Authors: Desiree Holt,Allie Standifer
Book 3 in the Turn Up the Heat series.
River Brody knows love exists, but every woman he dates seems to be lacking that special spark. Until he attends an engagement party for his brothers and sees the woman of his dreams.
Kendra Jacobs is coming out of a bad relationship. When she sees River, Kendra thinks he may just be the guy to try her new wiles on. As long as she leaves before he does.
After spending one memorable night together, River knows he’s found the one person he’s meant to spend the rest of his life with. However, convincing Kendra proves far from easy.
An Ellora’s Cave Romantica Publication
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Singed Copyright © 2010 Desiree Holt & Allie Standifer
Edited by Helen Woodall
Cover art by Syneca
Electronic book publication October 2010
The terms Romantica® and Quickies® are registered trademarks of Ellora’s Cave Publishing.
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This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.
Desiree Holt & Allie Standifer
To Tammie. Because you love animals, curse other drivers and in general make me laugh.
To Cerise Deland, who somehow manages to keep me sane.
The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction:
Barbie: Mattel Corporation
Coke: The Coca-Cola Corporation
Godiva: Godiva Brands, Inc.
Lone Star: Lone Star Brewing Corporation
Desiree Holt & Allie Standifer
So many women, so little interest, River Brody thought as he slowly sipped from his bottle of Lone Star beer. If he hadn’t known the exact source of his disinterest River would have been worried. As it stood he knew exactly who to blame for his nonexistent sex life.
His brothers Skyler and Reed along with their fiancées danced by his table, secretive smiles on all four of their faces. Ever since his two older brothers met the loves of their lives nothing had been the same in the Brody household. And River wanted the same chaos and devotion he saw mirrored in his brothers’ eyes every time they looked at their chosen ladies.
He wanted that connection. The bone-deep awareness that another person would always have your back. Someone to depend on and trust, someone he didn’t have to play games with or hide away from after a bad day at work.
Fuck, just watching them made him ache with loneliness he’d never been aware of until now.
My damn brothers,
he mentally cursed.
They couldn’t leave well enough alone.
As happy as he was for them, River still wished things had remained as they’d had been.
A quick slap to the back of his head jolted River out of his pool of self-pity. He flicked a dark look over his shoulder to find his only cousin, Grant Havers standing there smirking at him.
“What do you want?” River growled while his hands itched to repay the hit.
Grant kept a tiny smile hovering at the edge of his lips as he casually tucked his hands into the pocket of his black slacks and rocked back on his heels. “Nothing. You just looked like you needed a good jolt back to reality.”
No hitting at a formal event, River reminded himself. Sky, Reed and the girls would never forgive him for starting a brawl at their engagement party. Especially in the private room at this upscale hotel where all their friends and relatives were gathered.
He let out a deep breath. “Grant, you are lucky I like my soon-to-be sisters-in-law or else I’d take your superior ass down here and now.”
Instead of acting afraid, the dumb ass threw back his head and laughed. “Man, you must scare confessions out of all your suspects with a look like that.”
As hard as he tried River couldn’t hold onto his temper with Grant around. “You are an idiot, you know that, right?”
Grant nodded his shaggy head. “Yep,” he saluted with his beer, “but I’m a rich, retired idiot.”
Yeah, he remembered. At the ripe old age of thirty-eight Grant had been on top of the finance world until a heart attack brought him back down to earth. Within six months Grant sold out his shares of the company, put his condo on the market and moved down South to live with the only family he had left.
With too much time and money on his hands, his cousin had turned into a real meddler. “At least you admit that much of the truth.”
“Hey, I figured out how much energy and time it took to think up lies and then remember them and let me tell you, it’s not worth it.”
“Grant, we’ve got to find you a hobby or a girlfriend. You’ve got way too much time on your hands.” River mentally flipped through the faces of women he knew and came up with a few that might pique his cousin’s interest.
“Oh, don’t worry about that. After tonight I think I’ve got the girlfriend thing covered.” His blue eyes narrowed to a singular spot with so much intensity River wondered if the object of this rigid gaze might burst into flames.
Desiree Holt & Allie Standifer
“What are you…” His voice trailed off as he finally spied the woman who’d managed to capture Grant’s attention. His head started shaking before he found the words to object. “Oh no, Grant, hell no. That’s not a woman. That’s Kasey’s sister.”
“Kasey’s sister, hmm.” Those dangerous blue eyes never left the woman’s smiling face as she laughed with her sister and his brother. “Her name is Kira, right?”
“Grant, buddy, I don’t think she’s the one for you. I’ve got several women more your style. Why don’t we get together for dinner later this week and talk about it?”
“Thanks, but no thanks. I’ve found the one who interests me.” He took another slow sip of his beer before he spoke again. “Keep your ladies to yourself. Now introduce me.”
River wanted to do many things right at that moment, but none of them included introducing his soon-to-be sister-in-law’s sister to his love-’em-and-leave-’em cousin.
Making the decision to introduce them then take Kira aside later to warn her, River gave a short nod. “Fine, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
Grant finally took his eyes off Kira long enough to cast a look of distrust at his cousin. “Why should you warn me?”
“Because if by some miracle she actually goes out with you, you’ll have sex and never call her again. She’ll tell Kasey. Kasey will complain to Sky and Sky will come whining to Reed and me. Then we’ll have to come kick your ass for making us put up with the unholy terror of hearing details of your sex life.”
Whatever Grant said next River didn’t hear. Not when his every sleeping and waking fantasy walked across the room. He swallowed thickly as his once loose pants grew tighter by the second.
“Go introduce yourself, Grant. I’ve got other plans.” He shoved his cousin away and dodged people in his effort to reach the paragon of perfection before the crowd swallowed her up.
Curves, curves and more curves. River’s mouth watered just thinking about getting his hands and tongue all over that body. He loved nothing more than a woman with a woman’s body. No skin and bones skeleton for him. He wanted to feel a female’s softness in bed with him, not to get poked by a stray rib. Those women only made him want to feed them. The woman he spied now inspired fantasies a lot more sensual than food.
* * * * *
Kendra Jacobs searched the room for any signs of her cousins. Just her luck, she was over half an hour late, the private dining room now packed with people. Even with her three-inch heels Ken couldn’t see over the tops of very many heads.
She had to find Kasey or Kira. At least let them know she’d made an appearance. Of course she could always leave her presents on the gift table. They’d know the gifts were from her and she could slip out before anyone tried to talk to her.
Have mercy on me, she thought. She hated large noisy crowds. The people breathing on her, touching her with hands that hadn’t been washed in way too long, not to mention the slight problem she had with meeting new people period.
Sean had done a number on her self-esteem that’s for sure. In the two years she stayed with him, her ex managed to dwindle her pride, confidence and awareness until she’d barely been a shadow of her former self.
Thanks to Kira’s temper and Kasey’s right hook, Ken had shaken loose Sean’s destructive hold and forged a new life. So there was no way she could simply drop the presents off and run away. After everything the two of them had done for her the least she could do would be sticking around and sharing bad small talk with strangers she’d never see again.
She grabbed a glass of wine off the tray of a wandering waiter and slid into a dark corner. Maybe she should make a stronger effort to locate her cousins, but for now she’d take the security of a dimly lit wall. After all there were plans she needed to make.
Desiree Holt & Allie Standifer
All the books she’d read since leaving Sean urged her to stop and think over her actions before committing to a course. Then her other books, the ones she read huddled under the covers with a book light, suggested she go with the moment. Between the two she was at a loss of what to do.
For now she’d stay in her safe corner and maybe get lucky enough to find a man to fantasize about tonight.
No sooner had the thought flashed through her mind then Kendra spotted her walking wet dream cross the room. Unconsciously she licked her suddenly dry lips and tossed back the rest of her white wine.
His body moved liked poetry in motion. A figure of speech she’d never understood until now. Long, lean with just the right amount of muscle, the sexy stranger reminded her of the baseball players she loved watching at games. With their fluid movements, ropy muscles and intense concentration Kendra nearly passed out from panting by the time the game was over.
His head swiveled back and forth as he looked for someone or something. What she wouldn’t give to be the sole object of his intense curiosity. It would never happen. Men who looked like him never glanced twice at women who looked like her. Too many curves and not enough willpower to resist the lure of a glazed donut.
This man had everything she’d admired. Tawny-colored hair a bit too long in the back, just enough to touch the back of his stark white dress shirt. She couldn’t see the color of his eyes, but from the color of his thick hair she’d guess brown or hazel.
When he lifted a hand to greet someone Kendra felt her panties dampen. His hands!
Oh great Godiva, his hands were large and tanned, perfect for reaching and stroking all the hot spots a woman had.