RELEASED FEBRUARY 19, 2019
They changed their names and left their old lives behind…but when their paths collide, their pasts come back to haunt them. And this time, there’s no running away.
Genevieve fled her religious community with no understanding of what to expect from ‘normal’ society…or what they would expect from her. Armed with nothing more than a sinful list of experiences she’s eager to live, she meets Cobra: a resident gym bad boy who struts around like he could undress her with his eyes alone.
Snagging a job at Holt Body Fitness is the only break of luck Cobra’s had since his life took a nosedive as a teen, and it’s just a matter of time before this goes downhill, too. So when ultra-innocent Gen stumbles onto his bleak path, his eagerness for distractions leads him to helping her with every item on her “Sin List”…except for one.
But as the two of them plunge headfirst into a list of sins that are equal parts sizzling and intense, Cobra inches closer to a scary new reality. One that might be too good to be true. One that will force him to choose between the only family he’s ever known, and the one thing he swore to never need: love.
Fans of Penelope Ward and Nicole Snow will love this swoony standalone in the interconnected books of The Breaking Series.
One-click your copy today to find out just how many sins she’s willing to commit! AVAILABLE ON ALL RETAILERS
It’ll be like an internship, they said.
Genevieve tugged at the vinyl scrap of cloth barely covering her breasts.
It’ll be fun and exciting, they said.
She frowned into the mirror. This strapless bikini top had been made for ladies with a B cup, and her double-Ds barely fit. But that was the point, after all. Her frown deepened, gaze skating over all the exposed sweeps of her creamy skin. Skin that rarely saw daylight, much less a professionally staged photo shoot for her new place of employment, Holt Body Fitness.
Everything about today made her skin crawl. It was one situation of many that she’d been bred to avoid. Being the object of lusty thoughts via this sexy-time calendar? One-way ticket to hell. And here she was, actively getting on the Inferno Express. This was only day three of the job. What else would be on the docket?
Genevieve took a calming breath. This is fine. This is what you signed up for, after all. This is what you came to Los Angeles to experience. Life itself.
She just hadn’t thought she would be experiencing it so vividly.
One of the receptionists poked her head into the locker room. Melanie. She had a slightly suspicious, but mostly friendly, smile. “You ready to go? Travis is rounding everyone up.”
Gen steeled herself. Rounding everyone up, like the sex cattle they were. She shook the thought from her head. That was her father speaking—and also the whole reason she’d come to LA. To get rid of that voice in her head.
“Totally, Melanie.” Gen forced out, releasing her iron grip from the edge of the sink. She sounded like the second-rate friend hired for a crappy nineties movie. Melanie held the door open for her, looking natural and effortless in her revealing scraps of fabric. Of course. Because LA girls didn’t care about revealing their bodies or showing off their God-given assets. Body parts were simply parts of the body here, not a sacred gift to be shared with one’s first and last love, Jesus Christ.
Gen had fantasized for years about what it might feel like to flaunt her body in public. To attract the covetous stares of gorgeous men and even women. Now she had the chance, and she quaked like a newborn colt. She followed Melanie out of the bright locker room on wooden legs, trying to exude the confidence she didn’t feel. To put a firm pep in her step. To be every inch the confident, sexy red-head she wanted her coworkers to believe she was.
Not the mousy little white girl from central California who’d never set foot in a single male’s apartment and still didn’t totally grasp the full extent of what “sixty-nine-ing” entailed.
She’d added that to the list of things to learn and do, though. All in time.
Melanie led her down the sweeping arc of the hallway toward the back gymnasium Gen had visited briefly during her orientation two days ago. Talk about a welcoming committee. It was all chatter and white lights, hair flips and bulging biceps. Industrial ceilings yawned cavernous and infinite, the slate gray flooring equal parts sci-fi and modern. Holt Body Fitness: already the coolest place she’d ever worked. Not to mention the only place she’d ever worked.
The entire staff of Holt Body gathered in various stages of readiness. A few vanity tables lined the edge of the gym, round bulbs dotting the shiny mirrors as stylists perfected hair or makeup. Melanie led her toward the empty chair at the third booth.
“Iliana will do your makeup soon,” Melanie said, but Gen couldn’t move her legs to follow. Melanie looked back over her shoulder, her perfectly shaped eyebrows forming a straight line. “You coming?”
“I forgot something,” Gen said, taking a couple steps backward. She forgot a shapeless tunic to cover herself up with, or maybe her dignity, like her father had alluded to when Gen first suggested the idea of moving out and experiencing the world for a year. Her entire family had reacted as though she’d suggested cutting off a pinky and roasting it for dinner. Her eldest sister, Abigail, had even cried.
Gen connected with something warm and hard. A guttural laugh. Gen inhaled sharply and whipped around. Travis Holt, the eponymous leader of this sex carnival. He squeezed her shoulder, smiling down at her. “Party’s this way, Gen.”
He breezed past her, the muscles of his back a map to a world she didn’t know existed. She stared after him, the same way she had the entire first day of their training. He oozed confidence and success, and it wasn’t just the building surrounding them. He held one of those hard-won secrets to life. The type of secret she was dying to get her hands on.
After so many years kept locked away in a tiny God-fearing bubble, it was time.
She straightened her back and followed Melanie. “Never mind. I don’t need it. I’m ready for hair and makeup.”
Melanie patted the back of the hair stylist’s chair facing the mirror, and Gen slid into the spot, her warm thighs greeting the cool leather eagerly. She looked down at the hot pants she’d squeezed into, a fabric so thin and stretchy it barely counted as clothes. Her legs glared white under the attention of the lights, illuminating the jagged scar running over her knee. She tugged up the waistband of the shorts, but it didn’t help. At least a full mile stretched between her navel and the waistband. Her belly skin crinkled as she sank lower into the seat.
“Wow. What gorgeous hair.” Someone raked fingers through her hair. Gen yanked her gaze to the mirror. A blonde lady with a jagged bob lifted auburn chunks, as if inspecting it for purity.
“Thanks.” Gen slid her hands under her thighs, hunching over, but straightened once she saw how much it made her breasts round under the chest tape of a shirt she had on. She didn’t know what else to say. She didn’t realize integrating into the rest of the world would feel so difficult. She wasn’t just new, she was an entirely different species, struggling to pass on a planet designed to intimidate.
She could have picked any industry to launch her Year of the List. Why did it have to be among the most beautiful and confident people she’d ever laid eyes on?
“I’m Jas,” the blonde said simply, as though casually identifying a fruit at the market. “Any special way you want your hair?”
Gen blinked into the mirror, trying to think of a style that differed from her previous Plain Jane life: half up, half down, with a cringeworthy neon blue scrunchie. “Uh, whatever you think looks good. I trust you.” She swallowed hard. “And I’m Gen.”
“Jas and Gen! What a pair.” Her voice sounded flat, almost monotone. Gen couldn’t tell if it was sarcasm or distraction due to hair styling, or maybe she was the butt of some joke she didn’t understand.
Gen’s gaze wandered over the fascinating landscape reflected in the mirror. Chests that could adorn the romance novel her pastor father had once ingloriously burned during a sermon. Girly butt cheeks hanging out of hot pants. Practically the set of a soft-core porno. She’d seen her first one last week, so she knew.
It was hard to tell which man was the hottest. It was also hard not to stare.
Like this one. One more rippling, Louvre-worthy sculpture of a man sauntered her way, his neck thick as a tree trunk, jagged tattoos marking a path up the right side of his body, crawling over his chest, and up the sides of his neck. At his collarbone, bold letters read COBRA. He had short, raven hair that had been shellacked into a perfect Ken Doll hairstyle. As he came closer, Gen realized she hadn’t met this one yet. She would have remembered him. Would have fought to never look anywhere else ever again.
He stopped a few feet behind her, his eyes like molten chocolate.
Staring right at her.
Gen snapped her gaze to the vanity table. She lasted a few seconds before curiosity won. Jas yanking at her hair only distantly registered as she found Mr. Louvre with his hands on his hips, watching Gen like a cat eying his dinner.
Oh, yes. This was the one.
The hottest of them all.
He was dirty hot. His lips curled into an illegally sexy smirk. Shadows under his eyes ignited questions and gasps at the same time. Gen’s pussy throbbed with years of unmet desires. He was everything she’d ever physically pined for in a man.
Even when her only examples of worthy men growing up included khakis, pressed button-down shirts, and a rumbling voice with which to praise the lord, seeing this man made something marrow deep rumble to life. Primal. Ancestral. From the beginning of time, which she’d recently decided was not six thousand years ago. As if her body had just been waiting for him to show up.
“Have you ever considered an ombre?” Jas chirped.
“I don’t know what that means,” Gen forced out in a dry whisper. She took one last drink of Mr. Too Sexy To Ignore and the way he watched her. As if he’d already started eating her alive in his mind. She reluctantly moved her gaze to find Jas’s in the mirror. One painted brown brow was arched. High.
“Seriously?” She furiously teased a section of hair near the back of her head. “It’s like, this super cute but gradual color shift from about halfway…” She flicked her wrist to highlight where on Gen’s head this would be. “To all the way down.”
Gen nodded, licking her lips as her gaze slid back to the man in the mirror. He’d crossed his arms over his chest, talking to one of the other Holt Body trainers like they were kings of the world. “Sure. Yeah. Let’s do it.”
Jas tutted. “Not now. I’m Style today. But you would seriously look cute with an ombre to blonde.”
The words didn’t register, but she logged them anyway. Add that to the list: get an ombre. Wasn’t that Spanish for “man?” If so, that was also on her list.
Maybe this exact man could be on her list.
“Thanks,” Gen said but wasn’t sure the word made it past her lips. The physical model of perfection came nearer, his narrow hips covered with tighter-than-necessary gym shorts that betrayed an excellent bulge. His thighs were granite arcs, the color of freshly steamed milk. He was alabaster wrapped in sexiness. He came up to the mirror and propped a forearm against the edge. His reflection felt like a mirage or something dreamed of in a fever sweat.
“So would you swipe left or right on me? Be honest.”
His voice ran through her like fingers combing hair. Except Jas was tugging on her hair, making her scalp scream. Jas sent a strange smile toward the handsome visitor. And then anxiety hit her hard, like a wall of water in a perfectly executed cannonball.
What did swipe left or right even mean?
“Are you…” she began. Talking to me, she finished in her head.
Jas cleared her throat. “On your phone, Gen.”
“I don’t, uh…” Jas tugged sections of her hair into bobby pins. “I don’t know what you mean.”
Both Jas and the new arrival looked at her in the mirror with surprise etched on their faces. Her stomach plunged.
“Like on Tinder,” the guy said, pushing off from the mirror, tilting his head at her as if his explanation somehow clarified things.
“I have a flip phone,” Gen offered.
“Shit,” said the guy. It rang in her ears like sacred harmony. Something silken yet rough in that one word. “Old school.”
He wet his bottom lip, his gaze dragging over her, as if he’d personally assessed every cell of her being. She wilted in the chair, paralyzed with indecision somewhere between “I love you” and “I need to leave immediately.”
“I can basically press any number zero through nine.” She felt her cheeks heating up, but she had to try to redeem herself.
He hummed appreciatively, his crooked smile making her chest swell. “Like a phone number?”
Across the room, someone barked “Cobra!” The guy’s eyes narrowed as he focused on someone over her head, then nodded. His gaze slid back to Gen. “That’s me.”
She opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out.
Cobra jogged off, leaving her breathless in his wake. She watched him go in the mirror, gaze soldering to the two cobra tattoos arcing across each shoulder blade and down the sides of his back. This guy had a theme. Jas leaned forward. “You do understand he was hitting on you, correct?”
She groaned, her eyes fluttering shut. Jas let a cloud of hairspray rip. When the air cleared, Gen frowned at her reflection.
“He was too hot,” she muttered. “I couldn’t think.”
“That’s the problem with this place,” Jas mumbled, groping for one more bobby pin. “Too many perfect specimens.”
“You mean here? The gym?”
“SoCal, hon.” Jas pressed one more bobby pin into place, securing the hairdo, before she stepped back. “You’re new here, right?”
Gen huffed. New wasn’t strong enough. She was something else. “Basically.”
“What do you think?” Jas jerked her chin toward Gen’s hair. A sweeping, gorgeous, Oscar-worthy style had been fashioned out of her thick and normally lifeless auburn hair. Not that she’d ever seen the Oscars, of course, but everyone sure talked about it here in LA. An elegant tendril hung to the side of her face, while the rest of her hair had been teased up and around, to culminate in a long, spiraling braid that hung over her shoulder. Workout chic, or something like it.
“It looks great,” Gen said, fingering the strange pattern of the braid. “Can I get you to do my hair every day?”
Jas laughed, squeezing her shoulder before shooing her away. “You couldn’t afford me, hon.”
Gen pushed out of the chair, the backs of her thighs suctioning off the leather as she stood. “Do I need to tip you, or…?”
Jas waved her off. “Just go get your picture taken, babe. And get that guy’s number, okay?”
Gen nodded, looking toward the mock photo studios that had been set up. Get a guy’s number. Also an item on her list. And dammit, that’s what this escape from home was about.
Completing the list, come hell or high anxiety.
Three different muted backdrops in shades of cream and gray. One photographer who barked commands from underneath a pencil-thin mustache. She checked her breasts—still covered, for the most part.
Across the room, Cobra talked with Travis and some other employees who she’d been introduced to. But their names? Heck if she could remember. They needed name tags, but where would they put them? Over their nipples?
“Genevieve.” Amara strutted up to her, her caramel skin gleaming like she’d been coated with Vaseline. Finally, a familiar face. Her first non-hometown–related acquaintance since coming to LA. She’d met Amara when responding to a help-wanted ad for her domestic violence shelter, one of many jobs she’d applied for and not gotten. But she and Amara had hit it off in the interview, to the point that Amara wanted to help her find something.
And here she was.
Half-naked and spinning like a top.
“Where do I go now?” She hugged herself, trying to hide some of the exposed skin.
“We’re going to do a group shot before the individuals,” Amara said.
“Oh.” Gen almost ran a hand through her expensive style before she remembered. “I was hoping you would tell me back to the locker room, so I could put clothes on.”
Amara’s laugh rippled through her. “You don’t like playing dress up?”
“This isn’t dressing at all. It’s nudity.”
Amara swatted her arm. “But you said you wanted to get outside your comfort zone.
“Well, here I am.” Gen sucked in a breath, assessing the room once more. The lights had grown brighter, somehow, since getting her hair done. The scrutiny that hair and makeup invited, in this room crawling with undiscovered models. “Five million miles away from my comfort zone.”
“You look stellar. I promise.” Amara squeezed her arm. “And remember…it’s for a good cause!”
Gen nodded, straightening her back. That, at least, counted as a happy byproduct of her wanton skinmongering. All the proceeds from this sexy calendar went straight to local nonprofits.
The pencil-mustached leader of the sex carnival leaned back, cupped his mouth around his hand, and shouted, “Group pictures, now!”
Gen walked toward him before she could think better of it, her eyes on Cobra, repeating to herself the most important new items on her list.
Get a guy’s number. Get an ombre. Get this hombre.