When Jenna Kellington was fourteen, her first high school boyfriend—her first love—moved away. Now a divorced mom, she never expected to see Simon Hastings again...until a business trip to China brings them face-to-face, and their connection explodes beyond her wildest fantasies.
When he was young, Simon swore he would never be like his father, moving from place to place and never settling down. As a billionaire venture capitalist, however, he's every bit the wanderer, never tying himself down. Seeing Jenna again reminds him of who he once was, even as their old spark intensifies into very adult desire. With every touch, every caress, Simon teaches Jenna how to let go. To own her own pleasure.
He wasn't supposed to fall in love. Neither was she...
About the Author
Inara Scott grew up on a steady diet of true love, heaving bosoms, and happily ever after. Romance inspired her first novel, penned at the age of 14, titled A Wild and Stormy Passion. Today, Inara writes anything and everything, including young adult fiction and adult romance. Inara loves to hear from readers, and can often be found avoiding actual work by playing on Twitter (@inarascott) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/inarawrites).
Read an Excerpt
Seducing the Girl Next Door
A Bencher Family Novella
By Inara Scott, Alethea Spiridon Hopson
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2014 Inara Scott
All rights reserved.
"Jenna Kellington? Is that really you?"
Confused, Jenna looked up from the stack of papers she'd been reviewing in preparation for her afternoon meeting. One didn't expect to hear the old, don't I know you from somewhere? line while six thousand miles from home in a conference room in Beijing, China.
"I'm sorry, do I ..." She lost her breath for a moment as she gazed up at the unholy vision of masculinity that walked through the door. He was tall and lean, and his tailored suit looked like it had been made for his broad-shouldered, narrow-hipped frame. Thick, sandy-colored hair framed a strong jaw and piercing hazel eyes. She swallowed hard and tried to pretend her body hadn't revved into overdrive. "Know you?"
Nice. Did you actually just drool, Jenna?
The man's tiger eyes held her fast, even as a mouth made for sin quirked in a half-smile. "Really?" He grinned. "I guess it has been a while."
She squinted harder, fighting to squash the rush of lust that was making it difficult to think clearly. There was something familiar about him, something about his eyes. The color maybe, or the shape? Or was it the tawny brows she'd seen somewhere before?
"Add glasses and braces, leave the height, but take away about fifty pounds," he said.
The memories flooded back all at once, and her mouth dropped open. In an instant, she forgot she was surrounded by the strangers and businesspeople she was supposed to be impressing. She forgot that she was divorced, hadn't dated in years, and was currently sporting a pair of granny panties, and slipped back into the body of her fifteen-year-old self.
"Simon Hastings?" she squealed. Ignoring how much her clients valued decorum and manners, she thrust back her chair and dashed across the room, hurtling herself into his arms. Arms closed around her, and she buried her face into the smooth wool of his suit. For the first minute, the flood of memories blackened out any hint of the world around her. Simon Hastings, the boy next door.
Her first kiss.
Her first love.
Her first heartbreak.
And then, very slowly, it occurred to her that the teenage boy in her memory was different from the man she was currently pressed against.
She forced herself to pull away, realizing all at once the breadth of his chest, the smell of spice and masculinity, and the hardness of the muscles beneath the expensive jacket. "I'm, I'm ... so sorry for attacking you," she stuttered. "I didn't mean to ..."
His hands slipped down to her waist, and he didn't let go for a moment. Then, slowly, he backed away. "Little Jenna," he mused. Eyes flecked green and gold examined her from boring black pumps to poorly fitting, below-the-knee skirt. "All grown up. You look fantastic."
Her heart thumped at his nearness. Then reality flooded back in an unpleasant rush. Simon had turned into a Greek god, and she looked like she'd just stepped out of a minivan.
"So do you," she said. A hot flush coursed from her cheeks down her neck at the unthinkingly fervent sound of her voice. Damn it, he did look fantastic. Her old boyfriend had developed a magnetic gaze and had finally grown into the long arms and legs that had once earned him the nickname Stretch.
She, on the other hand, looked like hell. No matter how much she tried to convince herself that her loose bun looked chic and sophisticated, it really just served to hide the fact that she hadn't had a haircut for months. And her outfit ... She forced a smile to cover her inner desire to run screaming from the room.
How cruel could Fate possibly be? To send the guy she hadn't seen for more than fifteen years into her life looking like he'd just stepped off a movie set, while she resembled a before picture from What Not to Wear?
"Jenna, you and Simon know each other?" Chao Yin, the manager of Beijing Next, the company she'd been sent to China to work with, leaned forward with polite interest.
"We were next door neighbors when we were kids," Simon said.
"But he moved," Jenna said, unable to look away from him. "When we were fifteen."
"My dad liked to travel," Simon said, almost apologetically. "I moved around quite a bit when I was younger."
Every three or four years, Jenna recalled Simon saying bitterly. Every three or four years his father would grow tired of his job and look for a new opportunity. He always promised they'd stay put, but the promises were meaningless. As soon as Simon would get settled into a new school, make new friends, and finally start to feel a part of something, he'd be uprooted again.
"What do you do now?" she asked him, forcing a mask of pleasantness over her features.
Chao's eyes widened briefly in shock. "Simon's company Exista purchased Beijing Next a few months ago."
Jenna blinked. Her mouth formed a small O of surprise as she processed her own idiocy. She turned to Simon. "Exista is your company?"
He inclined his head modestly, a hint of a smile on his lips. "Along with a couple of partners."
Exista was a hugely successful venture capital fund that specialized in turning around lagging companies like Beijing Next. She remembered that from the background information her boss had given her before she'd left for China. She'd been sent on an emergency basis to help Beijing Next fix their poor implementation of her company's accounting software. It hadn't occurred to her that the need to do it quickly came from the company's demanding new owner.
"Simon is here to check up on some of our modernization efforts," Chao said. "Including our software updates."
"I know Chao has things under control," Simon said, waving off the other man's words. "I'm simply here to observe."
Observe? She doubted that. Exista made its millions—or was it billions?—by demanding big changes and extreme performance in the companies it took over. The firm was known for being innovative and inspiring its employees to take their work to the next level, and its results were remarkable.
And she'd had no idea it was owned by the boy who used to live next door.
"I saw your name on the meeting notice," Simon said, "but I figured it couldn't possibly be my Jenna Kellington."
She couldn't stop the shiver that went straight down her spine.
His Jenna? If only.
"It's an incredible coincidence. But as much as I'd love to catch up ..." She fought to ignore the sudden rush of heat between her legs. "We don't want to keep our hosts waiting."
Simon nodded, but didn't drop the gaze that stretched between them like a silken thread. "Of course. We'll pick up where we left off after the meeting. Perhaps over dinner?"
Jenna inclined her head slightly as her palms began to sweat. Dinner? Just the two of them? "That sounds great."
Let the panic commence.
* * *
Simon checked his watch for the third time as he waited in the hotel lobby by the elevator bank. Eight fifteen. She was late. He smiled ruefully. That was something that hadn't changed. The Jenna he remembered was perpetually racing through the halls of their school, sliding into her seat just as class started, or smiling triumphantly at him when she convinced the teacher to give her a late pass even though she'd been late three times already that week. A tiny slip of a girl with big brown eyes, cascading waves of chestnut hair, and perfect breasts that he would have given his left nut to touch.
That was the Jenna he remembered.
But this Jenna? The one with the body that kept him staring and distracted throughout their entire meeting? The Jenna that he almost couldn't let go of when she put her arms around him and pressed those breasts against his chest?
Yeah, that Jenna was totally new.
He hadn't seen a ring on her left hand and she used her maiden name. Was it possible she was still single? He was single, after all, and they were the same age. But then again, he wasn't a fit long-term companion for anyone, and he knew it. Jenna, on the other hand, had "settle down" written all over her. That was why he should have laughed at the coincidence of seeing her again and then walked away.
But he hadn't, and couldn't, and he was cursing himself for the way he reacted to her. For the way his cock seemed to have a life of its own when she walked into the room. For the way he'd been unable to think about anything else since seeing her.
The elevator doors opened and Jenna rushed forward, babbling a multitiered apology. "... so sorry ... I was answering emails ...and then the phone rang and Chao needed ..."
He held up a hand. "Jenna, it's fine. Really. I wouldn't have recognized you if you'd been on time."
Her ivory cheeks pinked. "I guess that's about right." She plucked at the waist of her dress and he thought he saw a nervous quiver in her fingers. "Is this dress okay? I didn't bring a lot of choices with me."
He took her hand and held her at a distance while he surveyed her, enjoying her deepening color at his slow examination. "You look perfect."
He let his eyes trace her body like he'd been wanting to ever since he'd seen her in that sterile conference room. Her dress was simple, a sleeveless little black number that covered her from high neckline to just above her knees. But nothing could hide the breasts pushing against the silky material ... the narrow waist or the rounded backside that would fit perfectly in his hands.
He cleared his throat and tried to subtly adjust the waistline of his pants. How many times had he fantasized about Jenna back in high school? How many furtive sessions in the bathroom, jacking off to visions of her naked body in his arms? The closest he'd gotten had been some make-out sessions and a few tentative—but blissful—episodes of over-the-shirt groping. He remembered a little noise she'd made in the back of her throat once, a noise he'd cherished for weeks afterward. It had been something between a sigh and a moan, and he'd convinced himself that someday he'd have the chance to hear it again when they had sex for the first time.
"So where are we headed?" she asked, voice breathy.
"I made a reservation at a restaurant by my place," he said, watching her breasts move up and down as she breathed. Her hair was still tied up in a loose knot on top of her head, and he imagined pulling out whatever pins held it up there and letting the silky strands tumble around them.
A tremor passed through his lower body.
This could be a long night.
"That sounds great." She started walking toward the exit doors of the lobby. She was nervous, shooting little glances back at him, her gaze darting from his face to his hands. Then he caught her eyes move from his face down the length of his body, lingering for just a second at his waist. Or a little lower than that.
Her transparency sent a rush of desire through his body.
"Or," he said, staying where he stood and throwing caution to the wind, "we could stay here and order in."
She froze and turned to look at him. "Wait, what? You mean ... um ..." Thick lashes swept low, hiding her doe-like eyes. She couldn't finish the sentence. He didn't blame her. He was being crazy. He hadn't seen her for years. He had no idea what her life was like now, and she didn't know anything about his.
But he wanted her. And he had the feeling she wanted him.
"We could order a bottle of wine," he said. "We've got a lot of catching up to do."
"We could do that in a restaurant," she said, her voice barely above a whisper.
He took a step forward, close enough to put a hand to her waist, and turned her so they were facing each other. She kept dropping her gaze, so he finally took her chin and tipped her face up to meet his. "Jenna," he said, "it's been sixteen years since I saw you last, and in that time I've learned to go after the things I want."
"Oh." Her eyes widened. "Sixteen years is a long time," she said softly. "A lot has changed since then."
"That's not what it feels like from here," he said. "As far as I can tell, it was yesterday." A quick intake of air caused her chest to rise and then fall. His body reacted like a teenage boy as memories of the girl he'd lost merged perfectly with the woman in his arms. "Tell me," he said, moving his face inches closer to hers, "is there any reason I shouldn't kiss you right now?"
Her lips parted in shock. He thought for a moment that she was going to shake her head or push him away, but then she blinked slowly, keeping her eyes closed for one long breath. When she opened them again, he saw a mix of desire and determination.
"No. No reason. None at all."CHAPTER 2
Holy shit. Holy shit. Holy shit.
Jenna's heart skipped in her chest. He was really doing it. He was really leaning forward and pressing those firm lips against hers. Her knees wobbled, and she grabbed at his shoulders for stability. There was skin on skin, the trace of his tongue against the seam of her lips, the heat of his hand on the back of her waist. She was helpless, reduced to the sensation of warmth and wet, passion and heat and things she hadn't felt for years. Her arms locked around his neck as the kiss deepened. He sought entry to her mouth and she yielded. No, she melted.
Wasn't there supposed to be some precursor to this level of desire? Shouldn't there be a slow build? Not this instant need.
He pulled away, and she had to lock her knees to keep from falling over.
"We should take this upstairs," he said, meeting her gaze for an intense moment.
Upstairs? Dear God, did they just kiss in the lobby of a hotel? And now he wanted to have sex with her? Just like that?
She tried to remember the last time she'd had sex. There had been a guy not long after her divorce. Her friends back in Brooklyn had set them up. He was a nice guy, a young dentist with a thriving practice and a three-bedroom apartment. She'd been too embarrassed to have him look at her naked body, so she'd insisted on turning out the lights and getting under the covers. He'd called her the next day, but she never called him back.
Could she go through with it? She licked her lips. "I need a drink."
Simon nodded. "I'll get us a bottle of wine." He tucked her hand into his and led her gently in the direction of the hotel bar. They stopped, and he said something in Mandarin to the man behind the counter. Jenna wished she knew what he'd said, but her Chinese was limited to "hello," "goodbye," and "thank you."
Without blinking or sending a look in her direction, the bartender withdrew a bottle from under the counter. He offered it to Simon, who examined the label, nodded, and handed it back. The bartender opened the bottle and then handed Simon two glasses.
Simon dropped a handful of bills on the counter. Jenna couldn't look at them. Her face was burning.
She felt so ... naughty.
As they waited for the elevator, Jenna shifted her weight from one foot to the other. "So," she finally forced herself to say, desperate for a moment of conversation. "Do you come to Beijing often?"
Simon nodded. "A few times a year. Exista is based in L.A., but I spend more time on the road than I do there. I think I was traveling two hundred days last year. Following in my father's footsteps, I suppose."
She remembered his father as a tired, humorless man who, when he wasn't traveling, spent most of his time holed up in his office or barking commands into the phone. Always chasing the next promotion. Always a few steps behind. Simon's antagonism toward him had simmered below the surface. She couldn't remember a time when they'd been in the same room and there hadn't been some tension between them.
"You don't have a family back in L.A., do you?" she asked, half kidding, half terrified. "A wife? Girlfriend?"
"You know me better than that, don't you?"
She glanced at the wineglasses in his hands. "No, not really. I knew you a long time ago."
"You know me," he said.
You don't know me. You don't know how badly I screwed up my life after you left.
How much I want this.
How scared I am that you'll change your mind.
"You stopped writing to me."
Excerpted from Seducing the Girl Next Door by Inara Scott, Alethea Spiridon Hopson. Copyright © 2014 Inara Scott. 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
## I had high hopes for Jenna, but I'm sorry to say that her story fell short of my expectations. First of all, this was just too short (apprx 70 pages). Not enough time to develop the characters. This rich, single, well traveled hot guy settling down with a woman who is perpetually late, wears ill-fitting clothes, has a bad hair-cut, granny panties, and 3 kids? Seems far fetched to me. I just couldn't wrap my head around it. And the sex scenes weren't anything to write home about either. Read Ross and Brit's stories instead. Both of those were very good.
The title of this one is just a tad misleading. While Simon does teach Jenna a lot about the more physical aspects of love, in the long run she is the one that does the lifelong seduction of Simon's heart. They are both facing issues from their past that are making it difficult for them to connect fully with each other and how they feel. As childhood sweethearts, they have a history - but it didn't end well and now they are both living lives that just aren't quite full. While Simon wants to get her out of his system so he can continue, Jenna realizes that maybe they could have more. This is a quick and fun read, but there were a few parts that were a little repetitive, but overall this was quite fun. *This book was received in exchange for an honest review*
Although this novella can be read as a stand alone, I think it helps to have read the other books in the series. At least the third one, where you get to know Jenna more. I love the second chance at love stories, especially when they are first love stories. Jenna and Simon were golden together. Their reconnection was both fun and hot. I enjoyed the way Simon brought out her old self as well as the fun. They were cute and spicy together. For me, this was a great ending to a very good series. I received this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher.
Not give away any plot spoilers, but this novella conveys a lot of in its short 96 pages. It uses the reunited/old friends to lovers/second chance romance tropes to good effect and builds on the past relationship of the main H/H to keep the pace tight. The characters are fun and the chemistry between hero Simon and heroine Jenna sparks hot. Overall, this was a quick, fast, fun read that I would recommend to anyone looking for some sexy diversion on a cold winter’s night!
I reviewed an Inara Scott book back in January of this year with mixed feelings, so I was curious about this novella. Seducing the Girl Next Door was a well-written 'second chance at love' romance. I liked that these two were close friends during an intense period of their childhoods - those early teen years. It's the perfect time of life to have romanticised their relationship, and to really feel the loss of it when Simon was forced to move by his father. I liked the way these two come together with very little pretense, embracing the present and the moment. It's very sexy! I like that they've both had lives since their time together - there hasn't been years of pining and wasting time - and yet there's still a very real spark between them, making the leap from lust to love reasonably believable. I do think that the resolution of the novella tries to do too much. I think the epilogue was an unnecessary leap into the future. I would rather have seen these two show up in Bencher family novels as secondary characters, with their relationship moving forward in the background. Bottom line: I liked this one. Some of it felt very relatable - the divorcee with children trying to redefine herself with a new career, the childhood sweetheart, lust/love blossoming while on vacation/away from the familiar routine of life. Lots of good components with an epilogue that overreaches. 4 stars Received in exchange for an honest review
3.5 stars Seducing the Girl Next Door was a sweet and enjoyable read. Jenna and Simon used to be best friend and childhood sweethearts, which ended when Simon had to move away. Now after all these years they have a chance to reconnect with their one true love. Both Jenna and Simon are very likeable characters, I enjoyed seeing them reconnect and realizing that the love they share is worth fighting for. The epilogue was heartwarming and left me full of happy feels, beautiful ending to this short novella.
just an average read. if you like location reads, then you will like this. ****A gifted copy was provided by the publisher for an honest review**** This is a book about 2nd chance love coming around again for Jenna and Simon. Years ago when Jenna was 14, she was in love with Simon back in high school and he was her very first high school boyfriend and her first love but he moved away. Jenna tried to continue contact with Simon via letters but they just quit coming after a while and Jenna eventually got the message he had moved on. Times changed and life moved on but Jenna never forgot Simon. Jenna grew up, got married to the high school quarterback, had three children and ended up divorced. On a trip to Beijing China, she ends up running into Simon. Simon Hastings is a billionaire venture capitalist. Simon doesn’t stay in one place nor does he do relationships. The only thing he has to offer Jenna is sex and quite possibly an escape from her mundane life. The reading of the book felt like the relationship between Simon and Jenna seemed somewhat forced for 45 % of the book. I didn’t get any spark between the two. Also, the two were connected back in HS yet here it is years later and when they reunited seemed improbable. My other issue with the book, reading this is the author says Jenna is a mother yet she did not seem too into her children’s life. There are other items I could bring up but this is just some I had issues with. I felt this was an overall average read. Hoping the author’s next book will be more improved. My rating: 3 stars ***
Seducing the Girl Next Door is classic Inara Scott. I absolutely loved this novella. Jenna Kellington and Simon Hastings were neighbors who were high school sweethearts. Simon Hasting’s father was a wanderer and constantly changed jobs; thus uprooting him from his life with Jenna. Fast forward fourteen years and Jenna is on a business trip in Beijing when she reconnects with Simon. Simon discovers that Jenna is divorced with three children. He’s never forgotten her but also realizes that a life with a wife and children is not for him as he’s just like his father. The few short days he spends with Jenna lights a fire under him. He questions whether he truly can find a life of happily ever after with Jenna. This is a fabulous second chance love story. I just wish it were a little longer. I highly recommend this book and all of the books in Inara Scott’s Bencher series. I’d like to disclose that I receive an advanced copy of Seducing the Girl Next Door in exchange for a fair and honest review.
What a delightful story! It is not too long and and is a just sexy and thrilling gem. Jenna and Simon were friends when they were just starting their teenage years. Simon was very protective of Jenna and bonded with her even though his parents moved around a lot every few years. They shared their first kiss together and the crush that developed was one that lasted in their minds through the years Once Simon moved away they lost touch. Fifteen years later, while both are working on account unbeknownst to each other, they run into each other. You know the saying... where there is smoke there is fire? Well, those low embers get stirred to a full roaring 5 alarm fire! I'll let you find out what happens next... it is absolutely divine! As always, Inara Scott gives us a love story to swoon over!
When Jenna Kellington was fourteen, her first high school boyfriend—her first love—moved away. Now the years have passed. Jenna has been married, a mother of three, and divorced. But it took a business trip to Beijing, China where Jenna finally reunites with Simon Hastings...finding a pleasure she never dreamed existed. Billionaire venture capitalist Simon Hastings swore he would never be like his father, moving from place to place and never settling down. Still, he's never forgotten Jenna, or that spark they once had that's grown into very adult desire. With every touch, every caress, Simon shows Jenna how to let go. How to feel pleasure. How to own her own sensuality. But Simon will never settle down, or take the risk of love. And now it's too late. For Jenna has broken her own rule, and fallen fast—and hard—for the man she can never have... Review: Great story about finding lost love. This story story was very satisfying and I gobbled it up in no time. The author did a great job of writing a well-rounded story, that was very satisfying. The characters were realistic in that they had flaws and lived everyday lives with family and jobs and past histories to make them interesting. I liked that Jenna has decided after years of being a housewife that there are things she wants to do, even when that means leaving the safety of a marriage that is no longer fulfilling. I do like that Jenna and Ross have a friendship after their divorce and they support each other. Now, Simon and Jenna have that spark and you really want things to work out between these two. Simon is sexy and smart, but he too has his flaws stemming from moving so much as a child and not having stability. I think the author did a good job of making Simon's turn-around on family and stability believable. A sexy, romantic read that I enjoyed. 3.5 Stars
A very enjoyable read! Imagine what he would be like to have your teenage flame walk into the room when you are half way around the world. Great storyline, great writing. This one is short so everything moves fast but I didn't feel like I was missing out on anything. I recommend this one.
This sweet and sexy novella is the story of Jenna and Simon. High school sweethearts, their relationship ended when his family moved away and he stopped writing to Jenna, the long distance relationship being too painful to accept. Now years later, they encounter each other while on business in China. Rekindling old feelings leads to passion left unfulfilled as youths. But will a fling overseas translate into a relationship back home? To be honest, I was hesitant in my feelings towards Jenna at the start of the story, as the divorced mother of 3 young children, having left her husband under amicable circumstances and sharing custody with him. But as the story progressed I came to really like her as a caring and affectionate mother who had to make hard choices for herself. I decided she was perfectly deserving of a fling with an old high school flame and Simon served this up admirably well. I really liked Simon's character as a confident, self assured man and his attraction to Jenna for her spirit and character as well as her body. Simon's eyes are much kinder to Jenna's appearance that her own and he doesn't hesitate to show her what she does to him. The love scenes between them are steamy and tender. I also really liked that Simon still displayed moments of insecurity, reverting back to the boy he used to be and letting Jenna see all sides of his character. Jenna's relationship with her ex-husband was congenial and workable, a rare treat in a story with a divorced character. Overall I found this to be a wonderful read, with believable characters experiencing life's ups and downs and a very sweet epilogue. 5 stars!