Burn Me Once

By: Clare Connelly
“You. Me. Sex. It’s easy.”

All she has to do is not get hooked...

Ally Douglas has made a deal with Ethan Ash: just sex, no strings, no forever. All she knows about him is that he’s a world-famous rock star and he’s absolutely gorgeous. Their sexual chemistry is instant and magnetic, and this arrangement satisfies their needs. Only now that Ethan has started to break the rules, will Ally be able to stop herself from getting burned?

“DARE is Harlequin’s hottest line yet. Every book should come with a free fan. I dare you to try them!”

—Tiffany Reisz, international bestselling author





PROLOGUE

In what distant deeps or skies

Burnt the fire of thine eyes?

On what wings dare he aspire?

What the hand, dare seize the fire?

—William Blake

SHE HAS GOT to be kidding me.

I stare at the screen one last time, checking that the Tweet actually exists. And there it is. One hundred and forty characters reaching through time and space to slam me hard over the head.

I’m getting married! @_TheRealTomBanks asked and obv I said yes!!! Couldn’t be happier! #soinlove #dreamsdocometrue #happyeverafter

I curl my fingers around my phone, tempted to pitch the damned thing into the street. Only the thought of the personal information I keep stored in it stops me from being so reckless. The press would have a field-day if they found my phone lying in the gutter.

How can she still screw with me even now, three months after we ‘took a break’?

Then again, isn’t this so like Sienna? Sienna who’s had six years of my life. Sienna whom I thought I loved. Sienna who is now engaged to another man.

Fractured memories of our last months together assault me from all angles; they are blades of mirrored glass, shards through my mind, tormenting me every which way, pricking me with exquisite ecstasy.

It was a nightmare.

And yet it was my life.

The nightmare has ended and I don’t know if I remember how to live.

I need a drink. And I need to get Sienna the hell out of my head once and for all. And I can think of a really good way to kill two birds with one stone.

The bar is hardly my usual scene. It’s retro, but in an authentic way, which I guess means the décor hasn’t been updated since the early nineties. There’s peeling linoleum in the corner of the bar, where I prop my arms and hunch down, not wanting to attract attention to myself.

#happyeverafter, my ass.

I order a beer, barely noticing the recognition that flickers across the guy’s face. I’m used to being recognised. So is Sienna. Which makes it even harder to believe she’s been able to keep this relationship secret. Not just from me, but the world.

A frown gravels across my jaw. No, she didn’t keep the whole thing secret. They’re friends. Just friends. She’s told me that a dozen times. And I bought it.

Was she fucking him at the same time she was me? Jesus. Was that why she ended it? She told me she needed space to figure herself out and I bought it. Space? Space?

After six years together she doesn’t even have the fucking decency to give me a heads-up that she’s with someone else?

Nausea rolls in my gut.

I don’t particularly ascribe to the rock and roll lifestyle, but tonight I want to write myself off. I want to get hammered. I want to get drunk. I want to get fall-down pissed.

I need to forget about Sienna somehow.





CHAPTER ONE

‘COME ON! IT’S the perfect opportunity to put Jeremy behind you.’

I send Eliza a look of impatience but can’t fight the ever-present swoop of shame that accompanies any mention of his name. ‘He is behind me.’

‘If that were true you wouldn’t have spent the past eight months wallowing!’

‘I am not wallowing,’ I deny, turning to Cassie pleadingly.

‘I can see why you think I’d back you up, but seriously, Ally, you have to get back out there.’

My stomach flops and my gaze wanders towards the man at the bar.

Ethan ‘rock star’ Ash. And so much hotter in real life than I could ever have imagined.

I shake my head. ‘No way. I’m not going to talk to him.’

‘Why not?’ Cassie throws a look over her shoulder, and when she looks back at us she has a pretty flush in her cheeks.

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