Stripped Down (Stripped #2) - Emma Hart

What do you get when you mix a bottle of tequila, a single mom moonlighting as a stripper, and her sinfully sexy boss with an impulsive side?

Married. You get married.

Rich. Demanding. Hot. Crazy.

That was Beckett Cruz in a nutshell.

Not to mention wild, determined, dangerous, and forbidden.

He was my boss—and, after a drunken moment of insanity, my new husband.

An annulment was impossible... so was keeping him.

I was taking my daughter and leaving, determined to give her a quieter life.

But Beckett Cruz had never taken no for an answer.

And he wasn't about to take mine.

What happens in Vegas... might just keep you there.

(STRIPPED DOWN is a standalone, erotic romance novel. It is a companion to STRIPPED BARE, although it isn't necessary to read it first.)

There’s nothing harder, or more heartbreaking, or more insecure than being a parent. But there’s also nothing as bright, life-affirming, or downright fun as being a parent. And there’s nothing more terrifying than doing it before you turn twenty and having your entire life change in a heartbeat.

This book is for every teen mother who had to grow up quicker than you can snap your fingers. For every teen mother who was judged for her bump or her baby, who took dark looks and dirty whispers, who was made to feel like she was worthless for being a young mother.

For every teen mother who stood in the face of that and smiled anyway.

You’ve got this.

“Honest to god, he had the biggest cock I’ve ever seen in my life.”

I glanced away from the tittering of the other girls and picked my lipstick out of my makeup bag. My current coat had smudged in the corner, and unfortunately, it looked like I’d have to take it off before putting a new one on.

“Did you get his number?”

“No, of course not. That’s against the rules.”

“But you’re meeting him soon, right?”

Giggles. “Of course. I’m not letting ten inches pass me up!”

I will not roll my eyes. I will not roll my eyes. I will not roll my eyes.

I didn’t understand it. Maybe I was a cynic—no, in fact, I knew I was a cynic. The others would be too if they’d been left at seventeen to raise a baby by themselves. I knew they didn’t understand me, but I didn’t understand them, either.

We might all be strippers, but our priorities were at different ends of the scales.

I threw the makeup wipe in the trash below the dresser I was sitting at and touched up the foundation around my mouth before once again taking hold of the lipstick. This time, I uncapped it and slicked the deep pink across my lips. Then I reached for a tissue out of the box so I could blot it out.

The other girls were still laughing and talking. Usually, I would have joined in and faked it, but I didn’t feel like it tonight. In fact, I didn’t even want to be here anymore. I didn’t want to dance and grind and pretend to be attracted to desperate, half-drunk guys who wanted nothing more than to grab my tits, my ass, other parts.

I didn’t want it usually, but tonight, I wanted it even less.

Finding out your father potentially had only months to live would throw anyone off their game.

I ran my fingers through my dark-blond hair to fluff it up and looked at my reflection in the mirror. The makeup hid the circles that had formed under my eyes from last night’s sleepless hours, but they couldn’t hide the sadness that lingered in my eyes or the almost-permanent downturn of my lips.

That was the problem with being mom. When I was around my six-year-old daughter, Ciara, I had to be happy. I had to hide the pain to explain everything to her, but now, without her here, the pain wanted to escape.

Penelope, our manager, pushed the dressing room door open and cast her gaze over all of us. “You’ve got two minutes. Then you’re up, so get on out there.”

The other girls all stood and disappeared, but I hovered back a moment and took a deep breath. I had to beat the emotion down and pull the mask over myself before I went out there and fucked it up.

I couldn’t fuck it up. I needed the money.

“Cassie? Are you all right?”

I nodded and tried not to well up at the gentle concern in Penelope’s voice. “I’m fine. I just had some bad news I’m trying to come to terms with. Thank you for asking.” I stood up