Authors: Adriana Locke
Copyright (c) Adriana Locke, 2016
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
This book is a work of fiction. Any references to event, real people, or real places are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and events are products of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.
Kari March, Kari March Designs
Lisa Christman, Adept Edits
Interior Design & Formatting:
Christine Borgford, Perfectly Publishable
Table of Contents
THE EXCEPTION SERIES
(each novel can be read as a standalone)
The Exception (book 1)
The Connection, a novella (book 1.5)
The Perception (book 2)
Wherever It Leads
Mine (a standalone)
Swing (book 2 in the Landry Family Series)
coming Winter 2016
To Jennifer Costa
You are so much more to me than any one word can describe. My friend, my beta, my sister, my sanity on most days. You are my Patriots enabler and my focus more times than not.
Thank you for who you are, for your love, support, and honesty.
And thank you for reading this twenty million times.
This one’s for you.
“THIS IS A SINGLE GIRL’S
“No,” I grimace, blotting the spilled cheese sauce from my shirt. “Paradise would be a tropical island with a hot cabana boy at my beck and call . . . and an endless supply of mojitos.”
Lola laughs, the sound barely heard over the chaos of the kitchen. Chefs shouting instructions, event planners panicking, plates being dropped—the world of catering is a noisy endeavor.
I step to the side to allow Isaac, a fellow server and Lola’s gorgeous friend with benefits, to scamper to the ballroom a few feet away. He’s tall with a head full of dark curls and a laugh that makes you involuntarily smile. Lola is crazy for keeping him at arm’s length, but that’s how she operates. He has little money; she has limited interest.
“Cabana boys may have hot bodies and virility, Alison, but they lack two very important qualities: fame and fortune.”
“So, what you’re saying is that you’d take a limp dick over a hard one? Interesting,” I say, rolling my eyes and tossing the sauce-soaked rag into the linen bin.
“No, that’s not what I’m saying, smart ass. I’m saying I’d take a solid bank account over a solid cock. Think about it—with all that money, he could never fuck me at all and I wouldn’t care.”
“If that’s the case,” I retort, grabbing another tray of drinks, “there are tons of opportunities out there to
I laugh at the dreamy look on her face, partly because it’s hilarious and partly because I know she’s not kidding.
Lola and I are a lot alike. We both come from meager backgrounds and Luxor Foods is our second job. There’s no doubt we both would rather not be here because serving rich bitches can be a very humbling experience. But they are also the best parties to work because they tip. Very well. Of course it’s so they can feel above us most times, but we’ll take it. It’s money in our pockets, and if they get off on it in the process, good for them.
That being said, Lo took this job to afford her manicures, pedicures, and eyelash extensions. I do it to take care of my son, Huxley. Lola’s first job is working at a salon and her career goals include marrying up in the world. I, on the other hand, work at Hillary’s House restaurant during the day and go to school for journalism in hopes to one day write pieces that might inspire someone.
“Speaking of fucking,” she says, her eyes aglow, “did you see Mayor Landry?”
“I love how you segued into that,” I laugh.
“It’s a linear comparison. Tell me that fucking isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of him, and I’ll call you a liar.”
Of course it’s the truth. It’s the first thing that comes to mind . . . and maybe the second and third too.
Thoughts of the recently crowned Most Eligible Bachelor make me a swoony mess. Barrett Landry’s thick, sandy brown hair that always looks perfectly coiffed, his broad, friendly smile that makes you feel like you could tell him your darkest secrets without judgment, his tanned skin, tight body, wide shoulders—the list goes on. But it all leads, as Lo so candidly pointed out, to thoughts of him stripped down and wearing only his charismatic grin.
I shiver at the thought.
“See?” she grins, waggling her finger in my face. “Linear comparison.”
“I’ll give you that. He’s
“Have you had a chance to get close to him? To breathe him in?”
“Breathe him in?” My laughter catches the attention of our boss, Mr. Pickner. He twists his burly body our way, letting us know we’d better get to work.
“I haven’t,” I say, turning back to Lola. “Even though I’ve been around men like Landry before—well, not quite like him, but as close as a mortal can be—I don’t think I could handle it, Lo. He scrambles my brain. I’d probably fall face first into him and dump the drinks in his lap. Then we’d
She swipes a tray off the table and shoots a wink at Isaac as he walks back in. “It would so be worth it if you played your cards right. You could probably get away with running your hands through his hair and maybe even licking his stubbled jaw. A kiss would probably be over the top, but his Southern roots would keep him from causing a scene and asking for security.”
“You’ve thought this through, haven’t you?” I ask in mock horror.
“Of course I have and every other woman in here has too. Hell, half the men probably have,” she giggles. “In my fantasy, he gazes at me with those emerald green eyes and leans in and—”
“Ladies! Back to work!”
We sigh as Mr. Pickner barrels by. He’s an overweight, balding, temperamental asshole of a man, but he owns the premiere catering company in all of Georgia. So we deal. Barely.
Lola bumps me with her hip. “Seriously. Stop being so goody-two-shoes and go out there and snag you a man and a retirement plan.”
I bite my tongue. We’ve had this conversation a number of times before and she just doesn’t get it. I don’t fault her though. Most people don’t. They see the glitz and glamour, the designer labels and fine wine and get drawn in like a Siren’s call. That life looks too good to resist, too good to be true.