Today, I’m excited to share with you an exclusive excerpt from Paige in Progress by Brighton Walsh. This is book 3 in the Reluctant Heart series and will be releasing on January 19th. Each book in the series can be read as a stand alone, but I’d urge you to read the other books in the series which I loved!
She wanted a one-night stand…and then he moved in next door.
Paige Bennett is more than content with her life and what she does—and does not—have in it. She’s got a supportive family, a great apartment, and the best friend a girl could ask for; so what if her relationships expire faster than a carton of milk? After a disastrous detour courtesy of poor judgment in the boyfriend department, her plan is back on track and her dream job is finally within her grasp. Nothing can make her lose focus now. Well, nothing except the one-night stand she had with her best friend’s surrogate brother. The one-night stand she can’t stop thinking about.
Adam Reid has always been reliable…the responsible son, the loyal friend, the steady boyfriend. Two years ago, he graduated Magna Cum Laude and is well on his way to making a name for himself at an accounting firm in Denver—a far cry from working as a helper in the Mom and Pop store his parents own in Michigan. But when said store starts failing, he’s the only one who can step in and help. So reliable Adam does what he always does, and he comes to the rescue.
Paige thought Adam was a safe bet because he lives halfway across the country. But then suddenly he’s moving back to their town, and then into her apartment building, and soon he’s worming his way right into her life. If she’s not careful, he might sneak his way into her heart, too…
I step into the cage, pleased as fuck with the turn of events. But it’s still too close for my liking. Yeah, I won the first round, but only by one freakin’ ball. And if I hadn’t diverted Adam’s attention at the beginning, I have no doubt that round would’ve gone to him. And that is unacceptable.
“Brought what on myself?” I glance back at him, and God, why did I do that?
Because at that exact moment, I get an eyeful of Adam stripping off his T-shirt, the act of him tugging the collar over his head bunching the muscles in his arms, his sculpted abs coming into view one two-pack at a time. And then he’s just standing there in nothing but low-slung shorts and a sheen of sweat over the perfection that is his chest. My eyes don’t know where to look first—the defined, broad shoulders? The cut arms? His pecs or freakin’ eight-pack abs? That delicious V that disappears into the waistband of his shorts? Or the trail of dark hair that leads straight to what I absolutely am not going to think about? Snapping my eyes up to his, I see his stupid smug face grinning back at me, and I glare.
“Nice try, Adam. You think you’re the first guy with a nice body I’ve seen? Gonna have to do more than that to get me off my game.”
“Whatever you say, honey bunches. You ready?”
I face forward and give a quick nod, forcing myself not to look back. Taking a deep breath, I try to forget what he looks like standing there behind me, all dark-haired, muscled perfection. I try to concentrate only on the balls coming at me at sixty miles per hour, but it’s goddamn hard. And it only gets worse when Adam steps into my peripheral vision, coming closer to the cage. He’s standing off to the side so he doesn’t get hit with stray balls, his fingers hooked in the chain-link of the cage. The stance is casual, but his intent is anything but. I know he has an ulterior motive. I’m not an idiot, and neither is he. When he stands like that, with one arm braced higher than the other, it does amazing things for his arms and his abs and, seriously, Ryan Gosling has nothing on him.
I miss four times in a row, and it’s clear having him there messes with my mojo.
“God, can you go somewhere else?” I yell, taking another swing and missing.
“Something wrong?” I can hear the smug satisfaction in his voice, and I want to wipe that smirk off his face. With my tongue.
I growl at him, the fear of losing inching up my spine. I shouldn’t have made that bet. I was an idiot, because, yeah, I was planning on having him doing something funny and beneficial to me—like baking me cupcakes while wearing that frilly apron my mom bought me as a joke. It would’ve been hilarious as fuck. But him? I know his winnings are going to be far more detrimental to my sanity than a frilly apron could ever be to his.
When the last ball comes sailing out and I miss—a-freakin’-gain—I stomp out of the cage and point the bat straight at him. “I’m calling DQ on that bullshit!” I’m not even sorry it comes out as a yell, causing a few of the others around us to glance our way.
He’s the picture of innocence as he turns to face me, leaning back against the chain-link, his arms crossed, and my God, what kind of exercises does this guy do to get arms like that? Bench press houses? “What?” he asks. “I didn’t do anything. Didn’t even heckle you.”
“Oh, no, I can handle heckling. What I can’t handle is you being all”—I wave a hand in his direction, encompassing all that is his fuckhotness and make a disgusted sound—“you know.”
“No, I’m afraid I don’t know.”
“Oh, please, you totally know.”
“‘Fraid not. Gonna have to spell it out for me, sugar plum.”
“Look, dude, I’m not going to shower you with compliments over your fuckhot body, so try again.”
He doesn’t say anything, but the smile that starts slowly and then takes up so much of his face I want to kiss it off speaks volumes. Oh, it is so on.
“Fine. Just remember you brought this on yourself,” I repeat his words from earlier. With that, I walk over to the bench that has all our stuff littered over the top of it. I pull off the helmet I’m wearing and set it on the bench. Then I reach down and grab the hem of my T-shirt, tugging it right over my head.
“I’m ready. Hit m— What the fuck are you doing?” His voice is like granite, hard and penetrating.
I shrug, not glancing at him. “It’s hot.”
“I don’t give a shit if it’s hot. You’re not walking around without a goddamn shirt on.” He glances around at the other cages. It’s not terribly busy, but we’re not the only ones out here. His jaw clenches as he spots a few guys a couple cages over looking at us. “Put your shirt back on, Paige.”
“I have a sports bra on, Dad. This is way more than I wear at the beach.”
“We’re not at the beach,” he bites out.
“Nope, we’re here to hit some balls, and I’m starting the machine, so you better get ready to swing, big boy.”
He snaps his mouth shut, his eyes glaring daggers into me, and I really didn’t think this whole thing through. Because now, not only am I staring at a half-naked Adam, but I have one less layer covering me to hide my reactions to his body… How was I supposed to know he’d get all…territorial about me? And that I’d like it?
Without saying another word, he turns around, his attention on the machine, and starts swinging with a single-minded focus. It’s a thing of beauty to watch. There’s no denying it—Adam knows his way around a bat and ball. And, God, the way his back and shoulder muscles flex with each swing, the glimpse of his abs as he twists, the powerful clench and release of his leg muscles…holy mama. Batting cages were a really fucking bad idea.
By the time the last ball comes to him, I’m huffing on the bench, arms crossed and lasers attempting to be shot out of my eyes into his general direction. All his focus paid off, because he takes that round, making us even. He comes out of the cage and walks toward me until he’s standing right in front of where I’m sitting on the bench, his helmet held in his hand.
I can feel his eyes on me, but I don’t dare look into them. Don’t dare look at his body, either, so I glance up and stare just off to the side, past the delectable muscles in his arms.
“You have any idea how difficult it is to swing with a hard-on?” he asks, his voice all low and scratchy and delicious.
I swallow, forcing my eyes not to drop to the front of his shorts and get another peek of what I already know he’s packing. “Can’t say I do, no.”
“Yeah, well, it’s really fucking difficult.”
“Hey, don’t blame me. You’re the one who started stripping first. I warned you I’d retaliate.”
He huffs out a laugh, lifting his hand to run through his hair, and I finally allow myself to meet his gaze. His eyes are focused, intent, and he looks…hungry. And determined. The combination is hot as hell if the wetness in my panties is anything to go by.
“If you think I didn’t get hard until you stripped off your shirt, you haven’t been paying attention, Paige.” He drops his helmet, then rests his hands on either side of my hips on the bench, trapping me there as he leans toward me. “But just so you know? I’m not losing tonight.” His eyes flit down to my lips, and I part them in response. “And I’m going to get my prize.”
Whoa! Awesome right?!?
Don’t forget to check out the other books in the series…
Huge thanks to Brighton for the amazing excerpt!