The Rules According to Gracie

By: Stefanie London

Rule number one: don’t fall for the wrong guy.

Gracie Green has a shopping list for men. Career, financials, family...and a long list of rules to determine a guy’s suitability. She’s already disappointed her socialite mother once—now Gracie needs to find Mr. Perfect. Too bad she keeps getting distracted by her super-sexy, six-feet-of-tattooed-hotness friend, Des, who is so many shades of Mr. Wrong...

Bar owner Des Chapman has vowed never again to get involved with society girls. Yet he’s irresistibly drawn to Gracie—those lush curves, those lips, and her ridiculous ability to date the wrong guys. As Gracie’s discouragement grows, Des realizes it’s time to show her what she really needs in a man—and it has nothing to do with a briefcase and generous bank account. He’ll teach Gracie the Rules According To Des…even if it means breaking his rule in the process.

To my 4th grade teacher, Mr. Bill Soole. You’ll probably never read this but you were the best teacher I ever had. You told me I could achieve anything I wanted if I just got out of my own way…so I did.

P.S. I still have the pink dinosaur pen you gave me.

Chapter One

From his vantage point at the bar, Des Chapman could tell two things: One, they were going to run out of the seafood special and, two, the guy at Gracie Greene’s table wasn’t getting lucky tonight.

He chuckled as he looked over to the booth set intimately for two. He knew all of Gracie’s tells; this date was not going well. Her hand repeatedly raked through her dark chocolate curls—she was frustrated. She kept chatting to the waiter—she was bored. And finally, she ordered a peach Bellini with a cherry on the side—her S.O.S.

Des poured the fizzing Prosecco over peach nectar and dropped a cherry into a dish, then placed both items on the bar where Gracie would be joining him shortly.

Despite the countless dates she paraded through First, his restaurant and bar, he’d been lusting after the woman for months on end. Not that she showed any kind of reciprocal interest. Though, if he was being honest with himself, it was for the best.

Gracie Greene was any and every kind of wrong for him.

She came from money…old money. If that wasn’t warning enough, she’d shed a little light on her family situation and it didn’t look good: irritatingly perfect older sister who’d married into another old money family, controlling mother who was more concerned with keeping up appearances than the wellbeing of her children. The whole thing screamed back the hell away.

He could have been persuaded to look past those factors for a chance to be with Gracie if it weren’t for the fact that he’d done it all before. His ex was exactly the same—same crazy family, same outdated views, same preference for status over love.

Society girls were not in his repertoire any more.

Des stalked over to her table. He couldn’t wallow in frustration any longer. He had a business to run and customers to keep happy. Fantasies about Gracie and her unobtainable body would have to wait until he was home. Alone.

“I told you, Gracie”—he placed his palms on the table and leaned forward—“you can’t be bringing men around here while we’re still married.”

She blinked at him, her rich brown eyes the picture of innocence. He caught a whiff of her sweet vanilla perfume as she tossed her hair over one shoulder. The scent intoxicated him.

The guy who sat across from Gracie almost choked on his steak. “You’re married?”

Des looked him up and down and scowled. The guy was way too overdressed for a date. For starters, he was still in his work clothes—a ridiculous three-piece suit—and he wore a pair of shoes so shiny Des could see his own face in them. Secondly, he had enough product in his hair to grout an entire kitchen.

He was all kinds of wrong for Gracie.

“Your profile didn’t say you were married!”

“I won’t be for much longer,” Gracie said, narrowing her eyes at Des.

To anyone else she would have appeared angry, but he noticed the tiny, barely perceptible twitch of her lips.

She jabbed a finger at Des. “As soon as this bozo signs the divorce papers, I’ll be single again.”

“Ha.” Des folded his arms. “Over my dead body.”

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