Read an Excerpt
Copyright © Angel Payne and Victoria Blue 2017. All Rights Reserved, Totally Entwined Group Limited, T/A Totally Bound Publishing.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot…
I repeated the sentiment beneath my breath while turning in my chair to stare over the San Diego skyline. The sun glinted brightly on the city’s more modern buildings, darkening along the terracotta curves of the older structures, crafted in the style of the classic California missions. Farther in the distance, the light sparkled across the gentle waves on Mission Bay.
Shiny, shiny, shiny. Everything and everybody was so happy. They all kept saying it, too. Happy New Year. Happy New Year. It was almost February 1st, and still everyone was going on and on about the Happy New Year.
Saying it out loud didn’t help a damn thing—nor soften the memories taunting me again. It had been a happy new year—at first. I’d welcomed it in the best of ways—with my best friend, Drake Newland, and the woman of our dreams, wrapped in our arms at an intimate party for three. A night to remember. A woman to never forget. Talia Perizkova, with her huge brown eyes, her dark waterfall of hair and her perfect temptress’ body, had completely captivated Drake and me during one unforgettable night in Vegas—but since then, neither of us could nail her down for an encore. She’d escaped us like a frantic kitten, stopping only long enough to gather traction and run even further. Every time either of us had reached out, she’d had an excuse at the ready. A late-night project at work. A pre-planned event that simply ‘had’ to be attended. Hell, even that she had to wash her damn hair. Fuck. Was that one still around?
Events and projects and dirty hair. All handled—without us.
That bullshit ended now.
I wheeled back around to the desk, picked up my phone and texted Talia with a simple request. We weren’t taking no for an answer and, with Drake’s buy-in, I was running point on her track-down.
Where are you and when can we see you?
Straight to the point. That was my style. The woman should know that by now—as well as my expectation of an immediate answer. After a minute, I raised an impatient eyebrow at the screen, willing her to reply. When the phone went completely dark, I mentally composed a follow-up—not so nice this time.
The device vibrated in my hand. Thank fuck.
Pretty Princess Party Perfection
“What the hell?”
Care to elaborate?
LOL. My niece’s birthday party.
Okay, that makes more sense. When will you be done? We’re coming over.
These things can take a while. Becoming a princess is time-consuming work.
Text us when you get home. No more excuses, Tolly.
Excuses? I would never joke about dress-up and hairdos.
I jerked up my other brow. There were two things I’d learned about Miss Talia Perizkova in the past month. One—she was a master at hiding her true feelings. Two—she had the sweetest pussy I’d ever put my mouth on. “Damn,” I growled, fighting thoughts of those tender pink folds beneath my tongue. Complete waste of time. I was a goner, subconsciously rubbing my semi through my slacks as I stood and crossed the room.
I exited into the condo’s sprawling living room. Technically, the place belonged to our buddy, Killian Stone, but we were both sitting board members at Stone Global Corporation and had been heavily involved in launching a number of their subdivisions lately. Though we always stayed at one of SGC’s rental properties while we were in San Diego, this place was beginning to feel more like home than Chicago—especially since the Talia effect had taken hold. And that was completely fine by me.
Though at the moment, nothing was fine about that girl’s diversionary tactics.
Drake was definitely going to agree.
I went looking for my roommate, starting with his favorite room in the condo, the gym. Condo. Still felt ridiculous, calling this place that, as it was four-and-a-half thousand square feet of modern, top-of-the-line luxury. Killian’s decorating preferences were all over the place, a bit shocking since he usually let Mrs. Stone—a.k.a. the amazing Claire—handle the pretties in his world. Still, as Claire’s pregnancy gained momentum, Kil was treating her more and more like a china doll instead of a capable, healthy woman. On more than one occasion at the office, we’d all borne witness to the daggers she shot him from her frustrated glares—looks that would’ve castrated a weaker man. But Kil had left us all slack-jawed by simply managing his trademark grin then popping a tender kiss to her forehead, making the woman melt into his side. The pair had what most people dreamed of in a relationship and the envy in the room was usually palpable.
Which—surprise, surprise—circled my mind right back to Talia. Seemed like most things did these days. Again, not a news flash. This was getting…disconcerting. And unnerving and amazing. And thrilling—
I couldn’t remember having been so consumed by a woman before. I was pretty damn sure Drake echoed the feeling.
“Did you track her down?” The man’s question shook me out of my mental shadows.
Drake cocked his head while reseating the dumbbells in the rack. “Are we playing ‘I’ve got a secret’ or are you going to tell me where she is?”
Patience was not Drake Newland’s best virtue.
“She’s at her niece’s birthday party. She doesn’t know how long it will go, so I told her to text us when she’s home.”
“Did she say she would?”
I grimaced. “No. She did her usual bit. Some cutesy quip then radio silence.”
Drake wiped a towel down his sweaty face. “Fuck. This.”
He hurled the towel into the hamper. “Well, did she say where the party was?”
“Yes or no, man?”
“Yes. She did say where it was. But—”
“Great.” Drake started toward the door of the gym. “Let’s just go there. Surprise her.” He pulled up short when I didn’t budge. Took in my pristine white shirt and dress slacks before offering, “After I shower and change. Happy?”
I shook my head. “We—uh—may want to sit this one out, bro.”
“No.” He blocked the doorway to the hall. “I’m not waiting anymore. And why are you being so cagey? She needs to realize she can’t keep yanking us around like this.” He spun and marched down the hallway. “I’ll be showered and ready to leave in twenty minutes.”
“Ohhhh kaaaay.” I wanted to protest again, but his retreating back left no option, so I just grinned at my reflection in the long mirrored wall. If this went down the way I predicted, Mr. Marine was about to spend the afternoon getting the finest princess makeover a guy could ask for, complete with sparkly nail polish and a fairy-dusted hairdo. This would definitely be my next Snapchat story.
By the time we headed out in the piece-of-shit rental we were driving around and pulled into the strip mall down the street, my phone was out and set to camera. I waited, poised with the thing, ready to capture his face when the realization fell into place.
Didn’t take long.
“Fletch, what the fuck is this?”