His Holiday Pact (Manhattan Holiday Loves #1)
His Holiday Pact (Manhattan Holiday Loves #1)
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- Fake Relationship
- Curvy Heroine
- Neighbors to Lovers
- Steamy Contemporary Romance
USA Today bestselling author Rebecca Hefner writing as Ayla Asher
Who knew a fake holiday relationship could be so fun?
Kayla Summers has had enough of her mother’s insistence that she find a man and get married. At thirty-three, she’s a successful attorney and has a fantastic life. Knowing her mother will grill her constantly over the upcoming holidays about her single existence, she dreads the visits home.
Carter Manheim is a self-proclaimed bachelor, dead set on seducing every beautiful woman in Manhattan. And why not? His parents’ disastrous marriage and divorce proved that lifelong commitments just aren’t viable. As his mother’s health worsens, his only wish is to give her one last happy holiday, even if it entails bringing home a girlfriend.
When Kayla’s sexy neighbor proposes they take each other home for the holidays as fake partners, she’s floored. However, getting her mother off her back is her number one priority and she agrees to the arrangement. Now, if she can only keep her heart from becoming emotionally entangled with the player of the century, she’ll be just fine…
This book is filled with fast-paced fake relationship shenanigans and steamy love scenes. The main character’s mother has late-stage cancer so please consider that before you read. Here’s hoping this funny, romantic story can give you a few hours of escape all year round! Enjoy!
Intro Into Chapter 1
Intro Into Chapter 1
Kayla sat at the bar between her two best friends, morosely staring into what was left of her beer.
“Want another one?” Joy asked.
“No,” Kayla said, chugging the contents. “No matter how much I drink, I’m still dreading the next few months.”
“Hey,” Laura said, encircling her wrist with her bangled hand and squeezing. “Maybe there’s a silver lining here. If Jordan brings home a girl for Thanksgiving and Christmas, maybe your parents will bombard him with questions about marriage and babies. They can totally leave you alone.”
“I appreciate your optimism,” Kayla said, giving her a sardonic glare, “but there’s no way in hell they’re going to let me off the hook. They’ll certainly grill my brother and Appolonia…or Apple…or whatever her name is, but they’ll definitely save some for me. My mother’s dream was to have me married off by thirty and I’m three years overdue. A few more and I’m afraid she might become officially unhinged.”
“Why is she such a stick in the mud?” Joy asked. “Being single is awesome. I’ve never felt freer. I can walk around the house naked and I haven’t shaved my legs in weeks. It’s everything I’ve ever dreamed of.” She gave a wistful smile, white teeth flashing under her blue eyes and long, wispy strawberry-blond hair.
“First of all, ew,” Laura said, holding up her finger while Joy snickered at her disdain. “And second, our girl here needs to get laid. It’s been a while, Kayla. I’m worried it’s going to shrivel up and close off completely.”
“Okay, enough talk about my vagina. It’s doing just fine, thank you. I have several vibrators and they always find my spot and never ask me to pay for dinner. What more can a girl ask for?”
“Wow,” Laura said, finishing her vodka soda. “Our bar is incredibly low. Welcome to dating in the modern world.”
“Seriously,” Kayla muttered.
After paying the tab, they each headed out of the Hell’s Kitchen bar. Laura pulled out her phone to call a rideshare, and Joy and Kayla waited until she’d been safely picked up by Joaquin in a black Camry. Laura lived on the Upper East Side, while Kayla and Joy only lived a few blocks from the bar. They strolled, chatting until they reached Joy’s apartment.
“See you at Brandon’s party next weekend. It should be fun.” Joy said, giving her a hug.
“We’ll see. He’s been kind of weird since we’re both up for the same promotion. I hope he chills out.” Kayla’s eyebrows drew together. “He was the first friend I made at the firm. I don’t want to lose him.”
“It’ll all work out. Besides, no one ‘lawyers’ like you,” Joy said, making quotation marks with her fingers. “You’ve got this.”
Kayla laughed. “I’m not sure that’s the right phrasing of the word, but I appreciate the sentiment. Thanks, J.”
Joy smiled, waving before she headed up the steps to her building. Kayla thrust her hands in the pockets of her coat, shivering a bit in the early November breeze. The holidays would arrive soon and, along with them, the dreaded trips home to see her family in New Jersey. To say that her mother was on her ass about finding a man and settling down would be an understatement.
Kayla had dated several men over the years, becoming serious with some, but she’d never made the leap to full-blown long-term relationship. Most of the guys were duds, lost in the sea of beautiful, successful women that comprised Manhattan. The ratio of men to women was so unbalanced that most men moved on at the slightest loss of interest or sign of a problem. And why not, when their Tinder profiles were filled with eager, smiling faces, most in their twenties and still a size four?
Kayla had been a size four…when she was twelve. Now, at thirty-three, she hovered between categorizing herself as curvy and slightly overweight. It wasn’t like she didn’t exercise—hell, she walked all over the damn city and did spin class with Laura twice a week. But her career kept her busy and most of her time was spent working, especially now that she was up for a promotion.
Entering her three-story walk-up building, she took her time, as she always did on the stairs. Otherwise, she would be out of breath when she reached the top, giving him the opportunity to make fun of her.
Hoping her insanely annoying—and infuriatingly gorgeous—neighbor wouldn’t hear her footsteps, she trudged along. Sure enough, as she crested the top step on the third floor, his doorknob jiggled and the door swung open.
He stepped outside, trash bag in hand, bare-chested. Kayla’s mouth watered at his eight-pack and she berated herself for being an idiot. Gray sweatpants sat low on his hips, the V of his abdomen jutting down below the waistband, leading to a sizeable package. Realizing she was staring like a lovelorn twit, she pasted on a fake smile.
“Hey,” he said, lifting the bag. “Garbage duty. You just getting home?”
“Yep,” she said, nodding. “Had some drinks with friends.”
“Yeah, the hot chick with the bracelets and the blond with the nice smile. I’m still open to a foursome whenever you guys are ready.”
Kayla rolled her eyes. “We’re all set, thanks.” Arching her head toward the door, she asked, “Who’s the lucky bimbo tonight? I’m sure she’s armed with fake tits and recently whitened teeth. You always manage to find the ones who appear perfect on the outside.”
“Jealous, Summers?” he asked, calling her by her last name, which he’d learned three years ago from the label on her mailbox.
She gritted her teeth. “Yes, I love hooking up with men who are incapable of sleeping with me more than once. You have to be running out of excuses to cut your conquests loose after one night. What will you do if one actually wants to date you?”
Carter gave a pfft. “Never gonna happen. I’m honest with every woman I approach. I’d say that’s more noble than leading someone on. I like to have fun, Kayla. You should try it sometime. It might get rid of that crease above your nose.” He pinched the bridge of his nose between his eyes, wiggling his fingers as he teased her.
“Thanks for the commentary on my appearance. I already understand I’m a troll to you. Some of us actually have real bodies and real boobs.” Thrusting her chin up, she breezed past him, wanting to escape into the confines of her apartment.
“Hey,” he said, grabbing her wrist. “I’m not putting down your appearance. I was just joking. Ease up. You’re a solid five. Five and a half when you’re wearing those sexy boots that always clink on the stairs.”
She gave him a glare, tugging her wrist from his grip.
“Joking!” he said, holding up his hands. “Come on, Kayla. Sheesh.”
“Carter?” A tall redhead peeked from his open apartment, her long leg snaking around the door as it seemed to glow in the backlight from his kitchen. “I’m getting cold. Are you going to come and warm me up?”
Kayla thought his tongue might actually spool out of his mouth. Rolling her eyes, she continued to her front door, sticking the key inside.
“Yep, just gotta take this out. Be right back.” His warm body bracketed Kayla’s from behind as he leaned down to whisper in her ear. “I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings. You’re cute, Kayla. I was just joking. See ya.” He continued down the hall, whistling as he entered the room that held the garbage chute.
Kayla entered her apartment, throwing her bag on the counter and turning on the lights. Remembering his warm breath in her ear, she allowed herself to imagine for one moment that he was breathing words of desire into the sensitive channel as he used that delectable body to make love to her. And then, she stopped the madness. Carter Manheim would never be attracted to someone like her. He seemed to have an endless loop of supermodels and socialites vying for his attention. Sighing, she began preparing for bed.
Once she was underneath the covers, she pulled up a book on her phone, hoping the romance novel would replace the thoughts in her overactive mind. Thoughts of Carter’s chest, with its smattering of tiny black hairs and that delicious V that led into his sweat pants.
Groaning, she set the phone on the bedside table and turned off the lamp, pulling the blankets to her chin. A dull thud rapped against the wall, and she drew the covers over her ears, trying to dampen the sound. Moments later, loud wails sounded from next door. One female and then one unmistakably male. She could always hear Carter having sex when one of his plethora of women was over. Gritting her teeth, she turned to her side and struggled to push the maddening groans from her consciousness.
At least one of them was getting laid. Unfortunately, it was her hot, arrogant, annoying-as-hell neighbor. Lamenting at the general unfairness of life, Kayla eventually fell to sleep.
But can Kayla protect her heart from the player of the century?