Determined to find her inner badass and save her business, boutique owner Michelle Ruby signs up for a twenty-four hour survival class. Except, she’s the only person who registered, and the guide is a sex-on-a-stick G.I. Joe come to life. Between his massive muscles, smoldering blue eyes, and “there’s no crying in camping” attitude, she’s in trouble…in more ways than one.
Search and rescue squad member Dex Young never thought he’d be roped into teaching “survival skills” to pageant queens. His sole student is upper class, upper state, and sexy as hell. And he has a sneaking suspicion that beneath her tight updo and designer jeans, there’s a sex kitten waiting to claw her way out.
But Dex knows women like her. Knows they only bring guys like him home to piss off their daddies. If it’s the bad boy experience she wants, she’ll get it. And Dex? Well, he can’t wait to find out just how dirty Michelle’s willing to get…
She’s getting dirty with the bad boy…
Search and Seduce Book 1: Tell Me You Need Me
Search and Seduce Book 2: Tell Me You Want Me
Search and Seduce Book 3: Tell Me You Crave Me
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About the Author
National and international bestselling author Joya Ryan is the author of the Shattered series, which includes Break Me Slowly, Possess Me Slowly and Capture Me Slowly. She has also written the Sweet Torment series, which includes Breathe You In and Only You. She loves writing spicy Brazens which include The Chasing Love Series. Passionate about both cooking and dancing (despite not being too skilled at the latter), she loves spending time at home. She resides in California with her husband and her two sons.
Visit Joya Ryan online: www.JoyaRyan.com
Read an Excerpt
Tell Me You Want Me
A Search and Seduce Novel
By Joya Ryan, Stephen Morgan
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2016 Joya Ryan
All rights reserved.
"What do you mean you're not coming?" Michelle Ruby asked into her cell phone.
"I'm sorry," Chloe's voice came back. "I totally wanted to do this with you, but something came up."
Michelle let out a long sigh. "If that something is Gage again, that's not a good enough excuse to ditch me."
Chloe McGraw was seen less frequently around their small town of Beaufort, North Carolina, than Big Foot lately. Three months ago, she'd married Gage McGraw, the head training officer of North Carolina Search and Rescue, and ever since then, neither of them appeared to have exited the honeymoon phase. It was probably the truest Happily Ever After for a couple that Michelle had seen.
"Well, this is kind of Gage's fault that I can't come," Chloe admitted.
Michelle clutched the phone to her ear and turned to glance at the classroom door behind her.
"I'm literally standing at the entrance of the class and ..." Was she really going to go in alone? Or she could leave. Forget this whole thing. But then she'd be exactly what her parents and ex thought her to be: a give up and run home girl.
Michelle huffed and took out her notebook and flipped to her extensive "To Do" list, each with subcategories that were color coded and outlined for maximum success.
#1) Be Independent.
She frowned at the number one bullet point and knew there was a lot that went into those two small words. She'd spent her whole life dependent on her family, their money, and her ex-fiancé. But she couldn't do it anymore. Couldn't give in to a life that was structured for her, a life that was so safe she never had to worry about being hurt but also could never know for sure that she was capable of taking care of herself. She refused to depend on anyone again.
Which brought her to a different list, the "To Don't" list. There was only one bullet point on that one, and it was:
#1) Don't get into a relationship. Ever!
She'd learned the hard way that giving herself completely to a man only gave him the power to control. And the new Michelle was all about finding independence. In every way. She even had a sexual fantasy list, but she'd save that for later.
Right now, she was standing alone, attempting to take a step in finding this phantom independence by signing up for a survival training course. Surely if she could survive, that would be proof to herself and everyone that she was well on her way to having her life under control.
As if Chloe read her mind, she said, "I am really sorry I can't do the wilderness survival day with you today, but you should still go. Have fun! It will be adventurous after all."
That one word struck her chest and delivered a kick of annoyance and pain. She'd been in town for just over six months now. After breaking ties with her family and their money, she'd been determined to live a life for herself and on her own. She was more than just her family's rich name and even richer bank account. At least, that's what she kept telling herself.
Growing up in the city, she'd never had any real friends or freedom. But finally in this little town, she had friends and her small high-fashion boutique — The Chic Storm. And failure wasn't an option. Some weeks were better than others for her store — in fact, if she didn't turn her business around in the next six months, she'd be forced to consider closing the shop — but she was determined not to go bust. She wouldn't. She couldn't. Because that would mean she'd have to run home to her family. And that simply wasn't an option.
Which was one other big reason why she'd come here for this survival training. The next six months would prove whether she could be the woman she needed to be. If a little thing like a struggling business was enough to break her, how could she hope to stand tall for the rest of her life?
Her stomach clenched, but she took a deep breath and forced the feeling deep down, where it couldn't hurt her anymore.
She would make this work on her own. She'd show them all that she was a strong, independent woman.
The phone call she'd gotten from her mother a few days ago had been an unpleasant reminder of just how much she still had to prove. Because her mother's phone call had come with startling news.
Her ex wanted her back.
Funny, he'd called her parents and not her, like it was some business arrangement. Because that's what it was. She'd loved him for a while. He'd offered her the same comfort and security as her parents. He'd even asked her to marry him. And like a fool, she'd said yes.
Then she'd seen what marriage to him would be like. She'd realized that he wanted her to dress and act the part of a dutiful woman. When she'd told him her dream of running her own boutique, he'd told her no. Just like her father. Just like her keeper. But when Brad had threatened to dump her if she moved to North Carolina, that was the final red flag. And she'd snapped. Sure, running a few states away with her savings account wasn't the best laid plan, but so far, she was struggling to gain the independence she needed.
Brad had stayed true to his word. He'd dumped her. But she'd made the right decision. Now she was going to check off as many things on her To Do list as possible.
Michelle hadn't realized how hard she was clinging to her cell until the case bent in her hand and threatened to break. She'd loved Brad, and he'd broken her heart by laughing at her. Commanding her to stay in the frilly box he graciously provided. But she couldn't. Wouldn't. Now if only her parents and Brad took her seriously instead of waiting for her to fail.
"I am really sorry I can't be there," Chloe said again.
"You're the one who talked me into this," Michelle countered. Michelle had bore her soul over a pitcher of margaritas to Chloe about how no one in her old world gave her an ounce of credit. Chloe's advice? Go to this survival class. Show them — show yourself — that you're capable of more than anyone realizes.
When Michelle had left the city, she'd hoped her parents and Brad would come around or at the very least, support her decision. But nope. He'd dumped her. It was the gnawing realization he'd only wanted her as long as she'd acted a certain way. And that way was Upper East Side societal. Using her own brain was optional.
"Yes, I did talk you into this," Chloe said, "because I think it's just what you need to realize that you don't need that dick Brad or your parents. You shouldn't believe what he said about you."
Brad had been brutal. Telling her it was only a matter of time before she came to her senses and crawled back penniless. Her parents had said the same thing, only laced with sugary-sweet passive aggressiveness.
So that was it. She was on her own, trying to survive. And damn it, that's what she'd do. She'd also get all these lists checked off and enjoy life. She'd be the woman she wanted to be.
"Thank you," Michelle said, feeling a light smile appear. She appreciated that her friend was trying to help her. And she had to admit, being here, doing this, made her feel hopeful and excited. This was a huge step in the right direction. Even if the truth was that she was a little scared. Okay, she was a lot scared. She wanted to succeed, which meant she couldn't fail at the one major bullet point on her list:
Be the independent, adventurous Michelle I want to be.
Balancing the phone between her ear and shoulder, she underlined one word:
That one word was why she was here. It was the reason she'd accepted Chloe's crazy idea about this wilderness training. It was put on by the local search and rescue team, and she could prove — to herself if no one else — how adventurous and capable she was.
I'm not just a name or my parents' money.
At least, that's what she kept telling herself. And she was trying every day to prove that statement right. Because she was running out of time and money. The boutique had good days and bad days. If Michelle could just survive, she'd be okay. And survive in every sense of the word was what she'd do.
Going bust in any way wasn't an option.
"Everything will be ... will be ... fine," Chloe said. Sort of. She sounded like she was dry heaving more than talking. Michelle frowned, then held the phone away to look at it when she heard what sounded like Chloe throwing up.
"Are you okay?" she asked.
"Yeah," Chloe said, a little breathless.
"I'm so sorry; I didn't know you were sick. I hope you feel better." Now she felt like a terrible friend for giving Chloe a hard time.
"Thanks, but I don't think I'll feel better for nine months or so," Chloe said.
"Wait ... what?" Michelle asked around a bright smile. "That's wonderful! You're pregnant!"
"Yeah, but don't say anything. Gage doesn't know yet."
Michelle beamed with happiness for her friend. "I won't say a word."
"Now go have fun. I want to hear all about it tomorrow," Chloe said. The line disconnected on what sounded like another round with the porcelain god.
Michelle put her phone in her purse, adjusted her Marc Jacobs — letting the strap rest more comfortably on her shoulder — and read over the single sheet of paper she'd been given as instructions for this survival course.
The first part of the day would be spent in the classroom, learning from lectures. After a break for dinner, she and her class would take their newly learned skills and apply them to the wilderness. She glanced at her cute booties, jeans, and airy blouse and felt good about the adventure to come. She'd followed directions from her closed toe shoes to bringing only a small bag of necessities that the instructions stated "you can't live without."
With a final breath and determination on her face, she walked into the classroom and prepared herself to walk out as a goddess of adventure and independence.
"No way are you sticking me with this," Dex Young said, trying really hard not to punctuate his words with a giant middle finger to his boss. Gage was more like his drinking buddy, but whatever.
"You just have to do the outdoor wilderness survival part tonight. I taught the class already," Gage said.
"Then why the hell don't you finish teaching this damn day in the wilderness? This was your grand idea to get more people in the community involved." Dex liked Gage, they were friends, and yeah, he was the head of the North Carolina Search and Rescue sector, but this whole novelty "day in the life of a wilderness guru where you get taught how to make fire" was not what Dex had signed up for. He was actually good at what he did and didn't want to teach a group of glorified tourists how to fashion a tent from tree limbs.
He'd been there, done that, and it was always the same. A bunch of rich people looking for something to talk to their friends about later. "I survived in the wild!" they'd say, and Dex always wanted to vomit, because seriously, braving the wilderness didn't come with four-star campers or sangria by the fire. A fire that Dex always had to make for the upper-class assholes, because rubbing some sticks together would get their precious hands dirty.
This whole damn thing was a nightmare, and he hated it.
"I told you I'm not doing this bullshit 'adventure for the one percent' explorations anymore." These outings gave him migraines, and after last week's Millionaire's Club, he was certain a tumor was forming behind his right eye. One more yuppie looking for "an experience," and Dex would claw his face off.
"Look, Chloe called me, and she needs me home tonight. So suck it up, and teach the class. It's only for tonight. Don't kill anyone or let them die, and you'll get your hours."
Shit, his hours. Well, he couldn't argue against that point. Not if he wanted to keep his damn job.
Dex had been doing search and rescue for years, and he was due for recertification. He'd been out of town a lot on missions, but now that the summer was coming to a close, he was back home for the long haul. He had to log eighteen hours of "training" for his job. At the very least, this stupid class would count for something.
"I get my hours doing this and you'll sign off, so I can be done with the recertification?"
"Yep," Gage said and slapped Dex's back. "The group is a small one, but they're meeting at outpost twenty-seven on the edge of the forest in ..." He glanced at his watch. "Now. So you better get moving."
"Jesus, you're a pain in the ass," Dex grumbled.
"Love you too, bro." With that, Gage took off.
Dex got in his truck, checked his rucksack, and drove to the outpost. When he got to the small cabin, he stopped and looked around.
Nature. He was surrounded by nature.
Which was why the lone woman bending over in what had to the be the tightest jeans he'd ever seen, looked out of place and fucking amazing all at the same time.
And I didn't think nature could get any better ...
He was wrong. One look at that A+ ass and long legs and damn, nature got a hell of a lot better.
"You with the wilderness group?" he called, walking up behind Perfect-Ass Barbie.
She stood up straight and turned to face him. Christ, he thought the back was a sight, but the front was even better. She was tall and trim and had some sexy curves that defied logic. A pile of red hair was secured back tightly, and her wide blue eyes put a Carolina sky to shame.
"I think I am the wilderness group," she replied, then bent down again to flick a leaf off of her black heeled shoe contraptions. He couldn't really call them boots; rather, some pretty imitation of what real hiking boots were. No, he didn't know what the hell was on her feet, but they sure weren't practical. With all the straps and laces and what had to be a solid four-inch heel, he didn't even know if they were functional.
"I was told there was a group," he tried again.
"Yeah," she said, not sparing him a glance, instead licking her thumb, then going back to the task of hand cleaning the toe of her so-called boot. But his damn cock jumped at the quick glimpse of her tongue. "In the lecture today, there were four other people, but I think they decided to go to happy hour instead of the camp out tonight."
Shit. Dex ran a hand over the back of his neck. It was no surprise. Gage had probably bored the group into a coma with his lectures. No wonder they'd all flaked today. All but this woman. A woman who was still intent on cleaning her boot. Jesus. Well, he had to admire her determination when others had given up so quickly, but did she have to be so ... so ...
"You realize we're in the woods, right?" Dex asked, feeling the need to clarify that she was bound to get dirty.
She looked up, and Dex tried — really tried — to look at her face and not down her silky shirt that was currently showing off some full creamy cleavage in a red lace bra.
"Of course," she said. "But these are my favorite." She went back to wiping off the boot, and Dex's head was on the verge of exploding. He knew women like her. Rich, uptown, and uptight. He'd never met her personally, but it was clear this woman was not small town or into getting dirty other than for a romanticized night at a time. And Dex would know, because he played that part well. The one night at a time part. Come to think of it, he played the dirty part well, too.
Dex was the bastard son of Talcom LeRoy, a rich name with a rich family. Dex didn't know any of them. Including ol' pop himself. Since it was a small town, though, everyone knew his father and his mother and the scandal of Dex's birth thirty years ago. But time had passed, and people had moved on. Literally. His father lived with his "real" family in Savannah, and the rest was history. His mother was still in Beaufort. Living in the same small trailer Dex had grown up in.
Excerpted from Tell Me You Want Me by Joya Ryan, Stephen Morgan. Copyright © 2016 Joya Ryan. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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