I Think I Love You, page 1
Copyright © 2018 Lauren LeDonne
Excerpt from Ready to Run copyright © 2017 Lauren LeDonne
Cover photograph © Dari Ya/Shutterstock
The right of Lauren Layne to be identified as the Author of the Work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
First published in this Ebook edition in 2018
by HEADLINE ETERNAL
An imprint of HEADLINE PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by arrangement with Loveswept, a member of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.
Apart from any use permitted under UK copyright law, this publication may only be reproduced, stored, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means, with prior permission in writing of the publishers or, in the case of reprographic production, in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency.
All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Cataloguing in Publication Data is available from the British Library
eISBN 978 1 4722 5017 9
HEADLINE PUBLISHING GROUP
An Hachette UK Company
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London EC4Y 0DZ
Table of Contents
About the Author
Praise for Lauren Layne
By Lauren Layne
About the Book
An excerpt from Ready to Run
Discover these sexy romances from Lauren Layne
Find out more about Headline Eternal
About the Author
Lauren Layne is the New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen novels. A former e-commerce and web marketing manager from Seattle, Lauren relocated to New York City in 2011 to pursue a full-time writing career. Her hobbies include maintaining a designer-purse addiction and observing cocktail hour. Lauren lives in midtown Manhattan with her high-school sweetheart, where she writes smart romantic comedies with just enough sexy-times to make your mother blush.
Keep up to date with Lauren by subscribing to her newsletter at laurenlayne.com/subscribe, following her on Instagram: www.instagram.com/_laurenlayne/ and Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/LLayneAuthor/, or visiting her website: laurenlayne.com.
Praise for Lauren Layne’s irresistible romances:
‘A wonderful, enchanting, toe-curling love story of two opposites attracting and falling hard! I adored this couple and their slow-burn romance’ Lauren Blakely, New York Times bestselling author
‘Walk of Shame is my favorite read of 2017 so far! The sexy banter and sparks that flew between Andrew and Georgie made this so much fun, I couldn’t help fall in love with the two of them’ A. L. Jackson, New York Times bestselling author
‘Fun, sexy, and sharp as a spike heel’ Ruthie Knox, New York Times bestselling author
‘I absolutely adored this outstanding story’ Sandi Lynn, New York Times bestselling author
‘My kind of book, sexy and witty, and the banter between the characters is off the charts. You’ll fall in love with their chemistry from page one’ Sidney Halston, USA Today bestselling author
‘Lauren Layne is the queen of fun and sexy all rolled into one. She knows how to write smart and hilarious characters that I want to read over and over again’ Cassie Mae, bestselling author of Doing It For Love
‘A raw, no-holds-barred portrayal of two best friends making the choice to become lovers . . . the best I’ve ever read!’ The Romance Reviews
‘Fresh and fast-paced . . . a perfect escape/comfort read, and guaranteed to cheer a girl up when she’s feeling down’ Unquietly Me
‘Layne is one of the best authors writing today and I was reminded of that as I read this book . . . It was hot and sexy and sweet. I laughed and shrieked and cried, exactly what I want from a book’ Obsessed with Romance
By Lauren Layne
I Wish You Were Mine
Someone Like You
I Knew You Were Trouble
I Think I Love You
I Do, I Don’t Series
Ready To Run
Love Unexpectedly Standalones
Walk Of Shame
Wedding Belles Series
From This Day Forward (e-novella)
To Have And To Hold
For Better Or Worse
To Love And To Cherish
About the Book
Brit Robbins knows that dating in New York City is hard – she just hoped to have it mastered by age thirty. But after yet another promising suitor says they have no spark, Brit decides it’s time to torch her dating game and try a new plan. And who better to coach Brit through the art of seduction than the guy who first gave her the ‘let’s be friends’ card?
Hunter Cross has always figured there’s nothing his best friend Brit can do to surprise him. But Brit’s request is a surprise he doesn’t see coming – and one he’s definitely not prepared for. Hunter and Brit have always been careful to keep things perfectly platonic, but the fake dates and faux flirting are starting to feel like the real deal. And soon Hunter realizes he has taught Brit too well. Not only has she become an expert at seduction, but the man becoming thoroughly seduced is him.
Want more fun, fresh, flirty and very sexy rom-com? Check out all the titles in the Oxford series: Irresistibly Yours, I Wish You Were Mine, Someone Like You and I Knew You Were Trouble and don’t miss the warm, witty and sexy Wedding Belles series and the I Do, I Don’t series, as well as the romantic standalones in the Love Unexpectedly series.
A Note from the Author
Thanks so much for picking up I Think I Love You. This book was such a joy to write, and I can’t wait for you to experience Hunter and Brit’s epic love story.
While this can absolutely be read as a standalone without reading any preceding books in the series, for you longtime Stiletto and Oxford fans, I do want to make a quick clarification of the timeline so there’s no confusion as you read:
The events in this book take place immediately following the events of I Knew You Were Trouble but before the epilogue of Someone Like You.
“I mean, what is wrong with the men of New York City?”
Hunter Cross adjusted his glasses, the ones he w
Hunter flipped between the two advertising proofs. Black watch on red background? Navy watch on gold background . . .
The iPad was snatched out of his hand.
“Are you listening?”
Hunter sighed and finally gave in to the inevitable, pulling his glasses off and fixing his gaze on the semi-irate blonde who’d been pacing around his office for the better part of the last half hour.
As far as employees went, Brit Robbins was one of Hunter’s best. His senior product manager was low-maintenance, efficient, and innovative in her proposed solutions. An excellent skill set, considering they were on the digital-operations team at Oxford, the country’s most popular men’s magazine.
As his best friend, however, she was spirited, fiercely loyal, and currently . . . demanding all of his attention.
“Sorry, what?” Hunter leaned back in his chair, knowing there was little chance of him getting back to work until she’d solved her problem. Which, best he could tell, was her irritation with the entire male population of New York City.
Brit sighed and plopped into his guest chair. “So, you weren’t listening.”
“Ahhh—” No good answer to that question, especially when it came from a woman.
“Never mind,” she said, setting the iPad she’d confiscated on the corner of his desk. “I should know better than to talk at you when you’re in the zone.”
He watched as she used the hairband around her wrist to pile her blond hair into a messy knot atop her head.
He’d known her long enough to know that she always started the day with her long hair down and perfectly styled, only to have it pulled back and out of her face by noon or so. Hunter didn’t know why she didn’t just start the day with her hair pulled back, but he’d asked once and gotten a disgusted eye roll. He chalked it up to one of the hazards of being best friends with a female.
“Sorry, but in my defense, it is two P.M. on a Friday,” he said, trying to reach for his iPad. “Speaking of which, aren’t you supposed to be in a meeting with the design team?”
“Rescheduled,” she said, her voice distracted and a little bit . . . sad.
Damn. Friendship duty called. He leaned back. “Okay. Bring me up to speed. What’s the deal? Short version,” he added quickly.
She lifted a finger and waved it. “Nope. Do I ever short version you when you want to fill me in on every excruciating detail of the Yankees game?”
“You like the Yankees.”
“Um, no. Not really. I like the junk food and beer that usually come hand in hand with watching the Yankees. Crucial difference.”
“Do you want to tell me what’s making you pissy or not?”
“Lenny and I broke up.”
Ah. “Well, I did warn you about the hazards of dating someone named Lenny. . . .”
Her withering look silenced him. “Right. Too soon for that. What happened?”
“He dumped me,” she said. “Can you believe it? I mean, the guy lives next door to his mother, and she still makes him breakfast. And yet somehow I end up on the sad side of the breakup equation.”
“Oh, come on. You’re not actually brokenhearted over that dude. You guys dated for, what, a week?”
“A month. And, no, I didn’t think he was the one, it’s just . . . what is wrong with me?”
“Wait, I thought the question we were addressing was what was wrong with the men of New York?”
“Aha!” She pointed at him accusingly. “You were listening earlier.”
Hunter dragged his hands down his face and prayed for patience. “Brit. You know I’ve got your back. But if we’re going to talk in circles, can we do it after work when I can have a mammoth-sized beer in my hand?”
“Yeah, that’s fair,” she said with only a slight sigh. “God knows I’ve put you through enough of these talks the past few months.”
“Do what I do,” he said with a grin. “Don’t date unless you feel like it, and keep it casual.”
“Yeah, well, I do feel like it,” she said moodily. “But I don’t get to just snap my fingers like you when I’m in the mood. I’m not a six-foot dude with a six-figure bank account who can get anyone I want just by smiling.”
“You can too,” Hunter said emphatically.
And he meant it.
His feelings toward Brit had always been entirely platonic, but he wasn’t an idiot. This woman was one of the good ones, the type that any guy would be lucky to have. For starters, she was attractive. Very. Average height, but with curves in all the right places, blond hair, big old blue eyes. And a great smile. Which sounded clichéd only if you hadn’t seen Brit Robbins’s smile. The woman seemed to glow.
So yeah, any guy who didn’t get that, didn’t get her, was a moron. At least as far as Hunter was concerned.
“Um, my track record with men says otherwise,” she said.
“I don’t know why you keep putting yourself through this,” he said as gently as he could, considering he always felt out of his depth with this sort of talk.
“Um, because my eggs are rotting?” she said, waving a palm in the general area of her midsection.
Hunter winced. “Oh God. Never mind.”
She laughed. “I love that look you get on your face whenever forced to acknowledge that I am, in fact, female.”
“Oh, trust me,” he said emphatically, “I’m well aware that you’re female. This very conversation is irrefutable proof. You think any of the guys come in here demanding to discuss their latest relationship problems?”
She lifted her eyebrows in challenge. “You’re telling me that you and Nick didn’t talk about him and—”
“Nick and Taylor, yeah, okay. So I kind of got involved there. But neither of them talked about their eggs.”
“Nick doesn’t have eggs,” she pointed out pragmatically. “And Taylor’s are in fine working order, as evidenced by the fact that she wasn’t even trying to get pregnant and she got—”
“Wait, hold up. Are you dragging yourself through the putrid dating pool because you want a kid? Aren’t there other ways for that? Adoption, or—”
She held up a hand. “Yes. And if it comes to that, I’ll explore them. But I don’t just want the kid. I want the romantic part too.”
“Well. Quit dating guys named Lenny.”
Brit laughed, but then shook her head. “Their names aren’t the problem. I am. There’s something about me, something that’s . . .” She pursed her lips. “I dunno. It’s as though guys don’t see me like that.”
“Like what?” he asked, not at all sure he wanted to know.
“Girlfriend material. It’s like I’m locked in the perpetual friend zone.”
“You are not,” he said, checking his watch.
“Oh, really,” she said, crossing her arms. “What about you and me?”
He glanced up. “We’re different.”
“Because we’re . . .” Shit. He did not want to have this conversation. Ever. He and Brit simply were what they were. Friends. Good friends. Analyzing why they were the way they were would only complicate one of the best things in his life.
“My point is, you’ve never seen me as more than a friend. From the very beginning, I’ve only ever been BFF.”
“To be clear,” Hunter clarified, “I’ve never used that phrase. Most dudes don’t.”
“But am I wrong?”
“Well, it was the same for you,” he pointed out. “You labeled me as a friend too, but I don’t come to your office whining about it.”
“My office is smaller.”
“Okay, okay, I’m being difficult,” she said with a wave of her hand. “Just answer me this one thing, and then I’ll leave you alone. No guys see me as girlfriend material. Why is that?”
He rubbed his forehead and grinned. “Could be conver
He was joking, but he was surprised to see his best friend taking him seriously, tapping her fingers thoughtfully against her jaw. “I do like to talk a lot. . . .”
Hunter got up and walked toward Brit, took her by the shoulders, and coaxed her to a standing position, then turned her around toward the door and shoved her playfully. “And any guy worth dating should like to listen to you talk. I do. Just not right now?”
“All right,” she muttered. “I should have known I wouldn’t get any help from one of you.”
“One of who?” he asked in a bemused voice, ushering her to the door.
She pointed at his crotch accusingly. “Someone with one of those.”
“Uh, can we not talk about my dick like it’s some sort of disease?” he asked with a wince.
Her finger lifted to point at his face. “Later. Later, I will get you drunk and make you explain to me what I’m doing wrong.”
“Fine. And I will continue to repeat the it’s not you it’s them line and tell you to be patient.”
She didn’t seem to hear him. Or at least chose to ignore him.
“I feel like I need a plan.” Her expression had turned speculative.
Hunter groaned. Brit’s plans were often . . . extensive. When they applied to her work tasks, he welcomed them. When they applied to her personal life, things tended to get complicated.
“Fine,” he said. “Go get a plan. Just promise me one thing.”
“Sure. What?” She looked up at him.
“Leave me out of it?” He grinned to soften the request.
She patted his cheek. “Sure. Of course.”
Brit turned and flounced down the hall, and Hunter shook his head. No way was she going to leave him out of it.
Best he could do was to go get some work done before whatever it was came roaring at him.
“Oh, look at these,” Daisy Sinclair said in a gushing, excited voice as she whirled around, holding out two matching dresses: one meant for an infant girl, the other for an adult woman. Both black and white polka dot, with a satin Tiffany-blue sash around the waist. “Darling, right?”