Return of the Bad Boy

By: Jessica Lemmon



She may be willing to mentally pick up and move on while battling leftover-from-years-ago attraction to Asher, and she may admire down to her very bone marrow that he cared so much about his son…but Gloria getting to know a child that was half him and half Jordan? She wasn’t sure that was a hurdle she was willing—or capable—to leap right now. Maybe after some time passed.

Like when Hawk was in college.

“Depends when he’s here, I guess,” she hedged. She put her mug on the counter and backed away from Asher, raising a shaky hand to push her hair behind her ear. “I’ve been busy getting book deals.”

The excuse was a throwaway and they both knew it. Ash tipped his chin in acknowledgment, his smile more patient than anything.

She couldn’t avoid Hawk forever. Hell, she’d probably have a run-in with Jordan herself at some point. Gloria had been really, really lucky she hadn’t yet. But procrastination was her friend. She could put off that reunion   forever.

Asher had proven as good at avoidance as Gloria. She’d been in his bed not seven months ago, and they’d managed to talk on the phone several times, neither of them breathing a word about it.

“I have to run—conference call in a few and I left my notes at home.” All lies. She waved. “See you later.”

His nostrils flared, but he didn’t challenge her. Instead, he followed her backward steps to the front door and saw her out.

“Later, Sarge,” he said, holding the door open for her.

Without looking back, Gloria paced to her car in her new cork-heeled wedge sandals as fast as her feet would carry her.

* * *



And she’s off.

Asher watched Gloria’s gorgeous hips sway all the way to the car.

Not like he could help it. The woman absolutely rocked him. She rocked him whenever she looked in his direction, whenever he heard her voice, and she’d rocked the hell out of him at the mansion in his borrowed bedroom last year.

Whenever he’d seen her since, it’d been almost the only thing he could think about. And, not gonna lie, when he’d signed the contract for the house he stood in right now, he’d thought about getting her naked and on her back again. Or on top of him.

Hell, both.

Neither of them mentioned last year, and at this point, he’d come to terms that the night at the mansion had been some sort of weird “time-out” before they’d both retreated to neutral corners. The narrow window when they could have moved closer to each other closed mere minutes after they’d orgasmed.

He wasn’t expecting the bell to ding for another round any time soon.

Things between them had gone from hot and heavy to hotter and heavier until Jordan happened—which should have been a “one and done” situation. Ash met Jordan at a bar. She was a groupie and a fan. It wasn’t the first time he’d taken a girl home to get laid, and it hadn’t been the last. But Jordan came back to haunt him last year with news he didn’t expect. Right about then, his world exploded before his eyes.

That explosion reminded him of when he’d played at this venue in San Francisco and the pyrotechnics for the encore performance of “Unchained” went terribly, horribly wrong. Just like that fateful night, he’d barely had a chance to process what was going on before everything around him was burning. In his and Gloria’s case, the burn was a wildfire, steadily destroying everything in its path.

He’d told Sarge about Hawk in January, having sworn his buddies to secrecy but knowing there was a fast-approaching expiration date. With his friends dating, then marrying Gloria’s friends, someone was gonna spill and soon Glo would know and own Asher’s balls. So he’d called from LA and broken the news over the phone. Not an ideal sitch, but he hadn’t been able to tell her when he was here last year. He’d wanted to end on a good note, not further destroy things between them.

But then things had already been over by New Year’s Eve. While Connor and Legs (Faith) were skipping through their snowy happily-ever-after in the courtyard behind the mansion, Glo and Ash did shots of liquor, avoiding watching their friends kiss during the ball drop and pretending not to notice they’d received pity kisses. Asher got each cheek kissed by Charlie and Sofie, and Glo had accepted a half-hug from Donny and a kiss on the forehead from Evan.

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