Perfect for fans of Alice Clayton and
Emma Chase, Lauren Layne’s Oxford series heats up in this story of forbidden
desire as a brooding jock hoping for a comeback falls for a woman who’s
year ago, Jackson Burke was married to the love of his life and playing
quarterback for the Texas Redhawks. Now he’s retired, courtesy of the car
accident that ruined his career—and single, after a nasty scandal torpedoed his
marriage. Just as he’s starting to get used to his new life as a health and
fitness columnist for Oxford magazine, his unpredictable ex shows up on his
doorstep in Manhattan. Jackson should be thrilled. But he can’t stop thinking
about the one person who’s always been there for him, the one girl he could
never have: her younger sister.
Carrington can’t say no to Madison. After all, her older sister practically
raised her. So when Madison begs for help in winning her ex-husband back,
Mollie’s just glad she got over her own crush on Jackson ages ago—or so she
thought. Because as Mollie reconnects with Jackson, she quickly forgets all her
reasons to stay loyal to her sister. Tempted by Jackson’s mellow drawl and
cowboy good looks, Mollie is sick and tired of coming in second place. But she
can’t win if she doesn’t play the game.
“You seriously didn’t have to hire movers,” Mollie said for the hundredth time as she watched two burly dudes easily maneuver yet another stack of boxes to Jackson’s guest room.
Jackson pointed at a barstool. “Sit. Relax. Want a beer?”
“No, I still need to unpack,” she muttered, reluctantly plopping onto the stool.
“Have a beer, Molls. Unpacking your nightstand contents isn’t like operating heavy machinery,” he said, going to the fridge and pulling out two beers.
“Clearly you don’t know what’s in my nightstand.”
Jackson lifted his eyebrows. “Exactly how big is your vibrator?”
“I meant I have like a zillion books.”
“Which are not breakable,” he said, handing her a beer. “And is that a no on the vibrator?”
She gave him a look as she took the bottle from his hand. “I just want to state for the record that I have moved several times, on my own, without the help of movers, and I could have done it again.”
“Moving yourself is for college kids. You’re an adult. Hire movers.”
“No, moving yourself is for people without extra income,” she said. “Snob.”
“So what was the plan?” he asked, tipping the bottle to his lips. “You were just going to maneuver all those big-ass boxes around with those skinny sticks you call arms?”
“Don’t be silly. I was going to hire some big beefy dudes from campus to help me. Perk of working at a university.”
Jackson was about to set his bottle on the counter but his hand froze, just for a second, and Mollie felt a sting of regret as she realized she’d inadvertently hit a nerve. Not so long ago, Jackson Burke had been absolutely the type of muscled guy friend who’d’ve been really helpful to have around on moving day. Her eyes flitted to his shoulder. Now he was the guy who wouldn’t be doing any heavy lifting for a long time. Maybe ever.
She looked away, her brain scrambling to come up with a quick subject change.
Only maybe that wasn’t what he needed—for people to dance around his injury like it was the elephant in the room. Physically, he was on the road to recovery. He needed to get there mentally as well.
“You said the other night that it didn’t hurt,” she said. “Was that a big macho man moment?”
He stared at the counter. “I’ve told you. It’s fine.”
She rolled her eyes. “Please. Be a little more vague and manly.”
“Well, what do you want me to say, Molls?” he ground out. “That the pain wakes me up at night? That any motion more vigorous than brushing my teeth hurts like hell?”
“Are you going to physical therapy?” she asked, purposely ignoring the wounded-bear routine. That might scare off other people, but she was made of stronger stuff. Knew him better.
He looked away.
He shrugged. “What does it even matter? All the PT in the world isn’t going to help me play football again.”
“Well, gosh,” she said dramatically, “you may as well be dead.”
Jackson was in the process of taking a sip of beer and choked. “Jesus. You are such a smart-ass.”
“I’m just saying, you have a lot going for you,” she said, gentling her tone. “You don’t need a football in your hand or to help a girl move to be an amazing guy.”
“Yeah?” he said as he leaned on his forearms across the counter. “Want to tell me more about how I’m an amazing guy?”
Lauren Layneis the USA
Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance.
Prior to becoming an author, Lauren
worked in e-commerce and web-marketing. In 2011, she and her husband moved from
Seattle to New York City, where Lauren decided to pursue a full-time writing
career. It took six months to get her first book deal (despite ardent
assurances to her husband that it would only take three). Since then, Lauren's
gone on to publish ten books, including the bestselling Stiletto series, with
several more on the way in 2015.
Lauren currently lives in Chicago with
her husband and spoiled Pomeranian. When not writing, you'll find her at happy
hour, running at a doggedly slow pace, or trying to straighten her naturally