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Chapter One

Read the first chapter of Wild Flower!

Read the First Chapter of Wild Flower



Being the third wheel sucks.

Being the third wheel at the sexiest restaurant on the whole island of Oahu with your best friend and her new boyfriend is even worse. Flambé is the Atlantis Resort’s rooftop restaurant, and everything inside this eatery of sin has been designed to wake up your lower regions.

There’s the sultry low lighting.

There’s the burst of flames when someone orders an exotic cocktail that’s set on fire.

There’s the fact that everything is an aphrodisiac: chocolate, liquor, berries, oysters! Your mouth is supposed to be hungry for dessert (and by dessert, I mean all the lusty things you think about doing naked in the dark).

And it’s working.

Or I should say, it’s working on Miranda and her new boyfriend Kyle, who sit on the opposite side of our U-shaped booth and can’t keep their hands off each other. Those two are several flaming cocktails deep into swallowing each other’s faces, and they’ve barely come up for air in the last ten minutes. The joke around town is you should book a room at the Atlantis hotel for your night at Flambé because the experience will inspire all sorts of debauchery. It seems my best friend has begun with the third wheel watching, and honestly, I’m not even sure they’d make it to a room before the hokey-pokey, considering how handsy Kyle is.

There’s no way I’m sharing an Uber ride home with them.

I pull out my phone and immediately regret it when a text from my mother flashes on the screen.

Mom: Are you free next week? I have the most wonderful man to introduce you to. I met him at the country club. He’s a marketing director at a firm in Honolulu!

I lied. There is something worse than playing third wheel to my best friend’s game of handsy hopscotch, and that’s my mother setting me up on a blind date—again.

Mom: It’s all planned! 6 pm on Friday at the Silver Fin Restaurant.

“Oh my God!” I grumble under my breath. “I’m a freaking adult.” I quickly dash off a text, telling my mother to stop setting me up with men I don’t want to meet. Especially men from the country club. I’ve got about fifteen more tattoos than any man at that club will think is marriage material.

Not that I’m looking for marriage. I’m not. But marriage is my mother’s not-so-stealthy agenda. She was married at twenty, and my perfect older sister, Helena, was married at twenty-three. In the Laurel family, a woman who’s twenty-six and single has chosen to be an old hag destined for a life of loneliness and leprosy.

Honestly, I’d be happy to date any man who can give me an out-of-this-world orgasm—or any orgasm, for that matter. Of course, I’d prefer one like in the stack of spicy books on my bedside table: werewolf shifters, Fae kings, Alpha-holes. Helena says those books give me unrealistic expectations for men. I don’t think it’s unrealistic to want a six-foot-six, ripped, sex-god, who will unalive any man who comes near me and may or may not get extra hairy during a full moon.

Reading = fantasy. Duh. My sister has no sense of humor.

Of course, I never mention to my sister that my bar is actually so low I’m still waiting for any man to make me feel a little tingly in the Cherries Jubilee. That’s a dessert on the menu here at Flambé, but I think it’s a euphemism for every woman in this restaurant’s rejoicing pussy (everyone’s except for mine, that is). To my mother’s pleasure, I’ll probably marry the first man who actually does make me orgasm … because currently, the only one who can get the job done is my right hand … with the aid of some creative literature. Don’t judge my smut addiction! I doubt my mother’s country-club catch will live up to the multiple-appendage alien smut I was reading last week.

Hmmm, maybe my sister has a point.

Not that I haven’t tried going out with the men my mother sets me up with. I have. I’ve even slept with a few. But none of them got my pulse racing, much less the cherries to jubilee!

Mom: I’m not cancelling this date. You’re going.

I practically hiss at my phone. “I’m going to kill you, mother!” I growl, shoving my phone into my glittery purse like the child my mother imagines I still am. News flash: I own a business, Mom. I’m financially independent. I’m not a penniless daughter in the nineteenth century you need to sell off for half a dozen cows.

“Is your mom trying to set you up again?” Miranda asks, untangled herself from Kyle’s octopus grip, her face and neck flushed with red. Her mid-length blond hair was perfectly curled when this evening started, all bouncy and flirty at her shoulders. Now it’s a tentacle-combed monstrosity from Kyle’s cephalopod clutch as he deep-dived his tongue down her esophagus.

It’s almost ironic: my best friend forcing herself to stop making out in a restaurant that’s begging her to do the nasty, only so she can console me on being set up with a guy that will inevitably arouse me less than the flaming cocktail I drank half an hour ago.

“Unfortunately,” I grumble, “it’s another guy she met at the country club.”

“Isn’t that the fourth guy this year? You really need to move out of your parents’ house,” Miranda says in solidarity. “As long as you’re living within fifty feet of your mother, she’s going to expect you to do everything she says.”

“Wait,” Kyle asks, pushing a shock of red hair out of his face (yup, Miranda has a thing for gingers) before narrowing his eyes at me. “You still live with your parents?”

“No!” I shoot a scowl at Miranda. “I live in the guest house behind my parents’ house,” I emphasize, taking another sip of my drink—which happens to be empty. Where’s that ridiculously good-looking waiter? I need a gallon of vodka to get through this night.

“Oh …” Kyle frowns like that isn’t different. But technically, it is. I have my own space. I have my own locked door (which my parents have a key to, but the principle stands).

“My flower farm is on my parents’ property,” I explain to Kyle. “You know that florist shop your girlfriend works at?” I motion to Miranda. “I own that shop, and I grow those flowers myself. It’s easier to live close to the farm when you have to check watering schedules at three in the morning, or cover blooms that can’t handle temperatures under fifty degrees.”

Kyle’s eyes glaze over like I’m talking about how many lifetimes it would take to circle Uranus. In his eyes, I’m the pathetic bestie who’s single and still lives with her mom and dad. My mother may as well be sitting at this table giving him a high-five.

“Is that why you have so many flower tattoos?” Kyle asks, motioning to the plethora of botanicals inked across my arms and shoulders. “If you grow flowers, and you sell flowers, why do you need—?” He motions to the obnoxious redundancy that is the art on my body.

My eyes cut to Miranda with the sharpness of a diamond. She flushes pink, shrugging before making a quip about how my mother can’t help but play makeover with her ugly duckling. It’s a joke we’ve had for years. My sister, Helena, is the dream child, and I’m the goth princess with an obsession with exotic flowers who doesn’t fit into my parents’ country club lifestyle. My mom keeps trying to turn her tattooed quack into a pearl-wearing swan, only to get frustrated each time she discovers the ink and piercings are permanent and not a phase. If only a few make-up and hair curling tutorials could get me to grow up and act like a lady.

“My mother—” I begin, only Kyle has inserted his tongue into Miranda’s mouth again and has Hungry Hungry Hippo-ed all of her attention—which is my cue to make like Tom and Cruise.

Only, a periwinkle blue cocktail slides onto the table in front of me.

I look up, only to find our waiter’s stunning blue eyes (which match my drink) staring down at me with the sparkling clarity of a glacial spring. And ugly ducklings be dammed, is that a tingle I feel downtown where no one knows how to make it jingle?