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EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT + ARC GIVEAWAY: SOME SORT OF LOVE BY MELANIE HARLOW!!!!!

Title: Some Sort of Love
Series/Standalone: A Some Sort of Love Novel
Author: Melanie Harlow
Release Date: February 9, 2016
PURCHASE HERE - AMAZON

SYNOPSIS:
You might think I had it all—a career I loved, a supportive family, the Nixon metabolism but not the Nixon ears, and a salary that supported my lavish taste in designer shoes, fine wine, and lacy lingerie … but I had no one to share it with.
Until the day I ran into him—my one night stand from college with the crooked smile, let’s-get-out-of-here eyes, and dirty, dirty mouth.
Cute and cocky then, today Levi Brooks is six feet four inches of hot bearded fantasy. A sexy single dad with broad shoulders, strong hands, and a fantastically big … heart. (I mean, it’s massive. And generous. And it pumps so hard … um. Sorry. Lost my place.)
Being a good father means everything to him, but he's keeping me at a distance because he thinks I deserve someone better — a man who can give me more time, more attention, more of himself. He doesn’t believe he could ever be enough.
But he's wrong.
He’s everything.
PURCHASE HERE:

Chapter One

Jillian


You know that stomach ache you get when you have to go to a family function, and everyone’s in a couple but you, and they all pretend they don’t think it’s a big deal that you’re thirty and single and don’t have a date for your sister’s wedding tomorrow, but really they’re all wondering what’s wrong with you and they’re too polite to ask?

That’s the stomach ache I had as I drove to Skylar and Sebastian’s rehearsal dinner.

And the closer I got to Abelard Vineyards, the winery where Skylar worked and where the wedding would take place, the worse it got.

Because maybe they wouldn’t be polite.

No date tonight? Must be hard to find a man once you’re past a certain age.

So why aren’t you married yet, Jillian? That clock is ticking!

You’re not one of those lesbians, are you?


One of these days I was just going to go with that one. It was so much more interesting than the truth—I just hadn’t found the right guy yet and didn’t have a clue where to look. In fact, was it too late to get a hot lesbian date for tomorrow night? That would shut them up.

Stop it. Just stop it.

I took a few deep breaths and tried to focus on what mattered. You’re being ridiculous. This is not about you. This is about Skylar. She’s your sister, and you love her, and you’re thrilled for her. She deserves to be happy. Just because she met the love of her life first doesn’t mean it’s never going to happen for you. Now get over yourself.

The knot in my gut loosened a little. I was being ridiculous, wasn’t I? Maybe tonight wouldn’t be so bad. I had nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, I had a lot to be proud of—M.D. after my name, a job I loved at a thriving pediatric practice, a great relationship with my parents and sisters, a beautiful condo with a riverfront view, a healthy body with the Nixon metabolism but not the Nixon ears, and a salary that allowed me to occasionally indulge my expensive taste in shoes and wine.

At the end of the day, I was right where I wanted to be.

It’s just…I was lonely. And worried I’d waited too long to make a relationship a priority. And scared that I’d never meet someone who’d make me fall head over heels like both my sisters had.

No. Don’t start. You don’t have to let anyone see that. You just have to stand tall and smile, hopefully with a big-ass glass of wine in your hand.

Ah, wine. Wine was my friend. Wine understood me. Wine knew that it was entirely possible to be one hundred percent happy for your sisters and also ten percent jealous, because Wine does not care about mathematics. And Wine would never ask why I didn’t have a man by age thirty. Wine and I had spent enough alone time together that Wine knew it wasn’t that I didn’t want to find love—of course I did.

But it was fucking hard!

It’s not like they were handing out soul mates at the deli counter. I’ll take one tall, dark, and handsome with a steady job and a good sense of humor—oh, not the six-inch, the footlong. Thanks.

Sighing, I pulled up at the winery and parked in the side lot next to Miles’s Jeep. Around the back of the sprawling French Proven├žal style main building, a huge white tent for the reception had already been constructed. The rehearsal was supposed to start at six, and it was a few minutes after, but I took a minute to refresh my lipstick and fuss with my hair. If I had to walk in late and alone, I could at least do it looking better than I felt.

After a final once-over in the small rectangular mirror on the visor, I took one more deep breath and told myself, There is nothing wrong with you.

Then I whispered it. “There is nothing wrong with you.”

Then I said it louder. “There is nothing wrong with you. Other than the fact that you’re talking to yourself in the car.”

A knock on the driver’s side window made me jump—it was Natalie.

I opened the door and got out, my heart still pounding. “Jesus, Nat. You scared the shit out of me.”

“Sorry. I came out to get my sweater because the A/C is on in there, and I was chilly.” She held up a navy blue cardigan and gave me a quizzical look. “What were you doing in there?”

I locked my car, and we began walking across the gravel lot toward the main entrance. “I was…practicing my speech for the toast tomorrow. Are you sure I should be the one to give it? I feel like you’d be better at it.”

“Tough. You’re the maid of honor.”

“More like the old maid of honor.”

She laughed as she elbowed me. “Oh, stop. You are not an old maid.”

Someone will make that joke tonight—I guarantee it.”

“That’s ludicrous! You’re young and beautiful!”

“I’m not young; I’m thirty. That’s like ninety in judgey years.”

“Oh Jesus.” She shook her head as we climbed the stone steps leading to the massive double doors. “You’re gorgeous and smart and fun. You don’t need to settle for anything less than perfect, and perfect can take a while to find, especially with your schedule.”

I groaned. “Tell me about it. I don’t even know where to look anymore.”

“No more bites from that online thing?”

I shook my head. “I got off that after the convicted felon contacted me.”

“Oh. Well, what about that surgeon you met for drinks last week?”

“Turns out he exaggerated the state of his divorce. As in, his wife didn’t know about it yet.”

“Jeez, what is wrong with people?”

“I don’t know.” I exhaled as we got to the top. “Sorry I’m being so negative, but with your engagement and pregnancy, and Skylar’s wedding, I’ve just been feeling sorry for myself lately. It’s stupid.”

She paused with one hand on the door. “It’s not stupid, Jilly.” Her voice had softened. “I was jealous of Skylar too, before Miles came along.”

“Really?” That surprised me, since Natalie wasn’t the jealous type. “You never said anything.”

She took her hand off the door. “I know, but I was. Things with Dan were so shitty, and I’d look at Sky and Sebastian and think, that’s how you’re supposed to feel. That’s what being in love looks like. I didn’t have that, and I wanted it.”

“But then you found it.”

“I did, but that doesn’t mean you won’t. Love isn’t a finite thing in the universe. It’s not like it gets used up by people who got there first.”

I sighed. “I know. You’re right. I need to stop comparing myself and just be patient. I fucking hate how whiny I sound. This is not me at all.”

“I don’t think you’re whining. I think you’re frustrated, and I get it. But hang in there.” She grinned. “And keep kissing those frogs. One of them is bound to be a prince, right?”

I had to chuckle at her hopeful smile, which sparkled like the diamond on her finger. Natalie had always been able to find the bright side in any situation, and I loved that about her. I pulled open the door. “Come on, crazy. Let’s go in. Thanks for the pep talk—I needed it.”

######

“Thanks for coming, everyone.” Skylar stood at the front of the winery’s tasting room, which had been transformed into a dining room for fifty tonight. The crowd hushed, and I marveled at the way she was able to command everyone’s attention so completely. Maybe it was her theater training and experience onstage, maybe it was just her uncommon beauty, but she held everyone rapt, as usual. “We’re so happy to see you here tonight.”

As she began talking about what it meant to them to see so many loved ones gathered in one place, I admired her style, which was so different than mine. Skylar looked good in everything, but tonight she wore a simple black sleeveless crop top and a pale peach tulle skirt that billowed to her knees. Around her neck was a chunky gold necklace, and her long blonde hair spilled over both shoulders. She’d borrowed a fabulous pair of black Jimmy Choo heels from me—shoes were the one obsession we shared—but I could never have pulled off that outfit. With my height, the crop top would have looked like an accident, and that skirt would have made me look like an overgrown ballerina. I stuck to classics like pencil skirts, blouses, and trousers, but Skylar could pull off any trend she liked.

Next to her, Sebastian looked gorgeous in his dark blue suit, albeit a bit uncomfortable to be the center of attention. I noticed that Skylar held his hand as she talked, and a lump formed in my throat. I tried to dissolve it with the last sip of wine left in my glass, but it remained.

“I want to thank my soon-to-be father-in-law, Denny Pryce, for hosting this dinner tonight.” She blew him a kiss, and the handsome older man smiled back at her, clearly smitten with his new daughter-in-law.

“We’d also like to recognize the best man and groomsmen, Sebastian’s brothers Malcolm and David; their wives Kelly and Jen; our flower girls, Emily and Hannah Pryce; and our ring bearer, Caleb Pryce.”

The young girls blushed and four-year-old Caleb took a bow as the room applauded, their parents beaming with pride. How incredible to gain so much at once, not only a husband but a built-in family with brothers and sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews, and a bonus dad. She’s so lucky.

“I want to thank Mia and Lucas Fournier for allowing us to hold the wedding and all related events here,” Skylar went on. “This is a dream setting, and I’m so grateful for everything they’ve done to make my vision come to life.” She put her hand over her heart and made eye contact with the beautiful couple who owned the winery, and were standing at the back of the room. Mia blew her a kiss, and Lucas smiled and nodded, his arm around his wife.

“We also want to thank everyone who came in from out of town to share this weekend with us. We know you’re all busy, and we truly appreciate the effort you made to be here. We love you.” Skylar’s eyes swept over the crowd again, but I noticed that Sebastian was focused solely on her. The love and admiration in his gaze made my throat get tight. Skylar was so lucky.

I bit my lip as she turned to our family table, her blue eyes shining. “Finally, we want to say thank you to my parents, Bill and Grace Nixon, for hosting the wedding and for giving us an example of what true, committed love and marriage are. We know it’s not easy, but you make it look that way. Congratulations on thirty-five years together.”

As everyone applauded, my dad kissed my mom on the cheek, and the lump in my throat thickened.

“To my baby sister and bridesmaid Natalie, I want to say I love you and I couldn’t be happier for you and Miles, who’s been my brother all along.” Taking a breath, she turned to me. “To my big sister and maid of honor Jillian, you’re the smartest, kindest, strongest person I know. Thanks for always being there for me. I love you.”

“Love you too,” I whispered, my throat too tight to speak. Skylar wasn’t the only one who was lucky. We all were.

I vowed right then to stop comparing myself to my sisters or anyone else. Listen to what Skylar is saying. Happiness is about family and friends and being grateful for what you have, which is a hell of a lot.

“We raise our glasses to all of you for being here tonight, and to love for bringing us together. Cheers!” she cried happily.

Suddenly I remembered my glass was empty, and my shoulders slumped in disappointment. Then I figured I’d raise it anyway, and to my surprise, when I went to grab it, I discovered someone had filled it when I wasn’t looking.

That seemed like a good sign.

I actually smiled as I lifted it up. “To love!”

Maybe there was hope for me after all.


Chapter two

Jillian



By nine the following night, my positive attitude was somewhat diminished. All the rude questions and comments I hadn’t heard at the rehearsal dinner had clearly been saved up for the main event.

No boyfriend yet? Maybe you’re being too picky.

Last Nixon sister standing, huh?

Hard to believe you’re still single, Jillian. You’re so pretty!
(Then they’d study me carefully, like they were trying to figure out what the problem was, since it couldn’t be my face. If I were a car, they’d have asked me to pop the hood so they could take a look.)

One well-meaning great-aunt even dragged me over to meet someone who was seated at a nearby table. The fact that he was gay and even had a male date seemed lost on her, and she kept insisting we dance. The poor guy took me out on the floor just to shut her up, and we swayed awkwardly to “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” while my sisters howled with laughter at the head table.

After that, I decided to hide out near the bar and get tipsy.

I was creeping behind a row of topiary trees with my third—or maybe my fifth—glass of champagne when my mother’s oldest friend, Irene Mahoney, spotted me. Irene meant well, but she was the kind of woman who always managed to compliment and insult me in one breath.

“Jillian! Are you hiding?” She stuck her hands on her ample hips.

“No, Aunt Irene. Just taking a break.” Lifting my glass, I downed the rest of my champagne and immediately wanted more. Why were champagne flutes so small? Would it be wrong to ask for a bigger glass? Or maybe the whole bottle?

“Well, you should be dancing! You look so pretty in that dress, and you’re never going to meet anyone if you don’t put yourself out there. You know what they say, always a bridesmaid…” Her voice trailed off as she pointed one pudgy finger at me.

I squeezed the stem of my glass so hard I thought it might snap, but I managed a smile. “I’m not much of a dancer.”

“How’s the new job going? Your mother said you’re loving it.”

I nodded enthusiastically. “I am.”

“Are the hours any less grueling? Do you have any time to yourself?”

“They’re a little better, not much. But I love getting to know the families. Last week I—”

“What about your own family? Don’t you want one?”

I bristled. “Sure. Eventually.”

“Well, you’re never going to meet anyone hiding over here with that frown on your face, silly girl.”

Actually, I wasn’t frowning until you came over here.

“You need to stand where you can be seen. Smile. Look more approachable,” she admonished, patting my arm. “Let me find you a partner.”

“No, really. I don’t want to dance right now.”

“Well, you’re much too lovely to be standing over here so single—I mean, so alone. You’re at that age where you have to be proactive about these things, Jillian. You have to let men see what a prize you are or risk being sad and lonely forever.” She grabbed my arm and began to drag me toward the tent.

“Please. I’m not a prize, Aunt Irene. And I’m not sad, either.”

“Of course you are! Every woman wants a man in her life.”

Digging my heels in, I wrenched my arm away. “Actually, what this woman wants is another drink. Excuse me.” I spun away from her and slammed immediately into a big, solid wall. Wait, no—it wasn’t a wall. Walls don’t have strong hands that reach out to steady you, huge dark eyes full of concern, and a thick, brown beard you’re pretty sure would feel like velvet against your cheek. And your thighs.

They don’t know your name, either.

“Jillian?”

For a second, I couldn’t place him. Then my jaw dropped. Oh my God. “Levi?”

“You two know each other?” Irene, still right behind me, sounded pleased.

“Uh…yeah.” Levi and I looked at each other, half stunned, half embarrassed. He took his hands from my upper arms, and I immediately felt unbalanced.

“We’ve, um…” Our eyes locked, exchanging a silent word. Fucked.

“Met.” Levi finished my sentence, his lips tipping up.

I smiled too. What we’d done was have fumbling, frantic sex in a dorm utility closet the way only two desperately hormonal (and drunk) college students can do. To this day, every time I think about that encounter, I go a little weak in the knees.

Was it horrible that I didn’t know his last name?

“Isn’t this wonderful?” Irene looked back and forth between Levi and me, smiling approvingly. “And just look how nice and tall he is, Jillian. My word, he must be over six feet. You should ask her to dance,” she ordered him.

Levi’s eyes widened in alarm, and I smiled at him reassuringly. “Don’t worry about it. I’m not much of a dancer.” But Irene was right about one thing—he was nice and tall. He had a few solid inches on me, and at five foot eight plus my four-inch heels, that was pretty impressive. He wore a black suit with a white dress shirt, and the knot in his tie was loose and a little haphazard, as if he’d been in a rush to get dressed. His dark hair was parted on the side, longer on top and neatly combed back. Something stirred inside me—something I hadn’t felt in a long time.

At least not without charging up Magik Mike first. And Mike had three speeds, seven functions, and rotating ball bearings, so this was pretty impressive.

“How about a drink instead?” I asked.

He smiled, looking relieved. “I’d like that.”

“Perfect.” Taking his elbow, I steered him toward the patio bar, tossing a placating smile at Irene over my shoulder. “Nice chatting with you, Aunt Irene. Enjoy the music.”

When we were a safe distance away from her, I let go of Levi’s arm, although I really wished I had a reason to keep holding on to it. What was he doing here? “Sorry about crashing into you like that. I’m a little clumsy. Plus…” I held up my empty champagne glass. “This doesn’t help.”

He laughed a little. “I didn’t mind.”

“So.” I tried to think of where to begin, since hey, remember that time we banged in a closet? seemed a little too off-color for this occasion. “It’s been a while. I almost didn’t recognize you.”

Grinning, he ran a hand over his chin. “Didn’t have the beard back in college.”

“I like it.” I liked it a lot, actually. He’d been tall, skinny and cute at twenty-one, all arms and legs, floppy hair and cocky smile, but he was tall, broad, and gorgeous at thirty-two. I glanced at the darkening sky. Please, God—please let him be single.

“Thanks. My son likes it too.”

I gave God the stinkeye. “Wow. You have a son?”

“Yes.” We reached the bar and stood in the short line. “Scotty.”

“How old is he?”

“He’s eight.”

“Got a picture?”

He pulled out his phone and scrolled through a couple photos before handing it to me. On the screen was an adorable young boy sitting on a swing. He had messy dark hair, his father’s huge brown eyes and long limbs, a smattering of freckles across his nose, and ears that stuck out a little. His expression was thoughtful and serious, and he wore a shirt with a drawing of a T. Rex on it that said Scottasaurus.

“He’s beautiful,” I said, handing the phone back.

“Thank you.”

Some quick math told me he must have gotten married fairly soon after college. I’d met him my sophomore year at U of M, but he’d only been visiting friends there. I hadn’t even planned to go out that night—I’d had on a Harry Potter t-shirt, for heaven’s sake, and I think it had a hole in it—but my friends had dragged me to the bar, insisting I needed a study break. I’d noticed Levi right away, and we’d eyed each other across the room for a good portion of the night before he finally came over to me and said, “Harry Potter fan, huh? So what are the chances I can Slytherin to your chamber of secrets tonight?”

Two drinks later, we were kissing, and two after that, we were racing hand in hand to my dorm, where he’d yanked me into the hallway broom closet after we’d discovered my roommate was already asleep in my room.

For a moment, I was distracted by the memory of giggling breathlessly as I listened to him tear open the condom wrapper and put it on, the sight of him lost to me in the dark. I remembered the way my heart pounded as I slid my underwear down my legs, terrified we’d rouse my RA, whose room was right next door. I remembered the scent of bleach and Pine Sol, his lips on mine, his hands on my shoulders as he turned my body toward the wall and lifted my jean skirt. Most of all, I remembered the way he whispered as he thrust up inside me again and again and again, so deep and hard it teetered on the edge between pleasure and pain, one hand over my mouth to stifle my cries. You’re so fucking hot, I wanna fuck you so hard, oh fuck I’m gonna come.

OK, maybe not terribly poetic or imaginative, but hey, he was young.

And for me, a bookworm whose Saturday nights were usually spent reading bio-chem textbooks or romance novels, broom closet sex with a hot guy was a pretty erotic experience. Until that point I’d only had missionary sex in dorm room beds with two other guys, neither of whom had said anything except “uuuuuuuhhhhhhhh” the entire time. And by “the entire time,” I mean all five minutes.

But with Levi, it was different. Not that it was much slower—in fact, it may have been faster—but it was more illicit. More unexpected.

Dirtier.

Rougher.

And I’d liked it—it had shocked me how much I liked it. In fact, it was still one of my go-to fantasies when I was alone with Magik Mike.

Too bad he was married.

I cleared my throat in an effort to clear my head. “Is your wife here?”

“We aren’t together anymore.” He didn’t look or sound particularly sad about it.

“Oh.” My pulse picked up, and I sent God a silent apology for the stinkeye. “So tell me how you know Sebastian. Skylar is my sister.”

He cocked his head. “Is she? Sorry, I probably would know that if I hadn’t been so late that I missed the ceremony. I never saw a program or anything.”

“That’s OK, most people wouldn’t guess it. We don’t look much alike.” Skylar and Natalie had our mother’s blonde hair and petite, curvy body. I had our dad’s tall, thin frame and dark hair, although we all had the same blue eyes. “And we, um, might not have exchanged last names that night.”

Levi laughed, a deep throaty sound that heated up my insides. “Maybe not.”

“Jillian Nixon.” I held out my hand.

He took it. “Levi Brooks.”

I have a bit of a hand fetish and couldn’t resist glancing down at his. It was solid and strong, with long fingers, nails neatly trimmed. A thick black watch peeked out from the crisp white cuff of his dress shirt, which made my heart skip a few beats. I love a nice wristwatch on a man. There’s something so classic and masculine about it.

His grip was firm, and he gave my hand an affectionate little squeeze before letting go. “I met Sebastian at the gym a couple years ago, but I’m also his architect.”

“You’re an architect? Did you design his cabin?” I asked, impressed. “It’s beautiful!”

“Thanks.” He shrugged, sticking his hands in his pockets. “That was a pretty simple project, really. And Sebastian had a lot of input. He just needed someone to draw up the plans and supervise the construction.”

“I hear they’re adding on, though, right? I knew my sister wouldn’t be able to live with so little closet space.”

Levi chuckled, and I raised my eyebrows. “Sorry,” he said. “It’s just…” He glanced sideways at me, a boyish grin on his face. “Closet space.”

My face warmed, and I couldn’t help smiling either. “Ah. Yes. Closet space.”

The group in front of us moved away from the bar, and Levi put a hand lightly at the small of my back as we stepped forward. It wasn’t overtly suggestive, but it sent a flutter through my belly all the same.

In fact, every part of my body felt fluttery—my heart, my hands, my knees. Even my head, which can usually find something wrong with a guy in under five minutes, wasn’t telling me no. So he had a son, so what? He was handsome and smart and funny, and I hadn’t been this attracted to someone in a long time.

So I was glad when he left his hand on my back while we ordered drinks, his thumb rubbing softly at the base of my spine.

######

We took our drinks to an unoccupied table in one shadowy corner of the winery’s stone terrace, where the ceremony had taken place hours before. Since then, the rows of chairs had been replaced by cocktail tables fashioned with giant oak barrels and round glass table tops covered with ivory linen. Party lights were strung in the trees above, and the table held small votive candles, which flickered in the falling dark.

“Hard to believe we’ve never run into each other before,” I said, setting my glass on the table. “Have you lived in this area long?”

“About three years. Before that I was in Charlevoix. That’s where my family is.”

Impulsively, I reached over and fixed his tie, pulling the knot tighter and straightening it out. “Sorry. Couldn’t resist.”

“Was it crooked?” Grimacing a little, he took over the task, and a tingle swept up my arms when his fingers closed over mine. “I was so rushed tonight. My sister was late, and then I had trouble getting out of the house. Did I even remember to put pants on?”

I laughed. “Yes, you did.” Although I wouldn’t mind if you took them off.

“Oh, good.” He picked up his drink and took a sip. “So tell me about you. I know your last name now, I know you used to like Harry Potter, and I know you’re a little clumsy when you drink champagne, but other than that, I got nothing.”

Heat rushed my face, and I giggled. “I am a little clumsy, and not just when I drink champagne. But in addition to that, I still like Harry Potter, and I’m a pediatrician.”

He cocked his head. “Are you? I always wondered if you went to med school. Back then you were planning on it.”

I smiled, pleased that he’d remembered something about me. And had he said always wondered? “Yes. I finished up my undergrad at Michigan and then went to medical school at Wayne State. I completed my residency up here and took a job in private practice about six months ago.”

“In this area?”

I nodded. “Yes. In Traverse City. I’m really close to my family, so I was happy about that. Now catch me up more with you,” I said, tucking my hair behind my ear. “If memory serves, you were at State—but there’s a good chance it does not, since I believe there may have been some liquor consumed the night we, um…met—”

“Uh, yeah. A lot of liquor, as I recall.” Levi laughed. “Sometimes I’m amazed my liver survived undergrad. OK, let’s see. I think I met you my senior year, when I was at State, and then I ended up in Boston for grad school. Scotty was born during my final year there.”

I blinked. “Wow. That must have been tough, trying to finish school and care for a wife and baby.”

He hesitated. “Actually, Scotty’s mom and I were never married.”

“You weren’t?”

He shook his head. “No. I offered to marry her when we found out she was pregnant, but she didn’t want that. She said she couldn’t handle grad school and marriage and pregnancy all at once. Sometimes I wonder if she knew then she was leaving.”

“She left?”

He nodded, lifting his drink again. “Shortly after Scotty was born. Said she wasn’t cut out to be a mother and she’d made the wrong choice.”

“My God.” I tried to imagine what that must have been like for Levi, suddenly on his own with a newborn baby. “So you’re raising him alone?”

“He’s my son. For me, there was no choice.” He rotated his glass slowly on the table, staring into it. “She wanted a career in finance, so she went to New York, and I moved back to Charlevoix so my family could help out. My uncle had an architectural firm and offered me a job.”

“Do you ever see her or hear from her?” I hoped he didn’t think I was being too nosy, but I was so curious about him.

“No, and that’s how I wanted it. That’s how we both wanted it.” He met my eyes and lifted his broad shoulders. “The relationship wasn’t good to begin with. I definitely got the best part of it—in fact, as far as I’m concerned, I got everything. She walked away with nothing.”

My heart thumped hard. “I bet you’re an amazing father.”

He smiled, but he shook his head. “Actually, most of the time, I have no idea what I’m doing and I’m just trying to get through the fucking day.” After another big swallow of whiskey, he squared his shoulders and set his glass down hard. “But you know what? I rarely get out on Saturday nights—in fact, I can’t even remember the last time—so let’s talk about something more fun.” His dark eyes glittered. “Like broom closets.”

I laughed, shaking my head. “That was fun. I still can’t believe I did that.”

“Are you saying you didn’t make a habit of luring innocent college boys into your lair with your blue eyes and long legs and sexy Harry Potter t-shirt?”

“Ha! No, I certainly did not. And you were not that innocent.” I tossed back the last of my champagne, the bubbles tickling my tongue.

“I wasn’t?”

“No. You knew exactly what you were doing, and you did it very well.”

“Thank you.” He looked pleased with himself.

“And very fast.”

His face fell as he groaned. “God, don’t tell me. All I remember thinking is, ‘oh fuck don’t come oh fuck don’t come oh fuck I came.’”

I couldn’t resist. “That’s pretty much what you said, too.”

“Is it?” He groaned even louder and slammed the rest of his drink. “I need more whiskey. Want something?”

I bit my lip and looked at my empty glass. What number was that? I felt light-headed, but I didn’t know if it was the champagne or the flirting. I felt light-hearted too. “I shouldn’t.”

“Why? Are you driving?”

“No.”

“Are you married?”

“No.”

“Are you worried I’m going to get you drunk and drag you into a closet for round two?”

I smiled coyly. “Maybe.”

He leaned in closer, so close I felt his breath on my lips. “Good.”


Melanie Harlow likes her martinis dry, her lipstick red, and her history with the naughty bits left in. Her stories are inspired by a sense of place, an appreciation for the past, and unexpected pleasures in life—especially the romantic kind. She lifts her glass to readers and writers from her home near Detroit, MI, where she lives with her husband and two daughters.






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