Unmistaken identity, p.1

Unmistaken Identity, page 1

 

Unmistaken Identity
 


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Unmistaken Identity


  Unmistaken Identity

  Fanboys, Book One

  By Marie Johnston

  Unmistaken Identity (Smashwords Ed.)

  Copyright 2017 by Lisa Elijah

  Developmental Editing by The Killion Group

  Copyediting by Razor Sharp Editing

  Cover by P and N Graphics

  The characters, places, and events in this story are fictional. Any similarities to real people, places, or events are coincidental and unintentional.

  Table of Contents

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  Chapter Twenty

  Chapter Twenty-one

  Chapter Twenty-two

  Chapter Twenty-three

  About the author

  Also by the author

  To the ultimate fanboy, my dear husband, and our little fanboy and girls in training.

  For new release updates and chapter sneak peeks, sign up for Marie’s newsletter via instaFreebie and receive a FREE novella from my Fleet Romance series.

  Chapter One

  Mara strode into the swanky club and stalled. The loud music pulsed though her body, and flashing lights bounced off mirrored columns. Beautiful people sipped cocktails and flirted with the equally stunning people next to them. She so didn’t belong there.

  Sam, why’d you have to go and die on me? Guilt immediately poured in. It wasn’t like the man she leased her store front from, her dear friend, had planned on passing away.

  To fortify her nerves, she reminded herself why she was here instead of at home in her Avengers pajamas, slaying some dragon ass on her Xbox.

  She had forty-five days to close down her comic book shop and vacate the building. The entire strip mall was scheduled for demolition.

  Sam Robson’s son must’ve moved on his plans to tear down her livelihood before dirt had even covered the coffin.

  She smoothed her hands down her skirt and wished for her favorite leggings and flannel. Her feet screamed in her heels, but at least she wouldn’t get kicked out for not being hot enough.

  Why couldn’t he have met with her like a responsible business owner? Why couldn’t Sam have finished the paperwork that would’ve taken care of everything?

  I’m sorry, Mr. Robson isn’t in the office today.

  Wesley Robson’s bitchy receptionist had said that line for the last five days. First, the coward had served her papers on Friday afternoon, then he’d been “gone” all week. If he thought to avoid her, he was an idiot. She’d meet his unprofessionalism with her tenacity. To start with, she’d remembered Sam telling her his son owned a nightclub.

  And here she was. At Canon. Of all the definitions of canon, which one had he named his club after? She doubted he used religious connotations in the name of a nightclub. In her world, canon discussions varied depending on the universe being discussed. Comic books? Superhero movies? Video games? Yeah, those worlds went with this place…

  She glanced around at the design and decor of the club. Upscale. Like the high-end retail shopping and luxury condos planned for where her store sat. What was this look called? Industrial contemporary. Another term she’d heard Sam throw around. She’d learned so much from that man.

  Six months of mourning his death gave way to a spike in anger. He’d told her he’d take care of it, that her business would never be threatened. The papers that gave her the Heart of Downtown strip mall had been drawn up and…that was as far as it had gotten. He had loved her comic book shop, Arcadia, almost as much as she did.

  Squaring her shoulders, she forced one foot in front of the other. As she passed the bouncer, he slid his gaze down her bare legs, up to her plunging neckline, then behind her to the next scantily clad woman. He had plenty to choose from, and, as always, she was forgettable.

  Mara sighed. No wonder the fanboy world was where she stayed. Most days, comic book worlds were preferable to hers, and her customers brightened each hour she worked. Hell, they were her only friends.

  She scanned the club as she wound her way around mirrored columns to the bar. Throngs of young professionals left their business jackets behind and bounced in beat to the music, their ties loose and neck collars unbuttoned. Dark booths lining the walls—she was almost afraid to look—were filled with laughing men and women, elegant drinks in their hands.

  The bar anchored the middle of the club and she chose a seat on the same side as the door. A prime view of every corner.

  The bartender gave her a once-over. “What can I get you?”

  “I’d like to talk to Wes, if he’s around.” Maybe acting like she knew him would help. But what if he went by Wesley?

  The guy cocked an eyebrow. “He’s not here.”

  A ready-made answer. A lot of women must make the same request. Perfect. The guy was a player. At least that might mean he harvested his bedroom fun from the dance floor and would make an appearance.

  Ugh. She hated lingering at bars.

  What the hell did people drink when they went to places like this? Mixed drinks? She didn’t know any. Beer? She liked it with pizza. “I’ll have a glass of white wine.”

  There. That sounded classy.

  He rattled off a list of brands, his tone bored.

  She gave him a succinct smile. “Surprise me.”

  He poured her wine as he made a phone call. Her lips flattened when she noticed he’d chosen bottom shelf. Was she that obvious? She wasn’t penniless, but she did pinch the copper out of them.

  He slid the glass in front of her and moved down the line, taking orders.

  Sipping her drink and watching the crowd, she waffled between ordering a second glass and going home. Could she tolerate sitting at the bar, wasting time, while her mind vacillated between finding another location for her store and giving it up to work for someone else?

  She shuddered. Giving someone power and influence over her?

  Not again.

  She had to hunt Wesley Robson down tonight, didn’t want to waste more time on her search. As it was, the night would be too short for decent sleep. Saturday was game day at her comic book shop. Participants showed early and played intensely for hours. Board games, card games, electronic games. She would jump in and play them all, or run around the store helping customers.

  It was her favorite day of the week, but still a long one.

  What did Wesley look like, anyway? She would’ve seen him if she’d been able to go to the funeral. By the time she’d found out about Sam’s sudden death, though, he’d been gone and buried. There had to be a picture of his boy online. Just as she pulled out her phone to do a search, someone settled onto the barstool next to her.

  “Macallan 12.”

  The deep voice resonated through her bones. She almost groaned. He had the rumble of a rugged man, a primal mating call in her opinion. Admittedly, her last few dates had put the “boys” in fanboys, not men who knew their way around a woman.

  She peeked at him from the corner of her eye. Her fingers tightened around the stem of her glass.

  Holy hotness, Batman! He reminded her of one of her favorite superheroes. Jet-black hair, sky-blue eyes nearly glowing under the club lights, wide shoulders. If he wore a cape and had a large S on his shirt, she’d sit on his fac
e. She’d still consider it, given his charcoal slacks and white-striped shirt, which likely had been cinched by a tie all day. The first two buttons were undone and his sleeves were rolled up. What was that style called? Industrial hot-as-hell businessman.

  “What’s your poison?”

  She shot him a surprised glance. He gestured to her already half-empty glass.

  What had the bartender said it was? “I think it’s named after some rapper.”

  He chuckled with genuine humor. “Are you here with the bachelorette party?”

  When hell froze over. “No.”

  The bartender leaned over the counter to hand him his drink. “The lady said she was looking for the owner.”

  Stay out of it, dude. Wait, he knew the total package next to her? Maybe the new arrival also knew the owner. “Do you know Mr. Robson?”

  His eyes crinkled with his smile. Even the man’s teeth were perfect. “Why would you want to find him? I’ve heard he’s an ass.”

  She rolled her eyes. “Tell me about it.”

  Hotness savored a long sip of his…whatever a Macallan was. “You’ve gotta tell me what he did to you.”

  The pink bangs that framed her face dropped into her eyes. She feathered them away. His gaze traced from her hand to her dual ponytails, the plain brown hair streaked with pink. Instead of blond highlights, or lowlights, or whatever stylish women did, she’d chosen pink—because it was fun and girly. One of the few splurges she allowed herself.

  Her hair often drew attention, not always the flattering kind. But she enjoyed his. “He’s shutting down my store. Tearing down the whole damn building. ‘Upgrading.’” She gave the last word air quotes.

  His right eye twitched and he stared at her for a heartbeat. Humor drained from his expression and his gaze narrowed slightly.

  Her heart rate increased at being the object of such scrutiny. She wanted more, but she also felt like she’d done something wrong.

  Finally, a grin curled his full lips. “That bastard.” He flagged the bartender. “The lady would like another glass.”

  If he was going to sit next to her, then yes, she would like another glass. Unless he wanted to do more than sit. Because getting it on with a sexy stranger would take the sting out of having to purchase this outfit just to get close to Wesley-fucking-Robson.

  But first, the standard wedding ring check. Not always a reliable sign, but the tan line of a missing ring cut things off immediately.

  His left hand was wrapped around the wide glass of his whisky. No white line.

  Good start.

  He turned to her. “The name’s Sam.”

  “Mara.” Aww, had he said… “I lost a good friend named Sam.” Way to go. A hot guy starts talking to you and you bring up your dead friend.

  An unreadable expression flickered over his face. “I’m sorry to hear that.” He paused and his expression lightened. “Closing your store, huh?”

  She swiveled in her seat. The position landed her crossed legs between his manspread. An intimate position, and not one she wanted to leave. “Yeah, my store. I was good friends with this amazing man who supported my business and gave me sound investment advice. He’s who I leased the building from.” She blinked back the sting of tears. “But his son is tearing it all down and throwing up some…” She couldn’t come up with any words that weren’t foul, so she went with it. “Fancy shit.”

  The corner of his mouth lifted, and holy X-wing, had his eyes just sparkled? “Is that the technical term?”

  “I’m the wrong person to ask.” She waved her hand at the crowd on the dance floor. “You’d have to ask one of them.”

  His expression danced with amusement. “Not your crowd, I take it.”

  “God, no.” She shook her head, her ponytails swinging. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be insulting. I had to grow up fast and it didn’t leave me time for any of this.”

  The scorching heat in his gaze as it wandered down her body and back up robbed her of breath. His attention didn’t switch to another woman, like the bouncer’s had. Blatant interest was written all over his face. She took a gulp of her fresh glass of wine.

  His hand brushed her leg. “If it’s not your crowd, why don’t we go someplace else?” His gaze held hers as he took another sip.

  Yes, please! Her shoulders hunched. “Sorry, I’m on asshole patrol.”

  Sam almost spit his drink back out. He swallowed hard and chuckled. “Well then. Let’s hit the dance floor and watch for assholes.”

  Before she lost her nerve, she drained the rest of her wine and hopped up. The world spun off-kilter. A strong hand steadied her waist.

  She held her hand to her forehead. “I think I might have to take you up on that offer and use it to go grab a bite.”

  He frowned, his eyes glimmering. “You were drinking on an empty stomach?”

  She smiled ruefully and leaned into the hand at her hip. “Not every decision I make is excellent.” Though usually it had to be, and it was exhausting. Tonight, she wanted him to be her one rash decision. If she had to waste time and money at this damn club, she wanted compensation.

  He dropped his head to speak into her ear, his breath sending delicious shivers down her spine. “Staying to dance with me is a good one. I promise I’ll feed you soon.”

  Her breath caught. They were both on the same page: take advantage of their mutual attraction and act on it without any inhibitions. Years of responsibility melted away. It wasn’t like she was looking for a relationship. As long as he didn’t have a wife or girlfriend waiting on him somewhere, she could handle it. Death by guilt wasn’t for her.

  Why shouldn’t she relish the attention of a hot guy? Letting herself go for one night wouldn’t hurt.

  ***

  Wes’s erection ground into Mara’s back as she swayed against him. Her claims of being an awkward dancer were only slightly true, but that might be the effect of the wine.

  Mara Jade Baranski.

  He didn’t trust her as far as he could throw her. Maybe even that would be too far. She was a foot shorter than he was and weighed maybe 120 pounds; he could toss her a ways. He couldn’t come up with another euphemism because her scent was too distracting. Her hair smelled like it looked—strawberries.

  Asshole patrol. Everything she said had been accurate. One day, he would tell her it was deliberate and why, how she couldn’t use her looks to cruise through life on the backs of hardworking men. She could take her little shop and move it to a shittier part of Minneapolis, where no horny old man would help her.

  Like every other time he thought of his dad, Wes’s heart wrenched and he brushed it off.

  When his bartender had rung him in the office to say a woman was asking about him, he’d pulled up the security footage on his computer. She was smokin’—and unfamiliar, but that was unsurprising. She was just another woman with ulterior motives for a man with money. Shocker. But her appearance had been worth a look-see. Then to discover it was her; she’d upped her ante from stopping by his office. From the way her body felt against his, it’d be worth indulging a little while he fooled her with his dad’s name.

  The corner of his mouth tilted. The irony. She’d tried to scam his dad, so “Sam” would scam her. Wes and his dad had had issues, and some days, Wes would’ve loved to know where they stemmed from, but Wes wouldn’t allow Mara to stomp on his dad’s memory.

  He flared his hands at her hips and pulled her closer to nibble along her neck. She arched into him. Women weren’t welcome at his home or at any of his offices—he didn’t trust a girl not to be after his money, and none of those locales would do because Mara would find out who he really was before he could uncover why she’d targeted his dad. What did Mara have that Sam’s other women hadn’t? As far as Wes knew, Sam had never entertained the thought of even remarrying, much less signing over property for as little as a dollar.

  Mara wasn’t like any of the flings his dad had brought around. She looked barely out of college, but she was
just a few years younger than Wes’s twenty-eight.

  Not surprising why good ol’ Sam had never told him about her. Sam had kept the hot girl to himself, perhaps fearing that given his age, she would have set her sights on his son instead.

  What had his dad been thinking, drooling after a younger woman?

  Wes dragged his tongue up to her earlobe and reveled in her shiver. “Gimme your keys and tell me where to go.”

  Her dreamy gaze locked on him. She licked her lips, catching his attention. He couldn’t help the rock of his hips to ease the throbbing in his balls.

  “I came here to—” She moaned when he nibbled a path down to the juncture of her neck and collarbone. Warm and salty, hinting at the sweetness he hoped to discover between her thighs.

  “If he was going to show, he’d be here by now. Besides,” he nipped her soft skin, “there’s always another night.”

  She caught her lower lip between her teeth. No big surprise she was going to acquiesce. Mara had proven with his dad how quickly she could sink her unadorned nails into a man. Only Wes wasn’t going to sign over part of his empire to her just because she had an epic ass.

  “Come on.” She grasped his hand and they wove through the crowd until they exited into the crisp night air.

  They reached her car and she stumbled in her heels. He caught her and pulled her in close. No wonder his impulsive dad had been smitten. Mara rated even higher than any of the women Wes had dated. Well, “dated” was a strong word.

  He dropped his head and captured her mouth. Plump and soft, he had to taste. Sweeping his tongue inside, he thumbed a nipple through her shirt.

  She groaned a sigh, such a feminine sound, and he wanted her to make it repeatedly.

  Lost in pleasure, he let his tongue dance with hers before he realized they were rubbing against each other. If he had to wait until they got to her place, he was going to lose his mind to his blue balls.

 
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