Christmas has come early - Third Chances is on sale today!! It's just 99 pennies for a limited time only.
If you haven't read Rob Hunter's story yet, you're going to want to. Who can resist a dirty mouthed hero with a heart of gold? Third Chances is a second chance romance with a happily ever after that will have you smiling so hard! Plus if you buy it today, there's a secret code in the "Note from Ivy" in the back of the book that will give you exclusive access to early preview chapters of my upcoming releases!
The exclusive content includes:
The first chapter of This is Love (releasing Jan 29th)
The first several chapters of Best Year Ever (releasing Dec 18th)
So grab your copy of Third Chances today before the price goes back up and the exclusive content disappears:
Plus you can read the first few chapters of Third Chances for FREE right now!
She was sitting in her usual spot. The sun slanting through the trees made shadows dance all around her. My breathing slowed. Every time I saw her it was like seeing her beauty again for the first time. I stopped and put my hands on my knees, pretending to catch my breath. My eyes stayed fixed on her as the breeze fluttered her hair. God, I wanted my hands in that hair. I wanted to taste her lips. I wanted to feel the softness of her skin.
She closed her book and ran her fingers through her hair. She turned her head toward me, but I couldn't tell if she was actually looking at me. The sunglasses she wore always hid her eyes.
I quickly pulled my phone out of my pocket and pretended to change the song. Even though I didn't listen to music when I ran, my earphones were always connected to my phone. I liked that it looked like I was listening to music. That way no one would disturb me. I didn't like to be bothered when I was running.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw her pull a notebook out of her backpack. The shadows danced across her face again as she bit the tip of her pen. It was impossible not to stare. She was the opposite of me, transfixed by whatever she was working on. She always seemed completely focused. It was alluring.
I told myself if I ever ran into her at a bar, I'd talk to her. But I couldn't do it here. Not while she was sitting there studying in the grass peacefully. She looked so in tune with herself. I couldn't make myself ruin this perfect moment.
My world was chaos. I wouldn't pull her into that unless I could lock eyes with her. I could tell from just a glance if a girl wanted me. But this girl was always wearing sunglasses. She bit the tip of her pen again. Fuck me. I could feel myself getting hard. That was not going to work in athletic shorts.
My phone lit up in my hands and Penny's name flashed across the screen. It was not weird at all to sit here and people watch while I talked to my future sister in law. It was a perfect excuse to stare at the beautiful woman in the grass. Usually I didn't have a good reason. I pulled my earphones out and swiped my finger across the screen.
"Hey, baby, what's up?"
"Hey to you too. Why are you so out of breath?" She was so desensitized by my teasing that it barely even effected her anymore. I needed to come up with a better term of endearment than "baby." Maybe "sugar tits" would get a rise out of her next time.
I cleared my throat. "I was just exercising."
I laughed. "Ew? Ew what?"
"Did I just interrupt you...you know."
"Jerking off? No. Do you want me to be?" I could picture her rolling her eyes. I loved when she did that.
"No, Rob. I'm calling about James' birthday."
"Having trouble coming up with an idea for the man who has everything?"
She sighed. "I guess you could say that. He always seems happy with the presents I give him, but I want him to really, really like his present this year. He's been working so hard the past few months getting his company off the ground. I want to show him how much I appreciate him."
"Give him head."
She laughed. "You're not helping."
"No, seriously. That's what he wants."
"That's not a special gift, Rob. I want to give him something nice."
"Why, because you give him head all the time?" I could imagine Penny on her knees in front of me. It was easy to picture her full lips around my cock. Fuck, that's making me harder. I looked over at the girl in the grass. She was writing something in her notebook.
"Rob, come on, you know him best."
"I already told you what he wants. It's what every guy wants."
"It's his last birthday in his twenties. I want to make it special."
"So maybe dress up in something sexy too. A naughty school girl outfit would be fitting."
She laughed. "Okay, you're not helping. I'll let you get back to exercising." She drew out the word exercising.
"I was on a run. I swear I wasn't jerking off. But all this talk about head..."
"Wait. I actually have an idea."
"Mets tickets. He loves going to those games with you. Get good seats though this time. Last time I was stuck behind some huge mammoth lady."
"I'm assuming that means you'll want to come if I go that route?"
"Yeah...I mean, it was my idea. And you can give him an idea of what to expect later by eating a hot dog super seductively."
She laughed. "Ugh. I'm hanging up now."
"But I haven't gotten off yet."
"Stop being gross. Bye, Rob."
"Bye, sugar tits." I smiled as I pulled the phone away from my ear. I loved Penny like a sister but it was so easy for me to picture her tied up naked in my bed. When would that go away? I ran my hand through my hair as I glanced back at the girl studying. She was reading a book now, perfectly content.
I definitely couldn't talk to her. I didn't want to freak her out and make her change her studying schedule. Every weekday when the sun was out, she'd be here at 3 p.m. like clockwork. I made sure to be here too. Not that I was stalking her. Three o'clock also happened to be a great time to run. I had always liked running in the heat. Probably because I had gotten used to it after spending half my time abroad.
The girl rubbed the side of her neck with her hand. Why was that so fucking sexy? I had dreamed about pinning her against the very tree she liked to read under. I could picture her begging me to fuck her. She bit the tip of her pen again. Did she even realize what she could do to a man?
Even though she was always peacefully studying, I was not going to let this girl slip through my fingers. It was almost finals week. If I didn't run into her by the end of the semester, I'd go talk to her like this. I'd interrupt her studying because I know she'd want me to. She couldn't hide behind those sunglasses forever.
Okay. I had not been jerking off while I talked to Penny, but if I didn't soon I'd have to throw away my shorts. I stood up and adjusted my shorts in an attempt to hide my boner. It didn't work that well. Luckily my apartment was close. I looked over my shoulder at the girl as I started running. I'd definitely talk to her soon.
Last call would be in a few minutes. I looked around the bar as I closed out my tab, hoping, praying that she'd suddenly appear. Finals week was drawing to a close. The end of the semester had come and I had blown my shot at talking to that girl. She just stopped showing up under the tree a few days ago. She probably finished her exams early. She was gone.
I glanced over at the group of girls that were clearly celebrating a 21st birthday. One of them was wearing a tiara and looked like she was drunk out of her mind. The thought of her beneath me wasn't appealing at all. I wanted a challenge. I wanted something different. I wanted the girl in the grass.
I looked down at the beer in my hand. If someone was to ask me how old I was, 21 would probably spill out. I still felt 21. I still felt like I was in college. I needed to get out of this town. Whatever it was I was looking for, it wasn't here.
"Who's the lucky girl tonight?"
I turned my head to the bartender. I didn't recognize her. And you think that I would after frequenting this bar so often. She was wearing cutoff jean shorts and her t-shirt with the bar's logo was tied up, showing off her perfect stomach.
I raised my eyebrow and leaned forward. "You."
She laughed. "You don't realize how far your reputation has spread."
"Is there a rumor going around about how good I am at giving orgasms?"
She rolled her eyes.
I loved when girls rolled their eyes at me. It just so happened that the correlation between girls who rolled their eyes and girls who loved to be spanked was pretty high. I certainly wouldn't mind spanking her tight ass tonight. "How about I show you how true it is?"
She ignored me as she poured a drink for another patron and announced last call. When she was done, she walked over to me. It was pretty clear that she was swaying her hips more than necessary. She leaned down on the counter in front of me, exposing the top of her perky breasts.
I'd have her lips around my cock the minute the bar closed.
"If you think I'm going home with you, Rob Hunter, you're crazy."
Fuck, she did know me. I thought she was bluffing. I wasn't sure what my reputation was, but clearly she wanted a piece of whatever she had heard. "Well, luckily for you, I don't need to take you home to show you just how true it is."
She laughed, but not before I saw her gulp. And that rush of color to her cheeks instantly made me hard. Right now, all I wanted to do was forget about the girl that I had missed out on. I wanted to forget about everything.
I downed the rest of my beer and glanced at the girl's nametag. Tiffany. Well, tonight Tiffany would help me forget. Besides, I had always wanted to fuck someone on the counter of this bar. There was no reason to waste this opportunity just because I was being sentimental. My phone buzzed in my pocket. There was a text from Penny. I clicked on it.
"About to get Mets tickets. Is section B row 7 good? It looks like it would be good."
I laughed and quickly wrote her back. "Those are really shitty seats, Penny."
"Help me please? I need you. I'll even eat a hot dog at the game, albeit not sexily."
I sighed and slipped off the stool. I didn't want to fuck Tiffany. I didn't want another one night stand tonight.
"Where are you going?" Tiffany said. She had a sexy pout on her face.
"Home." I thought about my empty apartment. It wasn't really my home. I wasn't in it enough for that to be the case. And I was itching to leave again. Tonight I'd buy a one way ticket to somewhere I hadn't been. Maybe I'd find a home there.
Right after I helped Penny. Because she needed me. I liked when she needed me.
One Year Later
I went through my checklist one more time and tossed a pair of extra contacts in just in case. When packing, contacts were always the most important thing on my list. Everything else I could buy once I got there. But spending the week in my glasses? Not happening. Bathing suits didn't mix well with glasses. Especially when you had to wear sunglasses too. A pair of sunglasses on top of my normal glasses was something I wanted to keep in the past. Buried somewhere next to colorful scrunchies.
I slid my checklist into a pouch in my suitcase so I'd be able to double-check everything on the way home too. My friends would most definitely make fun of me. They'd also thank me because of all the extra sunscreen I brought, though.
Kristen had specifically told me not to research anything about where we were going. I glanced over at my laptop. For weeks, I had listened to her. I fidgeted with the bracelet on my wrist. There were still ten minutes until the limo was supposed to arrive. I had spent the whole morning cleaning so that I could come home to a spotless house. That was always my favorite part about a vacation - coming home.
I was tempted to call and tell my friends I wasn't feeling well. My students always got me sick. If it wasn't the middle of the summer, it would have been a perfect lie. As it was, it was summer, and I hadn't left my apartment in days. So I hadn't even been exposed to any germs. There wasn't any way to get out of this. Besides, it was going to be fun, right? I hadn't gotten to hang out with my friends all at once in months. They were always so busy. And I'm pretty sure I hadn't been on a vacation since spring break in college.
I wish I had agreed to teach summer school. I rolled my eyes at myself. It was just one week. I needed this. My eyes wandered back to my computer.
Screw it. I turned on my laptop and sat down at my desk. I typed Blue Parrot Resort into Google and pressed enter. And...nothing. Nothing? I retyped it, thinking I had misspelled something. But the result was the same. Or, lack of result. Where the heck was Kristen taking us?
My phone started buzzing in my purse. I pulled it out and answered, balancing the phone between my shoulder and ear as I typed in the name of the resort again.
"You know, I thought for sure you'd already be down here waiting for us," Kristen said. "We're five minutes late."
"Oh, yeah. Sorry, I was running late." I switched off my computer.
"Daphne running late? I'm pretty sure no one has ever heard those words together."
I laughed. "I'll be right down, smartass." I hung up the phone and tossed it back into my purse. After double-checking that all the burners on my stove were off, I grabbed my suitcase and left my apartment.
The limo was pulled up next to the curb. Kristen opened the door, a bottle of champagne in her hand and a huge smile on her face. I guess the party's already started.
Layla poked her head out too. "Daphne!" she said even louder than Kristen had, and in a very awful British accent. I didn't know Layla that well, and for some reason she wouldn't believe that I was born in America. Apparently my name sounded too British or something. I blamed Frasier.
Yup, they're both drunk. They were also going to be thanking me for the bottle of Tylenol I had packed. "Hey, guys," I said and climbed into the limo.
Kristen threw her arms around me. "I've missed you, Momma Bear!"
I sighed. Not because I didn't miss her. I had just been hoping that maybe she had forgotten that terrible nickname. No one wanted to be the momma bear of the group. "I've missed you too. Wow, this limo is amazing." The last time I had been in a limo was for my prom. And I thought it was the coolest thing ever because it was a limo. Apparently it wasn't a very cool limo, because it didn't even compare to this one. Chilled drinks, fancy glasses, weird neon lights, and definitely new leather seats.
"Right?" Kristen said and plopped down on the seat next to mine. "The perks of having rich friends."
Layla laughed. "I'm not rich."
"We've both seen your house. Yes you are."
"I'm not even doing endorsements anymore. I'm focusing on my career."
"You can't win an argument against Kristen," I said. "If it was possible, there's no way she'd still be calling me Momma Bear."
"You don't have to tell me," Layla said as she poured me a glass of champagne.
"Oh, no, I'm okay," I said as she handed me the glass.
"Momma Bear," Kristen whispered very poorly and pointed at me.
"I am not." I grabbed the glass out of Layla's hand. "See? Drinking?" I took a tiny sip of champagne. It was only 10 o'clock in the morning. Why were we drinking anyway? "Does Alina know we're coming? I haven't seen her bakery since they expanded. I can't wait to see it."
"A," Kristen said as she held up her index finger, "Alina isn't in Wilmington, she's here in New York. Two, you have to go see the expansion, it's so cute. You're going to love what they've done. And C," she said, only holding up a second finger, "no, it's a surprise. We're kidnapping her."
I glanced over at Layla. She shrugged. I couldn't tell if it was because she agreed with everything Kristen had just said or because she was surprised by how drunk Kristen was too. "Okay," I said and grabbed the champagne bottle out of Kristen's hand. I didn't bother telling her she had enough to drink. I'd just hoard the bottle and she'd think I was being fun instead of acting like a momma bear. "So, where in New York is she?"
"We put her up in this hotel in Manhattan," Layla said. "She thinks we're just having a fun week in NYC. She's going to be so surprised."
"I bet. Where exactly is it that we're going again?"
"I don't know. Kristen wouldn't tell me either."
I turned back to Kristen. She shook her head and just smiled. "Don't even try. I'm not telling you. You'll find out at the airport soon enough."
"I tried to look up the Blue Parrot Resort and couldn't find anything."
"I specifically told you not to do that," Kristen said.
"Which is why you didn't tell me the real name of the resort?"
"Oh, no, it's real. You guys, it's the most crazy, secretive, exclusive resort in like, the world. We're so lucky that we got a room."
I laughed. "I'm sure if that was true, they wouldn't have let us in."
"Um...have you met Layla Torrez, sensational weather girl and former spokesperson for Sword Body Wash? And everyone who watched the ITAs knows Alina after that uh...performance. They're both famous."
True. "Fine. So they wouldn't have let you and me in then."
Kristen laughed. "Tim has connections."
"No. Kristen, please tell me you didn't let Tim plan Alina's bachelorette party. She's going to kill you!" Tim was Kristen's boyfriend. He and Alina didn't exactly see eye to eye on a lot of things.
"Of course not. He just recommended the location. And honestly, it sounds a lot cooler than what I had been thinking of doing."
"A fun week in NYC."
"Isn't that what she wanted?"
"Psh." Kristen waved her hand through the air. "She didn't know what she wanted. Trust me, this is going to be so much fun."
I fidgeted with the bracelet on my wrist. Kristen and I didn't exactly have the same idea of what constituted fun. But maybe this week was just what I needed.
The limo stopped outside of Trump International Hotel. Alina was standing by the doors.
"Crap, she wasn't supposed to be out here," Layla said.
"We can just go tell her to grab her luggage." I reached for the door handle.
Kristen slapped my hand.
"Ow." I wasn't sure why, but ever since she had started dating Tim, she had started slapping people. Apparently Tim was into that or something.
"She can't see us coming. It's supposed to be a kidnapping."
"But I guess even if she sees us coming, she won't have any idea what we're going to do," Layla said. "It'll probably be fine. And at least this way she won't be scared that she's actually being kidnapped by strangers."
Kristen nodded. "Okay, I guess this can work. I kind of wanted her to think it was real, but you're right. This is probably safer."
Before I could ask them what the plan was, they were already climbing out of the limo. Shit. I quickly followed them toward the front of the building.
When Alina saw us, a huge smile spread across her face. Her wedding wasn't for a few more weeks, but this was the only time the four of us could all get together. I couldn't help but feel a little bad. She had wanted a fun girls week in the city. And we were giving her...well, I had no idea what we were giving her. Kristen better not have planned anything too crazy.
Alina squealed. "You guys, I'm so excited to see all of you! What do you want to do first? I heard the musical..."
Her voice was muffled when Layla threw a black pillowcase over her head.
"What the hell are you doing?" I said, way louder than I meant to. And where the heck did that pillowcase come from? People walking by on the street were starting to stare at us. Even though Alina's voice was muffled, the thin pillowcase did not exactly cover up her screaming.
Kristen pulled the keycard out of Alina's pocket and tossed it at me. "Go get her suitcase. And check to make sure her passport is there. Bryce promised he would sneak it into the front pouch before she left."
But Kristen and Layla we're already pulling Alina toward the limo. Pretty much everyone on this side of the street was staring at us. A few people were on their cell phones. Were they calling the police? I didn't want to get arrested for pretending to kidnap someone. Or maybe it wouldn't even count as pretend. Technically we were taking Alina somewhere she didn't know without her consent.
"Daphne, let's go! Our flight leaves soon! Room 917!"
Crap! Now everyone on the sidewalk knew my name and my name alone. I couldn't go to prison! I turned around and ran into the hotel, almost knocking over an old man who was coming out.
"I'm sorry," I said as I stumbled into the hotel. I looked completely out of place in the ornate lobby. It was all gold and mirrors and there was a very judgy looking woman behind the front counter.
I smiled awkwardly and walked over to the elevator. As soon as the doors closed behind me, I leaned against the wall. What was wrong with my friends? You didn't have to throw a pillowcase over someone's head and lie to them in order to surprise them. We could have just told Alina where we were going and it would have been a surprise. Not that I even knew where we were going.
I shook my head as I made my way onto the ninth floor. According to the sign, room 917 was to the right. I slid the key into the lock and opened it up when the light turned green. If the cops weren't about to show up and my friends weren't waiting for me, I would have just stayed in this room forever. I walked over to the view of Central Park. It was breathtaking. I had never seen Central Park like this.
Focus. I turned around and found Alina's suitcase. It looked like she hadn't had time to unpack anything yet. I opened up the front pouch and found the passport exactly where Kristen said it would be. I smiled at the sticky note Bryce had left on it.
"I love you, Alina. And I can't wait to marry you. Have fun with your friends...but not like ITA tiebreaker fun. Just like, normal person fun. I'll be counting down the days until I see you again.
P.S. Hopefully this morning will tide you over until the next time I see you.
I stuffed her passport back into the suitcase. I couldn't deny the fact that I was envious of their relationship. Alina and Bryce were perfect together. Them together just made sense. It was never like that for me and any of my previous boyfriends. But I wasn't exactly sure why I was envious. It wasn't like I had been looking for a relationship recently. I was focusing on my job. It's the middle of the summer, liar.
I shook away the thought and quickly left the hotel room. I needed to get back into that limo before my stupid friends got me sent to prison.
One Year Later
Before leaving the hotel, I tried to discretely look both ways. The limo was still sitting there, and there didn't appear to be any cops around. It seemed like the coast was clear. And if I didn't leave soon, the judgy girl at the check-in desk would surely call the police.
I opened the door and walked as quickly as I could toward the limo.
"Daphne?" a man said from behind me.
I'm too young to die! "Nope, wrong person." I picked up my pace.
I felt a hand land on my shoulder, and it nearly caused me to scream. Not that screaming at the cops would help anything.
"It's Rick. Justin's father. We met at that lacrosse game?"
Rick? I turned my head and looked up at him. "Oh." I laughed. "Rick, right. It's good to see you again." I did remember him. One of my coworkers had gotten sick and I had to work the food stand at the lacrosse game. I avoided school sports like the plague. Mostly because people usually assumed I was a student instead of a teacher. Which wasn't really a problem, but I wanted my students to respect me. Not flirt with me.
But during that lacrosse game, no students had flirted with me because Rick had been too busy monopolizing my time. I had made sure to tell him right away that I was a teacher. I remembered going through my mental checklist. He was intelligent, had a good job, and was definitely handsome. He had a few gray hairs that somehow made him look even sexier and more distinguished. But there were two red flags. One - he was quite a bit older than me. Two - he was one of my students' fathers. The first issue wouldn't have mattered so much if the second wasn't such a huge deal breaker. I would never date any of my students' parents. Ever. It was completely unprofessional.
He smiled. "Are you okay? I didn't mean to spook you."
"Oh, yeah, I'm great. I'm just...in a hurry." I looked over at the limo. I was sure my friends were all watching me. Except for Alina. Since she had a pillowcase on her head for some ridiculous reason.
"I see. Heading out of town?"
"Yup," I said lamely. It wasn't like I could tell him where I was going, because I had no idea. "How's Justin?"
"He's good. Studying for his SATs."
"That's great. It's such a shame when kids don't use their minds all summer." Well, I certainly sound like a boring grown up.
He smiled. "I couldn't agree more. Actually, I'm glad I ran into you. I know that you don't date your students' parents. But it is summer. Technically, Justin isn't your student right now."
I laughed awkwardly. So he wants a casual summer fling? There was red flag number three. "I'm sorry Rick, but I really don't think it would be a good idea for us to go out."
"Please don't tell me it's because Justin has a crush on you? You know kids, it's fleeting."
What the fuck? Red flag number four. I laughed awkwardly again. "No, it has nothing to do with that." Well, maybe it does a little now.
He grabbed his wallet out of his pocket and pulled out a business card. "I'm just asking for one date, Daphne. Give me a chance to change your mind." He handed me the card.
Four red flags? I don't think so. "I'll think about it." I put the card into the front pouch of Alina's suitcase. I didn't need it. There was no way for me to rationalize why it would be okay for me to date him. Even though I hadn't been on a date in months. Just visualizing Justin calling me mommy was enough to make me forget about how sexy and distinguished Rick was. Things were on my checklist for a reason. If I just abandoned principles, there would be no reason for a list.
"I hope you have fun on your vacation."
"And I hope to hear from you soon." He smiled. "Bye, Daphne."
"Bye, Rick." Hopefully I would never see him again. I pulled Alina's suitcase toward the limo.
Layla opened the door and poked her head out. "Ow ow!" she screamed.
My face probably turned bright red.
I turned around to see Rick smiling. He winked at me and I quickly climbed into the limo.
"What is wrong with you?" I said.
"Who's the silver fox?" Layla asked, ignoring my question.
"One of my students' fathers."
"He's sexy as hell."
I looked out the limo at Rick walking away. He might be sexy, but he wasn't what I was looking for. What am I looking for? "I guess," I said instead.
"You guess? I'd let him do terrible things to me," Kristen said. She stood up and hit her head on the ceiling of the limo. "Ow. Why do they design everything in the world for short people?"
I laughed. "They don't. You're just abnormally tall. You two have both had too much to drink." I grabbed the champagne bottle that had ended up in Layla's hand. "Layla, you're married to Ethan. Who, by the way, is such a catch. And Kristen, you're dating Tim. And apparently you like him for some reason. Kristen, sit down."
Kristen made a pouty face and sat back down in her seat. "You know Tim is a catch. Don't even, Daphne. Isn't Tim a catch, Alina?"
"Can you please take this thing off my fucking head?" Alina screamed through the pillowcase.
"Maybe we should gag her too," Layla said.
I wasn't sure why, but I started laughing really hard and I couldn't seem to stop. Which made Layla and Kristen start laughing too.
"If any of you touch me, I will punch you so hard in the boob," Alina said.
"That's why we tied her hands," Kristen said.
We all just started laughing harder.
"Oh my God, we should take that thing off her head," I said when I was able to breathe again. "We've already successfully kidnapped her."
"Not until we get to our destination," Kristen said.
Layla laughed. "There's no way she can get through security like that."
"Security?" Alina said. "Are we going to the airport? Where are you idiots taking me?!"
Kristen slapped Layla's arm. "Way to give it away. Fine, I guess we can let you see and untie you now that you know we're heading to the airport." She scooted over to Alina, pulled off the pillowcase, and untied her hands.
Alina immediately punched her in the boob.
"Shit that hurts!" Kristen grabbed her right breast.
"What is wrong with you guys?!" Alina yelled.
"What's wrong with us? You just titty punched me!"
"Yeah...I told you I was going to do that. I don't know why you didn't believe me." Alina started laughing. "Momma Bear! Why would you let them do this to me?" Alina collapsed on the seat beside me.
Momma Bear. I sighed. You would think being an accessory to kidnapping would rid you of the nickname Momma Bear. Maybe I needed to live on the edge more. Maybe I should date students' parents and drink champagne in the morning. Ugh. There was no way I'd change my mind about the first one. But champagne in the morning? Why the hell not? I took a sip from the bottle I had confiscated from Layla. Besides, I hated flying. Hopefully this would help calm me down before takeoff.
To keep reading, grab your copy of Third Chances today before the price goes back up and the exclusive content disappears: