As Lauren Layne’s salacious Sex, Love & Stiletto series returns, a jaded columnist discovers a steamy way to get over an old flame: falling for him all over again.
As Stiletto magazine’s authority on all things breakup-and-heartache, Emma Sinclair writes from personal experience. Five years ago, Emma was Charlotte, North Carolina’s darling debutante and a blushing bride-to-be. Now she’s the ice queen of the Manhattan dating scene. Emma left her sultry Southern drawl behind, but not even her closest friends know that with it she left her heart. Now Emma’s latest article forces her to face her demons—namely, the devilishly sexy guy who ditched her at the altar.
After giving up everything for a pro-soccer career, Alex Cassidy watches his dreams crumble as a knee injury sidelines him for good. Now he’s hanging up his cleats and giving journalism a shot. It’s just a coincidence that he happens to pick a job in the same field, and the same city, as his former fiancée . . . right? But when Emma moves in next door, it’s no accident. It’s research. And Alex can’t help wondering what might have been. Unlike the innocent girl he remembers, this Emma is chic, sophisticated, and assertive—and she wants absolutely nothing to do with him. The trouble is, Alex has never wanted her more.
“Explain?” Julie said.
Emma sighed. “The apartment above me had some sort of water disaster. My entire apartment looks like the set of Titanic, minus the nubile Leo.”
Julie eyed Emma’s wet hair. “So, is your hair wet from, like, dirty pipe water?”
“No,” Emma said, taking a last sip of Julie’s coffee and handing the cup back as she located her badge. “Fortunately, I’d showered before the pipe burst and I managed to dodge the worst of the spray. Unfortunately, drying my hair wasn’t an option.”
“Right. That whole electrocution thing,” Julie said as they swiped their badges and headed to the elevators.
“Um, yeah, I couldn’t have gotten electrocuted even if I wanted to,” Emma said, punching the Up button. “The power went out.”
Julie’s brown eyes bugged out. “Seriously? Flooded and you have no power? Is everything ruined?”
“Of course not. I still have this lovely dress,” Emma said, pulling the hem of her dress out to the side, curtsy style. She pretended not to notice the way the two girls who had been gossiping happily as they crossed the elevator lobby immediately quieted when they spotted her.
The dress would have been a distraction all by itself. The drippy wet bun was also atypical for a swanky office building in which sophisticated and polished was the unofficial dress code for women.
But a lack of makeup made everything worse. Much worse.
Not that Emma was really a glam type of girl, but she had a distinct disadvantage of having very fair eyelashes, despite her medium brown hair. And her eyes’ shape made it worse. They were both large and tilted upward in a semi-distinctive manner. Bambi eyes, her mother had always called them.
But without eyeliner and mascara, she was more Lord of the Rings’ Gollum than adorable baby deer.
“You know, it’s a good dress, if a bit out of place for work,” Julie mused, as they followed the two gossiping girls and a middle-aged man yapping into his phone onto the elevator. “Sexy. A little slutty even. Go you!”
“That’s great, Jules. Slutty was just what I was going for on a random Wednesday morning at the office.”
“Well then, you should have called me. We’re the same size–ish. I could have lent you something.”
“I’ll be taking you up on that tomorrow,” Emma said as Julie hit the button for the twelfth floor. “Everything I have will need to be dry-cleaned at best, burned at worst. But this morning, I couldn’t make it from Upper East over to Upper West in the middle of traffic and still make it to the office in time.”
The elevator doors had just started to close when a male hand stuck between them, activating their sensors so that the doors reopened.
Great. Really freaking fantastic.
A lesser woman would have groaned in dismay at the sight of the man in front of her.
Emma merely straightened her shoulders, ignoring Julie’s softly uttered “Oh, dear.”
It was him.
Marrying her high school sweetheart was a good start. *cue Disney soundtrack.* But Lauren wanted all romance, all the time.
Now she writes fictional happy endings, and considers her job done well if you swoon while reading her books. Don’t worry. You will.
Once upon a time she lived in a Manhattan high-rise, but now she’s on the laid-back train in the Seattle area. If you ever find yourself in Issaquah, she’ll probably buy you a drink. Maybe.