Have you seen my latest release, THE HOOK-UP EXPERIMENT? Are you intrigued by it? Do you want to hit it before you one-click it?
GREAT NEWS! I'm giving you the chance to read the first THREE chapters of the book, absolutely free!
Be aware, this is NSFW or little eyes. But really, really, funny. Or so I'm told. ;) Purchase links are at the end of the post! XOXO
Chapter One – Peyton
Brothers are assholes. And I’m still waiting for algebra to help me with my taxes.
The dick pics were endless.
Three inches plus Photoshop.
Really, they were all the same.
And it was a miracle if any of the men they were attached to were able to combine the size of the prize with the motion of the ocean.
In fact, the only difference in the dicks was where the owner of it wanted to put it. A mouth, a vagina, a butt… Another man’s butt.
Those were my favorite types of matches to make. Good dicks were hard to find for women and for men—and sometimes, I matched more than just a hook-up for the gay population of New Orleans.
No wonder my brother fucking hated my business model. I had two gay weddings, one adoption, two proposals, and four long-term relationships under my belt. Not to mention a host of fuck-buddies.
He had one relationship and two break-ups.
Not that I was surprised, but orgasms clearly outweighed the whole getting-to-know each other stage.
I mean, seriously. There’s not much more intimate than your cock inside someone else’s ass.
Not that I’d know. The only cocks I owned came with batteries and lived in my drawer.
Or that I’d ever put anyone’s cock up my ass…
I shook off the thought of anyone entering my exit. That was not a thought anyone needed to have while at their grandma’s house for dinner.
I moved the guy whose profile was in front of me to a ‘maybe’ section. The girl I was hooking up was particular about what she wanted, and that only served to make my life easier.
You wouldn’t tell your hairdresser she could color your hair whatever if you wanted to be blonde, would you?
I clicked onto the next profile as Ed Sheeran began crooning through my headphones. Shifting on the sofa, I swung my legs up onto another cushion and repositioned myself to where I could see if Mimi was coming back in from the kitchen.
She might have been accepting of what I did, but that didn’t mean she wanted to be a part of the selection process.
The next profile loaded. He’d attached several pictures of himself, but I read through the submission first. Just out of a long-term relationship, looking for a feel-good fling…
We were onto something for my little red-headed friend.
Happy with the rest of his profile, I clicked on the attached photos. The first was of his face.
Handsome. Dark-haired. Exactly what she was looking for.
Next up: His body.
I let out a low whistle. Abs for days. Shoulders that gave away his strength.
Next up: The peen.
I loved it when people followed instructions—and didn’t lie in the measurement part of their submission. He had not been lying when he’d said he was seven inches—and the photo showed that to be a solid seven, too.
Ding ding ding! We had a winner!
Something hit me hard in the back of the head. I screamed, jumping and almost sending my laptop flying to the floor.
“What the hell?” I snapped, tearing off my headphones and glaring at my brother. “Where did you come from and why did you hit me?”
Dom stared at me. “You’re working? Here?”
Quickly, I saved the profile as The One and closed down my screen. “Well, yeah. Mimi knows. She doesn’t care.”
“I don’t want another man’s penis to be the first thing I see when I get here!”
“So? Look down your pants when you walk through the door. Oh, that’s right. You still wouldn’t see anything.”
He flipped me the bird as Mimi walked in, wiping her hands on the bright-yellow, floral apron tied around her waist.
He threw his arms out. “I can’t make a gesture at her, but she can look at male genitalia in your living room?”
Mimi crossed her arms over her plump body and stared him down with a fierce, dark gaze. “Dominic Austin, I remember catchin’ you looking at female genitalia in my livin’ room once upon a time, and that was for nothin’ more than your own pleasure.”
My older brother looked at me and her. “Mimi, she’s looking at dicks for pleasure.”
“Actually,” I said, standing up. “I take no pleasure from looking at penises when they’re being matched to someone else. Unlike you and your teenage porn obsession.”
“Oh, yeah,” he continued, following me into the kitchen. “Because you don’t watch porn.”
I pulled a bottle of water from the fridge.
Sometimes, it sucked that Mimi didn’t allow alcohol in the house.
“I never said I didn’t. That’s the difference between me and you, bro. I don’t lie.”
“Lord, give me strength,” Mimi muttered, shuffling over to the stove and continuing to pray under her breath.
“Are you calling me a liar?”
“Have you or have you not had a crush on Chloe since twelfth grade?”
Dom froze, blinking his long, dark eyelashes at me. “We’re not talking about me, Peyt. We’re talking about your penis obsession.”
“As mighty convenient as that is,” Mimi drawled, her no-nonsense attitude mixing with her deep Southern accent to cut through our immature sibling squabbling, “Y’all’s dinner is almost ready, so set the darn table before I add human meat to this stew.”
Both of us did as we were told. Dom grabbed all the placemats while I opened the cutlery drawer. It was the way we’d always done it, and it would never matter to Mimi if we were ten or twenty-something. Hell, even if we were fifty, she’d expect us to do it.
That was the rules. If we come for dinner, we set the table, and we clean up everything after.
I laid out napkins as Dom put three glasses upside down and got the water jug from the cupboard. By the time we were done, Mimi had a massive bowl of stew ready for him to set in the center of the table.
He grabbed it, and I picked up the plate of freshly baked bread to go with it.
My nose twitched at the delightful smell, and even my stomach rumbled, but I knew better than to touch that food until one: Mimi had her plate, and two: she’d thanked God for the food and prayed for our souls.
And everyone wondered where I got my dramatic streak from.
Mimi took a seat and held out her hands. We placed ours in hers, and she said, “Dear Lord, thank you for the food upon this table, and thank you for the strength to deal with my hellion grandchildren. And thank you for the strength to get through this dinner without beatin’ them both with my spoon. Amen.”
If anyone needed beating with a spoon, it was Dom for starting it.
“Amen,” we muttered, echoing her.
Mimi chuckled, pulled her hands from ours, and looked pointedly at Dom. “Well? You gonna serve your dear old Mimi?”
I bit the inside of my cheek.
“Mimi…” he groaned.
“I will make a gentleman outta you, boy.”
“What about making a lady out of Peyton?”
“Hey!” I interjected, turning over Mimi’s glass and grabbing the jug. “I’m a lady. I let men hold open doors for me, and I’ve never flashed anyone getting out of a car.”
Dom stared at me. “Peyt, you once told me you’d only let a man hold a door open for you if he’d smack your ass as you walked past.”
“Damn straight,” I said, making sure Mimi had enough ice. “If he’s holding the door, he better smack my ass as I pass. If not, I’ll get the damn thing myself.”
Mimi held up a hand. “Once heathen of a grandchild at a time, Dominic. You might need less work than her.”
I opened my mouth, then shut it. I knew better than to argue with her.
“While I agree on that point,” he said, shooting me a quick look. “I don’t understand the purpose of serving you food. If I tried to serve a woman food on a date, I’d be up for getting castrated. Give her too much; she thinks she’s too skinny. Give her too little; she thinks she’s fat.”
“Yeah,” I said. “And if he pisses her off, he can’t get laid.”
“Young lady, you will watch that mouth at this dinner table, or I’ll bend you over that sink.” Mimi didn’t even look at me, but I got the message.
Shut. The. Fuck. Up. Peyton.
Mimi then shot Dominic a similar look, and he quickly spooned some stew into her bowl. When he was done, he filled his own before leaving the spoon for me.
“And that’s why you’re no gentleman,” Mimi said, tearing a piece of bread in two.
“She doesn’t count,” Dominic replied.
“Boy, ‘course she counts. If you can’t respect your sister, you think any self-respecting young woman is gonna take two looks at you past your pretty face? Psht.”
I said nothing. I knew she’d have a smartass comment for me, too.
Really, it was a rookie mistake. He knew better than to play with Mimi.
If there was ever a woman who could mix modern with traditional, it was her.
Case in point: I could look at penis pictures in the living room but say “pissed off” at the table was worthy of a threat for a mouthful of soap. And there was no doubt she’d do it.
She’d probably break into your house and do it while you slept. Put it in your coffee. Mix it into your dinner. As long as you learned your lesson, she didn’t care how it happened.
Nobody said another word while we ate, especially not Dom. Judging by the little sulk he had going on, he’d had enough of Mimi shutting him up tonight.
Which was, naturally, utterly amusing to me.
When we were done eating, Mimi excused herself to have a cigarette in the yard—which was how God gave her strength if you asked her—we got to clearing the table and washing the dishes.
“Heads, I wash. Tails, you wash.” Dom produced a quarter from his wallet.
I sighed and leaned against the side. “Fine.”
He flipped the coin onto the side.
“Well, just as well. It’s the most head you’re gonna get,” I said, turning off the tap and grabbing a towel to dry the dishes.
He rolled his eyes and pulled up his sleeves. “Now, I remember why I hate dinner with you.”
“You’ve put up with it for twenty-seven years.”
“And I should have killed you when I had the chance.”
I glared at him and took the first clean plate. “I still have a chance to do it to you.”
“Only if all the cocks you look at don’t burn out your eyeballs.”
“Dom, seriously! Unless you watch exclusive girl-on-girl porn, you willingly look at other men’s cocks, too.”
He froze. “And that’s me switching to girl-on-girl.”
“Look, bro, there’s nothing wrong with looking at dicks.”
“You would say that. Looking at them pays your rent. Shit, Peyt, you probably look at more cocks in a day than I look at my own.”
“Yes,” I said slowly, “But you have to find yours first.”
“You’re a bitch.”
“I know.” I grinned and put the stack of now-clean plates on the table.
He shook his head and scrubbed the side of a bowl. “Can I ask you a question? A serious one?”
“Uh…Sure. Go ahead.”
Dom got the last bit of stew off the side of a bowl and put it on the side for me. “Do you ever get bored of what you do? Just making people hook-up?”
“No,” I answered honestly. “Do you ever get bored of setting up relationships?”
“No, but I don’t spend several hours of my working day looking at genitals.”
“You just do that in your spare time, right?” I paused. “Right, serious. Put away the annoying little sister act.”
“No. I don’t. I guess… I get why people want a no-strings hook-up or even a series of them. Like the girl I was looking for earlier? She has a really great job, and she’s super successful, and all the men she’s tried to date are intimidated by her. But, she’s also lonely. So, she wants someone she can meet up with a couple times a week, get dinner, and screw.”
“There are people you can pay for that?”
“Ah. Why pay when I can find it for free?”
Even he couldn’t respond to that.
“People really do that? Find fuck buddies through PAD?”
PAD. Because you didn’t always want to say Pick-A-Dick in public. “Yeah. Some are accidental. They have great chemistry and keep seeing each other. Some people like my client from earlier is out to get a long-term, physical relationship without the emotional strings. The guy I think fits her wants the same thing because he just broke up with his girlfriend of three years. It works for everyone.”
“Really?” Dom put the pot Mimi used to cook the stew on the side and looked at me. “Do you really believe people can have sex regularly and not feel anything for each other?”
I reached for the bowl, then paused. “It’s just sex, Dom. It doesn’t always have to come with an emotional attachment. You’re not emotionally attached to someone you pick up in a bar and bone on the sofa, are you?”
“No, it’s not. All I’m doing is scheduling a one-night stand with someone they’re sexually compatible with. Why go out and risk finding Mr. Tap, Tap, Squirt, when I can find Mr. All Night Long?”
“Your mind is a warped place, little sister.”
“What? Because I believe it’s possible to have a sexual relationship with someone and not fall in love with them?”
He dropped the cloth in the sink and looked at me. “What? So you don’t talk? Don’t ask how anyone’s day was? You just walk in and have sex?”
In an ideal world. “It’s called friends with benefits.”
“Friends with benefits don’t work.”
“Have you ever tried it?”
“Well, no, but…”
“Have you, Peyton?”
Aw, shit. “I have friends. Who I have benefits with,” I answered lamely.
Dom folded his arms across his chest. “Have you ever had a purely sexual relationship with someone?”
“Fine. No.” I threw my towel into the cooking pot. “I have people I’ve had sex with a few times, but not frequent enough to constitute any kind of a relationship with. But I know you can do it. Which makes me right, and you wrong.”
His eyes glittered. “Prove it.”
I stopped. “Wait, what?”
“Prove me wrong. Find someone in that little hook-up database of yours who you’re “sexually compatible” with and prove me wrong.”
“No, it’s not. You say it’s possible; I say it’s not. Someone has to test it out, and since I’m the one who has to be proved wrong, you have to be the test subject.”
Well. The orgasms would be worth it… So would the satisfaction of proving him wrong.
I picked the towel back up. “What’s the deal?”
“You sleep with one person three times in less than two weeks. If you can prove you’re not in love with them, I’ll give you five hundred bucks.” He smirked. “If I’m right, you owe me five hundred bucks.”
“This is getting more ridiculous by the second!”
“And I get to pick your hook-up.”
“That’s so wrong on so many levels!”
He held out his hands. “Well? It’s down to you, Peyt.”
“Let me get this straight. You want to go into my confidential database, pick a guy for me to sleep with three times, and not fall in love with, just so you can pay me five hundred dollars?”
“No. I want to go into your confidential database and pick a guy you’ll sleep with three times, then fall in love with, so I get five hundred bucks off you.”
“And this is why the Lord needs to give me strength,” Mimi said from the doorway. We both jerked around to look at her, only to see her light another cigarette and turn, slamming the glass-screened door behind her.
Hell, she wasn’t the only one he needed to give strength to.
Chapter Two – Peyton
Whoever replies ‘K’ to a text message should be chased into the ocean by pigs.
Me: I need a double-shot hurricane with that pasta.
Mellie: Peyton. It’s midday.
Me: I am in CRISIS OVER HERE
Mellie: Chloe. Help.
Mellie: Chloe!!! DON’T LEAVE ME ALONE WITH HER
Me: I AM HAVING A BREAKDOWN AND YOU’RE WORRIED ABOUT YOU?
Ugh. I wanted to stab something.
I hated that response with a passion.
I finished my coffee and set the mug on my desk. Running my fingers through my hair, I sniffed a few of the strands in the hope the sweet, coconut scent of my shampoo from this morning’s shower would calm me down.
I’d hoped my conversation with my brother had been a dream. Unfortunately, the text I woke up to this morning proved that it wasn’t.
He’d really challenged me to sleep with someone three times in two weeks and not fall in love.
It was stupid. So, so stupid. Why had I even entertained the idea? What the hell was wrong with me?
I didn’t need to do this. I was happy with my sex life. I had my friends, and it was all fine. Why did I feel the incorrigible need to prove him wrong?
Aside from the five hundred bucks, it was because it was ingrained in me.
I was competitive. I needed to be the best. I needed to be right. I had to win.
I was a modern-day Monica Geller.
Which was why I’d enlisted the help of the girls. Screw Chloe’s undying love for him, she knew I was right. And Mellie, well, she knew it, too.
I was right.
It was possible.
One. Hundred. Percent.
But why did I have to prove him wrong? Why couldn’t he be the one to prove you could fall in love with someone in three hook-ups?
He was the one who needed to get laid, not me.
The front door opened, and Mellie walked in with Jake on her heels.
Great. Now the boyfriend was coming to girly chats.
“Oh, good, you brought back-up.”
Jake grinned at me. “A pleasure as always, Peyton.”
I poked my tongue out at him.
Mellie ignored our stupid exchange and threw herself down on my bright purple sofa, dropping her purse on the floor next to her feet. “All right. What’s the crisis?”
I took a deep breath and let it out through my nose. I probably looked like an angry horse. “My brother—”
“Oh, shit,” she muttered.
“—is an asshole.”
“Yes,” Mellie said slowly. “I became aware of that when he wedgie’d me in sixth grade as a dare.”
I’d forgotten about that.
“We had dinner at Mimi’s last night. He went on his usual shit trip about my job and how terrible I am and blah, blah, blah.”
Jake’s eyebrows shot up.
“Then, he decided to challenge me to prove that you can have sex with someone three times and not fall in love with them.” I paced up and down the rug. “I mean, how stupid is that? What a ridiculous thing to make me prove. Of course, you can have sex with someone three times and not fall in love.”
“Know that, do you?” Jake asked me.
I stopped and pointed my finger at him with a dark look before resuming my pointless pacing.
At least I was getting Fitbit steps.
Or I would have been if I was wearing it.
Come to think of it, where was it?
“This is bullshit.” Pace. Pace. Pace.
“The fact I’m here and not having a nice lunch with my girlfriend? I agree,” Jake said, leaning back on the sofa.
I hit him with another glare, and Mellie knocked her foot into his in a warning.
She leaned forward and looked at me. “Peyt, you walked into the challenge. You know Dom’s the romantic of the two of you.”
“That’s not the point. The point is that my brother challenged me to be the one to prove him wrong. Why can’t he do it himself?” Why was pacing so therapeutic? Or was that the ranting? “It’s his stupid argument, not mine. I already know you can screw a person three times and not fall in love. I don’t want to sleep with someone three times!”
“Is once your limit?” Jake asked, grinning again.
I’d had enough of him.
I jabbed my finger through the air at Mellie. “Control your human.”
Mellie touched Jake’s thigh and leaned into him. She lowered her voice and said, “Why don’t you grab lunch and take it back to the office? Chloe will be back in a couple minutes. No offense, but you being here isn’t helping.”
No shit. All it was doing was winding me up even more.
Thankfully, he replied with, “Okay. ‘Cause if I stay here any longer, I’m gonna climb onto the roof and take the outdoor elevator down to the sidewalk.”
He leaned in to kiss her, and I mimed vomiting. He kissed her again before glancing at me and almost-waving on his way out. The sound of the door clicking behind him was music to my ears.
Don’t get me wrong, I liked him, and he was perfect for Mellie, but we didn’t exactly get along all the time. Mostly when I was in this kind of mood.
Then again, I didn’t get along with many people anyway.
I finally slowed to a stop and looked at Mel. “What am I going to do?”
“Tell Dom no,” she said simply, tucking her hair behind her ear. “You don’t have to prove anything, Peyt.”
“Tell him no?” Was she suggesting I lose? “Let him win? Hell no!”
The door swung open, revealing Chloe balancing two paper bags and two drinks holders. “Sorry, sorry! The traffic was awful. Here’s your…double shot hurricane you asked for.”
I almost snatched the cocktail from her and sipped. I gave her a grateful smile as she set down the bags and sat next to Mellie.
“Dom filled me in,” Chloe said. “I told him he was fucking dumb. We all know you can screw someone three times and not fall in love. I told him to stop sharing your mom’s Netflix account and watching her stupid emotional movies.”
“Thank you!” I flung my arm in the air in a self-righteous swing of triumph. “And he’ll pick the guy I get to screw based on who’s in my database? That’s bullshit!”
“It actually is.” Mellie briefly met my gaze before she turned to Chloe. “I mean, he’s the dater. He literally creates relationships. He’s not going to pick the guy she can screw, he’s going to pick the guy he thinks is most compatible with her.”
“I know that,” Chloe replied. “He’ll probably pull someone from our database over just to screw with her.”
“Noooooo!” I clutched hold of my drink and sunk down into the armchair next to them. I hadn’t thought of that. Why hadn’t I thought of that?
“Why don’t we do it?” Chloe sat up. “I mean, think about it, Peyt. We’re on your side. We agree with you. We’ll pick a guy we know you’ll never fall for, and Dom can’t argue because we’re impartial. We’re not involved in this stupid bet.”
Actually, that wasn’t a bad idea. They’d pick someone I’d never fall in love with, or even consider falling in love with. They knew me better than anyone. This was totally doable with them on my side, right?
“Yeah, well, you better make me win. I don’t want to lose five hundred bucks to that idiot.” I sniffed.
“You bet five hundred bucks?” Mellie could barely get the words out through her shock. “Why?”
“Because! I need to be right, and if I win, he’ll go away.”
Chloe and Mellie shared a look. “Sure,” Chloe said slowly. “Come on, Peyt. You don’t have to prove him wrong, and you get to win. Let us do it for you.”
“You know we’re right,” Mellie added, now scarily cheery.
Was I really going to do this?
Oh my God, I was. Because proving my brother wrong may as well have been in my DNA at this point in my life, and it would undoubtedly still be the case in thirty years.
I sighed and ran my hand over my face, then gave in. “You know what? Fine. What’s the worst that could happen?”
“Okay!” Chloe sat down at my home desktop and opened up the website hosting site. She stretched her arms right out in front of her and cracked her knuckles. “How many submissions do you have in the “Unread” bit?”
I shrugged, curling into my armchair with a slice of pizza on a paper plate. “I don’t know. Probably a hundred? The last couple matches have been easy to find.”
“Okay. We’re gonna use one of those.”
“Oh, good,” Mellie said, coming in with three wine glasses balanced in her hands. She passed me one. “You told her, Chlo.”
“Told me what?” I took the glass from her and sat up, almost knocking my pizza onto the floor.
They shared a look.
“Uh…” Chloe slowly spun in my chair and looked at me. “You’re not allowed to know who it is. We can’t afford your endless vetoes just because you’re picky as fuck.”
“I have a right to have a say in who gets to go inside my vagina.”
“And when you’re on your date, you can happily refuse to have sex, and we’ll come back to the drawing board,” Mellie added unreasonably.
All right. Fine. It was entirely reasonable, but I felt unreasonable.
“You’re taking this hell and turning it into a blind date?” See? I was so unreasonable.
Chloe grimaced. “Yes. Because you have to talk to the guy before you sleep with him, Peyt.”
“Most people do that.”
“I’m not most people.”
“No shit,” Mellie muttered, pulling my other armchair across the floor to the computer. “We promise we’ll find you a pretty dick.”
I snorted. “Right, and my vagina will smell like a freshly bloomed rose garden halfway through my period. Just find me a decent penis, okay?”
“That’s more realistic,” Chloe agreed, turning back to the computer.
I stared at them as I ate my pizza. I couldn’t see the screen at all, and no lie, it was frustrating as hell. Mostly because I knew they were finding me someone to have sex with.
Hell, even I sent my clients a shortened profile and a facial photo before I set up meetings.
“What if they’re not attractive? I need to see a photo first. I already had to pretend to be on my period once to get out of a hook-up. I don’t wanna do it again.” I was fishing now, and I knew it.
I could smell the desperation seeping out of my pores.
I hated not having control.
I put my plate on the floor and swung around in the chair, resting my legs over one arm and leaning against the other. I let out a low, long groan, tilting my head right back and cradling the glass against my legs.
“Oh, Jesus, here we go,” Mellie muttered. “I don’t know how you haven’t got yourself an Oscar yet.”
“Neither of you have nominated me.”
“Hair color,” Chloe demanded.
“You can have a say. Think of it as guidelines. Also, I don’t want to be the one getting poisoned because you don’t like the date. So, give me a hair color before I change my mind.”
“Brunette. No shade preference.”
“Wasn’t gonna ask.” She wrote it down. “Eyes?”
“I don’t care. I don’t plan to look into ‘em.”
“Anywhere between twenty-five and thirty-two.”
“Precise,” Mellie noted.
I nodded in her direction. I knew what I liked. What could I say?
Chloe sighed. “Height? Body type?”
“Tall and fit. With just enough muscle so I can run my tongue down—”
“Cock size?” she blurted out, stopping me in my tracks.
I grinned. She was blushing furiously.
Mellie rolled her eyes. “Oh, Chlo. Why are you even asking this? The answer is long, thick, and hard.”
“Like a math exam.” I grinned even more.
“A math exam?” Chloe asked, looking back at me over her shoulder.
I sipped my wine. “C plus P equals O. Sometimes, O squared. Simple algebra.”
“Do I want to know?”
Mellie put a hand either side of Chloe’s head and turned her back to face the computer screen. “No.”
“Never mind,” she muttered. “I got it.”
“Is that all the information you need?” I asked.
“It’s more than I ever needed. Now, shut up and let me find you a fuck buddy before you make my ears bleed.”
Never let it be said that Peyton Austin didn’t listen.
I listened. I just tended to ignore a lot, too.
However, this time, my vagina’s happiness was on the line. I’d listen all day long if it meant my friends could get it right—and help me prove Dom wrong.
Even if I was terrified.
And I was. I’d never actually hooked up with anyone from my website before. It’d all been through personal meetings. All me. No middleman—or woman.
What was I doing?
I’d gone and lost my dang mind. Mimi always said that’d happen.
I finished my wine and set the glass down on the floor.
God, what if they screwed this up? I wouldn’t fall in love. Unless you were sweatpants or a brand-new donut place, I wouldn’t fall in love with you.
It wasn’t in my DNA. Some people could, but I wasn’t one of them.
I loved. Don’t get me wrong—I loved, and I loved passionately, but being in love was a whole other kettle of fish. One I didn’t boil.
One I had no intention of boiling.
I leaned my head right back and closed my eyes, humming along to a tuneless song. I was totally making it up as I went along, but it was getting me through the hell that was this evening.
One day, I would be able to tell my brother to go screw himself, because these dares were stupid and immature.
Honestly, I’d hoped by now that would have happened.
I jerked my head up. “What?”
“Done.” Mellie grinned, leaning over the back of the chair to look at me. “We found him.”
“You did? Oh, God.”
“Don’t worry. He’s definitely not the kind of guy you could fall in love with.” Chloe clicked off the screen and folded a Post-It note in half. “I’m going to contact him tomorrow.”
“Who is it?”
“We’re not telling you. You know that.” She distorted her body on the chair and tucked the bright square into her pocket. “I promise he’s hot, has a suitable penis, and you’ll never fall in love with him.”
I blinked at her.
That sounded like the punchline to a joke.
Oh, it was. The joke that was my life.
“I’m going to regret this, aren’t I?” I groaned.
Mellie grimaced. “Peyt, you should have known that the second you agreed to do this shit.”
Well, yeah, I knew that, too.
“We’ll call you when we have the date set up.” Chloe stood, picking up her phone. “And before you go searching, don’t bother, Sherlock. I deleted your browser history, cookies, and everything except your saved passwords.”
“And we deleted his profile.” Mellie grinned, standing, too.
“I hate you both.”
Chloe stopped in my office door. “And you should really delete your card info from your saved stuff. If someone hacks you…”
“They might put me out of my misery,” I muttered. “You promise I’ll win this stupid bet?”
In unison, they both crossed their finger over their heart in an ‘x’ motion.
That was fucking reassuring, wasn’t it?
Chapter Three – Peyton
Not all best friends are created equal. Unless they’re mine. Then they’re both raging assholes.
Chloe: Don’t forget. 7pm. Billie’s.
Me: I’m half-dressed. I’m not going to forget.
I threw my phone down on the bed and leaned back against my bedroom windowsill. I lied. I wasn’t even close to being half-dressed, but at least I’d showered.
That was how I stood now. Wrapped in my robe with my hair twisted up in a towel, staring at my still-blotchy-skinned reflection in the mirror above my bed.
I had no idea what to wear. Billie’s was my favorite restaurant, and no doubt they’d picked that so I’d be somewhat comfortable in this dumbass situation.
But was there a dress code for this date? I’d worn both jeans and flats and dresses and heels to this restaurant.
Maybe the happy medium was jeans and heels.
I pushed off the windowsill and walked over to my dresser. My jeans were tightly packed into the third drawer, and I pulled out every single pair.
There they were.
I pulled my favorite, light-blue pair from the pile and kicked the rest to the side, shutting the door. Flinging the pair onto the bed, I looked at the clothes on the floor.
Nope. Couldn’t do it.
I crouched down, opened the drawer, and carefully folded every pair of jeans back up. I put them away, pair by pair, until they were ideally situated in the drawer, then closed it and went to the small bookshelf that housed my favorite heels.
Simple. If I did simple, I could go fancy on the shirt.
I pulled a Barbie-pink pair of heels from the shelf—my treasured Louboutins—and set them at the end of my bed.
Three t-shirt and eight underwear choices later, I had the perfect combination.
I put the underwear on, then did my make-up before letting my hair free of the towel. It was only just damp, and a glance at the clock told I had more than enough time to dry and loosely curl it.
Thank God for that.
I slid into the back of the taxi ten minutes before I was due to get to the restaurant. So, I’d be fashionably late. It being post-Mardi Gras only worked in my favor. Sure, there’d be the typical New Orleans traffic, but not enough that I’d be drastically, oh-shit-she-stood-me-up late.
Although, standing up wasn’t a bad idea.
Shit, no, Peyton. We aren’t doing this.
It was too late, anyway. I was in the back of this cab and on my way, and that was the end of that. I was going to see this date through, sex or no sex. Blind date or not, I wasn’t going to have sex with someone I wasn’t even remotely attracted to just to prove my brother wrong.
Aside from the satisfaction of being right yet again, I wanted a few orgasms out of this stupid little experiment.
The cab driver glanced at me in the mirror. “Blind date?” she asked, pushing a dark braid out of her eyes.
I nodded. “My best friends are assholes.”
She laughed, pulling away as the light changed green. “Ain’t everyone’s?” She turned down the road to get as close to Billie’s as she could and gave me the total.
I handed her the cash.
“Good luck,” she said as she took it.
“Thanks. You keep the change.” I smiled and, clutching my purse tightly to me, got out of her car. The humid air hit me immediately, and I blew a breath out as I walked onto the street.
The city was alive as usual. I sidestepped groping hands and overzealous drinkers with the expert skill of someone who lived here. Sure, it was early by the standards of most places, but it was practically twenty-four seven here.
I was sure that only Vegas or New York rivaled my city.
I stepped into the restaurant and sighed as the air con hit me.
The hostess greeted me with a grin. “A little birdie tells me you’re here on a blind date.”
I held up a finger. “Marie, don’t you start. I’m stressed as it is.”
She crossed something out on the paper in front of her. “Well, don’t be. I saw him to y’all’s table around twenty minutes ago.” She rounded her station and leaned into me. “Girl, he is fine.”
“So is my new rug,” I drawled.
“No. I mean he’s so hot I think the chef just served him up on a goddamn platter for you.”
All right. Now we were talking.
“Then why are standing here?”
She snorted and touched my arm. “That’s my girl. Come on. I messed around with the tables and gave you your favorite.”
“You’re a girl after my heart, Marie.”
She threw a wink over her shoulder as we took to the stairs. I followed behind her as she dragged herself up them, three menus in hand. One drinks, two food.
Butterflies erupted in my tummy as we reached the small hall at the top of the stairs. I was mere feet from the person my friends wanted me to screw and not fall in love with. From the person who’d help me prove my brother wrong.
And it was weird.
Marie pushed the door open. The sound of conversation bustling through the air hit me instantly, before I’d even looked up. The dim light of the upstairs seating area made it tough to see past the next tables and people and staff moving around, but the scent of the food hit me instantly.
“You’re right there, Peyt.” She pointed to the corner, moving off toward the guy with his head dipped, his face invisible to me.
I followed her through the restaurant. My fingers twitched against my purse straps, and my stomach was doing treble-flips with nerves.
I was not a blind date girl if it wasn’t already +evident.
Please be perfect for this. I didn’t want to do it all over again. My delicate sensibilities couldn’t handle it.
I almost snorted at myself.
The only thing delicate about me was my panties.
“Here we go,” Marie said, setting the menus on the plate. “Mr. Sloane, your date for the evening is here. Fashionably late, as always.”
“Thanks so much.” He looked up.
Our eyes met.
I drew in a sharp breath. Everything froze, and I swear to fucking God, my world stopped spinning on its goddamn axis.
They wouldn’t have done this to me.
Time was a funny thing, wasn’t it? The last time I saw the man in front of me, we were eighteen. It was our high school graduation. He’d held eye contact a fraction of a second too long, and in that fraction, I’d plotted his murder no less than seven times.
I couldn’t be looking at Elliott Sloane, the one person who’d once broken my heart without ever knowing it.
No. There was no way. Chloe and Mellie knew what he’d done to me. There was no way they’d do this to me.
Yet, here I was, standing in front of him, on a blind date those bitches had set up for me.
I was going to kill them.
“No. Elliott?” I breathed.
“Shit. Peyton.” His chair scratched against the floor as he stood up too quickly.
“What the…” I couldn’t breathe. What the hell was happening?
Marie looked at us both and slowly set the menus on the table in front of us. “My name is Marie, and I’ll be your server this evening. Let me know if you need anything.”
With that, she turned.
I wanted to scream at her. Tell her there was no way he was my blind date. That she’d made a mistake. That she couldn’t leave me here alone with him.
How could this be?
My heart was thundering. It was pounding so hard the echo of its beat in my ears was deafening, drowning out everything else.
What. The. Fuck?
Elliott looked around. “We should sit down.”
I shook my head. “No. This is ridiculous.”
He slid into his seat. “Then, by all means, be the center of attention. Nothing much has changed.”
I wanted to snap his handsome little head off his neck.
I threw my purse onto the other chair and sat down opposite him. Without replying to him, I schooled my expression into one of extreme annoyance—eyebrows set, jaw tight, lips pursed—and threw my hand up for Marie’s attention.
I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of responding to him.
God, I hated him. I couldn’t believe I was here. I couldn’t believe he was here.
This was the boy who’d stood me up at junior prom. Who’d egged my car when I’d told him to go fuck himself when he asked me to senior homecoming, then who proceeded to shamelessly convince my date to ghost me.
He’d humiliated me.
And, because I’d mistakenly allowed my stupid little self to crush on him to the point of no return, he’d had a crush, too.
Except his crush had been my heart in the palm of his hand.
And now, I wanted to crush his neck between my own.
“Are y’all ready to order drinks?” Marie asked, doing her best to look disinterested in our situation.
“Wine. Large. Very large.” I slammed the drinks menu down in front of her. I hadn’t looked at it—I hadn’t needed to. “We’re done.”
She hesitated, and that gave Elliott just enough time to order.
“I’ll have a Coors. Thank you.” He handed her his menu, shooting her a smile before looking at me. “You’re ruder than I remember.”
I stared at him.
I didn’t want to talk to him. I wanted to punch him the face.
Hmm. Maybe getting alcohol wasn’t the smartest idea, after all.
I folded my arms across my chest and stared at him. I had nothing to say to him.
Actually, that was a lie. I had plenty to say to Elliott Sloane, and every single thing started with, “Why?”
But nothing I wanted to say right now.
Right now, I wanted to ask him how he dared be so handsome. How he dared show up here with that perfectly coiffed brown hair. How he dared look at me with those captivating eyes the color of rich chocolate.
How he dared speak my name from between those full, pink lips. How he dared to be anywhere near me with all of that plus a stubbled jaw that was prime for stroking. Or those arms that, with one flex, could surely put a girl’s eye out.
I wanted to ask him how he dared sit across this goddamn table and the first word out of his mouth be anything but a fucking apology.
But, I didn’t. I swallowed the words. Ate them, along with my anger.
Well, most of it.
I let a little of it simmer below the surface. Let it slowly bubble away right down low.
Marie brought our drinks over and set them down on the table in front of us. “Are y’all ready to order?”
“No, thank you,” Elliott answered. “Could we have another ten minutes?”
Marie looked at me. I shrugged a shoulder non-committally. I didn’t care. I was stuck here anyway.
Walking out would only cause a scene, and despite my high school reputation for being a drama queen, that was the last thing I wanted.
“You got it.” Marie tucked her pad back into her pocket and left us to it.
Elliott looked at me. “So, you’re not going to say anything?”
“I don’t have anything to say to you,” I replied simply.
“Not even about how we ended up here?”
I curled my fingers around the stem of my wine glass. “For that,” I said, lifting it, “You can thank Mellie Rogers and Chloe Collins.”
His lips slowly curved up into an amused smile. “The Three Musketeers are still together?”
“Some loves last forever.” I sipped my wine. “Mine for them has just run its course.”
“I’m confused.” Elliott sat back, tilting his head to the side. “Why is this their fault?”
I put the glass down and tugged at the collar of my blazer. “Between them and my brother, this is all their fault.”
“You’ve lost me, Peyt.”
“My name is Peyton,” I said, looking him dead in the eye. “And you damn well know that.”
I couldn’t decide if the glint in his eye was amused or annoyed.
“You’ve lost me. Peyton.” He almost added my name as an afterthought.
“Let’s order food first. Apparently, I’m here for the evening.” I caught Marie’s eye and nodded for her to come over.
Elliott opened his menu and looked at it. “What’s good here?”
“Everything.” That was my standard answer. “Depends what you want.”
“Y’all ready to order?” Marie asked.
I folded my menu and handed it to her. “I’ll have the catfish po’boy, please.”
“You got it, Peyt. And for you, sir?” She turned to Elliott.
“I’ll have the same. Thanks.” He passed her the menu, and when she’d gone, looked back at me. “Well? How is this date the fault of your sidekicks?”
I bristled, sitting upright. “They’re not my sidekicks.”
“Funny. Wasn’t that always the case in high school?”
“You really don’t want to flash back to sharing high school opinions.” My voice held the edge of the taste of anger I’d kept hold of. “Mine won’t be popular.”
His eyebrows shot up. “You look older and you sound older, but you don’t act like it.”
I pushed my napkin away. “Screw this. I’m not doing this. I didn’t want to be here in the first place. Sitting here opposite you just solidifies this as a giant crock of shit.”
“Hey, hey!” Elliott held out his hands. “Sit down, Peyton. I’m sorry. I just…You make me feel like I’m eighteen again.”
I hit him with a steady gaze. “Does that include being unable to hide a boner or make it last longer than thirty seconds?”
“Just the hiding thing. The boner has been there since I saw you walk in here.”
If I were a blusher like Mellie, I’d be a goner.
Luckily for me, it took a lot more than cock talk to make me blush.
“And it can stay there,” I said slowly. “Now, are you gonna put your inner asshole away long enough for me to tell you how we ended up on this godforsaken date?”
“When you put it like that…” He leaned back in his chair and looked at me, fingers clasped around the base of his beer bottle.
Great. This was going well.
I sighed and tucked my hair behind my ear. “Dominic decided to challenge me to find out if you could sleep with someone three times and not fall in love with them.”
His eyebrows shot up. “And I’m assuming you’re the test subject.”
“At your service,” I said dryly. “So, because I simply can’t lose—”
“—Here I am.” I sat back, too. Did I?
Did I tell him I owned PAD? And that was how we got here?
Fuck it. I did. I was going to tell him.
“And you got roped into this, because, well.” I twirled the stem of my glass between my finger and thumb. “I own Pick-A-Dick.”
He choked on the mouthful of beer he’d just taken. The glass bottle made a thundering clunk as he slammed it down on the table so he could smack his chest.
Shit. That felt good.
I leaned back with a smug smile curling my lips. Surprise, asshole.
“You own the hook-up website?” he finally said after a moment of staring at me like I had two heads.
I nodded. “Dom and Chloe own the sister dating site. We all went into business together.”
He raised his eyebrows. “Does that mean you saw my submission?”
A derogatory snort escaped me before I could stop it. “If I’d seen your submission, I’d have printed it off and burned it in my kitchen sink.”
“Does that mean Chloe and Mellie saw it?”
“Oh, yeah. They saw it. And it’ll be the last submission the bitches ever see,” I muttered, bringing my wine glass to my mouth.
Elliott’s eyes sparkled as he fought back a laugh. “I would agree, but how likely are they to help you win this dare?”
“I don’t care. I’m about to find another person to carry out this absurdity with. I’d rather die than sleep with you.”
“You wound me,” he replied dryly. “Which is all the more reason to sleep with me.”
“Because I hurt your feelings?”
“No, because you hate my guts, so there’s zero chance of you ever falling in love with me. Hell, I’d die before I let you.”
I paused. He did have a point. Having sex with somebody I already held a grudge against would work in my favor, especially if that somebody was Elliott Sloane.
Before I could answer, our food was brought over. After assuring Marie we didn’t need anything, she left us to it.
I picked up a super-long fry and chewed down it.
Was I seriously considering this?
I glanced over at him. He was handsome. Devastatingly so, but then, he always had been. If his personality matched his looks…
Every female in the world would be fucked. Ovaries would explode from just being in his presence.
I was seriously considering this.
In a weird way, it made sense. I was attracted to him, and since I already hated him, there really was no chance I’d ever have feelings for him.
I clicked my tongue and reached for my wine. Elliott looked over at me as he bit into his sandwich. He definitely had a point…
Was I really going to do this? With him?
I was. Jesus, I was.
“Fine.” I put my wine glass down and looked at him. “I’ll bite my tongue and have no-strings sex with you three times to prove my brother wrong.”
He held up his hands. “Whoa, I never said I’d do it.”
I raised my eyebrows. “Really? You make a point, then try to tell me you aren’t going to do this?”
“I said you had a reason to sleep with me. I never said I had one to sleep with you.”
“I see you’re just as much of an insufferable asshole as you were in high school.”
“And you’re as painfully frustrating as you were.”
“I’m not going to offer it again. You’re either in, or I’m leaving right now and going to shower six times to rinse the memory of the worst date ever from my mind.”
Elliott sighed. “Well, who knows when the next time I’ll be able to have a date will be? And I guess there are worse people I could have sex with than you.”
“Wow. Talk dirty to me.”
His lips tugged up. “There’s only one condition,” he said.
“I don’t know if I want to hear this.”
“I’m not going to ask to tie you up or do anything hugely kinky, Peyton. If I wanted kink, I’d tape your mouth shut.”
I was regretting this already.
I glared at him and tapped my fingernails against the bottom of my wine glass impatiently.
He glanced at my rhythmic tapping before meeting my eyes. “We’re going to your place. I don’t want to explain to my babysitter why I’m bringing a random woman home.”
“Your babysitter?” I blinked at him.
One of his eyebrows quirked up. “You don’t know I have a daughter?”
“You have a daughter?” My own eyebrows disappeared into my hairline.
“I have a daughter,” he confirmed. “She’s three, and currently sleeping. And since my babysitter is my mom and they’re at my house because my dad is sick, I’d really rather not take you there.”
“How do you have a daughter?” I asked. I felt like my head was going to explode. “And why are you out with me when she’s at your house?”
“Well,” he started, “I have a daughter because I had this little thing called—”
“Don’t be a dick.”
He choked back a laugh. “She lives with me, full-time. I’m only here because my mother made me start dating, but I’d rather not date, and just hook-up. Even though the last time I did that I ended up with seven pounds of a tiny human to be responsible for.”
I wanted to ask so many questions. Why she lived with him. Where her mom was. What their relationship was.
But, I didn’t. Questions were bad, but this was good. He didn’t want anything serious, I just needed to prove a point, and nothing really would ever happen, because not only was falling in love with him completely out of the question, I had no desire to be the person who took on someone else’s child.
Or even my own. I’d leave that to my friends and be the cool aunt.
“Well, I can assure you I’m fully protected, and there’s an unopened jumbo box of Trojan condoms in my nightstand. No tiny humans for me.” I picked up my wine glass and looked at him. “Do we have a deal? We’ll have sex three times in two weeks and never see each other again.”
Elliott looked at me for a long moment. “Done.”
Amazon US → http://amzn.to/2lILuh5
Amazon UK → http://amzn.to/2DTFrgV
Amazon CA → http://amzn.to/2Cw3k1V
Amazon AU → http://amzn.to/2Cxl900
iBooks → http://bit.ly/TheHookUpExperimentiBooks
B&N → http://bit.ly/TheHookUpExperimentBN
Kobo → http://bit.ly/TheHookUpExperimentKobo