The Nashville Anti-Belles: Books to Make You Laugh, Cry, & Swoon
Not Suitable For Work
Anti-Belle Book 1
by Skye McDonald
Genre: Contemporary Romance
I could barely hold myself together. I’d lost— failed—again. Facing it in front of him was the last thing I wanted to do.
“Listen,” he said.
I glared over my shoulder with pure loathing, but if it was for him or for me, I’m not sure. Far more sharply than I’d like to admit, I barked, “We have nothing to say to each other. I’ll be back on Monday, and I will hand you your ass on the next project, understand?”
His brows lowered into a scowl. I froze when he rounded the desk and stalked to me. He was so close, I could see the details of his long eyelashes framing his gray eyes.
“Go away. I hate you, I hate Nashville, I hate this contest. Just go away.” Without thinking, I opened my palm and swung for his face. He grabbed my wrist well before I made contact. I screeched and used my left hand to shove his chest, but he caught that one, too.
Benjamin cuffed my wrists. I flailed, and he let me, all the while holding on.
“Dammit, Addison,” I grunted.
“Dammit, Greene. You can’t hit me, for god’s sake.”
That made me pause. Shame and self-loathing kept me short of breath. My spine pressed into the desk when I took half a step back. He followed.
I gave up and slammed my hands down on the desk. Benjamin’s fingertips stroked the crevices of my fingers, so I spread them wide and let him lace our hands together. Oh, my, that’s nice, too.
“Are you through?” he asked after a pause.
“Just warming up.”
“Hmm. How warm do you intend to get?”
We breathed onto each other’s faces in ragged gasps. Despite the tempest in my heart, his presence soothed me.
I heaved a sigh, just for the pleasure of the rise of my breasts against his chest. I took another deep inhale, and this time let my whole body arch. Benjamin groaned when my pelvis pressed into his.
A wicked smile curved my lips. “Speaking of warm,” I taunted and flexed against him again. “Shame on you, getting all worked up from fighting with me.”
His gray eyes were glassy, but he bent his head, lips almost on mine, and teased me right back. “I’m not the only one. If Rollings walked in now, how could you explain yourself? How could you explain why you want me to restrain you, and what would you tell him about why you’re bright red?”
“Easy. I’m pissed at you,” I huffed.
He laughed, literally in my face. “Come on, Celeste. Shame on me? Look me in the eye and tell me you’re not worked up. Say with a straight face that the reason your eyes are so bright has nothing to do with wanting me to find out how warm you are.”
I inhaled sharply. Warm was the least of my problems. Can underwear dissolve? Because I think mine just did. “I admit nothing.”
“You don’t have to. I can see it. You’re hot as hell, and you’re wondering how much hotter I can make you.”
My tongue stuck in my throat. I wanted to be fearless, but dammit he’d stolen all my reason with that rumbled dare. I took a breath and licked my lips. “I need us to be enemies,” I whispered.
“Mm-hmm. It’s not working.”
“We don’t have a choice.”
Benjamin tilted his head. “There’s always a choice.”
I nodded slowly. “True. I can choose to file a complaint against you. Unsuitable office behavior.”
He grinned when my lips twitched. “I can do the same. Assault in the workplace.”
His smile dimmed and turned thoughtful as his gaze cut to our hands. “Is that the choice we want to make? Or should we explore other options?”
His question took a long, sultry slide from my ears to my core. God, he can make anything sound sexy. I wanted to kiss him more than I’d ever wanted to kiss someone in my life. I wanted his lips and tongue, his hands, my hands in his hair. I wanted his body, my legs around his back, my back on the desk. I wanted him to make me laugh again.
I wanted to laugh like I used to, before I was this version of me.
Benjamin assessed my expression and wet his lips. “Come with me tonight, Celeste.” He bent a little closer and laughed softly. “We can explore all the options you want.”
Every part of my being wanted to take that offer. Every part—except the part that knew enough to know better. I shook my head, and the moment was over.
He inched backward and lifted his hands from mine, taking all that warmth with him.
“We’re in trouble.” I sighed.
We eyed each other with plenty of space between us now. “I’m sorry I freaked out,” I said at last. “It was unacceptable to swing at you.”
He nodded. “I apologize, too. I hope I wasn’t too rough.”
Rough took the same journey through my body as his earlier question, but I smoothed my hair and lifted my chin. “I’m fine.” He nodded again but didn’t speak, so I edged toward the exit.
“Well, um, have a good weekend, Mr. Addison.”
The Not So Nice Girl
Prequel to Not Suitable For Work
Setup: It’s the summer of 1986. Sam is hanging out at Stacked Records, his favorite spot, manning the counter when a stranger walks in.
When the door chimed, Sam was absorbed in an article about Berlin and the music of a divided country. “We’re closed,” he muttered without looking up. “Come back in an hour.”
“I called about an album—”
“Closed,” he insisted, flipping the page.
“You’re definitely open. Door: unlocked. Register: manned.”
Her voice got a lot more insistent—and a lot closer. A small hand with dirty fingernails spread across the maga- zine, so slowly Sam looked up.
Sea glass. Emeralds. My undoing.
Sam found himself gazing into the most unreal green eyes he’d ever seen. Half a second later, everything got worse. The face that held those eyes was the same one he’d seen on Monica’s couch two weeks ago. That fair skin and golden-blonde hair which had glowed in the moonlight were impossibly better in the light of day.
A heartbeat after that, things got even worse. She smiled at him.
All of this couldn’t have taken more than thirty seconds, but Sam felt every moment in his pounding pulse.
She cleared her throat. “Well?”
“Well?” he echoed.
Another smile twitched her lips. “Well, I’m right, right? Open?”
“Oh, uh, well.” Sam fell over himself, running a hand through his hair and looking toward the back room. “Uh, it’s,” he fumbled again.
Myrtle saved him by shuffling around the counter to greet the new customer. Her tail wagged as she sniffed the air.
“Ooh, what a cutie!” the girl exclaimed.
Thanks, girl. Sam thanked the dog for the double bonus of distraction and the flash of cleavage in the V-neck tee he caught when she bent to pet her.
“That’s Myrtle,” he said, semi-coherent at last. “She is pretty cute.”
“I wasn’t talking about the dog,” she murmured. The teasing flash of green eyes through her bangs did something almost painful to his lungs.
Sam’s jaw hit the counter.
She straightened and threw her head back with a delighted laugh. “I always wanted to have the setup to use that line. Read it in Cosmo years ago. What did you think?”
“Extremely… smooth?” Sam reached for the right adjective, beginning to smile at last.
She leaned elbows on the counter across from him so they could regard each other. Her dark blonde brows drew together. “Smooth? Are chicks supposed to be smooth?”
“What were you going for? Alluring? Surprising? Flattering?”
She struck a deep-thinking pose with her chin in her hand. Sam furrowed his brows in mock-serious commiseration, relieved to at least be verbal again. Finally, she said, “I think I hoped it’d be—”
“It was. Absolutely,” he assured her with a nod before she could finish. She laughed again, and Sam was tempted to punch the air in triumph.
“Look, I’ve got places to be. Are you going to help me or not?”
“Do you?” he asked.
“Have places to be.”
She made a show of studying the magazine’s cover. “Not really,” she admitted. “But I want my album. You promised it would be in today, and—”
Sam stood up straight and shook his head. “I really don’t work here. The owner, Mac, is busy… But, um, what album are you looking for? Maybe it’s in this pile.”
“Red Hot Chili Peppers.” She began to examine the mountain of LPs on the counter.
“What? Is that the album or the band?”
Sam moved behind the stack. It was so high that he couldn’t see her anymore as they began switch-hitting, pulling titles off to create two new piles. When they’d moved enough of them that she reappeared, he was treated to another smile as their eyes locked. The happiness this girl radiated made it very damn hard for Sam to not look like a total fool in front of her.
To be fair, he thought he usually looked like a total fool in front of distractingly gorgeous women.
Skye McDonald writes books that will make you laugh, cry, and swoon. She believes that falling in love with yourself is the real path to happily ever after.
Skye’s first novel, Not Suitable for Work, won the Linda Howard Award for Romance in 2019. Her co-authored Unlikely Pairings series (written with Sarah Smith) have been Amazon bestsellers and #1 New Releases. Skye writes about living life with your heart open in her “A Bit Much” Substack.
Born in Nashville, Tennessee, Skye spent years teaching English in Brooklyn, New York. Now, she lives in Montclair, New Jersey, where she writes and facilitates a women’s group. In her free time, she hikes with her dogs, runs Spartan races, travels, Scuba dives, and is learning to ski. Someday she’ll take a break and chill out, preferably on a beach. But not yet. There’s so much life to live first.
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