I Knew You Were Trouble

I Knew You Were Trouble

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USA TODAY BESTSELLER • New York City’s hottest bachelors are stirring up trouble in this fun, flirty Oxford Novel, as a love triangle forces a feisty beauty to choose between winning back Mr. Right or giving in to Mr. Wrong.

Taylor Carr has it all—a sleek job in advertising, a stunning Manhattan apartment, and the perfect man to share it with: Bradley Calloway. Even after Bradley dumps her for a co-worker on move-in day, Taylor isn’t worried. She’ll get her man eventually. In the meantime, she needs a new roommate. Enter Nick Ballantine, career bartender, freelance writer—and longtime pain in Taylor’s ass. Sexy in a permanent five-o’clock-shadow kind of way, Nick knows how to push Taylor’s buttons, as if he could see right through to the real her.

Nick’s always trying to fix people, and nobody could use a good fixing more than Taylor. Sure, she’s gorgeous, with mesmerizing silver eyes, but it’s her vulnerability that kills him. Now that they’re shacking up together, the chemistry is out of control. Soon they’re putting every part of their two-bedroom apartment to good use. Then Taylor’s ex comes crawling back to her, and Nick figures she’ll jump at the chance to go back to her old life—unless he fights for the best thing that ever happened to him.

One-Liners
  • Hate at first sight. Or something like that.
Accolades

“Lauren Layne is one of a handful of authors that can break your heart, while keeping you smiling the whole time.”

—I Love Romance (five stars)

“It is a fun and flirty battle of the sexes that will leave you giddy over the sheer romance of falling in love.”

—All About Romance

“I Knew You Were Trouble

is everything we love about the Oxford and Stiletto books. It has the office drama, the incredibly real and vibrant characters, and enough snark and fun to keep you up late into the night finishing the story. Nick and Taylor are one hell of a pair and I can’t wait to re-read their story as soon as possible.”

—Hypable

I Knew You Were Trouble

was flirty, sexy, angsty and absolutely fabulous! This was a classic [Lauren Layne] book, and I devoured it in one night.”

— Star-Crossed Book Blog

I Knew You Were Trouble

was fast-paced and pretty darn steamy. I loved it.”

—Obsessive Book Nerd

I Knew You Were Trouble

is an irresistible combination of funny and sexy in this coworkers-to-enemies-to-roommates-to-lovers tale.”

—Harlequin Junkie

“I can always count on enjoying a Lauren Layne book and this was no exception. Looking forward to whatever she’s going to give us next!”

—The Book Hookup

“Lauren Layne is a master of the book hangover. I laughed! I cried! I laughed and cried some more! I can’t get enough of Layne’s fantastic heroes.”

—Jessica Lemmon, author of Forgotten Promises

“A fun, sexy tap dance around true feelings and emotions that will make you root for these two to finally get together . . . and stay there!”

—Carly Phillips, New York Times bestselling author

“A sexy game of cat and mouse where the roles switch constantly and the winner in the end is the reader! Another win in this awesome series.”

New York Times bestselling author Melanie Moreland

“I love the Stiletto/Oxford books, and

I Knew You Were Trouble

has it all: a smoking hot hero, a heroine you want to invite to your next girls’ night out, and that fabulous, trademark Lauren Layne sexual tension.”

—Serena Bell, USA Todaybestselling author of the Returning Home series

Excerpts

Nick Ballantine glanced up and blinked in surprise when he saw Taylor. He sat back in his chair and gave a slight smile. “Taylor.”

She wanted desperately to turn on her heel, but she forced her stilettos to stay put. “Nick.”

Her voice was even and a little cool—not at all betraying the fact that she’d been actively avoiding him for the past month, and they both knew it.

Still, she couldn’t stop herself from giving him a quick once-over. He looked . . . different.

And it wasn’t just the suit and tie, although that was a first. There was a tension to his face that hadn’t been there before, a vague sadness in his eyes.

“What are you doing here?”

He spread his arms to the sides. “This is my gig for the next month or so.”

“What, being a less good-looking stand-in for Lincoln?”

Taylor had assumed that Nick Ballantine was the sort of man who always ambled, never in a hurry for anything. But she was wrong. She wasn’t sure how he got across the office so quickly, but he beat her to the door, shutting it before she could escape.

His palm was braced against the wood, his forearm just inches from the side of her face.

Taylor’s breath felt a little choppy, but she didn’t dare turn and look at him. “Very mature, Ballantine. Your girlfriend may enjoy when you slam doors in her face to get your way, but I’m not loving it.”

“I don’t have a girlfriend.”

She sucked in a breath at that. “Since when?”

“Couple of weeks.”

Taylor closed her eyes, just for a second. Crappy timing.

“You’re seeing Calloway?” Nick asked, his voice gruff.

She nodded.

“He’s not right for you.”

Taylor turned her head to give him an incredulous look, then regretted it, because he was too close. Too much . . . man.

“You’ve known me for what, four months? Most of which we’ve spent fighting or avoiding each other? You don’t get to decide who’s the right guy for me.”

“Look me in the eye and tell me you seriously like him.”

Taylor didn’t look away. “I like him.”

His brown eyes flickered with something she couldn’t read. Then he dropped his arm from the door, shoved both hands in his pockets. “Yeah, I bet you do. He probably does whatever you tell him. Irons his underwear. Do you guys go get your manicures together?”

“Answer something for me.”

She tried to jerk away, but he held her fast. “What?” she snapped, trying to tell herself that her increasing agitation stemmed from annoyance and not something more dangerous.

“If you weren’t dating him, would you have dinner with me?”

“I don’t like you,” she whispered.

He eased closer until his mouth was inches from her ear. “Liar.”

It was a whisper, and it sent shivers down her spine and then back up again. The good kind of shivers, the kind that made her want to lean into him and beg him to put his mouth all over her.

“You do what you were born to do,” he said quietly. Firmly. “You fight. You keep living, just as she would want you to.”

Taylor wiped a tear that had made its way to the corner of her mouth. “Karen would want that.”

His thumb drifted over her perfectly sculpted cheekbone. “It’s what everyone wants for the people they love.”

She made a soft scoffing noise that broke his heart. “I forgot you never met Karen. Smartest person I ever knew, but I don’t think love was in her vocabulary.”

Nick frowned. “Of course she loved you.”

Taylor gave a fleeting smile. “You’re sweet to say so.”

Nick thought he knew what he was reading on her face right now, and he hoped to God he was wrong. Taylor Carr thought nobody loved her.

He didn’t fully know why, but he wanted to figure out how to fix the part of her that was broken—not because she was a project, or even because she was flawed, because they were all flawed, but because . . .

“Someone will love you, Taylor. I promise it

“Hot damn. Is it Pretty Woman theme day? I didn’t get the memo, but I am loving this hooker look.”

Taylor was opening and closing every drawer in the Oxford break room when the sound of a gravelly masculine voice gave her something to be irritated about besides the fact that she couldn’t find any freaking Scotch tape.

Great. Just what every girl needed in this moment. Her archnemesis.

She turned around, unsurprised to see his gaze lingering unapologetically on her ass before meeting her eyes with a bored expression. “Ballantine.”

Nick grinned, slow and cocky. “Morning.”

Gross. Only he could take an innocuous greeting and make the lone word sound like it had just rolled out of bed with a wink and morning wood.

She batted at his hand even as he brushed a thumb gently over the spot on her jaw where the cork had thwacked her. “What happened here?” he asked quietly.

Taylor wrinkled her nose, even as she cursed the Sephora girl who had claimed that the thick-as-mud concealer would cover up anything.

“Nothing.”

“Taylor.”

“Nick.”

Their eyes held in a silent battle of wills, interrupted only when someone else walked into the break room.

“Come on, Carr. Scared?” he taunted softly.

She pursed her lips, an expression he knew she thought looked haughty but was really her tell for nervousness. “Of what?” she scoffed, after too long a pause.

“You, me, all that close proximity. Might be hard to resist me.”

She rolled her eyes, clearly recovered. “I think I can handle it.”

His smile was victorious. “So. When can I move in?”

Nick brushed past her, unabashed about wearing only his towel as he headed into the kitchen. She followed him, watching as he opened a drawer and pulled out a little gadget like waiters at restaurants used to open wine bottles.

“I was hoping for something a little more MacGyver,” she said, settling on a barstool. “Like a paper clip or something.”

He flicked open the corkscrew part of the tool with his thumb and glared at her. “You want the wine or not?”

His fingers closed around her wrist, and he whipped her around so that their positions were reversed—her with her back against the door, his body pinning her there.

He expected to see triumph on her face, but there was only lust. The same sort of life-altering want that was rocketing through his own body.

It wouldn’t have mattered. He’d have kissed her regardless.

His mouth dropped to hers at the exact moment hers lifted to his, and they met each other in a hungry kiss that had been months in the making, even if neither had realized it.

She was sweeter than he expected. Or maybe he had been expecting it, and that’s why he’d held himself back this long, terrified by how irresistible she’d be to him. How one taste, one kiss would never be enough.