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Winning my Best Friend's Girl by Piper Rayne


Winning my Best Friend's Girl

by Piper Rayne

Self-Published

Book 8 in The Bailey's Series


Kingston loves a lot of things about being a smoke jumper.


Number one is that it gets him out of Lake Starlight during the summer. He doesn’t much like to relive the past and there’s memories in every corner of his small town. But being away means he’s the last one to find out that his high school crush, the same high school ex-girlfriend of his best friend is back in town until she pulls back the curtain in the hospital to nurse him back to health.

haha ... don't judge me.


Genre:

 

Winning my Best Friend's Girl was another book in The Bailey's series that I've been looking forward to. The story with Kingston, Stella, and Owen has been hinted at for several books, so I was desperate to find out all the juicy story hidden behind those hints.

Unfortunately, I was left disappointed.

Don't get me wrong. This book is as well-written as the others, and has everything I loved about the other books. Great banter, romance and sex. Anytime the Bailey's as a family is on page is a hoot. Kingston as a brother and brother-in-law is just swoonworthy. His care and support of Sedona during her pregnancy and after having the baby, and giving Holly her injection when Austin couldn't do it and she was scared. Tell me you didn't fall in love with him too. Impossible. Another thing I loved, was that Stella is a woman of color, and I loved that Piper Rayne added some diversity to this very white cast of characters. That all was great!

My problem, was how anticlimactic is all was. A story that has been hinted at this long should have been epic. It needed more angst. And sure, the memories from when they were younger, particularly where everything comes to a head, is heartbreaking for several reasons.

But.

I just didn't feel the chemistry between Kingston and Stella.

It felt forced.

It just fell flat.

Which sucks, considering this book has been building up so much throughout the series.

But.

What I did love, was Kingston's romantic side. It's been obvious from the start he is a romantic. While he wasn't saving himself all these years, he did make it clear with all his past partners he wasn't looking for a relationship, and that was because he was always in love with Stella. That's swoonworthy.


Obviously, I wouldn't suggest skipping the book. It's still good. It's just not as good as some of the others in the series. And it's The Bailey's! You have to read it! Perhaps it will hit you differently then it hit me. One thing is for sure ... I can't wait for Sedona's book. It's going to be good!




Dori: “I really wanted to be present for the birth, but the things I’ve seen happen on that sofa.”

Grandma Dori cringes.

Dori: “It’s been here for ages. Your grandfather and I made out on it once, and then he always did this thing with his—”

Rome: “Thoughts to yourself,”

Rome yells at his smiling grandma, who’s reliving another time on this couch. Kingston: “You know I love a challenge.”

His cocky smirk I know well appears, and my stomach flips.

Stella: “I’m not trying to be a challenge.”

Kingston: “I just have one more question. Do you think about me?”

I shake my head.

Stella: “King—”

Kingston: “Just answer the question. Do you think about me when you’re alone? When you’re in bed at night. Am I the man who fulfills those fantasies of yours?”

My cheeks heat.

Stella: “Stop it.”

He laughs.

Kingston: “I think I am.”

He walks over to me and cages me against the door.

Kingston: “I think you have it all wrong. I think you like my wild streak. I think it turns you on when I do crazy shit, because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t go after my best friend’s girl. I’d sit back and let him win.”

His chest radiates heat that makes me want to tear his shirt open and run my hands down those hidden abs.

Stella: “You’re crazy,”

I say, my voice sounding too breathy even to my own ears.

Kingston: “Am I?”

He inches closer. I could push him out of the way and walk out, but I stay put because the truth is, I like the feel of him this close.

Kingston: “You’re thinking too practically for love. Sometimes the heart wants what it wants regardless of the consequences or whether it makes sense. Maybe it’s time to test my theory.”

I inhale, and all I smell is his cologne.

Stella: “My decision is final.”

I push back with my ass and open the door. He grabs my wrist.

Kingston: “I didn’t fight for you once. I won’t make that mistake again.” Stella: “I’ll always regret being the reason you and Owen aren’t friends anymore. And that I ruined your chance to play baseball in college. It’s all because of me and that will never change, King. No matter what happens between us, our past will always plague our future. Don’t you see that?”

I circle back around.

Kingston: “All I see when I look at you is love. My heart doesn’t hurt, it soars.” He holds up both hands.

Kingston: “I’m not judging. If you want, I’m happy to read it to you.”

Stella: “Why would that be?”

Tank and Stump walk into the room from the side bedroom, each of them in the clothes they wore last night, now wrinkled. Lou talks to them. Kingston takes the opportunity of his friends’ distraction to lean in close.

Kingston: “Because when you’re horny after reading all the hot sex scenes, I’ll be the closest male.”

My body floods with heat as though I’m lying on a Mexican beach in the middle of summer.

Stella: “You wish.”

Kingston: “You’re right. I do.” Kingston: “What?”

Stella: “Your little hmm.”

I slam the bottle on the counter a little too hard and he chuckles, getting the reaction he wants out of me.

Kingston: “Just that if you were my girlfriend, the last thing you’d need is a book. Hell, you’d be thinking I jumped right out of those pages.”

I swallow my wine.

Stella: “Is that what jumping out of a helicopter does to you? Inflates your ego?”

I open my mouth to clear it up that Lou isn’t my boyfriend, but he’s quick to reply.

Kingston: “No. I don’t need to do that to know that if you were mine, Samantha’s screams would sound like whispers compared to what would be coming out of your mouth.”

He tips the beer and I watch as his Adam’s apple rises and falls. Callista: “Uncle Kingston!”

She smiles at me.

Callista: “Want to take me to get ice cream?”

I pat her head.

Kingston: “After I see the new baby.”

Callista: “Ugh.”

She rolls her eyes.

Callista: “Fine. Everyone has to see the baby.”

I swoop her up and turn her upside down.

Kingston: “Ice cream after. Promise.” My gaze falls to a stack of Lard Have Mercy pie boxes near the trash.

Kingston: “She’s kind of addicted to the pies,”

Sedona: “I heard you. And it’s called cravings when you’re pregnant, FYI.”

Sedona shoots Kingston a look that could kill. I sit down next to Sedona, and she hands me her empty plate and lifts her shirt.

Kingston: “Sedona!”

Sedona: “It’s a belly, Kingston. Surely you’ve seen one before.”

She shakes her head at him.

Kingston: “It’s moving.”

He points at her with a mix of awe and agitation on his face. Sure enough, the baby must be shifting. Sedona cradles her stomach with her hand.

Sedona: “She keeps doing that as if she doesn’t have enough room.”

Kingston: “It’s like in that movie Alien,”

Sedona: “Did you just call my baby an alien?”

Kingston: “No.” I sanitize my hands and put on the gloves. While I pull the fertility medicine into the syringe, she raises her blouse. There are a few bruises on her stomach as she turns away.

Holly: “Right side today.”

Kingston: “Do you want it fast or slow?”

God, it feels all kinds of wrong to say that to my sister-in-law.

Holly: “Fast.”

Her free hand grips the desk and she turns her head away.

Kingston: “Okay, ready?”

I aim the syringe and her body tenses.

Kingston: “One.”

She groans.

Kingston: “Two.”

Her knuckles turn white on the desk.

Kingston: “Grandma Dori has a boyfriend.”

She turns toward me, but I’ve already stuck her, injected the shot, and the needle is out before she laughs.

Holly: “Thanks so much.”

She takes it from my hands.

Holly: “I didn’t feel a thing. Dori doesn’t really have a boyfriend, right?”

I laugh.

Kingston: “Not that I know of.”

Holly: “You need to tell Austin about that trick.”

Kingston: “Nah, now you’re on to it. Plus, I have to excel over my brothers in some way.”

Kingston: “I really wish I wouldn’t have come to talk to you,”

I grumble, now more confused than ever. He laughs.

Austin: “Love’s a bitch. It can make you a little crazy, that’s for damn sure.”

The school bell rings.

Kingston: “I should go.”

Austin: “You know where to find me if you need an AA meeting again.”

I raise my eyebrows at him.

Austin: “You know… Austin advice, AA get it?”

He laughs at his own joke. God, he’s already turning into a dad with corny jokes. Mom: “If someone would’ve told me that your dad was going to die so young, do you think I would’ve said ‘oh, forget him’? Forget the brilliant daughter we’d make?”

She pats my knee.

Mom: “Because that’s what you’re doing. There’s no way of knowing what will ever happen. I can see how Kingston’s way of living is scary to someone who lost her father much too young. I always hated that you bore that loss. But he might land on both feet time and time again.”

She raises her hands.

Mom: “I’m just your mom, but do you think that it’s not the big stuff Kingston does, but more how he lives his life with the small decisions? That he won’t fit in that perfect box you’ve designated for your husband?”

Stella: “What? No.”

I shake my head, but she tilts hers with a “think about it” expression.

Mom: “You two will face a lot of challenges. Not just because you value control and he likes a little bit of chaos, but because you’d be an interracial couple.”

I give her a ‘duh’ look.

Stella: “I know, Mom.”

Mom: “I know you know, Stella, but it’s going to mean that you both need to be stronger than most if you’re in it for the long haul. Not everyone will be as accepting of your relationship as you want them to be.”

I shake my head at her.

Stella: “I can deal with all that.”

Mom: “Then it’s the fact that a man like Kingston isn’t going to let you sit on the sidelines and let life pass you by. He’s going to push you to live life to its fullest. I think that’s what you’re most afraid of. But another thing I know about you is that you love a challenge. Kingston is the first challenge I’ve ever seen you run away from.” Mom: “What have you decided?”

Stella: “I’m gonna go get my man.”

She puts her arm around me and kisses my temple.

Mom: “That’s my girl. I know it’s hard, but your dad once took a chance on a head-in-the-clouds art student who messed up his perfectly precise existence.”

I laugh.

Mom: “And I bet he never had any regrets.”

I squeeze her hand and walk out of the house, determined to get my man. Stella: “Kingston Bailey, will you go to homecoming with me?”

She’s got to be shittin’ me. I’d go to the moon with her.

Kingston: “Why?”

She takes my hand in both of hers.

Stella: “I want a redo. I want to start over. I want you to take me to homecoming.”

Kingston: “Why?”

Damn it, I probably sound like I have a stutter. Just say yes, dumbass.

Stella: “Because I love you.” Stella: “I just want you. I’ve loved you since… forever.”

Kingston: “And when I say I want to parachute down a mountain?”

Stella: “I’ll be biting my nails at the end and loving you pretty hard when you return to me. But…”

She takes my head in her hands.

Stella: “You better come back to me.”

I cover her hands with mine.

Kingston: “I’ll always come back to you. I always have.” My hands cradle her cheeks, our faces growing closer. The tip of my nose runs along hers, and we both inhale a breath. My body buzzes with nerves I’ve never felt except around Stella. How do I make sure a kiss that we’ve both dreamed about this long will be worth it?

Stella: “King,”

Kingston: “Uh-huh.”

My eyes are closed and my nose slides down her cheekbone. My lips rest by her earlobe as she sighs.

Stella: “Are you nervous?”

I nod, never letting go of her head.

Kingston: “So fucking nervous.”

She smells like she always does, but it’s much more potent when I’m this close to her.

Kingston: “You’re so beautiful.”

I hook my finger under the strap of her dress resting on her shoulder, delaying the kiss.

Stella: “Thank you,”

My lips drag down her jawline until they hover over her lips.

Kingston: “I’m going to kiss you now.”

She giggles.

Stella: “Okay.”

Kingston: “This is what you want, right?”

I clarify once more.

Stella: “King?”

Kingston: “Yeah.”

Stella: “Kiss me.” Kingston: “It seems like a waste.”

She looks down at the unlit candles.

Stella: “No. It was romantic. I swooned.” I lean back in one of the curved seats and her hands shake as they reach for the tie of the robe.

Kingston: “Stella?”

I ask, inching across the water.

Kingston: “Are you nervous?”

Stella: “It’s just. You’ve never seen me and…”

I grab one of the ties and pull her forward.

Kingston: “I promise you, I’m going to love whatever is underneath this.”

I tug on the tie.

Stella: “What if I have three boobs?”

She raises her eyebrows.

Kingston: “Do you honestly think I would have a problem if you had three boobs? Talk about motor boating.” Cleo: “I think we’re interrupting something,”

Denver: “Why?”

Cleo: “Oh, I don’t know, but unless you did these rose petals and candles for me, this is for someone else.”

Denver: “Yeah, I did it and the fuckers didn’t turn the candles on. Here, let me pick you up.”

I shake my head at Denver.

Kingston: “You’re such a liar.” Phoenix: “Does Grandma Dori know?”

Kingston: “Give it a rest,”

Kingston says, his hand sliding over my ass when he passes.

Allie: “She does.”

Allie beams. Phoenix looks at her then me.

Phoenix: “Who’s this?”

Kingston: “Allie is Dori’s new best friend.”

Phoenix puts it all together and she sighs.

Phoenix: “She recruited you to get those two together, didn’t she?”

Allie smiles wide, nodding.

Allie: “I want to be her when I grow up.”

Phoenix’s dark eyebrows shoot up.

Phoenix: “Oookkkaayyy.” We all file into the hospital room. Dr. Foster is already there, head peering out from under the sheet.

Kingston: “Whoa.”

Kingston covers his eyes with his arm and backs up, pushing the rest of us to back up with him.

Phoenix: “You’ve seen plenty of pussies, King, don’t be a moron.”

Phoenix slides by him and disappears into the room.

Kingston: “Not my sister’s.”

He cringes and looks at me.

Kingston: “Not my sister’s.”

I laugh and pat his shoulder. Stella: “Who says you have to do this all yourself? Everyone says it takes a village to raise a baby. We’re your village right now, so just sleep.”

I raise my eyebrows at Stella, so she says,

Stella: “What?”

Kingston: “There’s that bossy side of you I love so much.”

Sedona: “Ew… is that foreplay, King? Gross. I’m never having sex again.”

Sedona lays her head on the back cushion. Ethyl: “Little boy, let me tell you something.”

Ethel follows them. Dori sits down next to me.

Dori: “Sometimes I just don’t have the energy but watch this. Ethel learned everything from me.”

Ethel pokes the kid in the chest.

Ethyl: “One of those men up there is her grandson, the other one’s boyfriend. And that one.”

She points at Samantha.

Ethyl: “Well, from what I understand, they only have nookie. Not sure what you call that.”

She scowls at Samantha. Samantha tucks over by us, snatching one of Allie’s gummy worms.

Samantha: “Actually we’re official now,”

Dori: “Well thank God for small favors,”

Ethyl: “Don’t speak so lightly of people’s lives,”

Ethel says to the boys.

Ethyl: “It’s disrespectful. You two been smoking that whacky weed?”

One kid raises his eyebrows like, ‘what the hell is wrong with this woman.’

Ethyl: “And before you open your mouth, I’ll remind you, I’m someone’s grandmother. So speak to me with the respect you do your own grandparents.”

Boy 1: “Sorry, ma’am,”

the one who hasn’t spoken yet says, weaving around Ethel.

Boy 1: “I’m very sorry. If we knew more, we’d tell you.”

Boy 2: “Whatever,”

the other one says to the quieter kid.

Boy 2: “You’re such a pussy.”

Boy 1: “Grandmas are badass. Mine hit me with her cane once when I back talked her. You don’t want to fuck with them.” Kingston: “Being up there and watching that avalanche chasing me down, all I thought about was not returning to you. Not being with you. I don’t need to chase some high that risks my future with you. I want the risks of marrying you, having a family. The adrenaline of getting you to the hospital when you’re nine months pregnant and the sweet reward of our baby being born. Or trying to choose the perfect anniversary gift and waiting while you open it to see if I did good. I want the challenges of raising our kids and the wild ride of parenthood we’ll face together. Because all I could think up there was that what I was really risking was you. And I don’t want to be the guy in a story you tell one day to your kids that you had with some other asshole.”

Stella: “What guy?”

He shakes his head.

Kingston: “No one. Nobody. Just know you are always first, and I’ll never put our life together in jeopardy.”

He kisses me.

Kingston: “And now I’ll have to hear Austin say I told you so.”

I laugh.

Stella: “What are you talking about?”

Kingston: “Just that I love you more than all that shit. So much fucking more.”

 

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