People say Derek Gentry is arrogant, perpetually drunk and good for only one thing. They say he"s like a neon sign that reads: "I AM THE WORST IDEA YOU EVER HAD."
And I"m not tempted, no matter how hot he is.
I"ve heard the rumors. I know his story.
But I"ve got my own scars. I don"t need his.
Despite his muscled blue-eyed good looks, he"s definitely just heartbreak wrapped in a seductive package.
However, I didn"t plan on falling into his arms on the worst night of my life.
I didn"t plan on initiating a chain reaction of events that neither of us saw coming.
And I didn"t plan on needing him so much I can hardly stand it"
Everyone has a history.
Mine"s a little worse than most.
I"ve hurt my family. I"ve hurt people I never really knew. I"ve hurt myself.
And I"ve been hiding at the bottom of a bottle for so long I"m not sure how to do things differently.
At first Paige didn"t seem like the type who would ever be able to handle a guy like me. Little did I know what kind of mysteries she"s been keeping inside. Now I can"t get her out of my head.
We could help each other.
Or we could destroy each other.
Right now it"s anyone"s guess.Books in Series:Gentry Generations Series by Cora BrentBooks by Author:Cora Brent Books
"Fail," I muttered to the mirror with a grimace.
As I stood there in my wrinkled polo work shirt enhanced with limp, garlic-scented hair and no makeup I knew that no one would consider me ready for prime time excitement. Unfortunately, I did not have time to do anything about it.
Sam and Ric kept blowing up my phone to remind me they were waiting. And there was only so much to be gained by scowling at my waxy reflection in a pizzeria restroom while a pair of suntanned blondes wearing sorority tees elbowed me away from the sink.
Melanie, half of the husband and wife team that owned the restaurant, was in the kitchen dealing with an emergency sausage shortage when I navigated all the dough-flinging, sauce-smearing action en route to the back door. But she looked up with a smile when I walked by. "Have a good night, Paige."
I stuffed my work apron into my purse. "You too, Mel."
It was a busy evening. Saturdays at college town eateries usually were busy anyway, but Esposito"s Pizzeria was a veritable icon in these parts so the line to grab a slice at the counter snaked out the door. I"d worked here since I was sixteen and I cast a fond look at the small building before proceeding to the parking lot.
Staying at work and pounding dough in the kitchen sounded more entertaining than some chaotic booze-soaked bash packed with the university crowd where everyone would alternate between snapping duck-faced selfies and vaping their asses off. But I"d already promised Sam and Ric I"d emerge from hibernation mode and pretend to be an untroubled twenty-year-old college girl for one night.
When I pulled into a spot in front of Sam and Ric"s apartment building I could see them silhouetted up on their second floor balcony. They waved but made no move to shift from their positions so I exited and stood on the sidewalk.
"You guys coming down"" I called.
"Come on up," they laughed in unison.
A smile overtook my face as I darted up the flight of stairs to their apartment. Samantha and Erica Malik were my oldest and dearest friends. Being around them was always a balm for my soul. The day the identical twins walked into my second grade classroom I didn"t take much notice of them. It was only three weeks after my mother had vanished and I was busy pretending to be invisible. All my other peers had been cooperating with my quest for isolation, perhaps fearful that misplacing one"s mother was somehow contagious. But one day Sam and Ric discovered me feeding fruit snacks to a colony of ants beneath the playground slide. They said nothing, crouching silently on either side of me and watching with fascination as the ants swarmed the colorful gelatin blobs until the bell rang to signal recess was over. They"d been my best friends ever since.
Sam met me at the door. People who didn"t know the twins had trouble telling them apart but I knew right away this was Sam. She had a small mole on her left cheek, a sarcastic twist to her smile and her casual style of dress contrasted with her sister"s glamorous preferences. But even Sam and her no fuss ways had a problem with my chosen look.
"I thought you were getting ready," she complained.
I gestured with a flourish. "And you think there was no effort required to package all this up""
Sam wrinkled her nose. "I think that"s the same shirt that just suffered through eight hours of pizza production."
I couldn"t argue. "Luckily it"s black and sauce stains aren"t visible." When Sam rolled her eyes I shrugged. "Look, I forgot to bring a change of clothes and I didn"t want to make you guys wait any longer."
By now Ric had come in from the balcony and was conducting her own critical examination. At first her lips pursed together with disapproval. Then she brightened. "Luckily I have plenty of clothes." She grabbed my hand. "Time for a closet raid."
I allowed myself to be pulled along but when Ric selected a red strapless dress, one of her favorites, I felt compelled to point out a few anatomical realities.
"I hate to be a downer but the hem will reach down to my calves and I"ll need a box of tissues to fill out the chest."
Ric inspected the dress. "I bet we can pin it."
"I"m not sure that"s the best plan," I objected, imagining the sheer number of pins that would be required and the inevitable discomfort of earning a straight pin in the ass when I took a seat.
"I can make it work," Ric insisted, ever the optimist.
Sam snorted in the doorway. "Let it go, Ric. I"ll get her something."
While Ric continued to puzzle out a way to mold one of her dazzling dresses to my short, boob-deficient body, Sam disappeared and returned with a sleeveless chambray shirt. I was actually glad to remove my work polo that smelled like the ghosts of ten thousand pizzas and slip into something more recently laundered. Once I was buttoned up I was relocated to the bathroom for a hasty makeover consisting of lipstick that was far too dark for my complexion and a wispy updo that only highlighted my skinny neck.