The last thing Vaughan Hewson expects to find when he returns to his childhood home is a broken hearted bride in his shower, let alone the drama and chaos that come with her.
Lydia Green doesn't know whether to scream or cry in a corner. Discovering the love of your life is having an affair on your wedding day is bad enough. Finding out it's with his best man is another thing all together.
Just when this runaway bride has nowhere left to turn, a handsome stranger offers her a broad, muscular shoulder to cry on. Vaughan is the exact opposite of the picture perfect, respected businessmen she's normally drawn to. This former musician-turned-bartender is rough around the edges and is facing his own crossroads. But Lydia's already tried Mr. Right and discovered he's all wrongmaybe it's time to give Mr. Right Now a chance.
After all, what's wrong with getting dirty?
Dirty is the first book in the Dive Bar series from bestselling author Kylie Scott.
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By Kylie Scott
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2016 Kylie Scott
All rights reserved.
I stared at my cell phone, mouth slack in horror. Man, they were really going for it. Tongues wrangling, teeth clashing. There was no hesitation, no holding back, as they ground their bodies together. The angle and lighting were crap, but still plenty sufficient to catch all the porny action, god help me.
This couldn't be happening. What the hell was I going to do?
From out in the hallway came voices, laughter, all of the usual sounds of happiness. About what you'd expect on your big day. The smut on the small screen, not so much. I didn't want to see it, yet I couldn't look away. Whoever had sent this to me had blocked their number. They could have only had one aim in mind, however.
God, the sure way they touched, so obviously familiar with each other's bodies, killed me. My stomach churned, bile burning the back of my throat. Enough. I swallowed hard and threw the cell onto the brand-new super-size bed. Video still rolling, it lay discarded among the scattered red rose petals like some sick joke. Should have chucked it at the wall. Stomped it, or something.
Chris had said they were going to hang out, take it easy. Just him and his best man, Paul, knocking back a few drinks and talking about the old times. Sure as hell, there'd been no mention of them tongue wrestling because I would have remembered that no matter how busy with wedding details I'd been.
My eyes itched, a muscle quivering in my cheek. Had this been going on behind my back all along, in which case, what kind of idiot was I? I wrapped my arms around myself, holding on tight, doing my best to keep my shit together.
It wasn't working. Not even a little.
The bitch of it was, now that I thought about it, there'd been signs. Chris's libido had never been what you'd call raging. Among all the dinner dates and outings that made up our whirlwind romance, there'd been lots of hand holding and kissing, sure. But little to no actual intercourse. There'd always been excuses. His family was religious, we should follow tradition and wait for the wedding night, it would be so special when we finally did it, yada yada. It'd all made sense at the time. His simply not being into pussy had never crossed my mind. The man had been so perfect in every other way.
Only, he wasn't. Because according to that video, Coeur d'Alene's golden boy had most likely been using me as a goddamn beard and had planned to keep doing so for the rest of our natural-born lives.
Deep inside, some part of me broke. My heart, my hopes and dreams, I don't know what. But everything hurt. Never in any of my twenty-five years had I experienced anything akin. The pain was excruciating.
Voices out in the hallway came closer as the moaning and groaning on my cell grew louder. The Chris on the video clearly into all the cock wielding his best man was doing. Bastards. To imagine, I'd finally thought I'd found a home. How stupid was I?
No damn way could I go out there, face all those people and tell them what a fool I'd been. Of how thoroughly I'd been duped. Or at least, not yet. My mind needed a chance to wrap itself around the enormity of what Chris had done, of how thoroughly he'd screwed me over.
Boom, boom, boom! went a fist on the other side of the bedroom door. I jumped, eyes painfully wide open.
"Lydia, it's time," announced Chris's father.
And yeah ... no way. I was out of there.
Blind panic seized me and I ran. Not easy to do wildly out of shape and in full wedding regalia, but I managed. Hell, I fucking flew. It's amazing what terror can do.
Out the French doors and onto the patio. Across the expanse of manicured green lawn, my stiletto heels sinking into the soft ground with every hurried step. The hum of soft music and conversation filled the air. All of the guests were gathered out front awaiting the service, followed by cocktails and canapés. So through the back garden I plowed, pushing past shrubbery and flattening flower beds. Thorns from a rosebush caught at my stockings, stinging, scratching my legs. Never mind. No time to waste. For hidden behind a tree sat a compost bin, placed perfectly beside the six-foot-something-high fence separating this property from the next.
Yes. Awesome. Escape was mine.
Let Chris explain to them all why his bride had fled. Or better yet, let Paul, the slimy, two-faced, man-stealing bastard.
Thank god I hadn't gone for the floor-length gown his mother had tried to squeeze me into. Calf length would be tricky enough what with all the tulle underskirts. I hitched them up, clambering onto the hip-high bin without too much trouble. It wobbled like a bitch as I climbed to my feet. A scarily high-pitched noise escaped me. I grabbed hold of the rough wooden fence, hanging on so tight my knuckles turned white.
Normally, I wasn't much for prayer. Surely, however, the Big Guy wouldn't let me take a tumble and break my ass. Not today. If he really and truly felt the need to smite me some more, it could wait. Today I'd suffered enough.
Nice deep breaths, standing tall and steady. I could do this. In the yard behind my and Chris's overdone mini-mansion sat a small silent house.
French manicure already scratched to shit, I lifted myself up, wiggling and squirming until my hips sat high enough for me to get a leg over. The pressure that position put on my crotch was not pretty. I swear I could hear my labia screaming, let alone the rest of my girl bits. And what with me hoping to still be a mother one day, I needed to move ... pronto. Wooden palings dug painfully deep into my belly as I lay down, balancing my torso atop the fence. Beads of sweat dribbled down the sides of my face, probably carving out canyons in the inch-thick makeup (artist recommended by Chris's mom).
"Aunt Lydia?" asked a small high voice. "What are you doing?"
I squeaked in surprise. Luckily, there just wasn't enough air in my lungs for an all-out actual scream. Down below stood a little girl, her big brown eyes inquisitive.
"Mary. Hi." I smiled brightly. "You surprised me."
"Why are you climbing the fence?" She swished the skirt of her white satin flower girl dress this way and that.
"Ah, well ..."
"Are you playing a game?"
"Can I play too?"
"Yes!" I gave her a twitchy grin. "Yes, I'm playing a game of hide-and-seek with your uncle Chris."
Her face lit up.
"But no. No, you can't play. Sorry."
Her face fell. "Why not?"
This was the problem with small children, so many questions.
"Because it's a surprise," I said. "A really big surprise."
"Uncle Chris doesn't know you're playing?"
"No, he doesn't. So you have to promise not to tell anyone that you saw me back here. Okay?"
"But how will he know to come find you?"
"Good point. But your uncle Chris is a smart guy. He'll figure it out in no time." Especially since I'd left my phone behind with that evil porno still playing. Damn hard to feel bad about outing him, given the situation. "So you can't tell anyone you saw me, okay?"
For a long moment Mary pondered her already scuffed satin slippers. Her mother would not be impressed. "I don't like it when my brother tells on my hiding places."
"No. It's annoying, isn't it?" I felt my leg slipping and muttered an F-bomb, which I thought was under my breath.
Pink lips formed a perfect O. "You shouldn't use that word! Momma said it's naughty."
"You're right, you're right," I hastily agreed. "It's a bad word and I apologize."
She let out a little sigh of relief. "That's all right. Momma says you weren't raised right and we have to make all ... allow ... allowan ..." Little brows drew together in frustration.
"Yes." She grinned. "Did you really grow up in a barn? I think living in a barn would be fun."
This. This is what comes from letting stuck-up rich bitches influence the young. Chris's sister was a prime candidate for stick-up-the-ass removal. His whole damn family was, for that matter.
"No, honey," I said. "I didn't. But I bet your momma would feel right at home among cows."
"Moo." She laughed merrily.
"Exactly. You better head back now. And remember, don't tell anyone you saw me." I gave her a finger wave, trying to wriggle into a more comfortable position without toppling off the precipice. As if that were possible.
The kid took off racing through the garden, soon disappearing from sight. Now to get the hell down off the fence. Whatever way I played it, pain was sure to follow. Fact. I stretched and strained, my thigh and calf muscles screaming in protest. If only I'd gone with Chris to the gym all those times he'd suggested. Too late now. Slowly, knee first, one leg, then the other went up and over. Splinters caught at my dress, threads pulling and silk ripping. I slid down the opposite side of the fence, dangling in midair for one excruciating moment while the rough wood tore my hands to pieces and my muscles stretched beyond endurance. Then gravity kicked in.
I hit the ground hard. It hurt.
So much for being plus-size. My extra padding hadn't cushioned a damn thing. I rolled onto my back and lay in the long grass, wheezing like a pack-a-day smoker. Pain filled my world. Maybe I'd just die here. It was as nice a place as any.
"Lydia, are you out here?" a voice called. Betsy, the receptionist from the real estate agency. "Liddy?"
I hated being called that. Hated it. And she knew it, the bitch.
I held my silence, lying there, sweating and breathing heavily (as quietly as possible). No way could she see me without climbing the fence herself. Small chance of that. Generally, Betsy wasn't any more athletic than me. I was safe for now. Overhead, a wisp of white cloud passed, marring the perfect blue sky for a moment. Such wonderful weather for a June wedding. Seriously, you couldn't have asked for better.
Betsy's voice receded. Time to move.
Ever so slowly I climbed to my feet, every muscle aching. In the distance, my name was being called out over and over again by a multitude of voices. They were starting to sound panicky. Meanwhile, here I stood. No money, no cards, no phone, no nothing. Truth be told, my emergency escape plan was a little flawed. At least I'd made it over the fence.
The neighbor's yard was a jungle, completely overgrown. Lucky, otherwise I might have actually broken something when I fell. A cute gray bungalow sat beneath a circle of big old pine trees. It had a lot of charm. Places like this were why I'd gone into real estate. To have the opportunity to help people find a wonderful home for the rest of their lives. A place where they could raise their children and get to know their neighbors, have block parties and BBQs. As opposed to dragging their offspring around the country in search of the next big opportunity, living in one crummy thin-walled rental after another.
Unfortunately, instead of selling homes, I'd wound up pushing soulless condos and talking people into properties they couldn't begin to afford. I'd been beyond naive. Cutthroat didn't even begin to describe the industry.
But back to my current situation.
Sanders Beach was a pretty quiet area and they'd soon be looking for me. Out on the street, I'd be found in no time. That wouldn't do. I needed to catch my breath and pull my shit together. Wait until the video outed Chris as the cheating lying vile scumbag he was and then ... well, I'd hopefully have some sort of plan figured out by that time.
So what I liked best about this pretty bungalow in particular was the wide open back window.
I pulled up the ruins of my skirts and kicked off my one remaining heel, before making my way through the tall grass. No immediate signs of life from inside the house. Perhaps they'd gone out and forgotten to lock it. The window opened onto a small bathroom, everything inside dated and dusty. Still nothing stirred.
To trespass or be discovered? Not a hard call to make. Call me Goldilocks. I was going in. If I got eaten by a bear, then so be it. At least I'd make a decent-size meal.
The window wasn't high. This time I climbed up without any trouble. I grabbed hold of the edge of the bathtub for balance while the other hand reached for the floor. Everything was going great, right up until it came time to squeeze my hips through. Wooden casing bit deep into my sides, pulling me up short. I was stuck.
"Shit," I said, keeping my voice down just in case.
I wriggled and twisted, grunting in exertion, feet flailing in the open air. Thank god no one was around to see. So help me baby Jesus, I could do this, I could. After all, what was losing a bit more skirt or skin at this stage? Nothing, that's what. I gripped the edge of the bathtub and gave a final almighty heave-ho. Material tore and my girth gave way. I plummeted toward the floor. My face broke the fall and my body followed, crashing down. Given the amount of noise involved, it was kind of surprising the neighbors didn't come running along with the police.
"Oh god," I whimpered, struggling to breathe.
Pain and humiliation levels had officially bypassed bad and gone straight to horrific. What a clusterfuck of a situation.
Carefully, I took a slow deep breath in through the nose and out through the mouth. Okay, it worked. No ribs broken, I think. Nose still intact. I ran my tongue around the inside of my mouth, checking for loose teeth. All good. Just the same, it felt like I'd been in a bar fight with an angry mob. My right cheek throbbed like a bitch and for a long while I just lay there, stunned. Neither daring to move, nor quite able. The old bungalow remained quiet. I was alone, thank god. Alone was best, I got that now.
Just in case someone came looking, I dragged my sorry self into the bathtub and pulled the shower curtain closed. Then carefully, I arranged the remains of my silk and tulle skirts around me.
It was time to face the facts. To face them and let them fill me. My man was in fact not my man, nor was he my best friend. There would be no happy home. And my dream wedding? Screwed sideways and then some.
Never mind, I'd found somewhere safe to hide and wait out the day. Let Chris deal with the mess he'd made. I needed to put myself back together.
Hot tears started flowing down my face. They didn't stop for a long, long time.CHAPTER 2
Heavy footsteps roused me from my stupor. I don't know how long exactly I'd been sitting in the bathtub, staring off at nothing, pondering the catastrophe my life had become. Couldn't have been too long since sunlight still lit the room.
The footsteps came closer and closer. And then they entered the room. Oh, shit. I froze, not even daring to breathe. There was a loud yawn, followed by the cracking of joints. Then a large hand reached in beside the closed shower curtain and turned on the tap. A torrent of ice cold water poured down. It was like a billion itty-bitty knives stabbing at my skin. All of the scratches and raw patches from earlier stung like shit. I gritted my teeth, shoulders hiked up to around my ears as if that would provide any protection.
Yep, I sat there, all huddled up, listening to the man take a leak.
Awesome. Just plain awesome.
Wasn't like I could jump out and interrupt the man midflow. And say what? I knew this was not a good situation to get caught in.
1. I'd basically broken into this guy's house.
2. And had then gone on making myself right at home, having a messy emotional breakdown in his bathtub.
Normal, rational people didn't do this sort of thing. I didn't even have a criminal record, had never particularly done anything outlandish or interesting until now. This was all Chris's fault, the bastard. I'd just have to make the best of it and hope this guy had a sense of humor.
Just as the water began to warm, he flushed the john and freezing cold water drenched me anew. I'd been about to open my mouth and announce my presence, but that put an end to that. Needles of icy cold water pelted down on my skin. I fucking froze. Teeth gritted, I suppressed a squeal of pain and rage.
Then the shower curtain flew back.
"Shit!" The man was very tall, very naked, and very surprised. He stumbled back a step, a hand clutching at the bench behind him, eyes furious and wide. "What the hell?"
I opened my mouth, closed it. Language skills had apparently abandoned me. In total silence, the man and I stared at each other.
Excerpted from Dirty by Kylie Scott. Copyright © 2016 Kylie Scott. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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