she hadn’t been sweet. Naughty, maybe. Reckless, sure. But not sweet.
And a date? That was the last thing she wanted right now. She’d just gotten out of a six-month relationship, one she’d poured so much time and energy into—for nothing. At the moment, dating again sounded way too tiring, and she was tired enough as it was. Sex, she could handle. But not a new romance. Not when her heart was still recovering from Steve.
“So what do you say?” Carson asked, looking oddly nervous.
She felt awful, but she had to tell the truth. “I don’t want to start dating anyone right now. I recently got out of a relationship. I’m swamped with work and the culinary course I’m taking. I just want…fun.”
“You mean sex,” he said flatly.
She sighed. “Yes.”
He shoved his hands in his pockets and gave her a rueful look. “Then I’m sorry. I can’t help you.”
She rolled her eyes. “Sure you can. Just do me again.”
A faint smile broke through the serious expression on his face, but it faded quickly. “I’m serious, Holly. I want something different this time around.”
They’d reached an impasse. She could see it. But she could also see the glimmer of desire in his blue eyes.
Maybe if she gave him a tiny little push…
Licking her lips, she stepped forward and rested both palms on his impossibly broad shoulders. “Are you sure I can’t change your mind?”
He was a lot taller than her and she had to tilt her head fully to look into his eyes. The desire she’d seen there had deepened the moment she’d touched him. Fueled by the obvious attraction, she leaned up on her tiptoes and brushed her lips over his.
For a second he didn’t respond, but he evidently couldn’t hold back for long, because a moment later he parted her lips with his tongue and kissed the hell out of her. Heat rolled through her in waves, making her breasts tingle, her thighs ache. His mouth was warm and persuasive, his tongue so skilled she closed her eyes to savor each sensual stroke.
Carson’s hands slid down her back to her bottom, cupping it, stroking it, and then he moved one hand to her front, inched it down to the juncture of her thighs…and pulled it away.
She swallowed back a groan of disappointment as he ended the incredible kiss.
“No.” His features strained. “I meant what I said. I want more this time.”
Holly could see that she’d lost the battle. Fortunately, the war was still up for grabs.
Sighing, she asked, “Do you have a cell phone?”
“Yeah. Why?”
“Can I see it?”
Shooting her a quizzical look, he pulled a slender phone from his back pocket and handed it to her. Without giving him time to object, she quickly programmed in her phone number and handed him back the cell.
“My number’s in there now,” she said with a grin. “So if you change your mind, you know how to reach me.”
Carson looked pained. “You really want this fling, don’t you?”
“You bet I do. So don’t keep me waiting long, okay, Carson?”
Still grinning, she turned and walked away.

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 10 July 2019  Posted by  Tagged with: ,  No Responses »

Heat of the Storm by Elle Kennedy is part of Hot & Bothered – Book 1 of the Out of Uniform Series.

Hot & Bothered (Out of Uniform Book 1)
by Elle Kennedy

Three sizzling-hot stories from New York Times and international bestselling author Elle Kennedy!

Give a SEAL an inch, and he’ll take your heart.

Heat of the Moment

For almost a year Shelby has lusted over swoon-worthy Garrett, but she can’t figure out why he’s not interested…until she overhears him saying she’s too vanilla for his taste. When a heat wave sends the sexy Navy SEAL into her bakery, she finally has the opportunity to show him exactly what he’s missing…

Heat of Passion

Holly has too much on her plate to think about a serious relationship. A hot fling with a SEAL, though, is the perfect way to take the edge off. The last thing she expects is to run into her gorgeous one-night stand weeks later, and to discover that Carson wants the one thing she doesn’t: more. In the face of his methodical seduction, her resistance is crumbling…

Heat of the Storm

Will has waited fifteen years for the storm that sends Mackenzie into his arms. He’s the one man not scared of her psychic gift, and their one night of passion is enough to convince this tenacious SEAL that they are much, much more than friends. Now he just has to convince her of that…

Warning: Contains dangerously hot Navy SEALS, and heroines not afraid to take them on one—or two—at a time.

Heat of the Storm Excerpt

“Let me in, Mackenzie.”
She slowly opened the door then stepped aside as a very wet Will Charleston pushed his way inside.
“What are you doing here?” she blurted. “It’s past midnight. And in case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a hurricane out there.”
“Thunderstorm,” he corrected. “It was a bitch driving all the way out here from Coronado in this rain, but I needed to see you.”
Her mouth grew dry. “Why? What’s so important that you risked getting into a car accident over?”
“I think you know.”
Four words. Smoky with seduction and shrouded with erotic promise.
This couldn’t be happening.
And yet everything about the situation, everything about him, spoke otherwise.
His dark eyes glimmered with passion. His sensual mouth was set in a firm line, his defined jaw tight, as if he’d come here prepared for her to fight him. She’d never seen Will like this before. Raw masculinity seemed to ooze out of his pores. It teased her, taunted at her, wrapped around her like a lover’s touch and caused every nerve in her body to tingle.
He shrugged out of his navy blue windbreaker and tossed it on the wooden bench next to the front door. Next he kicked off his boots. Drops of rain slid from his dark hair, down his rugged face and dripped onto the floor.
He strode into the living room without invitation. Not that he needed one. Will had always been welcome in her home and he was there often, filling the house with his comforting presence.
Tonight she wasn’t comforted. Tonight his presence was…different. Masculine. Passionate. Dangerous.
“It’s time we talked about what happened last week,” he said in that rough voice of his.
She gulped. “Nothing happened last week.” Darn it, why did he have to bring it up? She’d hoped that during the past seven days, while he’d been traipsing around in the jungle, he might have forgotten about it.
He tilted his head, those bottomless dark eyes piercing right through the lie and glittering with challenge. “I beg to differ.”
He moved closer and the spicy scent of his aftershave wafted into her nostrils. She inhaled it, nearly keeling over backwards as the sexy aroma surrounded her and grasped her senses. God, he smelled good.
“You kissed me,” he said gruffly.
“It was a mistake.”
“We both know that’s not true.” Another step toward her. “Do you know that this past week has been torture for me? You kissed me, Mac, and the next morning I had to get on a chopper, without getting the chance to talk to you about it.” He visibly swallowed. “The entire time I was gone, I was thinking of you. Aching for you. So don’t try to shrug it off, or call it a mistake. Because we both know it wasn’t.”
Warm hands cupping her breasts.
A pinch to her nipples.
Pain.
Pleasure.
Her thighs squeezed together and a gasp escaped her lips.
He was at her side in an instant, stroking her temples with his long fingers. “Hey, you all right?”
“I’m fine,” she squeezed out.
“What did you see?”
Damn it, why did he have to know her so well? She wished she’d never confided in him about the visions. Past experience told her that most people didn’t understand the visions. Hell, she didn’t understand them either.
What she did understand was that it scared people. Men, especially. Her former boyfriends had never seemed to be able to handle the visions. They fled the moment a particularly upsetting one hit her, looking at her like she was the angel of death or something. Though they vehemently denied it, claiming they were dumping her for an entirely different reason, she knew they considered her a freak.
And hell, sometimes she didn’t blame them. Sometimes, usually after seeing the death of someone she knew, she felt like a freak.
“What did you see?” Will repeated.
Their gazes collided and the fire she saw in his eyes sucked the breath out of her lungs like a vacuum. He was so sexy. Magnetic eyes, chiseled features, and a sexy body that looked way too good in a pair of faded jeans and a snug T-shirt. His job as a SEAL assured that he always stayed in shape, hard, sleek, and muscled. He was the best-looking man she’d ever known, and the one man she’d never allowed herself to get involved with. Her lovers never stayed in her life long. Her best friend, on the other hand? Well, he was always by her side.
But would he remain there if he knew her intimately? If they shared a bed, if she woke him up from sleep with her screams and tears after a nasty vision? Not to mention her complete inability to lose control in the bedroom. She wasn’t one to give in to self-pity, but when it came to relationships, she was a mess. A freak.
And it would crush her, losing her best friend just because she’d been foolish enough to fuck him.
“Either we talk about what you saw, or we talk about the kiss.” Will’s brows were drawn together in a frown. “Your choice, Mac.”

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 10 July 2019  Posted by  Tagged with: ,  No Responses »

Heat of the Moment by Elle Kennedy is part of Hot & Bothered – Book 1 of the Out of Uniform Series.

Hot & Bothered (Out of Uniform Book 1)
by Elle Kennedy

Three sizzling-hot stories from New York Times and international bestselling author Elle Kennedy!

Give a SEAL an inch, and he’ll take your heart.

Heat of the Moment

For almost a year Shelby has lusted over swoon-worthy Garrett, but she can’t figure out why he’s not interested…until she overhears him saying she’s too vanilla for his taste. When a heat wave sends the sexy Navy SEAL into her bakery, she finally has the opportunity to show him exactly what he’s missing…

Heat of Passion

Holly has too much on her plate to think about a serious relationship. A hot fling with a SEAL, though, is the perfect way to take the edge off. The last thing she expects is to run into her gorgeous one-night stand weeks later, and to discover that Carson wants the one thing she doesn’t: more. In the face of his methodical seduction, her resistance is crumbling…

Heat of the Storm

Will has waited fifteen years for the storm that sends Mackenzie into his arms. He’s the one man not scared of her psychic gift, and their one night of passion is enough to convince this tenacious SEAL that they are much, much more than friends. Now he just has to convince her of that…

Warning: Contains dangerously hot Navy SEALS, and heroines not afraid to take them on one—or two—at a time.

Heat of the Moment Excerpt 

Shelby peered past Carson’s impossibly broad shoulders, trying to catch a glimpse of Garrett. Apparently the game had ended, because most of the men in the other room were pushing back their chairs and heading for the door. A few approached the doorway, poking their heads in and thanking her for opening up the bakery. She just smiled, waved and wondered where the hell Garrett had run off to. Probably to find a woman who was into kinky sex and threesomes.
Too bad. Because if he’d ever bothered to ask her, he might be surprised to know that she was exactly that kind of woman. Just because she’d never acted out any of her fantasies didn’t mean she didn’t have ’em.
“So we’re taking off,” Carson was saying. “But we thought we’d help you clean up a bit before we left. Garrett took the beer bottles out to the recycling bin. I came in here to get a rag so I could wipe down the tables.”
She was genuinely touched. “You guys don’t have to do that.”
“It’s the least we could do. You didn’t have to open the café up tonight but you did. Might as well repay you with some clean-up.”
He shot her a crooked smile, and a flicker of heat sparked inside her belly. Carson really was an attractive man, she realized. She’d been lusting over Garrett for so long she’d barely noticed what any of his friends looked like, and for the first time, she actually took the time to look at Carson Scott, really look at him. And she definitely liked what she saw. Dirty blond hair, cut short but not short enough that he looked like all the crew cut boys who walked around Coronado. His eyes were blue, his features classically handsome, and he was as ripped as his friend Garrett. Obviously you couldn’t be a Navy SEAL without possessing one of those hard, sleek bodies that never failed to make a girl drool.
“Do I have icing on my chin or something?” Carson teased. “Damn, I knew I shouldn’t have eaten one of those cupcakes you brought out to us.”
“No, nothing on your chin,” she said, cheeks warm as she turned away and stopped checking him out.
She rounded the counter and grabbed a rag, then walked back and handed it to him. Trying not to stare at his ass, she trailed him into the café and watched as he efficiently wiped down all the tabletops. Carson had just finished when Garrett returned, the chimes over the door jingling as he walked inside.
Shelby’s heart immediately did a couple of jumping jacks. Damn it. Why did John Garrett always manage to make her pulse race?
“Thanks for having us,” Garrett said, his voice slightly gruff.
“No problem.” She swallowed when she saw him edge back toward the door, suddenly anxious for him not to leave.
She still couldn’t believe he thought she was vanilla, and maybe it was crazy—fine, it was crazy—but she got the feeling a golden opportunity was staring her square in the eye. That tonight would be her one chance to show him that she wasn’t the sweet freckle-faced prude he obviously thought her to be.
“Well…good night,” Garrett added.
Their gazes locked, and she could swear the air hissed and crackled with mutual attraction.
Fine, it was probably the heat making the crackling noise, but still…
She broke the eye contact, slowly glancing over at Carson, who’d dropped the rag on one of the tables and was moving toward his friend.
Don’t let them leave.
The urgent voice inside her head caught her off-guard, but only for a second. Because after that second was up, she realized that she really was looking at a golden opportunity. A delicious, ridiculously tempting opportunity.
She’s too sweet. She’s definitely not the type who’d be uninhibited in the bedroom.
God, it would be so wickedly satisfying to prove them wrong. Show Garrett that his wild ways didn’t scare her and that she was perfectly capable of taking him on. Taking them both on.
Heat simmered in her belly, radiated in her limbs and made her weak with…desire. Oh God. She’d always imagined what it would be like. Two men. At the same time. The guys she’d dated in the past would have been aghast if she admitted to that particular fantasy. Even Matthew, who had seen nothing wrong with sleeping around on her, would have been horrified.
Was she crazy? Perverted? Suffering from heat stroke?
Maybe, but who the heck cared? They were all adults here. And yeah, maybe she was a little tipsy from the tequila, but like Lieutenant Asshole had said, tipsy shmipsy. What was so wrong with acting wild and crazy every now and then?
If wild was what she needed to be to show Garrett she could rock his world, then why not?
“See you later, Shel,” Carson said.
Garrett’s hand was on the doorknob.
“It’s still early,” she found herself blurting. “You guys should stay and hang out a while longer.”
His hand froze and he glanced at her over his shoulder. “You want us to stay?”
She managed a feeble shrug. “Sure. Sleazebag Paul left his tequila bottle here. We might as well put it to good use.”
Both men just stared at her, but Garrett’s hand did drop from the door handle…
“Besides,” she added, “it’s so hot out there.”
“Pretty hot in here, too,” she heard Carson murmur.
She met Garrett’s gorgeous brown eyes and offered a little smile. “So what do you say?”

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Jul 092019
 
 9 July 2019  Posted by  Tagged with: ,  No Responses »

Ruled (The Outlaws Series Book 3)
The latest novel in the series with the “sexiest, baddest, hottest”* outlaws around, from the New York Times bestselling author of Claimed.

In the latest novel in the series with the “sexiest, baddest, hottest”* outlaws around, one woman must choose between the two men who want to claim her…

…Or does she?

Despite his magnetic personality, Rylan can’t seem to seduce Reese, the deadly leader of their town of outlaws. Winning her over is a welcome challenge, but her indifference isn’t the only thing standing in his way. If he wants Reese, Rylan must also win over Sloan, her stoic protector…

Sloan has always loved Reese, but their painful past has stolen his chances of a future with her. Rylan’s interest in Reese only intensifies the tension—until Sloan begins to wonder if the reckless man might be the one person who can bridge the distance…

The last time Reese fell for the wrong man, she had no choice but to kill him. Now, she desperately wants to take what both Rylan and Sloan are offering. But if she makes the wrong call again, she risks losing them both.

Ruled (The Outlaws Series Book 3)

Excerpt

Reese curled both hands around the cracked ceramic mug and breathed in the mint-flavored steam rising from the rim. It heated the tip of her nose and brought a much-needed rush of warmth. She’d felt chilled to the bone all morning, and it had nothing to do with the dipping temperature outside.

“So the raid was a success?” The very pregnant Bethany waddled over to the small sofa under the window.

Reese nodded. “We’ve got enough guns and ammo to start a war.”

Bethany’s eyebrows flicked up. “Or a revolution.”

“Same thing.”

“Is it?”

She didn’t even know anymore. Reese lifted the mug to her lips and took a small sip, all the while doing her best to avoid looking at Bethany’s bulging stomach. Seeing it reminded her of her own losses, the choice that had been stolen from her. And it reminded her of Arch, the ginger-haired giant who was never going to see his baby come into this world.

Arch had been a good man, an exceptional soldier. Everyone in town was still grieving for him, but none more so than his woman, whose brown eyes fixed on Reese now.

“What’s going on?” Bethany stroked her belly in absent- minded gestures. “You look worried.”

Reese set down her mug. “Nah, I’m fine.”

“Bullsh*t. Something’s up.”

She hesitated, because she didn’t confide in many people. Sloan was the one she went to when she was feeling vulnerable. Sometimes Lennox. Tamara. But for all the others, she put on a strong front. She was their leader, which meant they weren’t allowed to see her worrying, or vacillating, or drowning in self-doubt.

She’d known Bethany a long time, though. Sh*t, it had been almost eight years now. The two women were seventeen when they’d first crossed paths. Where the hell did the time go?

“I did something stupid last night,” she found herself confessing.

“Yeah? What’d you do?”

“Rylan.”

Bethany snorted. “Ah. So he finally charmed his way into your bed?”

The humor in Bethany’s eyes was such a welcome sight that Reese’s heart squeezed. In the two months since Arch’s death, Bethany’s expressions had alternated between completely vacant and raw with grief.

“How was it?” Bethany pressed.

How was it? Reese couldn’t even begin to answer that. Hell, she wasn’t sure there were actual words in the English language that could describe what went down between the two of them last night.

No, the three of them.

Her wrists were still sore from Sloan’s punishing grip. He’d held her, restrained her so she was at Rylan’s mercy. Sloan’s mercy. The memory sent a rush of desire to her core, which only confused her body. She didn’t even know who she’d been coming for last night. Rylan? Or Sloan? Or both?

What she did know was that she’d done a very bad thing. A dangerous thing.

Rylan had been as wild and addictive as she’d suspected he’d be, but . . . she’d crossed a line with Sloan. She’d stared into his eyes while she was sobbing in release. She’d clung to him while Rylan screwed her hard enough to make her see stars. She’d threatened their friendship, and for what? A few orgasms?

It wasn’t fair to Sloan. She knew damn well that he wanted her—she’d always known—yet she’d selfishly asked him to be there last night, even though it must have been torture for him.

What kind of friend did that make her?

“You’re worrying me again.”

Bethany’s quiet voice jolted her from her thoughts. “I’m sorry,” Reese murmured. She picked up her mug and took another long sip. “My head is foggy this morning.”

“Good sex will do that to you.”

 

 

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 9 July 2019  Posted by  Tagged with: ,  No Responses »

Claimed (The Outlaws Series Book 1)
The bestselling author of the Killer Instincts novels “knows how to write scorching sexual tension”*. Now she really sets it on fire in a new series about men and women living on the edge of violence, sex, and life and death.

After a devastating war decimated most of the world, Hudson Lane has only known the oppressive life under her own father’s tyranny. She finally escapes, branding herself an outlaw and hunted by the Enforcers. Her best chance at survival is Connor Mackenzie, an aggressively sensual fugitive who opens her eyes to the wicked possibilities of a world without rules.

As the leader of a band of outlaw fighters, Connor can’t resist the beautiful stranger who asks for his protection. Despite his reservations, he agrees to introduce her to a whole new way of life. But when Connor discovers Hudson’s connection to the enemies of liberty, he wonders how far he can trust the woman who has abandoned all inhibitions to challenge every forbidden desire.

Claimed (The Outlaws Series Book 1)

Excerpt

Connor spent a very tense twenty minutes waiting for Rylan and Hudson to get back to camp. When Rylan had informed Xan that they had “guests,” Connor had immediately assumed the worst—they’d come across a straggler in the woods, they’d run into a group of bandits, they’d captured an Enforcer…

The fluffy thing in Hudson’s arms had not been on his worst-case-scenario list.

“What the hell is that?” he demanded.

“We found her in the woods.” Hudson’s voice held a defensive edge. “We couldn’t just leave her there to die.”

Connor didn’t answer. He drew a long, calming breath, then turned to Rylan. “Are you out of your mind? Why would you let her bring it back here? The last thing we need is another mouth to feed.”

Rylan glanced at Hudson. “Told ya he’d say that.”

“I don’t care.” She stuck out her chin and leveled a determined look in Connor’s direction. “I’ll feed her myself. She can share my portions.”

Disbelief and irritation mingled in his blood. “The damn thing can’t eat stew, Hudson. She can’t be more than a month old—she needs her mother’s milk.”

“Well, her mother’s dead.” Hudson was glaring at him now. “And she’d be dead too if we hadn’t saved her.”

Connor raked a hand through his hair. It was growing out and he needed to cut it, but right now he appreciated the length because he needed to grab on to something before he throttled the woman.

Christ, it was one distraction after the other with Hudson. Ever since she’d shown up, he’d lost sight of what mattered most to him—finding Dominik. And fine, Hudson had unwittingly brought him a step closer to that goal by telling Xander about the Enforcer comm program, but Connor knew he’d be riding Xan a lot harder about hacking it if he weren’t so infatuated with her.

It was time to stop thinking with his dick, damn it. Dominik needed to be his only concern. Vengeance needed to be his only concern. He’d tried his damnedest to be who his wife needed him to be, and though he might have failed her in life, he sure as hell wasn’t going to fail her in death.

He couldn’t let Hudson keep distracting him, and he couldn’t keep indulging her every whim. Allowing her to scrub and organize cabins that were better left empty. To clear out the barn so it could serve as a gathering place one day. And now she was bringing home wolves?

Enough was enough.

“The wolf goes,” he said flatly.

Hudson’s jaw tightened. “If she goes, I go.”

“Fine. Then go,” he shot back. “I don’t have time for this bullshit. I’m not about to have a wolf running around camp and have to sleep with one eye open in case it tries to rip my throat out.”

Hudson’s laughter annoyed the hell out of him. She held up the tiny creature and said, “You think she’ll rip your throat out? She still has her baby teeth! She can’t even bite through the skin of a tomato!”

“She won’t stay a baby forever. How do you think she’ll behave when she’s a full-grown wolf?”

“She’ll behave perfectly, because I plan on training her.” She gave him a smug look, then added, “I’m not giving her up, Con. So you can either throw us out, or suck it up.”

His chest rumbled with aggravation. “For chrissake!”

A chuckle from behind him drew his attention to the porch, where Xander and Kade were watching the exchange in amusement. So was Pike, who was leaning against one of the wooden posts, his dark eyes revealing nothing, as usual.

Connor stifled another curse when Hudson dismissed him by turning to Rylan. “How do we get her some milk?”

“Um . . .” Rylan’s expression conveyed visible unease, as if he knew how close Connor was to pulling out his gun and shooting his own brains out.

Jesus Christ. He couldn’t believe they were even having this conversation. Wolves didn’t belong at camp. End of fucking story.

Was he the only levelheaded person here?

“Don’t answer that question,” he snapped at Rylan. “The wolf isn’t staying.”

Hudson’s eyes blazed. “So then you’re ordering me to leave?”

He scowled at her, and it was on the tip of his tongue to follow through with the threat. To tell her to get out and take her new pet with her. But much to his annoyance, the words refused to leave his mouth, which led to a heated glare session between him and Hudson.

“I’ll get the milk.”

The gruff announcement came from Pike.

Hudson looked over in shock. “You will?” Her tone grew suspicious. “How?”

Pike strode toward them, his heavy boots kicking up dirt with each step. “We get dairy products from a farm about sixty miles north of here. I usually pay them a visit once a month.” His dark gaze flicked to Connor. “I know I’m not scheduled to go until next week, but I can take one of the bikes and leave now.”

Connor was dumbfounded. “Are you insane?” He glanced at the others, none of whom had backed him up. “Have you all gone insane?”

Rylan shifted awkwardly.

Pike and Kade didn’t answer.

It was Xander who finally spoke up. “Ah, come on, Con. Look at that little face. She’s adorable.”

He couldn’t bring himself to look at the wolf. Couldn’t look at Hudson, either. Anger burned in his blood. Anger and frustration and an odd jolt of helplessness that made him want to throw something. Jesus. He was losing control of them.

“Screw this.” He clenched his teeth and took a step away. “You know what? Do whatever the hell you want. Obviously you’ve all lost your fucking minds.”

Then he turned on his heel and stalked off.

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 8 July 2019  Posted by  Tagged with: ,  No Responses »

One Night of Scandal (After Hours Book 2)
by Elle Kennedy
A sexy category romance from Entangled’s Brazen imprint…

The wrong man never felt so right…

Ex-fighter Reed Miller has been secretly lusting over his best friend’s girl for months, but he refuses to jeopardize a friendship over a woman–especially one who doesn’t like him all that much. Now that Darcy’s on the market again, it’s even more imperative to stick to his strict hands-off policy. But the sizzling attraction between them is too powerful to ignore, and once he’s had a taste of her…all bets are off.

Darcy Grant is tired of walking the straight and narrow path. She’s on the hunt for passion, and there’s no denying Reed is just the man to give it to her. Although she has no interest in dating a bad boy, and certainly not her ex’s best friend, it’s impossible not to melt beneath Reed’s skillful touch. Now it’s just a matter of setting a few ground rules–and hoping her rule-breaking, sweet-talking bad boy agrees to follow them. But if she lets Reed into her bed, does she stand a chance of keeping him out of her heart?

Excerpt One Night of Scandal
Chapter One

Reed Miller hated nightclubs. Which was damn ironic considering he co-owned one of the hottest clubs in Boston, but hey, that was just smart business. When it came to his personal life, a club was the last place he’d ever associate with a good time.
Most of the women he met at nightclubs were already there looking to get laid, and they were more than willing to go back to his place without much effort on his part. For a man who lived for the excitement of the chase, where was the fun in that?
Right now, however, he was chasing an entirely different type of conquest.
Drugs.
Not for recreational use, of course. He wasn’t about to poison his body with that crap. Even during his glory days as a mixed martial arts fighter, he’d never once used performance enhancers. Those were a surefire way to not only get kicked off the circuit, but a pathetic attempt to cheat yourself to victory.
Tonight was for reconnaissance purposes only. For the past couple of months, some a-hole had been selling Ecstasy over at Sin, the club Reed operated with his two best friends. None of the customers they’d questioned knew the identity of the pusher, and if they did know, they sure as hell weren’t eager to reveal it. But the flow of E needed to be cut off ASAP, before the Boston PD decided to launch its own investigation, which could lead to Sin being shut down indefinitely.
Reed had decided to pay a visit to a rival nightclub in the hope that the patrons there might know something, but the only info he’d succeeded in gathering at the Krib so far was the phone numbers of half a dozen girls he wasn’t the least bit interested in.
“Wanna dance?”
A cute brunette in a skintight pink minidress voiced the eager request, sidling up to his table with a daiquiri in her manicured hand. He was about to turn her down, but she looked so damn hopeful he didn’t have the heart to disappoint her.
“Sure,” Reed relented.
He waited as she set her glass on the table, then took her hand and led her to the crowded dance floor. On a raised platform high above the main room, the DJ was spinning a deafening drum-and-bass track that was more suited for fast, frenetic dancing, but the brunette wasn’t interested in fast. Instead, she twined her arms around Reed’s neck and started grinding into him in a slow, sensual rhythm.
Normally he’d be all over that. A pretty girl rubbing up on his groin? Hell yeah.
Tonight it felt like a chore.
Christ, he was sick to death of random hookups with women whose names he couldn’t even remember the morning after. Maybe the fact that he’d just turned thirty was souring him on the whole casual sex scene, or maybe it was seeing his best friends happily involved in committed relationships. With Gage and AJ no longer serving as his wingmen, Reed was all alone in the land of the single, and he was really starting to hate it.
“You’re so sexy.” His dance partner brought her red- painted lips to his ear and shouted to be heard over the pounding music.
Reed lightly grazed her hips with his hands, trying to ease back from the undulating pelvis that was targeting his crotch like a heat-seeking missile.
“Thanks,” he answered awkwardly.
“Wanna get out of here?” A bright flash of strobe revealed the meaningful smile on her face.
“Naah, I’m not ready to leave yet.” He raised his voice. “I’m looking for some party favors. Don’t wanna go home until I find some.”
Interest flickered in her eyes. “Like what?”
“Ecstasy. Do you know if anyone’s holding?”
His dance partner’s response was swift and unexpected. Previously eager arms dropped from his shoulders, annoyance streaking through her expression as she took an angry step back.
“Seriously? You’re into that crap? Ugh! Why does every guy I meet end up being a total tweaker!”
With a loud, unladylike expletive, she huffed off and abandoned him on the dance floor.
How ironically delightful. Rejected by a chick he hadn’t even been into.
Torn between groaning in frustration and chuckling with amusement, Reed once again threaded through the mob of sweaty people. He’d intended on returning to his table, but he stopped in his tracks when he spotted a familiar face in the crowd.
Son of a bitch.
Was that Darcy?
It was hard to be sure thanks to the wild blinking of the strobe lights and the darkness obscuring her face every other second. Without hesitation, he changed course and headed in her direction. A part of him wished like hell that it was simply a case of mistaken identity.
Because if it was Darcy, then he’d just witnessed his best friend’s girlfriend kissing another man.
No, wait. He squinted, realizing the couple he’d glimpsed wasn’t actually kissing. Their faces were close, but they seemed to only be talking.
And yup, it was definitely Darcy Grant. Now that he was five feet away, he was clearly able to make out her features. Wide-set blue eyes, high cheekbones, that sexy mouth—
He forcibly shoved the last thought out of his head. He wasn’t allowed to even think the word “sexy” in relation to AJ’s girl. It was a total violation of bro code.
Then again, who was he kidding? He’d broken the code a hundred times over when it came to Darcy. All those dirty, dirty thoughts he’d had about her pretty much ensured he’d be going straight to shitty friend hell.
At the moment, though, he was more concerned with why AJ’s girlfriend was flirting with another man. Maybe it wasn’t his place to interfere, but damned if he’d let his best friend get played for a fool.
AJ Walsh was the closest thing Reed had to a brother. The two of them had grown up together in South Boston, attended the same schools, played on the same sports teams. Reed would take a bullet for his buddy, and he knew that if their roles had been reversed, AJ wouldn’t hesitate to stick up for him.
Squaring his shoulders, he marched up to the couple’s table and donned his best death glare. “Hey, Darcy,” he said loudly.
Her head swiveled, eyes widening when she recognized him. “Reed!” Her voice came out shrill, and there was no mistaking the guilty note ringing there.
He shifted his gaze to her companion, a lanky man with pale blond hair and a smug grin. “Can we help you?” the guy demanded.
Reed experienced a case of instant dislike. Scowling deeply, he jabbed a finger in the air and snapped, “Get out of here.”
The guy’s jaw dropped. “No way, man. The lady and I were in the middle of—”
“Nothing,” Reed finished. “You were in the middle of nothing. So get lost.”
Darcy’s companion turned to her with visible wariness. “Is this your boyfriend or something?”
“Or something,” Reed answered for her.
Several more seconds ticked by, until the blond guy finally hopped off his stool and glowered at Darcy. “You should have fucking told me you had a boyfriend instead of wasting my goddamn time.”
As he stormed off, Reed usurped the empty seat, rested his elbows on the table, and looked at AJ’s girlfriend with cold eyes. “What. The. Fuck. Is. This?” He could barely get the question out he was so pissed.
Christ. How was he supposed to tell his best friend about this? AJ would be devastated when he learned what his girlfriend was up to.
“We were just talking,” Darcy retorted, sounding as mad as Reed felt.
“Bullshit,” he shot back. “Whatever this was, it was leading toward a hookup, and we both know it.”
“So what if it was?” Her blue eyes blazed. “Yeah, maybe it’s kinda soon, but what I do and who I see is none of your damn business! If I want to have a rebound fling with some guy I met at a club, then I’m damn well allowed to!”
Rebound?
Reed furrowed his brows, wondering if he’d misheard her. No way had she and AJ broken up. From the moment AJ had introduced her to his friends, Reed had known that Darcy was perfect for the guy, which only made this messed- up attraction he felt for her a million times more wrong. Her easygoing, bubbly personality suited AJ’s equally laidback demeanor, while her adventurous nature balanced AJ’s tendency to constantly play it safe.
The fact that she was sexy as hell was only icing on the cake.
AJ’s cake. Reed clung to the reminder, as he’d done often ever since AJ and Darcy had started dating. It didn’t matter that each time he saw her he wanted to bury his face in her graceful neck and breathe her in. Or that his fingers tingled with the urge to stroke her thick, strawberry-blond waves. Or that his cock damn near burst out of his pants at the thought of sinking into her hot, tight—
AJ’s girl, yelled the reprimanding voice in his head.
Right. Didn’t matter how hot the woman got him. She was off-limits.
But God, did she ever look gorgeous when she was pissed off.
“And you know what else?” Darcy went on, her fair cheeks flushed with anger. “You’re not exactly one to judge. You’re the biggest player on the planet! But I guess it’s okay for you to pick up strangers at nightclubs, right, Reed? But when I, an unattached adult woman, does it, suddenly it’s sooooo wrong and—”
“You and AJ broke up?” he interrupted.
She blinked in surprise. “What?”
“Did you guys break up?” he repeated through clenched teeth.
Looking bewildered, she offered a nod. “Yeah. Last night. He didn’t tell you?”
Reed had trouble thinking clearly, what with the massive doses of shock and confusion spiraling through his body. He realized he hadn’t spoken to AJ at all today. And his friend had the weekend off, which was why Reed had been tending bar at Sin before he’d headed over to the Krib. Normally, he handled the business end of things, working up in his office on the club’s top floor while Gage handled security and AJ managed the bartending staff.
AJ had planned to go away with Darcy this weekend, Reed suddenly remembered.
But Darcy was here.
Picking up dudes.
“Did you dump him?” he demanded.
Her expression grew sad. “No. It was mutual.”
That summoned a groan of disbelief. “Break-ups are never mutual.”
“This one was.” Her lips tightened. “Not that it’s any of your business, but AJ and I broke up with each other. We both knew it wasn’t working, and we both decided to end it.”
“Why wasn’t it working?”
She raked an exasperated hand through her wavy hair. “I’m not giving you any details, Reed. It’s between me and AJ, okay?”
Okay? There was nothing okay about any of this. In fact, he seriously needed to walk away, right frickin’ now, before the little burst of joy that Darcy’s admission had evoked in him turned into something else.
He wasn’t allowed to be happy about the breakup. No siree. He was supposed to be sad and upset on his best friend’s behalf, because no matter what Darcy said, their parting couldn’t have been mutual. The guy was crazy about her, for chrissake.
So are you.
Reed silenced the inner taunt. Nope, not going there. He couldn’t deny that he was attracted to the woman, but desire was a fickle thing. Sooner or later it would fade.
Or at least, that’s what he’d been telling himself for the past five months.
So far, the heat he felt in Darcy’s presence still hadn’t cooled, but he was certain it would happen eventually.
It had to.
“Anyway, there you have it,” Darcy finished. “I’m single again. Woo-hoo. I’m sure you’re thrilled to have me out of your BFF’s life. And now, as you so graciously put it before, get lost.”
He narrowed his eyes. “Why do you want me to go so badly?”
She blew out an irritated breath. “Because I came here to have fun! There’s zero chance of that happening when you’re around.”
Reed didn’t budge from his chair.
“I’m serious, go away,” she grumbled. “We’re not friends, okay? And no guy is going to ask me to dance when you’re sitting here scowling at everyo—”
“You want to dance?” he cut in. “Let’s dance.”
Her jaw fell open. Then slammed shut. Wariness filled her expression, and she looked at him like he’d offered to murder her and dump her body in the river.
He didn’t blame her. Truth was, she hadn’t been too far off the mark. They weren’t friends. Mostly because he’d learned early on that the only way to curb this inappropriate attraction was to keep a very cold, very polite distance around the woman.
He couldn’t do that now, though. Because if he walked away, he risked Darcy getting hit on by some horny fucker and possibly going home with him. He couldn’t, in good conscience, let that happen. Break-ups weren’t set in stone, especially when they were less than twenty-four hours old, and Reed knew AJ would be devastated if he tried to win his girl back only to find out she’d already slept with another dude.
“I’m not dancing with you,” Darcy said coolly.
He smirked. “Fine, then we’ll just sit here in silence, for all I care.”
“You’re acting ridiculous.”
“And you’re acting insensitive. If you cared about AJ at all, you’d respect him enough not to screw someone else before the break-up ink is even dry.”
Annoyance marred her face. “If I choose to have a rebound, you can’t exactly stop me.”
“Oh yes, I can. As of right now? Consider me your shadow. I’m not leaving your side, baby doll. Not until I tuck you safely into a cab and watch you speed away. Alone.” Setting his jaw, Reed slid off the stool and held out his hand. “So are we dancing or what?”

Darcy was dumbfounded. And frustrated. And unbelievably peeved.
She’d purposely come to the Krib tonight because she’d known there’d be no possibility of running into AJ, and just her luck, she’d run into his best friend instead. A man who’d made it abundantly clear that he didn’t like her.
Well, eff Reed. She didn’t particularly like him either. AJ always insisted that Reed was an awesome guy, singing his praises whenever Darcy said otherwise, but in all the months she’d known the guy, he’d only ever shown her a cold, grumpy side that left a sour taste in her mouth.
Oh, and he was bossy. Who could forget that annoying little trait? Certainly not her, because right now that bossiness was throwing a wrench in her plans.
Some women got dolled up for any old occasion, but Darcy wasn’t one of them. Nope, there was a reason she’d donned a short dress and punished her feet with three-inch heels—passion.
Yep, passion. With a capital P and everything. She was twenty-seven years old, and not once had she experienced anything remotely close to the elusive P. Granted, that was probably because she only dated nice, wholesome guys like AJ. She couldn’t deny that her as-of-yesterday ex was smoking hot, but passionate? Not so much.
On the bright side, at least she didn’t have to worry that she’d broken his heart. Despite what his aggravating best friend thought, their break-up really had been mutual.
After more than five months of dating, the two of them could no longer ignore the depressing truth: they were great friends, but terrible lovers.
Darcy had hoped the initial spark between them would eventually ignite into a fiery affair for the ages, but sadly, it had fizzled out faster than a candle in a hurricane. And now, thanks to Reed Miller, her quest for a wild night of passion was equally unattainable.
She swept her gaze over his face, ticked off by how good-looking he was. Actually, correction: he was gorgeous. Like be-still-my-heart-and-rip-my-panties-off gorgeous. He had close-cropped black hair and piercing blue eyes, and his features were more rugged than pretty, starkly masculine and incredibly appealing.
And south of the border? Holy moly. He was shredded like lettuce, hard muscles and long limbs and a tight ass you could bounce quarters off.
“Stall as long as you want. I ain’t going anywhere, Darce.” His deep, razor-sharp voice snapped her from her inappropriate ogling. Fortunately, he didn’t seem to notice she’d been checking him out. His expression displayed a cloud of displeasure mingled with steely determination, leaving no doubt as to how serious he was about cock- blocking her tonight.
Or was it vagina-blocking for girls? She wasn’t sure.
“You’re being totally unreasonable,” she said, raising her voice over the music. “I’m not seeing AJ anymore, which means it’s not considered cheating if I happen to meet someone I like.”
“Don’t care. Won’t be happening on my watch.”
God. He wasn’t going to back down.
Cut your losses, girl. You’re not the one-night-stand type, anyway.
The defeated voice in her head was spot on. Hopping into bed with strangers wasn’t something she indulged in very often. Or ever.
Darcy stifled a sigh. Maybe this had been a mistake from the start. A stupid, spur-of-the-moment decision brought on by her break-up with AJ, which, in all honesty, had seriously bummed her out. Not because she’d lost the love of her life or anything, but because their relationship had been so lacking it only highlighted everything she’d been missing. Everything she craved.
Fun. Laughter. Excitement.
Passion.
Yep, full circle, right back to passion.
“C’mon, quit being a brat.”
She felt herself being tugged, blinking to find Reed’s fingers curled over her forearm. His hand was big and warm, and utterly impersonal as he guided her to the dance floor.
Darcy swallowed her anger as they maneuvered through the crowd. Fine, if he wanted to act like a macho jerk and be her shadow, then she’d let him. Clearly passion wasn’t on the table anymore, but fun and dancing were still up for grabs, and she might as well get something out of this botched evening. Though maybe just the dancing part. After all, fun and Reed Miller didn’t exactly go together.
The sultry beat pounding out of the DJ’s turntables immediately snaked its way into Darcy’s blood, and her body responded of its own volition. AJ had hated to dance. Poor guy had no moves, either, but his best friend didn’t seem to share that affliction.
To her surprise, Reed wasted no time yanking her toward him. He rested one hand on her hip and began to dance to the pulsing, decadent rhythm as if he’d done it a hundred times before.
His head dipped to her ear, his warm breath fanning over her neck. “Why is your dress so short?” he rasped.
She stiffened at his disapproving tone, glancing down at the silky green dress that nearly reached her knees. “It’s not that short. Look around us—half these girls are practically naked.”
“Half these girls aren’t you.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” she demanded. Rather than answer, he brought his other hand into play, running it up and down her back as his hips rotated in a slow, addictive rhythm.
Oh boy. He smelled fantastic. Sandalwood, citrus, and something uniquely male flooded her nostrils, giving her a bit of a head rush. And his chest was rock-hard beneath her palms—she wanted so badly to stroke it that she had to redirect her hands to his shoulders in an attempt to quell the temptation. Except his shoulders were equally enticing, big and broad and rippling with power.
AJ was built the same lean, muscular way—she knew it had everything to do with the fact that both men had once been professional fighters—but even though she’d slept with AJ many, many times, her hands had never itched to explore every hard, sinewy inch of his body the way they itched now.
Reed’s palm grazed her hipbone at the same time he thrust a thigh between her legs, turning the dance from vaguely sensual to downright erotic. Heat unfurled in Darcy’s belly and tingled in her sex, triggering a jolt of shock.
Holy crap. She was dirty dancing with AJ’s best friend. And it was turning her on.
No, wait, that was nuts. She couldn’t actually be turned on. The sweltering air and the two shooters she’d drunk must be to blame, because there was no way Reed the Jerk Miller was getting her motor running.
When she felt his gaze on her, she tipped her head and was floored by what she found. Blue eyes burning with… jeez, was that desire?
Anger?
Defeat?
It sure as hell looked like all three, but only the anger part made any sort of sense. Reed always seemed pissed off when she was around, which was actually kind of insulting since she prided herself on being a very likable person.
“How long are we going to keep doing this?” he said in a strangled voice.
She frowned. “Doing what?”
“Dancing.” Sounding even more tormented, he eased away so their lower bodies were no longer touching, but kept his hands on her hips.
If she didn’t know any better, she’d have thought he’d inched back so she wouldn’t feel the evidence of his arousal pressing into her belly.
But of course Reed wasn’t sporting a stiffy in her presence. The only response she’d ever evoked in him was visible irritation and mild indifference.
The memory of his past behavior was like a splash of cold water to the face, propelling her to release his shoulders and take a hasty step back.
What the hell were they doing, grinding to the music like two people who were actually into each other? They weren’t even friends.
“You’re the one who forced me on the dance floor,” she snapped at him. “And you’re the one who decided not to let me have fun tonight, remember? So if you don’t want to dance with me, then don’t. Frankly, I’m not interested, either.”
She tossed her hair over her shoulder and flounced off, but she should’ve known better than to think he wouldn’t follow her. He did, hot on her heels as she pushed her way through the crowd toward the exit.
“Darcy—”
“Go away, Reed. You win, okay? You’ve officially ruined my night and put me in a shitty mood, so now I’m going home just like you wanted. Congratulations.”
Shooting him one last glare, she spun on her heel and marched out the door.

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 8 July 2019  Posted by  Tagged with: ,  No Responses »

One Night of Trouble (After Hours Book 3)
by Elle Kennedy
A sexy category romance from Entangled’s Brazen imprint…

No More Mr. Nice Guy…

The moment AJ Walsh sees the sexy, tattooed pixie walk up to his bar, it’s lust at first sight. He’s always been labeled the “nice” guy?opening doors, buying flowers, and never, ever having one-night stands. But with this wicked little angel with red lips and unfathomably dark eyes? Oh, yeah. Tonight, “nice” has nothing to do with it…

Brett Conlon is trying to convince her family that she’s put away her reckless wild girl side for good. Nothing?and no one?could be better for her reputation than golden boy AJ Walsh. So they make a deal: if he plays The Good Boyfriend for her family, he can be a very, very bad boy with her. Now their one naughty night is about to turn into a whole lot of trouble…

Excerpt One Night of Trouble
Chapter One

“Hey, hot stuff, what do you say you meet me out front after you get off?” the busty blonde cooed as she sauntered up to the bar. “And then we can get each other off…”
AJ Walsh was torn between groaning and laughing. He found himself on the receiving end of some seriously shameless pick-up lines on a nightly basis, but this one was more blatantly sexual than most, accompanied by the seductive batting of mascara-thick eyelashes and a lewd display of lip-licking.
“Sorry, sweetheart. I’m flattered, but I’ve got a girlfriend,” he told his would-be pursuer.
“So?” She didn’t even blink.
He raised a brow. “So I’m not on the market.”
The blonde wrinkled her nose in distaste. “Loser.”
She took her teased hair, skintight dress, and four-inch heels, and sashayed away from the counter without ordering a thing.
The second she was gone, AJ released the laughter bubbling in his throat. Well. That was new. Being called a loser for not wanting to cheat on his girlfriend with a clearly drunk chick at a nightclub? If that made him a loser, then he didn’t want to be a winner.
On the other hand, he was a liar, because he definitely didn’t have a girlfriend at the moment. Nope, he was flying solo and hating it, but after three years of tending bar, he’d learned that sometimes a little white lie was the best way to get the more persistent women off his back.
He glanced at the other two bartenders, pleased to see them hard at work slinging drinks and chatting with the customers. Henry and Sue were his most reliable employees, and he made a point to always schedule them on Friday, the club’s busiest night. Technically he didn’t even need to be there tonight—his people had everything covered—but he enjoyed making drinks and getting to know his clientele.
When he’d first opened Sin with his two best friends, it had been a no-brainer as to who would handle what. Gage, the toughest and most intense of the three, was in charge of security and oversaw their team of bouncers. Reed, the most antisocial, worked in the upstairs office area and dealt with the business end of things. And as the “people person” of the trio, AJ tended bar and managed the servers.
The arrangement suited him just fine, and since their grand opening three years ago, Sin had quickly become one of the most popular clubs in downtown Boston. It had even turned a profit in its first year of business, which AJ was pretty damn proud of.
The only downside to his job was the onslaught of graphic come-ons from women he had no interest in, a turnoff that was kinda ironic considering he was a thirty- year-old, red-blooded male with a healthy libido. Other men would kill to trade places with him, AJ was fully aware of that, but he wasn’t about to take advantage of the usually intoxicated females who threw themselves at him. It didn’t feel right.
He’d never indulged in a one-night stand, but if he ever did, he wanted it to be with a woman who was coherent enough to know what she was doing.
As a dark head entered his line of vision, AJ voiced his standard question without even glancing at the customer. “What can I get you?”
No answer.
In the beat of silence, he focused on the woman in front of him, and his breath hitched when he got lost in a pair of bottomless brown-bordering-on-black eyes. He shifted his gaze, soaking in her delicate features, full red lips, and shoulder-length raven hair before doing a sweep of her petite body, clad in all black.
Her tank top left her arms bare, which meant he didn’t miss her tattoos—a painstakingly detailed angel on her left forearm, a cluster of stars on her right biceps, and a ring of roses around her left wrist. The tats were surprisingly feminine and insanely sexy, and he suddenly had the craziest urge to strip her naked and find out if she had more ink beneath her tight top and skinny jeans.
Man. It’d been a long time since he’d experienced total lust overload. He encountered attractive women all the frickin’ time, but this tiny pixie of a woman was more than attractive. The sexy combo of fragility and badassness hardened his cock, and he shifted his position so that the counter hid his lower body better.
When he realized she still hadn’t spoken, he raised his voice over the pounding dance beat reverberating through the main floor. “What’ll it be?”
She snapped out of whatever trance she’d fallen into, but still looked startled. A tad wary, too, but he had to be imagining it.
“Three margaritas and a Coke,” she replied after another long pause.
“Coming right up.” It was difficult to tear his gaze off her, but he forced himself to act professional, sliding to the other end of the counter to prepare her drinks.
He jiggled the stainless-steel margarita shaker more vigorously than necessary, a sense of nervous energy overtaking him. Fuck. He wanted to talk to her. Find out her name.
Convince her to go home with him.
And wasn’t that a mind-boggler. He spent most nights turning down offers for sex, and all of a sudden he was imagining screwing a complete stranger?
His friends would die of shock if they could read his thoughts right now. Gage and Reed viewed him as Mr. Nice Guy, the man who held doors open for his dates and didn’t sleep with a girl until they’d been seeing each other for a proper amount of time. The guy who offered women his shoulder to cry on and bought them flowers for every damn occasion.
But he supposed they had every right to see him as the nicest guy on the planet. It was the image he tried to project most of the time, the label he’d been striving his entire life to live up to.
Christ, if people only knew. How hard he worked to be that polite, dependable guy everyone could rely on. How badly he fought to suppress the wild urges that arose more often than not. How frustrating it was to dutifully play the part of prodigal son, good friend, reliable boyfriend.
He didn’t always succeed, though. Sometimes the need to truly let go couldn’t be ignored. He had to ease it, and in the past, he’d used fighting to do that. He’d heard that people frequently used sex or violence as an outlet for release, as a way to feel alive, and he couldn’t deny that his days as an MMA fighter had certainly soothed the darker, restless part of himself that he usually hid from the world. Sex, on the other hand, didn’t achieve the same result. It had always been more intimate for him, tangled up with love and relationships and all that emotional stuff.
But for some strange reason, the raven-haired woman at the counter had unleashed his carnal, reckless urges. Because suddenly the idea of going home with a stranger had become very, very appealing…
“You gonna take those over to the customer? Or just keep staring at them?”
His head jerked at Sue’s teasing voice. Ignoring his aching cock, he glanced down, realizing that the drinks he’d poured were now sitting on the bar top waiting to be delivered.
“Naah, I’ve got it. Just spaced out for a second.” He plastered on a smile, then carried the drinks over to where the woman was waiting—and staring. Staring hard, in fact, and her plump lips were puckered in the tiniest of frowns.
Unease washed over him, but he tried to ignore it. “Three margaritas and one Coke,” he announced.
She gave a polite smile in return. Very, very polite…so polite it was clearly forced, and his wariness only heightened.
“Thanks,” she said tightly. “How much do I owe you?”
“Eighteen bucks.”
His gaze stayed on her as she dug around in her purse for her wallet. Her body language was as stiff as her voice, a clear indication that she was ticked off about something.
“Here. Keep the change.” She dropped a twenty on the counter, then lifted her head and noticed him staring. “What?” she said irritably.
“You okay there? You look kinda pissed.” His eyes narrowed as a thought occurred to him. “Is anyone giving you a hard time? The crowd’s a little wilder than usual tonight—say the word and I’ll sic one of my bouncers on whoever’s bugging you.”
His concern didn’t spark warmth or gratitude, but more hostility. “I’m just peachy, pal. And FYI—if someone was harassing me, I’d take care of it myself.”
He studied her slim, no taller than five-two frame, his lips twitching in amusement. “Uh-huh. I’m sure you would, angel.”
“I might look small, but trust me, I can kick some serious ass,” she retorted.
She picked up two of the margaritas and took an abrupt step away.
AJ spoke before she could hurry off. “Is it something I said?”
A cloud of annoyance continued to hover over her. “Nope. Thanks for the drinks. I’ll be back in a sec to grab these two. Make sure no one messes with them, okay?”
This time she almost made it three steps before he stopped her. And this time he didn’t do it with words, but by rounding the counter, then leaving it entirely to come to her side.
Her mouth partially opened as she tilted her head to gaze up at him. “What are you doing?”
Rather than answer, he gave a quick shout in the direction of the counter. “Yo! Henry, I’m taking a break.” He picked up the two glasses that remained on the counter.
“Seriously, what are you doing?” she demanded.
“Carrying these drinks back to your table. And…”
The swell of music must have drowned out his words, because she leaned in closer. “What?” she yelled.
A rush of dizziness hit him as her intoxicating scent filled his nostrils. Lord, she smelled good. Like roses in full bloom, with a trace of lavender and a hint of something entirely feminine.
He repeated himself, his tone loud and firm. “And then I plan on figuring out what I did to piss you off.”
“Oh, for Pete’s sake. This isn’t Cheers—I’m not going to have a heart-to-heart with a bartender, okay? Go back to work. I can carry my own drinks.”
He ignored her aggravated response. “Where are you sitting?”
She sighed with visible unhappiness, but he wasn’t about to back down. His original intentions of flirting with her had temporarily been sidelined. Right now he was more interested in finding out what he’d done to put that frown on her sexy mouth. He had no doubt that this was wholly personal—the way she was scowling at him made it clear she was pissed off at him.
Without a word, she set off in the other direction, threading through the crowd that packed the club like sardines. AJ stayed hot on her heels, inhaling her delicious fragrance with each breath. How was it that in a room permeated with perfume, cologne, and sweat, he only seemed to be breathing in her?
They reached one of the tall tables spanning the back wall, and once they’d set the drinks down, his frowning pixie quickly raised the Coke to her lips, sucking hard on the straw while avoiding his eyes.
AJ watched her drink the soda, thoughtful. “So you’re the Coke of the bunch. Wasn’t expecting that.”
She drained half the glass before answering in a terse voice. “I’m the DD.” Then, ignoring him completely, she turned to the dance floor and waved at someone he couldn’t see. She gestured to the margaritas, then made a cigarette- smoking motion with her hand and pointed to the side exit.
AJ glimpsed a slender blonde emerging from the dance floor to tend to the drinks, but the second he’d turned his head, the woman at his side tried to make her escape.
“Thanks for bringing the drinks. Have a good night.” Her words came out in a rush.
She darted away, but AJ was equally fast, trailing after her with ease. “Where are you running off to?”
“I need some fresh air. It’s hot in here.”
Okay, he was totally treading into stalker territory, yet he couldn’t stop himself from following her toward the exit and right out the door.
Silence greeted them in the alley between Sin and the adjacent building, broken by the occasional car honk or tire squeal from the main road beyond them. The cool spring breeze brushed over his bare arms, but he didn’t mind the chill. He was too focused on his pixie’s irritated face, which shone beneath the light fixture over the door.
“You’re still here,” she said flatly.
“Yup.” He cocked his head. “And you’re just telling lies all over the place, huh?”
Those mesmerizing dark eyes narrowed. “What the hell does that mean?”
“You just mimed to your friend that you’re coming out for a smoke.” He shrugged. “But you’re not lighting up. And you told me I didn’t do anything to piss you off, but obviously I did. So…” Another shrug. “Lies.”
There was a pause.
And then she exploded.
“I pretended I was going for a cigarette so I wouldn’t have to explain to my friend that I was actually trying to get away from this nosy bartender who won’t leave me alone! Dude, why are you even out here? Do you harass every chick who orders a drink from you? Maybe I should be siccing one of your bouncers on you.”
He sighed. “Tell me what I did to upset you, angel, and then I’ll go.”
“Would you stop calling me that?” she grumbled.
“What—angel? Why would I do that when it suits you oh so well?”
He brought his hand close to the tattoo on her forearm, his fingers lingering in the air. He hadn’t planned on touching her, but those dark eyes that fascinated him so damn much went heavy-lidded, and then she tentatively leaned into his outstretched fingertips.
As he gently skimmed the tattoo, she let out a shaky exhale, and AJ’s groin promptly stirred again. He traced the outstretched wings of the ethereal figure inked on her skin, then followed the angel’s wispy dress to the tangle of vines at her feet.
Lord, her skin was hot to the touch. Silky smooth. And he didn’t miss the throbbing of her pulse at the base of her slender throat, or the way her small breasts rose as she drew a deep breath.
Oh yeah. She liked having his hand on her skin. Just as much as he liked putting it there.
AJ shifted his feet again, praying her gaze wouldn’t drop south. The bulge straining against his zipper was impossible to hide. His pants suddenly felt too frickin’ tight, and his primal reaction to this woman made his head spin. He was usually more controlled than this, but damn it, there was no controlling the erection trying to poke right through his pants.
Or the relentless need to kiss the living daylights out of her.
“Do you really not remember me?” she blurted out. He froze. “Do we know each other?”

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 7 July 2019  Posted by  Tagged with: ,  No Responses »

One Night of Sin (After Hours Book 1)
by Elle Kennedy
A sexy category romance novella from Entangled’s Brazen imprint…

Sometimes it’s good to be bad…

When it comes to sex, good girl Skyler Thompson always plays it safe, choosing stable and sedate over wild and thrilling. She doesn’t do one-night-stands, but one look at sinfully sexy Gage Holt and she’s willing to reconsider. He makes her want to be bad for once in her life, and she’s prepared to take what she wants.

Danger follows former MMA fighter Gage Holt like a shadow. Despite his successes as part owner of Sin, an exclusive nightclub in Boston, Gage can’t risk getting involved with a woman, especially one as sweet as Skyler. Still, he can’t resist a taste—and it’s so damn good he has to see her again.

As addicted as he is to her, Gage knows there’s no future for him and Skyler—not with his past lurking in the dark corners of an MMA cage. But Skyler’s tougher than she looks, and she’s ready to fight for her man.

Excerpt One Night of Sin
Chapter One
She was staring at him again.

Gage felt those big blue eyes burning a hole in his back, and when he turned around, there she was. Still seated in the velvet booth across the room, half listening to her male companion while her curious gaze remained focused on another man. On him.
It had been two years since the club’s grand opening, which meant two years’ worth of shifts, but Gage could honestly say this was the first time he’d gotten hard on the job. Although beautiful women poured into Sin on a nightly basis, not one had ever triggered such a visceral response in him.
Forget about it. Too young, too sweet, and too out of your league.
Yup, the cynical voice in his head was right on the money. Little black dress and fuck-me red heels aside, the brunette in the booth exuded a good-girl vibe that almost made him feel guilty for checking her out. A man like him would corrupt her in a heartbeat. Taint her. Lead her down a path of damnation to a wicked place where girls like her didn’t belong.
And bad idea, thinking about all the wicked things they could do together, not when he was already semi-erect. Now there was nothing semi about it—his cock was at full salute and pushing against his fly.
Gritting his teeth, he turned away and swept his gaze over the VIP lounge. It was crowded tonight, more than usual for a Thursday, but things had been tame so far. Granted, it was only midnight. In his experience, Asshole Hour didn’t start until closer to 1:00 a.m., after too much booze or drugs or sexual tension tipped a customer’s conduct scale from harmlessly wild to dangerously stupid. As head of security, Gage was tasked with making sure that didn’t happen—or stepping in if it did.
He edged toward the railing and studied the cavernous main room ten feet below. The dance floor was packed, every table and booth occupied, and the intermittent strobe lighting illuminated a sea of flushed, euphoric faces. Gage spotted several couples making out in the shadows, and those who weren’t into PDA were probably getting into all sorts of trouble in the curtained alcoves situated throughout the club. Sin always drew a wild crowd—folks of all ages flocked to the club for a night of boozing, dancing, and even screwing if they didn’t make a spectacle out of it. Everything on the floor looked fine, and Gage knew his bouncers would notify him over the comm if that changed. For now, no problems seemed to be brewing in the air.
“BMOC over there just asked if we offer party favors.” Carla sidled up to Gage, her red-painted lips close to his ear as she gave him the heads-up.
His eyes narrowed at the pretty waitress. “What kind of party favors? And which big man on campus are we talking about?”
“I’m pretty sure he’s looking for pussy. The expensive kind.” The blonde gave a discreet tilt of the head. Right in the direction of the back booth.
Gage turned, expecting his gaze to collide with a pair of hungry blue eyes, but the brunette was gone. Only her date remained, tapping his fingers on the tabletop, a smug look pasted on his chiseled face. The kid couldn’t have been older than twenty-two or twenty-three, but he exuded an air of entitlement that was impossible to miss. He was a Very Important Person, at least in his own eyes.
“Who is he?” Gage asked.
“Kat said he’s some big shot’s kid. That’s how he got up here.”
The younger guy’s dark eyes were checking out every woman in the lounge. He made no attempt to hide it, either, as if it was his right to leer.
Gage felt vindicated by the knowledge that the kid’s beautiful date had ditched him.
“Tell him we don’t sell skin here,” he said coolly. “If he can’t find a girl who’ll fuck him for free, he can go out on the street corner like any other john.”
Carla snorted. “Gotcha.”
Man, he really hated some of the clientele that frequented Sin. Every night he encountered at least one rich, pretentious ass who thought the world owed him something. Case in point—this smug-faced creep inquiring about procuring the services of a whore.
As part owner, Gage supposed he had the right to throw the guy out, but Reed and AJ would tear him a new one if they found out he was sending away big spenders.
And big spender, indeed. Gage glanced back in time to see Carla delivering a six-hundred-dollar bottle of whiskey to the table. And the douche bag was now making eyes at the cute, not-a-prostitute redhead seated at the VIP bar. Good. She ought to occupy him for a while.
Gage touched his earpiece. “Yo, Jesse, get up here and take over. Gonna pop out for a cigarette.”
The bouncer’s baritone voice crackled in his ear. “Got it, boss.”
He waited until he spotted Jesse’s close-cropped head weaving through the crowd. In between flashes of strobe, Gage saw the crowd part without delay for the muscular man, which made him smile. He’d handpicked all the bouncers himself, with only two required traits in the hiring process: reliable and intimidating as fuck. Jesse fit both of those to a T.
As the other bouncer ascended the steps up to the lounge, Gage headed for the emergency exit on the other side of the room. He strode down the narrow staircase, emerging a moment later in the alley behind the building.
He rummaged in his pocket for his e-cigarette, lifted his head—and froze.
His blue-eyed angel sat eight feet away. Slender body up on the wooden crate next to the staff door, chestnut-brown hair falling over one shoulder, dress riding up her thighs to reveal long, silky legs.
He sucked in a breath. Lord, she was even more appealing up close. Not beautiful in the Hollywood sense, but intriguingly attractive in a very real way. The enormous blue eyes were her best feature, and her mouth was just pouty enough to conjure up the image of plump lips wrapped around his dick.
Gage cleared his throat. “You shouldn’t be out here.”
She jumped at the sound of his voice, head swiveling and gaze flying to his. She instantly hopped off the crate, smoothing out the front of her dress as a frown creased her lips. “Why not?”
“A pretty girl all alone in an alley at midnight—I don’t think it needs much more explanation than that.” He inhaled a quick drag of the e-cigarette. The mint-flavored vapor was no substitute for a real smoke, and he wasn’t sure why he even bothered with it.
“I just needed some air.” Her voice was huskier than he’d imagined it would be. Sexier. “I’ll go back inside soon.”
Wait—she’d only come outside for air? And her date had been asking about prostitutes in her absence? Wow. Real stand-up guy.
“It’s so crowded in there,” she added.
“Nightclubs usually are,” he said dryly.
“Yeah, I guess they are. I’m not much of a clubber, but Mick wouldn’t take no for an answer. He said I haven’t lived until I’ve gone to Sin.” A sigh slipped out. “It’s our first date…”
Gage waited for her to continue. When she didn’t, he filled in the rest. “And you’re not at all into him.”
“Why do you say that?”
His gaze slid back to hers, slow and purposeful. “Because if you were, you wouldn’t have been eye-fucking me all night.”
Her breath hitched, cheeks growing the most appealing shade of pink.
He had to laugh. “Am I wrong?”
The denial he’d expected didn’t come. “No, you’re not wrong.”
Christ. There were so many things he could say to that, so many things he could do. Dirty, dirty words and dirty, dirty acts. But he reined in every single wicked urge. Just because her mere proximity had turned his lower body into a raging inferno didn’t mean he would give in to the burn. He was a grown man. More than capable of controlling his base impulses.
“I’m Skyler,” she said, after his silence had dragged on for far too long.
He nodded.
“Maybe you’re new to civilized society, but normally when people introduce themselves, you reply by providing your own name.” She arched one perfectly defined eyebrow.
“Is that right?” His lips twitched. “Well, what makes you think I’m at all civilized, Skyler?”
That made her falter. She bit her lower lip. Tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, and the scent of her shampoo floated his way. She smelled like green apples. A sweet and feminine fragrance, serving as a reminder that he shouldn’t be out here talking to her.
“How old are you, sweetheart?” His voice came out rough.
“Well, my ID held up at the door, so I’m over twenty-one if that’s what you’re worried about. Twenty-four, actually. In some cultures that would make me a spinster.”
Gage swallowed a laugh. There was something truly refreshing about her sarcasm, especially when contrasted with the flush of her cheeks and the way she fidgeted with her hands. She didn’t belong here. Not at this club, not even in this neighborhood. She should be nestled between crisp white sheets right about now, snuggled next to a wholesome man while the two of them watched late-night talk shows before bed.
“Go back inside,” he said gruffly. “Your date’s probably wondering where you are.”
That made her snicker. “I doubt it. I think he wrote me off the second he realized I wasn’t going to fuck him tonight.”
Gage’s cock jerked in his pants. Jesus. That angel mouth wasn’t allowed to say things like that. Not in front of him, a man whose inner devil could be summoned at the drop of a hat.
“Go back inside,” he repeated.
“Why? You don’t like talking to me?” Hands planted on her slim hips, she moved closer, a pensive look on her face. He shrugged. “I don’t like talking, period.”
“Huh. So what do you like to do?”
Gage met her eyes in another long, deliberate stare. Leaving no question as to what he enjoyed doing.
She visibly swallowed. And then she startled the hell out of him.
“So maybe that’s what we should do.”
A laugh rumbled out of his chest. “You’re playing with fire, baby.”
“Am I?”
She had the nerve to lick her lips. He didn’t think she’d done it as an intentional taunt, but damn, the response to seeing her tongue dart out was instantaneous. His erection pulsed against his zipper, hard and persistent, like it was trying to tunnel its way out of his pants and into her pussy.
Gage took a breath, trying to ease the ache down south. Nope, he wasn’t giving in, wasn’t going to acknowledge the awareness prickling over his flesh. He was fighting in two days, and he didn’t like to screw before a match. The frustration fueled him, gave him the edge he needed to send an opponent to his knees.
But at the moment, he wanted to be the one on his knees. With his head underneath Skyler’s skimpy dress, his face buried between her legs as he licked her up until she screamed.
“Yes,” he rasped. “You’re definitely playing with fire.”
“Maybe I like fire, did you ever think of that? Maybe I want to get burned.”
God help him. The defiance in her voice was almost as big of a turn-on as the heat in her eyes. She was looking at him like she wanted to eat him up. Like he was already naked and pumping inside her.
“You don’t even know me,” he muttered.
Her voice never wavered. “I don’t care.”
Gage stared at her again. He couldn’t figure her out. She was young, just as he’d suspected. Sweet, too. But there was no mistaking the passion heating her gaze.
He took a step toward her. “You don’t care that you don’t know my name.”
“No.” One word, low and breathy.
He moved in closer, slowly backing her up into the brick wall. She let him. Her heels clicked softly on the pavement as she walked backward, until her body connected with the hard surface and she had nowhere else to go.
“You don’t care that you’ve only known me for five minutes.”
“No.”
Gage kept a solid five inches between them, but at the rate his dick was thickening, it would find a way to breach the distance sooner rather than later.
He brought his lips close to her ear and enjoyed the way she shivered. “Why not, Skyler? Why don’t you care?”
“Because…” She had to tip her head back to meet his gaze. “Because I like how this feels.”
“How what feels?”
“This. Being bad. I’ve never done anything like this before.”
No, he doubted she had. Yet nothing in her expression told him she didn’t want it. Her face held a combination of heat, lust, and fascination. Her breathing came out labored, breasts practically spilling out of her dress with the rise and fall of her chest, and he certainly didn’t miss the blush on her creamy skin or the insistent throb of her pulse at the base of her throat.
“You’re turned on,” he said softly.
“Yes.” She squeezed her lips together, and from the way her whole body clenched, he suspected she’d squeezed her thighs together, too.
Fucking hell. He wanted to pry her legs open and slip his fingers inside her, discover just how turned on she really was.
As if she’d read his mind, her body relaxed, and his gaze dropped in time to see her stance widen, those red stilettos gleaming in the moonlight slicing into the alley. God. She’d spread her legs, blatantly giving him permission to take what he wanted.
“Why aren’t you scared of me?” he murmured.
“Should I be?”
“Maybe.” Unable to help himself, he touched her face, rubbing her bottom lip with his thumb.
She gasped quietly, then leaned into his touch.
Son of a bitch. This woman was liable to kill him. He’d never met anyone who was so ready to be fucked. Her arousal surrounded him like an enticing haze, quickening his pulse and fogging his mind.
“Don’t act like you don’t want it.” Big blue eyes, gleaming with challenge, peered up at him. “Earlier when I was looking at you…you were looking right back. You liked what you saw.”
Without breaking eye contact, he erased those five inches of distance by thrusting his thigh between her legs. He knew the second she felt his erection pressing into her, because she gave another sharp intake of breath.
“Tell me your name,” she whispered.
Gage rotated his hips and fought a groan as a rush of heat flowed through him. What the hell was happening to him? He couldn’t remember the last time he’d wanted someone this bad.
“Why should I?” His lips traveled to her ear, tongue slipping out to lick the delicate lobe. He chuckled when her hands shot up to cling to his shoulders. She tried pulling him closer, but he didn’t let her. “I don’t think you want to know my name,” he mocked. “I think it would ruin the fantasy.”
Skyler wrinkled her forehead. “What’s the fantasy?”
He rubbed his aching cock over her pelvis, loving the way her eyes widened with pleasure. He grasped one long leg and propped it on his hip, deepening the contact, ignoring the voice in the back of his head. The one shouting for him to stop. Dry-humping a stranger outside his place of business was a stupid idea, but this woman had unleashed his carnal caveman.
“What’s the fantasy?” she repeated, a twinge of anxiety in her voice.
He shoved a hand in her hair, yanking hard on one thick strand before lazily twining it around his fingers. “Getting fucked by a stranger. That’s what you want, isn’t it? For me to fuck you right here, right now, against this wall. Isn’t that what you want, Skyler?”
The anguished noise she made was the sexiest thing he’d ever heard. “Y-yes. That’s what I want.”
A dark laugh slid out. He licked a path from her ear down to her neck, latching his mouth on her hot flesh. Lord, she was burning up. And she’d started grinding her lower body against him, rocking hard, each desperate glide over his cock sending him closer to the edge. Hell, at this rate, he’d come in his pants before he even took his dick out.
But no. No. He may have boarded this bad idea train, but now it was time to derail it.
Except he couldn’t stop, couldn’t think straight, couldn’t concentrate on anything but the warm, willing woman in his arms. He trailed kisses up her throat, paused briefly to nibble on her jaw, then zeroed in on that pouty mouth. Screw it. One kiss. Just to find out if she tasted as sweet as he suspected.
But holy hell, it was even better than he could’ve ever imagined. The moment their mouths met, every shred of common sense flew out the window. Her lips were warm and pliant and eager as hell as she kissed him back like a woman starved. Her body melted against him like hot butter, slender arms wrapping around his neck as her tongue greedily slid into his mouth. Gage slicked his tongue over hers, groaning when a shock wave of lust roared through him.
He tugged on her hair, angling her head so he could drive the kiss deeper. He was a fucking goner. Maybe he could’ve stopped it—if she didn’t taste so good, if her body wasn’t so soft and warm, if her throaty moans weren’t vibrating against his lips. But stopping was impossible now, not when she kept swirling her hungry little tongue over his and riding his thigh with zero abandon.
His mouth stayed locked with hers, even as he lowered his hand to his zipper. Goddamn it, he had to be inside her. Right fucking now—
“Uh, boss?”
The male voice sliced into his ear like an electric current and promptly jump-started his brain.
He tore his lips away from Skyler’s. Breathing hard, trying to recover from that mind-blowing kiss.
“Shit,” he mumbled, then sucked in another breath and touched his ear. “What is it, Jerry?”
Skyler blinked. “Huh?”
He gestured to his earpiece, then focused on the amused voice of the man who monitored the club’s security booth. “Reed wants to know if we should shut off camera two. You know, for privacy.”
Aw hell.
Gage stifled a curse, his gaze moving to the camera mounted right above the staff entrance. The blinking red light was practically waving at him, a reminder that even though they were alone in the alley, they weren’t actually alone.
“We don’t mind watching, though,” another voice piped up, this one belonging to Reed Miller, Gage’s best friend and one of Sin’s co-owners.
Rather than answer, Gage shifted around and gave his audience the finger.
Then he shut off the feed and turned to Skyler, whose face still held the flush of arousal. “Go inside and find your date. Get him to drive you home.”
“No.”
The fortitude in her eyes was dangerous. And she still hadn’t fixed her dress. It was bunched around her waist, revealing firm thighs and pale skin and a perfect view of her panties. They were red, just like the shoes, and so skimpy his mouth went dry, because he knew it would take no effort at all to rip them off her. With his teeth.
He fought to speak past the lust clogging his throat. “The fantasy isn’t gonna play out, Skyler. I’m not the right man for the job.”
She stepped close and pressed her palm over his groin, cupping his erection with a boldness that surprised him. “I don’t know…I think you might be exactly the right man.”
He thrust into her hand. Just once, just one second of contact, before he eased out of her grip and tipped his head at the camera. “Do you really want to put on a show for my partners? Because that’s what we’re doing.”
“Partners?”
“I’m co-owner of this joint. And even though my behavior these last ten minutes might say otherwise, I don’t make it a habit of screwing around on the job.” He paused meaningfully. “And you don’t strike me as the kind of girl who screws around at all.”
She had the nerve to smirk at him. “I’m not a virgin, if that’s what you’re implying.”
“I’m not implying anything.” He smothered his growing aggravation. Christ, the one time he tried acting like a gentleman, and look where it got him. “I don’t know you, but I’m pretty sure you don’t go around doing strangers in public. I have no clue why you decided to do it tonight— maybe it’s that asshole Mick, maybe you had too much to drink. But the best thing for you to do right now is go home, Skyler.”
“Why do men always assume they know what’s best for a woman?” she demanded. “And FYI? I didn’t drink anything but water tonight, and I was over Mick about five minutes after he picked me up. You want to know why I’m out here with you? Because I was attracted to you and decided to act on it. For once in my life I was acting on impulse, not thinking about consequences or overanalyzing things.” Her gaze sharpened as she studied him. “You, on the other hand, you’re all about impulse, aren’t you? You strike me as a man of action.” There was a beat. “I’m kind of surprised you wimped out at the thought of getting busy in front of a camera.”
He clenched his teeth. “I didn’t wimp out.”
“Really? Are we having sex right now?” Another beat. “Nope, I didn’t think so.”
She finally straightened her dress, much to his overwhelming relief. Those red panties had come dangerously close to stealing his common sense again.
Gage sighed. “You really should go.”
“Oh, I will. The moment’s over, anyway.” Her blue eyes flickered with something that made him uneasy. “What would you do if I came back tomorrow night?”
A groan lodged in his throat. He was trying to do the honorable thing, to save her from the regrets she’d undoubtedly have after sleeping with a total stranger, but the infuriating woman didn’t seem at all appreciative of his caution.
“You shouldn’t do that,” he said in a low voice.
“Why not?”
“Because you’re right. I’m impulsive, and I don’t usually show much restraint. No matter what you think, stopping this, stopping what we were about to do, was damn hard for me.”
She glanced at the bulge in his pants. “I can see that.”
Gage grasped her chin, forcing her gaze away from his aching cock and up at his face. “Don’t tempt me, all right? You’re beautiful, Skyler. Beautiful and sexy and so goddamn tempting. If you come back, I won’t be able to control myself next time.”
“Is that a promise?”
Oh hell. He released her, taking a hasty step backward. “Go,” he muttered. “I mean it.”
He waited for an argument, but miraculously, she didn’t give him one. Instead, she smirked again before sauntering away, hips swaying with each step she took.
His gaze followed her all the way to the door, staying glued to her slender form as she walked back into the club. And then the door swung shut and she was gone.
But Gage had the unnerving feeling that he hadn’t seen the last of her.

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 6 July 2019  Posted by  Tagged with: ,  No Responses »

The Chase (Briar U Book 1)
by Elle Kennedy
A sexy standalone novel from New York Times and international bestselling author Elle Kennedy

Everyone says opposites attract. And they must be right, because there’s no logical reason why I’m so drawn to Colin Fitzgerald. I don’t usually go for tattoo-covered, video-gaming, hockey-playing nerd-jocks who think I’m flighty and superficial. His narrow view of me is the first strike against him. It doesn’t help that he’s buddy-buddy with my brother.

And that his best friend has a crush on me.

And that I just moved in with them.

Oh, did I not mention we’re roommates?

I suppose it doesn’t matter. Fitzy has made it clear he’s not interested in me, even though the sparks between us are liable to burn our house down. I’m not the kind of girl who chases after a man, though, and I’m not about to start. I’ve got my hands full dealing with a new school, a sleazy professor, and an uncertain future. So if my sexy brooding roomie wises up and realizes what he’s missing?

He knows where to find me.

Excerpts The Chase by Elle Kennedy

#1

I won’t lie. Having an angry, squirming Summer wriggling in my arms is just the teeniest bit of a turn-on.

Okay fine. I’m rock hard.

In my defense, I didn’t start this argument off with a boner. I was genuinely pissed at her. I still am. Only now I’m also aroused.

So sue me.

“Put. Me. Down.” Summer snarls out the words, and each sharp sound sends another bolt of heat to my cock.

Something is really wrong with me. I just spent the past three hours with a girl who dolled herself up for me, who batted her lashes and touched my hand and all but held up a cardboard sign that said FUCK ME, COLIN!

I didn’t experience so much as a dick twitch.

And now here I am with Summer, who’s wearing baggy plaid pants and a long-sleeve shirt, who’s shouting obscenities at me, and my dick is raring to go.

“You thought I was a bitch before?” she says threateningly. “Well, how about now!”

She resorts to her go-to move: pinching my butt.

But the sting of pain only turns me on. I kick her bedroom door open. “Did anyone ever tell you you’re a brat?”

The moment I set her down, she takes a swing at me.

Startled laughter lodges in my throat. I easily block her fist before it can connect with my solar plexus. “Stop that,” I order.

“Why? Because it makes me a brat? Oh, and a bitch too, right? And a drama queen…and a sorority girl…what else…” Her cheeks redden with what appears to be embarrassment. “Oh, yes. I’m surface level. That’s what you think, right? That I’m fluff?”

My stomach sinks like a stone.

Dick’s not doing great, either—one look at Summer’s stricken face and my hard-on says “peace out.”

Her fingers, which were clenched so tightly before, slowly uncurl and go limp. Noting my expression, she gives a bitter laugh. “I heard everything you said to Garrett at the bar that night.”

Aw hell. Guilt ripples through my entire body before settling in my gut, an eddy of shame. “Summer,” I start. Then stop.

“Every word,” she says quietly. “I heard every word you said, and not a single one was very nice, Colin.”

I feel like such an asshole.

Most of my life I’ve made it a point not to be cruel to others. Not to talk trash about anyone—to their face or behind their back. Growing up, all I saw from my parents was negativity. Nasty jabs directed at each other. Your father is a piece of shit, Colin. Your mom is a lying bitch, son. Over the years they’d calmed down, but it didn’t happen fast enough. The toxic environment they’d created had already done its job, teaching me the hard way how damaging words can be. That there’s no taking back the poison once you’ve spewed it.

“Summer,” I try again, and stop again.

I don’t know how to explain my actions without revealing just how badly I’d craved her that night. I’d been looking for negative traits because I was having a good time with her. Because she was making me laugh. Turning me on. I wanted her, and it was messing with my head, so I started picking apart everything I perceived to be a flaw.

“I’m sorry you heard all that,” is what I finally choke out.

And I know immediately that it was the wrong thing to say. Sitting on the edge of my bed, she peers up at me with sad green eyes.

Jesus. Her expression. It’s like an arrow to the heart.

 

Excerpt #2

EXCERPT

“You have a thing for Dean’s sister.”

“Naah,” I say, but it’s a halfhearted denial at best.

“Really? ’Cause it sounds like you’re trying to convince yourself that she’s not right for you.” He grins. “Is it working?”

I sigh in defeat. “Kind of? I mean, I’ve managed to keep my hands off her all night.”

That gets me a laugh. “Look, Colin—can I call you Colin?” His jaw drops. “I just realized I’ve never called you Colin.”

Garrett literally shocks himself into silence, until I let out a growl of impatience.

“Sorry,” he says. “That just blew my mind. Anyway. Fitzy. On paper, Wellsy and I don’t seem like we’d work, right? But we do, don’t we?”

He has a point. When I first saw them together, I couldn’t make sense of it. Hannah was an artsy music major. Garrett was a smartass jock. They’re opposites in so many ways, and yet they really do click as a couple.

But Summer and I… We’re not even on the same piece of paper. From what I’ve seen and what Dean has told me, she’s drama-llama at full force, all the time. She craves the spotlight. I shy away from it. It’s bad enough that our games are televised every Friday night on the local New England network. And the major games make it to ESPN. Makes me cringe to think of strangers watching me skate and shoot and brawl on some huge screen.

“All I’m saying is, keep an open mind. Don’t fight it.” He claps me on the shoulder. “Just let it happen.”

Let it happen.

And, well, it absolutely could happen. All I’d have to do is smile in Summer’s direction, and she’d be in my arms. She’s been sending out interested vibes left and right. But…

I think what it boils down to is that she’s out of my league.

I play hockey. I’m fairly intelligent. I’m good-looking, if we go by my success in the chick department.

But at the end of the day, I’m that nerdy kid who would hole up in his bedroom playing video games, trying to pretend his parents weren’t fighting like cats and dogs.

In high school I had a brief moment where I tried expanding my horizons. I started hanging with a nihilistic crew who got a charge out of rebelling against any cause. But that came to an abrupt end when they got into a brawl with some kids from a neighboring school, and half the group was arrested for assault. I quickly reverted back to my loner state after that, not just to save my place on the hockey team, but to keep from giving my parents new fighting ammunition. I listened to them scream at each other for two hours about which one was to blame for me running with a “bad crowd.” It was easier just being a loner.

Needless to say, I didn’t have girls like Summer throwing themselves at him. And I didn’t party with my teammates after hockey games, so not even the puck bunnies wasted their energy on me.

In college, I’ve made more of an effort to be social, but deep down I’m still the guy who wants to remain invisible.

Summer is the most visible person I’ve ever met.

But Garrett’s right. I’m being a judgmental bastard. She might come off as a bit spoiled and superficial at times, but she deserves a chance. Everyone does.

Hannah’s already back at the table when Garrett and I return. “Cutting it close!” she scolds, pointing at the big clock. It’s two minutes to midnight.

I frown, because Summer’s not with her. Where is she?

I’ve decided to take G’s advice and stop fighting it. I’m going to give in, kiss the hell out of her when the clock strikes midnight and see where it goes from there.

“One minute to go, boys and girls!” the DJ’s voice thunders.

I give the room a visual sweep. Summer’s still nowhere to be found.

I want to ask Hannah where she is, but Hannah’s got her arms looped around G’s neck, and they only have eyes for each other.

“Thirty seconds!” shouts the DJ.

All around me, people are coupling up or gathering with their group of friends. Allie and Dean are already making out. Hollis has reunited with the brunette he was dancing with earlier. Hunter must have tracked down one of the girls he’d been dancing with earlier.

Still no Summer.

“TEN!” everyone yells.

The red numerals on the clock tick down in time with the crowd’s screams.

“NINE!”

Each passing second brings another jolt of disappointment.

“EIGHT! SEVEN!”

And then I spot her. Or at least I think it’s her. The strobe lights are going off now, zigzagging over the sea of bodies crammed in the bar. Each burst of light helps me form a clearer picture of the girl against the wall.

“SIX! FIVE!”

White dress. Red ballet flats. The ponytail.

“FOUR! THREE!”

It’s definitely Summer.

“TWO!”

But she’s not alone.

“ONE!”

I wrench my gaze away the moment Hunter’s mouth hungrily collides with Summer’s perfect lips.

“HAPPY NEW YEAR!”

*

I wake up the next morning without a hangover. That’s what happens when you only drink three beers and are back in your hotel room before one a.m.

On New Year’s Eve.

Aren’t I the poster boy for good behavior?

My phone informs me of a dozen messages and missed calls. Dragging a hand through my messy hair, I roll onto my back and sift through the notifications.

My parents each texted at precisely 12:00 a.m. I can just imagine them sitting in their respective houses at 11:59, hands hovering over their phones like they’re preparing to slap the buzzer on Family Feud, each one desperate to be the first to get a message through. They’re so frickin’ competitive.

MOM: Happy New Year, sweetie!! Love you so so soooo much! This is going to be the best year ever! YOUR year! Woot woot!

Oh dear God. Mothers are not allowed to say “woot woot.” My dad’s text isn’t much better.

DAD: Happy New Year. We got this.

We got this? Got what? Parents trying to sound cool is a whole other level of secondhand embarrassment.

My friends’ messages are more entertaining.

HOLLIS: Where da eff r u?? Patty’s just getting started

HOLLIS: *patty

HOLLIS: *parting

HOLLIS: Party!!!!!! EFF THIS PHONE

GARRETT: Happy New Year!! Where’d u run off to, Colin?? (Still feel weird calling u that)

My old teammates Logan and Tucker send their New Year messages to our various group chats. Tuck and Sabrina include a picture of their baby, which prompts about a million heart-eye emojis from our friends.

Pierre texts something in French.

My teammates blow up our team thread with well-wishes and random videos, grainy and impossible to hear, of the various parties they attended.

One teammate’s name is noticeably missing from the group chat and my phone in general. Shocking. No word from Hunter.

I bet he was too busy to text anyone last night.

Busy, busy, busy.

I ignore the sharp clenching in my chest and force all thoughts of Hunter and his busy, busy night out of my head. I continue scrolling through my phone.

A girl I knew in high school sends a generic note. For some reason, she still has me in her contacts list, so any time a holiday rolls around I get a message from her.

Hollis sends a few more texts that make me chuckle.

HOLLIS: Yo. bar’s closing. where u at. assuming getting it on or sumthin?

HOLLIS: after patty at Danny’s house. new buddy. u’ll luv him

HOLLIS: OK then

HOLLIS: gunna assume u ded

HOLLIS: hope ur not ded, tho!!! I < 3 u, bro. new year, new us. word.

Oh man. Someone needs to confiscate that dude’s phone when he’s wasted. Still laughing, I click on the next message in my inbox. It’s from Dean.

My humor fades the moment I read it.

DEAN: Happy New Year!! Was hoping to talk to u before u took off. I need a huge favor, bro.

DEAN: Are u guys still looking for a 4th roommate?

#2

Awkward…

I sling my duffel over my shoulder and wait for Hollis to unlock the front door. Inside, I drop the bag with a thud and kick off my boots. The others do the same.

“Honey, we’re home!” Hollis shouts.

Laughter echoes from upstairs.

My pulse speeds up when her footsteps approach the landing. She appears at the railing in fleece pants and a Briar sweatshirt, her hair up in a messy twist.

Hollis’s eyes glaze over. There’s nothing indecent about Summer’s outfit, but this girl could make a burlap sack look sexy.

“Hey. Welcome home!” she says cheerfully.

“Hey,” I call up to her. My voice sounds strained.

Hunter shrugs out of his coat and tosses it on the hook. “Blondie,” he drawls. “Glad you’re here.”

Hollis nods. “For real.”

“Aw, thanks. I’m glad to be here.”

“Hold on. You need a proper hello.” Grinning, Hunter bounds up the stairs.

Her cheeks go a little pink as he draws her into his arms for a hug.

I wrench my gaze away and pretend to be really focused with the task of hanging up my jacket. I don’t know if he kisses her or not, but Summer is still blushing when I force myself to turn back.

“Gonna get changed,” Hunter says.

He ducks into his room, and Hollis wanders off to the kitchen. Which means Summer and I are alone when I reach the second-floor landing.

She watches me warily. “Did you guys have a good time?”

I nod.

“Cool.” She edges toward her open bedroom door.

I peer past her slender shoulder and spot a perfectly made bed with a white duvet and about a hundred throw pillows. There’s a neon-pink beanbag chair on the floor, along with a shaggy white rug. An open laptop sits on a small corner desk that wasn’t there when Dean inhabited the room.

She’s made herself at home.

This is her home, a voice reminds me.

 

“Thanks for letting me—” She corrects herself. “—for agreeing to have me as a roommate.”

I shrug. “No prob. We needed a fourth.”

She’s still inching away, as if she doesn’t want to be near me. I wonder if she’s remembering how she practically threw herself at me on New Year’s Eve and then ended up playing tonsil hockey with my teammate.

Not that I’m bitter or anything.

“Anyway…” She trails off.

“Yeah. I…” I start traveling backward too. “I’m gonna grab a shower. We got one last run in—ah, round of Monopoly,” I amend, “before we left and I’m all sweaty.”

Summer raises her eyebrows. “I didn’t realize Monopoly was so strenuous.”

Hunter snickers from his doorway.

I turn to glare at him, because he’s the one who came up with the Monopoly alibi in the first place, but he’s not there. He’s moved past the doorway as he shrugs into a shirt.

“Board games are intense,” I answer lamely. “At least the way we play ‘em.”

“Interesting. I can’t wait for roomie game night, then.” Her shoulder bumps the door as her backward journey ends. “Enjoy your shower, Fitz.”

She disappears into her bedroom, and I lumber into mine. When my phone buzzes, I almost fall over with relief. I need the distraction before I start thinking too hard about how fucking awkward that whole encounter was.

 

 

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Jul 062019
 
 6 July 2019  Posted by  Tagged with: ,  No Responses »

The Score (Off-Campus Book 3)
by Elle Kennedy
New York Times bestseller Elle Kennedy brings you a sexy new Off-Campus novel that can be read as a standalone…

He knows how to score, on and off the ice

Allie Hayes is in crisis mode. With graduation looming, she still doesn’t have the first clue about what she’s going to do after college. To make matters worse, she’s nursing a broken heart thanks to the end of her longtime relationship. Wild rebound sex is definitely not the solution to her problems, but gorgeous hockey star Dean Di Laurentis is impossible to resist. Just once, though, because even if her future is uncertain, it sure as heck won’t include the king of one-night stands.

It’ll take more than flashy moves to win her over

Dean always gets what he wants. Girls, grades, girls, recognition, girls…he’s a ladies man, all right, and he’s yet to meet a woman who’s immune to his charms. Until Allie. For one night, the feisty blonde rocked his entire world—and now she wants to be friends? Nope. It’s not over until he says it’s over. Dean is in full-on pursuit, but when life-rocking changes strike, he starts to wonder if maybe it’s time to stop focusing on scoring…and shoot for love.

Excerpt The Score by Elle Kennedy

“This movie blows!” He groans. Loudly. “There. I said it. This movie blows.”
“I think it’s good.” I’m lying. Enduring this film is the equivalent of watching paint dry. Not even the pot we just smoked can make this experience even the slightest bit enjoyable, but I don’t want to admit that I’d made the wrong choice.
You can’t give a guy like Dean the win.
Ever. He’ll lord it over me until the end of time.
“There’s no way you like this movie,” he challenges.
“I do,” I insist.
He stares me down for several seconds, but my acting skills come in handy, allowing me to convey pure innocence.
“Well, I don’t. This is a whole new level of brutal.”
I offer a helpful suggestion. “Why don’t you go upstairs and jerk off again?”
Shit. Wrong thing to say. His green eyes instantly take on a seductive glint.
With a lazy grin, he leans toward me and drawls, “How about you do it for me?”
This guy is incorrigible. “Are we back to this? Do you ever take no for an answer?”
“I’m not familiar with that word. Nobody’s ever said it to me before.” He moves closer again, resting his palm on the cushion between us and giving the fabric a slow stroke. “Come on, let’s make this party more interesting. We’re home alone…we’re both good-looking…”
I snicker.
“It’ll be fun. Sex is always fun.”
“Pass.”
“Okay, no sex. How about just oral?”
I pretend to think it over. “Am I giving or receiving?”
“Receiving. And then giving. Because that’s how it goes.” He smiles broadly. “You know, the circle of life and all that.”
I can’t help but laugh. Say what you want about this guy, but at least he’s entertaining.

The Deal

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Jul 052019
 
 5 July 2019  Posted by  Tagged with: ,  No Responses »

The Mistake (Off-Campus Book 2)
by Elle Kennedy
New York Times bestseller Elle Kennedy brings you a sexy new Off-Campus novel that can be read as a standalone…

He’s a player in more ways than one…

College junior John Logan can get any girl he wants. For this hockey star, life is a parade of parties and hook-ups, but behind his killer grins and easygoing charm, he hides growing despair about the dead-end road he’ll be forced to walk after graduation. A sexy encounter with freshman Grace Ivers is just the distraction he needs, but when a thoughtless mistake pushes her away, Logan plans to spend his final year proving to her that he’s worth a second chance.

Now he’s going to need to up his game…

After a less than stellar freshman year, Grace is back at Briar University, older, wiser, and so over the arrogant hockey player she nearly handed her V-card to. She’s not a charity case, and she’s not the quiet butterfly she was when they first hooked up. If Logan expects her to roll over and beg like all his other puck bunnies, he can think again. He wants her back? He’ll have to work for it. This time around, she’ll be the one in the driver’s seat…and she plans on driving him wild.

Excerpt The Mistake by Elle Kennedy

#1
Logan just being Logan
The bell over the door dings loudly, and my head involuntarily swivels toward it, then immediately swivels back. I hunch over, hoping my hair will shield my face from view of the newcomers.
The newcomers being Logan and four of his friends.
Crap.
Maybe he won’t notice me. Maybe I can sneak out before he does.
I don’t want to draw any attention to myself, so I don’t get up right away. Logan and his buddies approach the order counter, and every gaze in the coffee house hangs on their every move. Something about these guys changes the air in the room on a molecular level. They’re larger than life, and not just because they’re all tall, strapping hockey players. It’s the confidence with which they walk, the good-natured insults they toss back and forth, the easy grins they flash to people.
I know I should be skulking off, but I can’t look away. It’s almost criminal how attractive he is. Granted, I’m only looking at the back of his head, but it’s a very sexy back of the head. And it’s so easy to pick him out as an athlete. The long limbs and toned muscles beneath his cargo pants and snug T-shirt create a drool-worthy package that my fingers itch to unwrap.
Argh. I need to drag my head out of the gutter. Lusting over him is too close to liking him, and I’m not ready to open that door yet. If ever.
But common sense comes too late, because Logan is now moving away from the counter and marching in my direction.
“Hey, gorgeous.” He slides in the seat across from me and places a chocolate-chip muffin on the table. “I got you a muffin.”
Damn it, I guess he’d noticed me right when he’d walked in.
“Why?” I ask in suspicion, and without saying hi.
“’Cause I wanted to get you something, and you already have coffee. Ergo, muffin.”
I raise one eyebrow. “Are you trying to buy your way into my good graces?”
“Yup. And excellent pun, by the way.”
“I wasn’t punning. My name just happens to be a homonym.”
His blue eyes gleam as he downright smolders at me. “I love it when you talk homonyms to me.”
“Uh-huh.” I choke back a laugh. “I appreciate the gesture, but do you really think a muffin is going to wow me?”
“Don’t worry, I’ll buy you an entire meal when we’re out on our date.” He winks. “Anything you want off the menu.”
Damn him and his seductive winking powers.
“Speaking of that, when should we do it?”
I eye him warily. “Do what?”

“Go out.” His head tilts in a thoughtful pose. “I’m free tonight. Or any night, really. My schedule is wide open.”
God, this guy is incorrigible. And too damn gorgeous for his own good. His chiseled jaw is covered with scruff, as if he hasn’t shaved in a few days, and my tongue tingles with the urge to lick a path along the strong line of his chin. This is the first time I’ve ever wanted to lick a guy’s stubble. What is the matter with me?
“Congrats on your wide-open schedule,” I grumble. “But I’m not going out with you.”
Logan grins. “Tonight, or in general?”
“Both.”
We’re interrupted by the arrival of one of his friends. “Ready?” the guy asks Logan as he flips the top of his coffee cup.
“Go away, G. I’m wooing.”
His friend snickers, then turns to me. “Hey, I’m Garrett.”
Right. As if I don’t know who he is. Garrett Graham is a legend at this school, for fuck’s sake. He’s also incredibly good-looking, the kind of good-looking that brings a blush to my cheeks despite the fact I’m not even interested in the guy.
“I’m Grace,” I answer politely.
“I didn’t mean to interrupt.” He edges away, a barely restrained smile on his lips. “I’ll wait outside so my boy can keep, ah, wooing.”
“No need. We’re all done here.” I scrape my chair back and hop to my feet.
“We most certainly are not,” Logan mutters.
Amused, Garrett glances from me to Logan. “I took a mandatory conflict resolution seminar back in high school. Do you guys need a mediator?”
I pick up my coffee. “Well, the stenographer who follows me around is on a lunch break, but I can catch you up no problem. Logan asked me out, and I solved the conflict by respectfully declining. There. I did all the work for you.”
Garrett laughs loud enough to attract the attention of everyone around us, including the three hockey players who wander over from the counter.
“What’s so funny?” Dean asks curiously. He notices me and offers a delighted smile. “Grace. Long time. I’m loving the hair.”
I’m surprised he even remembers my name. “Thanks.” I inch closer to the door. “I’ve gotta go. See you around, Logan. And, uh, you too, Logan’s friends.”
I’m halfway out the door when I hear him call, “You forgot your muffin.”
“No, I didn’t,” I answer without turning around.

Male laughter tickles my spine as the door closes behind me.

#2

Kissing Logan is the single most incredible thing I’ve ever experienced. Forget that family vacation to Egypt when I was nine. The glory of the pyramids and temples and the frickin’ Sphinx is nothing compared to the feel of this guy’s lips on mine.

Our tongues meet, and he makes another low, husky sound, gliding one hand up my body to cup my left breast. Oh shit. Boob groping alert. I thought we were just going to make out, but now we’re fooling around.

I’m not wearing a bra under my tank top, so when his thumb brushes the very thin fabric and presses down on my nipple, it sends a bolt of heat from the tips of my breasts right down to my clit. My entire body is hot and achy, tight with excitement. Logan’s tongue explores my mouth as he rubs my distended nipple, his hips moving slightly against my hip. His erection is like a hot brand on the side of my thigh, and I’m unbelievably turned on by the knowledge that I’m turning him on.

Breathing heavily, he wrenches our mouths apart. “Should I be worried that your roommate is going to walk in on us?”

“No, she’s not coming home tonight. She went to some bar in town, and then she’s planning on crashing with this girl Caitlin from Kappa Beta. Which I think is a really bad idea because the last time she went out with Caitlin, they almost got arrested for public drunkenness, but then Ramona flirted with the cop and—”

Logan shuts me up with another kiss. “No would have sufficed,” he murmurs against my lips. Then he reaches for my hand and places it directly on the hard bulge in his pants. In the same breath, he cups my sex over my PJs.

Oh crap. Downstairs action alert.

I’m not worried about my response to his hand—one slow glide of his palm is all it takes for a burst of pleasure to erupt inside me. Nope, it’s my hand that triggers the rush of nervousness. The hand that’s currently stroking the erection straining behind Logan’s zipper.

I’ve given handjobs before, plus a few blowjobs that I know were a huge success because…well, semen and all that. But I don’t have enough experience to consider myself an expert penis-wrangler or anything. And all those past penis encounters involved one guy, my high school boyfriend Brandon, who was equally inexperienced.

If the rumors I’ve heard about Logan are true, then this guy has slept with half the girls at Briar. Sounds like an insanely high statistic, so I’m sure it’s not accurate, but he’s definitely hooked up with more people than I have.

“Is this okay?” he asks as he strokes between my legs.

I nod and stroke him again, and a tortured moan slips out of his mouth.

“F*ck, hold on.” He shifts on the mattress, and my heart stops when he unzips his pants. He eases them down just low enough to free his erection from his boxers, then tugs on the waistbands of my PJs and underwear.

A second later, his hand grazes my bare sex, and my hips lift involuntarily, seeking closer contact.

Logan teases the tip of his index finger over my clit. “Better?” he says, his voice thick and raspy.

So much better. And so good it makes my head spin, limiting my response to a breathy mumble of nonsense.

 

 

The Deal

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The Mistake

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The Score

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The Goal

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Newsletter

Jul 042019
 
 4 July 2019  Posted by  Tagged with: ,  No Responses »

The Deal (Off-Campus Book 1) by Elle Kennedy
BLURB:
New York Times bestseller Elle Kennedy brings you a sexy new Off-Campus novel that can be read as a standalone…

She’s about to make a deal with the college bad boy…

Hannah Wells has finally found someone who turns her on. But while she might be confident in every other area of her life, she’s carting around a full set of baggage when it comes to sex and seduction. If she wants to get her crush’s attention, she’ll have to step out of her comfort zone and make him take notice…even if it means tutoring the annoying, childish, cocky captain of the hockey team in exchange for a pretend date.

…and it’s going to be oh so good

All Garrett Graham has ever wanted is to play professional hockey after graduation, but his plummeting GPA is threatening everything he’s worked so hard for. If helping a sarcastic brunette make another guy jealous will help him secure his position on the team, he’s all for it. But when one unexpected kiss leads to the wildest sex of both their lives, it doesn’t take long for Garrett to realize that pretend isn’t going to cut it. Now he just has to convince Hannah that the man she wants looks a lot like him.

Excerpt The Deal  – book 1 Off Campus Series by Elle Kennedy

#1

Garrett just being Garrett

A pink blush blooms in her cheeks. I love how quickly she goes from serious and sassy to shy and innocent.

 

“By the way, you can’t do that on Saturday,” I inform her.

“What, strip?” she says mockingly.

“No, blush like a tomato every time I make a lewd comment.”

Hannah arches one brow. “How many lewd comments do you plan on making?”

I grin. “Depends on how much I have to drink.”

She lets out an exasperated breath, and a strand of dark hair comes loose from her ponytail and falls onto her forehead. Without thinking, I reach out and tuck the errant strand behind her ear.

The instantaneous tensing of her shoulders brings a frown to my lips. “You can’t do that either. Freeze up when I touch you.”

Alarm flits through her eyes. “Why would you touch me?”

“Because I’m supposed to be your date. Have you met me? I’m a handsy guy.”

“Well, you can keep your hands to yourself on Saturday,” she says primly.

“Good plan. And then Loverboy will think we’re just friends. Or enemies, depending on how jumpy you get.”

She bites her lip, and her visible agitation only makes me tease her harder. “Oh, and I might kiss you, too.”

Now she glares at me. “No way.”

“Do you or do you not want Kohl to think you’re into me? Because if you do, you’ll need to at least try to act like it.”

“That’s going to be tough,” she says with a smirk.

“Bullshit. You like me lots.”

She snorts.

“I’m totally digging that snorting thing you do,” I tell her frankly. “It’s kind of a turn on.”

“Would you quit it?” she grumbles. “He’s not in the room right now. You can save the flirting for Saturday.”

“I’m trying to get you used to it.” I pause as if I’m mulling something over, but really, I’m getting a huge kick out of making Hannah squirm. “Actually, the more I think about it, the more I’m wondering if we should warm up.”

 

“Warm up? What the hell does that mean?”

I slant my head. “What do you think I do before a game, Wellsy? Just show up at the rink and throw my skates on? Of course not. I practice six days a week to get ready. Ice time, weight room, watching game tapes, strategy meetings. Think of all the advance prep that goes into it.”

“This isn’t a game,” she says irritably. “It’s a fake date.”

“But it needs to look real for Loverboy.”

“Would you stop calling him that?”

Nope, I have no plans to stop. I like how angry it makes her. In fact, I like pissing her off, period. Every time Hannah gets mad, her green eyes blaze and her cheeks turn the cutest shade of pink.

“So yeah,” I say with a nod. “If I’m going to be touching and kissing you on Saturday, I think it’s imperative that we rehearse.” I lick my lips again. “Thoroughly.”

“I honestly can’t decide if you’re messing with me right now.” She blows out an annoyed breath. “Either way, I’m not letting you touch or kiss me, so wipe all those dirty ideas out of your head. If you want some action, call Tiffany.”

“Yeah, that’s not gonna happen.”

There’s a bite to Hannah’s tone. “Why not? You seemed pretty into her last night.”

“It was a one-time hook up. And stop trying to change the subject.” I grin at her. “Why don’t you want to kiss me?” I narrow my eyes. “Oh shit. There’s only one explanation I can think of.” I pause. “You’re a bad kisser.”

Her jaw drops in outrage. “I most certainly am not.”

“Yeah?” I lower my voice to a seductive pitch. “Prove it.”

#2

The second I walk into the room, six-foot-two and two hundred pounds of Garrett Graham block my path.

“Wellsy,” he says cheerfully. “You’re the last person I expected to see here tonight.”

As usual, his presence causes my guard to snap into place. “Yeah? Why’s that?”

He shrugs. “I didn’t think frat parties were your scene.”

“Well, you don’t know me, remember? Maybe I’m partying it up on Greek Row every night.”

“Liar. I would’ve seen you here before.”

He crosses his arms over his chest, a pose that causes his biceps to flex. I glimpse the bottom of a tattoo peeking out from his sleeve, but I can’t tell what it is, only that it’s black and looks intricate. Flames maybe?

“So, about this tutoring thing… I thought we should take a moment to set up a schedule.”

Aggravation shoots up my spine. “You don’t give up, do you?”

“Never.”

“Then you need to start, because I’m not tutoring you.” I’m distracted now. Justin has reentered the room, his long, lithe body moving through the crowd as he makes his way to the pool table. He’s halfway there when a pretty brunette intercepts him. To my dismay, he stops to talk to her.

“Come on, Wellsy, help a guy out,” Garrett begs.

Justin laughs at something the girl says. Same way he was laughing with me a minute ago. And when she touches his arm and leans in close, he doesn’t back away.

“Look, if you don’t want to commit to the whole semester, at least help me pass this midterm. I’ll owe you one.”

I’m no longer paying Garrett even a lick of attention. Justin leans in to whisper in the girl’s ear. She giggles, her cheeks turn a rosy shade of pink, and my heart plummets to the pit of my stomach. I was so sure we’d been, I don’t know, connecting, but now he’s flirting with someone else?

“You’re not even listening to me,” Garrett accuses. “Who are you looking at, anyway?”

I tear my eyes off Justin and the brunette, but not fast enough.

Garrett grins when he notices where my gaze was. “Which one?” he demands.

“Which one what?”

He cocks his head at Justin, then shifts it five feet to the right, where I notice Jimmy talking to one of his frat brothers. “Paulson or Kohl—which one do you want to bone?”

“Bone?” He has my attention again. “Ugh. Who says stuff like that?”

“Fine, should I rephrase? Which one do you want to fuck or screw or drill or make love to, if that’s your thing.”

I set my jaw. This guy is such an asshole.

When I don’t answer, he answers for me. “Kohl,” he decides. “I saw you dancing with Paulson earlier and you definitely weren’t making googly eyes at him.”

I don’t confirm or deny it. Instead I take a step away. “Have a good night, Garrett.”

“I hate to break it to you, but it ain’t gonna happen, Wellsy. You’re not his type.”

Anger and embarrassment flood my belly. Wow. Had he really just said that?

“Thanks for the tip,” I say coolly. “Now if you’ll excuse me…”

He tries reaching for my arm but I bulldoze past him and leave him in my proverbial dust.

I do a quick search of the room for Allie, halting in my tracks when I spot her making out with Sean on the couch. I don’t want to interrupt them, so I spin on my heel and head toward the front door instead. My fingers are shaky as I text Allie to let her know I’m taking off. Garrett’s blunt assertion—you’re not his type—echoes in my mind like a depressing mantra. Truth is, it’s exactly what I needed to hear. So what if Justin spoke to me in the hallway? Obviously it meant nothing, because in the next breath he turned around and flirted with someone else. It’s time for me to face reality. It’s not going to happen with me and Justin, no matter how badly I want it to.

It was stupid of me to come here tonight.

 

 

The Deal

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The Mistake

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The Score

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The Goal

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Newsletter

Jun 272019
 
 27 June 2019  Posted by  Tagged with: ,  No Responses »

The Risk (Briar U Book 2)
by Elle Kennedy
A sexy standalone novel from New York Times and international bestselling author Elle Kennedy.

Everyone says I’m a bad girl. They’re only partly right—I don’t let fear rule me, and I certainly don’t care what people think. But I draw the line at sleeping with the enemy. As the daughter of Briar’s head hockey coach, I’d be vilified if I hooked up with a player from a rival team.

And that’s who Jake Connelly is. Harvard’s star forward is arrogant, annoying, and too attractive for his own good. But fate is cruel—I require his help to secure a much-coveted internship, and the sexy jerk isn’t making it easy for me.

I need Connelly to be my fake boyfriend.

For every fake date…he wants a real one.

Which means this bad girl is in big trouble. Nothing good can come from sneaking around with Jake Connelly. My father would kill me, my friends will revolt, and my post-college career is on the line. But while it’s getting harder and harder to resist Jake’s oozing sex appeal and cocky grin, I refuse to fall for him.

That’s the one risk I’m not willing to take.

Excerpt The Risk by Elle Kennedy
Chapter One
Brenna

My date is late.

Now, I’m not a total bitch. Usually I’ll give guys a five-minute window. I can forgive five minutes of tardiness.

At seven minutes, I might still be somewhat receptive, especially if the lateness is accompanied by a heads-up call or text informing me he’s going to be late. Traffic is an evil mistress. Sometimes she screws you.

At ten minutes, my patience would be running thin. And if the inconsiderate ass is both ten minutes late and didn’t call? Thank you, next. I’m walking right out the door.

At fifteen minutes, shame on me. Why the hell am I still at the restaurant?

Or, in this particular case, the diner.

I’m sitting in a booth at Della’s, the ’50s-themed diner in Hastings. Hastings is the small town I’m calling home for the next couple of years, but luckily, I don’t need to call my father’s house “home.” Dad and I might live in the same town, but before I transferred to Briar University, I made it clear I wouldn’t be moving in with him. I already left that nest. No way am I flying back to it and subjecting myself to his overprotectiveness and terrible cooking again.

“Can I get you another coffee, hon?” The waitress, a curly-haired woman in a white-and-blue polyester uniform, eyes me sympathetically. She looks to be in her late twenties. Her nametag reads “Stacy,” and I’m pretty sure she knows I’ve been ditched.

“No, thanks. Just the bill, please.”

As she walks off, I pick up my phone and shoot a quick text to my friend Summer. This is all her fault. Therefore she must face my wrath.

ME: He stood me up.

Summer answers instantly, as if she’s been sitting by her phone waiting for a report. Actually, forget “as if.” She totally has. My new friend is unapologetically nosy.

SUMMER: OMG! NO!!

ME: Yes.

SUMMER: What. a. dick. I am so so so so sorry, Bee.

ME: Meh. Part of me’s not surprised. He’s a football player. They’re notorious douchecanoes.

SUMMER: I thought Jules was different.

ME: You thought wrong.

Three dots appear, indicating she’s typing a response, but I already know what it will be. Another long-winded apology, which I’m not in the mood to read at the moment. I’m not in the mood for anything but paying for my coffee, walking back to my tiny apartment, and taking off my bra.

Stupid football player. I actually put makeup on for this jerk. Yes, it was just supposed to be an evening coffee date, but I still made an effort.

I bend my head as I rummage around in my wallet for small bills. When a shadow falls over the tabletop, I assume it’s Stacy returning with my check.

I assume wrong.

“Jensen,” drawls an insolent male voice. “Got stood up, eh?”

Ugh. Of all the people who could’ve shown up right now, this is the last one I want to see.

As Jake Connelly slides into the other side of the booth, I greet him with a suspicious scowl rather than a smile. “What are you doing here?” I ask.

Connelly is the captain of the Harvard hockey team, AKA, THE ENEMY. Harvard and Briar are rivals, and my father happens to be the head coach of the latter. He’s coached at Briar for ten years, winning three championships during that reign. The Age of Jensen—that was the headline of a recent article I read in one of the New England papers. It was a full-page write-up about how Briar is killing it this season. Unfortunately, so is Harvard, all thanks to the superstar across the booth from me.

“I was in the neighborhood.” There’s an amused gleam in his forest-green eyes.

The last time I saw him, he and a teammate were lurking in the stands of Briar’s arena, scoping us out. Not long after, we kicked their asses when our teams played each other. Which was tremendously satisfying and made up for our loss against them earlier in the season.

“Mmm-hmmm, I’m sure you just happened to be in Hastings. Don’t you live in Cambridge?”

“So?”

“So that’s an hour away.” I give him a smirk. “I didn’t know I had a stalker.”

“You got me. I’m stalking you.”

“I’m flattered, Jakey. It’s been a while since someone was so besotted with me that they drove to a whole other town to track me down.”

His lips slowly curve into a smile. “Look, as hot as you are—”

“Aw, you think I’m a hottie?”

“—I wouldn’t spend the gas money to come here just to get my balls put through the wringer. Sorry to disappoint.” He runs a hand through his dark hair. It’s a bit shorter now, and he’s rocking some scruff that shadows his jaw.

“You say that as if I have any interest in your balls,” I answer sweetly.

“My metaphorical balls. You wouldn’t be able to handle the real ones,” he drawls. “Hottie.”

I roll my eyes so hard I almost pull a muscle. “Seriously, Connelly. Why are you here?”

“I was visiting a friend. This looked like a good place to grab some coffee before I drive back to the city.”

“You have a friend? Well, that’s a relief. I’ve seen you hanging out with your teammates, but I assumed they have to pretend to like you because you’re their captain.”

“They like me because I’m fucking terrific.” He flashes another grin.
Panty-melting. That’s how Summer described his smile once. I swear, the chick has an unhealthy obsession with Connelly’s chiseled good looks. Phrases she’s thrown around to describe him include: hotness overload, ovary explosion, babelicious, and mackable.

Summer and I have known each other only a couple of months. We pretty much went from strangers to best friends in about, oh, thirty seconds. I mean, she transferred from another college after accidentally setting part of her sorority house on fire—how could I not fall hard for that crazy girl? She’s a fashion major, a ton of fun, and is convinced I have a thing for Jake Connelly.

She’s wrong. The guy is gorgeous, and he’s a phenomenal hockey player, but he’s also a notorious player off the ice. This doesn’t make him an anomaly, of course. A lot of athletes maintain an active roster of chicks who are perfectly content with 1) hooking up, 2) not being exclusive, and 3) always coming second to whatever sport the dude plays.

But I’m not one of those chicks. I’m not averse to hookups, but numbers 2 and 3 are non-negotiable.

Not to mention that my father would skin me alive if I ever dated THE ENEMY. Dad and Jake’s coach, Daryl Pedersen, have been feuding for years. According to my father, Coach Pedersen sacrifices babies to Satan and performs blood magic in his spare time.

“I have lots of friends,” Connelly adds. He shrugs. “Including a very close one who goes to Briar.”

“I feel like when somebody brags about all their friends, it usually means they don’t have any. Overcompensating, you know?” I smile innocently.

“At least I didn’t get stood up.”

The smile fades. “I wasn’t stood up,” I lie, except the waitress chooses that moment to approach the booth and blow my cover.

“You made it!” Relief fills her eyes at the sight of Jake. Followed by a gleam of appreciation once she gets a good look at him. “We were starting to get worried.”

We? I hadn’t realized we were partners in this humiliation venture.

“The roads were slick,” Jake tells her, nodding toward the diner’s front windows. Rivulets of moisture streak the fogged-up panes. Beyond the glass a thin stripe of lightning momentarily illuminates the dark sky. “Gotta be extra careful when driving in the rain, you know?”

She nods fervently. “The roads get really wet when it’s raining.”

No shit, Captain Obvious. Rain makes things wet. Somebody call the Nobel Prize judging committee.

Jake’s lips twitch.

“Could I get you anything to drink?” she asks.

I shoot him a warning glare.

He responds with a smirk before turning to wink at her. “I would love a cup of coffee—” He squints at her nametag, “—Stacy. And a refill for my sulking date.”

“I don’t want a refill, and I’m not his date,” I growl.

Stacy blinks in confusion. “Oh? But…”

“He’s a Harvard spy sent here to get the goods on Briar’s hockey team. Don’t humor him, Stacy. He’s the enemy.”

“So dramatic.” Jake chuckles. “Ignore her, Stace. She’s just mad that I was late. Two coffees, and some pie, if you don’t mind. A slice of…” His gaze travels to the glass cases at the main counter. “Oh damn, I can’t decide. Everything looks so tasty.”

“Yes you are,” I hear Stacy mumble under her breath.

“What was that?” he asks, but his slight smile tells me he heard her loud and clear.

She blushes. “Oh, um, I was saying we only have peach and pecan left.”

“Hmmm.” He licks his bottom lip. It’s a ridiculously sexy move. Everything about him is sexy. Which is why I hate him. “You know what? One of each, please. My date and I will share ’em.”

“We most certainly will not,” I say cheerfully, but Stacy is already hurrying off to procure some stupid pie for King Connelly.

Fuck.

“Listen, as much as I enjoy discussing how your team is trash, I’m too tired to insult you tonight.” I try to tamp down my weariness, but it creeps into my voice. “I want to go home.”
“Not yet.” The lighthearted, somewhat mocking vibe he’s been giving off hardens into something more serious. “I didn’t come to Hastings for you, but now that we’re having coffee together—”

“Against my will,” I cut in.

“—there’s something we need to discuss.”

“Oh, is there?” Despite myself, curiosity pricks at my gut. I cover it up with sarcasm. “I can’t wait to hear it.”

Jake clasps his hands on the tabletop. He has great hands. Like, really, really great hands. I’ve got a bit of an obsession with men’s hands. If they’re too small, I’m instantly turned off. Too big and meaty, and I’m a bit apprehensive. But Connelly has been blessed with a winning pair. His fingers are long but not bony. Palms large and powerful but not beefy. His nails are clean, but two of his knuckles are red and cracked, probably from a skirmish on the ice. I can’t see his fingertips, but I’d bet they’re callused.

I love the way calluses feel trailing over my bare skin, grazing a nipple…

Ugh. Nope. I’m not allowed to be thinking racy thoughts in the vicinity of this man.

“I want you to stay the hell away from my guy.” Although he punctuates that by baring his teeth, it can’t be classified as a smile. It’s too feral.

“What guy?” But we both know I know who he means. I can count on one finger of one hand how many Harvard players I’ve fooled around with.

I met Josh McCarthy at a Harvard party that Summer dragged me to a while back. He initially threw a tantrum when he found out I was Chad Jensen’s daughter, but then recognized the error of his ways, apologized via social media, and we got together a few times after that. McCarthy’s cute, goofy, and a solid candidate in terms of FWBs. With him living in Boston, there’s no chance of him smothering me with affection or showing up at my door unannounced.

Obviously, he isn’t a long-term option. And that goes beyond the whole my-father-would-murder-me matter. Truth is, McCarthy doesn’t stimulate me. His sarcasm skills are severely lacking, and he’s a bit boring when his tongue isn’t in my mouth.

“I mean it, Jensen. I don’t want you messing with McCarthy.”

“Jeez, Mama Bear, retract those claws. It’s just a casual thing.”

“Casual,” he echoes. It’s not a question, but a mocking I-don’t-believe-you.

“Yes, casual. Would you like me to ask Siri to define the word for you? Casual means it isn’t serious. At all.”

“It is for him.”

I roll my eyes. “Well, that’s him, not me.”

Yet, inside, I’m troubled by Jake’s frank assessment. It is for him.

Oh boy. I hope that isn’t true. Yes, McCarthy texts me a lot, but I’ve been trying not to engage unless it’s something sexy. I don’t even respond with “LOL” when he sends me a funny video link, because I don’t want to lead him on.

But…maybe I didn’t make our fling status as clear as I thought I did?
“I’m tired of watching him walk around like a lovesick puppy.” Jake shakes his head in aggravation. “He has it bad, and this bullshit is distracting him at practice.”

“Again, how is that my problem?”

“We’re smack in the middle of the conference tournament. I know what you’re doing, Jensen, and you need to stop.”

“Stop what?”

“Stop fucking around with McCarthy. Tell him you’re not interested and don’t see him again. The end.”

I mock-pout. “Oh, Daddy. You’re so strict.”

“I’m not your daddy.” His lips curve again. “Though I could be if you want.”

“Oh gross. I’m not calling you ‘Daddy’ in bed.”

Proving she’s the master of bad timing, Stacy returns as those words exit my mouth.

Her step stutters. The loaded tray she’s carrying shakes precariously. Silverware clinks together. I brace myself, expecting a waterfall of hot coffee to scald my face as Stacy lunges forward. But she recovers quickly, righting herself before disaster strikes.

“Coffee and pie!” Her tone is high and bright, as if she hadn’t overheard a thing.

“Thanks, Stacy,” Jake says graciously. “I’m sorry for my date’s potty mouth. You can see why I don’t take her out in public much.”

Stacy’s cheeks are flushed with embarrassment as she scurries off.

“You traumatized her for life with your filthy sex fantasies,” he informs me before digging into his pie.

“Sorry, Daddy.”

He snickers mid-bite, a few crumbs flying out of his mouth. He picks up his napkin. “You’re not allowed to call me that in public.” Mischief dances in his green eyes. “Save it for later.”

The other slice—pecan, from the looks of it—sits untouched in front of me. I reach for the coffee instead. I need another hit of caffeine to sharpen my senses. I don’t like being here with Connelly. What if someone sees us?

“Or maybe I’ll save it for McCarthy,” I counter.

“Nah. You won’t do that.” He gulps down another bite of his pie. “You’re breaking it off with him, remember?”

Okay, he really needs to stop issuing orders about my sex life as if he actually has a say in it. “You don’t get to make decisions for me. If I want to date McCarthy, I’ll date him. If I don’t want to date McCarthy, I won’t date him.”

“Okay.” He chews slowly, then swallows. “Do you want to date McCarthy?”

“Date, no.”

“Good, so we’re on the same page.”

I purse my lips before taking a slow sip. “Hmmm. I don’t think I like being on the same page as you. I might be changing my mind about the dating scenario… I should ask him to be my boyfriend. Do you know where I can buy a promise ring?”

Jake breaks off a flaky piece of crust with his fork. “You haven’t changed your mind. You were over him five minutes after you had him. There’re only two reasons why you’re still screwing him—either you’re bored, or you’re trying to sabotage us.”

“Is that so?”

“Yup. Nothing holds your attention for long. And I know McCarthy—he’s a good kid. Funny, sweet, but that’s his downfall right there. ‘Sweet’ won’t cut it with a woman like you.”

“There you go again, thinking you know me so well.”

“I know you’re Chad Jensen’s daughter. I know you would take any opportunity to mess with my players’ heads. I know we’re probably going to be facing off with Briar in the conference finals in a few weeks, and the winner of that game gets an automatic bid to the national tournament—”

“That auto-bid will be ours,” I chirp.

“I want my boys sharp and focused on the game. Everyone says your dad’s a straight shooter. I was hoping the same thing could be said for his daughter.” He tsks in disapproval. “And here you are, playing games with poor, sweet McCarthy.”

“I’m not playing games,” I say irritably. “We hook up sometimes. It’s fun. Contrary to what you believe, the decisions I make have nothing to do with my father or his team.”

“Well, the decisions I make are for my team,” he retorts. “And I’ve decided I want you to stay the hell away from my boys.” He swallows another mouthful of pie. “Fuck, this is excellent. You want some?” He holds his fork out.

“I’d rather die than put my lips on that fork.”

He just laughs. “I want to try the pecan. You mind?”

I stare at him. “You’re the one who ordered the damn thing.”

“Wow, you’re cranky tonight, Hottie. I guess I would be too if I got stood up.”

“I didn’t get stood up.”

“What’s his name and address? Want me to go rough him up a bit?”

I grit my teeth.

He takes a bite of the untouched dessert in front of me. “Ah fuck, this one is even better. Mmmm. Ohhh, that’s good.”

And suddenly the captain of the Harvard hockey team is groaning and grunting in pleasure as if he’s acting out a scene from American Pie. I try to remain unaffected, but that traitorous spot between my legs has other ideas, tingling wildly at Jake Connelly’s sex noises.

“May I go now?” I growl. Except, wait a sec. Why am I asking for permission? Nobody is holding me hostage here. I can’t deny I’m mildly entertained, but this guy also just accused me of sleeping with his guys to ruin Harvard’s chances of beating Briar.

I love my team, but not that much.

“Sure. Go if you want. But first text McCarthy to tell him it’s over.”

“Sorry, Jakey. I don’t take orders from you.”

“You do now. I need McCarthy’s head in the game. End it.”

I jut my chin in a stubborn pose. Yes, I need to define things with Josh. I thought I’d stressed the casual nature of our involvement, but evidently he’s reading a lot more into it if his team captain is referring to him as “lovesick.”

However, I also don’t want to give Connelly the satisfaction of siding with him. I’m petty like that.

“I don’t take orders from you,” I repeat, tucking a five-dollar bill under my half-empty cup. That should cover my coffee, Stacy’s tip, and any emotional distress she may have suffered tonight. “I’ll do whatever I want with McCarthy. Maybe I’ll give him a call right now.”

Jake narrows his eyes. “Are you always this difficult?”

“Yes.” Smiling, I slide out of the booth and slip into my leather jacket. “Safe drive back to Boston, Connelly. I’ve been told that the roads get really wet when it’s raining.”

He chuckles softly.

I zip up my jacket, then lean forward and bring my mouth inches from his ear. “Oh, and Jakey?” I swear I hear his breath hitch. “I’ll be sure to save you a seat behind the Briar bench at the Frozen Four.”

The Chase

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The Risk

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The Play

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