The Engagement Gift An After Dark Standalone Romance - Lauren Blakely




Some things you just knew at first blush.

Whether you were attracted to that handsome guy across the crowded bar. Whether that hot tip on a story would turn into a juicy exposé.

Whether you were rocking a fabulous dress.

That kind of certainty didn’t make you cocky. It made you aware. It made you instinctive. I believed in instincts.

For the record, I was marrying the guy I met in the bar, my last story won me an award, and this dress made me want to write a thank-you note to the makers of satin.

This was the dress.

The white V-neck sheath gown hugged my hips, boosted my breasts, and showcased just the right amount of shoulders for my cascade of blond hair.

I checked my right side, my left side, my backside. “And the verdict?”

The question was perfunctory, but still, I wanted to know if Kate saw what I saw.

“That’s the winner,” declared my maid of honor.

I smoothed my hands over the shiny fabric. “Yes. I’m down with this dress one hundred percent.”

“Someone knows what she likes.” Kate crossed one leg over the other from her spot on the plush pink chair in the dressing room.

“Are you surprised I agreed so quickly? Or surprised I have a strong opinion?”

“I shouldn’t be since you’re the queen of knowing your own mind. I’m surprised only because being a bride does something to a woman’s head. Makes you think crazy thoughts, consider things you’ve never considered before, make decisions that surprise besties. So, I suppose I figured you’d find a reason to hate the perfect dress.”

“Ha. No dress-hating from me.” I slid my hands over my thighs. “I’m as sure about this dress as I am about marrying Finn.”

Kate tightened her brunette ponytail. “Then that’s as sure as anyone can be about literally anything. Are you still disgustingly happy and having hot, dirty times every night and thoughtful, intelligent conversations every single day?”

A knowing grin—no, an utterly delighted grin—spread over my face.

Kate knew me so well. Knew my fiancé stimulated me with his brain and, well, his other parts.

And did so on the reg.

Yes, I was a lucky girl. Finn Nichols was handsome as sin, with dark hair, midnight-blue eyes, and a body I couldn’t get enough of. But on top of that, he had a huge heart and an insane devotion to my libido. “It’s pretty much like clockwork,” I said. “In fact, I think we had a request to set the atomic clock by our sex life.”

She glowered. “And I hate you.”

I arched a knowing brow. “You shouldn’t hate me when my fiancé has a best man who’s smoking hot and who thinks you’re a babe.”

“Jake?” She looked surprised.

I nodded. “Yes. Jake. Dark hair, dark eyes, tall as a tree. Jake, Finn’s longtime best friend, former roomie, now works in the Vegas branch of the law practice Finn’s cousin started?”

“Yes, yes. I know they’re both entertainment lawyers. I just didn’t know you thought Jake was hot.”

“Empirically,” I emphasized. “He’s empirically hot, like a Hemsworth or that guy who plays Lucifer. And Jake thinks you’re a babe—I overheard him and Finn talking one night about the wedding, and Jake made some comment about the maid of honor being luscious. Anyway, Jake is single, ergo . . .”

She rolled her eyes. “You’re such a matchmaker. But I’ve just never thought of him that way.”

But I knew they were right for each other. Just like I knew this dress was divine. “You should think of him that way. Then maybe you won’t hate me for my love life,” I said, sticking out my tongue.

“Rub it in, girl. Rub the salt in the wound even harder.”

“But wait. Don’t you have a regular lover?” I asked, teasing her. “What’s his name? Jack the Magic Man?”

“Vibrators don’t count.” Kate swatted my elbow with her purse.

I pointed to the back of my dress. “Even if you name them? I would think a BOB with a name would count a lot.”

She stood, worked my zipper down. “Toys definitely don’t count. But in my vibrator’s defense, since I don’t think one should trash talk BOBs that do the job, this one is hitting the G-spot every single time.”

“Tell me what that feels like,” I said, playing up the intrigue in my voice.

Kate tilted a brow. “You want me to tell you?”

“You’ve always been good at describing Os.”

With a thoughtful frown, she gazed at the ceiling for a moment before answering. “It feels like a heavenly choir of dirty angels conducting a filthy orchestra in your