Author: Jennifer Dawson
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Series?: Undone #3
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance w/BDSM elements
One night in a moment of sheer madness I confessed my secrets to him. All my life I’ve been pretending. Pretending to be the woman I thought I should be instead of the woman I really am. I’ve been faking it and I am good. No one has ever guessed. Except him. He just looked at me and knew.
Chad Fellows is not the man I want, but he’s fast becoming the man I need.
One night in a moment of sheer madness I held her in my arms and let her cry. I did the right thing, letting her walk away, no matter how much she calls to the part of me that wants to rescue her. We are nothing alike, and she’s a mess of complications in a life I’m trying to keep simple. But then I touched her and made her tremble and now I can’t turn away.
Ruby Stiles is not the woman I want, but she’s fast becoming the woman I need.
I keep my eye on Ruby Stiles, even though I want to forget that night where I’d held her in my arms while she cried. I have a lot going on right now, work’s crazy, I just got a promotion and my competition for the job now works for, and hates, me. I’ve got building development going on—a little side project I started with one of my friends— that’s now taken on a life of its own. I’m putting everything I have into business right now and Ruby is not something I want to distract me.
It’s why I didn’t press after I called her the day after Valentine’s and she gave me the brush off, even though I wanted to. I’d hung up the phone and sighed in relief, because when I’d called I’d been half afraid she’d want to follow up on what had gone down between us the night before. Most guys in my situation wouldn’t have called Ruby at all, but I’m unfailingly responsible, especially when it comes to women. I’d done the right thing, ensured she was okay, and asked if she needed to talk. She’d said no.
Responsibility absolved. That should have been the end of it.
Only, I haven’t been able to get her out of my mind since that night. That strange, perception-altering night, where nothing played out as I’d been expecting. Before then, I’d always viewed Layla Hunter’s best friend as a pretty rocker girl with whom I have nothing in common. She’s beautiful and has a body that won’t quit, but she didn’t interest me that way I need a woman to interest me.
Then Valentine’s happened and—I don’t know—something changed between us.
I can still feel her quivering, trembling body in my arms. The stain of tears on her cheeks as she looked up at me with her blue, watery, desperate gaze. Still remember the sound of her voice as she spilled her secrets.
She is nothing I need in my life right now. And even though I don’t want anything to do with the complications she presents, I can’t take my eyes off her.
As Ashley drones on and on about a subject I can’t even remember, I watch Ruby and that ridiculous excuse for a man she brought with her tonight. She might not be my type, but she looks gorgeous. Her code of dress seems to vacillate from retro rocker to pinup girl with an edge. Like a rebel Snow White. She pulls it off very, very well.
Tonight she’s decked out in an outfit right out of the nineteen forties, that slimfitted skirt and black-and-white top hugging every curve to perfection. She’s curled her shiny black, shoulder-length hair into sleek waves and even from across the room I can see the brilliance in her blue eyes. And then there’s her mouth, full and ruby red, matching her name.
She looks different from every other woman in the room, and when her date slides a hand over her hip, I experience an inappropriate surge of possession. As soon as he settles in next to her she darts a nervous glance in my direction. Our eyes lock, the air pulses, and she jerks her attention away from me. Right then I know her date is about me. That she’s brought him as a diversion.
“So what do you think?” Ashley says, ripping me from my thoughts.
I stare down at the cute little blonde who, in theory, is exactly what I need right now. She’s lush, pretty, and has a set of tits I could spend hours torturing. Best of all she’s not mentally taxing. I’m pretty sure she’s been discussing makeup for at least thirty minutes. She’s the kind of girl you take to dinner and don’t have to say a word because she talks a mile a minute.
I’ve clearly missed some sort of question. I give her my most winning smile. “I’m sorry, what did you ask?” I raise my hand to my ear and say in a too loud tone, “It’s kind of loud in here.”
She grins up at me, her expression brilliant and tinged around the very edges with desperateness. I’ve heard all about her trials and tribulations with the guy she used to hook up with. She’s on the rebound and I’m her prey.
She hasn’t seemed to cue into the fact that I’m not interested. What Ashley wants, I have no interest in giving her, and the truth is, I feel bad for her. She’s been screwed over enough. Only I don’t know her well enough to give her a much-needed lecture about men who don’t treat her the way she deserves.
Her lashes flutter and bat up at me in an exaggerated way. “I said I have tickets to the Bulls from work and I was wondering if you wanted to go with me.”
Oh hell. Now I’m going to have to hurt her feelings and I really don’t want to do that. But my lack of attention is not getting through to her, so I’m forced to be direct. I put my hand on her arm and her skin is cold. “Thank you, that’s very sweet, but I’m going to have to pass.”
Her expression falls but I trudge on. Ashley doesn’t realize this, but I’m doing her a favor by not wasting her time, and squashing any hope she might have for us. I want to give her the work excuse, but based off her history, that won’t cut it.
I rub my hand over her arm and smile. “I’m not an option for you, Ashley. I’m sorry about that, but you deserve a guy that is going to give you the time and energy you deserve, and I’m not that guy.”
She jerks a little under my touch. Her face twists for a moment before it surges with hope.
I repress my sigh.
She puts her hand on my waist and I immediately drop my hand from her. She shakes her head and laughs a little. “That’s cute. But you’ve misunderstood; I’m not looking for anything serious. I’m not looking for commitment. I’m looking for fun. That’s all.”
All bullshit, but I’m more than happy to let her save face. She’s looking for the loophole most guys would fall into, but I’m not that easily manipulated. Most women confuse good guy with push over, thinking that I am not wise to their games, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I shrug. “I apologize if I misunderstood. But I’m not available.”
Her attention drops to my mouth, turning hungry. Annoyed, I glance over her head and see Ruby talking to Jillian Banks and Leo Santoro, she laughs at something they say and then her gaze catches mine.
She frowns, and then it disappears almost as though she’s caught herself. Which she probably has. I’ve noticed that about her. She filters everything. Reveals a glimpse of her true emotions before covering it up with what she believes she should feel.
“What about for fucking? Are you available for that?” Ashley’s words rip me back to her. She’s wearing a seductive expression and her hand has curled into the waistband of my pants. “We could go upstairs right now and I could blow your mind.”
I resist the urge to express my exasperation with her. In her defense, this approach would work on ninety-eight percent of guys, so it’s her misfortune I fall into the two percent. I contemplate my options. I could go stern, but she’d probably like that. I could continue being nice but assertive, but that doesn’t seem to be working. I run through a couple other choices but decide on the truth.
I wrap my fingers around her wrist and forcibly pull her off me. Then I look deep into her eyes and say with complete sincerity. “I am not an option for you. We are friends and that’s where you and I will stay.”
Her expression falls again and her chin quivers the tiniest bit.
While I’m sympathetic, I don’t relent. I release her hand and reach up to tuck a lock of hair behind her ear. “You’ve been hurt, Ashley. I’m sorry about that. But as a friend, let me tell you, this isn’t the way to mend your broken heart. A man won’t fix what’s broken inside you. You have to do that all on your own.”
Over her head I see Ruby climb the steps leading to the second floor.
I smile at Ashley. “I wish you luck. You deserve to be happy and I hope you find it. But I’m not your guy.”
Her eyes brighten. “Okay.”
I chuck Ashley under the chin. “You okay?”
She nods and points to a group of girls hovering around the kitchen island. “I should get back to my friends.”
I smile at her. “Sounds like a good plan.”
Ashley walks away, leaving me alone. I drain the rest of my drink and narrow my eyes on the stairs.
The last thing I should do is go upstairs.
I put my drink down on a small bar table.
But I’m going anyway.
About the Author:
Jennifer Dawson is the author of the popular Something New series; spicy, small town romance released with Kensington, and pens the dark and edgy contemporary romance series Undone. Jennifer grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and graduated from DePaul University with a degree in psychology. She met her husband at the public library while they were studying. To this day, she still maintains she was NOT checking him out. Now, over twenty years later, they are married and living in a suburb right outside of Chicago with two awesome kids and a crazy dog. These days Jennifer can be found sitting behind her computer, writing her next novel, chasing after her kids, keeping an ever-watchful eye on her ever-growing to-do list, and NOT checking out her husband. Jennifer loves connecting with her readers and invites you to check out her website, Facebook page, and join Dawson’s Darlings, her private Facebook Fan group. Sign up for her monthly Newsletter for exclusive insider peeks, new release information and more.
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