The Trouble With Love

The Trouble With Love


As Lauren Layne’s salacious Sex, Love & Stiletto series returns, a jaded columnist discovers a steamy way to get over an old flame: falling for him all over again.

As Stiletto magazine’s authority on all things breakup-and-heartache, Emma Sinclair writes from personal experience. Five years ago, Emma was Charlotte, North Carolina’s darling debutante and a blushing bride-to-be. Now she’s the ice queen of the Manhattan dating scene. Emma left her sultry Southern drawl behind, but not even her closest friends know that with it she left her heart.

Now Emma’s latest article forces her to face her demons—namely, the devilishly sexy guy who ditched her at the altar. After giving up everything for a pro-soccer career, Alex Cassidy watches his dreams crumble as a knee injury sidelines him for good. Now he’s hanging up his cleats and giving journalism a shot. It’s just a coincidence that he happens to pick a job in the same field, and the same city, as his former fiancée . . . right? But when Emma moves in next door, it’s no accident. It’s research. And Alex can’t help wondering what might have been. Unlike the innocent girl he remembers, this Emma is chic, sophisticated, and assertive—and she wants absolutely nothing to do with him. The trouble is, Alex has never wanted her more.

  • When the one who left you at the altar—moves next door.

The Trouble with Love is a heartwarming read I devoured in one sitting and haven’t been able to stop smiling over since.”New York Times bestselling author Violet Duke

“Sharp, sexy contemporary romance at its best, The Trouble with Love satisfies in the best kind of way.”—Elisabeth Barrett, author of the Star Harbor series

“[Lauren] Layne produces winner after winner and The Trouble with Love is no different.”—Fiction Vixen

“One of Layne’s best works . . . I found myself laughing and crying simultaneously in a matter of seconds.”—Star-Crossed Book Blog

 “I honestly can’t say enough about how much I love and adored this book. It takes a rare breed of author to make me go out and purchase all of their backlist without even reading blurbs or reviews.”—Ramblings from This Chick (five stars)

“These books are reminiscent of Nora Roberts’ and her trilogies, with the complex situations, three-dimensional characters, grand sense of humor and hot sex scenes.”—Urban Girl Reader 

“It was very difficult not to instantly like this book, because it had all the things I loved all rolled up into one: sass, humor, underlying sexual tension, as well as suits and office romance.”—Fifty Shades of Books

 “Sultry, funny and heartwarming . . . This book is the fourth in the Sex, Love & Stiletto series, but can be read as a standalone and is perfect for anyone who loves second-chance romance.”—TJ Loves to ReadPraise for the Sex, Love & Stiletto series 

“Fun, sexy, and sharp as a spike heel.”New York Times bestselling author Ruthie Knox “Packed with loads of sizzle and Snickerlicious fun, Lauren Layne’s After the Kiss is a knock-your-stilettos-off, total page-turning treat that had me fan-girling up within the first chapter.”USA Today bestselling author Mira Lyn Kelly

 “Spunky, flirty, and full of sass, Love the One You’re With is everything a romance should be! Lauren Layne has a winner.”New York Times bestselling author Christie Craig 

“Sexy, sassy, and surprisingly sweet, Lauren Layne’s Just One Night is a total page-turner!”New York Times bestselling author Donna Alward



She’d quit caring about anything having to do with Alex Cassidy long ago.

Say . . . right about the time he left her at the altar.

And then, because Emma apparently didn’t have any sense whatsoever, she listened to an urge she hadn’t felt in a long, long time.

She walked forward and knocked on the door of her ex-fiancé.

He watched her over his glass. “Trust me, Em, you’ve made it perfectly clear that I’m all but dead to you.”

She tilted her head. “Mutual though, isn’t it?”

“Of course,” he replied. Because he had to.

Emma had been his place of calm. The one who’d centered him.

Right up until the point she’d left him.

Then she turned back. “Cassidy?”

“Yeah.” His voice was gruff, and he was shocked by how much he didn’t want her to go.

He put his hand on her waist to move her aside as he stepped into her apartment, ignoring both her sharp intake of breath at the contact and his own unexplainable urge to keep his hand on her waist. To pull her closer.

“So why am I annoying?” he asked as she wandered back into the kitchen. He’d already found the wine glasses.

She waved a hand over him. “Just . . . too good looking.”

His hand faltered in pouring the wine. Just briefly, but enough for her to know she’d caught him off guard.

“Don’t get excited,” she said, reaching out and plucking a wine glass from his hand. “I point it out as an annoyance because the good looks hide a rather dismal character.”

“You want to know what I remember? I remember everything.” His voice was low. Raspy. Intimate.

"Ask me what else I remember." He waited patiently until her eyes met his. “I remember us, Emma.”

He moved closer and slipped an arm around her, his hand finding the small of her back.

“You used to love it when I put my hand here.” Cassidy’s voice was rough.

She lifted her chin slightly. “Did I? Must have blocked that out.” But the way the heat from his palm branded her made the lie come out just a little bit breathlessly.

His hand pressed, pulling her closer until there was nothing between them but their stormy past. “You sure about that?”

His other hand found her chin, his fingers lifting her face to his. “Prove it.”

Emma’s breath caught in her throat as her eyes found his mouth, which was now just inches away from hers.

“You hurt me!” Emma exploded. “You hurt me, Cassidy!”

“You hurt me, too, Emma!” he shot back, his statement every bit as vehement as hers, made even more fierce by the look of torment on his face. “You think it’s easy, seeing the woman who once tore me in two on a daily basis? You think it’s easy sitting across from you at the conference room table, or riding the same elevator or sharing a damned cheeseburger with you? Somehow you’re managing to pull me closer even as we’re further apart than ever, and I’m fucking tired of it, Emma.”

Her lips parted a little in surprise at the unexpected outburst. Cassidy had never been one prone to monologues. And certainly not ones that had to do with his feelings.

But before Emma could pull away, Cassidy caught her hand, and she paused, watching his thumb as it brushed over her knuckles before lifting her eyes to his.

He smiled then, and before she could register that he’d moved

Emma looked at his extended hand then met his eyes. And in the end, it wasn’t the perfect bow tie or the sexy white shirt that made her set her fingers in his.

It was the look in his eyes. Not quite pleading, not even passion . . . just a quiet sense of rightness.

“The other night, when you put your hand on my back . . . you said I’d liked it when you touched me there. I did.” Emma swallowed. “I still do.”

In response, his palm pressed even more firmly against her, pulling her in until their hips brushed. Then his head dipped, his lips near her ear, his voice husky.

“I know.”

He pulled her closer again, and she let him. His head dipped slightly so they were cheek to cheek. “Guess some things are better together.”

Emma’s fingers clenched on his shoulder at the words. He wasn’t talking about the song. At least not just about the song.

He was talking about people.

He was talking about them.

Cassidy’s hand slid up, his palm moving over her back in a caress, and she heard his breath quicken. Their joined hands shifted again, so his thumb brushed against her palm, and she felt fireworks at the simple touch. Felt his reaction as well.

Emma knew she was in danger then. He wanted her.

And more dangerous still . . . she wanted him, too.

Cassidy kissed her.

No preliminaries, no hesitation—he just stepped closer and dipped his head down to hers, stamping her mouth as though it were his to take.

It had been seven years since she’d kissed this man, but her lips hadn’t forgotten him. The moment she responded, he lifted his hands to her hips, tentatively. And when her hands settled against his chest, his grew bolder, sliding around to her back, pulling her closer until they were touching, chest to chest, hip to hip.

His lips nudged hers open, and Emma responded by reaching for his tongue with hers.

Cassidy groaned and deepened the kiss.

“You can’t prove that,” she said quietly.

“I shouldn’t have to, Emma! Goddamn it, I shouldn’t have had to prove to the woman I was about to marry that I loved her. You were supposed to believe me. You were supposed to know.”

His voice sounded ravaged and tortured, like the words were torn from the darkest part of him, and Emma wanted to believe him. Desperately.

He wanted Emma as his. And he wanted to be hers.

He loved her. Fiercely.

Perhaps he’d always loved her.

“Emma,” he whispered. “If I’d known you wanted to marry me . . . that you’d changed your mind . . . If I’d gotten even one of your phone calls, I would have moved heaven and earth to be there that day. I wanted to be your husband more than anything, Emma.”