COVER REVEAL & EXCERPT: Where Bad Boys Are Ruined by Holly Renee
I ate leftover cupcakes and cracked macarons for breakfast.
I was ninety percent sure he simply ate up girls like me.
I was covered in paint splatters, cake batter, and sweat the first time I met him.
He was covered in badass tattoos and a smile that seemed to hold a secret I would never figure out.
Rule number 1 was never, under any circumstances, fall for the man who I wrote my lease check to.
So, I tucked him away in the “Fantasize Only” compartment of my brain and called it a day.
But he didn’t make it easy.
He was arrogant, funny, and the biggest flirt I had ever met.
Most of the time, I didn’t know if I was just a game to him.
If I didn’t know better, I’d say he was on a mission to ruin my life.
And maybe my heart, too.
📆 December 5th
“How do you know this guy you are going on a date with tonight?” She had her curly red hair piled on top of her head in a bun that matched mine, and if it weren’t for the small laugh lines around her mouth, she would look like my twin.
“I don’t know him at all.” I picked up another box and set it on the counter.
“The two girls I was telling you about that work next door set me up.” I groaned, and I didn’t miss her smile.
“It’s good for you. You need to get out and date and...”
“Do not say it.” I cut her off.
“Have me some little red-headed grandbabies.” She put her hand over her heart and swooned.
“You are ridiculous.” I rolled my eyes at her but couldn’t help smiling at her theatrics.
My mom was the best mom ever. Not just because she made sure I never wanted for anything and disciplined me in a way that made sure I didn’t turn into a spoiled brat, but she was also the best friend I had ever had.
“First of all, we’re going on a group date.”
She raised her eyebrows in shock, and I laughed.
“The guy just knows that there is someone they want him to meet. There is absolutely no pressure on either of us. He doesn’t have to nine-one-one call a friend or anything to get out of it.”
“And you call me ridiculous.” She turned fully toward me and put her hands on her hip. “If a man didn’t want to date you, he’s an idiot.”
“You have to say that. Mom guilt.”
“Not true.” She picked up another box and started going through it. “I’d tell you if you weren’t datable. First of all, you’re gorgeous. Thank God for your mama.” She winked at me, and I let out a small laugh. “Second, you’re smart and have a great sense of humor. I’ll give a bit of credit to your daddy for that.”
“So, because I’m like the two of you, I’m perfect?” I asked sarcastically, but she didn’t care.
“Exactly. I didn’t just get with your dad because he’s so hot.” She wagged her eyebrows, and I tried to swallow down my nausea.
I swung toward the door that separated the kitchen from the front of the bakery as soon as Brandon’s voice sounded through the space then I pointed to my mom.
“Stay here.” I sounded panicked. “Do not come out.”
My mom’s eyebrows shot up, but I did not give her a chance to ask questions.
I quickly walked through the door and made sure to force it closed behind me. There was no way in hell I was letting my mother come out and embarrass me in front of Brandon.
“Hey.” I pushed my stray curls out of my face. “What are you doing here?”
He leaned down and rested his elbows against the counter.
“I just wanted to stop in and see how everything is going.”
The door behind me moved just the tiniest bit, and I knew that my mom currently had her ear pressed against it.
“The place is looking great.” He didn’t take his eyes off me as he spoke. “It looks nothing like it did before you moved in.”
“Thank you. I’ve been envisioning what this place would look like for a long time now, so I had some ideas.” I laughed.
I didn’t know why I felt so nervous to talk to him about the bakery, but in all fairness, I felt nervous to talk to him at all.
The door behind me moved again. This time too hard for me to play it off as a mouse or a rouge cupcake that may have fell off the counter. I closed my eyes and sent up a silent prayer as my mom walked out.
“Hi there.” My mom waved to Brandon as she made her way toward him. “You must be David.” She stuck her hand out toward him, and I fought the urge to jump between them and shew my mother back into the kitchen.
He slid his tattooed hand into my mother’s and looked over at me with mischief in his eyes. “David?”
“Mom, this is Brandon.” I quickly avoided his question. “He owns this place.”
“Oh.” My mom giggled like ‘Oh, how silly of me to assume this hot as hell man was the guy my daughter was going on a date/non-date with tonight.’ “Well aren’t you handsome.”
“Thank you.” He grinned up at her, and I could have sworn I saw my mom swoon. “That means a lot coming from a beautiful woman like yourself.”
My mom swatted at his hand, and I inwardly groaned. The man I had been fantasizing about since the moment I met him just complemented my mom, and I was just a teeny tiny bit jealous. Or a lot. Whatever.
“Are you single, Brandon?”
“Mom don’t be rude. That’s none of your business.”
“It’s okay.” Brandon stood up to his full height. “I am.”
“That’s shocking.” She started to take him in again, and I tried to distract Brandon away from her before she could embarrass me more.
“Are y’all having a busy day at the shop today?”
Brandon’s laughing gaze slid back to me. “Yea. It’s always busy over there.”
“Good. You can send them over here to satisfy their sweet tooth once Charlie gets this place open.”
Brandon’s gaze ran over me, and I fiddled with a stray string on my jeans to stop myself from squirming under his gaze. “Absolutely.”
“Are you going on the group date tonight?” My mom turned and picked up a box out of the floor like she didn’t just make me sound like the biggest loser ever.
“What?” He looked genuinely confused before his eyes lit up. “Oh shit. That David? That’s why we’re all going out tonight?” He looked down at his hands and frowned.
“It wasn’t my idea.” I quickly answered him. “I don’t even know him. Livy and Staci thought it would be a good idea if everyone went so there wasn’t so much pressure. It’s not even a date. Everyone is just hanging out.”
I. Was. Such. A. Loser.
He looked back up at me as if he was looking for something. “I’ll be there tonight.”
“Cool.” I tucked a piece of hair behind my ear and tried to avoid looking at my mom who was grinning from ear to ear.
“Well, it was nice to meet you,” Brandon said to my mother. “I better head back to work so I have plenty of time to get ready for our group date tonight.” He winked at me, and I wanted to die.
“You too.” My mom grinned at him. “Hopefully, I’ll be seeing more of you around.”
Brandon chuckled then made his way to the door. “See you later, Freckles.”
“Bye,” I barely managed to squeak out before I turned my death glare to my mother.
“Forget David.” She fanned herself. “I would be trying to date that one.”
“Mom,” I said frustrated, but I couldn’t admit that she was wrong.
She opened the door to head back into the kitchen. “What? I always did have a thing for bad boys. You should have seen your dad back in the day.”
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It was a bad idea from the beginning. He was my brother's best friend and the definition of unavailable. But I didn't care. I had loved him for as long as I could remember. He was worth the risk. He was worth everything. But then he broke my heart as easily as I fell for him. He watched me fall, spiraling out of control, and as I reached for him, he wasn't there to catch me. So I ran.
Four years later, I never expected to see him again. He was still my brother's best friend, and he was more unavailable than ever. He looked every bit the bad boy I knew he was, covered in tattoos and a crooked smile. Guarding my heart from him was top priority because Parker James was where good girls go to die. Unfortunately for him, I wasn't a good girl anymore.
Nothing good came from listening to my heart. It was careless and irrational and became way too invested when I read a romance novel. So I put her under lock and key. I only had a few rules, and I always stuck with them. 1. Never get attached. 2. Always run before the feels become contagious. 3. No matter what, under no circumstances, never fall in love. He was a playboy who ran by the same set of rules. What we had together was fun, it was hot, and it was temporary. Until he screwed everything up. We were never meant to be each other's happily ever after, but the harder I tried to push him away, the further I fell.
About The Author: Holly Renee
Holly Renee is a best-selling author of sexy, contemporary romance, a Harry Potter fanatic, a body positive babe, and a boy mom.
When she's not writing, you can find her reading all the books, taking long strolls down the aisles of Ulta, or hanging out with her two favorite boys.