by Autumn Reed
Series n/a; standalone
Genre New Adult, Reverse Harem, Contemporary Romance
Publication Date January 23, 2020
Since moving back to my hometown of Hastings, Texas, I’ve been called a whore, tramp, and homewrecker. And maybe I’m all of those things and more.
But those people don’t know me. They don’t see me. They only see my mistakes.
My little brother is my entire world, and if I can give him what I never had—love and security—then returning to the town that hates me will be worth it.
I’m prepared for the whispers and stares, but the moment a knight in a black truck crosses my path, it’s clear that I’m not ready for kindness. As he, my brother’s sexy teacher, and the town’s golden boy work to break down my walls by standing between me and the hate, I find myself beginning to hope again.
Maybe redemption is within reach…if I share my story.
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I kicked at my tire, which was flatter than Chelsea Carpenter’s tenth-grade chest. That was before her parents had gotten divorced and appeased her with a new set of boobs over summer break. Meanwhile, all I’d gotten for my birthday that year was a twenty-dollar bill and a heaping pile of regret.
Noticing the new scuff mark on my favorite—and only remaining—pair of Manolo Blahniks, I cursed. This day couldn’t get any worse.
Couldn’t get any worse?
I released a cry of frustration mixed with laughter, tinging on maniacal. If anyone should know better than to tempt fate, it was me. Things could always get worse. I’d learned that lesson, many times over.
It was practically a law of the universe. If Scarlett Butler was having a bad day, it was bound to get worse. Why even try to fight it? I ducked into my car to grab my cell phone, and . . . no service. Of course.
After spending the last month getting doors slammed in my face in the small town of Hastings, I’d had to expand my job search to the city. It was almost an hour drive, and I’d only made it a quarter of the way when the distinctive thwump thwump sound let me know I was in trouble.
My interview was in less than an hour, and I was stranded. Just great.
The sound of tires crunching on gravel snapped me out of my momentary pity party, and my body went on high alert. The nearest town might resemble Mayberry, but this road was the next closest thing to deserted, and I was about a decade past trusting anyone.
Without looking back at my would-be rescuer, I flung open the driver’s side door and reached for the hot pink pepper spray canister attached to my keyring.
Better safe than sorry.
At the slam of a car door behind me, I spun around, keeping my weapon hidden behind my back, my finger resting on the safety.
The first thing I noticed was the lifted black truck that clearly hadn’t seen a dirt road lately. That was rare around these parts. Spotting a pickup without muddy tires was like discovering the redneck version of a unicorn.
Next, a pair of denim-clad legs came into focus. They were long, the thighs bulky, and the most surprising thing about them was the pair of boots attached to their feet. I knew footwear, and these weren’t everyday work boots that could be purchased at the hardware store on Main Street. These were sturdy and made of high-quality leather.
A throat cleared, and I forced my gaze up a flat stomach, muscled chest, and wide shoulders. It took another second or two, but I finally moved past the throat, scruff-covered chin, lips, and nose to latch my eyes on a pair of steely blue ones.
Those eyes—wow. If men currently held any interest for me, those eyes would likely steal my soul.
Assuming I had a soul left to steal.
I wasn’t so sure anymore.
“Do you need help?”
His words were deliberate, his voice deep, and the combination sent shivers up my spine. With those intense blue eyes drilling into me, my brain was scrambling in the worst possible way. Because I was not allowed to notice things like deep voices and soul-stealing eyes. I had no room in my life for any man, no matter how attractive he was.
The stranger somewhat impatiently lifted his ball cap, shifting the bill from the back to the front. The sudden shade over his face snapped me out of my stupor, and I moved my attention from him to my shrunken tire.
“You don’t happen to have any cell service, do you?”
Maybe I could call a taxi and still make it to my interview on time. Or, at least, I could call my contact in human resources and explain.
He removed a cell from his pocket and checked the screen. “No service.”
I reached for my hair but encountered the bare skin of my neck instead. Even though I’d chopped off my hair more than a month ago, I couldn’t seem to get used the angled bob. It looked good. Chic, even.
But it didn’t feel like me. At least, not the old me. It felt like it belonged to the mature, confident version of myself that I wanted to be. No, want wasn’t good enough. I had to be that version. I didn’t have a choice.
“You have a spare?”
God, that voice. It was like crack, and I was quickly becoming an addict.
Wait, what did he ask me? A spare?
“I, uh, I don’t know.”
That’s what happened when you grew up without a dad and had a mom who was more interested in Jim and Jack than her own children. You didn’t learn basic life skills, like how to change a tire. Or to make sure the cheap, used car you bought had a spare.
About the Author:
AUTUMN REED is a lifelong bookworm with a penchant for sarcasm. She loves cloudy days, fluffy dogs, and murdering succulents. When she isn’t bringing daydreams to life on the page, she can be found behind the lens of a digital camera or binge-watching Veronica Mars.
Tour Wide Giveaway!
To celebrate the release of SCARLETT XOXO by Autumn Reed, we’re giving away a paperback copy of Phoenix by Autumn Reed & Julia Clarke to one lucky winner!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to US shipping addresses only. One winner will receive a paperback copy of Phoenix by Autumn Reed & Julia Clarke. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Autumn Reed. Giveaway ends 2/29/2020 @ 11:59pm EST. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!