Book Title: Don’t Mess With The Ex
Author: DJ Jamison
Publisher: Must Love Books LLC
Cover Artist: Morningstar Ashley
Release Date: July 20, 2023
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance, small-town romance
Tropes: Secret husband, second chance romance, fake relationship, forced proximity
Themes: Rekindling old love, being true partners, standing together, fighting for love
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: 86 000 words
It is book 2 in the Rules We Break series, but it can be read as a standalone.
It does not end on a cliffhanger.
When Laurie and I got married the first time, it had been a speedy elopement at a courthouse. I hadn’t cared, beyond a flicker of guilt that my mother would be disappointed. I’d never been one to want a lot of fanfare. But seeing everyone come together for us—everyone believing in us—made my stomach flip with a mix of nerves and excitement.
Laurie and I are just beginning to get to know each other again, I reminded myself. All of this is a performance.
But it didn’t feel that way, especially when my mother stood and raised a plastic glass filled with champagne. “To Tucker and Laurie! I’m so glad you boys have found your way back to each other. I don’t have to tell you to treasure each day together after nearly twenty years apart.”
LeRoy called from the crowd, “Imagine the fun of making up for all that lost time though!”
Everyone laughed, and I turned toward Laurie, a joke poised on my lips. The words evaporated and my heart nearly stopped at the sight of him.
The man’s smile was fucking magic, his eyes glowing with promise. This wedding reception might be for show, but I hoped we’d be enjoying a hell of a wedding night anyway, because I was done fighting this pull between us.
My mother scolded us playfully. “I know I don’t have to tell you two to never get married in secret again,” she said, wagging a playful finger at us. “You’re just lucky Laurie is such a delight, or I’d really be in a tizzy.”
“She was in a total tizzy,” my dad called out. “Don’t let her fool you! I heard about it for a solid week!”
My mother waved him off, wrapping up the speech with something a little more heartfelt. “I’m so happy to be able to celebrate this night with you, Tucker. And you too, Laurie. I’m so happy to witness this new chapter for the both of you and to see you looking so happy.” She lifted her cup again. “Let’s all drink to the next twenty years that Tucker and Laurie will spend side by side as true partners. I know you two are taking it a day at a time, and that’s good. It’s how all the best marriages work. I have no doubt, seeing you together like this, that you’ve got a very happy life ahead.”
We all dutifully sipped our champagne. The ringing of a bell sounded, followed by the chant of “Kiss kiss kiss.”
Well, hell, I wanted to kiss him anyway. I wanted to kiss him every minute of every day. I always had, since the very first moment I saw him on Hunter’s lawn, but now I could finally give in to the craving.
I leaned in, brushing his lips with mine—and even with the whole room watching—sparks shot through me and I had to fight the desire to deepen the kiss. Laurie caressed my jaw, his touch so loving and sensual I wanted to drag him beneath the table right here.
“Awww,” my sister crooned, rudely interrupting our moment. “Aren’t you two just sickening?”
I pulled away with a little laugh and shot her a mock glare. “Jealous?”
She glanced at Laurie. “Well, to be honest, a little. Laurie is one fine man.”
“Hey!” Her husband, Rusty, wrapped a possessive arm around her waist. “Maybe we’ve been together all fifteen years of our marriage, but don’t even think about trading me in for a flashier model.”
She turned a killer grin on him. “Just making sure you appreciate me.”
“I could help with that.” Wes Potter strolled up, a flirtatious smile on his handsome face. He usually wore grass-stained jeans and faded T-shirts, but he’d cleaned up fucking nice in a suit that molded to his muscled arms and chest. “Care to dance, Julie?”
His stepbrother, Beckett, was a step behind him, a scowl on his cute, freckled face. “Don’t the grooms get the first dance?”
Wes turned with a shit-eating grin. “My bad. Laurie, care to dance?”
Laurie tilted his head, gaze panning up and down Wes’s fine form, while Beckett looked skyward and shook his head, as if he was not the least bit surprised by Wes’s shit-stirring.
“Don’t even think about it,” I practically growled as I pushed my chair back and grabbed Laurie’s hand. “He’s dancing with me.”
Laurie chuckled good-naturedly, allowing me to drag him around the table. “I’ll have to send Wes a thank-you card.”
“For inviting you to dance?” I asked in disbelief.
“No,” he said, smiling up at me as we took our position on the dance floor. “For making you jealous enough to go all caveman on me.”
“Shit, sorry,” I said, glancing around self-consciously. “I might have let all this go to my head.”
Laurie took hold of my jaw, guiding my gaze back to him. “All of this?”
“The celebrating, the toasts, the congratulations. It feels…”
Laurie leaned in to brush a kiss to my cheek. “For me, it is.”
He wrapped his arms around my neck, pressing close, and spoke in my ear. “No, listen. I know we’re starting over and you’re not ready to make any promises. But we didn’t get this the first time, and…maybe we deserve to enjoy it. Just a little? What do you think?”
I gazed into his eyes, full of love for me. Full of understanding too. I was still a little afraid, taking this step, but Laurie knew where I stood. He accepted me and my reservations gracefully, just as he’d accepted my rejection, as flimsy as it was.
Every step of the way, Laurie took me as I was, I realized, and was grateful for whatever I offered.
And it was time I offered honesty. He deserved that much.
“Let’s enjoy it,” I agreed, dipping my head to kiss him. “I want to enjoy every moment we have together from now on.”
“Good, then go fucking caveman over me anytime you feel the urge,” he said, eyes hot. “Don’t hold back anymore. Please.”
The note of desperation in that plea nearly did me in. The reception was far from over, and all I wanted was to get this man alone and finally relearn the lean, gorgeous body that I’d once known so well.
About the Author
DJ Jamison writes romances about everyday life and extraordinary love featuring a variety of queer characters, from gay to bisexual to asexual. DJ grew up in the Midwest in a working-class family, and those influences can be found in her writing through characters coping with real-life problems: money troubles, workplace drama, family conflicts and, of course, falling in love. DJ spent more than a decade in the newspaper industry before chasing her first dream to write fiction. She spent a lifetime reading before that and continues to avidly devour her fellow authors’ books each night. She lives in Kansas with her husband, two sons, one snake, and a sadistic cat named Birdie.
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