Risk Everything on It

By: K.A. Mitchell

Sequel to Put a Ring on It Ready or Knot: Book Two



Former child star and deeply closeted adult actor Jax Conlon needs a boost to his flagging career. He promised his mom, just before she died. He hopes he’s found it in a guest spot with the latest directorial prodigy, but his research for the role gets derailed by an encounter with a handsome stranger with more… hands-on experience.

Oz Parsons is a devoted dad to two amazing little girls. Maybe a little too devoted—he hasn’t had anything resembling a personal life since his ex left, leaving Oz and the girls with broken hearts and abandonment issues. So a hookup with a hot guy is just what he needs to let off some pent-up steam without any complications. There’s something about Jax, though, that’s got him finding reasons to draw things out.

With their goals and families pulling them in two different directions, Oz and Jax have to figure if white-hot chemistry and desire that won’t quit is enough to roll the dice and risk now on forever.





For Elizabeth.


Thank you for making business a pleasure.





Acknowledgments


Thank you to Chris for the Tarot-fu to get a handle on their journeys, to BFS for plowing through the onslaught of fast pages, to Erin for hand-holding and poking, and to Sasha for making it the best it could be. You all rock!





Chapter 1





“I’LL OVERNIGHT a baby to you. You still subletting at that address?”

Jax took his gaze off the Cross Island Parkway traffic and stared hard at his phone in its cradle, as if he could see his agent’s face and figure out why the hell Cliff had suddenly lost his goddamned mind.

“A human baby?” Brake lights flashed bright in front of Jax, and he tapped the Lexus’s brakes to jump lanes, sliding behind a delivery truck.

“Christ, what are you smoking? Not a real baby. One of those lifelike dolls. I’ll try to get something like a newborn. Handle it. Diaper it. You’re going to need to look like you’ve actually touched one, or have you got some parenting experience I don’t know about?”

“No.” Jax shuddered at the thought. He’d never been slightly interested in the mechanics required to make a child. He was fine with them—kids—once they were of a useful demographic audience age. But handling a baby? Not on his resumé.

Traffic came to one of those screeching halts he’d gotten familiar with on the Island. Everyone dropping from sixty to zero in one point two seconds. Kind of like his career.

“So what? Let me know if I’m just wasting my time here, Jax. Because if you’re not even going to take the audition seriously—”

“No, no, I’m in.” After his recent Off Off Broadway disaster, Jax had been desperate enough to solicit career advice from his dad, or as his dad’s TV and radio ads proclaimed, Bill Conlon, King of Absolute Auto Parts, now with a third location in Reseda.

Way I see it, we need a win here, son. Sometimes you have to take one for the team.

Dad’s advice was, as usual, loaded with clichés yet still somehow relevant.

Cliff rolled ahead. “Okay, then. I’ll overnight a baby, and you practice with it. They’re looking for the smooth, charming-young-dad type. Not awkward. Dress it in pink.”

Dress it?

“You took method classes at Columbia, right? Make ’em believe it’s your precious baby girl. This is your stuff, Jax. You can do this.”

His stuff. Comedies, Hallmark made for TV, the earnest scientist trying to warn of an impending disaster who gets killed off before the first commercial in whatever catastrophe the writers at the Syfy network had cooked up. Nothing that would lead to him doing amazing things and changing people’s lives, like his mom had wanted. But Family Daze had drifted off syndication, apparently for good, three years ago, and he hadn’t seen a residual check in six months. He wasn’t the type to waste money on a five-million-dollar home in the hills and a garage full of penis enhancers, but he didn’t want to have to start flying coach and renting economy cars either.

“I said I’d do it. I want it.”

“I’ll e-mail you the tracking number. You’ve got three days. Sell it.”





IT WAS full, murky dark before Jax found the closest Baby Boutique in Queens. He had to backtrack out toward Dane and Spencer’s place, where he’d just had dinner. A late-October Thursday didn’t seem to be a big shopping time for essential baby gear. The few cars in the lot could have been employees’, but you wouldn’t know it from the complete lack of help anyone offered Jax as he wandered in and around. The displays had no logic he could see. Some aisles at an angle, some in a semicircle. An interesting gadget caught his eye, and he actually had it in his hand before he realized it was a breast pump. Fumbling, he tossed it back on the shelf and wiped his hand on his jeans as he fought back nausea.

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