Good, Bad & Sexy
Jennifer Lyon Books (January 23, 2017)
Good girl Lexie Rollins is a wedding planner on the lam. All she did was defend herself (with a staple gun) against a sleazy groom—who knew the Assault and Battery charges would stick? Now Lexie’s “vacation” at an exclusive resort has put her at the top of gorgeous bad boy bounty hunter Nick Vardolous’s list. And sexy Nick always gets his woman-every which way imaginable…
Note: Previously published as “You Give Love A Good Name” in the Sun, Sand, Sex Anthology.
Read an Excerpt
Four months earlier
Lexie Rollins backed up as the bride threw the bouquet, trying to stay out of range.
She stopped short when her shoulders hit a hard male chest. She jerked in reaction and nearly lost her balance. Large, warm hands settled on her bare arms to steady her. From behind her, a low voice chuckled and said, “Ducking the bouquet? I thought you women were supposed to fight for it?”
Recognizing the voice of the bride’s brother, Nick Vardolous, she enjoyed the feel of his hands on her arms for a few seconds. It was just a little indulgence, perfectly innocent, she told herself. Then she turned, sliding out of his touch, and smiled up at him. “The wedding planner doesn’t catch the bouquet.” He stood beneath one of the crystal chandeliers in his dark suit and Lexie was struck by how good-looking he was. He had that hot Greek thing going on from his wavy black hair all the way down his six-foot frame. Strong bone structure showed off his incredible eyes, so light green that they sometimes took on a gold hue. Every time she looked into his eyes, she felt a little shock of lust jolt her system.
“You deserve more than a bouquet for putting up with my sister and mom.”
She laughed. “It’s my job. I get paid to handle the problems in weddings.” The truth was she hated it, but she was stuck until her mom fully recovered from her heart attack and came back to work. She tore her gaze from Nick to look around and make sure everything was in order. “The bride and groom are leaving. I need to—”
He touched her hand.
The words locked in her throat as attraction tingled up her arm and down her spine. They’d flirted for days. She really liked Nick, but he was the client’s brother, not a date.
His gaze turned intense. “We’ll talk later.” He gently squeezed her hand, then strode away to hug his sister and shake hands with his new brother-in-law.
Lexie watched for a moment, surprised that in just a few days Nick had stirred a sexual longing in her. He made her think of hot sultry nights, sweaty skin and frantic need. Thick desire pooled low in her belly. What was it about him? He wasn’t her usual type. She liked safe and secure, while Nick was anything but. She didn’t know what he did for a career or where he lived. He had an air of mystery and danger, while she was boring and dependable. She shook it off, determined to finish her job.
An hour later she picked up the last box off the table, turned, and almost yelped. “Hey, Nick, I didn’t hear you.” She’d seen him talking to his family as they were all leaving, and had assumed he’d go with them. He must have really meant it about wanting to talk later. But about what?
Nick reached out and took the heavy box from her. “You finished in here?”
She headed out the door to the parking lot. “Yep. Your sister is officially married and off on her honeymoon, the hall is cleaned up, and everyone lived through the experience.” She stopped at her light blue Explorer and opened the rear door.
Nick slid the box in.
She smiled at him. “Thanks. I guess you’re heading back to…wherever you came from?” Nick had told her his job kept him traveling, but he hadn’t been specific about what his job was.
He shut the rear door and turned to look at her beneath the parking lot lights. “Leaving in the morning.”
Nodding, she said, “It’s been nice to see you these last couple days. And thanks for carrying the box.” She wondered if he really wanted to talk to her or if he had just used her as an excuse to avoid his family.
His voice was soft and low, the kind of tone that made a woman pay attention. “Yes?”
“Spend the night with me.”
Her eyes widened. “Uh, the night?” Stupid! She knew what he meant. But she didn’t do stuff like that.
Nick stood a couple feet away, watching her. “You’re a sexy woman and I’m interested in you. I’m leaving early in the morning, but I can promise you an unforgettable night.”
He was so incredibly honest, and he stayed a respectful distance away. She liked that. She liked him. She wanted him, but she didn’t do one-night stands. She was so tempted, but no. “I can’t, but thanks for, uh…” She felt like an idiot and looked down at the black pavement. Thanks? Thanks for wanting to have sex with me? God.
That was some voice he had. Repressing a sigh, she looked up. “No.” She hurried around him to the driver’s side, fumbling with her key to unlock the door.
Nick slid the keys from her clumsy fingers and clicked the unlock button.
Hot embarrassment crawled up her neck, but she forced herself to turn and face him. “I’m sorry, I just…”
He smiled down at her. “I know what the word no means. Relax. I’m just going to make sure you get in your car and lock the door. It’s a habit from having a baby sister.”
God, she wanted to be someone else, the kind of woman who went home with a sexy man who made her feel desired and wild, while at the same time looking out for her safety. He probably got women to go home with him all the time. That thought made her feel even worse somehow. She blurted out, “I’m not impulsive.”
He opened the driver’s side door.
She slipped past him and hoped the flush crawling up her neck and face didn’t show. Holding her skirt, she climbed up to the driver’s seat, bringing her eye to eye with Nick.
He handed her the keys.
He had to stop saying her name like that. It was seductive, wickedly melting her common sense until all she wanted to do was crawl into his arms. She tried to keep her gaze focused out the front window of the SUV, but against her will she turned to look at him. “Nick.”
“If I were another guy…”
He was trying to make her feel better. “But you’re not.”
“No, I don’t hang around in relationships. I’m a loner. But if I were looking for a relationship, I’d work hard to get you interested in me.”
He was seducing her with what ifs, or maybe it was his honesty. “And if I were an impulsive woman…”
His smile reached his eyes. “I’d be a lucky son of a bitch.”
She laughed. Nick was sexy, so easy to be around.
Something flared in his green-gold gaze. Then he leaned forward and said, “Ah, damn, Lexie. I’m not going to be able to close this door until I kiss you.” He put his hand on her shoulder, then slid his fingers up to cup the back of her head.
Warm excitement pooled in her stomach, and her muscles softened in reaction. Nick leaned forward and kissed her. The touch of his mouth sent sensual shivers down her spine to curl deep inside her. His hot breath tasted like wine from all the toasts. Putting her hand on his arm, she felt the hard ridges of his muscles.
Felt the pulse of both their excitement.
Nick shifted just enough and she opened her mouth, wanting him inside her. Wanting to feel the rush as his tongue touched hers.
Nick pulled back, breathing hard, and his green eyes warmed to a light gold tone. “Time for you to go home, wedding planner.”
He shook his head. Determination hardened his features and his mouth lost the curve of amusement. “I’m not the sticking kind, and you’re not a one-nighter. Go.” He stepped back and shut the door.
He was still standing there when she drove away.
* * * * *
She had to find a way to keep the hostages alive …
Lexie Rollins stopped typing. How was she going to get her heroine and the hostages out alive? Her laptop was getting warm on her bare thighs. She shut it down and stood up on the patio off her room that overlooked the ocean.
She’d recommended this place for months as a perfect honeymoon for the clients of My Perfect Wedding. Sand Castle Resort in San Diego, California, lived up to its reputation.
It was beautiful, with lush tropical plants and very private Mediterranean-style rooms right on the beach. The walls of the rooms were done in textured layers of paint in a color scheme of either blue, green, or rustic browns. The rooms also had beautiful mosaic tile to match, exquisite wrought iron beds and tables, and ceiling fans to complement the air-conditioning.
Perfect for honeymoons and hiding from stalkers.
Since just the idea of a wedding made Lexie nauseous, she was there to hide from her stalker. And the media. And her lawyer. And her family.
In short, her life sucked.
But the good news was…hell, there was no good news. No, that wasn’t true. She still had the memory of the face of the groom—William Harry Livingston’s face when he had cornered her at the lovely garden wedding rehearsal dinner, drunker than a seaman on leave, and tried to seduce her. He had unzipped his pants and revealed Mr. Pathetic Penis to her.
Ugh. For the first time in Lexie’s entire life, she’d lost it. Truly lost it. She’d grabbed up the staple gun she’d used to secure the decorations and stapled Harry’s pants closed. Then she stapled his pants to his waist to prevent any further viewings of Mr. Pathetic. She told him to save it for his bride.
He cried, actually cried.
Lexie had chalked it up to a stressed and drunk groom and forgotten all about it.
Until she was arrested for assault and battery. With a staple gun.
Wedding Planner Goes Ballistic with Staple Gun was just one headline that resulted from the stapled groom giving interviews. Her family tried to stage an intervention to get her help. They were sure she was cracking up. And they needed her to get over it real quick and get back to work as a wedding planner.
They told her to forget all this stalker business. No one was sneaking into her apartment and booting up her laptop, she just forgot to shut it down. And everyone lost underwear at those Laundromats, no one was stealing them. In short, no one was stalking her, she was just imagining it. Like one of her plots for the thriller she was never going to write. Lexie needed to get real and face reality and be reasonable and realize wedding planning is a good career.
Even her lawyer didn’t believe her.
She had no one to blame but herself. She was the one who had let family treat her like this her entire life. Determined to solve her own problems, she hired a PI to watch her apartment and discover the identity of the creep stalking her. Then she’d go back and fight these ridiculous charges.
Hopefully, her PI would catch the stalker in the next few days. And with a little luck, a few more days away from home would help her get some perspective on her life. Standing at the balcony in the light afternoon breeze was a good way to start. The briny scent of the ocean was sharp, while the bright sun made her squint. Couples were spread out on the white sand, some sheltered by blue and white cabanas while others soaked up the sun in lounge chairs. A few people swam in the waves. Waiters moved effortlessly as they served cold drinks.
One man walking out of the waves caught her attention. Even from the distance she could see he was tall. And buff. He wore white board shorts with blue and black trim. The water made his hair look slicked back and dark.
A jolt of familiarity raced through her and she leaned forward with her hands on the railing of her balcony. His confident walk…
It was the involuntary tingle of her mouth that pried the name loose in her brain.
Nick Vardolous. The hot Greek one-kiss wonder. He’d kissed her and walked away.
What the hell was Nick doing here? She didn’t believe in coincidences. Her world was too crazy, too out of control for Nick to have just shown up at the same exclusive beach resort where she was. Especially a resort that catered to couples like honeymooners. He’d made it perfectly clear that he wasn’t interested in couplehood.
A disturbing thought rushed through her—what if he was another reporter tracking her? He’d said he traveled a lot for work, but she didn’t know what that work was.
An even darker thought occurred to her. What if Nick was her stalker?
She didn’t believe it. A man who asked straight out for what he wanted? Why would he stalk her? Nick was handsome and had good social skills; he didn’t need to stalk women.
But what if he was the stalker? Wasn’t Ted Bundy handsome and socially adept? Fear skittered up her spine, and she shivered in the warm afternoon breeze. The loneliness pressed down on her.
She had to find out what Nick Vardolous was doing at the resort.