Sometimes when perfect falls apart, a little trouble fixes everything . . .
Twenty-one-year-old Kayla Turner has lost everything. After spending most of her life taking care of her ailing mother, she just wants to spot a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. So when her late father-a man she barely knew-leaves her an inheritance, she finally breathes a sigh of relief . . . until she learns the inheritance comes with strings. Strings in the form of handsome playboy Daren Ackwood, her father’s protégé. To see any of her inheritance, she’s forced to team up with him. From his expensive car to those sexy dimples, Kayla’s seen his type before. But Daren isn’t who he seems to be . . .
Struggling to make amends for his family’s mistakes, Daren has a life more Oliver Twist than Richie Rich these days. He’s beyond grateful that James Turner included him in his will, but working with Turner’s princess of a daughter to fulfill his cryptic last wish is making Daren wonder if being broke is really so bad. Still, she’s just as beautiful as she is stubborn, and the more time he spends with Kayla, the less it feels right being without her. Soon Daren and Kayla begin to wonder if maybe the best gift Kayla’s dad could have left them . . . was each other.
Exclusive Excerpt from Perfect Kind of Trouble:
Daren leans forward, resting his elbows on his knees as he watches Mr. Perkins fret about the room. I watch as he laces his long fingers and casually taps the pads of his thumbs together.
“Ah, yes. Here it is.” The lawyer holds up a DVD then slips it into a large TV across the room and cues it up. “James put together this will himself just a few months ago. I only opened the initial package last week. Inside, he requested that the two of you be present for this video message.”
He presses Play and my father appears on the screen. His brown hair is grayer than I remember, his green eyes a bit faded, and he’s thinner than ever before, but everything else about his youthful face is the same. He was in his fifties when the cancer took him, but he looked like he was thirty and probably acted like he was twenty. Mom always said that’s what she loved most about him—his childlike silliness. That’s what I liked most about him too.
My heart twists and I drop my eyes to concentrate on a small tear in the couch. That was a long time ago. I look back up.
James Turner is dressed in a tweed jacket and tie, and has his thin-rimmed glasses on. He looks like a college professor from the ’50s. All he’s missing is a pipe and a mustache. And he really did smoke a pipe when he was alive.
He was an eccentric man, always goofing around and doing odd things. But he was good to our family when I was young. My parents divorced when I was six, but before they broke up we used to go on a family picnic every Sunday. My dad would send my mom and I on little scavenger hunts for things like white roses and four-leaf clovers and then we’d lay our blue-and-white-checkered quilt on the grass and eat fried chicken until the sun set.
That was before my mom decided she’d rather be single and swept me off to Chicago. And before my dad decided he didn’t want a family anymore.
I stare down at the couch rip until I hear my father clear his throat. “Hello, Kayla and Daren.” I look up. “If you’re watching this, then I assume I’m dead. Which is unfortunate, because I really liked being alive.”
I already hate this.
“Nevertheless, now that I’m gone I have a letter I want to leave to you—to both of you. The only catch is that you two must agree to wear handcuffs while retrieving it.”
I blink, not sure I heard him correctly.
He smiles. “It’s really the only way to ensure that you stay together and cooperate with each other. You’re both only children with circumstances that have taught you not to rely on others, and being such, I’m sure your first instincts will be to separate and go at it alone. So you’ll understand why I feel the handcuffs are necessary.”
My jaw drops. It actually falls open in shock.
Handcuffs? What the hell?
He continues, “I’m sure this sounds preposterous and I have no doubt you both hate this idea but you might someday thank me for it anyway.” He winks at the camera. “Happy hunting.”
And the screen goes black.
Is he—what in the—why would—
WHAT. THE. HELL.
I shift my eyes from the lawyer to the TV and back to the lawyer. I don’t even know where to start.
“That’s it?” I say, stunned. “That five-second message is the entire video from my deceased father?”
Mr. Perkins nervously nods.
I let out a sharp exhale in disbelief. My father has a chance to say his final words to me and he chooses “Wear handcuffs” and “Happy hunting”?
If he weren’t already dead I’d go kill him myself.
Daren puckers his lips and furrows his brow. “I don’t get it.”
Mr. Perkins inhales slowly. “It seems Mr. Turner wants you and Kayla to be handcuffed together while you go find a letter.”
My jaw is still hanging open like a broken nutcracker soldier. What the hell is happening right now?
“Yeah, I got that. But go ‘find’ a letter?” Daren squints. “What does that mean? Is the letter lost?”
I drop my face into my hands, trying to get a grip on the emotion swelling behind my eyes. James Turner couldn’t be a normal father, oh no. He couldn’t just leave me a message saying he loved me or that he was sorry for being a deadbeat dad these last few years, no way. He had to be his usual pompous self and leave me some cryptic video note.
I pull my head up and blink a few times. I will not cry. I will not cry.
Mr. Perkins refers to his papers again before reading out loud, “ ‘If Kayla and Daren work together while handcuffed, they should be able to complete their task in a single day.’ ”
All words fail me. I want to cry and scream and laugh hysterically. I might do all three. Right here on this squeaky black couch. In front of God, and Mr. Perkins, and Daren effing Ackwood.
“It’s going to take a whole day to pick up this letter?” Daren looks just as baffled as I feel. “Where did Turner leave it, in another state?”
The letter. Right. Because that’s the crazy piece in this crackpot puzzle.
“ ‘But if they fail to cooperate with each other,’ ” Mr. Perkins continues, “ ‘their mission may take longer.’ ”
“Mission?” Daren says. “What are we, spies?”
“So let me get this straight.” Shifting in my seat, I press my lips together and try to control the anger bubbling up inside me. “The only thing my father left me, his only child, in his will was a stupid letter? And the only way I can get this stupid letter is by handcuffing—handcuffing—myself to a total stranger?”
“Wha—” Daren turns to me and makes a face. “I’m not a stranger. And I’ll have you know, lots of girls would be happy to be handcuffed to me.” He pulls a crooked smile. “Some actually have been.”
Something in his expression wavers, making me question the cockiness in his eyes—not the fact that girls have played sexy handcuff games with him, just the arrogance with which he announced it, and I stare at him incredulously.
“Yeah, well, lots of girls are morons.” I turn back to the lawyer and plead, “Please tell me I’m misunderstanding and that this is all just some horrid nightmare.”
“Nightmare.” Daren lifts an eyebrow. “That’s a bit dramatic, don’t you think?”
“You are not misunderstanding, Ms. Turner.” Mr. Perkins pulls his handkerchief back out and dabs his lip again. “Your father does, in fact, want you to handcuff yourself to Daren while you retrieve the letter he left you.”
I laugh darkly and lean back on the couch with my already broken heart breaking into more pieces than I even knew were left. “Fantastic,” I mutter.
It was sad when my father missed by sixteenth birthday. It was hurtful when he stopped returning my phone calls every year after that. But failing to leave me anything in his will other than a ridiculous hide-and-seek game for what is probably a disappointing handwritten message scrawled out on his monogrammed stationery is just. Plain. Insulting.
And I thought the face spider was bad.
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Meet the Author
Chelsea lives in Phoenix, Arizona, where she spends most of her time writing stories, painting murals, and avoiding housework at all costs. She’s ridiculously bad at doing dishes and claims to be allergic to laundry. Her obsessions include: superheroes, coffee, sleeping-in, and crazy socks. She lives with her husband and two children, who graciously tolerate her inability to resist teenage drama on TV and her complete lack of skill in the kitchen.
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