Unraveled (The Untangled Series Book 1), page 1
Sneak Peek: Undone
Sneak Peek: The Temptation Trap
Also by Ivy Layne
About Ivy Layne
Evers Sinclair is dangerous.
One flash of that teasing smile, and I know he’s going to ruin me.
He makes my body shiver and my brain melt.
He’s also a huge mistake.
Girls like me don’t land guys like Evers.
But every time he knocks on my door, I let him in.
I thought we understood each other.
I thought we were playing the same game.
I was wrong.
* * *
I’ve never had a problem mixing business with pleasure.
I was supposed to keep an eye on her, not take her to bed.
Once I had her where I wanted her, I couldn’t let her go.
I’m going to have to move heaven and Earth to win her back.
And that’s the easy part.
With the Russian mob after us and her father dragging us to hell…
I don’t just have to win her back, I have to keep her alive.
The knock at the door startled me so badly I almost dropped my curling iron. I wasn't that late, was I? I wasn't supposed to be downstairs for another…
Oh, crap. I was that late.
Unplugging the curling iron and giving my lashes a quick swipe of mascara, I rushed to the door, swung it open, and froze.
It wasn't Julie, here to pick me up for a girls’ night out.
No, standing in the door was my very own, personal Achilles' heel.
The devil come to tempt me.
Eve with the Apple.
Okay, bad analogy. Evers Sinclair could be a devil, but he was no Eve.
Evers Sinclair was male temptation incarnate, and I’d never been able to resist him.
He smiled at me, lips curved into a grin seasoned with mischief and filled with promise.
That grin always got me, even when I'd resolved to resist him.
Especially when I'd resolved to resist him.
He leaned in my doorway, one arm braced against the frame, his ice-blue eyes doing a slow perusal from my head to my toes, heating as they took in my deliberately-tumbled blonde curls, little black cocktail dress, and mile-high spike heels.
His voice was all flirtation, but his eyes said something else. Something I couldn't quite read.
That couldn’t be worry, could it?
Giving an internal shrug, I stepped back to let him in. I'd given up on understanding Evers Sinclair. Evers walked in as if he belonged in my apartment, dropping his overstuffed briefcase on the chair by the front door before heading into the kitchen to help himself to a beer.
Popping the cap off the bottle, he turned and leaned against the counter, taking a long swig.
"I like the dress," he said, lids heavy over those cool blue eyes, gaze smoldering.
Ignoring the flash of heat at the look in his eyes, I rolled my own. "It's new," I said.
"You didn't answer my question," he said smoothly, his gaze tracing the V-shaped neckline of my dress and the generous display of cleavage framed by black silk.
His eyes peeled the dress off my shoulders, stripped me naked. It had been three weeks since I’d seen him, and I’d felt his absence every day.
The heat growing in my belly kicked up a notch. I gritted my teeth and pushed it back. I did not have time for this. My body didn't care. It never did where Evers Sinclair was concerned.
He showed up, smoldered at me, and my body was ready to go.
"Which question?" I shot back, always ready to play the game with Evers, even against my better judgment.
Since the moment we'd met, he'd been getting under my skin. As hard as I tried, I couldn't quite work him back out.
"Are you going somewhere? If it's a bad time I can leave."
I stopped, the quick retort frozen on my tongue. I took another look at Evers, seeing past his distinctive eyes, his broad shoulders and sharp cheekbones, past the beauty to the man beneath.
He was tired, I realized with surprise. More than tired, he looked exhausted. His face was drawn, lines bracketing his mouth, purple-gray smudges beneath his eyes.
I had no idea what he’d been doing since the last time he’d shown up at my door, but whatever it was, he looked like he needed nothing more than a good meal and a solid night's sleep.
I bit back the sarcastic retort on the tip of my tongue and told him the truth. "I am. I'm sorry, I didn't know you'd be coming by and—"
I wasn't imagining the edge in his voice. I debated how to answer.
It wasn't any of his business if I did have a hot date. We had a thing, yeah. A thing neither of us had ever bothered to define. A thing that was definitely not exclusive.
I didn't know who he was with when he wasn't with me. I could never bring myself to ask. That way lay heartbreak.
Evers Sinclair was a player.
He was not a one-woman man, and he never would be.
I'd known from the start I had a choice. Take what he was willing to give or walk away.
It had never occurred to me that he would care if I saw other people, but the way he'd asked hot date? didn't sound nonchalant.
Again, I went with the truth.
"Not tonight. You know my friend Julie?" Evers nodded. I’d mentioned Julie before. She and I had known each other since college. "She and Frank broke up."
"That was a long time coming," Evers commented.
He'd never met Julie, but he'd heard me bitch about her boyfriend more than once. Frank was an asshole who didn't deserve my sweet, funny friend, and she'd finally figured it out. Hallelujah.
"I know. She caught him flirting with the waitress when they were out to dinner, which would have been bad enough, but when he disappeared to the bathroom for a little too long and she went looking for him—"
“Let me guess, she walked in on him in the back hall with his hand up the waitress’ skirt," Evers said dryly.
I shrugged a shoulder. "Close enough. The waitress smacked him—apparently, she had
"Good for her," Evers said.
That was the thing about Evers. He was a player and a flirt, but he was honest about it. He’d never once made me a promise he couldn't keep. Never once implied that he could give me more and let me down.
He was a player, but he wasn’t a liar.
That was the only reason I could make this crazy arrangement work. Well, that and the sex.
The sex was amazing.
Hell, however you wanted to put it, getting in bed with Evers Sinclair was worth the dangerous game we were playing.
I was going to end up getting hurt.
I knew it, but I couldn't seem to stop myself. He was dangerous, but he was Evers.
Just like the second piece of chocolate cake. I kept telling myself only one more bite and found myself going back for more.
Over and over.
Eventually, I was going to work up the willpower to give him up completely.
Eventually. But not tonight.
I picked up my purse from the kitchen counter, removing lip gloss, wallet, and emergency cash, transferring them to the small black purse that matched my dress.
"Julie's finally past the sappy movie and ice cream stage and she wants to go out. Get dressed up, you know, have a little fun and discover a new, post-Frank world."
"And you're playing wing-woman?" Evers asked, taking another pull on the beer, his eyes lingering on the short hem of my dress.
"Something like that," I said, the trail of his gaze heating my skin. I found myself wondering if I could bail. I wasn't the only one going out with Julie and—no.
I was not bailing on a girlfriend for Evers.
This was Julie's night. Ditching her for hot sex, even stupendously hot sex, was not cool. I pressed my thighs together, willing my body to stand down.
I swear, one look at Evers and my hormones leapt into overdrive.
He took another pull on the beer and didn't say anything. Something in the line of his neck, the tilt of his jaw made me think he didn't like the idea of me being Julie's wing-woman.
I fought back the urge to make an excuse, to explain that I wasn’t going to pick anybody up, I was just there to support a friend.
It wasn't any of his business what I did.
That wasn't what we were.
I didn't know what the hell we were, but I knew it wasn't that. It wasn't explanations and promises.
It was moments of time.
It was the present, not the future.
I knew that. So why did I find myself saying, "I won't be late. If you want to hang out, I have leftover Chinese in the fridge from last night. Orange beef, your favorite, and some egg rolls. You can eat dinner, watch the game until I get home."
My stomach lurched.
Why did I say that?
Evers had never been in my apartment without me. He’d never spent the night. We'd fallen asleep together, too exhausted to move after a marathon of sex, muscles wrung out, nerves fried with pleasure. In the morning, he was always gone.
Why had I offered him my leftover take-out, my couch, and my TV? And why did he look relieved?
My phone chimed with a text. Julie, downstairs waiting. I didn't have time to figure out the mystery of Evers Sinclair.
“That’s Julie. I’ve got to run. Do you want to stay?"
Evers set his beer on the counter and prowled toward me, cool blue eyes intent on mine. "Come here," he growled, reaching out to pull me into his arms. His mouth landed on my neck just below my ear, sending sparks through every nerve in my body.
Evers could play my body like an instrument, and he did. Moving his lips down the cord of my neck, his strong arms absorbed my shivers, his leg nudging between mine, hand dropping to cup my ass, urging me closer until I ground against him, shuddering under his mouth, the caress of his lips, the heat of his tongue on my skin.
Lifting his mouth, he nipped my earlobe before whispering, his breath hot in my ear, "Have fun. Stay out of trouble. When you get back I'll fuck you until you can't walk."
I thought promises, promises, but the words remained unspoken, short-circuiting between my brain and my mouth. All I could do was gasp as his teeth nipped my jaw and his mouth fell on mine.
Evers Sinclair knew how to kiss. Like, he really knew how to kiss. I wrapped my arms around his neck and held on for dear life, his lips opening mine, tongue stroking, his hands everywhere.
A heartbeat later I was flushed with heat, hips rolling into his, every inch of me wound tight.
Desperate. For him.
My phone chimed again, the high-pitched sound cutting through the haze. Reluctantly, I eased away, sliding my hips out of his grip, dropping my hands from his neck, breaking the contact between our mouths.
I had to go.
I had to go, but I didn't want to end that kiss.
I already knew I was a mess, hair all over the place, cheeks flushed, lip gloss smeared across my cheek.
I didn’t expect the flags of red on Evers’ cheekbones, the tight set of his jaw, the glitter in his eyes. His hands flexed at his sides as if he wanted to reach out. To drag me back.
On shaky legs, I stepped away, hiding the roil of my emotions, lust, and want. Longing.
"I have to go," I said inanely. He already knew I had to go. Why wasn’t I leaving?
"Go then. I'll be here when you get back."
His words sounded suspiciously like a promise. They aren't, I told myself as I considered one more kiss, then thought better of it.
If I kissed him again, I'd never leave my apartment, and Julie was waiting.
Grabbing my purse, I headed for the door without another word. Standing at the elevator, I lectured myself.
This is Evers Sinclair.
He might get bored and wander off before you even get home.
Don't count on him being there.
Don't count on him for anything.
I warned myself, but I didn't listen. I never had where Evers was concerned.
I had no idea what I was doing with him. We were a total mismatch.
From the moment we'd met we hadn't gotten along.
He was bossy, autocratic, arrogant, and an incorrigible flirt. Evers wasn't my type in so many ways. I favored serious guys, usually cute, but not hot. Guys with normal jobs and normal lives.
I sound exciting, don't I? But that's the thing, I'm not exciting. I'm a perfectly normal girl with a perfectly normal life. A least I was, until the day Evers swept in and turned everything upside down.
I was at a conference in Houston, kind of bored, kind of having fun, looking forward to the weekend when I was expecting a visit from my best friend, Emma.
Evers had appeared out of nowhere, claiming that Emma was in danger and she needed my help. If I’d heard that line from anyone else I would have laughed him out of town. Especially since he refused to tell me what the trouble was or how she needed my help.
I'd known, the way best friends always know, that Emma was involved in something, but that didn't mean I trusted Evers. Still, I'd gone with him, all the way to Atlanta, bickering the whole time.
I couldn't help myself. He was so high-handed. He strolled in and expected me to do his bidding just because he said so.
It hadn't helped that every time I looked at him, my knees went weak.
Back then he'd worn his hair almost military short, and it left every inch of that chiseled face on display, from his dark brows to his ice-blue eyes, his sharp cheekbones and full lower lip.
His face is enough to make a girl swoon. His body kicks the whole package up a notch. I didn't have to see beneath the suits to know that Evers Sinclair was sex on a stick.
So out of my league. So very much out of my league.
We'd bickered and flirted, and that had been it.
A little too much champagne, an argument over the wedding cake, and before I knew it, I was backed into a wall behind an arrangement of potted plants, Evers’ hand on my ass under my bridesmaid’s dress.
I could blame the champagne for falling into bed with Evers, but that would be a flat-out lie. It had nothing to do with the champagne and everything to do with Evers Sinclair.
Damn, that man knew how to use his hands. And his mouth. And everything else.
We'd spent Emma's wedding night locked up in my hotel room. And the night after. And the night after that.
Then I'd flown home, he'd left town on a job, and I wrote off Evers Sinclair as a wedding insanity mistake.
Maybe not a mistake.
It's hard to call sex that good a mistake.
And what's wrong with having a fling every once in a while? Every girl should have a fling. Except I was a serial dater. I didn’t fling. One-night stands seemed like too much work for not enough payoff.
With Evers, it was all payoff and no work. When I bumped into him again a year later at a client’s party, my body went on full alert the second my eyes met his.
I'd convinced myself I'd forgotten Evers, but my body hadn't. Not for one red-hot second.
Evers had his own gravity, a magnetic pull that drew me across the room, demanding my attention even when I was in the middle of a client's party. At the end of the night, he’d been there, lounging against my car, waiting.
I'd invited him home, we fell into bed, and our non-relationship was born.
He showed up every once in a while, knocking on my door with no notice, and I always let him in. Every now and then, I’d text, and he'd come. I’d never been to his place and wasn't exactly sure where he lived. Somewhere in Atlanta.
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