She's So Over Him [NOOK Book]

Overview


What not to do with your ex… 

Maddie Shaw has spent the past ten years not thinking about her fast-and-furious fling with Cale Grant. His dark blue eyes, his hot-chocolate voice, his magic touch… No, she doesn't remember anything like that. Only the numbing devastation when he let her down and she walked away. 

Now Cale's sauntered back into Maddie's life—drinking in the same bars, working on the same projects and setting off the ...

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She's So Over Him

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Overview


What not to do with your ex… 

Maddie Shaw has spent the past ten years not thinking about her fast-and-furious fling with Cale Grant. His dark blue eyes, his hot-chocolate voice, his magic touch… No, she doesn't remember anything like that. Only the numbing devastation when he let her down and she walked away. 

Now Cale's sauntered back into Maddie's life—drinking in the same bars, working on the same projects and setting off the same fireworks inside her. It's Maddie's chance to prove just how over her ex she really is…but one steamy kiss later she's fallen at the first hurdle…!


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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781460342749
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 9/1/2014
  • Sold by: HARLEQUIN
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 440,679
  • File size: 259 KB

Meet the Author


Joss Wood's  passion for putting black letters on a white screen is only matched by her love of books and travelling . Fueled by coffee, Joss is a hands on Mom and works for a non-profit organisation to promote local economic development and the collective business interests of the area where she resides. She lives in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa with her husband and two children.


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Read an Excerpt


'Nice tattoo, Mad.'

The voice came from out of the blue, clear and distinguishable despite the high volume of noise in the bar. Such a luscious voice—deep, smooth, compelling. Like hot chocolate after a freezing walk in the winter rain, she thought as her heart rollercoastered inside her rib cage.

Maddie Shaw flicked a glance to her left and there he was, leaning against the bar counter, a bright blonde barnacle superglued to his side. Hot damn, her memory wasn't playing tricks on her. It was Cale Grant and—oh, heaven help her—he'd moved up from very good-looking to stupid-making hot. Long and lanky had turned into long and strong. Instead of the ponytail she remembered, his naturally streaky blond hair was cropped so that the ends brushed the open collar of his shirt, and the goatee he'd sported on his stubborn chin was gone.

His eyes flicked over her and she watched, mortified, as they stopped at her chest. The tight sleeveless top with the image of a camp queen splayed across it was cut low enough to reveal the edges of her tangerine bra, way more than necessary of her cleavage, and most of the teeny-tiny red butterfly that she'd acquired in a fit of pique shortly after her last conversation with this same man.

'Cale Grant. Wow. Hi.'

And lift your eyes up, bud, she silently suggested, or I might have to hurt you.

Resisting the urge to tug up her bra, she met those fantastic eyes—the colour of old-fashioned blue ink. A deep blue that sometimes looked black. Or cobalt. Maddie had always loved his eyes…

She gestured to the bar. 'What can I get you?'

Cale snagged a barstool from under the bottom of a departing drinker. As his date, a mature blue-eyed blonde, arranged her very curvaceous body onto the barstool, Maddie filled another order and turned back to Cale, to find him dissecting her with that intense look she remembered so well.

'What on earth are you doing?'

Maddie looked around her in fake bewilderment. 'I don't know. Raising goats? Computer programming? Macramé?'

'I meant, Miss Smarty Pants, what are you doing behind a bar?'

Maddie lifted dark winged eyebrows. 'I know what you meant.'

'Well? Ten years ago you were doing a degree in Marketing and Communications. Had plans to do your Masters. So why this?'

Maddie sighed as Cale added one and one and got a hundred and two. She kept her answer short. 'It's a job. What can I get you to drink?'

'A glass of Chardonnay and a draught—'

'Maddie—oh, Maddie!'

Cale's words were drowned out by a yell from the back of the crowd of customers waiting to be served. The booming voice was loud and compelling enough to immediately snag her attention. Maddie laughed as her thin, gangly neighbour good-naturedly pushed his way through the bodies to sink against the bar.

'Hey, gorgeous!'

'Hey, back.' Maddie boosted herself up on the bar and leaned across the counter to kiss first one rough cheek and then the other. 'Nat, I've missed you! And here I was, desperate for someone interesting to show up.'

'I have so much to tell you. Jo'burg was fabulous… Thanks for the tip about that bakery in Melville. We're in the back booth; join us when you have a break.' Nat planted a kiss on her mouth and tapped her nose before melting back into the crowd.

Maddie dropped back to her feet and sent Cale a bland smile, ignoring his narrowed eyes at her not so subtle jibe.

'Sorry, what did you want? A Chardonnay and a—?'

'Draught beer.' Cale sent her a feral smile. 'Still a chronic flirt, Maddie?'

Maddie shrugged and reached for a bottle of house wine. 'Well, I did learn at the seat of the master. You taught me so well.'

'I—' Cale's mouth snapped shut when his companion laid her diamondencrusted fingers on his sleeve and leaned forward, so that he had a perfect view down the continental divide in her shirt. She whispered something in his ear before sliding off the seat and walking towards the restrooms.

Maddie uncorked the bottle of Chardonnay and glugged the contents into a sparkling glass.

'So, I see that you still do all your shopping at Blondes R Us?'

Maddie caught the quick grin he couldn't hide and wistfully remembered how he'd loved her dry sense of humour. Even if it was at his expense. 'She's…sweet. Not really my type, but sweet.'

'How can she not be your type? You always went for the tanned, stacked blondes.'

She clearly remembered the long-legged, longhaired creatures who had followed Cale, his twin, Oliver, and their sports-mad friends around, their tongues dragging on the floor.

Judging by what she'd read and heard over the years, he still seemed only to date a wide variety of the fairer section of her sex.

It was a point of pride—or idiocy—that he'd once broken the mould with her.

Maddie sent him a sly smile. 'Okay, I'll play… If she's not your type, why are you buying her a drink and allowing her to bat her eyelashes at you?'

Cale stared past her shoulder and Maddie thought she caught a flash of embarrassment whip across his face. 'She's an…obligation I have to fulfil.'

Maddie's curiosity was piqued. He wasn't the type of man who felt obligated easily. 'Did you lose a bet? A blind date? A favour to a friend?'

Cale scowled at her. 'I haven't seen you for ten years. Can't we find something else to talk about other than my love-life?'

'Why, when your love-life helps fill the social pages every week?'

'It was three times in three months, not every week. I just wish they'd leave me alone.'

'They would if you got your pretty face off TV and out of the public eye.' Maddie leaned across the bar and condescendingly patted his hand. 'And maybe if you stuck to one woman for more than a month nobody would actually care who you are dating!' Maddie countered his annoyed glare with a wide smile.

'Are you quite done?' he demanded.

Maddie shrugged as she put a beer stein under the tap and pulled the lever, feeling her face heat as he watched her. He still had the ability to make her skin prickle.

Cale tapped his finger against the bar before taking the beer she slid across the bar. He ran a blunt finger around the rim. 'It's been a long time.'

Maddie nodded as she took an order for a margarita and a Cosmopolitan from two slick women who were happily drunk and singing along with the house band in the corner. Maddie waited until they'd moved off before flashing Cale a searching look, even as she kept serving drinks, knowing that she couldn't afford to take a break on a busy Friday night.

'What are you doing in this neck of the woods? Or have you moved to this side of the mountain?'

'I'm still in the same house. I heard about this place a while ago and thought I'd try it out. Can you stop for a minute so that we can have a non-interrupted conversation?'

A burly man shouted his order at Maddie and bumped Cale's shoulder at the same time. Cale sent him a look that caused him to step back a pace. Cale, Maddie noticed, still radiated harnessed power. It made men wary and women hot.

She brought her attention back to the conversation. 'Sorry, can't do that. This place is going to start pumping soon.'

Cale looked around in astonishment. 'It's already full!'

'This is nothing!' Maddie shouted back as a roar went up from a rowdy group of students in the corner.

When the worst of the shouting fell away, she placed her elbows on the bar and leaned closer to Cale. She couldn't ignore it any longer. She had to say something. Even if they'd had nothing more than a brief acquaintance, common decency dictated it. What words to use? What did you say to someone who'd lost his twin so horribly?

She decided to keep it simple. 'I'm so, so sorry about Oliver. He was an utterly amazing man.'

Privately Maddie had always thought that Oliver was a modern-day Icarus—a wild, impetuous free spirit who flew too close to the sun. His death hadn't surprised her; the fact that it had been due to cancer had.

Cale looked past her shoulder and she saw the muscle jump in his jaw, a heavy curtain fall in his eyes. His eyes dropped to look at her hand, clasping his thick tanned wrist. 'Thanks.'

He was warm and strong, and she could feel his steady pulse under the ridges of her fingertips.

'Hey, Maddie!'

Maddie jerked her hand away and turned to look at Dan, the other bartender. 'Yes?'

'We're running short on house wine. Can you cover me while I get more?'

Maddie thought that a supply run would be the perfect excuse to recover her shaky equilibrium and to break the intensity of the last minute. Who would have thought that Cale could, a decade later, still accelerate her hormones with one navy-eyed look? She was still obviously—and sadly—a sucker for his hard body and attractive face.

It was just chemistry, she decided hastily. A normal reaction to a very sexy man—which in itself was vastly reassuring. She hadn't felt the tug of attraction, the prickling of feminine awareness for too long. This was good, given her lack of interest in men and sex these past three years. Hell, she was practically a nun! Well, except for no habit and the lack of devotion.

His was a good-looking face and a sexy body. That was what she was responding to. Nothing else. She'd grown out of her infatuation with sporty womanisers ten years ago.

Probably.

'I'll go. I need a bathroom break anyway,' Mad-die told Dan, and turned back to the bar and lifted her hands in a gesture of apology. 'Five minutes, guys.'

Steeling herself not to look back at Cale, she stumbled through the door that led to the kitchen and hooked a left to the staff bathrooms of the Laughing Queen.

Jim, owner of the LQ, good friend and entirely too curious about her love-life, bustled up to her as she reached the Ladies'. 'Dish, dish, dish. Who is he?'

'You are such a girl!' Maddie mock scowled at him and drilled a finger into his chest. 'I'd like it put on record that this is what happens when I do you a favour!'

She banged through the door of the Ladies' and rolled her eyes when Jim ambled in after her. Maddie looked at her reflection in the mirror above the washroom taps and grimaced. In the heat and humidity of the bar, the hair that she'd spent an age straightening that morning had sprung back into wild corkscrew curls, and she'd sweated off every trace of makeup except for—naturally—a streak of mascara under each eye, which made her look like an astonished raccoon.

'He is smoking hot! Any chance that he's gay?' Jim demanded. His shoulders slumped at her cutting glare. 'Okay, so not gay. Who is he?'

'First lover.'

'First as in…the first first? Oooh…and you're looking like that?' Jim waved his hands at her and shuddered.

'Obviously I would've preferred meeting him again dressed in a fabulous black dress, killer heels and great hair! Not wearing my faded Levi's and this stupid tight LQ T-shirt,' Maddie retorted. 'And if you weren't short of a bartender on a Friday night I could at the very least be on the other side of the bar, sipping martinis and not serving them.'

Maddie, seeing that Jim was settling in for a gossip, thought she'd give him the high-speed version to satisfy his immediate curiosity.

'Met him when in my first year at uni. He was doing his PhD in Sports Psychology and some part-time work for the uni's sports department after hopping around the world for a couple of years. We had a very short relationship. Booted him. The end. Now, go away.'

Jim tapped her chin with his index finger. 'Mmm…if that was all that was to it, then I'm a monkey's uncle. You will give me all the deets later, Miss M.'

If only it had been that simple, Maddie thought as Jim left. Her relationship with Cale had been anything but. As she'd become part of Cale's group of friends—older than her, but not necessarily wiser—she'd watched and shaken her head as Cale turned over women with the speed of a spinning top. She had nodded when said women called him a heartless bastard for dumping them, and rolled her eyes when he'd charmed them into being friends again.

Then the man she'd laughed, talked and played with, who was the life and soul of any party, who thought commitment was spending six hours with a girl, had turned those gorgeous eyes on her and said that he thought it was time they 'stopped messing around and hooked up'.

His exact words. Mr So-Not-Romantic. It should have been a big clue…but she'd allowed him to cajole her into a relationship—handed him her virginity, for crying in a bucket!—despite knowing that he'd be an utterly horrible, comprehensively catastrophic boyfriend. She'd thought she'd be the one to change him.

This reminded her how, for a smart girl, she could be amazingly idiotic on occasion.

After wiping the mascara from under her eyes, she splashed water on her face and pulled a long clip from the back of her jeans. Pulling her sable-shaded hair into a rough tail, she twisted it and clipped it to the back of her head in a messy knot. There was nothing she could do about her heightened colour or the past, she told herself. And right now she had a job to do.

Maddie plucked up her courage, plastered a fake smile on her face and walked towards the store room.

Back in the bar, she dumped a box of wine under the bar and passed Dan two bottles, idly noticing that Cale's date had to hold the record for the longest bathroom visit. She took an order before tossing him a casual comment.

'Are you still doing triathlons?'

He had to be. Under the steel-grey buttoned-down shirt he wore she could see that his shoulders were as broad, and his forearms beneath the rolled-up sleeves were tanned and corded with muscle.

Cale nodded. 'Occasionally. I switched to adventure racing.'

'Which is?'

'Triathlons on acid. Trail running, cycling, paddling and orienteering. Climbing,' Cale replied, and looked frustrated when she had to turn away to serve a customer.

Maddie caught a glimpse of his date as she made her tottering way back to the bar, and lifted her chin to give Cale a heads-up.

'It was good seeing you, Cale,' Maddie told him.

Cale leant across the bar. 'Listen, can we meet for a drink later? To catch up? I can come back here after I drop Bernie off.'

Maddie cocked her head, considering. What would be the point? Except to show him that she'd made a marvellous life for himself without him? To let him see what he'd been missing out on? They were good, valid reasons, but she suspected that the real truth was that she wanted to see what she'd missed out on, to find out what his life was like, whether he'd missed her at all. Pride…one of these days it would get her into serious trouble.

Maddie took the money he held out for his drinks and slowly nodded. 'It'll have to be late. I won't finish until after midnight.'

'That's okay.' Cale's mobile and firm mouth briefly twisted. 'I don't sleep that much anyway. I'll see you back here, around midnight.'

Maddie nodded, felt a hand on her arm and turned to face Jim. She leaned into his tall, stodgy frame, briefly seeking support. Over the years this man and his partner had become her best friends, and had rented and eventually sold her the flat above theirs in the small block they owned across the parking lot of the Laughing Queen. As a result, and also because she hated cooking and loved their company, she'd made the LQ her second home. They were a strange little family: two gay older men and their wayward neighbour slash emotional ward.

'Why don't you take a break?'

Jim ran a hand down her arm and Maddie caught the piercing look he sent Cale.

'I'll take over for a while.'

Maddie shook her head. 'Don't look at me like that, Jimbo. All suspicious and speculative. Been there, done that, fumigated the T-shirt.'
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