Crazy for the Best Man
by Ashlee Mallory
Crazy in Love #2
Publication Date: November 27, 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Sweet Romance
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Entertainment reporter Anna Blake strives to be the first to get the scoop on the city’s hottest celebrity gossip. But when the competition outs her as the long-lost sister of the bride in what’s been heralded as the wedding of the year, Anna’s forced to go undercover as a bridesmaid to find the scoop that just might save her job. Best man Nick St. Claire hasn’t forgotten that Anna almost cost him his first election ten years ago. When she appears as a less-than-enthusiastic bridesmaid right before he’s set to announce his senate candidacy, he’s more than suspicious. To ensure the wedding—and his campaign announcement—goes off without a hitch, Nick makes a bargain with Anna: be the model maid of honor, and he’ll give her access to an exclusive story that’s sure to save her job. But in between dance lessons, bridal showers, and football game fun, these longtime enemies might discover there's something bigger to fight than each other. Something a lot like…love.
Nick enjoyed a good challenge, especially when he saw that he was matched with such a formidable foe, and he increased his speed until he was alongside her. She didn’t bother to look over at him again, instead focusing on the path ahead.
They continued at this rate, her breathing down his neck and refusing to give an inch, until his legs were burning and his chest was heaving painfully. He wasn’t used to being pushed so hard, and he had to admit he liked it.
“Ready to call it?” he asked, hearing her breath becoming just as labored, her pace slowing ever so slightly.
He almost laughed, knowing that she was exhausted and probably close to breaking but not willing to give him an inch. “How about we race to the fountain at the courtyard?”
Whatever weakness he thought he’d perceived in her stride immediately disappeared as she pushed herself ahead of him. He wondered briefly whether he’d been played, but was too late, because with that sudden unseen burst, she’d put herself enough in the lead in those last few seconds, and it was over.
Instead of feeling indignant at being played, though, he was relieved that it was over. His lungs burning as much as his legs, he slowed down to catch his breath before collapsing in a pile on the ground.
A second later, Anna dropped next to him, her face bright and pink from the exertion, a bead of sweat trickling down her neck and disappearing into the top of her sports bra, an area that he hadn’t been able to admire previously. He swallowed hard at the view of the tantalizing amount of skin above it—and the ample amount hidden from sight.
“You certainly have a singular mind,” Anna said.
He glanced up, aware in his oxygen-depleted state of mind that he’d been caught gaping, but instead of appearing disgusted or angry, Anna only rolled her eyes.
“I’m nothing if not consistent.”
He stretched forward over his right leg, feeling the pull in his hamstring as Anna did the same. For his own sanity, he kept his eyes on the top of his shoe instead of the view of her more alluring assets.
“That’s twice now I’ve kicked your butt. Not that I’m counting,” she boasted, switching legs.
“All a matter of perspective.” He sat up and crossed an arm in front of him, lengthening the muscles in his shoulder. “I seem to recall kicking yours with my finely tuned dance steps.”
“Okay, that’s fair. So one point for you and your ballroom dancing techniques and two points for me and my naturally given athletic prowess at both football and running. Maybe if there’s a cooking class later today, you can earn yourself another point. Or you can show me up by darning some socks or sewing a button on your apron?” She looked up from where she’d been leaning forward into a stretch and grinned.
Damn. She was sexy.
Not just because the fullness of her breasts was hard to miss as she leaned toward him. No, her sexiness was deeper. Having to do with the confidence she carried in her every movement. In the way her eyes shined and her lips curved as she smiled at him.
In her ability to challenge him and push herself without fear of failure.
“Hey, I’m all right with that. I’m nothing if not in touch with my feminine side.” In fact, her ribbing him about his feminine skills only made him like her—crazily enough—even more. It was definitely a first for him, having someone not vying for his attention. “My mother wouldn’t have it any other way. After all, women make up fifty percent of my constituents.”
“Ah. That’s right. Always the angle.”
A jingling beat from Anna’s phone rang out. “Crap. That’s my reminder for breakfast. Janie wanted everyone to have a full meal before this morning’s dance lesson and before we head out for the winery tour. The last thing she wants is people passing out drunk after the first winery visit of the day.”
“Full meal or not, a winery tour with a group like this is always asking for disaster. Mark my words. Someone will be three sheets to the wind by lunch.”
Anna came to her feet easily, already recovered, and gave him a funny look. “Three sheets to the wind? What are you, ninety?”
Not one to be shown up, Nick hopped to his own feet. “Voters in the fifty-five-and-over demographic are my highest-voting constituents. Not to mention the older ladies love me.”
She rolled her eyes. “Of course they do.”
He eyed the terrace doors and looked back at her, lifting his brows in a challenge.
“You really want to race again? Hasn’t your ego taken enough of a blow?” she asked.
“Not any more than—” But whatever words he was going to say next were lost in the wind when Anna darted forward, not waiting for the signal as she took off in a sprint.
He didn’t even have a chance.
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For most of his life, James Thornhill accepted that his family would never see him as anything but a failure. But as the new CEO of Thornhill Management, he's been given another chance to set things right. First order of business? Settling a nuisance lawsuit and bringing the pesky but dedicated employment attorney on board as part of his team. Second order of business? Resisting the prim but fiery attorney who has somehow become utterly indispensable in his life. Quinn Taylor has grown up always doing what was right and, likens herself to a modern-day David taking on the Goliaths of the world. Goliaths such as the CEO of Thornhill Management. Playing babysitter and muse to the overindulged CEO was not what she had in mind, but with mounting debt making even a cup of coffee a luxury, Quinn's ready to swallow her pride and get in bed with the devil. Something that, the more time she spends with the man, becomes increasingly enticing. But the stakes are too high for either of them to risk an interoffice fling...until an unexpected trip to Quinn's hometown brings a long-denied simmering attraction to a boil. They'll have to decide what they're willing to risk and how far they're willing to fall if love doesn't conquer all.
Ashlee Mallory is a USA Today Bestselling author of Romantic Comedy, Suspense, and Thrillers. A recovering attorney, she currently resides in Utah with her husband and two kids. She aspires to one day include running, hiking and traveling to exotic destinations in her list of things she enjoys, but currently settles for enjoying a good book and a glass of wine from the comfort of her couch.