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"What lies beneath my veiled perfection is the ugly truth—my truth, my reality, my destiny."
Vivian Graham has an acceptance letter into Harvard, a badass tattoo, loyal friends, ties to marijuana, a penchant for Dunkin’ Donuts, and her pesky V-card.
Everyday she takes the Red Line to her job at The Green Pot in Boston while her friends enter the coveted, black iron gates to higher learning. The ramifications from a tragic accident have put her life on hold while time marches on for everyone around her.
After graduating from Harvard Law, Boston native, Oliver Konrad, moves to Portland to start his career and his life. Three years later, after a horrific discovery, he returns home to trade in his three-piece suit for leather work boots and his suburban home for a condo in Cambridge.
All he brought back to the East Coast was an aversion to pillows and secrets he keeps hidden behind a mysterious locked door. Oliver’s days are predictable and his nights are lonely until he meets Vivian on the subway. Her long raven hair, green eyes, and mile-long legs are achingly sexy, but the way she "innocently" fingers and licks her Boston Kreme doughnut can only be described in two words—complete torture.
When their paths cross at every turn, laughter is abundant, friendship is easy, and love is unintentional. However, their future seems improbable.
My mind said “go” but my mouth said “stay.” Vivian has this innocence to her that is not of this world, and when I’m with her neither am I. We’re transported to some alternate universe where the past doesn’t exist and the future doesn’t matter. I need her to leave because I don’t trust myself around her. The hunger I feel for her touch is painful. When she placed her hand in mine I had to fight every urge to throw her in the backseat of my car, strip off her clothes, and taste every inch of her body. It’s possible I should be on meds or maybe I do need therapy. I wasn’t like this before. It’s just her, but I don’t know why. Yes, she’s beautiful—stunning actually—but it’s more and I don’t have a word for the more.
Maybe, just maybe she could be what I need––a physical release without the emotional investment.
I face her, allowing my eyes to drink in her soft features: silky skin, full lips, emerald eyes, and black hair that flows in endless waves down her back and over her breasts. The image of those perky breasts peeking through the thick black layers as she sits naked astride me stirs my dick. If her eyes drift a few degrees south, she’ll know how I react to her. I should care and try to hide it, but I don’t.
“Stay. Have some wine or more water, just … stay.”
“Wine, but only if you promise to carry me home when I pass out after two sips.” She brushes her hair back and wets her lips with a nervous graze of her teeth over the top one.
I’ve become my brother, imagining everything she does and says is an invitation into her pants. I’m the “nice” guy; the kiss goodnight on the cheek, opening doors, lavishing with flowers and jewelry, waiting until the third date to kiss on the lips and a month before copping a feel. The old Oliver would insist that sex is at least six weeks out, but my dick hasn’t gotten the memo. This new, completely lost Oliver is ready to tie her up and spank her … I’m not sure why people even do that, but I think modern women like it, so sure, I’d give it a try.
“So wine it is.” I grin while grabbing two glasses from the cabinet. “Do you live alone?”
Vivian laughs. “Why? Are you planning on stalking me and sexually assaulting me?”
Okay, so I think I’ll hold off on the spanking. I probably wouldn’t do it right anyway. “A little paranoid?”
“My roommate, Alex, her parents own the condo. They’re rich, I guess. Anyway, her boyfriend and my friend Kai are good friends so they introduced us when I needed to move to Cambridge. Alex is rarely there, so she was thrilled to have a roommate to look after things and one who needed a job. Maggie, her aunt, owns The Green Pot and needed some help running the nursery since she’s been battling cancer off and on for years. Alex’s parents agreed to keep the condo instead of having her move into student housing with the agreement that she’d work part-time for Maggie. So I get a job and cheap rent, and Alex helps out occasionally at the nursery, but mostly she makes her spending money off my rent payments. It’s a win-win.”
I hand her a glass of wine and motion to the couch. “Alex’s parents are okay with this arrangement?”
She sips her wine. “They don’t know. I make myself scarce when they come to visit.”
“And you’re okay with deceiving people you don’t even know?”
She waves her hand in the air dismissively as she swallows. “I know them. I come to ‘visit’ every time they’re in town. They love me, of course, because I’m such a good influence on Alex.”
“So why not just tell them the truth?”
Vivian tucks her legs underneath her. “They want Alex to stay busy with school and work so she doesn’t get distracted by guys.”
I shake my head. “It’s quite the con you two have going.”
“You don’t know half of it.” She takes another sip of her wine, and another, and another.
I anticipate having her naked within the hour. Reaching over, I fill her glass back up before it’s even halfway down.
God! What the hell is wrong with my brain?
“So why did you need to move to Cambridge?” I ask.
She giggles and I adjust myself because I’m already imagining her glazed over eyes calling to me. “My parents think I’m getting my business degree from Harvard.” She giggles some more.
My dick has officially taken a backseat to this conversation. As much as I want to avoid too much personal detail, her comment has my naturally curious mind turning its cogs. “Why do they think that?”
“Because I got accepted.”
There’s no way I could have seen this coming. Vivian doesn’t just surprise me, she knocks me on my ass leaving me speechless with everything she says and does. “To Harvard?”
“Yes, Oliver, to Harvard. Don’t look so surprised.”
I set my drink on the coffee table and adjust my body to face her. “Let me get this straight. You were accepted to Harvard. Your parents think you’re attending Harvard. You moved to Cambridge so they would believe you’re going to Harvard, but you’re not going to Harvard?”
She massages her temples with her thumb and middle finger then drags her fingers across her forehead “Yep, I’ve had way too much to drink.” She laughs. “So I’m not sure I caught all of your questions or statements or whatever, but … yes, yes, yes … and yes.” Full lips curl into a large and oh-so-proud smile like she just aced some big test.
“I don’t understand.”
“Oh, Oli-ver, you don’t have to understand everything.” She leans her head back and closes her eyes. “I need to pee.”
“The bathroom is upstairs, first door on the right.”
She doesn’t move.
“Do I need to carry you upstairs?”
She opens her eyes and grins, swinging her feet to the floor. “Nope, I just wanted to see if you’d offer. After the cobbler hoarding incident I wondered if you were much of a gentleman.”
She stands with a slight sway. I grab her waist and bright eyes sparkle with hidden wonder as she fixes them on mine, pressing the palm of her hand to my cheek. Every indecent thought I had about her vanishes leaving a murky residue on my conscience.
“You’re alarmingly handsome. Do you know that?” she whispers, feathering her thumb along my lips.
I close my eyes willing myself to hold still, to resist the urge to cup her hand, taste her thumb, pull her closer—so close there’s no space for the rest of the world between us.
She’s gone, but my breath remains hostage in my chest. Opening my eyes, I release it. Okay, maybe I need something more than her body.
Jewel is a free-spirited romance junkie with a quirky sense of humor.
With 10 years of flossing lectures under her belt, she took early retirement from her dental hygiene career to stay home with her three awesome boys and manage the family business.
After her best friend of nearly 30 years suggested a few books from the Contemporary Romance genre, Jewel was hooked. Devouring two and three books a week but still craving more, she decided to practice sustainable reading, AKA writing.
When she’s not donning her cape and saving the planet one tree at a time, she enjoys yoga with friends, good food with family, rock climbing with her kids, watching How I Met Your Mother reruns, and of course…heart-wrenching, tear-jerking, panty-scorching novels.