The Consequence of Seduction
Jordan burst out laughing as she fingered the cape. “Batman, my ass.”
“Shh.” I kissed her cheek. “It was all I could come up with, otherwise you would have known my plan.”
“Your plan to seduce me by song and cape?”
“Did it work?”
She grinned. “I don’t know. You may have to bring the cape back to the apartment.”
“Still rolling.” Max coughed. “Wrap it up, kids.”
“Wrap this.” I flipped him off.
Max gasped while the crowd chuckled.
“You should know,” Jordan sighed in my arms, “I’m a terrible cook. That’s why I make you fix breakfast. I can do coffee. And I can buy pastries. That’s the extent of my cooking.”
“And I’m messy.”
I laughed. “Believe me, I know that too.”
“And I hate turning off lights!”
“My power bill is very much aware of this sad reality.”
“Still want me?” She smiled shyly.
“Hell, yes.” I kissed her soundly, twirling her in the air, my cape fluttering in the wind, making me feel more Batman than Phantom.
“Anything I should know about you?” she asked once I set her on her feet again. “You know, other than your sad fascination with Star Wars, your inability to seduce without using those aqua eyes, and your aversion to asparagus?”
“Just one thing.” I grinned.
I licked my lips, then whispered gruffly in her ear, “I’m Batman.”
I stared down at my phone and tried really hard not to panic. I’d taken a week off work to attend Max’s wedding, thankful that he was finally going to be distracted enough not to meddle in my life like he had everyone else’s. At least now his focus would solely be on his new wife and he’d forget I was even in the picture. During his bachelor party he’d drunkenly pointed a finger in my direction and slurred, “You’re next.”
I prayed to God that the burning sensation I felt in my chest was heartburn and not an actual curse taking root. My friends and family might allow Max his . . . control, but I kept a wide berth and wanted to keep it that way.
My text alert went off for the third time during the reception. When I finally read it, I nearly fell into my cake.
Two simple words.
Words that should have absolutely zero effect on me.
But they did.
Because I knew exactly who she was.
And she, as far as I was concerned, could go to hell.
“Everything okay, man?” Colt slapped me on the back, then took a long swig of beer, his gaze falling on the waves as they crashed against the beach. We were in Bora Bora for the destination wedding, and I should be relaxing, not having a panic attack that felt a hell of a lot like a premature heart attack.
“Yeah,” I croaked. “Just . . .” I lifted my phone into the air. “Work.”
“Hmm.” Colt eyed me over his beer. “Unless someone’s actually bombed the town or a Mafia hit man is hiding out in the bushes, work wouldn’t be texting you on vacation.” He swiped my phone from the table before I could grab it, then paled and slid it right back to me.
“And by she . . .” Colt nodded slowly. “I’m guessing—”
“We should be celebrating a wedding and not talking about the chick who broke my heart, then freaking left with our best friend.”
“Still can’t say his name.”
“Doesn’t deserve to be said,” I snapped.
“Easy.” Colt held up his hands in surrender. “So what are you going to do?”
Max and Becca made their way to our table, and they both looked so damn happy I wanted to puke. I used to be that happy. Once upon a time, before the love of my life basically ran over my heart with her Honda Civic.
“Nothing.” I shrugged. “It’s America, she can live wherever the hell she wants.”
“But the rest of the text said . . .”
“I know what it said!” I yelled. I rarely yelled.
Colt stood and walked off.
I didn’t mean to snap at him. I just didn’t want to acknowledge the texts or anything else about my past life.
And I really, really didn’t want to know that she’d had a kid.
And that he looked exactly like her.
Or that she was asking about me.
“Everything cool?” Reid slid in a seat next to me. “Colt seems pissed.”
“He’s not having sex.” I nodded. “Max is exhausting all his groomsmen.”
“I hate Max,” Reid said in a bored tone, lifting his beer bottle in the air in a fake salute to his brother. “But I do love free trips to Bora Bora.”
Jordan ran toward us, her feet kicking up sand as she launched herself into Reid’s lap and whispered something in his ear. His laughter grated my nerves. I was officially surrounded by wedding cakes and engagement rings.
At least Jordan and Reid had been slightly normal—they’d moved in together shortly after the whole Phantom episode and had been inseparable ever since. Her four-carat engagement ring caught the sun just right, nearly blinding both my eyes. I pulled down my sunglasses and crossed my arms. Reid’s movie, with her help, was a blockbuster hit and they still did a weekly YouTube relationship talk that had over ten million followers and growing.
Max had made several appearances as a guest.
As had Hades.
I’d never been invited—then again, what would I have to offer?
A black eye? Because as of right now that was my MO . . . the accident-prone family member who almost married a girl because she tricked him into thinking she was pregnant.
I’d dodged the bullet.
But now I was alone.
My mind went back to the text message. I tried not to think about it. Instead, I focused on the conversation between Reid and Jordan about their next YouTube webisode.
The group laughed about something—I’d tuned them out again.
I tried to join in the laughter around the table as everyone sat down and continued drinking.
But all I could think about.
Was the girl with curly red hair.
And the annoying pang in my chest that went along with it.
As I was going through the edits for this book, I just kept repeating to myself, “Is this my life? How did this happen?” I don’t even have the words to express how grateful I am that I get to wake up every day and do something I love. I know that’s not the norm, because I lived the opposite of that for many years before finding my passion.
I want to thank God who is forever first in my life and gave me this passion for writing to begin with. I swear there were so many days I was like, What am I supposed to be doing with my life? And now, I know, all those crappy rundown broken roads, somehow, gave me a story to write. I guess you could say even the bumps life gives you are important because they create your story—and every story, no matter how crazy, is a beautiful thing.
My husband, Nate—ugh, you are just . . . I can’t even. You’re incredible. My hero, our son’s hero. And every day you inspire me to want to be a better person. Thank you for being you and for not getting mad when I ignore you while I write. You do such a beautiful job parenting; you’re an amazing daddy, an incredible partner, and my best friend.
Thank you to my AMAZING agent, Erica. She has to be so tired of all my frantic e-mails but she just . . . gets me, as if she’s a mind reader, which I’m still convinced she is!
Skyscape, thank you for believing in this story and not telling me it was crazy to do a slapstick rom-com where the main characters have weird quirks! You guys have been so fun to work with, and it’s been a true honor to go through this process with you!
Readers. I’m obsessed with you. ALL OF YOU. I can’t get enough of your encouraging messages and all-around amazingness! The Rachel’s Rockin Readers fan g
Bloggers, I HATE making this giant blanket statement to all the bloggers who help out and post on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram; I feel like it just seems so vague, but I truly appreciate each and every one of you! It’s such a thankless job, yet you do it because you LOVE books. Thank you for constantly helping authors get out there, and thank you for your support. I know I wouldn’t be where I am without you!
I hope you guys enjoyed Reid’s story! As always you can find me procrastinating on Facebook in my fan group Rachel’s New Rockin’ Readers . . . and I do have an Instagram obsession; follow me @RachVD to see my writing adventures!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Photo © 2014 Lauren Watson Perry, Perrywinkle Photography
Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of Regency and contemporary romances. When she’s not writing, you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor. She keeps her home in Idaho with her husband, adorable son, and two snoring boxers.
Rachel loves to hear from her readers! You can connect with her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rachelvandyken or join her Facebook fan group, Rachel’s New Rockin’ Readers. Her website is www.rachelvandykenauthor.com.
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Rachel van Dyken, The Consequence of Seduction
(Series: Consequence # 3)