From author Lexi Ryan comes a sexy new standalone romance about a runaway bride, a single dad who’s sworn off love, and the kind of family secrets that can threaten to break even the deepest bonds. The Wrong Kind of Love is out now and I have a sneak peek for you.
Since I walked away from her last night, I’ve done little but think about Nic. Her taste, the feel of her skin under mine, the sound of her moan when I slid my hand between her legs and parted her thighs.
I spent half my day trying to convince myself that I didn’t need to see her again. When that didn’t work, I proceeded to spend the next half trying to imagine a scenario in which I could taste her again. I was distracted with thoughts of showing up at her hotel room and kissing her before she could speak. I went to the gym and worked out hard, trying to shake the memory of her, and when that failed, I spent my shower with my dick in my hand and the memory of her taste on my tongue.
But nowhere in my grand scheming and daydreaming did I imagine her moving into my home. In none of the scenarios I cobbled together did I want her to get close to Lilly.
“Why are you two out here in the cold?” Mom asks. “It’s freezing. Get inside.”
I tear my eyes off Nic for the first time since I spotted her on my porch. Mom is beaming at Nic.
“I’m sorry I was late. Those ladies on the Friends of the Library Committee wouldn’t stop chattering about stuff that has nothing to do with the library. Those women, I swear they only do it for the gossip.” Mom waves a hand. “Anyway, I’m here now.”
“Good to see you, Mom.” I lean forward to hug her and kiss her cheek. I need to buy time. I need to think. If I send Nic away right now, it’ll mean Mom has to cancel her trip. It would also mean . . . sending Nic away.
Nic’s cheeks are bright pink. Is that embarrassment? Last night, I’d have confidently interpreted her expression as embarrassment, but now I’m questioning everything I think I know about her. Was her bullshit about not wanting my name all part of a game? Did she already know who I was? That’s the only explanation for how convenient this all feels.
“Come on.” Mom puts a hand on each of our backs. “Into the house, you two.”
Suddenly, I’m sixteen again and called into the kitchen after my mom found condoms in my bedroom. That day she sat me and Elena down and gave us the most straightforward sex-and-consequences talk any parent has ever given.
Nic shoots me a helpless glance before following Mom into the house. I go in after them and pull the door shut behind me.
In the kitchen, Lilly is sitting at the counter drinking a mug of hot chocolate that’s piled with marshmallows—because she has Uncle Jake whooped.
“You’ve met Lilly before,” Mom says to Nic.
Nic blinks at her. She’s still reeling, too. Good. I don’t want to be the only one here without my bearings.
Lilly hops off the stool and stands in front of Nic with wide arms and a hot chocolate mustache. “My new nanny!”
Nic drops to one knee and gives Lilly the hug she’s waiting for. The gesture seems so instinctive that it makes my throat thick.
“Nic and I met in town earlier so I could give her the rundown on Lilly’s routine,” Mom says. She pulls a set of keys from her purse and puts them on the counter with a pile of paperwork. “You’ll use my car while I’m away, and your house keys are here as well. And there’s also a family credit card for you to use for groceries and gas, that kind of thing.” She turns to Jake. “Have you met Nic?”
“I thought her name was Veronica,” I snap. I sound like a sullen asshole, but that’s in line with how I feel, so I’m going to roll with it.
“Nic can be short for Veronica,” Mom scolds me. “Seriously, Ethan. You have no imagination.”
“We met last night at Jackson Brews,” Jake says, his eyes all but twinkling. Bastard. “But I can’t stress enough how good it is to see you again, Nic.”
“You’re different,” Lilly says softly, scanning Nic’s face. She touches her temple. “Why are you sad now?”
Nic shakes her head. “I’m not sad, but today’s a big day for me. I’m nervous.”
“No need for that,” Mom says. “Lilly, you’ll take care of Nic, won’t you?”
Lilly giggles. “She’s supposed to take care of me.”
“But we all need friends,” Nic says. “I’d love it if you’d be mine.”
Lilly puts a finger to her lips as if she has to pretend to think about it. “Do you like Shopkins?”
Nic nods solemnly. “Kooky Cookie is my favorite.”
Lilly’s eyes go wide, and I know for a fact that Nic just earned cool points for knowing a Shopkin by name. “Mine too!”
Nic wrinkles her nose. “Do you have any Shopkins I can play with?”
Lilly nods. “I’ll go get them!” She rushes to the stairs.
Nic stands and looks at me. “Can we speak privately?”
“Oh, I’ll get out of your hair,” Mom says. “Jake, would you help me get my luggage down? I still need to finish packing.”
“Sure thing.” He follows Mom down the hall, and I watch their retreat, not turning back to Nic until I hear the click of the door that leads to the apartment behind the garage.
Nic has her arms wrapped around her waist and is looking around the kitchen like she’s just stepped into Narnia.
I clear my throat. “Nic?”
She walks over to the stack of papers Mom left and fingers through them without looking at me. “Do you want me to leave?”
I drag a hand through my hair. “Yes.”
Her gaze snaps to meet mine, but she looks away just as fast. “Okay. I understand.”
“But you can’t. Not without ruining my mother’s plans or putting me in an impossible situation.” I step forward until I’m standing in front of her. My jaw aches, and I unclench my teeth. “Nic? Look at me.”
Slowly, she lifts her eyes to meet mine, and lust zips hot and fast through my blood. For a beat, I’m tempted to forget the mess we’re in and focus on her and her alone, tempted to make those soft honey eyes hazy with pleasure one more time.
I lock those instincts away and focus on what matters here. “I need a nanny. Not a wife. Not even a girlfriend.”
She winces and draws in a breath. “I didn’t know you were my new boss.”
“I didn’t know you were my new nanny.”
I’m aware of every thundering beat of my heart as we stare at each other. The longer I look into her eyes, the more the frustration and anger knotting my gut morphs into desire. The tension between us is palpable, and it’s thicker than anger. This push and pull is full of sex and longing. I shouldn’t want her now. This whole situation feels off. Too convenient. Too coincidental. But I want her anyway. I didn’t get enough of her last night. All the anger in the world couldn’t make me forget the way she tasted or the sounds she made when I put my mouth on her. Even as I stand here and think of what a mess last night has made of my future, I want to push her against the counter and finish what we started in her hotel room.
Instead, I take a step back. “What you and I did was a mistake. I need a nanny more than I needed an easy screw.”
She shakes her head and looks me over, disgust curling her lips. “I guess you were telling me the truth after all. You really are an asshole.”