The Trouble with Love
Sex, Love and Stiletto #4
Sex, Love and Stiletto #4
By: Lauren Layne
Releasing March 3, 2015
As Lauren Layne’s salacious Sex, Love & Stiletto series returns, a jaded columnist discovers a steamy way to get over an old flame: falling for him all over again.
As Stiletto magazine’s authority on all things breakup-and-heartache, Emma Sinclair writes from personal experience. Five years ago, Emma was Charlotte, North Carolina’s darling debutante and a blushing bride-to-be. Now she’s the ice queen of the Manhattan dating scene. Emma left her sultry Southern drawl behind, but not even her closest friends know that with it she left her heart. Now Emma’s latest article forces her to face her demons—namely, the devilishly sexy guy who ditched her at the altar.
After giving up everything for a pro-soccer career, Alex Cassidy watches his dreams crumble as a knee injury sidelines him for good. Now he’s hanging up his cleats and giving journalism a shot. It’s just a coincidence that he happens to pick a job in the same field, and the same city, as his former fiancée . . . right? But when Emma moves in next door, it’s no accident. It’s research. And Alex can’t help wondering what might have been. Unlike the innocent girl he remembers, this Emma is chic, sophisticated, and assertive—and she wants absolutely nothing to do with him. The trouble is, Alex has never wanted her more.
Alex spun the conference room chair just slightly in the direction of Stiletto’s editor in chief.
“You’ve told them, right?” he asked.
Camille ignored him, continuing to tap out something on her iPad with the awkward, pointer-finger taps of someone only reluctantly familiar with touch screen technology. And touch screen was definitely new to her. Camille Bishop had been in the business longer than he’d been alive and tended to cling to old school methods whenever possible.
“Told them what?” Camille asked innocently. Too innocently.
He gave her a look, which she returned vacantly.
She was wearing big, oversized glasses today. Everything about Camille seemed big. Even though she had a wiry figure, her voice was loud. Her hair was bright. Her personality was . . . massive.
“No, I haven’t told them,” she hissed. “That’s what this meeting is for.”
He groaned. “Come on, Camille. Not even a heads-up?”
She pursed her lips and ignored him.
As in, shit would definitely hit the fan when Camille dropped her little bomb on her team.
“Okay, everyone, let’s get started,” Camille said, standing and waiting until the small talk around the table trickled off. “You’ve probably noticed that there’s an extra dose of testosterone in the room today.”
At least two dozen pairs of eyes snapped to Alex. Half of those eyes had been staring even before Camille had mentioned him. There were nearly thirty people in the room, and there was only one other guy besides Alex.
And from the way the one other guy—Oliver, if he remembered correctly—was giving him the once-over, Alex was fairly sure he was the only man in the room who liked women.
He gave a weak smile at the group, wishing he could be somewhere else. Anywhere else.
Up on his floor, the Oxford guys were probably discussing last night’s game. Instead of joining them, Alex was surrounded by presentation boards covered in everything from lingerie to perfume ads.
He liked to think of himself as a relatively modern man. A little gruff and stoic at times, sure.
But he didn’t grunt and drag women around by their hair, or brand them, or scream at them to make him homemade biscuits every morning. And he liked his nice suits and cologne and high-thread-count sheets. He was evolved.
But Stiletto was too much woman. It was like girly stuff on steroids. It made even the most modern man long for beer and onion rings.
“As most of you know, Alex Cassidy is the editor in chief for Oxford, our sometimes rival, sometimes partner. He’s the man version of me, so to speak.”
God help him.
“Anyway, he’s here because I have an important announcement to make.”
Camille paused dramatically, clearly waiting for someone to beg her for more info. She frowned when everyone merely stared at her, half-bored, half-expectantly.
Alex hid a smile. Clearly the Stiletto editor in chief had cried wolf one too many times. Her team didn’t expect this news to be earth-shattering.
And he supposed it wasn’t. Not really. But it might be to one person in the room.
A person he still refused to look at.
Camille finally snapped when the silence stretched on ten seconds past awkward. “I’m going on a sabbatical,” she said.
“A what now?” Riley asked.
“A sabbatical,” a snooty-looking blond woman on Alex’s right explained. “It’s when—”
“I know what a sabbatical is, Kandice,” said Riley. “I just didn’t realize Stiletto offered them. How do I get one? Because there’s this sex camp—”
Camille held up a hand. “No sabbaticals for you. You want one, wait until you’re editor in chief.”
“Why would I want to be editor in chief?” Riley asked.
“Exactly,” Camille said, looking pleased at the lead-in. “It’s a thankless, tiresome job, and one I didn’t want to wish on any of you while I’m gone for three months.”
“Three months?” Julie asked. “We’re leaderless for three months?”
“Not quite,” Camille said. “You need someone to steer the ship, of course. So . . .”
She made a dramatic flourishing gesture in Alex’s direction.
He waited patiently for everything to register with the Stiletto crew.
“No. A boy?!” Riley said, scandalized.
Lauren Layne is a snarky cynic with a serious weakness for happily ever afters.
Marrying her high school sweetheart was a good start. *cue Disney soundtrack.* But Lauren wanted all romance, all the time.
Now she writes fictional happy endings, and considers her job done well if you swoon while reading her books. Don't worry. You will.
Once upon a time she lived in a Manhattan high-rise, but now she's on the laid-back train in the Seattle area. If you ever find yourself in Issaquah, she'll probably buy you a drink. Maybe.
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