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Authors: Jenny Hayut

Tags: #bounty hunter, #new adult, #romance books new release, #romance and suspense, #cars and sex, #badass alpha male, #romance alpha male

Shifting Gears

BOOK: Shifting Gears
10.53Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


When safe, sensible, and ever-awkward
veterinarian Nicolette (Niki) Stringer first lays eyes on bounty
hunter Holt Maddox, all she can think is
. He leaves
her breathless from the start, and she soon becomes addicted to him
and the bliss he gives her. Then, just like that, he leaves, taking
Niki’s heart and confidence with him.

When Holt returns to Coral Springs three years
later, it seems he wants to pick up where he left off: with Niki in
his bed. But there are unanswered questions, and soon she will
discover shocking truths that leave her torn between her desires
and protecting herself from heartbreak again.



Shifting Gears

By Jenny Hayut



Shifting Gears

Jenny Hayut


Published by Jenny Hayut at

Copyright © 2014, Jenny Hayut

Edited by

Cover Art by


This ebook is licensed for your personal
enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to
other people. If you would like to share this book with another
person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If
you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not
purchased for your use only, then please return to
and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work
of this author.




Much love to my husband and children for their
patience and for always knocking on the door of the bat cave.
Thanks to Jessica, Bonnie, Jaime, The Genius, Elaine, and the
office crew for reading and rereading and keeping me motivated!
Love you girls! Thanks to my awesome editor, Danielle Fine, for
going the distance and back again with me! And, finally, thanks to
Bill for owning the car that brought Holt to life.



Table of Contents

























Chapter 23

About the Author

Connect with her Online


Chapter 1

The band is about to go on stage, and
I’m standing at the bar, waiting. I’m having fun, despite all the
guys lurking around, like they always do, looking for a piece of
ass for the night. No slim pickings for them as it’s crowded as
hell, and I’m lodged between two guys clearly finding their prey
and going in for the kill. The voices are all around me, laughing,
talking. The music beats against me, vibrates off me. So glad Cass
talked me into coming out to celebrate.

I got promoted to head veterinarian at
the animal hospital where I’ve been working since I was a teenager.
I didn’t expect it to happen that quickly, but given the
circumstances, with the sudden and unexpected retirement of Doctor
Caravan, he decided I was the best choice for the job. I accepted
it graciously, but with a heavy heart, because he was my mentor, my
friend. Still, it was, after all, my dream come true, giving me a
sense of fulfillment—something I hadn’t had in so long.

The bartender makes his way over,
sliding the shot glasses in front of me. He must be new. I haven’t
seen him working the bar before.

“Thanks,” I say, as he nods and walks
away. My hands are on the two glasses, grabbing them from the
already wet and sticky bar, when I hear it. A howl of laughter. A
chill courses through my body as I stand motionless.

Oh my God, please don’t
let it be. It can’t be.

It’s coming from the other end of the

Don’t turn around, Niki.
Do. Not. Turn. Around.

I try my best, but I can’t help it.
I’m possessed by the haunting sound. I need to know. The sea of
faces rushes past me as I search until I find what I’m looking for.

Oh my God. No.

I can’t move. I can’t

Even though his back is to me, I know
it’s him. Those broad shoulders, those chiseled arms. I can never
forget that body.

My heart is pounding. A wave of
anxiety, fear, and sheer primal hatred overcomes me. Yet, somehow,
my body is tingling and swelling in parts it shouldn’t be. He looks
as sexy as the day he left. God.

The heat is building, the bile working
its way up. Dammit.

Niki, don’t do this shit.
Walk away. It doesn’t matter. He doesn’t matter.

It’s been three years since he
disappeared. No explanation. No phone call. No nothing. How dare he
show his face here, the place he knows I love? He had to remember
that. He was here with me, back then, by my side, reminding me and
everyone else that I was his.

My head is heavy, spinning. Please
God, please don’t let me pass out, where he’ll see and feel
obligated to come over and help. How pathetic would that

His body is turned toward her. Amber.
The woman who still makes me want to learn how to fire a gun. She
doesn’t matter either...but, dammit, she does.

She’s sitting there, on the barstool.
Her bleached blond hair draped across one shoulder and her boobs
spilling out from the one-size-too-small tank top she has on. The
rhinestones spelling out “sexy bitch” across her chest scream
Amber. Slutty, tacky. Her eye-popping cherry red lipstick matches
the tiny skintight shorts she’s wearing. She’s gliding her spiked
heel up and down against his thigh, and I can’t help staring at
him. The man I never expected to see again. Ever. Holt

She opens her long, thin legs and
wraps them around his waist, drawing him closer. Yeah, totally the
kind of woman he’s supposed to be with. He leans down to her,
talking in her ear. He’s telling her what he wants to do to her,
I’m sure of it. She giggles back at him, twisting her hair around
her polished finger. The heat of my nerves is building in my chest,
the sudden need to throw up controlling me. She’s still laughing at
whatever he’s saying when he straightens and grabs his beer bottle
to take a swig.

I can’t let him see me standing here,

Damn it, Niki.

But I can’t. My feet are molded to the
floor, my eyes locked on him. Finally, just when I think I’ve
summoned enough sense to walk away, to hide in the crowd, he turns
and glances in my direction.

I gasp. Loud. His eyes are on me, but
his face: no expression. It seems like forever, though it’s
probably only seconds, but then he turns away from me, back to her.
As he does, I can’t help but think of the night Amber gloated to me
after he’d vanished. Someone like me, dull and plain, would never
keep his attention. He’d proved her right. He. Doesn’t. Even.
Remember. Me.

There’s a tug on my shoulder, and I
turn to see Cass, my best friend since fourteen, standing beside

“Did you get the...? Holy shit,

She’s seeing what I’m seeing. I’m not
dreaming. Shit.

“What the hell is he doing back here,
and with that trash?”

I can’t speak.

“Give me the word, Niki. You know I’m
ready. Been waiting a long time for it.”

God, I need to take control of her.
Fast. She’s not like me. Cass doesn’t hold back. She isn’t afraid
to speak up. Whatever’s on her mind, she’s not subtle about it; she
throws it in your face. I grab her arm to stop her from what I’m
sure she’s about to do.

“Forget it. I don’t think he even
remembers me.” I choke on my words and try to hold back my

She turns to me, and her crumpled up
face says it all. She’s as conflicted as I am.

My brain is screaming at me to run
like hell, but I ignore it. He took everything from me once. I
won’t let him again. Especially not tonight. This is
night. My little piece of happy. Celebrating
friends at The Rox,
favorite place to be.
I am not going to let it be tarnished or spoiled by Holt Maddox,
showing up out of nowhere, for the second time in my life. I don’t
know whether he’s back to stay or passing through, but I hope like
hell it’s the latter.

“Cass, let’s go before someone gets
our spot.”

I force myself to turn away from Holt
and face the bar. The shot glasses are in my hand, and I pass one
to her then toss mine back. The alcohol burns my throat, and I pick
up my bottle of Stella to soothe it. I take a deep breath and walk
away from the bar, away from Holt, and we go listen to my favorite
band, Galaxy Dynamite.

Like my books, music keeps my head in
the clouds, and at The Rox, it soars, especially when Galaxy

Tonight though, with the thought of
Holt being here, back after all this time, I don’t hear a single
note. Gavin, their lead singer, strums his guitar. He pulls the
microphone to his mouth, and I’m sure he’s singing, but I can’t
hear him. Everything’s been muted.

I sneak a glance at the bar where I
saw Holt. He’s gone. No sign of Amber either. Probably in the
bathroom sucking him off. I tilt my head back to look at the
exposed, wrap- around balcony, crowded with more fans.

He’s passing through. Not back.
He’s not staying

“I saw him walk out, hun. A while ago.
Relax. He’s gone.”

Cass, reading my thoughts as usual.
I’ve always been an open book to her. She knows when I’m anxious,
when I’m near melting point. She’s seen it. Lived through it with

When Galaxy finishes their set, we
make our way back to our table. I pass Clay, on the dance floor
doing his thing. He and his roommate, Angie, are both here
celebrating my promotion with me too.

Clay stops me and pulls me to dance
with him. I push him off, like I always do. The dance floor is his
haven. Me, not so much. He loves to dance and loves to flirt. Both
come so naturally to him. The girls (and guys) love him.

He’s a model and sexy as sin. Most
guys with looks like his, the ones who come off arrogant and stuck
on themselves, I avoid. But Clay’s different. He doesn’t let his
slender, six-one, tight and toned body control him. He owns it,
from his sandy blond hair to his green eyes, no doubt, but his
heart…like gold.

“Come on, Niki, one dance. Let loose a
little. Come on. We’re supposed to be celebrating.”

The two girls nearby, clearly trying
to keep his attention by shifting their asses back and forth and
throwing their hair back, turn their heads and look my way when he
stops me.

“Clay, no, stop,” I plead to

“Come on, Niki-cakes, dance with me.
You never dance with me.”

He pouts, and I can’t help but laugh
at him.

“Not happening. And that lip stuck out
like that is not going to work on me. Save it for those girls over
there. Now let go so I can put my bets down before it’s too

The girls and I have a game we play
whenever we go out. Clay always racks up on phone numbers, and we
like to wager whether the night will get him more guys’ numbers or
girls’. It’s fun, for me, at least, to live through Clay. I could
never be like him. Never have that kind of confidence. And it keeps
my mind off how pathetic my non-dating life is.

BOOK: Shifting Gears
10.53Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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