Authors: Gina Robinson
© 2015 by Gina Robinson
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
Publisher’s Note: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination. Locales and public names are sometimes used for atmospheric purposes. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, or to businesses, companies, events, institutions, or locales is completely coincidental.
Cover photos and Design: Jeff Robinson
For Richer, For Richest, Switched at Marriage Part 5,/Gina Robinson. — 1st ed.
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The Switched at Marriage Series
A Wedding to Remember
The Virgin Billionaire
To Have and To Hold
From This Day Forward
For Richer, For Richest
In Sickness and In Wealth
To Love and To Cherish
Gina Robinson’s Contemporary New Adult Romance Series
The Rushed Series
These standalone romances can be read in any order. But it’s more fun to read them all!
, Zach and Alexis’ story
, Dakota and Morgan’s story
, Seth and Maddie’s story
The Reckless Series
Ellie and Logan’s love story begins one hot August night. This series should be read in order.
When locking gazes with my ex across a crowded room, it was almost impossible
to blink. Out of sheer shock that out of all the gin joints in this world, he'd showed up in the middle of mine. My new life and ideal moment. When the eyes of too many suspicious people were on me. That if I faltered, everyone would see. That Eric's timing was still so impeccably
and ironically perfect. That fate had such a wry sense of humor as to toss him into the bar just as Justin was singing to me in his sexy voice, begging me not to forget him. Saying he thought we would work out in the end. That we didn't have to hurt each other. Did Jus really believe that? Or was it just part of the show we were always putting on?
choose the very moment when the lyrics wondered whether I would walk on by the ex, him. Or acknowledge him and call his name? And if I hadn't been on stage, I honestly didn't know what I would have done. Because seeing him, damn seeing him, squeezed my heart. And, like so many times before, all the good times came rushing back, obliterating the bad ones.
I was stunned that one old song from a movie decades old could embody the two situations I was in so perfectly. Damn you, eighties night!
For an instant, Eric looked as surprised as I was. I willed him to turn around and walk away. Go to another bar with his buddies.
His eyes narrowed. He set his classic, square jaw. I recognized the look on his face. I'd just unwittingly issued a challenge. Eric
backed down from a contest.
He grinned. That cocky former frat boy grin that made my heart race simply out of habit. Like Pavlov's dog. Yes, Eric had dumped me. Treated me badly. But there was still a reason I'd fallen for him in the first place. He oozed charm. When he wanted to. And sex appeal. He was athletic. Broad-shouldered. Confident in a sweetly swaggering way. He turned heads. Even now the crowd of Flashionistas was looking and whispering. And maybe wondering who the interloper was and how to meet him.
Eric was eating up the attention and stir he was causing. He got an evil glint in his eyes.
I tried to clear the shock off my face. But not soon enough. Sarah, who'd also known Eric in college, and our history, saw the look on my face and followed it to the source. She swiveled in her seat and froze as Eric whispered to his buddies. One of them peeled off, skirted the crowd, and headed to the karaoke DJ.
Eric and his cohorts walked directly through the crowd, parting it like the Red Sea, only without any Biblical good intentions.
Jus kept singing, apparently unperturbed. When I glanced at him, his eyes had the same glint and taste for battle as Eric's. Like he wasn't about to let Eric ruin our moment.
The Flashionista crowd buzzed with speculation. I froze, literally unable to move, as Eric jumped on stage, followed by his two buds. The thing about Eric—he had stage presence. Always had.
It was at that moment, too, that I noticed one of the female reporters who'd been hounding Jus and me, skulking in corner booth.
Damn, damn, damn it all to hell! Pardon my French, as Grandma would say.
I heard a tiny bit of swooning from the crowd, restrained, as if out of respect for Jus and the other bosses on stage. I swore beneath my breath as the a cappella moment was broken and strains of music blared, startling everybody. Like music in a karaoke bar was to be totally unexpected.
Eric and his gang grabbed mics. Lyrics popped up on the screen in front of us and behind us so the crowd could sing along.
Before I could protest, Eric grabbed my hand and went down on one knee, looking up at me mournfully. Like he was heartbroken and vulnerable as he broke into the chorus from "Don't You Want Me."
Nooooo! No, no, no.
I did not. Want him. Or did I? I was too surprised to even think to pull my hand away.
The crowd's attention was riveted on us. The reporter was tapping away on her phone and snapping a picture.
Was my mouth hanging open? That was going to look lovely on the morning news.
For a flash of an instant, Riggins and Wylie didn't seem to know what hit them or how to react. Justin got a look like murder on his face. Then, without speaking a word to each other, Wylie broke off and headed toward the DJ.
Justin pulled my hand away from Eric's. Which took a bit of doing. Eric was holding on with a killer grip. He only "reluctantly" let go. It was all for show. It had to be.
Even bearded, Jus looked young compared to Eric, who was bulked up and clean shaved. I remembered the feel of Eric's cheeks right after he shaved—smooth as a baby's butt, as they say. I used to love rubbing my cheek against his.
Jus, however, had the superior voice. And an intensity about him that was hard to resist as he looked into my eyes and sang "Baby, I Love Your Way." Which you would think would have been a little high for him, but worked.
The Flash crowd of Justin's loyal staffers had been holding their collective breath. As Jus sang, they applauded. "Give it to him, boss!" "You've got him on the run, Justin!"
It might have been sucking up to the boss guy, but it seemed pretty genuine to me. Scanning the crowd, many were still wondering where Eric had come from and how he had the guts to try to take the stage from Jus.
Eric and company were undeterred. Eric grabbed my free hand and spun me away from Jus, singing an old REO Speedwagon tune, "Keep On Loving You." His voice was higher than Justin's and suited him well enough.
But the lyrics? Right. If he'd wanted to keep on loving me, he wouldn't have left. No one forced him. He'd walked out on me. And moved in with her. But he was just vain enough to be pissed that I'd "fallen" for someone else. And competitive enough to show even a billionaire that Eric's former girl was never getting over him. Because, you know, I had a history of
moving past Eric and our calamitous relationship. Eric breathed on me. His breath smelled disastrously like booze.
A string of curses raced through my mind. Of course, he'd already been drinking. That was what had given him the guts and bravado to stage a takeover of Justin's party. When Eric was drunk, he lost all inhibition and became competitive nearly to the point of murder.
He was just arrogant and belligerent, and dumb enough to try to put the little geek guy in his place. Eric, in his boozed-up confidence, couldn't stand a former "little boy" taking even his castoff girlfriend. I could see it in his face. And remembered how he used to make fun of Jus in college. And tease me about Jus having a crush on me.
Oh, yeah, this was highly personal. A matter of pride. Even though Eric didn't want me, losing me to someone like Jus made me less of a prize in the first place. And somehow diminished the prestige of dating me in college. Eric was a prick.
I wondered what his current girlfriend would think if she saw him on stage serenading me? Probably, she would think it was a big joke. And egg him on. And then give me a smug look because Eric was going home with her. Well, what did I care?
And then I realized,
Except that Eric was making a spectacle of things. And now Jus had that determined look in his eyes. The look of a guy who'd been bullied before and refused to be again. So calculating it was almost chilling. No guy was going to get the best of him and make a fool of him in front of his peeps. I had to get Eric off the stage.
Jus grinned and nodded to Riggins, who gave him a thumbs-up as they broke into a Hall and Oates imitation, singing, "Kiss on My List" to me. Both posturing and playing up to me as if I were the prize and my kiss was the best thing around.
I had to do something. I puckered my lips and blew Riggins a kiss. He caught it on his cheek with an exaggerated motion. I kissed Jus on the cheek, leaving a big lipstick print half above, half in his beard. I turned to the crowd and shrugged modestly as two billionaires serenaded me. Pretending to weigh my options in my hands. Which one? Which one?
The crowd, in general, wouldn't know the history between Eric and me. You could see the confusion on their faces. What did this intruder think he was doing up there? Who was this guy? He had balls. Either that or Jus staged it to show how he'd swept me off my feet.
Eric laughed, too loudly. Drunken loudly. He was enjoying himself in the way that guys who liked to fight did. And if I wasn't careful, he might actually throw a punch. He'd been known to in college. He liked the adrenaline rush. And he was good with his fists. The other guy never came out looking pretty. Now that Jus was a more even match in size to Eric, he was fair game.
Eric nodded to his goon.
I held my breath.
Eric's friend bent the DJ's ear again. I relaxed. No brawl for the moment.
Jus had the blackest look I'd ever seen on him on his face. He was determined to play knight in shining armor and defend my honor, and his. I pleaded with him with my eyes to back off and let me deal with Eric. I even shook my head ever so slightly. I was sure I could find a way to ease Eric off the stage and out of the limelight.
Jus ignored me.
Eric took my chin in his hand and tipped my face to him, singing, "With or Without You" by U2. He didn't have Bono's vocal range, and it showed as he missed the high notes.
Eric was a decent singer. He'd dabbled in a frat band in college, playing guitar and singing lead. His voice was pleasant, but not powerful.
Justin's voice was deep and resonant. Much stronger than Eric's. He swooped in, took my face in his hands and stared into my eyes as he sang "Take My Breath Away" with Riggins singing backup.
Jus had arresting eyes and a penetrating way of looking at you that made you feel he saw only you. It could be intimidating when he wanted it to be. But it could also be sexy and intimate, as it was now. He was absolutely determined to upstage Eric. He looked so genuine that I almost believed him.
Eric slid his arms around my waist from behind and snuggled up to me as he broke into a chorus of "Don't Dream It's Over" with his guys singing backup.
Jus didn't break his grip on my face as he sang "Still Loving You."
We were an uneasy threesome on stage. At least my third of it was horribly ill at ease, sandwiched between my former lover and my pretend husband. Cross this fantasy off my list. Oh, wait! This was no fantasy. This was more like a nightmare.
Eric pulled me away from Justin and sang "Easy Lover" as he danced with me in a kind of eighties dirty dancing. Generally I loved dancing. But this was over the edge, as Eric tried to grind against me.
Justin looked like he could kill.
I shot Sarah a panicked look. When Jus cut in, and Jus was not a smooth dancer like Eric, I had to do something. She got out of her seat.
Eric sang "Maneater" to Jus. Hey, I wasn't the villain here.
Jus ignored him and sang to me—"Never Gonna Give You Up." His deep voice was perfect for the song. He sounded as good as the original, not karaoke-like at all. And I wondered, almost hoped for an insane instant, that he meant what he was singing. That he never would give me up.
Sarah had reached the DJ. I realized her intention. No, no. I couldn't…
She said something to the DJ, turned, nodded to me, and gave me a thumbs-up. Crap! I knew what she'd done. But sing a solo? I couldn't do it. I barely even sang in the shower when no one could hear me. I never sang in public. That was like having a nightmare where you're naked in class or on the bus or at work.
My mouth went dry. My pulse pounded in my ears just as the music changed to the song that was meant for me to sing. The lyrics popped up on screen. I knew this one. Mom had always been a Madonna fan.
I pulled completely away from Eric and wrapped my arms around Justin's neck, clearly showing I'd chosen him, hoping I could pull this off as I stared into his eyes. I had to choose Jus. I had no other choice. He was my husband. I was startled to realize that I
to choose him.
My mouth was so dry I could barely form words. My voice trembled as I started singing "Crazy for You" slightly off key.
I was butchering the song in a bad, embarrassing, karaoke way. And I wasn't even drunk. Which was the only way I'd usually even think of singing, even have the courage to. But I kept singing, smiling at Jus. Ignoring Eric.
Justin's face lit up. His eyes sparkled. I hadn't seen such a radiant expression since the first time we made love. He was obviously grateful. And pleased. I pitied him. Because my singing really was that earsplittingly awful. Any other time I would have been booed off stage.
But then a beautiful thing happened. Sarah came onstage, stood beside me, grabbed a mic from one of Eric's boys, and started singing with me. And Sarah had a beautiful voice. One by one, more and more female Flashionistas joined us. Some came onstage. Some sang in their seats. We were all singing to Jus.
Eric and his guys had to back down. When the song ended, the bar erupted in applause. I kissed Jus. Or Jus kissed me. I wasn't sure who started it. It seemed natural to kiss.
To my surprise, and relief, Eric backed off. He nodded to Jus and bowed to him, indicating Jus had won with a sweep of his arm. "You win this round, man."
The DJ got in the act, officially calling the match by playing "Another One Bites the Dust" as the Flashionistas sang along.
Jus, always a good sport, shook Eric's hand, but his eyes were steely. "This is an old college acquaintance of mine, a friend of Kayla's," Jus said for his staff's benefit. As if that explained everything. "He always did like to give me a bad time."
That was an understatement.
He slapped Eric on the back. "Good to see you again, Eric. Welcome to the party." He looked around for a waitress. "Somebody get these men a drink, on me." He nodded to Eric, dismissing him, and pulled me by the hand off the stage.
I was shaken. And impressed by the way Jus handled the situation. He didn't leave my side for the rest of the evening. He barely let go of my hand.
Eric and company had their drinks, hit on a few girls, and left.