Even after years of trauma therapy, Peyton still believes she’s broken. She has little desire to date or show off her natural beauty, content simply to hang out with her best friends and run her pie shop in New Orleans. But her world turns upside-down when a handsome architect and self-confessed player shows up in her shop and thinks she’s perfect, much more than the usual hook-up. While Peyton does her best to resist his charms, believing she could never be enough for him, she can’t deny the obvious heat between them. With Reed determined to have her, Peyton must decide whether to continue to hide behind her apron and baggy clothes or take a chance and share her scars with Reed, a man with a playboy reputation and scars of his own -- a dark past he can’t possibly share with Peyton, not after learning the horrors she’s endured. But if they can find a way to trust each other, and themselves, they just might be able to heal, to save each other, to live perfectly broken together
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“Sometimes it’s better to push people away, so you don’t hurt them,” Peyton said, “and they don’t hurt you.”
Peyton shook her head. “I’m never going to be whole again.”
“That’s bullshit, too. I won’t have talk like that, Miss Peyton. I just won’t have it.” Dr. Lorraine cocked her head to the side. “It’s time for a change in direction -- a serious change of direction. This is what we are going to do. You made a lot of progress with Reed – lots of good oral and other stuff. But now you’ve cut him off, and I see you backsliding. I don’t like to see it. I won’t allow it.” She stroked her chin then cracked her knuckles in preparation for some great declaration. “I’m prescribing a little retail therapy.”
“What?” Peyton cried.
“Yes, that’s what I’m prescribing. You get that friend of yours, Quinn, and hit the shops – Canal Place, Magazine Street, St. Charles Avenue, wherever,” Dr. Lorraine ordered, her whole body bouncing. “I don’t want to see you in those sad, baggy ass clothes anymore. Just looking at them, they mess with my head, and they screw up my whole day. You ever think about how they make me feel?”
“No,” Peyton said with a laugh.
“Makes me sad. I hate them. So I want new shoes, clothes, athletic wear, undergarments! Everything new. Got it?”
“How is this therapy?”
“Honey, you’re hiding again. You’ve flipped your sex switch back to off, and I’m not about to let it hibernate in some frozen tundra again for years. We’ve worked too damn hard. You need to get in touch with your sexuality without a man helping you do it. You have to do it. And clothes are the perfect place to start.”
Peyton shrugged. “I don’t feel like it.”
“You don’t feel like it? Tough shit! I didn’t feel like getting my pap smear last week, but I did.”
Peyton smiled. “It just seems like a waste of time and money.”
“Well, if you don’t want to do it through clothes, I can prescribe something else. Maybe a pole dancing class?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Or daily masturbation?”
Peyton rolled her eyes. “Fine, I’ll get the clothes.”
“Good,” Dr. Lorraine said, writing in Peyton’s chart, as if filling out a prescription to take to the drugstore. “Among other things, I want you to get some power panties.”
“Power panties?” Has she been talking to Bret?
“Sexy underwear,” Dr. Lorraine said, still writing. “They can make a woman feel very powerful.” She put down her pen and looked at Peyton. “When a man wants to be taken seriously, he usually wears a red tie. Ever notice that in presidential debates? Lots of red ties. Red is the color of power.” Dr. Lorraine waved her hand and snapped her fingers. “So get yourself some red panties, girl! Take back your power! Do it for yourself!” She handed Peyton her prescription.
“I didn’t realize my power was in my underwear.”
A rush of vanilla hit him as a breeze blew through the air. He took off his jacket and slid it around Peyton’s shoulders, his fingers grazing her neck when he moved her hair to the side. Her eyes locked on his, and he pulled on the jacket collar to bring Peyton close to him. He took his time, teasing her, his warm breath just barely brushing her lips. Her hands slid up the muscles of his back, pulling his lips even closer to hers, hoping he’d kiss her, ready to crawl up his body, begging, if he didn’t.
Reed gave a sexy smile, eyeing her mouth, and took a step back. Peyton felt the muscles between her legs clench in disappointment, but she wasn’t about to show it, straightening her spine. “I thought you said our date would be ‘pretty damn hot’?”
Reed laughed. He hadn’t laughed like this with a woman before. She was just so damn funny and cute, standing before him wearing his jacket. He didn’t mind her wearing oversized clothing if it was his. “Come here,” he said and pulled her back to him
Reed woke up in a sweat, breathing heavily, as if from a bad dream. But it hadn’t been bad at all. He’d been dancing with Peyton in Audubon Park, feeling her soft skin, tasting her lips, smelling the vanilla. He cursed the dream was over then looked outside, the moon shining brightly through his bedroom window. He thought about calling her and reached for his phone. He saw it was the middle of the night, so any call would have to wait.
Then he decided he wasn’t going to call her at all. He’d be seeing her tonight at the engagement party -- for the first time in 36 days. He flipped through the photos of her on his phone, landing on the one he loved the most, her resting her head on his chest, a small smile on her pink lips. He’d give anything to go back to that moment, to have her in his arms again. It seemed as if Griffin had held her more than he ever did. He threw the covers over his head, trying to get back to sleep and desperate to return to his dream.
But thoughts of tonight, thoughts of Peyton, kept him awake. Over several weeks, he’d tried to let her go but just couldn’t. Despite all the boxing, all the exercise, trying to bury himself in work, he wasn’t strong enough. He’d fallen in love – the first time ever – and now couldn’t recover. She’d been his soft spot, and he’d hit concrete without her, shattering his heart. He had no idea if she was as tortured, conflicted, unsettled as he was, or whether she’d just moved on without a second thought. He hoped she felt like he did. But she sure found a roommate pretty damn quick! His talk with Quinn helped put some things in perspective, but he still didn’t trust Griffin living in Peyton’s house, just a few doors down from her bedroom.
His mind flashed to the possibility that she was bringing some guy tonight. Griffin? And he wasn’t going to ask Bret if he knew whether she was. That would be pathetic and weak. He needed to be calm and strong, though not too strong. He couldn’t just wail on some new guy tonight, not even Griffin -- no matter what he saw, even if her lips, God forbid, touched Griffin’s or some other man’s.
He gripped his pillow tightly then threw the covers off his head, the moonlight hitting him again, shining down an unmistakable truth, one he already knew all too well. He needed Peyton. He needed her to love him.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
About the Author
Prescott Lane is the author of First Position and her new release, Perfectly Broken. She is originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, and graduated from Centenary College with a degree in sociology. She went on to receive her MSW from Tulane University, after which she worked with developmentally delayed and disabled children. She married her college sweetheart, and they currently live in New Orleans with their two children and two crazy dogs. Prescott started writing at the age of five, and sold her first story about a talking turtle to her father for a quarter. She later turned to writing romance novels because there aren't enough happily ever afters in real life.
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