Ashleigh Thomas might have made the biggest mistake of her life. Uprooting life as she knew it, moving back to Dallas to be closer to her family, she finds herself much closer to the one man who she had never been able to say no to. Attempting to hide the fact that she moonlights as an erotic romance author, she quickly finds herself in his arms and his bed – hoping he’ll fulfill some of those deep, dark desires she has always written about, but never experienced for herself.
Alex McDermott has spent the better part of a decade trying to convince himself to stay away from the alluring Ashleigh, but when she moves back home, he finds out that he’s no longer willing to resist the overwhelming desire she instills in him. But he’s got a secret too – one that might just push Ashleigh out of his life for good – something he’s not willing to let happen.
It doesn't take long for the heat between them to ignite into a wildfire of lust, but can they stop hiding from each other and more importantly stop holding back?
Holy Moly! Truth or Dare has sure changed since the last time I played!
Seduction (Club Destiny, 4) - Chapter One
NO ONE WOULD ever accuse Ashleigh Thomas of being spontaneous. At least not anyone who knew her well.
If there was something that needed to be done, she planned. Usually weeks in advance and in frustratingly thorough detail. Follow that up with final preparations, and then finally, once there was enough forethought and design, she just might make a decision.
Good God, yes.
Which could only mean this was one of those times when Ashleigh was setting herself up for potential disaster.
Her house was packed up, her things already loaded into the moving truck, a handful of capable men having spent the morning doing backbreaking work as they filled the enormous metal container with everything that was near and dear to her heart. This was it. One last good-bye to her beloved two-bedroom house before she was on her way.
Back to her roots.
Back to the place she had called home for most of her life.
Granted, she had taken her own sweet time getting to this point, but nonetheless, she could no longer procrastinate. Getting back to the hustle and bustle of Dallas was the next step. Leaving behind the slow, easygoing life she had built on the bank of Lake Whitney, just outside of Hillsboro, was not going to be easy, yet it was inevitable.
Relocating her life wasn’t the difficult part. As a writer, she could easily pick up her office — also known as her laptop — and go just about anywhere. That was one of the many perks of her job.
Since she had grown quite fond of her current office space — her back porch, which overlooked the rippling waters of Lake Whitney — she had worked hard to convince herself that this move was for the best. Being able to wander out of her house in her pajamas, watching the random vacationer as they attempted some sort of water sport, had become one of the highlights of her day.
Somewhere in between all of the fresh air, sun, and people watching, Ashleigh actually managed to write. Thirteen books in total between her two personas and she wasn’t doing all that bad, actually. The children’s books were enough to pay the bills, as well as a convenient story to sell her grandfather. Not that he completely believed she was making a living at it.
Since he was partly right, Ashleigh never bothered to argue with him.
Her bills might be covered from her various tales of farm animals, fairy princesses, and the like, but her savings was being built from the other genre she moonlighted in.
Smiling to herself, Ashleigh turned from the back windows that overlooked the serene view of the lake and went to get the last of her things.
The movers had already headed out, on their way to Dallas, so she wasn’t going to put any more thought into whether her stuff would make the journey in one piece. The only thing left was to get her laptop and her purse and say one last good-bye to life as she knew it.
“Good-bye, little house. I’m sure going to miss you,” Ashleigh said to the empty room, nothing but bare walls and carpet, as she put the key in the door for the last time. In a week, the new owners would be moving in, taking over, and filling the small house with their own memories.
With her personal effects in tow, Ashleigh ventured down the front steps and across the small walkway to her Chevy Tahoe sitting in the driveway. Feeling a little melancholy, she looked up at the sun, letting the bright Texas sun warm her.
The late January morning wasn’t as cool as the weatherman had predicted — Texas weather didn’t usually go with the norm — but the wind off the lake was a little brisk. Thankfully, she’d remembered her jacket just in case.
Those were the sorts of things she planned for.
Not the sort of abrupt change that resulted in her going back home to Dallas.
Shrugging her shoulders, figuring she had already set out on the path, might as well be in it for the long haul, Ashleigh climbed into her SUV. With a flick of her wrist, the Tahoe roared to life, the interior of the truck filled with a country song.
Turning the radio up, she tried to drown out her thoughts.
Within minutes, she was on a two-lane highway heading for the main interstate where she would be on her way.
Although leaving the comfortable life she had gotten used to made her nervous, there were some positives that she would be looking forward to.
Being close to her family was one of them. Although only a forty-five minute drive on a good day, her family was still far enough that she didn’t get to visit as often as she’d like. Having lived a solitary life for so long, she was actually looking forward to being close to those she loved.
She had talked to her brother, Dylan, just that morning. He was essentially doing the same thing she was, packing up and getting ready to head out. With her niece, Stacey, having been accepted at the University of Texas at Dallas, Dylan had reluctantly let her move at the beginning of the semester. According to him, he was worried about her — though Ashleigh figured that was a convenient excuse — and now, he was moving back to the big city to be closer to his daughter.
Even though Stacey would have been in extremely capable hands living with her great-grandfather, Ashleigh found she couldn’t argue with Dylan even if she wanted to. Since Dylan’s wife had passed away, her older brother had never been the same. Figuring a change might do them both some good, Ashleigh had encouraged him as much as he had encouraged her.
When a familiar tune blasted through the car, Ashleigh gave herself up to the music, singing slightly off key — okay, who was she kidding? There was no slightly about it, it was severe. There was a reason Ashleigh didn’t make a living as a singer. The thought made her laugh and sing even louder.
A second later, the song was interrupted by the ringing of her cell phone, the sound coming through the speakers thanks to the Bluetooth connection in the car. Hitting the button on the steering wheel, she allowed the call to connect.
“Hey, Pops,” Ashleigh greeted her grandfather cheerfully, his name coming up on a small touch screen in the dash.
“I hope you aren’t driving while you talk to me.” Xavier Thomas’s laid-back drawl drifted through the car, and Ashleigh smiled.
“You’re the one who said I needed to be home before dark,” she chided him as she flipped on the turn signal. “I’m just leaving, so it’ll take me close to an hour to get there.”
“Well, you be careful and call me if you need anything. What time did the moving truck head out?” Xavier asked.
“Not too long ago. I figure they might beat me by half an hour. They’re going straight to the house to unload.” Once Ashleigh had gotten a contract on her lake house, she’d wasted no time finding a house close to her grandfather’s. It was either that or take the chance of Pops giving her a hard time about moving back to his house.
Since Stacey and her brother, Nate, would be living in the eight-thousand-square-foot mansion, Ashleigh figured her grandfather would have plenty of company. Dylan had insisted on moving into the guesthouse rather than the main house, so Ashleigh had opted for something just a little farther out.
Not that she minded so much living with her grandfather and her niece and nephew, but living on her own for so long, Ashleigh had gotten used to the solitude. She thrived on it. And since her schedule was usually so out of whack, sometimes her days and nights entirely flip-flopped, she wanted to have her own space.
“Nate and I will meet them over there. You just take your time and be careful,” Xavier drawled.
“Thanks, Pops. I’ll call you when I get closer. Maybe I can pick up something for dinner, though we won’t have a place to eat at my house.”
“We’ll figure it out. See you in a little while, baby girl.” With that, the line disconnected.
At twenty-seven years old, Ashleigh figured she was too old for the nickname her grandfather had been calling her since she was just that. Not that she wanted him to stop, because secretly she had always reveled in being his baby girl. Since he had single-handedly raised her and her brother after their parents’ tragic deaths, Ashleigh figured he could call her whatever he wanted.
Another reason she wasn’t too upset about moving back to Dallas. She needed her family. Since she and Dylan had been living in the past for far too long, Ashleigh knew he was right. It was time they move forward.
Insisting on going home in a better mood, she turned up the familiar song, once again singing loudly and off key. There would be plenty of time later for her thoughts to intrude. For now, she just needed to relax.