Take Me if You Dare (Entangled Brazen)

By: Nina Crespo

a Birthday Dare novella





For the fallen heroes and those who continue the journey





Chapter One

“Did it hurt when you fell from heaven? Why don’t you let me buy you a drink, and you can tell me all about it?”

Jasmine took a long sip of chardonnay and prepared to give her sixth refusal of the night to what was beginning to feel like a contest for the worst pickup lines ever.

“No, I’m fine.” She set her wineglass down on the tall table where she was sitting on the outdoor deck of the beachside lounge and swiveled her barstool more toward the ocean.

“You’re more than fine, baby. You’re an angel.” Mr. Can’t-Take-a-Hint stepped back into view and flashed a knowing smile. “We should go someplace where you can examine me for bruises, because I’ve been falling for you all night.”

He eased farther into her personal space, and her eyes watered from the overpowering scent of his cologne. As she moved back, he moved in. If he came any closer, she would tumble right out of her seat.

“No, I don’t think so,” she said, fanning him and his cologne away. She gave him an up-and-down look, but he didn’t budge. Turning her body farther away from him, she stared pointedly out at the crashing waves, but he still hung around like a thick, humid fog unmoved by the breeze.

Was he really that clueless?

The voice in her head huffed out a laugh. She should have celebrated her twenty-seventh birthday upstairs in her hotel room with a bubble bath, room service, and a movie, but instead, she’d gone all-in on her best friend Tabitha’s stupid birthday dare.

I can’t believe I agreed to do this. Have a one-night stand. What was I thinking?

Ironically, she was the one who’d started the dare tradition when she’d challenged Tab to kiss her playground crush on her eighth birthday. Since then, the dare had instigated purple hair, a tattoo, a well-hidden body piercing, and a college spring break incident in Acapulco that had landed them just short of jail.

During the past few years, mainly because her cheating ex-fiancé had insisted upon it, she and Tab had toned things down a bit, and the dare had mellowed to the pleasures they’d often denied themselves because of their busy schedules. Things like Latin dancing lessons, wine tasting in Napa, hiring a gourmet chef for a week, or pampering at an expensive spa. This year, as a way to help her get over the ending of her doomed engagement to Greg, Tab had insisted on giving her something more…challenging.

She shot a look at the guy standing next to her and his grin widened.

Once she’d agreed to take the restrictions off, she should have known that Tab would head straight down the path of flat-out crazy. I mean, really? Where had this idea come from? Before this night was over, she was going to think of seven—no, make that eight—ways for Tab to pay for this brilliant plan.

In the midst of drawing up her mental payback list, the guy brushed his hand over Jasmine’s thigh, and her game-over meter tipped into the red zone. In the past hour, she’d tolerated a sloppy drunk, two guys who’d spent their whole conversation tag-teaming stares at her breasts, another one who’d needed to make friends with a toothbrush, and one guy who’d just plain given her the creeps. This was a total disaster. Dare or not, she was done.

She moved her leg out of range and glared at the guy standing next to her. “Touch me again, and you’ll draw back nubs for fingers.”



Ethan stood at the bar and watched the exchange with amused interest. The guy must have figured out by now that he was destined to go down in flames just like the other five ahead of him. That is, unless she preferred the type of guy who was addicted to hair gel and orange tans.

Turning to get a better view, he leaned his elbow against the bar and continued to enjoy his beer along with the profile of the woman dressed in a peach halter dress that enhanced her light golden-brown skin. A light ocean breeze played in her dark curly hair, providing glimpses of her slim cheekbones, full lips, and the promise of it all fitting together beautifully.

She crossed her shapely legs, and his gaze moved from the strappy stiletto heels on her feet to where the hem of her dress ended at mid-thigh. The woman’s slow, unconscious movement of flipping her hair over her bare shoulder brought his attention back up to the curves of her breasts. When she raised her wineglass, his gaze followed it all the way up to her plum-colored lips.

Sexy, sophisticated…tempting.

No wonder every guy in the bar had his eye on her. The way she carried herself made a man want to find out more about her scent, her touch, the softness of her skin, and what she preferred to wear next to it—silk, lace, satin, or maybe nothing at all.

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