And I intended to fully explore that reason, as soon as he finished rescuing me, along with the other women I had been kidnapped with. One of whom was a sassy, saucy woman named Layla. I tried to convince her, and myself, that Puck Lawson wasn't my type.
She just laughed. "Honey, Puck isn’t anyone’s type," she told me. "You don’t go looking for guys like Puck. They find you, and somehow, you’re never quite able to walk away after that.”
Although, I had a feeling I might be unable to walk at all by the time he was finished with me...
That should have been it. I should have hit the road as soon as I could, because I’m a vagabond, a drifter. A homeless orphan with no family and no future except what I create for myself. Which is why getting tangled up with a guy—no matter how tall, dark, quiet, and sexy he may be—is a really terrible idea.
Yet…I kissed him anyway. And that one kiss? It set my world on fire, turned everything upside down.
I know I shouldn’t get involved with him. I tell myself I won’t. Yet, I still get pulled in by him and his seven brothers and their wives and girlfriends—by the concept of family, something I haven’t had in a very, very long time. Something I never thought I’d have again.
Every moment I spend with Lucian turns my present into perfect, and puts my future at risk.
* * *
As the second youngest Badd brother, I’ve lived my entire life in the long, broad shadows cast by my older brothers—the burly, bad boy bartender, the Navy SEAL, the trick pilot, the athlete, and the rock star twins. Even my younger brother, Xavier, finds a way to outshine everyone in the room with his unassuming charisma and dizzying intellect. More and more lately, I’ve been asking myself where I fit in.
And then Joss Mackenzie fell into the Inside Passage in the middle of a freak snowstorm, and in so doing, fell into my life. I saved her from the icy water, but can I can I save myself from falling for a girl I know is only going to end up doing the one thing she does best—leave?
It’s evident from the first kiss what the answer is—there’s no saving myself, not from the magnetic appeal of her wild, untamable spirit, or the exotic allure of her caramel skin and long dreadlocks and golden-brown eyes and perfect body. I’m helpless against this attraction.
But as I seek to find myself and my place among my larger-than-life brothers, will I lose my heart to the exotic beauty with walls a mile high and a tragic past?
Love is in the air, commitments are being made, careers are being abandoned—nothing is easy. Except our sexual chemistry. Which is off-the-charts hot. But is it JUST chemistry, or is it more? We both want it to be more, but the question is, which one of us is going to be the first to risk heartbreak in order to find out? We both have dark pasts that are holding us back and may keep us from true happiness.
Intense sexual connection is easy…love, commitment, and figuring out the future? Well…that’s a whole lot harder.
And it’s twice as hard when you’re twins.
I finally get it. And to think, it only took my heart being pried out of my chest and stomped on five separate times by men who claimed they loved me. That's got to be a record, right?
Let me put it as simply as I can:
Fairy tales aren't real. Love is a lie. And, at least in my experience, sex never comes with a happy ending.
Fortunately, I still have B.O.B, and he'll never fall out of love with me. I won't walk in on him in bed with another woman either. Nope. As long as I keep supplying him with fresh batteries, B.O.B's only purpose in life is to make me happy.
And, damn it, I deserve to be happy. I'm a nice person. I work hard. And, most importantly, I've learned my lesson:
I will never, ever let a man near my heart again.
My secret to happiness is to be completely upfront with what I want and, trust me, it has nothing to do with Laney's heart. Her lips? Hell yeah. A few other parts of her body? You better f*cking believe it. But her heart? Nope. Not even a little.
Until it does...a lot.
Forget I said that. I don't have feelings for anyone. They were all ripped out of me when I was a kid.
This thing between Laney and me could be great. But we have to follow certain rules. We have a good time--no dates, no sleepovers, no expectations. When one of us is ready for something new or if she starts getting too attached, we move on with no hard feelings. Win-win, and everybody's happy.
I came into this thinking it would be the same thing as it had always been and that she was like any other beautiful woman.
It isn't. She isn't.
But how do I tell her she deserves someone better, someone who can love her, someone who's not broken, if I can't seem to let her go?
***standalone contemporary romance/romantic comedy without a cliffhanger or cheating***
Virtually Impossible (Once and Forever #2)
Deeper Water (Once and Forever #3) Carson and Laney's after happily-ever-after
Darker Water is a friends-with-benefits story inspired by The Frog Prince, and this is how Carson and Laney's fairy tale begins:
Once upon a time there was a young woman who lived in a tall glass tower in the middle of a city. She wasn't incredibly beautiful but she was attractive, probably somewhere around the eighty-fifth percentile. She was smart, kind, honest, and good with animals.
But the most beautiful thing about her was her heart, for it was made of the purest of golds. Unfortunately, she wasn't very good at taking care of it, and over the years, it lost its shine. Because every time she met a prince, she believed him to be perfect--strong but gentle, brave, and caring. So, she would show him her heart and give it to him to hold, thinking he would take care of it.
What she hadn't yet realized was that there was a curse put on her...at some time...by someone. And the curse was this: The moment the woman gave her heart away and kissed the prince--believing it to be true love--the prince would begin to change. Sometimes slowly, other times quickly. But he always turned into a frog. And although the frog would give her heart back to her, each time it was a little more worn, a little less brilliant.
But the woman didn't give up trying to find a prince who would remain a prince, knowing that somewhere out there was someone who could heal her heart and break the curse by remaining a prince after she kissed him.
Then one day, she finally understood the curse's power. No one could heal her, she would never find a prince, and the curse would never be broken.
And so, clutching what was left of her heart, she gave up her search.