Ava Cameron has stars in her eyes. When the feisty designer moves to NYC after graduation with her best friend, things are finally clicking into place.
But now their brand new label, Travesty, is under attack.
The man leading the charge is the hottest hookup Ava ever had. One she never wanted to see again...
Nate Townsend might be from the right schools, the right neighborhood and the right family. But under the surface, his scars run deep.
When the society prince and the loud designer come face to face on a case that could decide Ava's future, sparks fly.
Nate's not about to let Ava forget she's the only person who knows his secrets. And Ava’s walking the line between getting Travesty back on track and being dragged into the gutter by one stubborn young lawyer planning to take her down.
If Nate Townsend didn’t make the gutter look so damn good...
“Are you here with someone?” I asked Ava.
“Yeah. Tall redhead, wicked hot. Answers to Lex. You?”
“My date.” I gestured behind me toward the main hall where I’d left Abby talking with friends after my speech. Surprisingly, she was visible down the hall, talking with one of the charity’s donors.
“Abby’s an old family friend. We’ve known each other forever. You know how these things are.”
“Is that like an arranged marriage? Does she come with goats? Or do you bring the goats?” Her eyebrows drew together like she was trying to figure it out.
I swallowed a chuckle. “I’m not sure.”
Ava’s eyes glinted up at me with mischief. “You can’t be a very good lawyer if you don’t know who brings the goats,” she replied lightly.
Something had shifted in her tone. Not only was she not attacking me. If I hadn’t deemed it impossible, I would’ve thought she was flirting with me.
I didn’t have the first clue what to do with that but I needed her eyes off me for a moment before I turned into a stuttering idiot.
“Tell me about this.” I tilted my chin toward the canvas in front of us.
Ava cocked a brow. “So you think that being a designer makes me an art expert.”
“Something like that. And don’t tell me this painting doesn’t do anything for you. I saw the way you were looking at it.”
“How was I looking at it?”
I searched for the right words. “Like you wanted to crawl inside it and never leave.”
Her eyes widened. “Huh,” was her only response before she turned toward the painting.
Ava studied the canvas, her gaze running over the colors, shapes, textures. It was called Together Now and had big brushstrokes of pink and yellow.
While she studied it, I studied her.
“It’s incredible,” she said finally. “But what makes it art?”
I had no clue where she was going. “Well, it’s a painting. Isn’t it?” I frowned.
She turned back to me. “No, I mean is it art because it came from someone’s head? Does that make it special somehow? Or is it art when some lawyer is ready to defend it?”
The question made me shift uncomfortably. I knew she was thinking about the case, but I didn’t want to get into it. I shouldn’t be talking with her at all, not to mention about the lawsuit.
“Nate?” she prompted.
My eyes locked on her mouth like a magnet. I was suddenly thinking about those lips again. Where they’d been. Where they could be.
I cleared my throat, tried for cool. “Sorry, it’s just—you’ve never called me that.”
Confusion clouded her expression. “It’s your name, isn’t it?”
“Yeah. Yeah, it is.” I could hardly explain to her my sudden impulse to drag her into the bathroom, kick everyone else out, and bury myself in her while she moaned my name with that pink mouth.
Calm the hell down or you’ll be making small talk with New York’s best and brightest sporting a raging boner.
I turned back to the painting. The longer I looked at it, the more I saw different things. The movement. The way the paint was clumped on the canvas. I suddenly wondered what it felt like.
Without thinking, I stretched out a finger toward the canvas. Ava grabbed it in mid-air.
“You can’t touch it,” she hissed, eyes wide. Her touch lit me up, the simplicity of her skin brushing mine sending waves of feeling rippling through me.
“Why not?” I challenged, suddenly feeling more alive than I had all night. Plus, I couldn’t believe she was suddenly reprimanding me for my conduct.
“I’m supposed to be on good behavior. And this is a really nice place.” She looked around furtively.
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
My smile gradually pulled one out of her, and when she smiled, really relaxed into it, it completely stole my breath.
“You surprised me tonight,” Ava said after a moment. “Playing Robin Hood in there.”
“I’m just doing what I can to help.” It’d always seemed like a small thing, but one I liked to do, and needed to.
“That’s why I’m going to do you a favor and give you some advice. But this is a one-time thing,” she warned, squaring her body to mine.
I matched her posture, ignoring the realization that if I took a step closer, or she did, we’d be pressed together. “Understood. Hit me with this great advice.”
“Your date? Definitely looking to upgrade her label.”
I shook my head, suddenly lost. “Come again. In English.”
“It means you’ve got a bull’s-eye on your forehead and that girl—” she glanced toward Abby “—came ready for some big game hunting.”
“No way.” Abby and I had been friends almost twenty years. But I glanced toward my date, suddenly less confident. An ex had accused me of understanding everything in the world better than I understood women. It was probably true. “Really?”
Ava held up a hand like she was testifying. “That girl is ready to whip a ball and chain out of her clutch and hog-tie you with it.”
I looked at Ava’s tiny bag in horror. “Do all women carry that around?”
“I’m not in the market.” She smiled again, easy and genuine, her eyes sparking with laughter.
Piper Lawson Bio
I love reading and writing stories about sassy, sexy, smart girls and the guys who fall hard for them. My main household expenditures include books, shoes, and chocolate, not necessarily in that order. Coffee = life (and I’ll defend it accordingly, especially when cornered). I have two business degrees, neither of which I’ve managed to turn into a fashion label (boo).
Home is Canada plus sunny winter escapes. Feel free to stalk me @piperjlawson, facebook.com/piperlawsonbooks, or write to me at piperjlawson(at)gmail.com. Hearing from you would make my day (for real – I’m not just saying that.)!