When her car breaks down off the side of a lonely highway far from her sunny Miami home, tattoo artist Lia never expected her very own white knight to ride up on the back of a barely street-legal motorcycle…and she never expected to fall for her dark savior. After a string of failed relationships and a bruised heart, Lia is not looking for forever, and the hot mechanic, with his sexy scruff and shaggy hair, is simply impossible to resist and the perfect candidate for mind-blowingly-perfect, no-strings-attached one night stand.
Reid left his life in Chicago far behind him and hasn’t been back, but he’s never been able to escape the guilt he feels about his own painful role in inviting a monster into his baby sister’s life. A monster who almost destroyed her. Being with Lia is an unexpected gift, one he doesn’t feel he deserves, and their one night together has him wanting more than he should. Especially since she doesn’t know the truth about his past. However, when he finds Lia’s bracelet in his bed, he has the perfect excuse to drive down and surprise her at her tattoo studio, Second Circle Tattoos, in Miami. He’s in for an even bigger shock – and a fist to the face – when his past and present collide in the humid Miami weather when he runs into the last person he’d ever expect to see in a tattoo studio: Harper, the sister he betrayed, and the last link to his former life.
Lia opened the door to her condo and let Reid inside. He’d followed her home on his bike, so they’d been unable to talk, but he’d said nothing once they’d parked in the underground garage.
“Holy shit, Lia,” he said, looking out toward the water. “That’s some view.”
She dropped her keys on the side table, and placed her purse next to them. Sharing details about her wealth only seemed to cause problems. There had been at least two boyfriends who stuck around longer than they really wanted to because of her funds. So she’d never thought to prepare Kenny for the reality of her life, nor had there been opportunity.
Lia walked over to the balcony doors and opened them wide. “Want to go outside for a while? I’ll get us some drinks.”
Reid dragged his hand along his jaw. “I don’t know what I want. My head feels like a car that hasn’t ever had an oil change. Overheated, poorly performing, and full of crap.” The smile he gave her was filled with sadness.
She squeezed his hand and headed to the kitchen. She grabbed a couple of beers from the fridge. Kenny was leaning against the balcony, staring out into the distance. The deep blue rippling waters of Biscayne Bay had soothed her frayed mind on many occasions. She only hoped it was having the same effect on him.
The look on her best friend’s face had torn her apart. Harper had fluctuated between elation and disappointment. And Kenny had looked shell-shocked as he started to put the pieces together, leaving Lia unable and unwilling to pick sides. But the look of abject loneliness on his face when he saw Harper standing with all her friends had forced her to break ranks and stand with him. No one in that situation should be left to stand alone.
“I figured you could use one of these,” Lia said, walking onto the balcony with the drinks.
He took them and placed them on the table next to them. He took both her hands and pulled her toward him. He stroked her skin, as if desperate for contact. “My name is Reid Kennedy . . . but everyone calls me Kenny. Except my sister and parents. I wasn’t trying to deceive you, Lia. It’s just the name I go by.”
“Let’s not worry about that right now. You and Harper are all that matters. We can talk about this at some other point.”
“Is it okay to call you Reid?” she asked.
He breathed what she took to be a sigh of relief. “You can call me whatever the fuck you want as long as you are still speaking to me. I’m sorry,” he said, burying his nose into the soft hair at the side of her neck. The scent of him, man and leather, surrounded her, and despite everything going on around them, she was transported back to their previous weekend together, when she’d stripped for him in the warm shades of dusk.
Lia wrapped her arms around his waist. “For what?” she asked.
“For coming down here to make you feel better, only to pull you into all this.”
She didn’t respond immediately, but rubbed her hand up and down his back. It was the kind of gesture she wished her parents had done to her when she was small. Reassuring. Caring even.
He pulled back a little. “Don’t you hate me? For leaving her?” he said quietly.
“When she comes over, are you going to explain why?” She placed her hand over his heart. It beat fiercely.
He covered her hand with his own. “Yes.”
About the Author:
Two-time RITA finalist, Scarlett Cole, is a contemporary romantic suspense / contemporary romance author (represented by Beth Phelan at The Bent Agency). Author of the Second Circle Tattoos Series. The Strongest Steel was a Best Debut Goodreads Author Finalist 2015, and Authors on the Air Global Radio Network #1 Contemporary Romance Pick for 2015.
When Scarlett isn’t writing, she spends her time reading, hoarding mason jars, and working out to off-set an epic sour candy habit.
Having travelled the world for work and fun, Scarlett is a citizen of both Britain and Canada. A true city-dweller, she considers Toronto and Manchester home and likes to set her books in vibrant locations such as Miami and Los Angeles.
If you want to know more about Scarlett’s books, visit her at: