Title: La Vie en Rose by Lydia Michaels
Life in Pink
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 380 pages
Emma Sanders has always dreamt of being a bride, wearing fancy gowns, pretty pearls, and—of course—falling madly in love. Then life happened. Finding herself one fiancé short of her happily ever after, she leaves the fairytales behind. Some days are simply too perilous for pink gowns and pearls.
Riley Lockhart is the sort of man who can make a woman lower her gaze with only a smile. That he doesn’t realize his charm makes him all the more enchanting. Determined to save Emma the pain of her breakup, he steps in as a friend, but soon finds himself wanting more.
She was just a girl, but she somehow winds up being the strongest woman he’s ever known. Losing her is not an option and when life can’t be tied neatly in a pretty little bow, he holds tight to all that he loves most in this world—his Emma. His hero.
Sometimes the greatest scars are worn on the inside.
Add to Goodreads.
Riley’s lips twitched as soft ebony curls ghosted over his bare stomach, lower and lower, tickling his hips and teasing that tight strip of flesh just below his bellybutton. A deep, satisfied growl rumbled in his chest like distant thunder as anticipation teetered on impatience—but it was a good, burning sort of anticipation. Holy fuck, was it good. Stretching, he gave Curls the access she needed and—
“So I’m thinking we’re going to settle on coral with deep navy blue accents for the main theme. That should compliment the nautical look Becket wants.”
Why was his roommate’s voice in his dream?
Shaking off the distraction, his palm lowered, fingers gently knotting in the satin ringlets to better direct the ebony waves going down on him. His body hardened as soft kisses teased his happy trail and she got to work. Yes…
Rolling his shoulders, he stretched his hips and drew in a slow breath. Heaven. The first true sensation of tongue-to-tip had his toes pointing as the heat of her pouty lips—
“Whatever you want, toots. It’s your day.”
Oh God, no! What the hell was his sister doing in his dream? Get out, Rarity! Get out!
The ethereal weight of the dark haired woman’s touch faded. No, no, no!
There was a soft girlie sigh. “I can’t believe it’s actually happening. I’m going to be Mrs. Becket Grayson.”
Emma, his roommate, was definitely there too. Damn it! They were ruining everything. This was his time. Not their time. Dream blowjob time! The anticipation of sin and sex paled, as Emma’s voice carried on about champagne toasts and processionals. His roommate’s incessant wedding planning was officially intruding on everything.
The loft used to be a sanctuary. The day Emma got engaged their living situation took a turn for the worse as girlie crap slowly corroded every square inch of his life—even his fantasies. Passing out on the couch was a dangerous gamble, leaving him widely susceptible to wedding babble bullshit when he could’ve been enjoying some nice fantasy head.
“Will I be wearing coral or navy?” his sister asked then mumbled, “Say navy. Say navy.”
Emma did that tiny chirp she claimed was a laugh. “You can wear navy, but there’s nothing wrong with coral.”
“You know how I feel about pink,” Rarity reminded.
“Coral’s not pink.”
“It’s in the family.”
“Fine. You’ll wear navy, but you’re wearing a dress.”
Rarity groaned with resignation. She’d always be the brother he never had. “Fine, but Lexi’s wearing a tux.”
“Look at these carnation balls I found in this issue of I Do. My florist can make them in the coral.”
It was as if he were invisible. They just kept yapping and yapping.
“They look pink to me,” Rarity said.
He growled obnoxiously. “That’s it! Do you two mind? I’m trying to sleep!” And I lost fantasy girl!
A throw pillow smacked him in the face. “Then don’t use the couch as your bed, dumbass. It’s noon. Go to your own room if you want quiet,” his sister snapped.
“Sorry, Riley. We’ll be more quiet,” Emma apologized then whispered, “We could use navy ribbons to hang the balls off the white chairs we’re renting for the ceremony.”
Their loft was spacious. Did they have to stage these womanly talks right on top of him? They could have at least moved to the kitchen ten feet away—or better yet, parked this prenuptial symposium all the way down the hall in Emma’s freaking room.
The wedding plans carried on ceaselessly, as they had since Becket proposed to Emma six months ago, and Riley once again considered how much happier he’d be renting his own place. Sharing a loft with two girls, one being his sister, hadn’t been a bad setup until that damn ring and all those girlie magazines came along. Before the dawn of the bridal apocalypse everything was kosher.
They lived in the hipster section on the posh Upper West Side of New York. He liked his home, loved the industrial feel and the exposed brick walls. The raw space, exposed ductwork and battered moldings were just aged enough to qualify as vintage. Splitting the rent three ways afforded them some square footage, but things were getting a little cramped lately, with Emma’s new obsessions.
His sister, Rarity, exhibited a tolerance for girlie crap that surprised him. Rarity was seriously chill, like a pretty guy that peed sitting down. She didn’t cry or squeal like a valley girl or do that needy drama shit girls tended to do. She was easily the coolest chick he’d ever met. And being that she was a lesbian, they had plenty of shared interests.
Never giving a damn about clothes or purses, Rarity appreciated the finer things in life, like good beer, decent music, a nice set of tits, and red meat. Her unarguable beauty and confidence pulled men in from miles away. And for years he enjoyed watching his little sister turn every last one down. She was his best friend and Emma was hers.
The only girlie thing Rarity couldn’t live without, apparently, was Emma.
Rarity was uniquely striking, with dark shorn hair and high arched brows, but it was her dry wit and endless sarcasm that could make any man second-guess his worth—a neat parlor trick to watch. Emma, on the other hand, was compassionate with soft blonde curls, dimpled cheeks, and eyes that pathologically betrayed her, eyes too full of innocence to hide her inexperience.
Emma was the quiet, sweet type that never got in the way. But lately she’d really cranked up the fem-meter and was driving him insane—which made him a horrible person, because he was going to shoot her if she didn’t shut the hell up.
All this wedding talk had to be getting to his sister. Riley was ready to duct tape Emma’s mouth shut. How in depth could a discussion about linen be? The texture, the hues in natural light versus candlelight, the thread count—bullshit conversations like that went on for days. He was amazed Rarity hadn’t reached her limit and freaked yet.
“I can’t wait until my dress gets here!” Emma announced, clapping like an excited child. “I’m dying to try it on.”
Riley groaned. It was as though no one could see him at all. Screwing his eyes shut and jamming a pillow over his ear did nothing to drown out her voice. So much for dream sex.
“You already tried it on,” Rarity said.
“That was in the store. Once I get it to the loft, I’ll be able to really appreciate it. Then, when you get your dress, we can try them on together. It’ll be so much fun!”
“Sounds mind-blowing.” Rarity’s sarcasm was so expected it didn’t phase Emma.
The doorbell buzzed and Emma screeched—literally screeched. “It’s here!” The chair skidded against the hardwood floors as she catapulted out of her seat.
Yeah, he wasn’t going back to sleep.
Groaning, he twisted and cracked open his lids as she sprinted down the hall toward the main entrance. Craning his neck in the direction of the chair, he peeked at Rarity, who wore a disinterested expression as she paged through a wedding magazine.
“There’s something wrong with her,” he grumbled.
“Yup,” she agreed.
“This isn’t going to stop until she gets married, is it?”
“When’s the wedding again?”
“We have nine more months of this and the closer we get the worse she’s going to be.”
Shifting, he sat up and frowned at his sister. “You’re surprisingly calm.”
“She’s my closest friend and she really wants me to be a part of this. I can do the maid of honor thing as long as she doesn’t expect me to throw her some hideously pink party where girls drink cosmos and act like prissy hyenas, while being the pole for some male stripper to rub his scabies all over.”
She sighed and turned the page. “Plus, I smoked a fat joint the second she pulled out the wedding binder. You could probably cut my leg off right now and I wouldn’t put up much of a fight.”
“Nice.” He stared at the front door waiting for Emma to come racing inside at any second carrying the legendary dress. “She’s not gonna walk around in a wedding dress for the next nine months, is she?”
Rarity shut the magazine and tossed it on the table. “Don’t let her hear you call it a dress. It’s a gown. I’ve been corrected twice. And I have no idea. I wasn’t born with the bride gene. None of this shit makes sense to me.”
At least he wasn’t alone. Rubbing a hand over his jaw he yawned. “You’re bringing Lexi to the wedding?”
“You realize Mom and Dad will probably be invited.”
“They won’t go,” Rarity said, matter-of-factly.
“What makes you so sure?”
It shouldn’t matter anyway. His sister was twenty-four years old. She and Lexi had been a couple for over a year. It was absurd to hide that she was gay from their parents. Who cared what they thought?
“It’s the Devonshire’s fortieth wedding anniversary. They’ll pick that over Emma’s wedding. You know how they feel about her.”
He grunted. His parents—mostly his mother—had always been weird about Emma. Though he and Rarity were nothing like the people that spawned them, they were still blood, so his and Rarity’s liberal attitudes were often overlooked, but that didn’t mean their parents would abide the same socialist standards from others.
Their parents were proud black card members of the upper crust society that summered in the Hamptons, went yachting on the weekends, and dined on ridiculously hard to pronounce small foods like Foie Gras.
Riley was once grounded and accused of being a ‘recalcitrant activist’ because his friend Jake came over in a PETA T-shirt and asked if he wanted to play Frisbee. To his mother’s way of thinking, that was a gross and barbaric display of uncouth trash.
He and Rarity were generationally wealthy trust fund babies. No matter how much they survived off their independently earned incomes, Mumsy and Daddy would always be there to bail them out if needed. It was their shared goal in life to never need their parents in such a way.
Their wealth should be comforting, but it felt more like a noose around Riley’s non-conformist neck. The entire white pants, polo-playing, fracking-investing group of peers was repellent to him.
Emma didn’t have a house in the Hamptons or an au pair as a child. She had parents that worked nine to five and wore—gasp—denim. Her association with the Lockhart’s was the result of her grandmother’s trust fund, which included scholarships to the same schools he and Rarity attended.
Once, while walking the topiary garden with his mother as she sipped a crushed Valium cocktail, she referred to Emma as ‘that new money filth having a bad influence on Rarity’. It was clear then that his mother would never approve of Emma, which quite possibly could have permanently cemented the girl into Rarity’s life.
Emma’s fiancé, Becket Grayson, wasn’t a guy he or Rarity would voluntarily hang out with, but he made Emma happy. The Graysons were paying for the wedding, of course, so it was nice she was finally getting a fantasy she never expected. That was why they let her carry on about linens and bows and whatever the hell a nosegay was. Because she was nice.
“What’s wrong?” Rarity’s voice broke the comfortable silence.
Riley glanced at the door and scowled. Emma stood, trembling. Big brown eyes, rimmed in red, shimmered under a sheet of unshed tears, as she stared at them.
“Did they send you the wrong dress?” he asked stupidly, then corrected, “Gown.”
He never saw her upset. It was filling him with all sorts of uncomfortable emotions, feelings he didn’t know the names of. He wanted her to stop being upset that instant so he could have his manly emotions back. Dear God, it was like staring at a helpless basket of kittens floating down the river.
“Emma, say something,” Rarity insisted.
“It wasn’t the delivery from the bridal boutique. It—” A stuttering breath intersected her words. “It was Becket.” The heel of her palm swatted away the tears as they quickly fell. “We—oh God—we broke up.”
This was bad. How long was an appropriate length of time before someone could say something in situations like this? And why hadn’t he gone to his own room when he had the chance? Now he was stuck there, smack dab in the awkward—
“He what?” Rarity snapped.
Emma blinked, sending big crocodile drops unchecked down her round cheeks. “We aren’t getting married,” she croaked. “We’re through.” She spoke as though she was still convincing herself.
“What do you mean, you’re through? You just ordered ugly invitations with stupid anchors on them. Becket insisted on the anchors!”
Her head crooked as she blinked those big innocent eyes at his sister. “You thought my invitations were ugly?”
“Who cares what I thought? What happened?”
Shuffling to the living room without shutting the door, she delicately sat on the edge of the overstuffed chair. The picture of the carnation ball was still in her hand, drawing his attention to her enormous engagement ring as it winked in the sunlight.
“He was supposed to be in class,” she whispered.
Rarity scooted to the edge of the chair and removed the crumpled magazine page from her grip. “Toots, look at me. What happened?” she asked again, slowly.
Drawing in a shaky breath, Emma shook her head. “He said he couldn’t marry me. He said he’s…in love with someone else.”
Emma sniffled. “Her name’s Goldie.”
Rarity drew back and made a face like she tasted vomit. “Goldie? What is she, a retriever? Who the hell has a name like Goldie?”
“Good question, Rarity,” he chimed in. Goldie Hawn’s hot. Don’t mention that now.
His sister’s evil stare snapped to him. “Shut up, dick.”
Yeah, he’d better stay out of this. Figuring now was a good time to escape, he gripped the arm of the couch and—
“How could he do this to me? I’m so humiliated!” Emma burst into tears again.
Riley dropped his head to the back of the couch and shut his eyes. This was going to take a while.
Award winning and bestselling author, Lydia Michaels, writes all forms of hot romance. She presses the bounds of love and surprises readers just when they assume they have her stories figured out. From Amish vampyres, to wild Irishmen, to broken heroes, and heroines no man can match, Lydia takes readers on an emotional journey of the heart, mind, and soul with every story she pens. Her books are intellectual, erotic, haunting, always centered on love.