Cherished By You (LITC, #4) is LIVE + Excerpt!

 Title: Cherished by You (Love in the City #4)
Author: Steph Nuss
Release Date: Oct 7, 2015
Find on Goodreads

“Move in with me,” he said. 

Being cherished is how Tessa Wilder always imagined falling in love. But for years, she’s always gone for the wrong guys. Now that she’s fallen for one of the good ones, she fears rejection.

“I can’t,” she replied.

Justin Jameson quit looking for a woman after being used so many times for his brains. A bit of an introvert and completely oblivious to women’s advances, he can’t even see that his friend cherishes everything about him.

When Tessa needs a place to stay, Justin’s the first to offer her a room. Hearts are opened; feelings are ventured. They’ll finally know what it’s like to be cherished in the city until one moment threatens the relationship they’ve built.

“I can’t lose you.”

I spent the morning at work searching online for apartments, which caused a ball of anxiety to tighten in my stomach as reality smacked me in the face. I knew living in the city was expensive, but I didn’t think it was that expensive. I’d found studio apartments, where the bathroom and kitchen were practically in the same room, and I still couldn’t afford them. I was one second away from a cry fest when Justin Jameson and Carter Jennings walked into Elly’s psych clinic for lunch. Just the sight of Justin in his professor ensemble brightened my day. He paired brown loafers with khaki pants that hung from his lean hips. The navy blue sweater vest over his light-blue plaid button-down highlighted his wiry frame and made his hazel-blue eyes pop against his tan skin. His long, sandy blond hair was pulled back into a low ponytail, his normal work style. To some, his appearance probably wasn’t sexy in the slightest, but it was one of my favorites.    
Ever since Carter had moved back to the city last year, he and Justin spent most of their lunch breaks at Elly’s clinic. It wasn’t too far away from NYU, where they both taught. Now that Carter and Elly were married and expecting their first child together, not a day went by that he missed having lunch with her.
“Hey, Tessa,” Carter said, placing their bags on the table in the lobby.
“Hey, guys,” I said, smiling politely. I was in no mood to have lunch with anyone, even my friends, so I decided to forgo the sandwich I’d packed and continue apartment hunting. “Elly’s last patient just left, so she should be out in a minute.”
“Okay,” Carter said, taking a seat. He started unpacking the lunch he’d brought, a smile proudly stamped across his face. Justin sat across from him, doctoring his sandwich with dressing.
Elly soon appeared in the lobby, rocking an adorable black dress that slightly hid her baby bump. “Hey, guys!”
“Hey, babe,” Carter said, as Justin offered her a silent nod.
She immediately greeted Carter with a kiss and plopped down in the seat next to him. “What’d you bring us today?” she asked, rubbing her belly.
“A turkey sub without mayo this time,” he replied.
“Oh good, because Baby Jennings is not a fan of mayonnaise,” she said with a cringe as she unwrapped the paper. “Did you get the vinegar and oil and oregano?”
Carter laughed. “Of course.”
“I love you,” she said, offering him another kiss. She turned her attention toward me and smiled. “Tessa, are you going to eat with us?”
I sighed and shook my head. “Nah, I’m not really hungry.”
“How are you not hungry?” Elly asked, before taking a bite of her sub.
Well, I wasn’t eating for two, and the reality check of apartment hunting had completely stolen my appetite.
“What are you looking up on there?” Carter asked, nodding toward my computer.
Leaning back in my chair, I gazed over at my friends and confessed. “Trey wants to move out and get a place with a friend, but I told him they could have my place and I would find something. So, I’m apartment hunting now.”
“Are you having any luck?” Elly asked.
“Not really,” I said gravely. “Even the crappier places I’ve found are on the higher end of my budget. I had no idea how expensive apartments were now. Living under rent control will do that to a person.”
“You know, I could give you a raise,” Elly said, smiling genuinely. “But you’ll probably just say you don’t need one, so why don’t you move in with us for the time being?”
“No, I don’t deserve a raise, and I couldn’t do that to you guys. You just got married a few months ago, and you have a baby on the way. Thanks for the offer, but I just can’t.”
“Okay,” Elly said, rolling her eyes. “But the offer still stands. You’re always welcome.”
“I know,” I said, turning my attention back to my computer screen. I decided to widen my search to other boroughs, so I began looking there while they ate in comfortable silence.
“What about Paige?” Elly asked. “She has a spare bedroom at her place.”
“You lived with Paige back in college,” I stated. “You really think she wants a roommate now? She couldn’t wait to find her own place once you guys graduated.”
“True,” she said.
“Speaking of Paige,” Carter said. “Where is she? She usually has lunch with us.”
Paige had texted me earlier, saying she had a lunch meeting for work. Elly and I shared a glance, and then she turned to Carter and sighed. “She had a work lunch she had to attend today, and she’ll probably have them until the baby arrives. She’s avoiding me now that she knows I’m pregnant.”
“Are you serious?” Carter asked, brows furrowed.
“Carter,” Elly warned, shaking her head.
“Whatever,” he stated, taking a bite of his sub. “She needs to get over whatever issues she has with babies. Everyone loves babies.”
“Some people prefer a child-free lifestyle,” she continued. “We’ve talked about this.”
“I know, but she’s one of our friends,” he argued. “All I’m saying is that she shouldn’t feel the need to avoid us for nine months.”
Elly smiled at him and then playfully took a bite of her sandwich and asked with a mouthful, “Can we please drop this so I can go back to enjoying my lunch?”
“Yes,” he laughed, placing a chaste kiss on her cheek. “Fuel up, babe.”
I laughed as I scrolled through the apartment listings. I’d been spoiled for too long, and now I was paying for it. I worked full-time as Elly’s receptionist, and I still couldn’t afford any of these places. I couldn’t imagine what dump Trey and Josh would’ve ended up finding on their measly part-time paychecks.
“Move in with me.”
Turning my head back toward the table, I looked up in shock and found Justin staring back at me. “W-what?”
“I said, you can move in with me.”
I couldn’t possibly live with Justin Jameson, especially not after the sex dream I had starring him the night before. I had the world’s biggest crush on him, and it’d somehow moved into wet dream territory. How the hell was I supposed to live with him?
“I can’t,” I said shyly, shaking my head. “I-um-I don’t know if I can aff—”
“I have an extra bedroom,” he explained. “I’ve never had a roommate before, but I think we could make it work. Plus, I think I speak for everyone when I say I can’t let one of my friends live in a box just because it’s in her budget.”
Great. Now, I’m his charity case.
“Thanks, but I don’t think I can afford even half your rent.”
Justin lived in a nice condo near Washington Square. The building had a doorman and included amenities like a spa and housecleaners. It also had a five-star restaurant and a lounge in the lobby. I probably couldn’t even afford a third of the rent at a place like his.
“You wouldn’t have to worry about rent,” he stated, his smile widening. “I bought the condo years ago, so it’s mine now.”
Of course, he had it paid off already. Justin came from ridiculously smart, rich parents who authored science textbooks now. Apparently, they’d been genius scientists back when he was younger, but they’d since retired to write. He never talked about them and we’d never met them. All I knew was that they passed all of their intelligence on to him, which led to Justin entering college at the age of fourteen. Now, after acquiring several doctorate degrees in various fields, he was 30-years-old and already tenured at NYU.
I didn’t even graduate high school.
“I can’t just live with you for free,” I said, feeling my cheeks heat with embarrassment.
“Why not?” he asked earnestly.
Carter and Elly quietly watched us as if they were watching a tennis match, back and forth, with considerable interest.
“I-I don’t know,” I stuttered, nervously playing with the buttons on my keyboard. “I would feel like I owe you, and I don’t want to be some charity case.”
Justin sat back in his seat and gave me a smirk. “You’re no one’s charity case. You’re my friend.”
My heart sank at the mention of our friendship. Sadly, friends were all we’d ever be.
Get over it already, Tess.
“If it makes you feel better, we can split the utilities or groceries or whatever,” he said, before popping a chip in his mouth.
I watched as he chewed, smiling back at me, and the knot of anxiety that had settled in my stomach quickly crawled up into my throat. His sweetness was one of the things I loved most about him. He would do anything to help anyone. He didn’t have a mean bone in his body. But God, it would be impossible to live with him, feeling the way I did about him.
Justin was a man of habit: he wasn’t too keen on change. So, the fact that he even offered me his guest bedroom was a huge step for him, especially since he’d never had a roommate. We were opposites in almost every way. He came from money and intelligence; I came from parents who abused drugs and alcohol. He had several academic degrees; I only had my GED. Where he was the silent observer of our group of friends, I was our social butterfly, always chatting away and eager to go out and have fun.
For years now, I’d believed he deserved a woman more like himself, but my beliefs couldn’t deter my feelings for him. He had no idea how I felt about him, and I chalked it up to his obliviousness to women and the effect he had on us.
“I think this is perfect!” Elly cheered. She gazed over at me excitedly, and I sent daggers her way. She knew how I felt. She knew he favored consistency. Yet, she was encouraging this living arrangement.
“What do you say, Tessa?” Carter asked with a smile.
The three of them stared at me, silently begging for my answer. Justin looked slightly amused, as if he couldn’t figure out why I even had to think about it. Carter appeared as eager as his wife, which made me question what he knew about my feelings toward Justin. Elly’s gaze never waived, pleading with me to agree.
So, I did.
“Okay,” I replied, nodding stiffly.
“Yay!” Elly squealed, clapping her hands. “When can she move in, Justin?”
He laughed, smiling back at me. “As soon as you want. The room is already furnished, but you’re welcome to change anything and make it your own.”
You’re welcome to change anything. Who was this guy and where did Dr. I-Hate-Change go?
“Thanks,” I offered. “I really appreciate it.”
“Maybe we can help you move in this weekend?” Elly suggested.
“No,” Carter rebuked, shaking his head at her. “You will not be helping with anything. You can just sit back and relax with our baby.”
“I’m pregnant, Carter; I’m not debilitated!”
“I know,” he said, sliding his hand over her bump. “I just don’t want anything to happen to either one of you. You can just order us around while we move Tessa in. How does that sound?”
“Perfect!”
“Great,” Justin muttered, unenthusiastically. “Just what we want—a woman ordering us around.”
“Don’t act like you don’t like it, Jameson,” Carter teased, wrapping his arm around Elly’s shoulders and pulling her closer. He placed a kiss on her temple and then stood from his seat. “We should be getting back to work.”
Elly pulled him back down for a longer kiss and then swatted him on the butt. “Okay, I’ll see you later. Love you.”
“Love you,” he said, smiling down at her.
Justin cleaned up the table, discarded their trash, and then came over to my desk and leaned up against it. “So, are we moving you in this weekend then?”
I sighed. “Yeah, I think the sooner, the better. You know teenagers. They want their independence. The sooner I’m out, the quicker Josh can move in.”
“I understand,” he laughed.
Gazing into his beautiful, bright blue eyes, I smiled. “Thanks again for offering me your spare room. I probably would’ve ended up in a box in the Bronx again.”
“You deserve much more than that,” he replied. Then he pushed away from my desk and walked toward the door with Carter. “See you later, roomie!”
Laughing, I waved at them as they exited Elly’s clinic. “Bye, guys!”
Once they were gone, Elly rushed over to my desk and perched on the edge, wearing a huge grin and laughing. “This is probably the best thing that could’ve ever happened to you!”
“No, it’s not,” I muttered, rolling my eyes. “How am I supposed to live with him, Elly? I’ve been in love with him for years, and he doesn’t even know it! He completely ignores any of my advances or flirting.”
“Justin’s introverted,” she explained. “I think once you move in with him, you’ll see a totally different side of each other, and I mean that in a good way. He’s really quiet when we’re all together, but one-on-one, I think he’ll open up to you. He may act like he’s oblivious, but no guy can live with a woman he’s not related to and not think about having sex with her.”
“Oh my God, I never even thought about all the crap he’s going to learn about me. Like my period schedule. Am I supposed to keep my tampons in his bathroom or hide them in my bedroom? See, nothing in his place will be mine! Everything is his because it’s his place that he bought! Do you understand what I’m saying?”
“Yes,” she sighed, rolling her eyes. “And I think you’re freaking out over nothing! Justin is an adult. He knows you have a period. Leave your tampons wherever you want. It’s not like he’s going to have the nerve to tell you to put them somewhere else.”
When I just stared at her, she continued. “I about choked on my food when he said you could move in. This is progress for him, Tessa! He’s never had a roommate before, so he wouldn’t have offered if he didn’t want you there.”
“You know, I’m really starting to hate this positive, no worries side of you,” I mumbled, shaking my head.
“Hakuna matata!” she cheered with a little shake of her hips, causing us both to break out in laughter.
The Love in the City series is about a group of friends looking for love in New York City. Each book is about a different couple, so they can be read as standalones. The stories are told from both the female and male point of views, and they all end in happily ever afters, no cliffhangers here! Finally, all the book covers are different colors to represent a certain awareness or cause that is referenced in each book. Grab the first book in the series, Wanted By You, for FREE today!

 

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Valentine’s Day Special: Love in the City

With the lovers’ holiday just days away, I thought I’d share some Valentine’s Day specials from the couples of the Love in the City series! First, you’ll get a glimpse into Wanted By You (Love in the City, #1)‘s couple, Carter and Ellyson, and their past: their first Valentine’s Day together as friends in college (2005). Next is a teaser from Harper and Maverick’s Valentine’s Day from Fantasized By You (Love in the City, #2). And finally, what would a Valentine’s Day special be without some sexting! Enjoy some texts between my latest couple from Pleasured By You (Love in the City, #3), Bayler and Fletcher. Enjoy!

Valentine’s 2005

Carter

It was the Friday night before Valentine’s Day, and Elly and I were hanging out in my dorm working on our Psychology homework. On any other Friday, we’d probably be at a party somewhere, getting drunk and having a good time, but since most of the parties this weekend would be directed towards couples, Elly didn’t feel like going out. And if she wasn’t going out, I wasn’t going out.

That was the way it’d been since I saw her on our first day of college a few months ago. Sure, I noticed other girls around campus flirting for my attention, but the only woman who held mine was lying across my twin bed right now with her long, red hair cascading over her shoulders as she kicked her feet in the air and stared up at the television.

“Gross!” she exclaimed, wrinkling her nose.

“What?” I asked, intrigued by her outburst. Turning my head toward the television, I watched the Russell Stover’s commercial. Smiling, I looked over my shoulder. “You have a thing against chocolate?”

“Assorted chocolates, yes,” she said seriously.

“Everyone loves boxes of chocolate. Flowers and chocolates. Isn’t that what every girl wants on Valentine’s Day?”

Shaking her head, she muttered, “Not this girl.”

Laughing, I closed my Psych book, too distracted by the hot girl in the room to even care about depression. It was already depressing enough that it had been almost six months and I still hadn’t made a move on Ellyson Evans. “Okay then, what’s your ideal Valentine’s Day present?”

“I don’t know, but it’s definitely not a box full of chocolates with suspicious fillings inside of them.”

This is what I love about her. Any other single girl would be whining because she wouldn’t be receiving a box of chocolates this year, but Elly’s complaining about the actual chocolates themselves. “Isn’t that the fun of it though? You never know what you’re going to get.”

“How is that fun?!” she said, furrowing her brows. “I mean, Forrest Gump’s mom was right, life is full of surprises, but when it comes to chocolate, I want to know what I’m getting. I don’t want to bite into a peanut-butter-cup-look-a-like and find out it has coconut inside. That’s just disgusting.”

I laughed again. “Don’t they have them labeled underneath each piece of chocolate?”

“Yes, but who actually takes the time to read those things?” she deadpanned. “And even if they did read them, they still probably wouldn’t know what they were since some of them are called weird names. None of them say, ‘Looks like a Reese’s cup, but it’s not!’”

“Okay, so tell me what you’d prefer?”

Resting her chin on her hand, she sighed. “You know the Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Crème?”

“Yeah . . .”

“I’d like a box full of fun-sized Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Crème bars, but you can’t get them this time of year. They only come out with the fun-sized ones during Halloween because white chocolate is like the middle child in the chocolate family.”

I’m the middle child in my family. I couldn’t wait to see where she went with this.

“Compared to milk and dark, white chocolate is the most delicious. It’s not the attention whore like milk chocolate or a liar like dark chocolate.”

Amused, I said, “I get how milk chocolate is an attention whore, but how is dark a liar? Isn’t it supposed to be the healthier chocolate?”

“That’s just it though. It is healthier so people end up eating more of it because they think they’re doing something good for themselves, but then they lose all sense of portion control. That’s not healthy. Sure, dark chocolate might statistically be healthier for us, but it still has calories and fat just like all the other chocolates. If I’m going to eat chocolate, I’m going to eat the most delicious, who-cares-how-many-calories-it-has kind.”

Laughing again, I nodded. “Okay, okay, you have a point.”

“What about you?” she asked, smiling proudly. “What’s your ideal Valentine’s Day gift?”

Smiling mischievously, I allowed my eyes to roam over her tight, little body sprawled across my bed. With her shoulders slightly hunched and her elbows pressed into the mattress, her breasts swelled against her sweater. Her jeans hugged her ass just right, and from my seat at my desk, I imagined the perfect Valentine’s Day gift: Ellyson Evans lying on my bed in nothing but sexy, red lingerie to match that beautiful hair of hers. Sure, most guys would want their girl already naked, but as I imagined slowly unwrapping the lacy material from her body, taking my sweet, torturous time, touching her and kissing every inch of her until she was begging me to take her, I thought getting Elly naked myself would be the ultimate gift.

“Earth to Carter,” Elly laughed, waving her hand in the air.

Shaking my head, my smile widened as I let the daydream of her disappear, knowing I wouldn’t tell her what I really wanted for Valentine’s Day. Over the months, we’d become really great friends, and as much as I wanted her, I couldn’t risk ruining our friendship right now. “I guess my ideal gift would be beer. For guys, alcohol is our chocolate.”

She laughed. “But it doesn’t taste nearly as good though.”

***

One Day Later

After Ellyson left my room last night, I couldn’t sleep. Her scent lingered for a while, causing all of my thoughts to drift back to her. The way she smiled and laughed, the way her mind worked; she was so unlike any other girl I’d ever met. Like sheets straight from the dyer, she was warm and inviting and completely captivating, it wasn’t a surprise I stayed up all night thinking of a way to give her a Valentine’s Day gift without coming on to her. I wanted to eventually make a move, ask her out on a date, but I knew she wasn’t ready for it. She didn’t notice me the way I noticed her, or if she did, she was great at hiding it.

“What are you doing?” Cash asked, walking back into our room after saying good-bye to the girl he’d brought back last night.

Another reason I couldn’t sleep last night: my roommate hooked up with the loudest chick on the planet. I couldn’t have been happier to see her go.

“Just working on something,” I answered, gluing a piece of cardboard into the inside of an old shoebox. “Glad you finally got Miss Squeals to leave.”

“Man, she was loud, wasn’t she?” he laughed, rubbing the back of his neck.

“Loud is an understatement.”

“What’s with these?” he asked, grabbing the bag of chocolates from my desk.

“Nothing,” I said, snatching them out of his hand.

He laughed, and then walked back to his bed and flopped down on top of it. “Carter, please tell me this has nothing to do with Elly.”

“It has everything to do with her.”

“You are so pathetic. Just ask her out. You have her number. You know where she lives. You have a couple of classes together. Just fucking do it already!”

Looking over my shoulder, I glared at him. “Sorry, but I don’t just want to hookup with her.”

“I know, but−”

“It’s just some chocolate. It’s not a big deal, but if anyone’s to blame it’s you. If you hadn’t brought that chick back last night, I wouldn’t have had to leave to keep my hearing intact.”

“You’re right; I can get pussy without buying it chocolate.”

“That’s not what I meant,” I said, rolling my eyes. “Last night, I went to the store to kill time and I found the chocolate she likes.”

He groaned, covering his face with his hands. “Dude, it’s sad that you even know what kind of chocolate she likes.”

“No, it’s not,” I said, proudly admiring the shoebox full of tiny squares. “Women love men who pay attention.”

***

Valentine’s Day

Throughout the day, I’d watched couple after couple exchange gifts and affections. Love songs played on the radio. Grand gestures went on here and there. A few guys even proposed. Women carried teddy bears and flowers and boxes of chocolates around campus like they were gold medals from their perfect boyfriends.

But as the day turned into night, I headed over to Elly’s, knowing Paige, Elly’s roommate, was at her Monday night class.

I knocked on the door, and Elly immediately answered.

“Hey,” she said, opening the door further. “What’s up?”

“Not much,” I said, walking into her room. She shut the door behind me, and I turned to face her. “Just thought I’d bring you this.”

I handed her the shoebox wrapped in shiny red paper, and she smiled and shook her head. “Carter, what is this?”

Taking a seat on the edge of her bed, I shrugged. “Open it.”

The smile on her face grew as she lifted the lid and found thirty small squares filled with fun-sized Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Crème candy bars.

Laughter fell from her lips as she sat next to me. “Where did you find these?”

“BJ’s in Brooklyn.”

“You went all the way to Brooklyn just to find the most delicious chocolate?” she asked in a sweet surprised voice.

“Cash brought a chick home with him the other night. I had a lot of time to kill.”

She took one of the bars out and immediately ripped it opened, and then tossed it in her mouth and moaned as she bit into the white chocolate bar filled with cookie chunks. “It’s like a tiny brick of heaven.”

I laughed and slid my arm around her shoulders. “Happy Valentine’s Day, Elly.”

“Thank you,” she said, batting those big brown eyes at me. “I really do love it. Best box of chocolates ever!” She moved the box of chocolates off her lap and walked into her closet. I heard her footsteps coming closer again and looked up to find her showing off a thirty-pack of Coors Light. “It’s a good thing one of my neighbors has a fake id.”

Standing, I walked over to her, wanting more than anything to take her face in my hands and kiss the ever-loving fuck out of those perfect pink lips, but instead, I just smiled down at her. “You got me beer?”

“Of course, I did,” she smirked. “It’s your chocolate.”

Grabbing the case from her hands, I set it on the floor and then wrapped her up in a hug, hoping someday we’d share a Valentine’s Day together as a real couple instead of just friends.

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Pleasured By You will release March 20th, 2015! Be sure to add it your Goodreads and join the Facebook party!

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Happy Valentine’s Day from the Love in the City gang!

Xo,

Steph Nuss

 

Black Friday Book Sale!

black-friday-sale

Black Friday: a time when everyone goes insane for crazy good deals. But I think we can all agree that the best deals don’t mean having to stand in line or wake up at a ridiculously early hour just to get them. No, the best deals are book deals, and you can get them without even leaving your warm, cozy home. 

So, I’ve put both of my Love in the City books on sale for a limited time! This is the first time Fantasized By You has EVER been this low! So, if you haven’t read Harper and Maverick’s story yet, now is the time to pick it up and read it! If you haven’t had a chance to get either books and fall in love with the gang from Love in the City series, now is the perfect time to get the first two books because the prices will only be this low for a short amount of time. (These books can be read as stand-alones!)

BFS

BUY LINKS:

Wanted By You (Love in the City, #1)

Amazon * iBooks * Barnes & Noble * Kobo

Fantasized By You (Love in the City, #2)

Amazon * iBooks * Barnes & Noble * Kobo

If you’ve already read them, please consider gifting them to your book-loving friends, family members, complete strangers, etc! Please help me spread the word on this amazing deal by sharing the above photo on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest! After all, tis the season for giving, and may you all have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving! I want to thank each and every one of you for helping make this writing dream of mine come true! You’ve seriously made this one of the best years of my life, and I will forever be grateful for you, the readers. 

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