Read Dream of You Online

Authors: Kate Perry

Tags: #Romance, #Women, #sexy, #love story, #Romantic, #fun, #sweet, #Contemporary Romance, #beach read

Dream of You (17 page)

BOOK: Dream of You
4.14Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Utterly charmed, Lola archived the email. One
day ten, fifteen years from now, she'd show Madison that email and
they'd share a secret smile.

Assuming she was with Sam still.

Hope rose inside her, and she touched her
chest where it all gathered. Maybe. Definitely maybe.

But one thing was certain: no way was she
telling Sam. He'd go ballistic if he thought a boy was sniffing
around his little girl. Watching him navigate that minefield when
Madison started dating was going to be entertaining.

She arrived at the station right as his show
ended. She poked her head into his sound booth, per his

He grinned when he saw her, but continued to
speak into the microphone. "Next week we've got an exciting lineup,
including Jonas James, past life regressionist and relationship
psychic. This is Sam Taylor, and thank you for joining us at
Ladies' Night

He cued the cheesy music and took off his
headphones. "I hate the theme music."

"It's sappy." She walked toward him.

"I think they got John Tesh to record it." He
stood up and slipped his arms her. "Hi."


He lowered his mouth to hers and greeted her
properly. He was smiling when he lifted his head. "Hi," he said

She laughed. "Are we going? This girl's had a
long day and could use a cocktail, jazz, and some canoodling time
with her man."

"I don't think I've ever canoodled before,
but I'm always willing to try something new." He kissed her
quickly. "I've just got one thing to take care of. Wait here and
I'll be right back."

"Okay." She watched him leave and then sat in
his chair. It was still warm from his body, and she thought she
could almost smell his yummy scent.

The door opened. She sat up, thinking it was
Sam, but it was his program manager, Jennifer.

The woman looked more startled than Lola
felt. "Lola?"

She smiled her welcome. "It's nice to see you

"Are you here for Sam?"

There was an overtly incredulous tone to her
words. Lola frowned. Why was that so unbelievable? "He should be
right back, if you're looking for him."

Jennifer shook her head. "I almost can't
believe you're here."

"Why not?"

"I didn't think it'd last. Sam goes through
women so quickly."

Not this again. Lola stifled a groan. Had
anyone even considered that maybe he went through so many women
just because he hadn't met the right one?

"I thought he liked you," Jennifer continued,
"but I wasn't sure it'd last. He has commitment issues. Then, at
first, I suspected he was faking it to get his job back, but now I
see he's sincere in it."

"His job back?" she repeated, frowning.

"The sports show." Jennifer's eyes widened as
though she just realized she'd stepped in something vile. "I don't
know what I was saying. Forget it."

"Why would he have to fake being with me to
get his job back?" Lola persisted.

"No reason." The woman looked at her naked
wrist. "Look at the time! Gotta go."

Lola was still sitting there, perplexed, not
sure what to think, when Sam came back. "Okay, I'm ready. Let's

His smile looked genuine. He looked happy to
see her—delighted even.

Was he faking it after all?

She'd given him the benefit of doubt after
Chelsea's ambush. Of course, she had. Who was she going to believe:
him or his bitter ex-wife? But Jennifer's accidental confession
backed up what Chelsea had said.

Lola studied him. Was she being blind to his
faults? Delusional? Building castles where there wasn't even a real

Call her crazy, but she still had faith in

Then what was that about getting his job
back? His sports program? She knew he'd somehow been demoted into
Ladies' Night
and that Jennifer had been somehow responsible
for it.

His smile faded into concern. "Are you okay,
Lola? You look pale."

"I'm fine," she lied. She stood up and tried
to smile but failed, because all she could hear was Jennifer saying
I suspected he was faking it to get his job back

What did that mean? What was he hiding? And
why was he hiding it from her?




Something was wrong with Lola.

He watched her as she watched the jazz
quartet. She'd barely touched her drink, and though she appeared to
be listening, she felt a million miles away. She wasn't even
holding his hand—she'd maneuvered herself so it wasn't

She'd greeted him like normal, but when he'd
returned she'd been weird. Something must have happened in that
interim period.

But what?

"Lola," he finally said, leaning toward

She looked at him with what was supposed to
be a smile, but she just looked like she was going to puke. "Yes?"
she asked politely.

"Come on." He took her hand and dragged her
away from the table.

Scrambling to get her purse and coat, she
hissed. "What are you doing?"

"Getting to the bottom of things." He took
her outside and down a couple buildings before turning her to face
him. "Tell me what's wrong."

She looked like she was going to debate that
anything was the matter. Then she lifted her chin and looked him
defiantly in the eyes. "I talked to Jennifer tonight."

His punishment.

He didn't have to ask anything more—he saw
that was precisely it.

Damn it.

Exhaling, he said, "Jennifer wanted to teach
me a lesson—"

"For breaking her heart." Lola nodded.

"For hurting her unwittingly. She wanted to
teach me a lesson in love, so she yanked me from my sports talk
program and put me on
Ladies' Night
." He shook his head.
"That's it."

"Why would you fake being with me?"

Jesus H, Jennifer
. He was going to
strangle her. "The deal was, if I could sustain a relationship for
a period of time, Jennifer would give me my old show back. But it
turns out I'm good with the lovelorn. My standings kick ass. I'm
considering doing a love show once a week even after I return to
sports talk."

"If it was such a non-issue, why did you hide
the deal from me?"

He couldn't answer that. He searched for
something plausible, but he couldn't come up with anything. Because
he was in the wrong here. "I'm sorry, Lola. I should have told

"Yes, you should have. Because you know what
this looks like?" She poked a finger at his chest. "That you used
me to get your old job back."

"No one's that good an actor."

"I thought the same, but what's there to act
about? The sex is good and I'm convenient. It's win-win for

He took her by the arms. "It wasn't like

"I wouldn't have thought so, only you didn't
tell me. So what am I supposed to think except that there was
something to hide?"


"Tell me that at no time did it cross your
mind that I was the answer to your problems," she demanded.

Sam winced.

"That was the loudest answer you could have
given." She detached herself from him and began to walk away.

"Lola, wait." He kept pace alongside her. "I
admit, it may have crossed my mind, but that's not why I'm with

"Excuse me for being skeptical." She kept her
gaze forward, not looking at him. "Especially after what both
Jennifer and Chelsea said."

? My ex-wife Chelsea?"

"How many Chelseas do you know?" she asked

Good point. "When did you meet her?"

"She and Madison stopped by Grounds for
Thought while I happened to be there."

Great—he could just imagine how that meeting
went. "And you talked to her?"

"She didn't leave me any choice."

"That sounds like her." He took Lola's hand.
"I'm sorry."

"Why?" She stopped abruptly, facing him.
"Because she blew your cover by telling me how you toss women aside
once you've got them? You know, I didn't believe her because she's
your ex, but Jennifer said the same thing, and Jennifer is a nice
person. So what am I supposed to think?"

He tugged her closer. "Believe that I love

"Do you? Or are you just saying it because
I'm a means to an end?" She disengaged from him and began walking
again. "You screwed up. You had a future here. Love and fun and

"Had?" For the first time, real worry gripped
his heart.

She glanced at him. "You had the team you've
been missing all these years."

"Just like that, you're going to leave?
You're going to give up?" he asked, angry.

"I'd be foolish to hang around and trust my
heart to you, right?" She stepped onto the street and waved for a
passing cab.

The cab stopped, and he helplessly watched
her get inside. It felt just like his ski accident, where he
witnessed the whole thing in slow motion but was powerless to stop
it. And just like that day, he felt like life was crashing down on
him, except this time it was completely his own fault.

Chapter Twenty-two


Lola slumped on a stool next to Gwen's
worktable, watching her friend sketch a new design. Not her
hands—Lola watched her face as she drew.

The first thing she'd noticed about Gwen the
day they'd met was the light in her eyes. Gwen's spirit shined
through. Now that Gwen was in a relationship, that indefinable
quality was magnified. Gwen simply glowed.

"If I didn't love you, I'd hate you," Lola
said listlessly.

Her friend set her sketchpad down with a
slap. "That's it. You've been moping around here too long. Get

"Are you kicking me out?"

"No, I'm taking you for a treat."

Lola momentarily perked up. "Hot chocolate at

"Whatever you want." Gwen slipped her shoes
back on and grabbed a jacket. "As long as you either talk about
what's bothering you or stop wallowing in it."

"Those are my only two options?"


She sighed.

"Well?" Gwen asked as they walked out of the

"I'm weighing my options."

"Come on." Gwen linked an arm through hers.
"We'll get you hot chocolate—"

"And a chocolate chip cookie."

Gwen rolled her eyes. "Hot chocolate
a chocolate chip cookie, and then you have to tell me
what's going on, although I suspect this has to do with a man."

"Men suck."

"They do, don't they?" To her credit, Gwen
tried not to smile.

Lola made a face at her. "I didn't mock you
in your time of need."

"No, you're a good friend." They walked into
Grounds for Thought and went to sit at the empty seats at the

Eve's most recent hire, Kristin, came over to
them and leaned on the counter. "What can I get you ladies?"

"My friend here"—Gwen pointed at her—"will
have a hot chocolate and chocolate chip cookie. I'd like a chai,

Kristin looked at Lola knowingly. "A
heartbreak special?"

"Is it that obvious?"

The barista shrugged as she started to steam
milk. "I've been pounding down the hot chocolates myself. Men

Lola poked Gwen. "

Gwen just shook her head. "Men don't suck,
they're misunderstood, and sometimes they're idiots. But you can't
quit them each time they do stupid things. You'll be alone forever,
and what fun would that be?"

The door opened and a man walked in.

Actually, he
, Lola decided. It
didn't help that he had shaggy hair and was built like the hulk—the
Eric Bana hulk, not the Bill Bixby one. His gaze darted to every
corner, as though casing the joint or checking for assassins.

He headed directly to the counter and stared
at Kristin.

The barista pointed at him. "Don't act cute.
I'm not in the mood."

"Cute?" he said, his voice low and

"Don't deny that's what you were going for.
But I'm telling you now, you're not my type." She handed him a cup
of coffee and waved. "It's on me today."

He narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "Why?"

Kristin's gaze narrowed, too, and she leaned
toward him across the counter. "Are you challenging me?"

He studied her like she was a foreign
creature he'd never encountered. Then he shook his head and walked

Gwen exhaled the moment the front door closed
behind him. "I thought he was going to eat you up."

"I'd let him," the barista said, sliding
their beverages toward them. "He looks like he's got strong

Lola choked on her cocoa. Gwen just

"Just an observation." Kristin shrugged. "I
meant it when I said he wasn't my type. I seem to go for aloof
rather than surly."

"Excuse me?"

All three of them turned to the voice. It
belonged to a redhead with pale skin. She was dressed fashionably
but professionally in a dress with a little sweater over it. But
she was so thin Lola had the urge to feed her peanut butter

The young woman's confident smile was
undermined by the hesitation in her eyes. But, to her credit, she
forged ahead. "I couldn't help but overhear your conversation about
men, and I thought I could help."

"Are you a hitman?" Kristin asked.

The woman blushed. "No. I'm a

Gwen perked up. "Really?"

She nodded as she handed each of them a

Lola had expected it to be covered in hearts,
but instead it was tastefully abstract but feminine. On the back,
it read:


Valentine Jones




"Yes, my name is really Valentine," the woman
said before any of them could say a word.

BOOK: Dream of You
4.14Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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