Cross the Line

Cross the Line

by Simone Soltani
Cross the Line

Cross the Line

by Simone Soltani


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Notes From Your Bookseller

If you've fallen down the #Tiktok rabbit hole of all things Formula 1, this is the book for you, sizzling with chemistry and another reason to love forced proximity and workplace romances.

Her brother’s best friend sends her heart racing in this sparkling Formula 1 romance.
Formula 1 driver Dev Anderson’s career is on the line. After a social media disaster leaves him with an angry team and sponsors threatening to jump ship, he needs someone to help save his image. At a party in Monaco, he bumps into the woman who can fix it all. There’s just one problem: she’s his best friend’s little sister. And, okay, maybe there’s another problem—he kissed her last year and hasn’t been able to stop thinking about it since.
Recent college grad Willow Williams needs a job. She may have a talent for seeing the bright side of any bad situation, but it’s hard to stay positive when she’s struggling to get hired. So when Dev offers her a temporary solution, she can’t help but say yes. Even if it means ignoring the crush she’s had on him since childhood.
Willow and Dev are determined to keep things strictly professional, regardless of old feelings and the blazing chemistry between them. But in the glittering and high-stakes world of Formula 1, some lines are meant to be crossed…

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780593818145
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/23/2024
Series: Lights Out , #1
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 14,949
Product dimensions: 5.14(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.85(d)

About the Author

Simone Soltani is a romance author and former ghost writer for a serialized fiction platform. Born and raised in Washington, DC, she holds a BA in Geography from The George Washington University, which she likes to think comes in handy for world-building in her novels. When she’s not writing, she spends most of her time planning vacations she’ll probably never get to go on, reorganizing her many bookshelves, and watching sports while cuddling with her dogs.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1


Seven months later, May

New York City

I've nearly set my apartment on fire. Again.

Making macarons should not be this hard. They're small and cute, and the recipe calls for super simple ingredients-it's just egg whites, almond flour, and sugar. So why, oh why, can't I make a single batch without completely messing up?

"Oh no, oh shit," I mumble as I snatch an oven mitt off the counter and pull out the now-smoking confection. According to the timer, they shouldn't be done for another five minutes, and yet these are nearly burnt to a crisp. Either the recipe was wrong about the baking temperature, or my oven was sent straight from hell. I'm betting on the latter.

I'm desperate to re-create the infamous Stella Margaux Bakery's classic macaron because, as of a month ago, New York City's one location closed for renovations, and I simply can't live without them. The news was enough to make me consider moving back to the West Coast, where there's a Stella's practically every hundred feet.

Then again, I might not have a choice about returning to San Diego to live with my family if I can't find a job in the next couple of months. I came to New York four years ago for college and had plans to stay for possibly the rest of my life. My education was bankrolled by my amazing parents, with the stipulation that after graduation, I'd support myself. Truthfully, they'd have no problem continuing to help me, and they absolutely have the means, but it's the principle of it all. I made a promise, and I'm going to keep it. I just didn't think it would be this difficult.

I busted my ass during undergrad with a double major in communications and sports marketing, a minor in English, and a new internship every semester. With all that experience, I thought it would be easy to find a full-time position working in the marketing department of a professional sports team-a.k.a. my dream job. But after dozens of flat-out ignored applications, zero callbacks after interviews, and endless We'll be in touch lies, I'm still unemployed.

It would be so much worse if I'd graduated ages ago instead of just last week, but I've been applying for positions for months now, hoping to have a job in place by the time I was handed my diploma. My brother landed one in his field months before graduation, so I figured there was no reason I couldn't do the same.

Ha. Joke's on me, because here I am with no job, a dwindling sum in my bank account, and a two hours' drive from the closest Stella Margaux's. This is not what I call living my best life. But damn if I'm not trying.

"What's on fire?" Chantal asks from the doorway to the kitchen, grimacing at the smell.

I sigh and move to open the window, sparing a glance back at my roommate as I do. "My hopes and dreams."

"Figured. Smells awful."

Can't argue with that.

"This is the fourth batch I've ruined today," I lament as I shuffle over to her. Seeking comfort, I rest my temple against her upper arm. It's not quite her shoulder, since I'm five foot nothing and she's a six-foot-one angel. "The first ones weren't sweet enough. The second ones were flat as crepes. The third were underbaked, and these are-"

"On fire."

"Singed," I correct, pulling back and giving her a warning look. I can't be too mad, though, because they were kind of on fire at some point. "I can't get it right and I don't know what I'm doing wrong."

"Take a break," Chantal instructs. Her tone is firm, but there's a tenderness in it. "You can try again tomorrow."

She's right, and I'll absolutely pick myself up and dust myself off for yet another attempt, just like I always do. But she knows my frustration isn't just about macarons. She knows how badly I want my life to be perfect and how upset it makes me that I'm struggling to pull it off. As my roommate since our freshman year, she's witnessed plenty of my highs and lows, and is well-versed in all my hopes and dreams. I'm lucky that her own dream job as a financial analyst-go figure-is keeping her in New York, because I don't know what I'd do without her.

"I'll order takeout so no one has to enter this disaster zone," she says, pulling her phone out of the back pocket of her denim shorts that showcase her long, deep brown legs. "And check your phone, would you? It keeps buzzing in your room, and it's driving me nuts."

I flash her a bashful smile. "Sorry. I didn't want to get distracted, so I left it in there."

She cocks a brow playfully. "You mean you didn't want to risk dropping it in the batter again."

My face flames at the mention of that specific baking attempt. "It only happened one time!"

She flips her braids over one shoulder as she strolls out of the kitchen, the delicate beads at the ends clicking together as she goes. I helped her pick them out last week, the gold and deep azure perfect for the warming temperatures and one last hurrah before she starts her new job and has to have a "professional" hairstyle. It'd be great if the world could stop telling Black girls what's appropriate when it comes to our hair, but today is not that day.

Sighing, I undo my apron and hang it on the hook by the window. The pastel pink cotton flutters in the warm breeze, silently mocking me and my failure. I don't even bother looking at the charbroiled macarons as I leave the kitchen and pad down the narrow hallway to my bedroom.

I pass Grace's open door along the way, catching a snippet of the conversation she's having on the phone. Judging from the occasional groan and the (very few) words in Cantonese I understand thanks to the lessons she's given me over the years, she's talking to her mother. She's probably assuring her that she won't miss her flight to Hong Kong tomorrow, which she's done twice before.

She gives me a finger wave as I walk by, and I blow her a kiss in return before slipping into my room next door. The sun streams in through my gauzy curtains, casting short shadows across my desk. My phone sits on the surface, wedged between a few skincare products and a mug full of glitter gel pens. The screen is dark, but when I scoop it up, a litany of texts and missed calls, all from my brother, greets me.

Most people would assume there'd been some kind of emergency, but this is just how Oakley operates. If he can't get a hold of me-or anyone, for that matter-on his first attempt, he'll keep calling and texting until they pick up. There's no subtlety with him.

I don't bother looking at any of the twenty texts. They're probably just emojis and the sentence Pick up!!!! over and over again. Instead, I tap his name and put the phone to my ear, flopping onto my ruffled duvet to stare out the window at the brick apartment building across the street.

"Took you long enough," Oakley grumbles when he answers.

"I was busy," I say vaguely. If I confess my baking catastrophe to him, he'll never let me live it down. "What's up?"

"Do you want to go to Monaco?"

Another thing about my brother-he doesn't beat around the bush.

I'm used to it, but the question still throws me. "Monaco?" I repeat. "Like, the country?"

"Yes, Willow, the country," he mocks. "Keep up."

I roll my eyes, mentally flipping him a middle finger. "God, I was just checking."

"So?" I can imagine him prompting me by circling his hand in the air, ever impatient. "You interested or not?"

"I mean, yeah," I reply, even though I'm suspicious of the offer. "Who wouldn't be? But why are you even asking?"

"Because I'm going next week and thought you might want to tag along. Plus, it's a race weekend, and-"

My snort interrupts him. "I should have known this was a motorsport thing."

When my brother was a teenager, his life revolved around kart racing, which led to a successful but short-lived career in Formula 3. In the end, he gave it up to have a "normal" life and went off to college. Personally, I wouldn't have given up the opportunity to be a professional athlete for anything. But that's the difference between Oakley and me-he had options in life. I didn't.

"And," Oakley barges on, "my company is hosting a huge event. I figured you might want to schmooze with athletes, then watch the race from the paddock. I've got passes, courtesy of SecDark."

Part of that "normal" college experience for Oakley involved studying cybersecurity. He was recruited during the fall semester of his senior year by one of the leading companies in the industry, SecDark Solutions, and has worked for them ever since.

The business was so successful that they'd recently branched out into sponsoring various sports teams and athletes, a Formula 1 team among them, which would explain the party and paddock passes. If I wasn't so proud of my brother for working his way up the ranks of such a flourishing company, I'd be jealous as hell.

But considering I'm being offered perks from his wins, I can't complain that he's doing better than me.

"I know you're not having the easiest time finding a job," he says before I can ask more about the event, "but this could be a good opportunity for you to network. You haven't given up on sports marketing, have you?"

Rolling onto my side, I pull my knees up to my chest. I'm more embarrassed by Oakley's gentleness than I would be if he was making fun of me for still being unemployed.

A career related to sports has always been my dream. I grew up loving baseball and basketball, loved going to games with Oakley and our father, loved the electric energy of a crowd cheering for their favorite team. I was hooked from the second Dad took my hand and led me into my first stadium. There was no going back after that. I wanted to be like the people on the field and the court. I wanted to run bases and make half-court shots. I wanted to hear my name chanted, to have it echo throughout the stands and beat in the hearts of fans.

Unfortunately, my body kept that dream from ever becoming a reality. Even though it took years and countless doctors to get a diagnosis of hypermobility, I knew early on that I was different from other kids. That I'd never get to do some of the same activities they did.

My baseball career ended after a dislocated shoulder during my first T-ball lesson, and basketball was simply out of the question thanks to all the running and sudden stops that my unstable knees couldn't handle. Being an athlete just wasn't in the cards for me.

So, after years of watching and learning from the sidelines, I figured sports marketing was the next best thing. I could still be immersed in a world that brought me joy, and I could share that joy with others. At least, I could if I got a job.

"No, I haven't given up." I sigh. "I'm still waiting to hear back from a few places."

"Then come to Monaco in the meantime," he wheedles. "Like I said, the event will be perfect for networking. Or, fuck it, just consider it a vacation on my dime. A joint graduation gift and a super early birthday present."

"All in one?" I drawl. "Wow, you're so kind."

"Let's be real. I'm only offering because Mom made me."

"So, I should be thanking her for this invitation and not you?"

"Semantics," he says, dismissing my comment. Then he launches back into his pitch. "Just think of all the people you'll meet. You know how many athletes and their teams will be at this party? If you don't end up with a job offer at the end of the night, I'll cliff dive off the coast."

I snicker. "You'll do that even if I do get an offer." We both inherited the adrenaline junkie gene. I just know better than to act on mine.

"Probably," he concedes. "But seriously, Wills. This is a great opportunity. And you don't even have to lift a finger. I'll handle everything."

I shift onto my back and study the ceiling, twisting the hem of my sundress between my fingers. "You promise it's worth my time?" I hedge, but excitement is already starting to bloom in my chest. "I don't want to be away for too long and miss out on an interview."

"I promise. You can fly in on Wednesday and fly back Monday morning."

Holding my breath, I mull it over. He's right. It could be an excellent networking opportunity. And who wouldn't want to spend a few days in one of the coolest places in the world? Besides, who am I to turn down a free trip?

"Okay, fine," I blurt before my brain can catch up. "Take me to Monaco."

Chapter 2



I'm pretty sure everyone at this party thinks I have an STD.

For the record, I don't and never have, despite my escapades that the press loves to report on. This rumor has everything to do with my social media manager-my former social media manager now-who quit her job by announcing on all of my online platforms that I was the new face of at-home STD testing kit brand IYK Quick Results. Without it, I wouldn't have discovered that I had chlamydia so quickly. But don't worry, I'm being treated for it. Though, unfortunately, it's an antibiotic-resistant strain. Some guys just have all the luck.

The posts gave the company a boost, but for me? I haven't had sex in six weeks, and most of the women here won't even look at me. It's a goddamn disaster.

I know I have a case for defamation of character, but the damage is already done, and I'm not interested in hurting Jani in retaliation. Moving past it is my best option at this point. And if I'm being honest with myself, I might have deserved to face her wrath after everything I put her through while working for me. I wasn't the easiest client, but who the fuck wants to have every aspect of their life documented for the whole world to see? Yet Jani insisted on it day after day until I finally snapped.

Unfortunately, that made her snap in return. Now my reputation is in the shitter, my team is giving me the cold shoulder, and there are whispers that my sponsors believe I might not be the right person to represent them. I can't lose them-can't lose that money-because without it, I'll lose my place with Argonaut Racing.

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