Jake Me by Sabrina Stark

Jake Bishop can take a punch, but can he take the chance of losing Luna, the one girl who melts his heart? She's still in danger. He's still afraid of ruining her. Together, they're one hot mess looking for a place called home. Will they find it with each other? Or go down in flames, trying?

Chapter 1 - Sneak Preview

What was it with me and lamps? As the miniature table-lamp whizzed by my head, I whirled toward the crazed brunette who'd just hurled it.

Ignoring the hammering of my heart, I gave her my snottiest smile. "Missed me."

Inside Jake's penthouse, Bianca was still glaring at me. "You are so immature. You do realize that, don't you?"

"Me?" I said, glancing toward the destruction. I spotted bits of glass, a crumpled lamp-shade, and chunks of a blue ceramic vase that had somehow gotten caught in the crossfire. "You've got to be joking."

I had known this morning would be bad. But just how bad, well, that was definitely a surprise.

Near the penthouse double-doors, my suitcases were old, half-crushed, and mostly empty. But on the bright side, I'd had waffles for breakfast, so things couldn't be all bad.


Who was I kidding?

It wasn't even noon, and already this day was scoring double-digits on the suck-o-meter, and not only because of flying housewares.

I sucked in a deep breath and faced the lamp-thrower head on. Bianca was gorgeous in that classic sort of way, with long brunette hair and even longer legs. This morning, she was decked out in a form-fitting mint-green dress with matching heels. Her hair was sleek, and her makeup was perfect. If someone told me she pooped diamonds and rubies, I wouldn't have been surprised.

As for me, I was wearing black yoga pants and an oversized sweatshirt that I'd yanked out of my largest suitcase. My hair was in a loose ponytail, and I'd skipped the makeup in hopes of saving time – time that Bianca was costing me with this impromptu tantrum.

All things considered, shouldn't I be throwing lamps at her?

I took a deep breath and tried to keep my voice level. "Why are you here, anyway?"

"As I've already told you," she said, "I'm here to pick up my things."

"Yes. And as I've already told you, you'll have to wait until Jake's here."

It was his penthouse, after all. At the thought of Jake, my stomach clenched. By the time he returned, I was planning to be long gone. But the clock was ticking. I needed to leave now – for his sake as well as mine.

It wasn't a goodbye, not really, but I hated the thought of it just the same.

Across the room, Bianca's eyes narrowed to slits. "We've already had this conversation," she said.

"Yeah, and a lot of good that did."

Her eyebrows lifted. "Excuse me?"

"Look," I told her, trying to sound reasonable, "you can't just come in here and start loading up on stuff. I don't even know what's yours."

"But I know," she said, "and that's all that matters."

I couldn’t believe I had to spell things out. Again. Just a couple nights earlier, she had tried a similar stunt. If it didn't work on Saturday night, why would she try it a second time? And more to the point, why hadn't she grabbed her stuff on Sunday morning, when Jake had actually been home?

Again, I wondered what kind of stuff she was talking about. Bianca was Jake's former event-planner, not his ex-girlfriend, not technically anyway. Was she here to pick up paperwork? Or panties?

"You need to leave," I told her.

She crossed her arms. "I'm not leaving without my things."

I wasn't stupid. I knew that Bianca's timing was no accident. There was probably a darn good reason she kept showing up when Jake was gone. Either she was trying to drive me nuts, or she took me for an easy sell.

Whatever the reason, I didn't have time for this. My gaze shifted to the door. Tick Tock.
"And besides," Bianca reminded me, "you're the one who let me in."

"No," I said. "You're the one who barged in when I opened the door to head out." I glanced at the suitcases. They contained only the clothes I'd brought with me, and none of the beautiful things that I'd received from Jake. I don't know why, but it seemed important to leave mostly the way I'd come.

Following my gaze, Bianca stopped short, as if noticing my suitcases for the first time. She froze, staring at them with more than casual interest. After a long moment, her lips formed the barest hint of a smirk.

Oh crap.

Slowly, she turned toward me. "Going someplace?" she asked.

It was a big question, filled with all kinds of implications that were mostly true. Yes, I was leaving. Yes, things had gone off the deep end. And yes, I was on my way out with no guarantee that Jake would ever welcome me back.

But none of that was any of her business.

If I had my way, I wouldn’t be the only person going someplace. I pointed to the door. "I don't know about me," I said, "but you are."

She cocked her head to the side and studied my face for an uncomfortably long time. As the silence stretched out, I felt my cheeks grow warm and my spine turn twitchy. If she didn't leave soon, my plan was toast.

It was Bianca who broke the silence. "On second thought," she said, "I think I will come back later." She smiled, more to herself than to me, and I could practically see the wheels in her head turning. If she showed up tonight buck-naked, I wouldn't be surprised.

Of course, I wouldn’t be around to find out. Would I? Something in my heart twisted. If Bianca did show up tonight, would Jake let her in? Would they take up wherever they had left off? Would she be handling more than his public relations?

Looking for something – anything – to wipe that smile off her face, I pointed to the broken lamp. "You're gonna have to replace that," I told her.

"Why?" she said. "That wasn't my fault."

"You threw it across the room." My voice rose. "At me."

"Oh, get real," she said. "If I really wanted to hit you, I'd have gone for the vase." Bianca gave an elegant little shrug. "And besides, you provoked me. If it's anyone's fault, it's yours."

Okay, so I might have provoked her the teeniest bit, but she totally had it coming. I had known Bianca for just a few days. In that short timeframe, she'd tricked me into wearing the ugliest dress of the century, convinced me that Jake paid for sexual favors, and had done everything in her power to make me feel like I didn't belong here.

I swallowed. Did I belong here? I had to face facts. No. I didn't. At least not under the current arrangement. And that – not anything to do with Bianca – was the reason I had to leave.

But not before she did.

"Forget it," I muttered. "Just go."

"Hey," she said, tossing back her hair, "you don't have to ask me twice."

Liar. I'd asked her a dozen times, maybe more. But I didn't have time to nitpick. I marched to the door and wrenched it open. I turned toward Bianca and waited, not bothering to hide my impatience.

Taking her sweet time, Bianca picked her way through the rubble. By the time she reached the door, I was ready to scream. But I didn't. Instead, I waited in stony silence as she strolled past me into the lobby beyond.

I stood, watching from the penthouse doorway, until the elevator came and went, taking Bianca out of my sight, but not out of my thoughts. She'd be back. I just knew it.

As I shut the penthouse door, my gaze drifted to my suitcases. And what about me? After I left, would I be back?

I straightened my spine. Yes. I'd be back. Or at least, that was the idea.

I looked around, taking in the expensive furniture, the stylish décor, and the Detroit riverfront view, visible through Jake's floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows.

Three days. Was that really how long I'd been here?

The place was a palace. Jake had come a long way since high school. But that wasn't why I’d fallen for him. And it certainly wasn't why I was determined to make my way back here someday, hopefully someday soon.

Fearful of losing my nerve, I left my suitcases by the front door to make one final sweep of the place. Looking for anything I might have forgotten, I found my toothbrush in the master bathroom and a black lacy bra – mine, thank God – under his bed.

I dashed back to my suitcases. I opened the largest one and tossed the forgotten things inside. I grabbed the handles of both suitcases, and then hesitated.

What about Bianca's mess? I turned around to eye the destruction. I winced. It looked like the remnants of a robbery gone bad. Damn it. I couldn't leave it like this.

Cursing, I dashed to the kitchen in search of a broom and dustpan. Stupid Bianca. Aside from the time she'd already wasted, I was now cleaning up her messes.

My mental clock was ticking like a time-bomb. Somewhere on the street below, my brothers were waiting. And worse, Jake would be back within the hour.

I had ten minutes, fifteen tops.

I had just ducked into his kitchen storage closet when I heard a telltale click – the sound of a key card in the front entryway.

Oh crap. Make that zero minutes.

Jake. It had to be. And unless I was mistaken, things were about to go boom.

(End of Sneak Peek)

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Also: Both books in the Belonging series

Book 1



Book 2