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Acting on impulse, p.1

Acting on Impulse, page 1

 

Acting on Impulse
 



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Acting on Impulse


  Dedication

  This book is dedicated to my favorite spot in Romancelandia,

  where happily-ever-afters are guaranteed, love is love, and only cakes are moist.

  It’s a special place, and we need it now more than ever.

  Contents

  Dedication

  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

  Chapter Twenty-Four

  Chapter Twenty-Five

  Chapter Twenty-Six

  Chapter Twenty-Seven

  Chapter Twenty-Eight

  Chapter Twenty-Nine

  Chapter Thirty

  Chapter Thirty-One

  Chapter Thirty-Two

  Chapter Thirty-Three

  Chapter Thirty-Four

  Chapter Thirty-Five

  Acknowledgements

  An Excerpt from Pretending He’s Mine

  About the Author

  By Mia Sosa

  A Letter from the Editor

  Copyright

  About the Publisher

  Hollywood Observer

  9:00 a.m. PDT 5/1/2017 by Observer Staff

  Los Angeles, California

  Fans hoping to see more of Carter Stone will soon have their wishes granted. The popular television actor, best known for his roles as Nina Blake’s love interest in My Life in Shambles and as the adorably awkward but gorgeous neighbor Clinton in the second season of Man on Third, recently completed work on a super secret project in Philadelphia that will feature Stone on the big screen. According to a set insider, most of the principal photography was completed several months ago, but Stone’s part required a delay in the production schedule. Color us intrigued. Our sources couldn’t tell us whether Carter will be in the buff for this role, but we’ve got our fingers crossed.

  Chapter One

  Carter

  I’M STANDING IN the middle of an airplane aisle, inching my way to row 12, when I spot her. I don’t know her name, nationality, age, or occupation, but I know this: Someday I’m going to marry the woman sitting in 12D.

  Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration—for all I know she could be someone else’s wife, or a serial killer—but hey, I’m an optimistic guy. Plus, she’s in my row, so I know fate is in play.

  Don’t roll your eyes. It’s not polite.

  I lift the baseball cap from my head and whip my hands through my hair, trying to bury the cowlick that’s been the bane of my existence ever since Seventeen Magazine dubbed it my “adorable nod to imperfection.” That was eight years ago, and among my friends and family, the embarrassing mention might as well have happened yesterday. Knowing from experience the errant lock of hair won’t budge, I concentrate on her instead.

  She’s gorgeous. What I can see of her, at least.

  It begins with her bottomless dark eyes, which are set in an intense gaze as she watches the parade of travelers making their way through the cabin. Although she’s probably just anxious to know who her seatmates will be, I can’t help wondering what it would be like to have all that attention focused on me. Her hair is a riot of dark brown curls that I could easily wrap around my fingers. From this vantage point, I can’t see her lips, but that might be a good thing, since what I can see is enough to fry my brain.

  Look, before you decide I’m a shallow jerk for choosing my life partner based on appearance alone, consider this: Sexual compatibility is a strong indicator of long-term wedded bliss. I’m not saying that I’d marry this woman if she were as engaging as my dad’s proctologist—yes, I’ve heard stories—and I’d never be able to marry someone who didn’t at least feel comfortable around children or puppies—but this instant lust is promising. The truth is, I’m excited, and I haven’t been eager about anything other than acting in years.

  An older couple two rows ahead of me parks their luggage in the center aisle, and my future wife pulls her headphones out of her ears and jumps up to assist them. She edges out of our row with a warm smile. I peek around the jerk in front of me, the guy who buried his face in his phone when the couple asked for help, and that’s when I see it: the finest ass I’ve ever seen. For a few seconds, I don’t know what to focus on: face, ass, face, ass. Who am I kidding? My gaze falls to her backside. Yes, Mom, you’ve taught me better, but you are not standing where I’m standing as I look at the bounty that’s before me.

  She’s dressed in expensive-looking casual wear, and the pants covering said backside leave little to the imagination. Granted, her oversized off-the-shoulder top probably was meant to cover all that finery, but she’s stretching to place the couple’s carry-on bag in the overhead compartment, and I’m the shameless beneficiary of her Samaritan act.

  After a few more seconds of unabashed ogling, I return my gaze to her face. Her brown sun-kissed skin is smooth and seemingly unadorned. I imagine she’s got some kind of makeup on, though, because I’ve watched my younger sister, Ashley, spend an hour plastering her face for what she calls a “barely there” look. Whatever this woman is or isn’t wearing, it works.

  The elderly woman squeezes my future wife’s hands, thanking her with a bright smile, and the bronzed goddess reciprocates. Her lips are shiny—with gloss perhaps—and made for wickedness. My heart does this weird thing: a thump and a catch, then a thump-thump and a catch, almost like the beats are off track and are working to right themselves. Fuck me, this is weird. And yet right—in a weird kind of way.

  I make my living convincing audiences that love at first sight exists. Turns out I’m a shitty actor because there’s not much pretending involved. It happens. Because I’m pretty sure I’m experiencing it right now.

  Hoping this muddled feeling will level out, I stretch my neck and shake out my hands. I can’t demonstrate my game if I’m sidelined by queasiness. Now that the elderly couple is tucked away in their row, I click the latch to open our overhead compartment. Wanting to make my best first impression on my seatmate, I puff out my chest and stand tall, eager for our eyes to meet. We’re seconds away from the moment to end all moments, the one I’ll tell our kids about a decade from now.

  And then my dream lady ruins it.

  She again jumps up. “Oh, hey.” Pointing to my bag, she says, “Looks like you’re going to need a little help there.”

  Confused by her assumption that a strapping man like me can’t handle my own luggage, I tug on my overgrown beard—and wince. That’s when I remember my appearance is not my own. Instead, I’m embodying my latest character, an emaciated twenty-seven-year-old man suffering from drug addiction and possessing a troubling aversion to grooming. I’d like to think that she’d be able to see beyond my skinny frame and unkempt hair and recognize her soul mate, but folks, it ain’t happening.

  I quickly recover from this twist in our love story and stop her with a wave. “It’s okay. I’ve got it. I’m stronger than my body suggests.”

  A faint blush appears on her cheeks.

  And there goes the thump and a catch again. Fuck. Do I have a heart defect I don’t know about?

  She takes great interest in her footwear. “Of course. It’s the helper in me. I didn’t mean to—”

 
No need to apologize,” I say as I hoist my travel bag above my shoulders and slide it into the compartment. With my arms pressed against the overhead bin, I wait until she’s looking at me again and give her a wink. “We’re fine.”

  I typically don’t cut off people when they’re talking to me, but I’m worried that my future wife’s embarrassment might lead her to ignore me during the flight. That’s definitely not how I’ve scripted this in my head, so if she thinks it’s a little rude, she’ll have to forgive me. It’s for the greater good.

  I smooth my jeans and confirm that I’ve got the middle seat, conveniently close to her but away from curious onlookers who might recognize me. Given that I look like the fourth and forgotten member of ZZ Top, that’s unlikely to happen anyway. Pointing to my boarding pass, I tell her, “Mind if I slip in here?”

  “Sure,” she says with an easy smile.

  She’s still standing, so she steps into the aisle, giving me a glimpse of her ass as she moves one row back to let me in.

  As I crawl into the tiny space—it’s been a while since I’ve traveled coach class—I catch a whiff of her scent and close my eyes. Not sure if it’s perfume, body wash, or what, but it smells like vanilla and reminds me of the candles my mother used to buy at the local craft store. That right there is a sign. My mother would most heartily approve of this woman.

  Now to find out her name.

  I turn in my seat, prepping myself for a short conversation—too much too soon isn’t part of the playbook—but then I realize she’s not next to me. I raise myself off the cushion and pretend to stretch as I turn my head to scan the back of the plane. She’s a few rows back, standing and chatting with a guy who doesn’t appear to have anyone sitting next to him.

  Oh, hell no.

  Do I have to go to the restroom? You bet.

  Before I stand, a bell rings and a flight attendant announces that there will be a short delay while the ground crew clears debris from the runway. Perfect.

  I rise and make my way through the aisle, pushing down the bill of my baseball cap so no one notices me. But, of course, someone does. For all the wrong reasons.

  A little girl with huge brown eyes and a mop of bright red hair tugs on her mother’s shirt and says, “Mommy, that man looks like a bear.”

  The cutie’s pronouncement is loud enough that several nearby passengers chuckle. Even the object of my fascination turns and laughs. I grin at the kid, and she growls in her best imitation of a bear. So freaking adorable, that girl. Enjoying her fascination with my beard, I channel my inner Leonardo DiCaprio and growl right back.

  Now I’ve done it.

  The little girl’s eyes go round, and her eyes water. Then she lets out a shriek like the hounds of hell are chasing her. Unfortunately, I’m the hounds, and everyone on the plane, including my future wife, knows it.

  The girl’s mother tries to quiet her, rocking her and telling her everything will be okay. Their seatmate, meanwhile, throws daggers at me with his eyes.

  “He’s so scary looking,” the little girl chants over and over into her mother’s chest.

  “Sir,” the flight attendant says behind me, “we’re getting ready to take off soon. Could you please return to your seat?”

  Bewildered by the past ten minutes of my life, I nod and amble back to my row. How the hell did things go south that quickly? Fantasy woman returns, and my stomach drops when I catch the look of sympathy on her face. I slide down into my seat, give her a pathetic smile, and cover my face with my baseball cap as though I’m settling in for a nap. I need to regroup before I can speak to her. And I refuse to listen to the preflight safety demonstration unless the attendant can teach me how to save me from myself.

  So now I know another thing: Whatever I tell my kids about how I met their mother, it’s going to be a lie. A big, fat fucking lie.

  Philly Water Cooler

  5/5/2017

  Heard Around Town

  By Lisa Blane | Leave a comment

  One year ago, Philly residents swooned over the story of how two-time Olympian and current Philadelphia councilman Mason King met Tori Alvarez, a personal trainer, at a community service event hosted by Get Fit America. Alvarez challenged King to a push-up competition, and King accepted, but only if the prize was a date with Ms. Alvarez. The badass trainer won and sparks flew. It appears those sparks have fizzled, however, as sources tell us King and Alvarez are no longer an item. We at Philly Water Cooler aren’t surprised, but the couple’s meet-cute would have been the perfect story to share with their grandkids.

  Chapter Two

  Tori

  POBRECITO.

  I think the poor guy’s embarrassed that he made the little girl cry. I watched the whole exchange, though, and it was kind of cute. Normally, I’d try to coax him out of his shell, but I know what it’s like to be the subject of unwanted attention, and I understand the need to block out the rest of the world.

  This trip to Aruba, for instance, is my way of hiding from the aspects of my life that I don’t want to deal with.

  Well, one thing specifically: my boyfriend.

  Scratch that.

  My ex-boyfriend.

  The one who announced in a radio interview that he was taking a “breather” from the dating scene—in direct response to a question about whether there was anyone special in his life. Guess who thought she was special? Go ahead. I’ll wait.

  I’ve heard about men breaking up with their girlfriends via text messaging, and I’m sure it’s a wretched experience. But trust me, listening to your breakup on a local radio show sucks big balls. Like huevos the size of a tuberous bush cricket—relatively speaking, that is. Stay with me here. You see, while some men walk around like their balls make up 14 percent of their body, this insect’s balls actually do. Nothing like a spirited game of Trivial Pursuit to round out your cultural literacy. And yes, I was tipsy, pero that morsel of uselessness made an impression on me, penetrating my apple martini haze and settling in my brain for eternity.

  The pendejo—that’s dumb ass for you non-Spanish speakers—didn’t even have the decency to warn me about his little publicity stunt. And yes, I’m sure that’s what this is. Somehow it benefits Mason, but he’ll try to explain it away. Escaping Philly for a short but much-needed trip ensures that I won’t suffer through Mason’s pitiful attempts to justify his asinine behavior—at least during that critical period when my anger might lead me to inflict bodily harm on him.

  No. Take a deep breath, Tori, and focus on the many positives. I won’t have to worry about a local news crew taking pictures of us during the seventh-inning stretch of a Phillies game. And no reporter’s going to corner me at a political fundraising event in a harebrained effort to get me to spill secrets about Councilman Mason King. This is my chance to relax without worrying about whether to filter my language, hide my cleavage, or smile for the occasional camera. I made a vow to enjoy this attachment-free vacation, and I intend to keep it.

  As the plane taxis down the runway, I close my eyes, enjoying the rumble of the engine and the vibrations under my feet. Minutes later, the pilot switches off the seat belt sign and gives us the local forecast: no threat of rain for several days—which is perfect since that’s how long I’ll be staying on the island.

  The man next to me shifts, but his hat is still sitting atop his face. My gaze falls to the armrest between us. He’s thin, but he’s also tall, and his wrist size suggests that he should be larger than he is. Given the sunken cheeks and wan complexion that accompany his lean frame, I’m guessing he’s sick. I’m hesitant to disrupt his nap, but there’s no one sitting in the window seat, and I could use the extra elbow room.

  I tap his hand. “Excuse me, sir.”

  He removes the cap and sits up, his movements quicker than I’d expected them to be. “Yeah?”

  The man stares at me, his eyes alert, a small smile lifting his lips at the corners. The mouth catches my attention, but the eyes seize it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pa
ir like his. Ice blue and rimmed in black, they sit in stark contrast to his other features: the raven hair on his head, the dark brows, and the full beard that covers the lower half of his face like a shaggy carpet. If a blond man had eyes like his, I’d probably think nothing of them, but on this guy, the effect is startling.

  He doesn’t otherwise look well, though, and I give him a sheepish grin because I feel a hairbreadth’s shy of shitty for disturbing him. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you.”

  “Are you sure about that?”

  I drop my head a fraction, acknowledging the insipidness of my own words. “Well, you’re right, I did mean to wake you. Looks like no one’s sitting with us, so I figured we could spread out a bit.”

  He spins his head and torso toward the window seat as though he needs to see for himself that, indeed, no one is there. “Yeah, yeah, sure. I’ll move. Not a problem.”

  His languid movements make me regret the interruption.

  I’m not a nosy soul, but I venture into personal territory anyway. I don’t know why, but I just want to be certain. “Are you feeling okay?”

  His eyes widen as he refastens his seat belt. “Yeah, I’m fine. Just exhausted. I mean dead-on-my-feet tired.”

  I give him a nod in understanding. I’ve definitely been there. “I won’t bother you anymore, then. Sorry I woke you.”

  If he’d waved off my interruption with a friendly salute or smile, I’d have thrown on my earbuds, closed my eyes, and settled in for a short rest. But that’s not what he does. Instead, he turns on his side and stares at me with those piercing eyes, and I swear that we’re not on a plane, but in a bedroom, and he’s staring at me as we lie on a bed facing each other. The vision causes me to shrink back and gasp, and I can tell that he has no idea what’s going on in my head because his thick eyebrows shoot up as though he’s not certain I’m mentally stable. Unfortunately, at the moment, I can’t assure him that I am. Because . . . what the hell was that?

  This time he’s the one who’s concerned. “You okay?”

  My words trip over themselves. “Yeah, yeah. I’m fine. I’m exhausted, too. Just feeling a little loopy.” I point at the air around me. “Flying, probably.”

 
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