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The floor to ceiling windows offer a once in a lifetime panorama of the glowing lights of Las Vegas Boulevard forty-seven stories below me. I should still be asleep next to the man who spent the last two hours pushing me to the brink of pleasure again and again, but if I sleep, my eyes are closed instead of drinking in the view.
"Come back to bed." The smooth, velvet voice I know so well wraps around me, soft and sleepy as he issues a clear demand. Something low in my belly flutters as I turn to look at him. The lights out the window are mesmerizing, but the man in the bed offers an unmatched view.
I pull his cashmere blanket more tightly around my bare shoulders.
I fantasize that this is my life for just a second as his breathing evens — that he wants to be with me, that he's calling me back to bed in the penthouse suite he calls home because he wants me there, that this wasn't just a one-night stand, that we could have a future together.
It's fun to pretend, but a fantasy is all it'll ever be.
He's The Mark Ashton, lead singer of Vail, my favorite band ... everybody's favorite band.
He's the man I stare at on the pages of magazines and follow on every possible social media platform with the hope to see a tiny glimpse inside his private life. He's the man I've obsessed over and lusted after for the better part of ten years — since I was in high school and Vail's first single hit the radio.
He's also the man known for sleeping with a different woman every night, and I count myself fortunate that I happen to be his Saturday night special this week.
I don't know how I'll feel tomorrow, but tonight the only word that describes me is lucky.
We're on the top floor of a building in the center of the world-renowned Las Vegas Strip after he spent hours kissing me, touching me, showing me that the rumors about his talents beneath the sheets are true. He knows what he's doing. He's everything I thought he'd be, more than I could've imagined. He was slow and sensual with me, caring and tender. He treated me with respect even though the rules were clear from the start.
He didn't have to say it, exactly, but I knew the expectation the second I secured my invitation back to his place. Girls don't go home with Mark Ashton thinking it'll lead to anything more than one night. I wish the reality was different, but that's not who he is and it's not what he does.
He's the very definition of a rock star. He makes a woman feel special for one night before he moves onto the next one. You hear the stories all the time, but you never think of the women who get left behind. It's such a double standard — I think of them as groupies, a little slutty, definitely a little unethical ... and now I'm one of them.
I don't see myself that way, though. I'm not a groupie. I'm far from a slut. I pride myself on my ethics and my morals. I'm just a girl who couldn't pass up her one shot at being with the rock star of her dreams.
It's hard to reconcile what I felt for him tonight with what I know about him. Now I know him on a personal level. I've been in his home, in his bed. He knows me on a carnal level. He's been in my mind, my heart, my body.
That all just makes it so much more difficult to walk out his door.
Does he do this with every woman he brings back to his place? Does he open up and let them in the way he did with me tonight? Is that how he's able to get so many women to sleep with him?
Or was I somehow different?
I want to think I'm different, but insecurity rears its ugly head. As I turn my gaze back out the window to the lights twinkling below, I remind myself I'm just one in a long line of women — just the one he brought home tonight. Just the one who will leave in the morning thinking she's different, thinking she's the one who can tame his womanizing ways, thinking she's the one he'd give up everything for.
I can't let myself truly believe any of that for even a second, though. My heart can't handle that sort of fracture. Even though I wish it could be more, it won't be.
It will always be just one night.
When the elevator doors open, I step on and push the button for the main level. That'll get me back out to the Strip, and then I can start the mile-long walk back to Mandalay Bay, where my car sits in the lot and my best friend sleeps in the hotel.
I threw my morals away for one night with a legend. I silently judge my friend Tess for sleeping with men she barely knows, yet I did the same thing.
It felt like I knew him, though. I've spent countless hours with him over the past ten years. His songs play on repeat. I fangirled when he came to town for a concert, set my DVR to record every appearance he had on those late-night talk shows, read every article I could get my obsessive hands on. Of course I felt like I knew him — he's been a part of my life for a long time.
But I never actually met him until last night.
My brain is muddled with conflicting emotions: what I did was disgusting and shameful, yet it was beautiful and totally worth it. It was a night to remember forever, yet a night I don't ever want to tell anyone about.
It feels wrong to abandon this place without leaving my number or some way for him to get in touch with me, but I've never done this before — never had a one-night stand or slept with one of the most famous rock stars in the world.
But all that changed last night, and now everything going forward will be tainted with this one event.
I'm all out of sorts. I've always been a rule follower, but how am I supposed to follow the rules when I don't know what they are?
I draw in a deep breath as the burn of tears smarts behind my eyes. I will not cry. I will not cry. I will not cry.
The chant is useless. Tears burn their way down my cheeks. I'm alone in an elevator after leaving Mark Ashton's penthouse suite. Alone with my thoughts and images that'll be burned in my mind for a long time to come — a hand running along my thigh, a tongue flicking my skin, a finger teasing my hip. His mouth caressing mine.
Euphoria clings to me after the night we shared. No man has ever made me feel so cherished. He handled my body with skill and ease, took care of my needs before he thought of himself. That euphoria sends a shot of giddiness through my stomach.
But reality crashed over me when I woke up. I couldn't bear the thought of facing him — of him asking me to leave after last night.
So, I decided not to give him that chance.
Is this how all women feel during the walk of shame after one glorious night? I want to go back up to him, to crawl back into bed next to him. But wants and needs are two very different things, and I need to get back to my life and start the process of forgetting last night ever happened.
I just have no idea how to do that. I guess it's time for me to write my own rule book here: How to Exit a One-Night Stand with Some Shred of Dignity.
I dig through my purse for my sunglasses. Chapter one of my rule book will help me get through the main level of the hotel on my way out to the Strip if I can at least cover my puffy, red, tear-leaking eyes.
I keep digging, unable to find my dumbass sunglasses under all the crap in my purse, including an array of make-up that I didn't bother to use this morning. He was still asleep when I left. Why didn't I at least say goodbye? If there's anything I regret about the last nine hours, it's that. I snuck out before he even woke up, and now I'll never get the chance.
And that's exactly where my confusion lies. Despite the shame pulling at my conscience, I don't regret what I did.
I push angrily at the tears still coursing down my cheeks then pull my purse from my shoulder and balance it on my knee. I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirrored elevator doors and look away in humiliation. I focus for a second on the numbers as they change with each floor we pass. I'm moving closer to the first floor as the elevator carries me further from Mark.
I search frantically through my purse, frustrated that I can't find my stupid sunglasses, that I'm crying, that my face is a blotchy, disgusting mess, that I just left his place knowing I won't be invited back.
This was a mistake, one night to mar an otherwise spotless record. I'm not good enough for someone like him, not wild and crazy enough, not famous, not even close to his league. If he's playing in the majors, I'm basically the sister of the ball boy for some middle school team. That's how far apart our worlds are, but he allowed me to dream for just a few bright minutes last night. He allowed me to step out of playing the role of the good girl to do something naughty and completely out of character for once in my life.
I'd give up everything for him — I'd have done that before I even met him last night. Both my best friend Jill and I have obsessed over him for years. He and the drummer from his band appeared on a reality show together, and we watched every episode and then watched again and again. In my fantasy world, I'd quit my job to tour around the world with him and Vail. I'd be best friends with the wives or girlfriends of the other band members.
I briefly think about leaving my number with the front desk as I bask in that fantasy, but my insecurities get the best of me. Mark is known for doing this, for making every woman he's with feel like the queen of the world before daylight comes and he moves on to the next one. I'm not special or different. I'm not memorable. The whole idea of that fantasy life is just a stupid dream.
The elevator doors slide open, and I step off as I continue to dig. I'm not paying attention to anything around me, don't even look up as I keep digging through my purse, and — of course, because why wouldn't it happen today of all days? — I crash smack into a hard wall.
I stumble backward, drop my purse, and feel arms come around my elbows to help steady me.
It wasn't a wall, after all. It was a man. A man in a suit who looks crisp and fresh and hot as hell and why the fuck is the universe against me today?
"Are you okay?" His voice is deep and husky and full of concern. His big hands are still on my arms, and I brush them off after my eyes catch on his long fingers and sexy veins.
I dash the tears away again and force myself to look at the man who is gazing at me with bright green eyes. His lustrous, nearly black hair is brushed up and away from his forehead, parted to the side, which tells me he cares about his appearance, but the dark stubble lining his jaw tells me he's all man.
I glance down and see that the contents of my purse have emptied all over the tiled floor. Eyeshadow is bouncing its way across the small hallway housing six elevators, lip gloss has rolled nearly in front of the furthest elevator, random change and gum wrappers are everywhere. I need to clean out my goddamn purse.
A couple walks into the hallway and pushes the button to call an elevator as they glance at the mess — and, subsequently, me — with disdain.
Fuck you! You could help us here instead of looking at me like you're better than me! Haven't you ever had a bad morning? Haven't you ever dropped anything? Haven't you ever walked out of a rock god's penthouse suite without leaving your number behind?
My good manners keep those thoughts in my head. Instead, I ignore them and stare at all the shit I keep in my purse scattered all over the floor, and that's when I remember last night when Jill and I left the house we share, it wasn't bright enough to warrant sunglasses. I realize too late they're sitting in the cup holder in my car.
"Dammit," I mutter to myself as I close my eyes, willing the tears to stop falling. "I'm sorry," I say to the man as the unhelpful couple steps onto one of the elevators.
"Are you okay?" he asks again.
I lift a shoulder and try breathing in through my nose. "I'm fine."
"Doesn't look like it," he says, bending down to help retrieve all my shit so I can dump it back into my purse. "Is there anything I can do?"
"I'm fine," I repeat.
He hands me some change and a bottle of lotion, which I toss into my purse, and I pick up my phone. I grab last night's concert ticket — signed by Mark Ashton, of course — and he picks up the shirt I was wearing before I changed into the shirt I bought at the show, the one I'm wearing now.
Then, to my utter and complete mortification, the man hands me a tampon and a condom.
Seriously? The two most embarrassing items in my purse were lucky enough to fall out right next to each other? Fuck my life and everything in it.
My cheeks burn as I glance up at him. He's looking at me with a cocky smile, and I feel the threat of tears again. I won't cry in front of this handsome stranger. Well, I won't cry again in front of this handsome stranger.
I hear my phone's text notification. The morning can't get any more embarrassing as he continues to gather and hand me more of my crap.
Jill:Hope you're still banging Mark Ashton. Can't wait to hear all about it. I'm heading home. Your car is still at Mandalay but I checked out. Have fun and be safe.
I glance around and spot my car keys on the floor in front of me. At least one thing is going right this morning — at least I didn't leave my keys at the hotel with Jill. I almost yell out in triumph, but I manage to restrain myself.
"Let me buy you a coffee," the man says once we've gathered all my stuff and the floor is pristine once again.
I nearly ask if it's because of the condom, but I stop the words before they leave my lips. A girl who carries condoms in her purse must put out, right? Ugh. "No, thank you," I say instead.
He glances at his watch. "Please. It's the least I can do." His green eyes penetrate me, pinning me to the spot. He's so assured standing there, so confident.
I think about giving in. I think about saying yes.
But I'm on my way out from another man's bed after a one-night stand. Having a morning coffee date with a stranger just seems like a bad idea on top of an already shit morning.
"Tell me every single detail and leave nothing out."
I blow out a heavy sigh as I look across the family room at Jill. She tucks a chunk of her red hair behind her ear, her eyes wide on me. She's looking at me differently than she did yesterday, like I'm her idol. I did something last night we've both dreamed of doing for the better part of ten years.
It's too early for this conversation. I'm still wearing the Vail shirt from last night — the same shirt Mark Ashton stripped from my body before he fucked me. I think of his long, talented fingers as they gripped the bottom of this very shirt before he pulled it over my head.
"It was ... perfect," I finally answer.
"That's not every detail. I'm talking length, girth, hardness ..."
"Oh my God, Jill. You sound like Tess." Tess, my work wife, has the uncensored mouth and perverted sense of humor of a thirteen-year-old boy.
"So? It's not every day my best friend sleeps with an actual rock star."
"I need a cup of coffee before I get into this," I mutter. "Or a shot of tequila."
"Coffee's hot on the pot." She nods toward the kitchen. "And you know where we keep the tequila. Now spill the details."
"I haven't showered and I still smell like him."
"Oh my God, you should definitely never shower again. Ever. What does he smell like when he's naked? Can I smell you? Was he big? Was the sex good?" She stands up and starts walking toward me, but I push her off.
"He tasted like peppermint." I think for a minute. "And he smelled like some kind of sweet, woodsy scent mixed with the peppermint. And he was big. And he knew how to use it. Like he's an expert. PhD in sex." I close my eyes in bliss as I remember.
When I open them, she's about to bend over to sniff my shirt. I push her away.
"Sandalwood. That's sandalwood. Holy shit, I just smelled Mark Ashton on you." She squeals. "Best night ever?"
I nod, focusing my eyes out the window on our view of the mountains surrounding Las Vegas.
"Then why do you seem so totally unsatisfied today?"
I swipe at a stray tear I didn't even realize had formed. I thought I'd gotten it all out in the elevator. "Not unsatisfied. It's just ... that's it. One night. Wham bam thank you ma'am."
"One night to remember forever."
She stares at me with stars in her eyes, like I'm the luckiest girl in the world — which I am.
But I'm still somewhere between regret and jubilation. "Yeah, but now what? No one's ever going to measure up to that."
"Still, one night ..."
"One night that brought every fantasy I've had for ten years to life." And emotionally connected me to a man I don't even know. I don't add that last part. It seems too ridiculous to say it out loud.
"Did you get his number?"
"No. And I didn't leave mine."
Excerpted from "A Little Like Destiny"
Copyright © 2017 Lisa Suzanne.
Excerpted by permission of Books by LS, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Reese Brady had been a fan of the rock group VAIL and its lead singer Mark Ashton for years. She meets him backstage and goes home with him for a night of great sex. She thought there might have been something between them but left the next morning before he woke. Days later, she meets Brian Fox, a handsome businessman who donates money to the school charity drive. They began a whirlwind romance but Reese still has feelings for Mark and can’t get him out of her mind. She gets the surprise of her life when Brian takes her to meet his siblings. Brian and Mark are brothers. Reese has been having an affair with Brian but still feels "something" for Mark. Loved the character of Mark. He is a singer looking for a girl who can love him for himself and not the image he projects to the public. He writes his feelings in a song that everyone loves and wonders who the lucky girl is. I was not too fond of Brian. I think he is using Mark's fame and fortune to get ahead. Reese needs to decide which of the brothers to date and I hope it is Mark.
OMG ... a huge cliffhanger! Reese Brady has been in love with Mark Ashton for the past 10 years ... and so has every other woman, as Mark is the lead singer for the rock band VAIL. But after a concert, Reese gets her "one night" with Mark. And what a night it is! ... she won't be forgetting it anytime soon. As she's sneaking out of Mark's bed in the middle of the night, when she exits the elevator she runs directly into Brian Fox ... another gorgeous man. After another accidental meeting, Brian pursues her till she agrees to a date. Reese is having trouble getting over her one night with Mark, but she realizes that Brian could offer her stability and forever ... while she knows, with Mark's reputation, that it was just that one night. After a month of dating Brian, she finds out that Brian and Mark are brothers. Then there are so many twists and turns that you don't know what to believe. I know that on paper Brian should be the man for her, but I believe that he is keeping a big secret from her that could change everything. I also believe that Mark truly has feelings for her. So I'm gonna come right out and say that I hope she picks Mark. I do feel a little sorry for Brian because he always feels that he comes in second to Mark ... but maybe it's true because of his bitterness towards Mark. Ugg ... I don't know what to think! All I know is I can't wait for the second book ... even though I have a feeling we won't find the answers until the third book. I received an ARC copy courtesy of the author through NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.