A sexy category romance from Entangled's Brazen imprint...
Who needs Mr. Right when you can have the perfect Mr. Wrong?
Ryder Diamond-the town's golden boy-doesn't have time for taking chances, let alone love. Against his better judgment, he lets his buddies set him up on a blind date with a girl who's only passing through town. But temporary or not, Whitney James sets fire to desires he can't control.
Before they know it, Ryder and Whitney are in a supply closet, drowning in lust. She's only in town for the summer-what better way to spend it than in the arms of Mr. Perfect? Except, she's wild and free, and he's Mr. Stability. Which means he may as well be Mr. Wrong.
And her new job? It's with Ryder's sister.
Sex and the inability to keep their hands off each other are the only things they have in common. But this little hook-up has "disaster" written all over it...and the only way Ryder can save his reputation is by avoiding the sweet little firecracker who could ruin it all.
|Publisher:||Entangled Publishing, LLC|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.43(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Chasing Mr. Wrong
A Chasing Love Novel
By Joya Ryan, Stephen Morgan
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2015 Joya Ryan
All rights reserved.
Ryder Diamond looked in the mirror and scowled. Why the hell had he agreed to a blind date? Sure, his buddies were all settling down with their true loves. Even his best friend Bass was playing house with Ryder's little sister — something that still made Ryder's hand twitch with the need to punch him.
"And now I'm letting him set me up on a blind date," Ryder mumbled.
The snap of an opening beer can sounded from behind him, and Ryder turned to find Huck walking into his room. Only it wasn't a beer he was holding.
"What the hell is that?" Ryder asked, and motioned to the can in Huck's hand.
"It's coconut water. Supposed to be really good for you." He took a big swig, and Ryder almost retched. A few months ago, Huck had been double fisting beers and slamming them faster than he could open the next one. But things had changed for his friend — like the love of a good woman.
"Speaking of what the hell ..." Huck said. "What the hell is that?" He eyed Ryder's shirt.
Ryder looked down the front of himself. "It's a tie."
"No, no, no, no." Huck took a swig of canned water and yelled over his shoulder. "Bass, get in here. This is bad."
Ryder glared and crossed his arms as Bass walked in and chuckled at Ryder's appearance.
"Are you going to church there, handsome?" Bass joked.
"What are you two even doing here?" Ryder asked, tugging at his tie and taking it off. He tossed it on the floor and unfastened the top two buttons of his shirt.
"Well, I had come to watch the game," Huck said. "But apparently you're putting on a different kind of show." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a single dollar bill. "Gonna give us a dance, big boy?"
"Fuck off," Ryder said, rolling up the cuffs of his blue dress shirt.
"Sorry, can't do that, either." Huck huffed like a distressed teenager. "Autumn is doing her pregnancy workout video and kicked me out. It's not my fault she looks amazing in those tight pants. When she bends over, I just want to — "
"I can see why she kicked you out," Ryder said.
"Well, I came to make sure you don't mess this up," Bass said. "You've been an asshole lately, and you need to get laid, or at the very least get out and socialize."
"I'm plenty social," Ryder defended himself.
Of course, by "social", he meant that he was in town running errands, or he was working. But he always chatted with people whenever he could. The town was important to him. His family had built it, for Christ's sake. And Ryder's father and grandfather had shoes particularly difficult to fill, since their legacies were the beacons of pride around there.
Which was why he tried to present the best side of himself at all times.
He also was running a business that relied on his small town to stay local and use Diamond Construction when they needed something built. It was a delicate balance of good will, good faith, and good manners.
"Social?" Bass challenged. "Is that what you call working eighteen-hour days? I didn't bring my dictionary with me, but I'm pretty sure those are two very different things."
As if the universe were on cue, his cell phone buzzed with a text. Clara Davenport. She was the only daughter of Milton Davenport who, presently, was sort of Ryder's boss. The man owned a ton of land in Diamond. Land in need of developing. It was the kind of business relationship that could secure Ryder's future and the future of his employees.
Take the current development project. Ryder and his team were remodeling the Davenport Hall, which was where the eighteen-hour days were coming in. But this hall could lead to more deals with Davenport. He just needed to see this project through with no distractions, no problems, and things would be fine.
He glanced at his phone and hit ignore. Because the one thing that was not fine was Clara calling and texting looking to "discuss ideas" on the interior decorating of the Hall only to rope Ryder into a pseudo-date. Not that she'd call it a pseudo-date, but subtlety wasn't her strong suit. She was arrogant, cold, and laying it on thick, and it was clear she was after Ryder for a lot more than his renovation skills. And he just wasn't interested.
To be honest, he didn't have time for dating at all, even if he were interested. But Huck and Bass had been on his ass often enough that agreeing to this one blind date seemed like the easiest way to shut them up.
"I agreed to this setup of yours," Ryder said. "I didn't agree to get shit from you about it."
Besides, Bass's friend was only in town for one night. Just passing through. So no matter how well — or, if Ryder's track record was any indication, how not well — it went, he'd be back to his normal life tomorrow.
Still, he felt compelled to say, "I don't need help getting dates."
"Oh, I'm aware," Bass said with seriousness. "But half the single females around here don't want to date you, they want to marry you."
Huck did some kind of hand waving gesture while singing, "If you like it, you should put a ring on it."
When both Bass and Ryder stared at their tattooed, pierced, and generally badass looking friend singing, of all things, a Beyoncé song, Huck stopped and shrugged.
"What? Autumn aerobicizes to that song. It's catchy."
"Jesus," Ryder muttered.
Bass gave Huck a look like he understood and smiled.
His friends were happy. Really fucking happy. And Ryder was happy for them. Both had wonderful women in their lives, and Huck was going be a father. Both of them had an ease in every step that made it seem like they were walking on sunshine 24/7.
"This is a great opportunity for you," Bass said, returning his attention to Ryder. "Everyone around here knows you, your name, and ..."
Bass trailed off, but Ryder could guess what he was going to say next, because he'd dealt with it for a while now. Everyone, especially women, wanted a piece of Ryder. And not in the cool kind of way. They didn't want him, they wanted what he could offer — like his name and station in town.
Something he'd learned the hard way when he was young and stupid, and it had almost cost his family everything.
Bass clapped Ryder on the shoulder. "Tonight you get to be yourself with a stranger that doesn't know you're Mr. Diamond of the founding Diamonds."
"You didn't tell her my name?"
"Nope. Just told her to be on the lookout for a jackass in a tie."
"Funny," Ryder said, really happy he'd ditched the tie now. Bass knew him too well. But the idea his friend had posed was intriguing. For one night, he didn't have to be Ryder Diamond. And he was meeting his date at the lodge on the edge of town, where almost no locals went.
"I'm going to head out," Ryder said.
Both guys looked him up and down as if assessing his outfit.
"I dunno ..." Huck said.
Bass nodded. "He needs the tie. Don't you think?"
"Definitely. It would really bring the whole outfit together in that classic 'I have no clue how to dress myself' kind of way."
Ryder rolled his eyes. "What's her name?"
"Her stage name is Candy," Bass said.
"Stage name?" Ryder's eyes shot wide. "Did you set me up with a stripper?"
"She's really nice," Bass defended. "A bit quirky, but a fun girl."
"You're going to marry my sister, and you know a stripper?" Ryder took a step toward his friend, that itch in his hand doubling.
"Easy there," Bass said. "I represented her when I worked on a case in Wichita a couple of years ago." Okay, that was better. But apparently Bass felt the need to elaborate. "Besides, Penny is way sexier than any stripper, and her lap dances are —"
"My ears are bleeding!" Ryder snapped. He didn't need to hear that shit.
What had Bass been thinking, not telling Ryder these kinds of details about this blind date? He hadn't even given her actual name. Was Ryder really supposed to call her by her stage name all evening?
He couldn't. Actually, he shouldn't go at all.
This was just a bad idea. And bad ideas were what Ryder spent most of his time fighting. He might be responsible, but he had to work at it. Because deep down, Ryder loved a challenge. He also loved his prized control and calm. He had impulses for the wild and crazy as much as the next man, but that was a constant internal battle he fought daily. Logic always won out. It had to.
Huck seemed to recognize the reservation on his face, because he piped up with, "You better get going, golden boy. Running late is against your good manners policy."
Huck might be giving him a hard time, but he was still right. Ryder hated being late, so yeah, he hustled.
"Remember, this is a casual date," Bass said. "Be yourself."
One night to be himself did sound good. But Ryder wasn't as hopeful as his buddy that this wouldn't turn in to some kind of disaster. He'd just try to get through what would likely be an awkward meal and be on his way.
"I'm assuming I'll be able to tell what she looks like?" Ryder asked.
"Yeah, you'll be able to tell. She's a brunette stripper. Just look for the hottest girl in the place."
"And take some condoms with you!" Huck yelled as Ryder grabbed his keys and headed out, hating his friend with a passion at that moment.
Great. Just fucking great.
Whitney took a sip of her pineapple vodka and eyed the pool table. The lodge she was staying at was rustic and quaint. Okay, so it had antlers of all varieties on the wall, and this particular room was covered in floor to ceiling dark wood paneling. The interior decorator was obviously male and some kind of hunting enthusiast. Not her taste, but it was cheap and a place to stay.
The small bar and sitting area around the corner had a few people scattered around, so she came into the horns haven game room to be by herself and try not to think about her life. Or the lack of anyone in it.
On one hand, that was just how she liked it.
On the other hand, what she wouldn't give for a fantasy man to help scratch that itch. Even if just for tonight.
She walked around the table one more time, eyeing her next shot, pausing only to grab a Sour Patch Kid from her purse and pop it into her mouth. Nothing was better than sweet, sour, and vodka.
Her sister Kacey had hated sour things. She'd also hated mustard and white chocolate. But she'd loved summertime. Loved running straight into the ocean with her arms spread wide. Loved life.
It had been over a year since her big sister had died in a car accident. And the memory still cut straight to her bones when Whitney thought of her. Yet all she did lately was think of her sister and the night she'd lost her. How she was the lucky one who had walked away from the crash, and Kacey wasn't.
But Whitney didn't feel lucky. It should have been Kacey who survived. She'd always been the stronger one. The wiser one. The better sister. But fate had chosen Whitney to survive, and every day since, she'd been on the run from both that moment and the life she'd left behind.
It made her sick to think of the things her sister would now never achieve. She'd been trying to figure out what to do ever since Kacey had died, and she'd finally come to one conclusion. If fate had chosen Whitney to live, then that was what she would do. She would embrace every new opportunity. She would see the world. She would follow her heart and never look back. If not for her, then for Kacey.
Which was why at almost eight o'clock on a Friday night, she was alone in some small-ass Kansas town, ready to spend a few weeks there before taking off again for however far her next tank of gas lasted. Tomorrow, she'd have to figure out what the next step would be. But tonight? Time to see where the wind blew her.
She took another drink of her vodka, set it down, and bent over the pool table. She stroked the pool cue, positioned it, aimed ...
"Nine ball, side pocket," she whispered. With a crack of the cue ball hitting the nine, she sank her shot with precision.
"Candy?" came a rugged voice from behind her.
She gasped, startled she wasn't alone in the room anymore and turned to face —
A tall, painfully attractive man with intense gray eyes and boy next door charm was staring her down. He might have a gentlemanly appeal that radiated off of him, but there was nothing gentlemanly about the obviously well-honed muscles he was rockin' beneath that shirt.
"Candy?" she repeated. She frowned then glanced at her purse. Odd request, but maybe he'd seen her snag some and wanted a piece. She walked to her bag, trying to hide her smile. She'd happily give him a piece ... anytime. Because the guy was seriously sexy.
She reached in and grabbed a Sour Patch Kid and walked it to the hottie.
He took the piece, looked at it, then at her.
"Cute," he said. "Really cute." He popped it in his mouth. "I'm Ryder."
He reached out his hand to shake hers. Yep, gentleman. But she took it, and his grip instantly engulfed her smaller hand. His palm was thick with healed callouses.
Must be a hard worker ...
What would those big hands feel like running up her bare back ...
She just stood mute, struck by those hot gray eyes, while her mind churned out a wicked fantasy involving tall, tan, and sexy over there and the pool table behind her. A grin tugged at his perfect lips, as if he could read her thoughts. She blushed and pulled her hand away.
"Nice to meet you," he said.
She just nodded, because he was the first nice thing to come walking into her world in a long time. It wasn't until his gaze had fastened on her that she realized how rarely she interacted with people for any amount of time. Sure, she got out and lived it up when she could, but she never made friends because she was always moving.
Yet people fascinated her. Being a sociology major, she'd always enjoyed observing individuals and their interactions within their societal norms, what passed for prim and proper versus wild and wanton depending on the city. Nothing about this man struck her as prim and proper, though. The way he looked at her made her shiver, and she wanted to stand there and bask in the moment for a second.
He looked so damn put together that it made her examine herself quickly. She was in her favorite cutoff shorts and tank top that read put some south in your mouth — something it seemed Ryder couldn't help but notice. Good. She'd gotten the shirt for its sass as much as for how it outlined the girls and got the attention of whatever man she put in her sights.
Because she was looking right back at him, wishing she had the power to melt cotton with her eyes. While she wasn't sure on most things, she was certain that the man before her had an impressive physique, and she wanted to see more of it.
"So." He glanced at the pool table before returning that smoldering gaze to her. He looked at her in a way that made her chest hitch and her breasts tingle. "Care for a partner?"
His eyes stayed on her, and she was ready to take him up on that offer in more ways than one.
"Yes, please," she said.
Her night was suddenly looking up.CHAPTER 2
"So you're from around here?" the sexy brunette asked as she eyed her shot and bent over the pool table again.
Jesus Christ, Ryder needed to get a grip. He couldn't stare all night at her perfect ass in those insanely short shorts. Her shirt was tied up and gave flashes of her tight stomach, and Ryder had to take a deep breath. Maybe Bass was right. It'd been too long since he'd gotten laid.
"It's not a hard question, big guy," she said, snapping his thoughts out of the gutter and back to reality. Where were his manners?
"I'm sorry, sweetness. Run that by me again?" He stood straighter, gripping his pool cue as her big, chocolate eyes flashed up at him with a smile.
"I asked if you were from around here." She hit the five in the side pocket and straightened.
Was he from around there? Technically, the lodge was in Diamond County, but it wasn't zoned in the town of Diamond. He'd have to hold onto that technicality. If he so much as gave his last name, the connection would be made and the questions would start. Was he rich? Was he married? On and on.
For now, he wanted to take advantage of what Bass had said. This woman was passing through for just one night, and for one night, he didn't have to be Ryder Diamond of the founding Diamonds.
Excerpted from Chasing Mr. Wrong by Joya Ryan, Stephen Morgan. Copyright © 2015 Joya Ryan. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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