The Dating Dare - Jayci Lee


The wedding was picture-perfect. The spring garden outside the groom’s restaurant overlooked the Kern River, and was drenched with the soft hues of sunset. Just being there made Tara Park sigh dreamily. She couldn’t imagine a more romantic venue. Celebrity chef Aria Santini, the couple’s close friend, had prepared the locally sourced gourmet dinner. It was exquisitely presented, and tasted even more delicious than it looked. Add to that the abundantly flowing California wines. The reception rocked the night.

Tara scanned the warm, happy scene from a quiet corner in the bustling garden and smiled, briefly ignoring the distraction that marred the glorious evening. Aubrey and Landon—the bride and groom—existed only for each other, every look and whispered word a declaration of their love. The guests chatted and laughed, basking in the happily-ever-after glow of the beautiful couple.

Myriad contradicting emotions threatened to overwhelm Tara. She scattered them with a resolute shake of her head, reminding herself that Aubrey would always be her best friend. But it was more than that. Stop it, Tara. You have no time to sulk. It was time to deal with the gorgeous man who’d been staring at her all night. His undivided attention made her want to fidget or maybe preen a little. She couldn’t decide which. Either way, ignoring him had taken some major willpower.

Well, her dear friend’s new brother-in-law or not, enough was enough. She’d been irritatingly aware of his whereabouts the entire evening, so it wasn’t difficult to locate him now. Seth Kim stood by a bar on the other side of the garden, sipping from a clear glass beaded with condensation. He looked enticingly elegant in his classic tuxedo, and her eyes eagerly perused his body until she caught herself. Cut it out. She hiked up her floor-length dress, marched over, and stopped in front of him. It was time to put the best man in his place.

“You need to stop staring at my ass,” she said with her fists planted on her hips.

He smiled and turned to face her squarely, sliding a hand into his pants pocket. “On the contrary, I was studying all of you. Not just your stunning backside.”

“Studying me?” Did he say stunning? Huh. She was tempted to swivel her head for a peek at her ass.

“I’m a photographer. It’s hard for me to ignore things of beauty,” he said smoothly, his dark eyes holding her gaze. An involuntary trill shot down her spine.

“Oh, please.” Tara snorted, masking her reaction to him. If she angled her head to her best side, it wasn’t for his benefit.

Besides, it had to be a practiced line, coming from a player like him. Seth Kim wasn’t just any photographer, but a sought-after fashion photographer. Gossip sites loved to post pictures of him with an ever-changing parade of gorgeous models on his arm. Of course, one shouldn’t believe everything on the Internet. But even if just a small percentage of the gossip had a grain of truth in it, his playboy status still held firm.

“You don’t think you’re beautiful?” He arched an eyebrow with mastery that almost matched her own.

“No one actually looks at themselves in the mirror and thinks, ‘Wow. I’m beautiful.’” Geez. Why do I always do that? I am beautiful, dammit. Inside and out. She needed practice owning it.

“Is that a no?” The surprise on his face morphed into a sultry, hooded glance that traveled her body. “Because I’m prepared to convince you otherwise.”

Her heart tripped on a beat and tangled itself up. Gah. Her body begged for a detailed demonstration of how he planned to convince her of her beauty, but she couldn’t let her libido distract her from her mission.

“Look, I know I clean up nicely.” There. She owned it. Sort of. “And this dress doesn’t exactly hurt me in the looks department.”

It was true. The crimson mermaid dress hugged her curves like a long-lost lover and made her boobs look like full, round globes of glorious flesh. As though reading her thoughts, Seth’s eyes dropped to her chest.

“But you’ve had enough anatomy lessons for tonight,” she said, waving her hand in front of his face. “Quit ogling my breasts.”

“For the record, I wasn’t ogling you.” His eyes flew back to her face, and she was gratified to see a little color suffuse his cheeks. “I was gawking at you.”

“And the difference is?” She crossed her arms in an impatient gesture, and waited for more playboy bullshit from him.

“Ogling requires lewd intent, which I definitely did not have.