Will they or won’t they? #ToxicLove
Meet Phoebe & Jeremy in this second chance romance!
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RELEASE DATE: July 7th, 2015
New York Times bestselling author Kim Karr turns up the heat in a smoking hot, emotionally compelling romance that takes you into the world of Manhattan's elite. Meet Jeremy McQueen, a sexy, intense, brooding entrepreneur who goes after what he wants, and Phoebe St. Claire, a socialite-turned-CEO who's been drifting through life searching for something she thought she'd never find again--the right man to share her future.
Phoebe St. Claire has devoted herself to saving her family's hotel empire--but her best efforts have not been good enough. With her whole world in turmoil, the tenacious go-getter turns to the once love of her life. Far from innocent, Jeremy McQueen was the guy from the wrong side of the tracks who her parents would never have approved of. Their years apart have only made the sexy bad boy more irresistible than ever--and their reunion is explosive.
When she asks Jeremy to help her salvage her family business, he agrees immediately, with only one condition--he wants her in his bed.
But soon surprising circumstances leave Phoebe reeling. Was this fairy tale romance just too good to be true? Will Jeremy's secrets pull them apart all over again?
THIS IS A STANDALONE SECOND-CHANCE ROMANCE WITH NO CLIFFHANGER ENDING.
© 2015 by Kim Karr
Published by the Penguin Group
Phoebe St. Claire
Feeling a bit drunk and overwhelmed with so many and so few choices at the same time, I needed some time alone and snuck off toward the beach path.
I ran toward the ocean and twirled in the sand as the wind blew around me. Once I started to feel dizzy from twirling, I still wasn’t ready to head back to the party, so I took the path that would lead me to the large Olympic-sized pool. I tugged my sandals off with thoughts of putting my feet in the water to rinse the mud and sand away. As I approached the pool, I noticed how it glowed like it was lit by small pale fires. Lost in the enchantment of it, the sudden movement beneath the surface startled me.
A fair-haired boy emerged from the water. He pulled himself up and out so quickly that I was momentarily stunned. And then when he drank me in with his eyes, I shuddered.
I couldn’t help it, the way he looked at me just made me shiver. No one had ever looked at me like that before and I found myself gazing back into his intense eyes.
He was utterly beautiful. His bare chest was sculpted but not overly bulky like Danny or Jamie. They worked out every day pumping obnoxious amounts of iron to look the way they did. In contrast, the boy standing before me had a swimmer’s build.
He stood stoic and a cautious look crossed his face. He was long and lean in a pair of bright green neon swim trunks.
Right away I could tell he didn’t care what anyone thought about him.
I loved the idea of that.
So I smiled at him.
He shook his head and his hair fell into his eyes.
I wanted to reach out and push it away. It wasn’t long, but it wasn’t short. It was perfect.
“Hey,” he said, grabbing a towel off the ground.
It didn’t belong to the club. It was small, beige, and a bit worn—not the large hunter-green fluffy ones monogrammed in white I’d always gotten when I used to come here to swim as a kid.
“Hey,” I said back, swinging my sandals nervously.
He grabbed a pair of jeans that lay next to where the towel had been and walked right by me.
I turned to watch him as he strode into one of the cabanas and dropped his trunks. I froze and squeezed my eyes shut, thinking I shouldn’t be watching him but then opened them quickly when I couldn’t resist maybe catching a glimpse.
“Didn’t your parents ever tell you it isn’t polite to stare?” His voice was low and sexy, and it tugged me out of my own head.
I put my hands on my hips. “Didn’t your parents ever teach you not to undress in mixed company?”
He pulled his jeans on and laughed. “My mother might have mentioned that once or twice but I’ve never been good at following the rules.”
And it didn’t escape my notice that he didn’t put any underwear on first.
Hot. Totally and completely hot.
I didn’t see anything I shouldn’t have seen, it was too dark, but something inside me electrified at the thought of seeing him naked and I stepped closer. That’s when I noticed the scuffed-up black work boots on one of the lounges with a T-shirt thrown next to them.
I raised a brow. “Is this your changing room?”
He laughed again but this time added a smile and put his hands up. “Okay you caught me. I better get out of here before anyone else does.”
He was adorable and charming and my heart skipped a beat or two.
Then I stepped even closer and entered the cabana entrance, effectively blocking his way. “Why? You’re not doing anything wrong.”
He shrugged but he didn’t try to move around me. “I usually swim in the ocean but when the water is too rough, like tonight, I come here.”
I bit my lip in contemplation before speaking. “Does it really matter if you get caught?”
He crossed his arms over his bare chest. “Let’s just say it’s not just the swimming. It’s more that I’ve been caught doing a few too many things that I shouldn’t have been doing in the past.”
A bad boy.
The thought made my pulse thunder. “So you’re not a member at this club?”
He cleared his throat and shifted from foot to foot. “No,” he laughed but his laugh was anything but genuine. “Are you?”
I hesitated as I considered my answer. “No, I was just walking the beach and wanted to rinse my feet. I’m Phoebe,” I said extending my hand. Technically, I wasn’t lying. I wasn’t a member, my parents were. I hadn’t even been here in years. And I was out for a walk.
Amusement danced in his blue eyes. “Jeremy,” he said back.
When I chewed on my lower lip, I noticed how his eyes focused on it.
Mine focused on the entirety of his mouth—his strong, firm jaw, his sensuous lips, and his tongue that had snuck out to lick his lips.
It was almost too much.
© 2015 by Kim Karr
Published by the Penguin Group
Phoebe St. Claire
“Where are you?” he asked.
“I know. Where in your apartment are you?”
“On my bed.”
“Where are you?” I asked.
“Give me a minute.”
I heard stomping up some stairs and then a door closed.
“On my bed,” he said in that same husky tone.
I nearly stopped breathing.
“Are you still there?” he asked again.
“Yes,” my voice was raspy.
In a deep husky voice he said, “Tell me what you’re wearing under your clothes.”
Arousal overtook my mind and I answered quickly. “A bra and panties.”
“Take off your clothes and tell me what they look like.”
Flushing from head to toe I managed to say, “Jeremy!”
“Phoebe, I’ve seen you in your underwear. Christ, I’ve seen you naked. Just put your phone on speaker, dim the lights, and describe to me the lucky pieces of fabric covering your tits and pussy.”
Shock and desire swarmed through me in equal measure.
Memories of his dirty mouth came back in a flash.
I’d loved it so many years ago, loved when we were flesh to flesh. And this was different. I’d never had phone sex before. Had no idea how to, but I knew I was about to find out. I wasn’t going to turn him down. I wanted this.
The sexual tension that had blossomed between us was causing me to go insane. I was touching myself when I woke up in the middle of the night, and then in the shower before work, and last night and the night before after I hung up the phone with him. I’d been masturbating to the thought of him nonstop. Phone sex had to be so much better.
“Give me a minute,” I whispered needing to ease into the more intimate exchange that I knew was coming. I stripped out of my skirt and blouse and all but tore my hose pulling them off. The lights were already dimmed, so that wasn’t an issue. I heard his own mattress squeaking and wondered if he had started without me.
My phone beeped again and I looked down. This time it was an incoming call from Jamie. I ignored it. Then, I took a deep breath and a giant leap of faith as I sat on my bed in my underwear.
Just as I was thinking about what I could say, he spoke. “I have to be honest with you,” he said.
My heart sank. I didn’t like any conversation that started with those words.
With a heavy exhale, he said, “I’ve been hard all week just thinking about you and I have to admit, my wrist hasn’t been worked out this much in a long time.”
Picturing his hand, his cock, his hips, and the perfect choreographed movement of all three had me barely cognizant.
“I’m here,” I said in the raspiest tone. “Then I’ll be honest too. It’s possible that I’ve made myself come more times this week than I have in my entire life.”
I wasn’t exactly comfortable initiating a kinky conversation. But I could follow his lead.
“Jesus Phoebe, you can’t talk that way to me when I’m not near you.”
Something primal erupted within me. “And I want to do it again.”
I moaned at his use of the word fuck. It sounded entirely too delicious.
Equally as delicious was his sexy laugh that followed. “So what are we going to do about this dilemma?”
I sunk back into my pillows and pictured his face—his lips parted and his eyes heavy-lidded.
I knew what I wanted to do about it.
Did he want to do the same thing?
I hoped so.
© 2015 by Kim Karr
Published by the Penguin Group
Phoebe St. Claire
“We’re a good team you know.”
I lifted my head in question.
“We fit together well.”
Feeling naughty, I threw him a saucy look.
As expected, he smiled a rueful grin. “Not like that.”
My heartbeat went sky high but I contained the effect he had on me and raised a sensual brow.
“Well, yes like that, but I mean in business. We work well together.”
Call it hopeful expectation but I knew we would. Gratified, I relaxed back down against his chest and murmured, “We do,” before hitting play on the remote. It meant a lot to me that Jeremy valued my opinion when it came to business decisions. He’d confided in me about his plans for Jet Set and we had even discussed the best ways to grow membership as well as which cities would be ideal targets when he was ready to expand. I pondered our business savvy as he drew shapes on my back but when the movie started, I dedicated my attention to Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Sometime during the movie, we must have fallen asleep because a pounding on my door woke me up. “Stay here, it’s probably Mrs. Bardot wanting to see her dress on me. I’ll just tell her I’ll come by before we leave.”
“Sounds good,” he mumbled as he covered his head with the pillow. All the sex we’d been having was probably wearing him out. I knew it was me.
I opened my door to find Lily standing there.
“I kissed a girl,” she announced.
I simply blinked at her.
“And he liked it.”
I stepped aside for her to enter. “Preston?”
She traipsed over to the couch and flopped herself down. “Yes, Preston.”
I pulled a blanket off the back of the sofa and sat in the chair. “I thought you weren’t having sex?”
“We weren’t. That’s the point.”
“Lily, I’m just waking up. Help me out a little.”
She covered her face in her hands as she spoke. “After I got off the phone with you, I went to go find Preston. It was late and he wasn’t in his room. When I called him, he told me he was in the hotel bar. I went down there to find him sitting with a French woman who didn’t even speak English.”
I was confused. “What was he doing with her?”
“I asked him the same thing. He told me it was nothing. That he was just sitting with her. I asked why and he told me he had overheard my conversation with you and felt bad that I was feeling sexually frustrated. Well hello, I told him, he could fix it.”
“At least I wasn’t sitting in the hotel bar staring at a dude like I might fuck him.”
“Is that what he had planned?”
“No! That’s when he told me he’d never cheat on me. She was for me, for us, not him. And then he asked me to kiss her.”
“And you did?”
“Yes, I did, to prove a point to him. I wanted him to know I was sick of this no sex thing and if he wanted me to show him just how sick of it I was, I would. So I brought her to our room and we sat on the couch and I kissed her. Then I stood up and looked at him and asked him if I’d proven to him how much I wanted him now.”
I pulled my legs up under my chin. “And he said what exactly?”
“That he wanted me to kiss her again.”
The situation wasn’t at all funny, but I had a hard time not laughing. It was just so unbelievable. “So what did you do?”
“Packed my stuff and left him there to stare at her as I caught the next flight back to New York City.”
“Did you ever think he might have a mechanical problem and was looking for a way to . . . you know,” Jeremy was standing in my bedroom door looking yummy, all sleepy and crumpled.
Lily’s eyes shot to his. “To get it up?”
Jeremy cleared his throat. “Yeah.”
She looked at him deep in thought. “Why would he have a problem like that? He never has before.”
Jeremy shrugged. “Stress, medication, I’m really not sure. I’ve just heard it happens.”
“We have been under a lot of stress,” she admitted.
Jeremy walked toward me and put his hands on my shoulders, massaging them.
I sighed and leaned forward.
“St. Claire, focus on me.”
I laughed. I had really missed her. “You need to talk to him. Ask him about it.”
“What if he says yes? Then what? I have sex with a girl to see if he can get off?”
“Men do like girl on girl action.”
I cranked my head around. “Jeremy!” I scolded.
“I’m just being honest.”
I narrowed my eyes at him. He raised his palms. “Not me of course.”
Lily jumped up. “I have to run. I have to talk to Preston and find out what’s going on. I’ll call you,” she yelled as she slammed my door.
“What if that’s not the problem?” I asked Jeremy.
He plopped on the couch. “At least it will get them talking.”
I had to laugh.
That it would.
About the Author:
I live in Florida with my husband and four kids. I've always had a love for reading books and writing. Being an English major in college, I wanted to teach at the college level but that was not to be. I went on to receive an MBA and became a project manager until quitting to raise my family. I currently work part-time with my husband and full-time embracing one of my biggest passions—writing.