Cover Designer: Claire Smith
One look at Annabelle Stevens and no one would ever know she’s a top Assistant US Attorney. When a new boss assigns her to an elite DEA-led task force, she’s put in close proximity to the one man she can’t shake: Connor Evans. For years, she’s been in love with him, and for years, he’s played yo-yo with her heart.Abandoned by his parents, tossed around from one foster home to the next until his best friend’s family took him in, Connor Evans is the proverbial bad boy with a badge. For more than ten years, he’s kept Annabelle at a distance, convinced that his kind of screwed-up doesn’t belong anywhere near her.
When one case muddles the line between personal and professional, mistakes are made. Connor has no choice but to step up if he wants to win her trust and her heart back.
Looking around the backyard, I smile at how beautiful and happy Savannah looks, and even though I should be happy for her, every time I see Connor with the blonde Barbie on his arm, I want to kick and scream. I still can’t believe he brought a stranger to his best friend’s wedding. No matter how many looks I give the girls, silently telling them that I’m all right, they all know I’m really not. But this is Savannah’s big day and I won’t ruin it by showing Connor that he gets to me.
It’s not just the fact that his date is a stranger who looks like she just stepped out of a Barbie case or just finished playing with one. It’s that she’s exactly what I’m not. She’s blonde. I’m a redhead. She’s a size zero, and, well, I’ve got some curves, and her skin is porcelain while mine is covered with tattoos.
“Annabelle.” Just the sound of his voice sends chills down my arms. I don’t even have to turn around to know it’s Connor. I hate how he always sneaks up on me. A man his size should not be able to sneak up on people.
I take a deep breath before turning around, hoping he can’t read the emotions crawling all over my face. “Connor, you’re letting your date wander unaccompanied? Aren’t you worried about child services?” I try to sound as unaffected as possible but I know he’s not buying it. Why the man has to look so damn good is beyond me. He opted for black jeans that showcase his strong thighs, a white button-down shirt that shows off some of the ink on his chest with a black suit jacket that molds his arms like a second glove. The man’s body is the stuff of fantasy.
He laughs and if I weren’t already fuming with anger already… that does it. He takes a few steps closer until he’s standing so close to me, I can smell his aftershave. “Is that jealousy I hear?”
“You wouldn’t know jealousy if it hit you in the face, Connor.” I shove him, but of course, the man who’s built like a brick wall doesn’t move an inch.
That’s the other thing about Connor; if he were ugly, it would make getting over him so much easier, but God, he is the most gorgeous man I have ever laid eyes on. His dark brown hair is just long enough for a woman to hold on to, and his green eyes…. God, I lose my train of thought every time I stare into them.
“So you’re not clenching your fists because you’re pissed I have a date?” I unclench my hands, trying desperately not to shove him into the pool, because this is Noah and Savannah’s big day, but I want to knock the smirk right off his face.
Standing my ground against Connor is always a challenge. He has this ability to rattle me, but today I choose to hold my ground because he’s right. I am pissed. “Why would I be mad that you brought a date to a family event?”
He leans in to me, his mouth so close to my ear that his breath against my earlobe sends shivers down my body. Damn him for knowing how to get to me. “Is that what we are, Belle, family?” I want to smack the cockiness right off his face, but I’m pretty sure Savannah wouldn’t be happy about me smacking her husband’s best man on their wedding day.
Plus, it feels like we’ve been arguing and fighting forever and I am so tired that I don’t have much fight left in me when it comes to him. “Connor, can you just not do this today?”
“Just admit that it bothers you.” That’s the other thing about Connor; he does these kinds of things because he knows they get to me. It’s like he’s addicted to getting a rise out of me, and like the lovesick fool that I am, I give him exactly what he wants every… single… time.
But today, I push back. “You’re an asshole, Connor, and you know it bothers me. That’s why you did it. That’s why you picked a date who’s only here because you look like the bad boy she never got the chance to fuck in high school.” I can’t believe I said all of that. I know I’ve shocked him, because his body language changes and he goes from charmer to oozing sex in seconds.
He wraps a hand behind my neck and I am so shocked by his touch that I just stand there, unable to move. Whimpering when his hold tightens, I see something pass in his eyes, something dark, something that makes me want to submit. Just as fast as it appeared, it’s gone. “Did you fuck the bad boy in high school, Belle?”
He licks his bottom lip, and God, what I wouldn’t give to taste him just once. I meet his eyes and notice the smirk on his face as I haven’t answered his question.
“Wouldn’t you like to know?” I tell him, tilting my head to the side, fighting the urge to lean just a little bit closer to inhale his scent.