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Fated Hearts (MF)

Ink Addicted

Evernight Publishing

Heat Rating: SCORCHING
Word Count: 16,785
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Lia Henley is escaping everything she has never known. Leaving behind a broken engagement and a disappointed family, she’s moved across country in search of the passion, desire, and romance she's been missing. And she finds it all in one night, in the arms of Jacob McGaren.

But one night is all that Jacob can offer Lia. He's already got two daughters, a sick mother, and a crazy ex-wife to deal with... he doesn't need a sweet, sexy girl to distract him. A girl who he later discovers is his daughter's new teacher.

But sometimes even those that seem ill-fated have a way of finding love where they least expect it.

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With Anna gone, I turned my attention to the crowded bar. It was a Friday night and busy, with all the tables full and the standing room busy. A band played on the small stage, belting out a familiar Foo Fighters song, and there were a bunch of girls on the dancefloor, dancing with abandon, not even caring who was watching them. I watched them. I watched them and wondered what it would be like to, for once, not worry about what anyone thought of me. To dance like that, so wanton and sexy.

I sighed. It was how I’d always been, for as long as I could remember. I liked to please people. The idea of someone not liking me, not thinking good things about me, or being disappointed in me? Well … I couldn’t think of anything worse.

Immediately, my thoughts turned to Declan and that familiar sick feeling curdled in my stomach. I’d disappointed him. I’d hurt him. I tried to remind myself that he’d hurt me first, sleeping with one of my bridesmaids only weeks before the wedding. I’d done the right thing in calling the whole thing off, but I couldn’t help the guilt that swirled. He’d made a mistake, yes, and he’d apologized profusely, but it was me who’d canceled everything. It was me who’d cost my parents thousands of dollars by refusing to marry Declan, who’d made my mother cry, who’d embarrassed my family by canceling the wedding like that. I could have gone through with it. I could have forgiven Declan, but somehow … I just couldn’t.

Whenever I thought about the reasons for calling off the wedding, it wasn’t because I pictured him cheating on me with Becky. It was because I remembered making love to him on the night we got engaged. How slow and tender he’d been, how he kissed me gently, and how I’d been left feeling somewhat disappointed when it was all over. I mean we’d had sex plenty of times before and it had always been the same—missionary, per functionary, sweet… I guess I’d just been hoping that by changing our relationship status our sex would ramp up a bit too.

“You need to stop thinking about whatever it is you’re thinking.”

I jumped at the deep, masculine voice in my ear and the warm brush of breath on my neck. I guessed who it was before I looked up, having already matched the voice to the darkly handsome man I’d seen across the bar. Jacob McGaren.

Color fled up my throat and stained my cheeks as I looked up into the bluest eyes I’d ever seen. I hadn’t been expecting that. From across the bar, it’d been difficult to see eye color, but with his almost black hair and darkly tanned skin, I’d expected him to have dark eyes to match. Not eyes as blue as the morning sky that made my stomach do tiny little cartwheels.

“Oh… I was just thinking…” I stammered, unsure what to say. I couldn’t really tell him I was thinking about the disappointing sex I’d had with my ex-fiancé.

He shook his head. “Don’t. Whatever it was made you look sad. And I want to see you smile again.”

I smiled and he laughed. “Wow. That was easy! You always do as you’re told?”

If only he knew. I turned back to the bar. “Pretty much.”

He nodded as if that made complete sense. “Let me buy you a drink.”