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“He thought I was his muse. Turned out, he was mine too.”

Maggie Stevens is done feeling objectified.

After spending her entire life in the spotlight and climbing the high fashion ranks as a model in LA, she’s willing to leave it all behind for a fresh start. Moving to Seattle seems like the perfect solution.

A clean slate.
New adventures.
Endless opportunities.

All is going according to plan. Until she meets the drop-dead gorgeous cooking instructor who delights in adding to her misery.

Desmond Blake is determined to make a name for his culinary school—one that speaks to his hard work and undeniable passion.

When his food photography hobby garners attention from an unexpected source, his dreams are finally within reach. The obstacle he never sees coming is the sharp-tongued bombshell with a distaste for all he stands for.

When Desmond accidentally captures a photo of Maggie during a moment of weakness, he starts to see there’s more to the fashionista than meets the eye…

Sometimes what can be seen through the lens is a skewed version of reality. A bent perspective. Manufactured, therefore losing all sense of authenticity. And sometimes all it takes is a different angle to see what’s right in front of you.


EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: Through the Lens

K.K. Allen

AVAILABLE NOW

BOOK SERIES: 

An all-new emotional enemies-to-lovers romance is available now from K.K. Allen, and I have an awesome excerpt for you.

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Excerpt

Maggie is the first woman I see when I walk into the Paramount, and even as I down two drinks while sitting idly at a high-top table in the back of the concert hall, I can’t peel my eyes from her.

“One White Water soda and lime,” she says cheerfully as she sets my drink in front of me. “Great choice.”

I decided to step out of my comfort zone of beer and support the reason I’m here tonight. “Thanks.” I flash her a smile and take a sip of the carefully concocted beverage. “When do you get to join me?”

“Um…” Her eyes drift toward the stage and pause on the crew fiddling around with equipment.

The very moment she looks away, my gaze slips to her fitted, sleeveless tank. It’s black with White Water’s logo on the front, and a deep slit down the middle reveals her chest. At some point between her exiting my car and me entering the venue, her jean jacket vanished, and the bright-red lipstick on her lips appeared. Her light-brown eyes have never popped more than they do in this moment, and I have the strongest yearning to see the same contrast in natural light through my camera’s lens.

When she caught me snapping photos of her at the game yesterday, I was not only shocked by her response but disappointed by it. The photos of her going down on that hot dog were completely natural, vulnerable, and raw. Through the lens, she’s the woman with no faults, no worries, and no fears. But on the other side of it, there’s much, much more, and her reaction confirmed it. There is something she’s hiding.

My eyes are planted on her mouth when her gaze shoots back to me. My head snaps up, but it’s too late. I’m sure she just caught me staring.

“I’m off the clock when the openers are done, but you don’t have to wait for me.”

My reactions to her all feel so instinctual, protective even. There’s an inflation in my chest as I breathe in slowly, controlling the intake of air like my life depends on it. “I’ll be here until you’re done.” I take another sip of my drink and nod with approval. “These are good.”

Her eyes light up, and I get the distinct impression that she’s proud of what she’s promoting. I wonder if there’s an insincere bone in her body. When Maggie hates something, she’s vocal about it. When she loves something, she doesn’t seem to hold back. There are so many qualities to her that I find sexy. Who would have thought? And to think she’s been holding back all this time, masking something so vulnerably beautiful. I want more of it. I want more of her.

“I’ll keep ’em coming, then.”

I tip my head, and she starts to walk away. I watch her sway as she goes, realizing my physical attraction to her is more intense than ever. I’m taking in every detail of her movements, of her body. She’s got length made for the runway and enough curves to make a fantastic lingerie model. I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve given a proper assessment to her ass and tits, and I’ve determined they are the perfect size. I can almost imagine how they would feel in my palms. But imagining isn’t enough for the raging hard-on making an appearance in my jeans. He’s restless and hungry. Fuck that. He’s starved and triggered by the sun-kissed brunette beauty looking entirely too hot to be single.

By the time the opening act starts playing, I’m buzzing pretty well off of two drinks. I need to slow down, but Maggie brings me another one without me even requesting it. “Don’t worry, Chef, I’m counting your drinks. The first one was pretty weak, so let’s just say this is number two.”

“Uh, no.” I shake my head. “A rule is a rule.”

She narrows her lids and twists up the corner of her mouth. Adorable as fuck. “Okay, fine. But I’m more than happy to take one for the team and drive you home tonight if you have one too many.”

Her words are so innocent, and for the first time since my last shit-faced experience in high school, I’m tempted to test my limits just so I can have an excuse to let her take care of me.

But instead of saying any of that, I give Maggie a wink and lift my new drink to my mouth. “Sorry to burst your bubble, darlin’, but you’re not driving my car. In fact, I think you just gave me all the more reason to stop at number three tonight.”

She pushes away from the table with a huff and a laugh. “I’ll be back by before my shift ends, and then we can get closer to the stage.”

I nod and watch her walk off again, but this time, I notice I’m not the only one. A group of guys a few tables away are following her movements with their beady little eyes. One of them reaches his hand out to stop her as she goes by. I sit up straight, ready to swoop in and pull his hand away if necessary, but I’m not needed.

Maggie takes an immediate step back, gives him a tight-lipped smile, says something, and walks away. The man shifts his stance, his cocky smirk dissolving into something resembling annoyance or discomfort. Maybe it’s a mixture of both since his friends are throwing jabs his way. Serves him right. And I should have known Maggie could take care of herself just fine.

The opener is on and off the stage within the hour, and just as promised, Maggie approaches me with not one, not two, but three drinks in her hands. Well, two of them are shots and the other is a vodka soda. I immediately start to reject them. “Whoa, Nelly.”

Maggie laughs. “Have one or none—I don’t care—but I’m taking a shot.” She reaches for a glass and lifts it to her lips while staring back at me, waiting. Before she can slam it back, I’m picking up the other shot and lifting it to my lips, mirroring her.

“This is number four. Who’s that drink for?”

She grins. “Me. I figure I have some catching up to do.”

“You figured right.”

We toss back our shots and set the glasses on the table. I reach my hand out to hers. She looks at it for a few seconds before finally slipping her small fingers inside of mine. I’m not surprised by how soft they are—most women’s hands are small and soft—but I’m surprised by how much I like the feel of hers inside mine, how they fit perfectly when nothing else about us in my life seems to fit.

We head into the crowd where a herd of concertgoers is pushing their way toward the front of the still-growing crowd. I start to move in their direction with the intention of getting us as close to the front as possible when I feel a tug on my hand and turn around.

Maggie is shaking her head and pointing at the side wall. “I’d be perfectly happy standing over there.”

I let her lead the way.

“Ah,” I say as I lean against the wood panel. There’s a clear view of the stage, and we’re free of shoving, sweaty bodies. “This is perfect.”

She twists and gives me a full-fledged grin. “I agree. And now I have somewhere I can put my drink.” She reaches over me and sets her glass on a tall, round table before facing the front, just as Matt Nathanson makes his way to the stage.

All eyes in the building are on him as he sits down at his piano. He doesn’t take a beat of a pause before he’s playing the opening melody of “Giants.” It’s an upbeat number with a chill vibe that gets the crowd moving. Arms are in the air, lips are mouthing the lyrics, and hips are swaying.

By the end of the first song, more people have made their way down to the main floor, filling all the empty spaces around us. Maggie doesn’t seem to notice at all. She’s still twisting her shoulders to the rhythm and singing every word to that song, and the next one, and the next.

My eyes keep flicking between her and the stage. She’s kind of adorable when she lets loose like this, oblivious to everything and everyone around her, including the prick from the bar who starts to inch his way closer. She didn’t seem to appreciate his advances earlier, so I don’t know what the hell he thinks he’s doing now.

The dude has the nerve to sidle right up beside Maggie, appearing drunk as fuck. I don’t even think Maggie has noticed him yet, but she scoots closer to me anyway. For the second time tonight, the guy doesn’t get the hint. He leans in, presses his lips right up to her ear, and starts to say something, causing her to jump.

I do what I should have done earlier tonight and place a hand on the guy’s chest to hold him back. Then I wrap my hand around Maggie’s arm and tug her closer until she’s standing directly in front of me instead of on the side. “Time for you to find another place to stand, dude.” My voice is calm, but there’s no misplacing my warning.

He gives me a look like I just threatened his life and cocks his head to the side. “Excuse me?”

“You heard me.” I give him a little push with my palm, and he stumbles back as if I socked him. Yup. Definitely drunk off his ass.

When his friends help steady him, he starts to charge toward me. His friends are smart enough to hold him back. Then they pull him away completely, earning me an unreadable glance from Maggie.

“What?” I ask with an upward tick of my jaw.

She bats those long, pretty lashes at me, feigning innocence, and shrugs before turning back around. I take note that she makes no move to stand beside me again. Instead, she wiggles her ass mere inches from my front. I try my damnedest not to inhale her sweet scent as I watch her move, but it’s impossible. She really needs to stop moving like that.

In a desperate attempt to distract her from dancing, I reach beside me to the table, grab her drink, and hand it to her over her shoulder. She sips on it, but her ass fails to stop moving, and I swear if it doesn’t, I will not survive this night.

The next song, “Faster,” is another upbeat one about the singer’s heart beating faster, and how his woman tastes like sunlight and strawberry bubblegum. The words might as well have been written by me about Maggie. The words speak directly to the pulsing between my legs, and my problem only seems to worsen.

Suddenly, I’m all kinds of curious about how Maggie would taste on my tongue. Just a sampler would do. But just like I do with my alcohol, I know I would have to limit it to just that one taste. Any more, and the drunk would be too much.  I’m good at setting rules and at sticking to them. Maybe I could do that with Maggie too.

Her hips slow their sway slightly in front of me, but this time, she moves her hair over her shoulder, revealing a naked spot of skin at her neck, which my eyes fixate on. The way I imagine sinking my teeth into that tender spot while she gasps her pleasure into the air has me feeling like some kind of fucking vampire. But my thoughts are swinging like a pendulum, threatening. The weight is so heavy, there’s no chance of stopping it on my own.

Not a chance in hell.

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