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Chapter 1 - Kendall

With one eye pinned on the naked guy in the plush, white bed, I peel my lace panties off the lampshade.

This is a travesty.

Pink panties decorating expensive hotel decor should be reserved for truly epic evenings, but last night turned out to be a dud.


Lawrence is a nice guy. Handsome. A good conversationalist. Smart. On paper, we’re the perfect match. We’ve gone on a few dates. Enjoyed a few dinners. Had a few laughs. He’s a partner at Powell & O’Toole. He’s affable and charming. Motivated and focused.


Too bad he couldn’t find that spot between my legs even after a personal introduction.


My grandma Nonny always says a girl needs to take a car for a test drive before the purchase. Nonny knows what she’s talking about.


Because despite how well Lawrence and I get along, despite how we’re both career-minded with similar goals, when we got naked, everything fizzled faster than a soda past its expiration date. That’s sad because I could really use some explosive bubbles.


Except every time he thrusts, he grunts like he’s returning a volley at Wimbledon.


Shuddering at the memory, I slip on my skirt and blouse, as I tiptoe around the room. As much as I’d like for Lawrence to wake up so we can have the awkward morning-after talk now and spare us an uncomfortable phone call later, I’m already running late. Judging by what he told me in his post-orgasmic state, he wants to do this again.


Me? Not so much.


I should’ve left last night, but I was so damn tired, my whole body ached, and that thousand-thread count felt amazing. Better than sex with Lawrence, sadly. I’ll give him props, though, for splurging on the five-star hotel.


We’d had dinner at the beautiful bistro on the corner, including a fantastic bottle of wine. One thing led to another and we ended up here. But my to-do list is too long to venture these dating waters with someone who doesn’t rock my bedpost.


Is it too much to ask the universe for a boyfriend who could deliver stress-relieving orgasms and the occasional snuggle? I probably only need sex once a week and some mentally stimulating dinner conversation that doesn’t revolve around my clients. Is that really an impossible request?


If I’m being completely honest with myself, no one has matched up to my ex. But now Bobby’s happily married with a new wife and a new baby, living the suburban life while killing it in the NBA.


It shouldn’t bother me.


But it does.


As if I need a reminder of what’s on the agenda today—work, always work—my phone buzzes in my purse.


The screen blinks my assistant’s name with a flurry of incoming messages.


If I were a normal person getting inundated by work texts at eight on a Saturday morning, this is where I’d curse like a sailor.


But I’m not a normal person.


I’m in public relations, so my job never stops. Ever. Because one of my clients is always releasing a new product, or filming a new movie, or getting in trouble. (Sorry, ladies and gentlemen, my client did not mean to get head from his married neighbor on the side of the road! He swears rehab will help him walk the straight and narrow!) And they pay me to clean up their messes, put the spit-shine on their latest pet projects, and make everyone believe they’re gods and goddesses among the plebs.


I do a damn good job of it, if I do say so myself.


And while I love the adrenaline rush that comes with this gig, I’m starting to wonder how much more I can handle, which is not exactly the thought I should be entertaining eight months into starting my own PR firm.


After I send a quick text to Lawrence—Thanks for dinner! Hope you have a great weekend!—I rush out of his hotel room while trying to hop into my designer heels, a rare indulgence from my old life. I have too many fires to put out today to worry about what I look like, unfortunately. Since it’s almost Halloween, maybe the lobby will be too full of hungover zombie revelers for anyone to notice me. Thank God for my giant sunglasses. They’re in my purse somewhere.


When I reach the elevator, I frantically push the button while I slip on my second Louboutin, but I can’t quite reach it. So I lean my shoulder against the steel exterior for balance.

Which is a mistake.

A big mistake.

Because I start to tilt and then slide. Fast.


“Whoa, Nelly.”

Two strong arms come around my waist, and I’m so grateful I didn’t face-plant on the carpet, I want to kiss whoever is holding me up.


My back is pressed against his hard chest, and I see his muscular physique like a giant shadow looming behind me in our reflection of the glossy steel of the elevator doors.

Hello, handsome.

From this angle I can’t quite see his face, just his rugged jaw and a light brown five-o’clock shadow, but with a body like that, the rest of him has to be attractive. I have it bad for athletes, though lately I’ve been trying to stay away from them since my relationship with my ex went down in flames.

Suddenly, I regret flying out of that hotel room without making sure I’m completely presentable. I do a quick survey of myself in the shiny elevator exterior. My hair is in an off-center ponytail, and my face is free from makeup after giving it a quick scrub this morning, but at least my clothes are on straight. My white, silky top shows just the right amount of cleavage. It’s still mostly tucked into my form-fitting skirt.


My heart pounds from nearly killing myself in my four-inch heels, but I’m smiling, almost laughing with relief because I didn’t break my leg.

I’m about to turn around to thank my mystery man—because maybe something good will come from last night after all—when his phone blares “I’m Sexy and I Know It.”


I pause, my face frozen, my brain flipping through an internal Rolodex of guys I’ll never bone as that song rings like a harbinger of douchebaggery.


And then it comes to me.


No way.

I clench my eyes shut, willing my arch-nemesis to be somewhere else in Portland at this very moment and not right up against my ass and turning me on. Because if he’s the one witnessing my walk of shame, I’ll never live it down.


“Drew, if that is you about to cop a feel, I’m going to punch you in the throat.”

His arms un-band from my waist, and I turn around so fast, I nearly trip again. Big hands steady me, and I slap him away.


He chuckles. “Hey K-dawg. Fancy meeting you here.”


Can he ever just call me by my fucking name? Is Kendall that difficult to say?

My nostrils flare when I finally see Drew Merritt face-to-face. And goddamn it, he’s gracing me with one of his come-hither smiles, and it’s all I can do to not knee him in the balls. Especially when I take him in. A snug T-shirt that showcases all of his recent efforts in the gym. Jeans that sculpt around his taut thighs. His hair disheveled in a way that makes his green eyes magnetic. Never mind that he towers over me in a manner that’s both a little intimidating and arousing. God, no.


When did he get this hot? When I first met Drew more than two years ago, he was a slob, complete with baggy clothes, a beer belly, and a disgusting habit of getting shitfaced drunk at any and every occasion. He started losing weight shortly after our best friends started dating, but that’s a far cry from this Instagram-model look he’s rocking.


Drew comes from an absurdly wealthy family that founded the century-old MerrittCo, aka the famous Merritt Company department store chain, and is used to getting his way. Guys like him are the reason I have a job.


Because they always fuck up.

And Drew tends to crash and burn more than most.

I give him another once-over, expecting a wave of stale sex stench to waft my way, but I only catch a whiff of cigarettes and a hint of cologne.


When has Drew ever worn cologne? I want to laugh at the idea he tried to spiff himself up for whomever he screwed last night. Ridiculous. Drew never tries for anyone but himself. And just because he doesn’t smell like an orgy doesn’t mean one didn’t happen.

I take a fortifying breath, ready to lay into him like I always do, because old habits die hard, when the door to the left of us opens, and out struts Lawrence.

Wrapped from the waist down in a sheet.

Headed my way.

What is he doing?

I have my answer when he pulls me into his arms and buries his face in my neck. “Hey, baby. Last night was amazing. Give me five minutes and let’s grab breakfast.”

Drew’s eyebrows hike up as he watches the guy I slept with last night—the one I need to break things off with—snuggle me. In the hall.

In front of fucking Drew Merritt.

What the holy hell have I done to earn this humiliation?

When I said I wanted a man to snuggle me, I meant in bed. In private. Not in front of this guy who’s always hated me.

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