“Sometimes love happens when you least expect it.” That was what my husband’s mistress told me the day I found out about their affair.
I didn’t believe it until five minutes later when mouth-watering celebrity chef Tanner Reese walked up, tossed his arm around my shoulders, and told my cheating husband to take a hike.
Tanner and I couldn’t have been more different. He spent his weekends at clubs, rubbing elbows with fellow A-listers. I spent mine in yoga pants with cheese boards and a glass of wine—or six.
Our relationship shouldn’t have worked, but it did. That is until Tanner proved to me that even though love happens when you least expect it…
So does heartbreak.
I shifted the phone to my other ear and asked her, “Did you just get in bed?”
“If, by bed, you mean carrying a glass of wine out back to swing in the hammock, maybe.”
I bit my bottom lip, my head falling back against the headrest. For most men, this would have been an innocuous statement. But for a hammock connoisseur like myself, this was the normal guy equivalent of her saying that she liked to give blowjobs during halftime.
“You have a hammock out back?”
There was a delay in her response, which was followed by a subtle kiss of her lips on what I assumed was a wine glass. “Don’t knock it until you try it. It’s one of the most underrated luxuries in outdoor furniture.”
“Oh, I’m not knocking anything. Rope or quilted?”
“Oh, sweet heavenly baby Jesus, she’s beautiful and knows her hammocks. I’ve never been so turned on in my life.”
She giggled, pausing for another sip. “You know, if you leaked this hammock fetish to the press, you could probably increase demand by five million percent and singlehandedly lower the country’s unemployment rate.”
Okay, so at some point during the day, she’d figured out who I was.
But! Even with this knowledge, she was trying to avoid a date with me and was not elbow-deep in planning our televised wedding. This was a definite plus in my book.
“Yeah, but then, when I talked to beautiful women like yourself, I’d have no idea if the hammock was your idea or a ploy to impress me.”
“Jeez, that’s sad, Tanner,” she said, her sweet Southern accent like a wave rolling over my name.
I’d meant it as a joke, but it was the absolute truth when it came to dating. Early on in my career, I’d done a rapid-fire interview about my personal life. One of the questions had been: What would your ideal woman order on the first date? Truth be told, the only thing I hoped my ideal woman would order was something she wanted. I didn’t factor into that. But I’d been on my last question in my last interview of the last day of a month-long press tour. My face had hurt from fake smiling, I’d been in desperate need of a shower, a smoke, and sleep, and my mind had been mush, so I’d prattled off the first thing that had come to mind: shrimp and grits.
That one little answer somehow made it onto my Wiki page, and after that, every woman I’d taken out ordered shrimp and grits. One of them even had a shellfish allergy and nearly ended up in the hospital. And this insanity was not limited to women outside of the spotlight.
I’d once gone on a date with America’s princess of pop, Levee Williams. We’d hit it off at a charity event. For one of the most famous women in the world, she was a surprisingly nice girl, gorgeous, and funny as all get out. But the first time I took her out? One guess what she ordered.
I was at the end of my rope with dating and lost my freaking mind before storming out like an asshole. That night, as I was reporting shrimp and fucking grits as an error to Wiki, I noticed that her page listed it as her favorite food. I’d never had the balls to contact her again, and I once hid behind a palm tree on Rodeo Drive when I heard the clamoring of paparazzi calling her name. But that’s neither here nor there.
In short, while finding a woman was all too easy, dating was hard.
But that wasn’t about to stop me from trying with Rita.
Originally from Savannah, Georgia, USA Today bestselling author Aly Martinez now lives in South Carolina with her four young children.
Never one to take herself too seriously, she enjoys cheap wine, mystery leggings, and baked feta. It should be known, however, that she hates pizza and ice cream, almost as much as writing her bio in the third person.
She passes what little free time she has reading anything and everything she can get her hands on, preferably with a super-sized tumbler of wine by her side.
We originally met Tanner and Rita in The Darkest Sunrise Duet as Tanner is Porter’s brother and Rita is Charlotte’s best friend and now we have the chance to read their story.
Tanner’s life if busy between being a chef, restaurant owner and celebrity star. He has grown weary of the attention he receives for his looks, wealth and celebrity status especially after the demise of his last relationship.
Rita has devoted the last seven years of her life to being the perfect society wife however all it has gotten her is a messy divorce from her cheating ex.
When Tanner comes to her rescue during an uncomfortable situation with her ex but pretending to be the man in her life makes him want to be one for real and now he only has to convince her.
Tanner is determined to show Rita that they belong together and that he is so much more than a rebound and while Rita doesn’t believe she is ready for another relationship there is something about Tanner that keeps drawing her back. Hot chemistry, humorous banter with just enough angst to draw you in.