Series: Exclusive Romance #1
Published by Berkley
Publication Date: March 1st 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Buy Online: Amazon ♥ Barnes & Noble ♥ Kobo
Disclaimer: I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book. All opinions stated are solely mine.
First in a sexy series set in a TV newsroom—from a multi Emmy Award-winning TV producer.
At News 9 San Diego, the hottest stories happen off camera.
Betrayed and abandoned by his wife and left to raise their young daughter on his own, TV news photographer Jake “Mac” MacDonald has moved to San Diego for a fresh start. He’s sworn off women forever and devoted his life to his little girl. But when his brother-in-law drags him out to a night club, Mac can’t help but be drawn to the cute blonde who asks him to dance. Maybe he can make an exception…for just one night.
A hot fling is exactly what news reporter Elizabeth White had in mind when she brought Mac home. A quick cure to help her get over her ex-boyfriend. But things get awkward when her anonymous hookup turns out to be her newest colleague. Now they must put their attraction behind them and find a way to work together. But when someone starts sabotaging Beth’s career, she realizes Mac is the only one she can trust. And maybe their one night has the makings of an exclusive after all.
An ambitious reporter and a single father fight for their second chance at happiness while navigating the treacherous world of TV news reporting and the challenges of single parenting in this sweet debut novel.
Elizabeth White’s plan to get over her ex by getting under another man gets complicated quickly when her one-night stand turns out to be her newest colleague. Things get even stickier when they are assigned to work together because their one night together has only stoked their hunger for more, but they have to put their mutual attraction aside in order to work together. Besides, Beth has her hands full with her new promotion and dealing with a co-worker’s attempts to undermine her.
Jake “Mac” MacDonald move to San Diego for a fresh start after his marriage and career exploded and he’s got his hands full trying to provide a stable home for his little girl, with no room for anything else. But Beth has slowly wormed her way into his life and he has to decide if he’ll put his daughter first or choose his own happiness, or maybe choose both.
Who knew that the newsroom could be such a hotbed of intrigue? Between the backstabbing colleagues, the attempts at sabotage and the return of Mac’s ex, Beth and Mac have got a lot going on and they have to make a tough choice between their happiness and what’s best for Mac’s little girl.
JUST THIS NIGHT is drama-filled, sweet and very enjoyable. Mac and Beth together are irresistible, with great chemistry in and out of bed. With Mac’s daughter they form a perfect little family of their own and will have readers rooting for them to find their happy ending. This is a well-written story with a lot of heart and steamy sweetness and Ms. Madison is an author to watch.
I opened one eye, then the other, squinting for a moment at the bright sunshine peering curiously through my bedroom window. Scarcely able to breathe, I rolled over quietly, not wanting to wake the sleeping man in my bed.
The sleeping man in my bed!
A delicious tingle of adrenaline wiggled through my stomach as my mind replayed scenes from the night before. Mac taking me into his arms. Mac peeling off my dress. Mac touching me in all the right places. Mac making me come like I’d never come before.
Mac . . . who was not, it turned out, still sleeping in my bed.
For a crazy split second I entertained the idea that I had dreamt it all. The mind-blowing sex, the post-coital cuddling. Drifting off into dreamland, cradled in warm, solid arms. Had that really all happened? I stuffed my face into the pillow beside me and breathed in deep. It smelled just like him and suddenly I knew it had all happened—just like I remembered it. And it had all been amazing.
I lifted my head, scanning the room. My eyes fell upon an unfamiliar jacket, tossed over my desk chair. I let out a sigh of relief. For a moment I thought maybe he’d taken off early, without even saying good-bye. But he was still here. I smiled to myself. Maybe he was out in the living room, checking sports scores on his phone. Or taking an early jog on the beach. Maybe he was even in my kitchen, right this very second, fixing me a big breakfast in bed.
I hugged myself, grinning at the idea. Imagining him returning to the room clad only in his boxers, carrying a tray piled high. He’d straddle my legs and dip a fork into fluffy scrambled eggs (knowing somehow that they were my favorite) feeding me between tender little kisses. Then, once we were done eating, he’d put the tray aside and continue where we’d left off. In the end, we’d accidentally spend the entire day in bed, forgetting the world outside until Monday morning called.
And maybe then I’d call in sick to work.
I flopped back onto my pillow, staring up at the ceiling, unable to stop smiling. It had been far too long since I’d felt like this. Far too long that I’d put up with Ryan and his empty promises. If only I’d known what else was out there. Who else was out there. Maybe I wouldn’t have dealt with disappointment for so long.
Seriously, I owed Stephanie a major thank-you.
At last I shrugged off my sheet and swung my legs from the bed to the floor. Stretching my arms over my head, I let out a long yawn, then slipped my feet into my fuzzy slippers. I glanced over at my closet, debating getting dressed, then determined a robe was a better bet, to save Mac the trouble of tearing off my clothes again after breakfast. The thought made me giggle—and I felt my face flush. Seriously, it was like I’d been transformed into an entirely different person overnight. Ryan wouldn’t even recognize me.
Opening my bedroom door, I headed down the hall, trying to muster up an appropriate greeting. What would Emily Post say about addressing a sex god the morning after? I bit my lower lip, suddenly feeling a little nervous. Was this going to be awkward? Would the light of day make things weird between us? But no, Mac had been so cool. So nice. He’d made me feel so comfortable. With him, it wouldn’t be awkward. It would just be . . .
. . . nonexistent.
I looked around, confused. The living room was empty. The TV was off. There was no clattering of pots and pans, no smell of frying bacon wafting from the kitchen. My heart sank a little. Did he really leave? Maybe he had to go to work or something—I never did get a chance to ask him what he did for a living—maybe it involved weekend hours. Heart fluttering nervously, I walked into the kitchen. My eyes fell upon a piece of paper on the counter.
Had a great time last night. Sorry I had to bail early—got a ton of unpacking to do before I start my new job. Thanks again for letting me crash. You were right, the bed was MUCH more comfortable than the couch.
I stared down at the note, my stomach swimming with nausea. Then I turned it over, thinking that couldn’t be it—that there had to be more. A phone number, an email at the very least . . .
But there was nothing.
Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.
Blood began to pound behind my temples and a gnawing fear ground at my stomach. I didn’t want to believe what my mind was telling me, but what other explanation could there be? Mac had woken up, bright and early, to exit my life as abruptly as he had entered it, leaving the most cursory note behind. Which could only mean one thing.
A one-night stand.
My heart wrenched, realization hit me over the head with the force of a ten-ton truck. I, Beth White, had just had a one-night stand. A one-night stand with a stranger. A stranger I would probably never see again.
Okay, okay, sure, that was the original idea of going to the club and finding a guy to begin with. But wasn’t I supposed to be the one to call the terms of the arrangement? Wasn’t I supposed to be the one to say thank you for a wonderful night and then walk away?
Okay, that sounded totally selfish, didn’t it? And it wasn’t like I was going to actually have done that. Not to Mac anyway. Mac who was cool and funny and sweet and had held me all night long.
Held me like I meant something.
Had I meant anything at all?
I wandered back to my room, half in a daze, my stomach knotted as if I were hungover, even though I hadn’t drunk a drop the night before. As I sank down onto my bed—my oh-so-empty bed—I tried to tell myself that it was no big deal. That this was how it was supposed to work from the very beginning. That I should be grateful he saved me the awkwardness of a morning after good-bye.
But all the rationalities in the world couldn’t stanch the ache in my heart. Because no matter what I had intended, the reality was, I liked him. I really, really liked him. And I never would have gone through any of this—despite Stephanie’s urging—if I’d realized it would end like this.
Did he not feel any of what I had felt? Had it all been an act—just to get in my pants? Or had I said something at some point to make him change his mind about me? Did I talk in my sleep? Snore really loudly? Something—anything—to make him bolt for the door?
Disappointment, mixed with hurt, welled inside of me as my mind tried to comb through everything that had happened the night before. Had he planned this from the start? Had I completely missed the signs? But no. He’d been a total gentleman. He’d asked me repeatedly if I was sure I wanted this, clearly ready to back down—to sleep on the couch—if I’d shown any hesitation. Not to mention afterward, we had cuddled all night long. Why would he bother, if he was just after the sex?
And if it wasn’t just about sex, why not a second date? Why wouldn’t this smart, interesting, cool guy want to see me again? Or hell, at least give me the courtesy of a lie, a promise of a phone call that would never come. Wasn’t I at least deserving of that?
At least now I knew what the A stood for on his arm.
I sucked in my breath, trying to regain my sanity. The night had happened, I tried to rationalize. The deed was done. No tears or crazy revenge plots were going to change anything now. In fact, it would probably be best just to chalk the whole thing up to a learning experience and move on. After, of course, vowing to never listen to Stephanie again.
I glanced over at the phone, charging on my nightstand, having the sudden urge to call Ryan and then hating myself for even thinking it. After all, what would he say to me if I told him how stupid I’d been? That I deserved what I got? That I was an idiot? A slut? That my sister would never do this kind of thing?
I shook my head, feeling a pang of loneliness deep in my gut. I considered waking Stephanie and telling her what had happened, but I already knew she wouldn’t understand. In fact, she’d probably see this as a perfect opportunity for me to now hunt down guy number two.
I sighed, my eyes falling once again to the black jacket, hanging on the back of the chair. His jacket. In his rush to leave, he’d left his jacket behind. I stared at it for a moment, wondering if throwing it on the fire pit in the back yard and having a little bonfire would make me feel better.
But no. I wasn’t the kind of girl who did that, even if the man in question deserved it. I would rise above. Return the jacket, assuming he’d left some kind of ID inside to help me locate him. (Bet he was wishing he left his phone number now!)
I slid off the bed and began digging through the pockets, seeing if Mr. One-Night Stand left the dude equivalent of a glass slipper behind.
It didn’t take long for me to find the wallet, cradled in the inside pocket. With shaking fingers, I pulled it out and flipped it open. Inside I found a few singles, credit cards, a Massachusetts driver’s license belonging to a Jake MacDonald, twenty-eight years old. I sighed. So much for that plan. Even if I wanted to return this to him, I didn’t have any idea where he currently lived.
Sliding the license back into the wallet, I pulled out the final piece of paper from the billfold, unfolded it and started to read . . .
. . . and almost dropped the letter.
Oh. My. God.
I stared down at the letter, my eyes filled with horror.
This could not be happening.
This could so not be happening.
I stared at the letter again, as if reading it over for the tenth time would make the words change on the page. But they remained stubbornly in place. Black and white. And impossible to argue.
It was a letter of employment.
A letter of employment from Mac’s new employer.
A letter of employment from Mac’s new employer, News 9 San Diego.
A letter of employment from Mac’s new employer, News 9 San Diego, where I currently was employed, too.
Yes, it seemed the very man who had waltzed in and out of my life in just one night had already signed on for a much more permanent gig—as my TV station’s newest videographer.
This was so not good.