by Rachel K. Burke
Love Bites, the sequel to Rachel K. Burke's Sound Bites (read my blog post), has just been released.
What do you do when you fall in love with your best friend’s boyfriend?
That is the question that twenty-six year-old Justine Sterling has been asking herself ever since the day she met David Whitman, her best friend Renee’s boyfriend. Justine is determined to ignore her growing feelings for the irresistibly charming David, until one night, when she finds herself in the bed of the one person she should stay away from.
When Justine and David’s affair ends in heartbreak, Justine is forced to repair the damaged friendship with her best friend. In doing so, she learns that right and wrong decisions aren’t always black and white, and sometimes you have to follow your heart to see where it leads.
I always know that I’m going to sleep with a guy by the way he looks at me. It’s usually an intense stare, he’s usually Italian, and I usually end up regretting it. That’s just how it goes.
I was less than an hour into our morning meeting at Sphinx when I noticed it. The Stare. I was seated in the conference room with the marketing team for their weekly conference. They met every Monday at 10am to go over marketing strategies for new game releases, and Vincent thought it would be a good idea for me to join the meetings, even though I hadn’t a clue about anything they were discussing. As one of the girls talked about an upcoming convention, I caught eyes with Vincent from across the table. I quickly reverted my gaze back to the girl so he’d think I was paying attention. I wanted to make a good impression. But when I looked back at him a few minutes later, he was still staring at me.
It’s easy to differentiate a professional stare from a sex stare. A professional stare ensures that the employee is comfortable and attentive on his or her first day of work, but seizes once eye contact is met. A sex stare does not. A sex stare is confident, and will maintain eye contact even after the contact is broken, thus intimidating its target and causing he or she to become nervous.
And damn it, it always fucking works.
By the third eye contact connection, I already knew I was going to sleep with him. The stare wasn’t making me uncomfortable. Instead, a familiar nervous-yet-exciting stomachache appeared. I looked down at my outfit, trying to see myself as he did. I was wearing a black fitted sweater, my favorite pair of Bebe jeans, and black stilettos. Undoubtedly the most feminine outfit in our entire mini-gaming world. I twirled my long brown locks between my fingers. I felt his dark Italian eyes on me. I liked it.
My eyes drifted to his left hand. No wedding band. Check. Rolex watch. Silver cufflinks. Double check. Navy collared shirt, tanned skin, slightly gelled hair. Very put-together. I pictured him in an expensive sports car. A Porsche, maybe. Black. I pictured myself in the passenger seat. I wondered if he had a girlfriend.
It suddenly occurred to me that maybe I had been looking in the wrong places. I mean, didn’t a lot of couples meet at work? It was pretty obvious by now that I wasn’t going to find Mr. Maturity at UCLA, nor was I going to find Mr. Monogamous on the Sunset strip. Vincent was older, good-looking, and judging from his appearance and title, did well for himself financially. He was a catch. And based on my appearance, age, and the burning stare from across the conference table, it appeared that the feeling was mutual.
My first few weeks at Sphinx were a joke. I made zero professional contribution whatsoever. Instead, my days went something like this:
10am: Get coffee and bagels for Vincent.
11am: Have coffee and bagels with Vincent in his office. Pretend to talk about work. Talk about anything but work.
12pm: Have lunch with Vincent.
1pm: Pretend I am checking my professional emails. I am an intern. I do not have professional emails.
2pm: Pretend to pay attention to Vincent’s social media tutorial when I am really paying attention to is how close he is standing to me.
3pm: Attend “off-site meeting” (happy hour drinks) with Vincent and “vendors.” Pretend to know what “vendors” are.
Surprisingly, Vincent waited an entire month before asking me out. By then, I was practically panting for it. He, of course, pretended the invitation was to “celebrate” all the hard work I had accomplished during my first month. I knew better. Not only because he stared at me like I was a Krispy Kreme, but because I hadn’t accomplished jack shit in the past four weeks.
The bad news was that he was going to be working from Sphinx’s London office for the next month, so our date was postponed until his return. The good news was that we had already covered everything that you cover on a first date, so I figured I was good to skip the three-date rule and prematurely put out. I knew everything about him that I needed to know. He had grown up in Milano and moved to the United States when he was eleven. He lived in Beverly Hills. He had a ten year-old son whom he mentioned having on the weekends, thus the reason he didn’t go out much. Ah, a divorced dad. I wondered if my parents would disapprove.
I couldn’t wait to tell Renee about my upcoming date. I had been gushing about Vincent since my first day at Sphinx, and I could tell she was relieved that I finally had a love interest, too. Her daily David Whitman anecdotes had grown more than tiresome and I hadn’t even met the guy yet. They were still in the newlywed stage where they mainly just had sex at his place. David lived alone. I understood.
I was bent over the kitchen stove making a grilled cheese when I heard the sound of our front door open.
“He asked me out!” I yelled to Renee, flipping my sandwich onto a plate. I barreled into the living room, but stopped dead in my tracks when I realized she wasn’t alone.
“J,” Renee said cautiously, as if she felt bad catching me off guard. “This,” she gestured behind her, “is David.”
Wow. I was not expecting that. Naturally, I wasn’t expecting David to be standing in my living room, but I also wasn’t expecting to feel the sinking in the pit of my stomach when I met him. Never in my life had I met someone and felt so instantly drawn to them. And he hadn’t even said anything yet. He just grinned at me like we were having a private joke. The only two people in the room. In the universe.
“He asked you out, huh?” David joked. There it was again, that mischievous, one-dimpled grin. His eyes went slightly wild when he smiled, like he was scared, surprised and amused all at the same time. I couldn’t help but smile back.
“He did,” I said, nodding slowly. David loomed behind Renee, at least six feet tall, with dark hair and a hint of a baby face. His lips had twisted into a faint smirk, the amusement of the situation still lingering. But those eyes. Those giant, brown, crazy eyes. They were having sex with me. In my own living room. Behind my best friend who I could no longer see.
“About time,” Renee said, hanging her purse on the wall rack. “Listen, we’re going to sleep here tonight because David has a meeting in Brentwood in the morning. Fill me in tomorrow?” She winced like she felt bad.
“Okay,” I agreed. David followed Renee out of the living room, still smiling back at me. But not with his mouth. With those goddamn eyes. I had never met anyone who could smile without moving their mouth.
I heard the bathroom door close and the sound of the sink running. Before getting settled on the sofa, I realized that I’d left my grilled cheese sandwich in the kitchen. I got up and headed toward the kitchen, and there he was. Leaning casually in the doorway, his right arm propped against the wood. Like he’d been hiding there, waiting for me the whole time.
“So, did you say yes?” he asked, not bothering to move out of my way. He was blocking the doorway. I couldn’t get through. I didn’t care. “To the date, I mean.”
“I did.” I was whispering. I wasn’t sure why. Like we were sharing a secret.
“Lucky guy,” he said in a low voice, slowly looking me up and down. As he turned and disappeared into Renee’s bedroom, his eyes never left mine.
Even if Vincent wasn’t in London, at that moment, he still seemed a million miles away.
Praise for the Book
"Have you ever just connected with a person and had to fight to be with them? Well if you have, this book is for you." ~ Diary of a Book Addict
"Love Bites will have you laughing and shaking your head at what just some people will do and say. [...] Rachel K. Burke does a good job with character development and storytelling. I would recommend reading this book." ~ Summer's Book Blog
"An excellent story of a young woman finding her place in the world. Rachel has had a hard time of late and currently finds herself jobless, homeless, loveless, and not sure where to turn. This beautifully written story is her journey to forgiveness, happiness, and ultimately love. It's a great read and one I recommend." ~ Bette Hansen
"This book will make you take stock of your relationships-with yourself and with others. Each of the characters were built well. I felt like I was experiencing what the characters were going through. This was a great story line, if this situation can possibly make a good story!" ~ Dayreader Reviews
"I enjoyed it from beginning to end and felt every word that I read. I think things worked out the way they should have worked out in the end and I’m glad for it. Really great read, something to keep you company and into someone else’s drama for a while." ~ Cathy
"I recommend it to those who love the New Adult genre and romance too. this book isn't heavy on the sex side of things and is more about finding yourself." ~ Melanie
"This is a book for ladies of all ages who've been there and may have done that. I would be happy to read more stories by Rachel Burke." ~ Rikki
"A cute book about self-discovery and about friendship. This novel explores what being a friend really means and about being loyal to yourself. A good read." ~ Danica Page
"Love Bites had me bouncing through emotions as I rooted for Justine to get it together and get the life of her dreams. I laughed out loud at some of the character exchanges and wanted to throw my Kindle across the room when Justine kept making the same silly mistakes over and over. I couldn’t put this book down." ~ Heather Lawson
About the Author
Rachel discovered she wanted to be a writer at the age of ten, when her love of R. L. Stine murder mystery novels inspired her to start writing her own.
In 2008, Rachel began freelancing for several magazines including Prevention, Jamsbio, and Worcester Magazine.
After graduating from Bridgewater University in 2011 with a B.A. in Communications and Media Studies, Rachel released her first novel, Sound Bites: A Rock & Roll Love Story, which was ranked a 2012 Amazon Kindle Top 100 Bestseller in the Girls & Women genre. Rachel's second novel, Finding Mia, was also ranked a 2013 Amazon Kindle Top 100 Bestseller in the Women's Fiction and Literary Fiction genres. Love Bites, the sequel to Sound Bites, has just been released.
Rachel currently resides in Santa Monica, California.
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