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Triple Dare (Sterling Shore #7)
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Who is Corbin Sterling to me? That’s what people always want to know. He was my first friend. He was the love of my life. And he was my only heartbreak. The problem is that I love the big jerk, and I’ve refused to give up our friendship, even if it does mean it’ll eventually ruin me. So, to answer the question… Corbin Fucking Sterling is the Bane of my existence; that’s what he is.
People tell you to learn from your mistakes, but the problem isn’t learning from them; it’s undoing them. I wish I could go back and undo a lot of shit. Maybe then I wouldn’t feel tortured every time Ruby calls me her “best friend.”
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The bell chimes over the entryway, and reflexively my eyes move up to see who has just walked in. I immediately regret having reflexes.
The second I see him, my body has all the usual reactions. My heart flutters, my body tenses, my mouth waters, and… oh yeah… I get a slight fever. It’s like I revert back to feeling like an unsure teenage girl instead a confident woman. Sad, huh?
But it happens every time I see him.
Corbin Fucking Sterling.
His long, jean-clad legs slowly reduce the distance between us, as he saunters toward me with a walk that has everyone in the shop turning to take notice. Women immediately start drooling, forgetting there’s a permanent stretch of ink getting tattooed on their bodies when they try to twist around to get a better view.
I pause the tattoo I’m working on, considering I’m hella distracted. The woman in my chair turns around, and a surprised breath leaves her lips, making me envious since my breath is trapped in my throat.
Corbin smirks, reveling in the attention he always garners. His T-shirt is stretched across his broad shoulders and expansive chest. His tall body is sculpted like a work of sexy art, and he knows it.
He’s the only guy with longer hair that I’ve ever been attracted to. The dark, soft, straight, silk-like strands hang almost to his shoulders, and I try not to think back to the times my fingers have been tangled in that hair.
His amber eyes stay trained on me, determination pooling in their depths. Those lips that I know too well are still fixed in that cocky smirk, and a shaky breath finally expels from my lungs before I suffocate.
He has that much power over me even after all these years. Moving back to Sterling Shore might have been the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. I thought I could handle it, but now… I’m not so sure.
Swallowing against the knot in my throat, I force my eyes away, returning them to the task at hand. I look down and finish buzzing the final touches on the woman’s tattoo, making the small wings on her hip come to life.
“I’m Sarah,” the woman in the chair tells Corbin, whose shadow has engulfed me. I refuse to look at him, knowing he’s hovering over me now. If I had to guess, I’d put money on the fact he’s still wearing that trademark smirk of his.
“Corbin,” he says absently, sounding amused as I continue to pretend as though he doesn’t exist.
I glance up as the woman’s mouth goes slack, her wheels turning as she places his face.
“Sterling?” she shrieks. “You’re Corbin Sterling?”
In Sterling Shore, all Sterlings are royalty. As if they need anything else to make them more desirable.
Stupid Corbin. Stupid city. Stupid woman who won’t sit still.
“I’m almost done,” I tell her, trying not to let my irritation show. “Just a few more seconds.”
She freezes, but I know she’s completely unaware of what I’m doing. Without looking, I know she’s gawking at Corbin, just like every other woman in here. And the men are probably looking, too.
“Are… um… you… um…” Sarah seems to be unable to form a full sentence. I know her pain. I’ve just trained my mouth to work around him—when I’m not ignoring the dickhead.
“I’m here to see Ruby,” he tells her, a smile in his voice.
He’s standing too close, and I can smell his spicy mix of cologne that has me on the verge of moaning and wishing I could pull him close just to inhale him deeper.
“You?” Sarah asks, looking down at me as though she’s horrified of such a thought.
Sure, I don’t look like a Sterling Barbie doll. Never have. It’s one of the reasons I was happy to leave this town. But this place has always been home despite its shallow ways.
“I’m Ruby,” I tell her, rolling my eyes when her nose crinkles.
This is my shop, or doesn’t she know that? I’ll gladly kick her out if she tries to insult me.
She looks like the perfect girl for a model shoot, and I just added a dainty set of happy wings on her hip to add to her pretty features. Her platinum blonde hair is a stark contrast to my darker, almost black hair. Her perfectly smooth tan is much darker than my lighter one that is full of random tan lines.
She’s built like a playboy centerfold with a bursting chest, and I don’t bother glancing down at my far less impressive bra size. Even though her eyes immediately go there, probably wondering if I fill out a C cup, or if I’m still in a B. I make a C work, dammit.
“Are you two together?” Sarah asks, offending me with the disbelief in her tone.
Her eyes roam down my inked arms, taking in the colorful pops of various blue flowers on one arm and red roses on the other, even though she doesn’t ask what they mean. Her eyes drift to the neckline of my tank top, moving over the vine that just touches the base of my neck from my shoulder.