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WALK OF SHAME
BY LAUREN LAYNE
Sparks fly between a misunderstood New York socialite and a cynical divorce lawyer in this lively standalone rom-com from the USA Today bestselling author of Blurred Lines and Love Story.
Pampered heiress Georgianna Watkins has a party-girl image to maintain, but all the shopping and clubbing is starting to feel a little bit hollow—and a whole lot lonely. Though Georgie would never admit it, the highlights of her week are the mornings when she comes home at the same time as her uptight, workaholic neighbor is leaving to hit the gym and put in a long day at the office. Teasing him is the most fun Georgie’s had in years—and the fuel for all her naughtiest daydreams.
Celebrity divorce attorney Andrew Mulroney doesn’t have much time for women, especially spoiled tabloid princesses who spend more time on Page Six than at an actual job. Although Georgie’s drop-dead gorgeous, she’s also everything Andrew resents: the type of girl who inherited her penthouse instead of earning it. But after Andrew caps one of their predawn sparring sessions with a surprise kiss—a kiss that’s caught on camera—all of Manhattan is gossiping about whether they’re a real couple. And nobody’s more surprised than Andrew to find that the answer just might be yes.
WALK OF SHAME
BY LAUREN LAYNE
Let’s talk about five a.m. for a second.
Also known as the worst hour of the day, am I right?
If you’re awake to see five in the freaking morning, it means one of a few things, all of them heinous.
Scenario one: You’re on your way to the airport for an early morning flight. Heinous.
Scenario two: You’ve been out all night, and now your vodka buzz is fading, and you’re just sober enough to realize that the rest of your day will likely involve Excedrin, carbs, and indoor voices. Heinous.
Scenario three: You’ve got a crap-ton on your mind, and you’re lying awake in bed, staring at the ceiling, hating your life. Maybe hating yourself a little bit, I dunno, who am I to judge? Heinous.
Now brace yourself, because scenario four is the most heinous of them all: You’re awake at five a.m. because you’re an uptight prick whose schedule is even more rigid than your posture, and your life is an endless string of working out, the corner office, repeat. You’re also likely the type of person who subsists on protein shakes and kale smoothies, and you have been known to utter the phrase the body is a temple, thus solidifying what we already knew about you.
You have no friends.
But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.
See, it’s five a.m., and I, Georgie Watkins, am . . . kind of excited about it.
I know. I know. Four months ago I’d have bet my favorite vintage Chanel bag that there was exactly zero chance I’d actually look forward to the ghoulish hour of five in the morning.
And yet here we are.
I guess you could say there’s a scenario five on reasons to be up this early.
“Good morning, Ramon,” I sing, pushing through the revolving doors of the luxury high-rise on 56th and Park, the place I call home.
The concierge/security guard/all-around good guy glances up and gives me a friendly smile. “Ms. Watkins. Good morning.”
Usually the massive front desk is a bustling, busy affair. Starting at around seven, an army of well-dressed concierges will be smoothly facilitating the needs of impatient residents, as tiny dogs let out sharp, high-pitched barks of greeting from their Louis Vuitton carriers.
But that’s later.
Right now, the luxurious lobby is mostly silent, with just the lone overnight guy working the front desk, holding down the fort until the day guys arrive to handle the morning crush.
My new Tory Burch clutch tucked into my armpit, I hold up the box in my hands and waggle my eyebrows. “Brought you something.”
Ramon’s smile grows wider, brown eyes lighting. “My wife says you’re going to make me fat.”
“Tell Marta that the dad bod is totally in style right now,” I say, setting the box of donuts on the counter and lifting the lid. “Unless, of course, you don’t want a maple bacon donut?”
Ramon is already reaching inside the box, shaking his head in reverence as he lifts the sugary treat. “Still warm.”
“Well, technically the shop doesn’t open until five, but I’m such a loyal customer, they let me in a bit early,” I say, surveying the array of donuts and trying to decide if I’m in a chocolate kind of mood or if I want to risk the powdered sugar one.
Since my Alexander McQueen minidress is black (the archnemesis of powdered sugar), I reach for the chocolate as I set my clutch on the counter and fish out my phone: 4:58 a.m.
Two more minutes.
“How’s Marta dealing with the pregnancy of baby number three?” I ask, taking a bite of the donut and shifting attention back to Ramon, who’s already polished off his donut and is contemplating a second. I nudge the box toward him.
“She’s good,” he says. “Excited that we’re finally having a girl.”
“A girl!” I say, reaching across the counter and squeezing his massive forearm. “Congratulations, I hadn’t heard!”
“Just found out yesterday,” he says with a happy smile, apparently deciding that the occasion calls for another donut.
“Oh my gosh, I have the perfect baby gift,” I say, nibbling at a piece of my donut. “I saw this adorable Burberry onesie in Bergdorf’s the other day, with this precious little red bow—”
“Yes, because that’s what every infant needs,” a low voice interrupts. “A four-hundred-dollar piece of fabric that needs to be dry-cleaned. Don’t be ridiculous, Georgiana.”
I don’t have to look at my clock to know what time it is.
On the dot.
Not even bothering to turn around, I roll my eyes as my red nails tear off another piece of donut and pop it into my mouth. “Ramon, do you think you could talk to maintenance about adjusting the temp? It just got a little cold in here.”
Ramon’s been working here long enough to know my request isn’t for real. He’s not even paying attention to me. He’s already set his donut aside and has straightened up, practically saluting the newcomer.
“Mr. Mulroney. Good morning, sir.”
“Mr. Ramirez.” The voice is low and serious, a touch impatient, although not quite rude.
You know that adage that you catch more flies with honey? I’m not so sure it’s true. I bring donuts to the front desk guys just about every morning, and they adore me. I know they do.
But they respect him.
Giving in to the inevitable, I finally let my eyes flick to the side, my gaze colliding with a stern brown scowl.
I put on my widest, sparkliest smile, only because I know it drives him crazy.
As always, I see a muscle in his jaw twitch as I flutter my eyelashes.
“Good morning, Andrew,” I say sweetly.
I resist the urge to roll my eyes. Only my late grandmother has ever called me that, and I’m pretty sure that’s because I was her namesake. Everyone else calls me Georgie. Well, okay, not everyone. Ramon and the other guys still insist on calling me Ms. Watkins, but I’m working on it. See: daily donuts.
I smile wider and push the box in Andrew’s direction. “Donut?”
His lip curls. In case you haven’t already gotten a read on this guy, he’s the type that sneers at donuts.
He lifts a boring black travel mug. “Already have my breakfast.”
“Blended-up quinoa sprinkled with a few bits of spinach and pretension?” I ask.
“Whey powder protein shake.”
“Sounds immensely satisfying.”
He takes a sip of the nastiness and watches me with cold brown eyes. “The body is a temple, Georgiana.”
There it is.
Full circle to my above commentary about what sort of people are up and about at five a.m.
Lauren Layne is the New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen romantic comedies.
A former e-commerce and web marketing manager from Seattle, Lauren relocated to New York City in 2011 to pursue a full-time writing career.
She lives in midtown Manhattan with her high-school sweetheart, where she writes smart romantic comedies with just enough sexy-times to make your mother blush. In LL’s ideal world, every stiletto-wearing, Kate Spade wielding woman would carry a Kindle stocked with Lauren Layne books.
Lauren’s website, blog, books, etc.
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