Title: Only You
Author: Melanie Harlow
Publishing Date: March 12th
Designer: Letitia Hasser, RBA Designs
Photographer: Lauren Watson Perry
Nate Pearson is ridiculously handsome and wears the hell out of a suit and tie, but I’ve seen the parade of beautiful women leaving his apartment across the hall—a different one every time—and I want no part of it. When it comes to romance, I’m looking for something real, something that will last: the happily ever after.
As a divorce attorney, he loves to tell me there’s no such thing.
As a wedding planner, I choose to disagree.
We disagree on almost everything, in fact. Everything except James Bond. The only time we really get along is when we’re watching 007 flicks together, and I’ll admit—he has rescued me from a disaster or five. So when one of the baton twirlers from his parade leaves a baby girl at his door with a note that says “I’ll come back for her” and he begs me for help, I can’t turn him down.
But it’s a mistake.
Because watching him with his daughter, I start to see another side of Nate, a side that has my breath coming faster, my body craving his, my heart longing for him to change his mind about love and tell me there’s a chance for us.
I don’t want to be just another girl leaving his apartment in the morning.
I want to be the one he asks to stay.
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“You know, even an alpha male can have feelings occasionally.”
She crossed her arms and leaned back against the counter, giving me the evil eye. “Yes. He doesn’t have to be hard as granite all the way through, all the time.”
Don’t think about being hard. Don’t think about being hard. Don’t think about being hard. I leaned back against the opposite counter and sort of held my glass in front of my crotch. “Why are you even concerned with alpha males? You’re never attracted to them.”
“What? Yes, I am!”
“No, you’re not.” I knew her type well. “You’re always saying how you don’t want to be rescued, you want someone willing to show affection and talk about feelings, you don’t like arrogant or competitive guys or guys who always have to win, you like guys who get along with everyone—”
“What’s wrong with that?”
“Nothing. But that’s not an alpha male.”
She chewed her bottom lip. “But look at Bond. Who is he so worried about protecting? Why is he so driven to kill the bad guys? There must be people he cares about more than himself to put himself in harm’s way so often.”
“Maybe he just likes the thrill of the chase.”
“Maybe he’s more selfless than you think.”
“In this case, I think we’re going to have to disagree.”
She sighed heavily, and I knew I had disappointed her by ending the argument in a draw instead of winning or losing it. Any other night, I might have kept it going, but there was something odd going on with me, something that had me wanting to close the distance between us, set her up on the counter, slip my hands beneath that fuzzy white sweater she had on, see what her legs felt like wrapped around my hips. But I knew better.
Get her out of here before you do something stupid.
“Hey, you got fortune cookies? I didn’t see those.” She reached for the little cellophane bag.
“I forgot about them.”
“Can I have one?”
“You can have them both.”
She took one out and cracked it open. “A ship in harbor is safe, but that’s not why ships are built.”
She ignored me and went on to the next one. “You have to keep breaking your heart until it opens.” Her lips pursed. “Hm. I don’t want a dangerous ship or a broken heart.”
I laughed at the anguish in her tone and expression.
“It’s not funny,” she said, shoving pieces of cookie in her mouth. “It means I’m doomed to be unhappy. And then I’m going to die in a shipwreck.”
“It means you take things way too seriously.” I tipped back the last of the bourbon in my glass, and set it in the sink. “Well, I’ve got an early morning at the gym tomorrow.”
She popped the rest of one cookie in her mouth and brushed off her hands. “I’m going. What time is it anyway?”
I checked the digital clock on the microwave. “It’s 11:11.”
Her face lit up. “Ooh! Make a wish!”
“It’s 11:11, you have to make a wish.” She closed her eyes for a couple seconds, her lips moving as if saying a silent prayer. Then she opened them. “Did you do it?”
I laughed. “No.”
“Nate! Hurry up! Make a wish.” She glanced at the clock and flapped her hands agitatedly.
“I don’t have a wish to make.”
“So make one for me, then. And do it fast, before it’s 11:12.”
This time it was my turn to roll my eyes, but secretly I wished that the next guy she fell in love with would love her back the way she deserved, and she’d be happy. But I didn’t close my eyes, and I didn’t move my lips, so she had no idea whether I’d made a wish or not.
“Did you do it?” She looked concerned.
Her mouth fell open for a second. “What was it? What did you wish for me?”
I started to laugh as I left the kitchen. “Nice try, Calamity. Even I know you don’t tell a wish if you want it to come true.” The credits were still rolling on the television, and I picked up the remote to turn everything off.
“Oh, now you believe in wishes?” She sat down on the couch and tugged on her fluffy boots.
No, I wanted to tell her. I don’t, because I learned a long time ago that wishes and prayers and hopes don’t mean anything. No one is listening. But I didn’t tell her that, not only because she was looking up at me with my favorite expression of hers, the one daring me to fight back, but because at that very moment, I heard a noise in the hall.
A strange and oddly terrifying noise.
I looked over my shoulder toward the door, thinking I must have imagined the sound.
Then I heard it again—the unmistakable, ball-shrinking, cringe-inducing sound of a baby’s wail.
Melanie Harlow likes her martinis dry, her heels high, and her history with the naughty bits left in. When she’s not writing or reading, she gets her kicks from TV series like VEEP, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, and Homeland. She occasionally runs three miles, but only so she can have more gin and steak.
Melanie is the author of the AFTER WE FALL series, the HAPPY CRAZY LOVE series, the FRENCHED series, and the sexy historical SPEAK EASY duet, set in the 1920s. She lifts her glass to romance readers and writers from her home near Detroit, MI, where she lives with her husband, two daughters, and pet rabbit.
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