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Authors: Lane Hayes

Better Than Safe

BOOK: Better Than Safe
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Readers love the Better Than

series by
L
ANE
H
AYES

Better Than Good

“Sigh…I loved this book! I didn’t put it down once I picked it up.”

—Live Your Life, Buy the Book

“…a very enjoyable book. I will definitely read more by this author.”

—On Top Down Under Reviews


Better Than Good
is a solid book. It takes a well-used trope and… gives it a spin…”

—Reviews by Jessewave

Better Than Chance

“…this was a really good, light, entertaining contemporary romance. I would love to read more of this ‘series.’”

—Boys in Our Books

Better Than Friends

“Loved this! Perhaps even my favourite of the series.”

—Prism Book Alliance

“Lane Hayes does a beautiful job of writing about friendship and discovery. All of her characters… leave you believing in love and forever.”

—The Novel Approach

By
L
ANE
H
AYES

B
ETTER
T
HAN
S
TORIES

Better Than Good

Better Than Chance

Better Than Friends

Better Than Safe

R
IGHT
AND
W
RONG
S
TORIES

The Right Words

The Wrong Man

The Right Time

Published by
D
REAMSPINNER
P
RESS

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com

Published by

D
REAMSPINNER
P
RESS

5032 Capital Circle SW, Suite 2, PMB# 279, Tallahassee, FL 32305-7886  USA

www.dreamspinnerpress.com/

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of author imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Better Than Safe

© 2015 Lane Hayes.

Cover Art

© 2015 Aaron Anderson.

[email protected]

Cover content is for illustrative purposes only and any person depicted on the cover is a model.

All rights reserved. This book is licensed to the original purchaser only. Duplication or distribution via any means is illegal and a violation of international copyright law, subject to criminal prosecution and upon conviction, fines, and/or imprisonment. Any eBook format cannot be legally loaned or given to others. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the Publisher, except where permitted by law. To request permission and all other inquiries, contact Dreamspinner Press, 5032 Capital Circle SW, Suite 2, PMB# 279, Tallahassee, FL 32305-7886, USA, or www.dreamspinnerpress.com/.

ISBN: 978-1-63476-522-0

Digital ISBN: 978-1-63476-523-7

Library of Congress Control Number: 2015945753

First Edition September 2015

Printed in the United States of America

This paper meets the requirements of

ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992 (Permanence of Paper).

For my beautiful husband, Bob, who shares my love of fine art and a good laugh. Thank you for your humor, your lust for life, and for reminding me not to take life too seriously.

 

“All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.”

—Oscar Wilde,
The Picture of Dorian Gray

 

 

I
WOULD
never understand how someone who cherished peace and organization wound up with a career in fashion advertisement. My job was the very definition of chaos. A state of utter confusion and disorder. There had to be some odd quirk in my personality that enjoyed sorting out caustic people and difficult situations. Whether it was an editorial issue, a designer with diva aspirations, or a simple case of incompetence, I was the one generally called upon to “fix” things. While it was true I was detail oriented and efficient, I wasn’t a superhero. Thankfully, today’s visit to an upscale DC magazine’s downtown office was a social call. No one would expect me to solve any problems. I hoped. This was a quick hello before I returned to my own office at the Phillips Agency a few blocks away. It looked like my timing was perfect. A photo shoot was about to commence. There was an air of control in the room, indicating someone competent was in charge. Thank God. And if my source was correct, it was the man I’d come to see.

Two men were chatting at the far left side of the enormous studio. The photographer and an assistant, I guessed. I turned to my right, noting the starkly painted white walls and light colored hardwood flooring in the wide-open space. There was a bank of windows along one side and though every blind was drawn, the large space was well lit. A giant screen used for backdrop covered the wall flanked on either end by portrait umbrellas, ready to diffuse light where needed. People milled about with clipboards and headsets, looking deceptively important. I smiled at a pretty young girl wearing a short brimmed Panama hat and bright red lips. If someone were to ask what she looked like later, her hat and lipstick would be the only two things I’d remember.

“Can I help you?”

“Yes, I’m looking for Aar—never mind, there he is now.”

I followed the sound of a familiar voice near the photographer’s camera equipment and stopped in my tracks when he came into view.

Aaron Mendez was beautiful. There really was no other word. He was small but fit and lean with dark brown hair, olive skin, gorgeous hazel eyes, and a brilliant smile that had the dual effect of setting me at ease and making my heart skip a beat. I called his name and mentally prepared myself for the sudden quickening of my pulse when he turned. Aaron was extraordinarily lovely, but he was taken. Acting like a lovesick puppy would be foolish, not to mention embarrassing.

“Paul! Oh my gosh—did I know you were coming by today?” He flashed a radiant smile before launching himself into my arms.

I chuckled as I caught him. His longish bangs fell enticingly over his right eye as he stepped away. I shoved my hands in my suit pockets to keep myself from reaching out to tuck the stray strands of hair behind his ear.

“I told Marsha but she may not have let on I’d be in your neighborhood today. I came by to pick up a portfolio. I’m only popping by to say a brief hello and—what’s so funny?” I narrowed my eyes playfully as Aaron pursed his lips together and shook his head.

“Nothing! ‘Popping by to say a brief hello,’” he said, pitching his voice to mimic my British accent with a giggle. “I love the way that sounds. So posh!”

“Hmph. I suppose it’s the best compliment I’ve had today, so I’ll take it,” I said with a self-deprecating shrug.

“Well, you look fabulous too. A little tan on your handsome face and your suit is divine. Very sexy. When did you get back in town? And where were you again? Buenos Aires and…. Curt told me but I forgot. Or I was too envious and didn’t want to think about my jet-setting friend seeing the world while I was stuck in rainy DC.”

Aaron cocked his head and grabbed a clipboard sitting on a nearby wooden bench as a production assistant pulled in a rack filled to capacity with couture clothing. A group of models, three young women and two men, trailed in after her. It would be time to get to work the moment the photographer was ready.

“I was in Argentina for a month and Brazil for a couple weeks. Enough time for even an Englishman to come home with a bit of sun. I’ve only been home a few days and other than a few quick trips to New York or Baltimore, I’ll be in DC for the duration. At least until summertime.”

“Good. Then you’ll get to enjoy all the rain we’ve been having too. It’s only fair.” He glanced at his watch distractedly and then at the door before giving me a chagrined half smile. “Looks like we’re about to start. I’m waiting on one more model but—”

“Not to worry. I’ll observe quietly for a moment, then be on my way. This isn’t a business call. I just wanted to come by to congratulate you.”

Aaron squealed like a child and gave me another impromptu hug. “Did Curt tell you? I’m so excited. Matty is too. We’re not sure yet when we’ll do it but—”

“Wait. What do you mean? I was talking about your promotion. You’re the assistant art director now, correct?” I felt my forehead furrow in confusion as I observed the excited man. I couldn’t remember how old Aaron was but I thought he was only a couple of years my junior. His enthusiastic nature always made him seem much younger.

BOOK: Better Than Safe
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