By Jennifer Dawson
Genre: Contemporary RomanceHosted by: Book Enthusiast PromotionsI’ve wanted my brother’s best friend, Leo Santoro, for too many years to count.
No matter what I do, he won’t confront the attraction that burns between us.
It’s time to put him behind me once and for all.
I have no choice but to call his bluff.
And then I will walk away.
The last woman I should want is my best friend’s baby sister, Jillian Banks.
No matter what I do, she won’t ignore the attraction that burns between us.
It’s time she learns the real me.
The only promise I can make is that her fantasies are no match for reality.
And then I’ll watch her walk away.
“Is he going to be there?” My roommate Heather Cowan asks, carefully studying her bright, glittery pink nails she’s been painting as I’ve been getting myself ready for tonight’s festivities.“Oh yes.” The party is for my older brother in celebration of his birthday and his promotion to the next rank of homicide detective. He’s one of those over achiever types and my parents couldn’t resist the urge to throw him a big bash.The he in question is my brother’s best friend, and tonight, I’m going to put an end to our extended game of cat and mouse, once and for all.I survey myself in the full-length mirror, twisting and turning in my minuscule dress. I turn to my roommate. “So what do you think?”Heather flicks a glance over me. “I think you’re going to give your poor brother a heart attack.”“Don’t you worry about Michael, he’ll be fine.” Yes, he’s annoyingly overprotective, but I’m twenty-eight, and there’s not much he can do but grumble and scowl. Since he can’t help himself, I take it in stride. I don’t deny him his big brother privileges; I just smile, nod and do what I want. “You didn’t answer. “Heather sighs, and flops down on my bed, holding her hands in the air as to not ruin her manicure. “You look like I hate you and I’m glad I don’t have to stand next to you all night and watch men drool all over you.”“Perfect.” I’ve achieved the intended effect, although the man I want to drool all over me refuses to bend to my seductive will.“Please, Jillian, I ‘m begging you, let this go.” Heather’s voice is a pleading whine.We’ve had this conversation before, but I’m nothing if not determined.“Not going to happen. So just deal.” I twist once again in the mirror. I’m not normally this vain, but tonight I have to look perfect. Impossible to resist. “And the dress?”“You look like a very expensive escort.”“Excellent.” I beam, my lips extra full and pouty with the dark crimson gloss I’ve slicked on. It goes with my light olive skin, long, dark wavy hair, and hazel eyes.I must say, I do look spectacular. Yes, my red dress is painted on, short on my long legs, extra slinky, and maybe a bit slutty. But I’m going for show stopping here.Subtly is not one of tonight’s words.No, I’m going for hit-you-over the head bold.Heather rolls her eyes. “This will only end in disaster, and I’ll be gone this weekend and unable to pick up the pieces.”I step away from the mirror and put on a pair of nude, stiletto heels. “Yep, it will probably be a disaster. But, I’ve tried everything else, I’m running out of options.”Most girls probably would have taken no for an answer a long time ago, but I’ve been told I can be a bit stubborn at times.Heather rolls off my bed and stretches her long, lean frame. She’s a ballerina at the Joffrey Ballet and with her platinum blonde hair, fine classical features and clear blue eyes she looks the part. Dressed in black yoga pants and a tank top, she reaches for her heel and stretches her leg to the ceiling. Her flexibility is something to marvel.I grin at her. “Are you sure you won’t come tonight? Even for a little bit?”“As much as I’d love to watch you make a fool out of yourself, I’ve got to be up at the crack of dawn tomorrow.”“I know,” I say, and as much as I’d like her there to support me, which she would despite her belief that I’m being dumb, I’ll know plenty of people at my brother’s party.My father had rented the back of the hot new Irish pub featured in all of Chicago’s what’s trending magazines. Michael protested the celebration, but my father refused to budge. His only son being a homicide detective wasn’t what my investment banker father wanted, but he was proud and showed it. At least my older sister took pity on him and married a partner in my dad’s firm.I was the last hold out. After college, I gave it a try, taking a low-level entry job in my dad’s office but I hated it. I’m not cut out for corporate life. Since then I’ve flitted around in various careers, abandoning each one much to my parent’s worry.I’m what is affectionately known as a free spirit.Aka, I have no idea what I want to do with my life. Something artistic and free— in other words— poor. But I’m not worried. When I finally hit upon that elusive “thing” I’ll know. And I’ll give it everything I’ve got. In the mean time, I support myself by waitressing at my best friend Gwen’s trendy restaurant.With a six-month waiting list to eat there, it’s a great gig, but I’m a mediocre waitress and the restaurant business isn’t my passion. The best I can say about my job is I use my relationship with Gwen for the best shifts, and didn’t have to work out much.I smoothed down my dress and walked into our tiny living room. I’ll figure out my career another time, tonight was about pursuing my other elusive passion.Leo Santoro.My brother’s best friend and partner. Object of my lust-filled fantasies.And general pain in the ass.Heather follows me down the hallway that leads to our living room. “You’ve been practicing in those heels.”I laugh. There is an art to walking around in too high stilettos, and it’s not innate. “I have.”“Your legs look fantastic.”“Why thank you.” They did. I’m tall, five-nine to be exact, and I’ve been told by men and women alike that my legs are endless. I consider them one of my best assets.I move to the kitchen and start transferring necessary essentials from my big purse to my small evening bag.Heather slides onto the stool and watches me. “Do you think it’s smart to wear heals that put you eye level with him?”I toss my hair over my shoulder and search for my powder before emptying the contents onto the counter. “He can handle it.”Four-inch heels are part of my strategy.I want him looking me straight in the eye when he rejects me.Jennifer Dawson grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and graduated from DePaul University with a degree in psychology. She met her husband at the public library while they were studying. To this day she still maintains she was NOT checking him out. Now, over twenty years later, they’re married and living in a suburb right outside of Chicago with two awesome kids and a crazy dog.Despite going through a light FM, poem writing phase in high school, Jennifer never grew up wanting to be a writer (she had more practical aspirations of being an international super spy). Then one day, suffering from boredom and disgruntled with a book she’d been reading, she decided to put pen to paper. The rest, as they say, is history.These days Jennifer can be found sitting behind her computer, writing her next novel, chasing after her kids, keeping an ever watchful eye on her ever growing to-do list, and NOT checking out her husband.Sign up for monthly Newsletter for exclusive insider peeks, new release information and more including giveaways.