HeartstopperBy: Lauren Landish
A Sexy Romantic Comedy
From Wall Street Journal & USA Today Bestselling Author Lauren Landish.
After ten months without a date, I’m eager to go to the hottest new ticket in town, Club Jasmine.
I deserve a night of fun. I’ve worked hard and I finally got a promotion. But for one night, I’m going to let loose.
That’s when I see him.
The drop dead gorgeous, Jake Stone.
With his god-like physique, pure blue eyes and chiseled jawline, he might be the hottest guy I’ve ever laid eyes on. A total heartstopper.
The man’s probably a player. Then again, maybe that’s what I need—a man who knows what he’s got, knows how to use it, and knows how to make me scream to the heavens.
Screw it, you only live once.
But when I go in Monday morning to meet my new boss, I’m greeted by that same irresistible smile.
And Mr. Stone is making it perfectly clear that strictly professional is not in his vocabulary.
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Toxic - Britney Spears
Rude Boy - Rihanna
This Is What You Came For - Rihanna/Calvin Harris
Dangerous Woman - Ariana Grande
Power Of Love - Celine Dion
Uptown Funk - Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars
Milkshake - Kelis
Freak Like Me - Adina Howard
Rockabye - Clean Bandit
American Girl - Tom Petty
Up Where We Belong - Joe Cocker/Jennifer Warnes
Do You Really Wanna Hurt Me? - Culture Club
Take My Breath Away - Berlin
I Want It That Way - Backstreet boys
“The guys had better get ready,” I say, twirling my hair around my finger. I’m riding shotgun down the road with my best friend, Hannah Fowler, in her beat-up Lexus sedan. The windows are rolled down, the wind blowing through the cabin and ruffling our hair as the downtown streets whiz by.
It’s been a long time since I’ve gone out, and boy, have I missed it.
But tonight I’m going to let loose, I vow. Enjoy myself for once.
“Why’s that?” Hannah asks as she speeds through a yellow light, glancing over at me. With shoulder-length blonde hair, big round cheeks, and eyes that are as blue as they are huge, she looks a lot like Amanda Seyfried, and she’s played it up a few times. Equipped with a sense of humor that almost rivals mine, she’s basically been my bestie since I struck out on my own. We’re inseparable.
I grin, flashing my notorious wink I learned from my big sister, Mindy, and boast, “’Cause I’m about to release the Rox on them!”
“Did I just hear you just say you’re gonna gobble all the cocks?” Hannah yells over the roar of the wind.
I laugh. “You know damn well that wasn’t what I said!” I got ninety-nine problems and gobbling cock won’t be one. If anything, that’s on Hannah’s menu, considering the tight black number she’s wearing that looks like it’s been painted on her frame.
Hannah giggles. “Well, it’s better than unleashing your deprived vajayjay on some poor man!”
“I can’t help it,” I say, shaking my head. “You go ten months without sex and see how you feel. Knowing you, they’d have to call the Ghostbusters because you’d have fucked half a dozen men to death.”
We share a good laugh and I smile as I let my arm hang out the window, enjoying the night breeze against my skin. We haven’t even gotten to the best part of the night and I’m already in a good mood. It’s a far cry from the sour, cantankerous pain in the ass I’ve become lately.
Don’t get me wrong—my job at Franklin Consolidated is okay and all, but it’s not my first love. The grin slowly fades from my face as I think back to three years ago. I was working the club scene and singing at Trixie’s, a local club back home, busting my ass for my big break.
It never came. There were too many rejection letters, too many times I got passed up on auditions. I almost tried out for X-Factor but got sick right before with a bad cold, so even that didn’t go as planned. Eventually, I set the microphone aside and went back to school. Mom at least had the decency to not say I told you so about my short-lived career as a singer. Instead, she gave me encouragement when I said I was moving away to finish up the degree that I’d been putting off.
I don’t really know why I moved away. My stepfather, John, has more money than my family could spend in five lifetimes and is more than happy to share it. Champagne, designer dresses, cocktail parties, and vacationing on yachts. I could’ve had it all, the total deb socialite.
But nepotism is not a life I want for myself. I want to stand on my own two feet like my sister, Mindy. Sure, she ended up marrying a super-handsome, rich stud, but she worked her ass off before that and still does.
Thinking about her, I feel guilt tighten my chest. I haven’t talked to her or anyone in my family for months. It’s partly because we all lead such busy lives, but I’d argue that Mindy’s life is perfect now. She’s got a great husband, two adorable kids, and a business of her own that she loves running.
I’m nowhere near there. And I can’t help but have this nagging feeling that even if I’m successful in my new career path, I may never get that feeling. So yeah, a night like this is just what the doctor ordered.
“Seriously, though, I need this,” I tell Hannah. “We should do this more often.”
As a gift to us both, Hannah decided to hit the grand opening of Club Jasmine, a brand new nightclub that’s being opened by a couple of rich pricks whose names I don’t know. It’s supposed to be hot and ritzy. I just want to get to the hot part.
Hannah nods. “I know, honey. You’ve been working hard for what? Ten months? And already getting a promotion. You need to reward yourself.” She shakes her head. “I’ve been worried about you.”
Satisfaction rolls through me. It’s about the only positive thing I can say about my job. My hard work has paid off. I’ve been recognized by the execs, and starting next week, I’m getting promoted, working as an assistant to the new regional president. I’m not his secretary. I’m going to be one of the junior analysts, gathering data and such for him. I can see myself going up the ladder in a couple of years and making big money.
But at what cost? I think to myself. At this pace, I’ll be sitting in a corner office with nobody to come home to, my best years behind me. The pay might be good, but is it worth giving up the one thing that brings me joy?
Hannah pulls up to a red light, and I force that troubling thought from my mind, checking my makeup in the mirror. I’ve got dark hair, sparkling hazel eyes, and pouty lips, just like all the women in my family, and I’m pretty enough, I guess. But my spark, that mischievousness that made men weak in the knees, is absent from my eyes.
I need to get back to doing what I love, even if only on the weekends. Screw prioritizing work.
“What you should be worried about is the poor guy who’s gonna need a heart monitor when I get done with him,” I say, determined to stay upbeat, snapping my lipstick closed.
Hannah gives me a serious look and deadpans. “Is it really that bad? I thought you were just joking at first, but Jesus, Rox, I’m kinda scared. You ever see that movie Teeth, with the vagina that grows fangs? I feel like that’s you right now.”
“Oh, go to hell!” I laugh, but Hannah grins.
“Seriously, maybe we should just call it a night before you get yourself in trouble. I mean, I’m sure you’ve got something in your drawer at home that will take the edge off.”
I laugh. “Sorry, only the real thing will do. I prefer my meat hard, throbbing, and able to spray paint the walls.”
Hannah gags. “Gross! Just make sure you use protection. Don’t want you to wind up on Maury waiting to hear ‘You are the father!’ and the crowd going apeshit.”
“Okay, Mom. I’ll make sure to snag some of his DNA just in case.”
We both laugh as she turns a corner, and we see a line of cars stretching up the street.
Despite all my talk, I probably won’t even sleep with anyone. I’m just here to have fun, unwind, and relax. And if it comes along with getting to flirt with a cute as fuck guy, I’m all for it. The gears might be rusty, but I bet I can still twerk my ass with the best of them after I get warmed up.
My breath catches in my throat as the club comes into view. It’s beautiful. The parking lot is big and well-lit. The building itself looks like anything but a nightclub, with a large fountain out front and beautiful marble steps that are flanked by grand columns leading to the white double-door entryway. There’s a long line wrapped around the building, and I can tell the grand opening ceremony is already over as they’re just starting to let people in.
I’ve seen a lot of clubs, but I’m truly impressed with the presentation of this one. Everything I see says the owners sank a lot of money into this place. Honestly, it puts Trixie’s, with its neon sign, disco ball in the ceiling, and pink and purple ambient lighting to shame.
There’s no room to park in the main lot, so we have to go to the overflow lot down the street, barely finding a parking spot. Getting out, a cool night breeze sweeps the area, causing goosebumps to rise on my skin and excitement to warm my blood. Overhead, the full moon makes me feel like a wolf on the prowl.