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In Too Deep Paperback

In Too Deep Paperback

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In Too Deep: a Sweet and Spicy fake dating novella from Bailey B.

All purchases come with a swag pack that includes bookmarks, stickers, a coupon off your next purchase and (when available) character cards. Purchases with 2 or more books get bonus bookswag such as a bookish pin or a bookish themed firendship bracelet.

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One wedding. One lie. One roller coaster of emotions.

When I find myself cornered at a wedding by my ex—the one who shattered my heart—I reach for the only escape I can think of: Noah Ruckers, my other ex, who’s somehow standing right there. I kiss him, just to save myself, but I never expected it to lead to fake dating him for the rest of the weekend.

Our history? Complicated. Years of friendship after our breakup, and now, here we are, play-acting a romance that feels a little too real. But it’s only temporary. I’m walking away in two days, ready to put the past behind me.

Yet, his touch is all too familiar. His kisses bring back memories. How do you pretend not to feel something when you're wrapped up in his arms?

Two days is all we have, but maybe, just maybe, a little pretending can lead to something real.

Let's see how this wedding ends...


★★★★★ "In Too Deep is a sweet friends to lovers fake dating novella with just the right amount of spice in it. This was such a quick, easy read and I couldn’t get enough of Harper and Noah’s story!" --Reviewer

★★★★★ "I loved this sweet yet spicy novella. It was the perfect fast paced read that gives you all the feels." --Reviewer

★★★★★ "Adorable love story and easy one sitting read. Catchy storyline. Super cute ending!" -- Reviewer


  • Fake dating
  • Second chance
  • Friends to lovers
  • Everybody can see it
  • It was always you
  • Short and Sweet

Trigger Warnings

Thank you for reading In Too Deep. Please be warned some content may be triggering for some readers: history of substance abuse (not detailed), drinking, sexual content, an abusive ex-boyfriend, minor blood mentioned from a fist fight.

Read the 1st Chapter

I pull a cigarette from a newly purchased pack of Marlboro Reds and light it up. I close my eyes on an inhale, letting the smoke singe my lungs, and then open them on the exhale. It’s been over a year since I’ve smoked anything, let alone had a drink. The sensation of having the filter between my lips is unnerving and claiming at the same time. 

It’s a distraction, which is what I need.

Tiny speakers, hidden along the pool deck, sing loud enough that each song can be heard but not so loud people can’t talk. From where I sit at the bar, the guests in the reserved party area beside the pool are doing just that. 



And having the time of their lives. 

I should be over there, relishing in the pre-wedding festivities, but I can’t bring myself to leave my stool. For thirty minutes I’ve sat here, watching the people I used to call friends mingle. Each face is the same, with minor differences brought on by the touch of time—laugh lines around the lips, tired eyes, and a few new tattoos. All in all, my old friends haven’t changed. 

But I have.

“Fancy seeing you here,” Noah Ruckers—best friend, but not; a man I gave all my firsts to and thoroughly let down over the years—says as he comes up beside me.

For a moment, everything inside me tenses. Eighteen months have passed since I last saw his face. Five hundred and forty-eight days where I almost called when things got hard. Seven hundred and seventy-nine thousand minutes (give or take) where I could have video-chatted when I felt lower than dirt…but didn’t. I’ve lost count of how many times I almost begged him to come visit me or almost went home. 

I couldn’t do either.

 Not for my sake, but his.

Noah takes the open barstool and sits beside me. He reaches for my hair—a deep shade of brown with royal blue ends—and his finger brushes across my bare shoulder. “Your hair is different.” He smiles and something warm pools in my stomach when he adds, “It looks nice.”

 “Thanks,” I mumble and reach for my water. It’s cold but does nothing to ease the ache in my chest. I itch to hug Noah, but I keep my distance. I’m not one-hundred percent sure where we stand. I’ve been a shit friend since I left, avoiding all meaningful communication and resorting to bi-weekly you doing good texts as proof of life. Mainly, though, my not-so-best-friend looks fucking fine and it’s tripping me out.

Noah has always been attractive, but there’s something different about him today. I can’t put my finger on it, but I can’t stop looking. Maybe it’s the fact that he usually opts for a casual T-shirt and jeans, reserving board shorts for beach days. But today, he's dressed to impress in a sharp white button-down, sleeves rolled up, paired with snug dark blue slacks that accentuate the muscles he’s built. 

He looks good. 

So good that my cigarette misses my mouth when I bring it to my lips. Noah chuckles at my clumsiness and I laugh too, embarrassed. I set the cig in the ashtray, temporarily giving up on using smoking to calm my nerves, and I chew on my bottom lip, unsure of what to do now. The tension between us is thick, draped in unspoken truths as it lingers in the air. We stare at each other, with nothing to say because at this point… where do we even start? 

Last Noah knew, I was living outside of Savannah and working at a dentist office as a receptionist. He has no idea that I got fired and now work at two all night diners and barely scrape by. Or that I used last month's rent to pay for this weekend’s hotel and have been living out of my car ever since. So much about our lives has been left out of our texts. I’m not sure it can be said that we even know each other anymore.

I look down at the ashtray before me and frown. My cigarette has turned into a stick of ash. I exhale heavily thinking how it’s practically a metaphor for my life. One minute everything is fine, I’m cruising along doing my best, and the next my plans are derailed and I’ve been discarded. 

I pull two new cigs from my pack and offer Noah one. I think he still smokes. I don’t remember him saying anything about quitting. Then again, that could have been one of those not-so-little details conveniently left out of our text messages. Noah shakes his head at my offering and I set the extra cigarette on the bar top. 

“I thought you quit?” Noah asks, watching me curiously. I don’t see any judgment in his eyes, though if there was anyone who’s opinion I cared about at this wedding, it would be his. 

I light my cigarette and take a deep inhale. The way his gaze falls to the neckline of my shirt makes me nervous. Not in a bad way, just… I don’t know. I’m overthinking things today. Noah was probably looking at my necklace and not my rack. My tits might as well be freckles on my chest when it comes to this man. Any interest he had in them vanished back when we were in high school. Just like any feelings I had for him died back then too.

“I did quit, right after I left.” I hold my breath until I can’t take the burn in my chest anymore, and then release the smoke. “But being back in town has got me more stressed out than a mother with newborn twins screaming their lungs out at Wal-Mart.”

“Nice comparison.” He chuckles, the sound deep in his throat, and I find myself looking down at my hands to fight a smile. I like the way his laugh sounds. It reminds me of the old days, when Noah and I were still in high school, and everything was easy—when life consisted of late nights at the Red Onion, riding our bikes down the boardwalk, and stopping at a hotel bar to drink Shirley Temples and share a basket of fries. 

Dark memories I’ve worked hard to lock away creep up on me and I can’t help but wonder, What would have happened if we didnt break up? Or what if we had gotten back together in college, like we'd planned, and I never dated Rob… Where would my life be?

I force the corners of my lips to stay upturned and bat my lashes. Flirting with Noah is an easy distraction. I don’t think I could forget how to if I tried. It’s harmless, shameless, flirting that used to piss my ex-boyfriend off. Not that that matters anymore. 

“What can I say?” I shrug and lean close, until our shoulders touch. “I’m a master of words.”

“Hi, there. I’m Misha. Can I get you anything?” the bartender interrupts. Misha leans one arm on the counter, giving Noah a perfect view of her tits. 

I roll my eyes as his gaze settles on her rack for the briefest of moments, then finds her face. He lifts his lips into a lazy smile, one that used to make my heart race.

Still makes my heart race, even if I wish it wouldn’t. 

“I’ll have a glass of Jameson,” Noah says, his country-boy accent thicker than molasses. I don't know where his twang comes from. He’s a beach bum with salt water in his veins and his family is Florida born and bred, but there are times when he sounds more southern than a cowboy in the thick of Alabama.

An unfamiliar squeezing sensation in my chest catches me off guard. I take a breath then let out the air in my lungs, counting to five before inhaling again. After two breathing cycles, I realize this feeling doesn’t stem from my anxiety. 

It’s something else.

Something I vaguely recognize and almost laugh once I pinpoint what it is. I take another drag off my cig and try to ignore it. I like to flirt with Noah and I like to see his cheeks flush red. He, in return, pushes my buttons in the best of ways. It’s who we are—well, were before I left. We both know our banter means nothing. It’s harmless. 

And yet… I’m jealous. 

This is going to be a long weekend.

“Mmm,” Misha hums, practically salivating. “Honey, with that accent you can have anything you want.” She drags out the word anything and writes her number on a napkin square. She slides it and the drink Noah ordered across the bar, then goes to throw herself at—I mean wait on her other guests.

Noah chuckles as he picks up the napkin. He glances over the swirling letters of Misha’s name and then crumbles the paper into a ball. He spins on his stool and leans against the bar top. For a minute, he stares out at the crowd of people I’m avoiding. 

My heart races in anticipation. I can feel unspoken questions lingering between us—Am I okay and what’s it going to be like to see Rob, my ex, again? There are a million variations of those two questions that have been asked over the past few months to avoid saying the words everyone wants to ask. 

Am I going to relapse by being here? 

Noah downs his drink in two big swallows, then sets the glass on the counter behind him. “Are you ready to face the wolves?”

I turn in my seat and catch sight of our bartender again. Even across the bar, Misha watches Noah and shoots me the stink eye whenever our gazes meet. I laugh a little and choose to focus on that sensation—the pride of her not knowing what’s going on between Noah and I, which is nothing—instead of worrying about everything building around me. 

I glance across the deck again, my gaze searching and finding a set of tattoos before seeing the owner’s face. The man’s back is to me, but I’d know that enormous shamrock tattoo on the back of his arm anywhere, even with a sleeve of artwork surrounding it. 

Robert Peterson. 

The man who made me and then broke me.

I spent five months in rehab and moved away to start over and rebuild myself so that if this day ever came I would be ready. I should be okay, and yet my stomach cramps at the sight of my ex-boyfriend’s tattoos. His tattoos! Not even his face. 

I close my eyes with the next inhale of my cigarette, unwanted memories slipping through the cracks of my tough-girl-facade, and try to keep my impending breakdown at bay. They say that time heals all wounds, but those people—whoever they are—have never had a cut run deep into their soul. They’ve never felt their heart bleed and bleed until there is nothing left. They don’t understand what it’s like to fall in love with the wrong man and then completely lose yourself. 

They have never been broken beyond repair. 

 I fight a wave of unexpected tears and choke on the smoke in my lungs like a kid puffing on my first cig. My hand goes to my chest to beat clean air into my body. Noah grabs my water and pats my back. He’s ready, as always, to take care of me and the guilt I feel is more than I can bear.

“We don’t have to—”

“I’m fine.” I cut him off and snatch my glass of water from his hand. I finish it and set the cup behind me. “I’ve got this.”

Noah looks skeptical, but he stretches his arms and leans his elbows on the bar. The last time I saw him, his dark hair was short and gelled up in the front but it’s different now, a little longer, curling around his freckled ears. “Whatever you say, princess.”

“Don’t call me that.” 

“Whatever you say, Harper.” Noah takes my hand in his and those green eyes suck me in with a look of interest I never thought I’d see again. I don’t like it…but I also don’t hate it either. 

Fuck. This is confusing. I roll my eyes and tug free of his grasp. I grab the hair tie from my wrist, because staying still with him looking at me like that makes me anxious, and twist my locks into a messy bun. “Princesses need saving and I’m not that girl anymore.”

Noah’s jaw drops. He gasps dramatically and covers his heart with his hand like a lovesick cartoon character, feigning shock. “Damn. You mean I won’t get to be your knight in shining armor during this shitshow of a wedding?” 

“Shut up, you idiot.” I bite back a grin and punch Noah in the shoulder, not expecting my fist to collide with solid muscle. I wince and shake my hand, which earns me another chuckle. 

 “For reals though, Harper, you look amazing. Whatever you’ve done since you’ve been gone has worked. I wish you’d call more, but I’m proud of you.”

My cheeks flush red. It’s been a long time since anyone has said they were proud of me, well anyone who counts. My therapist told me she was proud of my hard work on discharge day, but she was paid to say that, so I took her compliment with a grain of salt and I cut everyone else out of my life whose opinion might have mattered.

“Wow. Way to make things weird and sappy,” I tease, failing to ignore the tornados in my stomach. Noah cracks another smile, his eyes lighting up and fuck… hes beautiful.

I can’t hear the clank of a spoon against a glass signaling the wedding party to come close, but I can see Ethan Johnson—the man of the night—gathering his friends and family into a circle as he welcomes everyone with a speech. 

I snuff out what’s left of my current cigarette and reach for another. Tiny tremors take control of my body and the little hairs on the back of my neck stand on edge. I thought I was prepared to see everyone again, but now that it’s time… I'm not ready.  I don’t think I can stand beside the people I called friends and smile and act like nothing happened. 

I’m so stupid, I shouldn’t have come here tonight.

I should go back to Georgia before anyone else realizes I’ve made the trip. 

I should…

“Hey.” Noah whispers as he sets his hand on top of mine. He squeezes my fingers to catch my attention and I look up at him, a heartbeat away from a full-blown panic attack. 

I open my mouth to tell him I’m fine, but the words catch in my throat. I think about the pills in my hotel room and how I haven’t needed them for months, but I want one. I want to chase away the anxiety of what this trip will do to me and drown it all with a martini. My therapist's words echo in my head, taunting me with an easy release, take them with you. Just in case. 

“Deep breath, Harper. Like this.” Noah sucks in a gulp of air, holds it, then releases slowly. I know the technique but my thoughts are jumping from one thing to the next. Gemma will hate me if I leave. I told her I’d come. I promised I’d be here for her.  But I can’t see Rob again.

I can’t. 


“Harper!” Noah snaps. The firmness of his tone startles me. I find his gaze again and he says, “Breathe, woman. Just breathe.”

I copy his rhythm and force my body to cooperate. After six cycles of slow, exaggerated breaths my heart slows to a semi-normal pace and the paralyzing grip around my senses dissipates. I look down at my hands, embarrassed at my inability to control my emotions and that I can’t stop shaking.

“Are you okay?” he asks.

I can’t lie to Noah; he’ll see right through me if I try. That man could always read my tells. Knowing my luck, he still can. Honestly, after everything I’ve put him through, I’m surprised he’s at my side, acting as if the last few years never happened. I owe him my truth, simply out of respect for how he’s treating me now, but I don’t know what to say. So, I don’t say anything.

Noah takes my silence for what it is and slides off the barstool. He holds his elbow out to me. I smile, grateful he isn’t pushing for an answer I don’t have, as I tuck what’s left of my pack of cigarettes into my boot. 

“I’m not ready,” I tell him honestly, linking my arm through his. 

Noah squeezes my hand and meets my gaze. His eyes are tired, sad, and lacking the vibrancy I remember. I feel bad, wondering if I’m part of the cause. I can’t begin to imagine what his life is like these days, but for a while I know I caused more than a few sleepless nights. 

“You already did the hard part, Harper. You showed up. Everything else will be cake in comparison.” Noah’s lip lifts in the corner. It’s not the same lazy smile that made my pulse race earlier, but this one does something to me too.




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