Please take a moment to review Hachette Book Group's updated Privacy Policy: read the updated policy here.

Yours Tonight by Joya Ryan: read an extract

We’re hugely excited to be publishing Joya Ryan’s sensationally sexy Yours Tonight on the 5th March, so to whet your appetite here’s an early sneak peek . . . 

‘Maybe if we left and I got these pants off you, I’d be more convinced.’

Okay, that had to be one of the better – worst – lines I’d heard tonight. And, like all the other lines, it wasn’t directed at me.

‘I think I’ll have to show you my tattoo after all then,’ the woman responded. The way she spoke was so confident. Like she was in control of herself and her sexuality, and the man coming on to her was eating it up.

The woman also looked happy.

Not scared in the least.

I took a deep breath, ignoring the flash of envy shooting through my veins, and looked around again.

Waiting.

Tattoo woman and her guy didn’t seem to care that they were all but invading my table in order to better climb all over each other. Mine was a small table wedged against the corner of a packed bar . . . a table for two.

And yet, I sat alone.

I had been there for almost an hour, and was now convinced my ‘blind date’ wasn’t coming. Pulling out my phone, I called my best friend Harper; she was the one who had the great idea to set me up in the first place.

‘Hey, Lana,’ she answered.

‘Hey, so Rick never showed up.’

‘What? He didn’t? I’m sorry. He was an idiot.’

‘Then why did you set me up with him?’

‘Because you need to get out more. Date. Be social. It’s summer, you should be enjoying your freedom.’

Ah, yes, freedom. Too bad all I could think about was the fall and starting grad school in my sleepy town of Golden, a safe twenty miles outside of Denver. Harper was on this kick that I needed to ‘live life,’ to which I politely pointed out that going for my masters in statistics was a plenty thrilling endeavor.

Tattoo girl bumped my table with her butt again, only this time it was because she and Mr Smooth Talker were getting even closer.

‘I think I’ve reached my fun quota for tonight,’ I said, wishing I had driven myself into the city, instead of having Harper drop me off tonight. ‘Can you come get me now?’

‘Yeah, I’m at the office. I just need to finish up a few things. I can be there in an hour.’

I laughed a little. ‘And you tell me to have fun? You’re the one still working on a Friday night.’

‘What was that?’ she teased. ‘You don’t need a ride home?’

‘Yes, I do. I’ll wait. Thank you.’

I glanced around. An hour. Not my ideal scene, but, surely, I’d survive.

I hung up and scrolled through my text messages. My heart skipped when I saw my dad had finally texted me back about my suggestion for lunch tomorrow. But that skip didn’t last long, since it was a polite way to say:

Sorry, Pumpkin, can’t tomorrow. Next week?

At least he used a colon and parenthesis after the rejection to soften the blow. Text jargon or not, it was a smile from my father, so I’d take it.

Running a few fingers through my brunette curls, I tried to smooth away a little of the anxiety creeping up. One hour. Two words that were growing a little daunting. I pulled out my phone one more time and texted my dad back.

I know it’s a little late, but can I come over and hang out for an hour until Harper can pick me up? I’m kind of stranded in the city.

And send. My dad only lived a mile away. Twenty minute walk, max. Though his wife wasn’t my biggest fan, it was better than sitting alone in a busy bar. Maybe not better, but the lesser of two evils. My phone dinged and excitement raced. That was quick!

I smiled and read:

Sorry, Pumpkin, busy night tonight.

My smile faded, and I put my phone on the table and sat back in my seat. Looking down at my simple summer dress, I felt the same thing I’d felt a thousand times growing up, while I waited around for my dad to swoop in and save the day:

Invisible.

When the couple bumped me again, apparently I wasn’t the only one they annoyed. A guy standing next to them started yelling. Before I comprehended what was going on, a fist was thrown, and the two men were in a fight. One of them knocked against my table so hard it spilled my water all over me, and I gasped in fear and put my arms over my face like an ‘X.’

My nerves went into overdrive from the shock of what had just happened. Mentally chanting to myself to calm down, I slowly lowered my arms and saw a large man in a white T-shirt throwing himself between the two fighting men and, along with the bouncer, kicking them toward the exit.

They’re gone, I told myself, trying to get a handle on my breathing. The water had hit me straight on, and covered my stomach and lap. I did my best to blot the wetness with my napkin, shaking my head. I shouldn’t have even come tonight. I should have stayed home, like usual.

Two more months and I’d start grad school in Golden and not have to come back to the city for any reason, other than my parttime job working at my dad’s financial service company. A job I was doing so well at that I had been bumped up to thirty hours a week, now that summer was here. If I kept up this pace, logged my hours at his company, and succeeded at grad school, he’d hire me on as an account lead. Finally, he’d give me the chance to build toward the dream he’d hammered into me since I was a kid. Family business. Sure, it was a small, struggling business he’d started back when I was a kid, but when he married Anita, she and her money put my dad in the black. I may be the dirty, poor step-child, but I was still his, and whether Anita liked it or not, I was determined to be a person he’d be proud of.

People were already over the fight and back to enjoying themselves.

At least their eyes weren’t on me anymore, but I was soaked and now getting cold.

‘Excuse me?’ A deep, raspy voice said. I looked up to find a tall, chiseled man with the darkest eyes I’d ever seen, staring down at me. ‘Are you alright?’

‘I, ah . . . ’ I looked down at the front of my damp dress and blotted again. It was no use. The thin fabric was clinging to my thighs, making me very uncomfortable.

‘Here,’ he said, shrugging out of his jacket and placing it on my shoulders. It smelled of spice and leather. I tried to work a breath out, but it was no use. Between the sudden heat of his jacket enveloping me and the sight of his obviously broad chest and hard torso, I found it difficult to make my mouth move.

I didn’t know if it was the rush of the fight I’d witnessed followed by the cold water, but whatever it was, my body was confused and prickling with heat while flushing with goose bumps.

‘Are you sure you’re okay?’ he asked, his onyx gaze roaming over my entire body.

When he began to roll up the sleeves of his white button-up shirt, I watched transfixed. His forearms flexed a little as he moved to the other cuff. The way his long fingers worked the material, exposing tan skin as he went, made me wonder how the simple act of rolling up his sleeves could be sexy.

Trailing my gaze up, I took in every edge of his face. With a five o’clock shadow that matched his black hair, he looked exotic. Powerful. What must it be like to be a man like him? A person with so much confidence it radiated in every tiny movement. What would someone have to do to obtain that kind of essence?

Without knowing the answer to that, I’d likely sign up. Because whatever Kool-Aid this guy drank, I wanted some. Bad.

Harper told me once that prey could recognize predators and, while most run, some go into shock from the predator’s power. I think she had been on her third shot of tequila and was only half listening to the Animal Planet episode that was on, but it made some sense.

True or not. I felt like prey, transfixed by a predator. And I didn’t have the good sense to flee just yet.

Want more? Of course you do. Yours Tonight will be available to download from Thursday 5th March.