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Side Hustle (Dawson Family #3)
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When Scarlet Cooper takes a new job as a nanny, she assumes she’s going to work for the rich couple who hired her. But instead of pulling up to their million-dollar estate, she finds herself on the front porch of a humble farmhouse, looking into the eyes of dark and brooding single dad, Weston Dawson.
It’s bad enough that Weston doesn’t have a fortune to charm out of him, but he’s also a cop. After marrying his high school sweetheart only to have her up and leave weeks after their baby was born, Weston has sworn off women for life. All that matters now is taking care of his son, Jackson.
If anyone can break down the tough exterior of the former soldier, it’s Scarlet. But just when she’s close to getting exactly what she wants, she’s faced with a whole new challenge, which just might be the biggest con she’s ever pulled: pretending she doesn’t love him.
Side Hustle is a standalone single dad romance and is the third book in the Dawson Family series.
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For as long as I can remember, there’s been an emptiness inside of me. The more I try to ignore it, the deeper it sets into my bones, seeping down, deep down, until it becomes part of me. It’s easy to blame the emptiness on my shitty upbringing. Having to give up my dreams of a future to take care of my brother and sister. Growing up with an addict for a mother and being the one who found her cold, stiff body after an overdose.
But I felt it before then, and sometimes I wonder if the emptiness isn’t empty at all. Maybe it’s darkness, and it’s always been a part of me. And when you have darkness inside of you, you have two choices: hate yourself for it or embrace it.
I chose the latter.
The bathroom door closes with a heavy thud, and I step up to the mirror, pulling out cherry red lipstick from my purse. I carefully apply it, fluff my hair, and stare at my reflection avoiding the tiny bit of judgment my moral compass is giving me. That thing’s been broken for years anyway.
I close my eyes and think of homeless puppies, conjuring up images from those heartbreaking commercials I usually fast-forward through. It doesn’t take much to make myself cry fake tears. If my cards had been dealt a different way, I’d be one hell of an actress.
Fake crying? No problem.
Real crying? I haven’t done in years. Crying means feeling, and feeling isn’t a luxury I can afford. My life is such a mess that if I stopped and looked at it—really looked at it—I’d be a blubbering fool.
Tears well in my eyes and I let a few fall, smearing my mascara, before heading back out to the bar. It’s a little after noon on a Tuesday, and the bar just opened up. It’s inside a swanky hotel, and I can afford exactly half a watered-down whiskey here.
Spotting my target, I take a seat at the bar and order a vodka tonic with top-shelf liquor. I’m getting cocky, perhaps, but I didn’t wear this uncomfortable-as-fuck pushup bra for nothing today.
I slowly sip my drink, crossing my legs and leaning back on the bar stool. I squeeze my eyes shut and more tears roll down my cheeks. Setting the glass down, I angrily wipe them away, looking down at my phone and shaking my head.
“Excuse me, miss,” the man in the blue Armani suit says, striding over. He extends a designer monogrammed handkerchief, flashing his Rolex at the same time. “But I have to ask who made a pretty thing like yourself cry?”
I’m not a thing, asshole. I’m a human-fucking-being. “Thank you,” I sniffle, taking the handkerchief. I blot up my tears and turn to him, doe-eyed. “My boyfriend is here on business and I thought I’d surprise him. But when I got to the room…he wasn’t alone.” I turn away, waterworks in full force. I wish I could give myself an Emmy.
“He’s a damn fool,” Blue Suit says, taking a seat next to me. I can feel him eye-fucking me. “You’re exquisite.”
I shake my head. “Tell him that.” I pick up my drink and down it. “I just want to forget him.”
Blue Suit signals the bartender and orders us two martinis. “Here’s to forgetting,” he says, sliding the drink in front of me. I angle my body toward his and reach out, putting my hand on his bicep.
“Thank you,” I say slowly, giving his arm a little squeeze. Blue Suit narrows his eyes and grins.
“Drink,” he orders, eyes dropping to my cleavage. I know his type, and I can’t fucking stand them. Relatively young for making so much money, they usually hail from trust-fund families to begin with. I bet Blue Suit posts selfies with his Lamborghini at least twice a week on Instagram and has to constantly remind people of how much pussy he gets.
Overly full of himself, he thinks wearing that fitted suit makes him the living embodiment of Christian Grey. Sorry, buddy. I’m not going Fifty Shades on your cock today.
“I hardly ever drink,” I say, making my voice a little breathy after I take a big swig. “I’m such a lightweight.”
His thin lips pull into a grin again, and I wish I could take the toothpick from my drink and stab it into his dick. I’ll be doing all women a service from this snake in a suit.
“Well, sweet thing,” he starts, leaning in and brushing my blonde hair over my shoulder. “That’ll work in both our favors.”
I giggle, doing an impressive job of hiding my cringing on the inside. I sip at my drink again, purposely spilling it. A little stream of alcohol runs down my chest, and I make a show of wiping at my breasts.
Like a hungry dog, Blue Suit has sunk his teeth into me, but it’s only a matter of time before I walk out of here as Best of Show.