Redemption # 2
By: Lauren Layne
Releasing April 14th, 2015
Lauren Layne’s latest novel about the healing power of redemption tells the story of a crush gone wickedly wrong, proving that what you want isn’t always what you need.
Growing up in New York, Michael St. Claire never expected to spend his twenties wearing cowboy boots. But that was before he learned about his real father, a total stranger with a family in Cedar Grove, Texas. Once in the Lone Star State, Michael meets Kristin Bellamy, who is exquisitely refined and everything Michael always thought he wanted in a woman. The only problem is that Kristin is dating Michael’s new half-brother, Devon.
Kristin’s mouthy, curvy sister Chloe has always been in love with Devon Patterson. So when Michael offers to help Chloe break up Devon and Kristin, Chloe agrees to a deal that seems too good to be true. Before long, Chloe finally gets her man, only to make a startling discovery: She no longer wants the guy she had to fight for—she wants the one who stood by her side.
After all he and Chloe have been through, Michael swears he’s damaged goods. Can Chloe convince him that love is worth the risk?
Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/01/crushed-redemption-2-by-lauren-layne.html
I watch as Kristin and Devon walk hand in hand toward the clubhouse before tearing my gaze away and going to retrieve my book. At least now that I don’t have to pretend to be soaking up Kristin’s athleticism through osmosis, I can go read in the AC.
I feel eyes on me and resist the urge to fidget when I see Michael staring at me with a dark unreadable look as he puts his stuff back into his duffel.
“It’s never going to work out the way you want it to. You and your sister’s guy.” His voice is almost bored, as if he’s discussing the weather and not the love life of a girl he doesn’t even know.
“What do you know of it?” I mutter, pulling my hair off my neck and into a messy bun on top of my head. I’m too hot and cranky to play dumb.
“More than you think.” He slings the strap up over his shoulder and continues to watch me.
“Yeah, I’m sure you have all sorts of problems with the ladies. I mean, your body is just repulsive,” I say with a general wave over his sculpted perfection. “And I bet the women just hate that keep away I’m dangerous vibe you’ve got going on.”
“You’d be surprised. It’s not always about looks.”
I give him an oh, come on look over my shoulder before I start to head in the direction of the clubhouse.
It’s always about looks. Only gorgeous people say that it isn’t.
There’s a comfy chair by the fireplace that has my name all over it. Nobody even notices that corner of the clubhouse during the summer, when it’s all about the pool and the patio. It’s is the perfect place to hide from the world.
And by world, I mean my sister, mother, and father, who like to coax me into things like family rounds of golf when Kristin and I are home for the summer.
“You’re not even going to try?” Beefcake’s voice stops me before I can retreat to my reading cave.
I stamp down a surge of irritation and turn to face him. “Try what?”
“To get the guy.”
“Listen, Beefcake,” I say, with an exaggerated sigh. “I appreciate you trying to help the little fat girl, but quit messing with me, okay? You’ve assessed the situation for about sixteen seconds. I’ve been assessing it for sixteen years. And guys like that do not fall for girls like this.” I gesture down at myself.
“It’s not about looks,” he repeats.
“Okay, don’t start that delusion again.”
“It’s about confidence.” He comes to stand in front of me. “You act like you’ve got tons of it with the smart-ass routine, but inside you’re terrified.”
I feel a little tingle of nervousness rush down my spine.
“I’m fine with how I am,” I snap.
“I’m sure you are. But you’re what, twenty?”
He shifts the bag. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but you’re too young not to be fit.”
Hurt rolls over me. I know I’m not thin, but it stings, and I start to give him a piece of my mind.
But before I can lay into him, a big hand closes over my mouth, our eyes locking as he physically stifles my retort. “Note, I didn’t say thin or skinny. I said fit. Healthy. It’s not what’s on the scale; it’s about what’s up here. It’s about getting in control of your life.”
He sets his index finger to my temple briefly before letting his arm drop, and I feel oddly out of breath, although I don’t know if it’s because I’m outraged at him for so brazenly crossing the lines of appropriateness or because it’s been a long, long time since someone’s touched me.
It annoys me that I’m not immune to his calculated man-whore routine.
But what bugs me even more is that he knows. He knows what I’ve never told anyone.
That I don’t feel in control of my own life.
“Back off, Yoda,” I say.
He shrugs and turns away, and then damn me and my always-yapping mouth, because the words are out of my mouth before I can stop them:
“Hypothetically, if I wanted your advice . . .”
He turns back, and he’s unsmiling but I don’t miss the little surge of victory in his eyes.
I’ll let him have his triumph if he can help me find this confidence he speaks of.
Most of the time, I like me just the way I am.
I’m proud of the fact that I’m smart and funny and stand up for what I believe in. But I wouldn’t mind finding an outlet for stress and heartache other than chocolate. Just for those emergency situations, ya know? Those moments you realize that the rest of the world doesn’t prize the good qualities the way your heart tells you they’re supposed to?
“What are you doing weekdays at seven?” he asks.
“Um, usually dinner with the family?”
Beefcake’s eyes roll to the sky. “Seven a.m.”
“Ohhh. Well, in that case I’m generally at spinning class, unless Pilates has run late,” I deadpan.
He stares at me in silence until I relent. “Okay, fine, I’m sleeping.”
“Not anymore you’re not. Tomorrow we meet at the fitness center here.”
I stare at him, and he stares back, and then damn it, he breaks out into a smile, a real smile, then a laugh.
“God, you should see the look of disgust on your face right now,” he says.
“Trust me, it comes straight from the heart,” I mutter.
“Give me one week, Chloe. It’s a prime spot on the personal trainer’s schedule, but I’ll keep it open for you.”
His smile slips, then fades altogether.
He never does answer me, but by the time I finally get around to curling up with my book ten minutes later, one thing is very clear to me: Michael St. Claire might be helping me, but his motives are off.
He’s doing it for him.
I just don’t know why.
Prior to becoming an author, Lauren worked in e-commerce and web-marketing. In 2011, she and her husband moved from Seattle to New York City, where Lauren decided to pursue a full-time writing career. It took six months to get her first book deal (despite ardent assurances to her husband that it would only take three). Since then, Lauren’s gone on to publish ten books, including the bestselling Stiletto series, with several more on the way in 2015.
Lauren currently lives in Chicago with her husband and spoiled Pomeranian. When not writing, you’ll find her at happy hour, running at a doggedly slow pace, or trying to straighten her naturally curly hair.
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