Mistaken by Fate

By: Katee Robert

To my fans. I hope you enjoy reading my dirty-talking hero as much as I enjoyed writing him!

Chapter One

Ridley Ethridge stared at her drink and wondered if she really had the gall to go through with this. It was something she’d been musing over for weeks, and now that the time had come to finally put her money where her mouth was, her feet were colder than ice. All around her, people laughed and drank and flirted, just like they would at any other club.

But this was Serve. While the main floor looked like any other club, albeit a quirky one, upstairs was a completely different story. She took a sip of her drink, barely tasting the alcohol, and set the glass back on the bar with shaking hands. It had taken some doing—and more paperwork than she could have dreamed—but she was now one of the chosen few who could waltz across the dance floor, give her name, and go up to the exclusive BDSM club that occupied the space over her head.

She glanced at the elevator, the archway above it shaped like a giant mouth. The owner of Serve sure as hell had a strange sense of humor. Her gaze coasted over the hulking dude standing next to it. He was attractive in the way that all the employees seemed to be here, but she actually knew Nolan from her interviews. He was the manager here and, while his glare was enough to deter even the sloppily drunk girls on the other end of the bar from approaching, he was actually a pretty nice guy.

He caught her looking and winked, his sudden grin doing nothing to calm her nerves. She’d gone through all the necessary steps to put this whole thing into motion. All that was left was to actually get into motion.

If she didn’t do it soon, she’d chicken out. Ridley knew herself well enough to know that. She’d never met a bet that she wouldn’t take, but there was no one holding her accountable here. Hell, no one even knew she was here except Sara, and her best friend wouldn’t set foot inside this place unless both her brothers Will and Garrett were out of town and there was no chance she’d run into them.

No, Ridley had no one to blame for this so-called brilliant idea except herself. But she was tired of sitting around, waiting for Fate to turn a kind eye her way.

Every other part of her life was kicking ass right now. Her business was booming, and she was well on her way to being ready for Fashion Week in a month. She was poised on the edge of greatness—if she didn’t botch it. This was her shot to bring her name into the big leagues, and it might make her nervous enough to puke just thinking about it, but she was as prepared as she was going to be. She had her situation on lock-down.

Her love life? Yeah, not so much. She hadn’t had a second date in two years, and it seemed like her prospects dimmed with each month that went by. It wasn’t that she needed a man, exactly, but the slow tide of loneliness never hesitated to yank her under whenever she had a weak moment, and she was damn tired of it.

Not to mention sex. She missed sex in a big way.

Which was why she was here, stalling until she got up the courage to step into that elevator. Tonight she was meeting Will in one of the private rooms upstairs. The man was everything she was supposed to want. He was kind, and successful, and hotter than sin.

And, yeah, he had a boatload of issues just like any of the Reaver siblings—something she was well acquainted with, having grown up around them—but he was still loyal to a fault. Really, she never would have given more than a second thought if not for that night a few months ago. It was one of the rare times where she’d been spending time with both Sara and Will, all three of them hanging out at Sara’s place and drinking while they watched one of those Ultimate Fighting Championships. They’d ribbed him about never dating anyone and he must have been feeling the alcohol as much as Ridley was, because his mask had dropped long enough for her to see naked longing there. She hadn’t been able to get that look out of her head, or the belief that Will might be exactly the right man to settle down with. He just needed the right motivation.

Unlike his twin, Garrett, who waltzed off wherever the wind decided to take him…

No. She was not thinking about Garrett right now. The memory of him had already ruined more than one blossoming relationship, and she refused to allow it to happen this time. Ridley downed the rest of her drink and pushed to her feet. If she sat down here any longer, she was going to talk herself right out of doing this, and that was inexcusable. She’d been taking the safe option for far too long when it came to love.

It was time to take that first step into the future.

She skirted the edge of the dance floor and stopped in front of Nolan. He grinned down at her, looking miles away from the glowering bouncer that he appeared across the room. “I thought for sure you’d change your mind.”

“Not me.” Even if she felt a little bit like she might lose that drink she’d just finished.

“Relax, Ridley.” He clasped her on the shoulder. “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. If it’s too much, just go up and watch for a bit.”

Nolan was the one who she’d given the description of what she wanted—big, blond, and gorgeous. It had been a risk asking for an anonymous meet-up based solely on a description, even knowing for sure Will would be at the club that night, but she couldn’t bring herself to put it out there so…bluntly. Ridley flushed, remembering her exact words. Norse god is the term that comes to mind. It described Will to a T.

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