COVER & EXCERPT REVEAL
PICTURE US (Turn it Up #3) by Natalie Parker
Release Date: October 14, 2020
Cover Design: Lori Jackson Design
Photographer: 6:12 Photography by Eric McKinney
Model: Jered Youngblood
Genre: Contemporary Romance
I hate clichés.
The universe knows this, so imagine my surprise when I wind up as one.
I took one night off from busting my ass at my photography business to go have fun for the first time in months… and now, here I am… the cliché who got knocked up by the player from a one night stand.
Now, after telling Tyler we shouldn’t exchange numbers and just keep it as a one-time thing, I have to go tell him.
Luckily I know where to find him, but how in hell am I supposed to tell him, the guy who “doesn’t do relationships”, that he has over-achieving sperm and he’s going to be a dad?
One way to find out…
Annie wasn’t someone I figured I’d ever see again.
She always stuck in my mind because she’s the only woman who never fell for my well-practiced bullsh*t lines.
When she walks into the bar where I work, the crazy attraction still sizzles between us, and while I always imagined a night spent together would be insanely hot, I never imagined it would wind up being the best night of my life.
When she refuses to exchange numbers – something I’d normally consider a favor – for some reason, this time it leaves me… gutted.
I’m beyond surprised when she marches back into my life a couple of months later, madder than a wet hornet because I knocked her up.
But the biggest surprise of all is that I’m not scared. I’m excited. I want this baby… and I want Annie.
But how can I, a former player, convince her that I’m serious about this, about her, about us? Annie’s it for me and I know it, now I just need her to be willing to give me a chance, to Picture Us… together.
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I collapse back against the pillows on Annie’s bed, my chest heaving as I try to catch my breath, a layer of sweat covering my body. I turn my head to look at her and find her in the same state that I am. She’s panting, her chest is flushed, and a couple of strands of her caramel hair are sticking to her neck. It’s the most beautiful fucking sight I’ve ever seen. She turns her head in my direction, her eyes are half lidded as she looks at me through her dark lashes. She doesn’t speak but I can see a million things going through her mind behind those hazel eyes of hers. I just don’t know what they are. I can only hope she’s replaying the last couple of hours through her head like I am. Like how good it was when we came together in the kitchen, and how it got even better once we got to her comfortable bed and could roll around on each other. The way I could smell the coconut in her hair and the way her boobs felt in my hands when I pounded into her from behind. The sound she made that was half moan, half cry when I pleaded in her ear for her to come for me again.
Four times, and my condoms are gone. I wonder if she has any, and then I shock the fuck out of myself when I realize I hope she doesn’t, because it would mean she’s recently been with other guys. I don’t know where the fuck that feeling came from. Why the hell should I care? I shouldn’t. I don’t. Besides, that would be a whole pot-and-kettle thing. In the end, I decide not to ask. Instead, I turn onto my side facing her, resting my head on one arm and reaching my other to lay across her. Her eyebrows go up a little at the gesture, like she’s surprised, but she doesn’t push me away or anything. I wish she’d realize that just because I don’t like to get too deeply involved, doesn’t mean I’m a cold-hearted ass who can’t be affectionate.
“I don’t have any condoms,” she quirks an eyebrow at me.
What the fuck? How has this woman been calling me out on my shit all night? She’s definitely not the brand I usually end up spending an evening with. I try to play innocent again anyway, even though I know it’s useless.
“What are you talking about?” I ask, acting like I really don’t have a clue.
“Come on. If I’ve learned one thing tonight, it’s that you have stamina and we just used your last condom.” She smiles with her tongue between her teeth and it’s so fucking cute and sexy.
“That doesn’t mean I can go all night,” I protest, even though I totally could. With her, definitely. Still, I try to throw her off. “I’m not a machine, woman.” I give her a smile and stroke my thumb across her hip.
“Sure you’re not,” she flashes me a smile back, totally patronizing me. “But,” her expression turns slightly serious. “Maybe that’s our cue to call it a night?”
Dammit. She’s probably right. While I treat the women I go out with nicely, I don’t do overnights. They’re too intimate and can send the wrong message. Annie knows how I operate. She sees it and she’s expecting it. She’s probably been down this road before with some other guy that does things the same way. And now I want to punch that guy in the face. Which means I should punch myself in the face… fuck, my head is so messed up right now.
All I know is I’m having a great time, and I’m amazed to realize I don’t want it to end. Plus, Annie’s bed is really fucking comfortable. I decide to divert with a little teasing.
“What, big plans tomorrow? Because you know you don’t need beauty sleep, right?”
“Why thank you,” she responds, humorously batting her eyelashes. “And yeah, big day tomorrow. I blew off some work to go out tonight, and I think I’m going to have to add shopping for a new kitchen table to the to-do list.”
“Why? That’s a good one in there,” I say hiking my thumb over my shoulder in the direction of the kitchen. “It’s nice and sturdy.”
“Yeah, but after what we did on it, I’m going to have to set fire to it.” Oh… yeah.
“Well, I’m honored to be the last one to eat at it.”
A laugh escapes from between Annie’s lips before she throws her head back and lets it out all the way. It’s a full-on laugh that I can tell is coming straight from her belly. It’s warm, genuine and infectious. The girl is laughing so hard, making the tingling return to my chest again as I start to laugh with her, unable to help myself.
When we both settle back down, she draws in a sigh, looking resigned. “So, I guess you should-,”
“Yeah, I should get going,” I gently cut in, so that she doesn’t have to finish the sentence; also to align my actions with her expectations. “Soon. I just need a few minutes to recover.”
“Okay.” She looks a little unsure, but still smiles. I reach down and pull her sheet up over us and settle back down close to her. I just need a few minutes to bask, reflect, and get my strength back. That’s what I tell myself as I close my eyes.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Natalie Parker resides in the Seattle area with her husband and two rugrats, but is originally a Michigan girl.
She always enjoyed writing and noticed she had a knack for it while earning her Psychology degree and has always been an avid reader, but never thought of becoming an author until one day there seemed to be a story to tell.
In her spare time, she enjoys reading, reading, reading to her kids, drinking coffee, reading, occasional yardwork, reading, listening to music, reading and writing.
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