Authors: Andrea Laurence
The Exception to the Rule
Playboy Alex Stanton likes his relationships short and
without strings. But his fiery fling with Gwen Wright left him craving more. So
when a holiday weekend getaway provides an opportunity for another taste of the
tantalizing woman, he grabs it. Only, things have changed since their last
Besides being noticeably pregnant, Gwen insists she’s sworn
off men. As if the challenge weren’t tempting enough, Gwen’s enticing new curves
have made the sexy spitfire even more appealing. But how can the footloose
bachelor hang on to his heart when he can’t stop longing for the soon-to-be
Gwen sat up and frowned. “What do you mean, stop?”
“Stop using this pregnancy as an excuse to push people away,”
Alex said. “It won’t work on me.”
Gwen swallowed hard, her dark eyes widening slightly as she
searched for meaning in his face. “I don’t know what you’re—”
“You want me,” he interrupted. “And I want you just as badly
as I did all those months ago. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s no
reason to try to defuse the attraction between us just because of some
artificial barrier you’ve put in place. If you want me, give in to your
She opened her mouth to argue but his words seemed to have
struck her temporarily mute. Alex thought this might be his opportunity to
finally kiss her again the way he ached to....
When I was writing the end of my first book—
What Lies Beneath
—something unexpected happened. The
best man and the maid of honor at the wedding started making eyes at one
another! Up until that moment, I hadn’t even considered that scenario, but once
they hit the dance floor at the reception, it became obvious to me that my next
book would have to be about Gwen and Alex.
That’s where the fun started. As an author, it is my job to
make sure my characters find their “Happily Ever After,” but also to make them
earn it. I’ll admit I get a bit of sick pleasure from making their lives
difficult. And messing with Alex was even more enjoyable than usual. What better
way to make a notorious playboy quake in his Armani loafers than to confront him
with his greatest fear—a pregnant ex-lover.
I can’t wait for you to read Gwen and Alex’s story. If you
enjoy it, tell me by visiting my website at
, like my fan page on Facebook or
follow me on Twitter. I love to hear from my readers!
Books by Andrea Laurence
What Lies Beneath
More Than He Expected
has been a lover of reading and writing stories since she
learned her ABCs. She always dreamed of seeing her work in print and is thrilled
to finally be able to share her books with the world. A dedicated West Coast
girl transplanted to the deep South, she’s working on her own “happily ever
after” with her boyfriend and their collection of animals that shed like
nobody’s business. You can contact Andrea at her website,
To Mavens Linda Howard and Linda Winstead Jones—
You are more than mentors. More than friends. You believe in
me, push me and give invaluable advice for both career and life. I only hope
that one day I can be as generous of knowledge and spirit as you are.
And to Maven Beverly Barton—
I miss your laugh. I wish I could’ve shared this experience
with you, but I like to think that wherever you are…you’re proud of what I’ve
Saturday, October 20
The Wedding Reception
of Will and Adrienne Taylor
t was terribly cliché for the best man to
seduce the maid of honor, but damn, that was one sexy woman.
Alex had no intention of using his best friend’s wedding as an
opportunity to pick up women. Usually, weddings were filled with misty-eyed
romantics wanting more than Alex was willing to offer. He’d planned only to wear
the tux and wave goodbye as another of his friends crossed over to the dark
But Gwen Wright had thrown a petite, slinky wrench into his
plans the minute she had strolled into the welcome breakfast. She’d been wearing
a tight brown skirt and beige blouse that made her dark brown eyes pop against
peaches-and-cream skin. She’d cast a quick glance at him that morning,
appraising him with a small smile curving her peach lips. When their eyes met,
the light of mischievousness there had intrigued him.
Will had introduced them a few minutes later, and Alex was
pleased to discover she was the maid of honor and his partner in crime for the
big day. He’d politely taken her hand, marveling at how soft her skin felt
against his. He’d wanted to spend more time talking to her, but he didn’t get
the chance. She was swept into the wedding chaos and the moment passed.
He hadn’t had another chance to really talk to her, much less
touch her, but the anticipation was building with each hour that ticked by. He
tried to focus on Will and what his job as best man entailed, since that evening
had been dedicated to bachelor activities with the guys.
But tonight was a different matter. When he’d stood at the
rose-covered archway beside Will and watched Gwen come toward him in that clingy
pink gown, he thought he might not be able to wait much longer. As he’d escorted
her down the aisle at the end of the ceremony, he’d pulled her aside and
whispered, “Later,” into her ear. The blush of her cheeks let him know the brief
message had come across loud and clear.
And later it would be. Later than he’d planned, actually. Gwen
was running the show like a seasoned professional. The first opportunity he had
to talk to her was during their obligatory dance, but despite holding her in his
arms, he could tell she was a million miles away—making lists, planning the cake
cutting… She was a woman on a mission, and he hadn’t made an inch of real
progress in his pursuit of her.
Now the bride and groom had departed and the crowd had started
to thin. They were quickly closing in on a “now or never” moment. From the other
side of the room, he watched her direct the few men charged with taking the
wedding gifts back to the apartment. Every gesture, every smile intrigued him.
Alex wished he could figure out what it was about Gwen that drew him to her. The
impact of her presence had been direct and immediate. If she had some kind of
sexual kryptonite that weakened him, he wanted to know it.
And there must be. She’d had his undivided attention for a good
part of the last thirty-six hours, and she didn’t even know it. There was no
argument that she was beautiful. He loved the way her curly ash-blond hair
framed her heart-shaped face and the dark eyes that watched him beneath full
lashes. Her petite frame was highlighted by her bridesmaid gown, showing off
those shapely calves.
But there was something else about her. Something that drew him
in and wouldn’t let him look away. And he was determined to find out what it
* * *
“It’s later.” Gwen had been sitting for less than
forty-five seconds when she heard a man’s voice over her shoulder. Forty-five
seconds were not nearly enough to make up for the hours she’d spent on her
She was the maid of honor. It was her job to scurry about and
ensure everything was on track. But she was tired. Dog tired. Regardless of what
the man wanted from her, he could forget it. Even dancing with Prince Harry had
less appeal than kicking off her shoes and face-planting in her bed right
Then she looked up and found herself smack-dab in the laser
sights of none other than the best man, Alex Stanton. He was looking
extraordinarily handsome tonight in his Armani tuxedo, his golden hair tamed for
the special occasion. The hazel-eyed bachelor had been charming and friendly
toward her for the last few days, but like Gwen, he’d been busy with wedding
responsibilities of his own.
She’d tried to ignore the tingle of electricity she’d felt
dance across her skin when he’d taken her arm to walk down the aisle. But then,
in a brief moment alone, he’d leaned close to her ear and whispered the word
“later.” The single utterance was laced with such heavy meaning that it was hard
to breathe for a moment. How he’d managed to roll
you,” “I’m going to rock your world tonight,”
“I hope you’re prepared”
into a single word, she’d
never know. He’d followed the promise with a sly smile and wink before he’d
pulled away and embraced the newlyweds.
“Miss Wright, may I have this dance?”
Gwen wasn’t sure if she had the strength to make it through
another dance with Alex. During their first turn on the dance floor, the
electric feeling had intensified; this pull that urged her to press
inappropriately close to him while they swayed. She’d spent the song thinking of
cheesy knock-knock jokes to distract herself. She didn’t want Alex to think she
was throwing herself at him. Regardless of what she’d read into his words
earlier, he was dancing with her because he had to. You dance with your cousin
if that’s who you’re paired up with in the wedding party.
But several times over the last few hours, she had felt the
prickle of awareness on the nape of her neck and caught Alex watching her from
across the room. There was an unabashed appreciation in his eyes as he had
looked her over, making a warm flush rise to her cheeks. But instead of
approaching her, he would flash his trademark smile and disappear into the crowd
like a circling shark.
The reception was virtually over now. She had pretty much given
up on anything but a quiet cab ride back to her apartment, since by her
estimation, “later” had come and gone a long time ago.
And yet here he was asking her to dance. His heated glance sent
a shiver down her spine, a tingle of excitement overriding the pain in her toes
and sending her heart racing.
Most men did not jump-start a reaction in her like this, but
Alex was not most men. To say the millionaire real estate developer was out of
her league was an understatement. But he didn’t seem to notice.
As he held his hand out to her, there was no denying what he
was offering. He wanted to fulfill his earlier promise and then some. Alex was
interested in more than a dance, and by taking his hand, she was agreeing to it
all. The building ache of need low in her belly and the suddenly tight press of
her breasts against the confines of her fitted gown told her she was anxious to
accept his offer.
Gwen looked up at her suitor. He was handsome, charming, rich…
. When would she ever have another opportunity like this? She’d had her share of
lovers over the years, but few could hold a candle to Alex. His reputation set
tongues wagging, and she’d be lying if she’d said she didn’t want some firsthand
experience. She deserved a night of fun with a man who knew how to have a good
time. She’d been working so hard at the hospital and helping Adrienne. Next year
would be just as hectic and, if all went as planned, quite lonely. A no-strings
liaison with the playboy might be just what she needed.
One last drink before rehab, so to speak.
Her eyes locked on his, her answer clear as she reached out to
offer him her hand. With a triumphant smile, he eased her from her seat and
swung her gently around to face him on the seamless, white dance floor.
Without hesitation, Alex wrapped his arm around Gwen’s waist
and pressed her tight against him. His bare palm splayed across her lower back,
the heat of his touch only intensifying the pulsating desire stirring just under
She was surprised by her sudden, physical reaction to his
touch. It was like a floodgate had opened. She had to suck in a ragged breath to
cover the shudder that accompanied the rush of adrenaline through her veins. The
spicy scent of Alex’s cologne swirled in her head, mixing with the soft
fragrance of roses and candle wax and making her almost light-headed. Gwen could
only cling to his shoulders as they rocked back and forth to the slow, seductive
They stilled on the floor as the music continued but didn’t
pull away from one another. Instead, Alex leaned down and kissed her. It started
off soft but quickly intensified once he got a taste—his tongue invading her,
his mouth and hands demanding more. And she gave it to him. Gwen arched her back
to press her soft body against his hard contours. He growled low in his throat,
the vibration rumbling through his chest and teasing the firm peaks of her
Finally, the last few notes of music silenced, breaking the
seductive spell that cocooned them from the surrounding world. But Alex didn’t
let go, as she had expected. He looked down at her, the gold flecks in his eyes
almost glittering with arousal. His jaw was tense, his shoulders rising and
falling with his own rapid breathing.
It was time to leave. The
were still up in the air, but they couldn’t stay on the dance floor forever. “I
need to get my things out of the bridal room,” she said, her voice breathy.
Alex nodded, releasing her from his embrace, and Gwen headed
toward the dark hallway at the back of the boathouse.
“Keep it together, girl,” she whispered to herself as she
turned the knob and entered the small space. Set up for brides, the room had a
vanity and mirror, a chaise lounge, a wardrobe for hanging clothes and its own
bathroom. They had cleared out all of Adrienne’s things earlier, but Gwen still
had a few items scattered around.
She quickly checked her hair and makeup in the mirror. Her
hands trembled as she grabbed her compact and mascara, stuffing them into her
purse. She wasn’t sure if it was nerves or arousal rattling her composure.
Gwen was reaching for her hairbrush when she heard the soft
click of the door closing, then locking, behind her. She didn’t turn. She only
needed to look up to see Alex’s reflection in the vanity’s mirror, his back
pressed against the door as he watched her with passion blazing in his eyes.
had apparently been
decided. And she was glad.