Jeff Price is in a long-term relationship rut–nothing a move from Utah to Silicon Valley can’t solve. But when he meets Samantha, his sister’s best friend, his newfound freedom is threatened by their attraction. Headed for med school, and still gun shy from her last relationship, Sam’s not in the market for love, either. The answer is simple: a ninety-day, no-strings-attached affair. What can possibly go wrong for two people determined not to fall in love?
About the Author
Victoria De La O is the award-winning author of the Tell Me romance trilogy, including Tell Me How This Ends. A native of California’s Silicon Valley, she spends her time raising two crazy kids with her husband, working at Stanford University, arguing about films, and partaking in chicanery.
Read an Excerpt
Tell Me Not To Go
By Victoria De La O
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2017 Victoria De La O
All rights reserved.
Two small words, but they chug through my veins like ice cubes, making me want to clutch at my chest when they reach my heart. I'd recognize Luke's voice anywhere, anytime.
I turn around, and there he is at the table next to me. The guy I once would have done anything to keep.
"Luke," I manage to choke out as I fumble my latte and spill it on my hand. The pain helps me focus, and I see he has company at his table.
Emily. My former roommate ... and friend.
"Hi, Sam." At least she has the decency to look uncomfortable.
"How have you been?" Luke asks, like we're old chums. I need to find a way to get out of this café, but it's like I'm that girl about to get axed in a horror movie: I'm frozen. Right now, anyone watching me would be screaming, "Run, bitch!" And they'd be right. But I'm not myself right now.
"I'm fine," my stationary alter ego answers.
"That's great." Luke keeps nodding like a dashboard Bobble Head. "We're doing well. Emily is graduating this year. I'm at Santa Clara, finishing my MBA."
I look at Luke. Then at Emily. Then at Luke again.
"I thought you wanted to go to Wharton?" I ask, pathetic ex that I am. But it had been a point of contention that Luke was going to move, and I — being an idiot — had been ready to transfer wherever he ended up.
"He wanted to stay close while I finished school." Emily's hand is resting on a stack of magazines. I'm wondering why there are so many, and then I notice the fluffy white dresses and organza veils on the covers. Bridal mags. And on Emily's birdlike ring finger is a rock that might as well be in the shape of a dollar sign.
There's an open binder next to the magazines, filled with photos, spreadsheets, and notes. Her wedding organizer.
Shame races through me, jump-starting my heart. But like the pins and needles you get when your foot goes to sleep, the sudden rush of feeling is painful. Knowing me, I won't be able to contain it for long.
Luke follows my gaze. "Uh, yeah, we're getting married at the end of June."
"That's ... well, that's really ...," I try again. But my tongue feels like a dry sponge, and the words won't come.
Because the last time I saw Luke, he was in Emily's bed — the one that was four feet from mine in our dorm room — buried deep inside her.
I had come home early from class, so I saw him and Emily right away when I walked into the room. There was no warning, no ominous foreshadowing — just the two of them tangled in sheets and each other. And the sounds. I remember standing there covering my ears. Emily looked over and saw me, and in that moment, I knew she was sad but not sorry.
I turned and ran like the devil was at my back, and I never saw Luke again.
"You had an apartment," I say now, because the memories are spilling out like rain from a storm drain. "Why did you two do it in my room?"
Luke goes pale, because I have breached the rules of etiquette that keep people from making scenes and embarrassing themselves. I have defiled the inner sanctum of this soothing coffeehouse, with its dark wood furniture and pleasant aroma. But I never got to say one word to Luke after he cheated. Not about how my heart splintered into useless fragments. Or how I didn't know what to do with all that anger. Or how, sick as it was, I loved him for too long afterward.
"Sam," he starts, but he doesn't know what to say either, and his words fizzle.
The café has gone quiet, and all I hear is an odd buzzing in my ears. The couple sitting next to us is staring at me as I take deep breaths and struggle not to lose it. The girl has a pink nose ring that matches the streak in her hair. She looks down when my eyes meet hers, but it's too late; I already read her pity.
Emily stands up and comes to Luke's side, as if I've attacked him and he needs her protection. They are a united front, and I'm outnumbered.
I never thought I'd have to face this humiliation again. Not surprisingly, it's just as shitty as the first time. I take a step back. And then another. Retreat feels like my only option.
"It was a long time ago," Emily says, like that makes everything okay. As though there's an expiration date on betrayal and heartache. "Don't ruin this for us by being petty."
"Petty?" I repeat.
"Haven't we all moved on?" she asks, tucking a red strand of hair into place.
My anger flares — a welcome relief, because it lances the pain and weakness seeping out of me. Bless Emily and her bitchy comment; she has killed cowardly, dumbstruck Sam.
I turn to Luke. "She do all your talking now? Were you always this much of a pussy, or is that a new thing?" Luke's face turns disapproving and cold. I remember that look well, and for the briefest moment I feel the familiar discomfort of disappointing him. Luckily, it's a brief, phantom feeling that I don't have to care about anymore.
"You never were very classy," Emily says.
Luke's eyes dart to the floor, but he stays silent.
I bark out a bitter laugh. "Yes. I should paint a portrait of you spreading your legs for Luke and hang it in the Louvre."
I turn back to Luke and ignore Emily. She was never the problem. "How in the world did I ever date a spineless little prick like you?"
His shoulders slump.
Ridiculing Emily feels amazing. Belittling Luke feels even better. But I know in the long run, nothing good will come of it, and I'll be the one left with an emotional hangover tomorrow.
I don't want to be "angry girl" anymore. So I turn and leave, just like I did two years ago. Except this time, I'm choosing to walk away.
"What's wrong?" Lizzie asks when I get home.
Thank God she knows me so well. Spares me from trying to pretend everything's cool.
I sit on the couch and stare into space. Lizzie sits down next to me.
"What is it? You're freaking me out."
"I saw Luke and Emily."
Lizzie folds her legs underneath her body, settling in for a serious talk. "Crap. How did it go?"
"I made a fool of myself, obviously." I sink into the couch. "You know, I've fantasized about this moment before. But I was always on the arm of some hottie, looking gorgeous and unaffected. Instead, I spilled coffee on myself and almost cried."
"I'm sure you were amazing. And you're allowed to do whatever you want. They're the jerks, not you. You don't have anything to prove."
I pluck at the hem of my T-shirt. "They're getting married in June."
Lizzie puts her hand on my shoulder. "If Luke begged you to take him back, would you?"
"Hells no." I'm relieved that I actually mean that.
"Then why are you sweating him?"
"Don't know. I shouldn't care that they're getting married."
Truth is, Luke and Emily are a perfect match made in hell. I was placed in a dorm room with Emily freshman year. She was a nervous little thing — the type of girl that talked in a whisper and disappeared down back staircases. She confided in me that she'd always had a hard time making friends, so we started hanging out. I dragged her to parties, invited her to dinner with friends. Luke hadn't liked her — said she was uptight. But really, it wasn't a surprise that he changed his mind. Luke wanted someone to follow his lead, and Emily needed an anchor.
If I had married Luke, he would have resented me, and I might have murdered his judgmental ass. "She did me a favor," I admit.
"That's not what I mean, exactly," Lizzie says, interrupting my vengeful thoughts. "It's been a long time since Luke. Why are you letting him keep you celibate and miserable?"
"I'm not. I've hooked up with other guys."
"Exactly. Hookups. Nothing longer than a few weeks. And they were all questionable."
"Not all of them. What about that guy, Dane?"
"Really? You called him foot fetish guy."
Yeah, and it turned out "fetish" didn't just mean he liked the way I looked in heels. That was a shocker. "You're not making a good case here. Most guys aren't worth the effort."
"Uh-huh," she says, throwing her blond hair over one shoulder. "But some are. Kinda seems like you pick the losers on purpose."
"Why start something with a guy when I'll be leaving for med school?"
Lizzie gives me the stink eye, because she sees through that excuse. She knows I'm scared of losing my shit over another guy. When Luke told me he was getting his MBA, I applied to five schools so I could transfer and live with him wherever he ended up. They hadn't had the best pre-med programs, and I would have been leaving my family and friends. But at the time, I didn't care. I was ready to give up so much for Luke, and he hadn't been worth it.
I don't need to be a fool twice in one lifetime.
Lizzie is persistent, as usual. "You've got at least four months until you leave San Jose. Why not spend quality time with someone until then? Just to get yourself back out there?"
"We'll see," I say, standing up and heading for the kitchen. "I'm officially over this convo. Tell me what's going on with you."
Lizzie follows me, for some reason breaking out into her celebration dance, her tiny butt shaking back and forth. "I have news," she says. "Jeff is moving here. In three weeks."
"Wow! That's, umm ... tell me all about it." My smile feels like it's going to crack my cheeks in half. Lizzie's too excited to notice, which is good. I don't want to rain on her parade. She adores her big Utah family, and to have a sibling with her is a dream come true.
"He got a job at a venture capital firm. His fantasy job. He'll be working a mile from here."
"That's amazing." I take chicken and vegetables out of the refrigerator and set them on our tiled beige counter as I picture Jeff. Long chin, goofy grin, and a set of shoulders I wouldn't mind being perched on. I've only met him once, but it was memorable. I wonder if he would say the same, or if I've been long forgotten.
"He needs to find an apartment," Lizzie says.
"That should be doable."
Something in my tone gives me away — probably forgot to dial down the fake perky — and Lizzie frowns.
"I know Jeff's not your favorite, but he really is a good person," she says.
"Of course he is. He's your brother."
Except he didn't seem like a good guy at first. When Jeff came out to visit last year, he and I were forced on a double date with Lizzie and Ryan — the guy she was seeing back then. I hadn't been in a good mood, and I don't think Jeff had either. Or maybe we irritated each other.
Either way, when they shoved us in the back of Ryan's car together, sparks flew. At some point I accused Jeff of being sexist, because he had this retro John Wayne thing going on that didn't sit right with me. By the end of the night, my tune had changed. A lot.
Lizzie frowns. "Then why don't you like him?"
What I wouldn't give to be a much better liar.
"I do like him." A little too much, in fact. "What made him decide to move?" I busy myself with washing my hands and grabbing a glass from the cabinet.
"He's being vague, but I think he wants to get away from my family. He needs a change." Lizzie digs out a pot from the cabinet and fills it with water. "I'm hoping to hook him up with some cool girls."
I almost do a spit take with the water I'm sipping. "Pimping for him already?"
"I want him to have some fun. He can be a little uptight."
Maybe Lizzie doesn't know her brother like she thinks she does. Because he has a feisty side, too. It's likely his nice guy routine is genuine, but I saw behind the curtain into Jeff's passionate nature — both when we were arguing, and after. I don't want to be in his crosshairs again; it made me have all kinds of feelings. Weird, panicky-type feelings.
Not to mention it's probably immoral to lust after your best friend's brother. I wasn't raised with religion so I'm a little fuzzy on that.
Lizzie scoops rice into the water and puts a lid on. "I want to help him relax. He takes himself too seriously sometimes. And then he ends up with these girls that want his initials on their towels and he freaks out."
I'll bet. Jeff hides his true self behind pleasant manners and a good-ol'-boy charm. He's the type that will pull your chair out for you. But by his own admission, he's also the one who will wait until you fall for him, decide he isn't in love with you, and then pull that same chair out from under you so that you end up on your ass.
I grab some coconut milk from the fridge to make my sauce. "I'm sure you'll get him to lighten up."
"Promise me you'll give him a chance."
The night I met Jeff, Lizzie spent some time making out with Ryan outside our suite, while Jeff and I had our own intense encounter on the other side of the door. But Lizzie knows nothing about that. So she doesn't understand that he and I have already agreed to mutually dislike each other. Or something. I think. It was all a bit confusing. And I'm not looking for confusing. So the one thing I am sure of is that Lizzie's brother is not good for my health.
Still, she is my best friend. I turn to her with the most sincere face I can muster. "Of course I'll give him a chance."CHAPTER 2
"Ladies and gentlemen, it looks like we're going to be stuck on the tarmac for a bit before we can disembark," the pilot says in a garbled voice. It's hard to hear him over the passengers preparing to get off the plane. "I'm keeping the seatbelt sign lit. Please remain in your seats until we can get to the gate."
I throw my head back onto my seat. I hate false starts. After the mental anguish of deciding to leave Utah, the dramatic announcement to my family, and the hasty good-bye speech I made to Kelly, the girl I was dating, it's anticlimactic.
But at least I'm in California.
The guy next to me is restless. I can tell by the way he fidgets in his seat. The woman in front of me calls out to the flight attendant, who is ignoring the lit button because she's helping an older man two rows down. People are starting to fan their faces because the cool air is off.
I don't blame them. We can all see the gate — so close but so far away. Still, I stay calm. Maybe because the agitation level is spiking, the captain comes back on to remind us we can use our phones since we've landed. Gadgets are pulled out at lightning speed, the guy next to me already hitting send on an e-mail.
I take my phone off airplane mode and see twelve texts. All from Kelly. I turn my phone off.
Packing my laptop and magazine back into my messenger bag only takes a minute. I eavesdrop on a few conversations, but those peter out as everyone starts notifying loved ones they have arrived but are stuck. Eventually, I have no choice but to turn my phone back on and shoot Lizzie a text.
We landed, but we're being held on the tarmac. Be there soon hopefully.
Just got here. No worries. I'll be waiting.
Ah, my baby sister. I can't wait to see her.
But now that my phone is staring me in the face again, I have to man up and deal with Kelly's messages. And there are some doozies. Guess Kelly doesn't like false starts either.
You left so suddenly ...
You should have told me sooner ...
I know it had only been a month but ...
Thought we had something special ...
Only a jerk does that ...
And the worst one:
You're not the man everyone says you are.
Her barb stings me, but it doesn't wound me. Because if I'm being honest — the kind of honest you can only be in rare moments and only with yourself — I don't care enough about Kelly for her comment to hurt. Even if we had dated longer — a year, maybe two — I still wouldn't have been invested. That's the way it's always been for me, because women like Kelly have an agenda, and I just go along to get along. I'm too afraid to break up with them or to tell them the truth until it's so dire that their parents are calling me "son," and everyone has wedding bells in their eyes. Then, and only then, do I force myself to do the right thing, and the woman hates me for it. As she should.
So what Kelly doesn't understand is that it was a kindness on my part to leave.
Just when the mood around me sours, and the crowd seems ready to break open the emergency exit, the captain tells us we're heading to the gate. A few people clap, and before we know it, we've reached the freedom of the terminal.
No matter what airport you land in, they all feel hectic. Some are brighter, some are newer, but every single one of them is filled with people trying to juggle all the stuff they're carrying. I'm traveling light today, but in my own way, I'm loaded down with a different kind of baggage.
As I step off the plane, a lady with a stroller bumps into me, and her bag goes flying onto the dirty gray carpet. I'm almost happy for the distraction. A little less time for me to think about the fact that I'm uprooting my entire life to move to a city I've been to once. Of course, it's not so much that I'm running toward this place. More like I'm scurrying away from another, with my tail between my legs.
I bend down to help the woman pick up the random items that have spilled from her purse — hairbrush, pacifier, romance novel, wallet.
"Thanks," she says, as a man comes up behind her and puts his hands on the stroller handle.
"Your purse is twice as big as it used to be," he says to the woman as she stands up.
She smiles at him and puts one arm around his waist. The gesture is casual but loving, and I try to ignore the funny feeling in my gut.
Excerpted from Tell Me Not To Go by Victoria De La O. Copyright © 2017 Victoria De La O. 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.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Sam,
Chapter 2: Jeff,
Chapter 3: Sam,
Chapter 4: Jeff,
Chapter 5: Sam,
Chapter 6: Jeff,
Chapter 7: Sam,
Chapter 8: Jeff,
Chapter 9: Sam,
Chapter 10: Jeff,
Chapter 11: Sam,
Chapter 12: Jeff,
Chapter 13: Sam,
Chapter 14: Jeff,
Chapter 15: Sam,
Chapter 16: Jeff,
Chapter 17: Sam,
Chapter 18: Jeff,
Chapter 19: Sam,
Chapter 20: Jeff,
Chapter 21: Sam,
Chapter 22: Jeff,
Chapter 23: Sam,
Chapter 24: Jeff,
Chapter 25: Sam,
Chapter 26: Jeff,
Chapter 27: Sam,
Chapter 28: Jeff,
Chapter 29: Sam,
Excerpt: Tell Me That You're Mine,
Chapter 1: Ryan,
About the Author,
Also by Victoria De La O,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I gotta say this book blew me away! I'm not sure what I was expecting when I started reading it but what I got was a story full of emotion and characters that touched my heart. I just realized that this is actually the second book in the series so now I need to go grab the first one, not because I need it to understand this story but because I NEED to read Lizzie and Jude's story. In this one Samantha and Jeff's story. Sam is just a few months away from leaving for med school and Jeff is just starting a new job. Neither wants to start a relationship right now but the attraction between them is intense. They make a deal that a fling for a specified period of time is the best way to go. Best laid plans and all that!! I highly recommend this one!
Tell Me Not To Go, Victoria De La O Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews Genre: romance, Second book in a series about connected characters. I’d not read book one but that’s OK as each novel is a stand alone one. Jeff and Sam, cute couple, both burned by past relationships, and don’t want another right now. Jeff has become something of a player in his new found freedom, while Sam has simply sworn off men, vowing her career will come first. They’re a sweet couple, feel very genuine and I liked them both. They liked each other too when they met, very much so. Jeff is Sam’s flatmate’s brother so it was inevitable they’d meet sooner or later. They can’t ignore the sexual pull between them, that string of lust that keeps tugging them. What to do though when neither want a relationship? Well, they’ve ninety days til Sam leaves for her next training stint on her way to becoming a doctor. A no-strings affair strikes them as a sensible answer, they’ll have some hot and sweaty sex, lots of fun and games, neither will all in love, so no feelings get hurt, no hearts get broken. What was that? How can a person stop themselves from falling in love? Exactly! You just know what’s coming, and to that end the novel was pretty predictable. There’s no big twists, no great dramas but a series of little side plots that show how they both fall in love but hide it, even from themselves for a while. Being alongside them its easy to see why they fell for each other, they are both really good people, share ideas and adventures, respect each other – in short they’re Good People, but all good things come to an end and the ninety days are up far too soon.... Its a fun read but pretty easy to see what’s going to happen, and there are few surprises along the way, with the story running along on well used lines. I enjoyed it OK, but its not one I’d reread. There's nothing new here, nothing exiting. Great characters who are really believable but the plots is just that bit too bland IMO. Its a simple, one-off easy read, a relaxing romance for those times when you don’t want anything too challenging to read, just a simple tale with a HEA.. Stars: Three, a little mundane in plot but well written, with some serious sensuality ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers
A heartfelt, flirty romance that is virtually unputdownable. This awesome series is a must-read! Tell Me How This Ends is one of my favorite books ever - I was totally engrossed in the love triangle between brothers Ryan and Jude and sweet Lizzie. I ADORED it and was so excited to read this new book. It's wonderful that I didn't have to wait too long to read this one and it was a really great second installment. We first met Jeff and Sam in the last book and both were interesting characters so I was looking forward to reading their story. Jeff is Lizzie's sister and Sam is Lizzie's roommate. Jeff is the quintessential nice guy - raised to respect and protect women and he is pretty perfect boyfriend material. However, he seems to keep attracting the wrong type of girl and he allows himself get attached too easily and finds himself settling in relationships that are not right for him. His parents also exert a lot of pressure on him, not always intentionally, but he feels the weight of their expectation and that has driven a lot of his past decisions. He wants to break the mold so he moves to be near Lizzie, taking a job in a VC firm. Sam has been burned by love and she has refused to enter into a relationship since her ex, the first guy she loved, betrayed her with her ex-roomie. So she throws herself into her medical studies and enjoys the odd hook-up. Now, Lizzie is all loved-up and nagging her about sorting out her love life, but Sam doesn't want to get involved in anything when she will be leaving soon to train as a doctor. Jeff had visited a few months back and the chemistry between these two was electric! Now that he is back in town, Sam isn't sure she can resist him but she's determined to try. After lots of sparks fly, they agree on a 90-day pact - to have a non-relationship for the period Sam has left in town and they agree they won't fall for each other. Ha! Best laid plans and all that! Jeff was great - a great non-bf and a great brother and it was easy to swoon over him. Sam was such a strong, resilient character but so vulnerable at the same time. Her family had me in stitches and the scene where they greet Jeff naked having just stepped out of their hot tub was hysterically funny, as was the naked, stoned, drumming session - I laughed my head off at the visual in my head. The romance was sweet and sexy and not without its ups and downs. I was so glad our couple got their HEA in the end and they both deserved it. I loved that we got plenty of scenes with Lizzie and her beau (no spoilers here) and it was great to see them as a couple and moving in together. Aw, shucks, be still my heart. The writing is superb and it flowed really well. While it didn't have quite the same intensity or that extra special magical quality/vibe that book one had it was still a very entertaining read. Chapter one of the next book was included at the back of this book and it has me squealing with excitement. It's the other brother's story (the one who didn't get the girl) and I'm anticipating lots of angst and turmoil and my drama-loving heart can hardly wait!! I would highly recommend this to readers who enjoy well written new adult contemporary romance with strong character and emotional development. Thanks to the publisher for providing an ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. Actual rating: 4.5 Stars