Waking up naked next to a good looking man is not a bad way to start the day. The problem? This hottie is Hank, her best friend's older brother, who she's known her entire life. Stopping after one night is the right thing to do. Being with him clearly breaks the best friend code. From his career as a Naval officer to his Boy Scout reputation, everything about him screams monogamy and commitment. . .two things Paisley has had enough of.
When Hank presents a "no strings attached" offer, it's too good to be true. But, poor choices force her to confront old fears of love and loss, and Paisley has to decide if Hank is worth the risk. The alternative is never experiencing the real deal. Or far worse, settling for less.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
The Girl He Knows
A No Strings Attached Novel
By Kristi Rose
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2014 Kristi Rose
All rights reserved.
"Hank, honey. Time to get up." Hank's mom, calling through the door, wakes me from my sleep.
Disorientated, I sit up with a jerk. The blanket falls, exposing my bare breasts. Gasping, I pull the sheet up to my chin, squint, and do a long blink. My contacts are dry, which makes them feel stiff and scratchy and my vision blurry. Each blink offers a short snapshot of my surroundings.
I know where I am. Mortified, I drop my head and cover my eyes with the sheet. Why had I agreed to come here? What would make me throw caution to the wind and risk ruining a friendship?
Lust. That's what.
"Hank, Dad says you have a tee time in one hour. Time to get up, sleepyhead," his mom calls.
"Sweet Jesus," I whisper. Panic seizes me as I glance to my left. Lying next to me is my best friend's older brother, Hank. I've known Gigi and Hank my entire life. This is her childhood bedroom, now a converted guest room, and the voice on the other side of the thin door is their mother, Ms. Becky. I'd rather face all of hell's demons than have her find me here, in her guest bed, naked, with Hank.
"Hmmphh? To slee. ..." Hank mumbles and his warm body rolls away, exposing his firm, well-defined backside. I close my eyes and count to ten. Now is not the time to get distracted by his assets or lost in the memory of how wonderful last night was. Now is the time to get the hell out of Dodge. I clutch the sheet to me as I shake his shoulder.
"Wake up," I whisper. When he doesn't move, I lean close to his ear. "Wake. Up. Your mom is at the door."
He opens his eyes, or at least the one eye I see as he's lying on his stomach.
The doorknob rattles, and I fling myself back, pull the covers up over my head, and try to burrow underneath him.
"I'm up, Mom," Hank says, not even moving an inch.
"Well hurry. Dad's anxious to get to the course." Her voice fades, indicating she's moving down the hallway.
"You can come out of hiding," he says.
I flip the covers off my face, then clench them to my chest, "Hush. I don't want them to know I'm here."
"I figured. I don't think they'll care if they find you here." His voice is a low baritone and I worry it will carry.
"Whisper," I say. "I don't care what you think. I don't want them to know. I don't want Gigi to know. I don't want anyone to know." Just saying it makes my stomach clench with apprehension.
"I don't see the big deal."
I sit up, rest on my elbow, and face him. "Of course you don't. Let me tell you how it will go down if anyone finds out about last night."
"This should be good," he mumbles.
I continue, "I've been divorced a year now. Everyone wants to set me up because they think I need to be getting serious again. If our family gets wind of this ... they'll go nuts." I shake my head. My mother would put an announcement in the social page of the paper, the engagement section, not five minutes after gaining this knowledge.
"I'm not so sure they'll react like you think." He's a guy so he doesn't understand the way a mother's mind works, or his sister's for that matter.
"You tell no one." I point to emphasize my words.
"How do you figure you're getting out of here if not through the front door? Dad and I are headed to the golf course. My mom is staying home."
I give the room a quick scan. I want to leave unseen.
"There's my exit." I point to the window. I roll away and sit up again, tucking part of the sheet under my arms and wrapping the rest around my backside. I search for my clothes.
"The window? Really?"
"Sure. Trust me, it's easy. I've done this before. Lots." I wave my hand to emphasize that it's no big deal.
Hank raises a brow. "You've done ... what before?"
"Oh my God, not that. I mean, I haven't done this" — I point to him — "but I've snuck out the window. With Gigi."
His lips twitch. I'm prepared to slap my hand over his mouth should he start laughing.
"What if someone goes outside and sees you? It's" — he turns to look at a clock — "eight-thirty."
"They won't know I've come out the window. They'll think I'm coming from the back." Gigi's bedroom is on the side of the house. Gigi and I have run every possible scenario. This is something I've done often enough I could label it a skill. "And you'll be in the kitchen distracting your parents. Close your eyes."
"Huh?" He rests his arms behind his head and yawns. It must be nice to be so relaxed.
"Close your eyes. I want to get out of bed and get dressed." I'm not ready to be naked in front of Hank in broad daylight. I'm pretty confident my backside isn't as well defined as his.
"Do you not remember last night?"
"Just shut up and do it." When he closes his eyes, I toss my pillow over the top of his head. I swing my feet out of bed and lower them to the ground. The crinkle of a wrapper halts my flight.
I peer over the edge of the bed where condom wrappers lay scattered.
"Holy shit," I whisper and look over at Hank to find him smiling.
The light of day casts a whole new perspective on last night's choices, and even though I thought I was making a sound decision, it's obvious now I was conned by lust ... and alcohol. Enough to impair my common sense and my moral compass, but not so much I can't remember.
"Hurry, I want to get up, too." He grunts when I punch him in the gut.
I slide out of bed, pulling the sheet with me. Hank pulls back when I'm three feet away, my bra and panties are just out of reach. I give a firm tug and meet resistance. Hank still has the pillow over his eyes, but is it enough? Will he look? I snap the sheet in a hard tug and let go when he resists. The fabric floats back, covers his head, and I dash to scoop up my panties and bra. I have one leg in my jeans when another knock at the door startles me, and I fall back onto the bed. When the doorknob rattles, I roll onto the floor and try to crawl under the bed, but bump my head on the frame. I don't fit.
"Hank, here's coffee," his mom calls.
Hank jumps off the bed and snatches up condom wrappers. He puts his pants on with amazing speed, tucking the wrappers into his front pocket. I jump up and hop toward the closet as I pull on my pants, stopping only to gather my shirt, purse, and boots. I ease the folding door closed. The closet is empty save for a few Rubbermaid bins. I dress with deliberate movements, careful not to bump a wall, pausing, one arm in my shirt, the other midair, when the low creak of the bedroom door opening paralyzes me.
"Oh, you're getting dressed. Good. I thought you might be having a hard time waking up. You got in pretty late. Did you have a good time last night?"
I cover my mouth with my hand to keep from snorting. He'd better say he had a fabulous time. I press my head into my palms. What is wrong with me? I'm talking about Hank. Yes, last night I experienced alter-my-psyche, toe-curling sex with him, my best friend's brother. It's the last part that makes me want to hurl. If our acquaintance was recent, not a familiar one with the baggage of a past, if I wouldn't have to hear about it for years to come from my family or his sister, if I knew he could walk away after a few more encounters wanting nothing more, I wouldn't hesitate to repeat last night. Often. This is wrong on so many levels I can't even wrap my mind around it.
The last thing I should care about is whether or not he enjoyed last night. I should care about leaving without doing any more damage. Still, I wonder — what did he think of last night?
"Yeah, it was fun. Tell Dad I'll be ready in a minute."
Fun? He closes the door and I resume dressing. My bra is on inside out, but I don't care, I want to leave. I put my purse on messenger-style and reach to pull on my knee-high socks.
Hank opens the closet door. "You can come out. She's gone." He has a mug of coffee in his hands and a grin on his face.
"Remind me why we came here?" I look up from the closet floor. Neither of us lives here, in Lakeland. We spent last night at a concert in Orlando and could have gone north to my house instead of coming south.
"I'm helping Dad balance his business accounts this weekend. You said you thought it'd be fun to come with me."
"Yep, fun." I say. There's that word again. Fun. Clearly, it's synonymous with stupid.
"I've had fun. You haven't?" He offers me his hand.
"You would describe last night as fun?" I pull on my boots, forego his hand, and scoot past him until I can stand.
"Yeah, fun. What did you have?"
"I don't know." Maybe I had my mind blown, a fantastic night, or experienced a whole different level of pleasure. Whatever I had, Hank had fun.
"Never mind. Help me with this." I walk to the window and ease up the blinds.
Hank doesn't move, just stands by the closet with his coffee. His dark hair is so short it hardly looks mussed and last night's smooth face and jawline are now covered with the shadow of a beard. When we first kissed, yesterday, I held his face between my hands. Today, I want to stretch across the space, hold his face again, and compare the touch, to commit both to memory. My palms itch with need.
"You're really doing this? You think this is a better option than going through the front door and saying you crashed here because you drank too much?" he asks.
"Yes, I do." I ease up the well-oiled window and pop out the screen like a pro. Ten years later and I still have skills. Gigi and I used to sneak out of her room without even waking the dog. I lean over to lower the screen to the ground and check to make sure no one is outside. The desk chair is the perfect height to get me up onto the windowsill, and Hank steps aside to let me drag it over.
I whisper, "I'll hand you the screen, you can put it back, and then you'll need to go distract your parents." I climb up and lower one leg over the sill.
He sips his coffee, makes a face, and puts it on the desk.
"Did you hear me?" I ask in a loud whisper. If I wasn't sitting on a windowsill, half in, half out, this moment would be like all the others I've shared with Hank: comfortable, easy, laughable at one point or another.
"Yeah, yeah. I heard you." He shakes his head with what I'm sure is disbelief. After all, I'm a twenty-five-year-old sneaking out a bedroom window like a fourteen-year-old.
"Just do it," I tell him then jump off the sill onto the ground. I hold the screen and wait for his head to appear. When it does, I hand it to him.
"Don't forget to distract your parents."
"How could I?" he mumbles and fixes the screen.
When he turns away, I pull out my car keys. My SUV sits on the road between Hank's parents' house and the neighbor's. It'll be a run since Hank parked it on the far side of the house. At least I have an escape method and won't have to walk a street over to where my sister lives. She would never buy any story that brought me to her doorstep, without my car, looking like I do.
I stay crouched below the window, fidgeting with my keys until the bedroom door gives its telltale moan. I count to ten before I take off like a shot straight across the yard toward my Pathfinder. Like the dummy I am — sleeping with Hank proves that point — I press the unlock button on my keyless entry. When the horn gives two loud beeps to indicate the lock releasing, I stumble, almost wet my pants, and hit the ground.
I roll over, look at the houses, and wait a breath. Nobody comes out, including Hank or his parents. Relieved, I pick myself up and sprint to my car. I fling the door open, jump in the driver's seat, throw the key in the ignition, and take off, letting acceleration close the door as I floor the gas.
I do quick calculations. Should I make an unscheduled family visit or haul ass home, leaving no one the wiser I was in town? With a groan, I remember this is the weekend my sister is hosting a family dinner. Having begged off with a poor excuse, I'll have to recant if I stay.
A look in the mirror shows circles of mascara under my eyes and a rooster tail on the back of my head. Clearly, it's not wise to see my family in this condition. Mothers are perceptive, at least mine is, and she would know in an instant how I spent my night.
I pull into the lot of the local quickie mart, and make a mental list of necessities as I walk in. My bladder gets top priority. I wash my hands, splash lukewarm water on my face, and pat it dry with a scratchy brown paper towel. It's a start, and it helps clear my head. I make my way to the toiletries. After grabbing a bottle of saline solution off the shelf, I rip off the security tab and do a continuous squeeze of solution into my eyes.
"Ahh. Boy, that feels great," I tell the clerk. Blinking rapidly, I enjoy the saline as it sluices down my face in cascades of pure relief. The clerk, who'd been staring at me as if I were a three-headed freak, begins running a total of my damage in the cash register. I snag a package of tissue off the shelf to wipe my face and head toward the fridge, where I grab a Yoohoo. On my way to the counter, I pick up a box of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and eat one while I pay.
"Paisley?" someone behind me says.
I close my eyes in dread. Maybe, if I stand here long enough, they'll go away.
"I didn't think you were coming to town this weekend. Thought you were running a 5 K or something...."
I turn and look up at my sister's husband, Dan.
I'm cold busted. Of all the rotten, stinking luck.
"Hi, what are you doing here?" There's a box of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts in his hands.
Damn those irresistible doughnuts.
"I think the question is what are you doing here?" he says.
He pays and follows me outside. He's parked next to me. I guess he came in while I was in the restroom.
"I was in Orlando and figured I'd come on in." My voice quivers.
"Mmm-hmm. Reckon we'll be seeing you for dinner," he says.
"Uh, yeah. I'll let Sarah Grace know."
He nods and moves toward his truck.
"Hey, Dan," I call. "I would appreciate you not telling anyone you ran into me."
"See you later." He waves, gets in his truck, and drives away without a backward glance.
I sit in my SUV. My only real option is to go to Gigi's. I need a shower and a change of clothes. I'm not up for any more run-ins with people I know, so that rules out Target and a glance at the clock tells me the mall is closed. I'm pulling into traffic when my phone rings. More focused on avoiding a collision than checking my caller ID, I bring it to my ear.
"You're in the clear," Hank says. His voice catches me off guard and I fumble my phone and drop it between my legs.
With trembling hands, I switch the call to Bluetooth.
"Paisley?" he says.
"Sorry, I dropped the phone. Does anyone know I was there?" Honestly, this is the first time he's had me twisted up in knots.
"Nope. Not a clue. I still think you should have stayed for breakfast." He yawns. The simple sound brings forth the sensation of our naked bodies nestled together, the comfort of our sleep entwining us, and I suppress the urge to fan my face.
"Are you crazy? Was I supposed to walk out in your shirt and join your parents? Morning, Poppy. Morning, Ms. Becky. Your son and I had sex all night long and I'm famished," I mimic and Hank laughs.
"Well it wasn't all night. We did sleep the last few hours." His voice is like chocolate, rich and creamy, and I kick myself for not staying around for a second helping.
"Hank Lancaster." I pull into a strip mall parking lot, unable to concentrate on driving while talking to him.
"Where are you right now?"
"About to get on I-4," I lie. I don't want him to know I'm staying in town. If we get together again, I'll probably want a repeat performance, and then I won't be able to call our night of sex a mistake. He'll accuse me of wanting more.
He'd be right, but there is no need to have that conversation.
"You know not to head home without me, right?"
Bam! It's like being slapped upside the head. The aftermath of this impulse doesn't ever seem to end.
"Because my truck is still in Orlando and you are my ride to get it."
Stupid me. Telling him last night I wanted to go to Lakeland, too. If we'd gone to my apartment in Daytona Beach, I would not be in this predicament.
"It was stupid to come here."
"It was stupid to climb out the window," he retorts.
"It was stupid to hook up."
Excerpted from The Girl He Knows by Kristi Rose. Copyright © 2014 Kristi Rose. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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
Friends to Lovers. Not sure about this one. Wanted to knock their heads together. Why couldn't Hank be clear about what he wanted rather than laid back? When he finally tells her his feelings, he rejects her! Not a book I will re-read.
Loved this book! Hank was amazing. He was supportive and trying to be the man Paisley needed even when she didn't truly know what she needed. He tried to take things at her pace to keep her comfortable. I was glad to see him stand up to her. and I absolutely love the last scene of the book... "Don't you dare say it!" This story was full of heart, friendship, self-discovery, and love. Can't wait for the rest of the series!
Too many main characters.just ok
Man, I needed this book. The quirky, fun humor hit me at just the right time. I swear to God, I laughed so damned hard through the sex toy party I couldn't see straight. I mean, really, who hasn't been in that exact (and grossly awkward) situation? Even better is when Hank finds BOB. ;) Yes, the humor was great and the back and forth tension between Hank and Paisley was spot on for this light, enjoyable romance, but I think the part I liked even better were the rich emotional arcs. I could really identify with the struggles Paisley faced coming out of a failed marriage and loved the journey of her fighting her way from her fears. Hank was a lovely hero. I loved how stalwart he was throughout the book and found myself rooting for him in the end. If you're up for a light, funny, heart-touching romance, this is a great one to pick up.
New to me author Kristi Rose offers a laugh out loud funny story about friends who become lovers. On the heels of her recent divorce, Paisley wakes up in her best friend, Gigi’s childhood home, naked, lying next to Gigi’s brother, Hank. After some serious freaking out, she manages to get dressed and makes her escape. When Hank proposes a no-strings attached relationship, Paisley agrees to it, thinking it will help her transition back into the dating life of a singleton. Neither one of them is prepared for how they feel for each other and what role their past plays on their present and future. I really liked Paisley. She’s flawed and damaged. She doesn’t trust herself and is a bit of a doormat. I found it easy to relate to her, her disappointments, frustrations and fears. She makes mistakes, has been hurt in love and still mourns the death of her father. In her shoes, I would probably make the same decisions and choices. Hank was a fantastic character. He really is a knight in shining armor but I loved that he is able to convey his feelings so eloquently. There’s a scene between him and Paisley that was hard to read, but it was so refreshing to see a male to be able to share his feelings without hidden agenda or manipulation. With Hank, Paisley gets the hard truth, pure and simple. I would have liked to see more closure with Jake, the bartender Paisley briefly dates. I did not like this character and it seemed like the author was heading into a very sinister and dark place, which was okay, but I would have liked to see that loose thread tied up. With the exception of the bartender, I liked the characters and felt a connection to them, which is important to me as a reader. The author has an amazing flair with vocabulary and I got such a kick from listening to Paisley’s inner monologue. This book moves at a great pace and kept me interested and entertained from start to finish. My Final Verdict: I recommend this book to anyone looking for a fast read that will tickle your funny bone and tug on your heartstrings. I am hooked and will be looking for more of this author’s work. Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of The Girl He Knows from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Love it when a book starts out with a bang. Literally. Paisley wakes up naked and a little hung over in the bed of her best friend's brother, Hank. Hank is just home from an overseas assignment, and they went out on the town together the night before. He's equally as naked and his mother is knocking on the door to get him to come to breakfast. Imagine the mortification. The story centers around Hank and Paisley who try to resist each other, but find the task impossible. Paisley is fresh off a divorce and doesn't want her best friend to know she's broken the BFF code of don't hook up with said friend's brother. But I have to say, I might consider breaking that girl-rule. Rugged on the outside with a gooey candy center, Hank is definitely book boyfriend material. Paisley jumps at the chance he offers for a 'no-strings-attached' fling. In spited of her desire to spread her dating wings and see other men, she finds herself falling for Hank. The cast of characters Kristi Rose created for this first novel in her series is deep, varied and dealing with troubles just like everyone else. No one is perfect, or has the perfect marriage, or children, or job. Everyone has flaws, including Hank, the perfect on the surface love interest. This book is well written, heart warming, soul searching and snarky, witty fun. I enjoyed it from the first page to the last.
I really liked this book
Can friends become lovers ... especially when it is with your best friend's brother? After a painful divorce, Paisley McAllister is on a journey of self-discovery and rebuilding her life. But after waking up next to her best friend Gigi's older brother Hank, she's broken the BFF code of not coveting or fornicating with a friend's brother ... so what's she to do now? Hank Lancaster is a Naval Officer who has returned home to Florida after an overseas tour in Japan. He's secretly always had a thing for Paisley since they were kids, and now that she's single again it's his turn to make her see that they are right for each other. So when he presents a "no strings attached, friends with benefits" arrangement to Paisley, he's hoping that the girl he knows will see that it's worth the risk and turn it into something more. In her debut novel, The Girl He Knows, author Kristi Rose weaves a lighthearted and entertaining romance novel that easily draws the reader into Paisley and Hank's story. Set in Daytona Beach and Lakeland, Florida, the reader follows Paisley as she rediscovers who she is and what she wants in her life after a painful divorce. Determined to recapture what she had missed when she had married young, Paisley embraces her singlehood status, but never considered the possibility of it including her best friend Gigi's older brother, hunky Naval Officer Hank Lancaster! So can a friends-with-benefits, no-strings-attached arrangement work, or can it be worth the risk of taking a chance on true love? The Girl He Knows is a sassy fun read, it has a great mixture of humor and romance that makes it so easy for the reader to get drawn into the story. I loved the friends to lovers storyline, especially when it is about two people who have known each other since childhood. Paisley and Hank's connection and attraction made me smile, I loved how their banter and playfulness helped their unexpected romantic relationship blossom, even after years of secretly being attracted to each other. And when you add in the quirky personalities of Paisley's best friend / Hank's sister Gigi, Paisley's older sister Sarah Grace, and the rest of their families, you have one delightful romance story that will leave a smile on your face!
This is an enjoyable read about a woman who has struggled through a divorce and is trying to figure out who she is in her new life. One thing that has always been a constant is her friendship with Hank. The book is very entertaining and well written with great characters. If you enjoy friends to lovers stories, this is a good one. I recommend this one.