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?
It was after ten when Jake pulled up to the curb in front of her townhouse. The porch light was on and bathed the small garden and walkway near the front door in a warm golden glow. Inside, the house was dark. Paige was either upstairs in her bedroom at the back of the unit, or she’d decided to spend the night with Rob.
“You talked to Gentry, didn’t you?” Melissa asked the question that had been on her mind ever since she’d seen Trey head toward the men’s room not long after Jake had done the same thing.
“We had a brief discussion.” Jake’s fingers tightened on the steering wheel. “I didn’t lay a hand on him. If that’s what you’re worried about.”
“The only reason I’d worry is because I wouldn’t want you to get into any trouble because of me. Him, I couldn’t care less about.”
“My father taught us to respect women. What Gentry said to you was out of line. I took it upon myself to call him out on his behavior.”
“I guess he thought I’d be flattered that he found me attractive.”
“His success has gone to his head. He’s got women panting after him all the time and he takes advantage of that situation on a daily basis, according to J.T.”
“Well, he picked the wrong woman tonight. I wish I would have had the nerve to deck him. Paige would have done it in a heartbeat.” She sighed. “Paige thinks I need to stand up for myself more. She says I always turn the other cheek and let people like Shauna and Denise get away with insulting me.”
“Is that true?”
“Yes,” Melissa admitted, with a tentative nod. “I was always heavier than all the other kids. When they made fun of me it was easier to pretend it didn’t matter instead of confronting them.”
“But it did matter, didn’t it?”
“It hurt.” Her heart clenched at the thought of those painful times. “A lot. Luckily, I had Paige. I don’t think I would have gotten through school if she wasn’t there with me. She fought my battles for me. No one would dare say a word to me when she was nearby.”
“You’ve never struck me as the kind of person who wouldn’t stick up for herself.”
“That’s because you don’t really know me.”
“I think I do.” Jake reached up to brush a lock of hair from her cheek, and then quickly lowered his hand. “That strength you think you don’t have is there. Inside you. One day you’ll figure that out.”
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.