After Kyla’s friends convince her to rebound from her cheating ex-boyfriend with a one night stand, she’s sure she’s got love and lust out of her system for good. Now she can focus on her career as a marketing assistant. But little does she know that the handsome stranger who just rocked her world is her new boss. Kyla decides to keep their relationship professional, but her billionaire boss isn’t easily deterred…
Age Rating: 18+
Beautiful Mistake by Mel Ryle is now available to read on the Galatea app! Read the first two chapters below, or download Galatea for the full experience.
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After Kyla’s friends convince her to rebound from her cheating ex-boyfriend with a one-night stand, she’s sure she’s got love and lust out of her system for good. Now she can focus on her career as a marketing assistant. But little does she know that the handsome stranger who just rocked her world is her new boss. Kyla decides to keep their relationship professional, but her billionaire boss isn’t easily deterred…
Age Rating: 18+
Original Author: Mel Ryle
Most women put love first, career second. But I’m not most women. At twenty-six years old, I was the youngest marketing assistant in our company and I’d fought too damn hard for that position to allow a little anniversary to get in the way.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved Alden. And I felt bad making a mess of our plans. But I knew, if he really loved me, he would understand.
Work comes first. Always.
My girlfriends used to laugh and say that was just because I hadn’t realized my “full orgasm potential.” Coleen would always argue, “Kyla. If you were really satisfied, work would be the last thing on your mind.”
To which I would scoff and shake my head. Coleen, the girls, they would never understand. Sex? Love? They were just not my priority. What’s the matter with that?
But, deep down, I admit…I did wonder. What was I missing out on? It wasn’t that Alden was a bad partner. He was just more practical than passionate.
And, being a career woman who craved stability, that was exactly what I needed!
So, why, at night, when Alden went down on me…did I feel almost nothing? Why, when he pumped into me over and over, did I find my mind drifting toward consumer rating reports?
What was wrong with me?! Why couldn’t I be more of an initiator in bed and just tell Alden what I wanted?
No matter. I promised myself that tonight, for once, I would prove to Alden and myself that our relationship mattered. I was going to give him the best sex of his life.
For once, I told myself, put love first, Kyla.
Alden was worth it.
Or, so I thought.
After re-reading those texts from Alden over and over and realizing how much this anniversary meant to him, I managed to convince my boss Mr. Leach to let me out early. I considered telling Alden I was on my way home.
But why tell him when I could surprise him?
On the way home, I met up with my best friend Coleen and stopped at a lingerie store. She helped me pick out the sexiest panties I could find. They were black lace and transparent in exactly the right parts.
I couldn’t wait to see the look on Alden’s face when I slipped out of my pencil skirt. He was going to lose it.
At the register, the employee began to wrap them up in a bag, but I shook my head. “That won’t be necessary.”
She raised an eyebrow, smiling suggestively, and handed them over as they were.
The second I said goodbye to Coleen and got onto the nearly empty bus, I removed the average panties I was wearing and slid this sexy pair on. I could have done it in the dressing room, sure, but it wouldn’t have felt as exhilarating.
Now, I was ready. I hurried home as fast as I could, feeling myself moisten in pure anticipation. Save it for Alden, I told myself.
I got off the bus and jumped into the elevator, teeming with excitement. Although I was exhausted from work and butting heads with Mr. Leach all day, I could feel a second wind coming on.
I suddenly felt giddy and naughty, imagining all the things I was going to do to the man I loved.
When the elevator doors finally opened, I rushed toward our door, practically salivating at the idea of him.
I turned the key, swung the door open, and smiled my most sexy, wicked smile.
“Surprise, babe!” I exclaimed.
But, as it turned out, I was the one in for a surprise. Because as I stepped through the hallway into our bedroom, I found the man I loved, the man I’d spent three years with, the man I was finally putting first, buck-naked with another woman.
I stood, frozen, staring, refusing to believe my eyes. This wasn’t happening. Not to me. This was one of those scenes in movies, not a real-life flesh-and-blood betrayal.
“Babe,” he sputtered. “Jesus, I thought—you weren’t supposed to be…”
“What. The. Hell,” I whispered.
I didn’t have a voice. I could barely breathe. The other woman, riding him cowboy-style, turned around to look at me, startled.
“You,” I said, seething.
It wasn’t just another woman. It was Mallory Cornfield. The girl I’d hated most through college. Of all the women he could’ve chosen to cheat on me with…it had to be her?
Now, my shock was giving way to pure molten rage. My hands shook. My teeth chattered. I felt my eyes growing bigger and more bug-eyed with every second.
“Kyla, it’s not—” she started.
“Get out, you slut,” I said, cold as ice.
Mallory didn’t hesitate. She slid off Alden’s crotch and gathered her things, running out of the room, looking traumatized. Good. I hoped she would have to live with the shame for the rest of her life.
I knew nothing would ever erase the image from my eyes, that’s for sure.
“Babe,” Alden said, sliding on his boxers and getting to his feet, approaching me. “We can work through this. You and me, we’re worth—”
“Don’t take another step.”
He stopped. I had never felt so completely out of control my entire life. It was like another force entirely had taken over, and all I could do was stand there and watch, powerless.
“Mallory, she means nothing,” Alden said. “She was the one who came on to me. We were just talking over coffee, and then…one thing led to another…and…”
I blinked. The mention of that bitch’s name seemed to have brought me back to life. I raised a leg and removed one of my heels. Alden frowned.
“What are you—?”
Then, I threw it as hard as I could at his face. It missed him, hitting the lamp, sending it crashing to the floor.
“Jesus, Kyla!” he said, taking a step back.
Disappointed I’d missed, I calmly lifted my other leg, taking off the other heel.
“Hey, wait a second.”
This time, I didn’t miss. My heel hit Alden square in the face. He bowed over in pain, grabbing his nose.
“Argh! What the hell?!”
“Alden, listen to me,” I said. “You have one day.”
“One day until what?” he said, muffled, his hands still covering his busted nose.
“To gather all your things and get out of this apartment.”
His eyes widened, and he lowered his hands. He took a step forward.
“Please, Kyla,” he said, tearing up. “Let’s not rush into anything we’d regret—”
And now, the cold, calm exterior I had somehow managed to keep intact until now began to crack. The reality of our situation hit me like a heel to the face. Three wasted years. On this bastard.
“Regret?!” I choked. “REGRET?! You want to talk to me about REGRET?!”
“Kyla,” he tried.
“No. You don’t get to talk anymore. You don’t get to bring up regrets. Or love. You ruined it. Us. Everything. There is only one regret worth mentioning. I regret ever loving you.”
His bare knees looked like they were about to buckle. His lip quivered. He finally understood: this was the end.
“One day,” I wheezed, out of breath.
Then, I turned and walked out, barefoot, to my car. It wasn’t until I checked into a hotel an hour later and sat down on an unfamiliar bed that the tears came.
I don’t know how long I cried, but when it was done, I made a promise to myself. I would never love again. My career would always come first. No man would ever get this power over me as long as I lived.
But, as I would later come to learn, that’s the thing about promises.
Nobody ever keeps them.
THREE MONTHS LATER…
I couldn’t believe I was going out. Yes, three months is a long time to go without sex. But as I slipped on my nude Marc Jacobs wedges, all I could think of were the heels I’d thrown at Alden.
Which made me think of him and Mallory in that bed. Which made me replay that horrible night all over again.
God, how was I ever going to erase this memory? I’d thrown myself into my work, focused all my energy on our clients, and done everything I could to distract myself. But still, three months later, I remained tortured.
My friends were certain they had the solution. The game. If you had told me a few months ago it would soon be my turn, I would’ve called you crazy.
But here I was, getting dolled up, about to go to some random bar to have sex with some random stranger.
Since when did a one-night stand ever fix anything?
As I called a taxi and waited for it to arrive, I braced myself. If the girls wanted to play the game, that was fine. But that didn’t mean I had to play by their rules.
Taking a deep breath, I stepped outside, ready to take on the night. No man is going to end up in my bed, I told myself. No chance.
But the night, as I would soon discover, had other plans.
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I clicked off my phone and shook my head, exasperated. Coleen was the best friend a girl could ask for, but that didn’t mean she understood me. Ever since her breakup, she’d been on a rebound tour. It was easier for her.
And since we worked in the same building, Coleen had first-hand experience of my gloomy three-month recovery. Out of all the girls, she wanted this for me most.
I sat in the back of the cab, watching as the creatures of the night came out to play, the city lights illuminating their hunger and desires. I knew tonight I was supposed to be one of them.
But how, when all I would rather be doing was working late at the office?
We finally pulled up to the bar, and I took a deep breath. You got this, I told myself. Just pretend to play the game. And get out of there.
I stepped inside, trying my best to put on a confident front. And there they were, sitting in a booth, already knee-deep in booze and gossip. My best friends.
“There she is!” Megan said, waving me over. “C’mon, Kyla. You gotta catch up.”
The game all began with a breakup back in college. When Rose got dumped by her frat-star boyfriend via text, the poor girl was a wreck. She wouldn’t eat, could barely sleep. Drastic action was called for.
So, one night, we took Rose out and made her promise on a whim that before dawn, she was going to have a one-night stand with a man of our choosing.
It worked surprisingly well.
We pointed him out, she made a move. And just like that, Rose had gotten her rebound.
Rose later admitted she would never have had the courage otherwise. And by letting us choose, it removed any pressure to make comparisons to her ex.
It was random sex and nothing more.
Within a few weeks, Rose was back to her boisterous self.
A few months later, when Marie also had a nasty breakup, we suggested the same idea. And, just like that, a new—and weird—tradition was formed.
From then on, we all vowed to play the game whenever a breakup occurred in the friend group. Which is how I got here.
“What about those guys?” Megan asked, nodding to a pool table.
I turned to see three handsome men, all fitness junkies from the looks of them, chatting casually as they played a game of pool. One of them was bent over the table, sliding the cue stick back and forth between his thumb and index finger.
The sight alone was enough to make a girl blush.
“No way,” I hissed under my breath. “They’re too…I don’t know…coiffed.”
Marie snorted at that. “Are you serious? Your problem is that they’re too handsome?”
“No,” I said, frowning. “My problem is that they know they’re handsome. No man does himself up like that unless he knows it.”
“And what’s the problem with that, huh?” Coleen asked, taking a sip of her martini.
“Yeah, Kyla,” Rose blurted, already too drunk for her own good. “Don’t be such a pansy.”
Megan tried to play good cop, patting my back. “I know it’s weird to be out on the prowl again, but you’ll see. It’s really not that bad.”
“Anyway, you know the rules,” Coleen said. “After Landon, I didn’t want to play the game either. But you girls made me, and I’m grateful for it.”
All the girls were right, of course. The rules were the rules. But I wasn’t like the other girls. I’d only ever dated one man. And I’d never had a one-night stand in my life. So, this was completely uncharted territory.
Rose, reading my mind, scooted my cosmo closer to my hand. “It’s easier if you drink up.”
I shook my head, eyeing all of them with disgust. Then, I downed the whole drink at once and got to my feet.
“Fine. I’m going. God damn you, women. You’re lucky I love you.”
They all grinned mischievously, Rose letting out a drunken whoop. Coleen grabbed my hand before I left. “Let the blonde one know I’m interested,” she said, winking.
I rolled my eyes, turned away, and approached the three men at the pool table without another word.
My heart was pounding. I could barely see straight, I was so scared. Alden’s betrayal hadn’t hurt me on a professional level; if anything, being single had made me even more focused. But this?
I had no idea how to speak to a man anymore. What was I even going to say?
As I reached the pool table, the three men turned, noticing my arrival. Lord, they were even more handsome up close.
One was blonde and playful looking, like a golden retriever of a man. Another was dark-haired and dark-eyed, a glowering, domineering look I didn’t personally find attractive but knew Rose would.
The man in the middle, holding the pool cue, the one who’d caught my attention from the beginning…I didn’t know how to describe him. His hair was a tousled light brown, his eyes blue as the ocean, his physique imposing and powerful.
And unlike his friends, the man in the middle’s expression was impossible to read.
The definition of a poker face.
Blondie smiled flirtatiously. “Is there something we can do for you?”
I took a deep breath, knowing my friends were all watching intently. If I was going to cheat at the game, I could only pray these guys wouldn’t give me away.
“Okay,” I said. “I’ll make this brief. You see those four girls across the room sitting at the booth? They expect me to have a one-night stand with one of you.”
The blonde and the dark-haired man gaped at me disbelievingly. The man in the middle just stared, expressionless. I made sure to elaborate quickly.
“Which is not going to happen, by the way. But if you play along and one of you gives me a number—any number, it could be your lotto numbers for all I care—I’ll give you something in return.”
The dark-haired man smirked. “Give what, exactly?”
“The number of the girl in the yellow top. Her name’s Coleen. And she’s interested in this one,” I said, nodding to the blonde.
The blonde guy considered her, his eyes traveling. I knew I had to act fast or I was going to lose my nerve.
“So?” I asked. “What do you say?”
“Well,” the man in the middle finally spoke, “this is a first.”
I stared, surprised for a second. I’d almost thought the man with the poker face was made of stone. But here he was, speaking with a lush, cocksure voice. He exchanged a look with his friends, then looked back at me.
“Okay,” he said, nodding. “We’ll play. But let me ask you this first. Whose number do you want?”
As he leaned closer into the light, I saw a trace of mischievousness in those ocean blue eyes. It made my heart hammer in my chest.
“It really doesn’t matter,” I said. “It can be any of—”
“Choose,” he demanded.
I bit my lip, looked down, then back into his eyes. I knew my answer from the second I walked over. Why not be honest?
“You,” I said, under my breath.
The edge of his lips tugged up into a smug grin. He winked knowingly.
“Ask, and you shall receive.”
Fuck me. Just the smallest flash of his interest had me hooked. I didn’t want the man’s number. I wanted him. I could feel my rational side giving way to pure primal urges. But I shook them off.
I wasn’t about to fuck him right here on the pool table. As much as I wanted to.
He grabbed a nearby napkin, jotted down his number, then slid it across the pool table. I looked down at it.
He shook his head. “How are you going to call me if it’s not real?”
Damn it, he was smooth. I felt myself blushing like a shy teenager. As I picked up the slip of paper, I saw his name was scrawled on it.
“Yes, and you?”
“Well, Kyla, I can see from the look on Grant’s face here, he is equally enamored with your friend over there. Why don’t you take his number to her?”
Grant, the blonde, quickly jotted it down and handed it over. I felt like I was being puppeteered somehow, like this man, this Jensen, with his deep blue eyes and subtly expressive face, had me on a string.
I cleared my throat, nodding to him, trying to regain some semblance of control. “Thanks for helping a girl out.”
“Anytime, Kyla,” he said, eyes glinting. “You know where to find me.”
With that, I turned and walked back toward the booth, praying I wouldn’t slip and fall flat on my face. I knew Jensen was still watching me.
Finally, I reached my four treacherous best friends. From the identical grins on their faces, I knew I’d played my cards right.
“So?” Coleen asked giddily.
“Here you go, Coleen,” I said, handing over Grant’s number. “He’s interested.”
“And?” Megan pressed. “What about the other one? The one you were talking to?”
“I got his number. So, I’ll just text him later tonight. When we’re all headed home.”
Megan, beyond hammered at this point, squinted her eyes into a suspicious glare. “Are you…trying to, like, get out of the game, Kyla?”
Everyone turned to stare at me. Shit. My plan wasn’t going to work so easily, was it? I looked over my shoulder at Jensen, bent over the table, hitting another pool ball.
“Fine,” I said. “I’ll just text him now.”
And, with that, I pulled out my phone.
I looked over at Jensen, glancing up from his phone at me, a hint of a smile on his lips. My body screamed an answer, but my mind had other ideas.
I didn’t look back at him this time. I knew, if I did, he would see right through me. Instead, I slipped my phone into my bag, grabbed my coat, turned to my friends, and plastered on a wicked smile.
“There you go, girls,” I said. “Game on.”
Then, I turned and walked toward the stranger with the ocean blue eyes, hearing the girls clap and cheer behind me.
We were getting out of there all right. But where exactly were we going?
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