Beautiful Mistake - Book cover

Beautiful Mistake

Mel Ryle


ColeenWHERE ARE U???
KylaAlmost there
KylaCalm down
Coleenphew. megan thought you were gonna bail on us.
KylaI’m not scared
Coleenits about DAMN time, girl. just saying.
KylaSex isn’t everything
Coleenu sure about that? 😘

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?

I 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. I scanned the room, looking for my friends, but they were nowhere to be found.

Suddenly I felt several hands grab me and pull me into a nearby bathroom.


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.

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.


“Welcome,” said Megan, “to the first night of your new life.”

There they were. All my best friends packed into a small bar bathroom.

“The rules of the game,” Colleen explained, “should you choose to play are… We pick the guy. You have terrible taste. I mean, look at what happened with Alden.”

“Hey, don’t be a bitch,” I snapped back.

“Next rule,” carried on Colleen, “you do not exchange personal information. One and done. Never to be seen again. Got it?”

“Yes Colleen,” I said, rolling my eyes, “I understand.”

“This is an anti slut shaming zone,” Marie reminded me, “no judgment from us. We’re just happy you’re finally getting laid.”

“Okay now we need to add a few final touches,” Rose grabbed me.

They all fussed over my hair and face. Rose reapplied my lipstick, Marie fixed my hair, Megan spritzed me with some perfume, and Colleen was adjusting my lace see through shirt.

“Do I look that bad?” I asked.

They all laughed, letting me check myself in the mirror.

“Our baby is going out into the world,” said Colleen, pretending to wipe a tear off her cheek.

We walked out of the bathroom, ready to get started.

All I had to do was get through the night.

While I was curious about the game, I mostly wanted to go home and have a good cry. But looking around at our group, I knew I could not get away with that. They were watching me like hawks, making sure I didn’t run away.

“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. Colleen 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 for a few minutes, maybe give me a fake number—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. Who are you interested in?”

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. I pictured him laying me down onto the pool table, pressing his body against mine. His hands running over my body. Kissing my neck... I shook my head, trying to distract myself.

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. “What if we gave them a show instead?”

Damn it, he was smooth. I felt myself blushing like a shy teenager. I glanced down at the slip of paper; I saw his name was scrawled on it.

“You’re Jensen?”

“Yes, and you?”


He grabbed the napkin and slipped it into my back pocket; his hand lingered playfully.

“Grant, why don’t you go over and talk to Kyla’s friend for a second?”

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. He tucked my hair behind my ear.

“Are your friends looking at us?” he whispered in my ear.

I couldn’t care less whether or not they were looking, but I glanced over his shoulder to check anyway.

“We’ve definitely caught their attention.”

“I think we can do better,” he said, sliding his hands on my hips and pulling me in.

“Moving a little quick,” I teased, “don’t you think?”

“If you ask me, we aren't moving fast enough,” he replied.

“Excuse me, sir,” I slapped his muscular chest playfully, “I am a very classy lady.”

“I don’t doubt that you are,” he said, pulling me back in, “but for the sake of this game you’re playing…”

“For the game I guess,” I rolled my eyes.

“How about we get out of here?” He suggested.

“You know this is all pretend right?” I reminded him.

“Oh come on Kyla,” he responded, “do it for the game.”

We were getting out of there all right. But where exactly were we going?

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