Title: Birthday Girl
Author: Penelope Douglas
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: April 17, 2018
My Rating: 5+++ Stars
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He took me in when I had nowhere else to go.
He doesn’t use me, hurt me, or forget about me. He doesn’t treat me like I’m nothing, take me for granted, or make me feel unsafe.
He remembers me, laughs with me, and looks at me. He listens to me, protects me, and sees me. I can feel his eyes on me over the breakfast table, and my heart pumps so hard when I hear him pull in the driveway after work.
I have to stop this. It can’t happen.
My sister once told me there are no good men, and if you find one, he’s probably unavailable.
Only Pike Lawson isn’t the unavailable one.
I took her in, because I thought I was helping.
She’d cook a few meals and clean up a little. It was an easy arrangement.
As the days go by, though, it’s becoming anything but easy. I have to stop my mind from drifting to her and stop holding my breath every time I bump into her in the house. I can’t touch her, and I shouldn’t want to.
The more I find my path crossing hers, though, the more she’s becoming a part of me.
But we’re not free to give into this. She’s nineteen, and I’m thirty-eight.
And her boyfriend’s father.
Unfortunately, they both just moved into my house.
*BIRTHDAY GIRL is a stand-alone, contemporary romance suitable for ages 18+.
Pike and his son’s girlfriend are in the kitchen, chopping watermelon as a party rages by the pool outside.
The remnants of the party run around the back yard, some kid catching a squealing girl who’s half-naked, and I drop my eyes again, feeling fucking stupid like this isn’t my house, and I’m some seventy-year-old pervert spying on teens gone wild running around my own damn yard.
I see Jordan glance through the window in front of us and then quickly to me, probably gauging my annoyance. There are topless women in my backyard, after all, and I freaked out over her wet T-shirt mowing the lawn the other day.
But instead, I resort to sarcasm this time. “Do you think Cramer next door is enjoying the view?”
She snorts, faltering in her chopping, and follows it with a laugh.
After a moment, though, I hear her taunting voice. “Are you?” she replies.
I widen my eyes a little, surprised, and look down at her. She casts me a cocky little smirk.
“You’re still young,” she points out, joking with me. “Still look energetic. Why don’t you go out more?”
Who says I don’t go out? My bar-hopping days are over, but I had friends over tonight, too. Granted that’s not ‘going out’, but I’m not a hermit.
“You’re not gay, are you?”
I shoot her a look. Excuse me? Didn’t we talk about my dating habits the other night?
But she shakes her head right away, clearing it. “Yeah, never mind. Didn’t think so.”
Granted, I don’t have as much of a social life as I could. I know that. I’m not even forty yet, and my downtime resembles my grandfather’s retirement.
I pause a moment, searching for the easiest words to explain it to her. “I like my boring life,” I tell her, my voice kind of sounding like an apology. “Most women don’t.”
“Maybe girls don’t,” she replies, a light humor in her voice that I appreciate. “I find you far from boring. You should go out more. There’s a shortage of men in this town. Too many boys.”
I smile to myself. She sees me as a man, not just someone’s father. I shouldn’t like that as much as I do.
And yes, there may be lots of boys, but there are also lots of women, and none of them are for me. Believe me, if my future wife lived in this town, I would’ve found her by now.
She slices one of her sections in half and turns it sideways to cut triangles in twos. I follow suit.
Outside, a young woman with a long brown ponytail scurries across the pool deck, her orange bikini making her tanned skin look darker.
I jerk my chin. “Should I go after her?”
Jordan glances up at the girl outside the window and drops her eyes again, continuing to slice the fruit. “She’s too hot for you.”
“You think I can’t keep up?” I joke, cutting off two more triangles. “I’ve been around the block, you know?”
“Several times by your age, I’m sure. Need a nap yet?”
Why, you little—
I slice through the fruit, and the knife comes down, its point jabbing me right on the inside of my middle finger on my left hand.
“Shit!” I drop the knife and bring my hand up, the ache sinking down to the bone. I suck in air through my teeth. Dammit.
“Oh,” Jordan gasps and drops her knife, too, wiping off her hands. “I’m sorry.” She offers a regretful little laugh. “Here, come here.”
I suck the blood off my finger, barely taking notice that she’s pushed me down onto a bar stool at the island as she retrieves bandages from the cabinet.
Did I put those there? I didn’t put those there.
Rushing over to me, she peels a package open, and I see it’s a wet wipe, probably “anti-bacterial” something or other.
“I can do it.” I hold out my hand.
But she moves in anyway, inspecting the pea-size drop of blood balling on my finger again. “I know,” she says, “I just feel bad. I didn’t mean to piss you off and distract you. I was just teasing.”
I hiss as whatever’s on the wipe hits my open wound. “You didn’t piss me off,” I tell her, but it comes out as a growl. “Well, you did, I guess. You always do, but it’s in a good way.”
“In a good way?” Her brows furrow.
Yeah, like, you know, fun. You’re fun. And kind of funny. And pretty interesting. I don’t know how she makes my temper rise so quickly, and over stupid, petty shit, and I can’t explain why, but I like it.
I don’t know how to tell her that, though. It sounds weird.
When I don’t answer the question, she continues, her voice quiet and serious. “You know,” she says, not looking at me. “If you are interested in her, I can bring her around more. If you want.”
The girl in the orange bikini?
“Bring her around?”
She nods, wiping my finger still. “A sleepover or something maybe? You won’t have to make a move. She’ll jump you.”
She won’t look at me, but I stare down at her nevertheless. She wants to get me laid?
I feel a warm, light sweat cover my spine as I become aware of the heat of her body standing between my legs. I watch as she blows hair out of her face only for it to fall back into the same spot again.
Orange Bikini isn’t the one I want jumping me.
Absently, I reach up and brush the hair out of her eye, grazing her forehead as I tuck it behind her ear for her. Her gaze rises, meeting mine as I let my hand fall down the strands of her smooth hair, and my heart skips a beat as we both stand there, locked.
I can almost feel her face in my hands. The urge is so strong to know what it’s like to hold just a part of her.
Jesus Christ. I drop my hand, looking down at the small wound on my middle finger.
“So do you want me to?” she broaches quietly, almost like she’s afraid of what I’m about to say.
I shake my head. “No,” I finally tell her. “She’s not bad, but she’s not what I like.”
She unwraps a Band-Aid and fastens it to my finger, slowing smoothening over the bandage again and again.
My fingers tingle where she holds them, and I watch her face, her focus still not leaving my hand.
And then suddenly, she nearly whispers, “Well, what do you like?”
I watch as she licks her lips, her breathing shallow, and there’s a jolt to my cock, making me feel damn near ready to tear something apart with my teeth.
What is she doing to me?
Penelope Douglas is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. Her books have been translated into thirteen languages and include The Fall Away Series, The Devil’s Night Series, and the standalones, Misconduct, Punk 57, and now Birthday Girl. Please look for Kill Switch (Devil’s Night #3), coming later this year, and the standalone, Motel, coming in 2019.
She lives in Las Vegas with her husband and their daughter.
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