Archive for ‘News’

Don’t Miss the Halloween Spooktacular eBook Giveaway

 

 

Looking for a Spooky Read?

 

Get ready to fill your ereader with this ghostly delights. 

To celebrate Halloween, we have a thrilling collection of speculative fiction sure to give you goosebumps. From vampires to ghosts to monsters howling in the night, you’ll be sure to satisfy your Halloween fix with our free reads!

 

 

 

No trick!

This is a serious Treat!

So go ahead, indulge and follow the link 

 

And you might just find a scary, sexy PNR treat in the totally delicious mix from yours truly. Go on, you know you want to.

 

 

https://books.bookfunnel.com/halloweengiveaway/5qcgozv0s1

 

 

 

McKenna Dean Launches Ghost of a Chance with a Giveaway & Tour

 

 

Ghost of a Chance

Redclaw Security Book 2

by McKenna Dean

 

Madison has put together some really awesome Prizes giveaway during the tour. Please use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Remember you may enter every day for your chance to win one of the prize packages. You may find the tour locations here.

 

 

 

About Ghost of a Chance:

 

At sixteen, Sarah Atwell walked away from her love of horses and a promising career as a competitive rider after discovering she’d inherited the family curse. Years later, her grandmother stunned everyone by leaving Sarah her horse farm—worth millions—but with conditions Sarah might not be able to meet.

 

A former Redclaw agent, Casey Barnes retired when a security assignment went bad, killing his partner and leaving him as a partial amputee. His inner wolf is in hiding. He’s been living quietly as a horse trainer, but June Atwell’s death now pits him against her granddaughter for rights to the stable.

 

With both of them snowed in at the farm, a series of increasingly serious accidents draws Sarah and Casey closer together, but they both harbor secrets that might tear them apart.

 

Ghost of a Chance is a paranormal romance story.

 

Amazon Buy Link:https://amzn.to/2nbVC33

 

Ghost of a Chance Excerpt:

 

For some reason, he glanced back at Sarah where she waited by the door. The backlight of falling snow through the glass in the shadowed hallway created the suggestion of a black-and-white photograph. The only spot of color was the bright red scarf at the collar of her coat and the wine-dark lipstick she wore. She leaned against the wall with her eyes closed. Something inside him clicked, as though recognizing a scene from a movie. His heart stopped a beat, flipped over, and thudded again with increased intensity.

 

No. It couldn’t be. Not her.

 

He hurried away, head still reeling at his reaction.

 

When he returned with an armload of clothing, she was nowhere to be seen. Her laptop sat by her shoes, one pretty little pump turned over on its side. As expected, he discovered her in the living room, staring at the pictures on the wall. “There you are.”

 

She jumped at the sound of his voice.

 

“Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you.” He adjusted the heap of clothing piled over one arm and held out a pair of snow boots.

 

“She had so many photographs of me.” Sarah took the boots almost automatically, and indicated the walls covered with pictures, ones Casey had seen many times.

 

That had to be it. Why she felt so familiar. Why she seemed to be the one. Relief washed over him. Obviously he’d spent too much time alone if he thought Sarah Atwell was his destined mate.

 

 

The Panther’s Lost Princess

Redclaw Security Book 1

Amazon Buy Link:https://amzn.to/2LSf9UL

 

 

 

 

About McKenna Dean:

 

McKenna Dean has been an actress, a vet tech, a singer, a teacher, a biologist, and a dog trainer. She’s worked in a genetics lab, at the stockyard, behind the scenes as a props manager, and at a pizza parlor slinging dough. Finally she realized all these jobs were just a preparation for what she really wanted to be: a writer.

 

She lives on a small farm in North Carolina with her family, as well as the assorted dogs, cats, and various livestock.

 

She likes putting her characters in hot water to see how strong they are. Like tea bags, only sexier.

 

McKenna Dean’s Social Media Links:

Newsletter:http://eepurl.com/c8GDYX

Website: http://mckennadeanromance.com/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B075CRHQ7B/

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/McKenna-Dean-Author-262328784224302/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/McKennaDeanFic

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mckennadeanromance/?hl=en

Tumblr: https://mckennadeanromance.tumblr.com/

Email: mckennadeanromance@gmail.com

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

The Redemption of the Shrew Launches with a Tour and Giveaway

The Redemption of the Shrew

Scandalous Kisses Book 4

By Barbara Monajem

 

Barbara has some wonderful prizes to giveaway during the tour. Please be sure to enter with the Rafflecopter below. There is an opportunity every day to enter for your chance to win one of the fabulous prizes. So join us for a fun blog tour journey and be sure to enter every day for your chance to win. You may find all the blog tour locations here.

 

 

 

 

About The Redemption of the Shrew:

Nothing is more painful than rejection—particularly when completely naked!

 

Gloriana Warren doesn’t want to wait for marriage. Beneath her shrewish exterior is a kindhearted woman who uses her fortune for good. It doesn’t matter that the man she’s set her sights on claims impoverishment. She’s in love and determined to marry him. But her attempt at a moonlight seduction ends in disaster.

 

French marquis Philippe de Bellechasse has had it up to his gorgeous dark eyes with being pursued by lusty ladies. His escape to England from the violence of the French Revolution took a toll on his finances as well. Gloriana may be gloriously naked, but he’s just not ready to submit to her seduction.

 

But when a precious family artifact is stolen, Philippe must convince Gloriana he’s not the guilty party. He’ll steal it back for her, but on his terms. Gloriana, believing he despises her, has plans of her own. Working at odds is dangerous, but working together can be more so. Is Philippe willing to risk his heart again for a deliciously tempting shrew?

 

Amazon Buy Link

 

 

 

The Redemption of the Shrew Excerpt:

 

A clandestine meeting, particularly where nakedness is involved, is best arranged for a moonless night.

Or so Gloriana Warren told herself, for her mother would never have uttered such a scandalous dictum. Unfortunately, it was tonight or never. Tomorrow, the man she had sworn to love forever would leave Lancashire and return to London—without her. They wouldn’t be able to marry for years because of his stupid scruples about money.

Men and their tedious pride! She and the Marquis de Bellechasse loved one another. They shared the same lofty ideals. She had a substantial dowry. Marrying now made sense. Not only that, her mother would die happy.

So Gloriana was taking matters into her own hands. She had planned the upcoming encounter in glorious detail—every word, every gesture. As she emerged from the summerhouse to greet him, he would stand and stare at her, transfixed by her beauty.

“Darling Philippe,” she would say, reaching for him, offering herself without reserve. “Love is eternal. It cannot, must not be denied!”

“Ah, ma belle,” he would respond, his hand on his heart, his voice throbbing with desire. “I adore you. What a fool I was to think we could wait for years. Even another minute is too long. Tonight, I shall make you mine!”

She would fling herself into his waiting arms, swept away on the tide of his passion.

She wasn’t sure exactly how it would go after that, apart from plenty of kissing, but judging by her previous experience of Philippe’s kisses, it would be the most thrilling experience of her life.

She sneaked out the French doors, arms full of blankets, and glanced back up at Garrison House. Not a glimmer of candlelight showed in the windows. She hurried through the rose garden and skirted the lawn, keeping to the bushes and out of the moonlight. In the secret room under the summerhouse, she and her darling Philippe would be safe. Tomorrow they would announce their engagement to Mama. They would send for a special license and be married within a week.

Ten minutes later, she had set up a makeshift bed under the summerhouse and removed all her clothes. Shivering more from excitement than from the chilly night air, she waited for Philippe to arrive.

Tonight would be the most perfect night of her life.

~~~

The Marquis de Bellechasse left his horse in a convenient copse and made his careful way forward, pausing at the edge of the trees. Garrison House was reassuringly dark, but moonlight reflected off the ripples on the lake. The summerhouse gleamed white on its little knoll, exposed on all sides. He paused, listening. No sound disturbed the darkness except a nightjar complaining from a nearby oak. He hoped and prayed no one else was up and about tonight. He couldn’t afford to get caught with Gloriana Warren, but nor could he bring himself to ignore her passionate plea to see him once more before they parted.

He loved her—to the point of folly, judging by his current behavior. He had already said farewell, and yet here he was, trespassing on her brother’s estate at midnight to say it again. He dreaded her inevitable tears.

The door to the summerhouse stood wide open, which meant Gloriana was here already. Fine. Best to get it over with now. He took a deep breath and set out across the lawn.

He had almost reached the doorway when she came into view, rising from out of nowhere, her face pale, her hair loose around her bare shoulders. He halted, staring, his heart thundering. She continued to rise, her breasts round and luscious in the light of the moon. His eyes slid helplessly down the curve of her hips to the darker patch at the apex of her thighs . . .

Mordieu. He shook his head and began to back away. “No, chérie. We must not do this.”

She set her feet on the floor—she must have emerged from a trapdoor—and beckoned with those sweet arms, smiled with those lush lips. “Philippe, my darling, please come to me. I love you so much.”

“No, ma belle, I cannot.”

“But love—” She faltered, then continued toward him, arms wide. “Love is eternal. It must not be denied.”

Sacrebleu, she was declaiming like a shoddy actress on the stage. The thought revolted him. Surely his idealistic Gloriana could not cheapen herself so. Anguished, he put up his hands to fend her off. “It is not possible, Gloriana. Not yet. It would not be right.”

She hurried forward, her breasts jiggling enticingly. “Truly, we mustn’t delay. My mother may not have long to live, and seeing me married well is her dearest wish.”

He didn’t care in the least about old Lady Garrison, who was the worst sort of snob. He shook his head. “No. To wait is best.”

“Philippe, I cannot wait. I need you now.” She reached for him, her nakedness inches away.

He gritted his teeth and took another step backwards. His imbecile cock was reacting to her, but he had long ago gained control over its demands. “I am sorry, but I must go.” He turned away.

She wailed, a sharp, keening sound, and immediately a shout came from nearby. Her brother? No, he was in London. A gamekeeper?

Whoever the man might be, he was lurking here on purpose. So much for love, Philippe thought. Gloriana was just another lust-crazed woman trying to trap him into marriage. He turned and ran. Pursued by shouts and then shots, he reached his horse and galloped away.

 

 

 

 

About Barbara:

Winner of the Holt Medallion, Maggie, Daphne du Maurier, Reviewer’s Choice and Epic awards, Barbara Monajem wrote her first story at eight years old about apple tree gnomes. She published a middle-grade fantasy when her children were young, then moved on to paranormal mysteries and Regency romances with intrepid heroines and long-suffering heroes (or vice versa).

 

Barbara loves to cook, especially soups. She used to have two items on her bucket list: to make asparagus pudding and succeed at knitting socks. Asparagus pudding proved to be pretty horrible, and she is too fumble-fingered to make socks. Now she just sticks with writing books. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with an ever-shifting population of relatives, friends, and feline strays.

 

 

 

Social Links:

 

 

 

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Wolf Around the Corner Tour and Giveaway

 

 

Wolf Around The Corner

By Aidee Ladnier

 

 The Giveaway!

Aidee is giving away a $5 Amazon GC, $10 Amazon GC, Ebooks from her backlist, print books from her backlist. The winners will be chosen by Rafflecopter. Please use the RaffleCopter below to enter. Don’t forget you have a chance to enter every day so be sure to visit all the stops on this tour. You may find those locations here.

 

About Wolf Around the Corner:

 

Frank’s family taught him that his wolf was dangerous, unwanted. Now his best friend’s brother wants him in bed and on stage. But giving into his wolf’s need for love could risk the quiet life Frank has created for himself—and his heart.

 

Settled in the small town of Waycroft Falls, Frank is content to be a lone wolf among the white picket fences and dollar book bins until he finds himself sniffing his best friend’s brother. Tom smells like hot apple pie and his Broadway smile has Frank lolling his tongue. But when the visiting actor learns Frank’s secret and plies him with hot kisses to get him to star in his play, Frank can’t help but wonder if Tom is only acting.

 

Tom ran away from family obligations to be a Broadway star. If he could make it there, he could make it anywhere…but he didn’t. Trudging home to Waycroft Falls to open his sister’s new performance space brings him face to face with a werewolf—a werewolf that would be perfect for Tom’s shoestring production of Beauty and the Beast. Staying in Tiny Town USA would be worth it if he can somehow convince the sexy wolf to expose his furry condition on stage and howl privately in Tom’s bed.

 

Wolf Around The Corner, a paranormal semi-finalist in Passionate Ink’s 2017 Sexy Scribbles Contest, is a full-length fairytale romance with a side of wolf shifter. If you like your romance with gorgeous men, humor, and small town magic, you’ll love Wolf Around the Corner! Buy your copy now and settle in to watch the drama unfold!

 

Genre: M/M Paranormal Shifter Contemporary

 

Buy Links:

Amazon  | B&N| iBooks| Kobo| Smashwords| 24Symbols| Indigo| Angus & Robertson| Mondadori

Wolf Around the Corner Excerpt:

 

The first thing he always did was take a large lungful of air. It reoriented him to the outside. His animal cataloged the smells—car exhaust, grass, tree pollen, and wait, a mouse skittering in the Dumpster out back. Frank’s urge to run built. He circled the apartments, looking for the storm drain near the landscaping wall. Inside him, his animal wiggled in excitement at the prospect of being freed. Frank shucked his clothes behind the wall and tucked them into the shelter of the pipe, out of view. Then he shifted, his hands lengthening, hair sprouting, and muzzle growing. His point of view shortened, now three feet from the ground as he blinked through the eyes of his wolflike animal. Frank couldn’t stand still any longer. He sprang into the woods.

 

Frank ran, crashing through the underbrush and into the darkening shelter of the trees. He leaped over a shrub, felt the give of a sapling as he plowed through the brushwood. The animals and birds quieted at his loud, headlong dash, knowing he wasn’t of the forest, only disguised and playing at being a creature of the wood.

 

His paws skidded on a pile of old leaves. Frank almost lost his balance as he skipped up and over a fallen log. Around him, the scents of the forest all pushed in on him. Here a whiff of mold, there an astringent sniff of decay, everywhere the menthol of evergreen sap and wild herbs growing scattered on the forest floor.

 

Dry twigs snapped beneath his paws. His tongue lolled from his mouth, the fresh taste of the woods painting the back of his throat. The sun dipped below the horizon, the sky inking the tops of the trees. And Frank ran on until his limbs stopped, shaky and trembling. He collapsed onto a blanket of pine needles and leaves, moss and fungi cradling him as he panted.

 

As he caught his breath, the sounds of the woods lapped back around him. Insects and birds first. A harsh caw from a crow shrieked a hundred yards to his right. The chirp of a cricket sawed a few feet away. The rat-a-tat of a woodpecker echoed above. And the still of twilight calmed him.

 

When he’d rested enough that his legs would support him again, Frank began the slow jog back to the apartments, letting his nose guide him through the darkening visibility of the woods. He could smell Mrs. Reynolds’s nighttime cocoa, and Mr. Reynolds’s liniment that stank of capsaicin. The lighted windows of the apartment building led him the last few feet, and he scurried up to the storm drain.

 

But his clothes weren’t there.

 

The sky darkened into night.

 

Frank knew Mrs. Anderson was out, but he could try to get the elderly Reynolds couple to buzz him inside. And hope they didn’t ask why he was naked trotting up the stairs.

 

Or he could stay in wolf form without a tag, which meant a night outside running from animal control and/or dodging every human that would mistake him for a stray dog.

 

Or wait, a third option. There was an oak that almost reached the ledge of his apartment window on the second floor. He never bothered to lock the window. Frank shifted back to human and sprinted across the yard.

 

He leaped for the lower boughs of the tree, grunting as the bark dug into the flesh of his palms. Frank swung himself up to straddle a branch, regretting it as the rough wood scraped his thighs. He crouched in the tree, awkwardly trying to shield his more delicate parts from the smaller whiplike twigs. He skirted around the trunk, grimacing as a low branch brushed a little too close to his groin. There. He was now on the side that faced the apartment house.

 

Frank balanced upright, his arms pinwheeling until he caught another branch higher up to steady himself. The leaves around him shivered on their stalks, the rustling loud. Please don’t let Mrs. Reynolds look out her window.

 

Using the taller branch as a guide, Frank placed one bare foot in front of the other and inched away from the security of the trunk. The limb beneath his feet shook as his weight tested its strength. He slid a foot farther out on the branch. It dipped, the leaves at the tip brushing against the side of his window. Just a few feet more.

 

An ominous crack sounded beneath him, and Frank froze. The branch popped again. It wouldn’t hold. He could make a jump for it. Frank swallowed hard. He should make a jump for it.

 

Frank jumped. And missed the house, falling into the azalea bushes.

 

Just as his hunky new neighbor from across the hall walked out of the apartment building and down the front steps.

 

Frank had seen Tom in the hall that morning, carrying boxes. Trying to be neighborly, Frank had introduced himself and offered to help. Tom had turned Frank down but flashed the whitest, most even teeth at him. Frank had seen nothing whiter outside of a movie theater big screen. They’d exchanged pleasantries, commented on the weather, and then gone their separate ways. Or rather, that was what Frank wished had happened. What went down was:

 

“Need help?” Frank barely got the words out when his new neighbor turned in the doorway. Frank froze. God, the man was gorgeous.

 

“Naw, man. I got it.” Tom shifted the box in his arms to hold out his hand. “I’m Tom Davidson.”

 

Frank wiped a clammy hand on his jeans and shook Tom’s hand. “Hot.” And Frank knew his mouth had disclosed the exact thing his brain was thinking. Idiot. Who said that to a guy he’d just met? A guy like Tom already knew he was hot.

 

Tom tilted his head as if he hadn’t heard Frank right. “Yeah. The temperatures are a little warm for this time of year.”

 

Frank didn’t dare correct him and kept his mouth shut, afraid he’d say something worse.

 

“Okay, well then, see you around, Frank.” Tom chuckled and continued into his apartment.

 

Meanwhile Frank beat it down the stairs, unsure how he managed not to walk into traffic as his mind ran over the exchange fail again and again.

 

So yeah. That was the less than stellar first impression he’d given Tom this morning. And now Frank followed that up by hunkering down naked in the azalea bushes.

 

“Are you okay?” The gleam from the safety light caught Tom’s dark gold hair as he tilted his head to peer over the shrubs. The shadows sank into his chiseled cheekbones. He looked like a brooding movie star ready to sweep a celluloid damsel off her feet.

 

Too bad Frank was a naked man trying to keep from exposing himself. Frank crouched down farther, making himself as small as possible, hoping the azalea’s pink blooms would distract Tom from looking at his hairy backside.

 

“I’m fine.”

 

“Are you sure?” Tom leaned closer. “Are you… Do you have any clothes on?”

 

Frank racked his brain for some reason he’d be naked and hiding in the bushes. “Um, I, uh, just got out of the shower, and I leaned too far out my window.”

 

“Oh my God. Did you fall from that height?” Tom glanced up to the second floor, to Frank’s closed window and then back down. “Do you need an ambulance?”

 

Frank sighed. This conversation was only getting worse. Cupping his hands over his privates, Frank rose from behind the bushes.

 

“I’m okay. Just need to get back inside. I have a hidden key if you can get me past the front security door.”

 

Tom’s eyes widened when Frank stood. Frank winced, sure he looked like one long scrape covered in leaves. He blew at the hair in his eyes. A twig dangled, caught in an auburn strand, but Frank was unwilling to expose himself to yank it out.

 

“Sure. Sure.” Tom fumbled for his key and opened the door. Frank half hopped over the acorns and chestnut burrs to slide past Tom. Tom wrinkled his nose as Frank passed. Good old wet dog smell. It always clung to him after a run in the woods.

 

Frank took the stairs two at a time to escape.

 

After a shower and shave—why did going furry always lead to needing a shave? The rest of his hair receded. Why didn’t his beard?—Frank spent thirty minutes in front of his bathroom mirror, trying to psych himself up to knock on Tom’s door and invite him over the next day for coffee or to watch football. He scratched behind an ear, feeling the healing scab from a graze he’d gotten when he’d fallen into the azalea bushes. Staring at his reflection, he tried to look earnest and approachable. He could do this. He had game.

 

“Hey, I know you don’t know many people in town, and I’m a loser, but would you like to spend time with me?” Frank made a face at himself. Probably shouldn’t label yourself as a loser.

 

“Yo, you want to watch football? No, how about basketball? Baseball? No? What about Mexican wrestlers?” Oh God, what if Tom doesn’t like sports?

 

“I ordered two large pizzas by mistake tonight, and I could use some help, or I’ll be gorging on pepperoni for a week.”

 

Lame. Frank’s own gaunt features stared back at him from the mirror. Who was he kidding? He’d always be the guy who lost the genetic lottery and ended up with the family curse.

 

Galen’s syndrome was rare, only affecting about one in 2,000, but well-known enough that most people had at least heard of it. The Greek surgeon Galen had coined the word lycanthropy to explain the shape-shifting curse that traveled down through a family tree. Like most recessive gene disorders, it only manifested when two genes were passed down to a child, leading early scholars to think the afflicted had been re-cursed or spared for a generation due to divine providence. It was only with modern medicine that curses were found to be attached to DNA, breaking and molding chromosomes like magical radiation. But despite better understanding of the disorder, the stigma remained, not helped by the occasional local television feature linking the disorder to werewolf mythology.

 

All Frank knew was the recessive curse gene made him even more different from his family. He’d already been pushing it when he came out as gay. Turning into a wolf at sixteen had been…well, more than his father and stepmother could handle. She wanted to protect the kids, she told him. He loved his half siblings, didn’t he? It wasn’t safe to have a wild animal around children.

 

It had gutted him. They turned him out of his own home. He’d been angry. He’d done something stupid, lashing out, snapping at his sister Robbie. It still hurt, remembering the tears on his baby sister’s face, her eyes wide and scared. Of him. It was then he knew his stepmother had been right. Dangerous animals didn’t belong in a family. So he’d left, traveling all the way across the state until he landed in Waycroft Falls. It had been hard that first year. There were a lot of adult things he still hadn’t figured out.

 

Like how to ask out a guy who he hadn’t known his whole life. Moving from one small town to another had been a bad idea. Frank bonked his head against the mirror, gazing down into the white porcelain sink. He rubbed at a stray hair that clung to the side.

 

But on the plus side, small towns meant he rarely needed a car. And he could shift and run if he needed. He should take his clothes with him

 

About Aidee:

Aidee Ladnier, an award-winning author of speculative fiction, believes that adventure is around every corner. In pursuit of new experiences she’s worked as a magician’s assistant, been a beauty pageant contestant, ridden in hot air balloons, produced independent movies, hiked up a volcano, and is a proud citizen scientist. A lover of genre fiction, Aidee’s perfect romance has a little science fiction, fantasy, mystery, or the paranormal thrown in to add a zing.

 

Social Links:

Website:http://www.aideeladnier.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6570769.Aidee_Ladnier

Amazon: amazon.com/author/aideeladnier

Tumblr: http://aideemoi.tumblr.com/

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/aideelad/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aideelad/

Instagram: http://instagram.com/aideelad/

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

In Training is FREE!

No! I don’t mean that you can get training for free, though I suppose you could if you looked hard enough or if you did it yourself. What I mean is that my novella, In Training is FREE all through the month of June. All you have to do is follow this link and you’ll find way more than just In Training. In fact you’ll find all kinds of wonderful, spicy summer reads for FREE!

What happens when a girl meets her destiny and her doom in one gloriously hard-bodied, hot package in a pub the night before her life becomes a sweaty, muscle aching, joint straining, cardio pounding living hell? You can find out for free!

 

In Training Blurb:

Getting fit on reality TV is PR guru, Lauren Michaels’, brainchild for gym equipment and fitness company Physicality,
Inc. The brilliant PR stunt involves one brave volunteer who wants to be fit badly enough to submit to the not so tender training techniques of personal trainer, Wolf Jennings, whose successful, but non-conventional, methods would make a drill sergeant look like a fluff ball. But when CEO and owner of Physicality, Inc., Claire Amos, decides her PR ace in the hole needs to walk the walk, Lauren finds herself between a kettle bell and a hard place… er, a hard trainer. That’s nightmare enough, but for six weeks, 24/7, the explosive chemistry between the two will be sweated out live on camera for the whole world to see. What could possibly go wrong?

 

 

Chance Encounter: In Training Excerpt:

Lauren had nearly finished her second pint, when a man plopped down on the stool next to her. “‘Zat Sneck Lifter?” he asked.

She raised her glass and offered a nod.

“Ah, a woman with good taste.” He motioned for the bartender and pointed at her pint. “You don’t see many women tossing back real ale these days.”

He looked like he’d come straight from the financial district in London. It was a look not all that common in a Keswick pub, where walking gear and outdoor clothing were the Cumbrian uniform of choice. Dark hair and delicious bedroom stubble framed the bluest eyes she’d ever seen. The big city look lasted a whole two seconds before he shoved the jacket carelessly onto the stool next to him and jerked at the tie like it was a snake. That it had taken the strip tease for her to really appreciate that the man looked damn fine was a testament to how badly her day had sucked.

“Ah! That’s better,” he said with a northern accent that had local boy written all over it. “It’s like getting out of a straitjacket. Not that I’ve ever actually been in one,” he added, rolling his broad shoulders and cracking his neck from side to side.

When she offered only a jerk of a smile, he continued. “The best thing about a suit is taking it off.”

She couldn’t argue that point after seeing him in the act.

The bartender delivered his Sneck Lifter. He slapped down a tenner and raised his glass. “Here’s to new beginnings.”

“To new beginnings,” she replied, gulping back the last of her pint and ordering another.

Tall, dark and northern gave her the hard stare. “Spoken with the enthusiasm of someone going to their own execution.”

“Sometimes new beginnings aren’t what they’re cracked up to be,” Lauren replied.

The bartender delivered her drink and went back to stacking glasses on the shelf.

“Mind if I ask?” He didn’t wait for her reply. “Break up, divorce?”

She banged her glass down on the bar. “Why does it always have to be about relationships? Why is that the first question you ask a woman? Did it ever occur to you, it might be something else?”

He gave his dimpled chin a thoughtful stroke, not the least bit put off by her sharp answer. Moving closer, he leaned one elbow on the bar in such a way that she couldn’t help but notice the strain of hard muscles on well-cut cloth. “Work, then; you lost your job?”

“Since we seem to be playing twenty questions, no, I didn’t lose my fucking job.”

He clucked his tongue. “I would have thought for sure that was it, foul language and all. Did you have it out with your boss?”

She mirrored his posture and leaned into his solicitous smile, forcing a bitter one of her own. “Oh, I fucking had it out with the fucking boss all right, and it didn’t do a fucking bit of good. Any more questions?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact,” he said without losing a beat. “Where does a skinny-arsed chick like you put all that Sneck Lifter, and will I have to stuff you in a cab to send you home later?”

“I’m not skinny, and I can hold my alcohol just fine, thank you.” She raised her glass and chugged half of it.

He looked her up and down. “Well, you’re sure as hell not fat. Living on caffeine and fags doesn’t put much meat on a woman’s bones. I can handle that, I suppose, as long as you promise not to puke on my shoes later.”

She ground her teeth. “First off, I don’t smoke. Secondly, I don’t recall us discussing any later.”

The bastard still wasn’t bothered by her belligerent attitude. “Hmm. I would have thought for certain he’d fired you—your boss, I mean. You know, didn’t like having a hard-drinking, hard-talking woman tearing him a new one?”

“She.”

“What?”

“My boss is a she, and no she didn’t fire me. I’m her golden girl. She just has a sick sense of humour. That’s all.”

He raised an eyebrow and took a thoughtful sip of his beer. “Didn’t see that coming.” He leaned closer. “Wanna tell me about it?”

“Let’s just say I’m in way over my head, and I have no idea how to get out.”

“Your boss isn’t organised crime, is she? A mafia queen maybe?”

In spite of herself Lauren laughed at the thought of Claire Amos smoking a big cigar and talking with a sharp New York accent. “No, nothing so sinister as that.” She gave a little jerk of her shoulder. “Okay, well there is the offer I can’t refuse part.” Before he could respond she waved a negating hand. “I really don’t want to talk about it. I’ll figure something out. I always do. So you’re obviously here to celebrate. What’s your reason? Just closed the big deal for your company?”

He smiled down into the ale he’d barely touched. “I ammy company, but something like that, yes.” He turned his attention to the bartender and ordered two waters. “Buy you a drink,” he said, pushing one in front of her.

“Oh, how sweet. You shouldn’t have,” she said raising the glass in salute.

“Actually, the way you’re tossing ‘em back, I shouldhave—what with your body weight, even if your metabolism is pretty high, you’ll need it. And let me guess, you haven’t eaten anything since breakfast, if you even had that. Either way, I’d say you need to hydrate.”

“Thank you, Father,” she grumbled.

“You’ll thank me in the morning when you don’t feel quite so shitty.”

“So,” she glugged back the water and scooted closer, “you think I’m skinny?”

“No, not really. You’re just not very well muscled. You look a bit wimpy to me.”

“Well, don’t you just know how to make a girl feel sexy,” she said, returning her attention to her pint.

“What can I say, I’m hot for dirty-mouthed, ale-drinking women.”

This time her laugh was genuine. “I think you need to work on your pick-up lines.” She couldn’t help the blush that climbed her cheeks. For the first time in a long time, she found herself feeling almost pretty—even with her lack of muscle.

“I don’t know. It seems to be working pretty well so far.” He reached out and curled a tendril of red hair that had escaped her day-old chignon around his finger. “I figure if you don’t hit me or knee me in the balls, and if I halfway behave myself, I might just get to celebrate with someone interesting and pretty too.”

She groaned. “Fine. I’ll celebrate with you—celebrate my last day of freedom.”

He quirked an eyebrow. “So that’s it then, you’re a convicted criminal off to prison after one last pint?”

She sipped her beer. “Might as well be.”

“I could bring you a cake with a file in it.” He suggested. “Though I don’t really bake.”

“Trust me,” she patted his hand, “I’ll probably be appreciating the cake a lot more than the file before long. And I don’t care if you bake it or buy it at Sainsbury’s.”

“Sounds harsh,” he said, then he added, “Look, I’m gonna be pretty tied up with work for the next few weeks, but I could show you around a bit if you’d like, you know, make your last night of freedom memorable. Beautiful place, the Lakes.”

She leaned in close. “How well do you know the area?”

“Well enough. I was born and raised in Keswick.”

“I’m all yours, then,” she said, downing the last of her pint. “Show me.” She all but fell off her stool and right into his arms.

“Thought you could handle your alcohol,” he said with a chuckle.

“Oh, I can handle that just fine,” she replied, feeling suddenly brazen and bold. “I caught my heel in the strap of my bag. That’s all. Lucky you were here to catch me.”

“Lucky, indeed,” he all but purred.

The lip lock was not planned, but the feel of a hard male body, one that was actually interested in her, was just what she needed after the crap day she’d had. The knowledge it was going to get way worse before it got better emboldened her. She leaned in close to steal a kiss. She decided she really liked being a thief and stole another one. She decided she liked being a thief even better when those kisses were returned with enthusiasm and a stealthy flick of the tongue. He drew her up close to muscle and sinew and strength in all the right places and all the right proportions. She found herself practically on the man’s lap—definitely close enough to be certain he was enjoying the clinch as much as she was.

“Get a room, you two,” the bartender said with a quirk of a smile from under bushy raised eyebrows.

“Might just do,” big and brawny said without actually pulling his mouth away from Lauren’s.

“Might just do,” she repeated, her words distorted because her tongue had better things to do than ensure good pronunciation.

She hefted her bag, and he grabbed up his jacket and tie, throwing the jacket over her shoulders and looping the tie around her neck. Tugging the two ends playfully, he led her past the billiards table, and down a narrow hallway that passed the ladies’ room. Then he made a sharp left out past the open kitchen door into a small, but fairly private garden in the back.

“Don’t think we’ll make it to a room,” he said as they exited the pub and he tugged her into the garden up close to a
blooming lilac.

“Don’t think I care,” she replied.

“Maybe for round two,” he said as he backed her against the rough brick and picked up the mouth-to-mouth where they’d left off.

“Don’t know what’s the matter with me,” she managed between nips and licks and tugs and pulls. “I don’t do this sort of thing.”

“Neither do I.” His kisses migrated to her neck. He slid a hand up her thigh and beneath her skirt. “Celebrating new beginnings, I guess.”

“Must be that,” she agreed. One of the kitchen staff came through the door for a ciggy break, stopped short, gave them the once-over and went back inside. She barely noticed. She was far too occupied with hard muscles and an expressive mouth up close and personal. He cupped and stroked and explored, finding the fastest routes to bare skin and sensitive places. She returned the favour, hiking her skirt enough to hook one leg around his hip. He cupped her bum and lifted her off the ground with her offering an undignified little yelp. And there they were, panties creating friction against bespoke trousers that barely contained his desire, both of them shifting and rubbing and pressing for all they were worth.

It was her efforts to reach the condom in the side pocket of her bag that ruined the mood. The bag slid off her shoulder and ended upside down on the cobbles, the contents skittering in all directions. They both dropped to their knees laughing and gasping and scrabbling to pick up her things. He gave her a hard nip high on the thigh just as she reached for the condom beneath the picnic table. It was then that his phone fell out of his jacket that she had miraculously managed to keep around her shoulders. At the moment he grabbed for it, a text pinged. He started to shove it into his shirt pocket and then did a double take. He froze there on his hands and knees, the colour leeching from his face as he looked from his phone to her and back again.

“You’re Lauren Michaels?”

“In the flesh.”

“Your boss is Claire Amos?” His voice cracked, and he looked at her as though she’d suddenly sprouted horns.

“That’s right, why? Do you know Claire?”

He scrambled to his feet, offering her his hand. “You’re right.” The muscles around his chiseled cheekbones twitched. “She does have a sick sense of humour.” He stood for a second looking her over like he was seeing her for the first time. Then he jammed the phone in the pocket of his trousers. “I gotta go.”

Just like that he turned and fled, leaving her with his coat and tie and one more reason why this had been a totally crap day.

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

Site created and maintained by Writer Marketing Services | Sitemap