BOOK 5 in The Forbidden Men Series
Contemporary New Adult Romance
Orginally published March 2015
148,570 words, 426 pages
4-Flame Sensuality Rating
Let your hair down, Caroline, they said.
It'll be fun, they said.
I know I've closed myself off in a major way over the past year, ever since "the incident" where I messed up my life completely. It's past time I try to live again or just give up altogether. But this is quite possibly the craziest thing I've ever done. In a last ditch effort to invigorate myself, I'm standing outside Oren Tenning's bedroom, I just peeled off the sexiest pair of underwear I own, and my hand is already raised to knock. My brother would disown me for doing anything with his best friend, and he'd probably kill Oren. But if I play my cards right, no one will ever know about this. Not even Ten.
Maybe after tonight, I'll finally get over this stupid, irrational crush I hate having on the biggest jerk I've ever met. Or maybe I'll just end up falling for him even harder. Maybe I'll discover there's so much more to my crude, carefree hunk than meets the eye.
"Ooh, he's cute. Caroline, don't you think he's cute?"
I sighed as Blaze—and yes, she'd given herself that name—shoved me in the arm for like the tenth time in the past five minutes, almost making me upset the glass of cola I was nursing.
"Yeah," I said, not even bothering to check out the newest hottie she'd spotted. "He's...adorable."
Usually, I was all for checking out anyone within my age range who possessed a Y chromosome. But tonight, I was anti-Y, so freaking anti-Y that I'd rather throw a vat of flesh-eating acid on the lot of them than check out one of their annoying, irritating, cute smiles, or asses, or packages, or pecs.
Across the table from us, Zoey covered her mouth with her hand and tried not to laugh out loud over my lackluster response. I scowled at her and mouthed, "Shut up."
She had nothing to be moody about. Her boyfriend was frigging perfect. Gorgeous, considerate, sweet, faithful, Quinn Hamilton was exactly the kind of guy I should crave. But no…oh no. The idiot I coveted was a loudmouthed, politically incorrect jerk who shoved his penis into any willing woman who batted her eyelashes at him.
Except me. Me, he had turned down flat.
Yeah, I said twice...because I was idiot enough not to get the hint the first time around.
Wrapping myself with my own arms, because just remembering his rejections made me feel all ugly, worthless, and gross, I glared at my drink, wishing I had even a hint of a bourbon in my cola. But my brother was working the bar, so that was a no-go.
Typically, his coworkers would slip me a little alcohol, but not if Noel was on the clock. No one crossed Noel Gamble where his eighteen-year-old sister was concerned, not even the biggest loudmouthed, politically incorrect jerk of the century.
"No, wait. Check him out instead. Now there's a stallion I'd like to mount and ride." Blaze literally licked her lips as she gazed hungrily across the crowded club. "Just look at how thick that chest is. And those arms. Mmm, God. You gotta know the rest of him is just as big. Dayum. I want to see him naked."
"Hey," Zoey spoke up, her tone annoyed. "That one's my boyfriend."
I glanced over to find Quinn's hulking figure up by the stage as he talked to Asher.
Ready for the evening's performance, Asher had a guitar strapped to his back. He swept a long piece of hair out of his face before gesturing with his hands as he spoke to Quinn. And like Quinn, he was another amazing guy, a hot rocker dude with a voice that made your hormones hum along with him every time he sang.
But he didn't want me either, which brought up another reason I was so anti-male these days. The good guys who might actually treat me right stayed away, weren't interested or already had a woman. The only asshole who'd actually taken a chance on me had used me, turned me into his dirty little secret, and then thrown me out like yesterday's trash. Was it any wonder I hadn't had sex in almost a year?
Oh, hell. Had it already almost been a year? Not cool.
I sank deeper into my chair as Blaze gasped. "What?! That hunk of walking orgasm is your boyfriend? Since when can you attract a guy?"
"Whoa!" I sat up straighter, scowling at Blaze. "What the hell? Zoey could attract any man she wanted."
Zoey was my best friend on earth. She and I had come here tonight with Quinn to watch Asher's band play. Blaze was merely a passing acquaintance I shared a couple classes with, who'd approached us tonight, probably just looking for a table to sit at.
"But she's just so..." Blaze motioned to Zoey as she made a sour face. "So..."
"Sweet?" I guessed snidely, arching an eyebrow while my gaze dared her to say one more negative thing about my friend.
"Beautiful? Smart? Loyal?"
"Shy," Blaze burst out as if that was something horrid. "Seriously, I don't know why you hang out with such losers. You're not like them, but I swear you try to be. You just need to live a little, Caroline. Find yourself a man. A hot one-night stand. I haven't heard about you hooking up with anyone since we met last semester, and I know you're not into chicks. I'm worried your poor vagina's going to wrinkle up and dry out if you don't give it a little pampering."
Zoey's eyes grew big as she darted glances between me and Blaze. Unlike Blaze, though, she knew I had a temper and wasn't afraid to use it, so she also knew I wasn't going to let Blaze get away with saying all that shit unscathed.
One freshly clawed face coming up.