In this erotically charged novella by the New York Times bestselling author of Call on Me, Nothing Between Us, and Not Until You two strangers take an asphalt-burning ride into the wildest night of their lives…
Natalie Bourne thinks she has the perfect night planned for her twenty-first birthday. But when her car breaks down and her boyfriend bails on her, she’s left stranded in an auto shop dealing with a way too cocky, way too hot mechanic, who seems to be intent on pushing every button she has.
Monroe Hawkins knows he shouldn’t be messing with a girl from the uppity private college. Especially when he can tell she sees him as the help. But he’s having trouble resisting the redhead with the smart mouth and the killer legs. So when Natalie’s night goes from bad to worse, there’s no way he’s letting her spend her birthday alone. He makes her a deal—he’ll take her home but not until the sun comes up.
Ten hours, one motorcycle, and the city of Austin at their fingertips…things are about to take a major detour. And soon, there may be no U-turn in sight.
Includes a preview of Roni Loren’s Call on Me
Praise for Roni Loren and her novels
“Hot and romantic, with an edge of suspense.”—Shayla Black, New York Times bestselling author
“Revved up and red-hot sexy.”—Lorelei James, New York Times bestselling author
“Sure to have readers begging for more!”—Jo Davis, national bestselling author
Roni Loren is the New York Times bestselling author of the Loving on the Edge novels which include Nothing Between Us, Not Until You, Need You Tonight, Fall into You, Melt into You, and Crash into You. She lives in Dallas with her husband and son. If she’s not working on her latest sexy story, you can find her reading, watching reality television, or indulging in her unhealthy addiction to rockstars, er, rock concerts—yeah, that’s it.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Sold by:||Penguin Group|
|File size:||540 KB|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday, dear . . .
I groan and lean back against the guardrail, shielding my eyes from the piercing sunlight. How exactly should I finish that?
Girl who currently smells like sweat and roadkill?
Girl about to go broke paying for this mess?
Girl whose boyfriend will not answer his goddamned phone?
My fingers move over the screen as I text Caleb again. Where r u???
I stare at my phone, willing a response out of it, but the screen goes black before there’s any answering ding. Caleb had warned me that he was going to be cutting it close for our date tonight. And I know his internship at the local campaign office sometimes runs late when they’re prepping for a rally, but he should be out by now.
My fingers move over the screen again. R U secretly Superman in ur off hours? Come on, u can tell me. If ur saving the world, I’ll understand.
Of course, there’s still no response. And now my neck is prickling with not just sweat but anxiety. What if something happened to him? What if he was in an accident? What if—?
I stop myself before the thoughts spiral, closing my eyes and taking a deep breath. Cool it, Nat. But that little exercise only gets me a lungful of the dead skunk that’s roasting in the heat a few yards away from me on the side of the highway. Blech. I press my fingers over my mouth, fighting a wave of nausea.
I check the clock on my phone for what seems like the hundredth time. The roadside-assistance lady said they would contact a local garage and get me a tow right away. But it’s been over an hour, and the only cars that have passed by have either ignored me or sent catcalls flying my way. Because, of course, my piece-of-crap car had to break down when I’m all dressed up in a low-cut dress and heels for my birthday dinner. Yay for timing.
One guy had at least offered to help and had seemed nice enough, but I’ve seen how those horror movies end. Girl on the side of the road accepts help from a seemingly harmless stranger, only to have her organs carved out later that night. No, thanks.
A grinding of tires on gravel draws my attention upward. A black tow truck rolls past me on the road and pulls to the side, sending a cloud of dust in its wake. I keep my phone clutched in my hand, quickly check the can of Mace in my purse, and then push off the guardrail. The side of the truck says Billy’s Custom Cycles and Auto Repair. There’s a tattoo-style logo of a motorcycle on fire, and I know that it’s definitely not the name of the repair shop the roadside assistance service gave me. It had been some big chain—AutoPlus or something like that. A little shimmer of nerves goes through me and I stop where I am, my heels sinking into the gravel.
The front door of the tow truck opens and a tattooed arm appears before anything else. For some reason, my eyes lock onto pieces of the man instead of the whole—like I can’t handle the entire view quite yet, only snapshots. That muscular arm as the driver slides out of the truck. The worn black motorcycle boots that hit the ground. I force myself to look up, tracking along the faded jeans and fitted black T-shirt, until I collide with a dark blue gaze.
“Looks like you need a ride.”
The deep voice startles me for a second and snaps me back into the moment like a slingshot. Ping! Pay attention, Nat. Now is not the time to let my guard down. “No, thank you, I don’t. I already have another shop on the way.”
His gaze tracks over my dusty dress, slow and lazy-like, before he lifts a dark brow. “How long have you been waiting? It’s pretty hot out here.”
The once-over makes me more than a little self-conscious. He can’t be all that much older than me, early twenties for sure, but something about him is intimidating as hell. “I don’t know. Not long. I’m sure they’ll be here any second.”
He crosses his arms over his chest and eyes my car, which has chosen this moment to start smoking from under the hood—as if it senses help in its midst and is crying out for it. “What shop is coming?”
I brush at the skirt of my dress, trying to give my nervous hands something to do. I don’t want to look worried or scared or show him that I’m melting in this brutal Texas heat. “AutoPlus, AutoMart . . .”
He scowls. “Autoland.”
“You might as well set up a tent then. They take forever to get to calls, and they’ll charge you twice as much as we would. Plus, they close at six. They’re just going to tow you in and then lock up for the night.”
“Says the guy who wants to make a buck on a girl stranded on the side of the road.”
The corner of his mouth lifts. “Hey, princess, I’m just trying to be a nice guy and get you to your”—he looks me up and down again—“sorority party on time. I get paid the same either way.”
Princess? Sorority party? My eyes narrow and I give him my own head-to-toe look, taking in the messy dark hair, the tattoos, the heavy boots, the finely shaped . . . I snatch the thought back before I can go there. “Look, Son of Anarchy, I appreciate the nice guy offer, but how do I even know you’re legit?”
He snorts. “You think I drive a tow truck around for fun? Call the number on the side of the truck if you want. But otherwise, I’ve got better stuff to do than stand here in the heat, smelling roadkill. Two minutes, princess. I’ll be in the truck. You want a tow and a ride? You get in. If not, good luck with Autoland.”
He turns to go, and I feel a little dart of panic at being left alone again—even if he’s not exactly the company I want. This isn’t the best part of Austin, and the sun is on its way down. “Wait, what’s your name? You know, so I can verify.”
He doesn’t turn around but calls back, “Monroe.”
I dial the number to the shop and, of course, they verify that Monroe works for them and is driving the truck today. The guy on the phone sounds amused by my questions. And his reaction makes me realize that I’m being paranoid, that my nerves are officially frayed, and it’s making me act like a bitch. I thank the guy on the phone, hang up, and take a steadying breath. This is going to be okay. Not everyone is out to take advantage. Some people actually do things to be helpful without ulterior motives.
My mother would laugh her ass off at that logic. Everybody’s got an agenda, Nattie.
I straighten the neckline of my dress, hike my purse up my shoulder, and walk over to the tow truck with as much dignity as I can muster for a sweaty girl in a dusty dress. Monroe hasn’t climbed back into the cab, but is instead leaning against the front bumper and watching the cars zoom by on the overpass up ahead. He doesn’t look my way. “Verified that I’m not a serial killer?”
“Verified that you work for Billy’s. The serial-killer part is yet to be determined.”
He smiles out at the horizon. “Want to check the backseat for weapons or body parts?”
“I have a feeling you’d be too sneaky to leave such obvious evidence lying around. And if you aren’t that clever, I’m going to be seriously disappointed in myself if I fall victim to a dumb serial killer.”
He chuckles and it changes his whole face, warming it. When he turns his head, his blue eyes meet mine and my stomach tightens a little. I do my best not to let my reaction show on my face. Last thing I need is him thinking that I’m interested in him. Because, of course, I’m not. I’m totally not. If there’s an opposite of my type, it’s this guy. And plus, I have Caleb. Cute, smart, on-his-way-to-big-things Caleb.
Caleb, who won’t answer his goddamned phone.
Monroe pushes himself off the bumper. “I’m not sure if that’s a compliment or an insult, princess, but I’ll take it you’re going to ride with me.”
“Yes. But only because I can’t handle the dead-skunk smell for another minute.”
“I’m preferable to skunk guts? The flattery just rolls off you, doesn’t it?”
The jab lands squarely. I press my fingers to the space between my eyes and rub. “Sorry. I’m really not trying to be a bitch.”
“It just comes natural, then?”
My eyes snap open and I’m ready to hurl an insult back, but I find him wearing a playful grin and clamp my lips shut.
He angles a thumb toward the truck. “Get in . . .”
“Natalie,” I supply.
“Natalie. And kick the A/C on. Getting your car hooked up is gonna take a few minutes. You may want to call someone for a ride, too, because there’s no guarantee we can get this fixed tonight. I’m assuming you have plans.”
I glance down at my outfit, suddenly self-conscious about the sexy getup. It’s not my typical style, but tonight was supposed to be special, and I had wanted to knock Caleb on his butt. He’s been so wrapped up in work and school lately that I’ve felt a little like furniture. So I borrowed my roommate’s dress with its plunging neckline and treated myself to the new risqué lingerie I’m wearing beneath. I’m not exactly Ms. Vixen normally, so Caleb would’ve never seen it coming. Now it’s all a waste.
“I have a date with my boyfriend,” I say to Monroe.
“Right. So, he can pick you up?”
“He’s not answering his phone. But I’m sure I’ll get him soon.”
Monroe makes some noncommittal noise and nods. “I’m going to get to work. You go and cool off. There’s bottled water in the ice chest in the backseat.”
Before getting in the truck, I find myself watching Monroe walk back toward my car. He’s easily over six feet tall but doesn’t move in that awkward, hunched way that most of the taller guys on campus move. There’s an easy confidence to him, like he’s fully grown into his body and taken ownership—a man’s walk. My eyes follow him as he pops the hood of my car and leans over. The hem of his shirt lifts as he bends, exposing a strip of tanned, muscular lower back. I find myself wondering what it would feel like beneath my fingers and if he has any more ink hidden under there . . . I force my eyes away.
What the hell is wrong with me? I don’t have random illicit thoughts about complete strangers. Especially not strangers who have tattoos and call me princess.
I shake my head and pull open the door on the passenger side. Maybe I have heatstroke or something.
I lay my head back against the seat and close my eyes. But all I can see is the image of my new mechanic pulling his shirt all the way off, sweat dripping off him, me putting my hands . . .
I sit straight up.
Yep, definitely heatstroke. Has to be.
An hour later, I’m ready to climb the walls of the body shop as I wait for the verdict on my car. Monroe disappeared when we got here, and I’ve been stuck listening to the same ten eighties songs over and over again with the occasional Britney song thrown in for variety. I imagine it’s the soundtrack in hell.
When I realize I’m peeling the protective cover off my phone with my fidgeting fingers, I set it down on the ugly orange chair next to me and peer at the clock above the service desk again. Almost seven.
The reservation at Madrid is for eight. I’ve wanted to try that restaurant for a long time, and Caleb had said he’d treat me for my birthday. So I’d booked a table two months ahead and had been counting down the days. The fact that Caleb, Mr. Penny Pincher (despite having a fat trust fund), is willing to shell out for an expensive meal has had me wondering if he’s finally going to ask me to move in with him. It feels like the right time since we’ve been seeing each other for almost a year and we’ll both be graduating soon. Plus, it’ll save me from having to move home for the summer or find another place since my roommate’s sister is going to be staying with her over the break.
If nothing else, Caleb is imminently practical, so moving in makes sense. But now I have no idea where he is, and even if he does get here soon, the plans are probably off anyway because I can’t walk into a fancy restaurant smelling like roadkill and auto repair shop—which is turning out to be some weird combination of stale coffee, those scented pine trees that hang from rearview mirrors, and motor oil. Or is it axle grease? I’m not sure what vehicular thing actually produces such a smell, but I know I’ll forever think of the scent as eau de broken car.
I bounce my knee and fight the urge to gnaw on a fingernail. Lyle, the guy in charge of the desk, had closed up about twenty minutes ago. But when I’d basically begged that they try to get my car fixed tonight, he said Monroe was going to work on it a little longer. But Lyle hadn’t stuck around to wait with me. He’d pulled the chain on the flashing Open light and had waved good-bye. So now it’s just me and that endless loop of songs. Hit me, Britney, one more time.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Love the writing style. Keeps you engaged and going. It was a very short book, which is why I gave it 4 stars instead of 5. I wanted there to be more. Other than that, it had lots of emotion and chemistry. Love it!
I wish this book was longer cause it was so good.
Good characters. Writing style a little stiff at times but quick read and fun.
Highly recommend this book! It was fun, quick witted, sexy, all real.
This book is about 70 pages, but packed full of one liners that make you lol. I wish the book was longer
I loved this book!
Sexy Hero, Spunky Heroine, and Motorcycles Nobody wants to smell like sweat and roadkill on their 21st birthday, but that's where Natalie starts. This is a sexy little novella featuring a hot, tattooed, motorcycle-riding hero, a spunky young woman who is NOT a princess nor a pushover, and a douchey, soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend. Light and funny, the sexual tension is great, and the Happily For Now is everything we could wish for.
Short. A total of 95 pages but really entertaining light summer read
Readers looking for a little afternoon delight will find fun and flirtiness when two people push past their prejudices to find HEA in this perfectly-paced romance. With its two likable main characters and witty banter this novella shows why Ms. Loren has become a favorite of mine and will leave readers wanting more. From her Loving On the Edge series to this work readers are taken on an entertaining journey that fully immerses us in their sensual world and leaves us rooting for their HEA. Natalie has always tried to be the good girl, distancing herself from her trailer park beginnings, in order to make a better future for herself than that of her mother. She's heading in the right direction though with a clean-cut boyfriend moving up the social ladder and her burgeoning writing career, but something's missing. On the night of her 21st birthday she discovers just what that is after her car breaks down on the side of the road and her boyfriend shows his true colors. It's time to stop being what she isn't, her perfect facade's done nothing but gotten her cheated on. It's time to embrace her dreams and experience true freedom with the sexy motorcycle rider with a heart of gold. Natalie's prim and proper side was just waiting to explode and once it did it was refreshing and had me squealing with joy. She was a cautious girl early on but her snarky and tell it like it is side soon came through to make her and Monroe's unexpected connection highly entertaining. From the moment readers see Monroe you know he's going to give you a good time. He's carefree, likes to have fun, and isn't looking for a long-term relationship. Being around Natalie though brings out a different side. He may not want to be her white knight but he ends up giving her the best birthday ever by showing her her true worth. He's a tattooed God who may appear a bit rough around the edges but he's an honorable man with a sweet soul and I quickly fell for him. His interactions with Natalie were flirty, playful, and teeming with sexual tension and it led to a crackling connection. Just when their HEA appears in reach his plans to see the east coast put a damper on things as does her fears over taking a leap of faith. Will his promise of happiness and freedom be enough to tempt her to join him for the ride of her life or will she go back to being cool, calm, and collected? This was a quick read with the perfect balance of laughter and romance. The connection between Natalie and Monroe might've been quick but it felt more real than what she had with Caleb. Though she gave Caleb a piece of her mind over his cheating, I still felt that things between them were left undone. I also would've liked to see more of Natalie's past as it greatly affected her relationships now. Ultimately though this was another well-crafted story from Ms. Loren with two immensely likable characters and their sexy and sassy road to romance and I recommend it to readers looking for a little afternoon delight.
In Nice Girls Don't Ride by Roni Loren, Natalie Bourne has had the day from hell. Usually your twenty-first birthday is a memorable day full of friends and fun. But Natalie has spent it thus far with her car breaking down on the side of the highway next to odorous roadkill, in the Texas heat, and her fancy dinner date with her boyfriend looks like it won't be happening. Not that she can seem to get in touch with him anyway. So when a stunningly hot mechanic stops to offer Natalie assistance, her first reaction is to turn him away. But Monroe proves to be her hero, in more ways than one. "Well, you, Monroe Hawkins, are a sweet guy." "Oh, God, please don't let that rumor get out," he says with mock horror. "And maybe this is all still a massive ploy to get you to sleep with me." I laugh. "Sexual favors in exchange for car repairs?" "I'm totally not above that kind of bartering system." Monroe Hawkins knew when he saw gorgeous Natalie on the side of the road, they were probably from different worlds. But that didn't stop him from wanting to help her out. Especially when he finds out her jerk of a boyfriend is leaving her high and dry on her birthday. What begins as a nighttime ride on his motorcycle to show Natalie she can still enjoy her birthday leaves Monroe willing to do anything to make her his own. Nice Girls Don't Ride was an intense, sexy, fun novella by the one and only Roni Loren. There was so much I enjoyed about Natalie and Monroe that it's hard to know where to begin. I can always count on Roni Loren for characters that are well defined and for an interesting, solid plot. Even in this short story, both of those were true. I've also come to expect crazy heat between the protagonists in her books. Let me tell you, Monroe and Natalie had exactly that. I loved that from the moment they first saw each other they couldn't believe how strong their attraction was. There was just no getting around it, and it was what drove the storyline in such an entertaining direction. And what is it about a bad boy with tattoos, who drives a motorcycle, but who has a good heart underneath all the bravado? Monroe indeed turned out to be the knight in shining armor he and Natalie joked about. (It certainly wasn't her boyfriend Caleb...) I loved that Monroe was thoughtful enough to help Natalie turn what had been a horrible day -- her birthday, no less -- into one of the most memorable nights of her life. They had a sweet and fun vibe between them that was a joy to read about. My only complaint? I didn't want it to end! Seriously...I'd love to see a follow up story on what happens to them in the future. Love a hot & steamy story about a bad boy who saves a good girl? Look no further than Nice Girls Don't Ride.
Ever want to be someone other than yourself, escape your boring planned life, then this book is for you? Sometimes the best things come along and throw us in a different direction, the one we needed to live! This a very short book, but I loved the fast paced story line and the fact our life can change for the better in one night!