NEW RELEASE & EXCERPT: The Hot One by Lauren Blakely
Ever notice that sometimes a guy will do something really stupid, like let the love of his life slip through his fingers?
Yeah. I'm that guy. But the instant I run into her again I’ve got one goal and one goal only—a second chance. The plan? Go big or go home.
Fine, at first glance, stripping naked at my ex-girlfriend's place of work might not seem like the brightest way to win her heart again. But trust me on this count—she always liked me best without any clothes on. And sometimes you've got to play to your strengths when you're fighting an uphill battle. As a lawyer, I know how to fight, and I'm prepared to fight hard for her. Because sometimes you need a second chance at first love.
He's the one who got away . . .
The nerve of Tyler Nichols to reappear like that at my job, showing off his rock-hard body that drove me wild far too many nights. That man with his knowing grin and mischievous eyes is nothing but a cocky jerk to saunter back into my life.
Except, what if he's not . . .? I've tried like hell to forget him, but maybe I'm cursed to remember the guy I fell madly in love with eight years ago. Lord knows I’m not over him, so what's the harm in giving him a week to prove he's changed in the ways that matter?
After all, how do you resist the hot one . . .?
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Technically, I didn't drop my drawers the first time I saw her again. Just my balls.
The ones in my hands. Juggling balls.
Here’s how it went down. Picture a Sunday morning in Central Park. A perfect summer day. The grass was green, the breeze was warm, and I’d just spent the last few hours getting acquainted with turtles and frogs at the children’s zoo because I’m an awesome uncle. And Carly’s one cool seven-year-old.
The kid loves all creatures, but especially the ones that jump and crawl, so I took her to the enchanted forest part of the zoo. When we finished, she tugged on my shirt sleeve, batted her hazel eyes, and asked ever so sweetly for an ice cream cone.
Like I stood a chance at resisting her. C’mon. She’s my cousin’s kid, and clearly she gets her charm from our side of the family.
With her hand in mine, we strolled across the grass near the running path, hunting for the nearest ice cream dealer.
And then Carly did that thing little kids do.
She shrieked for what seemed like absolutely no reason. Next, she pointed to an impossibly tall dude wearing a beret while juggling two Rubik’s Cubes, two orange balls, and a small green beanbag.
“He can do five, Uncle Tyler!” Carly shouted, her eyes going wide.
“Five isn’t too shabby,” I said with a shrug.
She turned to me with a questioning stare. “I’ve never seen you do five.”
“That’s because I haven’t shown you all my tricks yet.”
“Can you really juggle five balls?”
I scoffed. “Please, I can do that with my eyes closed.”
I didn’t put myself through law school juggling for nothing.
You can’t put yourself through law school juggling anything but insane class schedules and lack of sleep.
Carly arched an eyebrow. So did the juggler, as he kept up the cascade of his quintet. Show-off.
“I want to see. Show me,” Carly urged.
Yeah, Carly’s a chip off the old block. She’s all about challenging me, and I’m all about rising to the challenge.
The stick-thin guy with the beret raised his chin. “Have at it, man.”
With clockwork precision, he let the balls fall out of orbit and into his palm. Next, the Rubik’s Cubes. Then the beanbag. He stepped closer, handed me the objects, and flashed a crooked, put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is grin.
Packs of runners jogged along, cyclists wheeled over the black asphalt, and rollerbladers whizzed by on the concrete. With my feet parked hip’s width apart, I stood at the edge of the grass getting a feel for the items, weighing them, and then one, two, three, four, five, I whisked each one up into the air in a high oval arc. Round and round, in a perfect five-ball cascade.
Carly clapped, then demanded more. “Yes, now close your eyes!”
I groaned. What was I thinking? Juggling with eyes closed is fucking hard. But I could pull it off for a couple seconds. My special skill. I obliged my niece’s request, pulling off a few quick blind ovals. Five seconds later, after I’d shown off that particular party trick, I opened my eyes.
And I saw a vision from my past.
A blond beauty, with long legs, a lovely round ass, and a high ponytail swishing back and forth across her shoulders. She ran along the path in tiny orange let-me-peel-them-off-with-my-teeth-pretty-please running shorts. And that face. Dear Lord, the stunning face of an angel. High cheekbones. Deep brown eyes that saw me like no one ever had. Those red lips, shaped like a bow. Fuck me, the things she could do with those lips. The things I taught her to do with that sinful mouth.
Delaney sure as hell knew how to use it, and I don’t just mean in the bedroom. We used to talk about anything and everything when we were together in college. Days with her. Nights with her. Best time of my life. That woman was full of spark. Full of fire. So damn passionate. And look at her now.
It had to be illegal to be that smoking hot.
She turns her head.
That smile makes me feel like I can do this. Like I can win her heart again. Mine pounds faster as I near her, and it’s not just because I happen to think she’s the most stunning woman I’ve ever seen, but because of who she is.
I arrive at her side, and she straightens. “Hey.”
There’s that awkwardness again, and I want no part of it today. Like the bungee jumper I am, I lean in and dust a quick kiss on her lips. At first, she freezes. That won’t fucking do at all. My tongue darts out, flicking her top lip. A soft breath escapes her, and she gives in. Her sweet lips linger on mine, sending a charge down my spine. My brain leapfrogs ahead, and I picture scooping her up in my arms, carrying her to a quiet little patch of trees, and kissing her till she begs me to take her home.
I want that badly—I want her to beg for it because she’s at her happiest when she’s overcome—but I suspect it’s too soon for her.
Not to mention, screwing in Central Park usually results in a public citation. Public fornicators are never as clandestine as they think they are.
I nibble lightly on her bottom lip for a few seconds, drawing out a throaty murmur from her. Then I somehow find the will to separate.
She blinks. Several times. She sways the slightest bit, like her feet barely touch the ground. Good. I want her to be affected.
She furrows her brow. “I’m sorry, but do we kiss now when we see each other in the park?”
“Evidently we do.”
“Weird. Because I didn’t get that memo.”
I rock on my heels. “Want me to take it back?”
“The kiss or the memo?”
“The memo,” I say matter-of-factly, like this is all so obvious. “You can’t take a kiss back.”
“You sure on that, Nichols?”
“I can try to take back the kiss. Want me to, sweet girl?” I use the term of endearment I once called her. She doesn’t blanch, and that’s a damn good sign.
She smirks. “Be my guest.”
I kiss her once more, like I’m reversing the lip lock, doing it all in rewind, pulling away ever so slowly, ever so softly, leaving her dazed once more.
If she can drive me this crazy, make me this hard, send the temperature in my blood to beyond incendiary, the least I can do is return the favor.
Judging from her reaction, I’m doing it right.
I gesture from her to me. “Like that. I think that’s how you take back a kiss.”
Chuckling, she nods to the running path. “Ready for me to kick your ass?”
Every competitive bone in my body snaps to attention. “We’ll see about that,” I say, then I smack her pink nylon covered behind.
Her eyes widen, saying oh-no-you-didn’t.
But there’s a twinkle in those baby browns that says the lady might like spanking.
That’s new, and it’s most interesting.
I pencil in a new item on my mental to-do list. Find out how much she likes spanking. I never spanked her in college—just wasn’t part of the repertoire. But judging from her response now, I’m more determined than ever to find out everything she likes in and out of bed.
Meet The Author: Lauren Blakely
A #1 New York Times Bestselling author, Lauren Blakely is known for her contemporary romance style that's hot, sweet and sexy. She lives in California with her family and has plotted entire novels while walking her dogs. With fourteen New York Times bestsellers, her titles have appeared on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestseller Lists more than seventy-five times, and she's sold more than 1.5 million books. In February she'll release THE HOT ONE, a standalone contemporary romance.