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Rules for Dating Your Ex by Piper Rayne


Rules for Dating Your Ex

by Piper Rayne

Self-Published

Book 9 in The Bailey's Series


If your ex arrives in your hometown eighteen months after you walked out on him while you were eight months pregnant, follow this short list of rules before you give him a second chance.


Rule #1 – Don’t stand in the way of your brothers who want to rough him up.


Rule #2 – Don’t meet him for coffee and agree to allow him to meet your daughter.


Rule #3 – Don’t drool when your daughter falls asleep on his chest for the first time. It’s just your ovaries talking.


Rule #4 – Don’t let him hold your hand. While we’re at it, no hugs, no kisses on the cheek… just no physical contact in general. That only leads to remembering better times.


The last one is the most important…


Rule #5 – When you find yourself needing someone’s help and you’re tired of always asking your family, don’t let him be the one who’s there for you.


Because all those good qualities of his will suck you right back in and you’ll have no chance of fighting your feelings, especially now that he’s ready to be a father to your daughter.

Genre:


Trigger Warnings:

Alcoholism

 

This is it.

The last book in The Bailey's series ... and I think its my favorite one of the series.

Not only because in the last book, we were left wondering what happened between Sedona and Jamison, but because of the circumstance of their relationship.

Highschool sweethearts. Deeply in love. Him a professional soccer player, her graduated and now a travel writer like her mom was.

It was teased that the reason they separated was bad. It had to be if she was willing to move back home, and pregnant. What we got was probably one of the most real arcs in this series.

This is probably why it's my favorite. So many unique storylines in this one book.

No miscommunication trope. No cheating scandal.

Just a young man who spiraled after a career ending injury. It happens every day. Someone who is depressed and lost, using drugs and alcohol to numb the pain. When you are young, and the pressure of life is crushing you, it doesn't seem unfeasible to use alcohol as an escape and having it take over your life.

Jamison was a refreshing character in this series because he is flawed, he knows he is flawed, and despite Sedona's wariness, and The Bailey family's obvious protectiveness, he goes for what he wants.

Sedona and their daughter.

Another thing I loved, was I wasn't upset with Sedona for leaving. Sometimes in romances, the reason the break up occurs seems farfetched, and unrealistic. You know ... that miscommunication trope I mentioned before. In real life, a couple would talk about something. Not just leave and ghost someone.

In this case, Sedona's reasons for leaving were 100% valid.

Sedona not accepting him back right away were 100% valid.

Sedona, who I never thought would be one of my favorite characters when I started this series, quickly became my favorite.

Honestly, because of the storyline in this book, Jamison and Sedona's romance is my favorite in the series. Realistic struggles made this book chef's kiss.


There are a couple of things I also loved that Piper Rayne incorporated in this book, that doesn't get seen in a lot of other romances. For one, Sedona's and Jamison's daughter is deaf. A deaf character is not seen on page very often, and I loved the representation of that in a book. There is also Sedona being Austin and Holly's surrogate. Not something that gets a lot of representation in romance, and something I love to see. Not just because it's such a wonderful thing for a person to do if they are able, but because I love Austin and Holly's characters, and their infertility struggles have been mentioned throughout the series. Giving those characters that gift is just beautiful.


This was the perfect book to close out the series. Well ... it's not really the end. There is a novella several years in the future. Sedona and Jamison's book held a bigger dose of realism than the other books, which made the happily ever after that much sweeter. If you loved The Bailey's series as much as I did, check out The Greene's series (Ethyl's grandchildren), and the Lake Starlight series, which feature The Bailey's couples children. That series is actually how I learned of The Bailey's and The Greene's. It's also really good.


And for those of you who have read it ... were you surprised who is the face behind Buzzwheel?





Kingston: “Hey, G’Ma D. Your presence isn’t necessary. I’ve already put the fear of death in him.”

Dori slaps her grandson in the stomach.

Dori: “Please, you don’t scare a fly.” Dori: “I always liked you, Jamison, until I hated you. I’m trusting you to stand up and do the right thing here. I hope we don’t ever have to have another conversation like this, but that’s solely up to you.”

She walks to the door and I stand.

Dori: “Use those dimples and that charm, my boy. Palmer’s easy—she wants you in her life. Sedona will be the real challenge.” Sedona: “You and Holly, do you guys fight? I mean, is everything perfect?”

His lips tick up and a belly laugh erupts out of him.

Austin: “Um… no. Why on Earth would you think that?”

I shrug.

Sedona: "You guys seem happy.”

His laugh abruptly stops.

Austin: “We are happy, but we’re not perfect. All couples fight.”

Easton starts repeating his ABCs, skipping over L through P. Austin stops Easton from going from K to Q and has him repeat after him. Always the teacher.

Sedona: “I just wondered. I mean, Mom and Dad were always so happy.”

His shoulders sink and he inhales a deep breath.

Austin: “Being the oldest sucks at times. I’ve had to pop your happy bubble so many times over the years that I feel like the fucking Grinch stealing your youth. Marriage is hard work, Sedona. I know you, Phoenix, and Kingston never saw Mom and Dad fight, and this town paints their love story like a bestselling romance novel. Truth is, they fought, they made up. I think they were happy. They smiled and laughed a lot. Kept having kids.”

He chuckles.

Austin: “But their love wasn’t as perfect as this town wishes it were. You guys just don’t remember. Nothing is ever perfect. You take the good with the bad.” Phoenix is the first one out of her car, and she flips me off behind Maverick’s back as they head into the hospital. Jamison: “I’m not joking. I’m serious. If I fuck this up, you’re welcome to beat me to a bloody pulp, okay?”

I step forward, lowering my voice.

Jamison: “But, Phoenix, I’ll warn you now, I’m not going anywhere. I’m here to win my family back. So you can try to interfere and be the annoying bee in your sister’s ear, but a love like ours doesn’t disappear after one fuck-up. Even a giant one like mine. I guarantee she still loves me. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind when I let her leave me, but I am now. And things are going to be very different. You can either accept that or not. I’m trying to prove myself to you all but there are only two people I really care about making amends to, and one of them is lying in the hospital and the other one is wondering who the hell her daddy is. So you can take yer threats and shove them up yer arse.” She smiles.

Holly: “I’m really proud of you for going to rehab and getting your life in order.”

I chuckle. Always the principal. I remember when she had every senior visit her during the first year she was a principal so she could ask about our life plans and help us chart a course. From the way she’s talking to me, she must remember what I told her. God knows I’ve never forgotten. Soccer and Sedona are still my goal, even if the soccer part is going to be different than I imagined.

Jamison: “Thanks.”

Holly: “I’m serious, Jamison. It’s something to be proud of. A lot of people lose the battle.”

Jamison: “I’m not sure my fight will ever be over.”

She nods.

Holly: “Probably not, but I think you’re moving in the right direction.” Rome: "I could’ve been pissed off at Harley for not trying hard enough to find me, but what would be the point of bringing more animosity into an already difficult situation? Instead we got over our shit, and look, we’re so damn happy we can’t stop having kids.”

Sedona: “You could slow it down a little.” Sedona: “It’s not that I hate you. I’m just so hurt. It’s hard to be around you because I’m still attracted to you. I still want you and I want to feel the safety you always offered me, but that idea terrifies me. What if you check out and leave me on my own again? You were my best friend and my boyfriend.”

He slowly turns around, standing in front of me like a defeated child.

Sedona: “Don’t take me struggling to mean that I don’t want you in Palmer’s life. I do. I just can’t decide if I want you in mine.”

Jamison: “Lass,”

he says, and I close my eyes.

Jamison: “I want to hold you and promise you that I’ll make up for the last eighteen months every day, if you’ll have me.”

He steps closer.

Jamison: “I want to wake up next to you, feel the way you’d slide your nose up and down my jaw while you get more comfortable. I want lazy Sunday mornings where we watch Palmer play and promise to get dressed but never do. I want it all.”

Phoenix: “Is that your mom-mobile down there, Ferguson? Nice kiss-ass move.” Palmer looks over her shoulder at me.

Palmer: What?

All eyes zero in on me.

I sign to Palmer what Dori said. I think she just understands go and pretty, but she takes Dori’s hand.

Dori: “What is this?”

Dori asks Jamison.

Sedona: “Jamison signs all our conversations now. Regardless if it’s age-appropriate or not.”

Sedona tucks her chin down and looks at me from under her lashes.

Ethyl: “Not dirty talk, I hope?”

Ethel chimes in from her perch on the bench. Sedona shakes her head.

Sedona: “There is no dirty talk happening in our household.”

Jamison: “Yet,” Sedona: “Just a trim, Marie. You can just wet my hair if that’s easier.”

Marie: “Nonsense. Dori said a shampoo, a bikini wax, the entire works.”

Sedona: “Wax?”

Oh, God no.

Dori: “Yes, dear, it’s been a while.”

Grandma leans over the sink to look down at me.

Dori: “You need to look good down there.”

I cross my legs.

Sedona: “Can we not talk about waxing?”

Dori: “We’re all ladies. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. Your grandfather—”

I hold up my hand.

Sedona: “Please stop. Please.” Denver: “What’s up, munchkins? Your favorite uncle is here,”

Denver says, and all the kids cheer.

Denver: “And don’t worry, Stella’s going to the park after she’s done working. A doctor is good to have around with this lot.”

Harley touches my knee. I feel oddly vulnerable and exposed.

Harley: “Dori gave them candy, so unless you’re hiding ice cream, you’re nothing right now,”

Harley yells toward the front of the shop. Harley: “Rome and I bonded over Calista that time she cut herself. Sometimes you have to share that fear to realize no two people love your kid as much as you guys.”

She smiles.

Harley: “But if you think you’re not ready, then don’t do it.”

Dori: “Harley, can I speak to you for a moment?”

Harley’s eyes roll and she stands.

Denver: “Oh, you’re in trouble,” Denver: “Man, I swear I’m the better-looking brother.”

Denver sounds perplexed as to why his niece wouldn’t stop what she’s doing and race over to him. Harley raises her hand.

Harley: “Rome’s definitely the best-looking Bailey brother.”

Denver’s eyes narrow.

Denver: “We’re identical twins, Harley. How do you figure?”

Harley: “I guess personality can make you more attractive.”

She laughs. Denver jumps up from the chair. Harley rushes away from him and puts Dion in front of her. Dion gets on the defense and puts up both hands as though he’s going to protect his mom. We all laugh, including Denver, who takes Dion from Harley and puts him over his shoulder. Jamison: “Your chariot awaits.”

Sedona: “It’s a minivan.”

She quirks her eyebrow. I nod.

Jamison: “There’s a lot of room in the back should the mood arise.” Sedona: “I think I’m going to stick with the tilapia. Would you like to share some sides? I promise I don’t have cooties.”

She grins. God, I love seeing that on her face again.

Jamison: “I’d love nothing more than to get your cooties. You pick.” I crawl in first.

Sedona: “So you haven’t had sex since…”

He smirks and kisses my nose.

Jamison: “Nope. I haven’t.”

He shimmies down the bed.

Jamison: “Now come and let me hold you. I missed the cuddles too.”

I do as he says, resting on his chest and enjoying the skin-on-skin feeling. I smack his chest and he looks quizzically at me.

Sedona: “That’s your sold sign. You’re mine.” He presses his lips to mine, and I don’t think much of it until we’re being smacked on the legs by two little hands. We look down at Palmer, who is staring at us with furrowed brows. She’s never seen us together like this, and she’s way too young to understand. She wiggles between us and raises her arms for Jamison to pick her up. Seems someone is jealous. I suppress a grin. Like mother, like daughter. Jamison: “Let’s just go. King, stop signing,”

Kingston: “Why? We’re helping Palmer,”

he says, his fingers not stopping. Sedona shrugs out of my hold on her upper arm.

Sedona: “I’m not going anywhere. You can’t talk to people like that. He’s a human being. I know he’s some huge celebrity in your eyes and I’m sorry that what he did disappointed your son, but believe me, he carries the burden of that every day. But he’s human—he fucked up, and he’s worked hard to get back to a good place in his life.”

Kingston: “Well, I don’t know how to sign that word,”

Kingston says from behind us.

Jamison: “Probably for the best. I’ll just say you made a mistake.”

I shake my head. I should’ve done this myself—not that it doesn’t feel good to watch Sedona defend me.

Gina: “When he’s getting paid all that money, he has a responsibility to his fans,”

Sedona throws her hands in the air.

Sedona: “Are you kidding me? He’s fucking human.”

Kingston: “You’re making this hard, Sedona,” Palmer squirms to get free, and Sedona sets her down. I move to get her, but Palmer goes to a desk on the side of the counter, picks up a coffee mug, and chucks it at the lady. Gina darts to the side to prevent her leg from being hit.

Gina: “Great work on your kid. I see the apple didn’t fall far.”

Sedona rushes the desk, but I hold her back, bringing her into my arms. Kingston grabs Palmer, picking her up, and chuckles.

Kingston: “Oh shit. I told you she’s been hanging around Savannah and Brinley too much.” I press my lips to hers, my pulse igniting when our tongues touch. Our kiss grows a little too sexual for daytime at a park.

Phoenix: “Here’s your daughter. Get a room. And my sister might believe you, but I do not,”

Phoenix says and walks away. I close the kiss and my forehead falls to hers.

Jamison: “How on Earth did I get so lucky to get you?”

Sedona: “Twice, at that,”

Jamison: “I’m the luckiest man in the world.”

Sedona: “And never forget it.” I wrap my arm around her shoulders and kiss her temple.

Jamison: : “Yer a good person, you know that?”

Callista: “Tell my mom and dad that, will you?”

She smiles and runs off to join the group of girls. Jamison: “Now I just need to get you to be a Ferguson too.”

He lays me down on the bed.

Sedona: “Slow down there.”

I laugh, allowing him to slide my shirt up my stomach.

Jamison: “Want to work on baby number two?”

I clear my throat.

Sedona: “You really don’t know the meaning of slow, do you?” Kingston: “What’s up, LJ?”

Kingston puts his hand up for a high five.

Harley: “Will you please stop calling him that?”

Kingston: “Believe me, you want this nickname to stick. You’re just asking for his ass to end up in a locker with the name Linus.”

Harley: “It’s a great name,” Kingston: “You cannot be pregnant again. Seriously, I’m going to pick up Rome and drive him to get fixed myself.”

She shoots him a glare.

Harley: “This is none of your business. And you shouldn’t be making me feel ashamed that I’m pregnant, okay? You came from a family of nine.”

Harley yanks her shirt down. I step forward and kiss her cheek.

Jamison: “Congratulations.”

Harley: “See.”

She points at Kingston.

Harley: “That’s how you should be. Not so judgy.”

Kingston wraps his arms around her and exaggerates a kiss on her cheek.

Kingston: “Congrats, sis, another baby. Do you think the spark will ever die?”

Harley: “Is your spark dead? Stella isn’t pregnant yet?”

Harley raises an eyebrow.

Kingston: “No, because we use protection.”

She throws her hands in the air, obviously exasperated. Jamison: “Yer right on that. Soccer was my first love. But then my parents signed me up to study abroad, and I showed up in this small town in Alaska and found my soulmate. Soccer was only my first love because I hadn’t met you yet. Yer my forever love.” Dori: "Did you hear the good news?”

Sedona: “What?”

I follow her.

Dori: “Calista’s team is playing Ethel’s grandson’s team today.”

She stops at the door and lowers her voice.

Dori: “The Baileys better kick their ass. I had Cleo make noisemakers and signs.”

Sedona: “Isn’t it just a bunch of eight-year-olds?”

She stares at me as though she’s wondering if we’re related.

Dori: “It’s never too early to learn that second place is just the first loser.” Jamison: “Sedona, will you make my dream come true and marry me?”

Sedona: “Is this just so you can hang that Ferguson sign on the door?”

He shakes his head.

Jamison: “You caught me.”

Sedona: “You did pay good money for that sign. I suppose I should marry you then.”

 


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