Beautiful Distraction, страница 1
J. C. R E E D
TABLE OF CONTENTS
KEEP IN TOUCH WITH J.C. REED
BONUS BOOK – SURRENDER YOUR LOVE
OTHER BOOKS BY J.C. REED
Kellan Boyd always gets what he wants—except that one infuriating city girl who bumped into his new chick magnet sports car, dared to call him a jerk, and basically threw his pity check in his face.
Fast forward three months later. When Ava Cross suddenly knocks on his door in the middle of a storm, soaking wet and in dire need of help, he’s determined to settle old scores and finally get her between the sheets where she belongs.
Ava knows Kellan is a complex man with a dark past and a wild reputation he can’t deny. Forced to stay, Ava begins a desperate search for the truth about the one man she wants to despise and quickly discovers that the passion she feels for him isn’t just deep…it’s dangerous to her heart.
Kellan is a beautiful distraction. When the traps of her own weakness stand in the way, Ava is faced with one choice only: peel off the layers of a man who's a wild cowboy at heart.
Author’s note – Beautiful Distraction is a full-length standalone novel with no cliffhanger. Due to sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of 18.
Copyright © 2016 by J.C. Reed. All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
Publisher’s Note: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination. Locales and public names are sometimes used for atmospheric purposes. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, or to businesses, companies, events, institutions, or locales is completely coincidental.
Editing by Shannon Wolfman
Inline Editing by Therin Knite
Cover design and Formatting by Larissa Klein
This book is for those who never give up dreaming and believing in love. Here’s to new beginnings, second chances, hot cowboys, enjoying a night under the stars, and to living in the moment.
“Ava, where are you?”
I grimace, not in the least surprised by the high pitch of my coworker ‘s voice. Carol Evans is at her wit’s end, and I can’t blame her. Being the assistant to the editor-in-chief is one shit-ass job. Tanya Bollok, TB, or The Bitch, as we like to call her at work, is the devil incarnated. Because of her endless demands, impossible requests for perfection, and mile-high expectations that would kill anyone’s private life, everyone fears her.
I scowl. “Obviously not at the office.”
“No shit.” I can sense the obligatory roll of her eyes. “I already know that because I looked for you everywhere.”
“You have? Is this about my article?” I wince at the phone and hasten my steps. “Look, I’ll have it done by Monday. TB won’t even notice.”
“Trust me, she will. I need it by midnight.”
I let out a laugh. “You can’t be serious.”
The dead silence on the other end confirms the worst.
We have a tight deadline. I get it. But the print run is Monday two a.m. No article needs to hit the editor-in-chief’s desk before Sunday night.
Try to explain that to TB.
God forbid you actually try to have a life or friends outside of the office.
And God forbid you leave said office as early as six p.m. on a Friday night, which is what I’ve done for the first time in my career, and now it comes back to bite me.
I don’t know why I let my best friend Mandy talk me into driving her to Club 69 on a Friday evening, but as usual, after a five-minute tirade about how she was too late to call for a taxi and she had to be at work that instant, I caved in and took the one-hour drive upon me to help her out.
I shouldn’t have. Because now I’m going to be in a shitload of trouble with my boss.
I groan again. “TB won’t even be back until Sunday.”
“So we all thought,” Carol says. “She took an early flight. I expect her back within the hour.”
“What?” I didn’t mean to shout. Several people turn their heads to regard me. Waving my hand, I mouth, “I’m fine. Haven’t been mugged or anything,” and tune back to the conversation.
“You’re lucky I was here to intercept her call or else you would’ve been the fifth she fired this month.”
“She can’t fire me.” Not in the least because I’m great at what I do, but TB has never been the reasonable type and I’m not one to take my chances. “Okay. I’m coming.” Cradling the phone between my shoulder blade and my chin, I scurry to my car, fishing for the keys in my bag while guessing how long it’ll take me to get back to the office. A glance at my watch tells me it won’t be before ten p.m. Great. I’ll be spending another unpaid Friday night staring at a computer screen with TB breathing down my neck.
I open the car door and throw in my bag, suppressing the urge to remind Carol that everyone’s entitled to an evening off every once in a while. But what would be the point in arguing with her when it’s not her fault?
“What if she arrives before you?” Carol asks.
“Tell her I’m sick.”
“I thought you said your grandmother died. That’s what Jay said you told him when you left early.”
I cringe. “Yeah, that too.”
“Ava, you can’t die twice.”
“Meaning you alr
Actually, that was only a half-lie because Grandma was sick and TB wouldn’t let me fly home until I came up with the dying part. Thank God, Grandma lived. But TB even had me show her the hospital bill.
“Yeah. Remind me to make a list.” I let out a nervous laugh as I’m rounding the car to get into the driver’s seat.
“I’ll try to steer her off of you, but no guarantees. Can you be back in half?” Carol asks.
“What? Half an hour?” Yeah, if I learn how to fly. “Sure,” I say chirpily.
My gaze brushes over the busy street and the long line of people trying to get into Club 69 as I push the key into the ignition and start the engine. I throw the car into reverse and try to wriggle my way out of the congested parking lot. I scoot my car forward a scant three feet in line, my eyes focused on the busy street. As I’m about to exit the parking lot, a car approaches mine.
I don’t know my way around cars, but I’m pretty sure it’s a red Lamborghini.
Shiny, and brand new, and expensive as shit.
And it honks impatiently.
Probably some rich guy who’ll wave his wallet into the bouncer’s face to get into the club.
Another entitled jerk who thinks he owns the world.
The guy honks again.
“Asshole,” I half-shout.
“Excuse me?” Carol says.
“Not you. I’m talking to the guy behind me.” I groan and glance in the rear-view mirror. “If TB arrives before me, tell her I’ll be back as soon as I can. And I have every intention of working through the night.”
Which I usually do anyway. Coffee’s my best friend. Sleep’s the enemy. If I could live off one and get rid of the other, TB would probably hug me.
“Try to get here ASAP.”
“I’m on my way.” I hang up and throw my phone onto the passenger seat, my glance shooting back to the red car. As I try to move forward, my engine dies.
Another impatient honk—drawn out and annoying the living hell out of me.
Arrogant bastard. Can’t he wait for two frigging seconds?
What is it with people and Club 69? Just the mere possibility of seeing the it-band Mile High greeting the crowd has everyone, including my best friend Mandy, out of their minds.
Right then he holds his hand out of the window and waves at me, motioning for me to move ahead.
“Thanks, jerk!” I gesture at him through the open window and then press hard on the gas at the same moment the red Lamborghini moves forward, whipping around me.
The crash is inevitable, the sound of scratching metal making my heart drop into my lap.
Why would he give me a heads up to move and then do the same?
And who the fuck drives like a maniac, heedless of the usual traffic around Club 69, or the fact that it’s Friday night and the streets are bound to be busy?
My blood’s boiling in my veins, the thick liquid thrumming in my ears.
I kill the engine and jump out of the car, leaving the door ajar.
“What the hell did you think you were doing?” My voice is a choked mixture of rage and exasperation.
Maybe the owner of this quarter-million-dollar chick magnet has the fluffy bank account to have their car repaired, but I sure as hell will have to live with the dents forever. I’ll probably have to skimp on food for a month to save the money for new headlights.
“I could ask you the same thing.” The low grumble of a male voice reaches me through the open window before the door’s thrown open and out jumps a male in his late twenties.
I take a sharp breath. Then another, my heart skipping beats.
He’s hot. And certainly not in an earthy, imperfect way.
He looks like a god.
His hair, dark and shiny, frames an attractive face with a straight nose, chiseled chin and the most stunning eyes I have ever seen. The expensive, light blue dress shirt can’t hide his broad shoulders or the fact that he’s probably sporting a six-pack beneath it. The sleeves are rolled up, revealing strong, tan arms and capable hands that don’t look like they’re stuck to a computer keyboard all day.
He works out…probably a lot.
He steps closer, and I can make out the color of his irises. In the dim light, his eyes shimmer in the dark crystal green shade of a beautiful, untouched lake.
Standing at six-foot-two, he oozes confidence and money.
And something else.
The word invades my mind, and for a moment that’s all I can think about.
Hot, steamy, wild, rough sex. The kind of sex that has you gripping at the sheets as wave after wave of orgasm rolls over you.
I’m not cheap, but I’m not a saint either. I appreciate a hot guy when I see one. And this one tops the charts. And judging from the long line of women glancing at him, like bees swarming around an exotic flower, I know I’m not the only one having those kind of thoughts.
But not even a hot guy can distract me from the situation at hand.
I examine the damage to my car.
My car’s headlight is broken, while his car looks intact.
“There’s a scratch.” His voice is deep and low. His sexy accent sends a delicious tingle down my spine as I stare at my car in the knowledge it’ll cost me way too much to get it repaired—money I don’t have.
“You call that a scratch? Can you—” I turn sharply to face him and stop midsentence, expecting him to be inspecting my car.
Instead, he’s leaning over his car. “You’re right. It’s more of a chip.” Hot Guy points to a small nick, which I swear could just as well be a smudge of dirt, and trails a finger over it, his face drawn in worry. “This is going to be expensive.”
I scoff, feeling angry.
“You’re talking about a chip? Have you seen my car?”
He glances at it fleetingly before his eyes return to me. “That old thing? I’m surprised you can still drive it.”
My jaw drops as I’m rendered speechless.
My beloved Ford might have been previously owned, twice—at least I hope the car dealer told me the truth—but it’s been with me through more ups and downs than any human being in my life.
I feel strangely nostalgic toward my beloved Ford, and tears begin to sting the corners of my eyes.
Yes, it’s just a car and a battered one at that, but I can’t let a guy get away with hurting the one thing that I worked my ass off saving up for—the most valuable thing I own, even though it probably costs less than his polished pair of dress shoes.
“Why are we talking about your car?” I ask. “You can hardly see the damage.”
“Do you realize how much my Lamborghini’s worth?” Mr. Expensive Shirt says, raising a perfect brow, reading my thoughts.
I can’t believe it.
“Jerk!” I yell. “Arrogant prick. I don’t know how much your damn car’s worth, and I don’t care because it’s your fault.” I spit out the last two words, oblivious to the fact that I probably look like a madwoman the way I stab my finger into his chest. He doesn’t even seem to register it as his gaze travels down the front of my snug top and tight jeans, which I threw on in haste.
“Did you just call me a ‘jerk’ and a ‘prick’?”
Oh, that voice. Deep and hoarse and penetrating, carrying the slightest hint of amusement. It instantly sends a pleasant chill through me. I can almost feel it vibrating between my legs. My skin prickles from the expression he gives me as he scans my body.
I’m suddenly aware of the fact that I look like a hot mess: my brown hair’s all tangled, and I’m hardly wearing any makeup. I couldn’t stand out more among the Club 69 crowd of long, oiled-up legs and short skirts. Had I known I’d be having a close encounter with Mr. Sex On Legs, I might have even made an effort.
“Yes, I did,” I spit out. “Because it’s your fault.”
“I did what?” Frowning, I let out a sarcastic laugh. “No, you gave me the signal to go ahead.”
He shakes his head. “I most certainly didn’t.”
Is he suffering from some neurodegenerative disease?
I stare at him, open-mouthed, then mimic his wave. “This is the go-ahead sign to move.”
“No, it means you drive like an eighty-year-old, and I don’t have all day to watch you amble around.” His eyes meet mine, his gaze challenging.
His features are relaxed; his mouth is slightly open as he stares me down in amusement. I don’t know why, but I get the distinct feeling he’s enjoying the situation.
Well, I’m not amused.
“I wasn’t ambling. I was waiting to get in line and you tried to overtake me,” I state the obvious.
“You stopped,” Hot Guy points out. “That means you gave me the all-clear.”
My mouth opens and closes, which probably looks like I’m a panting fish out of water. At last, I shake my head in disbelief. “Are you for real? I stopped to check if a car was coming.”