Don’t trust lust at first sight. One woman chooses reality over fantasy in this friends-to-lovers romance.
Jacqueline: As an adult woman—and the vice president of a marketing firm—I shouldn’t be waiting by my office window to ogle the mystery man who jogs by every morning at 11:45. Sure, he’s a gorgeous, perfect specimen of the human race, but I can’t bring myself to hit on a total stranger. However, my best friend–slash–colleague Vince Carson thinks I should do more than talk to the guy. In fact, he’s borderline obsessive about “getting me laid.” (His words.) But the more time we spend together, the more it’s clear: The one I’m falling for is Vince.
Vince: Jackie Butler’s got it bad for some pompous, over-pumped A-hole who struts his stuff past her window. That doesn’t bother me. I know she deserves nice things. What does bother me is that she friend-zoned me big-time last year, so I can’t ask her out myself. But what if I set her up with Mr. Steroids? Then, when he breaks her heart, I can swoop in and save her like the nice guy I am. Everything’s going according to plan . . . until we share a ridiculously epic kiss. And suddenly anything is possible.
“Truly pathetic, Butler,” I hear behind me. It’s Vince, using my last name, per his usual.
I swirl around and peg him with a look of pure fury. He’s VP too, by the way. Did I mention that? Last year when the vice president quit, two of us were promoted to handle the workload in tandem. I guess that was better than one of us leaving the other behind.
“What does the sign say?” I bark, pointing at my ajar office door.
Vince frowns, looks at it, then reads, “Knock if this is closed.”
“And did you? Knock?” I fold my arms.
“Yes, actually.” He sticks his fingers into the front pockets of his snug, well-fitting pair of jeans. He always wears dark jeans, a black belt, and a pair of leather shoes. Button-down and tie. He gets away with denim because our company president encourages free spirits and creativity . . . in the men who work here. Meanwhile, the women are expected to look the part of the professional, so I’ll be over here in my silk shirt and pencil skirt and stilettos if you need me. Such is life as a human with XX chromosomes.
“You were too busy admiring Golden Boy to hear me.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I crane my chin, because nothing says “I’m not lying through my teeth” like a jutted chin.
Vince walks over to the window and points at a cheek-shaped smudge on the otherwise perfect glass. “What’s this?”
“I . . . fell asleep. Long night.”
He grins and a rare blush steals across my cheeks. Not because he’s attractive—though he is. In a scamplike, puckish way. Since he was always “off limits,” it’s easy to forget he might be someone I’d look at twice if circumstances were different. If he hadn’t been so completely gone for his wife when I met him. A dart of pain shoots through the center of my chest at the thought. Leslie leaving shattered him. Whenever I think about those first six months, and how angry and hurt Vince was, I want to mail her an envelope full of glitter.
No, seriously. It’s a thing. Have you ever tried to get glitter out of carpet? I have. I used to host craft night at my place. You find shiny little specks for months. Months.
“You fell asleep,” Vince repeats flatly, giving me the slowest blink ever. “When are you going to admit you have a schoolgirl crush on that muscle-bound jerk?”
“Mark is not a jerk,” I blurt.
“His name is Mark?” Vince winces. I backtrack.
“No. That’s what Kayla calls him. His name is J.T.”
“Do you know why guys use initials for their names?” He smirks, cocky.
I prop my hands on my hips and wait.
“One of two reasons.” Vince holds up a finger. “One, he’s either too lazy or stupid to spell it, or two, both names are embarrassing. Like”—he pauses, both fingers out like a peace sign as he studies the ceiling before finishing—“Judson Taylor.”
I drop my arms. “You think his name is Judson Taylor?”
“Or”—another dramatic pause, only one finger elevated this time—“Jaundice Toe . . . jam.”
I can’t help it. I burst out laughing, holding my stomach with one arm as I double over. When I recover and push my hair behind my ears, Vince is smiling, pleased with himself. This is why we’re friends. He pulls me out of my why-so-serious, and I make him talk about his feelings.
We’re good for each other.
About the Author
A former job-hopper, Jessica Lemmon resides in Ohio with her husband and rescue dog. She holds a degree in graphic design currently gathering dust in an impressive frame. When she’s not writing super-sexy heroes, she can be found cooking, drawing, drinking coffee (okay, wine), and eating potato chips. She firmly believes God gifts us with talents for a purpose, and with His help, you can create the life you want.
Jessica is a social media junkie who loves to hear from readers. You can learn more at her website.