Having it all is a fantasy, right?
Carrie Shelton thought her boyfriend was too good to be true. Her best friend's brother? A guy who loved antiquing? Who cuddled on the couch while watching foodie YouTube clips and talking about artisanal spices? Who helped her accessorize her outfits?
So when he ran off with Kevin, the owner of an antique shop, right before his sister’s wedding, Carrie’s life went from fantasy to nightmare.
As maid of honor, she can’t back out of the wedding. And her ex is the best man - but now he has his own best man.
She needs a date. Stat.
Enter Ryan. Sure, he’s a hot male stripper at the O Spa where she works as junior designer, but he’s a few years younger and just, you know -- a friend.
Perfect. She needs a friend more than she needs a boyfriend.
A weekend of playing her boyfriend so she can save face is a lot to ask, but for some reason Carrie doesn't understand, Ryan's all in. Enthusiastic, even.
Especially when it comes to physical displays of affection.
Public kisses turn to private confessions, and pretty soon, Carrie can't tell the difference between fantasy and reality.
Because if Ryan's just pretending he's in love with her, then why does the chemistry between them -- and between the sheets -- feel so real?
Carrie can't settle for almost, though. She's already done that. She's not putting her life on hold anymore.
Turns out Ryan won't, either.
He's holding out for more.
Thank You For Holding is a STANDALONE in the On Hold series. You do not need to have read book 1 in the series, Our Options Have Changed, but after reading about Carrie and Ryan’s friends-to-lovers adventure, you’ll want to. ;)
Get your hands on THANK YOU FOR HOLDING
Diane is unwrapping candles. “So, Carrie,” she asks curiously, “I didn’t know you were dating Ryan. Is that new?”
Could there actually be someone at O who hasn’t heard the whole gruesome story? Must be because Diane’s in accounting; they’re on a different floor of the building, separated from daily spa operations.
“Pretty new,” I answer cautiously. I have to make this story believable. “You know, when Jamey broke up with me, I was a wreck. Ryan was totally there for me. He held my hand, and he listened no matter how long I went on, and he let me cry on his shoulder. He did all these really nice things to try to cheer me up.”
So far, all true.
I look at Diane’s face. This woman, a strong and successful executive, is listening with rapt attention, like a little girl hearing a fairy tale.
Because it is a fairy tale.
“We were already friends, but then one day I just looked at him and realized that he’s the perfect guy for me.” Zeke’s script flashes in my brain. “I mean, I used to wonder sometimes what it would be like to, you know, be with him. But we were just good friends. I was dating Jamey. But then I wasn’t. Dating Jamey. Obviously.”
“Ryan is so handsome,” she sighs.
“He is,” I nod. “And he’s really smart, and funny. He makes me laugh, even when I’m in a bad mood.” This is also true. “He even braids my hair.”
“Wow,” Diane whispers. “It’s like it was meant to be. I wish something like this would happen to me.”
Ha. I wish something like this would happen to me, too.
“I always thought it would be incredible to date one of the O guys,” Angela comments. “You’d get professional massages for free, anytime! They know everything about a woman’s body. And just watching them dance, you can tell by the way they move that they’d be amazing in bed.”
She looks at me for confirmation.
“Right!” I agree, not quite meeting her eye. “Ryan is amazing... in bed… he, um, does this thing with his tongue...” Here I stop short. I’m on shaky ground. I have no idea what he might do with his tongue, besides talk, eat ice cream, and slurp Tom Yum soup.
Jamey didn’t even like to French kiss, never mind French-kissing anything below my waist.
Angela and Diane both sigh. So do I, but for a different reason.
And as if on cue for an O dance routine, Ryan appears in the door, with two bottles of wine tucked under one arm, a bottle of sparkling lemon water under the other, and four glasses in his hands. He’s wearing a navy jacket over a pale blue dress shirt, no tie. His light brown hair is brushed straight back and curls a little over his collar. Seeing him dressed like this, he looks different. He looks… manly is the only word for it.
What would he be like in bed? What lovely things might he do with his tongue?
We are all staring at him. He heads straight for me. “There’s my girl,” he says, setting the glasses down. I take the bottles from under his arm. “Working hard. Carrie makes every room more beautiful. Decorations not needed.”
His hands now free, he takes my face and gently, lingeringly, kisses my lips. His breath is warm and delicious. I wobble a little bit on my heels. Who needs wine with kisses like that? Diane and Angela watch intently.
Don’t overplay it! I think, opening my mouth to say precisely that, but then I just moan. Even syllables won’t form.
“I don’t want to distract you ladies from your work,” he says, pulling a corkscrew from his pocket. He twists it into the cork, which slides out with a little pop, and he pours the wine. As he hands me my glass, he runs his other hand slowly down my back. “I just wanted to be sure you have everything you need.” His voice drops low on the word ‘everything.’
“Thanks,” I answer faintly. “We’re good. I’m good.”
“You sure are. ” He kisses me again, this time on my temple, his hand migrating down my waist, very publicly squeezing my ass. His palm is so warm. So big. Kinda rough.
Funny. I never knew how good a little rough could be.
And with that, smiling, he takes his glass and leaves.
Angela and Diane watch him go. Their mouths are open just a tiny bit.
So is mine.
About Julia Kent
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Julia Kent writes romantic comedy with an edge, and new adult books that push contemporary boundaries. From billionaires to BBWs to rock stars, Julia finds a sensual, goofy joy in every book she writes, but unlike Trevor from Random Acts of Crazy, she has never kissed a chicken.
About Elisa Reed
New England native Elisa Reed now lives, writes, and plays in New Orleans and along the sugar sands of the Gulf Coast.