Truth or dare…
When Lacey Garrity finds her groom in flagrante delicto in the reception hall closet with her bridesmaid, she's saved by her best friend's older brother—childhood tormentor, crush, and boxing bad boy Galen Thomas. Galen's solution is both exciting and dangerous. What better way to forget the mess of her life than go on her honeymoon with a hot guy who can't promise anything beyond today?
Galen had been counting on Lacey's wedding to put her out of reach—and out of his mind—once and for all, but their steamy Puerto Rican escape is testing all his boundaries. Now that Lacey's embracing her inner bad girl, Galen is tempted to throw in the towel and claim her for himself. But with the biggest fight of his career on the line and an important business merger threatening to derail Lacey's resolve, their romance might be down for the count before it even begins.
Each book in the Dare Me series is STANDALONE:
* Down for the Count
* Down and Dirty
* Down the Aisle
* Down on Her Knees
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Down for the Count
A Dare Me Novel
By Christine Bell, Heather Howland, Kerri-Leigh Grady
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2012 Christine Bell
All rights reserved.
Lacey Garrity—soon to be Clemson once she got down to the social security office to change it— marched up the long corridor between the reception hall and the bar, muttering to herself. It was time to throw the frigging bouquet, but her groom was MIA. After making a list of possible places he might have gone, jotted neatly on a cocktail napkin, she'd made the rounds and so far? Nada.
Pausing, she jabbed at the green call button of her cell phone and held it to her ear.
In the reception room behind her, the strains of "Twist and Shout" faded. It was only that brief absence of music that allowed her to hear the muffled, familiar melody of Marty's ringtone coming from behind a door at the end of the hallway. Bah dum. Bah dum. Bahdum bahdum bahdum ...
Relief flooded her, and she beelined toward the sound. She tugged the door open and—
"Marty?" Lacey stared down at her husband of two hours, total shock momentarily preventing her from comprehending the scene before her. The slightly muffled version of The Pink Panther theme song coming from the pants around her husband's ankles kept time with the ring pouring from the receiver of the telephone she still had cupped to her ear.
"Lacey! I can explain," Marty said as he frantically tried to extract himself from the woman he was screwing and yank up his pants at the same time, which was no easy feat given the restrictive confines of the filled-to-bursting storage closet. In his struggle, he knocked a mound of snowy-white linens off the shelf behind him, and they toppled onto his paramour with a thunk, shoving her torso flat into the table she was draped over.
"Shit!" she wailed, floundering until the cloths fell to the floor in a heap.
Lacey focused more intently on the woman ass up in front of Marty. Black curls arranged in an updo, a tasteful navy dress bunched around her bare thighs. Navy chiffon, to be exact. The very same chiffon she'd picked out for her bridesmaid dresses.
Shock gave way to a gut-wrenching sense of betrayal. "Becca?" Her brain thrashed around in search of a stronghold, a port in this most ludicrous of storms, and she uttered the first thing that came to mind. "But you said he had woman-hips."
"Hi, this is Marty. Leave a message," the oh-so-familiar voice chirped in her ear.
"Hi, Marty?" she said into the previously forgotten phone. "This is Lacey. You're a lying piece of shit asshole." She disconnected and hurled it against the corridor wall, where it connected with a satisfying crunch.
Marty flinched. "Honey, it's not what it looks like."
Why do people always say that? she wondered dully.
Becca tugged at the hem of her dress and stared at the floor, slump-shouldered and unwilling to meet Lacey's gaze.
"What it looks like is that you're having sex with one of my oldest friends in the linen closet of our reception hall. Unless, of course, she's lost something in her vagina and you were gallant enough to try and fish it out for her. With your penis. If that's the case, I suggest using a larger lure."
A whispered "Ouch" over her shoulder clued her in to the fact that the three of them were no longer alone. Her skin prickled like she'd been dipped in rubbing alcohol, but she kept her gaze locked on Marty.
He winced, his cheeks turning a fiery shade of red. "No need to be rude, Lace." The ensuing silence was so absolute that when he fastened his tuxedo pants, it sounded like a grizzly bear traveling down a zip line.
"Please tell me you're not chastising me over my lack of manners right now. Because if I thought that were true, I just might get one of those stupid shrimp forks your mother insisted we have and jam it into your eye."
He gaped at her as if he'd never seen her before and wasn't all that thrilled with the view. Well, bully for him. She knew the feeling.
"Lacey, we were going to tell you. But things got out of hand, and then the merger ..." Becca's blue eyes pleaded with her. For what? Understanding? Forgiveness?
She was fresh out of both.
Tears pricked the backs of her lids, and she stared at two of the people she thought she could count on most. Lifting her trembling hand, she tore off her wedding and engagement rings, then set the now meaningless symbols of commitment carefully on the table.
"That's it?" an outraged voice bellowed from over her shoulder. "You're going to let them off that easy? Oh, no way. Not on my watch." Her maid of honor and sister from another mister, Cat Thomas, pushed past her and peered in. Her green eyes were a bit bleary as she treated the couple in the closet to a death stare. "I should kick your prissy little ass."
She was probably talking to Becca, but it was a fitting threat for both of them, and that made the whole thing even more awful. Marty wouldn't have even considered bending Lacey over a table, never mind one in the linen closet of a public place, but there he'd been, doing exactly that with her friend. On their wedding day.
"Cat, stay out of it," a low male voice murmured.
Lacey closed her eyes and bit back a groan. Of all the people to have witnessed her shame, Galen Thomas would've been her last choice. Cat's brother had been away for the past eight months training for a fight, and he'd just returned to Rhode Island. Lacey had been so sure he would still be at home recovering, she'd never expected him to come to the wedding.
Growing up, he had been a never-ending source of torment for Lacey, either unaware or unimpressed with the fact that she'd harbored a serious crush on him since grade school. In spite of his ribbing and her efforts to act like she couldn't care less, over the years they'd forged an uneasy alliance for Cat's sake. She hated him seeing her at her lowest point. Especially after he'd warned her about Marty the year before.
His muttered, "Watch yourself, squirt. He's spineless, and spineless people don't care who gets hurt, so long as it's not them," had stuck with her far longer than it should have.
Or maybe not long enough, she thought glumly and took one last look at the train wreck in front of her.
"I'm fine, Cat. Galen's right. I need to go before any of the other guests see this." She met Marty's miserable gaze. "You'll be hearing from my lawyer. Don't try to contact me. I have nothing to say to you."
She turned to Becca and the ache in her gut increased tenfold. For a brief moment, she wondered if it should be the other way around. Shouldn't his betrayal hurt worse? But before she could catch hold of the thought, it burned away under the heat of white-hot anger at Becca. The third amigo. The other sidekick for the force that was Cat. The person she could call when she just wanted to vent instead of plot to take over the world. If Cat was the meat of their sandwich, Lacey and Becca were the slices of bread.
Sweet, sweet Becca was now Becca the Betrayer.
"And you?" She cast around for something to say, to lash out, to make her pay, but all she could muster was, "I want my 'N-Sync T-shirt back. Then lose my number."
Becca's mouth opened and closed soundlessly, her pink cheeks going chalk white.
The tears were coming soon. They were building at the back of her throat like an imprisoned scream. She had to get out of there, fast. Cat took her arm and led her across the hall with a hissed, "Bastards," over her shoulder. Galen fell into step on her other side.
"Is this a nightmare? Please tell me this is a nightmare," Lacey murmured under her breath.
"This is no nightmare, squirt. This is the luckiest day of your life," Galen said, his tone grim.
"Not the time, bro." Cat popped her brother hard on the shoulder with a balled-up fist.
"It's the truth. That guy wasn't good enough to wipe your shoes. And your friend there is getting exactly what she deserves. A jellyfish of a man for a jellyfish of a woman. She always was weak."
There was an uncharacteristic compliment buried in that statement, and it registered briefly through her shock, but she didn't have a chance to dwell on it. They'd reached the main reception hall filled with her family and friends. The black cloud of dread hanging over her thickened. The wedding was supposed to have paved the way for two of the city's most high-powered law firms to merge into one big family firm. Now that might never happen and, despite the circumstances being out of Lacey's control, her mother was going to be furious.
She paused and ran a hand over her hair, the strains of "Mony Mony" pouring through the doors increasing her agitation tenfold. "I have to go in there, don't I? To tell them something?" Her voice warbled and she bit her lip.
"Nope. Galen will tell them. I'll drive you to your apartment to change your clothes, and we'll go get smashed!" Cat held up a hand for a high five.
"Not going to happen," Galen cut in. "You're already smashed," he said to his sister before turning to Lacey. "And you're in no condition to drive. You're still in shock, and when this hits the fan, it's going to get ugly."
He was right. Cat had been sipping mimosas all morning and had drunk more than her share at cocktail hour. Her flaming-red hair had escaped its confines and the makeup that had been flawless—if liberally applied—earlier in the day was now smudgy around her bleary green eyes. It would be wrong to let her get behind the wheel. Lacey had enjoyed a couple herself, but clearly not enough to dull this pain. Galen had hit the nail on the head. She was one false move from shattering into a million pieces.
Run away, her mind screamed. For once, she went with impulse over common sense.
"Cat, go tell Marty he can let the guests know why I've left. He's a big, fat, stupid liar, so I'm sure he'll come up with a plausible reason. But tell him if he makes it look like it was my fault, he'll regret it. And make sure he tells them to take their gifts home. Oh, and try to manage my mother, okay? I hate to put you in that spot, but she is going to flip out and I can't handle her brand of crazy right now when I haven't even had a chance to have my own."
"No problem. Leave The Admiral to me."
Cat's nickname for her mother usually brought a smile to Lacey's face, but not today. Today, she winced at the accuracy of the name. Things hadn't gone The Admiral's way, and she wasn't going to be happy with her little sailors. The question was, would she try to be understanding or would she blame it on Lacey—again?
"I owe you huge for this. I just need some time before I can face the fallout." She turned to pin Galen with a frank stare, ready to beg if she needed to. But when she faced him fully for the first time, her heart hitched. His dark hair was tousled, and his chin bore the scruff that was ever-present unless he was prepping for a fight. True to form, he was underdressed in a sports jacket that stretched tight over his wide shoulders and jeans that had seen better days. She'd spent thousands of her waking hours picturing that face, and just as many sleeping hours dreaming of it. A pang of regret for what never was joined the other riot of emotions from this hellacious day, and when she met his brown eyes, the pity there was more than she could bear. The tears flowed freely and she swallowed the last morsel of her pride. "Can you get me the hell out of here, please?"
* * *
For a long moment, Galen held her amber gaze and didn't respond, although his instincts were bleating up a storm. This is a baaaaad idea. His instincts were pretty fucking solid most days and had saved him a lot of pain, both in the ring and out. In fact, hadn't he told Lacey not to marry this loser? He opened his mouth to remind her of that fact again but snapped it shut a second later when his instincts told him a move like that would earn him a high-heeled kick to the family jewels. "And go where?"
"Anywhere, blockhead," Cat cut in with a roll of her eyes. "She has to get out of here. You two go. I'll deal with everything here."
Lacey gave her a weak smile. "Thanks, Cat. I'd be lost without you."
"Tell me about it. And don't worry. If Loverboy tries to throw you under the bus, I'll make sure everyone hears the truth," she assured Lacey, giving her arm a gentle pat.
Galen really didn't want to get involved in this mess. Something had been happening over the past couple years, and he didn't like it. The obligatory annoyance combined with grudging affection that guys typically felt toward the good longtime friends of their sisters had begun to change when it came to Lacey. She was no longer a gangly, awkward teen—and he knew it. Luckily, that was right about the time she'd saddled herself with Marty the dishrag, so it hadn't been an issue. Hell, he'd only come because his sister's latest boy toy had bailed, and she needed a plus one. "Listen, I—"
"Galen. Please. I can't go back in there." Lacey's voice had lost the shrill gloss of panic and now sounded resigned. Beat down.
God, he was a sucker. He closed his eyes for a long moment and nodded. "Okay. I've got my bike, though." He cast a dubious eye at her floor-length gown.
"We'll make it work." With the promise of imminent escape, she sounded stronger already. She jammed her arm through his so their elbows were locked and raised her chin. "Cat, I'll call you later once I'm settled."
"You threw your phone," Galen reminded her.
"Indeed I did." Her chin dipped a little before she rebounded like a champ. "Cat, I will e-mail you later if I can't find a phone."
"Cool. Love you, babe. And I promise, in a few months, after we've exacted our revenge, we're going to look back at this and laugh," Cat said.
Galen frowned and his sister shrugged. Between the two of them, they were screwing this up royally. Maybe he'd think of something good to say on the way out.
He led Lacey toward the main exit, but she tugged him toward the bar in the deserted lounge area. "One second." She yanked her arm from his. "Excuse me, sir?" she called to the balding bartender washing glasses at an industrial-sized sink in the corner. Balancing precariously on the wooden footrest skirting the bar, she reached over the counter and plucked a bottle of champagne nestled in an ice bin. "Put this on my husband's tab, would you? Marty Clemson, the wedding in the Rose Room."
She didn't wait for a response but stalked out the door with the bottle clutched in her hand.
He stared helplessly after her, then looked back to the bartender. "Can you even do that?"
The guy shrugged. "What am I going to do, chase after her? Given the look on her face, I'm going to say that seems like a bad idea."
Galen sighed, reached into his pocket, and pulled out a fifty. "Will that cover it?"
Two seconds later, he exited the building and glanced around. Lacey had stopped at his Harley and set down the champagne. She couldn't ride with that gown on. She'd get them both killed. They were going to have to—
He paused mid-step when Lacey reached behind her neck. What was she going to do, strip?
"Some help here?" she mumbled, grappling with the hooks down her back.
Some help here? Little Lacey Garrity wanted his help taking off her wedding dress. The shy teen his sister had forced to drink four wine coolers before she would go skinny-dipping. And even then, she'd made them all close their eyes until she was in up to her neck. This was officially the weirdest fucking day of his life. "I'm not sure exactly what the plan is, but I can tell you right now, it's ill-advised," he said, ignoring the baser part of him that roared to life at the thought of seeing what was under all that dress.
"Damn it," Lacey muttered, scrabbling at the catches.
He didn't dare smile. She might not be gangly anymore, but she was still a little awkward, in the way that a woman was when she had no true sense of her worth. But that aside, the outer packaging was right and tight. Easy enough to put it out of his mind when she was engaged to another man. Not so easy now that her relationship had disintegrated and she wanted him to help her disrobe.
"I'll help you if you tell me what we're hoping to accomplish. You can't ride on the back of my bike naked. You realize that, right?"
Excerpted from Down for the Count by Christine Bell, Heather Howland, Kerri-Leigh Grady. Copyright © 2012 Christine Bell. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, 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
Bought this because I loved Wife for Hire and this was just as much fun! Full of chuckles and very steamy. Definitely looking forward to more from this author.
I loved this book. I love it so much it will be one of those you reread just for that feeling it gives you. It made me want to rage, and then it had me belly laughing. My hub was totally confused by my outbursts while reading this book. All I have to say is it was definitely a "full switch". I expected this book to be poorly written, but I was very happily WRONG. This book is completely entertaining.
I actually enjoyed this book more than Wife for Hire - probably because Gabe is a really hot bad boy with a sweet heart - this was also steamier so I had to give it an extra points for that ;)
This book will keep you interested from the first page to the last. The characters are very likable and the author will have you rooting for Lacey and Galin the entire time. I loved the 50 Shades and Crossfire trilogies but I liked this book alot because it didnt go crazy with a bunch of sex scenes and the character werent dark with horrible pasts like Christian and Gideon. Highly recommend, very good, easy read.
I bought it today and i've already read it twice. Hoping for a sequel!!!!!
I read this book in 5hrs I loved it!!
You gotta read this one Its a keeper
I was hooked after the first few pages! Great story, romantic and sexy. Loved it!
Was hooked from the 1st page and could not stop reading till the end can't wait to see what the next book bring, maybe continuing there story and bring some more of Cat in it, Cant wait!!!!
This book is a must read. It will keep u wanting more with each page. The romance makes u want to fall in love all over again. Looking forward to more from this author.
Sweet story. Wish it was longer...
Makes me wish i was Lacey!
This was hands down the best book ive read so far! It was so romantic, funny, and Hot i didnt want to put it down! Must read!
I read this book. I know I did, but I don't really remember it! Obviously, it wasn't one of my favorites because I have not even purchased the others in the series. With that being said I read the reviews on another site and remember it fondly, but not enough to write my own review. Read at your own risk...hahaha!!! ENJOY!!!
As with all the books in the Brazen line - this was excellent. If you like the Alpha male and super hot sex - this is for you! I adore this line and every single title is an auto-buy for me!
Settling in life is all Lacey has ever done until the day she caught her newly wedded husband with his pants down. Perhaps what hurt worse more than the infidelity itself was that it was with one of her best friends. Leaving the tragedy of two ex’s behind, Lacey quickly escapes to the honeymoon vacation that would never be in order to lick her wounds in private and gain perspective. Only Lacey didn’t go away on her own. The unexpected turn of events on her wedding day left Lacey with no option but to turn to motorcycle-driving, boxer and childhood crush, Galen Thomas. He was the very last person she wanted to see her at her lowest, but his unaffected attitude towards her helped keep Lacey’s unstable emotions in check. Unfortunately, her thoughts are constantly taken up by Galen’s mere presence and after a drinking game reveals a few intimate truths, Lacey may finally gather the courage to go after what she wants. Attending a wedding, divorce, and almost funeral in the same day wasn’t what Galen expected, but if that means Lacey is better off for it then so be it – now if only he could convince her of that. Galen sees the beauty and sensuality behind the brains and clumsiness even if Lacey doesn’t and is willing to push her to her limits to convince her of it, but the personal cost might be too high. After a long time of thinking she wasn’t interested or that he wasn’t good enough, Galen finally has the chance to show her how good they could be together. The vacation proves that not only are they compatible in the bedroom, but also in their zest for life and trying new things. However, paradise soon becomes a nightmare when Lacey’s mother shows up and delivers a sucker punch straight to Galen’s heart. Emotions run fairly rampant in this opposites attract story. I don’t believe I have ever read a story that immediately made me angry for the heroine within the first few pages. I felt for Lacey, but I couldn’t connect with how she handled the situation and found myself immediately liking the feistier Cat, her other best friend. As the story continues, Lacey has one flinch-worthy experience after another, but with each incident, Lacey slowly begins to come into her own and eventually decides to stop being a doormat for everyone. Of course it helped to have a hot guy there to consistently challenge her and push her limits especially sexually. Although I really enjoyed the fun, romantic, and erotic moments of Lacey and Galen’s growing relationship, I felt the spanking scene was a little out of place. Galen is definitely an alpha male and Lacey is definitely his willing submissive, but their sexual relationship didn’t seem to need that element. Overall, this story has the steam factor, dynamic characters, and storyline to prove it’s attention-grabbing worth. There is a nice fast pace in the beginning, then it’s slowed down with the focus on Lacey and Galen and by the end it picks back up. For me it ended far too early, but that’s just the way a happily-ever-after is supposed to work. I can't wait to see who's next in the Dare Me series.
1 st book from C Bell and I must say it was worth buying. Thecharacters are believable and get right down to business, no beating around the bush!! 300+ pages and I would recommend buying this book.
## Wow. I loved this book. This is my second time reading it, and I liked it even better this time around. Lacey and Galen were so good together. I loved that the author didn't portray Galen as a man-slut like most authors do now days. A sincere thank you for THAT Ms. Bell. Also, it was great to see them having fun, laughing and getting to know each other better. And the sex was exquisite. Galen's dirty talk was beyond sexy. Did I want to clobber him for the way he made Lacey crawl back to him? Oh hell yeah. But he made it worth her effort. I will be reading this book again. AND, I can't wait to read Cat's story. She was fabulous in this book.
Great story line, great writing!! Best friend's hot boxer brother saves her from a loser husband and 2 weeks on the beach is all it will take to change her HEA!!!!!!!!
What a great journey from nest friend's little sister to love. I enjoyed watching Galen bring Lacey out of her shell, to help her find her confidence, and explore her sexual side. Galen is a strong, sexy boxer who has known Lacey most of their lives. He is so great to her and for her. They were just right together. Lacey is a genuine person that you really end up liking. Her best friend Cat is a riot, polar opposite to Lacey, but together are a great combination. I loved how Cat encouraged both Lacey and Calen. A fantastic story of friendship, strength, love, and living with no regrets. I received this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher through Netgalley.
Great read, well put with each of the players and plot. Thanks