Cheater''s Regret

  Table of Contents

  PRAISE FOR RACHEL VAN DYKEN “The Consequence of Loving Colton is a must-read friends-to-lovers story that’s as passionate and sexy as it is hilarious!” —Melissa Foster, New York Times bestselling author “Just when you think Van Dyken can’t possibly get any better, she goes and delivers The Consequence of Loving Colton. Full of longing and breathless moments, this is what romance is about.” —Lauren Layne, USA Today bestselling author “The tension between Milo and Colton made this story impossible to put down. Quick, sexy, witty—easily one of my favorite books from Rachel Van Dyken.” —R. S. Grey, USA Today bestselling author, on The Consequence of Loving Colton “Hot, funny, and will leave you wishing you could get marked by one of the immortals!” —Molly McAdams, New York Times bestselling author, on The Dark Ones “Laugh-out-loud fun! Rachel Van Dyken is on my auto-buy list.” —Jill Shalvis, New York Times bestselling author, on The Wager “The Dare is a laugh-out-loud read that I could not


  ALSO BY #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR RACHEL VAN DYKEN The Consequence Series The Consequence of Loving Colton The Consequence of Revenge The Consequence of Seduction The Consequence of Rejection The Wingmen Inc. Series The Matchmaker’s Playbook The Matchmaker’s Replacement Curious Liaisons Series Cheater The Bet Series The Bet The Wager The Dare The Ruin Series Ruin Toxic Fearless Shame The Eagle Elite Series Elite Elect Entice Elicit Bang Bang Enforce Ember Elude Empire The Seaside Series Tear Pull Shatter Forever Fall Eternal Strung Capture The Renwick House Series The Ugly Duckling Debutante The Seduction of Sebastian St. James The Redemption of Lord Rawlings An Unlikely Alliance The Devil Duke Takes a Bride The London Fairy Tales Series Upon a Midnight Dream Whispered Music The Wolf’s Pursuit When Ash Falls The Seasons of Paleo Series Savage Winter Feral Spring The Wallflower Series (with Leah Sanders) Waltzing with the Wallflower Beguiling Bridget Taming Wilde The Dark One


  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Text copyright © 2017 by Rachel Van Dyken All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher. Published by Skyscape, New York Amazon, the Amazon logo, and Skyscape are trademarks of, Inc., or its affiliates. ISBN-13: 9781477819975 ISBN-10: 1477819975 Cover design by Shasti O’Leary Soudant

  To Melody. Without you, this book would have been a nightmare. Thank you for all of your insight!

  Contents Prologue Chapter One Chapter Two Chapter Three Chapter Four Chapter Five Chapter Six Chapter Seven Chapter Eight Chapter Nine Chapter Ten Chapter Eleven Chapter Twelve Chapter Thirteen Chapter Fourteen Chapter Fifteen Chapter Sixteen Chapter Seventeen Chapter Eighteen Chapter Nineteen Chapter Twenty Chapter Twenty-One Chapter Twenty-Two Chapter Twenty-Three Chapter Twenty-Four Chapter Twenty-Five Chapter Twenty-Six Chapter Twenty-Seven Chapter Twenty-Eight Chapter Twenty-Nine Chapter Thirty Chapter Thirty-One Chapter Thirty-Two Chapter Thirty-Three Chapter Thirty-Four Chapter Thirty-Five Chapter Thirty-Six Chapter Thirty-Seven Chapter Thirty-Eight Chapter Thirty-Nine Chapter Forty Chapter Forty-One Chapter Forty-Two Chapter Forty-Three Epilogue Acknowledgments About the Author

  Prologue Rain dripped from my chin as I banged my knuckles across Thatch’s fancy apartment door. Over and over again. Like a crazy person, I smacked my hand against it. Tears mixed with water from the outside streamed down my cheeks. I was “that girl.” The one who went to her boyfriend’s apartment late at night, a complete hot mess of emotional chaos. “Thatch!” I hit the door a third time, my palm stinging from the contact. Finally, it opened. Thatch was shirtless and shoeless. His jeans hugged his body in a way that should have been illegal. Then again, he was a plastic surgeon—perfection was kind of his thing. Anger surged through me and then . . . insecurity quickly replaced it. Brooke, the girl I had found him kissing, was taller than me, more athletic. She had stripper hair, the kind that just screams extensions, and her face was flawless. Probably along the lines of what Thatch was into. And her body? Let’s say it was made for sin. And looky here. A sinner. In my entire life, I h

  Chapter One AUSTIN “Fire!” Someone had shouted the word loud enough for me to jolt awake in a full-on panic. Heart hammering against my chest, I quickly assessed my bedroom for flames or smoke. Pink walls. I hated pink. Pink walls summed up just about everything you needed to know about me. Namely, that my life wasn’t mine to control. I had pink walls because my mom liked soft colors and wanted my room to look feminine. And the old One Direction poster with asshole Zayn on the front of it? Well, that’s what normal teenagers had on their walls, right? At least, that’s what my father said, since we always had to please the voters. And when the local news did a story on our house, it was a huge hit. Look at the all-American straight-A student and her normal high school room! Yay me. So the walls were pink, and I was staring up at One Direction. Damn you, Zayn, damn you to hell! I shook my fist in the air. Partially because I was still pissed at him for leaving, but mainly because I was so

  Chapter Two THATCH “I’m sorry, what the hell did you just say? You were mumbling.” Lucas covered his mouth with his hand and said something under his breath about being drunk and a turkey. “You did what with a turkey?” I shook my head. “Because you really don’t want to know what I’m thinking right now.” With a sigh, Lucas dropped his hand and took a long sip of coffee. We’d been sitting at Starbucks for the last five minutes while he mumbled about needing to tell me something important. I checked my watch. “Look, I have surgery in an hour, so if you could just”—I lifted my hands in the air—“be normal, for one second, that would be fantastic.” He’d been my best friend for four years, and the best wingman a single guy could ask for. Until he put a collar on his dick and gave his girlfriend, Avery, the leash. Pain sliced through my chest. I ignored it. Heartburn. Regret. Really it was all the same. “I may have gotten drunk,” Lucas finally said. His dark eyes darted between me and the coff

  Chapter Three AUSTIN I covered my face with my hands and peeked through the space between my fingers as I looked at a picture of Thatch scratching his face. “Avery, you said it was a minor allergy!” We were sitting on a park bench in downtown Seattle, enjoying the best clam chowder I’d ever had while birds flew over us, begging for scraps. I didn’t share food. So I was really ready to wage war against those things if need be. I clutched my soup closer and elbowed her. “Avery?” “Hmm?” She was busy texting Lucas, probably explaining that she was going to be late for dinner because she almost killed his best friend. That sucked. She got a fancy dinner date, and I was scarfing down soup and trying to keep animals from taking my sloppy seconds. She stared at her screen with a dopey grin on her face. I grabbed her phone and sat on it. “You aren’t even listening!” “Sure I am, minor allergy, all true.” The problem with best friends? I could be sitting on her phone or peeing in front of her and

  Chapter Four THATCH My face was on fire, and my entire office was still in an uproar over the award. News had already traveled about the big race I was supposedly doing with Troy and the mayor, which meant I somehow had to learn how to ride a bike between now and then or just sprain a muscle—any muscle—and bow out. What should have been a simple practical joke spiraled out of control because, how amazing was it that I was a successful surgeon and also doing bike races? At least, that’s what the nurses kept saying every so often when I left the safety of my office. It didn’t matter that Troy had been racing for the past fifteen years. Troy wasn’t known as the Dr. McSteamy of the group. So help me God, if one more
nurse asked me if I could stitch myself up like they saw on Grey’s Anatomy, I was going to lose my fucking mind. My mouth still felt swollen. The only Benadryl in the office was in liquid form, and I chugged half the bottle. My allergic reaction was so severe that if I didn’t,

  Chapter Five AUSTIN “So?” I twisted my hands in my lap while Lucas took a painfully long time to pull off his sunglasses, shrug out of his jacket, and lift his coffee to his lips. By the time he took a sip, I felt like I was at the sloth DMV from Zootopia. My eye was starting to twitch, and I’d bitten my tongue twice to keep from yelling at him or launching myself across the table and demanding answers. “Easy.” Lucas shrugged. “He’s a coldhearted bastard, who’s going to most likely die alone—or with a prescription of Viagra in his bedside table and a girl thirty years his junior telling him to go harder.” He leaned forward, his eyes twinkling with amusement. “I gave him the list.” I exhaled while Avery busted out laughing. “Oh, this is classic, you’ve even managed to turn his best friend against him. Well done, Austin.” Had I not been focusing on Lucas, I wouldn’t have seen the horrified look on his face. Was he really on our side? Or Thatch’s? “Whoa, whoa, whoa.” Lucas held out his ha

  Chapter Six THATCH “Alright, I know this seems strange, and I’m sorry my hands are cold.” I winked, cupping her left breast in my right hand before cupping the other with my left. “But I need to mark you up a bit.” I loved my job. Loved my patients—for the most part. But there were always those consults that you knew were going to go badly before you even stepped into the room. This was one of them. Or should I say she? Most of the eighteen-year-olds I worked on were spoiled brats who either flirted way too much with the man who was about to touch their breasts, or argued with whatever professional opinion I might have about them. It had already been a long day. And judging by the bubble gum that had just popped in my face a few minutes before when I introduced myself—it was about to get a hell of a lot longer. The teen jutted her chest out like she was God’s gift. She wasn’t. After all, wasn’t that why she came to me? She wanted more? There were three types of patients when it came to

  Chapter Seven AUSTIN It was going to be a late night. Like really late. Not only did I have an assignment to finish, but there was no chance in hell I could actually sleep after that run-in with Thatch. Why? Why did he have to be so cruel? And why was I like a dog with a bone? I wanted to let it go. I wanted to let him go. I wanted to be free from whatever emotional bondage he still used on me. But every time I saw his face, I was torn between wanting to knock out his perfect teeth and wanting to kiss him with reckless abandon. Maybe it was because no one had ever broken up with me before? Probably because I’d never had a serious relationship—until Thatch had given me a key. A freaking key to his apartment! “He doesn’t want you, Austin,” I mumbled to myself. I mean he made that clear the minute I walked in on him with his tongue down another girl’s throat. Taking a deep breath, I tossed my keys onto the kitchen table and pulled out a wineglass, filling it to the rim before opening my l

  Chapter Eight THATCH “I’ll be your hero.” The first sentence that was texted to me by an unlisted number. The hell? The morning just kept getting weirder. When I went to grab my coffee at my usual Starbucks, the barista stared up at me with wide blue eyes and said, “Enrique Iglesias is boss.” “Okay.” I drew out the word slowly. “Thanks for the coffee, good talk.” As if that weren’t weird enough, my Facebook feed was full of hero memes, one of them a picture of me wearing a cape. “What the hell?” I scrolled through my phone. And then a video started playing on my newsfeed. From Austin’s page. I’d been meaning to unfriend her—it was too hard seeing pictures of her all the time. Instead, like a masochist, I’d remained friends so I could stalk her and get angry all over again at my decision to push her away. My drunken voice sang out not only the wrong key to the “Hero” song but also the wrong words. “Holy shit,” I whispered as I stared at my drunken self belting out a song in a pitch that

  Chapter Nine AUSTIN “What do you mean it doesn’t count?” I fought to keep my voice even as my evil professor looked at my website. “It went viral!” “You posted an embarrassing video of an ex-boyfriend singing off tune.” He rolled his eyes and closed his computer. I swear he had some sort of God complex, since he was in his forties and had women falling at his feet, mainly hot undergrads. “Of course it went viral, but that’s not what this class is all about. What you posted is fine, but it’s a flash in the pan. It took absolutely no effort.” Hah! I nearly died from a spider attack because of that video, but whatever. I bit my tongue and waited for him to fail me. One of my classmates walked up to the desk and gave him a flirty wave. Her top was so tight, I could see nipple. He grinned and waved back. Bastard! “What you need,” he said, returning his attention to me like I was an epic disappointment, “is something that is actually interesting. Maybe you can document something important to

  Chapter Ten THATCH “I have a proposition for you.” Austin’s raspy voice always did mess with my head. I quickly turned around. She was dressed in a short black skirt with a black-and-white striped T-shirt that showed an inch of pale skin at her waist. Her black gladiator sandals wrapped all the way up her calves. Basically, she was trying to kill me by way of high-heeled sandals and a hell of a lot of thigh. “Austin.” Damn it, could my voice be any hoarser? “I’d say this was a pleasure, but I wouldn’t want to give you the wrong idea.” She flinched before moving swiftly into my office, closing the door behind her, and grabbing a chair. “Yes, please come in. It’s not like I have a job where I have appointments,” I grumbled, at my wit’s end with whatever the hell kind of drama she was about to unleash on me. “I’m going to fail my class,” she blurted, eyes wide with worry. “And I can’t fail, not after everything I’ve gone through to get to where I’m at. I’m living at home still, and I just

  Chapter Eleven AUSTIN Thatch was supposed to be at my house any minute. My palms were sweating. And every time I thought about shaking his hand, all I kept thinking was, Holy shit, you didn’t just sell your soul to the devil; you willingly gave your heart, soul, sanity, and most likely your body, all with one desperate thought. Pass class. Move on with life. Away from the parents’ house. Away from politics. Away from Thatch. I was going away, but what exactly was I moving toward? I frowned at the thought. I hadn’t really considered life beyond graduation because it had been my sole focus—get out from underneath my parents’ thumbs, be independent. Then get a job, get married. I gulped. Why? Why did I always have to associate Thatch with all of those future-goal words? My chest burned right where my heart was located—bad sign, a really bad sign, that he still affected me in a physical and emotional way. No matter how many times I repeated to myself in the mirror that he was a cheating ja

  Chapter Twelve THATCH I was more nervous for this workday than I’d been since I was out of residency and trying to prove myself. Our Wednesday morning staff meeting took longer than necessary, and by the time it was done, I was in need of coffee. Though for the first time in three days, I’d managed to actually get a good night’s sleep—since I didn’t have to worry about Austin releasing frogs or something else in my apartment. Really, everything worked out in my favor, since I got a good night’s sleep. Even though Austin wasn’t a real patient, I still needed to treat her like one. I just hated that every time I thought about examining her, I got so hard, I couldn’t think straight. Mia, our office assistant, waved me down with her hand, then covered the phone. “Austin Rogers is in your office.” And so it begins. “Thanks, Mia.” I only had one augmentation that day, and if the patient didn’t mind Austin watching, I was going to let her scrub in and observe. She’d probably pass out five min

  Chapter Thirteen AUSTIN Nancy was nice. If you liked women who should be aging naturally, but instead looked like they had had their faces frozen one too many times and had their eyebrows nailed to the top of their head. She was beautiful in a really harsh, she-could-either-be-eighty-or-forty way. I wasn’t against p
lastic surgery—I was just more a fan of its looking natural—and nothing on Nancy looked natural. When she left to let me change, I peeled off my shirt so fast, I nearly caught my head inside the neck hole—not because I was eager to get Thatch’s hands on me, but because I wanted this whole embarrassing situation to be over. I was uncomfortable, and I knew Thatch. I’d had sex with him, he’d seen me naked, and my teeth were still chattering. I made a mental note to include that in my post. That no matter who it was. You were still topless in a doctor’s office while bright fluorescent lights peered down on you, revealing every single flaw hidden in the dark. A loud knock had me

  Chapter Fourteen THATCH She was waiting for me. She had been waiting for me for the last five minutes. But I literally couldn’t get my own body under control. I’d been staring at the door, thinking about the same horrible things for what felt like an hour. Puppies being murdered. Whiskey shortage. Riding a bike. Frogs. Death. And still, still, I was hard as a rock and ready to make sure everyone in the hallway knew it. “Damn it.” I shut my door and turned toward the closed window, then grabbed myself as visions of Austin’s perfect body surged to the surface, making it almost painful to touch myself. “What are you doing?” a voice said from behind me. A familiar voice. Her voice. Swear my dick all but leaped out of my hand in search of that voice and the body it belonged to. “Nothing,” I lied. My body straight up hated me for that one, while my brain screamed, Turn around, bend her over the table, lift the skirt, just lift the skirt! The sound of a door shutting should not at all be erot

  Chapter Fifteen AUSTIN I’d never seen a surgery before—and I refused to count that one time in sixth grade when we were forced to watch a knee scope and I almost puked. I had only been twelve! I was an adult now. I could totally handle watching someone get cut up. Shivering, I downed the rest of my fruit smoothie and walked toward the elevators. I really shouldn’t have worn such high heels, my feet were starting to burn where my skin rubbed the soft leather, I knew I was going to get blisters when I put the suckers on, but I wanted to be tall—I hated how big Thatch was in the first place because he’d always made me feel small, safe. And I was a tall girl, all legs. So high heels were my armor. And I needed armor around him. Since the armor around my heart had a tendency to just fall to the ground whenever he smiled at me. Ugh. Why was it so hard for me to get the hint? He didn’t want me. Though he did seem to be having trouble giving his body that memo if what I walked in on was any in

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