Some things you just believe in, even if you’ve never experienced them. For Stephanie, that list includes love. It’s out there. Somewhere. Eventually. Meanwhile she’s got her job at the mixed martial arts training center and hot flings with gorgeous, temporary guys like Nick. Then a secret brings them closer, opening Steph’s eyes to a future she never knew she wanted—until tragedy rips it away.
Nick’s self-assured surface shields a past no one needs to know about. His mind-blowing connection with Steph changes all that. As fast as he’s knocking down the walls that have kept him commitment-free, she’s building them up again, determined to keep the hurt—and Nick—out. But he can’t walk away. Not when she’s the only one who’s ever made him wish for forever . . .
I cradled my drink as Cam sauntered back to the pool tables. My mind wasn’t made up on the whole visiting them thing yet. Maybe I would. Maybe I wouldn’t.
“Want another rum and coke?”
My lips curled up at the sound of Nick’s rich, deep voice. We’d been chatting on and off since I plopped my butt down on the stool, and he had seemed happy that I was there.
Total bonus points lottery with this guy.
“I’m good, but thanks.” The last thing I wanted to be was drunk. I smiled at him, pleased when his heavily hooded gaze dipped again. “Are you guys usually this busy on the weekend?”
I could see that small talk was something Nick excelled at, which made sense, considering his occupation. He was an equal opportunity charmer. Women flocked to him at the bar. The other bartender, the girl with the pink glasses, seemed to take it all in stride.
“Not sure if you really call this busy, but Saturdays usually bring a larger crowd.” He glanced down the bar before continuing. “So you went to school with them?” he asked, jerking his chin in the direction Cam had roamed off to.
“Yeah.” Leaning forward, I placed my elbows on the bar. “I had no idea they had connections here. Total surprise.”
“Small world,” he said, echoing my earlier thought. “But you’re not very close with them.”
It was a statement, not a question. “What makes you think that?”
“Well, if you were, I guess you’d be over there with them. Or …”
Nick was observant. “Or what?”
One side of his lips curled up as he folded his arms across his chest. The movement drew my attention. I was such a visual creature. Not that anyone would blame me right now. The black shirt he wore stretched around well-defined biceps. “Or you’d rather spend the time with me.”
The twisty motion in my belly cranked up a notch. “Am I that transparent?”
“In the best possible way.” He picked up a bottle. “I’m glad you did stop by. Every time the door opened last night, I looked up and hoped it was you.”
“Is that so?”
“I speak the truth.” His smile was lazy. “Did you finish unpacking?”
“Were there any more rat bastard combinations?”
I laughed. “There were a few more.”
“Kind of mad I missed out on them.”
“There’s always later.” I toyed with my glass as I met and held his stare. “So, Nick, do you have a last name?”
“Blanco,” he replied after a brief hesitation. “Do you?”
“Keith.” I grinned as he unfolded those arms. “I have another question for you.”
Moving in, he placed his hands on the bar. “Ask away.”
“Do you have a girlfriend?” My breath caught a little when he leaned in suddenly. Our mouths were close enough that we were breathing the same tiny patch of oxygen. “Or a boyfriend?”
Nick didn’t bat an eyelash. “Nope to both. How about you?”
Bonus points explosion!
“None,” I said, welcoming the tingle that swirled down my spine as his breath warmed my lips.
He tilted his head to the side, lining up his mouth with mine with just a fraction of an inch between us. I started to feel a little flushed. “You have plans tonight, Stephanie Keith?” he asked, voice deeper and rougher.
I shook my head as my pulse tripped all over itself in a happy little dance.
Nick’s grin spread into the kind of smile I knew left a trail of women in its wake. “You do now.”
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# 1 New York Times and # 1 International Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing, she spends her time reading, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.
Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV. Her young adult romantic suspense novel DON’T LOOK BACK was a 2014 nominated Best in Young Adult Fiction by YALSA.
She also writes Adult and New Adult contemporary and paranormal romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.
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