As Stiletto magazine’s authority on all things breakup-and-heartache, Emma Sinclair writes from personal experience. Five years ago, Emma was Charlotte, North Carolina’s darling debutante and a blushing bride-to-be. Now she’s the ice queen of the Manhattan dating scene. Emma left her sultry Southern drawl behind, but not even her closest friends know that with it she left her heart. Now Emma’s latest article forces her to face her demons—namely, the devilishly sexy guy who ditched her at the altar.
After giving up everything for a pro-soccer career, Alex Cassidy watches his dreams crumble as a knee injury sidelines him for good. Now he’s hanging up his cleats and giving journalism a shot. It’s just a coincidence that he happens to pick a job in the same field, and the same city, as his former fiancée . . . right? But when Emma moves in next door, it’s no accident. It’s research. And Alex can’t help wondering what might have been. Unlike the innocent girl he remembers, this Emma is chic, sophisticated, and assertive—and she wants absolutely nothing to do with him. The trouble is, Alex has never wanted her more.
Praise for The Trouble with Love
“The Trouble with Love is a heartwarming read I devoured in one sitting and haven’t been able to stop smiling over since.”—New York Times bestselling author Violet Duke
Lauren Layne’s New York Times bestselling Oxford Novel series can be read in any order:
I WISH YOU WERE MINE
SOMEONE LIKE YOU
I KNEW YOU WERE TROUBLE
I THINK I LOVE YOU
Don’t miss any of Lauren Layne’s hot reads:
The Love Unexpectedly series: BLURRED LINES | GOOD GIRL | LOVE STORY | WALK OF SHAME | AN EX FOR CHRISTMAS
The Sex, Love & Stiletto series: AFTER THE KISS | LOVE THE ONE YOU’RE WITH | JUST ONE NIGHT | THE TROUBLE WITH LOVE
The Redemption series: ISN’T SHE LOVELY | BROKEN | CRUSHED
The I Do, I Don’t series: READY TO RUN | RUNAWAY GROOM
Includes a special message from the editor, as well as an excerpt from another Loveswept title.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Emma had considered calling in sick.
The flu. Cramps. Measles. Dysentery. Mental health day. Whatever.
At the very least, she probably should have waited until after the morning rush hour. Or perhaps snuck in the back door of her office building along with the water cooler delivery guy.
But Emma Sinclair was not a fan of letting life’s little hiccups inconvenience her.
Although . . .
She supposed one could argue there was nothing so little about the fact that her apartment had gone from completely normal to entirely flooded in less time than it took her to curl her eyelashes.
And as for the fact that said water catastrophe had resulted in her entire building losing power . . . well, that was pretty much just a straight-up apocalypse.
Still. There were worse things than coming into work with your hair soaking wet and your makeup nonexistent, dressed in a hot-pink bridesmaid dress from your cousin’s wedding that was the only dry item in your closet thanks to its protective plastic covering.
Emma had barely bothered to look in the mirror before she’d dashed out of her apartment chased by a string of F-bombs from her frazzled landlord. But then, she didn’t need to look in the mirror to know that her look was one part too glamorous for the office, one part street rat.
Besides, who needed a mirror when you had friends like Julie Greene?
Emma was digging through her bag for the badge that would let her pass through security at the Ravenna office building where she worked, when Julie strolled up behind her, Starbucks cup in hand, smile firmly in place as always.
“Hi, Em . . . aaahh,” Julie said, breaking off in horror as she took in Emma’s appearance.
Emma gave Julie a droll look. “You like?”
“I don’t even understand what’s happening here,” Julie said, her voice mystified. She held out her Starbucks cup. “Here. Take my caramel macchiato. You need it more.”
Emma started to give a dismissive nah, that’s okay, but on second thought, accepted the offering. Her friend was right. She did need it more. The Incident had happened mid coffee-brew, which meant Emma was running on a caffeine deficit.
She took a sip as Julie continued to stare at Emma’s outfit in dismay.
“Explain?” Julie said.
Emma sighed. “The apartment above me had some sort of water disaster. My entire apartment looks like the set of Titanic, minus the nubile Leo.”
Julie eyed Emma’s wet hair. “So, is your hair wet from, like, dirty pipe water?”
“No,” Emma said, taking a last sip of Julie’s coffee and handing the cup back as she located her badge.
“Fortunately, I’d showered before the pipe burst and I managed to dodge the worst of the spray. Unfortunately, drying my hair wasn’t an option.”
“Right. That whole electrocution thing,” Julie said as they swiped their badges and headed to the elevators.
“Um, yeah, I couldn’t have gotten electrocuted even if I wanted to,” Emma said, punching the Up button. “The power went out.”
Julie’s brown eyes bugged out. “Seriously? Flooded and you have no power? Is everything ruined?”
“Of course not. I still have this lovely dress,” Emma said, pulling the hem of her dress out to the side, curtsy style. She pretended not to notice the way the two girls who had been gossiping happily as they crossed the elevator lobby immediately quieted when they spotted her.
The dress would have been a distraction all by itself. The drippy wet bun was also atypical for a swanky office building in which sophisticated and polished was the unofficial dress code for women.
But a lack of makeup made everything worse. Much worse.
Not that Emma was really a glam type of girl, but she had a distinct disadvantage of having very fair eyelashes, despite her medium brown hair. And her eyes’ shape made it worse. They were both large and tilted upward in a semi-distinctive manner. Bambi eyes, her mother had always called them.
But without eyeliner and mascara, she was more Lord of the Rings’ Gollum than adorable baby deer.
“You know, it’s a good dress, if a bit out of place for work,” Julie mused, as they followed the two gossiping girls and a middle-aged man yapping into his phone onto the elevator. “Sexy. A little slutty even. Go you!”
“That’s great, Jules. Slutty was just what I was going for on a random Wednesday morning at the office.”
“Well then, you should have called me. We’re the same size–ish. I could have lent you something.”
“I’ll be taking you up on that tomorrow,” Emma said as Julie hit the button for the twelfth floor. “Everything I have will need to be dry-cleaned at best, burned at worst. But this morning, I couldn’t make it from Upper East over to Upper West in the middle of traffic and still make it to the office in time.”
The elevator doors had just started to close when a male hand stuck between them, activating their sensors so that the doors reopened.
Great. Really freaking fantastic.
A lesser woman would have groaned in dismay at the sight of the man in front of her.
Emma merely straightened her shoulders, ignoring Julie’s softly uttered “Oh, dear.”
It was him.
The man was gorgeous in the sort of way that made women stop and stare. The tall and lean athlete’s body was as impeccably dressed as ever in a trim, perfectly tailored black suit. No sign of a tie today, although there often was one.
His dark hair was perfectly styled, the clean-shaven face showing off a strong jaw and symmetrical lips.
And the eyes . . . green today, although they often could burn blue.
But Emma didn’t have to look at the man to know all of this.
She knew it all from her memories. Bad memories.
He didn’t falter at the sight of Emma and her low-cut cocktail dress and ugly wet bun.
In fact, he didn’t look at her at all.
Nothing—not surprise, not even acknowledgment—fluttered across his features at her presence.
The man was in control.
Julie shifted to the corner of the elevator to make room for him, and he nodded briefly at her before turning so that he and Emma were standing shoulder to shoulder.
The doors closed, and Emma lifted her eyes to the little screen that indicated the floor number.
He mimicked her posture, his eyes also focused on the spot where the L became 1, then 2 as they ascended.
“Emma,” he said politely, not looking at her.
“You’re looking well.”
“And you,” she said, her tone smooth. Monotone.
“You didn’t get dressed up on my account, I hope.” His voice never lost its casual politeness.
She didn’t so much as glance at him. “Oh, do you not like it? I’ve been so hoping a fancy dress is all it would take for you to ask for my number.”
The elevator stopped on the seventh floor, and Emma and Cassidy stepped to the side so the man in the back corner could exit. In sync, they moved immediately back into their previous positions as the door closed.
They still had not looked at each other.
“You know, it’s a little bright for my taste,” he mused, as though they’d never been interrupted. “I like more subdued colors on a woman. Say . . . white. I always like to see a woman in a white dress. Do you own one?”
Julie cleared her throat, although Emma couldn’t tell if it was a warning or a laugh.
The elevator stopped at 12. Emma’s stop. Finally.
“Excuse me,” she murmured to Cassidy as she stepped off, her voice sugary sweet.
Julie followed her.
And much to Emma’s dismay, so did Cassidy.
“Wrong floor, Cassidy,” Julie said sweetly, with a pretty smile for the wretched man.
“Not today it’s not,” he replied.
“Ah,” Julie said. “Got a meeting with Camille?”
Camille Bishop was the editor in chief of Stiletto magazine, and Julie and Emma’s boss. Since Cassidy was the editor in chief of Oxford magazine, Stiletto’s brother publication, it wasn’t strange that he occasionally stopped by the twelfth floor.
Didn’t mean Emma had to like it.
“See you ladies around,” Cassidy said with a smile for Julie. Emma barely warranted a glance. “Oh, and Emma, just a friendly reminder that winter’s right around the corner. Careful you don’t catch a cold with that wet head.”
He moved away before Emma had a chance to respond. Or give him the finger. Not that she would have bothered.
“Friendly reminder, my tush,” Emma muttered, glaring briefly at his back before she and Julie headed toward the office they shared.
“I think it’s sweet. Maybe he cares,” Julie said, linking her arm in Emma’s.
Emma grunted in response. “Give me the rest of your coffee. I need it.”