Breaking His Rules
by Alison Packard
Losing fifty pounds is an incredible achievement. But for Melissa Atherton, progress doesn’t come with praise—a scathing comment from an evil cousin at a bridal shower threatens to crush her new self-esteem. Who will she bring to the upcoming wedding? Showing up without a date would be humiliating. It just isn’t an option.
Personal trainer Jake Sawyer was attracted to Melissa before she lost weight, but her progress has him floored. When she admits she plans to hire a male escort—and why—his heart all but breaks. Melissa’s come too far to be knocked down, especially by her own family. He’ll go as her date…and figure out a way to keep his hands to himself.
But when a steamy hotel room encounter takes them both by surprise, Jake balks. He’s sworn never to date one of his clients, not again. And Melissa can’t bear to be just friends with the man who treated her so tenderly, even if it was only for a weekend. Jake’s helped her see she’s strong enough to stand up for herself, but will she find the strength to pursue the only man who’s ever seen the real her?
“I went to my cousin’s bridal shower earlier today.” Jake looked up, relieved to find that she hadn’t appeared to notice him staring at her breasts. Good. Now he just had to remind himself not to do it again. He shouldn’t be thinking anything other than professional thoughts about her. Friend or not, Melissa was his client and therefore strictly off-limits. “She’s getting married next month at Pebble Beach.”
He let out a low whistle. “Beautiful, but from what I know of that area, pricey.”
“My aunt and uncle are very well off.” Melissa pushed her cup to the side and folded her arms on the table. “You know how I told you she always made fun of my weight when we were kids?”
Jake nodded, remembering their conversation of a few months ago. “She sounds like a witch."
“She is.” Melissa sighed. “I overheard her and her friend talking about me in the ladies’ room.” She gave him a wan smile. “And you know what they say about eavesdroppers never hearing good of themselves. Well, it’s true.”
“What did she say?”
“That I was too fat to be a bridesmaid and that even if I’m able to get a date to her wedding, it’ll probably be with some loser.”
Jake tamped down his anger. He’d struggled with his weight when he was younger and knew only too well how cruel some people could be. Leaning forward, he reached across the table and put his hand on Melissa’s arm. He tried not to notice the satiny smoothness of her skin but failed and quickly withdrew before the warmth of her skin could tempt him to linger. “Don’t let her get to you, Melissa. She’s not worth it.”
“That’s what I told Paige when she suggested we sabotage the wedding ceremony.”
Jake couldn’t help but laugh. “I’ve only met your sister twice, but that’s exactly what I’d expect her to suggest.”
Melissa smiled, then quickly sobered and gave him a determined look. “I’m going to that wedding even though it’s the last thing on earth I want to do.”
“Do you have a date?” he asked, more interested in Melissa’s private life than he should be. She’d never mentioned a boyfriend, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t seeing someone. Even at her heaviest—as she’d been when he’d met her—she was an attractive woman.
“No. But I have this off the wall—” She stopped mid-sentence, stared at him for several seconds, then she shook her head and laughed. She had a good laugh—melodic and sexy at the same time. “Never mind.”
“Never mind what?” he asked as he leaned back.
“It wasn’t important.” She tucked a loose tendril of hair behind her ear. Her cheeks turned pink under his scrutiny. “Okay. Okay. I was thinking about hiring an escort for the wedding. Someone super-hot. That would shut my cousin up for good.”
“Hire an escort?” Jake asked, surprised she’d go to such lengths—especially when she didn’t need to. He grinned as the perfect solution to her problem materialized in his head. It was the least he could do for a friend. “I have a much better idea and it won’t cost you any money.”
One delicately arched brow rose. “What’s your idea?” she asked, with a hint of trepidation.
“Not what. Who.” He pointed to his chest. “Me. I’ll be your date for the wedding.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Alison now lives in Southern Nevada where she’s still getting used to the blistering summers and the slot machines in every grocery store.
When not working at the day job that pays the bills, keeps a roof over her head, and supports her book and chocolate habits, Alison spends most of her free time writing. But when she takes a break, she enjoys reading, watching movies, and spending time with her family and friends.
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