Return of the Bad Boy

By: Jessica Lemmon

“That’s sweet.”

“It’s practical.” He made a face…that she ignored.

“I’d better get back to work.”

“You didn’t answer me.”

She lifted her sunglasses into her hair and let out an exasperated sigh. “Brice McGuire, okay?”

“Not okay,” he growled. “Why were you having lunch with Brice McGuire?” Asher had seen Brice at the Rolling Stone photo shoot a few years back. The guy had tried to sign Knight Time years ago, before they’d hit it big, but Asher didn’t trust him. Not with his career, and sure as shit not with Gloria.

“It wasn’t lunch. It was brunch.” She waggled her to-go coffee cup.

“Dammit, Sarge. He’s trying to get laid. You don’t see that?”

“And how is that your business?” Her voice rose enough that a couple walking by turned to look. Then they did a double take when they spotted Asher. He saw recognition on their faces. Thankfully, neither of them stopped for a photo or autograph. Now wasn’t the time.

“Office,” he said, pointing down the street to where Gloria’s storefront stood.

Her nostrils flared, but she obeyed, crossing the street with Asher on her heels. Inside, he put Tank on the floor and the dog immediately put his black nose to the carpet to check the place out.

“Do not tell me you’re dating that asshole,” Ash said, picking up where he left off.

“Why do you care?” She held his gaze for a brief second, then tore her sunglasses out of her hair and threw them on her desk alongside her purse. She looked a little hurt and a whole lot gorgeous. He came close, and she took a step away from him. So he came around to the other side of her desk and stood even closer.

“Because I don’t trust him,” he answered, lowering his face close enough that a few more inches, he could touch his lips to hers. And damn, was that tempting.

Asher knew she dated. Hell, it wouldn’t surprise him if she’d jumped back on the horse shortly after she’d returned to Chicago and he went back to LA, before either of them had moved here. Something had happened in that mansion bedroom, and by New Year’s Eve it became clear that they’d both chosen to ignore it.

And what was it? Intimacy. A fuckuva lot of it.

They’d shared a palpable moment of connection. A connection he’d never felt with any other human being, and it had occurred between him and Gloria Shields. That wasn’t the norm for him—not with any woman. Not even with Sarge. They’d slept together before and the sex was always awesome, but rarely that…close. Scared the shit out of him, but he’d been willing to explore it. See where it took them. Glo didn’t share his mind-set. She shut down, started that shit about him cheating on her again, which he didn’t even think she believed any longer, then ran for the hills. No matter how determined he was to win her over after, she wouldn’t have it. The harder he pushed, the farther she ran.

“Brice and I talked about business, Asher.” She thrust her chin up in an effort to get control of the conversation.

“What business?”

“I can handle Brice McGuire.”

“I don’t doubt it.” Glo could handle a guy like Brice. “But I don’t want you handling him.”

“Well, I don’t care what you want.” They locked eyes. His lips curved. The power struggle continued.

God. Why did he admire that about her so much? Her snapping at him was a potent aphrodisiac. Maybe because in the past when she’d yelled at him, it’d led to her sleeping with him. Now it just led to more yelling.

But that didn’t mean he couldn’t continue trying to get her to change.

She started rearranging papers on her desk he’d just bet didn’t need rearranging. “Are you going to Evan and Charlie’s cookout tonight?”

Cue the subject change. Fine. He’d let her have this round.

“Yeah.” More like a setup. Charlie’s idea, no doubt. Downey sent him a text that read, Wife invited Glo. Don’t bring a chick. He wondered if Gloria got a similar text from Charlie. “You bringing Brice?”

“I’m bringing veggie burgers. Is that on your cleanse?” She smiled. Syrupy sweet.

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