Down and Dirty

By: Christine Bell

a Dare Me novel

Christine Bell

Chapter One

Cat Thomas eyed the couple playing tonsil hockey across the black lacquer table and snorted with mock disgust. “Gross. Get a room, would you?”

They broke apart, cheeks flushed, and Cat swallowed a grin. She still wasn’t totally used to her best friend and her brother pawing each other, but for all her bitching, she was frigging stoked. They were a great couple—which, to Cat’s mind, was as about as common as a two-headed snake—and later this year, she’d be walking down the aisle as Lacey’s maid of honor. Again.

“Sorry. Your brother is a perv,” Lacey confided with a smile. She slipped off Galen’s lap and back onto her own barstool, which was emblazoned with the face of quarterback Peyton Manning. If her friend had to sit on a Manning’s face, Peyton was obviously the better option, but the decor of this particular sports bar seemed poorly thought out. Not that it had stopped Cat from spending ten minutes searching for a Tom Brady seat before finally agreeing to sit on Mark Sanchez. He couldn’t throw for shit, but he sure was pretty.

“Yeah, I’m the perv,” Galen said to his fiancée with a satisfied smirk. “You’re the one who had me tie you to th—”

Lacey slapped a hand over his mouth and squealed. “Oh my God, shut up! You’re totally going to embarrass your sister.”

“Not likely,” Cat said. “I won’t be thinking too hard about it or anything, because ew. But I’m really glad to see he’s loosened you up a little.” She eyed her laughing friend and shook her head in amazement. Less than a year before, Lacey had found her groom, Marty, in the linen closet of their reception hall, balls-deep in one of her bridesmaids, a lifelong friend of both Cat’s and Lacey’s. That still made Cat stabby when she thought about it, but she managed to keep her wrath under wraps. Not because of her forgiving nature, but mainly because Lacey was blissfully happy now and settled with her childhood crush, who also happened to be Cat’s brother, Galen.

Who woulda thunk it? Not Cat. In fact, the incident between Marty and Lacey had only confirmed what she’d always known: most relationships were far more trouble than they were worth. If Lacey hadn’t caught Marty in the act, she’d probably still be with the loser, having the life sucked out of her.

That would never be Cat.

She took a long pull from the lukewarm beer she’d been nursing and glanced around the semi-crowded bar.

Holy hotness.

A man…no, a giant had just stepped into her peripheral vision and derailed all coherent thought. She twisted in her Mark Sanchez chair to get a better look. The guy’s head was turned, so she could only see his face in profile, but damn, that and the full-frontal body shot were more than enough. She sized him up with a practiced eye, calling him an easy six-three, two-twenty. He wore a threadbare white T-shirt that should’ve been as noteworthy as a bowl of oatmeal. Instead, it clung to his chest like it had aspirations of taking over for his skin. Hell, she’d have the same life goal. His chest was a dream, the contours clearly defined by the soft cotton. She could totes cling to him for a night.

In spite of her flight-prone ways, she’d never had a true one-night stand, and it was top ten on her bucket list. Maybe…

She took a quick glance at the guy’s face to make sure he hadn’t caught her staring, then sent her gaze downward to size up the rest of the package.

And speaking of package, oooh mama. His jeans were as old as the shirt and had worn down in all the right places, clinging to his thick thighs and what appeared to be a sock…no, a bunch of socks stuffed—

“Shane!” Lacey yelped, launching herself off her stool and scurrying toward him.

No way. There was just no. Frigging. Way.

But apparently there was a way because the sexy behemoth turned to face them full-on, and there he was.

Shane Decker.

He and Galen had met in high school when Galen was a sophomore and Shane was a freshman. They’d bonded over football and had quickly become the best of friends. The four of them had spent a lot of time together the summer before Galen went off to college, so Lacey had stayed in touch with him.

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