Publisher: Kensington Aphrodisia | Release Date: September 2009 | Length: Novella | Genre: Contemporary; Holiday
Dayna Sharp has the perfect job, the perfect man…the perfect life. So why is the prospect of marrying Mr. Wonderful so perfectly boring? It’s a question Dayna can’t shake when she brings her fiance home to meet her spectacularly un-boring family–and finds herself pursued by a bad-boy bearing gifts that could burn a hole in more than her Christmas stocking…
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Damn, she was beautiful.
A rueful grin curled his lips. Hadn’t he always thought she was gorgeous? Jake’s smile widened as he watched Dayna unfold her long legs from the passenger side of a silver SUV. Shoving the sleeves of his undershirt up to his elbows, he propped himself against the pillar of her aunt’s porch, the evergreen boughs and red ribbons wrapped around it scratching his skin. He picked up his mug of coffee from the porch rail and enjoyed the show of watching Dayna walk across the snowy yard toward him. Everything about the woman said class and style, from the fashionable boots to the expensive scarf. Snowflakes clung to rich brown hair that swung in a bell against her jaw, and her pretty breasts bounced with each step. His body reacted to her, his cock hardening uncomfortably. Nothing new there. He’d been hot for her since he was old enough to notice girls. He shook his head and snorted, a cloud of steam erupting in the cold air.
A grin he couldn’t stop kicked up one side of his mouth as he watched her pull the ever-present list out of her purse. The habit was as endearing as it was annoying, and he loved to harass her about it. She really did need to loosen up before she blew a gasket.
It took him a moment to notice the lanky man following his wet dream up to the porch. So, that was the new guy. The fiancé. His jaw clenched, a small dart of jealousy shooting through him. He ignored it, shoved it away. Something else that wasn’t new. He felt it whenever Dayna brought a guy around, even back in high school, but doing anything about his jones for his best friend’s sister was asking for trouble he didn’t want. And he’d been in enough trouble in his life to know.
He could hear the other man’s voice clearly across the yard. “Dayna, you have to be kidding. We can’t stay here. It looks like something out of Deliverance. It’s probably as freezing in there as it is out here.”
“Really, Nathan. I lived here for years–it’s fine. Give it a chance.” Dayna flicked a glance over her shoulder at him, tucking her list back in her bag. “Besides, it isn’t even that cold for this time of year.”
Nathan looked like he sucked on a lemon when he swept Rainbow’s cabin with a contemptuous glance. Annoyance fisted in Jake’s gut and he dragged in a calming breath, smelling the evergreen boughs they’d decorated the porch with. This home was vibrant and bohemian, like the woman who owned it. Maybe a little rundown, but that just made it comfortable. People weren’t afraid to mess up anything in this house. Jake loved it here. The Sharps were as close to family as he’d ever had, and he was more grateful than they’d ever know that they’d taken him in and loved him no matter what. Not many people would have done that for the town drunk’s kid.
“You mean it gets worse than Hell frozen over here? You wouldn’t stay here under any other circumstances and you know it. Why compromise your standards? We’d be more comfortable at a hotel.” The guy’s arms pinwheeled a bit when he slid on a small patch of ice. City boy not used to walking in the snow. Figured. Looked uptight, too. He skidded again.
Jake arched a brow, stroking a hand down his goatee to cover a smile. It was mean, he knew. He didn’t give a damn. He only had to put up with the man until they left after New Year’s. The stiffs Dayna dated never lasted from one visit home to the next. Thank God. Fiancé or not, this guy wouldn’t last either. Dayna would never be stupid enough to go through with it. Not with someone so disrespectful of Rainbow’s house. Dayna worshipped her aunt, eccentric or not.
“Well, if it isn’t the wild one himself.” Her wide hazel eyes crinkled at the corners when she smiled up at him. The smile was forced. He could see the stress lines around her mouth and eyes. From what little he’d seen, it must have been a hellish trip.
“In the flesh.” He spread his arms and gestured down at himself.
Glancing up, he caught the disapproving look on the other man’s face when he saw the tattoos lacing their way up Jake’s forearms.
“Hi, I’m Jake Taylor. Good to meet you.” He offered his hand to shake, and the man hesitated a long moment before he took it. Jake smiled, and if a tiny part of him enjoyed making the other man squirm, he would never admit it to anyone.