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Getting Over Brett

Love in the Pacific Northwest, Book 3

Blue Orchard Books
April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9936794-5-2 Digital
ISBN: 978-0-9936794-9-0 Print

Nothing can stop a girl with a plan...

Tori Jarrett is rocking her life. Well, mostly. She has great friends, and she’s busy fixing up her house. The only thing missing is love. But Tori isn’t worried…an awful lot. Mr. Right will arrive when he’s meant to, and this time they’ll ride off into the sunset together. No repeats of four years ago when she gave her heart and virginity to Brett Evans hours before he skipped town.

Not that Tori is holding a grudge. In fact, she’s almost forgotten their disastrous one-night stand. Until Brett stands on her doorstep, looking to rent a room. Yi-yi, does he have to be as handsome and charming as always?

Of course, Brett regrets ever hurting Tori. It’s difficult to know what to do about a woman he once considered the cute kid sister of his best friend but now can’t deny is thoroughly, irresistibly sexy. But, seriously, he’s better off alone. After all, Tori is a childhood pal, a boundary he won’t cross again.

Pal? Tori can’t believe Brett is stuck in the dusty past! What she needs is help with her house renovations, not a history list. Pals or not, she intends to get Brett under the covers again where he will discover she’s all woman where he is concerned. Maybe then she can finally bury her dreams and fantasies about the man, and move on.

Bed him and forget him. Forever this time. Such a simple plan…

Read Excerpt


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Excerpt

Tori’s To-Do List ~ Sunday

~ Take down wall paneling
~ Check on hurt helper guy
~ If opportunity knocks, slam the door

Hand on the doorknob, Brett Evans stood just inside the closed front door in the partly demolished living room of his childhood friends, Ryan and Tori Jarrett. Sheets of old wall paneling lay stacked against a baseboard. Pink sweatpants hugged Tori’s rear as she climbed a stepladder. Music blared from a cell phone docked in a boom box. Tori sang along with gusto, a light brown ponytail poking out the back of her scruffy baseball cap.

Bile churned in Brett’s gut. The last time he saw Tori’s curvy behind, she was yanking on a pair of silky white panties while he explained why they could never sleep together again. Their conversation hadn’t gone too well.

Four years had passed since he’d committed the unthinkable and taken her virginity the night of her brother’s wedding. Tori was his best friend’s little sister, twenty-two at the time, and saving herself for the right man.

But Brett hadn’t known any of that.

He wouldn’t have slept with her had he known.

Had she told him.

Releasing a breath, he set his laptop case on the carpet and adjusted the cuffs of his button-down shirt. Whoever said or did what the night Ry got married no longer mattered. He was here now. He’d say hi, and Tori would either greet him with her beautiful smile or bare those perfect white teeth never touched by an orthodontist and bite off his head.

Brett sawed his jaw back and forth. Was he ready for this confrontation so soon after arriving? Sure, he’d expected to run into Tori during the four weeks of his software consulting contract with a Portland manufacturing firm. Maybe two or three days after he had settled in with her folks.

But not yet. And certainly not within the next ten seconds.

Clearing his throat, he stepped closer.

Tori remained focused on her work, singing about mad love and bad blood as she retrieved a nail puller from an insanely sexy tool belt slung low on her hips. With a quick twist of her wrist, she pried the upper portion of paneling off the wall studs. Moments before, when Brett entered the 1930s bungalow, she’d just loosened the panel’s other side. Now the painted wood creaked as tiny nails popped free. A couple at the bottom remained pinned.

Tori emitted a satisfied-sounding grunt. After hooking the nail puller onto her tool belt, she tugged with gloved hands until the nails loosened. The panel crashed to the floor.

“Another one bites the dust!” she cheered above the music, pumping a fist in a victory thrust.

Brett swallowed a smile.

The stepladder wobbled. Her left foot slipped. “Yikes!” She grabbed the top rung. “That’s right, moron, kill yourself, why don’t you? Leave poor Rex all alone. Real nice.”

Rex? Brett’s stomach clenched. Had Tori finally found Mr. Right?

“Tori?” he called.

She turned and screamed.

***

Tori Jarrett gripped her father’s old stepladder, heart racing like a herd of stampeding elephants. What the hell was Brett Evans doing in her living room?

“Seriously, Evans! Don’t you knock?” she yelled above the country-rap remix filling her comfy house. “You almost scared me to death.”

Curse her rotten luck! In her ancient sneakers, sweats, and a grimy white T-shirt, she must look like she’d crawled out of a trashcan. Not the effect she’d wanted to project if she’d ever possessed the bad karma to see Brett Evans again.

She’d wanted to look incredibly desirable and sexy and basically so un-Tori-like that he would regret with every fiber of his being having river-danced all over her heart before disappearing to California four years ago.

But, as usual, Brett had surprised her.

His hands shot up. “Sorry.” With his neatly trimmed blond hair and killer blue eyes, he was still so handsome it annoyed her. “Is your mom around?” he shouted.

“Look, Brett, it doesn’t matter.” Tori hopped off the ladder and shed her leather work gloves, tossing them to the carpet. Her Keep Portland Weird hat would stay on. Call it bad timing, accursed coincidence, or an ironic fluke of fate, but she hadn’t washed her hair this morning. The stifling end-of-May heat wave becoming more common in her beloved and usually drizzly Pacific Northwest had plastered several strands to her skull.

“Can I turn this down?” Brett’s trousers creased in interesting places as he moved to the music player inches away.

A whiff of sandalwood drifted to Tori’s nostrils. Yi-yi, the man smelled delicious. Turning thirty hadn’t diminished his charisma one iota. And, considering how her body tingled as his gaze traveled over her, he still made her bread rise.

Ugh.

“It’s a bit loud for eight p.m. on a Sunday,” he added.

“It’s that late?” Pity her neighbors. Most were young professionals fixing up cool old houses like she was, but some families with young children as well as a couple of seniors rallying against downsizing occupied the friendly block. “Go ahead.” Hammers and screwdrivers clunking, she unhooked her tool belt and draped it over the sofa back. “And then you can explain why you entered my house without knocking.”

She sounded like a hag about to cast an evil spell, but the shock of seeing Brett after all this time zapped a pang deep into her heart. He had hurt her. Badly. He couldn’t waltz in here smelling like sandalwood as if nothing had ever happened and expect her to offer him tea and croissants.

He switched off the player. “I parked on the street and heard the music when I got out. I knocked, but you didn’t hear me. The door was open, so I came in.”

A habit formed when they were kids, with her parents’ blessing.

Her face warmed. “The neighbors don’t mind my music.” Until dinnertime. Ahem. “They know what I’m doing.”

“What are you doing?”

Oh, no. He didn’t get to ask the questions. She hadn’t heard a peep from Brett since the night she’d handed him her virginity. What a fool she’d been, fancying herself in love with the guy, trusting him to help her over the hurdle of the Big V. Anticipating he would call or text or somehow stay in touch with her following her brother’s wedding. To cradle her until the soft light of dawn washed the hotel room hadn’t seemed unreasonable either. Anything other than his mortifying pronouncement about how the moment she’d looked forward to for years had been ‘a mistake.’

She arched her eyebrows. “Why are you here?”

He looked around, palms upturned and forehead furrowing. Flummoxed as a flea-bitten ferret.

 

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