#1 Wonderful time to have no filter
INFO [chapter 1 starts right after the info]
The Sweet Caroline series consists of many books. All books can be read as stand-alones, but they work best as a series. At the start of each book, I always tell my readers which book would be wise to read first to understand the past of the characters.
The series can be split into two separate series: the first generation & the next generation. The next generation is about character that were kids in the books about the first generation.
FIRST GENERATION: 1. Sweet Caroline // 2. Slutty Shaughna // 3. Eager Annabel // 4. Feisty Francesca // 5. Twisted Thomas // 6. Chef Quiroz // 7. Caring Christopher
NEXT GENERATION: 1. Blooming Rose // 2. Jealous Jagger // 3. Needy Nia // 4. Guarded Marcus // 5. Charming Creed // 6. Thompson Twins
You can read this as a stand-alone story, but if you’re going to read my other stories as well, you might want to start with “Sweet Caroline”.
We meet Marcus for the first time in “Slutty Shaughna” as Dshawn’s 14-year-old brother. Later, we meet him at age 24 in “Jealous Jagger” as Jagger’s best friend. Of course, he was a big part of “Needy Nia” as well, since he is Nia’s brother.
I would recommend reading at the very least “Jealous Jagger” and “Needy Nia” before reading “Guarded Marcus”, but it’s up to you! I try to write it as a stand-alone, but some stuff might get confusing if you don’t know anything about the other books.
With his youngest sister Aliyah moving in with him after his parents passed away, Marcus’ life gets way more complicated than he expected. He’s been living the single life since he broke up with his long-time girlfriend Bee, but he’s more than willing to give all that up for Aliyah.
His ex-girlfriend Bee somehow re-enters his life and his old hook-up Gracie moves into town, making his life even more complicated. Marcus only knows one thing to do in order to deal with all the stress. He pulls up his walls and focuses on his younger sister. No distractions. No matter how sexy and tempting. NO DISTRACTIONS
Life throws him some wicked curveballs, but Marcus is sure he can deal with them. Sort of. Maybe. Probably not. He’ll try, though.
This story will alternate between Gracie and Marcus each chapter. Gracie is Rose’s best friend, and the girl Marcus hooked up with when he discovered his girlfriend Bee was cheating on him. We’ve seen Gracie in “Sweet Caroline”, “Blooming Rose”, “Jealous Jagger” and “Needy Nia”. Now, she’s back, and we’ll get to see her point of view.
The story will also have flashbacks, which I haven’t done many times before (only once in “Twisted Thomas”, but other than that, never). I hope you guys are up for two points of view – Marcus and Gracie – and flashbacks that will take us back to scenes from previous books and some “unseen bits”.
Buckle up, it will be a wild ride!
#1 Wonderful time to have no filter
I’m pretty sure it’s frowned upon to be aroused at a memorial service. I bet there is a special place in hell for people like me. Yet here I am, unable to stop gawking at Marcus Davis, who is without a doubt the hottest man I’ve ever seen. Even grieving, he looks good enough to eat. He’s wearing a black suit, his red tie askew, his curly black hair in desperate need of a haircut.
I remember vividly how that hair felt in my hands as I yanked him closer to my core, his hot tongue lapping over my slick folds, coaxing an orgasm out of me that left me trembling in his bed. When I close my eyes, I can feel his hands on my skin again, his lips on mine, hear him whisper dirty words into my ear. As I flick my tongue over my lips, it’s almost like I can taste him.
Get a grip, Gracie, I tell myself sternly. He’s mourning the death of his parents. Now is not the time to fantasize about his naked body.
It’s been almost two years since we slept together. We only shared one hot night, during which he basically cheated on his girlfriend with me. She deserved it, the bitch, but it was still cheating. After that I pined for him until he told me to get lost. He tried to make things right with me when he broke up with his girlfriend, but I was too proud and stubborn to even hear him out. I’ve seen him a few times at parties from mutual friends, and at his sister’s wedding, but I always tried to steer clear of him. I was dating someone new, and he was… I don’t know what he was doing. Getting through his break-up with his long-term girlfriend, or maybe just enjoying life as a hot single guy. I don’t know.
I’m single again, as of yesterday. No, that has nothing to do with knowing I was going to see Marcus today. Of course not.
Okay… maybe a little bit. Caleb and I were never all that serious anyway, and I’d been contemplating cutting him off for a while now. When I decided to come to the memorial for Marcus’ parents, it was like parts of me came back to life. Parts that had been dormant ever since he told me he didn’t want me. My heart started to sing at the thought of seeing Marcus, my skin pricked, my blood boiled, and my pussy… well, let’s just say that my BOB had a busy week.
So I cut Caleb off, knowing that even though Marcus and I are never going to happen, I want someone to make me feel like that. None of the guys after Marcus ever did. First, there was Robert, who I only dated to distract myself from hurting over losing any chance I might have had with Marcus. The there was Henley, followed by Caleb. And now, no one. I’m single. Single and ready to mingle.
The memorial service is beautiful and heartfelt. There is not a dry eye in the church when it’s over. I didn’t go to the funeral last month, not sure if Marcus would want me there. I wanted to be there for his sister Nia, who has been a friend to me for a while now, but I couldn’t make myself go. When my friend Rose told me that both Marcus and Nia had asked about me, I knew I’d fucked up. I should have been there. When I got the invite for the memorial service, it was a no-brainer.
Which leads me to where I am right now, in line in the church after the service, to tell the Davis siblings I’m sorry about both of their parents passing away. Next to me are my best friend Rose and her boyfriend Jagger. Rose squeezes my hand and then lets go as we reach the front of the line.
Marcus is at the end of the line, which means I have to make my way through all his siblings first. Dshawn and his girlfriend Shaughna, 7-months-pregnant Nia and her husband Khiêm, Creed, Pierre, Aliyah, and then… Marcus. Alone. Guess he didn’t get back together with his ex Beatrice after all, although I did see her earlier.
“Gracie,” he breathes, his watery eyes meeting mine. “You came.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t come to the funeral last month,” I tell him, feeling stupid. “I should have been there.”
He steps forward and pulls me against him, holding me like he never wants to let go, his face buried in my hair. “You came. That’s all that matters. You came.”
Feeling him against me after all this time is surreal. I want to wrap my legs around him and kiss him, but that might be a little inappropriate in a church, only minutes after he was holding a speech about how much he misses his parents, explaining how much it means for him to have this memorial service one month after they passed away, because he couldn’t get any words out at the actual funeral.
Besides, he broke my heart. Marcus Davis ripped out my heart, spit on it and walked away laughing. Okay, fine, that’s not exactly what happened. But that’s what it felt like two years ago. I can’t go through that again. Never. Ever. Again.
“Erm… you’re sort of holding up the line,” Rose says behind me, tactful as ever.
I break away from Marcus, who reluctantly drops his hands to his sides and inhales sharply. Rose and Jagger hug him as well, and he talks to them for a moment, but then we really need to get the hell out to get the line moving again.
Once we’re outside on the lawn, I finally feel like I can breathe again.
“Still?” Rose asks knowingly, taking in my flushed face. She knows me better than anyone, so it’s no use lying to her.
“Yeah,” I admit, sighing deeply. “I think I’m broken or something. I live on the other side of the country, the guy ripped out my heart, it’s been almost two years, and I still want to jump his bones.”
Jagger chuckles quietly, putting his arms around me and Rose. “Come on, girls, I’m taking you out for a bite to eat. Pizza. On me.”
As we walk to his huge black jeep, I hear his name being called by a voice I know well. A voice that makes me feel things I don’t want to feel for him.
“Jagger! Wait up!” We turn around to see Marcus rushing toward us. “I need to get out of here,” he says, wiping at his eyes. “I though a memorial service was a good idea, for closure or something, since we were all still so out of it last month, but it fucking sucks. It’s like their funeral all over again. I asked Nia and Khiêm to take Aliyah for the night. I just can’t…”
“Hop on in,” Jagger says, opening the door of his jeep for him. “How does pizza sound?”
“Perfect,” he grunts, jumping into the large vehicle. “Absolutely perfect.”
I stare at the jeep in utter horror. Fuck. I came here with Rose and Jagger, and I don’t even have my car in this town, since I had to fly here for the memorial. I can’t escape him. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
“Gracie?” Rose whispers, grabbing my arm as Jagger gets behind the wheel of his car, giving us some privacy. “Are you okay?”
I shake my head, digging my nails into the palms of my hand to get my brain to start functioning again. The pain makes me feel a little better. “No, but I have to be. I’m being a drama queen. His parents died. We haven’t been together in almost two years, and it was only one night. He probably hardly even remembers what I look like naked. I can totally do this.”
Rose gives me one of her patented you can’t fool me looks. “If you say so.”
She rounds the car and slides into the passenger seat. I take one last steadying breath and hoist myself into the car. Next to Marcus himself. He gives me a small smile as he buckles his seatbelt. I smile back in what I hope is a reassuring way, even though I feel like bolting.
Rose and Jagger do a great job at filling the silence with stories about Jagger’s teaching program, Rose’s siblings, and memories of Nia and Khiêm’s wedding we all went to in December. I remember that day vividly. Not because of the beautiful wedding or their heartfelt vows, but because Marcus was in a tux that day, and he wasn’t broken like he is now. He looks radiant, happy, gorgeous. Like sex on a stick. I broke up with Henley the next day, knowing that it wasn’t fair to string him along when I was obviously still more attracted to Marcus than I’d ever be to Henley.
We eat pizza at Giovanni’s, keeping up the small talk. It’s obvious Marcus’ mind is elsewhere, but he seems grateful not to be talking about the loss of his parents, so I try to keep talking to Rose, pretending that everything is fine.
I’m not dying inside. Of course not.
I don’t want to kiss him. Of course not. Why would you think that?
And I definitely don’t want to fuck him until I pass out. Definitely not. The thought never even crossed my mind.
I’m sitting next to Marcus in the booth, but we keep as much distance between us as possible. Across from us, Jagger and Rose are pretty much in each other’s lap. She keeps trying to make him eat a bite of her pepperoni pizza, while he keeps reminding her that he’s a vegetarian. Marcus and I lock eyes a few times, smiling at their banter. Each time he looks at me, I feel my cheeks flush and my heartrate speed up. It’s ridiculous.
“Okay, time to get home,” Jagger decides once he’s paid the bill, refusing to take money from any of us. Not that Rose offered, but me and Marcus did. “Wanna hang out at our place, Marcus? Play some videogames?”
“I think I’ll stay here for another moment,” Marcus says, his gaze trained on me. “I’m not ready to go home.”
“Oh, okay, we can stay,” Rose says, sitting back down. “No problem.”
Jagger clears his throat and gives her a pointed look. “I think Marcus meant that we should go home without him, love.”
“Ah, okay.” She jumps back up, giving me a curious look when I don’t join them. She silently asks me what the hell I’m doing, but I couldn’t answer her even if I wanted to. I have no idea. I should get up and go home with them, since I’m spending the night at their place before flying back home tomorrow.
Then why am I still glued to this booth?
“You guys go ahead, I’ll be home in a few,” I tell them, glancing at Marcus nervously. “That is… if Marcus doesn’t mind the company.”
He smiles at me. “Not at all.”
“But you told me that you never want to be alone with him ever again, because you’re scared you might-”
“Rose,” Jagger hisses, cutting her off. “Let’s go.”
Thank God for Jagger, because I don’t want Marcus to know why I don’t want to be alone with him. Why I should leave right fucking now.
Of course, that’s the first question he asks when Rose and Jagger leave the restaurant. “What are you scared of?” he whispers, angling his body towards mine.
“I’m scared I might do something stupid like sleep with you again,” I blurt out.
Great, Gracie. Wonderful time to have no filter.
Marcus’ eyes widen and he leans in, his lips parting. “I thought you hated me.”
“I do,” I say, leaning in as well. “You hurt me worse than anyone ever has.”
“Worse than Sebastian?” he asks, reminding me of the horrible cheating asshole I used to date before I even met Marcus.
“Way worse,” I confess, my cheeks flushing bright red.
We’re so close now that I can smell the beer and pizza on his breath. I need to move away. I need to put distance between us right fucking now, or I might-
Ah fuck. Too late.
I’m kissing him.