Special Deal .99: Empty Net by Toni Aleo just 99 cents, FREE Snippet Happy #HumpDay
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Brush up on your Assassins storyline to prepare you for Piper’s story. And let me just say, it’s soooooooooooooooooo romantic! *sigh*
Enjoy this FREE Snippet of Empty Net – and buy a copy for yourself, just .99:
This book is for anyone who needs that reassurance that your Happily Ever After is out there.
It figured that Audrey Parker would get dumped the day of her sister’s bachelorette party.
It was just her luck.
As Audrey stood outside of Wanna B’s bar with her cell phone to her ear, she couldn’t help but think how the day had started off so perfectly. She had spent the morning in bed with her boyfriend. Then she went for a day of pampering with her beautiful sister, Fallon, and all of Fallon’s friends. It was a wonderful afternoon and Audrey knew that tonight was going to be even better.
That was until the fireworks began.
Levi Moss was positively the most hardheaded, stubborn, gorgeous man Audrey had ever dated. He wasn’t much taller than her five-five frame, but that didn’t matter. He stood as if he were six feet tall, with large arms and an even larger neck. Levi wore his brown hair in a horrible buzz cut, which she didn’t care for, but his face more than made up for it. His eyes were bright green with flecks of gold. His face was sharply angled, with full lips, and she couldn’t help but smile when he did. She loved his smile, and since he only smiled at her every once in a while, it always took her breath away.
But even with his gorgeousness, he was a pain in her ass. She loved him. She did. But man, he bitched like a chick. If it wasn’t her cooking, it was her obsessive need to have everything clean. Just because he was a slob didn’t mean that she had to be. When he left stuff lying all over the place, it drove her crazy, but she loved him so much that she looked past it. She never complained and would clean up after him. Pathetic, she knew, but she loved him. Her sister and her sister’s soon-to-be husband, Lucas, had told her countless times to leave Levi, but she couldn’t lose the only man who ever really wanted her.
Looking around the outside of the bar, Audrey begged her tears to stay at bay as Levi screamed at her through the phone.
“You are probably out whoring yourself all over Broadway! It’s disgusting, but don’t worry, I won’t be here when you get home!”
Audrey rolled her eyes. “For one, I am not whoring myself all over the place, and second, weren’t you just out for Lucas’s bachelor party last night?”
“We didn’t do anything! We played hockey and drank beers while Lucas talked on the phone with Fallon all night!”
“And that’s my fault?
“You didn’t cook dinner for me before you left and now you are out at some club, probably picking up guys,” he snapped.
Audrey pinched the bridge of her nose. “I am not picking up anyone. I am trying to enjoy my sister’s last weekend as a single woman. Everyone does this, and it doesn’t mean I’m gonna cheat.”
“I don’t care. We’re through. I’m done with you.”
Audrey shook her head as she looked up at the sky. How was he dumping her when, according to Levi, they weren’t really together, as he’d told her so many times before? The tears threatened to fall because she knew the real reason he was breaking up with her. He was messing around with someone else. Someone who apparently was better than her.
“If you leave, you aren’t coming back, Levi, so make sure she is worth it,” she said as strongly as she could.
Levi’s laughter made Audrey want to puke. “She is worth it,” he said. “She is way better than you’ll ever be, you fat whore.”
Then the line went dead.
Audrey’s hand fell to her side, her phone held loosely in it. She could have done without his exiting line, but she knew she’d brought it on herself. She should never have brought up the other girl. She had known about her for months. So why was she letting it bother her now? Levi was a wanderer, she’d known that when she started things with him. She also knew that in a couple weeks he would call her, apologizing, and she would be right back with him.
It was a vicious cycle.
Audrey knew it was wrong, and knew that if Fallon found out, her sister would probably kill her, but it didn’t stop her from taking the crap Levi handed out. He might be an ass and say the most awful things, but there were good times between them. Like when he would hold her in his arms and run his lips down her temple. Or the way he loved watching chick flicks with her. Or when he would trace hearts along her palm, or when she would come home and he would rub her feet.
She loved him. It was sad, but true.
Audrey shook her head sadly. She didn’t understand why she hadn’t met her Prince Charming. The man who would sweep her off her feet. The man who would love only her for the rest of their lives. The man who would think she was all that he needed. Audrey shook her head again and wiped away the stray tears that escaped as thoughts of never being able to find a man who would love only her ran through her head. She couldn’t think like that right now. There was no sense thinking about things she couldn’t change. She would be a ball of tears in no time if she did.
So she did what she did best.
Audrey stood tall in her Christian Louboutin black studded pumps and slid her hands down the tight black sparkly pencil skirt she had paired with a low-cut gray blouse. She couldn’t go inside looking as if Levi had just crushed her heart, not tonight. Tonight was Fallon’s night, and she generally had no difficulty hiding her distress.
She was the queen of hiding emotions. She had lots of practice.
She knew she looked hot tonight, and if Levi Moss didn’t want her, well, damn it, someone freaking did. She made her way back inside to the VIP area Lucas had rented for Fallon’s party. Audrey couldn’t help but be a little dreamy at the thought of her future brother-in-law. He was the perfect man and everything her sister could ever want. She only hoped that she would find a man even half as good as Lucas. He treated Fallon like a queen, was the best father imaginable to her son, Aiden, and he loved her like a sister.
Yup. He was Prince Charming.
She had cheered for Fallon and Lucas since the day her sister told her about him, and would never forget meeting Lucas Brooks outside her family’s wine company. He looked like a lovesick fool, and she couldn’t help wanting to help him. Man, so much had changed since then. A small smile crossed Audrey’s face as she thought that within a week, Fallon and Lucas would be married. They had been through so much, and thank the sweet baby Jesus, Fallon finally got her head out of her ass and saw what was right in front of her.
The perfect man.
When Audrey’s eyes drifted over to where Elli Adler and Harper Titov sat, her envy grew. Elli and Harper were the epitome of happy women. Both were married to amazingly gorgeous, sweet hockey players . . . sigh . . . and both had perfect little children . . . another sigh. It wasn’t fair, they were like a club. An “I’m married to a sexy hockey player; have amazing children; and life couldn’t be better; and oh! I look good while doing it all!” club.
It was sickening, really.
When she glanced over at Piper and Reese Allen, Harper’s twin sisters, she felt a little more in control. They looked as miserable as she felt, and that alone made her feel a tad bit better. She had heard about the twin sisters but hadn’t met them until recently. Reese was a gorgeous brunette with hair all the way down to her bottom. She had moss green eyes, full lips, and the sickest style imaginable. She actually looked more like her older sister, Harper, than her twin. Reese had just moved back from New York to open a dance studio in Nashville, and from what Audrey heard, she was good at getting what she wanted.
It was nice to meet Reese, but Audrey didn’t click with her the way she had with her twin sister. Piper was a hoot. When Audrey went to Tiffany’s to buy Fallon’s bridal gift, Piper was her sales clerk, and Audrey knew from that moment on that she would be her friend. Unlike Reese’s dark features, Piper’s were fair. Her hair was light brown and her eyes were an intense blue. She had the same full lips and cute button nose as her sister, but hers were in a very petite package. Piper was shorter than Audrey, and that was saying something. But all in all she was a doll, and Audrey just adored her.
Piper glanced up and smiled as Audrey made her way to the spot beside Fallon. When she sat down, her sister looked at her, grinning as she held out a shot glass. “You’re behind!” she said. “Drink!”
Audrey obliged, not only because Fallon asked her to, but because she needed to forget her conversation with Levi. As the five women threw back shots, Elli sat on the side, watching.
Audrey felt bad as she smiled over at her. It had to be hard for Elli to watch a bunch of women drink when she couldn’t. But being the sweet person she was, Elli didn’t seem to mind.
“Please get your tubes tied after this one!” Audrey said as the alcohol burned down her throat. What the hell had Fallon given her?
Elli nodded. “Already planned. I’m done. No matter what Shea says.”
Harper hiccupped before giggling. “Whatever. He’ll knock her up a week before the procedure! He’s on a mission!”
The women laughed as Fallon shook her head. “So is Lucas,” she noted before taking another shot, then shook her head. “I’m pretty sure if he had his way, I’d be pregnant now, and thank God that didn’t happen! I wouldn’t be able to fit in my dress!”
The girls all nodded while Audrey shook her head. “It wouldn’t matter anyway, since you won’t pick a damn dress!” she retorted, and everyone laughed. “Thank God she’s narrowed it down to two. But still! The wedding is a week away!”
Fallon shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know what I want. I’m about to walk down that damn aisle in a raincoat! Lucas would love that!”
That had all the women laughing drunkenly, as Audrey watched Fallon blush. A smile tugged at Audrey’s lips, and even with all the jealousy eating away at her, she loved that her sister was so in love. It was good to see Fallon happy. Audrey had spent years watching her living day to day just to get by. Now she lived for a man who loved her more than he needed his next breath, and for a son who thought she hung the moon and the stars.
She was so lucky.
Audrey stood up, smiling down at Fallon, “Well, if it’s a damn raincoat, please let it be white, while my dress is sparkly as all hell!” The women all cheered as she raised her glass in the air. “To the indecisive bride-to-be!”
“To the bride!” everyone chanted along before tapping their glasses together and drinking their shots. Audrey slammed her empty glass down before letting out a loud “Yeehaw!” that was returned by the many patrons at the bar. She grinned as she fell into the seat beside her beautiful sister. Fallon wrapped her arms around her neck, grinning happily back at her.
“I’ve missed you,” Fallon whispered in her ear. She was drunk, and Audrey had to giggle. She was close to drunk too; those last couple of shots were doozies.
“I’ve missed you too,” she whispered back.
Audrey smiled as she shook her head. “Don’t be. It’s gonna be fantastic.”
“But what if I pick the wrong dress and Lucas doesn’t marry me?”
Audrey sighed. Her sister was entirely too insecure for her own good.
“Never gonna happen. Lucas loves you something serious. Like you said, you could show up in a raincoat and he would be happy.”
Fallon nodded, then leaned her head against Audrey’s, looking deep into her eyes.
“You’re the best sister ever.”
The tears came fast, filling Audrey’s eyes as she looked into her sister’s caramel-colored ones. Fallon was the most beautiful woman she had ever known. She deserved the world, and Audrey knew that Lucas would give it to her. But now wasn’t the time to cry, even if they were happy tears. Audrey leaned over, kissing Fallon on the cheek before breaking their embrace to scream, “Let’s dance!”
As Audrey made her way to the bar from the dance floor, she had to admit the night was a huge success. And she hadn’t even thought of Levi once. She was too busy having a blast with her sister and their friends. With the music pulsing around her, she leaned against the bar and ordered another round of drinks. As she waited, the pain unexpectedly began to rip through her. Even though she hadn’t been thinking of Levi while with her friends, he was now heavy on her mind. She dreaded going home, knowing that when she got back to her condo he wouldn’t be there. It made her want to die inside. No matter how much alcohol she drank, or how much fun she had, it would end tonight, and by tomorrow she would be all by herself once again.
“Someone as beautiful as you shouldn’t be sad.”
Audrey looked over and then up, locking with a pair of ocean blue eyes. She blinked as she took in the hotness that stood beside her.
A strong, square chin was covered in blond stubble, his nose had a pronounced bump, his top lip thin, while the bottom lip jutted out a little, just begging to be bitten. His hair was in a messy, tousled cut, and reminded her of the sparkling vampire she often fantasized about, and . While “Flightless Bird” by Iron & Wine instantly played in her mind, her eyes drifted down his neck to his broad shoulders. She could see he was strong, but not overly muscular. What he was—was perfect. Her eyes met his again and she couldn’t breathe. He oozed sex. She couldn’t believe how quickly she got turned on just by looking at him.
She breathed in and out a few times before croaking, “Excuse me?”
She watched as his lips moved. “I was wondering why someone so beautiful, looked so sad,” he said.
Audrey’s eyes left his mouth, to gaze into his eyes. “I’m not sad,” she lied.
“Yes, I think you are.”
He had an accent.
“I’m fine. My sister is getting married, that’s probably why I look sad.”
He shook his head. “Isn’t a wedding a good thing?”
She smiled again. “Of course it is, but I’m losing my sister.”
He nodded. “Yes, but you are gaining a brother.”
Her smile grew as she gazed up at him. He was tall, really tall. She had always been with little guys, since she was so short herself, but at that moment she liked being with the giant who stood in front of her. “I think you’re right,” she said.
He chuckled, a deep throaty sound that made Audrey’s stomach flutter. Oh, he was sexy. “I am always right.”
She giggled at his cockiness. It was totally something Lucas would say, and thinking of him made her smile. “Is that right?”
“Yes. I’ve been watching you, and I’m glad I came over to talk, because honestly, you are the most gorgeous woman I have ever seen.”
Tate Odder was nervous.
He wasn’t lying to the beautiful brunette when he said he had been watching her. He was sitting at the bar when she walked in with her phone at her side, looking so gorgeous it took his breath away. There was something about her that had him begging to know her name. He’d spent the last hour or so watching her with her friends. He recognized the team’s owner, Eleanor Adler, and assumed that one of them was Fallon, the soon-to-be wife of his good friend Lucas Brooks, but he wasn’t sure which one. Not that he cared. He had eyes only for the curvy brunette and had to figure out a way to approach her. He was not one of those guys who would mess with another man’s woman, but from where he’d been sitting, he saw that her ring finger was bare.
Since coming to Nashville eight months ago, he still hadn’t adjusted to dating in the Music City. There was something different about the girls here than in his Swedish homeland. Maybe it was their accents, or his, but he always felt like an idiot. No matter how much Lucas coached him on the art of picking up women, Tate couldn’t do it. He was worried they would make fun of his accent or the gap between his teeth.
He was just becoming popular in the National Hockey League. Even though he was ranked fifth in the NHL in goalie saves, he still wasn’t confident enough to walk up to a woman.
But that was about to change.
When the beauty walked to the bar alone, he’d channeled his inner Lucas and made his way toward her.
Tate couldn’t help but notice how sad she looked. She was petite, but he loved that. After dating nothing but tall Swedish women, he was ready for a change. He liked that she wasn’t bone thin either, and that she had hips and a nice round ass. When his eyes fell on her large breasts, he was in heaven. There was something about big breasts that did it for him. Call it cliché, but he loved big-breasted women.
As his eyes met her heavy-lidded, bright brown ones, he couldn’t help but smile. They sparkled as a bright smile crossed her luscious, glossy lips. “Watching me, huh?” she said now.
There was something uncommonly beautiful about her. Maybe it was the shape of her face. Maybe it was her big beautiful eyes. Or maybe it was the absolute perfection of her breasts. What it was, he didn’t know. All he knew was that he wanted her.
Nothing was said as the two stood gazing into each other’s eyes. When Tate asked Lucas to help him pick up women, he thought Lucas’s advice was going to make it easier for him. He was completely wrong. He had spent the last four months listening to every pickup line his friend gave him, but now he couldn’t think of even one. All he could do was stare into the depths of her brown eyes. They were mesmerizing.
“You’re beautiful,” he finally said.
She bit into her bottom lip, and Tate’s grip on the bar tightened. “Thank you.”
“Don’t thank me. I should be thanking you for gracing this world.”
Good one, he thought, as a blush dusted the beauty’s cheeks.
“Oooh, that was smooth,” she whispered. She lightly brushed her hand against his, and Tate was convinced his hand was on fire. She must have felt it too, because she gasped, moving her hand away quickly before looking up at him.
“I have to tell you,” she said with a shy grin, “it’s usually not this easy.”
He looked down at her. “Easy how?”
“This easy to pick me up. I usually make guys work for it.”
He grinned, and her smile widened. “So you want me too?”
She moved closer, her eyes dark with lust as she said, “I do, but I don’t even know your name, though you do look kinda familiar . . . “
“Do you want to know my name?” he asked with a cocky grin. It was another line out of Lucas’s book, and Tate couldn’t believe he remembered it. He was drunk and horny, not a good combination when trying to pick up a woman. Especially one as gorgeous as this one.
He expected her to nod, so when she shook it, stepping closer to him, he mentally prayed he was ready for what she was about to say. Things were so much different in the States than in Sweden. Back home all he would have to do was nod at a female and she would be on him quicker than he could blink. He was a hockey god there. But not here. He wasn’t used to feeling like he wasn’t good enough or that he couldn’t succeed, and hated it.
He knew his confidence would be broken if she told him to fuck off, so he took a deep breath as she went toe-to-toe with him, her head only reaching to his chest before she looked up.
“All I want to know is when you can leave,” she said. “I have a room not even a mile from here.”
A slow grin spread across Tate’s face as his hands came to rest on her hips. She inhaled sharply and brought her bottom lip between her teeth as she gazed up into his eyes. He had never felt such a connection with a woman before. He wanted to push her up against the bar and have his way with her right there.
Fast. And hard.
He had never in his twenty-one years felt the need to completely devour a woman, but he did now. And if they didn’t leave fast, he was going to lose all control.
He didn’t hesitate, or even think, for that matter. “Let’s go.”
As they walked through the crowded bar together, hands locked, Tate couldn’t help but thank God for Lucas Brooks.
Something was ringing.
Audrey couldn’t move or open her eyes. Her head was pounding and her body was gloriously aching, but the ringing needed to stop. It was her alarm, and if she didn’t find her phone, it would never stop. With each little ding of the alarm, she swore her head was going to explode. Man, she’d had too much to drink last night.
The noise was loud so it had to be close by. She patted her hand around her pillow, off to her right of the bed, and down by her legs. When she couldn’t find her iPhone, she used her left hand to pat along her other side.
When her hand connected with what she knew wasn’t her phone, more like a very large penis, a loud, male groan filled the room. Audrey’s eyes opened quickly to see that she wasn’t alone in the massive king-size bed.
“That’s one hell of a way to wake me up,” her bedmate whispered as he leaned closer, dusting her lips with his.
Audrey stared as the blond hottie reached out his arms, stretching and flexing his mouth-watering muscles. He glanced over at her and gave her a sweet smile as she lay there in shock.
Oh. My. God.
Don’t miss the next new release BLUE LINES – buy here