Single mom Lena Oserkowski just wants to relax at the 5-star resort where her brother is getting married. Oh, and figure out how to make one of her businesses successful enough to support her son. Her focus is thrown out of whack when Elliot Debusshere, twin brother of her new sister-in-law, swims to her rescue at the hotel pool.
Elliot is disillusioned with his wealthy, playboy lifestyle and wants nothing more than to bring some meaning and purpose to the charity he runs. When he rescues Lena from a case of heat exhaustion and meets her son Tyler, he has no idea the answer to his problems might have just fallen in his lap. Literally.
With Lena's ideas and Elliot's know-how, they might just be able to make their ventures a success. Except pleasure has a sneaky way of mixing with their business, leaving both dazed and confused. Charming as he is, Elliot isn't father material. And there's no room for a single mom and her child in his life. While the attraction between them isn't easily squashed, there's no telling the lengths his family will go to prevent a relationship.
|Publisher:||Entangled Publishing, LLC|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.47(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Kissing Her Crazy
A Crazy Love Story
By Kira Archer, Erin Molta, Heather Howland
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2015 Kira Archer
All rights reserved.
Elliot aimed his most enticing smile at the bikini-clad brunette who was making her third circuit past his chaise lounge. He was glad his sunglasses covered his eyes so he didn't have to put forth the effort to make the smile genuine. It wasn't that she wasn't completely hot. She was. And usually he'd be more than interested. But lately, he'd gotten a little tired of the bevy of girls only too willing to be seen on the arm of Elliot Debusshere.
That realization surprised him a bit. He'd always enjoyed the perks that came with being the only son of two very successful parents. His sisters had been much more sheltered. Controlled. One had taken to it better than the other. Lilah was, and continued to be, their mother's perfect little angel. Only his twin Cherice had had the courage and drive to get out on her own. Do what she wanted. Be happy. He envied her.
And now, he was sitting poolside at the island resort hotel where Cher would soon marry the blue collar man of her dreams, much to their parents' dismay. Elliot wanted to stand up and cheer every time he thought about it. He'd always admired Cher's independent streak. He'd just never had much desire to emulate it. Until recently.
His life bored him, plain and simple. It was shallow. Empty. Filled with friends who weren't really his friends and women who only wanted him for what he could buy them. His "job" running the family charity was mostly something his parents let him do so he'd have something on his resume. And so far, he'd hardly done anything with it. To be honest, he'd barely done enough with the charity to qualify as work. But for months now, he'd been trying to rectify that situation. His parents, however, were used to how things were run and weren't too enthused about changing things.
He could charm the cash out of the cold-hearted clutches of their friends at the annual fundraiser without breaking a sweat, and they were more than happy for him to keep doing that. But it wasn't enough for him anymore. The money was ferried out to so many different charities he doubted it really made a difference to any of them. And it should. He wanted to up the game. But they'd shot down every idea he'd come up with for redirecting or expanding the charity, dismissing him without even listening.
He took a sip of ice water and frowned. Refreshing, but not nearly strong enough to dull the raw mass of depression that had been eating at his gut since he and his parents had had their last little talk. It had surprised the hell out of him that he actually cared about running the charity. Sure, it had always been a great way to get chicks. Everyone loved a philanthropist, right? But ever since the last charity event, where he'd actually met some of the kids that they donated to, there had been a niggling feeling in the back of his mind that he wanted to do more. He suddenly wanted to make a difference. Perhaps it would make his parents happy if he promised them he'd raise double the money they brought in last year. He needed to prove to them that he was more than just a spoiled playboy, or he'd be stuck in this rut forever and an even worse waste of space than he currently was.
"God, you're a morbid son of a bitch," he muttered to himself, taking another swig of water.
"Hey, there, mind if I sit down?" The brunette from earlier sat down on the chaise next to him, apparently having worked up the nerve to approach.
Elliot plastered his charmer smile on his face, shoving down all the unpleasant emotions roiling through his system. He couldn't run from it forever, but for a few minutes at least, flirting with a beautiful woman might make him forget about his parents, his so-called job, and his boring life.
"Not at all." He sat up and held out his hand. "I'm Elliot Debusshere."
"Stacy Connors," she said, slowly sliding her hand into his so her fingertips lingered along every inch of his hand and palm before coming to a rest.
Nice move. He wondered how long she'd practiced it and then gave himself a mental kick. He didn't even know her. She might be a perfectly genuine person.
"Would you like a drink?" he asked, waving a waiter over.
"That would be great, thanks. It's hot out today." She flipped her thick, chocolate-hued hair over her shoulder, giving him a better view of her body beneath her skimpy lace cover-up.
He didn't miss the quick glance she raked over him, taking in not only the body he made sure looked impressive, but also the expensive watch on his wrist, his designer sunglasses, and the number to the penthouse suite he told the waiter to bill her drink to.
He knew her type. And usually he'd be very interested. But for some reason, he couldn't keep his mind on her or the nonsense coming out of her mouth.
Elliot's gaze wandered over the other guests enjoying the deluxe pool grounds. Water slides flowed from fake mountains, and an aquarium was set into one side of the pool, which gave the guests the illusion of literally swimming with the fishes — and a few sharks, if he wasn't mistaken. There were a lot more kids around than he was used to.
The hotel had other pools he could have chosen. But this one, with its waterfall and palm trees sprinkled liberally around, had felt more tropical, like he was relaxing in some jungle oasis rather than at a five star resort.
The woman beside him asked him something, and he turned to ask her to repeat the question when he caught sight of a total knockout standing ankle deep in the opposite side of the pool. But what had caught his attention wasn't the fact that her modest, one-piece swimsuit clung to her like plum-colored perfection, accenting her blond coloring and showcasing her beauty in a way that the skimpiest bikini never could have. Or even the fanny pack she wore around her waist — Who wore those anymore? It was the look of sheer terror on her face.
Her eyes were wide, staring at a little boy standing in the shallow water near the aquarium.
"Tyler!" she shouted. "Get out of the pool right now!"
Stacy tsked. "Some people. If you can't control your kids, you shouldn't bring them out in public."
Any interest Elliot might have had in her evaporated.
"I'm sorry, but I've got to go. If you'll excuse me," he said. He stood and gave her a sharp nod before heading toward the pool.
The woman had waded a little farther in. Her face was completely bloodless, so pale even her lips had lost their color. Her gaze darted from the child to the surrounding water like they were standing in a river of molten lava instead of a pool not more than three feet deep.
Elliot wasn't sure what he could do to help, but he was going to find out.
Lena paced back and forth near the edge of the hotel pool, her heart pounding in her throat. The pool sported a large ramp that sloped gently into deeper water instead of the typical cement lip and the water lapped gently at her toes. That was as far as she'd go. Under normal circumstances. She and any body of water, no matter how large or small, did not mix. Ever. And if Tyler wouldn't get out, she wasn't sure what she was going to do.
"Tyler Nathaniel, you get out of the pool right now!" she called again.
Tyler, nearly drunk with joy over his first foray into a massive, watery wonderland, pretended not to hear her.
She couldn't really blame him. The pool had been designed as a child's fantasyland come to life. Waterfalls, water spouts, and jets sprouted out in every direction. One wall of the pool even butted up to an aquarium. The wall was thick Plexiglass, enabling the kids to "swim" with the exotic fish.
While Lena knew there was no logical chance of the fish and her child actually touching one another, she'd done her best to steer Tyler clear of that wall. No need to make the whole swimming thing even more dangerous than it already was. Especially for an inexperienced kid like Tyler. Heck, he'd never done more than run through the sprinklers in their backyard before. Even those little plastic baby pools had been too much for her to handle.
But when he'd seen the amazing pool at the hotel where they were staying for her brother Oz's wedding, Tyler had begged her and she'd finally given in. After all, swimming was a totally normal part of life. For most people. And she didn't want to inflict all her fears on her child. But still ... What if she couldn't get him out?
Panic clawed at her throat, and she choked back tears. He was having a good time and theoretically, she knew he was safe. With a life vest and arm floaties, he wasn't likely to drown in the waist-deep water he stood in. Especially with a lifeguard on duty. But it was time to go, he wasn't interested in leaving, and she couldn't go in to get him.
"Tyler!" she called again, trying to keep the fear from her voice. She didn't want to freak anyone out. He ducked under another waterfall, his laughter echoing from behind the water.
"Come on, Tyler, we need to go. You can come back later."
"Ten more minutes!"
"No, Tyler, now!"
He giggled and ran farther off, water spraying around him as he splashed away.
She hated resorting to bribes and usually didn't need to. Tyler was a pretty good kid. But enough was enough. At that moment, she'd promise him anything as long as he got out of the damn pool.
"Tyler, it's time to go get some ice cream! Don't you want to go get a nice, big hot fudge sundae? You can get extra sprinkles."
"No, I wanna swim!" he said, splashing around.
That surprised her. Tyler loved ice cream more than any other food in the world. Okay. Bigger ammo.
"I'll let you stay up past your bedtime tonight."
No response at all.
"You can play the Xbox that's in our room!"
That one made him pause. She didn't usually allow him to play video games. Finding an Xbox in their hotel room had been the highlight of the trip for him until he realized he wouldn't get to play it here, either. She was sure that bribe would work. And it looked like it might until one of the other kids excitedly shrieked. A shark had come up to the glass for a visit, and all the kids were getting as close as they dared. A huge grin broke out on Tyler's face, and he headed straight for the wall.
Terror flooded through Lena. The water was now up to Tyler's waist. And there was a freaking shark ten feet away from him! She didn't care if there was glass between them. She wanted her baby out of that pool, now!
"Tyler!" She knew her panic was showing. She was drawing stares from other parents. One of the lifeguards had taken notice and was assessing the situation, unsure what to do, since no one was actually in danger. Well, maybe she was, from hyperventilating. She couldn't seem to draw a deep breath.
"Tyler, get out right now! I'll take you shopping. You can pick out any toy you want."
Nothing. He didn't even look at her.
"How about we get you your very own Xbox? Do you want to go get an Xbox? You can play it every day!"
His little hand pressed against the glass, and Lena's heart jumped into her throat. Her stomach roiled. She slid a foot farther into the water, her whole body trembling. It was up to her ankle. She hadn't had any part of her body completely submerged since she was two years old and had almost drowned in her grandparents' hot tub. She'd taken off her arm floaties when her mom wasn't watching and had stepped right in. And had immediately sunk. She didn't even remember the exact incident. But every time she got near any body of water, she could feel the pressure of all that liquid weight crushing her, pushing her down to the bottom, just like it had that day. Why did she let her own child traipse right into a watery death trap from which she couldn't extract him? What kind of mother was she? And how the hell was she going to get her son when she could barely force herself to put more than her foot in the water?
There were enough people in the pool ... Maybe she could convince a few to line up so she could walk across their heads. Or have them pass her around like in some concert mosh pit. She'd even ask a nice, strong guy to give her a piggy back ride if it would get her to Tyler without having to go in the water any deeper.
The boy laughed and pounded on the glass. The shark jerked and swished its tail.
"Tyler! Get out right now," she shouted, no longer caring who was watching.
The lifeguard climbed a few steps down from his tower, still confused but obviously wanting to get her and her kid away from the pool before she had a full-on panic attack. He'd better hurry.
Before he could get all the way off his tower, a leanly muscled man with artfully tousled hair and a smile on his face that would charm a used car salesman, came up to him. He clapped the lifeguard on the back and said something to him that made the guard nod and climb back up his tower.
No, no, no! He needs to rescue Tyler! Lena slid her other foot into the pool, closing her eyes briefly against the wave of terror that strangled her. She waded in up to her shins, biting her lip to keep back the whimpering scream that crawled up her throat. Black spots flickered at her vision, and the world tilted slightly, but she fought it back, sucking in one breath after another until the world righted itself. She needed to get to her son.
The man who'd spoken to the lifeguard yanked his shirt over his head and kicked off his flip-flops. He waded into the pool, aimed a megawatt smile at her, and held up a hand in a slight wave. Her stomach unclenched a fraction. He looked a bit familiar. Actually, he reminded her of Cher, her soon-to-be sister-in-law. They had the same hair color, similar features. But she hadn't met him before. Still, something about him calmed her a bit. He waded across the pool toward Tyler, and Lena almost collapsed, her head swimming with unreleased adrenaline and overwhelming relief.
She backed out of the water, her body relaxing a few more degrees now that it was no longer imminently in danger from drowning. And yes, she knew that was an exaggeration, but at that moment she didn't care.
The man made it to Tyler. He leaned down to talk to him. Tyler immediately grabbed his hand and dragged him closer to the glass. Lena closed her eyes and groaned. She'd given Tyler the stranger-danger talk a million times and still he was way too friendly with strangers. Especially men. And no, he probably wasn't in any danger from the kind, charismatic man who was crouched in the water pointing at fish with him, but still. You never knew. He should have at least looked back to her for permission to speak to him.
They talked a little more, and then Tyler jumped up and down, a huge grin on his face. He held his arms up to the man who swung Tyler up on his shoulders and started walking toward her. Tyler looked so natural sitting up on the man's shoulders, giggling and chatting away. She'd have to take the man out to dinner or something to thank him for rescuing her baby.
The world spun around her again, and she wasn't sure if it was from sheer and utter relief that Tyler was safely out of the water, the insanely hot sun she'd been standing in for the better part of the afternoon, the fact that she'd been up to her shins in water for the first time in twenty-four years, or the realization that the tempting man with the amazing smile had an incredible body to match. Her panic had eclipsed anything else, including the toned muscles and broad shoulders of her new hero. But with her son safely out of harm's way, it was hard not to notice. The man had the body of a freaking god, all tanned and hard, streams of water running down his chest and glistening in the sun.
The stranger took Tyler down from his shoulders, and his smile warmed the residual ice from her blood that Tyler's stunt and her own little foray into the pool had put there. Her son's hand slipped into hers. She looked up at the man to say thank you.
The last thing she saw was the smile dropping off his face before everything went black.CHAPTER 2
Elliot carried the woozy woman into his room, her little boy following anxiously behind.
"Is Mommy going to be okay?"
Elliot glanced down, feeling like he had in grade school whenever the teacher had called on him to answer a question he couldn't answer — squirming with anxiety and no clue what to say. He sure as hell hoped the woman was okay because he had no idea what to do with the kid.
"No worries, little man. She'll be fine. I promise."
He laid her down on the bed, making sure her head was cradled comfortably on the pillows. She looked up at him, squinting like she couldn't quite make him out. Then she sighed and closed her eyes. Within seconds, a faint snore emanated from her perfect heart-shaped mouth. His eyebrows rose, and he glanced back at the boy who giggled.
Elliot bit back a laugh, held his finger up to his lips, and mock whispered, "Let's be quiet so she can sleep."
Excerpted from Kissing Her Crazy by Kira Archer, Erin Molta, Heather Howland. Copyright © 2015 Kira Archer. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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