Read an Excerpt
Seducing the Bridesmaid
A Wedding Dare Novel
By Katee Robert, Heather Howland, Ellie Brennan
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2014 Katee Robert
All rights reserved.
Brock McNeill had never been all that good at turning down trouble. And the brunette leaving Spago right now had trouble written all over her.
He should just let her go. After all, the only reason he was at Beaver Creek Resort in the first place was because of his childhood friend's wedding. He was here to support Colton — not to cozy up to any of the bridesmaids.
Especially this bridesmaid.
Regan Wakefield, sorority sister to the bride, headhunter, and wearer of six-inch heels. At dinner, she'd stood out among the other women like a bird of paradise among swans. And there was something there. Something about how she held herself aloof even when drinking and chatting with her friends, her eyes taking in everything around her. It didn't help that she had the kind of beauty that could bring a man to his knees — or that she seemed to know it.
Damn it, he couldn't just let her walk back to the hotel alone.
Brock threw back the rest of his drink and dropped a twenty on the bar. He pushed through the exterior door and looked around. She was already fifty yards down the paved path, her heels clicking as she strolled through the night. He'd figured those torture devices on her feet would slow her down. Apparently he'd been wrong.
"Wait up." She didn't even look over her shoulder, so he picked up his pace, mentally cursing the stupid dress shoes pinching his toes. "Regan."
If he hadn't been watching her so closely, he wouldn't have noticed the way her shoulders tightened up. She turned, raked him with a single glance, and kept going. "Sorry, but my granny told me not to talk to strangers."
"I'm not a stranger." He finally came even with her and slowed down to match her walk.
She flipped her dark hair over her shoulder. "You're not?" She snapped her fingers. "Oh wait, aren't you that guy — "
"You know damn well who I am." He and the other groomsmen had had drinks in the same damn bar as the bridesmaids last night, and they'd all been at dinner tonight. This woman, of all people, wasn't going to forget a face. He smiled at her, turning on the charm.
She laughed, glanced back at his face, and laughed harder. "Oh my God."
What the fuck? Did he have spinach in his teeth? Brock resisted the urge to cover his mouth, but only barely. He waited as they kept walking, but she didn't stop laughing. Christ, what was the deal with this woman? "What's so funny?"
She finally managed to contain her mirth, though her dark eyes still danced. "You." She waved her hand at his entire body. "Turning on the Southern panty-dropper charm. It's adorable."
Adorable. He'd been called a lot of things in his life — charming, gorgeous, a fuckup — but never that. Grown men were not adorable. Puppies were adorable. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Sure you do. I bet you practice that smile in the mirror."
She thought she had his number down. It stung more than it should because he did pride himself on his charm. "Naw, darlin'. I'm all natural."
"That's what they all say. Run along now. I don't have time for you."
He couldn't remember the last time he'd been so thoroughly dismissed, though Brock could bet it was his father who'd done it. "That's going to be a problem."
She didn't look at him. "How so?"
"In the South, we don't let women wander alone at night. It's dangerous. I'll walk you back to the hotel."
"You don't let women wander alone, huh? God forbid one of those belles escapes her caretaker." She clutched her hands to her chest and affected a pretty damn good accent. "Alone? With no strong man to protect me? Whatever shall I do?"
"That's not what I meant and you know it."
"How do I know it? I'm not a mind reader, and I don't need some strapping man to walk me the hundred yards from here to the hotel when I'm in a damn resort. I live in New York. There's nothing out here that can compare to that."
"That makes sense."
As expected, she gave him a suspicious look. "You're being awfully agreeable all of a sudden."
He kept his smile in place and went in for the kill. "Only because you're the scariest thing within twenty miles."
She flinched, but recovered almost immediately. "Maybe you're smarter than I thought."
"And you're sneakier than I expected. Want to tell me what that key switch you pulled last night was all about?" His friend Reed had looked pretty damn shell-shocked this morning so he suspected Regan's plan had been successful. "Some kind of friend you are, sending that nice Southern girl to the wrong room."
She shrugged. "She had her sights set on the wrong man."
The sheer size of the balls on this woman blew him away. "How is that any of your damn business? That was some sneaky shit and you know it."
"She's my friend and I want to see her happy." She picked up her pace, but he kept up easily. "There's nothing I wouldn't do to see my friends happy."
He could admire the sentiment, even if her methods were suspect. "Then why not just, I don't know, open your mouth and say something? You don't seem to have a problem shoving your opinion down people's throats. Mine, for instance."
"You chased my ass out here. I didn't ask for help."
Yeah, he didn't get the idea that she asked for help all that often — or ever. "Maybe you should."
She laughed. "Because you're going to be the one to save me from myself, right? For at least as long as it takes to get into my pants."
Well, hell. He wouldn't mind getting into her pants — or up her skirt, as it were. But she wasn't even going to give him a chance. He could trot along, verbally sparring, or he could change the game. Brock slid in front of her, blocking her way. "Darlin', if I didn't know better, I'd say you were thinking about sexing me up."
Her eyebrows rose, though he didn't miss the way her gaze coasted over his body. "It's a good thing one of us knows better then, isn't it?"
"It's okay that you're scared. You've never met a man like me."
It was hard to tell in the dark, but he thought he could see a blush spreading across her chest. Until she laughed in his face. "Please. There are a thousand men like you. But it's cute that you think you're so special. Did your mother tell you that?"
There had been enough praise in the McNeill household for only one son, and Brock wasn't him. But he wasn't about to say as much to Regan. She was a shark, and she'd sniff out any weakness and exploit it without a second thought. He'd never found ruthlessness particularly attractive in a woman, but combined with her sharp tongue, it was an intriguing mix.
He leaned in and lowered his voice. "It's okay that you're intimidated by my overwhelming masculinity. I promise to take good care of you."
"How sweet of you." She walked her fingers up his chest, inch by slow inch, the briefest contact that sent heat pulsing through his body. Regan stopped at the hollow of his throat and smiled.
Then she flicked his chin. "But let's be honest. I'd ruin you for other women, and I'm just too nice to do that to an adorable little thing like you."
"Yeah, I don't think so."
"Maybe in another life. You're hot, but pretty is as pretty does." She stepped around him and headed for the hotel, trailing her perfume behind her. He closed his eyes and inhaled — something expensive, subtle, and intriguing. Too bad the woman herself was only two of those three.
He turned and followed, catching up to her in two large steps. "I'm not that easily ruined."
"You haven't been with me." She glanced at him and then jerked back to look straight ahead. "And you aren't going to be."
Then why did she sound like she was trying to convince herself? He watched her as they walked, and sure enough, she shot another look at him a few steps later. For all her bluster, the woman could barely keep her eyes off him. "You just can't help yourself, can you?"
"You're dangerously delusional."
He laughed. "And you're not as mean as you pretend to be."
She stopped just outside of the light cast by the hotel lamps on either side of the door and glared at him, her hands on her hips. "As delightful as this has been, I can take it from here. I don't need a white knight and I sure as hell don't need you to try to charm my panties off." She turned and walked to the door. "Besides, I'm not wearing any." Her last comment floated over her shoulder, almost taking him out at the knees.
Brock rubbed his hand over his mouth. If he had half a brain, he'd stay as far away from Regan as possible for the rest of the week. She thought she had him all figured out, and he had enough of that shit in his life without adding yet another person who'd be continually reminding him of what a fuckup he supposedly was.
He grinned. On the other hand, it would be a hell of a lot of fun to poke at her and see what lay beneath the polished and poised exterior. Who was he kidding? He was going to seek her out again the first chance he got.
* * *
Twenty-four hours into this destination wedding, and Regan Wakefield wasn't sure if she was the greatest friend ever — or the worst.
She leaned against the bar and stared into her drink. It had started last night at the bachelorette party. She could blame the dare on the alcohol, the altitude, or the seriously hot choice of groomsmen, but the end result was a promise to hook up with one of said groomsmen this week. Her sorority sister Julie had thought it was a brilliant idea, and both Christine and the groom's sister, Sophie, had gone along with it. More or less. Regan had agreed at the time — a no-brainer since she had come up with the idea.
That was before that smart-ass Brock had shown up and tried to charm her while she made her way back to the hotel. He was the groomsman who wasn't Sweet, wasn't Brooding, and wasn't the Full Package. The one who practically reeked of Old Money and the life of ease that came with it. He'd riled her up so much, she hadn't been able to bear the thought of heading back to her room alone. So she'd come here, to the same bar they'd all been in last night.
She tended to be excellent at reading people and situations. Her reputation as a headhunter depended on recommending the right people for the right jobs — keeping them in said jobs long enough to get her bonus meant knowing it'd be a good fit going in. And Brock wasn't even close to acceptable.
No, what she needed was a strong and steady man who'd be a partner. The dare might have been aimed at more temporary fun, but if she could kill two birds with one stone ... Well, Regan was all about more bang for her buck.
Logan, the best man, was the kind of man who'd meet both needs. He was classically handsome, driven enough to be CEO of his own climbing company, and generally seemed like a nice guy. He was the one she had set her sights on.
That was before she'd pulled the ballsy move of switching the room keys on Julie last night, though, sending her to the wrong room to seduce the wrong man. Or the right one, if Regan was right — and she was always right when it came to reading people. It had been a spur-of-the-moment impulse she couldn't deny. But when her best friend said she had her eyes set on Logan, Regan had seen it for the mistake it was — and not because he was the only one she considered suitable. The man was great, but no man was great enough to sever a friendship between her and one of her girls. Chicks before dicks, and all that.
But as much as Julie liked to kill herself aiming for perfection, she needed someone to balance her out. Mister Danger, Reed, fit the bill. He was dark, gorgeous, and brooding. The kind of guy who needed a bright spot in his life as desperately as Julie needed someone who could look beneath the surface and call her out for putting everyone else first.
Regan shook her head and took the shot — her favorite, a Short Southern Screw — she'd just ordered. It didn't matter. There was no point obsessing over what she could or should have done. She'd done it and, by the time she finished her little switch, Logan was nowhere to be seen. The upside was that Julie hadn't gone for her eyes today at dinner, so that, at least, must have all worked out well enough.
Turning to survey the rest of the room, she propped her elbows on the bar. It was a damn shame Logan had left the party at Spago earlier and didn't appear to be planning on making an appearance at the bar tonight. The man was seriously hard to pin down.
Oh well. The night was young and she hadn't had a real vacation in two years. She might as well enjoy herself. She motioned to the bartender. "Another one, please."
"I hate to be the one to tell you this, darlin', but you're setting your sights too low." The Southern drawl rolled through her like the best kind of bourbon, making a small feminine part of her swoon in delight.
It was a good thing she wasn't ruled by such stupid impulses, especially when she knew exactly whom that voice belonged to. Regan glanced over, careful to school any expression from her face. "You again? I thought I'd made myself clear when I left you staring after me outside the hotel half an hour ago. Besides, if you paid attention, you'd realize I never set my sights too low."
"A Short Southern Screw? So I was right. You're craving something south of the Mason-Dixon Line." He moved closer, crowding her even though there was still a good twelve inches between them. "I can assure you, though, I'm a man who isn't short in any sense of the word."
Holy shit, he blew right past self-confidence and overshot arrogance by a mile. She held up three fingers, dropping them one at a time. "Arrogant. Playboy. Ass."
"You know, I heard you do that neat little trick of summing people up." He didn't look all that torn up about it. What a shame. "Darlin', you'll need a whole lot more than three words for me."
She smiled, well aware it wasn't a nice expression. Unlike this guy, she'd done her research before she got on the plane from NYC. It was how she'd narrowed down her options to Logan within five minutes of seeing Colton's group of friends. "Brock McNeill. Good friend to Reed Lawson. Grew up with Kady's soon-to-be husband, Colton. From a wealthy family down in Tennessee and is the favored younger son. So I guess you're right — I should add lazy and rudderless to that list."
Instead of storming off in a huff like she'd hoped, a slow grin spread over his face. And what a face it was. His tanned skin hinted at countless hours spent in the sun — or possibly some exotic lineage. It wasn't the almost-too-long dark hair or the hazel eyes that made her stomach drop, though. It was that damn smile. Wide and white and bracketed by laugh lines. Even his eyes lit up, as if this were a man who knew how to enjoy the pleasures life offered.
God, what was she thinking? He probably did practice that grin in the mirror. Regan made a shooing motion with her hand. "Go on now, Scarlett. I already have a drink." Did I seriously just call him Scarlett? As in Scarlett O'Hara? What the hell is wrong with me?
"I might be pretty, but I don't have the shoulders to pull off a hoop skirt."
Brock turned to the bartender, giving her the opportunity to eyeball the way his button-up white shirt hugged said shoulders and, holy shit, those back muscles were nothing to sneeze at. He'd gotten rid of the suit jacket he'd been wearing during their walk, and the tucked-in shirt only served to accent his slim hips and an ass that probably had lesser women salivating. Because she most certainly wasn't. Much.
She'd gotten herself under control by the time he turned around, but it was a close thing. For his part, his grin hadn't slipped. "Generally when a fella asks to buy a lady a drink, she doesn't respond so vehemently."
Probably not when he asked.
Excerpted from Seducing the Bridesmaid by Katee Robert, Heather Howland, Ellie Brennan. Copyright © 2014 Katee Robert. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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