There’s one rule in my family.
Stay away from the Daly brothers.
We were raised to know them as users. Manipulators. But I only ever saw Connor as the enigmatic senior hottie who dropped into fifth period to teach us about the perils of drunk driving.
So when my first big girl job out of college ends up with us working at the same company, it’s heart throb city all over again. Except he’s way ahead of the game. Successful, talented, put together. I’m just a frumpy twenty-something in a quarter life crisis who doesn’t know a glue stick from a makeup highlighter.
He would never want me, even though he’s all I ever wanted in secret. So when we cross paths one night at the bar and one drink leads to another, he slaps me with an offer I can’t refuse.
Accompany him back to Bayshore, flight included.
Only stipulation? Pose as his girlfriend.
Our families will flip, but I’m not strong enough to say no to those baby blues, especially if it means I’ll have a chance to spend the next two weeks with my adolescent heart throb.
We make it through dinner alive, even though my parents acted as if she wasn’t there the entire time. I probably need to up her compensation for agreeing to this. Even I couldn’t have predicted this brutally frigid reception. I thought Dad would put on a forced friendly front and complain viciously to Mom behind closed doors, like any normal American.
Once dinner is over and my brothers have completed their jousting match over who gets which bedroom, I am feeling far
In front of us, the plush queen-size bed is neatly made, the head of the white comforter pulled back. Beckoning us into its comfort.
Something is off, but I can’t tell what.
Kinsley speaks. “I thought you said there were two twin beds?”
Shit. That’s what it is. I roll our luggage into the bedroom and shut the door.
“There were.” I frown. “In my old room.”
She’s gnawing at the inside of her lip, glancing between me and the bed.
“Will this be okay?” I ask, suddenly worried I’ve overstepped our tenuous boundaries. Clutching her hand in a vice grip for the duration of dinner? Fine. But sharing a bed, even platonically? This could be the deal breaker. “I can sleep on top of the covers, if you want, or bring a sleeping bag—”
“It’ll be fine.” She waves her hand dismissively and heads for the bed. “I wouldn’t want you to sleep on the floor on my account.”
I smirk, unable to pass up the chance for a joke. “I didn’t mean I would be sleeping on the floor.”
She narrows her eyes, a laugh bursting out of her. “I can’t imagine you’d drag me two thousand miles for that encounter with your parents and make me sleep on the floor.”
My laughter turns into a sigh. “Sorry about that. I didn’t think it would be that bad. Honestly.”
She shrugs again, picking at something on the comforter. “I know our parents always had issues. I just didn’t think it would make them act like that.”
I ease onto the bed next to her, even though I could have sat anywhere else in the room: the other side of the bed, in the chair facing the bathroom, or hell, even on the gray berber carpet. But being near Kinsley has already burrowed in like a habit. Even though no eyes are watching us. “Do you think your parents would act the same?”
“I don’t know. Maybe. It’s weird to think that we’re being the adults here.”
Regret crashes through me. Am I being the adult here? My reasons for bringing Kinsley are hardly noble. Sure, I bought her plane ticket. But also, I needed her presence to get back at a small handful of people. And that seems like the opposite of mature.
“Listen. We’re gonna have a great time,” I say, channeling my hopes into words. “My parents will loosen up. But we won’t even be here much. We can go do whatever we want. This is vacay, baby.”
She sends me a curious glance. “Whatever we want, huh?”
I can’t help it. My mind goes straight to sex. I’m 100 percent man and 50 percent beast. Which makes for some sort of mathematically impossible species. My gaze drops to her lips. God, she’s got great lips. Maybe we can slightly expand the list of Bayshore-relationship activities.
“Absolutely.” The side of my body closest to hers is getting hot from curiosity. She’s not my type—not even a little. But I’m still wondering what it might be like to go there with her. “You know I brought twenty books with me, right?” she says. And like that, the fire under my skin goes out. Not because books aren’t sexy—trust me, they are—but because I realize she wasn’t heading down the same kiss-curious path I was. She meant books. Because she is not a
“Like I said.” I push to my feet. More distance is probably wise. Sitting that close to her is messing with my head. “We’re creating this vacay. And if that includes starting your own book club, so be it.”
She smiles up at me, and there is something so pure and innocent in her gaze that my breath catches. The sunlight filtering into the room catches on her hair, highlighting the strawberry undertones there. Between her glistening braid and her sweet smiles, I decide in that moment that she is the definition of a sunbeam.
A sunbeam with slightly-too-large ears.I already know that Kinsley is my humor and mental equal after one sad night at the bar and an entire day of travel together. She can lob a joke as far as I can. And I’m realizing that although we’re just pretending here in Bayshore, I actually want to spend time with her.
About the Author
Ember Leigh has been writing erotic romance novels since she was far too young. A native of northern Ohio, she currently resides near Lake Erie with her Argentinean husband, where they run an Argentinian-American food truck. In addition to romance novels, Ember also writes travel memoirs and occasionally updates a couple of blogs. In her free time, she practices Ashtanga yoga, hops around the world, and eats lots of vegetables.