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TBB EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT from PROFESSOR FEELGOOD

I check my phone again, and a jab of disappointment hits me when I see there’s still nothing from the professor.

Damn.

Getting stood up is humiliating at the best of times, but it’s even worse when it’s someone you’re really looking forward to meeting. Obviously, he had somewhere more important to be tonight. I just hope this level of unreliability isn’t indicative of what’s to come.

“Well, well, well,” a deep voice behind me says. “Are my eyes deceiving me, or did little Asha Tate grow up to be a kinky sex freak?”

The voice sends a shiver down my spine, and when the man walks into my line of view, I frown in confusion. He’s familiar, but also not. As I scrutinize him, a prickle of recognition sparks in the corner of my brain. But then my gaze travels to his short beard and how tall and broad he is, and the name floating in my brain turns pale with disbelief. It’s a face I know as well as my own, but not in this form; and certainly not in this body. It’s the face of someone I’ve both loved and hated, and sincerely hoped I’d never see again.

With recognition comes a blast of anger.

“Jacob.” My voice is so tight, his name sounds like an accusation

His hands are in his pockets, shoulders bunched, eyes wary. He looks mildly amused by my discomfort, as well as annoyed to be in my presence, which was pretty much the status quo for us all through high school. With the way tonight has gone, I shouldn’t be surprised I’d randomly run into the guy who made my entire high school experience a living hell, and yet …

“Hello, Asha. Or would you prefer me to call you Mistress these days?”

“That depends. If I get to inflict physical pain on you, then call me whatever you like.”

He tilts his head. “Are we talking normal pain? Or sexy lingerie-and-stilettos type pain? Because I’d consider the second one for the laughs alone. However, if we’re taking just a regular old ass-kicking, then I’m pretty sure I could take you.”

As usual, he stares at me with such off-putting intensity, I feel a familiar simmer of anxiety start up. The last time I saw Jake, he was slamming out of my house, cursing my name while I called him a selfish asshole. Back then, he was tall and lanky, with long hair and a shitty attitude for days. Now, he may look wildly different from the teenage douchebag I used to know, but the tension he inspires hasn’t changed. If I didn’t think it showed weakness, I’d rush into the bathroom and allow my stomach the violent purging it’s begging for.

“So,” he says, scanning me from top to toe with his usual piercing gaze. “You look … different. Grown up.” He points to my face. “You need glasses now, Grandma?”

“Yes. I mean, no.” I take the glasses off and put them on the table as I swipe a hand across the cold sweat that’s prickling the back of my neck. “They’re for my job. Camouflage.”

“Right.” He nods. “So, fake. Some things never change.”

I ignore the barb. I’ve had plenty of practice. “Well, you have. Graduated from peach fuzz to big boy facial hair, I see.”

“It’s laziness. Shaving is a burden.”

“Uh huh. That’s fascinating.” I give him my best bored expression. He counters it with a condescending smirk. Asshole.

“Well,” I say, not giving him the satisfaction of showing how he’s affecting me. “I’d say it’s nice to see you, but we both know that would be a lie.”

His lips curl more. It’s not quite a smile, but it’s enough to make me even more irritated. “I was about to say the same thing. How long has it been? Six years-ish?”

“About that, and yet also not long enough. For the record, I’m really not in the mood for you to tell me to go screw myself tonight, so if that’s what you were planning …”

“I wasn’t planning on it, but the night is young and you seem like you’re angling for a fight. Let’s just see what happens.”

I can still remember how betrayed I felt after our final argument. Right before it, part of me held out hope that we could perhaps get past the years of mutual animosity and at least be civil to each other, but he made it clear he wasn’t interested. That was the moment I buried the last stubborn remnants of affection I’d felt for him and plastered a giant ‘FU’ on his mental portrait.

Jacob’s living proof that assholes gotta asshole.

“Anyway,” I say, “this has been appropriately excruciating, so now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m waiting for someone.”

I may have given up hope that the professor will show up at this point, but I’m hoping my dismissive tone will give Jake the hint that our conversation is done. It’s amazing how seeing him again makes the past six years seem like they never happened. He needs to get the hell away from me, so I can stop feeling like an angst-ridden teenager all over again.

“Aw, come on, now,” Jake says as he flags down a waitress. “Surely you have more time for an old friend than that. And since you practically begged me, I’d love to have a drink. Thanks.”

He throws his jacket over mine, which lies on a spare stool, and makes a move to sit. On instinct, I hold out my hand to stop him. I don’t have time for Jacob Stone’s bullshit today.

“Don’t be a dick, Jake. I know it’s your natural state, but for once, try to resist. That seat is reserved.”

“I know. For me.”

I breathe through my frustration as he slides onto the stool, and a waitress appears beside him. When he orders a bourbon, a part of me squirms because he’s not old enough to have hard liquor. But of course, that’s not true anymore. Come to think of it, adolescent Jake never cared much for the legal drinking age, either.

When the waitress leaves, I fix him with my most potent glare. “As tempted as I am to hear about whatever bullshit you’ve been up to since high school, I’m going to have to take a hard pass on this get-together. I have a business meeting.”

He looks at me like I just told him gravity is real. “So, let’s talk business. Is it cool if I also pay for ‘optional extras’ from you, mistress? I mean, the golden shower thing isn’t really my bag, but I’m sure we could work out something else. What’s your position on spanking? Yes? Or, hell yes?”

God, give me strength.

“You know what?” I shove my phone back into my purse. “You want to be an ass? No problem. You do you. But I’m going to move to another table.” I give him an insincere smile. “So glad we bumped into each other, Jacob. Let’s never do it again, okay?”

When I slide off my stool and turn to go, his hand closes around my arm.

“For fuck’s sake, Tate, were you always this clueless? Sit your ass back down.”

“I beg your pardon?”

He lets out a frustrated sigh. “Sorry, that was rude. Sit your ass back down, please.”

I pull my arm out of his grip and resist wiping it clean of Jake-germs. God, I really am living in a time warp tonight.

“First,” I say, leveling a finger at him. “Don’t touch me. Second, don’t tell me what to do. Your bullying tactics don’t work on me anymore. And third, don’t touch me.

I can’t stand the clammy handprint on my skin any longer, so I quickly wipe away the tingling sensation. “I know this will probably come as shock to you, but you were a douchebag in high school, and you’re a douchebag now, so no, I’m not going to submit to one more moment in your presence. And here’s another newsflash –– I’ve completed three-and-a-half self-defense courses at my local Tae Kwon Do dojo, so believe me when I say that if you lay your giant gorilla hands on me ever again, I will fuck you up.”

He stares for a second, seeming beyond shocked that I’ve stood up for myself for once. To be honest, I’ve surprised myself. This reaction is the result of the countless times I fantasized about what I should have done or said to him in high school, instead of suffering in silence.

Still, I’m not used to being so forceful with him, and my heart is thrumming so hard, I can feel the vibrations in my feet.

Jake is still staring at me in stunned silence.

Holy shit. Is this what it’s like to beat Jacob Stone? Can it be I’ve finally learned the secret to defeating him and his annoying bullshit?

Three seconds later, my chest-warming sense of satisfaction dissolves in a puff of humiliation when he breaks into a low rumble of laughter.

“Damn, Tate,” he says, in an awestruck tone. “That was terrifying. Please don’t fuck me up, tiny woman. I’m young and have so much to live for.”

I make a disgusted noise then snatch my glass up and take a step toward a free table a few yards away. Unfortunately, I don’t get far, because in a flash, Jake’s out of his seat and blocking my path.

Okay, wasn’t expecting someone so big to move that fast. Inconvenient.

“Tate, come on. You can’t leave. I don’t have enough cash on me to pay for professional comedy tonight.” Even though Jake has always preferred brooding to smiling, it’s clear he finds my irritation hilarious, and accordingly, I get even more irritated.

Goddammit.

“You know,” I say, drawing myself up as tall as possible, which in these heels is about five-foot-eight. “Maybe you’re right. You should hang around and meet the guy I’m waiting for.”

“Oh, yeah? Why’s that?”

“Because he’s honest, down-to-earth, and emotionally aware in ways you’ll never be. He’s someone who doesn’t have to hide behind bullshit and sarcasm. He’s real, and sincere, and writes with the sort of raw vulnerability you’ll never understand. So, go ahead and laugh at me all you want. I don’t give a crap about what you think. As far as I’m concerned, you’re nothing more than a speed bump on a shitty highway I left behind years ago.”

Jakes expression darkens. Can it be I’ve finally hit a nerve?

He pauses, and a muscle tics in his jaw. “Is that right?”

“Yeah, that’s right.”

There’s a saying about how people ‘stare daggers’ when they’re pissed. With Jake, it’s more like machetes. His eyes have always been the darkest brown I’ve ever seen; almost black. But whenever he gets angry, they seem to hide some sort of internal fire. Tiny flecks of amber play tricks with the light. They’re what make his glare so debilitating.

How he’s staring at me now? I experienced it way too often in high school, and it always made my lungs seize up, as if I were riding a roller coaster that plummeted to its lowest point in a millisecond.

In the past, it would have sent me scurrying away as quickly as possible before he could say something to make me feel stupid or small, but not tonight. Despite my whole body going nuclear, I lift my chin in defiance and deploy my most epic-level glare. “Now … if you’ve finished your macho-bullshit routine for the night, let me pass. As usual, I have far more interesting people to spend time with than you.”

There are those flickers in his eyes again, more of them this time. I know I’m hitting below the belt, but I refuse to go back to being his punching bag. I have enough self-loathing about our past, and I’m determined to never be that girl again.

Jake stares for a few more seconds, and I know he’s fighting the urge to bite back. But in a surprising show of restraint, he presses his lips into a line, gives a tight nod, and steps out of my way.

“No problem, Mistress Tate. I’m so sorry to have ruined your evening with my presence. I should have known better. By all means, leave.”

 

Our Review

“Losing the thing you love most teaches your heart about its true value.”

We were so excited to start Professor FeelGood after having read and loved Mister Romance. Whilst they can both be read as standalones we highly recommend reading them in order as book one is Tate’s story and this book is her sister, Asha’s story. Not only that, they’re both absolutely fabulous and we can’t think of anything better than for new readers to binge read both! What a treat for the romantic hearts! Leisa Rayven absolutely nailed it with this story – superbly written with a stellar storyline and characters that’ll steal your hearts.

“You once told me that in the story of our lives, we’re our own flawed narrator. You think I’m the bad guy, and I think you are. Our memories are subjective, and we rarely remember ourselves as the villain, even when we were.”

In Professor FeelGood we loved the emphasis on the enemies to lover’s romance, it was written to perfection. And what a wonderful premise, because whilst we love our arsehole alpha heroes, we do revel in that certain vulnerability some of them possess and no more so than in this case, the brokenness of our Professor FeelGood. What a man, they don’t get much better than this. Once again you could’ve spooned us off of the floor, we were in puddles.

“And if you fall in love, then you’re taking the ultimate gamble. You’re betting with your heart, and that shit’s deadly. Might as well play Russian roulette with live rounds, because let me tell you, most of the time, that heart is lost. Smashed to pieces.”

The way in which Jacob’s character was written was just utterly delicious! A tortured swoony hero with a broken heart. He was an intriguing mystery with a poetic compelling way with words. He was divine. It’s not often we get heroes that compel us emotionally to the point of -teary eyes- the way he did, as well as the manner in which he expressed himself. Bravo Leisa Rayven for writing that indescribable ‘perfect’ male character we fall in utter book love with.

“There were days when I really needed a friend. My best friend. And fuck you for not being there. And fuck me for still needing you so much after all this time.”

Asha’s a wonderful heroine. Strong willed and direct, yet her heart is mourning something she once had, unbeknownst to her. She’s successful and clued up in all things but the matters of her heart. With a good job at a publishing house and a loving group of people around her, including her sister, Tate, she’s almost living her best life. If only she could find her soulmate and nail that coveted editor position at work she’d be all set. Her life changes direction when a brilliant idea rears its head from stalking a certain Professor FeelGood on Instagram. An idea that takes her on a trip down memory lane. And it’s not an easy journey.

“You’re the person who describes me. You give me meaning. Even when we were fighting, I felt it. You’re the one thing in the world that helps me make sense.”

Professor FeelGood was hilarious, sexy and oh so romantic with dashes of real heart breaking angst thrown in. The way in which Asha and Jacob’s story was written had us furiously turning the pages as we devoured every single word waiting for that moment all us romance readers wait on tenterhooks for. It was a slow build that was all about the story and its characters. Brilliant job Leisa Rayven, you’ve only gone and done it again and we love you for it.

‘Nothing hollows out a heart more thoroughly than regret.’

Synopsis

What’s a girl to do when a man who’s countless shades of wrong feels oh-so-right?

Ambitious book editor Asha Tate is a hopeless romantic. Despite her mediocre track record with men, she believes in swooning, sighing, and the everlasting love of true soul mates. Sure, sex is okay, but she’s not someone who’s ever been driven by her animal urges.

Until now.

When Asha stumbles upon the scorching hot Instagram feed of someone calling himself Professor Feelgood, she falls in lust for the first time. Not only is she left panting over photos of the professor’s insane body, but his angst-filled poetry about losing his one true love speaks straight to her soul.

Desperately in need of a bestseller for her struggling publishing company, Asha knows the professor’s potential to sell to his millions of loyal followers could be the lifeline her bosses need. However, the ink is barely dry on a book deal before she realizes she’s made a terrible mistake. Sure, the professor is incredibly talented and sexier than any man has a right to be, but the man behind the persona isn’t at all who she pictured. In real life, he’s intense, arrogant and infuriating, and his uncanny ability to rub her the wrong way turns her dream project into a total nightmare.

Knowing that the professor is everything she doesn’t want in a man should help Asha ignore her occasional urges to mount him, but she quickly learns that explosive, unwanted chemistry can make even smart people do stupid things.

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