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

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Next: Chapter Eleven

Chapter Ten

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Jordan had put his relationship with Chloe long behind him. And one point he’d thought they’d make a perfect match due to the link between their two families. Her parents and his had been friends for years, and Chloe had been roommates with his little sister in college. Chloe had seemed to suit him on a basic level; they made a perfect picture together and she’d have made just the right trophy wife for a successful investment manager.

But they’d never had any true physical chemistry and he’d made her know that sexually, she needed to let go of her inhibitions. Chloe had acted like she’d hated sex and was only going through the motions. Jordan couldn’t imagine ending up with a wife like that.

Jordan knew he needed a woman who fulfilled his every desire. Not just in the bedroom but in every way. He’d known all the things that were lacking in his relationship with Chloe and even though it was just two months to the wedding, he’d broken it up as gently as he could.

He’d always felt Chloe’s ego was bruised more than anything. It certainly couldn’t be that her heart had been broken. She was the kind of woman who thought all men wanted to be with her or had her in their fantasies. She’d been shocked when Jordan said it was over but he didn’t think she would moon over his loss for long.

Now he’d showed up at her place to hear her say it face to face that she didn’t have anything to do with his details coming up on that escort directory. He’d been holding back a confrontation, hoping that Tommy would get to the bottom of things by now but it was taking too long. Tiana was fast slipping from his fingers – if she hadn’t already – and he couldn’t go to her without knowing the real truth himself.

Chloe didn’t look in the mood to be helpful as she reluctantly let him into her classy penthouse apartment. Jordan looked at her and wondered how he could have ever thought for a minute he could spend the rest of his life with someone like her. She was beautiful, but cold. She had no interest in passion, if she even knew what that meant. She only had love for material things; diamonds, designer clothes and gear, and high-standing society. She found more joy in the latest fashion and gadget trends than in spending quality time with the man in her life. Jordan wished any man who’d end up with her the best of luck.

“I had nothing to do with this,” she said with a careless shrug of her bony shoulders, turning disinterestedly away to pad barefoot around the living room of her art deco home. But there was something about her tone that told him she might know more than she was letting on.

“This was a very vindictive act, Chloe and if you know anything about who’s behind it, you might as well tell me. You may say you had nothing to do with it – but sounds to me like you probably know who did.”

She faced him with an impatient expression, met his hard glare, and sighed fretfully. “I really don’t want to get caught up in any of this. I can’t imagine why you can’t laugh over it and let it go. It’s just a silly joke, Jordan. Nothing more. I thought you’d be happy to get yourself out there – probably find yourself a woman to suit your appallingly animalistic sexual urges.”

Jordan had to force his temper down and not grab her to shake the truth out of her. Instead, he played it cool. “So you do know about it. Care to tell me who’s responsible?”

“She said she’d do it – but I never dreamed she’d have the nerve. I mean she was totally on my side when you broke up with me and assured me she knew just how to pay you back for your ill-treatment,” Chloe said airily, regarding her fingernails closely and avoiding Jordan’s eyes.

This time, Jordan did grab her – and shook her until she cried for mercy. “She? Who’s she? Tell me right now or...”

“Okay! Ow! Do you have to be such a brute!” Chloe exclaimed, rubbing on her bare arms when Jordan abruptly let her go and turned away to keep from throttling her.

“Are you saying you can’t even guess who it could be?” Chloe asked sulkily. “I mean, who else would have the guts to pull a stunt like this, knowing that if you found out, you wouldn’t have the heart to get mad at her. Someone who was close to me as well as you. Someone who has pulled practical jokes on you for your entire life. Are you really that dense?”

Jordan didn’t want to believe it even as he picked out a name that stood impossibly in his mind. “Alyssa?” What the hell had his sister got to do with this?

Chloe smirked at Jordan’s expression. “You know Alyssa has always been a prankster – even when we were roomies in college she always thought up the funniest gags. Anyway...when she asked me for a few of your photos I had with me, I knew she was up to something. She said something about putting you up on a male escort site and setting you up with one of her friends. Obviously she got bored with the whole thing because when I spoke to her two days ago, she said she’d deleted your profile. So I guess you should be happy now.”

She still had that smirk on her face and Jordan didn’t even know what to say. His own sister would do this to him! But then his mind whirred and he remembered the things Tiana had said and how it clicked with Chloe’s words. Someone had recommended Tiana to Jordan’s page – obviously, for some reason, his sister had wanted Tiana to meet him. His only relieving thought was that Alyssa hadn’t thought to hook him up with any more of her friends. He was still going to skin her alive though, the first chance he got.

“Thank you, Chloe. You were a great help,” Jordan muttered, his mind already elsewhere as he headed for the door.

“Was she anything like you were looking for?”

Chloe’s soft, unexpected question made Jordan pause. He turned around in surprise. “What?”

“Alyssa couldn’t help letting it slip that you did get to meet someone. You didn’t have to follow through but you did. She must be something to make you act so out of character. The Jordan Hancock I knew would never have gone along with something like that.”

Jordan could have easily told her that maybe she never really bothered to know the real him. Instead, he smiled lightly and said, “Yeah...she’s really something.”

Chloe nodded, a small smile lifting her lips in response. “You know I only wanted you to be happy, don’t you? Even if it wasn’t with me. I was mad for a while but the things you said back then really made a lot of sense when I thought about it. I guess I’ll be looking out for that special someone that can switch me on the way she does you.”

Chloe moved forward to where he stood, coming close and staring searchingly up into his face. “I’m not even sure how I know, but I can sense you’re different. Something’s changed.”

“If I’ve changed, then it’s been about time,” Jordan said, dusting a quick goodbye peck on Chloe’s cheek and left her looking less disgruntled than she’d been when he’d first come in.

As Jordan drove off he thought about Chloe’s uncharacteristic perceptiveness. He had changed and it took someone who’d once been close to him to notice. Would Tiana ever realize the impact she’d made in just the brief time they’d shared together? At face value it had seemed like just the sex and the passion. But on a deeper level, it had taken over his subconscious and made him realize he’d had a missing piece all along.

As he reached for his phone, he filled his mind with thoughts of how he could make up for lost time and show Tiana they had some unfinished business – and he wasn’t backing out until she saw things his way.

Previous: Chapter Nine
Next: Chapter Eleven
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