Undeniable, Book 2
Release Date:

Sep 14, 2020



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It’s Work


Nikki Prince

She knows her heart is at risk

Professor Âine Reid has crushed on Darian Tisdale since college. She succumbed to his sexy charms more than once, but when he made it clear he only wanted friends with benefits, she friend-zoned him, no benefits on offer. Now co-workers up for the same tenure track promotion, Âine has more reason than ever to keep Darian at arm’s length. He tempts her like no other, but she values his friendship too much to take another risk with her heart.

Can he prove that he’s changed?

Darian knows he hurt Âine long ago. He wants to prove that he’s now ready for more and to take their friendship to the next, more permanent and sexy level. He thinks she feels the same except when she signs up for a dating site, Darian knows he has his work cut out for him. He’s all in for the challenge except there’s the career making promotion they are both up for.

Can their friendship and sizzling chemistry combust to create a win-win for them both?

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Late Last Summer at the Cabin

“Going to keep acting like the attraction between us doesn’t exist?” Darian had leaned in close and whispered in her ear.

She’d turned to him with a self-satisfied grin on her lips and laughed softly. “Dar, just because they’re fucking, you think it means we have to?”

“Oh … such a sexy, smart mouth, as always.”

“For the hundredth time, I don’t want to fuck you. I won’t fuck you. So, stop fucking asking.”

“You protest way too much, so I’m so not convinced by anything you say.”

“You’re not because then you can ignore what is obvious.”

“What’s obvious is that you want me. I see it in your eyes every time you look at me.”

“Hey, you two!” Keiko said.

“You’re holding up the game. Either kiss or get back to the game.”

She’d heard the others laughing and then Áine had dropped the cards from her hand and stood and looked down at Darian. “Coming?”

“Not yet, but I definitely plan to.”

“Any more bad puns and you won’t be coming at all. Come on, Captain Obvious. Let’s get this over with so you can see it’s a mistake.” He’d stood and took her hand in his and tugged her toward the bedroom to a collective oooh sounding through the living area. Darian glared at them and they’d laughed, and he’d turned and looked at her.

“Are you just doing this because of the others?” Darian had asked as they walked down the darkened hallway.

“I don’t do anything because of peer pressure. You’re right. We have danced around but I’m going to show you why it was a necessary thing.”

Darian had tugged her close pressing her against the wall. “You want me and I want you. What’s wrong with that?”

“There are two things wrong.”

“What are those two things?”

“One, we work together. That will make things awkward if this goes south.”

“I think you’re worried about something that will never happen. Plenty of our colleagues are in some type of relationship. Next excuse?”

“And if we do this you will want more, I’m that addicting. I don’t want more than a casual fuck. You wouldn’t know how to do it with me as your friend.” She’d told him.

“Prove it.”

Just as she’d been about to say something Darian kissed her. She couldn’t push him away and, in fact, she hadn’t wanted to. The thrust of his tongue had invaded her mouth, making her weak in the knees as she wrapped her arms around his neck kissing him back. He’d nipped her bottom lip and pulled back.

“Addicting is right. I’m not dissuaded if that was your idea.”

“I didn’t say we didn’t have chemistry. I just don’t think it’s a smart thing to pursue.”

“Why?” She wanted him; it was written all over her face. Why would she deny them what they wanted?

“Why, because no matter how much we want each other there is a slim line between love and lust. You may think you can stop yourself from falling in love with me, but it isn’t possible.”

She’d leaned up and kissed him hungrily then pressed her hands against his chest and moved away from him heading back to the others. She’d sat back in their spot and had patted the couch, indicating he could still sit with her. She’d been playing roulette that whole time they’d spent at the cabin, that kiss in the hall the catalyst for later that night when she could not dodge anymore. It had been beautiful and more than she could have ever asked for. She’d been reminded that night of the man she’d met in college. Who she would stay up with and talk about Maya Angelou, Shakespeare, and other literary greats.

Chapter One

Áine snapped back from the encounter at the cabin. That damned pact that she’d made with Keiko and Áine was going to bite her in the ass forever. Each of them agreeing to a friend with benefits deal with one of their best male friends. She heard Keiko’s voice in her head most assuredly as if it were that day months ago sitting in Kei’s house with blackberry wine and snacks. “Áine, please you’ve wanted Darian from the moment you met him…” Áine couldn’t argue that fact then or now. She’d wanted him and loved him in a bad way. She just couldn’t see how it would work with them both at the college and his penchant for dating around. That day, she’d acted as if she were confident and that she’d have him eating out of her palm.


She’d never been so unsure of herself and she didn’t want the others to know. She hated to lose control of a situation. She expected it came from the fact that she couldn’t control her mother leaving her and her father. Áine was known for practicality and confidence. When, on the inside, she was terrified that Darian would find her wanting. Sure, they were great friends, but lovers? She was out of her depth and floundering. How could it honestly work with her in love with him and not being able to fully have him?

She’d lied to him, but most of all she’d lied to herself, when she’d said that all she wanted was a casual fuck. That had not been the truth. She’d always wanted more from him even when they were in college. She’d already been more than half in love with him. She’d been on cloud nine after that and finally tried to get used to the idea that she could do this with him. If he wanted a friend with benefits, she could be that.

Darian. The man, she could still feel him as he touched, kissed, and moved within her when she closed her eyes. She could feel the beating of his heart in cadence with her own. The one-night stand had been everything she’d dreamed of and quite possibly more. Their friendship needed to return to how it had been before their night at the cabin.

She closed her eyes as the image of seeing him on his doorstep when they’d returned from the cabin, and then not a day later he was with a brunette and him leaning in for a kiss or so it had seemed. She hadn’t been able to watch them and had driven quickly past with her eyes averted and focused on the road ahead. It was then she’d decided that no matter how good he felt to her he wasn’t for her. Part of her wanted to turn around the car and ask him who the woman was to him. The other part of her was like she would not allow herself to give a damn. She didn’t need a man who couldn’t give up his playboy ways. Seeing that he couldn’t be a one-woman man was the entire reason she’d been avoiding him in that way. Why set herself up to get hurt?

Was it too late to turn around and go home?

Áine wasn’t sure how she was going to be able to sit through the engagement party for Keiko and Ashton knowing that Darian would be there. She leaned into her car and pulled out the engagement gift she’d bought for her two best friends and tried to work on her poker face. The gift was wrapped in silver paper and had a huge purple bow on it. Kei’s colors. Ashton wanted whatever Keiko wanted and that was cute to Áine. Today was supposed to be a happy day and she wouldn’t ruin that by chickening out and heading back home like she really wanted to. As a bridesmaid, she had a duty to her friend to be there. Besides the fact that as a friend it was more than just a duty. It was only Darian, after all. She could ignore the irresistible attraction for one day couldn’t she?

She needed someone who wanted the white picket fence she’d wanted since she was a little girl. Sliding her eyes open, she took a deep breath and centered herself. Today was about Keiko and Ashton. Darian was a friend who would stay just that, a friend. Albeit he was a friend who’d received benefits that most didn’t give their friends. She shook her head wryly and gripped the present a little tighter. Áine pasted a smile on her face as she approached the door and it opened with Emmerson Collins on the other side of it. Emmerson, the other part of her bestie friendship with Keiko and the boys, as they liked to call them, stood at the door of the bar with her lips turned up in a smile.

“Hey, chick!”

“Hey, you.” Áine moved close and she was pulled into a hug.

There was nothing like having good friends like Emmerson and Keiko. They were the two most important people in her life aside from her father. No matter what they had her back. Áine hugged Emmerson back, holding on for a few extra moments before letting her go. Emmerson looked into her eyes and was about to say something. Áine knew it would be something she didn’t want to answer so she spoke quickly.

“How are we on time?”

“Keiko and Ashton will be here in about an hour and thirty minutes and the other guests are due to arrive in about thirty minutes. Darian and Royce have been a great help with the decorations that I couldn’t reach.”

“Sorry I couldn’t get here sooner, I had to give an exam to a student who’d been out ill.”

“Girl, don’t apologize. Like I said, the boys helped and you’re here now. Perfect timing and this party is going to go off without a hitch as they say.”

As she was led inside, all Áine could do was pray that Emmerson was right. Áine was being silly; Darian wouldn’t do anything that would interrupt Keiko’s and Ashton’s day.

“I’m glad they could help. Did the cake I ordered arrive?” Áine queried as she set her gift down on the table next to the far end of the bar decorated with a dark purple tablecloth. There were already gifts on the table in various shapes and sizes that friends had dropped off early. Emmerson insisted that a table to showcase the gifts would be best and the bar would be used to set the food out.

“Yep and it’s really gorgeous. Kei and Ash will love it. I have it in the large fridge in the back. I will have it brought out in a few.”

“Well, it was ordered to Kei’s specifications, so I hope she loves it.” Áine chuckled; her friend’s infectious joy bringing a calm to her spirit. This was her circle of friends; Darian was in that circle and she was just going to have to make sure they stayed within the realm of friendship.

“Yeah, well, you know our Keiko, always right down to the letter of the law in what she wants,” Emmerson teased.

“Don’t I know it,” Áine said and then looked over her shoulder as she heard the large door open. It was Royce entering with what looked like a large box of decorations.

“Hey, Royce!” Áine said with a smile.

“Heya, Áine. I’d hug you, but I have all this food you ordered from Busbee’s.”

Busbee’s was a favorite deli that Keiko liked to frequent, so Áine and Emmerson had made sure that they’d ordered cold cuts, cheese trays, fruit bowls, along with the tuna pinwheels that Keiko loved so much.

“Thanks, Royce,” Emmerson interjected. “Set them on the bar please.” Emmerson moved over to bar and pointed to where she wanted him to place the box.

Royce gave a loud chuckle. “Damn, you’re bossy. I think I know where the bar is.”

Emmerson wrinkled her nose and gave a shrug. “You love it.”

He laughed again. “Maybe.” Royce set the box on the table.

Áine stared at the two of them and thought them such a handsome couple. The friends with benefits pact seemed to have worked for them.

“Is this all the food?” Emmerson questioned.

“Dar’s bringing the rest of it. He was right behind me.”

“You two found everything right?” Áine said, trying to ignore the clench of her heart as Darian was mentioned.

“Oh, my freaking God, you two! Yes, we got it all. Now settle down and let’s get this all done,” Royce said as he crossed his arms.

“Yes, lets.” Darian’s deep voice came from the doorway as he brought in another box, which Áine assumed held the other food.

“Hey, man!” Royce said. “Thought you’d fallen out somewhere.”

“Naw … not even. Just had a call I needed to take.”

Áine sighed. No doubt one of his women, she thought to herself. She hated that she got upset over something that wasn’t her right to be upset about.

“Hey, Dar. Thanks. Just set the box next to the other one on the bar, please.”

“Gotcha.” Darian moved forward and sat the box next to the other.

“Áine, can you please help Darian get the food all set up on the bar?” Emmerson asked.

Áine looked at Darian and all she could see was their bodies in rumpled sheets at the cabin. Her ears filled with past sounds of their moans and groans. Suddenly she was hot.

Áine looked over at Emmerson and nodded. “Of course.” She could do this.

Squaring her shoulders, she walked over to where the boxes were and began removing trays of food.

“No hello for me?” Darian whispered.

“Oh, um … yes … hey.” Damn. That hey sounded way too breathy. “Sorry, my mind was somewhere else.”

“Anything in particular?”

By the sound of his voice, Áine could guess he knew what his presence cost her. She turned her head to look at him and a small gasp escaped her as she hadn’t realized how close he was to her.

“I love it when you make sounds like that.”

“Darian, we have stuff to do and flirting with me isn’t one of them.”

“It could be,” Darian said.

“But it’s not going to be,” she stated firmly. “Now help me get all the food on the bar so that Czar Em is satisfied.” She tried to make light of the situation.

He was after all a friend. It wasn’t his fault she’d wanted more than he had in him to give.

“But it has been.”

“Right, operative word being has.” She made sure she emphasized the word has to get her point across. “Come on, Dar, help me. We don’t have long before Kei and Ash are here.” Áine began taking out the food from one of the boxes, sure Darian would follow her lead, and she hoped in doing so the subject of “them” would be officially closed.

“You’re right of course.” Darian began to take things out of the other box and helped her get them displayed for ease of access on the bar. Áine almost gave an audible sigh of relief but managed to stop herself from doing so. All she had to do was get through next few hours so Keiko and Ashton had the best engagement party ever. She could do it, no matter that Darian made her legs tremble and her heart palpitate like crazy. He was all she’d thought of since that time at the cabin. But if she were going to be truthful. She’d been in love with him since they’d all been in college. She would have to keep those times close to her heart and in her memories because she would not allow herself to get hurt by Darian or any other man.

As she and Darian got things set up and worked comfortably together, for which she was thankful, her thoughts drifted to her mother. There was so much she used to want to ask her but as she’d gotten older she’d made her peace with the woman who’d thought it okay to walk out on a husband and a daughter. She supposed she’d had her reasons. It had gotten a little easier each year she’d gotten older.

She had to wonder if the reason she was so god-awful at dating was that she was scared to commit. Maybe she was like her mother in more ways than she realized. She acknowledged her thought process was a bit fucked up; however, in the long run, she’d prove she wasn’t her mother and that she could find the right man to stick with. Darian was a great man; he just wasn’t the man for her. So, the dream of having anything beyond sex would have to be that, a dream.

However, the white picket fence would just have to be a reality she had with someone else.

End of Excerpt

It’s Work is available in the following formats:

ISBN: 978-1-949068-40-5

September 14, 2020


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