Authors: Lauren H. Kelley
PULL ME CLOSER
First in A Series | A Suits in Pursuit Novel
LOVESPIN PUBLISHING | ATLANTA
This is a
work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
This is an original
publication of LoveSpin Publishing, LLC.
Copyright © 2013 by Lauren H. Kelley.
Closer to You
by Lauren H. Kelley. Copyright © 2013 by Lauren H. Kelley.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including scanning, photocopying, recording, or other electronic or
mechanical methods, without prior written consent of the Publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in book reviews.
Cover design by LoveSpin Publishing.
To my editor fabulous Yolanda Barber who challenged me every step of the way.
To my friends and extended family members who encouraged me to pursue my dream.
Sunday, June 25, 2011
I won’t compromise. If that means I have to be alone, that’s what I’ll do.” Kerrigan lifted her bare left hand, staring at the finger where the wedding band rested on normal women her age. “Don’t take this the wrong way, Ash, but that’s the difference between you and me. I’m looking for Mr. Right, and you’re looking for Mr. Right in the Moment.”
hoarsely. “Correction, I’m looking for Mr. Perfectly Fine to Fu...”
Kerrigan choked a
laugh back, interrupting her. “Ash! Don’t be crude.”
“You know me. I
speak the truth, even when the truth is ugly.”
Kerrigan loved her best friend, but she
often thought Ashley could benefit from a filter. “I like truth, but must you be so primitive?”
“I have needs, and you do too if you’d stop thinking with your head long enough to feel the yearning between your thighs. You’re looking for Mr. Perfect and newsflash, he doesn’t exist.” Ashley quipped, the words rolling off her tongue with the slightest hint of bitterness.
I’m not looking for anyone.” Kerrigan paused, thrumming her index finger on her temple. “I’m watching that motivational speaker Laura Stephens.” Shuffling over to the sofa, she plopped down, narrowed her eyes and mouthed silent words, mimicking the talk show host who must have consumed one too many energy drinks. “Laura says that if I want to make my life sing I, then I simply need to take the first step.” Kerrigan muttered, her tone mocking. “She’s right about one thing—I have to try something new. I’ve lived in Texas, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York in less than five years.” Her chest tightened, and she wiped light beads of moisture that dampened her forehead. “God! Just saying that stresses me out. I can’t do this anymore.”
“Kerri, you’ve been a road warrior for eight years. No one can keep that pace forever. Send me your résumé. I’m biased, but living together in the same city will be so exciting.”
her legs across the sage microfiber sofa, Kerrigan grabbed her laptop from the cocktail table and huffed. “All right, fine. I’ll email my resume to you now.” She hadn’t meant to sound annoyed. “Sorry, Ash, I know you’re only looking out for me. The thought of moving to another new city is slightly terrifying. You know, if I could open my own little boutique and settle into a quiet non-turbulent existence, I would.”
Kerri, you know I love you, but you’ve talked about that boutique for years, and you haven’t done anything to move that dream forward. Besides, marketing is your thing—you’re a genius. Moving to Atlanta might be the best move for you. There’s so much to do, and so many people to meet. Even you might find somebody special.”
rolled her eyes and signed into her email account. “What’s that supposed to mean? I’ve done my fair share of dating, thank you very much. Sure, I haven’t dated tons of men like you have, but I don’t have the time, energy or patience, and I have high standards.”
Uh huh. Standards? Seriously Kerri, when was the last time you had a serious relationship or short-term boy-toy for that matter? When’s the last time you went on a date?” Ashley’s sarcasm made Kerrigan cringe.
seriously think something is wrong with me. I swear I’m a loser magnet.
If there’s a loser within a thirty-mile radius of me, that moron will sniff
me out.” Kerrigan rubbed the throbbing vein in her neck. “That’s why I haven’t dated in almost three years.”
years, Kerri? I didn’t realize how much time had passed. I wouldn’t survive,” Ashley scoffed.
threw her head back and groaned. “Do you remember when I dated Michael the finance guy for two weeks?”
“Yeah, whatever happened to
him?” Ashley asked, the tone of her voice rising.
Kerrigan huffed, and
then uploaded her resume to the blank email message. “I thought he’d bore me to death. He spoke three sentences the entire two weeks we dated. Remember the dude with all the tattoos?”
He wasn’t even your type. You saw his body and went berserk,” Ashley chided.
debate the truth. She did like the way his biceps bulged. “I can’t believe he walked five miles from the bus stop to my house for our first date. The whole time, he kept trying to put his grimy little hands all over me.” The thought made Kerrigan’s stomach flip-flop. “He repulsed me. Did I tell you that he asked me for bus fare to get home?” Laughing so hard, Ashley erupted into a snort. Kerrigan clutched her side, soothing the ache from the laugh she so desperately needed. She ran the back of her index finger under each eye, wiping tears away.
“Like the date from hell with tattoo boy
hadn’t been enough, Craig holds the ‘ultimate loser award’.” Kerrigan dug her nails into the sofa’s seat cushion. Just the memory of his beady eyes made her want to yell at the top of her lungs. “He told a friend of his that I wasn’t good enough for his family, and I was only smart enough to open my legs for him.” Releasing a long sigh, she sank into the sofa and pushed her bottom lip out into a pout.
groaned. “Okay, so you’ve gone out with a few duds. Who hasn’t?”
traumatized. Most men just don’t excite me. If there’s no chemistry, sizzle or magic, then why should I bother, right?” Kerrigan chewed on her bottom lip.
“Hell, what if the chemistry comes
later? You’d never get the chance to find out if you swear off all men.”
remember my theory about men,” she said, sure that Ashley must be rolling her eyes by this time. “I’m not swearing off all men. I’m just avoiding most of them. If a man wants me, he’ll have to do some serious chasing, there has to be chemistry and well … he has to meet my criteria.”
“Yeah, I know all about your theory on the
four general types of men.” The acid in Ashley’s tone made Kerrigan laugh.
She covered her
heart with her hand, a pseudo gesture of being touched. “Ash, I can’t believe you remember my misters—Mr. Self-absorbed, Mr. Obsessive, Mr. Nonchalant and Mr. Chivalrous.”
“How can I forget?
Mr. Self-absorbed is the overly confident, arrogant bastard who I always seem to attract. Definitely stay away from his type. I dated Mr. Obsessive. He was so insecure and smothered me to the point that I almost suffocated.”
“Yes! Thought I’d lose my damn mind. His
lanky ass was always there, everywhere.” Ashley quipped.
laughed. Paul wasn’t so bad, but being paired with Ashley, the ultimate independent woman, had been a mistake. “Well, when I did date I’d always end up with Mr. Nonchalant. I like a laid-back guy, but there comes a time when a man has to do something with his life. Besides, living in a cardboard box is overrated. Now Mr. Chivalrous …”
Ashley interrupted. “I hate to be the bearer of
bad news, but you and every woman hoping for her proverbial knight in freaking shining armor wants Mr. Chivalrous,” Ashley chided. “Kerri, I know you believe in your theory about men, but I think you use this as an excuse to push men away. You’re gorgeous, intelligent, fun and charming. If you get this job, I'm going to hook you up.”
the throw from the sofa’s arm, Kerrigan wrapped it around her shoulders and nestled into her usual spot for moping. “Ash, I’m not looking for perfection. I want a man who’s confident, but not arrogant, who’s not afraid to show affection, but won’t smother me, and who simply enjoys life, but has goals, dreams, hopes—a job.”
Uh huh,” Ashley said, and then released an exaggerated sigh.
“I want a man who’s
considerate and caring—someone who respects me.”
You may as well include something about his looks.” Ashley said, a snicker tickling her vocal chords.
nodded her head. “A good-looking man is a bonus. I’d settle for any man who has a pulse as long as he meets my criteria.”
“And you think this
man will ride into your life on his magical unicorn or appear on your doorstep wrapped up in a bow? You have to put yourself out there, maybe even date if you want to find your man.”
I refuse to go out with a bunch of losers trying to find the right one. I want a man that leaves me breathless and makes me come alive.” The thought of a man like this made Kerrigan’s insides tingle.
“What you want is to fall in love,” Ashley said, her tone soft.
her position on the sofa, Kerrigan glanced at the television. Muted, Laura Stephens flitted back and forth across the screen in a blur of colors making wild arm gestures, rambling on in silence. “I guess you’re right. I do want to fall in love. I want to be wooed, and I won’t settle for less.”
Wooed? Really?” Ashley laughed. “What you’re looking for is a damn time machine, and I can’t help you with that, but I can help you land a new job. I’ve got more info on those two jobs I told you about.” Ashley’s excitement seeped through the phone.
, that’s great Ash. Give me details on the positions.”
“One is a junior account rep, and the other is a senior account rep
position on our national accounts team.”
frowned. A vision of her future flashed through her mind as she imagined herself sitting alone in an empty airport. “Ugh! That sounds like travel, and travel is exactly what I’m trying to avoid.” Every Monday, schlepping to Los Angeles on the redeye, and then back to New York that evening by seven. Tomorrows hectic work schedule gave Kerrigan palpitations. She refused to think about the Wednesday meetings in Chicago.
Well, I do know these positions are for local accounts. The clients are national players, but they’re headquartered here in town. Very little travel required. The agency is small, has a laid-back environment and is located in the heart of downtown. The CEO is awesome.”
interest piqued. A fresh start in a new city is what she needed to help her regain control of the crazy that had become her life.
I’ll send your résumé to the hiring manager in the morning. Her name is Marie Henderson. Your background and experience is perfect. Leave the job to me. All you need to do now is find a place to live.” She paused. “And Kerri, if you really want to find a man, maybe you need to open yourself to new experiences.”
hit the send button on her email. “I’m going to try being more open-minded and open myself to new adventures, but I’m not compromising. I want my Mr. Right.” Every night she sent a silent prayer heavenward. Kerrigan waited for this man, and he would be worth the wait.
A blaring sound jarred her from a deep sleep. Where am I? Who's calling this early? Kerrigan stretched across the hotel bed to the mahogany nightstand, her fingers almost unable to reach her iPhone. She hated overnight business trips and stays in a strange hotel room.
,” she said, her thoughts muddled and not awake fully.
“Hi, may I speak with Kerrigan Mulls please?”
Staving off a yawn, “This is Kerrigan,” she muttered.
, Kerrigan, this is Joan Washington, a recruiter with A.C. Advertising. I received your résumé. You have quite an impressive background. I’d like to bring you in to interview with Marie Henderson. Are you still interested in the junior account rep position?”
The woman’s voice sounded
too cheery for a five o’clock morning call. Kerrigan’s foggy brain clearing a little, she remembered the time difference between Los Angeles and Atlanta.
her throat. “Yes, that’s right.” The words rolled off Kerrigan’s tongue. She was impressed with the evidence of her grogginess expertly masked.
I’ll coordinate the schedule and be in touch later this week with details. If you pass the first round of interviews, expect to come back to meet with our CEO.”
, Joan. Thank you.” She yawned, quickly muting the call.