We are thrilled to bring you this excerpt of Make Up Break Up by Lily Menon!
About Make Up Break Up:
Make Up Break Up, the sparkling and heartfelt romantic comedy debut from Lily Menon
Love, romance, second chances, fairy-tale endings…these are the things Annika Dev believes in. Her app, Make Up, has been called the “Google Translate for failing relationships.”
High efficiency break-ups, flashy start-ups, penthouses, fast cars…these are the things Hudson Craft believes in. His app, Break Up, is known as the “Uber for break-ups.” It’s wildly successful―and anathema to Annika’s life philosophy.
Which wouldn’t be a problem if they’d gone their separate ways after that summer fling in Las Vegas, never to see each other again. Unfortunately for Annika, Hudson’s moving not just into her office building, but into the office right next to hers. And he’ll be competing at the prestigious EPIC investment pitch contest: A contest Annika needs to win if she wants to keep Make Up afloat. As if it’s not bad enough seeing his irritatingly perfect face on magazine covers when her own business is failing. As if knowing he stole her idea and twisted it into something vile―and monumentally more successful―didn’t already make her stomach churn.
As the two rival app developers clash again and again―and again―Annika finds herself drawn into Hudson Craft’s fast-paced, high velocity, utterly shallow world. Only, from up close, he doesn’t seem all that shallow. Could it be that everything she thought about Hudson is completely wrong? Could the creator of Break Up teach her what true love’s really about?
She blew out a breath and tried to refocus. Hudson was im-material. Right now, only yoga mattered.
“And now, as you move out of vajrasana, I’d like to introduce you all to something new.” Seetha’s voice washed over them as she walked between rows of people. “Please take this moment to partner up with the person next to you.” Seetha walked up to Annika and Hudson. “You two can work together for this, right?”
“Uh—him?” Annika whispered, trying and failing to think of an excuse to wriggle out of it.
Seetha’s dark eyes twinkled, as if she knew exactly what she was doing. “He’s new, Annika, and you’re such a seasoned yogi. You’ll be generous with your skills, won’t you?”
Annika choked on her spit, which prompted a coughing fit.
Taking advantage of her inability to form words, Hudson spoke up. “Oh, Annika’s very generous.”
Seetha smiled, winked, and kept moving.
Once she could breathe again, Annika glared at him.
Around them, people were turning to their partners with smiles and murmurs of encouragement. Must be nice. “Why do you want to partner with me, anyway?”
Hudson studied her for a long moment, his green eyes flickering with something she didn’t understand. “I don’t know.”
Then, seeming to catch himself, he added, with a raised thick blond eyebrow, “That vein on your forehead’s about to assault me. Are you sure you’re a practiced yogi?”
“All right, now I’d like to teach you all a new partner pose,” Seetha said from the front of the class. “It behooves us all to remember that life is a partnership between us and all the other sacred creatures sharing our planet.
“Today I want us to practice ardha matsyendrasana, aka the ‘half lord of the fishes’ pose, with our partners. Before we begin, I’d like the yogi on the right—as you’re facing the front of the room—to walk over to the mat of the yogi on your left. You’ll both be sitting cross-legged on the same mat for this exercise. Right-hand yogis, please sit behind your partner.”
Annika got up stiffly, and without making eye contact, went and sat behind Hudson. He obliged by moving forward a few inches. Did he have to be so arrogantly tall? He towered over her so much, she couldn’t see Seetha. Instead, she studied his back, inhaling deeply to find her center again. Even though he had a fine sheen of sweat on him, he smelled really good, like a combination of light soap, deodorant, and his own scent. Without warning, a memory of a time they’d been this close almost knocked Annika over.
They’d started drinking at the bar, and then, out of nowhere, Annika had invited him to her hotel room, surprising even herself. Later, she would think about it and realize it had been an incremental sort of thing, her lust thermometer creeping up with each quiet observation—the alpha way he strode
up the stairs to take the stage and give a presentation that held their peers in thrall. Once they’d begun to form a friendship over the week of the conference, she’d been captivated by the way he bowed his head, his big hand cupped around a pencil and his eyes sparking as he outlined the ideas rattling around in his mind. But all of that would be a post-analysis. In the moment, Annika had known only that she wanted—needed—to be with this man.
They’d sat on the couch in her room, laughing and talking.
Slowly, they’d gotten closer and closer, Hudson’s arm resting lightly over her shoulders, Annika’s hand on his knee. When she thought about the first time his tongue had brushed over her lips and coaxed her mouth open, tasting of sweet wine, she still got goose bumps. Goose bumps. As if she’d never been kissed before.
Annika forced her mind away from the memory. She shifted on the yoga mat, her heart thundering, her bones liquid. Oh, god. Was she actually turned on right now? She closed her eyes and gave herself a pep talk. This is not the time to revive your sexual attraction for this man, who, might I remind you, Annika Dev, is your enemy. He thrives on helping people break up. He is poison.
“You okay back there?”
Annika opened her eyes to see Hudson peering curiously at her over his shoulder. “Fine,” she said primly, though her cheeks felt warm. Good thing it was nearly impossible to see her blushing, thanks to her extra helping of melanin.
“All right,” Seetha said, in her calm voice. “Now that everyone is situated, I’d like all the right-hand yogis to turn around, so your back is against your partner’s.”
Annika did so eagerly, grateful she wouldn’t have to stare at Hudson’s perfect physique or smell him anymore. They pressed their backs together. Annika had to remind herself to breathe, which was ridiculous. Hudson Craft was just a human. Just a mound of muscle and bone, like her. So, okay, he was more attractive a mound than most people she knew, but that shouldn’t matter. Yoga was about transcending the physical.
As they sat there touching, Annika found herself pressing a cool hand to the back of her neck. His body heat was intense; it enveloped her until she, too, had a light sheen of sweat all over her. A memory flashed into her mind, unbidden: Hudson unbuttoning and then slipping off her shirt, his mouth at her neck.
Goddammit. When would this exercise be over?
“Now I want you to inhale and stretch both your arms over your head,” Seetha cooed, blissfully oblivious to the maelstrom in Annika’s body. “As you exhale, twist to your right. Bring your right hand to the inside of your partner’s left knee. Your left hand will rest on your right knee.”
Annika’s breath caught in her throat. She thought she sensed hesitation from Hudson, too, but then they were doing as Seetha had asked. Hudson’s big, hot hand rested gently on the inside of her knee, his fingers putting just the right amount of pressure on her skin. The pose made them face away from each other, but Annika’s mouth had gone dry. His hand brought back more memories, how it had traveled up her skirt along her inner thigh—
“Are you okay?” Hudson whispered, his head still turned away.
“Yes. Will you stop asking me that?” Annika hissed back.
He was right. She was trembling a little, like she was a tuning fork he’d hit. Her hand on his inner knee was shaking, too.
A moment later, Annika felt his free hand over hers, stilling it.
Hudson turned his head so they were staring at each other over their shoulders. Annika couldn’t help it; her gaze traveled to his lips.
“Okay, now lift your arms again, and turn to the opposite side this time.”
Annika jumped as if Seetha had fired a Nerf gun at her.
She wrenched her hand out from under Hudson’s. She could feel his back shaking as he laughed quietly to himself. Annika narrowed her eyes and brought her other hand down hard on his opposite knee.
“You deserved that.”
“What for? It’s not my fault you still fantasize about me every time you fall asleep.”
Annika’s mouth fell open in outrage, even though she knew Hudson couldn’t see her. “I do not.”
“No?” His hand on her inner knee, feather-l ight, moved just a fraction. “I seem to remember you had a thing for my hands— and all the many ways I used them.”