Blackmailed into a prom date by the geeky but cute Dexter Black twelve years ago, Maya is happy he’s returned to town. After wine night with her best friends, she realizes that to move on with her life, she needs to get some closure on the past. Getting back at Dex is the perfect way to start.
Except the once-nerdy guy grew up. Way up. Years spent in the Marine Corps and working as a photojournalist around the world matured him not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. Even better, it turned him a little mean. The guy has the audacity to blackmail her again—this time into a few dates.
Her desire to teach him a lesson pales in comparison to her desire to teach him a trick or two between the sheets.
Dex has been obsessed with Maya Werner forever. From grade school to high school and over a decade later, she haunts him. He returned to town with one goal in mind—to win the girl of his dreams. But she won’t make it easy. The headstrong woman with an artistic temperament runs hot, no two ways about it. Giving in to the passion between them will put him in the “forgettable” column, so he plays it both hot and cold, keeping her off balance while he outflanks her into a permanent yes.
This book has been previously published.
He groaned. “You did that on purpose. Now I’ll be spending the night thinking about you and some young, nubile chick in bed.”
She laughed. “Nubile? Geez. You and Ann should get together and play Scrabble.”
“I would, but Jack won’t let me get near her.”
Maya frowned. “She’s happily in love with the guy. Leave her alone.”
Yep. Always loyal to her friends. Was it any reason he’d been captivated by her from day one? Gorgeous, funny, smart, loyal, and yet she watched everyone with caution, as if waiting for someone to throw the first punch. Back then, he’d wanted to be the one to protect her. To his bemusement, he still did.
“Dex,” she growled. “I mean it.”
“Easy, Maya. Ann’s cute, but she’s not my type.” He decided to start his seduction. Slowly, but not so subtly that she wouldn’t know what he wanted. The key to Maya was to keep her off balance and interested. “I prefer a woman with a little meat. Some curves. Darker skin, straight black hair…”
“Really? A little meat? My heart’s all aflutter.”
“You know me. Mr. Charm.” He shrugged off his jacket, gratified when Maya gave him a thorough onceover.
“Are you on steroids?”
“No. Eight years in the Marine Corps bulked me up. And trust me, it feels better to be this big in a bar fight than the skinny twerp I was in high school.”
She smiled. “You were cute then. Little, but cute.” She shook her head then glanced down at the menu on the table. “Too bad you grew up.”
He laughed, and his entire being locked up at seeing her mean grin. He could spend hours watching her. But being mesmerized wouldn’t win him any points. “Baby, I can handle you with one hand tied behind my back. I’m not the one who was scared to go on a date.”
The teasing left her dark eyes. “How’s that?”
He shrugged and looked at his own menu. “Just saying, I can go out with a woman, not expect sex, enjoy myself and move on with life. You seem to think every man who sees you wants to do you.” They most likely did, but it wouldn’t help to stroke the woman’s ego. “Or that I might want a date for immoral reasons.”
“So you’re saying you don’t want to do me?”
He shrugged. “I could go either way. Sure, you’re pretty. But sometimes a guy wants more from a woman.” He chanced a look at her.
She didn’t appear angry, but fascinated. “Like what?”
The waitress bussed by and took their orders, then left with a warm smile directed at him.
“Hello?” Maya snapped. “I thought you just said you want more from a woman than sex.”
“I did. Why are you mad at me?”
“Look, you wanted a date. Stop flirting with the waitress and answer my question.”
He bit back a grin. She didn’t like that look their cute waitress had given him? Excellent sign. “I wasn’t flirting. Smiling is how you win friends and influence people. Take note.” He ignored her middle finger. “Anyway, when I decide to date a woman, sure, physical attraction is a key factor. But I need more. I want to like her smile, the way she deals with other people. Is she bitchy or nice? Selfish or giving?”
Maya smirked. “So why are we out then? I’m not nice. And I’m told I’m selfish.”
“Nah. You’re nice to your friends and the people around you. Just not to men who you’re attracted to. Namely—me.”
“Dream on.” She paused. “So what else?”
“I can take care of myself. I cook and clean. I make a decent living.” A lucrative one thanks to his skill behind a camera and the business sense to know how to make smart financial decisions. “I’d expect a woman I’m interested in to be the same.”
“What if she can’t cook? What if she’s a slob? What if she’s broke? You seem to want a lot from a woman. A little exacting. Maybe that’s why you’re still single.”
“I could say the same about you.”
“Me? I’m simple. I want a man who’s good in bed. Maybe we talk while we fuck, maybe we don’t.” She shrugged, and her dark eyes invited him to stare and keep on staring. “I have my friends for fun. I trust them, they trust me, and we all get along. Riley, Ann and I do everything together.”
“Really? So you, Ann, Jack and Riley are sharing the same bed?”
“Okay, not everything. But Jack accepts Ann is part of a tight group of friends. Just because they’re all gooey in love doesn’t mean that will change.”
Then why do you look so scared? he wanted to ask.
The waitress returned with their food. As the meal progressed and their talk turned to friends he hadn’t seen in years, he thought the date had gone amazingly well.
An hour and a half after they’d arrived, Maya pushed her beer away and sighed. “I’m stuffed. What now?”
He gave her a sly smile designed to unnerve her. When she sat up straighter in her chair and frowned, he knew he’d been successful. “Now we go home. And we go to bed.”