Welcome to another edition of Marvelous Monday Reads, darlings! Today I’m featuring H.K. Carlton and her delicious new re-release If You Can’t Handle the Heat, now available from Amazon and other purveyors of fine online romance. Take it away, H.K.!
Thank you for inviting me to your blog today. I’m doubly excited to share not only the re-launch of, If You Can’t Handle the Heat, but this re-release is also my first self-publishing venture.
This story was previously published with the title If You Can’t Stand the Heat. Though there is a little bit of added content, the story remains relatively the same.
In this erotic story, two very different professionals are brought together as celebrity judges on a reality-based cooking show. Sesto Théodore—the celeb chef that the show is built around—meets walking cliché, Syn Fully, erotic novelist. Though there is an immediate conflict in personalities, there is also an instant sizzling attraction. A classic clash and burn.
An unlikely couple is brought together as celebrity judges on a new reality-based cooking show.
Sesto Théodore, is an arrogant yet well respected American-Italian chef, with several five-star restaurants.
Once bitten, twice shy, Syn Fully, is a jaded author of erotica, rocketing her way up all the best sellers lists.
From the moment Syn and Sesto meet, their personalities clash, yet behind the scenes sparks fly. Getting together would be a recipe for disaster, but hot sex with no-strings couldn’t hurt. At least not until real feelings get involved.
But just when Syn considers opening her damaged heart to the cocky chef, video of rather personal content is leaked online. Sesto immediately jumps to conclusions and accuses Syn of the privacy breach.
Can the arrogant chef forgive and forget, or will his pride leave him out in the cold?
Somebody’s about to get burned…
Possible Triggers: Please note one scene contains borderline bdsm and dubious consent/forcible confinement. Also in this story intimate video is obtained without the knowledge or consent of the participants involved, and later distributed online
Author’s Note: This erotic story has been previously published with the title, If You Can’t Stand the Heat. Though there is a little bit of added content, the story remains relatively the same. It has been re-edited and re-formatted for re-release, and has a sizzling new cover thanks to Studioenp.
Sesto took the opportunity to turn his wrath on Syn. “May I speak to you out in the hall, please!” he demanded, shooting to his feet.
“Of course,” she responded, haughtily, as though she hadn’t just been giving him the initial stages of a hand job under the table.
Sesto allowed Syn to take the lead. He was momentarily captivated by her long shapely legs, as she stalked across the space, confident and oh-so fuckin’ sexy in those red stilettos. Sesto pulled level with her and couldn’t resist the urge to place his hand to the small of her back, left bare by the severe cut of her dress. If he wasn’t mistaken, she’d trembled at the contact. Or was it his hand that quivered?
In the corridor, Syn rounded on him, at the same moment he blurted, “What the fuck do you think…”
The words died on his tongue, as she once again stroked his shaft through his trousers. Her gaze settled on his mouth. Her breathing was shallow.
“Where’s your dressing room?” she asked, backing him up.
Sesto grabbed her other wrist and dragged her into the green room, before slamming the door behind them.
He yanked her hand, above her head and forced it against the door. He half-expected her to fight. What he wasn’t prepared for was the brazen little smile that hooked her sinful lips, as she raised her arm to join the other. With both hands stretched above her head Syn arched toward him, thrusting her beautiful tits, right in his face.
“What the fuck are you doing?” he asked again. “We don’t even know each other.”
“I know. Isn’t it wicked, how our bodies want to though.”
He groaned, shifting uncomfortably foot to foot, yet he couldn’t focus on anything but her lovely breasts.
“Go ahead, Théo, set them free,” she tempted, her voice barely above a whisper.
Where to Buy
About the Author
H K Carlton is a multi-genre Canadian author of romance, with over thirty titles in publication. From naughty to nice, historical to contemporary, time travel to space travel, and everything in between.
Variety is creativity’s playground—It’s where you’ll find me. Join me for the ride:
Welcome to another edition of Marvelous Monday Reads, darlings! Today I’m featuring London Saint James and her delicious new romance Destiny Happened, now available from LSJ Romance and other purveyors of fine online romance. Take it away, London!
Of course, I noticed Mr. Shirtless. With a bod like his, who wouldn’t? But his hot-factor didn’t matter. What did? My asshat ex and the need to make him jealous. So, I strolled up to the panty-melting stranger as though I knew him and laid one on him, hoping said asshat would see I’d moved on just fine without him. Only, he never saw me kissing another man.
I spotted her—honey-blonde hair gleaming in the sun as she came my way. I’d flirt. Smile. Maybe get her number. I sure the hell didn’t expect her to toss her arms around my neck, mashing her body against mine, and kiss the ever-loving shit out of me. Then, she stopped. Stepped back. Blushed. Whispered “Sorry” and blended into the crowd. I never got her name that day. Or her number. However, fate had other plans and Destiny happened…again.
Pops quickly flipped a line of sizzling sausages with his heavy-duty tongs as I carried an oversized cooler past him. “Those better be more brats for the grill since these babies are sellin’ out fast.”
“I wouldn’t leave you hanging, old man,” I said, sliding the container next to the boxes I’d placed under the canopy a few minutes earlier.
He bobbed his head. “Know it.”
There was affection and perhaps a little pride in my papaw’s tone.
“I’ve got another couple of coolers to bring over, so we should have enough brats to get us through the rest of the day.”
While having a food booth at Oktoberfest was an annual money-raising activity, allowing us to give a nice sum to a local charity—as well as excellent advertisement for Caldwell Trucking and Repair—hauling stuff to and from our venue and fighting the traffic and crowds wasn’t my favorite thing.
Glancing around I asked, “Where’s Joe?”
“He called a little while ago. He should be here any minute now.”
“You actually answered your cell phone? I’m impressed.”
Pops flipped another bratwurst. “Don’t give me shit, boy.”
“Just happy to see you giving in.” I chuckled. “It’s about time you moved out of the stone age.”
“Yeah, well,” he grumbled, “I miss the good old days when a person wasn’t reachable twenty-four-seven. When my ass isn’t planted in my office chair, then I’m out. No one gets the concept of being away and unavailable anymore. I don’t need to be interrupted all the time.”
I couldn’t help but grin at his usual rage against the machine. Everyone knew if Pops was out of the trucking office, odds were good, speaking to him probably wasn’t happening.
“How about Cray?” I asked.
“Haven’t heard from him.”
“That asshole better not pull another no show. It’s his turn to do clean up.” With a shoulder lift, I swiped sweat from my face onto my damp, gray t-shirt.
I’d much rather work fifteen-hour days at the shop—which, let’s be honest, I did often so I could catch up on the paperwork end—than to deal with the daily vendor set up and nightly clean up.
“You know your brother, Kash.”
Shit… I’d be doing my younger brother’s job later because Crayten would do what he always did—leave me high and dry.
“Yeah, Pops, I do.”
We were only two days into this four-day event, and I wasn’t happy. Adding to my piss poor mood was the damn heat. It might have been October, but it was still hot as hell and even hotter standing behind our commercial-sized stainless steel grill where I would eventually be to give Pops a break. But come on. Four days of organized chaos and three-hundred-thousand festival goers could drive a man to drink. Although, on a positive note, I didn’t have far to go if I wanted to tie one on. The entrance to the beer garden was only a few feet away.
“Hey.” Joe strolled up, man bun in place—hipstered out in his skinny pants, a blue shirt with red suspenders, and a big goofy smile on his bearded face. “Did you catch those bar wenches?”
We did our standard fist bump greeting. “I’ve been too busy hauling shit to notice anyone.”
“Joe”—Pops motioned with his tongs—“I’ll never understand why you want to do that crap to your poor ears.”
That was Pops for you. His grousing way of greeting one of our best mechanics while at the same time giving the guy crap about the shiny black plugs protruding through his lobes.
Joe tugged on his right ear good-naturedly. “All the ladies love my accoutrements.”
“Accoutrements is it?” My papaw snorted. “Fancy.”
“Pops, stop busting Joe’s balls,” I said.
“All right, all right,” he rasped. “Glad you’re here, J.”
“Thanks, Mr. Caldwell. I’m happy to help,” Joe said—humor in his tone. He glanced back at me. “Still have stuff in your truck?”
“I’ll give you a hand.”
I reached over my shoulder and yanked my shirt up, tugging it up and off my head. “Appreciated. Just give me a sec.”
Balling the cotton material, I swiped the driest section over my sweaty chest and stomach, glad I’d thought to toss a couple of clean t-shirts with our shop logo onto the passenger seat of my pickup that morning. I’d need to put on a fresh one.
A section of the milling crowd parted, and a few whistles snagged my attention. No. The whistles weren’t directed at me. They were for some dark-haired woman who was tossing her hands in the air and shaking her ass.
I’ll admit, she was attractive in a Jennifer Garner kind of way. But the woman next to her, shaking her head and smiling—long, honey-blonde hair gleaming in the sun—was a fucking knockout. A knockout who looked my way. A knockout who stared at me, then glanced past me—eyes narrowing—her porcelain-doll face going serious as she started in my direction.
Maybe it was the way she held herself. The biting of her luscious bottom lip. The gentle sway of those shapely hips. Or maybe it was the hip-hugging jeans and white, scoop-neck, long-sleeved tee showing off all her curves that did it. But she had this combination good-girl-next-door with a hint of wild-in-the-sack vixen vibe going on.
Filthy images of what I could do to muss her up raced through my head at supersonic speed.
I was ready to give her my best smile. Flirt a little. Maybe get her phone number. And I was just about to do all of that when without hesitation she stepped up to me, popped up on her tiptoes, tossed her arms around my neck, pressed those soft, full tits into my hard chest and smashed her plush, pink lips against mine.
All right. I’d had my fair share of women hit on me, and do that shit hard, but a woman literally throwing herself against me and taking charge without so much as a hello? Well, that was a first. When it came to the fairer sex, I took the lead. Regardless, though, I wasn’t stopping her. In fact, screw introductions. I didn’t need any.
Groaning, my right hand grabbed the back of her neck—fingers tangling into the strands of her silky hair. My other hand, still holding my wet shirt, went to her ass and pulled her even tighter into me.
She made a little mew of sound which turned into a throaty moan—her smaller frame melting into me as I plunged my tongue into her mouth, tasting an explosion of cool mint and womanly desire.
Yeah. I was full-on frenching someone I didn’t know—deep penetration style—while in front of Pops, Joe, and the entire swell of weekenders at Oktoberfest.
Obviously, I didn’t care.
Both my brain and body agreed. It was time to get down and dirty. This became apparent when all the blood I possessed rushed to my dick, and I ground myself into her pelvis. It didn’t matter where we were. It didn’t matter the woman in my arms was a stranger. Nothing in the world did but the feel, smell, and taste of her.
I needed more. More touching, tasting…just more.
Awareness seeped into my ‘need woman now’ mindset when she let go of me and pressed a palm to my bare shoulder, attempting to push me away.
Definitely get her number became the thought overtaking me as she stopped our rigorous game of tonsil hockey and stepped back, breaking my hold.
Staring down into the most exquisite pair of navy-blue eyes, I was struck mute. That was new as well. I’d never before been tongue-tied over a woman. Not only was I silent, but it also seemed I lost my ability to move.
Part of me understood I probably looked like a complete dumbfuck, standing there in front of our booth with a raging hard-on, shirtless, and goddamned speechless, but I just couldn’t pull my gaze from her.
A rosy hue started at her chest, crawled up her neck, and swept across her cheeks. She placed her fingertips on her kiss-swollen lips, whispered “Sorry,” spun around, and took off like the devil and all his minions were on her trail.
Her leaving so abruptly snapped me out of my stupor, and all my faculties crashed back in place with a jolt to my system. Rebooting me.
“Hey! Wait!” I called out, reaching. “Don’t go. What’s your name?”
All I caught was thin air and a peek of her shoulder as she blended into the crowd.
Where to Buy
About the Author
London Saint James has lived in many places but never felt ‘at home’ until she met the real-life man of her dreams and settled down in the beautiful Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. London lives with her husband and their fat cat who thinks he owns them.
As an award-winning, international bestselling author, London is living her childhood dream. She knew all the scribbling she did, that big imagination of hers, and all those clamoring characters running around in her head would pay off someday.
A complete list of London’s books can be found on her website http://www.londonsaintjames.com. You can also e-mail London with any questions or comments at London@londonsaintjames.com. She loves to hear from her readers.
Would you like to know more? Join her mailing list for her monthly newsletter http://eepurl.com/6P2on. Or, join her book group on Facebook, Slip Between the Pages with London https://www.facebook.com/groups/SlipBetweenthePageswithLondon/
Woohoo, I’m kicking off 2019 with a double re-release! My first publications in January will be two novelettes I originally wrote for Evernight Publishing back in 2013; the rights reverted back to me in 2018, and I’m currently in the process of re-editing them and putting them together for release with Belaurient Press.
The first story, A Boon by Moonlight, is my “boy meets Sidhe/boy asks Sidhe for boon/Sidhe asks for night in boy’s bed” piece. This one has a special place in my heart because I dearly want to go out drinking with these two (Zach could be our designated driver, and Jerrek would throw back vodka like it was water and provide running snarky commentary on everyone else in the bar. It would be great). The re-release will also include the unpublished short story “Snow Day” featuring Zach and Jerrek housebound antics during a polar vortex, so there’s some added value there. It should be out on 1/15 so if you’ve never read this one before you can pick it up then.
And may I just say that I’m freaking in love with this new cover? It screams M/M fantasy romance to me (I still can’t believe I’m writing fantasy romance, but my God it’s fun). Finding the stock image of the model in fantasy garb was a real gift, and the other model works with him extremely well. I may do a couple more tweaks to the image before release day, but what you see here is primarily the finished product.
Oh, funny but true story about the cover — I sent it to a couple of writer friends for feedback. One of them writes SF/fantasy and said, “This is for a fantasy romance story? Because the woman on the right looks like a Vulcan.” I had to explain about Jerrek, after which she said, “Ohhh. In that case, it looks great.” *grin*
The other re-release is Grading the Curve, my “hot for teacher” novelette. Whereas I can get Boon out next week, Curve won’t be out for another two weeks because 1) hoo boy, I learned a lot about characterization and backstory in the last five years, which means 2) this 13K novelette is about to become a 30K novella as I gleefully apply both the Editorial Machete and the Storytelling Spackling Knife with a freaking vengeance (seriously, I re-read the original MSS and was deeply grateful that it sank without a trace. It’s not horrible, mind you, but it was clear I had no idea how to write a good, solid MF romance at that time).
The eagle-eyed among you may have noted the extra name on this cover and want to know who the heck Natasha Stark is. Well, she’s me — as of 2019 I’m using that nom de plume for all of my contemporary romances (and yes, there will be more of them — I’ve got at least four romcoms in mind), and this is my way of introducing her. It’s mainly for marketing purposes, since there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of overlap between contemporary romance readers and SF/fantasy/PN romance readers. I want to make it easy for people to find (and ideally buy) what they want to read, so SF, fantasy, or paranormal romance readers can stick with Nicola’s books, and contemporary romance readers can focus on Natasha’s books.
Oh, God. I’m going to have to set up a totally separate website/social media presence at some point for Natasha, aren’t I? I need a drink…
Meanwhile I’m also working on King of Blades (Two Thrones 4) and Natasha’s next romcom, tentatively titled Screen Kiss, so those should be out in March or so. So many books to write, so little time…
TGIF! Let’s kick off the weekend with Elena Kincaid’s hot new contemporary romance The Beast in a Suit, now available from Evernight Publishing and other retailers of online romance. Take it away, Elena!
Thanks so much for hosting The Beast In A Suit (A Contemporary Tale). This story is an office romance with a modern twist on a classic tale and the first in a brand new series. The rest of the series will take on a different fairy tale and continue with the office romance theme.
She’s no damsel. He’s no prince. Can their love still be strength enough to save them both?
Twenty years later, and the hole inside Emeline’s soul only got bigger, mourning the loss of her mother and brother and what could have been. A stranger comes along with changes to a career she loves, but will it be for the better and will he end up changing her, too?
Adam has been closed off to the world for nearly two decades, existing but not living. He doesn’t even realize the shell of a man he’s become until a woman he’s slowly falling for makes him examine his own reflection.
A modern twist on a classic tale filled with desire, passion, and one dangerous obsession.
“You’re firing me?”
“Of course not,” he replied adamantly, finally turning to face her. “I meant what I said before. You’re very valuable to this company and you’ve more than proven it. I also meant it when I told you that you would do great on your own. I don’t want you to leave.” He took her hand in his. “I want nothing more than for you stay, but I don’t want to hold you hostage. That was unfair of me. Please, forgive me.”
The truth was, she had forgotten about his threat. With the way he turned the company around along with giving her his friendship, not to mention the fact that she was in love with him, she was happy there again. She hadn’t thought about quitting or about going out on her own. The fact that he remembered and was apologizing for it and even willing to let her go without any repercussions stunned her. She had already forgiven him a while ago.
She watched a sly smile form on his lips, a devilish gleam in his eye. “No one should have to work for an asshole.”
“Good thing I no longer think of you as an asshole.” She glanced down at their joined hands. “I would like to stay.”
“You would?” He sounded surprised, hopeful even, and the look on his face confirmed it when she raised her head.
“And what about you, Adam?” she asked. “Do you intend to stay?” She knew it was a premature question, given the fact that it would be some time before he could present a tempting sale, but she felt like she needed to know if he even considered the possibility of actually keeping the company and running it himself.
He reached out and toyed with a strand of her hair. “I’d gotten so used to working with soulless corporations, people who wouldn’t hesitate to stab each other in the back. I guess you can say I’m pleasantly surprised. Publishing Enchanted is more than a company. It’s a family.”
“You’re part of it now.”
“And I don’t think I want to give that up.” He let go of her hair and brushed his knuckles down her cheek. “I have too many reasons to stay.”
They were so close now, their faces mere inches apart. Emeline couldn’t even remember how they had gotten there, but now she only wanted to be closer. “Adam,” she whispered, right before he closed the final distance between them and kissed her.
His kiss was soft, tentative at first, as if gauging her reaction, but when she wrapped her arms around him, he deepened it, moaning into her mouth as their tongues finally met and entwined. Finally, she got her wish and fisted her hand in his thick locks. His hair was soft, just as she’d imagined. Even his beard was soft against her skin. And God, he was such a great kisser, exploring her mouth thoroughly, lips and tongues feverishly connecting.
It was her turn to moan when he pulled her onto his lap and his hands began to roam down her back, her arms, and skimming down the sides of her breasts. He stopped kissing her lips long enough to move down to her jaw, her neck, and then all the way down to that deep V in the center of her cleavage, eliciting another, much louder, moan from her.
She was so lost in him, she hadn’t even realized at first that they were no longer moving, had no idea when they had stopped. Adam took notice of it, too, and paused his attentions to her. They were both panting as they stared at one another, and this time it was Emeline who leaned in and kissed him. She whispered, “Stay,” against his lips, the ache inside her for him too great to be able to part with him.
He practically growled in response and the two of them poured months of longing into their next kiss.
“I’m going to devour every single inch of you,” he said.
Where to Buy
About the Author
Elena Kincaid is an award-winning and Amazon best-selling author. She writes Paranormal and Contemporary Romances with alpha males who stop at nothing to protect their women, heroines who are anything but damsels in distress, and stories where the only love worth fighting for is the forever kind of love.
She was born in Ukraine and raised in New York, where she currently lives with her daughter. Her desk is constantly cluttered with journals, sticky notes, and torn-out pieces of paper full of ideas. When not working, Elena loves to spend time with her family, travel the globe, curl up with a good book, and catch up on her shows.
Welcome to another edition of Marvelous Monday Reads, darlings! Today I’m featuring Paige Warren writing as Harley Wylde and her smouldering new MC romance Badger, coming from Changeling Press on August 3 and now available for pre-order. Take it away, ladies!
Badger – I went to prison for ten years after beating a man to death. He deserved it, and then some. I only wish he’d suffered more. Now I’m free, but things aren’t the same as when I left. The little girl I once saved is now a tempting young woman with curves in all the right places. I should stay away, far away, but I’m drawn to her like a moth to a flame. The Pres of my club adopted her, so she’s definitely a no-fly zone, but fuck if I don’t want her with every breath I take. A little sample wouldn’t hurt anyone, right? As long as Griz doesn’t find out, I’ll keep breathing. Sneaking around should be easy enough. I never counted on falling for her, or finding out she was carrying my kid. Now what the fuck am I supposed to do? I’m a long-time repeat offender. I can’t walk the straight and narrow. Can I?
Adalia – I’ve worshiped Badger ever since the night he saved me. But what started as a young girl’s infatuation has grown into something more. I know he’ll never see me that way, or at least I thought he wouldn’t. When we’re together, it’s like we just can’t keep our hands off each other. It’s probably against his parole for us to be together, but he doesn’t seem to care. The heat between us is undeniable. He didn’t promise me forever, just right now. But neither of us counted on me getting pregnant, something that wasn’t supposed to happen too easily, and I have no freakin’ clue what to do. I’m scared Badger will run for the hills. He never asked for this, but then neither did I. One thing is for certain. If he doesn’t man up and my daddy finds out, there will be hell to pay.
No one can hide from the President of the Devil’s Fury MC.
The trip back to Blackwood Falls took too fucking long, and I was feeling anxious. It had been a long damn time since I’d been in a vehicle, and I’d much rather have spent the hour-long ride on my Harley. Soon enough, I’d take it out on the open road, and just let the tension melt away. The only thing sweeter than a ride on my bike was being between a woman’s thighs.
As Demon stopped outside the clubhouse, he tensed and turned to face me. I had no idea what was going to come out of his mouth, but something told me it wasn’t anything I wanted to hear.
“There’s something you need to know,” Demon said.
“Anyone die while I was gone?”
“No. It’s about Adalia.”
My breath froze in my lungs as I pictured her wide blue eyes as they’d stared at me in terror. I’d found her in an alley, her clothes torn, and some asshole raping her. I’d seen her around town, knew she was only thirteen, just a kid. Something inside me had snapped, and I’d beat the fuck out of that asshole. Beat him to death. I didn’t regret what I’d done, only wished I’d gotten there sooner. Adalia had watched as I killed that man, and she hadn’t uttered a word the entire time. Not even when I took her to the hospital to be checked out. I’d known it wouldn’t end well for me, but my first priority had been the girl. Anyone else might have gotten off with a lighter sentence, seeing as how I’d been protecting her. But a guy like me with priors? I hadn’t had a prayer. Ten years to give her the peace of mind that the asshole who had touched her was six feet under? Yeah, it was a trade I’d been willing to make. I’d made it then, and even knowing I’d get time, I’d do it again in a second.
I might be an asshole biker with a rap sheet, but there were some things that even I wouldn’t tolerate. Rape was one of them. Anyone harming a kid was another, and that dickweed had done both. As far as I was concerned, the world was a better place without him in it.
“What about her?” I asked.
She’d be twenty-three now. Probably had a steady job, a nice boyfriend. At least, I hoped that’s how her life had turned out. But the way Demon had said her name… had something happened to her while I was gone? Had some other asshole tried to hurt her, and I hadn’t been around to save her this time? My gut clenched just thinking anything bad had happened to her. She’d been such a sweetheart the few times I’d been around her, always a little on the quiet side.
“She’s here,” Demon said quietly.
My heart started pounding, and I flung open the truck door, then reached for my cut and shrugged it on. I slammed the door shut and stomped up the clubhouse steps before going inside. There were balloons and shit everywhere, and the roar of welcome as I stepped inside was near deafening. But as I scanned the crowd, it wasn’t my brothers I was taking in… No, I was looking for her. I didn’t know what she looked like anymore, only remembered her as a teenage girl. She’d been terrified the last time I’d seen her. I didn’t know why she was here, but I had to see her, to know that she was okay. I’d thought about her every fucking day that I was inside, hoping she’d been able to get past what happened to her, had gone on to live a good life. I’d thought about writing her once, just to check on her, but had decided it was best if I kept away. She didn’t need any reminders from me about what had happened to her.
My brothers hugged me, slapped me on the back, and slowly they all parted. At the back of the room stood a pixie of a woman, long blonde hair curling over her shoulders, and a body made for sinning. It was her eyes that nailed my feet to the floor. Blue. And achingly familiar. My gaze traced her features, trying to find the little girl I’d tried to save. I didn’t see even a hint of the terrified teen I’d carried out of that alley. Her features were delicate, much like the rest of her. She had curves in all the right places, and would likely be more than a handful for some men, but I’d be willing to bet she wouldn’t even reach my shoulder. Tiny. Almost like a little fairy. Slowly, Adalia walked toward me, her hips swaying with every step. Yeah, she’d grown up while I was gone, and I’d be willing to bet men fell to their knees to worship at her feet. She looked like one of those plus-sized models, but in a shorter package.
She didn’t even hesitate when she reached me, just put her arms around my neck and hugged me tight. My arms closed around her, pulling her curves against me, and I breathed in her honeysuckle scent. Closing my eyes, I just drank in the moment. She was here. She was safe. And she felt a little too damn good pressed against me. The way my jeans tightened made me want to put some distance between us. I tried like hell to keep the image of her as a thirteen-year-old girl in my mind, hoping my body would stop reacting to the woman she’d grown into, but no such luck. The breasts pressing against me were more than a handful and far too fucking tempting, as was the rest of her.
“I’m glad you’re home,” she said, her voice soft and husky.
“It’s good to see you, pretty girl. Not a day went by that I didn’t think about you.”
“I tried to come see you a few times, but they always said you weren’t allowed visitors.”
I pulled away and smiled down at her. “I had a tendency to get into trouble inside. But now I’m glad you didn’t get any farther than the gates. Prison is no place for an angel like you.”
Her cheeks flushed and she smiled a little. “Welcome home, Badger.”
Where to Buy
Roosters is a multi-author series of stand-alone stories released by Changeling Press. Each book contains an arrogant, alpha hero in a contemporary romance setting. While Badger is an MC romance, not all of the Roosters books fall under this theme. You can find the other Roosters books by clicking here.
About the Author
Award-winning author Paige Warren spends her days weaving tales about alpha males and the women who love them. There’s nothing hotter than a man in tight Wranglers, dog tags (especially if he’s ONLY wearing dog tags!), or bad boys covered in ink. When Paige isn’t creating romantic tales, she enjoys reading and watching movies – romances, of course. If you see her out in the wild, you’ll most likely find her at Starbucks, sipping a white mocha with a distant look in her eyes as she figures out the right wording for the next scene in her latest book.
Short. Erotic. Sweet. Harley’s other half would probably say those words describe her, but they also describe her books. When Harley is writing, her motto is the hotter the better. Off the charts sex, commanding men, and the women who can’t deny them. If you want men who talk dirty, are sexy as hell, and take what they want, then you’ve come to the right place.
Harley is the bestselling author of the Dixie Reapers MC series. You can find her at harleywylde.com!
Hello, lovelies! This week I’m featuring one last snippet from To My Muse where Tom and Lily hit the big Hollywood party thrown by Sir Nathan. God, I had such a good time writing this book. In the coming weeks, I’ll be back to posting snippets from Shifter Woods: Snarl and Uncertainty Principle.
Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!
We heard the hum of party noise before we reached the main foyer. It was seriously different from my family’s parties—for one thing, there was a decided lack of Bollywood hits and I-pop blasting through the air, and waiters were walking around with trays of full champagne flutes. Not a single harried teenaged girl fetching some lassi for a thirsty auntie in sight. Dadi would be so disappointed in Sir Nathan.
Tom snagged a pair of flutes for us, passing one to me. “Drink up,” he advised. “It’ll make the evening a bit more enjoyable.”
I sipped my champagne. Naturally it was delicious. “Yeah, no, I’m still nervous,” I whispered after swallowing.
“Give it a chance to circulate.” He looped his arm around my waist and guided me towards the people standing in discreet groupings of two and three. “Smile and nod, darling.”
Great. Now I had the penguins from Madagascar caroling in my head. Smile and wave, boys. Smile and wave. Biting back an insane urge to call Tom “Private,” I did as he suggested.
The damnedest thing was, it worked. Complete strangers nodded back at me, with the occasional assessing glance thrown in for good measure. Only this time the assessment added up to “one of us.” I felt Matthiu’s work on my face like a mask. They had no clue.
Tom led me through a thickening crowd into the main entertainment area that I’d seen last night. All the lights were on this time, set to low, and the room was full of people chatting to each other with the occasional laugh sparkling in the air. Underneath the chatter was a soft medley of cocktail bar classics coming from the grand piano in the corner.
To my surprise, Sir Nathan was playing it. “Thought so,” Tom murmured, guiding me over. “You couldn’t resist performing, could you?” he said to our host.
Sir Nathan gave us a genial smile as his fingers moved over the keyboard. “The pianist is taking a break, so I thought I’d fill in for him. You look lovely tonight, my dear,” he added to me.
I had to stop myself from curtseying. “Thank you, Sir Nathan. You look pretty spiffy yourself.”
He chuckled at that. “It’s all Ana’s doing. I’d look like a right scruff if it wasn’t for her. And you cleaned up well, lad.”
“Also Ana’s doing,” Tom said, glancing around. “Any hotspots I should know about?”
Sir Nathan peered at the crowed without losing a beat. “Rob Valentine from the network is here—you know him, I believe—and some of the European producers are drifting around as well. I haven’t seen the lovely Claudine yet, but I’m sure we’ll hear the trumpets once she arrives.”
I knew I liked him. “Where’s Ana?” I asked.
“Giving the caterers their final instructions, then she planned on holding court in the Tuscan Room. You should be able to find it,” he said to Tom.
“I may need a GPS, but I’ll find it,” Tom said acerbically. “We’ll let you get back to tinkling the ivories.”
Sir Nathan swung into a jazzy version of “Piano Man” as we wandered off. “Okay, so what’s the plan?” I asked as quietly as I could.
“We circulate, chat with the people I know, and casually strike up conversations with various producers and studio execs,” Tom explained. “I’ll mention that we have a package we’re putting together with Nathan and feed them the elevator pitch. Hopefully that’ll be enough to get me some meetings, and then we build from that.”
I knew what an elevator pitch was—a brief but catchy overview of a plot meant to be delivered in thirty seconds or less: ‘She’s a rich girl engaged to an abusive capitalist, he’s a poor artist looking forward to a future in America. Against all odds they fall in love, but an iceberg crashes into their plans as well as their ship.’ That’s a crappy version of an elevator pitch for Titanic, but you get the idea. “So what’s the pitch for Right Hand?”
He spread his hands. “After World War II, a progressive pope shocks the Vatican by taking a nun as his chief advisor,” he announced.
I considered it. “Eh.”
“What’s wrong with it?”
“Well, it’s factually true but there’s no oomph to it. How about, ‘As Europe rebuilds from the ruins of World War II, a rebellious Pius XII shocks the Vatican by taking on an advisor they can’t control—a nun.”
He considered my phrasing. “But couldn’t they control her? I mean, if they talked to the head of her order.”
“Yeah, but if Pius was giving the orders he kind of outranks the head of her order. Okay, how about, ‘From the ruins of World War II, a controversial pope and a stubborn nun’s relationship will shock the Vatican—and change the world forever.’”
“I like it. Naughty enough to get people’s attention without tipping over into outright salaciousness. We can go into details about the relationship once they’re interested.” He kissed my temple. “I’m so glad you’re here.”
I felt warm all over, which was a good thing because the house AC was cranked to handle the crowd. “So am I.”
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Whee, it’s Wednesday! Never fear, for today I’m here with J.R. Gray and his smouldering new royal romance King Consort, now available from online sellers. Take it away, J.R.!
Avoiding sleeping with women was my specialty, an art form even. As the future King of England I couldn’t be caught sleeping with men. My whole life played out in front of the paparazzi, and they didn’t miss a thing.
I had a carefully crafted womanizing persona to maintain. My life came with rules, all of which I broke when I couldn’t resist a one night stand with the enemy: A beautiful paparazzo with a heart of gold. He may be the only person who doesn’t want me for my title, and he can never be anything more than my secret.
But secrets have a way of coming out and not only will they scare him away, but they’ll lose me the crown.
He sat back keeping the camera in his lap. “How much liberty are you giving me?”
I mirrored him and looked him over, taking my time with my answer. “Why are you asking.”
Lust crossed through his gaze. “Take off the shirt.”
I obliged him, slowly working my fingers down the buttons. I slid it off and set it aside. He looked me over, hungry. My cock stirred at the look. I’d never felt so desired by another person. He slid forward on the seat and brought the camera back to his face. I stayed as I was until he told me to move.
“Sit on the edge of the table,” he said breathless.
I was glad this was getting to him as much as it was me. It was entirely foreign to give someone such a thing over me. To allow someone to take these photos. It was daring and exhilarating. I’d have to be careful or I’d get addicted to the acting out like some bored teenager.
I sat on the edge to the table closest to the fire and he moved back to take a few shots. I looked up when he hadn’t said anything in a few moments to find him just watching me. The fire illuminated his scar, and I wanted to kiss the length of it, from his brow to his lips. I licked my lip and my chest rose as I inhaled fully, trying to calm myself. He snapped another photo.
“What do you see?” I asked unable to stand wondering a moment longer. I wanted to know how he saw me.
“I see hunger,” he said as he came closer. “The way you look at me.” The camera hung at his side as he stalked closer.
I wanted to reach out for him. To shove him into the chair he’d occupied and climb on top of him, but I refrained because more than wanting him, I wanted to see what he did.
“Take your pants off.”
I raised a brow but didn’t say more.
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About the Author
When not staying up all night writing, J.R. Gray can be found at the gym where it’s half assumed he is a permanent resident to fulfill his self-inflicted masochism. A dominant and a pilot, Gray finds it hard to be in the passenger seat of any car. He frequently interrupts real life, including normal sleep patterns and conversations, to jot down notes or plot bunnies. Commas are the bane of his existence even though it’s been fully acknowledged they are necessary, they continue to baffle and bewilder. If Gray wasn’t writing…well, that’s not possible. The buildup of untold stories would haunt Gray into an early grave, insanity or both. The idea of haunting has always appealed to him. J.R. Gray is genderqueer and prefers he/him pronouns.
Today’s Sunday Shoutout goes to Lynn Turner, whose spectacular new ballet romance story Pas de Deux is now available from Amazon and other online retailers of romantic fiction. Take it away, Lynn!
They were never meant to be perfect…their pieces wouldn’t fit together that way.
It’s said the artist is born of a damaged soul…
Wilhelmina Allende is a prima ballerina. When tragedy turns her beloved Paris into a gilded cage, she jumps at the chance to work with one of the most prolific choreographers she’s ever seen. But Zack’s style is way out of her comfort zone. So is his teaching method. And his humor. And his everything. He’s a charming little connard. It’s hard not to like him. Merde. What has she gotten herself into?
Zachary Coen’s first musical is opening on Broadway. Much like his life, it’s anything but conventional, so hiring Mina is simply out of the question. She’s too…classical. Too perfect. She’s all wrong for the role. Then he meets her in person and sees her cracks. Her broken pieces. How unique and beautiful each one is. And he can’t help but notice how her edges seem to fit his…perfectly.
Just when teaming up seems to be working, the monsters they’ve kept hidden threaten to rip it all apart.
The warehouse in Brooklyn housed three massive dance floors crammed with hundreds of sweating bodies. The bouncers took one look at them and let them skip the line. Walking through the doors, Mina was hit with thick, sultry heat. It was dark. Very dark, but for flashes of strobe lights alighting on wall-to-wall bodies. They moved like they were in a trance, the bass thumping so hard, it shook the building and seemed to beat from within their ribs. Clutching at Zack’s arm, another nocturnal animal bumped into her, his eyes practically rolling to the back of his head in pure ecstasy.
She tugged Zack’s arm until his ear bent to her lips. “Are these people on drugs?”
His body shook with laughter. “Better than drugs, petite. This atmosphere is like a high. You forget about how you look or what you’re doing. The music goes right through you and you just move.”
She wasn’t sure how they were able to move—the floor was sticky. Watching a trio of dancers doing something that looked illegal, she tried not to think about the biological hazards stuck to the bottom of her Italian leather shoes.
She squinted against the purple and blue light. “This place should come with an epilepsy warning!”
A flash of purple lit his face, highlighting his freshly shaven jawline, the sensual curve of his lips, and she completely lost her train of thought. Her eyes trailed his body slowly, progressing a little more each time a strobe lit him up again. He looked sexy and dangerous in this light, like a demigod in all black.
“It’s great, isn’t it?” sexy demigod’s lips asked.
Her mouth suddenly went dry. “Not the word I’d use. I think I need a drink.”
“Uh-uh, no alcohol. This is homework. No cheating.”
“But I’m French!”
“Nothing I can do about that.” He shrugged his shoulder against her retaliatory slap and led them through the sea of bodies.
Stopping somewhere in the middle, where writhing bodies pressed against them on all sides, he brought his hands to her hips and pulled her to him. Instinctively, her arms went around his shoulders, holding onto him, she convinced herself, for fear of slipping into the human sea. Besides, it was the only way she could hear.
“No mirrors, petite.” He gave her an encouraging squeeze. “No one’s looking at you but me.”
Then he looked at her.
Bon Dieu, did he look at her.
He studied her body like a map of the cosmos was hidden beneath her skin.
There was nothing lustful in his eyes, only wonder—a desire to be completely attuned with her and the way she moved. It was sensual by nature, in the way it made her feel stripped down to her being—her very existence—and only he could see. It made her feel sexy and fearless…and safe.
Staring into the shadows of his face, she lifted her arms above her head to do as they would. The bassline came at her from every direction, throbbing through her veins, exiting from the points of her fingers and toes. The darkness made her bold, and a new energy rose inside her. The atmosphere became heady, making her more drunk on it with every breath, until she moved her entire body like a boneless addict chasing the next beat.
For a full phrase, he continued to watch her, and there was something in his expression, in the intensity of his eyes, that made her lightheaded: she was the Mina he’d been waiting for, the one he’d seen in Paris beneath the façade of the makeup, the fancy dress and the grand chandeliers of the Palais Garnier…the one who had cried on his shoulder and come apart in his arms. Comfortable in her own skin.
Winding her body, she slinked her arms like reeds in a slow breeze, meeting his eyes with every flash of light. He rubbed his cheek along hers, following her movement with his hands, feeling every muscle beneath thin fabric and sensitized skin. He stroked her stomach with his palm, and she sucked it in hard.
“Sorry, petite…” He kissed her cheek, then seemed to indulge himself a moment, running his hands along her hips until they settled on her waist. “That’s not what this is, what we came here for.”
She melted at the sincerity in his voice, in the warmth of his touch. “What did we come here for?”
His grin spread against her cheek. “Trust falls.”
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About the Author
Lynn Turner is dedicated to writing inclusive stories that explore what it means to be imperfectly human. She is convinced she would have made a great Gilmore Girl, that writing about herself in third-person is weird, and that Colin Firth is the best Mr. Darcy (don’t fight her on this). When she isn’t writing and adulting, she’s tackling her monstrous TBR list, TV-binging, traveling, or watching old Samantha Brown travelogue videos and wishing she had her job. She and her husband share their home in California with their two extraordinary children and their sometimes cat, Bowie.
Hello, lovelies! This week To My Muse was released, and I want to feature a rather nice scene between Tom and Lily.
Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!
If I’d had to spend the time before the party alone with Tom, we were not staying out of that amazing bed, and once that happened I’m not sure I’d have the strength of character to get dressed and go to the party. I wouldn’t put it past our hostess to realize that and take steps.
I followed Ana’s assistant to the other side of the house, where she showed me down a hallway to a luxurious bedroom suite done in shades of teal and cream that was easily large enough to host one of my grandparents’ parties. Nathan was nowhere in sight, but what sounded like a Bach cantata drifted out of a side room. “She’s waiting for you,” Sue said, waving at the doorway.
I poked my head in, and immediately fell in love with one of the most gorgeous old school dressing rooms I’d ever seen. The dominant tone was a warm, feminine peach that went beautifully with the immaculate white woodwork along all the walls. More white woodwork surrounded glass-fronted shelves over wide drawers and an amazing number of closet compartments. An elegant black ironwork chandelier with frosted glass lampshades rimmed in terra cotta hung from an oval cutout in the ceiling, and a huge custom vanity table had been built into another wall with more shelves on either side of a ginormous mirror in an antique square silver frame.
Ana sat at the table wearing a silk robe with her hair skimmed back behind a head wrap, calmly dabbing some cream onto her face. I wasn’t used to seeing her without makeup on; I knew she was somewhere in her late sixties, but she had that Helen Mirren gift of good skin that had held up extremely well over the years. There were wrinkles here and there, yes, but they looked tasteful and appropriate, as if a completely smooth face would have been unbearably gauche.
She smiled at me in the mirror. “Hello, Lily. Did you have a pleasant time today?”
“Yes, and thank you so much for sending us to Huffington’s,” I said. “Wait until you see the dress Tom bought.”
“Deep sapphire blue.”
Her eyes lit up. “Oh, that will look marvelous on you. And that works out well for me, too. Sue, bring the Bulgari Festa set, please.”
The PA disappeared through yet another doorway, returning with a black velvet case. She opened it and I gasped. Inside was a spectacular pendant necklace made up of what I had to assume was white gold, with sprays of diamonds and sapphires around a perfect cushion-cut sapphire that was big enough to choke a horse. The chain was constructed of white gold teardrop loops crusted with more diamonds and sapphires, each loop interspersed with a solitaire diamond.
“Oh, Ana, that is completely gorgeous,” I said, every sparkly-loving atom of my being lusting after that magnificent necklace. “Are you wearing this tonight?”
“No, my dear. You are.”
She smiled. “If you’re wearing the sapphire blue Christian Siriano that Taffy mentioned to me, then this will go perfectly with it.” She turned to Sue. “I believe the Le Magnifiche Creazioni earrings will go well with this.”
Sue beamed at me. “They’re in the bottom of the case, madam.”
“Excellent. I do appreciate your foresight, my dear.”
Aaaaand motor functions came back on line. “I can’t wear this!” I squeaked. “This is Bulgari!” I knew Bulgari jewelry, had mooned over it in Vogue and other fashion magazines, but never thought I’d be allowed within touching distance. To wear it? Holy Kali and all her hands, this one necklace had to be worth more than everything I’d ever owned put together. “What if I spill something on it? What if I drop it?”
“Well, if you spill something on it, you can always wash it off,” Ana said practically. “It’s the nice thing about metal and gemstones—they’re very hard to stain. And the latch will make sure it stays in place.”
The practical side of me recoiled from the very idea of touching that gorgeous pendant, much less hanging it around my neck. The princess side of me wanted to squeal and go show it off to Tom. “Ana, I can’t—”
“Yes, you can. In fact, I’ll be very disappointed if you don’t wear it tonight.” She gave me a faux-stern look. “And you don’t want to disappoint your hostess, do you?”
I swallowed hard. It would be rude to turn down such a generous gesture, that was true. And it wasn’t as if I’d be wearing it outside where something bad could happen. They’d have security at this party, right?
“No, I don’t,” I said in a small voice. “Thank you.”
“There, that’s settled.” She tapped her lips. “I thought you might want to get ready here, since there’s plenty of room. Sue will show you to the shower and you can freshen up, then we’ll have Celeste get to work on your hair while Matthiu does my makeup, then we’ll trade. It’ll leave Thomas with your bathroom to himself. That way, you won’t need to dance around him to get at the mirror.”
The thought of Tom getting ready in the bathroom, fresh out of the shower with a towel wrapped around that muscular waist, made my eyes cross a little and a whole lot of regret gush through me. Before I could say anything, a gorgeous black woman in a sleek black pinstriped smock and a man with a purple-tinted beard came in. Ana gave them air kisses and introduced me while Sue bustled around pulling more items out of the closets.
Celeste clicked her tongue as she studied my hair. “Oh, you’re going to be a handful, gorgeous,” she said in a cheerful East End accent. “What products do you use?”
I rattled them off with an apology for presenting her with my nightmare cloud of hair. She waved it off. “Don’t fret, pet. I’m an expert with curls. We’ll tame them into something spectacular, wait and see.”
Meanwhile, Matthiu stroked his beard as he stared at my skin. “Absolute silk,” he declared. “What are you wearing tonight?”
“Um, a dress?”
“I meant color, angel.”
“Cobalt blue,” Ana advised. “With a fairly deep V neckline, so make sure the makeup carries over onto her chest.”
That earned her an eye roll for the ages before he turned back to me. “Right, you. Off to the shower, and I want your face clean and bare. Don’t moisturize—I’ll take care of that.”
“Uh, okay.” This was starting to remind me of family weddings where various aunties would pull me into a bedroom and get me dolled up in proper Hindi maiden finery since that was out of Mom’s wheelhouse. At least tonight I didn’t have to worry about someone hovering with a giant needle and wondering if they had time to pierce my nose.
After a long shower and a relaxing orgasm assisted by a fantasy of a naked and very enthusiastic Lily, I touched up my shave and cleaned my teeth. Once that was done, there was nothing else to do but wander into the empty bedroom, a towel wrapped around my waist in case my spunky screenwriter came back early. Although I doubted that was going to happen. Ana had clearly taken her in hand and was going to work some supermodel magic tonight.
Which, if I was being honest with myself, bothered me a little. I’m sure the results would be spectacular, but I rather liked Lily in her capris and Vans, hair loose and curling around her face. If Ana did the job that I knew she could do, Lily would wind up suitably coiffed and dressed for the cover of Vogue. Worse, she could well wind up the belle of the ball tonight. Assuming that Nathan invited his usual mix of industry movers and shakers, vencap types, and a few out and out billionaires, it meant that there would be any number of rich, handsome men at the party tonight who would take one look at her and offer to sweep her off to a Vail ski lodge or Lake Como palazzo without a second thought.
Whereas I couldn’t even pay her for a script treatment. The more I thought about it, the more I regretted haggling on her points with Theresa. I must have come off as a skinflint bastard.
Well, that settled it. Even if it had to come out of my share, I was bumping up her percentage to a full two points. I’d let her know as soon as she got back. Hopefully that would be enough to stop her head from being turned by some A-lister with a private jet.
Grateful that I’d remembered to pack dress socks, I got dressed from the skin out in my new duds. Once the fancy silk tie was in place, I settled back down with La Popessa, running through the now-familiar text and mentally casting various roles. I had just hit on Liam as a good fit for one of the monsignors when the door opened and I looked up. “Finally. I thought I’d have to send the fire brigade—”
The joke died on my lips as I stared at the vision that floated into the room. Oh, Ana, you wicked, talented woman, you. I wasn’t going to have to fight off studio execs and venture capitalists. I was going to have to fight off every straight man in the place, and probably a few lesbians for good measure.
I already knew that the ridiculously expensive but gorgeous frock skimmed Lily’s curves like a McLaren performance vehicle on an Alpine road. But Ana hadn’t stopped there. A professional had taken brushes and makeup to Lily’s face and made her skin glow and her eyes sparkle. Her dark curls were now twisted and tamed in an elegant updo that let delicate little ringlets frame her face, and whatever scent she was wearing should have been marketed as “Devastating” and only sold to licensed dealers.
If that wasn’t enough to throw me for a loop, the sapphire that hung over her deliciously plump décolletage could have choked a Christmas goose. “My God,” I murmured. “You’re beautiful.”
She bit her lips gently as her blush deepened. “I feel like Cinderella.”
“Good. You should.” I stood, tugging my jacket straight and trying to will my libido down. Thank God for tight boxer-briefs is all I can say. “I take it the jewelry is Ana’s?”
Lily touched it gingerly. “She insisted I wear it. I’m freaking out just thinking about it.”
“Don’t. She was right.” I went to her, pulling her into my arms. “It makes you even more stunning.”
Close up, her eyes were captivating pools of rich brown with the tiniest flecks of gold around the iris. How had I gone for so long without looking into them? “Are you ready?” I asked.
Her arms went around my neck, holding on for dear life. “Do I have a choice?”
“I’m afraid not.”
She took a deep breath. “Then I’m ready. Let’s do this.”
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Hello, folks! This week I’m teasing you with another snippet from To My Muse. I’ve backed things up a bit to Tom’s first scene, where we get to see his viewpoint upon finding a gorgeous romance writer in his hotel room about to throw down with his costar. There’s no real sexytimes in this teaser, but you do see the beginning of Tom’s attraction to Lily.
Oh, and to explain the pics, that’s hilarious actress/Youtuber Liza Koshy and Lucifer‘s Tom Ellis, who are playing Lily and Tom in my head. You’re welcome!
Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!
“Sorry.” I tried to stay still while the GearShifter makeup goddess dabbed some dark powder along my cheekbone, referring to pictures that the continuity girl had taken earlier that day to match up the distribution pattern. We’d already shot a full day and I’d been looking forward to a relaxing evening of memorization over room service followed up with a glass of wine and five fitful hours of sleep as I wondered how the hell I was going to pull At the Right Hand together.
Instead, God (or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, take your pick) had smiled down upon me and sent me Lily Nayar, screenwriter of my dreams. And then I had to leave her at the hotel and come back to this thrice-buggered set just as we were ready to discuss what I needed for the script, hence my jittering. She wouldn’t change her mind, would she? I mean, she’s getting gross points, for God’s sake.
I’m not sure what had shocked me more when I’d walked into my hotel room earlier that afternoon—seeing Claudine standing there in nothing but a towel and a scowl, or seeing this tiny, gorgeous woman glaring up at Claud as if she was going to shred her like a honey badger. It took me a beat before I recognized the shorter woman as the romance writer who had tweeted at me last week to tell me that I’d inspired her latest novel. I have an actor’s ego, just about able to fit through your average supernova, so of course I was chuffed that my performance on GearShifter had prompted someone to write a swoony kissing book. I’d asked her to send a copy to my agent’s office, figuring that I’d stick it in a bookcase and look at it fondly when I wanted to be reminded of the days when I was lusted after by American women.
What I hadn’t expected was it to be messengered to my house along with the contracts for the luxury car commercials I was going to be doing voiceovers for (a British accent makes everything sound more luxe to the Americans, bless their colonial hearts). Normally non-business items sit in my agent’s mail room until the pile reaches a certain size limit and then they get shipped to me en masse, but Eric’s minions had apparently decided to be industrious for once. I’d been leaving for the airport when the messenger showed up so I stuck the large envelope in my carryon, figuring I’d read the contracts on the flight to Las Vegas. When I reached in to get them, however, I pulled out Lily’s book instead.
Right off the bat the cover surprised me. It had a Dutch Master feel to the colors and composition, and not a himbo in sight. Instead, a rather intent couple posed back to back in front of a menacing medieval structure. I flipped to the first page, figuring I’d scan it to see what I’d wrought in the mind of a fantasy romance writer.
When we landed in Vegas forty minutes later, I was deep in the middle of Chapter Three. To my surprise Ms. Nayar had woven together a terrific combination of politics, sex, and comic revenge. It was as if someone had taken Game of Thrones, gotten rid of the gore and rapey bits, bumped up the sexytimes and made them consensual, and added a laugh track. I even rather liked “my” character, a rather cold but fundamentally decent baron named Montmorency who had to work with a noblewoman to stop her sister from being married off to an oaf. I was disappointed when I had to put the book away and deplane.
I picked it up again that night after memorizing my lines for the next day and kept reading far later than I should have. I did take a break at one point and went to Lily’s author website to see what else she had on offer. Apparently Feast of Lovers was fifth in a series so I had more reading material to look forward to. Curious, I clicked on her About page. “Lilian DeVries” turned out to be a gorgeous woman with sparkling brown eyes and a mass of lovely dark curls that, if they were anything like my sisters’, probably drove her spare every morning. She looked like she’d been giggling mid-pic, and I wondered what her laugh sounded like.
So you can imagine my surprise when I walked into my hotel room and saw her facing off with a terrycloth-clad Claudine. Actually, Claud’s presence tipped it out of the “surprise” box and into the “what the actual FUCK” box. You see, my costar had made it very clear early last season that I was expected to grace her bed at some point. I, in return, had made it very clear that I wasn’t interested. Or at least I thought I had. Claud was absolutely gorgeous, yes. She was also catty, manipulative, and more than a bit egotistic, and I didn’t feel like putting up with her “all shall love me and despair” attitude just for a shag.
Apparently she’d taken that as a challenge, hence her appearance in my room wearing nothing but a towel. I suspect things would have gotten TMZ-level difficult if Lily hadn’t picked up on my silent pleading and pretended to be my girlfriend. When she delivered her quintessentially American ultimatum, I was torn between sympathetically cringing and wanting to cheer.
Chasing off Claud was enough to make me worship the fierce Ms. Nayar in and of itself. But mirable dictu, she turned out to be a screenwriter as well as a novelist, and she was familiar with Piux XII and Mother Pascalina, and she was willing to write a spec script for me. I can only assume that the room key botch-up was divinely inspired because there was no other explanation for how she wound up in my hotel room at just the right time. Now that I had the script lined up, I could work on wheedling Nathan to commit to the film, at which point the rest of the production would hopefully fall into place.
While the business part of my brain plotted and planned, the part concerned with everything below the belt was reminding me that 1) Lily was even lovelier in person, 2) smelled amazing, and 3) she thought I was at least moderately attractive, if her book was anything to judge by, so 4) I could very possibly be in there. The business part overheard that and icily told the fun part that I needed her for her writing talent, not for her curvy little body and expressive face. I caved to the business side; my unruly penis would just have to stay safely in my trousers until we started production, bugger it all.
But now instead of discussing the plot of my movie with my talented (and gorgeous) screenwriter, I was back at the GearShifter set in my increasingly ripe costume while fake dirt was being applied to my face. So much for the glamour of acting.
“Did you ever find out why we got called back?” the man in the chair next to me asked. Liam Hennessy was an American character actor known for his work in police procedurals and paranormal shows. On our show he played a morally ambiguous fixer with a penchant for sadism, which was hilarious because in real life he was a perfect gentleman with a penchant for landscape photography. If he was grumbling a bit about being called back to set, I felt justified about being pissed off.
I shrugged and Jolene made an annoyed noise at my movement. “Sorry,” I apologized to her, before adding to Liam, “Something about the camera placement being off for the CGI.”
Liam glanced at the neon green sleeve that covered his right arm and hand and sighed. In post it would be replaced by the grungy biomechanical limb that his character used to terrorize my costars. “Why do I have a feeling that’s gonna involve me?”
I grimaced in sympathy. I didn’t understand all of the fancy special effects tech, but I did know that anyone who wore green neoprene or movement capture suits wound up doing more work than the rest of us. “Maybe it won’t take that long,” I offered. “Are you working the weekend?”
“Nope. As soon as they clear me tomorrow I’m heading back to LA.” He smiled. “Got a camping date with my kid. If they need anything else, they can wait until next week.”
“Good on you, mate.” One of my more treasured daydreams was to find someone who could put up with my mad career, settle down, and have a couple of squalling brats that we’d love to distraction. I couldn’t see that happening in LA, though, and I hadn’t met anyone in London that I’d fancied enough. “Have a s’more for me.”
Jolene declared Liam done and shooed him out of the makeup trailer. “You staying clear of the Queen of Whore Island?” she asked once we were alone.
“Oh, Christ, Jo. You won’t believe what she did.” Makeup people were a combination of artist, technician, miracle worker, and psychologist and always had their fingers on the pulse of a set, so I poured out what had happened in my hotel room. “You should have seen her face when Lily threatened to cunt punt her into Arizona.”
Jolene giggled in conspiratorial delight. “That one sounds like a keeper, babe. You better treat her right.”
Part of me wanted to do just that, ideally in my bed over a long weekend, or even longer if I could manage it. Down, lad. Movie first, seduction later.
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