Trent McNeil was a classic trust-fund kid until he watched a team of firefighters save his family home. From that moment on, he rebelled against the path his parents were determined to keep him on. Now a San Diego firefighter, he knows he'll eventually be expected to take over the family empire. But until that day, his only plan is to have fun and enjoy life.
After a childhood of upset and uncertainty, Amy Hodge is going to make something out of herself. She has her future all planned out. She's starting medical school and is going to be busy...far too busy for a relationship. But she does have time for a quick fling before she buckles down and concentrates on her studies.
Amy quickly realizes that playboy Trent is not all he seems to be. Never relinquishing control and sticking to her plans has done well for Amy, but no one has ever made her want to throw caution to the wind like this sexy firefighter.
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The club was insane. Music wove through the crowd of people pressed up against my bar, and the air was thick and dense. Every breath I took as I worked was perfume, alcohol, and sweat, and it fueled me as I flew around behind the bar, my feet moving in time with Rob's guitar as he played a Pearl Jam cover on the stage up front.
This was the way I liked the club. Busy, filled with people drinking, dancing, and having fun. I liked the motion and the noise, the girls, and my friends doing shots on the other side of the bar. Nights like this reminded me I was young and alive.
"Hey, darlin'." I smiled at the girl leaning over the bar. Her familiar eyes glittered as she watched me. She was young and pretty, her full cherry lips pulled into a smile.
"Hi, Trent," she said, changing her expression to a pout. "I haven't heard from you in a while."
"I'm sorry, Lindsay," I said, already making her usual orange crush as I shot her a smile. "Things have been busy." It was a good enough excuse. I ran this bar for my family and worked shifts as a firefighter. I was busy. And I was also not a call-you-later kind of guy.
She continued to pout, but I earned a smile when I slid her drink across to her and waved her money away. "Consider it an apology," I said. "Have a great night. I'll talk to you soon."
I didn't say I'd call her. That'd be a promise, and I didn't like to break those, so I never made them.
Lindsay wandered back to her friends at a far table, and I took a breath as the relentless thirst of the crowd ebbed for a minute. I turned to my friends — firefighters from the station who liked to come hear Rob play and soak up whatever free alcohol I was willing to send their way. Oliver and Chad were good guys. They probably would have come even if I wasn't generous with the drinks.
Chad's head was bent forward, listening to someone I couldn't see because his big body was blocking the view. I grinned. Chad had always been popular with women. The way he leaned in close to talk to this girl and the encouraging tenor of his laugh made me pretty sure he was interested in her.
"Hey, guys, doing okay?" I said, leaning toward my friends.
Oliver stood taller to look at me, and I took a sharp breath as I caught sight of the girl he'd been talking to. She was way out of his league. Hell, she was way out of everyone's league. She was the kind of gorgeous you saw on magazines and in movies — tight black tank top and long silky hair that feathered over the curve of her chest when she moved, light brown eyes and a smile that made you wish it was aimed at only you.
"Dude, this is Amy. Amy, Trent." Oliver introduced me, and I did my best to toss off a casual greeting.
"Oliver tells me you're the HMFIC," she said, smiling a million-dollar smile.
My mind wasn't moving at its usual speed, thanks to the way this girl's eyes glittered when she spoke. Pretty girls weren't hard to come by in San Diego — and both bartenders and firefighters seemed to have better odds than the average guy of catching the attention of the ones we wanted. But there was something intangible about this girl that was slowing my game.
"I'm not sure what that means, but you let me know if I need to rearrange his anatomy, okay?" I said, my mind still trying to figure out the acronym she'd fired off. I didn't like being in second place in the flirting game.
"The head mother-effer in charge," she said, the smile never faltering. "And I don't think you should hurt Ollie. He seems like a decent guy."
Something in me riled at her half compliment to my friend. Nope. I didn't want her complimenting Oliver or interested in Oliver. He'd met her first, but I wanted her interested in me. I turned to my default — humor. "He's okay if you can get past the chronic flatulence," I said.
Oliver shook his head and laughed when Amy did, and he gave me a little shrug that told me to go for it. "Thanks a lot, dude." He stepped back to the other guys, leaving Amy looking up at me with those huge eyes.
"So you're in town for work," I guessed. "Mixing a little business with your pleasure?" It didn't make much sense, but I wanted to know everything about her. Immediately. I knew I should be scanning the bar, taking money and serving drinks, but the idea of turning away from Amy now that I had a chance to talk to her was impossible to resist.
"I live here," she corrected. "My sister, Dani, wanted to drop in to say hello to Rob." She introduced her sister, who greeted me distractedly and then returned her focus to where Rob was finishing his set up on stage. Interesting. Rob hadn't mentioned a girl, but it explained why he'd seemed distracted tonight. I was beginning to feel pretty damn distracted myself.
I got Amy and her sister a drink and then was pulled away to help other customers. I talked and joked with the clientele who made the High Note one of the best bars downtown on any given night, but something tugged me constantly back to Amy, like a tractor beam connected us.
Rob was at the bar when I got back, and Amy was between Oliver and Chad. Her light brown hair glowed under the amber lights, and her skin practically sparkled.
"Sorry about that," I said, returning to face her. "So what do you do, Amy?"
She lifted a shoulder and told me she was in pharmaceutical sales. "Basically, I'm a drug dealer."
The guys laughed, and I pictured Amy in a suit. This was a girl who could definitely pull off the sexy executive look. "Kind of makes me wish I'd gone into medicine," I told her, ducking my head so only she could hear me. I knew it was cheesy. I knew it was lame. Normally, I was smooth. I knew what to say to women, how to make them smile. I'd been brought up to be polite, and I found that successful flirting was really just a variation on etiquette. People appreciated it when you paid attention to them. They liked it when you were kind. And flirting with a beautiful woman wasn't much more complicated than showing her you appreciated her personality and looks, that she was more than worth some kindness and politeness. But with Amy? It was coming out crooked. I was nervous with her standing there in front of me, looking up at me with those fiercely intelligent eyes. I hadn't been nervous around a girl in a while. And so I'd dropped a cheesy line, but it didn't look like she was having it. And that made me like her more.
"Do these lines usually work for you, Fireman Trent?" Her voice was low, but Chad heard her and hooted with laughter.
I felt a slow blush creeping up my neck, and I chased it with a hand, shaking my head. "Actually, yeah."
Amy looked around. "Kind of like shooting fish in a barrel for you in here then, I guess."
"Damn, brother," Oliver said, grinning at me. "She's got your number."
Shit. I couldn't tell if she was flirting or just having fun at my expense. Since she was still talking to me, I didn't care. "All right," I said, lifting my hands in the air. I'd try another approach. "You got me. I was flirting."
"I got that," she said, shaking her head lightly with a grin. Her eyes were twinkling under the lights. She lifted her beer to her lips, and I couldn't help but stare at the exposed column of her throat as she swallowed. I gripped the edge of the bar to keep myself from reaching out to touch her.
Amy looked at me again, and I thought she was about to say something when her sister grabbed her arm and pulled her attention away. Amy's posture shifted as they spoke, almost shielding the smaller girl from the crowd around her. I realized Amy must be the older sister, and that she was protective. And if Rob was involved with Dani, it meant I'd probably get to see Amy again no matter how things ended tonight. Some of my confidence bubbled back. Maybe I'd get another chance.
"Hey, FT," she said, and my brain scrambled again.
FT?Fireman Trent, right.
"You should call me." She handed me a thick business card with the name of her company emblazoned across the top and her name, Amy Hodge, beneath it. Her number and email were printed on it, too, and I felt like I'd won the lottery.
"I will," I said, pushing the card into my wallet and returning it to my pocket.
I watched Amy wind away from me through the crowd and realized I'd just made her a promise. The strange thing was I knew I was going to keep this one.CHAPTER 2
"I can't believe you didn't keep that gorgeous purse. I would have bought it from you," my best friend, Amber, moaned after I told her about my latest bout of buyer's remorse, which had involved a way-too-expensive bag. She handed me a beer from her fridge as she shuffled back to the spot on the couch next to me. "God knows, I never have time to go shopping for myself between seeing patients and chasing Jack around. You sure you want this glamorous life?" Amber waved her arm to indicate both her La Jolla apartment and herself. "Up at dawn for rounds, in the office until God knows when, no time for men or friends or —"
"What the hell am I?" I asked, trying not to be offended by being construed as something other than "friend."
"No, no, you're a friend ... I just mean." Amber huffed out a frustrated sigh and looked around. "We should be out. We should be at a hot club. I should be wearing stilettos and something slinky, flirting with a fireman of my own ... but even when Jack's with his dad, I'm way too exhausted for anything beyond sweats and beer on the couch. The life of a doctor is pretty damn fancy."
Amber worked harder as a cardiac surgeon than anyone I knew. And despite her complaints about long hours and no sleep, I was sure her life was exactly what I wanted for myself. Maybe not the sweats and beer, but I was pretty sure about the rest. She was the one who'd convinced me to start on the road toward medical school, and she'd inspired my desire to pursue cardiology.
"The purse was way expensive," I said, trying not to think too longingly of the gorgeous bag I'd returned. "It'd look like I was trying too hard if I carried something like that. I'm more of a thrift-store girl."
"Oh my God, no, you're not." Amber rolled her eyes. "You make awesome money, you work hard, and you deserve it. If you want a nice bag, you should have one. You can afford it."
It was hard to explain to her that while it was about the money, it also wasn't about the money.
"I don't need it," I said.
"Your call," Amber said with a shrug. "Okay, now tell me all about Fireman Trent." She grinned and put down her beer, actually rubbing her hands together in anticipation. An eager smile parted her full lips, and her dark brown eyes gleamed. "I have to live vicariously for now, so spill it."
The mention of Trent's name stirred up a low glow of excitement that had been smoldering inside me since I'd handed him my card that night at the High Note. I'd learned — through a conversation constantly interrupted by the crowd and him having to fill drink orders — that he ran the High Note for his family in addition to being a firefighter in Ocean Beach.
"We're meeting tomorrow afternoon."
Amber nodded. We'd been to the funky coffee shop on Mission Beach together a couple times in the past. "Perfect opportunity for a stroll down the beach afterward," she said, grinning.
"If it goes well, I guess." I hadn't thought past coffee. Truth be told, I hadn't thought past just showing up at Mission Brew.
"Why do you look like you might be sick?" Amber asked, stiffening as if she were about to go get me a bucket.
"I'm fine." My voice was too bright. She wasn't buying it, so I just admitted my concerns. "I don't know — I might've given him the wrong idea. I was super forward the other night. He probably thinks I'm fun and outgoing."
"You are fun and outgoing, loser. Is this going to be a hot-air balloon situation?" she asked, her voice low and wary.
"Dammit. Why can't anyone forget about that?" I should never have told her. It's bad enough my sister uses it against me any time she thinks I'm being too indecisive. "I just changed my mind about that," I explained for the hundredth time.
"About the perfect guy and the perfect date. And you just didn't show."
And that had been the end of that relationship. But I couldn't help that I got cold feet sometimes, and I really didn't need the distraction of commitment. Which didn't change the fact I was very distracted by Trent and his surf-god good looks and messy blond hair.
I picked up my beer bottle, stood, and walked to the window that faced out onto the community pool. There were people swimming in the glow of the pool lights, and one couple in the corner who looked like swimming was definitely not the first thing on their minds. "I hope they use a lot of chlorine in your pool."
"You're not getting out of answering," she said. "You're not going to freak out and cancel on Trent, right?"
"Argg. No. I'm not. I mean, I won't pretend it hasn't crossed my mind. And, yeah, I'm totally nervous."
"Sure. Of course."
"I could cancel. That's what I usually do. Or I show up and then make some excuse to leave, right?"
Amber nodded. She'd witnessed this behavior a few times.
"But I'm tired of doing that, even though I really don't need to be getting into anything just before starting med school," I said. "Still, maybe I'm too old to keep running away from everything that feels scary."
"You're tired of returning the bag," she suggested.
It took me a second to realize what she meant. Yeah, I'm tired of second-guessing things I wanted. "Right. So I'm going to go and have some fun with a hot guy." I closed my eyes as I said it, making a promise to myself as much as to Amber. In my head, I saw Trent's easy smile, his messy blond hair falling over his forehead, and the reassuring glint that had sparked in his deep chocolate eyes when he'd said he would call me.CHAPTER 3
Waiting until the afternoon to see Amy had me spinning my wheels as soon as I got up, a restless energy zipping around in my gut and my head turning up all kinds of scenarios.
Coffee, loser. It's just coffee.
I hadn't been this worked up about a girl in as long as I could remember.
I was about to go out for a run to work off some tension when my phone rang.
Dad. I contemplated not answering, but the least I could do was listen as he told me about the many things I'd done wrong since we spoke last. "Hey, Dad."
"Son." Dad's voice was serious, which was not unusual. Dad had two modes — all business and partly business. The partly business mode was the one I preferred, but that was reserved mostly for wining and dining clients and business associates, and for beautiful women. I generally got all- business Dad.
"Definitely not profits at the High Note," he said. It was almost a joke. Except Dad never joked about business. "When I gave you the responsibility of managing the club, it was intended to be a primer to ready you to take over McNeil. Son, if I hand you the business now, I'm confident it'll be bankrupt inside three years."
You might as well punch me in the stomach. Actually, it'd be preferable to the dark, twisting discomfort of being told what a complete disappointment I am. I stayed silent. No response was needed. This was nothing new.
"What's going on down there? Are you still letting your fireman buddies behind the bar? I thought you hired that manager I pointed you to. All you should have to do is check in and let her know you've got your eye on things. How hard can that be?"
"Sorry, Dad. I'll spend more time down there this week and see what's going on."
"Either you're failing miserably or someone's skimming, Trent. These numbers don't add up. And frankly" — he paused for dramatic effect — "it should be you calling me to talk about this. You should have been the one to notice."
"You're right." I treated the club more like a fun place to hang out with my friends than an actual business I was responsible for. Part of that was because if I cared too much, there was a pretty solid chance I'd fuck it up anyway. "I'll be down there this week. I'll get it worked out," I told him.
"Let's talk this weekend," he said. "You can come up to the house. Your mother misses you."
"Sure." It was impossible to hide my complete lack of enthusiasm.
"Saturday, Trent," he said, and hung up without a goodbye.
I ran for the better part of an hour, working hard to recover my enthusiasm for the day. My dad had a way of winding into my confidence and pulling little pieces out, making everything unsteady. Unfortunately, today, it had me worried about my date with Amy.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Without Promises"
Copyright © 2018 Delancey Stewart.
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
A great addition to the series. Trent and Amy sizzled together. And I truly loved the way he pursued her and never gave up on her. Trent could make you swoon, big time. I loved the way they jumped into a relationship despite wanting to be casual. Amy came to his side several times without hesitation when he needed someone. I loved how they connected intimately, and also how they got to know each other. Amy's scenes with her sister as well as Trent's with Rob were scarce, but impactful. I wish they had more interactions. I am looking forward to more in this series, hopefully there will be more. I received this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher through Netgalley.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. Trent and Amy couldn't have come from two different worlds. Really...he has a trust fund and she was in foster care until her Nana took her and her sister in. So when they decide to indulge in a one night fling - Amy knows she needs to keep it at one night. Well, of course one night leads to a few months. During this time Amy get to meet Trent's not so warm family and she realizes how different their worlds are. Trent won't let her distance herself though. In all of this there's several struggles going on - the expectations of Trent's family on him and who he should settle down with; his overly annoying mother; his acting out teenage sister; and then there's his job. Not to mention Amy is stressing on how she's going to pay for medical school and keep her own sister happy. It's always fascinating to see someone else's perspective on how things in life are. There's not a firm this or that way. Sometimes it can be both. Amy just has to wrap her head around being able to have both. In reading this story I struggled with the beginning. It just didn't grab me like I thought it would. At least it picked up though and then it seemed like I was done in no time. If you like an opposites attract novel this one should be on your list.
Trent the firefighter by day, bartender by night running a club his wealthy father owns. Hot Spot it is and it's there where he meets Amy and he can't take his eyes off her. She's different. He's completely enamored. She gives him her business card, he calls her. They have a coffee date which leads to more dates and them getting closer. She lives with her sister Dani, in the house their Gran left them. The girls didn't have the best childhood and Amy in particular. Dani spends most of her time with Rob (read book one), Amy's on her way to med school, leaving little time for much else. Her friend Amber is a cardiac surgeon and advisor, it's she who encourages Amy to get out there and have some fun, something Amy has always denied herself. So she takes the leap with Trent, defines relatively that when she starts school she won't have time, so this is short term and Trent had already said he doesn't do relationships. However it's exactly what he's in and what he wants from her. Trent's wealthy family plays a huge role in this story and I'm not going into the details only to say that at one point Trent so angry at a meal spills out that he and Amy are engaged. Which sends his flipping witch of a mother into orbit. His father is quite pleased. He's got a younger sister who is ignored by both parents and Trent is too busy too, so they try to include her in some things. She's a typical 16 year old with a boulder of a chip on her shoulder. There are a couple of incidents that transpire in the book that send Amy running, with very good reason and she breaks things off with Trent. He's one miserable man after that, and it takes another series of events and a voice from someone unexpected to show Trent where he needs to suck it up and set some boundaries with his mother first and foremost and then his father. Then go after Amy. This is a very busy book, the kind you feel like you're on a ride that's spinning faster and you can't get off. I'm not sure what I really felt about Trent. Amy I did like. Amy had her past issues but she was upfront about them and they were in the past. She lived in the present and I liked that about her. Her realistic view and attitude had me right on board with her. Trent came from a different world, even though he took a job as a firefighter, when he was called back to the family business, he went. The man didn't put all that money where his mouth was, I think that was my problem with him. All in all a good read. Makes me wonder who's up next. **advanced copy from NetGalley and Entangled for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.**
3.5 stars for 2nd chance romance. Without Promises is the second standalone book in the ‘Under The Pier’ series by Delancey Stewart. And, even though it is the second book in the series, it’s my first by this author. I have to say, I struggled a little bit as there are some references made that are obviously covered in book 1 (Without Words). Without Promises is about Trent McNeil, a part-time firefighter/ bar owner, who’s also a trust fund kid and Amy Hodges, a pharmaceutical agent on the cusp of changing careers. They meet at Trent’s bar and he is attracted to her and wants to get to know her better. Amy has a lot of hangups from her past. Trust being one of them. She agrees after some little persuasion to have a no commitment fling for summer before she knuckles down and starts med school. But what started as a fling so became more… a lot more. While I liked the story well enough, I didn’t love it. The characters were good, but not great, they felt a little stilted at times. Trent especially. Yes, he was super sexy… eventually, when the story called for it. He was supposed to be this big alpha man, but he came off as a bit wishy-washy to me with no backbone to stand up to his overbearing and interfering mother. Amy’s future seemed to be set out for her, but with money worries, she didn’t appear to be as ready as she should be. Her head wasn’t truly in the game. I guess you could say I didn’t connect with the characters or the story. It all just lacked lustre for me, so maybe that’s why it felt like the author was writing the story to a set timescale for when certain things should happen, i.e, the first kiss, first time they had sex. And for a story about a fling that was supposed to be ‘all about the sex’, it took its time happening. Yes, there was more to it, and the characters but it just didn’t gel for me and that makes me sad. Maybe once I’ve read the first book in this series and came back to this one I’ll feel differently.
This was an enjoyable read. As with other books I've read by this author I really enjoyed the writing style, character development, and story pace. The biggest difference with this book is the characters. I liked them but I didn't love them. Trent comes across as this strong alpha firefighting bartender but when it comes to his family he has no backbone. Amy is a woman with a plan but she seems to lack the self confidence to pull it off. Still I found I enjoyed the overall story and I couldn't help but cheer for Trent and Amy to find their way. I would recommend this one.
3.5 stars Sweet, but with a pinch of angst that keeps you hooked Without Promises was an entertaining read. Instant lust flies right from the start, but the true relationship delivers a steamy slow burn that had me bouncing between so many feelings. From absolute swoon to flat out frustration, no matter what I was feeling I couldn’t stop reading. Two vastly different people, yet similar in many ways Trent and Amy both had me riveted to their story. With their immense chemistry, but neither wanting a commitment Trent and Amy are both up for a simple fling. As they spend more and more time getting to know each other and feelings turn into much more it seems like every aspect of their lives is working to keep them apart. From controlling families to future careers and a good bit of second guessing an fear these two had so many hurdles to jump. Every ounce of pain and frustration was worth the sweet love that bloomed between them though.