Posts Tagged ‘New Adult Romance’

 

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Abigails AngelAbigail’s Angel

This book covers a topic that will be a trigger for some. As asurvivor of domestic violence, I feel it’s a story that needs to be told. If you think it will trigger you, I don’t recommend this book for you.

Our wedding day
The happiest day of my life
And the day my life changed.
I married the most incredible man
How did I miss the signs?

I thought he loved me
That he adored me.
I was wrong
I was merely a toy.
A thing for him to control
And to hurt.
This was hell
My husband the demon.
I longed for death
Then I would be free.
Until an angel came
To save me.

Please Note: This book contains both Australian and American spelling.

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Abigails Reawakening

Abigail’s Awakening

This is the conclusion to Abigail’s Angel. It is important that it not be read until you’ve read Abigail’s Angel first.

Abigail
It was two years since the event.
When an angel had come to save me.
Not all angels have wings.
Some were school teachers. . .
Like Drew.
In those two years we’d stayed in contact via email.
Jackson Primary needed a new school counsellor.
And that was me.
I wanted to surprise him because Drew didn’t know.
What I hadn’t counted on, was my reaction to him.

Drew
Jackson Primary was getting a new school counsellor.
I couldn’t believe it. It was her. Abigail.
Two years on and the haunted look was gone.
She looked healthy. Happy. So beautiful.
I wanted to be there to protect her.
To slay those dragons for her.
But she was so much stronger now.
The line between protecting her and smothering her, was a fine one.
I had to be careful I didn’t cross it.
Abigail deserved to fly free and live her life.
I just wanted to be there to catch her if she fell.

I am an Australian author so I have used mostly Australian spelling and grammar.

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Sex GodSex God

WARNING: THIS BOOK IS INTENDED FOR ADULTS ONLY.
Shay Vidal. . .
Women call me the Sex God. Why? It’s simple.
When it comes to sex, I really am that good.
It’s not my ego talking. It’s a fact. I get it screamed at me all the time.
Men want to be like me. Women want to be with me.
The thing is. . . It’s all an act. I’m damaged goods. . .
Lyla’s different. She’s dangerous.
She’s the forbidden fruit. And I’m tempted to take a bite.

Lyla Costa. . .
I’m tired of having to fake it in the bedroom.
All I seem to attract are Sex Duds.
Until my brother introduces me to his friend Shay.
A Sex God would make a change from a Sex Dud.
I’m a relationship kind of gal and he’s a one night only deal.
The man is hot though. . . He’s sex on two legs. . .
He is tempting. . . It would be nice to see what all the fuss is about. . .

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BreathlessBreathless

I’d been in love with Grayson for three years,
But to him, I was just a work colleague.
While he shared his bed with beautiful women I shared mine with my two feline friends.
All my life, I’d battled health problems.
What better place to work than with three doctors.
The problem was Dr Grayson Ryker.
Every day was a challenge to not let him see how I felt.
Then I got sick and he came to my rescue.
A knight saving the damsel in distress.
Everything changed from that moment.
Dr Grayson had the best bedside manner.
I saw a side of him I’d never seen before.
Maybe there was more to this gorgeous man after all?

This novella contains both Australian and American English.

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Surviving Sebastian

Surviving Sebastian

Sebastian

I had a reputation for being hard and controlling.

Ruthless in the boardroom and the bedroom.

When you’re on the Forbes rich list the gold diggers always circle, like greedy sharks.I wasn’t going to make the same mistakes as my father.

I like my mistresses cold and compliant.

They were little more than business deals to me.

While I was cold and indifferent, my younger brother was wild and reckless.

His stupidity sent me on a flight across the country to save him from himself.

That’s when I first saw her.

Beautiful.

Passionate.

Fiery.

Dangerous.

She was the flight attendant.

It was unlikely we’d cross paths again, until a freak accident forced us together, and it became a race for survival.

I hated how much I wanted her. I hated her.

Indigo

As a flight attendant, I worked a lot of private charters.

Catering to the needs of the rich.

Sebastian Colton Montgomery the 2nd was not what I’d expected.

Gorgeous.

Arrogant.

Cold as ice.

It was supposed to be a simple job.

Take care of him and his mistress on the flight across the country.

Engine trouble changed everything, and we were forced together in the midst of extreme circumstances.

Surviving a plane crash was nothing compared to being stranded alone with someone like Sebastian Montgomery.

He could turn my body to ice or set my skin on fire with a flash of those silvery eyes.

I thought life would return to normal once we were rescued.

He wanted me but he hated me.

I had no interest in his mind games.

I’d survived a plane crash but surviving Sebastian without being burned, was going to be the bigger challenge.

Please Note: This book contains a mix of Australian and American English.

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Being Me

Being Me

Ben
For over a decade I’d been living a lie
They say the truth will set you free
They lied…
The TRUTH resulted in my wife’s death
Now I am free from my lie
But I’d never be free of my guilt
Until I met HIM
Suddenly crunching numbers had lost their appeal
He counted more…
More than I realised
He makes me feel alive
But I’m scared too….

Cam
I didn’t believe in love
I’d spent my life avoiding relationships
NOT for me
There was no such thing as: The One…
He was only meant to balance my books
Not rock my world
For the first time I wanted more
With HIM
I was in charge, in control always
I felt needy, yet alive
More alive than ever before
That was a first…

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It Started With You

It Started With You – COMING SOON TO KU

Kane Marshall.
It all began with a cow.
Okay, this is one of those chicken and egg moments.
First there was the ogling. Then came the cow. One huge cow.
I was only trying to save her. The woman. Not the cow.
That ended in disaster. For me. Not her.Who knew this could all get SO embarrassing?

Angelica Hart.
It all began with a bull. He’ll tell you it was a cow.
He thinks he was saving me from it. But someone should have saved it from him.
We met under strange circumstances.
Circumstances that ended up shattered on the ground: literally.
I swear you can’t make this stuff up. I wanted to forget him, but fate, or maybe it was concussion intervened. Who knew this could get SO complicated? THIS is our story.

This is a love story, full of those cringe-worthy moments. Moments you might be able to relate to. If you don’t want to read about very real, very human situations, OR, you don’t believe that love can strike quickly and when you least expect it, then perhaps this book isn’t for you. If however, you do love to laugh. I’m talking plenty of those laugh out loud moments, then this book IS for you.

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Love Thy NeighbourLove Thy Neighbour

My brother told me I was lucky to be alive.
The car accident I’d been in should have killed me. It didn’t.
We’d always been close and he was right, life was too short.
We were going to live the dream until it all became a nightmare when my brother took his own life.
Nothing was the same any more. My seachange became a life of self imposed isolation until her….
Autumn was beautiful. She was also my next door neighbour.
She saw right through me. I felt open and exposed to her.
We’d both endured tragedy in our lives.
I didn’t want her, I didn’t want anyone, so why couldn’t I stay away from her?

I am an Australian author. This book contains both Australian and American grammar and spelling.

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Sinfully Sweet

Sinfully Sweet

Tabitha…
By day I was a successful blogger although to look at me, you’d never guess.
My best friend Manny called me hot. A hot mess that is.
By night, I was a peeping Tom, listening in on my neighbour getting it on.
It was like porn without the picture. Shame about that.
Who was this stud on the other side of my bedroom wall?
I was boring in comparison. The only man sharing my bed was my black cat.
I needed to even the score. Show him I could have a good time too.
I just needed to enlist the help of Manny for my master plan.

Leon….
By day, baking cakes was my passion. Creating things of beauty to eat.
By night, my passion centred around the beautiful women who warmed my bed.
Hearing my neighbour getting it on roused more than just my curiosity.
I wanted to meet the sexy siren who lived next door.
Wow, did she turn out to be nothing like I expected.
Swap sexy siren for tiny, crazy fireball with big hair.
She kept me on my toes. She had me wanting more.
Could we make this work? You know what they say about the best laid plans….

Not suitable for readers under 18 years.

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Must Love CatsMust Love Cats

Must Love Cats….
The wording of the ad jumped out at me
Cats and cheap rent?
It sounded too good to be true. And it was
It wasn’t the house or the cats
The problem was my landlord
Italian. Gorgeous. Should have a marble statue carved in his image
Until I got to know him
Sure he was a good guy when it came to animals
Raising millions….But inside?
He was broken. Tormented by his past
Angry. Hurting
He wanted me to leave him alone. I couldn’t
He didn’t want my help, but I had to try

Please Note: This book contains Australian English and some American English.

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The Willow Effect

The Willow Effect

Noah
Life was never the same again the day I saw a golden vision out jogging
Beautiful. Sexy. Hang on a minute….THAT’S skin!
She’s naked? We don’t do naked in my country town.
Naked jogging… Is that a thing?
I should have guessed she would be trouble
Tempting and teasing me. Until the bungee rope incident
We don’t talk about that. So don’t ask. Please.
This golden temptress brings me to my knees
That’s why I call it……The Willow Effect

Willow
WOAH! Now THAT’S a mountain man
That’s what I thought when I first saw Noah.
A huge beast of a man
Sexy as hell, even under all that hair
He’s not a fan of bungee jumping. It’s a private joke.
Did I mention he screams like a girl?
He’s seriously uptight. He needs to live a little.
Life was too short. I knew that better than anyone
Time to show this shy, awkward giant how to live a little.

Please Note: This book contains both Australian and American spelling.

 
 
 
 

 

Title: Glitter

Series: Enigma Models INC #1
Author: Alyne Hart
Genre: Contemporary/New Adult Romance
Release Date: January 4, 2022
Cover Design: Alyne Hart
 
 
 

 
Follow the meteoric rise of small-town girl Miley, thrust into the glamorous, dirty, sexy, lust-filled, and drug-fueled world of modeling.
 
I’ve loved Kellan Bellarose since we were ten. He’s beautiful, damaged, and toxic AF. But he’s mine.
 
Four years after tragedy tore us apart, we found each other again. Together we moved to LA to do something crazy and defy our humble beginnings. Our worlds were flipped on their axis when we both got signed by Enigma Models INC.
 
Then I met Luke St. James. He’s sexy, slightly dangerous, and older than me. Like, a lot older than me, and will do anything to make me his
 
…and I am feeling things for him I thought I’d reserved for Kellan.
 
When Kellan’s growing addictions get out of control, and my past gets exposed, I turned to Luke.
 
One night. One kiss. One tabloid.
 
And none of us will ever be the same.
 
Trigger Warning: domestic violence, abuse, drug use, cliffhanger
 
 
 
 

 
Alyne Hart is a contemporary romance author living in the mountains of Eastern Washington. She’s known for writing stories that pack an emotional punch and get you right in the feels.

She loves writing very real and deeply flawed characters and writing about honest, gritty, and raw romance. She’s a romance junkie and happy endings addict, and if you’re a lover of deeply emotional reads with lots of delicious angst, her books are for you. Alyne’s stories involve characters with bigger problems than just finding love. She writes stories about making peace with the past, rekindling old flames, and healing old wounds. She loves small towns, men in uniform, and alpha males with a heart of gold.
 
 
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Title: SPARROW
Author: Victoria Jayne
Genre: NA Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense
Cover Designer: Deranged Doctor Designs
Editor: Toni Rakestraw
Publication Date: Sept. 14, 2021
Publisher: Limitless Publishing
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

Blurb:

Regrets. She has a few. 

Nothing went how Sparrow Malone planned. Her boyfriend didn’t get clean. She didn’t take the entrance exam, and the motorcycle club her father had been a part of is crumbling. To add insult to injury, Jacob didn’t stay in Montana. 

Screw him over once, shame on her. Do it twice, shame on him. Jacob gave up on Sparrow when he left without her two years ago. But Odin’s Fury Motorcycle Club still had business in Ohio, which meant he did too. 

The first time, it wasn’t their fault. Their second chance didn’t end well. While both swore never to repeat past mistakes, they can’t help themselves. 

With the two clubs merging into one, it’s either going to be third time’s a charm or three strikes and they’re out.

Victoria Jayne is the epitome of a Jersey Girl. She doesn’t [know how to] pump her own gas, enjoys pork roll, and grew up on the Jersey Shore. The only daughter sandwiched between two brothers, she was a bit of a Tom-boy as a child.

As an adult, she’s lived throughout the state of New Jersey. She graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She earned her Masters degree in Marriage, Couples and Family Counseling from Walden University. She’s worked in the human services field since 2005.

She met her sports journalist husband in an online audio/visual chat room. After a few years of dating, they got married and have two darling daughters.

When not writing, Victoria enjoys baking with her daughters, rooting for the New Jersey Devils, thinking of home improvement projects for her husband, and staying up far too late chatting on Discord.

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A fling, a moment of weakness, a fond memory, those were the things Jacob Karolsson was supposed to be. He was supposed to stay in her goddamn fantasy and in fucking Montana.

Okay, one time. There was one time she’d allow him into Ohio. The rally. She’d concede that. He could come for the rally and she would avoid it like the plague. It shouldn’t be too hard. It was good to have a plan.

“You got any Jameson back there?” he asked once the crowd practically parted for him to walk to the bar. The whiteness of his teeth was a stark contrast to his dark beard as he put his elbows on the bar top, smiled, and leaned over it.

Frozen in place, Sparrow looked him over as though she wasn’t sure he was real. Enforcer. Blinking at him, she realized he’d gotten an officer position. When her gaze made it to his light blue eyes, she stuffed the lollipop in her mouth.

Jesus Christ those eyes.

Something jabbed her in the side, and the trance was broken. The hum of conversation over Aerosmith rushed to her ears, and she turned to see Kimber holding a bottle of Jameson, and peering at her questionably. Caught staring at him like a high school girl with a crush. Could she be any more pathetic?

Taking it, she offered a smile to Kimber first and then looked to Jacob. Still grinning, he seemed to have added a bit of smugness to it. Clearing her throat, she half-filled a lowball glass and placed it on a napkin for him.

Placing a twenty on the bar, he reached for his glass, allowing his digits to graze hers. Fire danced up her fingers, over her hand, and through her arm. She should have yanked her hand back. She should have looked away from him. She shouldn’t have turned into a puddle where she stood. 

“Thank you,” he mouthed before pulling the glass away from her and bringing it to his lips.

Could someone sip whiskey sexily? Was it possible? It shouldn’t be. As much as she wanted to fan herself, she couldn’t. So, she did the next best thing. “You got this?” She may have asked Kimber the question, but she had no intention of staying for the answer.

“No! Wait, I…” Kimber’s voice trailed off as Sparrow made her way out the door of the bar. Dick move. She knew it, but if the woman knew what the hell it was about, she’d understand. Anyone who had any inkling of what had gone on between Sparrow and Jacob would understand why she’d just fled the bar.

The cool Ohio air chilled her heated skin as she walked along the side of the cinderblock building, heading for the back parking lot. She just needed to walk to her car and to drive away from all of it. It was too real.

Her car. Fuck. She didn’t have her car.

As the realization hit, she turned, and her back pressed against the bricks. Closing her eyes, her head hit the wall. She needed to figure out a way to handle these little pop-ups.

“I’m going to have to buy you a new shirt.” The deep timbre of his voice heated her just as much as the memory of his touch did.

“Why are you here?” she demanded without looking. The accusation in her tone wasn’t on purpose, but it was too late now. It’d been said.

The heat of his body close to hers tickled her skin. She might as well have been set on fire at the feel of his hands on her face. Before she could stop herself, she nuzzled into his palm. He made her lose her fucking head with the slightest of touches.

“Do you mean Ohio or the bar?” he whispered in her ear when he brushed his bearded cheek against hers. It looked coarse, but his facial hair was impossibly soft. The feel of it had her face tingling as much as his breath along her neck.

Title: Wolf Untamed
Author: Alexis Calder
Genre: NA Paranormal Romance
Cover Designer: Melody Simmons
Editor: Zoe’s Author Services
Publication Date: Aug. 26th, 2021
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

Blurb:

You can only trust yourself. 

They say it’s more dangerous being a lone wolf. I say having friends isn’t worth the pain. Everyone I’ve ever known has betrayed me. You’d think by now, I’d learn not to trust anyone. 

My old pack wants me dead. My true mate wants to break the bond. My inner wolf is a no-show. The decks are stacked against me and if I survive this, I have no idea where to go next. 

I’m out of tricks and out of allies but there’s one path I haven’t tried: finding my father. My mom warned me against him but at this point, how can my life get any worse? 

Wolf Untamed is the second book in a trilogy. It is intended for readers 17+ due to steamy situations and dark themes. This book ends on a cliffhanger and is not a standalone.

Alexis Calder writes sassy heroines and sexy heroes with a sprinkle of sarcasm. She lives in the Rockies and drinks far too much coffee and just the right amount of wine.

Author Links:

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Title: Chaos and Love
Author: Michelle A Valentine
Genre: NA Romance
Publication Date: April 22nd, 2021
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

Blurb:

He’s chaos–on and off the field… 

For hotshot quarterback, Luke Finnegan, Love and Chaos are always intertwined, and when he decides he’s through with relationships, a blonde artist with pink streaks in her hair convinces him sometimes love is worth the madness. 

Miley St. Claire doesn’t do relationships. She’s seen the chaos they cause for those around her and she wants no part of that drama, which is why taking Luke Finnegan up on his offer to be friends with benefits is her ideal non-relationship. Trouble is, when she gets to know Luke, she finds herself missing him when he’s not around and quickly realizes, to her absolute horror, she’s falling for the sexy quarterback.


Michelle A. Valentine is a Central Ohio nurse turned New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of erotic and New Adult romance.

Her love of hard-rock music, tattoos, and sexy musicians inspired her erotic BLACK FALCON series.

Author Links:

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Amazon | Newsletter | Bookbub | Instagram

Catch Twenty Two by Marie James
 
 
Series: Westover Prep; Book 2
Genre: New Adult/Contemporary Romance
 
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He can’t stand anything about her, but can’t keep his hands off of her.
 
Frankie
 
I wasn’t looking for him.
He found me.
With his sexy smirk and irresistible body.
 I wanted nothing to do with someone like him.
Judgmental and brooding.
So full of himself.
But now, I’m stuck playing the fool.
Falling for him.
And losing at all.
If only for one night.
 
Zeke
 
Stuffy, rich, entitled.
The kind of girl that gets what she wants.
When she wants it.
And I want nothing to do with her.
Yet, I can’t stay away.
I’m drawn to her kindness and compassion.
Her beauty.
She holds me when the pain won’t subside.
And now, if I can help it, I’m going to hold on to her …
 
Forever.

 

 

Title: Just One Summer
Author: Lynn Stevens
Genre: New Adult Romance
Cover Designer: Ampersand Book Covers
Publication Date: May 21st, 2018
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR
Blurb: 
One summer, no regrets
Carly Reynolds does not want to work at her father’s Branson theater over the summer, but she has no choice. After wrecking his prized Mercedes on Prom night, she’s got to pay him back somehow before she leaves for college. Now she’s stuck working as the personal assistant to twenty-year-old Gracin Ford, former member of one-hit-wonder boy band Accentuate.
Gracin is demanding, condescending, and an all-around jerk. Carly would rather eat glass than deal with a male diva who’s more famous for his stint in rehab than his music. Until she realizes that Gracin’s lonely. Once she welcomes him into her life, she starts to let him into her heart. Even though she knows it will end when she leaves for school, Carly doesn’t want to look back on her life and wonder what if. Even if it means a broken heart.
Lynn Stevens flunked out of college writing her first novel. Yes, she still has it and no, you can’t read it. Surprisingly, she graduated with honors at her third school. A former farm girl turned city slicker turned suburbanite, Lynn lives in the Midwest where she drinks coffee and sips tea when she’s out of coffee. She’s the author of Full Count and Game On..

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CHAPTER ONE
Nobody sane should ever be up at eight on a Saturday morning. Especially not when said person stayed up until three a.m. for a horror movie marathon with her best friends Ivy and Nena. So totally worth it though. 
What a waste of a Saturday. I could be sleeping, or bungee jumping, or sleeping, or ziplining, or sleeping instead of starting a job I didn’t want in the first place.
I bit back a yawn as I smoothed the wrinkled turquoise polo, the required uniform for Mountain View Resort employees. Taking a deep breath to steady the waves in my stomach, I knocked on the door to room four-oh-two three times, as instructed, and squeezed my clipboard against my chest.
What had my father been thinking bringing this guy to Branson? For the last few years, I’d overheard Dad lamenting to my brother about how the shows didn’t make enough money and the profits from the resort disappeared into the theater. If Dad wanted to revive that dump, he’d need someone to sell out every performance. I had serious doubts about his choice. Another reason I was in the doghouse.
I lifted my fist to hammer the door a second time when it flew open.
A wet torso greeted me, and a hint of the hotel’s jasmine soap drifted from the room. My gaze followed water dripping down tanned pecs and over the only real six-pack I’d ever seen as it disappeared into the thick hotel towel wrapped around his waist. Wow. My face burned hotter than the coffee I’d slammed earlier, and I forced my head up to meet the gaze of The Gracin Ford, celebrity bad boy and former member of Accentuate, a one-hit wonder boy band.
Gracin’s manscaped eyebrows arched as bright blue eyes took a circuit over my body. My skin tingled all over in response to his gaze.
Sadly, he had to open his mouth. “Not my type, but thanks.”
Then he slammed the door in my face.
What? That… that… that son of a bitch! I punched the door three times, fully prepared to give this egotistical asshole a piece of my mind. Meanwhile, my father’s lecture from half an hour ago echoed between my ears: “If you want to go to U of N in the fall, you work for me this summer to pay me back for the damage to the Mercedes. Don’t, and you can go to Southern Community like your brother did.” I counted to thirty, trying and failing to calm myself while I waited for his highness.
The door swung in. At least this time, he’d had the decency to put on a pair of khaki shorts and a t-shirt. His gaze shifted over me once more, and I tried not to squirm, but blue eyes gave me the creeps. And brought back memories I’d rather pretend didn’t exist.
“What now?” he asked. If he was even slightly miffed, he didn’t show it. The cool nonchalance in his voice didn’t stop my temper from shooting toward the atmosphere.
I dug my nails into the back of the clipboard and smiled my best smile. “Hi, Mr. Ford. I’m Carly Reynolds, your … personal assistant. Your father provided us with a detailed itinerary of your day-to-day–”
“Let me see it,” he said, leaning his shoulder against the door jam.
I handed it over, keeping the tremor in my hands at bay. Personal assistant my ass, more like his errand bitch. If he hadn’t fired his previous P.A., I could be lounging by the pool as a lifeguard or cleaning rooms or checking guests at the front desk. Instead, I had to spend my summer following every whim of a twenty-year-old has-been. As he took the itinerary, his eyebrows furrowed at something else. Before my hand could drop back to my side, he snatched it and tugged at the tie holding the leather cuff covering my wrist.
His eyebrows lifted again and amusement danced across his full lips. “Nice tat. Why hide it?”
 “Who says I’m hiding it?” He let go of my hand, and I quickly retied the cuff over the small trinity knot tattoo on my wrist. It had only been two weeks since I’d gotten inked, but Mom and Dad hadn’t noticed. Yet.  I crossed my arms and bit the inside of my upper lip. As much as I didn’t want to be here, I also didn’t want to go to Southern Community. Keeping my mouth shut was kind of required if I wanted to go to Nashville in the fall.
Gracin nodded and refocused on the itinerary. He flipped the paper, shaking his head. “According to this, you’re supposed to take me to breakfast every morning at eight so we can discuss the day’s schedule.” He handed the clipboard back to me. “I’m assuming that’s why you’re here now.”
“Yep.”
He sighed. “Let me get my shoes. No doubt the big kahuna will be expecting me.” He moved into the room and I reached out to hold the door open. “I’ll get a more realistic schedule to you.”
“Realistic?” I asked as he slipped on a pair of boat shoes and a Rolex that could pay for half a semester at U of N or the entire two years at Southern Community.
“Yeah, that’s clearly the schedule Dad wants me to keep. Not even close to reality.” Gracin stepped into the hallway, patting his pocket. He groaned and turned to stop the door from shutting completely, but it was too late. He fell forward, letting his forehead thunk against the thick wood. “You wouldn’t happen to have a key to my room, would you?”
“No, but we can get one from the front desk after breakfast. You’re moving into one of the cabins today anyway.” I shrugged because it wasn’t that big of a deal. “No worries.”
Gracin laughed, but there wasn’t any humor to it. “Do me a favor. Keep this key thing between us, okay? The last thing I need is to hear how irresponsible I am. Again.”
I held back the scoff and the sarcastic comment that would normally shoot from my mouth in record speed. Especially since I’d heard the same lecture more times than I could count. “Yeah, okay. But we have to go now, or you’re going to have to hear how irresponsible I am.”
“Well, I won’t say anything about the tat in that case.” Gracin’s smile showed his Hollywood white teeth.
We were half way between his room and the elevator when his cell rang. I tried to ignore his half of the conversation, but when you’re alone with someone, it’s hard not to listen.
“Hey, babe.” Pause. “Yeah, I had a great time too.”
Another pause. Gracin laughed, clutching his hand against his chest.
“Probably best they didn’t catch us. Photographic evidence and all.”
Another pause when we got to the elevator. Gracin’s face turned from California tan to the shade of a bruised red pepper.
“You didn’t? Please tell me you didn’t.”
I wanted to lean closer to hear what the person on the other end had done. Celebrity drama and all. I didn’t seek it out, but that didn’t stop me from reading the headlines when they popped up on my computer.
After I pushed the button for the elevator, we stood side by side. Gracin’s fingers tightened around the phone. I could hear a female voice coming from his speaker but not what she said. Gracin slapped the mirrored doors.
Housekeeping’ll love that.
The doors dinged open as Gracin’s fist soared toward them, and he threw himself into the elevator. He managed not to fall, but it was so hard not to laugh.
“Next time you talk to that jackass, tell him you were just another one-night stand.”
Wow. I’d somehow managed to keep my expression neutral when he fell into the elevator, but my mortification couldn’t be hidden. 
He stared at me in the mirror. “There goes hiding my lack of responsibility today,” he said in a calm voice that didn’t match the fury from a moment ago.
I kept my mouth shut despite the thoughts running through my head and held his mirrored gaze. Both took supreme battles of will. I thought only one thing: U of N. Nothing was going to keep me from going to Nashville.
Gracin tilted his head. His eyebrows sagged as he opened his mouth. A beep sounded from his phone, distracting him from whatever he was about to say. He shook his head at the screen and then handed it to me. “Here. Fair warning before Hurricane Albert leashes his wrath on me.”
I wasn’t interested in getting caught up in his drama, but curiosity got the best of me and I glanced at the image on the screen. It wasn’t anything major. A beautiful girl with bright brown eyes and obviously dyed red hair kissed a smiling Gracin on the cheek. It was pretty clear they were in a bar when this was taken. Several empty beer bottles sat on the table in front of them.
“A hot chick took a photo of you guys in a bar?” I handed the phone back. “Big deal.”
 “The ‘deal’ is she sold it to a tabloid.” Gracin shoved the phone into his pocket. He didn’t spare me a glimpse, even in the mirror. “I can see the headlines already: ‘Gracin Ford Falls Off the Wagon.’ ” Finally, he faced me. “Except I didn’t. I’ve been sober for almost a year. None of those empties were mine. Not that anybody will believe me. Especially King Albert.”
“Oh.”
“Yeah, ‘oh.’”
I didn’t say anything, but the heat burning the tips of my ears was enough.
The elevator opened to the lobby. Gracin motioned me out first and followed me to the private dining room. Dad sat at the head of the table in the middle of the room. My mother sat to his right, and a gray-haired man with a stringy comb-over sat on his left. His extensive lack of hair didn’t stop Albert Ford from trying. My older brother, Luke, sat next to three empty seats for me, Gracin, and my little sister, Miranda. Quite the family affair.
“Carly, I’m glad you made it,” Dad said, adding a fake laugh at the end. To anyone else, it might’ve appeared teasing. I knew better. Dad was not happy we were a minute late. Of course, when it came to me, he wouldn’t have been happy had I been two minutes early either. My father was the consummate politician around here. He ruled more like a dictator, but was JFK when guests were around. “I thought you were going to be late.”
“That’s my fault, Mr. Reynolds,” Gracin said. He threw out a hundred-watt smile.
I fought to roll my eyes. At least he’s taking the hit for me.
“Carly rushed me out the door, then let it close before I remembered to grab my key.”
And under the bus I go. Thanks, asshat.
Dad stared through me with his laser pointer green eyes. “Well, Carly, I suggest you head to the front desk and get another. While you’re there, make sure housekeeping stays out of his room until this evening when the cabin is ready.”
“Yes, sir.” I let my head drop in good girl compliance, catching the laughing eyes of my brother. We both inherited Dad’s light brown hair, but Luke lucked out getting Dad’s eyes. Unfortunately, he used them to taunt me at every turn, which only served to remind me who was the chosen one in the Reynolds family. Hint, his name began with an L.
Gracin made his way toward the buffet spread. He piled fresh fruit on his plate, winking at me. I shuddered as I freed myself from the room. Guys who winked were just plain creepy.
My last summer before heading off to college was going to be the worst one of my life. All because of a little dent in a Mercedes. Smashing.