Until It's Right

By: Jamie Howard

Acknowledgments

It’s surreal that I get to do this a second time, and I am so, so thankful that I have the opportunity to do so. I have some amazing people in my corner and I wouldn’t be here without them.

First and foremost, I’d like to thank every single reader, reviewer, and blogger who picked up one of my books. Hearing from you is always the highlight of my day.

To my wonderful agent, Jessica Watterson—thank you for believing in me and making my dreams a reality. I’m so excited to see what comes next. And to the rest of Team Watterson—you girls rock.

A huge thank-you to the team at St. Martin’s Press. To my fabulous editor, Eileen Rothschild, I can’t possibly thank you enough. I’m so lucky to have had the chance to work with you. Your insightfulness and willingness to dig into this manuscript has made it better than I ever could have imagined. To my copyeditor, Terry McGarry, I am in awe of your skill and thoroughness, and to my publicist, Michelle Cashman, thank you for all that you do to get my books out in the world.

Without a doubt, this story wouldn’t be in your hands without the support, encouragement, and unflagging enthusiasm of my critique partner, Meredith Tate. Thank you for being a friend, cheerleader, therapist, and everything in between. And, of course, for your unwavering love of Kyle.

To the NAC—Amanda Heger, Annika Sharma, Ara Grigorian, Diana Gardin, Jessica Ruddick, Kate L. Mary, Laura Steven, Marie Meyer, Marnee Blake, Meredith Tate, Sophia Henry, Tegan Wren—I’m so grateful to have all of you. To the lovely ladies of The Hookup—Kelly Siskind and Heather Van Fleet—you girls are the best.

Much love and gratitude to my entire family. To Aidan, for always reminding me to “do some work,” and then crawling into my lap and keeping me company. To my mom, for never doubting I could do everything I set my mind to. To my dad, for pushing me to always do my best. To Amanda and Kelley, for generously sacrificing their time looking at inspiration pictures for Kyle.

Lastly, to Steve— for everything you are and everything that you do. Your support means the world to me and I couldn’t do this without it.





Chapter 1

Haley

I’m not sure what’s thumping louder—the bass or my heart.

“Are you sure you’re ready for this?” Tara asks, wrapping her fingers around my wrist. The skin of her hand looks startlingly dark against my pale skin, which is even paler than usual from my recently shed hermit status. Something sharp stabs my heart, like the quick, painful jab of a finger prick. Images of my ex, Luke, and his new girlfriend, Sloane, the resulting breakup and despair, crowd the edges of my mind. I quickly brush them away, mentally swiping at them like insignificant cobwebs. Not tonight.

I shift in my heels, trying to relieve the pressure on the balls of my feet. “As ready as I’m ever going to be.”

Tara links her arm through mine, and we walk together into Rodeo Jive, the signature bar of the young and wealthy, the career-oriented and highly aspirational twentysomethings. The “suits” are lined up at the bar—jackets discarded, ties loosened, sleeves rolled up. Designer clothing and expensive price tags hug the curves of every woman in the place, and for the first time since I dropped a chunk of my savings on my new wardrobe, I actually feel as though my splurge was justified. Even the thought of showing up here in one of my thrift-store finds makes a blush heat my cheeks.

“Two martinis, up, two olives,” Tara says, leaning her elbows onto the polished bar top.

I scoot onto the empty stool next to her, tugging down the hem of my black dress. Despite my efforts, it inches back up to mid-thigh. Taking a deep breath, I try to channel my inner Sloane. Yes, she may have stolen the former love of my life, and true, given the chance I’d probably … well I probably won’t do anything but ignore her, but still, there’s something about her that’s undeniably hypnotic. She walks into the room and she’s a presence. And it’s not just her looks or her money—though that helps; it’s her attitude, her confidence.

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