His name was Jack Renfield. His hair was dark as night, his eyes even darker, and his soul even darker still.
Brea discovered the latter much too late.
Even as he stood before her now, having just delivered a blow that knocked the wind from her lungs, Brea still thought he was absolutely, incomparably, jaw-droppingly gorgeous.
What a cruel trick.
What was it her mother had always said? That a pretty face hides an ugly heart? Brea snorted softly, then pushed the thought aside. Her mother—God rest her nasty soul—was likely looking down (or… up) at this moment of crisis, a smug smirk on her face, which was not something Brea wanted to imagine while being dumped by the man of her dreams.
Jack rubbed his hand over his manicured beard stubble. “Brea, I’m sorry. I just can’t do it.”
Pretty faces. Those were her kryptonite. And Jack, with his stupid, pretty face, had proven that—like all the gorgeous men she’d dated before him—pretty faces could not, in any way, shape, or form, be trusted.
And his timing. God, his timing. She tore her gaze from his brown eyes to glance at the calendar on the wall, today’s date circled in bright red. The countdown to her wedding vacation was completed.
And, apparently, so was her engagement.
Her carefully crafted plan caught fire in her mind, the flames creeping up the tidy list for her life, each lick of fire obliterating a bullet point in her schedule. She’d spent so much time, so much energy, painstakingly creating the perfect life, brick by brick by brick… and now?
Her life plan was simple. Or, it had been, anyway.
Start a marketing firm after college. Check.
Buy first home. Check.
Get married by thirty. Travel the world with her husband for five years. Step back from the firm and become a mom at thirty-five.
Everything was going exactly as she’d planned until five minutes ago.
Until Jack Renfield walked his destructive ass into her office and casually poured kerosene all over her life plan.
Brea’s gaze fell to her desk and the brochure sitting atop her day planner, the beautiful cerulean waters of Costa Rica promising her romance and serenity, the start of her happily ever after… with just one small catch: She had to keep her damn relationship together for six more hours.
Brea grabbed the brochure, ready to toss it into the wastebasket beneath her desk, but paused. She’d never been one to give up easily, and she wasn’t about to start now. When she and Brynn started Pomp Suite just out of college, they’d had nothing but drive and determination… and a million obstacles to overcome.
And they had. Successfully.
Within the first year, Pomp was one of the top five marketing firms in Los Angeles. Now, just a short five years later, they were top three for the entire West Coast.
Pomp Suite was practically a household name.
She hadn’t given up back then and she wouldn’t give up now.
Jack wanted to bail out on their engagement? He wanted to cancel the wedding just hours before their flights? He better have a damn good reason for doing so.
And if it was merely a case of cold feet, then she’d buy him some goddamn socks.
“I’m not in love with you.”
Brea rocked back in her seat as pain crushed her heart. Her mouth went dry.
“I’m…” Jack looked around Brea’s office, as if his next words were somehow written on the walls or out past the window in the streets of Los Angeles below. “I’m with someone else.”
Brea’s mouth dropped open in shock. He was cheating on her? With who? For how long? Her mind spun, throwing nameless female faces at her, women they’d seen at restaurants, interacted with at parties… women he worked with… was it a one-time thing? A quick fuck?
A full-blown affair?
“Who?” She managed to squeeze the question out through clenched teeth, even though she wasn’t sure she wanted to know the answer. Would knowing help? The who definitely didn’t change the what.
Jack took a deep breath and straightened his shoulders. “It’s Stacey. I’m with Stacey.”
Brea gasped, then laughed bitterly. “Stacey? Stacey? Of all the clichés—”
“I didn’t plan for this to happen,” he said.
Brea guffawed at the irony. He hadn’t planned for this to happen. Of course he hadn’t. Jack didn’t plan anything. Planning was Brea’s job. Because Brea Pompeo was a woman with a plan. Many plans, actually, and many lists. She was organized in all areas of her life, and had been that way as long as she could remember. Life was a series of events; events could be broken down into moments; and moments, well, moments were tidy and succinct little bullet points. Life was just too chaotic without careful planning, and if you weren’t careful, terrible things could happen.
Brea nearly laughed at the absurdity. If you weren’t careful, something like this could happen.
Because today, on what should have been the last day of work before they took off for their dream wedding in Costa Rica, Brea was, in fact, being dumped.
Because Jack had fallen for his therapist. Their therapist.
What kind of cosmic joke! As her blood heated in her veins, it lit a fire beneath her ass, so she pushed up out of her desk chair and grabbed her purse.
“I’m not doing this here, Jackson.”
She left her office and headed for the door, her jaw and her fists clenched. She jutted her chin and passed by her employees with a swiftness she hoped they attributed to a business emergency, not heartbreak. At least she’d been able to keep the tears at bay, all dammed up with her rage. She passed her partner on her way back to her office from the conference room.
“Hey, Bre, Jack…” Brynn’s words trailed off as her eyes widened, her gaze flicking back and forth between them.
As Brea stepped into the elevator and Jack slipped in after her, she met Brynn’s gaze once more, and the understanding in her friend’s eyes tightened Brea’s chest around her heart. Brynn wasn’t just her partner at Pomp Suite, but one of her very best friends, and the desire to run back into the office and throw herself into Brynn’s arms nearly had Brea reaching for the button to stop the elevator doors from trapping her in this small space with Jack.
Instead, she waited for the doors to close, steeled herself, and turned toward the man who had just broken her heart. “Seriously? You thought today was a good day to do this?”
He raised his hands in surrender. “I know you have that big meeting, Brea, but I couldn’t wait any longer.”
She snorted, crossing her arms over her chest. “Never mind the goddamn meeting, Jack! In six hours, we’re supposed to be on a plane. Or did you somehow forget that between this morning when you left the condo and now?”
Brea’s throat tightened. The unwanted image of where Jack may have spent the last three hours bloomed to life in her mind, the young blonde woman’s smile mocking Brea. God, how many times had that woman sat with Brea and Jack, pretending to help them work through their shit? The question twisted the knife deeper into Brea’s chest. What a fool she’d been!
The elevator doors opened to the lobby and she strode quickly out, Jack close on her heels. She didn’t stop until they reached the uncharacteristically empty courtyard outside. As if given a small gift from the universe—maybe an apology for allowing this man to come crashing into Brea’s life plan—no one was outside on a smoke break to witness this breakup that wasn’t planned.
Brea spun to face Jack. “Today, though? Seriously?”
“What would you have me do?” Jack whispered. “What would have been better? Would you prefer I waited until Costa Rica? Wait until all our friends and family are there?”
“Your parents are already there!”
He flinched. It was quick, but Brea caught the motion.
“Oh.” She scoffed at her naiveté. “Oh my God. They aren’t there, are they?” Pain rolled through her body like a tremor. “They already know.”
Oh, God, they already knew. Who else knew of his betrayal—his rejection?
“What would have been better in your eyes?” Jack whispered.
“I can think of about a million things. The first would be not falling in love with your fucking therapist.”
Jack flinched. “It wasn’t supposed to happen, Bre. You have to believe that.”
“No shit. She should lose her license.” At the very least, Brea would demand a damn refund for the shared sessions she’d been a part of.
“Hold on, now—”
Brea raised her hand. “No. I don’t want to hear you defend her and this… this… relationship or whatever it is you think you’re doing.” Brea swallowed hard as her throat grew tighter. “Jesus, Jack, how long have you been cheating on me with her?”
He dropped his gaze to the floor.
Brea closed her eyes and pulled in a deep breath. “How long?” When she opened them again, he met her gaze.
She sucked in a whoosh of air. The weight of his words made her stumble backwards, but she quickly steadied herself.
He’d been seeing someone else for nine months? But that… it didn’t…
“I don’t understand.” She plopped down onto the nearest bench. “We’ve been…” Brea shook her head, fighting to comprehend what he’d just told her. They’d been engaged for eight months. So, if he’d been seeing this other woman for nine months, then that meant…she was the other woman?
“We only started going to couples counseling three months ago.”
Jack had the audacity to look down, to look ashamed. He didn’t get to be ashamed.
Brea opened her mouth and closed it a few times before she could find the words. “You were seeing her and then brought me to her. Why? So she could meet me? Laugh at me? Mock me?”
“No, no,” Jack said, moving toward her, but the fire in Brea’s eyes stopped him in his tracks. “It wasn’t like that, Brea. You have to believe me. I honestly wanted to try—”
“And you thought trying meant fucking the woman who was supposed to be helping us try?”
Holy shit. The depth of this betrayal. The layers. Brea’s chest constricted, but she fought to breathe deeply, maintain her composure. She wouldn’t give him the pleasure of breaking her.
But it was all too much. The harder she fought the tears, the tougher they pushed back against her efforts. Even her tears mocked her.
“Why?” She looked up at him as the drops finally pushed past the anger and streamed onto her cheeks. “Why did you propose?”
He shrugged. “Because you wanted me to.”
Brea winced. Because she wanted him to? She breathed deeply, trying to steady herself, then wiped the tears from her cheeks, sliding her fingertips beneath each eye to clear any wayward mascara. When she was steady enough to stand, she rose to her feet, smoothing her pencil skirt, then looking him in the eyes. “I wanted you to propose because I thought you loved me.”
“No, you wanted me to propose because it checked off a box on your goddamned list.” He raised his hands in frustration, then dropped them at his sides. “Date for two years. Propose. Marry. I was a box on your list.”
Brea’s hands tightened into fists at her side. “I have a list, Jack, because I am organized, but that doesn’t mean I want to marry someone who Doesn’t. Want. To. Marry. Me. We’ve been together for nearly three years. Three! How the hell do you propose to me, then plan a wedding with me, and you’ve been fucking someone else the whole time?” She brought her hand to her mouth to prevent any anguish from slipping past her lips. “How, Jack? How?”
“Not the whole time.”
“That does not make it better!”
He sighed. “Look, Brea, I’m sorry. I never wanted to hurt you—”
“—but I can’t marry you. I can’t do this life with you. I can’t live up to your perfect plan and your crazy ideals, the constant scrutiny. I can’t fake it anymore.”
Brea swayed as if his words were a physical blow. “Fake it? Did you just say you can’t fake it anymore?” He’d been faking? What did that even mean? What exactly had he faked? Had he ever loved her at all?
“How long have you been faking it, Jack? How long have you been pretending to love me? Going through the motions like a burned-out married couple instead of beginning our happily ever—” she choked the words off.
“You know what I mean. I wasn’t faking it, I just don’t… I’m not all in anymore.”
Her heart pinched and her shoulders sagged, as if her body wanted to fold in on itself to protect the most vulnerable piece of her. But it was too late, Jack had just obliterated her heart. There was nothing left to protect. Brea sighed, though it sounded more like a sob, then she turned her back to him and motioned for the door. “Go, Jack,” she whispered. “Just go.”
“I’ll come next week to get my things.”
“No.” She closed her eyes. “I’ll have them sent to you.” Holding her breath, she waited to hear his footsteps recede, then slowly exhaled and turned toward the door to the building. If he was standing inside, watching her, she couldn’t tell. All she could see was her reflection in the glass.
Defeated shoulders, streaked cheeks, and pain in her eyes she swore never to see again.
Hello, weakness, my old friend…
To Hell with that!
She straightened her back and smoothed her hair, tucking any loose strands into the chignon at the nape of her neck, then pulled her mirror out of her purse and fixed her tear-stained cheeks.
She didn’t need Jack Renfield. She didn’t need him to travel the world. She didn’t even need him to become a mother. She could adopt and not have the distraction of a man who wasn’t ‘all in’ with her anymore... Anymore?
Had he ever been? Had she ever been anything other than alone, really?
Yeah. She breathed deeply, allowing the idea to settle into her mind, her heart.
She didn’t need anyone.
Her list had been created when she was a girl, a silly, stupid, romantic girl. But now she was an adult. A woman, and a strong one at that. She’d managed to build her marketing firm from the ground up. She’d purchased her first home before she turned twenty-five.
Confucius said something about when the goals cannot be reached, you don't adjust the goals, you adjust your journey. Or the steps. Or something. And that was exactly what Brea would do.
When you went alone, you could go even faster than with someone dragging your pace with their complications.
Safer—better—to act like the badass entrepreneur she was and take this as the Universe reminding her so.
She’d adjust. She’d make a new list. And then she’d dominate said list.
Like the strong, independent woman she was.
This was the last time Brea Pompeo would ever look defeated.
With a million things to do before their three o’clock appointment, Brynn should have been focusing on any number of tasks, but she couldn’t stop looking at the door, waiting for Brea to return. Their meeting this afternoon with Caldwell Smart would be the biggest deal of their careers, so why had Jack chosen today of all days to drop some bad news in Brea’s lap?
Not to mention that tonight they’d all be on their way to Costa Rica.
Brynn breathed deeply, trying to calm her nerves. The look on Brea’s face… ugh. What could be so bad that it couldn’t wait until after work?
Jack’s parents were already in Costa Rica, so… was there something wrong at the venue? Maybe it rained or something? Brynn opened her browser and typed current weather in Costa Rica, but all was well. Sunny and gorgeous and waiting for them to arrive.
Okay, so, not the weather.
Jack and Brea were good. Solid. They had a great relationship. Sure, Brea had been hyper-focused on not only wedding planning but this Smart Enterprises deal, so she may have been a bit preoccupied at times. But Jack understood, right? He had his own business to run, and in a place like Hollywood, being in public relations was a full-time job-and-a-half. That’s why their relationship worked. They were both busy building their empires, and it worked for them.
Did Jack have cold feet?
No, no. Brynn shook her head to push the thoughts away. She couldn’t assume. Maybe there were just some last-minute wedding details he needed to discuss with Brea. No biggie. Everything would be fine.
Jack wouldn’t hurt Brea. He was lucky to have a woman like her. And the way she loved him, well, that was the stuff they wrote love songs about. So what if she also had a career and that sometimes took up her time?
But the knot of dread curling around Brynn’s stomach told her otherwise. She’d seen that look in Brea’s eyes once, maybe twice before, and it was never, ever good. She’d just been dealt a blow, and now Brynn was on edge waiting for her best friend slash business partner to return to the office.
It was time to rally the girls. If something was wrong at the venue, or something was wrong with—God forbid—Jack and Brea’s relationship, then Brynn, Nessa, and Kelsey needed to be ready to do whatever they could to help. That’s what friends—and bridesmaids—do.
She sent out a quick text to Ness and Kelsey, alerting them that there might be trouble in paradise and asking them to stand by, then she waited.
But as seconds dragged on into minutes, Brynn couldn’t deny the feeling that something had been wrong between Brea and Jack for some time. Truth be told, she’d felt a change between Jack and Brea for a while now, something off, but she couldn’t quite place a finger on it and had chalked it up to wedding jitters. Even the happiest, most solid couples got nervous before the Big Day, right? There was so much to do, so much to plan, so many details to be addressed, and life was in the details as far as Brea was concerned. Planning an event as large as a wedding with someone as detail-oriented as Brea might have been hard on Jack. And that was understandable. Honestly, they’d probably all breathe a sigh of relief when the wedding planning was over.
But just how hard had it been on Jack? Break-up hard?
And what kind of person would break up with someone mere hoursbefore they were supposed to leave for their destination wedding? That’s not the first time doubt enters your mind—if you wait until hours before the plane takes off before opening your mouth...
That would make you an asshole.
And Jack wasn’t an asshole… was he?
Shit. Brea would be devastated.
Brynn slumped in her desk chair. God, she hoped she was wrong. Their flights were in a number of hours… the wedding in two days… and this afternoon, a meeting with Smart Enterprises that would take Pomp Suite to the next level.
But Brynn knew. She knew what was happening downstairs. Jack’s face had break-up written all over it while Brea’s jaw had looked tense enough to crack walnuts.
What a knack for timing.
Brynn stood as her phone buzzed with a text from Brea: Come downstairs, please.
The text bubble popped up, then disappeared. Popped up, then disappeared.
This was so unlike Brea that Brynn’s heart sank. The worst had happened. If it was just a venue issue or a flight change, Brea wouldn’t be at a loss for words. She wouldn’t be hesitant. Brea never hesitated about anything.
Brynn grabbed her purse, shoved her phone into it, then hurried to reception. “Hey, Megan, please cancel everything for Brea and me until our three o’clock.”
“Sure thing, B.”
“Thanks.” She hurried to the elevator. “Oh!” Brynn paused and spun back around. “Can you get me reservations for four at Nineteen-Twenty?” She glanced at the oversized decorative clock on the wall behind Megan’s desk. “Say, eleven-fifteen-ish?”
Megan nodded as she picked up the phone, and Brynn stepped into the elevator, sending a quick text to the girls about meeting for lunch at their favorite restaurant because her fears had been correct: Brea was not okay.
Nessa was the first to respond, sending a series of expletives and a gif of a murder scene from a movie that Brynn recognized but couldn’t place.
No response from Kelsey yet, but the girl could sleep in like Brynn hadn’t been able to in years, and Nessa could deal with waking Kelsey. Right now, Brynn had to focus on Brea.
If the elevator ever delivered her to the freaking lobby. Brynn tapped the toe of her black stiletto on the elevator floor as it made its molasses-like descent to ground level. Did it always move this slowly? Maybe she should ask Megan to call maintenance. As the numbers above the door counted down, she tucked her phone back into her purse, ready to break free of this metal prison as soon as it came to a stop.
When the doors opened, she hurried forward, and her heel caught the gap between the elevator and the lobby floor, sending her flying forward. She reached out to catch herself and slammed into something hard.
With her left hand on his abs and her right hand on his—
Her right hand was…
Mortification heated her cheeks and she closed her eyes as the man tightened his hands around her upper arms to steady her. Once balanced, she quickly dropped her hand from his… pants.
Brynn couldn’t bring herself to look up at him after she’d just felt the goods.
“Whoa,” he said, his voice like warm honey. “You all right?”
Brynn breathed deeply and the masculine scent of him permeated her senses, pulling her lips into a slow smile as a nervous giggle tried to creep its way up her throat. Adjusting her glasses, she finally raised her head.
He had eyes the color of a winter storm over the Pacific.
Her stomach tightened as heat crept up her chest and neck.
She took a quick step backward and he released her, keeping his hands out in front of him like he was worried she might topple over. When he dragged his gaze slowly down her body, her knees weakened to mush and he might have been right about the toppling thing.
Finally meeting her gaze once more, he dropped one hand to his side as he extended the other. “CJ.”
“Brynn,” she said, sliding her hand into his. Her crotch-grabbing hand. A rush of excitement skittered up her arm at the connection of their palms, and Brynn could no longer fight the smile trying to break free on her lips. What was wrong with her? This was Los Angeles, the city of devils in designer suits. Beautiful men were a dime a dozen around here, so why was this man eliciting such a reaction from her?
His dark hair was neatly trimmed and slicked back, and his jawline was fiercely square, but his lips… his lips were soft pillows. He licked them, breaking Brynn’s focus and alerting her to the fact that she stood here blatantly staring at this stranger’s mouth.
She dropped his hand and held tightly to her purse with both hands so she wouldn’t run the risk of reaching for him. “Well, thank you for, uh, catching me,” she said, side-stepping him awkwardly. “Sorry about the…” she trailed off, accidentally glancing at his groin and regretting it instantly because his slacks actually bulged where she’d grabbed him, and it wasn’t even gray sweatpants season, and now she was thinking about him in gray sweatpants and good Lord, was the heater on in the lobby?
Smirking as if following her thoughts, the man said, “You’re welcome,” then slowly turned toward her as she backed away from him. “I hope to bump into you again, Brynn.”
Why did that sound like a proposal? An indecent proposal?
Brynn gave her head a quick shake, smiled sweetly, then turned her back on that beautiful, sexy stranger. Now was not the time to be swooning over random men. The city was chock full of them and one of them had just broken her best friend’s heart, proving none of them could be trusted.
Or, at least, that’s what Brynn assumed had happened; she still hoped she was wrong.
But when she stepped out into the courtyard, her assumption was proven correct. Brea stood off to the corner, her shoulders and her chin ramrod straight, and… was that a cigarette in her hand?
Brynn’s eyes widened. “Are you smoking, Bre?”
Brea looked down at the lit cigarette between her fingers, then shook her head. “No, but I thought about it.”
“Well, your hand is going to stink and so is that La Fleur”—she motioned toward Brea’s camel skirt—“so why don’t you think about putting it out.”
Brea smashed the cigarette into the nearest ashtray, then looked up at Brynn. “It’s over.”
Brynn’s heart sank. Goddamn Jack Renfield. She’d kill him. “Oh, honey.” She pulled Brea into her arms and held her tightly.
“He fell in love with his therapist. Our therapist.”
Brynn gasped, leaning back to meet Brea’s eyes. “You’re kidding.”
“Nope. They’ve been seeing each other for nine months.”
“Nine months?” Brynn frowned, thinking back. “But that means…”
“He was already with her when he proposed to me.”
Brynn sucked in a quick gasp. “That monster.”
Brea nodded, and Brynn drew her back in for another hug. After a few long moments, Brea pulled in a deep breath and stepped out of Brynn’s arms, straightening her shoulders.
Brynn cocked her head. “You know what cures a broken heart?”
Brynn smiled. “No, but he would definitely deserve it.”
Brea’s eyes narrowed. “Are you going to give me some ‘time heals all wounds’ crap right now, B?”
Brynn laughed, sliding her arm through Brea’s. “God, no, this isn’t the Hallmark Channel, and that’s not what you need.”
“Okay, then what do I need?”
“Boozy brunch with your besties.”
Brea cracked a half-smile. “You always know how to cheer me up.”
“Mimosas cheer everyone up.” Brynn paused, waiting for Brea to meet her gaze, then said, “You’ll survive this.”
They started to head for the door when Brynn’s phone buzzed with a text. She pulled the cell from her purse and said, “It’s probably the girls.” Instead, it was a text from Megan, confirming that the lunch reservations were made and the she’d cancelled everything else until the Smart Enterprises meeting at three o’clock. Brynn’s light mood plummeted. “Shit.” She turned to face Brea.
“Our three o’clock,” Brea said.
Brynn grimaced. “Okay, well, maybe not a boozy brunch, but brunch with your besties is still a pretty good salve.”
“It is. You’re right.”
Brynn sighed. “Bottomless mimosas will have to wait. We can’t risk the Smart account.”
“Amen to that. I’d like at least that part of my life to go as planned.”
Brynn smiled, opening the door for her friend and sending a quick prayer to the Universe that nothing would go wrong between now and three o’clock. If Caldwell Smart was as ruthless as they’d heard, both women would need to be in tip-top shape to take him on, and one of them had just been dumped.
As they made their way to the street and the line of rideshare drivers waiting outside the building, Brynn straightened her shoulders and readied herself for the tasks at hand.
She’d get Brea through brunch, then she’d get them both through the Smart Enterprises meeting that afternoon, and then they’d begin tackling the heart-breaking cancellation of Brea’s dream wedding.
From airfare to notifying guests, to trying to gather any and all available refunds, one step at a time, Brynn and the girls would get Brea through this.
Because that’s what best friends do.
Incessant buzzing on the nightstand pulled Kelsey awake. Without opening her eyes, she reached out, hand flopping onto the tabletop until she located her cell phone and squeezed the button to send the call to voicemail.
A warm arm snaked around her waist, tightening and tugging her closer to an even warmer body. Good morning.
Kelsey grinned sleepily, settling against the man in her bed. “Mmm.”
“What time is it?” he murmured, lips vibrating her skin as he kissed his way to her neck.
He flattened his hand against her belly, sending a rush of heat into her groin. “Too early for this?” Pulling her closer to his warm body, he pressed his erection against her backside.
“Never too early for that.” Kelsey wiggled her bare ass against him, then rolled over slowly and met the man’s gaze, quickly making a tally of everything she knew about him.
He was a bartender at The Tipsy Peacock, like Nessa. Which meant Nessa would be pissed if she found him here because she had a rule about her friends sleeping with people from her place of employment. Which meant Kelsey should not have brought him home to the apartment she shared with Nessa… unless Kelsey had a death wish.
Or a dick wish. Ha.
He had bright blue eyes, a slightly crooked nose, and a massive cock.
Hmm. Apparently, she could count everything she knew about this guy on one hand.
He guided her onto her back, then slowly stretched out above her—
Kelsey’s phone buzzed again. She groaned.
“Ignore it.” He pressed the tip of his cock between her legs, eliciting a soft moan from her lips as her body awakened to his touch.
And her phone buzzed again.
Someone knocked on the door.
Was this an intervention?
Kelsey closed her eyes, wishing the interruption away.
The doorknob jiggled, but thankfully, Kelsey had thought to lock it last night.
“Kels? Are you home?” Nessa called.
The man’s eyes widened at the sound of Nessa’s voice and he shook his head. “She can’t know I’m here,” he whispered as he reached past Kelsey’s head for the box of condoms on the bedside table.
Kelsey rolled her eyes. Duh. Nessa would kill them both for this little indiscretion. Nessa loved her job at the Peacock, and Kelsey shouldn’t have brought this guy home. But apparently, too many of Nessa’s smoked Old-Fashioneds, and Kelsey’s better judgment was out the window.
So, really, was this Kelsey’s fault, or Nessa’s?
Another doorknob jiggle. “I know you’re home, Kelsey; I found your thong in the kitchen.”
Kelsey bit back a laugh. Whoops. Flashes of last night’s drunken adventure sparked to life in her mind, little snapshots of this hot man in various parts of the apartment…
Feeding her ice cream in the dark kitchen, the only light that of the open refrigerator door.
Her back pressed flat against the cool marble island as he went to town between her legs.
The two of them sprawled out on the couch—well, partly on the couch, partly on the floor. That had been a delightful experience, indeed.
He leaned down now, pulling her nipple into his mouth and breaking up any thoughts in her head that didn’t focus on right this fucking second, pulling her into the present as he pushed his hard cock inside her. Kelsey gasped softly, opening up to him and spreading her legs for this deliciously sexy, no name stranger.
Kelsey tried to search her mind for what else Nessa might have discovered when she woke up this morning, but thinking was growing harder with each passing second.
She pictured his black button-down shirt discarded in the entryway.
His pants somewhere between there and the kitchen.
Her skirt—and apparently her panties—in a pile on the kitchen floor.
And if Nessa saw that black shirt, she’d know Kelsey was with someone from the Peacock. Shit.
Eh, on second thought… how many service industry peeps wore crisp black button-downs in Los Angeles? Like, literally all of them. Kelsey could have brought home any starving artist or wannabe actor from any bar, restaurant, or club in at least three zip codes. And she had told Nessa she was headed elsewhere when she left the Peacock—she just hadn’t told her that elsewhere is where she ran into what’s his name here and then couldn’t keep her hands off his hard body.
“Kelsey,” Nessa said, louder this time, her impatience growing. “Wake up. Can’t you hear your damn phone ringing?”
Ness wasn’t the only one whose impatience was growing. Kelsey sighed, but the guy pressed harder into her, cutting off any thoughts of irritation.
She smiled languidly and closed her eyes, ignoring her best friend and roommate—and current monumental annoyance—to be present in the moment. With Brad or Chad or Kevin or Steve or—
Kelsey frowned at Nessa’s supplied assertion. No, she’d definitely remember if this guy’s name was Jack.
“He broke up with Brea.”
Kelsey’s eyes sprung open. She pressed her hands against the guy’s chest until he pulled out of her. “I’m getting dressed,” she hollered, “don’t come in!”
Shit. Fuck. That’s what all the calls and texts were about this morning? She grabbed her phone from the nightstand and started reading through the texts from Brynn. “Dammit.”
He flopped onto his back, his eyes pleading with Kelsey as he motioned toward his erection. With a whimper, she rushed to her closet and grabbed her favorite brunch dress, a sleeveless high-low midi dress that looked amazing with Doc Martens and a cropped denim jacket—perfect for seventy-degree L.A. winters—and started to get dressed.
The guy cleared his throat and she looked back over her shoulder. He laid sprawled out in the center of her bed, his cock standing at attention like the mast of a ship.
She’d kill Jack if she ever saw him again. Kelsey pulled on her Docs, raising her brows. “You heard Nessa,” she whispered. “Our best friend was just dumped.”
“You can’t leave me like this.”
“I can, and you’ll survive it.” Although, leaving him like that was disappointing for her as well. Kelsey shook her head sadly. Duty over dick. “I’ll make it up to you.”
It was a lie. She couldn’t see him again and risk Nessa finding out.
He motioned toward his cock with both hands, his face distorted with discomfort.
Desire and duty warred within her body. Surely five more minutes to take care of a personal problem first—orgasm denial counted as a problem, right?—wouldn’t hurt…
Kelsey groaned. Goddammit, Nessa!
And Goddamn Jack Renfield. She’d kill him. If this was all real, not only had he dumped her best friend just days before their wedding, he’d just ruined their trip to Costa Rica, which was something Kelsey had been seriously looking forward to. And, as if that wasn’t enough, he was currently keeping Kelsey from what—if last night’s memory served her—was bound to be an incredible orgasm.
She tore her gaze away from the delicious hunk of man meat sprawled out on her bed and finished pulling her shoes on, then walked to the bed and leaned over her handsome stranger, looking down at the erection still patiently waiting for her to hop on. “It really is beautiful, and I hate to waste it, but duty calls.” She patted him on the shoulder and offered a quick smile. “Lock up when you leave. There are towels under the cabinet in the bathroom.”
Kelsey tiptoed out of her bedroom and into the hall, closing the door as quietly as she could, then slipped into the bathroom to finish getting ready as quickly as possible.
Apparently, Jack Renfield was the only dick anyone was going to be focusing on today.
Brea needed her, and no man—even the sexy one sprawled out on her bed right now—was worth skipping out on a friend in need.
Kelsey would remind herself of that fact as many times as necessary. And, judging by the ache between her legs, it would be a long, long day, full of reminders.
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