Finding Dandelion (Dearest #2)

ABOUT THE BOOK

 

When soccer all-star Jax Avery collides with Dani Hart on his twenty-first birthday, their connection is instantaneous and explosive.  For the first time in years, Jax isn’t interested in his usual hit-it and quit-it approach.

 

But Dani knows better. Allowing herself a night to be carefree and feel the intensity of their attraction won’t change anything when it comes to dealing with a player. So when Jax doesn’t recognize Dani the next time he sees her, it shouldn’t be a total shock. The fact that he’s her new roommate’s brother? That’s a shock.

 

Dani doesn’t regret that night with Jax, just the need to lie about it. Since her roommate has made it clear what she thinks about her brother’s “type” of girl, the last thing Dani wants is to admit what happened.

 

Jax knows he’s walking a fine line on the soccer team. One more misstep and he’s off the roster, his plans to go pro be damned. Except he can’t seem to care. About anything… except for the one girl who keeps invading his dreams.

 

Despite Jax’s fuzzy memory of his hot hookup with his sister’s friend, he can’t stay away from her, even if that means breaking his own rules. But there are bigger forces at work–realities that can end Dani’s college career and lies that can tear them apart.  Jax realizes what he’s losing if Dani walks away, but will he sacrifice his future to be with her? And will she let him if he does?

 

Finding Dandelion
, the second book in the
Dearest
series, is a stand-alone novel. This New Adult romance is recommended for readers 18+ due to mature content.

 

ORDER OF BOOKS:

Dearest Clementine
, #1

Finding Dandelion
, #2

Kissing Madeline
, #3 (Expected publication: late 2014)

 

 

 

 

 

FINDING DANDELION

LEX MARTIN

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Dandelion Copyright © 2014 by Lex Martin

 

All rights reserved. This book may not be reproduced or transmitted in any capacity without written permission by the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages for review purposes.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

 

This New Adult contemporary romance is recommended for readers 18+ due to mature content.

 

Copy editing by RJ Locksley

 

Cover design by Twin Cove Design

Cover image © Shutterstock.com/Linda Moon

 

ISBN 978-0-9915534-1-9

 

 

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Copyright

Dedication

 

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Epilogue

To My Readers

Kissing Madeline

Dearest Clementine

Acknowledgments

Contact Lex

Preview of Deep Blue by Jules Barnard

 

 

 

 

 

To Matt & my little bears

 

 

 

 

“If you don’t fight for what you love, don’t cry for what you lose.”

- Anonymous

 

 

 

 

PROLOGUE

 

- Dani -

 

Goosebumps line my skin as Travis threads his fingers through mine. Closing my eyes, I brace myself.

“You sure you want to do this, Dani?” He sounds nervous even though he’s the one who sold me on the idea in the first place. “It’s going to hurt. A lot.”

Brady laughs. “Man, don’t scare her.”

Brady is hot, all ridges and taut muscles and menacing tattoos, and I know he’s staring down at my naked back right now. He’s so out of my league.

Of course this is the only way I’d get a guy like that to touch me.

Swallowing, I nod and clutch my shirt to my chest. “Let’s do this. I’m not chickening out.”

I’ve done my homework, researched optimal positioning, pain, methods, everything. Now I just have to take the plunge.
This is going to be my year of firsts.

“That a girl. I promise I’ll be gentle.” Brady moves away from me, and the buzzing starts and stops.

Travis’s grip tightens as he leans down and whispers, “If your mother knew you were doing this, she’d kill me.”

I yank my hand from his and swat my best friend. “What’s the matter with you? Now is
not
the time to talk about my mother.”

A black gloved hand runs across my shoulder as Brady lowers the strap on my lacy, black bra. Hell, yes, I wore my sexy underwear.

He lowers his voice. “This is going to be cold.”

All of my muscles tense, and he chuckles.

“Honey, relax. This isn’t my first time.” Brady’s voice is sultry and deep, sending chills across me. He rubs my skin slowly, the smell of alcohol thick in the air. “I’ll take good care of you. What’s in your head is worse than the reality. Trust me. It’ll hurt at first, but you’ll get used to it, and you’ll only be sore for a couple of days.”

Shit. I’m really going through with this.

I glance over my shoulder and look him in the eye. Brady smiles, and butterflies swirl in my stomach. He presses a finger into my trapezius muscle. “Right here?”

Nodding, I close my eyes and rest my chin on the back of the chair.

“This is beautiful, by the way.” He taps on the translucent piece of paper.

“It’s the North Star. To help me find my way.” I say this more for myself.

Brady presses the paper against me and rubs. Then the buzzing starts again, and the needle cuts into my skin.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

(Three weeks later)

 

- Dani -

 

My fingertip traces the lines on my shoulder where my tattoo sits, muscle memory taking my hand to the axis where North and South intersect and where I hope to find balance. A mooring. Some stability.

I can feel it in my bones. Hope. A smile tilts my lips as I start to buy into my pep talk.

My smile grows… until my new co-worker drops a stack of work in front of me.

Laura gives me an empty smile. “I already have plans this weekend, so I’m leaving this for you. As the marketing major, this should be right up your alley, right?”

Our junior year of college hasn’t started yet, and she’s already bailing on me. Biting my cheek, I reach around to re-stack the documents.

Laura and I are Professor Zinzer’s new assistants. We’ll be coordinating all of the other work-study students in the art lab this fall while we prep materials for his classes. He always takes on one art student and one business student to manage his office. Because my best friend Travis had Zinzer last semester, I got the inside track on this gig and beat out dozens of other business applicants.

I tuck the pile of work into my messenger bag, not bothering to smile.

“Zin needs it by Monday,” she chirps.

In other words, he needs it the Monday of Labor Day weekend.
My jaw tightens.

Laura doesn’t look even remotely guilty for dumping this on me. As she tosses her hair over her shoulder, she says, “Thanks, Dani.” Her not-so-subtle appraisal of me makes me squirm. “You’re so… nice.”

If I were a cartoon, steam would be pouring from my ears. I’ve never hated a word so much in my life. If one more person tells me I’m nice, I’m going to lose it.

Nice gets me dumped on. Pushed around. Ignored.

When I was a kid, I thought I merely had manners. What the hell is wrong with being polite? But now I see this characteristic doesn’t cut it in Boston where everyone is so much edgier. The Midwest is just a friendlier place. In Chicago, when someone runs into you, the person says, “Excuse me.” Here, I get cursed at or shoved. I’ve gotten used to this faster pace of life, but it doesn’t diminish the fact that I can be such a goddamn pushover.

My mother would tell me to “fuck nice.” I chuckle to myself. She has a mouth that’s worse than half the frat boys at this school.

I guess that’s what happens when you almost die of angiosarcoma.

The laughter withers on my lips, and I blink back the sudden onslaught of emotion that comes whenever I think of my mom. She fought like hell to survive, even after she lost all of her hair and both breasts. And she beat it. For now at least.

By the time I get to my dorm suite, I’m still wrestling with what I wish I had told Laura. Why can’t I find the words when I’m in the moment? As I stare at the pile of work that sits near the edge of my desk, a tight ball of frustration coils in my stomach. I’m going to be holed up all weekend preparing my professor’s brochures instead of unpacking.

My eyes drift to the wall of boxes in the small room I’m sharing with a girl I met last semester. Jenna is a riot. We took a sociology class together. It was such a snooze that to entertain ourselves, we’d write pervy notes to each other to see who could make the other laugh. She always won. And, yeah, my professor hated me. But, come on—when Jenna wrote, “I wanna choke on your thick man-slinky,” I couldn’t help but bust out laughing.

Her Southern drawl and perfect blonde hair throws you off. First you think she might be a really uptight biatch, but then she slings an arm around you and acts like she’s known you for ages. I’m not totally sure how she’s BFFs with our other roommate, though. I’ve only met Clem once, but the girl is a glacier. Hello, she rolled her eyes at me when I asked if she liked
The
Vampire Diaries.

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