Title: Keep Me
Author: Faith Andrews
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Day: January 28th 2014
Sexy, tatted up, underwear model Marcus Grayson is every girl’s dream—or more likely worst nightmare. He’s a player, a self-proclaimed bachelor for life, and he’s got no problem living up to his man-whore status. But when his older sister’s friend comes back from the past, he may just have the chance to turn some of his adolescent fantasies into reality.
Tessa Bradley is a self-sufficient, take-no-bull, single mother—well, now she is. Finally rid of her abusive, alcoholic ex, she’s making a new life for herself and catching up with old friends; the ones she was forced to break ties with because of her controlling husband. When she runs into Marcus, her friend Riley’s once-adorable turned smoking-hot little brother, she has no idea how he’s about to rock her world.
You wanted me then, now you can have me. Just promise you’ll Keep Me…
I, Marcus Grayson, am a man-whore.
How did I know this?
“Marcus M. Grayson, you’re a man-whore!”
See what I mean?
My sister, Riley, shrieked through the house, searching for me. I knew it was only a matter of time before she chewed me out for this one. I may have taken it too far with Fiona, but she was asking for it—practically begging for it even. She wanted me—a lot more than I wanted her—but who was I to deprive an attractive, horny woman of what she so obviously desired?
Even if she was a married woman.
“Marcus, where the hell are you? I’m going to wring your tattooed neck when I get my hands— ” Her voice grew closer as she neared my hiding spot behind the couch in the living room. “There you are!”
I couldn’t hide forever. “Hey, Ry. Where’s the fire?” The innocent act was so not going to work this time. Her ears could have been smokestacks; big, steaming clouds billowing out with rage.
“Cut the shit, Marcus. You crossed the line this time. What were you thinking? Fiona just got married three months ago! Her marriage is going to be over. Her husband’s gonna kick your ass.” Her hard-ass, reprimanding, mom-like demeanor faded for a second as she smiled in amusement over her last remark.
“Yeah, I’d like to see him try. Besides, it couldn’t have been much of a marriage. . . the girl had her hands in my pants during dinner, Ry. What was I supposed to do?”
“Not fuck her. That’s what you were supposed to do. Stay away. Think with the head on your shoulders, for once! Jesus, Marcus! She’s my friend. Well, she was. Now she’s never gonna talk to me again.”
I’d seen this look one too many times. I didn’t mean to do it—over and over again—but I couldn’t help it if all of her friends were needy sluts.
“I’m sorry, Ry. I really am, but. . . ”
“Don’t apologize to me. You should call Fiona and apologize to her.”
“Well, you’re doing a pretty damn good job of that.”
And this is how it goes. Every time Riley brought me out with her and her friends, it ended the same way. It wasn’t even fun anymore. It was predictable. The result was always the same—a one-nighter with a girl who would go into hiding or lose my sister’s number afterwards. Or worse, hound her for mine, wanting another go at it or the chance to tame me and drag me into a relationship.
It was never going to happen. Period. End of story. I didn’t want that. I was content with my whoredom and that I had a new face to wake up to at least three times a week. And my sister was a glutton for punishment for repeating the same foolish behavior, time and time again.
I loved that we were close. Hell, she was my best friend, but she should have known by now that if she brought me around there was a one hundred and ten percent chance that I was going to sample the merchandise. And I loved me some merch.
Man-whore had been my title for a while. But, of course, it wasn’t always that way. Every guy like me has to start out somewhere, and by somewhere, I mean nowhere. There was a time when I was just some geeky, pre-teen virgin, eyeing the merch with no chance for even the teensiest sample. Those girls didn’t know it, but at thirteen their eighteen-year-old bodies were better than any Playboy magazine or Spice flick. These girls were the real deal—the girl next door types, the seemingly innocent beauties, teenagers blossoming into women right before my very eager eyes.
I had no shot in hell with those girls. I was an idiot to think I did, but even back then I had what all my sister’s friends would call “the cute factor.” The charisma to command a room and make myself memorable. I was the adorable, funny, younger brother who hung around to entertain them while they were getting ready to go out on the prowl for the men who would be getting samples, or the whole damn cow for all I knew. They would pinch my cheeks as they walked out the door in their skintight jeans and skimpy, cleavage-showing tank tops, always laughing at the skit I’d performed to keep them around my kitchen table long enough to muster up a fantasy for that particular lonely night.
My sister was to blame. It was all her damn fault. She was flaunting her friends in front of me like dangling a fresh, fleshy carcass for a starving lion. I could have stayed young and innocent a lot longer if it weren’t for those girl-women traipsing around my house night after night.
Riley snapped me back to the present with one of her favorite redundancies. “What am I going to do with you, Marcus?” Noble older sister strikes again.
What was I supposed to tell her? I had no intention of changing my ways anytime soon. What was that expression? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. “Don’t worry about me, sis. Worry about Fiona. Such a sin. She was a hot piece of ass.”
I ducked, avoiding the waste-of-money accent pillow she convinced me to get, flying towards my head. “You’re gross. You know that?”
“That’s not what she said.” My eyebrows did a silly dance above my eyes. Getting under her skin was so amusing.
“Seriously, Marcus. You think you’ll ever settle down? Dad worries about you. I worry about you. This is going to get old soon.”
Really? I couldn’t imagine any of it getting old. Not the thrill of the chase—not like they ever really made me chase them. Not the sheer delight in knowing I didn’t have to answer to anyone or wonder about their feelings. There were no feelings involved with one night stands. And they knew that’s what I was. Marcus Grayson, Bachelor for Life. I loved the ring to that. Maybe I should get cards made up.
“How many times, Ry? You’re like a broken freaking record. I don’t want what you want.” She wanted the knight in shining armor and the fairytale. I was content with everything on the other side of the pretentious castle. I was the Big Bad Wolf to Riley’s Red Riding Hood.
“Besides, I’m too shallow and I can’t think past five minutes from now. Who’s going to put up with that, huh?”
She eyed me sympathetically, a reaction I’d never understood. What the hell was there to be sympathetic about? I wanted this!
“There’s a lid for every pot. Alls I’m sayin’.”
Blah, blah, blah. That was chicks. That was what I was trying to avoid. I didn’t mind the women if it was my sister or. . . my mom. But unless they were riding me or letting me ride them, I had no use for the depth of a woman. Too complicated. Too complex. I was the complete antithesis. . .simple. I had to get Riley off this save-Marcus train. There was nothing worse than trying to convince the inconvincible. A change in subject was needed. “So. . .Sunday dinner with Dad?”
“Yup. He’s been nagging me all week.” She stopped to do her best impression of our grumpy, lonely father. “‘Make sure you tell that brother of yours. Who sees him anymore?’ You know, I’m tired of making excuses for you, Marcus. You need to make more appearances. He needs you. You were always his buddy. Mine was Mom.”
God, I’d rather she ream me out for sleeping around than make me look at her face when she spoke about Mom. It’d be four years soon, but Riley still held on to it like it happened yesterday. Her eyes welled up, telling me she was on the verge of bawling.
Instinctively, I pulled her close, one arm around her fragile shoulders. “I know. It sucks. I miss her too, but don’t do this now. She wouldn’t want you crying over her, she’d want you to rip deeper into me for screwing up your friendship. . .”
She lifted her drooped head, smacking her tongue with an audible tsk. When she slapped my hand away, I knew my work was done. “It’s always about you. That modeling gig is going to your head, little bro. Time for a change.”
Another thing I had no intention of changing. My agent called me day in and day out with bookings. When I was up to no good as a kid, my mom used to tell me I was lucky I was cute. She also used to say that I wouldn’t get by solely on my good looks. Turns out my mom was wrong about that part. I made a damn good living off my looks and had no problem showing off the goods for the right people. Hell, I showed off my goods for a lot of the wrong people too. But it was all good. Plus, the money was sick.
“Don’t you have somewhere to be, Ry? You’re bad for my ego.”
“Exactly! Maybe I should hang around all day and deflate it for you.”
As much as I loved the idea of chilling with Riley, I had shit to take care of. And by shit I meant figuring out which club to hit tonight. Beck was free and I hadn’t seen him in a while. He’d met a girl and things were getting serious, which meant the party was over. Beck had obviously missed the bros before hos memo. Funny, because he was a reformed player himself. His new woman had such a tight grip on his ball sack he was starting to sound like Mariah Carey and her obnoxious screeching every time he spoke.
“I’m beat. I’ll see you Sunday.” There was no need to elaborate. Riley knew I was a man of few words.
She turned to leave, grabbing her ridiculously large bag from my sofa.
“I really am sorry about Fiona. I didn’t mean to make it your problem.”
As she heaved the bag over her shoulder, I had to wonder how her posture remained so perfect, toting around baggage like that. How many tampons did a girl have to carry along with her anyway?
“It’s okay. It wasn’t entirely your fault. But I’m not bringing the good ones around you anymore.”
I picked up the pillow she’d flung at me and tossed it back at her, whacking her in the back of her head. “Oh, good! Bring the bad ones my way. They’re always more fun!”
“Goodbye, Marcus!” She sang as she left my apartment.
I laughed as I heard the door slam shut behind her. I’d kill any guy who treated her the way I treated women. She deserved so much better than a prick like me. She was just like Mom: caring, compassionate, warm, selfless. She took over Mom’s role even in her own grief, making sure Dad and I were looked after, fed, clean, happy. She was going to be a great mother herself one day—she just needed to find the right guy. He was out there somewhere and I almost wish I could find him for her, but hanging out in the places I did, with the people I did. . .the guy for her didn’t lurk amongst my lifestyle. Guys deserving of her were nothing like me.
Faith Andrews lives in New York where she is happily married to her high school sweetheart. They have two beautiful daughters and a furry Yorkie son, Rocco. If she isn’t listening to Mumford and Sons or busy being a Dance Mom, her nose is in a book or her laptop. She’s a sucker for a happily ever after and believes her characters are out there living one somewhere . . .