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Authors: Prescott Lane

Stripped Raw

BOOK: Stripped Raw
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Stripped Raw

By
Prescott Lane

Copyright © 2016 Prescott Lane

Kindle Edition

Cover design by Sarah Hansen, Okay Creations

Cover images from Shutterstock

Editing by Nikki Rushbrook

This is a work of fiction. All characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title Page

Copyright Page

Prologue

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Epilogue

Acknowledgements

About the Author

PROLOGUE

KANE

Slipping off the
gold band, I roll it between my thumb and forefinger, thinking about all of the feelings wrapped up in a piece of metal. I just want what I had, but I know that’s not going to happen.

It’s over.

I’m not a quitter, and I’ve never failed at anything before in my life. I tried my hardest to make it work, but my best wasn’t good enough this time, and there’s nothing more I could do. That doesn’t make it any easier and doesn’t mean I don’t have regrets. I have big ones. It’s hard to let go of the past—even harder to let go of what could’ve been, what should’ve been. That’s the thing about regret. It never dies, never lets go. It swallows you whole and makes guilt your best friend. But I’m tired of it. I know it will always live in me, but it’s time to lay it down. I can’t feed that wolf anymore. I just hope I can tame it.

I never thought I’d get to this point. I had the career, the house, the car, the money, but I’d trade it all for something that matters. Holding the ring out over the trash can, I realize the time for trading is over. It’s time to let go—to let
her
go. I look down at the ring between my fingers, the light illuminating the gold, staring me in the face, blinding me. I was so very blind. I was living the dream, and I thought she was, too. My fingers spread apart, and the ring falls in the trash, on top of a dirty napkin beside yesterday’s newspaper. For a second, I’m frozen, then I close the lid.

I had it all, until my world stopped.

CHAPTER ONE

KENZIE

Whore is not
a word I’d normally use. I hate all those colorful euphemisms used to criticize women—slut, whore, tramp, bitch, skank, hoe, cunt. I think men created these words to try to hold us down, but the word
whore
is completely appropriate in this instance.

My name is Kenzie Scott, and I am a total shoe whore.

That’s the first thing you should know about me. Pumps, peep-toes, platforms, it doesn’t matter to me. I love them all!

Wearing my favorite camel-colored suede Christian Louboutin peep-toe booties for my television debut today may seem odd to some, considering my feet probably won’t even be showing, but they make me feel good. At this ungodly hour, they also give me a little extra boost, especially since my coffee isn’t helping. That’s the second thing you should know about me. I am not a morning person, so getting camera-ready by six a.m. is throwing my usual happy demeanor for a loop.

Crack of dawn wakeup call notwithstanding, I’m thankful for this opportunity. My new lingerie line can use it. And I’ll be on soon—probably in the third segment. That gives me just enough time to polish up my pitch. Preparation equals confidence. The host will probably ask what makes my lingerie different, whether it’s available online and in local Dallas stores, what inspired me to create this particular line, and whether it is suitable for women of all shapes and sizes, all questions I’m prepared to answer. There’s nothing to worry about—I got this. And if I crash and burn, it will all be over soon. Reviewing my notes on my phone, I head down a hallway, hoping to find a ladies room. I need a touchup.

“So I banged this chick so hard last night,” a smarmy voice says from inside a cracked office door, “we actually broke the bed.”

I know I shouldn’t spy, but that sentence is enough to stop me in my tracks. Plus, I’d recognize that voice anywhere—Deacon Barnes, one of the hosts of the morning show, the host I’m hoping isn’t interviewing me. It will be much easier to discuss ladies’ undies with the female co-host.

“Were you on a futon? Those aren’t too hard to break,” another man snarks.

I bite my tongue not to laugh and peek inside, needing to know who that sexy, smartass voice belongs to and hoping he’s as hot as he sounds. Unfortunately, I’m only able to catch a glimpse of his tan, muscular arm, sporting a cool, vintage Rolex.

“Piss off,” Deacon says. “I’ve got to get ready to interview some chick who thinks designing women’s underwear is going to change the world.”

Crap, he’s doing the interview.

“Should work out well,” the sexy voice says, “since you like to strut around in that banana hammock shit that looks like a woman’s G-string.”

This time I can’t help it and bust out laughing. When I hear a chair scrape on the floor, I realize they heard me. Shit, time to bolt! I’m hurrying down the hall, juggling my purse, phone, and mug when my coffee sloshes over the side and a few drops make their way to my shoes. My shoes! My favorite shoes! The horror! I can’t go on the air with coffee stains on my booties!

People always say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but that’s not the case for me. I’ll take shoes over jewelry any day, and these are
the best
shoes! I spent way too much on them after my breakup with Charles. I heard “These Boots Are Made for Walking” on the radio and figured the universe—or maybe even God—was telling me the right pair of shoes would make everything better, and it did. This is a disaster. I have no business trying to multi-task—standing and sipping, much less running—at this ungodly hour. I’m wide-awake now.

How am I going to deal with Deacon Barnes and sell my product line if I can’t even snoop and sip at the same time?

I rush to the green room, searching my purse for a napkin, a tissue, anything to wipe off the coffee before I go on the air and, more importantly, before it ruins the beautiful suede, but there is nothing. I see a magazine on the sink beside me and tear out a page before frantically rubbing it over the drops, which does absolutely nothing. I hear someone call out my name. It’s time to start. The sad state of my beautiful booties will have to wait.

*

KANE

My head whips
around and my dick comes to attention as the most beautiful, infectious laugh echoes in from the hallway. I need to see this woman. If her laugh can give me a hard on, she must be sexy as fuck. Rising from my chair, I tilt my head and catch just a glimpse through the doorway—red soled, killer shoes, perfectly toned calves, and long, dark auburn hair. But that’s it. I have to get a better look. I haven’t had this kind of instant reaction to a woman since I met my ex-wife. But straining my neck will not do. The strain in my pants is already bad enough.

“Hold up a second,” Deacon says, reaching into his desk. “I almost forgot. I need you to take care of something for me.”

He pulls out a thick wad of crumpled parking tickets. I quickly flip through the stack. “This was
so urgent
? This is why I’m here at six a.m.? Some of these are over a year old!”

“Right,” Deacon says. “I didn’t want to waste more time.”

God, give me patience. My stepbrother can be such a spoiled cock. I mean, we’ve always gotten along well enough. As teenagers, we bonded over our mutual love of girls. I’ve moved on, but Deacon still chases anything in a skirt, and he has plenty of opportunities in or around the news station, or at some public appearance or hosting gig. Deacon lives the fast life, which often means a lot of pro bono work for me.

But Deacon is family, and family is the most important thing to me. My father died when I was very young, forcing my mother to work several jobs to support herself and me—a fact she never lets me forget. To hear her tell it, we were on the verge of homelessness when she had the good fortune to marry Dallas’ most eligible man, the owner of a local news station and several other businesses. My stepfather, James, loved her unconditionally and supported me emotionally and financially, making sure I had the best education money could buy.

I remain grateful for his help, quite certain I wouldn’t be where I am today without it—working for the most successful law firm in Texas. James’ only drawback was that he came as part of a package deal that included his son, and I feel obligated to help.

“Okay, Deacon, I’ll take care of the tickets,” I say.

He pats me on the back. “You’re the best, Kane.”

“Look, I’ve got to go. I have to finish picking a jury this morning.”

“Really appreciate this, man,” Deacon says, applying some more makeup. “I can always count on you.”

I head out of his office, needing to find the woman behind the laugh, needing to see what she looks like, but my phone rings. Of course, it’s my office. Work is always interrupting, sabotaging my plans. As I walk, I listen to my secretary talk about some supposed updates for court, all of which I’m already aware of. I’m fully prepared for jury selection today. I always am. Looking up and down the hallways, my eyes hunt for the woman. Where is she?

The halls are quiet, no laughing, no sexy shoes clacking. Just my fucking luck. And for once, work wasn’t to blame. Just wasn’t meant to be, I guess. That’s the way things have been going for me lately outside the courtroom, and I’m not going to lie—it sucks.

CHAPTER TWO

KENZIE

I take a
seat on set, trying not to fidget as a young woman slides a microphone through my wrap dress and fastens it to the V-neck. The interview will start right after the commercial break. My pulse quickens, and my heart is pounding so hard I can feel it in my temples. I hope it’s not broadcasting to everyone in the news station. I look down at my dress, a bright royal blue, the color I always wanted my ordinary brown eyes to be.

I smooth down the dress, hoping it covered, if not flattered, the parts of my thighs and ass that I hate. Long ago, I came to terms with my thighs—and by
came to terms
, I mean acceptance of something I can’t change—but my ass is another matter. I’m not obese, but yes, I have an ass complex. Working in Europe the last few years for top lingerie designers, and being surrounded by stick-thin women with two percent body fat didn’t help matters. Of course, dating a douche like Charles didn’t help, either.

There was a time I tried everything to get rid of my booty—eating right, swimming, riding horses, buying and using ridiculous gizmos—but nothing seemed to help. Eventually, I reached my limit and just gave up trying to lose my ass. I’m never going to look like a European model, and I decided I was done apologizing for it. I mean, regardless of how I feel about it, it’s not going anywhere! It practically needs its own zip code. Still, I can’t help the anxiety I’m feeling over how I look under all these bright lights. I hope the rumors aren’t true about the camera adding ten pounds.

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