Authors: Kristina Weaver
A Naughty Ones Book
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Copyright © 2016
All Rights Reserved.
This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review and certain other non-commercial uses permitted by copyright law.
This is a work of fiction. All characters appearing in this work are products of the author's imagination. Any resemblance to events, businesses, companies, institutions, and real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Table of Contents
Sometimes You Just Gotta Run
The sound of the room breaking into applause as my mother announces an engagement I never agreed to is the last straw for the night. I’ve been sleepless, miserable, and lying to my friends. To top it all off, the dress Mother insisted I wear today is so tight I’ve been having trouble breathing for the last hour or five.
This is definitely hell.
As everyone starts clapping and patting Alex Summers on the back, I have the distinct feeling that I’ve just been ambushed. And bamboozled.
And that I need to get out of here before my sick and very good at guilt tripping mother gets her claws into me.
What can I say? I’m a damn pushover, and I just know that whatever happens now, if they get to me and all those people are staring and they put me on the spot…
I’ll be engaged, married, and popping out a little Summers crier.
“Come on if you’re going to get out of this before they see you inching towards the exit.”
My head snaps up at the sound of that deep, rough drawl and I meet the brown eyes of the devil himself as fear and a hot shot of lust streaks through me.
Paul Summers, the only man I have ever looked at and wanted with a wicked, needy desperation that has the power to make me blush. I almost melt when his big, warm hand grabs mine and he’s tugging me from the room and out into the crisp fall night air.
I’m tongue-tied and senseless, and by the time I can stop blushing and tripping over myself I’m in the back of a car and alone with the hot star of my recent naughty dreams.
I’m no virgin and God knows that having four of the dirtiest-minded friends on the planet has given me more of an education that I thought possible, but I’m no siren and seductress either.
I turn my head at the sound of his voice and just stare as he loosens his tie and keeps his eyes on me, seeming completely unaware of my rioting emotions.
I’m in a car, alone with Paul freaking Summers! Never in my wildest dreams have I ever once thought it would happen. In the last three months since my parents decided to sell me off for no other reason than they think this match would be a good one, I never once thought this would happen.
But I’ve wanted him since the first time I saw him. It’s embarrassing how many times he’s caught me checking him out.
“Er, this is just…”
“A mess?” He finishes, his eyes sparkling with mirth at my lack of language skills.
What can I say? All I have on my brain when I see him is whether or not the tail of that tattoo I see peeking from his collar is a good one or not. Maybe if I knew I wouldn’t have this overwhelming urge to rip his shirt off and see it. Lick it. Suck it.
I’ve been staring wide-eyed at the man.
“Sorry, I-I’m just a little out of my element here,” I manage to stammer, finally pulling my eyes away from him to look out of the window at the passing scenery.
My life is a mess, and the man sitting beside me just happens to be one I want—the cousin of the man who seems to think that I’m a slam dunk.
It’s weird, but when I started on this journey to reconnect with my parents when my mother told me she was sick, I never once thought that everything around me was on the verge of falling apart.
Or that I’d meet someone I couldn’t have. The truth about me is pretty simple and any one of my friends would tell you this. I’m soft and easy to get along with, and I have the sweet disposition of a Victorian miss who’s prone to hysteria.
I’ve always been this way. Call it a result of growing up in a house with a family comprised of drama queens and assholes. So instead of being the same, I decided to be nice. Just because.
I also have always been the wallflower who blends into the background while everything is happening at a fast pace.
“You didn’t know this was going to happen?”
“No. In fact when they started bringing it up I refused and told them to take a flying leap. Not that that ever matters. According to everyone and their moms I’m a pushover and I’ll just go with the flow, so I think Mom thought I’d just let it happen and plaster on a smile.”
I’m still looking out of the window as I answer, my heart now down to a slow thud because it’s just settled into my head that I’m pseudo engaged and in a mess of trouble.
I hate this. Not knowing what to do has always been my kryptonite and one of the reasons I’ve turned into a control freak.
I plan and neaten and keep things on schedule because that way I know I am always in control of things, but this…
“Seems to me you’ve got two choices, little Miss Harper. You can buckle under and do what the rest of your family wants you to do, or you can turn around and spit in their eye. Your choice.”
I turn my head and give him a look before snorting and looking away again.
“My choice? My mother just finished chemo and freaking radiation and my dad’s a royal ass who never stops reminding me that she’s sick and needs rest and calm right now. You think I wouldn’t have told them weeks ago that I’m not up for this if I could have? Every time I say no or come up with another argument as to why my parents throwing me at Alex isn’t going to work, they throw something else right back at me and I’m back at square one.”
He goes to speak and I hold up a hand to stop him.
“She’s been sick for months and I have been there through every treatment and horror show, working not only to care for her but also to keep my business going because I can’t expect my friends to do it all just because I need to be there for Mother. And then this and I don’t…I don’t know how to say no because they have never asked me for anything before.”
I am terrified of my mother dying or getting worse while I’m sniffing my nose up in the air and denying her something that would make her happy.
I still don’t know why they want this union because it’s not like this is a business deal.
As far as I can tell they’re just family friends who want to join the families. What I also can’t understand is why me. My sister Daisy is so in love with Alex it’s not even funny, and from what I’ve heard the idiot saying she’s so much more his speed anyway.
“Dot. My name’s Dot. Please don’t be all formal with me after you just saved me from this catastrophe.”
“Well, Dot, like I said. You have a choice to make as to whether you’re going to do what your parents want out of guilt or go ahead and live your life. Personally, I’m hoping you tell them all to go to hell.”
“Why? Alex is your cousin.”
I don’t know much about the Summers clan besides the fact that Paul is some Internet guru who’s made not just billions, but is rich enough to freaking own this country and still have enough left to live a comfortable life.
Not that money matters. Not to me.
“It’s simple, Dot. I can’t have what belongs to another man and I’ve seen the way you look at me, so don’t even try to deny that we’re attracted to each other. I want you but I don’t have it in me to fuck another man’s woman, so make up your mind. Quickly.”
I’m not ashamed to admit that his words have me heating between my legs or that my nipples decide to harden as his eyes start wandering over me in a way that conveys his intentions clearly.
What I can be ashamed of is that as soon as the car pulls up outside my building, I don’t even bother to thank him or respond. I just open the door and bolt.
Oh Time, You Fickle Lady
“You can’t mean this, Dorothea. Why, we’ve made the announcements and Alexander has bought the ring and everything!”
“Mother, please. This is not what I want and you all know it,” I say for the third time since coming over here after licking my wounds and drinking with Indie all night.
We may or may not have dipped into her “smokes” as well, but if anyone asks I’m pleading the fifth and stealing another person’s pee in case I need to provide a sample.
“But he’s such a catch, Dorothea, and his family are such good friends! This is shameful. We’re Harpers and Harpers always do their duty!”
“When did it become my duty to marry a man I don’t know?”
We’ve debated this for months, really, if I think back and remember all the little hints she kept dropping about me being single and needing a husband to bring stability to my life.
Now I see what her aim has been, and while I can’t say I want to lose the little bit of a relationship we’ve built since I started caring for her while she’s ill, I also can’t just sit around waiting for them to shove me into this corner.
After waking with the world’s worse hangover and having to cook Indie and Percy breakfast anyway—what can I say, I’m a gem that way—I checked my phone and found numerous texts, missed calls, and voice mails that made me cringe when I heard my father’s outraged yelling.
So instead of doing what I always do and hiding (man, I wish I’d hidden today), I sucked it up and came on over, fully prepared to put my foot down.
Now here I am, watching Mother cry.
“Your father has already hired the wedding planner and Alex put that announcement in the paper and…”
She continues to cry as I sit there and feel like the worst human being on the planet.
“So you’ll just have to…”
“What! You can’t be serious, Dotty! Jesus, you had one thing to do. Tell them no.”
Percy keeps raging and pacing, as Indie just glares at me from the kitchen stool where she’s sitting while I plan the Swindon dinner tomorrow night.
“She was crying, Percy.
. What did you want me to do?”
“Say no. Again and again and again till she got the fucking message!”
She keeps mumbling stuff beneath her breath while I decide between fillet and lamb, my mind running a mile a minute with the implications of this afternoons failed attempt to free myself.
I’ve had three calls from a reporter for the society column and my dad’s been up my butt all day about meeting the planner, who by the way, I’ve met already at one of the weddings we catered.
I do not like her. At all.
“I can’t believe you, Dotty! Weren’t you just telling us last night about that hottie…whatshisname…Paul! Weren’t you just telling us about the mondo crush your vagina has on him? It’s not like you can bone him and marry the cousin.”
I try valiantly to concentrate on the task at hand instead of the depressing thought of never seeing Paul again.
That’s what’s got me wishing for death and contemplating murder. There can’t be a wedding without a groom right?
“What? What do you want from me, Percy? I’m not like you guys. I can’t just let my family go and turn my back on them with Mother sick and needing me. I already feel like shit because I can’t be there for every treatment.”
“But you said yourself she’s only got one more left and then the doctors will review her case. She’s better, isn’t she?”
“Yes. But she’s still weak.”
“My ass. I saw the old bat having lunch three days ago and she looked fine. By the way, since when do cancer patients eat enough to feed three people and look at the dessert cart?”
“What? That can’t be right. Mother has hardly been eating at all.”
It’s been my job to get her to stay healthy and not starve when chemo and the other treatments made her so sick.
“Really? Let me ask you this, Dotty, were you with your precious mother at every chemo and radiation appointment?”
“I was there!” I yell, not being completely truthful or appreciating the suspicious way they keep looking at me.
I know my parents aren’t great. God, like I could forget the last thirty years of my life, but they’re my family still, and if I’m not willing to be there for them then what kind of daughter does that make me?
And how dare Percy and Indie question this. Mother is sick and she needs me, and I like to be needed. My whole life I was just a shadow, floating around the house while my family lived their lives, never really there to them, just a part of the freaking scenery.
The past few months haven’t been great, but I feel for the first time as if my family actually sees me. I just need that.
I think I’ve always needed that but just wouldn’t let myself admit it, even in my head.
“Whoa there, little meltdown. I’m not trying to insinuate anything and if this is what you need from that shitheap family of yours then go ahead. I just, I don’t want you to marry that little prick just because you think it’s suddenly going to make them want you,” Percy says gently, making me feel ten kinds of fool.
I hate fighting and I hate even more getting into it with one of my girls, because no matter what happens or how we may not agree, they have always and will always be there for me.
“I’m sorry. I just, I need to find a way to make them understand that I can’t do this, but they just won’t listen to me. Mother keeps crying and having spells and Father keeps calling about meeting that freaking shitfaced planner!” I yell, slamming my palm into the table.
I keep yelling after that, my mind going nuts and hazy as I have one of my legendary spells, though luckily this one’s just a small taste of what I can actually do.
“And she’s going to want to dress me in one of those fucked-up designer things with the yards of lace and satin and I hate that shit, and why can’t they all just leave me alone! What’s wrong with just living a little? Nothing, absolutely nothing. What’s so wrong with me just wanting to find my own way and doing what I want to do, and for the love of God why does the first guy I actually want to fuck have to be the cousin of that asshole who thinks I’m going to marry him.”
Percy and Indie are sharing their usual “oh hell, she’s gonna blow” look, but I ignore it and start stomping around, slamming my palm onto the counter with every pass.
“You want to know the worst part?” I note their shaking heads but keep going. “He wants me, too! He wants sex with me and all the dirty things I want. But he won’t touch me if I’m not free, and I’m not, am I? Because no matter what I always just do what I should instead of what I want and that just pisses me off more.”
“Wait. He wants you?”
“Okay, slow this down a little because your crazy is hard to follow when you’re foaming at the mouth. You’re saying this hot guy, the first one to make your wanger tingle, is into you too?”
“Yes, Indiana. He’s into me. What’s so freaking hard to understand about that? What, am I a dog?” I screech, picking up my binder to start slamming it into the edge of the table.
These spells usually end with me crying and trying to take a swing at whoever comes near me before I feel calm enough to breathe, but right now I’m so raw about the injustice of it all I want to rip something apart.
“Dotty, honey…” Percy starts, approaching me slowly, hand outstretched the way you’d approach a rabid animal.
“No! I am so fucking sick and tired of feeling this way.”
“Dot, you’re swearing a lot.”
“So? Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck. There! You gonna call the fucking language police, Percival?”
“They ignored me all my life, never once cared about what I was doing, what I liked, what I wanted, and now all of a fucking sudden they want me to be there for her and nurse her through her illness, and now they’re concerned and trying to situate me in life as if I need a freaking man to look after me.”
My head is pounding and I feel like my veins are bulging as my eyes start popping.
They both land on me and wrestle me down to the floor before I can start swinging, and it’s only when I feel ice-cold water land on my face and I start spluttering that the anger fades and leaves me limp and ragged.
“Why did I have to meet him now?” I whimper, hating the fact that Percy’s eyes seem to mist before she pulls my sodden self into her arms and squeezes me tight.
“Because life’s a three-dollar whore who only cooperates when you pay the bitch. Hush now, Dotty, we got you. Just breathe for me and we’ll get through this.”
I obey and take deep breaths through my nose, blowing them out with a trembling hiccup, just letting the peace and silence around us settle in before nodding at them and letting Indie pull me to my feet.
“Jesus on a cracker, little girl, that was a doozy. You’re under way too much stress right now it if only takes a few gibes from us to get you this riled up. You need to get away.”
“How? I have my phone blowing up at all hours and I still haven’t sorted out this mess. Plus, I don’t have much money left after…”
After I gave my mother and father some of the savings I’ve been squirreling away for the last few months since business picked up. Just about all I can afford lately is rent and groceries, but I don’t want anyone knowing that because it would just solidify the fact that I’m a total asshole who lets my family take me for a ride.
“Well fuck. Have I mentioned lately how much I hate your parents, Dot? And no, I’m not talking an ‘I’ll punch you in the face’ hate but rather I want to peel them like grapefruit, I hate them so much.” Percy snarls, making me blush and look away.
“I know. Sometimes I feel the same.”
“Then cut them loose, babe.”
“I can’t, guys. No. Don’t start in on me right now, please. I’ve had all I can take for one day. Just let me think and work these things out in my head and I’ll come up with something. I just need time.”
I suddenly get the strange thought in my head that time has been running out on me ever since I took my first breath.