Hi there! I’m sharing an excerpt for a new contemporary romance from bestselling author Kristen Proby. LISTEN TO ME is the first in a book series featuring five women who find love in their swinging Portland restaurant. It releases April 12th, but you can get a sneak peek below, and preorder links, too!
About the book:
In New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Kristen Proby’s brand new series, five best friends open a hot new restaurant, but one of them gets much more than she bargained for when a sexy former rock star walks through the doors—and into her heart.
Seduction is quickly becoming the hottest new restaurant in Portland, and Addison Wade is proud to claim 1/5 of the credit. She’s determined to make it a success and can’t think of a better way to bring in new customers than live music. But when former rock star Jake Keller swaggers through the doors to apply for the weekend gig, she knows she’s in trouble. Addie instantly recognizes him—his posters were plastered all over her bedroom walls in high school—he’s all bad boy…exactly her type and exactly what she doesn’t need.
Jake Keller walked away from the limelight five years ago and yearns to return to what’s always driven him: the music. If he gets to work for a smart-mouthed, funny-as-hell bombshell, all the better. But talking Addie into giving him the job is far easier than persuading her that he wants more than a romp in her bed. Just when she begins to drop her walls, Jake’s past finally catches up with him.
Will Addie be torn apart once again or will Jake be able to convince her to drown out her doubts and listen to her heart?
And now for a little taste!
“Invite me in.”
“Excuse me?” She crosses her arms, facing off with me in the middle of her garage. And now I can’t stand it anymore.
I step forward and gently tuck the hair behind her ear, then drag my fingertip down her neck to her bare shoulder.
“You have sexy shoulders.”
“I can’t have you here.”
My gaze finds her ice-blue one. “Do you have a curfew?”
She doesn’t smile. “I think I’m going to fall apart, and I can’t have you see that.”
“I don’t want you to see me fall apart.”
“Okay.” I sigh. “But I need to make sure you get inside okay, and I need to get you settled.”
And I don’t even understand why. Why the need to comfort and protect her is so damn strong. I’ve never felt this way about anyone besides Christina before, and even that isn’t this strong.
But I can’t stop it.
“I don’t need anyone to take care of me.”
“Just humor me.”
She rolls her eyes and turns away, slaps the button to lower the garage door, then leads me inside and up the stairs to the apartment. The rooms are big, open. New. And the furniture is trendy, yet comfortable.
Addie drops her purse and keys on her dining room table, then turns to me. “Okay. I’m in safely.”
I step to her, unable to turn away and walk back out of here, and wrap her in my arms, the same way I did in the alley, rocking her back and forth.
“Scared me,” I whisper.
“Seeing him with his hand wrapped around your neck.” The thought of him hurting you. The thought of losing you, and you’re not even mine.
“I didn’t enjoy it either.”
I smile softly, my lips brushing back and forth over her hair. God, she smells like heaven, and having her sexier-than-fuck body pressed to me feels like pure sin.
The best kind of sin.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to call the cops?”
“Go change,” I whisper and pull back. “Get comfortable.” She sighs, watching me, then turns and walks to what I assume is her bedroom, her heels clicking on her hardwood floors. When she shuts the door, I turn back to the room. The walls and trim are white. The kitchen cabinets are white as well, with black granite countertops. The windows are wide, and I bet she has a beautiful view during the day.
I’m drawn to the mantel over the fireplace and examine the photos on display. There are shots of all of the owners of Seduction, at different ages. It looks like Addie knew Mia and Cami when they were young, and as they got older, Riley and Kat are added to the photos.
Next to the fireplace is a bookcase, filled with books from floor to ceiling. She has cookbooks, novels, biographies . . . everything. But one book, with nothing written on the spine, catches my eye.
It’s a big book, the kind most people keep on their coffee table. And when I open it, I’m floored to find it full of photos of Addie.
Addison was a model.
There are runway shots, fashion shots, swimsuit shots. Smiling, flirty, serious. Jesus, she’s beautiful. And so painfully young in these photos. She was a bit slimmer then, but still had her curves.
“What are you doing?”
I turn slowly and smile over at her. “I thought I recognized your face.”
Her eyes drop to the book in my hands, then whip up to mine. “That’s private.”
My heart stills as I look her over, from head to toe. She’s in an old white T-shirt and men’s boxer shorts. Her long hair is piled on top of her head in a knot. And her face is completely clean of makeup.
I’ve never seen her look more beautiful, and I’ve seen her in a dozen different looks. But this, right here, is Addie, and she’s so stunning, she takes my breath away.
“Are you going to speak, or are you just going to stare at me?”
“You’re so fucking incredible.”
She stumbles, blinking rapidly. “Excuse me?”
“Why are you being nice to me?” she asks, bewildered. “I’ve been horrible to you.”
I close the book and return it to the shelf, then cross to her, take her hand, and lead her to the overstuffed couch. I sit and guide her next to me.
I want to pull her into my lap, but I’m not so sure she’d allow that.
She pulls her legs up and leans her cheek against my shoulder, holding on to my bicep with her hands.
“I can take it,” I whisper and resist the urge to kiss the top of her head. “You were perfectly professional.”
“You were hurt.” She snorts.
“And you like me, and that scares you.”
She immediately pushes away, shaking her head. “You wish.”
I smile and tug her into my lap now, holding her to me. Her lips are turned up, but her blue eyes are cautious, just as they should be.
But I’m not going to talk my way into her bed. Not tonight. Tonight she needs a friend, and she needs to be held. I would never admit it, but after seeing her in danger earlier tonight, maybe so do I. “Admit it, you like me.”
“I like it when you leave.” She smiles widely and bats her eyelashes.
“You’re a smart-ass.”
“Good?” She leans her cheek on my chest and traces imaginary circles on my shirt. “It usually pisses people off.”
“I’m a smart-ass too, so I speak the language.”
“I like that you’re tall.”
“Because I’m tall.”
And you fit.
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Kristen Proby is the author of the popular With Me in Seattle series. She has a passion for a good love story and strong characters who love humor and have a strong sense of loyalty and family. Her men are the alpha type—fiercely protective and a bit bossy—and her ladies are fun, strong, and not afraid to stand up for themselves. Kristen spends her days with her muse in the Pacific Northwest. She enjoys coffee, chocolate, and sunshine. And naps.