I was never a
beloved daughter. Only a prized possession to be kept in a gilded cage until my
father was ready to trade.
It was my duty,
carved in stone and written in my blood that one day my virtue would be
exchanged for an alliance. And now, that day has come.
heir to the Silvestro empire, will accept me as his wife and seal my fate with
a kiss that holds a thousand promises. But to him, our vows only mean one
I am bound to him…and
shackled to his hate.
“If you stare at that bloody yacht any more, you’ll burn a hole in its side.” I looked from Arthur’s yacht to Arabella. She was lying on her lounger on the sun deck, head tilted back, her SPF-drenched dark skin shimmering under the blistering Marbella sun.
I took a sip of my mojito, letting the mint and lime cool me down. I saw a few of Arthur’s friends on the deck. But he wasn’t there. I hadn’t seen him since the night in the club. Not long after Ollie Lawson and his friends came, Arthur and his boys had disappeared. I had no idea where to. But they hadn’t come back.
My cheeks blazed when I thought back to him looking at me right in the eyes as he fingered the girl on his lap. As her eyes rolled back and she moaned out loud as her orgasm barrelled through her.
A hand waved in front of my face, pulling me back from the other night. From Arthur … his dark hair, blue eyes and black-rimmed glasses that just did something to me. I couldn’t read him. He was as impenetrable as Fort Knox. Even when his gaze had been locked on mine, I couldn’t get a bloody read on him. He gave nothing away. It was as if he was soulless. As if he lacked any basic emotion.
The hand before my face moved faster. When I shook my head, withdrawing myself from thoughts of Arthur and those eyes that were as unbreakable as a bank safe, it was to see Freya. She smiled, but I could see a tinge of worry in her dark eyes.
She studied me, then put her palm on my forehead as if checking my temperature. I moved her hand away. “Frey,” I said, sighing. “I’m fine.”
“Just checking you haven’t got a fever or anything. Or heat exhaustion.” She took a sip of her Chardonnay. Her purple bikini somehow made her Irish features look more pronounced, and made her curves look like something out of a Renaissance painting.
“I’m completely well.”
Arabella sat up and moved her Gucci sunglasses from her espresso eyes. Her curls framed her beautiful face. “You do know that yacht belongs to Alfie Adley, don’t you?” Her lips were pursed with worry. “That guy you keep staring at is Arthur Adley. The Arthur Adley, heir to the Adley firm and their empire of death and destruction.”
“I know who he is. I have done since we met at thirteen, remember?”
“Yeah, we remember,” Freya said. “But do you? Alfie Adley was there to cash in on a debt your father owed. He wasn’t there for a night of drinks and billiards.”
“I know that,” I snapped. Freya and Arabella glanced at each other as though I’d lost my bloody mind. Maybe I had. All I knew was that, over the years, Arthur had become an obsession of mine. And now he was here. In the flesh. Docked next to us. Looking my way with that steely gaze that seemed to make my knees weak and my mind lose all of its senses.
“Daddy made a mistake. He explained it all to me. He made a bad investment.” I shrugged. “He sorted it and hasn’t had dealings with the Adleys again since.”
“Yet, here you are, wanting to fuck Arthur every which way to Sunday.” Arabella raised an eyebrow at me, waiting for my response.
The sound of raucous laughter came from the Adley yacht, and I glanced over. Just then, Arthur walked out onto the deck, a large gin glass in his hand. He seemed more often than not to be drinking gin, I’d noticed. It must have been his drink of choice—straight, with ice, no mixer. He was shirtless, wearing navy-blue shorts, his black-rimmed glasses firmly in place.
Christ, he was perfection. His skin was slightly kissed by the sun, and his dark hair looked like onyx under the midday sun’s rays.
As if feeling my stare, he looked over, his eyes landing straight on mine. His cousin, Charlie, followed his gaze, his eyes narrowing on me as if I were a problem he wanted to solve. My breathing came faster as Arthur didn’t look away from me. Not even when Freddie Williams stood beside him and started talking in his ear.
“Seriously, Cheska,” Freya said, and I reluctantly looked at my best friend. “Go fuck your boyfriend or something. Get any thought of Arthur Adley from your head.”
Arabella laughed. “Can you imagine taking him home to your daddy? He’d have a damn heart attack.”
“Maybe Arthur isn’t as bad as you think,” I said.
“They’re East End gangsters,” Freya said. “They’re murderers! We’ve all heard the rumours.”
OR TEXT ‘BOOKS’ TO 77948 (US ONLY)
MY FAVORITE SOUVENIR
Release date: 4/27/2020
A Contemporary Romance Novel
New York Times Bestselling Authors Penelope Ward & Vi Keeland
“Good afternoon. You’ve reached the Four Seasons Resort, Vail, Colorado. How
may I direct your call?”
I took a deep breath. “Hi. I checked out early this morning. My reservation was
for ten days, but I only wound up staying two nights. Is there any chance you might still
have my room available? Or any room, for that matter? My flight was canceled because
of the storm.”
“Let me take a look. What’s your last name?”
“Appleton.” I shook my head. “Actually, the reservation was under Ellis. My
fiancé’s last name.” Or ex-fiancé. But I’d let her call me Mrs. Ellis at this point if it
meant I could have a place to sleep tonight.
“Give me one moment and I’ll check.”
I sat down in the lobby of the Best Western, the third hotel I’d been to in the last
two hours. It was dumb of me to check out this morning. Though, at least I was
consistent. After making the bad decision to go on my previously planned honeymoon
alone, I’d brilliantly decided to check out only two days into the trip…without looking at
the weather report for Vail. When I arrived at the airport, I had no idea that a blizzard was
on the way. But the airline had assured me my flight was still scheduled as planned. And
they’d kept their word right up until five minutes before we were supposed to board,
when they announced a two-hour delay. Two hours turned into three, and three turned
into five, and when we hit six hours of sitting on uncomfortable plastic seats outside the
gate, they finally admitted it wasn’t going to happen. Every other flight had been
canceled by then. And now, every hotel seemed to be full.
“Hi, Mrs. Ellis?”
I cringed at being called that, but answered anyway. “Yes?”
“I’m sorry. After you checked out, your room was rebooked. We’re actually sold
out for the night because of the storm.”
I sighed. Of course you are. “Okay. Thank you.”
This was just my luck lately. I called four more hotels, until one said they might
have a few rooms available. Apparently they had guests that hadn’t checked in yet and
were in the process of making calls to confirm whether they would still be arriving today.
Rooms would be freed up on a first-come, first-served basis. So I decided to take a
chance and head on over. It was already seven o’clock at night, and there was no point in
sitting here anymore. Surprisingly, Uber was still running, even though the airport had
called it quits hours ago.
Out front, the snow was coming down hard. A giant SUV with snow chains on the
tires pulled up in front of the door. I couldn’t check the license plate or get a look at the
make and model of the vehicle since it was covered in snow, so I walked over to the car
and motioned for the driver to roll down the window.
“Are you Hazel?” the older woman behind the wheel asked.
I smiled. “Yes.”
“Heading over to the Snow Eagle Lodge?”
Even though the next hotel was only two miles away, it took fifteen minutes to get
there. By the time we pulled up, the conditions were almost white-out. It couldn’t be safe
driving in this anymore.
“God, it’s really terrible out here,” I said as I pulled up the hood of my jacket. “Be
careful driving tonight.”
“Oh, I will, honey. The next place I’m driving is home. I only picked you up
because you were on my way. Good thing you’re at your hotel now. No one is going to
be on the roads tonight anymore.”
Great. This place really better have a room for me.
As I climbed out of the SUV, a gust of snow smacked me in the face, despite the
fact that we were parked under the building’s overhang. The wind made it look like
someone had shaken a snow globe, hard. Inside the hotel, I wiped flakes from my
eyelashes and glanced around the lobby.
This didn’t look good. A line of at least thirty or forty people snaked five rows
deep, waiting to get to the reception desk. I sighed and wheeled my luggage to behind the
last person. More than half an hour later, I finally reached the front.
“Hi. I called earlier, and the person I spoke to said some rooms might become
available, that you were going to contact guests who hadn’t showed and see if they were
The woman nodded with a frown. “Yeah. I can put you on our waitlist. But we’re
still making calls, and to be honest, it’s not looking too good.”
My shoulders slumped. “Okay. Well, I guess please add me to your wait list.”
The woman lifted a clipboard and set it down on the counter. She thumbed
through a few pages and turned it to face me, pointing at the next available line, which
was two from the bottom of the page. “Just add your name and cell phone number.”
I scribbled both and let the pages above the one I’d been writing on fan back into
place. Noticing the sheet at the top looked just like the one I’d signed, five or six pages
down, I glanced through all the papers. There had to be at least a hundred names and
“Are these all on your waiting list?”
The hotel clerk nodded.
“How many people haven’t checked in?”
“I think about a dozen.”
Oh God. This really wasn’t good. But maybe people had just added their names
and left, like in a packed restaurant. Maybe the bulk of people ahead of me on the list had
found other hotels.
Turning around, whatever hope I’d talked myself into immediately deflated.
Every seat in the lobby area behind me was taken. Some were even sitting on the floor,
leaning against their luggage. With very few options, I wandered over and found an
empty space on a carpeted area of the floor, not too far from the concierge desk. Though I
knew it was futile, I took out my iPad and continued to search for a hotel with
availability. Even if I found one, getting there would be a miracle on its own at this point.
The nearby concierge desk had been empty while I scrolled and made calls, but
now two women walked over. One I recognized as the manager, since I’d spent a half
hour staring at the people behind the front desk while I’d waited in line. The other had on
a nametag and held a clipboard. I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on their conversation from
where I sat.
“These seven we still haven’t reached,” the manager said. “All of the other rooms
have been checked in, or we’ve reallocated them to people from the waiting list.”
The employee flipped through the pages and looked around the full hotel lobby.
“Jeez. And this storm is supposed to stick around for days.”
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a guy standing on the other side of the
concierge desk. His back was to the ladies talking, but he craned his neck, and I thought
he, too, might be eavesdropping. Figuring he was probably just as bored as me, I went
back to my iPad search—until a few minutes later when I noticed him scribbling
something with a pen on the inside of his hand.
What the hell is he doing?
He wrote for a few seconds and then seemed to go back to eavesdropping. The
manager had walked away, leaving the employee to make her phone calls. She hung up
from one call and dialed again.
“Hi. This is Catherine from the Snow Eagle Lodge. I’m trying to reach Milo or
The minute she said the names, the eavesdropper scribbled on his hand again.
Catherine continued leaving her message. “I just wanted to confirm whether
you’d still be arriving this evening. Your reservation is guaranteed, so we’ll hold it as
long as you need. However, if the storm has perhaps caused a change in your travel plans,
we do have a long wait list of guests who could use the two rooms you have booked. My
number here is 970-555-4000, if you could please return my call at your earliest
convenience. Thank you.”
The same thing went on with the next two calls. Catherine left a message and the
eavesdropper scribbled. Curious about what he was up to, I kept my eye on him. After the
hotel clerk finished making her calls, she went back to the front desk. Eavesdropper
picked up his backpack and casually strolled down a nearby hallway. I leaned to watch
where he was going, and he eventually pulled up his hood and exited out a side door I
hadn’t even noticed was there.
I thought it was odd, but I figured the show was over.
But a few minutes later, a guy with the same ski jacket walked through the front
lobby door. He pulled his hood down, and I got a look at his face for the very first time.
Damn, he was handsome. Medium brown hair that was kind of shaggy and
needed a cut, full lips, hazel eyes, and tanned skin. His warm skin tone really stood out
against the pasty color of most people in Colorado this time of the year, including me. It
was a shame I loathed men right now, because he was seriously gorgeous. He dusted
some of the snow from the shoulders of his jacket and went to wait in line. It was much
shorter now, with only two men in front of him, mostly because people weren’t braving
the storm anymore. I had no idea what possessed me to do it, but I decided to get up and
wait behind the guy. Maybe I was imagining things to keep myself entertained, but I had
the distinct feeling he was up to something.
When it was his turn at the front desk, I moved as close as I could to listen
without seeming like a stalker.
“Hi. I’m checking in,” the man said.
“Great. What’s your last name, sir?”
He cleared his throat. “Hooker. Milo Hooker.”
I squinted. The guy was totally full of shit. I knew it!
The unsuspecting hotel clerk punched a bunch of keys on her keyboard and
smiled. “I have your reservation right here. Two rooms for two nights, breakfast
included. Is that right?”
“Uhhh…” The guy nodded. “Yeah. I booked two rooms. But it turns out I’m only
going to need the one.” He looked over his shoulder. “Looks like you won’t have a
problem filling the other one, though.”
She smiled. “No, we definitely won’t. I’ll just need a credit card and a picture ID
please, Mr. Hooker.”
I waited. This was the moment of truth. If he wasn’t actually Milo Hooker, he was
going to have to make up some excuse.
The guy reached into his front pocket like he was going to pull out his wallet. For
a second, I thought I might’ve been wrong, but then he pulled out a wad of cash.
“I lost my wallet on the slopes today. Luckily, I had some cash sent over through
Western Union before the storm got too bad. Can I just pay cash?”
The young woman hesitated. “You don’t have any ID at all? I’m not supposed to
check people in without photo identification.”
Fake Milo poured on the charm. He leaned forward and showed off a set of
cavernous dimples. “We could take a selfie together?”
The woman giggled. She actually giggled. “Let me just check with my manager.”
She disappeared into the back and returned with the manager a few minutes later.
A crazy idea popped into my head. She said there were two rooms… I made a
spur-of-the-moment decision and approached the counter.
“There you are, Milo.” I rested my hand on the guy’s shoulder. “My flight was
canceled. I hope they still have our rooms.”
Fake Milo turned and looked at me with his brows furrowed.
He was going to blow it if I didn’t do something, so I turned my attention to the
two hotel employees. “My brother and I booked rooms here for two nights, but I was
trying to get out before the storm. Obviously I had no luck. I spent the entire day in the
airport. Please tell me you still have my room? I’m dying for a hot bath.”
Milo looked at me, then the hotel employees, then back at me. I smiled and arched
a brow. For a second, I almost felt bad for the guy. He looked so bewildered. Since he
still seemed to be at a loss for words, I figured I should continue talking. “We went
skiing early this morning and had our backpacks stolen. Between that and the storm
coming, I figured it was a sign that I should get back home early. Apparently Mother
Nature had other plans. We should have two rooms—Milo and Madeline Hooker.
Someone actually just left me a message on my cell asking us to confirm. Her name was
Catherine, I believe.”
The desk clerk nodded. “That was me. The storm has a lot of people stranded here
unexpectedly without rooms, so we were checking in with guests that hadn’t arrived yet.”
The manager looked back and forth between Fake Milo and me. “We’ll have to
take a hundred-dollar deposit for incidentals on each room since you don’t have a credit
I smiled. “Of course.”
She nodded to her employee. “Check them in. It’s fine.”
The man next to me still had his mouth hanging open. So I dug into my purse,
being careful not to show my wallet, which was supposed to have been stolen, and
scooped out all of the cash.
“How much are the rooms?” I asked the clerk.
“Let’s see. With tax, they come to three-hundred-and-forty-two dollars each, for
the two nights, and then we have to collect the hundred-dollar deposit.”
<i?Shit. I didn’t think I had that much cash. I counted the money in my hand and slid
it over in front of Fake Milo. “Can you spot me forty dollars? You know I’m good for it,
“Uh, yeah. Sure.”
After we paid and got the room keys, we walked side by side to the elevator bank
in silence. It wasn’t until we were alone and the elevator doors slid shut that Milo turned
to me. “What the hell just happened?”
I laughed. “We just got rooms, that’s what happened.”
He shook his head. “But who are you?”
“I noticed you standing near the concierge desk and eavesdropping while she
called the guests who hadn’t arrived yet.” I reached forward and took the man’s hand,
opening it to display blue ink. “You wrote down the names of the guests. I thought it was
odd, so I followed you to the front desk to see what you were up to. When you made up
that bogus story about losing your wallet so you could justify not having any ID, I knew
you were full of shit.” I shrugged. “When the woman said there were two rooms on the
reservation, I saw an opening and took it.”
“How did you know I’d go along with it?”
I smiled. “I didn’t. But that’s what made it so much fun!” I covered my chest with
my hand. “My heart feels like it’s trying to ricochet out of my ribcage at this moment. It’s
been a long time since I did anything risky like that.”
His eyes roamed my face. I got the feeling he still wasn’t sure what to make of
me, even though I’d just explained what I’d done. He looked down at my lips, which
were still curved in an excited smile.
“Why is that?”
My forehead wrinkled. “Why is what?”
“Why’s it been a long time since you’ve done anything risky? It looks to me like
you enjoyed it.”
I blinked a few times, not having expected a question that would tug at my
heartstrings, and my smile fell. “I don’t know. I guess I kind of turned into a different
person over the last few years.”
Fake Milo’s eyes locked with mine. We’d gone from pulling off a crazy stunt and
laughing, to an odd seriousness. His eyes flickered to my lips and back once again.
“That’s a shame. You have a great smile.”
Warmth spread through me, and I couldn’t seem to unlock my eyes from the
stranger’s—at least until the elevator dinged and the doors opened on the third floor.
“This is us,” he said. “Rooms 320 and 321.”
“Oh. Right. Okay.” I stepped out and followed the signs to our rooms. Since we
were, of course, family, they’d put us right next to each other. We stood a few feet apart
as we opened our respective doors. As my lock unlatched and I turned the handle to go
inside, something dawned on me.
“I almost forgot! I owe you forty dollars for the room.”
He smiled. “Don’t worry about it.”
“No, don’t be silly. I just didn’t have enough cash and didn’t want to hand the
woman a credit card when we weren’t supposed to have ID. I’ll just throw my bag in the
room and go downstairs to find an ATM. They must have one somewhere.”
“I thought you couldn’t wait to take a hot bath, or was that part of the act?”
I laughed. “No, it actually wasn’t. I wasn’t lying when I said I spent the entire day
at the airport. A hot bath sounds pretty amazing right about now. But I can grab your cash
first. It won’t take me long.”
Fake Milo scratched at the stubble on his chin. “I’ll tell you what. I’m going to
take a quick shower and then go downstairs to the bar for a drink. Take your bath. You
can find me there afterward to give me the money.”
We looked at each other for a moment.
“Alright, well, enjoy your soak, sis.”
I smiled. “Thanks, Milo. I’ll see you later.”
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My planned trip for two unexpectedly turned into a trip for one. Rather than let
my breakup get me down, I packed my bags and decided a week at a luxury
resort was just what I needed.
But one calamity after the next, and suddenly I was stuck without a hotel room,
along with a few hundred other people.
It looked like my fancy vacation was about to turn into me sleeping on the hotel
Until I overheard a gorgeous man pretending to be someone he wasn’t in order
to steal a reservation from a guest who hadn’t shown up yet.
When I realized there were two rooms, instead of calling him out, I pretended to
be his sister. That’s how the story of “Milo and Maddie Hooker” began.
We were the Hookers.
My depressing trip quickly made a U-turn into an adventure.
My fake brother spent the next few days showing me around his hometown.
When it was time to leave, neither of us really wanted to go yet.
So, instead of flying back to our respective homes, we ventured on a road trip.
At every stop, we’d pick up souvenirs.
But as hot as our chemistry was, we never crossed the line.
Milo knew I’d just come out of a tough relationship and didn’t want to mess with
a vulnerable woman.
So instead, at the end of our trip, we made a pact to meet again in three
It was always my intention to meet him.
But when I got back home, reality hit in a big way.
And I worried I may have lost my handsome stranger forever.
Was there a place for him in my future?
Or had the memory of him just become my favorite souvenir?
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today and #1 Wall Street Journal
bestselling author of contemporary romance.
She grew up in Boston with five older brothers and spent most of her twenties as
a television news anchor. Penelope resides in Rhode Island with her husband, son,
and beautiful daughter with autism.
With over two million books sold, she is a 21-time New York Times bestseller and
the author of over twenty novels. Her books have been translated into over a
dozen languages and can be found in bookstores around the world.
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:
Facebook Private Fan Group:
Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA
Today Bestselling author. With millions of books sold, her titles have appeared in
over a hundred Bestseller lists and are currently translated in twenty-five
languages. She resides in New York with her husband and their three children
where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:
Facebook Fan Group
OTHER BOOKS BY PENELOPE WARD AND VI KEELAND::
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OTHER BOOKS BY PENELOPE WARD::
The Day He Came Back:
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When August Ends:
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OTHER BOOKS BY VI KEELAND::
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All Grown Up:
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STONE, Trigger Pull MC Book 2, by Addy Archer is releasing March 16th!
Add it to your TBR: http://bit.ly/TriggerPullMCTBR
Rylee’s life would have ended the day she met Stone. You might say he’s the one who saved her. If only she can allow herself to see it that way too, since the turn of events makes her question everything and everyone.
Protecting an innocent while simultaneously dealing with an ulterior motive will never work out the way it’s supposed to. Not when Stone is fully invested and finally decides to grab hold of what’s right in front of him. He thought no woman had what it takes to be the president’s old lady. In the end, it all comes down to his ability to protect the woman who claimed his heart.
The moment you pull the trigger, there’s no stopping the bullet; all you can do is brace for impact. Collide with the world of Trigger Pull MC, where an encounter with a rugged biker will inevitably change your life.
“Stay with me. Come on, darlin’. Fuck.” I can hear the panic in my voice. It’s something I’m unfamiliar with.
I never panic. Okay, that’s a lie, I do, but I sure as fuck never show it or let it flow through my voice for others to hear. And I only panic if it concerns one of my sisters when shit is out of my hands to control any aspect. I failed them in the past, and from that day forward, I swore never to let it happen again.
Maybe that’s why I’m drawn to Rylee, since I recently found out there hasn’t been anyone who would stand up for her. Well, no one except her friend Daniele. With her father suppressing her and keeping her on a tight leash, and then adding that Keith fucker to the pile, who’s also a creepy scumbag, this girl doesn’t stand a chance in her fucked-up life.
“Stop rambling,” Daniele snaps from beside me while she has her hand on her friend’s neck in an effort to stop the bleeding. “Jace, can you open my bag? I have a suturing kit in there. I also need for you to put on gloves and get things set for me.”
My VP, Jace, jumps into action, and I can’t help but brush some of this woman’s white hair—that’s now tainted with wet crimson—out of her face. I take my phone from my pocket and text Dreamer.
The dead body needs to disappear, and the woman who’s fighting for her life in front of us needs to be somewhere safe if she manages to survive.
Meet The Author:
Addy Archer is a contemporary and romantic suspense writer who loves rough bikers twisted with a hint of romance and sassy women. She currently has one complete series: Rebel Rage MC. When she isn’t working hard on her next book, she enjoys long walks with her dog, traveling, and reading.
Visit her at: http://addyarcher.com
JUST ONE YEAR
Release date: 2/24/2020
From New York Times bestselling author Penelope Ward, comes a new standalone novel.
Copyright © 2019
By Penelope Ward
I stormed up the stairs and headed straight to my old room—his room. But
when I got to the top of the stairwell, I swallowed the words I’d been prepared to
unleash. The unexpected sight of Caleb doing pull-ups met my eyes. He used a bar
affixed to the top of the door to lift himself up. He wore a T-shirt that rode up each
time he rose. His hard abs were now staring me in the face, ripples of carved muscle.
He had black wrist wraps on. He’d turned my old room into a home gym.
He was a bastard—but there was no denying he was beautiful.
I cleared my throat. “Did my father give you permission to put that thing in
The house shook as he landed on his feet. “Well, hello, Teagan. Amazing how
easy it is to walk up the stairs, isn’t it? He grabbed a towel and wiped the sweat off
his forehead. “And yes, in fact, your father did give me permission to put the bar up.”
I came out with it. “You think you know it all, don’t you? Who are you?”
He glared at me. “Who am I? Well, nice of you to ask, Teagan.” He threw his
towel down on the desk. “You’ve had no interest in getting to know me from the
moment I walked in the door. But since you finally did inquire… Hi, I’m Caleb Yates.
Happy to be here. I have no clue what I’m doing with my life and have a somewhat
crappy family situation back in England. So, I came to a strange country for the first
time to get away for a bit. I miss my mum, but the good news is, I’ve just moved into
moved into a house where everyone is cordial—except for the cranky girl in the basement.”
“That’s a bit harsh,don’t you think?”
He came closer, and the smell of his cologne mixed with sweat
was…interesting. Couldn’t say it was a bad thing, that’s for sure.
“You didn’t have to write me a snooty email, Teagan. You can come talk to me
if I do something to piss you off. If you write me emails like that when I’m right
upstairs, that’s the kind of response you’re going to get, each and every time.”
He had a point. The email was a bit cowardly of me. Yet I’d still managed to
convince myself it was a good idea. He was right. Anything I needed to say to him, I
should be able to say to his face. Quite honestly, the benefit of that was also his
face—getting to look at it, I mean. It turned out, looking at him was a lot more fun
than avoiding eye contact had been. Thank goodness he can’t read my mind right
Seeing that he actually seemed angry as opposed to amused caused me to
change my tune—that and perhaps his scent going straight to my head as it followed
my mind right into the gutter.
He held out his hand. “Give it to me.”
I looked down at my empty hands. “Give you what?”
“The stick in your arse. Take it out and give it to me.”
I crinkled my forehead. “What?”
He wiggled his fingers. “Come on. Hand it over.”
Genuinely curious as to where he was going with this, I motioned with my
hand, pretending to remove the imaginary stick from my derriere and throwing it
over to him.
He pretended to catch it, then let it weigh him down. “It’s bigger than I
thought.” Looking around he said, “I’m gonna find a space for it. Hang on.”
I laughed, against my better judgment. He shoved the imaginary stick under
his bed and wiped fake dust off his hands.
“Now that that’s out of the way, why don’t we start fresh?”
Model: Chase Mattson
Photographer: Derick Smith
Cover designer: Letitia Hasser, RBA Designs
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The beginning of my sophomore year in college was off to a rough start.
On the first day of orientation, I had an altercation with an infuriating British dude in a campus bathroom.
(The ladies’ room was out of order. So, I used the men’s room. Don’t judge.)
I got home later that night and realized that the foreign student we were expecting to rent a room in my parents’ house was allergic to our cat.
So, the spare room went to someone else: Caleb—the British guy from the men’s room.
And so it began…my love-hate story with Caleb Yates. Or was it hate-love in that order?
The guy knew how to push every one of my buttons.
Sometimes I’d email him to express my aggravation and disdain.
He’d actually rewrite my own words and send them back to me.
That was the type of infuriating person Caleb was.
Sometimes incredibly funny and endearingly sweet.
He eventually grew on me, and Caleb soon became one of my best friends that year.
too bad he was headed back to England soon, so nothing could happen between us—for so many reasons.
I definitely couldn’t fall in love with him, especially since all we had was just one year.
Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of contemporary romance.
She grew up in Boston with five older brothers and spent most of her twenties as a television news anchor. Penelope resides in Rhode Island with her husband, son, and beautiful daughter with autism.
With over two million books sold, she is a 21-time New York Times bestseller and the author of over twenty novels. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages and can be found in bookstores around the world.
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|When August Ends:
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|THE RUSH DUET:
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Park Avenue Player:
HOMETOWN HEARTLESS by Carrie Aarons
Release Date: January 23
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One year ago, the boy next door was captured as a prisoner of war.
The boy whose window faces mine.
The backyard buddy who bandaged up my skinned knees.
The childhood crush that kept me up at night, wondering if he’d ever be my boyfriend.
The town hero I wrote endless letters to after he shipped out.
The green-eyed charmer who promised me a kiss the day I turned eighteen.
And now, he’s home.
But he didn’t come back as the boy I once knew.
He’s a man now, one with demons I can’t comprehend.
The damaged soldier keeps telling me I’m not his anymore.
That the war took him, turned him into someone unrecognizable.
What he hasn’t considered is that it took me, too.
He swears there is nothing left between us, that his heart died overseas. But with each look through our windows, we both know his lies are just that. With each fated meeting, the truth only becomes more evident.
Everett Brock occupies the shadows now.
And as much as I try to pull him into the light, it seems the switch is permanent.
What he doesn’t realize is that I’m willing to follow him into the darkness.
“Perfect. You are perfect.” He breathes onto my lips.
It’s only a split second that Everett pulls back, but in no time, we’re seeking each other out, our mouths clawing to get back to one another.
And as we continue this torrid make-out session, born of passion and anger and fate, I know it for a fact now.
Everett Brock has ruined me for any other man.
About the Author:
Author of romance novels such as The Tenth Girl and Privileged, Carrie Aarons writes books that are just as swoon-worthy as they are sarcastic. A former journalist, she prefers the love stories of her imagination, and the athleisure dress code, much better.
When she isn’t writing, Carrie is busy binging reality TV, having a love/hate relationship with cardio, and trying not to burn dinner. She’s a Jersey girl living in Texas with her husband, daughter and furry son.
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