A former teen heartthrob turned Zaddy.
HeartThrob is on sale for 99 cents for the ebook and whisper synced in time for you to get ready for the HeartBreaker audio release!
He was just another dad at my daughter’s school.
Another very hot, former teen heartthrob dad.
One I couldn’t get involved with.
Lennox Reign was the hottest teen star over fifteen years ago. Now, he’s staring me daggers across the principal’s office.
Not my fault my daughter got in trouble the first day of school and I seem to have ‘bad mom’ stamped on my forehead.
But now not only do I have to see Lennox and his very grown-up body now at school drop off, but we’re working together on the school bake sale.
If he could just stop being a brooding heartbreaker for like two seconds.
He says he wants to keep the past in the past and move forward with his life, but the closer we get and the more I uncover, the more I can’t help falling for the former actor.
Not ready? How about a little teaser chapter?
It’s 9:51 a.m., my daughter’s first day at a new school, and I’m already sitting on one of those stained blue chairs outside of the principal’s office, waiting my turn to “discuss my child’s behavior.”
I swear I have “bad mom” written on my forehead by the way the secretaries are looking at me over their computer screens.
Maybe it’s the fact that I’m still in my sweatpants and an old band T-shirt and I was barely able to twist my hair up in a bun before getting out of the shower. Working from home did have some perks, but I didn’t expect to have to run out in the middle of the day either.
In my defense of my crazy wardrobe and the whole daughter-being-called-to-the-principal’s-office-on-her-first-day thing, it had been one hell of a summer for both me and my daughter, Ariana, so her acting out was understandable.
Okay, rewind that.
Can’t put the blame on a seven-year-old. She’s the one who got the raw end of the deal in the divorce, having to move with me to her grandparents’ place in Dallas.
Should have prepared better for your financial security, Rach.
Yeah, yeah, voice inside my head, you’re an asshole and should have told me earlier to save money instead of thinking the ex and I would live happily ever after forever.
My stomach lurched as I looked around the front office space with its large windows and the columns outside. Like this was some sort of Ivy League university instead of a prep school in Dallas.
My parents were currently footing the bill for the private school tuition as I struggled to get back on my feet with my freelancing graphic design gig.
Maybe with Ariana in school full-time, I could do that. Perhaps I could finally concentrate on my graphics work and get more clients.
Or, you know, catch up on my Netflix queue and have inspiration hit me at three a.m. while I pushed out a few random pre-made book covers. Either. Or.
But first, I had to deal with my daughter’s first call from the principal. One that had me bringing another uniform for her because apparently there was an incident in the en-suite bathroom of the classroom.
Whatever that meant.
The stained-glass office door whooshed open, a gust of air blowing into the office.
So, I may have whipped my head and full on stared at the man walking in with his button-down shirt and black-framed glasses. Not unlike the typical uniform of the other dads I’d seen at school drop off, but this guy was the only one who, with his sleeves rolled to his elbows, showed full sleeves of ink scrawled on his arms.
There was something familiar about him and those tattoos.
Did I know him from high school maybe? Was he in my math class but back then had dreadlocks and now had his hair cropped short with a slightly messy spiky style?
No, that wasn’t it.
“Mr. Reign,” the secretary crooned, her once scowl now turning into a bright smile.
It couldn’t be.
Though, there was a resemblance to the former teen heartthrob of my youth.
Well, not that I knew him personally, but I watched his show when it was on every Friday night for ten years. Then he disappeared. Or maybe I just stopped reading teen magazines and got a boyfriend instead of watching sitcoms on the couch.
Making sure he couldn’t see me, I pulled out my phone and did a quick internet search.
There was an old picture of a boy in a blonde bowl cut, not the man standing before me.
Born and raised in Dallas, Texas…
Okay, I was watching too many documentaries on Netflix and imagining things.
When he took the seat next to me, I tried not to stare, but he was right there…
And he smelled really freaking good.
Not like an overpowering cologne or even just regular laundry soap. But a woodsy, manly smell of cedar and leather. Though it would probably be weird if I leaned in and sniffed him. Especially if I hadn’t even introduced myself.
Did I bother doing that since we were both sitting outside the principal’s office?
Speaking of that, what the hell was he doing here?
“Mr. Reign, Ms. Rise,” a raspy voice called.
I looked up to see a tall woman in a skirt suit standing at the edge of the desk.
From the brochures Mom had handed me when she went on and on about Texas Junior Prep Academy, I recognized the person in front of me as the less-airbrushed principal.
Now, my nerves finally set in and my whole body hummed as I stood. It was as if I was trying to pull my legs through wet cement, taking slow strides toward her.
The woman smiled at both of us, shaking our hands, but there was still something off. A chill that had settled in the air.
We followed her in silence back to a well-lit room filled with stocked bookshelves. Two leather armchairs sat in front of a large oak desk where the woman perched behind.
Glancing at the plaque behind her, I tried to figure out if I could pronounce the Greek name written on the Texas A&M degree.
I should have maybe looked that up and tried to pronounce it before getting here.
“Is everything okay?” The deep timbre of the man’s voice had me jolting in my seat, turning toward him.
But his eyes were trained on the principal. Not even glancing in my direction.
If this was the same Lennox Reign from the TV show, he certainly wasn’t the bubbly kid I used to watch.
The principal nodded. “Yes, Mr. Reign. I’ve informed Miss Lohan that she could get your daughters from their teacher now. They’ve been sitting in the back of the room since the incident.”
“The incident?” I asked, wincing with each word.
The principal nodded. “Miss Rise, I know you aren’t familiar with the school, this being your daughter’s first day, so we won’t be going forward with any sort of punishment. But she does need to know that there are rules. Especially about the proper use of restroom time. Apparently, there was a clog in the toilet that the girls thought they could fix, and instead of fixing it, well, they made it a bit worse. Luckily, our custodian took care of the problem, and both girls just need a change of clothes.”
I had to bite my lip to hold back a laugh. The way her tone was so proper discussing a bathroom. She couldn’t have just said, “Hey, your kids did something crazy in the bathroom, but we’re going to give them a break.”
“And what about Juniper?” the guy asked, leaning forward with his hands clasped together. The movement pulled the fabric of his dress shirt against his biceps, and I had to try not to stare.
More like gawk.
Dang it, get a grip, Rach. Hasn’t been that long since you’ve seen an attractive guy in the flesh. You photograph guys for romance novels, for goodness sakes.
Though those were twenty-year-old boys who were very into themselves. Not the man currently sitting within staring distance. Or sniffing.
And damn did he smell good.
The principal nodded, her voice knocking me out of my thoughts and back to reality. “We will also just be giving Juniper a warning at this time as well.”
Before we could say any more, the door opened.
I turned around to see my little girl running toward me, her crazy mess of blonde hair matted to her head and the new plaid jumper and polo soaked to her skin. “Hey, Mom!”
Standing, I put my hands up before she could get any closer. I prayed that wasn’t toilet water on her and maybe from the sink, but I had a feeling from the story…
She put her hands down with a sigh. “I know, I know. I’m in trouble. But we did try and solve a problem. And I did have fun and made a new friend while we did it so does that count for something?”
I blinked, trying not to laugh at her big, toothy grin.
She was an outsider. The girl who would rather play by herself than with the other kids in class. It warmed my heart a little to see her making a friend on her first day. But when I glanced over to see the scowl on the man’s face, I knew this wasn’t the time to start praising her.
“Juniper, we will discuss this later. While you get dressed, I’m going to talk to Ariana’s mother. Okay?” Lennox said, looking down at the little girl with wet, curly blonde pigtails who nodded in response.
If I found those bright blue eyes sexy before, now that they were narrowed in my direction, my heart sank practically into my stomach.
“Ari, why don’t you get dressed too. Okay? We’ll talk about this after school.” I handed her the plastic bag with a clean uniform in it, and both of the girls skittered out of the room.
Or at least I was pretty sure they did once I heard the door close.
I couldn’t take my eyes off the man’s heated stare, and I swallowed hard, needing to stand my ground.
We were both freaking adults here. He couldn’t talk to me like I was a child.
“I guess it’s good they’re still in great spirits,” I said, forcing a smile.
He took a step closer, his statuesque face not giving any sign of emotion. “Ms. Rise, is it?”
“Rachel. You can call me Rachel.”
No change in his expression.
“Rachel. I know you’re a new mom here and it’s great your daughter’s making friends, but mine has never been in trouble. Never had to get me called out of work because she clogged the toilet and flooded the bathroom.”
“Well, accidents happen, Mr. Reign. You weren’t the only one called out of work, and I’m sure the girls both learned their lesson.” I forced a smile, hoping he’d drop the hard-ass look.
No such luck.
I glanced at the principal out of the corner of my eye, thinking she’d have something to say. Before she could even open her mouth, the guy spoke again.
“Yes, we can hope this doesn’t happen again. Make sure your daughter knows that.”
I whipped my head around. “Excuse me? You think my daughter, out of the blue, on her first day, decided ‘Hey, let’s try and unclog a toilet and flood the bathroom!’”
He smirked, the only crack in his exterior. “Never happened before with my daughter, and she’s been going here since preschool.”
This guy had some nerve.
“Yeah, well, people change. Not everyone can solve kids’ problems in twenty minutes with a laugh track.” The words flew out of my lips before I could take them back.
I needed to learn how to use a filter.
“You really just used a sitcom line?” He raised an eyebrow.
“Well, you are Lennox Reign, aren’t you? Former poster boy, even with your own milk mustache campaign? I’m sure you raised enough hell as a teen star,” I spat.
He shook his head, blowing a breath of air out of his nose as he muttered, “Un-fucking-believable.”
Finally, the principal walked around her desk, putting her hands out. “Okay, I think that’s enough. Both of your daughters have been given a warning, and we will make sure this doesn’t happen again. Okay? No need for language.”
“You’re right, Ambro. Sorry for getting out of hand.” Lennox offered her a smile, not even glancing in my direction.
She nodded. “Great. And I assume I’ll see you both at the PTA meeting after school?”
I was definitely not one of those overly involved moms, but with her non-blinking eyes focused on me and Lennox’s scowl, I didn’t have a choice.
“Yeah. I’ll see you there.”
As if my day couldn’t get any worse.
Principal’s office for my daughter.
Glares from a former teen heartthrob.
Now I had to go to a PTA meeting.