Truth or Dare by Mira Lyn Kelly

  Truth or Dare is a work of fiction. Names, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

  A Loveswept eBook Original

  Copyright © 2014 by Mira Lyn Kelly

  Excerpt from Bring on the Heat by Katie Rose copyright © 2014 by Colleen Bosler

  All rights reserved.

  Published in the United States of America by Loveswept, an imprint of Random House, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York.

  LOVESWEPT is a registered trademark and the LOVESWEPT colophon is a trademark of Random House LLC.

  This book contains an excerpt from the forthcoming book Bring on the Heat by Katie Rose. This excerpt has been set for this edition only and may not reflect the final content of the forthcoming edition.

  eBook ISBN 9780345548313

  Cover design: Caroline Teagle

  Cover photo: © Tetra Images - Rene de Haan/Getty Images





  Title Page


  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  Chapter Twenty

  Chapter Twenty-One

  Chapter Twenty-Two

  Chapter Twenty-Three

  Chapter Twenty-Four

  Chapter Twenty-Five

  Chapter Twenty-Six

  Chapter Twenty-Seven

  Chapter Twenty-Eight

  Chapter Twenty-Nine

  Chapter Thirty

  Chapter Thirty-One

  Chapter Thirty-Two

  Chapter Thirty-Three

  Chapter Thirty-Four




  By Mira Lyn Kelly

  About the Author

  The Editor’s Corner

  Excerpt from Bring on the Heat

  Chapter One


  In Maggie Lawson’s defense, the apartment door had been open. Wide open. And she’d tried to warn him. But with the hard rock sound of Queens of the Stone Age pounding out of the speakers within, her new upstairs neighbor hadn’t heard. So he didn’t know she was standing there when he walked by…rucking his T-shirt overhead as he stopped at a stack of cardboard packing boxes marked “Office.”

  She should have said something. She started to, but whatever apology or alert she’d been poised to deliver died on her tongue as she stood transfixed by the hypnotic shift and flex of this man’s half-clad physique.

  Because, wow. Just, wow. Talk about some ripped jeans, skin showing.

  Okay, it wasn’t like she’d never seen a shirtless guy before. They were everywhere, littering magazines, billboards, and TV. Chicago wasn’t suffering any shortage when it came to quality hotties. But up this close, and him not just one of the guys, it caught her by surprise. Enough to stall out her brain function before she’d determined whether she should bring her plate of “welcome to the building” cookies back later or try again to announce her presence behind him.

  And now, all she could see was skin.

  An abundance of it.

  Dark and flushed from hours of exertion. Glistening with a sheen of sweat that beaded up even as she watched, until one fat drop slid over a hard-cut terrain of taut flesh and banded muscle before soaking into the low-slung denim at his hips.

  Trim hips. On a body that was tall and broad and distracting her in a way she wasn’t accustomed to being distracted.

  She should probably take off.

  But then he was dragging the rag he’d made of his shirt across his face, gritting out a curse that had her mouth snapping closed and her chin pulling back. Not because of what he’d said—please, she heard worse on an almost hourly basis—but because of the way he’d said it. There was something altogether too revealing in that one word. Something broken and tired and raw, and yeah, she should definitely go. She’d keep the cookies.

  His head swung around, and his eyes, a flinty gray, hard and accusing, locked on hers. “What the—?”

  “I’m sorry,” she gasped on a nervous laugh, trying to pull it together in front of this guy who’d just busted her fresh off the ogle and was going to be living above her for some unspecified duration. “I—I came up and then—there you were—and I wasn’t expecting—”

  This was totally something they could laugh about, if he got with the program and gave it a shot.

  Only apparently not. Shoving his arms back into his shirt, he stalked to the door, making his big body as imposing a “do not enter” sign as she’d ever encountered. “What do you want?”

  Well, she had cookies. Still warm from the oven. And a pint of milk.

  He’d spent hours moving into the apartment directly above hers. He was her new neighbor.

  What did he think she wanted?

  It didn’t matter. An instant on the receiving end of this guy’s humorless glower was enough to know he wasn’t going to be another swell addition to her group of friends.

  Not a problem. But for the sake of civility and because she was actually standing there, baked bounty in hand, she pushed into place an imitation of the smile that had been genuine when she’d started and tried again.

  “Sorry to interrupt. I stopped up to say, ‘Hey, neighbor,’ ” she offered, adding one of those cheesy half-circle waves that smacked of a classic Karate Kid wax-on. “Tyler, right? Yeah, okay. So. I’m friends with Ford…our landlord…and he asked me to swing by. I live down in Apartment Two.”

  “The girl next door,” he bit out, eyes pinching closed in what looked suspiciously like a plea for patience.

  Though it couldn’t have been even a full minute since she’d first darkened his doorstep, so, seriously, what was with the attitude? Sure, she’d been looking. But the door was open. And he’d been the one stripping in front of it.

  “Mmm-hmm…okay, or…umm…girl downstairs, technically. But either way—”

  His jaw twitched. “Christ, I don’t need this.”

  Maggie’s wide-eyed stare shifted from the six-foot-plus stretch of hard-cut, stubble-rough, and overtly hostile male braced against the door frame, down to the seemingly benign plate of cookies and back.

  Was she missing something?

  Only then the guy raked a hand through the damp mess of his hair and blew out a strained breath. “Look, Apartment Two. Whatever you’re offering, I’m not interested.”

  No. Way.

  “Whatever I’m offering?”

  The hard slant of his mouth and pointed jut of his chin were as much as he had to say on the subject. More than enough to make his meaning clear.

  Her mouth gaped as disbelief and outrage kicked off a turf war deep within her chest.

  Did this knuckle dragger actually think he—?

  And worse, was he suggesting she—?

  Not in this lifetime, bub.

  Fine, the guy wasn’t an eyesore. He had a built-tough body going on, with all the hard-packed high definition to boot. But so very special? So irresistible Maggie figured her best bet for getting a jump on the competition was to make her move…with cookies at nine on a Sunday morning?


  And to think, s
he’d felt bad for him lugging all his crap up the three flights on his own. But yeah, didn’t that make perfect sense now.

  What a dick.

  “So we’re clear, the only thing on offer here, Apartment Three…” Maggie tucked the milk into the crook of her elbow and folded the plastic wrap back from the plate, infusing the air around them with the pure essence of melted chocolate, toasted oats, and the rich, buttery goodness of a family recipe so sacred, only three people in the world knew it.

  Helpless under the aromatic assault, his eyes went briefly unfocused before dropping to the cookies.

  Selecting the biggest one, Maggie lifted it to her mouth and bit, chewing with deliberate relish before cracking the lid on the milk and taking a long, slow swallow.

  Satisfied when the muscles of the guy’s throat worked up and down, she re-covered the plate. “…is my suggestion you look over your rental agreement regarding noise pollution and turn your music down. Or at least close your—”

  The door swung shut in her face.

  Unbelievable. But at least she didn’t need to waste another breath on the jerk.


  “He actually called you ‘Apartment Two’?” Ava Meyers, Maggie’s best friend and fellow abstainer in all things “relationship,” shook her head, her mahogany shag catching in the light breeze and blowing around her face. They were settled in on their favorite bench with the usual Sunday assortment of accumulated mail, magazines, electronic devices, and what remained of the cookies. “Like you didn’t merit an identity beyond the female occupying space beneath him.”

  Maggie scrolled through the headlines, too deep into her snit to commit to any one bit of news. “Ford says he’s in marketing. Freelance. And he’s from New York I think, renting month to month, so maybe we’ll luck out and he’ll be gone by September.”

  “Month to month? Weird. Why?”

  “Your brother. You ask.”

  Ava let out an indelicate snort. Ford was…distracted. That they’d even gotten this much information was a minor miracle.

  Picking through the cookies, she added, “I love it that he thought you were putting a move on him, though.”

  “I know. Because that’s so me,” Maggie snickered. “Scoping out the meat market twenty-four–seven.”

  Talk about a headache she didn’t need. Not when at twenty-seven, her life was pretty well perfect just the way it was. Stable. Secure. On track. Built on a rock-solid foundation of priorities any guidance counselor would swoon over. Maggie had completed her education, had savings and a financial plan, a solid job managing The Shrone Gallery, and her boss’s cosmic blessing to buy into the business as a partner, hopefully within the next year, and eventually buy her out. Add to that, the friendships that “completed” her in ways no romance could…and she was good.

  Better than.

  The whole ever-after business? She didn’t have time for it.

  Correction. She had plenty of time. It was the inclination that was lacking.

  Maggie tipped her face to the sky, basking in the warmth of June’s sunshine and her contentment with the lot that life had given her. Sure, there’d been dues to pay. There always were. But it was because of those rough patches that she was able to fully appreciate this tranquil little corner of Platonia she’d carved out for herself. Where her circle of friends reigned supreme and the forecast always called for good times. Constancy, support, and reliability.

  Chance of romantic strife or bitter betrayal raining on their parade? Zero.

  Yeah, Maggie was satisfied with her life exactly the way it was. Period.

  “So, hey,” Ava drawled from beside her. “Obviously, Apartment Three was a total weenis, and I’m not talking about him. But do you ever look around and…you know…wonder?”

  “Hmm…About what?” How to reduce her carbon footprint? Whether the new Italian place was as good as everyone was saying? If her buyer for the Stovitz oil was serious about a second piece? If she’d be able to get Hedda to sit still—and not in a meditative state—long enough to discuss a timetable for their plans? If her parents would finally relax and believe she was capable of taking care of herself?

  Ava squinted, her mouth turning down in distaste. “That.”

  Maggie followed her friend’s gaze to the red-checked cliché-in-action nestled into a shady corner of Wicker Park. And blinked. Twice.

  “The couple?” she wheezed. “You aren’t serious?”

  Then after a thought, let out a laugh, because, no way.

  Ava didn’t date any more than Maggie did—which meant only under the most dire of circumstances. And unless Maggie had missed significantly more than she’d realized this morning, these were not them.

  “Yeah, I’m pretty sure I am. I think maybe it’s time I stopped shutting down every guy who asks me out and start, I don’t know, opening myself up to the possibilities.”

  Eyes cranking around a beat before her head, Maggie gasped. “Wha—?”

  This wasn’t happening. It couldn’t be. Except that sour look of disgusted resignation on Ava’s face as she frowned across at the picnic set for two told Maggie…it was happening.

  “What’s going on? I mean, where’s this coming from?”

  Picking at the crumbs on a half-eaten cookie, Ava slumped deeper into the park bench, looking in that moment more like a sullen teen than the coolly confident, ball-busting lawyer she played in real life. She shook her head. “Everything’s so perfect now, you know?”

  Yeah, Maggie did know. Hence the confusion.

  “But what’s it going to be like in ten or fifteen years?” She let out another heavy sigh. “The guys, Sam and Ford—they’re idiots.”

  “Of course.” The best kind. Ford was Ava’s older brother, their landlord and the odd nut behind the number-one phone and tablet app on the market, Hibachi Catapult. And Sam Farrow, general man-whore and walking resource for all things fix-it, was their oldest friend. Maggie loved them like family. Together Sam, Ford, and Ava were her core group of go-to friends. All romantically impaired with their own individual brands of relationship dysfunction.

  And it worked. Only apparently, Ava didn’t think so.

  “Some morning in the not-too-distant future, one of them is going to notice a few hairs on his pillow and an extra quarter-inch of forehead where it hadn’t been before—and he’ll decide it’s time to stop sleeping his way through Chicagoland and set up house with some nice girl. And because neither of them are trolls and both have next-to-zero standards, whichever one it is will be married in less than a year. Six months max before the other goes lemming and follows suit. They’ll have kids and dogs and hockey practice at the crack of dawn on Saturday mornings and clay models of the solar system due for the science fair to finish on Tuesday nights. And,” Ava swallowed and took a breath, shaking her head, “they’ll take their wives to weddings instead of us.”

  Maggie coughed, choking on the thought of the last wedding she hit without Ford. The stilted small talk and smarmy expectation gleaming in her date’s eyes. God help her, she never wanted to go there again.

  But seriously…“Ava, the guys are not getting married.”

  “Not today, but you know the girl Sam’s been seeing—Bethanne? She told me she thought they were getting serious.”

  Not likely. “Bethanne’s delusional.”

  “Yeah, I agree. But one of these days…one of these girls…” Two breaths passed before she went on. “Look, Maggie, I’m not talking about anything drastic. Just taking a chance once in a while. Giving someone else a chance for a change. Who knows, maybe finding out what it feels like to have a guy look at me the way those two look at each other. I mean, they seem happy,” Ava offered, sounding less enthused than resigned. “In love.”

  “Blindly so,” Maggie agreed. And that was the crux of it. Maggie already knew what it was to have a guy look at her like he’d do anything to stay with her forever. And yeah, it was a heady thing. But there were risks inherent to that kind of ardor. Once
people experienced it, there wasn’t a lot they wouldn’t do to protect it. Like lie. To their partner. To themselves.

  Arms crossed at her chest, Maggie gave the picnic guy a thorough once-over.

  Sure, he seemed sort of harmless with the whole goofy smile and I’m-so-putting-myself-out-there eyes. But he could be anyone. He could be an embezzler or top chef at the Meth Emporium. Oh yeah, he probably planned to reform. Turn over a new leaf. Be the man his girl deserved. But would he ever tell her what he was into? Not if it meant there was a chance he’d lose—


  Ugh. She didn’t want to be that person. The glass-half-empty girl who wouldn’t let anyone else believe it was half-full.

  She wouldn’t be that person.

  Angling closer on the bench, she leaned in shoulder to shoulder with Ava. “I think it’s great you’re opening yourself up to the possibilities and I’ll support you one-hundred percent. But I’m just wondering—and I don’t want this to sound like I think it’s going to be a problem or anything, but—you don’t actually like anyone. Ever. At least not in a more-than-friends way.”


  “So, umm, how are you planning to get around that?”

  Ava outlined the rough plan she’d come up with: a single, mandatory date each month, where she gave the guys who met her criteria a chance—regardless of whether they floated her boat or not. And if she missed a month, she suffered a consequence. Some penalty stiff enough to ensure she didn’t blow it off.

  “Nice. You’ve got to make it something that’ll really hurt, though, so you can’t slack. And tie up all the little loopholes you’ll be trying to wiggle through, too.” Hey, this was kind of fun. “Make rules about what constitutes a legitimate date and not going out with the same guy over and over when you know it isn’t going anywhere. Tough love and all.” Maggie snickered, maybe enjoying the idea of Ava not making her monthly quota a skosh too much.

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