Happy Release Day, Bailey & Vaughn!
It’s finally here, people! Bailey & Vaughn’s sexy, emotional enemies-to-lovers story hit the shelves this morning and I couldn’t be happier. I had so much fun with these two! Expect lots of banter, lots of attitude and plenty of heat on the boardwalk!
Excerpt From Every Little Thing
I was on a mission.
A mission to cross the distance that suddenly stretched between my boyfriend Tom and me. Ten years we’d been dating. It was safe to conclude that we’d hit a rough patch.
But when your guy pushed you off him in bed because he was too tired to have sex then there was a problem.
I aimed to fix that problem.
First I yelled at him a lot and called him an asshole, because, seriously, asshole move.
Then I calmed down and I started to think. To plan. To fix the situation.
With sexy lingerie and a raincoat.
First I needed the sexy lingerie. I had a few pieces of hot underwear in my closet but Tom had seen them. I wanted to dazzle him with something new.
Sherry’s Trousseau just off Main Street was an expensive little boutique but none of the other stores or the mall near Dover sold anything as nice as Sherry’s. The only issue with buying lingerie in a small town, however, was the fact that anyone in the store, including Sherry, knew I was planning on getting lucky sometime soon, and had no qualms bringing up the subject like they had a right to the details of my sex life.
“Tom will have a lot of fun taking those off.” Sherry rang up the red silk bra, panties, matching garters and sheer silk stockings. I had a pair of red stilettos I planned on wearing with them.
“Yeah,” I said, “Here’s hoping he’ll explode all over me with excitement.”
I grinned to myself as I left the store, savoring Sherry’s blushing mortification.
Apparently it was okay for her to discuss my man touching my lingerie but not okay for me to discuss the consequences of such an act. Oh well. She should have been used to my inappropriate responses by now. It’s how I survived small town life. I said what I was thinking, no filter, and I beat nosy busybodies at their own game by divulging too much information.
It was fun.
I glanced back toward the shop to see if she was sharing her shock over what I’d said with Ellen Luther, the only other customer in the shop at that moment, and—
“Oof!” Pain shot up my jaw as I collided with something hard that knocked me off balance. The movement caused the paper bag with my lingerie in it to swing, and the thin handle snapped with the force, sending my new purchases scattering all over the pavement.
I stared down at it in surprise as my jaw throbbed. And then I caught sight of the shoes at the edge of the scene.
Polished to a shine.
Black leather Derby shoes.
I’d bet everything I had they were Prada.
And there was only one man in Hartwell who wore designer like it was made especially for him.
My heart sank as I lifted my gaze.
Sure enough, staring down at my new underwear like he was staring at a lamppost, or something equally mundane, was Vaughn Tremaine.
Now my whole body thrummed along with the throb in my jaw where I’d collided with one of his broad shoulders. As always he wore a tailored three-piece suit that fit him beautifully.
I watched in horror as he unbuttoned his jacket and lowered to his haunches to pick up my underwear. If it had been anyone else reaching for those items I wouldn’t have cared less. But Vaughn Tremaine wasn’t just anyone.
With my new bra dangling in his clutches he looked up and quirked an eyebrow my way.
Not for the first time I found myself squirming under his steel gray gaze.
Silence stretched between us as we stared at one another and I fought the urge to abandon my stuff and run off in the opposite direction away from him. The problem was—well there were a number of problems with Vaughn Tremaine—the fact that a) he was much too attractive for his own good and b) unlike anyone else, he had the ability to make me feel insecure.
Right now, for instance, as much as I didn’t want the thought in my head I couldn’t help but note how unaffected he appeared at holding my sexy underwear in his hand.
I was as attractive as a limp noodle to him.
And it shouldn’t bother me.
The man was a jerk.
“Looks like Tom is in for an interesting evening.” Vaughn held the bra up toward me.
I snatched it from him, my cheeks blazing. Clearly karma was getting back at me for what I’d said to Sherry. As he reached for the panties and garter I snapped, “Leave it.”
“But I’m already down here.” He ignored my demand as he collected the broken bag and carefully placed the underwear back inside. As he stood up Vaughn handed me the bag.
In my angry embarrassment I leaned in to yank it from him, only to stumble as I did so. Vaughn moved to steady me, his strong fingers curling around my bicep. His touch panicked me and I jerked away, scowling at him.
Perhaps a year ago I wouldn’t have scowled so hard at him.
I would have scowled for sure, but maybe not so emphatically.
Up until last summer our interactions had always been antagonistic because from the day we met Vaughn had made me feel I was the uneducated provincial to his superior cosmopolitan self. He did this by mocking me, mocking Tom, and I didn’t like it. He was no better than me.
Admittedly, however, there was a certain amount of fun in teasing and mocking him back. That is until last summer, when during one of our many verbal battles he’d out and out said that he disliked me in front of Jess and everyone else whose opinion I valued. And okay, I might have deserved a harsh retaliation because I’d been particularly bitchy to him that day because of an argument I’d had with Tom . . . but . . . well . . .
The son of a bitch had hurt my feelings, and that was unforgiveable.
“As ever the gentleman, Tremaine.”
“Helping you retrieve your belongings was gentlemanly, I thought.”
“No—the gentlemanly thing to do would have been to assess the situation, realize that touching a lady’s unmentionables is ungentlemanly, ignore said unmentionables, and go merrily on your way while I tried to conspicuously recover the unmentionables.”
The right corner of his mouth tilted up in amusement. “You’ve never crossed me as the shy and retiring type, Miss Hartwell. I wouldn’t have thought my seeing your panties would get them in such a twist.”
“Ha, clever.” I ignored him calling me Miss Hartwell. Or I attempted to. I never wanted him to know how much it bugged me that he never called me by my name. In retaliation I never referred to him out loud as anything but Tremaine.
We really brought out the maturity in one another.
He grinned. “I do find I’m wittier around you.”
“Yes, well, that happens when arming yourself in a battle of wits against a wittier opponent.”
There were moments, like now, when I thought I glimpsed a flash of respect in Vaughn’s eyes. But I knew that couldn’t be true. I was just looking for something I wanted to see. “We’re particularly feisty today.”
“Don’t royal ‘we’ me, Tremaine. I’m not impressed by your pomposity. In fact it pisses me off.”
He stepped closer into me, and I had to steel myself against stepping back. Vaughn Tremaine did not need to know his nearness made my breath catch. His eyes drifted over my face. He always did this, like he was savoring my every feature, and I knew his only purpose in doing so was to make me feel uncomfortable.
“You shouldn’t tell me when something pisses you off,” Vaughn said. “You know it only makes me want to do it more.”
If he’d been anyone else, I would have laughed in grudging respect. Instead, like always with him, I took it personally. Like I said, it didn’t start out that way. Vaughn was smart. I think a large part of me actually enjoyed our battle of wits. But after he said he didn’t like me, everything he said to me became an insult. Worse, at around the same time he admitted his dislike for me, I actually began to see more in him that just an arrogant, selfish businessman who thought himself superior to me.
Deep down I knew Vaughn wasn’t a bad guy. I discovered that when he helped out my friends Cooper and Jessica last year. When Jess was convinced that things between her and Cooper were falling apart, Vaughn gave her a place to stay in town so that Cooper had time to win her back.
And the truth was we all felt safer with Vaughn around: there was the matter of Ian Devlin and his sons.
Devlin owned a lot of property in Hartwell, including the Hartwell Grand Hotel in town, and the amusement park behind the boardwalk. But he didn’t own anything on the commercial north end of the boardwalk. And just as he’d used less than honorable means to gain properties on the popular, touristy Main Street, he’d tried underhand ways to gain property on the expensive coastline. He was desperate to add boardwalk property to his portfolio. In fact, I guessed he was desperate to one day own the entire length of the north boardwalk. He had it in his head to turn it into a five-star resort, which would decimate what made Hart’s Boardwalk so charming.
When the old boardwalk hotel went up for sale we, the close-knit community on the boardwalk, thought we were done for. Ian Devlin was the only man we knew who could afford to buy it.
But then came Vaughn. A hotelier with more money than God and a better pedigree than most Manhattanites. For whatever reason, he bought the old boardwalk hotel, knocked it down and put up his own establishment.
The good thing though—despite the modern appeal of his hotel—was that Vaughn liked the boardwalk as it was. And even I had to admit that he seemed to genuinely like and respect Cooper. So when Devlin threatened Cooper’s boardwalk bar by bribing someone on the city board to deny Cooper his liquor license renewal, Vaughn stepped up alongside us to put a stop to it.
And despite the fact that was the moment he told me he didn’t like me, I saw what I hadn’t wanted to see.
Vaughn Tremaine may have been a pompous, smug, wealthy, arrogant businessman who thought he was better than me, but he could also be kind of honorable when he wanted to be.
Moreover, he was our defense against Ian Devlin.
According to Cooper, Vaughn had said something that made Cooper feel confident that Vaughn would never let Devlin do anything to damage what we’d built on our boardwalk.
And Vaughn had the money and influence to back up that sentiment.
“What? Do I have something on my face?” Vaughn said.
I realized at that moment I’d just been staring into those startling gray eyes of his. No one had a right to eyes like those. He must have known what those eyes did to a woman.
To women. Other women. Not me.
“No.” I stepped away from him, even if doing so did give him the upper hand.
“What? No sharp reply? You sure you’re feeling alright?” He cocked his head to the side, studying me. A crease formed between his brows. “You do look a little tired.”
I huffed, running a hand over my hair. I hated when he scrutinized my personal appearance. “Always so complimentary, Tremaine. It’s a wonder you don’t have a trail of panting ladies following after you. Oh, wait a second. It’s not.”
He just stared at me, which for some reason made me feel worse, because it felt like he could see right into me, and that he could see how unhappy I was and—
“No wonder you’re single.” I gave him a look that would have made a lesser man’s balls jump back up inside him. “You’re cold through and through. You haven’t got anything real to offer a woman. Nothing but money. And sooner or later they’ll realize not even money is worth a lifetime of nothing.”
It was harsh.
It was horrible.
And it was all about me, not him.
Immediately I wanted to take the words back, but they were out there.
Me and my stupid no brain-to-mouth filter.
Like the ice I’d accused him of being, Vaughn’s expression turned an arctic level of cool. “I’m single because I want to be, Miss Hartwell. Unlike you I’m strong enough to be alone rather than settle for mediocre. But then like attracts like, doesn’t it.”
And on that parting shot, a shot he had no idea hit dead center on target, Vaughn Tremaine sauntered away like he hadn’t just had a bitter encounter with me.
I didn’t touch him.
But he always got me.
And it always hurt.
Pissed, I marched off in the opposite direction back to the inn, trying to will Vaughn’s words out of my head, trying to shake off what he made me feel.
After all, I couldn’t be angry and pissed when I showed up to “raincoat and sexy lingerie” Tom to get us back on the right track.
(c) 2017 Samantha Young
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I cannot tell you how blown away I’ve been to blogger response to Bailey & Vaughn’s story. Thank you to everyone who took the time to read and review EVERY LITTLE THING. I appreciate you more than you know!