Man of the Month 6
Possessive hands. Wild obsession.
He’ll break any rule to claim her.
Billionaire bad boy Parker Manning buried his dark past beneath fast cars and faster women. With his chiseled good looks and Texas oil legacy, Parker’s used to laying claim to whatever—or whoever—he desires, and he’s never met a woman he couldn’t seduce into his bed.
Not, that is, until Megan Clark. Years ago, she flatly refused him. Now, she’s back—and she needs a favor. No way is Parker letting her get away again, and he conditions his agreement on one sensuous night with Megan in his bed and at his mercy.
He never expects to want more. To crave this woman who fascinates and challenges him. But he does, and now he’s determined to possess her.
But Megan’s a woman with secrets of her own, and if Parker wants to claim her, he’s going to have to conquer his past and show Megan his true heart.
Meet Mr. June. Summer’s heat has nothing on him.
In Your Eyes is the sixth in a binge-read series by New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly, and #1 International bestselling author of the million copy Stark series, J. Kenner.
Each novel in the series is a STANDALONE romance with a guaranteed HEA!
But even so, you won’t want to miss any in the series. Because then you can answer the question…
Who’s Your Man of the Month?
In Your Eyes is Story # 6 in the Man of the Month series.
In Your Eyes - Buy Now
About this StoryPublication Date 03/27/2018 Story Type Book Series Man of the Month Place in Series Story #6 Genre Contemporary Romance
More About This Story
When a group of fiercely determined friends realize their beloved hang-out is in danger of closing, they take matters into their own hands to bring back customers lost to a competing bar. Fighting fire with a heat of their own, they double down with the broad shoulders, six-pack abs, and bare chests of dozens of hot, local guys who they cajole, prod, and coerce into auditioning for a Man of the Month calendar.
But it’s not just the fate of the bar that’s at stake. Because as things heat up, each of the men meets his match in this sexy, flirty, and compelling binge-read romance series of twelve novels releasing every other week from New York Times bestselling author J. Kenner.
“With each novel featuring a favorite romance trope—beauty and the beast, billionaire bad boys, friends to lovers, second chance romance, secret baby, and more—this series hits the heart and soul of romance.” —New York Times bestselling author Carly Phillips
“Seven women from my spin class,” Taylor said, as she poured herself a glass of wine from the decanter on Megan’s coffee table. “Seven. No, actually, wait, I forgot one. Eight. Eight of the women who took a flyer said that they’re coming to the contest on Wednesday. Girlfriend, you’re a genius. Either that, or Parker Manning is too gorgeous to be true.”
“Why can’t it be both?” Megan asked, feeling more than a little giddy at hearing how well her marketing idea had gone over. “I’m a certified promo guru, and Parker is sin personified. Because honestly, that man is a walking, talking orgasm. And you know what they say…”
“Sex sells?” Taylor asked.
The contest in question was the Man of the Month calendar contest, a bi-weekly event wherein local guys trotted across the stage—usually shirtless—to the applause and cheers of the bar patrons, most of whom tended to be female on contest nights.
So far, The Fix had crowned Mr. January all the way through to Mr. May, and the Mr. June contest was scheduled for Wednesday, just three short days away. Right before the last contest, Megan had come up with the idea of not only promoting the contest, but of promoting the men who were entering, the idea being that the entrants would share the fliers with friends and family to drum up more interest. And if any local celebrities were entered, that would start even more buzz.
Since the flyer had been her idea—and since she’d told two of her bosses, Tyree and Jenna, that they needed to ramp up the celebrity and sex appeal of the entrants—Megan had made it her mission to recruit guys into the contest who were well-known in the city or looked exceptionally hot without a shirt.
She was still working on convincing Matthew Herrington, a local gym owner, but she’d hit pay dirt with Parker Manning. The heir to a Texas oil fortune, Parker had the face of a movie star and the body of a Greek god. The kind of guy who looked like sex on a stick in jeans and a T-shirt, and sensuality personified in a suit or a tux. She’d never actually seen him shirtless, but she had no doubt that he would rock the world of every woman on the premises when he paraded across that stage come Wednesday.
Getting him had been a coup, but their overlapping history had undoubtedly helped. He’d been living in LA around the same time that Megan had been working as a make-up artist out there, and he’d run in the same circle as Carlton-the-prick and some of Megan’s wealthier clients. They’d met a couple of times, and Parker had even asked her out once, but since she’d just started dating Carlton at the time, she’d turned him down.
When she learned that he’d moved back home to Austin—and, in fact, had bought a penthouse condo within walking distance of The Fix—Megan had known it was serendipity and had announced to her friends at the bar that she was going to recruit Parker Manning.
Everyone had been dubious. After all, Parker might be stunningly gorgeous with a reputation as a player, but he didn’t seek out the spotlight. “I knew him in high school,” Brooke Hamlin had told her. “And I just don’t see it. Not because he’s shy, but because he was always the guy who didn’t have to put himself out there, you know?”
Actually, Megan did know. The Parker she’d known in LA exuded a cold, quiet confidence. As if he knew exactly who he was and didn’t have any need to prove anything to anybody. A guy like that probably wouldn’t want his face plastered on a bar flyer.
But then again, he was a local, and they did have a connection, and it wouldn’t hurt to ask. So she had.
Not directly, of course. She’d approached him through his assistant, asking permission to use one of the pictures on Parker’s Wikipedia page—a shot of him looking drop-dead gorgeous at a charity event. She’d also made sure that the assistant knew to mention to Parker that he’d known Megan in LA. She hadn’t let herself get her hopes up, especially not after Brooke’s revelation had supported her own assessment of the man, and so she’d been completely flabbergasted when he’d agreed within less than twenty-four hours.
The success had stoked her confidence, and after a wild happy dance through her condo, she’d gotten back to work with a vengeance. Thanks to Parker, she’d lined up the rest of the men and had the flyers printed in record time.
“You have more flyers, right?” Taylor asked. “I’ll take them to class in the morning and bring you the leftovers at the bar tomorrow night.”
A graduate student in the drama department at the University of Texas, Taylor was not only a regular at The Fix on Sixth, she worked there on Wednesday nights when she stage-managed the actual contest.
“I do,” Megan said, hopping up, then crossing to her desk—although it wasn’t actually her desk since she was subletting the condo for six months, and getting a reduced rate since part of the deal involved pet-sitting two cats and three aquariums of exotic fish.
She’d ordered the first box of two hundred flyers three days ago, and already they were gone, picked up in various coffee shops, tacked to local bulletin boards, and circulated among the college sororities.
She hadn’t expected them to go that fast, and so she’d gone back to the printer for two more boxes, one of which she now carried over to Taylor.
“Ta-da!” she said. “Plaster the town my friend.”
Taylor took off the lid, and pressed her hand over Parker, who wore a tux and looked deliciously sexy in a James Bond sort of way. “Just give me a minute to soak up the awesome.”
Megan rolled her eyes. “You know, the other guys aren’t too shabby. I think we’re probably giving them a complex.” The flyer displayed the images of twelve hot men surrounding the logo for The Fix. Parker was only one-twelfth of the whole.
“Are you kidding?” Taylor shot back. “They’re ridiculously excellent. If Parker wasn’t in the mix, it would be a hard choice. But that boy’s not only going to win, he’s going to drive serious traffic to the bar. And then down the road he’s going to sell a lot of calendars.”
Since Megan couldn’t disagree, she didn’t. “Cheers to me,” she said instead, clinking her glass with Taylor’s before taking another sip.
“You know, if we’re going to drink, we really should head to the bar. Mina’s going to come down and meet us,” she added.
Megan and Taylor had met at The Fix a few weeks after Megan had moved to Austin from Los Angeles, and they’d become good friends after they started running together while training for a 5K with the third in their trio, Mina.
“Mina may be coming tonight, but she’s not coming for us.” Mina’s boyfriend, Cam, was covering for one of the weekend bartenders. “Besides,” Megan added, “Griffin’s going to walk over with us.” She glanced at the time on her phone and frowned. “He should be here by now.”
“All right, seriously. What’s the deal with you two? I mean, you’re totally sleeping together, right?”
“No!” Megan said. “We’re just really good friends.”
“Uh-huh,” Taylor said, standing up and swinging her purse over her shoulder. “How about I head on to The Fix, and I’ll meet you two there in a little bit.”
“For crying out loud, Taylor. We’re not dating. You don’t have to leave us alone.”
Taylor’s head tilted to the side. “Does he know I’m here?”
“What? No. I don’t know. Why?”
“Because that boy is super comfortable around you, but he doesn’t really know me yet. And if he’s meeting you here instead of at The Fix, don’t you think that means he wants some chill time where he can just feel comfortable and not worry about what folks are thinking about his scars?”
“Why do people need to think anything about his scars?” Megan countered, though she knew the question was stupid. A childhood accident had left Griffin with massive scarring all over his right side. And though she didn’t even notice anymore, she knew that outside of his family, she was unique in his life.
She’d told the truth about her and Griff; there was nothing romantic between them. But Taylor was also right. Megan and Griffin had clicked right away, and though they’d both thought that meant they should date, after one awkward kiss, they’d quickly realized they were more like brother and sister than boyfriend-girlfriend. So, yeah, Griff probably would like some down time with her before they joined the crowd.
With a sigh, she shrugged. “Okay, go ahead. We’ll meet you there.”
As soon as Taylor was out the door, Megan returned to the second story living area and peered out the window, watching her friend head toward Sixth Street even as she looked for the battered Mustang that Griffin was in the process of rebuilding.
Frowning when she didn’t see it, she started to pull away from the window so she could grab her phone and send a text asking for an ETA. But the sight of a black car across the street made her pause. She hugged herself, warding off a sudden chill as she tried to chalk it up to the tank top she was wearing with her jeans. But it wasn’t the outfit; it was that car. Had she seen it before? Had it been parked there yesterday?
A series of prickles raced up her spine, and she jumped a mile when the gate buzzer sounded. She clapped a hand over her chest, sighed, and told herself sternly to quit seeing ghosts where there weren’t any. Los Angeles was behind her; nothing but a memory.
She had Austin now, a place she’d chosen on a whim that had turned out to be a brilliant inspiration. She loved this town, and she had yet to be disappointed. The food was great, the vibe was excellent, and she’d already surrounded herself with a fabulous circle of friends. Including the one who was at her gate at that very moment. And she was not going to screw it all up by worrying about shadows from the past. Carlton wasn’t here. He wasn’t coming here. And she needed to quit being paranoid.
After one more deep breath to steady herself, she trotted to the wall, then pressed the button for the intercom. “Griff?”
“You ready?” he asked from the pedestrian gate. “Or should I come in?”
“Come on in,” she said as she hit the button to open the gate. “I still have to do my make-up.” She didn’t, however, intend to change clothes. Her jeans and Keep Austin Weird tank top might be ridiculously casual, but no one here would care. In LA, everyone had gotten dressed up for everything, but Austin was so much more laid-back. Besides, she still hadn’t gotten used to the heat and the humidity, and tank tops had become her summer uniform of choice.
“Sorry I’m running late,” she said when Griff reached her door. “Taylor came over for a while, but she cut out when I said you were on your way. Said she’d meet us at the bar.”
“Yeah? Why didn’t she stay?” he asked, pulling his hoodie off his head with one quick motion of his hand.
Megan gave herself a mental kick in the ass, because she wasn’t about to admit to him that Taylor was being sensitive about his scars. “I’m pretty sure she thinks we’re secretly dating.”
“Quite the secret,” he said, “considering neither of us is in on it.”
Laughing, she hurried upstairs to finish getting ready. Which, considering they really weren’t dating, didn’t take that long. She put on light make-up, then pulled her hair up into a ponytail to keep the back of her neck from getting sweaty in the Austin heat.
“I’ll have to tell Taylor that she can tell we’re not dating by the fact that I’m wearing a tank top,” she added when she returned to him.
“What? I’m not cool enough for you to dress up for?” he teased.
“This town’s not cool enough to dress for. Honestly, maybe I’ll hold off dating until fall,” she added. “It’s a wardrobe thing.”
“A valid choice,” he said. “I’m holding off until the next millennium. It’s an ego thing.”
“Griff…” She trailed off with a shake of her head. It was an argument they’d been having since almost the first day they’d met. “You don’t need to be so self-conscious. We almost dated, and you weren’t ever self-conscious around me.”
“Yeah, but you’re a make-up artist.”
She paused at the door, baffled. “That doesn’t make sense. I’d think you’d be more self-conscious around me.”
He shook his head. “No, you’re trained to see past flaws. To you, enlarged pores are as much of a challenge as this mess.” He indicated his face, only barely visible now that he’d pulled his inevitable hoodie back up. “Most people just see the surface and not the potential. If I date—”
“When you date,” she corrected.
“When I date,” he began again, “it’ll be a woman who knows how to do that.”
“Maybe you’re not giving most women enough credit.”
He shrugged. “Maybe not. Maybe that speech was an excuse to hide the fact that I’m just not ready.”
Since that might actually be true, Megan decided not to press the point. But she hoped he found someone soon. Griff was funny and cool and talented. Between his work as a voice actor, his popular podcast, and the web series that had taken off like gangbusters, he was really making his mark.
But in the midst of all that attention, she feared that he was terribly lonely.
Still, push him too hard and she’d end up in the land of the hypocrite. Because her lack of interest in dating was about more than tank tops. She’d had a relationship in LA, and not a good one. Honestly, she wasn’t inclined to repeat the experience anytime soon.
Still, that didn’t mean she wanted to be celibate. Unlike Griff, she’d had a couple of hook-ups during her months in Austin. But that was more out of loneliness—or, if she were being honest—horniness. But those were just Band-Aids, not relationships. Not even close.
Heck, she didn’t even do overnights. And the idea of opening her heart and soul to a man…? Well, she figured it would be a long time before she’d be ready to go down that road again.
Ready to go, they headed out of her unit and to the exterior gate. The Railyard Condos had been constructed from old warehouses in the downtown Austin area. And since the unit she’d sublet was near the west end of the property, they didn’t have far to walk before they reached the intersection. They turned north, then continued the two blocks to Sixth Street.
“Oh, what the hell,” she said, as much to fill the silence as to lighten her suddenly heavy mood. “Maybe we should just chuck it all and get married.”
“Fair enough,” he said as they turned left onto Sixth Street. “If we’re both still single by the time AARP starts sending us sign-up notices, we’ll tie the knot.”
“Deal.” She caught his eye, and they both laughed, the heavy mood now gone. Mission accomplished, she thought as they approached The Fix on Sixth. Just being in the bar that she’d come to think of as a second home would have lifted her mood, but it was nice to go in smiling.
Considering it was past eight on a Sunday night, the place was surprisingly crowded, a fact that Griffin must have noticed, too, because he leaned toward her and said, “I think all the extra publicity is working. Double-edged sword, though.”
She knew what he meant. The original owner of The Fix, Tyree Johnson, had been battling some financial issues recently. And he’d made it clear a few months ago that if The Fix was going to stay open past the end of the year, it needed to start showing a regular and solid profit.
More customers meant more profit, and that was a good thing, especially since the fate of the bar was at stake. But it also meant more people, even on nights when the place used to be mostly dead, and sometimes Megan feared that the bar would expand into something too crowded for comfort. A place where even if she could find a seat at the bar, once she sat down she’d realize that she didn’t know anybody’s name at all.
For now, at least, that was an idle worry. Not only did she and Griff both find seats at the far end of the long bar that ran parallel to the main wall, but the bartender, Cameron, brought over both of their usual drinks within seconds after they’d sat down. “Anything to eat?” he asked, his blue-gray eyes focusing on both of them in turn. “I know you guys love the Cobb Deviled Eggs.”
A grad student at the University of Texas when he wasn’t tending bar, Cam had also recently been promoted to Assistant Weekend Manager. Considering he’d never forgotten her drink and always recommended food that made her mouth water, Megan thought the promotion was well-deserved.
With his dark hair and broad shoulders, Cameron had recently earned the title of Mr. March in the upcoming Man of the Month calendar, and seeing him reminded Megan that she had a meeting soon with Eva Anderson, Tyree’s fiancée and the official photographer for the calendar and the bar.
“Hey!” Taylor hurried over, flanked by Brooke Hamlin, a reality TV star who had pitched a show that focused on renovating the interior of The Fix. So far, they’d only been filming and editing, but the show was set to launch in August, and Megan anticipated that the crowds would grow once the show actually aired.
“Thank goodness you’re here.” Taylor slid in between Griff and Megan, but her attention was dead-on Megan. “Something’s up. Something not good.”
Megan frowned. “What are you talking about?”
“The flyer,” Brooke said. “I overheard Jenna and Reece talking. But all I know is that there’s some sort of crisis with the flyer.”
“What? That’s impossible.” She looked down at the flyer she’d been so proud of and wondered what could possibly be wrong.
“It’s probably nothing,” Griffin said. She was sitting on his right side, as had become their habit, since she blocked his scars from strangers who might otherwise take a seat beside him. Now, he took her left hand in his right and squeezed, the scar tissue hard and tight against her skin.
“Don’t worry,” he said. “How bad can it be?”
Pretty bad, she realized less than three minutes later when Jenna hurried over. “I’m so glad you’re here,” Jenna said, relief and worry both lacing her voice. “I was about to call to see if you could come in. Tyree and I really need to talk to you. Like, now.”
Megan glanced at Griffin who still looked clueless, but supportive. “Um, about what?”
“Parker Manning,” Jenna said. “He saw the flyer, Megan. And he’s pissed as hell.”