Thursday, September 26, 2019

The Plus Ones by Kayley Loring, Release Day

Love changes people.
I’m the first to admit that I, Keaton Bridges, used to be an immature, entitled ass.
Okay, maybe I’m the second to admit it—after Roxy Carter.
That loudmouth.
But I’ve seen what true love has done for my friends, and I want it for myself.
Somehow, I’m the only single guy left.
Somehow, she’s the only single girl.
The only time Foxy Roxy hasn’t been a loudmouth?
That time we were making out at our best friends’ wedding.
And every time we’ve seen each other in the five years since then, because she refuses to talk about it.
Well, she’s going to have to talk to me now.
It’s the dead of winter, and our six best friends were planning a getaway at a Caribbean couples-only resort.
One of the couples had to drop out, and I refuse to be left out in the cold.
All Roxy and I have to do is pretend to be in love for one week so we can spend some much-needed time with our favorite people.
And all I have to do is pretend I’m not dying to kiss her again.

I step out of the back seat of the car, and I’m greeted with a classic frown.
“Good day,” I say.
“Good day,” she mutters.
When Manny comes around to take her luggage, she presents him with all of the warmth and smiles that she’s withholding from me.
“You got your passport?” I ask. She rolls her eyes. “It’s a valid question.”
“An eye roll is a valid answer. Do you have your passport?”
I smile. “Yes, I do. Thank you so much for asking.” I gesture for her to get into the back seat. She smells like cocoa butter. I wonder if she’s already wearing suntan lotion. I wonder if she’s wearing a bikini under there. Maybe she’s planning on stripping down to her bikini as soon as we land in Antigua. That seems like the kind of thing Roxy would do.
I am so fucked.
I get into the car and keep my eyes straight ahead for a good five minutes, I’d say. At first Roxy is typing on her phone, and then I can see out of the corner of my eye that she’s watching me not look at her. She is amused. She is such a jerk.
“How’s it going over there?”
“Fine. Have you been to Antigua before?”
“No. Have you?”
“No. But I’ve been to St. Barts, the Caymans, Turks and Caicos.”
“Of course you have.”
“And you? Have you been to any of the Caribbean islands before?”
“I have not yet had the pleasure, no.”
“Why is that so surprising?”
“They’re so close to the East Coast.”
She shrugs. “I like Florida.”
I roll my eyes and say nothing.
She snorts. “Do we not approve of the Sunshine State? I thought rich white people liked the art scene and the party scene down there.”
“I’ve never been all that into art or partying.” I glance down at the leather messenger bag by her feet and see that she’s brought her laptop. “You planning to do some work while you’re there?”
“A little. Aren’t you?”
“A little.”
I look out the window and continue to think about Oiled-up Shower Roxy because I have completely lost control of my fucking brain and she just smells like she wants to be naked. That cocoa butter is sexually assaulting my olfactory system. I can feel her watching me and smirking. I am quite certain that she knows I’m having sex thoughts and that it amuses her. She is the worst fake girlfriend ever, and I just want to stick my head under her shirt for five minutes and then I’m done. It’s out of my system.
She’s not even my type.
I mean—Roxy Carter is every man’s type.
But she’s not my type.
She’s made it perfectly clear that I’m not her type.
Everyone we know has made it clear that I’m not her type.
I am well aware of the fact that I still have a tendency to long for the women I know I can’t have.
So I won’t dwell on her.
This trip isn’t about her.
It’s definitely not about showering with her.
“Wow, you are an even more fun travel companion than I expected you to be.”
I do not look over at her when I say, “I thought you would appreciate it if I gave you some space.”
“I do, thanks! And I’d really appreciate it if you’d figure out a way to be a little less obvious when you’re having pervy thoughts about me, because it’s creeping me out.”
I slowly turn to glare at her. “Trust me, it’s unpleasant for me too.”
“I’m not having sex with you.”
“I’m aware of that.”
“So pull it together and think about something else.”
“You know what, just keep talking. Every word you utter is like a bucket of cold water being tossed on my pants.”
“Did you just say the word ‘utter’ out loud? You are so pretentious. I do not utter words.”
“You’re right. I meant ‘spew.’”
“You know what—let’s go back to not talking.”
“Fantastic idea.”
“I’m sure I’ve sufficiently uttered enough boner-reducing words already.”
“I did not have a boner—I’m not eleven—and yes, you have.”

Before writing steamy romantic comedy novels, Kayley Loring had a fifteen-year career as a screenwriter in Los Angeles (under a different name). She mostly wrote PG-13 family comedies that studios would pay her lots of money for and then never make into movies. In 2017 she decided to move to the Pacific Northwest and write about all the fun stuff that she wasn't allowed to write about in those PG-13 scripts. Now she’s breathing cleaner air and writing dirtier words. It’s an adjustment she’s happily getting used to.
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