It's her best friend's wedding, and Autumn Lane is trussed up in a pink bridesmaid dress with a big "everything is great" smile plastered across her face. She's not going think about her life imploding, or spending the next two weeks housesitting in the ridiculously small town of Diamond. No, she'd rather think about the tattooed hottie in the wedding party...and how to turn the wicked way he's looking at her into a night of intense pleasure.
Huck Galvin is fiercely attracted to his mystery woman's no-BS attitude, but their one-night-no-strings plan backfires when Huck discovers that Autumn is the out-of-towner he's "chaperoning" for the next two weeks. Outside the bedroom, the two can't stand each other, yet Huck can't deny how much he wants one more night with her. But Autumn isn't going to make it easy for Huck. Not by a long shot...
Each book in the Chasing Love series is STANDALONE:
* Chasing Trouble
* Chasing Temptation
* Chasing Desire
* Chasing Mr. Wrong
About the Author
National and international bestselling author Joya Ryan is the author of the Shattered series, which includes Break Me Slowly, Possess Me Slowly, and Capture Me Slowly. She has also written the Sweet Torment series, which includes Breathe You In and Only You. Passionate about both cooking and dancing (despite not being too skilled at the latter), she loves spending time at home. Along with her husband and her two sons, she resides in California.
Read an Excerpt
A Chasing Love Novel
By Joya Ryan, Stephen Morgan
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2015 Joya Ryan
All rights reserved.
"Another, please," Autumn Lane said to the hotel bartender, tapping her empty cocktail glass. The older man came over, mixed another fruity alcoholic drink, and refilled her cup.
It had been a hell of night. Actually, it had been a hell of a month. Her father's notorious bad luck seemed to be hereditary, because Autumn couldn't get a win lately.
First, she lost her mechanic shop—and by proxy, her home connected to it. And by lost, she meant that her father gambled it away. She'd been staying in a crappy hotel back home for a few days while job hunting.
If that wasn't enough, last month, the guy she'd been seeing decided to dump her because "she just didn't do it for him anymore." Autumn rolled her eyes. He was into giggling adorably feminine types, and that wasn't her. Never had been. That hadn't stopped her from trying to be what he needed and make it work.
Turned out she'd wasted the past year with a douche who'd used her for free labor to get his motor running in more ways than one. Pathetic part was, he was the closest thing she'd had to a friend back home.
Yet between her own father, and a poor excuse for an ex, Autumn knew better than to expect anyone to choose her—much less value her. If her dad, just once, would have thought of her wellbeing before his own, if her ex would have wanted her for more than an easy fix, maybe the ache in her gut wouldn't sting so bad.
Staring into her cocktail, she also realized how alone she was.
"Whatever," she whispered to herself and took a long swallow of her drink. It was already midnight, and she was in a new town. After dropping off her bags in her room, she came to the bar to drown in a little alcohol before taking on the next step of her life.
She had a place to stay lined up for the next two weeks. She just had to get through tomorrow first. But after that, she'd be fine. Sure, she'd lost her home, shop, and boyfriend, but she had prospects for the first two. As for the last? She didn't want a boyfriend. Not anymore.
It had been a month since her ex had dumped her, and honestly, the thing that hurt the most was finding out he thought her worth little more than a few romps in the sack and a summary goodbye.
Which made tonight all the easier to embrace. She was done jumping from relationship to relationship. Why waste a second waiting for someone to let her know it wasn't going anywhere long-term? She'd just take the word "long-term" out of her vocabulary altogether.
As for short-term? Oh, she was ready to find out how delicious short-term could be.
The best way to get over a man was to get under a different one. And that made tonight's mission all the more clear.
She'd be locked in this hotel for the next twenty-four hours, and surely there must be someone around to help her relieve a little stress. Business was slow at the bar, but there were a few people scattered throughout. She'd even seen a few hot guys here and there.
Especially one who'd walked through the hallway earlier. Everyone else was wearing button up shirts and slacks, all too stuffy for her taste tonight. But this guy was in a T-shirt and jeans, and the tattoos on his biceps were visible from across the room. She had half a mind to find him and seduce her way into his bed.
She just needed a plan. And at least one more drink.
"That looks like a sorrow-drowning drink," a sexily deep voice said from behind her.
"Either that or a broken-hearted drink."
Autumn looked to her left and saw—
Oh my. Him. Mr. Tattooed Biceps himself. He took a seat next to her at the bar.
His timing was perfect. Maybe this was the universe's way of letting her know that as long as she only asked for what she was worth, it would be happy to provide.
"I'm not a party with a martini kind of girl," she said, and then she finished off her drink.
"What kind of girl are you then?" he asked. He had a slight drawl to his words. Slow and steady and smoldering.
She smiled. "The kind that doesn't want to talk about it."
"Understood," he said. The bartender came back over, and Mr. Sexy kept his green eyes fastened on her and grinned. "I'll have what she's having. And would the lady like another?"
The lady? He might look the part of the bad boy, but there was a gentlemanly charm to him. She'd thought her cocktail had the perfect mix of sweet and salty, but this guy looked—and smelled—like he'd be the most delicious thing she'd ever tasted.
"Yes, please," she said.
The T-shirt he wore clung to some serious muscles and gave sight to the tattoos on his biceps. His dark hair was longish, and when he ran a hand through it, she saw a few piercings along his ears.
I wonder if he has any piercings anywhere else ...
With any luck, she wouldn't need to ask. She'd have him on the bed, undressed, with all of his tattoos and potential piercings there for her to savor. Just the way she wanted it. No words. Just desire.
He raised his glass and gestured toward her. "Here's to not talking about it."
She saluted back, and they both took long sips. If she didn't know better, Mr. Sexy looked to have a few things rolling around in his head that he didn't want to talk about either. Maybe she was in better company than she'd thought. But would he be up for a one night, no strings kind of fling?
"Gotta admit, honey," he said. "The way you're looking me over makes me all giddy."
A small laughed escaped her. He had a good sense of humor, and she wanted to play this game.
"I'm sorry, wouldn't want to be overly obvious in my thoughts."
"Oh? And what thoughts are those?"
This was fun. She was in the driver's seat, and though everything about this man screamed alpha, he seemed fine letting her take the lead. Which was what she needed.
She slid her gaze over him, openly appreciating his physique. She wasn't shy or misinformed about men. She'd been raised—for lack of a better word—by a man, and she knew how they operated.
"I was just wondering about your tattoos and piercings." She leaned in a little, and god he smelled good. "I think you're an iceberg. There's always more beneath the surface that you can't see."
He raised an eyebrow. "Why, Miss Stranger, are you flirting with me?" he asked with a hot smile.
"Yes, sir, I am."
"To think I assumed you to be crying over a drink."
She scoffed. This man, like most, wasn't accustomed to the kind of woman she was.
She'd been raised by her dad in a mechanic shop—when he was around, at least. And the one time she'd cried had been when she was five and Danny Davis had stolen her bike. Her father had told her to buck up, get over it, or do something about it, but crying didn't solve anything.
Which was why she never let tears get the best of her.
Not when her dad disappeared to the gambling tables or drank himself into a stupor and taken off for weeks at a time.
Not when her ex had left her.
Not when her self-worth was teetering between microscopic and nonexistent.
People had been leaving her high and dry all her life. It hurt, but what was she supposed to do? Curl up and cry about it? People inevitably walked away from her. That didn't mean she couldn't have fun as long as they were there.
Case in point, this sex on a stick sitting in front of her. If she had her way, she'd have him, and by morning she'd have all but forgotten about the ache left on her heart.
* * *
"Not a crier either," the woman said and took another drink of her cocktail.
Jesus fucking Christ, Huck had never met anyone like her.
He'd walked in after a long ass night of wedding talk, his friends swooning in love, and he'd just wanted to escape from all the bliss.
Not that he wasn't happy for them. One of his best friends was getting married tomorrow at this hotel. That kind of thing was well and good for his friends, but the avalanche of happily-ever-afters taking down his friends one by one reminded him that when it had come down to it, the woman he'd loved had let him know he didn't deserve his own fairytale ending.
Having a drink before heading to his hotel room was just what he needed.
Then he'd seen her.
"Well now I'm curious," Huck said. "If you're not a crier and not a talker, tell me something you are."
Because nothing about this woman was dainty. Even though she was sitting, he could tell her legs were ungodly long and lean. Her tight little stomach was encased in a white tank top that clung to her perfect breasts.
And her hair was incredible. He'd never seen such a color. Tied up in a ponytail, long, sleek, and so black it almost looked blue. He stifled a groan as she wrapped her bee-stung lips around her glass, and then he watched her throat work down her drink.
She was the hottest thing he'd ever seen.
"Something I am?" she repeated. There was a flash of an emotion he couldn't quite gauge. Something like sadness, but it was so fleeting, he couldn't be sure. "I'm not much at the moment."
Wow, that was unexpected. Though the words were deep, her carefree delivery of them created the illusion that she was as casual as could be. It made him all the more intrigued.
"Sounds like you're honest."
She laughed. "Brutally so. I've been known to hurt feelings from time to time."
"Honey, you could hurt feelings just walking away." Shit, had he said that out loud? He'd meant that as a flirty compliment. A fact he needed to clarify. "Watching a beautiful thing pass on by could devastate a man, you know?"
Huck nodded. Back to flirting. Good. Right where he needed to be, because he wouldn't think about how the notion of "walking away" played on the empty hole in his chest. A hole put there years ago by a woman he'd made the mistake of trusting.
"So tell me then," he said. "With your unbridled honesty, if you don't have much, what are you looking for?"
Her lips parted, and she looked him in the eyes. There was something deep and dark running within her, and damn if he didn't want to tap into that.
"I think I just found what I'm looking for," she said with the slightest breath in her voice. "I'm here for one night."
"Ah, fate is kind," he said. "Because so am I."
Her smile was so dazzling it about knocked him off his stool. "And what is it you're looking for?"
"You." The word came out so quickly he didn't think to pull it back.
"Well then, it's only fair you tell me something you are as well."
He thought for a moment, then the truth hit him like a punch to the gut. "I'm not much at the moment either."
She nodded, her expression softened by those long thick lashes. She blinked twice before looking down at her drink. "Funny how the 'not much' is the toughest to deal with sometimes."
Huck knew that all too well. Because it was when things were quiet and still that he felt the most empty—a feeling he'd been using a warm woman in his bed to combat, but even that was wearing thin. Because he always left in the end. And would be right back to where he started: alone.
Which was where he needed to be if he wanted to avoid having his heart broken again. No way was he getting involved with a woman longer than a single night. Nope. Been there, done that, had the scars to prove it.
Hot sex was hot sex, but meaningless sex didn't quite do it for him anymore. Which helped him avoid getting caught in the ticking time bomb that was a "relationship," too. There was no chance of getting suckered into falling for a woman if he wasn't interested in anything long-term.
This woman was different though. He couldn't quite figure her out. There was a vulnerability encased by so much strength that he thought he'd imagined the brief look of sadness behind her eyes.
One thing he could tell was that she was 100 percent on her own terms. If she wanted one night with him, he wouldn't have to worry whether it would turn into anything more. She knew what she wanted.
And she was fucking gorgeous.
"You're the one staring now," she said.
And damn it, he was. But he played it off with the well-honed charm he'd perfected over the years.
"You have my thoughts going now."
"Wondering if I have tattoos?"
He shook his head. "I was wondering what you taste like."
Those gray eyes locked on his. She didn't simper like most women. Usually he'd pump the breaks and ease his way into flirting. Not with her though. She was coming on just as strong as he felt. He was usually the smooth talking one, trained in the art of melting panties. But this woman? She was sexy, confident, and ... honest.
It was refreshing. No bullshit. No coy games.
He usually took charge in the bedroom, but the way she was looking at him made him man enough to admit that he'd love to be under her spell for a bit. What would the wicked-mouthed beauty do to him if he let her?
"One way to find out," she said.
His thoughts exactly.
It'd been a while, a lot longer than he'd care to admit, since he slept with a woman. Which was bad considering his love of women. The anniversary of the day his fiancé had walked out on him was last week. But he hadn't felt right in a while.
All the more reason to forget about the cocktail and take a drink of the woman in front of him. It wasn't every day a woman set his blood on fire. Better to drown his pain in passion than alcohol.
He stood and placed money on the bar counter. She eyed his movements and rose to face him. He'd been right about her being a ten on the hotness scale. She was also pushing five-ten in height, which only made her all the closer to his ideal woman.
He didn't want to be lame and ask if she was a model, but holy Lord, the woman was unlike anything he'd ever seen. Not an ounce of makeup or hairspray, and her raw beauty, combined with the depth in her eyes, made him want to reach out for her right there.
Can't imagine the tip I'd have to leave if we messed up the bartender's counter.
He chuckled. No, they'd go upstairs and do this right.
"One night, huh?"
He took her hand, and his thumb ran over her knuckles.
"I hope that's enough time for what I have planned," he said.
* * *
Autumn walked into Mr. Sexy's hotel suite. The living room had a single lamp on, illuminating the entire area. A soft-looking blue couch and two matching chairs were positioned around a dark wood coffee table. A soft glow came from around the corner—where she guessed the bedroom was.
Wow, impressive suite. She didn't want to think about how much this had cost. Her single room on the second floor barely had enough room for the bed but had cost a pretty penny. Whatever this guy did, he seemed to be successful.
I wonder if his bathtub's big enough for two ...
"Would you like anything to drink or eat?" he asked. She looked at him, at the shadows playing over his chiseled jaw. He was quite a sight. Over six feet tall, since she had to look up at him, which was awesome.
But what had taken her by surprise a bit more was his demeanor. He'd asked her questions, like he actually gave a damn, or at least understood her on some level. Which was crazy, because they were strangers. What did he care? Her ex had known her for years and had never thought she merited more than polite inquiry.
But the look in this man's eyes said that even if this was just for one night, he wasn't her ex. The moment of silence that had passed between them when they'd both admitted to their shortcomings in so many words had been ...
No, she wasn't broken. Refused to be. She could take care of herself. Things would be fine.
People fucked her over all the time. This wasn't news. She just hadn't lost so much in such a short time before.
She'd spent too much time steeling herself against the truth of the world. Tonight, she needed to get lost from reality for a while. And she knew the perfect way to do that.
"What I'd like is for you to take your shirt off," she said.
He looked at her, gauging her seriousness. Oh, if only he knew how serious she was. She raised a brow and stepped back, getting a better view of his entire body.
Excerpted from Chasing Desire by Joya Ryan, Stephen Morgan. Copyright © 2015 Joya Ryan. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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