The first two chapters of It Was Always You:
“It’s a boy!” I scream, along with everyone else, when I see the blue icing inside the cake.
My sister kisses her husband, her six-month belly standing in the way of them getting too close as everyone cheers. When she turns around to hug me, wrapping her arms around my neck, I let a tear fall. It’s hard to believe I’m at my little sister’s gender reveal party, that she somehow went from sneaking into my room to steal my…everything, to being married and having a baby on the way.
“I told you it was a boy,” I whisper to her.
Elise brings her head back and chuckles. “You couldn’t let me be right, even once, huh?”
“Never. Big sisters earn the right to know everything. It’s part of the package.”
Her husband, Trevor, turns around and puts his arm around my shoulders from the side as I congratulate him. But my smile quickly drops as the hairs rise on my arms. It’s the same thing that happens whenever I’m near him. Eric. Trevor’s older brother. Also known as the biggest pain in my ass and thorn in my side.
Even knowing he’s going to be here doesn’t prepare me for seeing him. I ignore the way my body reacts as I finally set eyes on him. All six feet, three inches of him heads towards the kitchen. His black T-shirt puts every bit of muscle along his arms and stomach on display. Jeans show off nice thighs as his long legs cross the living room. My gaze goes back up to his face, his dark hair—cut short—his mouth, in that damn near perpetual grin. He’d be cute if he weren’t such a jerk.
“Eric,” I groan.
“Oh, would you stop?” Elise slaps my arm. “You knew you were gonna see him.”
“It’s not enough that I just saw him at the New Year’s Eve party?”
“If you would just get to know him—” She begins for the hundredth time.
“Yeah, yeah, I know.” I roll my eyes. “He’s the greatest guy on the planet.”
“Uh, no. Actually, that would be me,” Trevor grins. “But my brother’s a close second. I swear you two are both secretly in love with each other.”
I scowl at him. “Don’t even think it.”
And speak of the devil.
“Congratulations, guys,” Eric steps between Elise and Trevor and wraps an arm around them. “I’ve always wanted a nephew.”
“As long as you don’t make my nephew anything like you.” I give a false smile as his light brown eyes meet mine.
My heart reacts—like it does every time I see him—by speeding up, seeming to take notice of how close he is, excited by his mere presence. I ignore it and prepare for his return. There’s no way he’ll miss a chance to banter with me.
“Aw, all that bitterness from your break-up is showing,” he retorts.
My eyes dart to Elise. “Seriously? You told him?”
“No. He was at my house when you called to tell me about it.” She grimaces. “You were really loud.”
“Listen.” Eric steps from between them, getting closer to me. “That guy was obviously a douchebag. When you’re ready for a relationship with a real man—”
“I’ll drop you off at preschool and go find one.” I smirk, but then I overhear an all-too-familiar sound, towards the back of the room.
“Mom and dad are within a hundred feet of each other,” I murmur to Elise.
She turns her worried eyes to them and then drops her head. “Please, not here, Aubrey.”
I nod and walk over to them. “Mom, Dad. Not today. Not in this moment. Don’t ruin this for Elise.”
“You can’t even be around him for five seconds within wanting to rip your hair out.” My mom glares at my dad.
He just scoffs. “Like you’re any better? I swear the lights dimmed when you walked into the house.”
“We’re all very aware of how you two feel about each other,” I say through clenched teeth. “But not right now. Let Elise enjoy her party. Go to separate sides of the room or something. Pretend the other one isn’t even here. Please.”
My mom rolls her eyes and stomps away, going to stand next to Elise. Her fake smile is in place.
“That woman,” my dad grumbles.
My parents are the very epitome of oil and water. They just don’t mix, on any level. How they’d ever gotten married and had two kids, I have no idea. My childhood had been one argument after the other, until they’d finally divorced when I was ten. Most kids were heartbroken when their parents got divorced, but I was relieved. My parents had single-handedly seen to it that I had no belief, whatsoever, in true love.
“And you know you push her buttons,” I give him a pointed look. “It’s the both of you.”
He shrugs. “I do. It’s hilarious when she gets so angry her face goes red.”
“Dad.” I nudge him. “You’re horrible.”
“You ready to be an aunt?” he asks.
“So ready. How about you grandpa?”
“We’re gonna have to figure out another name for me. I’m too hot to be a grandpa.”
“Oh, goodness. How about pawpaw?”
“Uh no. Maybe we’ll just go with Sir.”
“Yeah, I can already tell you that’s not happening.”
Later on, when most of the people have left the party and my dad has gone, my parents giving each other one last glower, I sit on the couch with Elise. She rubs her belly as I organize her gifts, clothes, bottles, diapers, and even a stroller with the matching car seat. I stop when Elise takes my hand and places it on her belly. When I feel a little kick, my smile is instant.
“I can’t wait to meet you,” I bend over and whisper to her belly.
“I can’t wait to have my bladder back,” Elise groans.
I giggle, but it cuts off when I hear Eric’s laugh come from the kitchen.
“He really is a nice person,” Elise says. “You guys just rub each other the wrong way for some reason, but if you’d ever really spent some time with him, you’d see he’s not usually so…”
“Asshole-y?” I supply.
“I was actually going to say, ‘hard to get along with.’”
“Well, I’ll just have to take your word for it because I don’t see any reason that I would have to be in his presence any longer than I absolutely have to.”
“All right.” She sighs.
“And next time I’m pouring my heart out to you, maybe tell me he’s within a five-mile distance.” I side-eye her.
“You were upset. I didn’t want to just cut you off with an, ‘I’ll call you back.’”
“I wasn’t that upset,” I grumble.
“Not over him, you weren’t. You were really upset because you know he was right. You’re scared of commitment. You’ve never even let a guy into your condo.”
“I’m not scared of commitment. I don’t want it. There’s a big difference.”
“Not everyone ends up like Mom and Dad,” she says low.
I scoff. “Yeah, okay. So says every couple, in the beginning, before they end up just like Mom and Dad.”
“So you think that’s what will happen to me and Trevor?”
Guilt rushes through me. “No, of course not. You guys are the one love story I do believe.”
That puts a smile back on her face as our mom walks into the room.
“This was a really nice party,” she says, sitting on the couch across from us. “Aside from your father attending, that is.”
“What did you want me to do, Mom? Not invite him?” Elise asks.
“Yes, exactly that.” My mom grins. “But never mind all that. A boy. I can’t believe it. I’m gonna have a grandson. Maybe I should move closer, be available to babysit when you go back to work.”
I swallow the “please don’t” that tries to crawl up my throat and just raise my eyebrows. As if she can sense I am biting my tongue, her eyes come to me.
“And you,” she says. “You’re twenty-five already. When are you going to settle down and give me some grandbabies?”
“Uh, probably right around…never,” I answer.
She shakes her head. “You’re the older sister. You were supposed to be doing all this first.”
“When did you go back to the middle ages? Do I get a ball to announce I’m available for suitors as well?”
“If only I thought that would work.” She arches a brow.
“That’s not in the cards for me, Mom.”
“Careful what you say isn’t for you.” She warns. “That’s exactly when it finds you.”
“Everything looks good to me,” Elise says as she looks over the plans I have for the nursery.
“Now that we know the baby’s a boy, we can decide on a color theme,” I return over my shoulder, looking at who’s coming through her front door.
I smile as Trevor walks in, but it drops when I see Eric come in behind him.
“Happy to see you, too, beautiful.” Eric chuckles and I refuse to let my body react to his deep voice. “One day you’ll tell me why you hate me.”
“You’ve been a douchebag since the first time I ever met you,” I explain.
My eyes narrow. “You spilled your drink all over my favorite dress. Then proceeded to try and clean it off with a vomit-covered rag.”
“How was I supposed to know the rag had throw up on it?” He spreads his hands wide. “It was on the counter. Really, you should be mad at the weirdo who puked into a rag and then left it there.”
“But you used it and found it absolutely hilarious, when I pointed out I was now covered with drink and vomit.”
“It was a party and my laugh was more nerves than anything. Plus, that was four years ago,” he points out.
Four years ago, I’d let Elise drag me to a party. She’d met Trevor there and I’d had the bad luck of meeting Eric. The funny part is that when I’d first seen him, I couldn’t stop staring. He was the best-looking guy at the party, hands down, but as it turned out, also the clumsiest. He walked towards me, not paying me any mind and bumped into me, spilling his drink all over me and the dress that would never recover. He then proceeded to wipe me down with vomit. He wasn’t so cute, then. While all this was going on, Elise was dancing with Trevor and deciding he was her one true love.
I didn’t see Eric after that night. Not until Elise and Trevor got engaged. My biggest worry at the engagement party was, surprise, surprise, keeping my parents separated, until Trevor’s brother walked in. The man who I’d thought I’d never met turned out to be none other than the drink spiller. Eric. The moment we locked eyes, I could tell he remembered me just as much as I remembered him. Although he’d apologized that night and a few times since, my first impression of him had dug deep. The fact that he found a way to make every single thing a joke hadn’t helped. Three years after the engagement party and I still didn’t like him.
“In my eyes, your image hasn’t improved much since that party.” I arch a brow at him. “But luckily for me, I don’t have to see you much.”
“Well”—he drops onto the couch beside me and tries to put his arm around me, but I squirm out of his way—“your luck’s run out, sweetheart. I’m moving back to town.”
My head drops back. “Why? What have I done to deserve this?”
“You’re so dramatic.” Elise chuckles, before asking Trevor, “So, he liked the house?”
“Yeah. Signed the paperwork on the spot,” Trevor answers as he looks at the plans for the nursery over Elise’s shoulder. “Hey, Aubrey. You can design the house for him.”
“What?” Eric and I exclaim at the same time.
“You’re an interior designer.” He points at me, before he turns to Eric. “You need your house designed much better than the way your last one was.”
“Hey. It wasn’t that bad,” Eric protests.
Elise laughs. “It was horrible.”
Not one to turn down money, I look over at Eric. “Well, what were you thinking?”
“I wasn’t.” He chuckles. “But once I get everything moved in next week, I’ll give you a call, if you would be so kind as to give me your number, after three years of having me in your life.”
I shake my head. “We almost had a civilized moment, there. Thank you for reminding me that’s not a possibility with you.”
“I’m consistent, if not anything else.” He smirks.
“Go away,” I grumble.
“I’ll make you love me, yet, Aubrey,” he says as he stands up and joins Trevor on the way to the kitchen.
“The nursery looks good, sis,” Trevor yells just before they’re out of sight.
“If I knew my brother-in-law would be Eric, I don’t know if I could’ve let you go through with the engagement,” I joke with Elise.
“Oh, shut up. He’s so nice. You’d think he was funny, if you weren’t so busy thinking he’s annoying.”
“Name one nice thing he’s ever done.” I cross my arms.
“He’s moving here for the baby,” she says low.
“He’s moving here, now, so he can be around for the baby. So he can be in his life.”
Well, damn. I can’t say that’s not nice as hell.
“Yeah, exactly,” Elise says when I’m silent. “So, maybe, just give him a chance now that he’s going to be around a hell of a lot more.”
“We’ll see how the design goes. I make no guarantees.”
“I honestly think he bothers you every time he sees you because he’s trying, very poorly, to tell you he’s into you,” she whispers.
“What’s next? Pulling my hair on the playground?” I chuckle.
“If it gets me your love,” Eric walks back into the living room with his hand over his heart.
“Not even if you got down on your knees and begged.” I laugh. “Have you guys finally figured out a name for my nephew?” I ask when Trevor sits beside Elise.
Trevor makes an exasperated face. “She’s insisting on Cassian, but I want something like Knox. A cool name that he’ll like when he’s older.”
“Oh, I like Knox. Knox August. That’s nice.”
Elise gapes at me. “How could you go against your own sister?”
“Hey, I’ve got to be on my nephew’s side now. And that means getting a name kids can’t rhyme with ‘ass.’ No, he will not be ‘Cass The Ass,’ okay?”
“Only you would think of that,” she rolls her eyes.
“I’m with Aubrey on this one,” Eric chuckles. “We’ve got to save our nephew.”
My eyes go to Eric, who is lounging in the chair, that dangerously tempting smile on his face. He hasn’t shaved since the gender reveal party and I find I like the scruff.
I shake my head. Why am I liking anything about him? I chalk it up to me agreeing to give him a chance. But when his eyes come to mine, softening when he sees me looking at him, that kick in my heart that I’ve denied time after time happens again.
What does giving him a chance mean? And which part of me is giving him a chance? My mind or my heart?
“Well, I’ve gotta go,” I say, standing up. “I’ve got a date.”
And just like that, Eric’s eyes lose their softness, narrowing on me before he looks away. But why the hell would he even care?
“Oh, where?” Elise asks.
“This place called Bon Appetit. It’s on the other side of town.”
“And who’s this guy?” Trevor questions. “I’m gonna need his name, license plate number, address. All the essentials.”
“Oh, please. I don’t even know his address to tell you.” I chuckle.
“Someone you just met?” Elise inquires.
“Yeah. At a networking lunch I went to.”
“He doesn’t know what he’s in for.” Eric scoffs. “Poor guy.”
I arch a brow, suddenly not appreciating that scruff nearly as much.
“Anyone, and I mean anyone, who gets a date with me is the luckiest person on earth. Don’t forget it. See you guys later. Well, hopefully not you, Eric. I can wait until the birth to see you.”
I go home and shower before slipping into a black dress that fits like a second skin. Unfortunately I’m more excited about the restaurant we’re eating at than who I’m actually going there with. He’s handsome and all, nice smile, and I can admit a nice body, but there’s just nothing there when I look at him or think of him. Nothing stirs, nothing longs for him. There’s only one person my body has consistently reacted to for years and I refuse to acknowledge that or try to figure out why.
I meet Frank outside the restaurant. He throws that smile my way and I give him one back, even if it doesn’t feel as sincere as his. He puts his hand on the middle of my back to walk me inside and opens the door. The place is packed, like I thought it would be. Frank tells the woman his name and we’re seated at a small table right in the middle of the restaurant.
“I’ve heard really good things about this place,” I say as the hostess pours us both a glass of champagne.
“Me too. I was happy I was able to get a reservation last minute. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to. But turns out, I sold the owner a house a few years ago, so I gave him a call to get us in.”
“Oh, well excuse me. I didn’t know I was on a date with an MVP.”
He shrugs. “Now you do.”
He’s joking, I’m sure, or I think so. But ugh, strike one. Strike two has my eyes widening when the waiter comes to take our order. Frank makes sure to tell him to put our meals on separate checks. Then he winks at me and what I’m sure is my open mouth.
“Never know how the date is gonna turn out, you know?”
I’m starting to get a very good idea.
Strike three quickly comes from the way his eyes seem to find a way to every waitress’ ass when they’re within fifty feet of us. Even when he knows I’ve caught him, which has been three times now, he just gives me a lopsided grin and leans forward, continuing the conversation like nothing ever happened. I get out my phone and text Elise under the table, telling her the date is a disaster, that Frank is a pig, and to call me with some feigned emergency so I can get the hell out of here.
I’m tapping the phone against my thigh, wondering why Elise hasn’t called yet, fifteen minutes later when the food arrives. Just as I’m looking down at my plate of rib-eye and lobster mac and cheese, realizing this will be the only good part of my night, I hear the very last voice I expected to.
“Just how bad of an ass whooping are we talking here?”
In utter disbelief, I raise my eyes from my plate to see Eric. He stands beside the table, eyebrow arched, awaiting an answer to a question I don’t understand. My eyebrows furrow in confusion at so many things. What the hell is he doing here? What the hell is he talking about? Who needs an ass whooping, and why am I apparently supposed to be telling him to what degree? And just, what the hell?
“Eric, what are you doing here?” I sputter.
“You sent Elise a text, asking her to get you out of here. But I saw the message instead. And so, I’m here wondering, to what extent this pig—as you put it—needs his ass beat?” He continues, “Are we talking a bleeding nose, missing teeth, or do I need to go beyond the face and wreck his body as well?”
“What the hell is going on?” Frank demands, throwing his napkin to the table.
“I-I have no…” I struggle to find words, but Eric does not.
He leans down, menacingly, getting closer to Frank’s face. “She texted her sister, asking her to call with an excuse to get her the hell out of here. And that’s fine, maybe you were a boring date, but no. She said you were being rude to her. A pig. And so her sister didn’t call. I showed up instead, because if you disrespected this woman, you’ll be limping out of this restaurant.”
My eyes widen and, well, honestly, heat rushes through me as I watch Eric. I’ve never seen him angry and it’s a damn good look on him. But why is he so angry on my behalf? I could convince myself this is all a joke but his face won’t let me. There’s clear anger there and his fist is clenched at his side, waiting for Frank to say the wrong thing. Eric stands straight again and I look beyond him to find all the eyes in the dining room are on us. I need to diffuse the situation before it gets worse.
“Eric, really it sounds worse than it was.”
“Exactly,” Frank exclaims. “I’ve been a perfect gentleman.”
I give him an exasperated look. “Let’s not start lying now. You’ve looked at every waitress’ ass in here at least twice, with absolutely no remorse when you’ve known you’ve been caught. This date has been one of the worst I’ve been on.” I look back at Eric. “But nothing that demands the shedding of blood or anything.”
“Are you sure?” Eric asks.
“Well, I’ve had enough of being made a fool of.” Frank stands, chair loudly scraping back in the silence of the dining room. Eric steps closer and Frank steps back, speaking a little lower. “Aubrey, since you’re the cause of all this, I’m sure you’ll have no problem paying the check.”
I scoff. “Not like I wasn’t already paying half anyway, right?”
Eric narrows his eyes at Frank. “You never even deserved to be sitting at this table with her.”
Frank walks away, head high, but embarrassment is clear on his red face. I watch him leave until my eyes are drawn to Eric, who is taking the seat across from me. My eyes widen again, which is becoming a common thing tonight.
“What are you doing?” I puzzle.
“Shame to let such good-looking food go to waste. He didn’t touch any of this, did he?”
“He didn’t get the chance to, before you stormed in playing Captain Save ‘em.”
He grins. “So you admit it? I saved you?”
I glare at him. “What the hell are you even doing here? Why didn’t Elise just call me?”
“When I saw your text, I thought me showing up would be better than a call from Elise.”
“I am going to bite her head off for sending you.”
Eric looks a little nervous, rubbing his hand across the back of his neck. “Well, uh, her phone was on the counter and I saw the text cross her screen. But I never actually gave the phone to her.”
I sit back in my seat, laughing. “Oh. So, she’s going to bite your head off. I will make sure I’m there to witness it.”
“Hey, hey. Let’s get back to my heroics.”
He begins scooping up some rice and chicken on his fork.
“Are you seriously going to sit there and eat after the stunt you just pulled? Half the restaurant is still looking at us.”
“I hear this place is amazing.” He shrugs, bringing the fork to his mouth. He chews for a moment. “And they’re right.”
“You don’t really think I’m going to sit here and share a meal with you? That would basically mean we’re on a date.”
He stops chewing, eyes suddenly becoming serious. “And would that be so bad, Aubrey?”
I’m taken aback at his question. Even more so, by the response that enters my mind. Because no, it wouldn’t be so bad. But we’re enemies, right? We don’t like each other. We can’t even stand to be around each other. Wouldn’t any date we had just turn into us exchanging barbs and ending the night hating each other even more?
Instead of answering him, I look down at my own plate, figuring what the hell? At least I can enjoy my meal. Even if it is with Eric.
“Do not say another word to me while we eat,” I insist. “Let’s pretend we are just two strangers somehow seated at the same table. This night has been horrible and quite frankly, a waste of a beautiful dress, so I just want to eat and enjoy some part of it.”
He pretends to zip his lips closed and mumbles something behind them. I narrow my eyes at him and he grins. And so we eat a silent meal.
Even with Eric for company, I am glad I stayed because this steak is freaking amazing. When the waiter comes back, I make sure to order the most expensive dessert on the menu and another to take home with me. I mean, if I’m paying, I might as well go all out.
Eric watches me eat my dessert, eyes on my mouth as I lick the tiramisu from the spoon.
“Stop staring at me,” I demand.
He shrugs, mumbling behind closed lips again. I roll my eyes. “You can talk.”
“How else am I supposed to entertain myself?” he asks.
“So, that’s what all this was to you? Entertainment?” I arch a brow.
“No, it wasn’t, and one day you’ll realize why that’s true.”
Confused, I just look back down to my dessert. I don’t feel like I’m going to get a straight answer out of him as to why he’s done all this. He clearly meant it when he came here to defend me from whatever wrong he felt I’d eluded to in the text. His intent was sincere, his anger at the thought that someone had disrespected me was real. But why?
I tell myself it’s just because I’m Elise’s sister. Trevor would have done the same, had he seen the text. But I can feel it’s a lie. It’s more than that. This feels more like he came here defending a woman he…cares about. But that can’t be. I don’t know what it is.
The waiter brings my boxed, to-go dessert in a bag and places the check on the table. Before I can even reach for it, Eric is handing his card to the waiter.
“What are you doing?” I ask.
“Paying for dinner,” he says simply.
“What kind of date would this be if I didn’t?”
I narrow my eyes at him. “This was not a date.”
“No. You’re right. Our first date will be so much nicer. And you know, hopefully, I’ll be able to talk during it.”
“I can’t figure out what this all means, Eric,” I finally admit. “Why you came here. Why you were so ready to fight for me when it’s usually me and you who are doing the fighting. Why you keep talking about a date like you actually want one with me. You can’t stand me. And I can’t stand you. I mean, has that changed?”
The waiter brings his card back and Eric just smiles. Not a grin or a smirk, a smile. He stands from the table and begins to lean down. I freeze, wondering if he means to kiss me, on my cheek or my lips, but he stops, seeming to catch himself and straightening while clearing his throat.
“Goodnight, Aubrey.” His deep voice makes me shiver. “And that dress definitely was not wasted because you look amazing in it. Even if that asshole couldn’t appreciate it, I can.”
Bewildered by his compliment, I sit there in silence as he begins to walk past me. But then I grab his wrist, stopping him. His eyes go down to where we touch and the same softness I’ve been noticing here and there enters his gaze again.
“Thank you,” I say. “For coming. Even if you won’t tell me why.”
“Of course I came.”
He leaves and I gather my dessert, still noticing a few glances being cast my way. When I get inside my car, I put my bag into the passenger seat and pull out my phone. I have a bunch of missed calls from Elise and I realize she doesn’t know what Eric did. She probably still thinks I’m sitting around waiting for her call to bail me out. I press the screen to call her back.
“Thank God,” she exclaims. “I was getting ready to send out a search party for you.”
“You would be surprised who already found me.” I chuckle.
“Huh? Are you still there? I’m sorry I took so long to call. I didn’t even see your text until a few minutes ago.”
“Yeah, well, you can blame Eric for that.”
“How did you know he was here?”
“Because he saw my text and came to the restaurant to scare my horrible date away.”
She gasps. “Are you serious?”
“Tell me everything.”
I relay what happened, leaving out the moments and comments that are still confusing me. In the silence that follows, I can practically feel what she’s about to say, feel the grin growing on her face. I roll my eyes in preparation.
“So you two had dinner together?” she asks.
“Only you would see the night that way.”
She hums. “Me and Eric, apparently. Oh my God, Aubrey, you guys were on a date. Probably the weirdest one ever, but a date all the same.”
“No, we most certainly were not. What kind of guy sits down and eats a meal that was not meant for him? I don’t know, but that does not make it a date. It’s more like, we just didn’t want the food to go to waste. Especially not when I thought I was paying for it.”
She scoffs. “Well, I could’ve told you he wasn’t going to let you pay. Because, say it with me, Eric is a good…”
“Guy. Yeah, Yeah. I get it. What I don’t get is why he did all this.”
“I’m telling you he likes you.”
Could she be right? The answer to that question eludes me more than ever after tonight. Because the next time we see each other, I imagine things going right back to the way they’ve always been between us. So then what does that really make tonight? Just a nice moment between enemies? Did tonight show that we could be more than enemies, if we both tried to be?
I shake my head, deciding not to think on it anymore. That’s where the trouble starts. Thinking too much. Letting feelings grow. Opening yourself up to pain. I don’t need an ounce of that.
“Anyway, after this crappy date, I think I am officially spending the next few weeks at home, very alone. It would seem you grabbed up the last decent man around.”
“He’s more than decent. It runs in the family. In fact, he has a brother who you’d be great with.”
I laugh. “You really never quit. I’m about to start driving. I’ll call you later. Love you.”
“Love you, too.”
I hang up and start heading home. And as much as I tell myself not to think of him, not to ruminate on his words from tonight, not to remember that look in his eyes as he looked at my hand on him, my mind conjures him again and again. By the time I get home, I’m no closer to figuring it all out and know I won’t be able to sleep for a while.
Well, at least I have my extra dessert to keep me company.
Hope you enjoyed this sneak peek of It Was Always You.
This book releases June 15, 2020
Available for pre-order now: It Was Always You
The first time Aubrey met Eric, he spilled his drink on her favorite dress. The second time, she was scowling at him across the room as her sister celebrated her engagement to his brother. Now he’s in her life to stay and she’s stuck asking herself what she did to deserve this punishment.
She can no longer avoid his smirk or ignore the way her body reacts when he walks into a room. With each laugh, joke, and caress, it’s getting harder to convince herself that it all means nothing. But the alternative is acknowledging that he’s starting to make her feel everything she promised herself she never would.
Having already seen what letting someone in leads to, she’s sworn to always protect her heart. Only now, she can’t help wondering if it might be safest with the person she thought she hated most.