Authors: Heidi Rice
After a nasty breakup, Tally Gladstone has no interest in
anything serious. But she’s dipped her wary toe back into dating with a few
blind dates—all bad…or worse. The only good thing to come out of it is a sizable
following on social media. Her latest date is doomed from the get-go—he isn’t
even straight. But at least he knows someone who meets her every very exacting
American-in-London Brent O’Neill is everything she wants—on
paper. He’s hot, sexy and emotionally off-limits. Tally can play all she likes
without getting burned. He’s so good in bed he’s addictive. But her millions of
social media followers want disaster, not boring-ever-after. They might get
their way yet—how is she going to walk away before her heart is in tatters?
Sexy, contemporary romance stories for today’s fun, fearless
To Abby Green, who brainstormed this story with me and therefore helped turn my Twitter addiction into “valuable research.” I owe you one. Heidi x
I love bad girls. I love badass girls even more. Tally
Gladstone is one of those. She’s smart-mouthed and sexy, she makes her own rules
and she’s not afraid to demand what she wants… Or what she thinks she wants.
As an author, it’s the ultimate guilty pleasure to write a
character like Tally, because she says all those things you wish you’d said to
that superhot guy you fancied from afar (but didn’t because you didn’t have
fifteen minutes to think of the perfect comeback—or want to get arrested!). And
because Tally is the guilty pleasure me, she gets to seduce the gorgeous Brent
O’Neill—who’s basically a cross between Channing Tatum and Chris Hemsworth. FYI:
after hours of research on Pinterest, I have yet to decide which of those two
hotties he resembles the most (never say I am not prepared to suffer for my
But pushing all thoughts of Chris and Channing aside (with
difficulty), Brent’s his own man. He’s smart-mouthed and sexy just like Tally.
But also just like Tally, he’s been hurt in the past, and his tough, confident
exterior hides a guy who’s much more vulnerable than he thinks.
Putting these two together and then watching their hot date
spontaneously combust into something much more dangerous was an absolutele joy
(involving lots of smart-chat and some valuable lessons in Twitter addictions).
I hope it’s as much of a pleasure to read (no guilt required!).
I love to hear from readers (especially if they like my
books) so get in touch at
. Or follow me on Twitter,
, or Pinterest,
. Right, I’m off back to
Pinterest to do lots more “important research” on who should play Brent in the
movie: Channing or Chris… I may be a while.
10 Rules to Sex Up a Blind Date
Sexy, contemporary romance stories
for today’s fun, fearless female.
Cosmopolitan Red-Hot Reads from Harlequin
From the Twitter account of @BlindDateBitch:
#NewRule: For a matchmaker with the mostest, ensure they have fully operational #gaydar. 100 NONNEGOTIABLE. If it’s faulty...DUMP THEM!
‘You’re absolutely positive you’re gay?’
Tally Gladstone battled with a whine of dismay as her latest blind date’s brilliant blue eyes twinkled with mischief and her brain—and several other key parts of her anatomy—knotted with frustration.
‘Totally, 100 per cent positive. Sorry.’
‘Seriously?’ The whine won.
It cannot be true.
In one tiny corner of Tally’s mind, it registered that Sam Grady’s revelation was going to make great fodder tomorrow morning when Blind Date Bitch reported back to her five hundred thousand followers about her latest disaster date. But for once she had actually been more excited about the date itself than what she was going to tweet about it. Plus her appalling luck and her consequent online success was getting to be beyond a joke. She’d set up @BlindDateBitch as an anonymous ego boost to support her through the early stages of her search for a superstud—not to shatter her ego entirely with a never-ending running commentary on her failure to get laid.
‘No equivocation whatsoever?’ Tally soldiered on, drowning out the clatter and hum of the Kensington bar on a busy Friday night.
Sam’s diamond-bright gaze dipped to her cleavage, temptingly displayed in her best LBD. It remained there for several pregnant seconds, while Tally’s lungs seized to a halt—and she crossed her fingers under the bar.
Could a really good pair of double Ds turn a gay man straight—even a little bit? Surely it was a possibility. She had exceptionally nice tits—and her push-up bra helped turn them into the eighth wonder of the world.
‘Your rack is very aesthetically pleasing.’ His burning gaze lifted back to her now burning face. ‘I could write a song to those puppies. But would they give me a boner?’ He shook his head, his sheepish expression not doing a thing for her blush. ‘Doubtful.’
‘Oh, fuck it. I give up.’ Tally took a long swallow of her strawberry daiquiri. ‘I’m going to kill Melody. I can’t believe she set me up with a gay guy again. I’m beginning to think she’s doing it deliberately.’
Melody was her best friend. But how could anyone be so totally rubbish in the matchmaker stakes?
‘How many times has this happened?’ Sam asked, his husky voice still sending annoying shivers up her spine—which were now, she reminded herself, completely beside the point.
Get a grip spine.
Project Get Laid Some Time This Millennium is not happening tonight.
She drank in one last long forlorn look at Sam. He’d seemed like such a fabulous prospect earlier in the evening when Melody had introduced them. Attentive, gorgeous blue eyes, ripped abs from what she could tell beneath his T-shirt, solvent—according to Melody—a delicious aroma of laundry detergent and clean male enveloping her when they’d got stranded together at the bar, and a great conversationalist. And not noticeably camp.
Maybe his job as a graphic designer should have been a hint—and the fact that his gaze hadn’t strayed to her cleavage once during the entire evening—but seriously, after two solid years without a sexual encounter of any description that didn’t involve batteries, she needed a much bigger hint than that... A pulsing neon sign on his forehead with Boys Only written in large flaming-pink letters, for example.
Tally huffed, holding up three fingers. ‘Three dates. Three gay blokes. In the space of a month. That’s a 100 per cent record.’
Sam choked out a laugh. ‘Well, her gaydar’s off, that’s for sure.’ He rested a warm palm on Tally’s shoulder. ‘Hey, look, I’m sorry, Tally. You’re great and I’ve had a fun time. I didn’t know Melody was trying to hook us up. I thought she knew which way I roll. I sure as hell don’t keep it a secret.’
‘That’s okay,’ Tally murmured, feeling more humiliated by the second. ‘Not a problem. Although I’d suggest you use a different cologne when chatting to women. Because the one you use now is sending out all the wrong signals—pheromone-wise.’
One dark brow hiked up his forehead. ‘But I don’t use cologne.’
‘Precisely. Something flowery and exotic with Hawaiian undertones would be much more appropriate. Might give a girl a clue. You know. To your sexual preferences.’
He laughed again—and her humiliation and annoyance eased. He really was a lovely guy. And it was hardly his fault he was extremely hot, yet played for the other team—nor was it his fault that Melody was to matchmaking what her eight-year-old cousin was to mature and sensible behaviour. Basically, a disaster waiting to happen. Plus, she’d probably get another thousand followers after this fuck-up—not that it felt like much of a consolation anymore.
‘How about I make it up to you?’ he said in his deep American accent. ‘Maybe I could set you up with someone. I know a lot of guys.’
‘Straight guys?’ Tally heard the eagerness in her voice. But sod it, she was desperate here. And extremely turned on with nowhere to go but back to her lonely bed and the company of Victor, her vibrator. The sad fact that she’d given the bloody thing a name was all that needed to be said on that score.
‘Yeah, straight. I guarantee it,’ he said. ‘Because unlike Melody, my gaydar is never wrong.’ The twinkle of mischief returned. ‘Either that or I’ve hit on them myself and discovered how they roll the hard way. No joke intended.’
Tally snorted out a laugh, stupidly pleased this man had suffered a similar fate to her. Misery, say hello to company.
‘What are your other criteria?’ Sam asked. ‘Then we can narrow the field.’
‘You have a
of straight guys to choose from?’
‘Uh-huh.’ Sam nodded.
Gay men really
make the perfect matchmakers for sex-starved straight women. This was not just a myth propagated by chick flicks co-starring Rupert Everett.
#NewRule: Once dream matchmaker has been located, don’t be shy... Give them ALL your vital sex-tistics (Yes, even THAT one!) #honestyhour
Tally qualified quickly. ‘I’d like him hot.’ If she was going to avail Sam of his services, she might as well get the deluxe package. ‘That would be my second stipulation. After straight.’
She didn’t give a shit if that made her sound shallow. This was Project Get Laid, not Project Get a Life Partner. All she wanted was to jump-start her sadly neglected libido by jumping some hot guy—a hot guy who had had lots of practise satisfying female libidos and knew how to locate a clitoris without having to ask for directions. Because, let’s face it, men never asked for directions, even when they had no clue where they were going.
No way was she recruiting amateurs, or fumblers, or,
, guys with a relationship agenda. Project Get Laid was strictly a player-only, no-complications-allowed initiative.
‘Hot and straight. Got it.’ Sam nodded. ‘Anything else, boss?’
‘Actually, there are a couple of other things.’ Tally chewed her lip. Could she ask this? Not only would it make her sound shallower than a puddle, but she liked Sam. And now the prospect of getting into his nicely tailored pants was totally off the agenda, this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship—especially if he proved to be a winner in the Find Tally a Stud stakes. So she didn’t want to embarrass him—or worse, piss him off. He had a
at his fingertips. A field she could make very good use of in the weeks and months to come if she played her cards right. Hopefully. Maybe.
‘Well hung would be great. A reputation for being spectacular in the sack would be even better,’ she blurted out, and held her breath, waiting for any signs of an adverse reaction from her new best friend. ‘If you can manage both together we’d be entering jackpot territory.’
Sam chuckled, the sound low and genuinely amused. ‘How well hung?’ he asked, his tone direct and not remotely disgusted.
Tally’s breath gushed out.
‘And do you want me to get references for the sack rep?’ he added. ‘Because I’m not going to have road-tested the guy myself. And guys exaggerate about that stuff to other guys.’
‘They even boast about it to gay guys?’ Tally felt her eyes crossing. Wow, this was turning into an education. ‘Wouldn’t that be a bit counterproductive?’
‘I guess, but only if you’ve got the hots for them—and they know about it. Guys don’t consider the subtext much when talking about their banging exploits.’ He shrugged.
‘Okay, good to know.’ Tally’s thigh muscles quivered with something that felt an awful lot like excitement. She crossed her legs. She so did not want to get ahead of herself here. She’d been disappointed before. And it had not been good for her ego.
But this might actually happen. Sam could turn out to be the best mistake she’d ever made. Imagining whom he might hook her up with was making her feel a little woozy, and wet with anticipation.
Finally. Finally. She could end her man drought. With a man who definitely wasn’t gay, and who measured up in the only way that mattered.
Then she thought of the last guy who had measured up—and cold water lapped over the wave of warmth pulsing in her abdomen. ‘He also has to be single. Obviously. In fact, that’s non-negotiable. I probably should have said that first.’
A flush fired up her neck. Goodness, how desperate was she that she’d got so far ahead of herself she hadn’t even thought of that until now? And yet it was the most important criterion. Much more important than a ten-inch dick, frankly.
She might only be looking for sex, but she wasn’t leaping into that bonfire again—when it came to cheaters, even casual hook-ups were out. She wanted to feel good about herself again. Not totally crap, the way she’d felt when Henry’s wife had turned up on her doorstep two years ago, her face ravaged with tears and her eyes wild with grief.
Tally still felt the sting of the slap on her cheek, and the grinding pain in her stomach when she’d confronted Henry—and got hold of the real reason he’d been so keen on her. Until Henry, she’d thought she was an excellent judge of character. When your father was a serial cheater and you’d spent most of your childhood witnessing the fall-out, you naturally assumed you’d be able to recognise a rat from several hundred miles away. Apparently not.
‘Understood,’ Sam said, giving her a considered look that made her wonder if he was a mind-reader as well as a matchmaker extraordinaire. Had he figured out her most shameful secret? Not that she’d slept with a married man, because she certainly hadn’t done that on purpose. But that she’d had the gross stupidity to fall in love with a man—to think she could build a future with a man—who was as much of a bastard as her dad? Discovering at the grand old age of twenty-six that she suffered from the same rose-tinted blindness as her mother was humiliating, to say the least. But she could see things for what they were now, and she would never be that myopic again.
‘Although, for the record,’ Sam continued, ‘no way in hell would I have hooked you up with a guy who was already taken. Apart from being a shitty thing to do to you, that’s bad karma for me. And megashit feng-shui, lifestyle-wise. I don’t fuck with feng-shui. Not if I can help it.’
The sweet, giddy rush of relief she felt made her light-headed. Sam hadn’t guessed what a tool she’d been.
‘Just a tip, Sam,’ she said, tucking the wrenching pain back in the drawer marked Don’t Ever Go There, ‘if a girl starts making goo-goo eyes at you again, tell her about your feng-shui obsession. It’ll reduce the shock value when you do the big reveal.’
Sam sent her a mocking salute. ‘Yes, boss.’
Tally folded her arms on the bar, feeling mellow again—and moist, but not for Sam anymore. Thank goodness. The feng-shui comment had had the desired effect of directing any residual lust towards pastures new...and hopefully more fertile.
‘So do you have anyone in mind?’ she said, trying not to sound too eager.
‘Actually, I think I may have the perfect candidate.’
‘Really? Already? That’s amazing.’ And a tad too good to be true. The hum in Tally’s clitoris dimmed. Was Sam the real deal, or just another gift horse with a very big mouth, like Melody?
‘Yeah, his name’s Brent. Brent O’Neill. He’s a fellow Yank living in London, a pal from my college days. Six foot three with a rep in the sack that he never boasts about.’
‘Then how do you know about it?’ Tally asked, trying to be objective—and not drool ahead of schedule.
‘His ex-wife’s a pal from college, too. Della got drunk with me the night after their divorce papers came through and told me why she married him. Turns out he’s so good at giving head she totally missed the fact that he’s a—’ Sam paused to do air quotes ‘—”heartless bastard” for three whole years. Good enough?’
‘Promising, certainly,’ Tally hedged.
And sort of tacky. Who married a guy based on his cunnilingus skills?
‘And to seal the deal,’ Sam continued. ‘Brent’s also ripped, ruggedly handsome and extremely well-endowed.’
Tally’s eyebrows shot up her forehead. ‘Not to be funny, but how do you know
’ Good grief, had Brent’s ex-wife gotten drunk enough to give out his measurements? That took tacky to a whole new level.
‘Locker-room voyeurism.’ Sam coughed into his hand, looking sheepish. ‘Mostly. We played on the same basketball team at Cornell. Believe me, a dick that size is impossible to miss. Not that I was trying that hard to miss it. A guy can dream, after all.’
Tally’s clitoris throbbed deliciously. ‘Well, as long as it was only dreaming.’
‘I swear.’ Sam crossed a finger over his heart. ‘He’s straight as an arrow.’ His eyebrows wiggled. ‘Joke intended that time.’
A high, fluttering laugh floated out of Tally’s mouth that sounded suspiciously like a giggle. ‘Sam, you’re hired.’
‘Awesome.’ Resting an elbow on the bar, he flicked a finger at the barman, who trotted over like a trained pony.
‘A beer for me and another daiquiri for the lady,’ Sam ordered while the barman beamed at him like a long-lost lover. Clearly the barman’s gaydar was a lot better than Melody’s. Or hers.
Sam’s gaze lingered for a second on the barman’s tight ass as he headed off to fetch their order. ‘Right, let’s figure out how to hook you guys up without Brent knowing it’s a set-up.’
‘Why can’t it be a set-up?’
‘Because that’s way too cute.’ Sam’s condescension somehow managed to be charming instead of, well, condescending. ‘Brent’s a wolf in geek’s clothing. A type-A guy who gets off on the hunt. Which means this’ll work a whole lot better if we let him think it was all his idea.’
‘You’re not serious?’ Tally’s feminist outrage tumbled out. ‘He sounds like a sexist jerk.’ Heartless was doable. Misogyny not so much. She had to be able to
to this guy, at least a little bit.
‘Hey, I’m working with
wish list here. Not mine.’ Sam threw up his hands in exaggerated dismay. ‘You wanna get laid by a guy who’s hung like a horse and has made it his life’s work to turn giving head into an art form, then Brent’s your guy. But he’s a hard-ass when it comes to women—ever since his divorce. No argument there. So if you’re looking for more than a casual hook-up, we’re going to have to look elsewhere.’
‘Forget I said anything.’ Tally capitulated, her feminist outrage drowned out by the reminder of Brent’s expert lip-service. She propped her own elbows on the bar and smiled encouragingly at her matchmaker. ‘This isn’t a forever deal. At all.’ She did a zipping motion over her lips. ‘I’ll shut up now and let you do your job.’
When it came to Project Get Laid, surely she could suck up her feminist principles for a night? Plus Brent the Clitoris Junkie got points for letting his shortcomings show—unlike Henry the Metrosexual Rat. At least women knew to approach Brent at their peril. She’d just have to cut the talking portion of the evening short if his alpha-jerk tendencies came to the fore.
‘Cool.’ Sam lifted his bottle to take a fortifying swallow of his Bud.
‘But before we get down to business.’ Tally fluttered her eyelashes outrageously. ‘Do you think you could describe Brent’s hard ass in more detail?’
Sam clinked his bottle to her glass, a slow conspiratorial smile spreading across his face. ‘Sure. I’ve written a couple of songs about Brent’s hard ass.’ He winked. ‘It’s kind of inspirational.’
‘Fabulous.’ Tally licked dry lips, already composing tomorrow morning’s tweet to the insistent rhythm of her throbbing clit. ‘Inspirational is just what I’m looking for.’