Sworn to Forget by Maria Imbalzano

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    By all appearances, Nicki Reading is a star. PR director at a major music label, Nicki is sharp, successful, independent, and confidently calls the shots. She dates whom she wants, when she wants, with no strings attached. But beneath that shine, loneliness flickers. Events from her past prove love leads only to pain. Commitment is not an option.

    Until Dex Hanover, a classy, principled, and prosperous CPA, enters the picture. Undeterred by his unhappy childhood, he has an amazing capacity to be both caring and generous, giving his free time as a mentor for a child from the projects. Dex wears his paternal yearnings on his sleeve, and he is at a point in his life where commitment is the only option.

    Despite their opposing views, Nicki and Dex ignite each other. But will events from their pasts ruin their challenging relationship and prevent them from experiencing everlasting love?

    Rating: Spicy
    Page Count: 340
    Word Count: 85750
    978-1-5092-2108-0 Paperback
    978-1-5092-2109-7 Digital


    Nicki searched the bar for two empty stools, hoping she hadn’t misunderstood the signal. It wouldn’t fare well for her ego to be rejected twice in the same ten minutes.

    “What’ll it be?” asked the bartender as he cleared the space in front of her.

    “Margarita, rocks, no salt.”

    “I’ll have a vodka martini. Straight up.” His deep voice curled around her. “Is this seat taken?” Without waiting for her response, he sat, his knee brushing against her thigh in a sizzling flash.

    Whoa. She inched away, the burn searing straight to her toes. This guy was on fire.

    She held out her hand. “I’m Nicki Reading.”

    He took it and brought her fingers to his lips. “Dex Hanover.” Green eyes with a hint of gray hooked hers, the intensity a bit overwhelming. In a good way.

    She withdrew her hand, needing some space, some air. And a cold shower. Raising her glass to him, she used her silkiest voice. “Nice to meet you, Dex Hanover.”

    He clinked her glass with his, and his crooked smile turned into a full-blown attraction. “Nicki.”

    His inflection did funny things to her insides. She sipped her drink, trusting the cool liquid would douse the small fire within before it got out of control.

    “Is he your husband, boyfriend, brother?” The spark in his eyes told Nicki he hoped for the latter.

    “Some would call him my boyfriend. I’m still on the fence. And after this week, I’m leaning toward friend.”

    “You’re not having a good time?”

    She inhaled, not wanting to throw Jonathan under the bus to this unknown, albeit captivating creature. Until this trip, Jonathan straddled the line between a temporary possibility and a washout. Moderately handsome, with touchable brown hair, milk-chocolate eyes, and a killer job as an entertainment lawyer, he gave Nicki the space she needed. As an added bonus, he was uninterested in procreating to advance his gene pool. Yet something key was off.

    So why not leave a door open for further conversation with her intriguing bar mate? “Gambling is not my thing. Apparently, it’s Jonathan’s.” She lifted a shoulder. “Who knew?”

    Dex nodded. “The high of winning is on par with sex.”

    Nicki raised her brow. “I only offered dancing. Maybe I should have been more carnal.”

    “I’m glad you weren’t because I would have missed this opportunity to meet you.”

    Her attention zeroed in on kissable lips. She swallowed. “What about you? Aren’t you with the woman in red?”

    “We are here together, Lisa and I. But we’re not dating.”

    Good answer. Surely, there was much more to the story, but now was not the time.

    Dex continued. “Where are you from, Ms. Nicki Reading?”

    “Philadelphia. What about you?”

    “Me too. What a nice coincidence.” His aura held her in a cocoon of privacy, blocking out the din of the other patrons hovering nearby.

    “Here you are.” Jonathan’s voice broke through her haze, shaking her out of the magical dream she’d just experienced. He placed his arm around Nicki’s shoulders, a transparent sign to Dex she was off limits. At least in man code.

    “What made you leave the table?” Nicki blinked to return to reality, attempting to hold back a smirk, knowing full well her dog came to mark his territory.

    “The dice were getting cold. It was time to move on. Do you want to hit Venus or go back to our room?” His suggestion couldn’t be camouflaged as anything other than what it was. Jonathan’s attempt to make Dex jealous.

    “This is Dex Hanover. He works in Philly too.”

    “Jonathan Walsh.” He stuck out his hand, but there was no friendly smile or genuine interest. “Let’s go.” Jonathan tugged on her upper arm, clearly not wanting to stay and make small talk.

    “It was nice meeting you, Dex.” More than nice, although the heat index plummeted when Jonathan came to claim her. Nicki focused in on his eyes, loathe to break the connection. “I’m sure we’ll run into you and Lisa over the next few days.”

    She smiled, promising something—although what, she didn’t know.


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Sworn to Forget

Sworn to Forget

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