Book: Tough and Tender (Bad Boy Romance Box Set)

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Next: Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Sixteen


The music still got to her the way it had the night she’d met Hawk. But the magic wasn’t there.

Anna let herself get pulled into dance after dance with different partners. She felt bent on having fun tonight. She didn’t care that it seemed she was acting wild.

She was certainly wearing her wildest outfit to date. A short, form-fitting dress that left little to the imagination. Her curvy body seemed to draw eyes like a magnet. Even her dance partners couldn’t keep up with her adrenalin. She was a girl on fire.

Anna had been coming out with her friends every other night in the past week. She’d long shed her aversion for attention. Now, she craved it.

And yet, no matter how many handsome faces approached her, or how many twirls on the dance floor...nothing felt the same. Some really enchanting guy could be buying her drinks all night, and whispering sweet things in her ear – but for some reason, she never felt that spark.

That unique sensation she’d had only with Hawk when it had felt like she was balancing on thin ice. When he’d held her in his arms and moved just the right way to get her heart pounding in feminine awareness.

Wanting more. Needing more.

These guys left her cold. No matter how she tried, she couldn’t imagine having any impulsive urges where they were concerned. Blond, dark-haired, geeky or muscle-bound one she’d met so far measured up to her one fantasy that had come alive that night one week ago.


Calling herself all kinds of fool for even thinking about him right then, she leaned in and laughed up at her handsome companion Steve, who looked ultra preppy from his artfully blown out blonde hair to his up-to-the-second fashion sense. His tie was loose at the waist, and he probably came across as really beddable especially to many of the other girls at the club.

So why wasn’t Anna feeling him?

Because he’s not my red-hot, hard bodied Marine lover whose one look could make my heart melt, Anna realized with a sigh. Just what was the point of these nightly past-times of hers anyway? What was she trying to prove?

Smiling apologetically at Steve, whose young, boyish face creased in an appreciative grin as she rose to her feet, she said, “I hope you’ll excuse me; I just need to powder my nose.”

“I’ll be waiting, beautiful,” Steve said, his brown eyes following her movements as she turned to walk through the crowd to the ladies room.

For some reason, his blatantly appraising look smarted. She couldn’t help thinking about Hawk and how he called her “babe” in that sexy voice he had. And then she wanted to kick herself for comparing him to everyone and everything. Wishing she could find an exact carbon copy of him and the way he’d made her feel and yet knowing it was impossible.

Anna was starting to really loathe herself for her actions in the past week. Coming to the club almost every other night, looking for a good time.

But then, standing in front of the mirror in the deserted rest room, she suddenly realized the truth. Going out to clubs, dressing in all the right clothes to get attention, was her way of telling herself the things her heart wanted to hear. That she didn’t need a pretend admirer – she could get her own. That she was actually hot enough to get any man she wanted.

Sure, she hadn’t managed to catch the attention of another sexy Marine yet, but she had enough offers from very eligible sorts. She’d almost – almost been tempted to let one or two follow her back home. But at the last minute, she’d turn to the handsome stranger with a regretful smile and a “goodnight” before letting herself into her apartment – alone.

Bertha and her other friends had apologized long ago about that little stunt with Hawk Malone. But Anna knew she wasn’t really mad at them. They’d certainly had good intentions and had meant no harm. No; she put the whole blame on Hawk.

He’d told her he’d been real from the start – but he just didn’t seem to get it. Didn’t understand that she knew that if not for Bertha, a man like Hawk would probably never even look at someone like her.

That impression really hurt, no matter how many times she told herself she had to be wrong. She looked at her reflection in the mirror and saw the wide, dark brown eyes, the full-bottomed lips, the long, wavy black hair tumbling around her oval face. The dress her body was wearing certainly gave her the look of temptress she sought. But she wondered...if Hawk saw her now, would he find her desirable still?

You’re a fool, Anna, she told herself disgustedly. Get over yourself – and get over Hawk. Because he’s certainly forgotten all about you by now.

And that meant there was only one thing to do.

Sighing resolutely, she drew her coral lip-gloss lightly over her lips and thought about handsome preppy Steve waiting patiently for her return. She knew exactly what was on his mind and she was totally thinking of one way she could probably free herself from thoughts of a certain broad-chested man.

Anna wasn’t the bed-hopping type, but damn it she’d had a nasty break up and had let the hottest guy ever slip from her fingers. Maybe it was time she tried again.

And yet, deep down Anna was sure nothing could ever come close to the earth-moving passion she’d known with the sexy Hawk Malone.

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Next: Chapter Seventeen