Authors: Samantha Long
Tags: #romance, #romance chick lit, #romance after divorce, #romance adult contemporary, #romance bad boy
2014 By Samantha Long
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Thank you for
respecting the hard work of this author.
Thank you to my husband for encouraging me to
new. Thank you to Nina, who helped me tell
Nick and Victoria's story
the right way. Also, thank you to Christi,
who helped so much with
my line by line editing. And lastly, thank
you to my readers. You rock!
Table of Contents
stretched to ease the stiffness in her back and looked around the
combined living room and kitchen area of the condo. The work made
her proud. Color and life, furniture and art now filled the
previously hollow room.
Rachel would sell this condo in a flash
Her cell rang from inside her purse and she
dashed to the bar in the kitchen and dug until she found it. She
bit back a curse when she saw the display.
Roger. Roger, who was supposed to be picking
up Lucia and Helena from school today. Roger, the ex who wanted to
"go find himself" and decided a wife and family weren't part of
that. He'd only waited two days after the divorce was finalized to
date a socialite.
She reminded herself that the divorce was a
year old and that bitterness didn't suit her. "Yes?" If she
answered the phone with a little bit of bite in her voice, it
didn't make her bitter. It showed how tired she was of him bailing
"Hey, babe." Roger still didn't get the fact
that he couldn't call her babe. Ever.
A headache started at the base of her skull.
"What is it? I'm busy." She needed to meet her dad and the
contractor at her new office.
"I can't pick up the girls from school. I'm
having dinner with someone and I'll be late if I don't leave
"Roger," she sighed and looked at her watch.
The girls needed to be picked up in ten minutes. "You promised me
you would get them. Plus, I'm on the other side of town. There's no
way I can get there in time." Sanctuary Bay wasn't a large town,
but tourist season had started, so traffic would be heavy.
"I'm telling you ahead so that you can make
Temper ignited at the exaggerated patience
in his voice. "You're telling me ten minutes before they're
supposed to be picked up. That's not telling me in advance."
"Look, babe. I can't make it. Give my love
to the girls."
Victoria glared at her phone when he hung
up. She closed her eyes and took three deep breaths. There was a
way to solve this situation without maiming her ex. She'd just have
to call one of her sisters.
She dialed her youngest sister, Addison,
with her fingers crossed. Addie taught at a school not far from the
girls. If there were no meetings, Addie should be able to pick them
"Who's my favorite sister?" Her voice
dripped syrupy sweet when Addie answered.
"God, what? You only act like this when you
need something." Addie said.
Victoria heard the smile in her sister's
voice and took heart. "Can you pick up the girls?"
"Did Roger back out again?"
"He decided to have dinner in the city." She
leaned against the counter and surveyed the condo again to prove to
herself that she'd moved on after the divorce. That she was better
off. That her girls were better off.
"That douche. I'll leave right now. But you
owe me dinner."
After she hung up, she changed into a black
pencil skirt, a white button up shirt, and red pumps for the
meeting. She pulled her black hair into a sleek ponytail, dressed
her brown eyes in natural makeup and mascara.
The drive to the ocean front office on the
boardwalk took an extra thirty minutes. It didn't bother her,
though, because the warm air smelled like the sea, and she enjoyed
every minute of it. She pulled her SUV into the shopping center and
spotted her father's truck parked close to the office he'd helped
her buy. Being a retired contractor, he recommended a friend of his
to redo the inside to fit her needs. She had high hopes on the
"Hey, sweetie." Her father stood outside the
door, his salt and pepper hair close cropped. He shared his sloe
eyes with his two eldest daughters, and they warmed when he saw his
oldest. "How was the staging?" he enveloped her in a tight hug.
"Great, I finished the condo for Rachel and
I have consults tomorrow for a few personal interior designs."
Victoria looked at the door. Her stomach tightened in excitement.
An office of her own. She wouldn’t have to work out of her house
anymore. "Let's go in. I want to see it again."
Her father gestured toward her oversized
purse. "If you can find the key in that suitcase of yours."
Victoria laughed. "Lucia and Helena bought
it for me for my birthday. It's a little big, but they were so
excited when I opened it. I think they combined both their
allowances for a month to buy it."
"Your mother helped them with some." He said
as she pulled the key out.
"See? Only took a minute." With a quick
smile she unlocked the door and stepped inside.
Wallpaper hung from the walls in tatters,
the carpet smelled musty and had black and red stains all over it.
A receptionist counter covered in chipped black and white Formica
was the only furniture in the room, thank God, Victoria
"Needs a lot of work."
"I know, Dad. Did I make a mistake? Picking
this place out?" Worry clouded her excitement.
"Do you know how you want this place to
look?" He looked at her and she saw the faith in his eyes.
She regarded the place and imagined what she
wanted. Dark hard wood floors, antique furniture, some potted
plants. Graphite colored walls with white trim. Elegance and style.
"Then there's no mistake. You're going to
build a business here. You're already doing great out of your
house. You'll be able to accommodate more clients out of a real
office. You can even get an assistant for scheduling and
Her father was the driving force behind her
confidence. Whenever she couldn't imagine herself with her own
business, he built her up. Pushed her toward better things. He
looked in the direction of the parking lot at the sound of a truck
door shutting. "Here comes Nick now."
Victoria turned when she heard the door to
the office open and the shock shot straight to her toes. Thank God
she'd fixed her hair and makeup. A friend of her father's? No way.
This tall and lean guy was nowhere near her dad's age and had
muscles that were evident underneath his gray t-shirt. Tattoos
peeked out from under the sleeves and twisted down his arms to his
wrists. Shaggy black hair framed a face with a square jaw and full
Anatomy that she'd tried to forget about
roared to life.
Which was ridiculous because the last thing
she had time for was a man, even one as gorgeous as this one. She
recognized him from high school, although they'd never been in the
same circles since he'd been more of a bad boy.
Catching herself, she held out a hand and
said coolly, "Hi, I'm Victoria. Wes's daughter."
His eyebrows rose over ice blue eyes. "I'm
She ignored the interest on his face as his
"Hey, Nick. Thanks for meeting us. Want to
take a look around?" Wes shook his hand.
"Sure." Nick pulled a small notebook from
his back pocket and a pencil from behind his ear. "What are you
looking to do to the place?"
Victoria tried to bring her thoughts back to
the business. Her dad was up to something, she could tell. He
would've never hired out the job to someone else, even if he was
retired, because he'd want to do it for her.
Wes glanced at her. "Ask her. She's the
designer." His phone rang. "It's your mother. I'll take this
Victoria watched him leave with a mutinous
"So, Victoria. What do you want to do with
the space?" His voice hinted at his amusement.
"You think this is funny?" She pursed her
lips. "They're trying to set us up. It's mortifying." How could
Nick not see what was going on? He definitely looked like the type
who could get his own dates. If her sisters knew about this she was
going to rain hell down on them.
Nick shrugged, the muscles in his torso and
shoulders catching her eye. "I think it's funny. Wes told me he had
a client for me. Didn't say it was one of his beautiful
Heat unfurled in her abdomen. She told her
brain to tell her newly awakened anatomy to slow its role. "Where
do we go from here?"
"I hear there's a new restaurant on the
boardwalk we could try out." At her glare, he laughed.
The laugh shot straight to her core.
"I could design you an awesome office space.
I am good at what I do. We can ignore the fact that our parents are
working against us. Or we can make them happy and go out. I do love
my mother very much, and this would make her very happy."
She couldn't help but smile. He was a
charmer. "How about you design my awesome office space and we
ignore our parents?"
"Sure, we can do that. But you can't blame a
man for trying." Nick turned to the room. "So, the space?"
"Well, first of all I want that hideous
receptionist counter gone. Demolish it. I need an office of my own
in the back, and a small break room with room for counter space, a
table, and a fridge. I'm going to design it like a regular kitchen,
without the oven. I'll need a unisex bathroom." She continued with
details while he took notes.
"This shouldn't be hard to do. I'll have to
start the designs and get your approval before going for the
permit." He tucked the notebook back in his pocket, the pencil
behind his ear.
"How long will the designs take?" She looked
out toward the parking lot, past it toward the beach. Anywhere but
at him. She couldn't let herself be tempted. A man was a
complication she didn't need. Not with her daughters and her
"A week, tops. I have a job I'm finishing
now but it shouldn't take too much of my time."
The door opened and her dad stepped back
inside. "Your mother was having a small dinner crisis. Needs me to
pick up some stuff on my way home."
"Does she now?" Victoria narrowed her eyes
so that he'd know she knew exactly what he was trying to do. Her
dad deftly avoided eye contact. "Anyway, we're done here so I'm
going to head home." She handed Nick her business card and tried to
ignore the laughter in his eyes as she left.
into her house and the sound of music from the living room
assaulted her ears. Her feet screamed for relief so she slipped off
her stilettos and carried them through the small foyer into the
Her daughters and Addie danced across the
white carpet with the Wii remotes in their hands, concentration and
laughter on their faces. Lucia and Helena's identical features,
black hair and hazel eyes, belied their different personalities.
Victoria watched them dance, and not for the first time wished she
could've chosen better for their father. No other excuse than she
was young and stupid.
Her family was supportive, not wanting to
tell her Roger wasn't good enough, wanting her only to be happy.
All except Addie, who'd protested loud and often that he was
nothing but a douche. Victoria watched her sister keep up with the
girls and smiled. Her sisters had helped her through the past year
and without them, she didn't know what she would have done.
"Hey, Mom." Lucia waved when the game came
to a lull. "I'm beating Addie to a pulp."
Addie glanced over, blue eyes from their
mother lit with a competitive fire. It didn't matter that the girls
were younger. Addie had to win.
Victoria noticed Helena didn't say anything
but guessed she was too focused on the game. She continued through
the living room and into the kitchen, immediately going for a
bottle of wine. She hated that Roger still got to her, even after
all these years. His attitude toward marriage--toward her--had been
the same for the last twelve years. He wasn't going to change just
because they were divorced.