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Authors: C.L. Parker

Getting Rough

BOOK: Getting Rough
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C. L. Parker
is a romance author who writes stories that sizzle. She’s a small-town girl with big-city dreams and enough tenacity to see them come to fruition. Having been the outgoing sort for all her life – which translates to ‘she just wouldn’t shut the hell up’ – it’s no wonder Parker eventually turned to writing as a way to let her voice, and those of the people living inside her head, be heard. She loves hard, laughs until it hurts, and lives like there’s no tomorrow. In her world, everything truly does happen for a reason.

 

Visit C. L. Parker online:

 

www.clparkerofficial.com
 

www.facebook.com/clparkerofficial
 

www.twitter.com/theclparker
 

 

Monkey Business Trio

Playing Dirty

Getting Rough

COPYRIGHT

 

Published by Piatkus

 

978-0-3494-1047-0

 

All characters and events in this publication, other than those clearly in the public domain, are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

 

Copyright © 2016 by C. L. Parker

 

The moral right of the author has been asserted.

 

Excerpt from
Coming Clean
copyright © 2016 by C. L. Parker

 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher.

 

The publisher is not responsible for websites (or their content) that are not owned by the publisher.

 

PIATKUS

Little, Brown Book Group

Carmelite House

50 Victoria Embankment

London, EC4Y 0DZ

 

www.littlebrown.co.uk

www.hachette.co.uk

Getting Rough

This book is dedicated to the good people of Stonington, Maine – specifically, Lance Bradshaw, Thomas Jones, and Kelly Kolysher. I hope I did you justice and that you will one day welcome me back into your warm embrace.

 

Shaw

“Simi, where the fuck am I?” I growled into my cellphone.

“I don’t know, asshole,” would’ve been an acceptable comeback, given my level of rudeness, but my ever-professional virtual assistant kept her cool. “You’re traveling south on Upper Falls Road.”

You’re,
a contraction from a voice-recognition program. Wasn’t technology nifty? Nifty, but not a whole lot of help. Left to figure it out on my own, I had to draw only slightly conceivable conclusions. The best I could tell, the flight I’d taken to Bangor, Maine, had somehow veered off course and into the Bermuda Triangle, which I was now convinced was a wormhole to an alternate universe where interstates hadn’t yet been invented. That or all of this had been an elaborate scheme that my arch nemesis/part-time lover, Cassidy Whalen, had come up with in order to lure me away to a place where she could continue her torture routine and then eat my liver before dumping my body where no one could find it.

Truthfully, I’d be okay with the slightly creepy murder because being forced to endure that look of pity on her face every day for the foreseeable future was a fate worse than death.

I dropped my phone in the nook next to the gearshift, none too gently, thanks to my mounting frustration. I was exhausted, running on fumes after a ten-and-a-half-hour flight and nearing a two-hour drive. My stomach was gnawing at me from the inside, which I suspected was simply for the sole purpose of going in search of food on its own, since I’d placated it only with airplane peanuts.

Simi dinged, either to warn me to take it easier on her delicate structure or to issue a reminder to bust a right onto yet another state route on my journey through God’s country. Thirty-six more miles on winding roads to the island that laid claim to a small fishing village called Stonington. Cassidy’s stomping ground. What in the world was I thinking when I’d decided to hop that flight? Oh, right… I’d wanted to give her a piece of my mind. But right now, I wanted a piece of chicken to put in my belly.

Making a left into the parking lot of a gas station, I parked the compact rental car I’d been forced into when no other option had been available and got out. The cartoon chicken on the sign in the window shouldn’t have made me salivate, but it did. Maybe I was on the verge of delirium because gas station chicken wasn’t a smart decision. I’d pay for it later.

The kid behind the counter was patient as I decided between chicken chicken, chicken tenders, or chicken nuggets. As he gathered my tenders and potato wedges, I thought I’d double-check that Simi knew what she was talking about, though I might have used a hushed voice to make sure she couldn’t hear me doing so. The last thing I needed was for her to get an attitude about me not trusting her. Women could be so testy. Even virtual women.

“Hey… Dale,” I started, reading his nametag. “Is it normal for there to be a lot of back roads around here instead of interstates?”

Chicken Dale half-laughed. I guess he got that question a lot. “Yep. Where are you going?”

“Uh, Stonington,” I said, taking my boxed meal.

He drew his head back like what I’d said was unusual. “Stonington?”

“Yeah. Why, am I going in the wrong direction? I knew it,” I said, adding a curse under my breath.

“No, you’re going in the right direction. It’s just that no one goes to Stonington unless they’re a local.”

“Is that a bad thing?”

He laughed again. “Depends on who you ask.”

“Great,” I said with a sarcastic smile. “Thanks, man.” I took my box, noticing the grease stains already soaking through. “I’m not going to die from eating this, am I?”

His shrug and expression said it could go either way. I’d make it, or I wouldn’t. Oh, well. We all had to go sometime.

After paying for my heart attack in a box and bottled water, I got back on the road. At least what was supposed to pass for a road, anyway. The winding, unpainted pavement was bad enough, but the bumps along the way reminded me of being a kid in a shopping cart passing over a grooved sidewalk, the vibration from each notch making my
ahhhh
sound like a symphony of vocal acrobats. I might have even tried it out to prove a point, since there was no one else around to see me making an ass of myself. Until my phone rang, that is.

“Hello?” I cleared my throat, trying not to sound so much like a bullfrog was lodged in it. “Ben?”

“Yo, boss man!” came his far too exuberant response. “How’s Maine?”

“So far, so shitty. What’d you find for me?”

“Well, there are only two places to choose from and one is booked, if you can believe that, but I did score you a nice room at the Whalen House.”

For some reason a massive migraine decided to strike like a lightning bolt from out of nowhere. “Wait. Did you just say Whalen?”

“Yep. And it’s exactly what you think.” I could hear the smile in his voice. “Lair of the ice queen, herself. Cassidy’s parents own the joint. Per the four-and-a-half-star review, it’s a quaint little bed-and-breakfast with a family atmosphere and all the amenities of home. You should fit right in.”

I would’ve growled at him if I’d had the energy. “You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?”

“A little bit.” At least
he
was honest with me. Unlike Cassidy.

“There’s no other choice?”

“Nope.”

“I’m firing you when I get back.”

“Sure thing, boss. In the meantime, I’m pushing Denver’s contract through to make everything real nice and legal.”

Denver “Rocket Man” Rockford was where all of this had started. Cassidy Whalen and I had been in competition to represent the most coveted quarterback in the league and earn a slice of his pie, along with a partnership at Striker Sports Entertainment. I’d won. On a technicality. Denver had offered the contract to Cassidy first, but she’d turned it down and insisted he give it to me. All after she’d found out I wasn’t the rich playboy I’d let everyone believe I was. If she hadn’t been so goddamn nosy, so judgmental, so determined to pick me apart like I was a toad spread-eagle on a metal tray, I wouldn’t be in a stupid tin can on a fucked-up road heading to a place no one else has ever even heard of.

I shoved my hand inside the greasy box, regretting it instantly when I found the scalding wedges, which must have been pulled from the vat of oil right as I’d walked into the gas station. “Son of a bitch!”

“Okay… I can hold it, if you want me to. But I’ve gotta ask. Are you actually changing your mind about scoring the biggest deal of your life?” I’d almost forgotten Ben was on the phone. Maybe I hadn’t been far off the mark with the delirium thing.

“Is that even a real question? Of course not. I just burned myself,” I said, sucking on the wounded finger.

“Funny, I didn’t feel a thing.
Ba-dum-bum-ching!
” He was a hairsbreadth away from being replaced by Simi.

“Grow up, Ben,” I said, taking charge and acting like a real boss. “Book the room, get the contract on Wade’s desk, and get me on a flight out of here first thing tomorrow morning.”

“You got it. But, uh,” he hedged.

“Spit it out.” I was quickly losing what little patience I had left.

“Just a heads-up, there’s a nasty bit of weather forecasted for Maine over the next few days. Best be prepared for a longer stay, mate.”

“Then you better make sure you get me out of here before it does because I have zero intention of sticking around any longer than I have to, so call me with the details once you’ve got them.” With that, I hung up and tried to get my greasy grub on again.

Having zero intention of sticking around any longer than I had to was exactly right, but it wasn’t like I had a reason to be here in the first place. Christ, what the fuck was I doing in friggin’ Maine? See, Cassidy Whalen had this way about her that got into my head and made me act like a stark raving mad lunatic. Because of that woman, I’d done things I’d never do. Like seduce a co-worker in order to win a contract. Or at least, I’d tried to seduce her. It had backfired. Sort of. But at least I’d gotten my rocks off a time or two in the process, so consolation prize and all. Thing was, I didn’t do second place well, and my consolation prize had skipped town and taken her delectable little pussy with her. I wasn’t okay with that.

Shit.
Why
wasn’t I okay with that? Over the years, I’d built up a wall to keep the crazy out, and bit by bit, she’d been chiseling away at it and making me
feel
things. I shivered, the horror of that thought prancing down my spine like a thousand tiny Cassidys doing their victory dances.

Don’t get me wrong, the whole feeling things didn’t mean I’d fallen in love with her or anything. No, the things she made me feel were the same emotions I’d left behind the night I’d watched a man get his head blown off right in front of my eyes. I’d been just a kid, but living in Detroit is a game of survival I’d been forced to learn early on. Feelings equaled weakness. And it wasn’t like I had parents to shelter me from all that bullshit either. My folks couldn’t give a shit whether I lived or died. Hell, they probably would have preferred I’d died because at least then maybe they could collect some sort of check on me.

With a frustrated growl, I shook the fucked-up situation with my parents out of my head because thoughts like those wouldn’t further my goals in life. They were behind me. That life was behind me. I’d been moving forward since the day I became a man at the ripe old age of nine. Having no mother to coddle you after you’d just witnessed a brutal, bloody murder sort of put things in perspective. No one was going to take care of that little boy but the man he was meant to be. And the only way anyone could ever hurt me was if I gave them the ammunition to do so.

I’d worked hard to make my way in life. And I’d taken every opportunity I could to further my cause, but being handed a contract that had originally been offered to a fucking woman smarted. It was emasculating. Though I had no intention of backing down from the mother of all contracts, regardless of how I’d gotten it, the first thing I needed to do was reclaim my manhood. And at the moment, Cassidy Whalen was holding my balls in her purse. Once I got them back, I could put her and all the touchy-feely stuff behind me once and for all.

Deer Isle–Sedgwick Bridge loomed before me like a four-hundred-foot iron sentry that would either grant access to my destination or turn into a rolling and twisting amusement park ride to dump me into the waters of Eggemoggin Reach below. Obviously, the amusement would not be mine. But as luck would have it, I crossed without issue. The steel suspension cables even stayed in place, and I was fairly certain the ominous laughter I’d thought I’d heard had been only my imagination having playtime with the natural creeks and groans of metal on metal. Christ, I needed some sleep before the boulders scattered about the landscape turned into rock people frolicking through blueberry fields.

Rock people did not exist. Just like the bumps in the road were not made by genetically altered super mole spies with ninja reflexes sent to keep track of me, and the sandbar supporting the causeway to Deer Isle would not turn into quicksand to suck me down to Middle Earth. But my phone
was
ringing.

“Shaw Matthews,” I answered, grateful for the distraction. My sleep-deprived brain needed to save the neurons still firing somewhere inside in order to help me keep my wits about me when I finally came face-to-face with the little piggy that had gone “wee, wee, wee,” all the way home. I had a thing or two to say to her, and I was perilously close to forgetting both thing one and thing two.

“Hey, bro! Whatcha doing?” Chaz asked from the other end of the line.

“I can’t be sure, but I think I’m driving through one of the seven gates to hell.” Actually, I was fairly certain, but my sleep deprivation probably meant my judgment was questionable. “What’s up, man?”

“Just wanted to give you a heads-up to tell you that you might want to keep your head down.”

What Chaz had just said made perfect sense to me, which was proof positive that I had, in fact, crossed over into an alternate universe. “Do tell,” I said, prepared for just about anything at this point.

“The girls and Quinn are catching a flight to Maine to be with Cassidy. It’s supposed to be a surprise, so don’t say anything to her or Demi’s gonna put my nuts in a sling.”

“Join the club,” I said, still picturing my own boys in Cassidy’s purse. I ignored his questioning response and instead opted to move the conversation along. “So why do I need to keep my head down?”

“Because they know you’re already there.”

Even so, it made no sense. Quinn had been the one to give me Cassidy’s flight information in the first place, telling me to go after her. Only because he thought there was something romantic going on, which he was wrong about, but still, it had gotten me the information. Oh, shit. They’d probably figured out I was the cause of their bestie’s quickie departure in the first place. Great. The last thing I needed was to have two pecking hens and a feminine-sympathizing cock to add to the little piggy I was already trying to hogtie and put back in the barn. What was I, Old fucking McDonald?

“All right, man. Thanks for the warning.” I sighed. “With any luck, I’ll be gone before they get here. I’m leaving first thing in the morning.”

“What are you doing there, anyway?”

“I’ve been asking myself the same question.”

“Well, that’s answer enough, isn’t it?”

“What? I don’t follow.”

“Dude, you jumped on a plane… Maine… girl…” His call had some serious breaks in the line.

I pulled back to look at my phone, showing only one wavering bar. I must have been driving through a dead zone, but I put the phone back to my ear. “Chaz? Hey, man, you there?”

The three beeps in my ear and “Call Failed” screen meant he wasn’t. Oh, well. I’d call him back later because if the ocean on the horizon was any indication – and I was pretty sure the compact car I was driving wasn’t going to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang into a boat – it looked like I’d reached my destination. Not that Simi had done her fucking job and told me so.
Pfft,
technology.

BOOK: Getting Rough
3.63Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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