Home > Temptation After Dark (Gansett Island #22)

Temptation After Dark (Gansett Island #22)
Author: Marie Force

 

Chapter 1

 

 

Cooper James had had a lot of girlfriends. So many, his mom had stopped bothering to get to know them because, as she said, they were never around long enough to make it worth the investment of time. His sisters called him the Honey Pot. Girls had been the bees, buzzing around him from the time he was old enough to realize girls were the secret to eternal happiness. When Cooper was fifteen, Mindy Farthing’s father caught them having sex in their barn and threatened to shoot Cooper’s balls off if he ever went near Mindy again. No one had wanted to hear that Mindy had been the one to suggest they have sex, not Cooper.

His mother had marched Cooper to the parish priest for a stern lecture about sins of the flesh.

Poor Fr. Patrick had tried to put the fear of God into young Cooper.

It hadn’t taken.

The girls kept buzzing around, and he kept letting them catch him, temporarily, of course. As a make-love-not-war kind of guy, he knew just when to invoke his patented exit strategy to get himself out of a situation before it turned ugly. As a result, most of the women he’d dated in the past were still his friends, regularly checking in via text to see how he was doing.

He was doing just fine, thank you very much.

Cooper loved everything about women—their soft skin, the way they always smelled so good and how they had curves in all the right places. He liked them tall and short, thin and plump. He loved the tomboys as much as the princesses, and more than anything, he loved how freaking brilliant they were. They kept him constantly intrigued as he sought to understand what made them tick. Figuring out the unique characteristics that each new woman brought to the game had become a hobby of his.

He took his responsibility to show them a good time seriously and was always a gentleman in his dealings with them. At the outset of every new “relationship,” Cooper made sure the lady of the moment knew he wasn’t looking for anything serious, and if she happened to be looking for a husband, he quickly made sure she knew that wasn’t going to be him. He believed in honesty and was straightforward about what he was and wasn’t offering.

A good time? Absolutely. A ring on her finger? Hell no.

Why would any guy want to settle down with one woman when he could dine at the smorgasbord?

That said, after spending time with his brother Jared and his wife, Lizzie, Cooper saw that Jared had found something special with his wife. If someone like Lizzie came along, Cooper might be tempted to give up his serial-dating ways to settle down. But thus far, he hadn’t met anyone who’d made him want to change his life that dramatically.

That was until he’d come across the goddess of all goddesses swimming in Jared’s pool on Gansett Island.

Gigi Gibson.

He still couldn’t believe his Hollywood crush lived in his brother’s Gansett Island garage apartment and was swimming in his pool.

In a white bikini.

Dear God, the woman was so smoking hot that Cooper had been tongue-tied around a female for the first time in his life. Also, for the first time, one of the “bees” had been somewhat underwhelmed by Cooper’s honey. She’d played along with his flirtatious banter (another of his trademarked skills), but he had a feeling she’d be fine if she never saw him again.

Whereas he was counting the minutes until their date that night. With the island contending with a power failure and a heat wave, he wasn’t sure what would be open, but he was determined to show her a good time anyway.

He, Cooper James, was going out, on a date, with Gigi Gibson. Best day of his life, and it was just getting started. Before he did anything else, he had to find Jared and convince him he needed to let Coop borrow the Porsche. A woman like Gigi had certain expectations, and Cooper was determined to meet them by not asking if she could drive.

Things were tense around the house right now. Jared had told Cooper that their latest attempt at IVF had failed, and they weren’t sure what they were going to do. A pervasive feeling of sadness had overtaken them, so he needed to tread lightly on his frivolous request to borrow Jared’s prized Porsche—the first splurge Jared had made after he started making money. He was incredibly sentimental about that car.

Cooper’s heart ached for Jared and Lizzie, who were so stupidly in love, it wasn’t even funny. They were also filthy rich thanks to Jared’s astounding success as a stockbroker. They were proof, however, that there were some things money couldn’t buy. After Jared told him what they were going through, Cooper had wondered if he maybe ought to head back to New York to give them some privacy. But both Jared and Lizzie had asked him to stay. They said he was an entertaining distraction that they could use right now. So, he was staying until he wore out his welcome.

He found his brother by the pool, reading The Wall Street Journal and puffing on the once-in-a-while cigar Lizzie allowed him—as long as he smoked it outside. Since Jared’s house had a generator, they weren’t suffering through the blackout the same way much of the rest of the island was, but it was stuffy in the house with the AC running on low.

“Hey, Coop. What’s up?”

Cooper stretched out on the lounge next to Jared. “You’ve been keeping secrets from me, brother.”

Jared looked over at him. “What secrets?”

“Hello? Gigi Gibson is living in your garage apartment?”

“So?”

“I already knew you were older than dirt, but do you honestly have no idea who and what she is?”

“She’s on some show with Mason’s girlfriend, Jordan.”

Cooper laughed. “Some show. It’s only the number one show on TV.”

“Is it?”

“Duh. Honestly, Jared, how can you not know this?”

“And you watch it?”

“Everyone watches it. It’s the funniest fucking thing you’ve ever seen. Two beautiful women who are hilarious together, living their best lives.”

“I’ll have to check it out.”

Cooper rolled his eyes. “If you got your nose out of The Wall Street Journal for ten minutes a day, you might find there’s more to life than growing your fortune.”

“I already knew that, thank you very much. Just because I don’t watch much TV doesn’t mean I don’t have a life.”

“I know you do, but you need to watch their show. It’s awesome.”

“I’ll do that. If you’re a fan of the show, you must’ve heard she and Jordan are filming out here.”

“I did hear something about that, but no one told me she’s living at my brother’s place.”

“I didn’t know you’d care.”

“I care.”

“Did you come out here hoping to run into her?”

“I came to see my brother and sister-in-law and attend my other brother’s wedding,” Cooper said with feigned indignation.

“You must’ve flipped a nut when you found her right here with us,” Jared said, laughing.

“I did! She was in the pool in a white bikini, and I almost swallowed my tongue.”

“I have to admit I love the idea of a woman like Gigi looking down her nose at you.”

“She’s so far out of my league as to be laughable.”

“No, she isn’t. She’s a nice person. Lizzie and I like her a lot.”

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