London Hughes is very content to surf daily, tend bar, hang out with her group of friends and slowly orient herself in the years after college. Everything’s going great and according to the non-plan. But when a wave knocks her for a loop one morning, then Luke Sutter’s flirtatious smile knocks her for another that evening, she veers slightly off course… and into his path.
Read the full excerpt from Wicked Sexy Liar
I’m about to start cutting fruit when a customer leans over the counter and asks for two White Russians, one with ice, one without. I nod, lifting two clean glasses from the rack, when Fred steps behind me.
“Let me know if those kids give you any trouble,” he says, and nods to the pool table group, which is currently whooping about something boy-related in the back. They seem pretty typical for the UCSD guys who come in here: tall, fit, tan. A few are wearing graphic tees and others wear collared shirts. I study them in tiny flickers of attention as I mix the drinks, taking an educated guess from their height, physique, and tans that they’re water polo players.
One of them, with dark hair and a jaw you could probably have sex with, looks up just as I do, and our eyes snag. He’s good-looking—though to be fair, they’re all pretty good-looking—but there’s something about this guy that makes me do a double take and hold his gaze for the space of a breath, not quite ready to let it go. Unfortunately, he’s gorgeous in that unattainable, brooding douchebag sort of way.
With that reminder of the past, I immediately disengage.
I turn back to Fred and pull a second glass jar labeled CAR FUND from under the counter and place it in front of him. “I think we both know you don’t have to worry about me,” I say, and he smiles, shaking his head at the jar as he finishes his pours. “So is it just the two of us tonight?”
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“Think so,” he says, and slides the beers onto the bar. “There aren’t any big games this weekend. Expect it’ll be steady, but slow. Maybe we’ll have a chance to get through some inventory.”
I nod as I finish the drinks and ring them up before washing my hands and checking my station for anything else I’ll need. A throat clears behind me and I turn, finding myself now only a foot away from the eyes that were all the way across the room only seconds before.
“What can I get you?” I ask, and it’s polite enough, delivered with what I know to be a friendly-but-professional smile. His eyes narrow and even though I don’t track them moving down my body in any perceptible way, I get the feeling he’s already checked me out, made up his mind, and filed me away in the same way all men categorize women: fuckable, or not. From my experience, there isn’t a whole lot of in-between.
“Can I get another round, please?” he says, and motions vaguely over his shoulder. His phone vibrates in his hand and he glances down at it, tapping out a quick message before returning his attention to me.
I pull out a tray. I don’t know what they’d ordered since Fred brought them their first round, but I can easily guess.
“Heineken?” I ask.
His eyes narrow in playful insult, and it makes me laugh.
“Okay, not Heineken,” I say, holding up my hands in apology. “What were you drinking?”
Now that I really look, he’s even prettier up close: brown eyes framed with the kind of lashes mascara companies charge a fortune for and dark hair that looks so soft and thick I just know it would feel amazing to dig my fingers—
But I assume he knows this, and the confidence I noticed from across the room practically saturates the air. His phone buzzes again, but he gives it only the briefest glance down and silences it. “Why would you assume Heineken?” he asks.
I stack a handful of coasters on the tray and shrug again, trying to nip the conversation in the bud. “No reason.”
He’s not buying it. The corner of his mouth turns up a little and he says, “Come on, Dimples.”
At almost the same time, I hear Fred’s “Goddammit” and hold out my hand, ready when he slaps a crisp dollar bill into it. I smugly tuck it into the jar.
The guy follows my movement and blinks back up at me. “‘Car Fund?’” he asks, reading the label. “What’s that about?”
“It’s nothing,” I tell him, and then wave to the line of draft beers. “What were you guys drinking?”
“You just made a buck off of something I said and you’re not even going to tell me what it was?”
I tuck a loose strand of hair behind my ear and give in when I realize he isn’t going to order until I’ve answered him. “It’s just something I hear a lot,” I say. In fact, it’s probably something I’ve heard more than my own name. Deep dimples dent each of my cheeks, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say they’re both my most and least favorite feature. Couple that with sun-streaked—often wind-blown—hair and a smattering of freckles, and I’m about as Girl Next Door as they come.
“Fred didn’t believe it happens as often as I said,” I continue, jerking my thumb over my shoulder. “So we made a little bet: a dollar every time someone calls me Dimples, or references said dimples. I’m going to buy a car.”
“Next week at this rate,” Fred complains from somewhere behind me.
Dudebro’s phone chirps again, but this time he doesn’t check it, doesn’t even look down. Instead, he tucks it into the back pocket of his jeans, glances from Fred to me again, and grins.
And I might actually need a moment.
If I thought this guy was pretty before, it has nothing on the way his entire face changes when he smiles. A light has been switched on behind his eyes, and every trace of arrogance seems to just . . . evaporate. His skin is clear and tan—it practically glows with a warmth that seems to radiate out, coloring his cheeks. The sharpness of his features soften; his eyes crinkle a little at the corners. I know it’s just a smile but it’s like I can’t decide which part I like more: the full lips; white, perfect teeth; or how one side of his mouth lifts just a fraction higher than the other. He makes me want to smile back.
About the author: Christina Lauren is the combined pen name of long-time writing partners/besties/soul mates and brain-twins Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings. They are the New York Times, USA Today, and #1 international bestselling authors of the Beautiful Bastard and Wild Seasons series, Sublime and The House. You can find them online at christinalaurenbooks.com, xoxoafterdark.com, Facebook.com/ChristinaLaurenBooks or at @ChristinaLauren on Twitter.