Divorced. Single dad. Traded to a losing squad.
Cheated on, betrayed, exposed.
My perfect life blew up in my face and I'm still picking up the pieces.
The last thing I need is her.
A wildflower. A storm. A woman I can't resist.
Lotus DuPree is a kick to my gut and a wrench in my plans
from the moment our eyes meet.
I promised myself I wouldn't trust a woman again,
but I've never wanted anyone the way I want Lo.
She's not the plan I made, but she's the risk I have to take.
A warrior. A baller. The one they call Gladiator.
Kenan Ross charged into my life smelling all good, looking even better and snatching my breath from the moment we met.
The last thing I need is him.
I’m working on me. Facing my pain and conquering my demons.
I've seen what trusting a man gets you.
I. Don't. Have. Time. For. This.
But he just keeps coming for me.
Keeps knocking down my defenses and stealing my excuses
one by one.
He never gives up, and now...I'm not sure I want him to.
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After talking to Kenan for the last few minutes, and looking under his hood, so to speak, I’ve found that he’s a classic. They don’t make them like him anymore, and if I don’t change the subject, change the course of this conversation, I’ll fool myself that we don’t
have to keep things simple and that we could be more than just friends, not just for the summer, but for a long time to come. As long as I’d like.
“Okay,” I say, switching gears without a clutch and pulling a tie off another of Amanda’s racks. “I think that shirt could work really well with this tie.”
He doesn’t look at the tie I’m holding up, but keeps his eyes fastened on me. He’s not playing along. I’ve boxed myself into a corner with him. And the quarters are too tight. His scent. His warmth. His intelligence. His thoughtfulness. He is pressing in on me, overtaking my good intentions in all the ways I never thought a man could.
“Try this on,” I say, blindly shoving the mint green shirt at him.
When I look at him, he’s already peeled one shirt off and is reaching for the one I chose. I didn’t think this through. Didn’t forecast that Kenan changing from one shirt into another would mean his naked chest. I lose my train of thought and all my chill. Besides my mouth dropping open at the sight of the sculpted terrain of his chest and abs, I give no other indication that he affects me. Taut, bronze skin stretches across his broad shoulders like supple canvas pulled over a frame, the foundation of a masterpiece. He’s a big man. Not bulky, but instead chiseled to the specifications of a master sculptor: arms roped with muscles, biceps like rocks under skin glowing with health. The forearms Chase raved about are lined with veins and sinew. And I die for a great chest. I’ve never seen one more spectacular than Kenan’s.
Jesus, my mouth is literally watering at the thought of tasting them, sucking them, licking them. And if that pectoral perfection weren’t enough, the two columns of
muscles, four each, are stacked over his lean stomach arrowing down to a narrow waist and hips. I can’t look away. I lick my lips, imagining how he would feel under my mouth. How I’d lick around his nipples and drag my tongue down that shallow path bisecting his abdominal muscles. I’d slip that belt off and sink to my knees. Unzip those pants and take him out. God, hold him in my hands and then take him all the way to the back of my throat. I’d choke on him. A man this big . . . I’d be so tight around him.
“Lotus,” Kenan says, jarring me from my torso trance. “Should I go ahead and put this shirt on? Or did you need a little more time?”
I snap a glance up to his face, embarrassed to find him laughing at me. Oh, God. I’m as bad as Amanda. I turn to leave, but he catches my elbow with a gentle hand and turns me back around, walking us behind two of the racks. He bends until he’s almost eye level with me.
“Don’t be embarrassed,” he says, searching my face intently. “I’m glad you like my body.”
“I didn’t say I . . .” My words trail off at his knowing grin. “Okay. So you have a nice body. I work in fashion. Do you have any idea how many great bodies I see on a daily basis?”
“I’m sure many,” he says, his smile still firmly in place. “I can’t speak for any of them, only for the way you looked at me.”
“And how do you think I looked at you?” I ask defensively, forcing myself not to look away.
In the quiet that follows, his smile fades, and heat replaces the humor in his eyes. “You looked at me the way I bet I’ve looked at you every time you walk into a room,” he
says, the timbre of his voice rolling over my sensitive skin like a caress. “Like I would eat you if I could. Head to toe, everything in between.”
“Kenan,” I protest, closing my eyes on a groan. “We said friends. We said simple. This is not how you start a simple friendship.”
His large hand cups my jaw and lifts my chin. I open my eyes, blinking dazedly at him. I wasn’t prepared for how his touch makes me feel. How I instantly crave more of it; want to lean into the warmth; to turn and trace his lifeline with my tongue. Tell him all the things I could discover just from reading his palm and looking into his eyes.
How can such a large hand feel so gentle, like it’s capable of treasuring, cherishing?
“Okay, Lotus,” he says, regret and reluctance woven around my name. “Simple. Friendship.”
Start The Hoops Series here!
A FORBIDDEN LOVE SET IN THE EXPLOSIVE WORLD OF THE NBA...
Think you know what it's like being a baller's girl?
My fairy tale is upside down.
A happily never after.
I kissed the prince and he turned into a fraud.
I was a fool, and his love - fool's gold.
Now there's a new player in the game, August West.
One of the NBA's brightest stars.
He wants me. I want him.
But my past, my fraudulent prince, won't let me go.
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If I had a dollar for every time Banner Morales made my heart skip a beat...
The heart everyone assumes is frozen over.
Her anger is...arousing.
Every glare from those fire-spitting eyes, every time she grits her teeth,
gets me...well, you know.
If I had a dollar for every time she's put me in my place, I'd be an even richer man.
I'm a successful sports agent because I assume "no" means you'll think about it.
I'm sure what you meant to say is "Coming right up.”
They say even rich men don't always get what they want,
but those men don't know how to play the game. The trick is to keep them guessing.
Take Banner. She assumes she's winning, but this game?
She doesn't even know how to play.
If I had a dollar for every time Jared Foster broke my heart, I’d have exactly one dollar.
One night. One epic fail. One dollar...and I'm out.
I've moved on.
I’ve found success in a field ruled by men.
Anything they can do, I have done better.
They can keep the field while I call the shots, blocking them when I have to.
And Jared has the nerve to think he gets a second chance?
Boy, please. Go sit down. Have several seats.
I'll just be over here ignoring the man carved from my fantasies with a lust-tipped chisel.
Oh, I didn't say the struggle wasn't real.
But I've got that one dollar, and Jared won't have me.
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Meet The Author: Kennedy Ryan
Kennedy Ryan is a Southern girl gone Southern California. A Top 100 Amazon Bestseller, Kennedy writes romance about remarkable women who find a way to thrive even in tough times, the love they find, and the men who cherish them.
She is a wife to her lifetime lover and mother to an extraordinary son. She has always leveraged her journalism background to write for charity and non-profit organizations, but enjoys writing to raise Autism awareness most. A contributor for Modern Mom Magazine, Kennedy’s writings have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul, USA Today and many others. The founder and executive director of a foundation serving Georgia families living with Autism, Kennedy has appeared on Headline News, Montel Williams, NPR and other outlets as a voice for families living with autism.
⭐️ Find Kennedy Here: KennedyRyanWrites.com | Facebook | FacebookGroup | Twitter | Instagram | GooglePlus | YouTube | Amazon | BookBub