Today we have the cover reveal of 13, the 2nd book in The LIST series, by Rhonda James! We are so excited to share this sexy new romance with you! Check it out and pre-order your copy today!
Title: 13 (The LIST, #2)
Author: Rhonda James
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Day: May 11th
“Fake it till you make it.”
A notion I once considered utterly ridiculous. Until one crazy night with a mysterious man resulted in a social media frenzy that had the entire entertainment industry talking.
Seems a fake marriage was just what my career needed to make Hollywood come knocking.
Convincing him to continue the charade was almost too easy. The chemistry between us made it impossible to keep my hands to myself. But it was all just pretend, right? Love was never in the script.
That is, until he re-wrote it.
13 Reasons You Should Stay:
1.) I’m crazy about you
2.) I make you laugh
3.) You totally dig me
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Later that evening, I was in bed watching television when I heard a knock on my door. Two short raps before the door eased open and Sophie entered. Once inside, she leaned back against the wood and offered a small smile. Wearing only a long cotton shirt and fuzzy thigh high socks, she looked as though she was already dressed for bed.
Why she came to my room at one in the morning—dressed this way—was anybody’s guess. Though, I had my suspicions.
Now that she was inside she fidgeted as if she was nervous. Like she might be having second thoughts. It wouldn’t surprise me if she turned tail and ran.
If I’d learned anything in my short time of knowing her, Sophie was a runner. I wasn’t worried, though. Something about the way she looked at me told me that—no matter how scared—her desire to be near me far outweighed those fears.
Hands behind my head. Confident and totally relaxed. I allowed my gaze to travel the length of her petite frame, lingering a little longer on her naked thighs. The same thighs I’d had my hands on only a week ago.
I tried playing it cool.
“Hardly,” she scoffed. Fussing with the hem of her shirt, “I just…I was hoping maybe we could talk.”
I studied her once more. Face scrubbed free of makeup. Blonde hair piled on top of her head. Smooth, kissable skin. She caught me checking her out and tipped her head coyly and smiled.
In that moment I knew that, if given the chance, this girl could destroy me.
Then again, they say every man had his kryptonite.
In a few short days it seemed as though Sophie Banks had become mine.
“Sure. I guess. What did you want to talk about?”
Sophie nibbled on her lip. Gaze darting between me and the door. Waiting.
Reading her cues, I shifted over on the bed and patted the space beside me. Inviting her to join me.
She wasted no time crawling up the mattress and snuggling under the crook of my arm. Making herself at home.
Two words: Perfect. Fit.
I buried my nose in her hair and took a deep breath.
God, she smelled amazing. Like lavender and honey.
“What’s up?” I pressed.
“I had a nice time tonight,” she admitted quietly. “Dinner was yummy, too. Then, the walk on the beach was…nice.”
I got the impression she was stalling. While I was all for laying next to her and shooting the shit, I also wanted her to feel comfortable asking me anything because it was obvious she had something specific on her mind.
“I had a nice time too, Tiny, but why do I get the feeling that isn’t the only thing on your mind?”
She raised herself up on one elbow and studied my face. For a few moments we sat in silence.
It was hard to not be distracted by all the tanned skin on display. My eyes were immediately drawn to the way the collar of her shirt draped over one shoulder, revealing the column of her neck and the smooth line of her collarbone. I wanted to dip my head and kiss a path from the tip of her shoulder to the lobe of her right ear. As if that wasn’t enough to test me, her creamy thighs rested mere inches from my hand. A hand itching to stroke them. Tease the soft skin of her inner thigh with one finger tip until her legs parted. Granting access to the heated area nestled between them.
Deep breaths, dude. Don’t let her see how turned on you are. She didn’t come here for sex.
“I need a favor.”
Please let it be sexual.
“Remember the whole wedding thing?” She asked innocently. I gave her a look and she squirmed beside me. “Well, the next day my agent called. Apparently he’s been getting a lot of calls. Casting directors are taking notice.”
“I don’t understand. What does that post have to do with any of this?”
“It seems they like the idea of me being married. I guess it makes me seem more stable in their eyes.”
“Stable?” I asked, still not making the connection.
Sophie sighed a heavy sigh and pushed herself up to a seated position.
“Last year I was a contestant on a reality show. While I was in the contestant house I did some things. Things I’m not entirely proud of. I guess my actions left a bad taste in many people’s mouths. The kind of people who make decisions for struggling actors such as myself. They considered me a loose cannon and my career has suffered from that lack in judgement. So, the fact they’re calling now is a pretty big deal.”
“That’s great news. Right?”
“I suppose.” She picked aimlessly at her socks and avoided looking me directly in the eye. “My agent thinks it would be best if I continued the charade. He believes that by posting more photos, and appearing in public together—as a couple—people will see that we are really in love.”
My eyebrows shot up to my hairline. “We?”
“Of course, ‘we,’” she smacked at my arm, “you’re the guy in the photo. It’s not as if I can go out and find another guy who looks like you and would be willing to play the part of my fake husband. I mean, I could, but that would take too much time. Time I don’t have.”
“But we’re not actually ’in love.’” I held up my fingers and made air quotes. “Something about this doesn’t feel right. How will our pretending convince these people of anything? I’m not so sure I like the idea of you being someone’s pet project,” I grumbled.
“I appreciate you trying to protect me, but I think you’re forgetting that I’m an actress. I’ve spent years portraying someone I’m not. Besides, in this case love is just an illusion. All we have to do is stage the photos properly and people will read into it what they want.”
My hand brushed across her thigh and she shivered at my touch. Scooting closer, she leaned forward. bracing her palms on the mattress.
From this angle I could see down her shirt. See the valley between her breasts. Breasts that weren’t too big or too small. Just the right size for my palm. Dark nipples, erect and begging to be licked and sucked.
“What do you say? Are you up for playing the part of my husband a little longer? I’d be willing to pay you, if that would help sway your decision.”
“Fuck that,” I growled. Tore my gaze away. “No way in hell I’m letting you pay me to pretend to be in love with you.”
“You have to let me offer you something. Please, Jared. I can’t do this without you.”
When she peered up at me with those magnificent blue eyes, how could I say no? Hollywood was the dream of every aspiring actress. If all it took to make her happy was continuing the charade, consider me a married man.
“Aw, shucks. What the hell. I mean, it’ll be a burden but I think I can tough it out. Unless a better offer comes along,” I leaned back on my arm and dropped her a wink.
“Oh, you are so smug.” She swatted at my chest, laughing. “Thank you. This means everything to me.”
I bopped the tip of her nose with my finger, “No problem, Tiny.”
And it really wouldn’t be a hardship.
In reality it was a win-win.
She would get her ‘husband.’
I’d walk away with an endless supply of one on one time and an excuse to kiss her whenever I wanted.
But I drew the line at her paying me.
What the fuck was that about anyhow?
It was as if she was oblivious to my attraction to her. Either that or she wasn’t interested—a notion I found hard to believe.
She’d looked so cute when she asked. Nervous. Stumbling over her words as if she was actually afraid I would turn her down. As if I could. Based on the reason for her request, I could understand why it had been hard for her to ask. What she failed to understand was I had been on board with this crazy scheme from the beginning. Seriously, how hard could it be? Pose for a few pictures. When we were together in public we needed to pretend we were crazy hot for each other. Pfft. Like that was going to be a challenge. One look at her and I had a raging boner. Pretending to want her would not be a stretch.
“Question,” she announced out of the blue. “Since you’re my ‘husband’ and all, what should I call you? What I mean is, I met you as Jared but your friends call you Hawk. I’ll admit I feel a little left out. If we’re going to do this I want to be part of your world. I really want us to be friends.”
I reached up, threading my fingers with hers. “Friends? Is that all? I only ask because that first night I felt a connection between us. If we’re going to be spending all this time together I think it’d be a shame not to act on that attraction at some point in time. Don’t you?”
I’m going to pause right here and make it known that in no way did I mean I wanted to bang her right then and there. Something inside told me right now she was far too vulnerable. If we fucked now it’d be like me taking advantage of her. But my sassy, southern sweetheart seemed to have other plans. Plans that included a lot of kissing. And a helluva lot of body parts touching.
“You have no idea how happy I am you said that first,” she declared breathlessly.
With Ninja-like moves, Sophie stripped the blanket from my body and I couldn’t help smiling at the look on her face when she discovered I was only wearing boxers. She took her time in her appraisal. Taking in the definition of my chest and abs. By no means was I a bulky guy, but I worked out regularly. Running helped me relax. Well, that and sex. Most people wouldn’t realize, but being up on stage was an intense workout and there were nights when I played for a solid three hours, and my guitar wasn’t light—especially when I switched to playing the double neck. My muscles were long and lean, like rest of me, and her gaze paused on the bulge in my briefs. The one that grew with every second she kept staring.
I thought about my sweet Mamaw. My sisters. Baseball stats. Anything to tame the beast awakening between my legs.
Sophie licked her lips hungrily, looking as though she wanted to eat me alive. Her eyes darted from my crotch to my eyes and back to my erection. I said a silent prayer to my dick. Pleading with it to play dead, just this once. Not because I didn’t want her. God, I wanted to fuck her in the worst way. But not tonight.
Not this soon, and not like this.
I opened my mouth to tell her this was a bad idea. Tell her we should say goodnight and try this again in a week or two when she wasn’t feeling so vulnerable. Seriously? Who the fuck are you right now, dude?
She swept one leg over mine and straddled my thighs, nestling her ass just above my knees. Leaning forward, she finger walked up and down my chest. My nipples were rock hard from her touch. The pad of one finger circled the darkened areola before brushing ever so softly across my nipple. I swallowed, noting the dark blue hue of her irises. That same finger traveled higher to trace my bottom lip and on the third pass I caught it between my teeth and held on, loving the surprise in her eyes.
I rose to meet her. Hands on her back, drawing her body flush with mine. Eyes closed, our mouths crashed together in a kiss of utter desperation. Wanton need coursed through my veins as the tip of her tongue languidly stroked my lips, seeking entry. They parted on pure instinct, making room for her welcomed intrusion. She tasted so damn good. Like something I had never tasted but would crave for the rest of my days. Her greedy tongue felt like silk in my mouth. Soft and slick. Eager as fuck. I couldn’t help thinking how amazing it would feel to have that tongue wrapped around my erect cock, milking me until I had nothing left to offer.
My hand went to the back of her head. Fingers buried in her disheveled hair. I could see her nipples through her shirt. The little pebbles rubbed against the cotton fabric that confined them. Begging to be set free. I fell back against the pillows, pulling her along with me. As we kissed she moved her hips in slow torturous circles, grinding her pussy over my rock hard and all too eager cock. Since all I had on was underwear, I could feel how wet she was beneath that silky scrap of material she called panties.
Her soft moans kept me in a trancelike state.
That’s it, Tiny. A little to the left. Yes! Right there.
Roll. Flex. Grind.
My hands fell to her waist, fully intent on putting an end to the seduction. But goddammit if what she was doing didn’t feel like fucking Heaven.
My mind was at war with itself.
Slip your hand inside her panties. You know she wants you to.
Don’t do it, asshole.
She’d look so hot riding your cock.
Don’t be that guy. If it’s this good now think how much better it will be if you wait.
“Fuuuck!” I opened my eyes, saw the desire in hers, and knew I was in trouble. It took every ounce of strength I possessed, but I pressed my thumbs into her flesh and got her attention. “Whoa, slow down, baby.”
It pained me to utter those words but I knew it was the right thing to do.
For now, at least.
She came back to my mouth, claiming it before I could get another word in.
I ripped my mouth away, panting hard. “Sophie, we need to stop.”
Her hands dropped to my chest as she pushed herself up, still straddling my hips, and stared down at me. Mouth open and out of breath.
“What’s wrong? I thought you wanted me.”
The vulnerability in her voice told me this was the right decision but I had a hard time tearing my gaze from her heaving chest. The way her nipples puckered against the cotton made my mouth water. I’d been picturing her naked since the moment we met. That night her dress had been so short it left little to the imagination. Tonight, with my hands on her bare thighs, pussy mere inches away, I could see the prize but I wasn’t so sure I deserved it.
I wasn’t sure I ever would.
I wanted her but I refused to take advantage of her.
Mark my words. There would be fucking in our future but my dick was going to have to earn the right to be inside her.
“I do want you. But not this way. I don’t want to rush into anything. I told you on the beach that I wanted to get to know you first. Right now it feels like the only reason you’re doing this is because you think you owe me something for coming to your rescue—which feels an awful lot like what you did on that TV show.”
That made her mad.
“This is nothing like that and what right do you have to judge me or my actions? Living in that house was emotionally taxing and Gavin was nice to me. He was the only friend I had at the time.”
Something inside me snapped. “Is that why you fucked him on national television? Because he was nice?”
Yeah, I know it was a low blow but I’d watched the video. Saw the look in her eyes. It was the same look she’d given me when I said yes. I didn’t like the idea of her thinking she owed me, or anyone for that matter, for showing kindness.
I wasn’t being kind to get in her pants. I was that way because that’s the way my Mama raised me.
Hurt shadowed her pretty face and I felt instant remorse.
“How dare you judge me. I don’t have to explain myself to you. In fact, I refuse to keep talking about it.” She pushed off the bed and headed for the door. “You know what? I thought you were different but I guess I was wrong. And you can forget about the whole marriage thing. I’ll figure something else out.”
She’d barely reached the door when I slammed it shut, caging her with my arms.
Things had gone haywire way too quickly.
My heart beat wildly inside my chest when she turned around and peered up at me through tear soaked lashes.
“Aww, fuck, Tiny. I’m sorry for what I said. I never meant to make you cry.” I cupped her face in my hands and took the fact that she let me touch her as a good sign.
“I’ve already paid a penance for my actions on that show. If we’re going to do this, Jared, I don’t need you throwing my mistakes up in my face.”
I brushed a thumb under each eye, wiping away the moisture. Feeling like the world’s biggest asshole.
“Noted,” I answered with a nod and mischievous smile. “For the record, you can call me any name you want, just so long as you keep calling.”
“Hmm.” The tip of her tongue poked through her lips and her eyes went up and to the left as she pondered her options. The sight of her tongue had my dick jerking with eager anticipation. With her bottom lip between her teeth, she looked up at me and giggled. “Can I call you Sparky?”
I responded with a firm, “Fuck no,” and then couldn’t help chuckling at the pouty face she made. She looked fucking cute as hell.
Damn. There was something about this girl I just couldn’t get enough of.
“Now that we’ve been properly introduced,” she announced, eyes shifting down to the semi I was sporting. “I think maybe I’ll call you Hawk.”
“Hawk.” She repeated my name. Testing it on her lips.
I found myself leaning toward her, eyes zeroing in on those luscious pink lips that tasted of peaches and cream. “Does this mean we’re still married?”
She arched a brow and rested her hands on my hips, thumbs dipping beneath the waistband of my boxers.
My arched brow rivaled hers. “That so? Depends on what?”
“On whether or not I’m ever going to get that honeymoon you promised me.”
My hearty chuckle echoed throughout the room. “Woman, you sure are intent on getting in my pants. I don’t know how I feel about being looked at as a sex object.”
“What?” she asked innocently, reminding me of the flirtatious woman I’d seen the night we met. “I’ve wanted you since the moment you first spoke to me. Now that I have firsthand knowledge of what you’re hiding behind those boxers you can bet your sweet ass it’s all I’m going to be thinking about.”
“You…” I lowered my lips to hers and stole another taste. “What am I going to do with you?”
“I can think of a few things.” She switched off the light and then screamed when I bent at the knees and tossed her over my shoulder.
I grunted and carried her down the hall. “Girl, you need to learn a thing or two about being wooed. Off to bed with you, young lady.” The sides of her fists beat out a rhythm on my ass the entire walk to her bedroom where I tossed her in the middle of the bed and kissed her goodnight. “Just so we’re clear, Tiny, I promise you will be sore after I’ve been inside you. But I also promise to kiss and make it better.”
The last sound I heard was that of her frustrated huff when I turned out the light and shut the door behind me on my way out.
The walk back to my room felt like the longest walk of my life.
Then again, it was hard to walk with a raging boner.
Sorry, buddy, not happening.
Man, it was going to be a long night.
Rhonda is an Amazon bestselling romance author who strives to create a book boyfriend for all her readers. She’s married and lives in Michigan with her family. In her spare time you can find her talking to readers, getting lost in a new book, or just spending time with her family.
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