NEVER SAY NEVER
Sadie Gold is ready to take her career to the next level with the role of a lifetime. Finally, she can shake her reputation as a pretty face with more wealth and connections than talent. But Sadie is not prepared for the wild turn her own life is about to take. The man in charge of training Sadie for her most demanding role yet is none other than her first real boyfriend—the one who took her heart and ran away.
WHEN IT COMES TO LOVE
Bo Ibarra is as good-looking and irresistible as ever. Maybe even more so, now that everything once worked against them—Sadie’s pampered and privileged upbringing and Bo’s childhood in a family struggling to make ends meet—is in the past. But the future is still unwritten…and getting there, together, means coming clean about painful secrets and slashing through nasty tabloid rumors while trying to control the attraction that crackles between them. Maybe it’s finally time for them to walk off into the sunset and into a true and lasting love?
The Sometimes in Love series is:
“Playful, passionate, and positively unputdownable!”
—New York Times bestselling author Christina Lauren
“Witty, sexy...Melonie Johnson is an addictive new voice in contemporary romance.” —New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Julie Ann Walker
About the Author
A Star Wars junkie and Shakespeare groupie who quotes both Yoda and the Bard with equal aplomb, award-winning author Melonie Johnson—aka #thewritinglush—is a two-time RWA Golden Heart® finalist who loves dark coffee, cheap wine, and expensive beer. And margaritas. And mimosas. And mules. Basically any cocktail that starts with the letter m. She met her future husband in that most romantic of places—the mall—when they were teenagers working in stores across the hall from each other. They went on to live happily ever after in the suburbs of Chicago with two redhead daughters, a dog that’s more like a small horse, and a trio of hermit crabs. After earning her Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude from Loyola University Chicago, Melonie taught high school English and Theatre in the northern Chicago suburbs for several years. Now she writes smart and funny contemporary romance (including the Sometimes In Love series) and moonlights as an audiobook narrator under the pseudonym Evelyn Eibhlin.
Read an Excerpt
SPRINKLES. SADIE GOLDOVITZ braced her feet on the mat, bent her knees slightly and twisted sideways, pulling her elbow back. No, Glazed. She rotated, hips twisting as her arm shot forward, fist flying. Her cross punch landed with a solid thwack, knocking the sparring bag sideways.
"Nice one," her trainer, Jim, grunted from his position behind the bag.
Sadie nodded. She knew better than to waste air replying.
Sure enough, a beat later Jim steadied the bag and barked, "Again."
Her body responded instantly to the command, dropping back into fighting stance, legs braced but not locked, core tight. Her left fist slammed into the bag in a quick jab, followed by another cross with her right. Jab, cross. Jab, jab, cross. Her thighs burned. Her hands, curled inside her boxing gloves, were an aching, sweaty mess. But she continued the punching pattern. Jab, cross. Jab, jab, cross.
A rebellious little blond curl escaped her ponytail and proceeded to flop around face, but Sadie ignored it, focusing on the rhythm of her movements. Jab, cross. Jab, jab, cross. She glared at the bag, returning to her happy place. Glazed *with* sprinkles.
The asshole curl was now stuck in her eyelashes, but she didn't have the extra energy or breath to blow it away, so she kept going, inhaling and exhaling with each blast of her fist. The round had to be over soon. Unless Jim had decided to screw with her and extend the drill time. She wouldn't check, though. Last time she'd glanced at the clock, she'd earned an extra burpee for each second she'd had left.
Sadie hated burpees.
Jim knew this, of course.
She kept going. Another jab and cross. Two more jabs followed by a cross. She pictured the glass case of the donut shop, the gleaming rows of unholy bliss awaiting her perusal. She would take her time, absorbing the heavenly smells and carefully considering all her options before making her selection.
Her Friday donut was the proverbial carrot on the end of the stick. A reward for enduring another week of hell training for the lead role in a new action movie. Sadie had spent the summer honing her body into a fighting machine, preparing to step in to the ass-kicking boots of Jamie, the dynamic heroine of Fair is Fair.
For inspiration to stick to her brutal exercise regimen, she'd taped a poster of Linda Hamilton in her Terminator 2 glory days to her bathroom mirror, admiring Sarah Connor's guns every morning as she brushed her teeth. For motivation to stay on her strict diet plan, Sadie had started her Friday donut ritual. Knowing she could pick whatever she wanted from that glass case of bliss, even if it was just once a week, gave her enough willpower to see her through each day.
Plus, there was no limit on how much she thought about that one donut. Fantasies were calorie-free and Sadie indulged often. Maybe she'd try something totally different today. Something extra sinful. With frosting. Loads of it. Her stomach rumbled with anticipation as she twisted her middle, winding up for another punch combo.
"Gold!" Jim yelled.
She faltered mid-swing, her fist grazing the bag. "What?" she snapped.
"Oh." She relaxed. "Thank God."
"Thank me." Jim chuckled and helped her remove her gloves. "I called your name at least three times. You were in the zone."
"Yeah, the donut zone." Hands finally free, Sadie flexed her fingers and shoved the annoying curl out of her face. Too long to leave down, but too short for a decent ponytail, the best she could manage with her hair looked more like a mushroom about to explode from the top of her head.
"What's this about donuts?" Jim asked, frowning.
"It's Friday." Sadie grabbed her water bottle and chugged.
"And?" he grunted, hands on hips.
"And, I made it all the way through this week's training."
"What do you want, a sticker?" He raised an eyebrow.
"No. I want a donut." Sadie pointed her water bottle at her trainer and squeezed.
"Hey!" Jim sputtered, blocking the spray of water. "You're going to mess up my 'do."
"Dude, nothing could mess that up." Sadie rolled her eyes at him. Jim was very protective of his hair. "And one donut a week is not going to mess up my training."
"Only one?" He raised both eyebrows this time.
"Only one." She held up her hand, palm out. "I promise." She dropped her hand and poked at her bare sweaty stomach. "Would these abs lie to you?"
"They better not." Jim smirked. "Or I'll add another hundred lemon squeezers to your sets next week."
Sadie grimaced. "Noted."
"I don't want to see all my hard work go to ..." he paused, eyeing her torso, "... waste."
"Your hard work!" She moved to punch him.
He turned, absorbing her swing with the meat of his shoulder. "Not bad. Your right hook is getting pretty boss."
"Thanks." The agony of the last sixty minutes faded at her trainer's words. Jim didn't dole out compliments often.
"When do you finally get to start kicking ass for real?" he asked, tossing her a towel.
"Filming starts Monday." She wiped the sweat from her forehead.
"Hell, no." Sadie tucked the towel around her neck. "I've been waiting for a part like this since I started acting." She took another swig of water. Becoming Jamie was her chance to prove to the world she was more than the spoiled little rich girl she'd been playing on a soap opera for the last several years. Prove she was more than the spoiled little rich girl the tabloids continued to describe her as. She was tired of the catty accusations, the assumption that because she came from a powerful, wealthy family, she had more connections than talent.
Sadie swallowed past the resentment burning in her throat. "This movie could make or break me," she admitted. "I'm just glad to finally get started, you know?"
"Oh, yeah." Jim nodded. "I've had matches like that. Big ones where it felt like my career was hinging on the outcome. Spend all that time training, when what I really wanna do is just get in the ring already." Her trainer crossed his arms over his massive chest. "But that's how it works. You gotta put in the time first. You want it, you gotta earn it." Jim narrowed his eyes, giving her a once-over. It was a fighter's look, sizing her up. "You think you've earned it?"
Sadie met his gaze head-on, mimicking his serious tone. "I've definitely earned that donut." She bent her arms and flexed.
"Whoa, put those guns away, girl." Jim held up his hands in mock surrender.
Laughing, Sadie flexed some more. For the first time in her life, she had defined, visible muscles and couldn't resist the urge to show off a little. She'd never worked harder in her life than she had the past few months, preparing for this role.
As if reading her thoughts, Jim added, "Seriously, Gold, you've been working your ass off. I'm proud of you."
"You are?" Sadie's cheeks flushed.
"I said so, didn't I?" He grinned at her, grabbing the towel off her neck and snapping it. "Now get outta my gym. Go get your one donut."
* * *
Half an hour later, Sadie tucked a damp curl behind her ear as she examined the day's selections in the bakery case. She'd showered and traded her tight sweaty workout clothes for her favorite pair of jeans and a loose, comfy T-shirt, but hadn't taken the time to blow-dry her hair. Every minute spent getting ready was another between her and her donut.
One of the few benefits of having workouts that started at the unholy hour of five in the morning was that she was done by six. Which meant, if she showered fast, changed faster, and speed-walked, she arrived at Stan's in time for when they opened the doors at six thirty. Often, she was the first one there, giving her first pick of the freshly stocked case. Even better, she could take her time deciding, since the morning rush, which usually kicked off around seven, hadn't gotten underway yet.
Glazed, sprinkled, glazed with sprinkles. Chocolate, double chocolate, chocolate cake. Coconut cake. Sadie bobbed up and down, gaze roaming hungrily over the mounds of carbs, glistening with sin. Peanut butter, peanut butter banana. Strawberry, blueberry, raspberry. Lemon curd. Pistachio. Maple. She licked her lips, tasting the name of each flavor.
Her mouth was watering, and she hadn't even gotten to the hand pies or fritters yet. Sadie bent over, hands braced on her thighs as she stared into the case. She was still engrossed in the bounty on display when a hard smack to her backside made her jump in surprise.
"What the hell?" Sadie swung around, fist clenched.
"I thought that might get your attention," a husky, sultry voice teased.
"Ana!" Sadie relaxed at the sight of her best friend, green eyes twinkling, full red lips curving in a mischievous smile.
"In the flesh." Ana tossed her mane of thick waves, black as a raven's wing, over her shoulder.
"I wasn't expecting you." Sadie reached out to give her best friend a hug. "You're lucky I didn't punch you in the face for that ass grab. I'm told my right hook is getting pretty boss."
"I bet." Ana returned the hug. "But since your face is currently buried in my boobs, let's call it even."
Sadie snorted and stepped back. Where she was petite and barely topped five feet, Ana was tall and generously proportioned. Which yes, put Sadie at about breast height. She smiled up at her best friend. "I thought you couldn't make it today."
"I decided I couldn't pass up our new Friday tradition." Ana glanced at the glass case. "Have you ordered yet?"
Sadie turned back to the selection of donuts. "I can't make up my mind." She sighed. "I'm thinking I need frosting today. But I can't decide which I want more, maple or chocolate."
"Get them both."
"Oh no, I can have only one."
"Or what? The calorie gods will curse you?"
"No, but my trainer will. He threatened me with extra lemon squeezers."
Ana curled her lips in revulsion. "I don't know what those are, but I do know the only lemon I want squeezed is the one dribbled over a nicely grilled bit of barramundi or going into a Lemon Drop martini."
"Will you split with me? We can have half of each."
"Ugh, the things I do in the name of friendship." Ana sighed dramatically, impressive cleavage heaving. "If you insist. Get the donuts. I'll buy the coffee."
After ordering, they slid down to the other end of the counter. The clerk handed Sadie a bag, and she pulled out both donuts and set them on a napkin. She sliced each one down the middle, then rearranged the pieces so half of both was on each napkin. She pushed one of the napkins toward Ana.
"I'm going to take mine to go. I can't stay long," Ana admitted. "I have a party for twenty-five mermaids to prepare for."
"What time does the party start?" Sadie asked, putting Ana's portion back in the bag.
"Not 'til eleven." Ana poured a measure of cream into her coffee. "But the mother of the birthday mermaid wants me there early."
"If she had her way, since last night."
Sadie laughed. "One of those types, huh?" Ana ran a catering company that specialized in uniquely themed upscale parties, and with every mom on the North Shore looking to outdo the other, her services were in high demand.
"You have no idea." Ana stirred her coffee. "It's bad enough I let the woman bulldoze me into agreeing to be there by seven."
"It's almost seven now."
"Which is why I can't stay long." She offered Sadie the carafe of cream.
Sadie shook her head. "No dairy."
"You can do donuts but no dairy?" Ana's lips twitched.
"That part isn't so bad. It's the protein bars that are the worst." Sadie shuddered.
"Not your favorite?" Ana asked, smirking.
"They taste like a dead banana." Sadie made a face. "No, if a banana were murdered, and someone made a chalk outline of the crime scene, that's what they taste like."
Ana let out a snort of laughter. "And you eat this atrocity? On purpose?"
"Three times a day."
"I don't think I could ever subject myself to such torture." Ana raised an eyebrow. "Are you sure you're not some kind of masochist?"
"Ha. The workouts make me wonder sometimes." Sadie fiddled with her two donut halves. "By the way, thanks for saving me from extra torture by avoiding temptation this morning."
"Happy to help." Ana beamed at her. "I've missed you. It's been nice having you back in Chicago. Monday night margaritas, Friday morning donuts, Sunday bike rides." She snapped the lid back on her coffee cup. "I know once filming starts, I won't see you as much."
"I'm still going to be around, but yeah, it's going to get rough soon."
Ana sipped her coffee. "Will you be able to ride this weekend?" Sadie nodded. While her best friend despised most types of exercise, Ana loved cycling, was almost religious about it. For Ana, Sunday rides were like church. "This Sunday should be fine. After that, I don't know." Sadie took a sip of her own coffee. She'd gotten used to drinking it black, but she'd never love it. When this movie shoot was over, she was going to have all the lattes. "I'll have a better idea of my schedule after today."
"Ooh, the table read is this afternoon, right?"
"Yep." Sadie grabbed another bag and stuffed her donut halves inside.
"Wait, after all that fuss, and you're not even going to eat it now?"
"I want to walk out with you." Sadie carefully placed the bag inside her purse. She licked a stray smidge of maple frosting from her finger and groaned with pleasure. "Besides, the longer I wait to eat this, the better it will taste."
"Delayed gratification only works up to a point." Ana eyed her up and down pointedly. "Trust me, you don't want to end up with a stale donut."
Sadie followed Ana toward the exit. "Why do I get the feeling we're not talking about food anymore?" she asked, weaving her way through the now-crowded shop. Morning rush was in full swing.
"Why do I get the feeling sucking frosting off your finger was the most action you've had in weeks?" Ana shot back, juggling her coffee and donut bag as she reached for the door. At that moment, it swung open and the guy entering stepped to the side, holding the door for them. "Thank you." Ana flashed him a flirty smile as she sailed past.
Sadie hurried after her friend. "Are you saying what I think you're saying?"
"You've heard the expression use it or lose it, right?" Ana glanced over her shoulder and wiggled her fingers. "He's cute."
Sadie glanced back. Door guy was still standing there. He returned her friend's wave and grinned.
"Great smile." Ana paused, watching as he turned to head into the shop. "Ooh, and a great butt." She began to retrace her steps. "I think I'm going to grab his ..."
Sadie yanked on Ana's arm, holding her back. "You're going to grab his what?"
"His number." Ana gazed down at Sadie, face full of innocent curiosity. "What else?"
"Aren't you already late for your mermaid mom?"
Ana bit her lip. "Darn. You're right." Her smile turned sly. "Maybe you should get his number instead."
"When's the last time you got a guy's number?"
"Now that I think about it, when's the last time you've been on a date?" Ana pressed. "Ever since you moved back to Chicago, you've been ... different. What happened to my flirty dirty partner in crime?"
"I don't know what you mean," Sadie hedged.
"Please," Ana snorted. "You're talking to me, remember? I know you. And I know something is up," she added, her tone losing its playful edge.
"Nothing is up," Sadie denied, uncomfortable with the sudden turn in the conversation.
Silently, Ana stared down at Sadie, one raised eyebrow doing the talking for her.
"I mean it," Sadie insisted. "With all the training and prep work for the film, I haven't had time to think about anything else."
"Is that true?" Ana asked quietly. "Or is it really more about how, now that you are back here to stay awhile, you are thinking of something in particular. Someone in particular."
Half-formed dreams swirled through Sadie's mind. She shook her head, scattering them before they could take shape. She wasn't going there. Not now, not ever. "I've just been busy, that's all. Okay?" She stared up at her friend. I can't talk about this. Please don't make me talk about this. About him.
Awareness flickered in Ana's green eyes. An acknowledgment of all that Sadie left unsaid. She backed off, voice picking up its light teasing tone again as she clucked her tongue and said, "No one is ever too busy to get busy."
"What is that supposed to be" — Sadie smirked, playing along — "some kind of mantra?" She sucked in a grateful breath and waited at the curb while Ana walked around to the driver's side of her car.
"A motivational slogan." Ana opened her car door. "My mom has been into needlepoint lately. I'll see if she can sew that into a pillow. What do you think?"
"I think you're weird." Sadie shook her head and leaned on the convertible's passenger door. The same shade of emerald as Ana's eyes, the car was fun and sexy, just like the woman who drove it.
"Very," Ana agreed. "But I can't help it, I come from a long line of weirdos." She set her coffee in a cup holder and settled into her seat. "Can this weirdo give you a ride?"
"Thanks, I'm good." Her apartment wasn't far, and Sadie enjoyed walking through her neighborhood. Every city had its own vibe, and after living in New York for six years, it was nice to be back on home turf. September in Chicago could be unbearably hot and steamy, but this morning was promising to be one of those awesome end-of-summer days that held a kiss of fall. And the steady breeze blowing in off the lake didn't hurt either.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Once Upon a Bad Boy"
Copyright © 2019 Melonie Johnson.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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.