Hold Her Close (A Standalone Romance) by Penny Wylder



The club that we’re in is one of Atlanta’s finest. Not somewhere I would normally be, but you only live once, and today’s my last night in this beautiful city. Tomorrow I move to Nashville and start my new life there.

So tonight is my last hurrah, and I’m going all out.

“To my best friend,” Jennifer shouts, “who’s going to be the best damn anchor that Nashville has ever seen!”

“Shhh,” I pull her back into her seat from where she’s standing. “The whole idea of tonight is that people don’t know that, Jenn.”

She’s definitely already drunk and there’s a maniacal glint in her eye. “Well I want to celebrate you. You’re going to be amazing.”

The familiar nerves flutter in my gut. I can’t believe it’s actually happening. Still. After years of working my way up as an on-camera reporter doing bigger and bigger stories, I’ve finally been hired as an anchor at WNSV—Nashville News.

It’s perfect for me. They not only let their anchors be the faces of the show, but their anchors get to pitch stories and do their own reporting. Kind of a rare blend, and one that I can’t wait to tackle. But I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t going to miss my life here in Atlanta. My friends and my local hangouts and everything about it. I’ve been here for a few years now, and it’s become home.

But being an anchor is my dream, and I can make new memories in Nashville. I’ll be able to visit Jenn, and she can visit me. It’s only a few hours’ drive. Totally doable for weekend visits, we’ve told each other. But still, it’ll be different not seeing each other from day to day, so she suggested we make a night of it. I was the one who wanted drinks and dancing, and she was the one who wanted to come here.

Now that I am here, completely decked out in a dress that’s borderline slutty, and the highest heels I own, the buzz in my veins from the drinks Jenn has kept in my hand is making me want something else. Something to really make this night special.

WNSV is the biggest news station in Nashville. Every day my face is going to be seen by thousands of viewers. Hell, there are going to be fucking billboards with my face on them on the highway. And as amazing and brilliant as that is, once I’m on air, I’ll have zero anonymity.

I know I’m not going to land up on the cover of People magazine or anything like that, but it’s surprising how gossipy the news business can be, and anchors get a fair amount of attention paid to their social lives. And networks don’t exactly mind that attention. It’s good for ratings. So before I end up in Nashville and always looking over my shoulder, trying to behave in a way that doesn’t get me attention, right now I want one night of hot hook-up sex with a complete stranger.

Not that that’s something I do often, but given that it might be the last time for a while I get to do this, I’m starting to like the idea more and more. Go out with a bang tonight!

The alcohol is making me warm in all the right places, and I feel good. I feel even better about the big, burly blond hovering on the edge of the VIP section.

The raised platform isn’t far up, but it’s high enough for the people up there to get a good view over the club. But this guy hasn’t been doing much up there but standing near the railing with a drink in his hand looking out at the dancers. Oh, and staring at my ass.

So maybe I’ve turned the exact way I know he needs to look to see it, and maybe I keep moving so his eyes come back to mine. But there’s no mistaking the fact that he’s looking at me. We’ve locked eyes a few times and he’s never looked away. Just stared me down while taking a slow sip of his drink.

I wish he would take a sip of me instead.


I’m sober enough to know that this is what I want and buzzed enough to let my inhibitions fall. The perfect state for a one night stand. I want to remember this, or what’s the point?

The crowd that he’s with does seem to be trying to get his attention. Especially one woman. She keeps coming up to the railing and leaning against it, pushing up her breasts and letting her long blonde hair slide over her shoulder. But he doesn’t so much as glance at her. His eyes are only on me, and even from here I can feel the heat in them.

“What are you staring at?” Jenn asks, voice loud as she tries to talk over the loud music.

I don’t have to answer for her to know. She turns her head and follows my gaze. I know what she’s seeing. Blond hair with enough length to run your fingers through. Gray button-down that’s nearly bursting over the width of his chest and the thickness of his arms. The sleeves are rolled back revealing toned forearms and gorgeous tattooed skin, and every inch of his relaxed pose screams sex.