The Surprise Seduction, an all-new angst-filled age gap, accidental pregnancy romance from Amy Alves is available now!
After years of secretly pining for Garrett Caldwell—the grumpy and elusive hot town doctor—he finally looks my way.
As my best friend’s older brother, he said I was too young and completely off-limits. But I felt the heat of his lingering gaze, the spark beneath his hesitant touch.
Maybe it was only once, and maybe that was exactly what we agreed to, but that one scorching night had consequences that will tie us together for the rest of our lives.
Suddenly he claims to want more, and I can’t keep the doubt from creeping in. Because building a relationship based on his obligation would break me.
The whole town is talking, but I’m stronger than the girl they remember.
So I guard my heart against the one man who has the power to destroy it.
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Nine Years Ago
“You’re only eighteen, Aria.”
I bite my lip and give him a coy smile. “Aw, you remembered. Cute.”
“Dr. Coldwell,” I mimic, matching his chastising tone.
“It’s Caldwell. Does Chloe know her supposed best friend doesn’t even know her last name?”
“She knows I like to give her brother shit for always giving me the cold shoulder.”
“I don’t give you the cold shoulder. I simply ignore your little games.”
“It’s not a game, Doc. You know you’re hot. I know I’m hot. What’s wrong with a little flirting?” If he ever flirted back, I might actually pass out.
“You are practically still a minor, and I’m a grown man. I’ve reminded you of this before. Many times.”
“I’m technically an adult now. Regardless, I have a boyfriend—kind of. So our beloved interactions are really just harmless fun.”
One day, I’d also appreciate other kinds of fun. What if when I came home from college in the winter, Garrett suddenly noticed me in the same way I’ve been noticing him, and we snuck out to his car to get just naked enough to have a lot of fun? A girl can dream . . .
“Are you listening to me?” Garrett asks, snapping me out of my little daydream.
He pinches the bridge of his nose and mutters under his breath.
“Were you by chance asking what you could do for me today? Because I was going to suggest you join your sister and me for a beach day. Food, drinks, and a nice float down the creek. Chloe was saying you’re barely around anymore, and she misses you. I promise not to hit on you more than five times.”
“Zero times, Aria. You will hit on me zero times.”
God, he’s so easy.
I scrunch my face in what I hope is adorable confusion. “That doesn’t seem possible. Do you even know me?”
“Unfortunately, I’m starting to learn some things.”
He shakes his head and storms away.
I reach out to stop him, but he swerves away like I’m contagious. I’m a confident girl, but Garrett definitely tests that some days.
“Wait! You know I’m kidding. Well, mostly. I do want you to come to the beach with us today. I’ll keep all flirty thoughts and Garrett hassling antics to myself. I’ll also make sure only to look and not touch.” I hold my hands up innocently while my eyes inadvertently check him out again.
“Goddammit,” he mutters. Opening the door to the side entrance of the house, he shouts, “Chloe! Get your friend away from me.” He escapes through the door, and I let it roll off my back.
I do have fun teasing and flirting with Garrett whenever I see him, but today wasn’t about seeing if I could ruffle his feathers. It was about Chloe. She misses her brothers, and soon, we’ll be moving to San Jose for school so she’ll probably end up seeing even less of them. She’s had it rough lately with all the town drama revolving around her and her ex-boyfriend. So if my messing with Garrett and arranging activities or acting foolish makes my beautiful friend laugh or smile, I’m all over it.
I pop my head back into the house.
“So you’re coming, right?” I shout in the direction I think he went.
“Who’s coming where?” Chloe asks, stepping into the kitchen with her beach attire already on.
“Garrett is coming to the beach with us! He needs some relaxation. He’s really looking forward to it.”
Garrett comes striding back into the room and leans one muscular shoulder against the wall. Oof, those shoulders.
“Aria says you’re coming with us! Eek! I’m so excited. I didn’t think you’d want to spend the afternoon with a bunch of loud, obnoxious teenagers.” She jumps in excitement and gives him a quick side hug.
I move in for my turn but find my advances thwarted when a large palm presses against my face. His arm is locked straight, keeping me several feet from embracing his lean, tall, rock-solid form.
Oh well. Can’t blame a girl for trying.
Chloe giggles. “Aria, leave him be. He’s not as into displays of affection as you are.”
Here’s the other thing I’ve decided to do as Chloe’s best friend: not tell her that my playful interactions with her brother—the ones she finds amusing because of how different we are and the guaranteed reaction I get out of her stoic, much older brother—are not as innocent as she thinks.
I’ve developed a deep, gnawing, unwavering infatuation with my best friend’s brother, but I can’t tell her. I can barely admit it to myself.
It’s not worth telling Chloe for several reasons. First, because I don’t intend to do anything about it. Second, I’m pretty sure I have zero chance with the guy. And not just because he’s nearly ten years older than me or that we are complete opposites. The disinterested vibe he puts out—and frequently vocalizes— abundantly clear. Sometimes, I wonder if he knows I’m not just messing with him.
“Grab your Speedo, handsome. I’ve already told some of the girls that you’re coming, and I need to deliver on the eye candy.”
“Don’t be gross.” Chloe’s nose wrinkles in disgust before turning to her brother. “No one is going to ogle you, Gar. You’re practically thirty.”
Oh, sweet, naive Chloe. All of our friends think your brothers are hot.
Even my boyfriend.
“I’m not practically thirty, squirt. I’m in my mid twenties.”
And looking fine as all hell.
“Twenty-seven is closer to thirty than it is to twenty,” Chloe argues. He scowls playfully before a sweet, amused smile sweeps across his face, making my insides turn to mush.
Garrett doesn’t have your typical hot-guy allure. He has this quiet, brainy, reserved quality to him that draws me in like a moth to a flame. And I am ready to burn.
If only he’d look at me as anything other than his little sister’s ridiculous, wildly inappropriate, flirty best friend.
One day . . . one day, he’s going to beg for my affection. Until then, I’m going to experience a little love and live a whole lot.
Amy Alves lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and two crazy cute kids. She is a romance-obsessed reader, a lover of wine and fuzzy socks, and a loather of laundry. She loves contemporary, paranormal, and rom com romance—her kindle always has a long list of books waiting to be read.
Amy writes contemporary romance with a hint of rom com fun. Tropes you can expect to see are: second chance, friends to lovers, enemies to lovers, and fake relationships.
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