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Authors: Elle Kennedy

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Series, #Best friend’s girl, #one-night-stand, #One Night of Scandal, #wrong side of the tracks, #Boston, #Elle Kennedy, #Brazen, #alpha hero, #opposites attract, #bad boy hero, #After Hours, #forbidden romance, #MMA hero, #sexy romance, #Entangled, #contemporary romance, #erotic romance

One Night of Scandal

BOOK: One Night of Scandal
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The wrong man never felt so right...

Ex-fighter Reed Miller has been secretly lusting over his best friend’s girl for months, but he refuses to jeopardize a friendship over a woman—especially one who doesn’t like him all that much. Now that Darcy’s on the market again, it’s even more imperative to stick to his strict hands-off policy. But the sizzling attraction between them is too powerful to ignore, and once he’s had a taste of her…all bets are off.

Darcy Grant is tired of walking the straight and narrow path. She’s on the hunt for passion, and there’s no denying Reed is just the man to give it to her. Although she has no interest in dating a bad boy, and certainly not her ex’s best friend, it’s impossible not to melt beneath Reed’s skillful touch. Now it’s just a matter of setting a few ground rules—and hoping her rule-breaking, sweet-talking bad boy agrees to follow them. But if she lets Reed into her bed, does she stand a chance of keeping him out of her heart?

an After Hours novel

Elle Kennedy

Table of Contents

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

Copyright © 2014 by Elle Kennedy. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Publisher.

Entangled Publishing, LLC

2614 South Timberline Road

Suite 109

Fort Collins, CO 80525

Visit our website at
www.entangledpublishing.com
.

Brazen is an imprint of Entangled Publishing, LLC. For more information on our titles, visit
www.brazenbooks.com
.

Edited by Gwen Hayes

Cover design by Heather Howland

ISBN 978-1-63375-079-1

Manufactured in the United States of America

First Edition September 2014

To Gwen, for your support, your enthusiasm, and most of all, your friendship.

Chapter One

Reed Miller hated nightclubs. Which was damn ironic considering he co-owned one of the hottest clubs in Boston, but hey, that was just smart business. When it came to his personal life, a club was the last place he’d ever associate with a good time.

Most of the women he met at nightclubs were already there looking to get laid, and they were more than willing to go back to his place without much effort on his part. For a man who lived for the excitement of the chase, where was the fun in that?

Right now, however, he was chasing an entirely different type of conquest.

Drugs.

Not for recreational use, of course. He wasn’t about to poison his body with that crap. Even during his glory days as a mixed martial arts fighter, he’d never once used performance enhancers. Those were a surefire way to not only get kicked off the circuit, but a pathetic attempt to cheat yourself to victory.

Tonight was for reconnaissance purposes only. For the past couple of months, some a-hole had been selling Ecstasy over at Sin, the club Reed operated with his two best friends. None of the customers they’d questioned knew the identity of the pusher, and if they did know, they sure as hell weren’t eager to reveal it. But the flow of E needed to be cut off ASAP, before the Boston PD decided to launch its own investigation, which could lead to Sin being shut down indefinitely.

Reed had decided to pay a visit to a rival nightclub in the hope that the patrons there might know something, but the only info he’d succeeded in gathering at the Krib so far was the phone numbers of half a dozen girls he wasn’t the least bit interested in.

“Wanna dance?”

A cute brunette in a skintight pink minidress voiced the eager request, sidling up to his table with a daiquiri in her manicured hand. He was about to turn her down, but she looked so damn hopeful he didn’t have the heart to disappoint her.

“Sure,” Reed relented.

He waited as she set her glass on the table, then took her hand and led her to the crowded dance floor. On a raised platform high above the main room, the DJ was spinning a deafening drum-and-bass track that was more suited for fast, frenetic dancing, but the brunette wasn’t interested in
fast
. Instead, she twined her arms around Reed’s neck and started grinding into him in a slow, sensual rhythm.

Normally he’d be all over that. A pretty girl rubbing up on his groin? Hell yeah.

Tonight it felt like a chore.

Christ, he was sick to death of random hookups with women whose names he couldn’t even remember the morning after. Maybe the fact that he’d just turned thirty was souring him on the whole casual sex scene, or maybe it was seeing his best friends happily involved in committed relationships. With Gage and AJ no longer serving as his wingmen, Reed was all alone in the land of the single, and he was really starting to hate it.

“You’re so sexy.” His dance partner brought her red-painted lips to his ear and shouted to be heard over the pounding music.

Reed lightly grazed her hips with his hands, trying to ease back from the undulating pelvis that was targeting his crotch like a heat-seeking missile.

“Thanks,” he answered awkwardly.

“Wanna get out of here?” A bright flash of strobe revealed the meaningful smile on her face.

“Naah, I’m not ready to leave yet.” He raised his voice. “I’m looking for some party favors. Don’t wanna go home until I find some.”

Interest flickered in her eyes. “Like what?”

“Ecstasy. Do you know if anyone’s holding?”

His dance partner’s response was swift and unexpected. Previously eager arms dropped from his shoulders, annoyance streaking through her expression as she took an angry step back.

“Seriously? You’re into that crap? Ugh! Why does every guy I meet end up being a total tweaker!”

With a loud, unladylike expletive, she huffed off and abandoned him on the dance floor.

How ironically delightful. Rejected by a chick he hadn’t even been into.

Torn between groaning in frustration and chuckling with amusement, Reed once again threaded through the mob of sweaty people. He’d intended on returning to his table, but he stopped in his tracks when he spotted a familiar face in the crowd.

Son of a bitch.

Was that
Darcy
?

It was hard to be sure thanks to the wild blinking of the strobe lights and the darkness obscuring her face every other second. Without hesitation, he changed course and headed in her direction. A part of him wished like hell that it was simply a case of mistaken identity.

Because if it
was
Darcy, then he’d just witnessed his best friend’s girlfriend
kissing
another man.

No, wait. He squinted, realizing the couple he’d glimpsed wasn’t actually kissing. Their faces were close, but they seemed to only be talking.

And yup, it was definitely Darcy Grant. Now that he was five feet away, he was clearly able to make out her features. Wide-set blue eyes, high cheekbones, that sexy mouth—

He forcibly shoved the last thought out of his head. He wasn’t allowed to even
think
the word “sexy” in relation to AJ’s girl. It was a total violation of bro code.

Then again, who was he kidding? He’d broken the code a hundred times over when it came to Darcy. All those dirty, dirty thoughts he’d had about her pretty much ensured he’d be going straight to shitty friend hell.

At the moment, though, he was more concerned with why AJ’s girlfriend was flirting with another man. Maybe it wasn’t his place to interfere, but damned if he’d let his best friend get played for a fool.

AJ Walsh was the closest thing Reed had to a brother. The two of them had grown up together in South Boston, attended the same schools, played on the same sports teams. Reed would take a bullet for his buddy, and he knew that if their roles had been reversed, AJ wouldn’t hesitate to stick up for him.

Squaring his shoulders, he marched up to the couple’s table and donned his best death glare. “Hey, Darcy,” he said loudly.

Her head swiveled, eyes widening when she recognized him. “Reed!” Her voice came out shrill, and there was no mistaking the guilty note ringing there.

He shifted his gaze to her companion, a lanky man with pale blond hair and a smug grin. “Can we help you?” the guy demanded.

Reed experienced a case of instant dislike. Scowling deeply, he jabbed a finger in the air and snapped, “Get out of here.”

The guy’s jaw dropped. “No way, man. The lady and I were in the middle of—”

“Nothing,” Reed finished. “You were in the middle of nothing. So get lost.”

Darcy’s companion turned to her with visible wariness. “Is this your boyfriend or something?”

“Or something,” Reed answered for her.

Several more seconds ticked by, until the blond guy finally hopped off his stool and glowered at Darcy. “You should have fucking told me you had a boyfriend instead of wasting my goddamn time.”

As he stormed off, Reed usurped the empty seat, rested his elbows on the table, and looked at AJ’s girlfriend with cold eyes. “What. The.
Fuck
. Is. This?” He could barely get the question out he was so pissed.

Christ. How was he supposed to tell his best friend about this? AJ would be devastated when he learned what his girlfriend was up to.

“We were just talking,” Darcy retorted, sounding as mad as Reed felt.

“Bullshit,” he shot back. “Whatever this was, it was leading toward a hookup, and we both know it.”

“So what if it was?” Her blue eyes blazed. “Yeah, maybe it’s kinda soon, but what I do and who I see is none of your damn business! If I want to have a rebound fling with some guy I met at a club, then I’m damn well allowed to!”

Rebound
?

Reed furrowed his brows, wondering if he’d misheard her. No way had she and AJ broken up. From the moment AJ had introduced her to his friends, Reed had known that Darcy was perfect for the guy, which only made this messed-up attraction he felt for her a million times more wrong. Her easygoing, bubbly personality suited AJ’s equally laidback demeanor, while her adventurous nature balanced AJ’s tendency to constantly play it safe.

The fact that she was sexy as hell was only icing on the cake.

AJ’s
cake. Reed clung to the reminder, as he’d done often ever since AJ and Darcy had started dating. It didn’t matter that each time he saw her he wanted to bury his face in her graceful neck and breathe her in. Or that his fingers tingled with the urge to stroke her thick, strawberry-blond waves. Or that his cock damn near burst out of his pants at the thought of sinking into her hot, tight—

AJ’s girl
, yelled the reprimanding voice in his head.

Right. Didn’t matter how hot the woman got him. She was off-limits.

But God, did she ever look gorgeous when she was pissed off.

“And you know what else?” Darcy went on, her fair cheeks flushed with anger. “You’re not exactly one to judge. You’re the biggest player on the planet! But I guess it’s okay for
you
to pick up strangers at nightclubs, right, Reed? But when I, an unattached adult woman, does it, suddenly it’s
sooooo
wrong and—”

“You and AJ broke up?” he interrupted.

She blinked in surprise. “What?”

“Did you guys break up?” he repeated through clenched teeth.

Looking bewildered, she offered a nod. “Yeah. Last night. He didn’t tell you?”

Reed had trouble thinking clearly, what with the massive doses of shock and confusion spiraling through his body. He realized he hadn’t spoken to AJ at all today. And his friend had the weekend off, which was why Reed had been tending bar at Sin before he’d headed over to the Krib. Normally, he handled the business end of things, working up in his office on the club’s top floor while Gage handled security and AJ managed the bartending staff.

AJ had planned to go away with Darcy this weekend, Reed suddenly remembered.

But Darcy was here.

Picking up dudes.

“Did you dump him?” he demanded.

Her expression grew sad. “No. It was mutual.”

That summoned a groan of disbelief. “Break-ups are
never
mutual.”

“This one was.” Her lips tightened. “Not that it’s any of your business, but AJ and I broke up with
each other
. We both knew it wasn’t working, and we both decided to end it.”

“Why wasn’t it working?”

She raked an exasperated hand through her wavy hair. “I’m not giving you any details, Reed. It’s between me and AJ, okay?”

Okay? There was nothing
okay
about any of this. In fact, he seriously needed to walk away, right frickin’ now, before the little burst of joy that Darcy’s admission had evoked in him turned into something else.

He wasn’t allowed to be happy about the breakup. No siree. He was supposed to be sad and upset on his best friend’s behalf, because no matter what Darcy said, their parting couldn’t have been mutual. The guy was crazy about her, for chrissake.

So are you
.

Reed silenced the inner taunt. Nope, not going there. He couldn’t deny that he was attracted to the woman, but desire was a fickle thing. Sooner or later it would fade.

Or at least, that’s what he’d been telling himself for the past five months.

So far, the heat he felt in Darcy’s presence still hadn’t cooled, but he was certain it would happen eventually.

It
had
to.

“Anyway, there you have it,” Darcy finished. “I’m single again. Woo-hoo. I’m sure you’re thrilled to have me out of your BFF’s life. And now, as you so graciously put it before,
get lost
.”

He narrowed his eyes. “Why do you want me to go so badly?”

She blew out an irritated breath. “Because I came here to have fun! There’s zero chance of that happening when you’re around.”

Reed didn’t budge from his chair.

“I’m serious, go away,” she grumbled. “We’re not friends, okay? And no guy is going to ask me to dance when you’re sitting here scowling at everyo—”

“You want to dance?” he cut in. “Let’s dance.”

Her jaw fell open. Then slammed shut. Wariness filled her expression, and she looked at him like he’d offered to murder her and dump her body in the river.

He didn’t blame her. Truth was, she hadn’t been too far off the mark. They
weren’t
friends. Mostly because he’d learned early on that the only way to curb this inappropriate attraction was to keep a very cold, very polite distance around the woman.

He couldn’t do that now, though. Because if he walked away, he risked Darcy getting hit on by some horny fucker and possibly going home with him. He couldn’t, in good conscience, let that happen. Break-ups weren’t set in stone, especially when they were less than twenty-four hours old, and Reed knew AJ would be devastated if he tried to win his girl back only to find out she’d already slept with another dude.

“I’m not dancing with you,” Darcy said coolly.

He smirked. “Fine, then we’ll just sit here in silence, for all I care.”

“You’re acting ridiculous.”

“And you’re acting insensitive. If you cared about AJ at all, you’d respect him enough not to screw someone else before the break-up ink is even dry.”

Annoyance marred her face. “If I choose to have a rebound, you can’t exactly stop me.”

“Oh yes, I can. As of right now? Consider me your shadow. I’m not leaving your side, baby doll. Not until I tuck you safely into a cab and watch you speed away.
Alone
.” Setting his jaw, Reed slid off the stool and held out his hand. “So are we dancing or what?”


Darcy was dumbfounded.

And frustrated.

And unbelievably peeved.

She’d purposely come to the Krib tonight because she’d known there’d be no possibility of running into AJ, and just her luck, she’d run into his best friend instead. A man who’d made it abundantly clear that he didn’t like her.

Well, eff Reed. She didn’t particularly like
him
either. AJ always insisted that Reed was an awesome guy, singing his praises whenever Darcy said otherwise, but in all the months she’d known the guy, he’d only ever shown her a cold, grumpy side that left a sour taste in her mouth.

BOOK: One Night of Scandal
7.83Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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