An author friend of mine just released the sixth book in her sports romance series, but of course, Amazon had to go and be a dick and mess with her release. So, I’m spreading the word to let you all know about Tina Gallagher’s new release.
Grab it HERE
Will their shot at happily ever after be a homerun, or a foul ball? There’s only one way to find out…
I was living the good life.
Between my pro baseball career, full dating life, and supportive (if somewhat intrusive) family, I had everything I’d ever wanted. Love was not in my master plan.
Then I saw her.
I never believed in love at first sight, but Anjannette Peach made me reconsider. I know she’s The One.
Now I just have to convince her of that. Should be easy for a guy like me, right?
The last thing I need is a new man in my life.
My pole dance fitness studio keeps me way too busy to worry about romance, anyway. Hell, I don’t even miss sex anymore.
At least I didn’t. Until he showed up.
Leo Marakis is dangerously tempting. I’d love nothing more than to spend hours tangled in sweaty sheets with the sexy ballplayer.
So, what’s holding me back? That’d be my poor, scarred heart.
Not that it really matters. I mean, there’s no way he’s as sincere as he seems…right?
I stepped into the hallway and walked toward the stairs. I was rounding the landing when the unmistakable thump of Fat Bottomed Girls pounded out of the open door on the first floor. I jogged down the rest of the way and walked over to peek inside.
I never believed in falling in love at first sight, but good Lord, I fell into something the moment I spotted her. With her long limbs, porcelain skin, and platform boots, she looked like some kind of goddess as she climbed the pole. When she reached the top, she released her left hand and extended her arm out to the side and held on by her right hand and her ankles as she spun around and around. With her body away from the pole, she gripped it with her right hand near her thigh then wrapped her right leg around the pole and continued to spin with her right arm extended.
My sister Angie used to have a musical jewelry box with a ballerina inside that would spin around when the top was opened. That’s exactly what the woman on the pole looked like.
I watched in awe as she straightened her legs and rolled around the pole then tipped back and hooked her left leg, seeming to hang on by the back of her knee. She arched and grabbed the heel of her right boot as she kept spinning around and around. I was getting dizzy just watching.
She let go of her boot and kicked her left leg back toward her head. And I don’t know how it happened, but next thing I knew, she was hanging upside down in a full split.
Hooking her left leg around the pole again, she wrapped one arm behind her and grabbed on. Twisting her body, she straightened her legs until she hung upside down with her back against the pole. She looked like a sexy bat.
Freddie Mercury continued to sing about how fat-bottomed girls make the world go round and I have to agree. Not that the enchantress in front of me has a fat anything, but her bottom is perfectly rounded, especially in comparison to her slim figure and tiny frame.
Releasing her hands, she let her arms hang toward the ground while just her knees held her to the pole. She slid down slowly until her fingertips brushed the floor as she continued to spin. Around and around she went until she finally placed her hands flat on the floor slowing the momentum. Once the spinning stopped, she let her legs fall back until her feet landed against the hardwood floor with a bang.
She stood, whipping her hair over her shoulders and gripped the pole again. Before executing another mind-boggling trick, her eyes widened when she spotted me.
Her sky-high heels added a sexy sway to her hips as she walked in my direction. My mind raced as I tried to think of something to say that would accurately convey how much her performance blew me away. But I didn’t have to worry about it because she didn’t give me a chance to speak.
“Show’s over,” she said, and slammed the door in my face.
Last night I went to do the stairs at Blueback Beach here in Nanaimo like I always do. Sometimes I do them in the morning, sometimes the evening, it really depends on how much work I have to do that day, and of course, the weather. Because if there is one thing a west coast baby like me knows, if you don’t like the weather, wait fifteen minutes. And today is no different. Ten minutes ago it was a torrential downpour and now the sun is peeking out behind light gray clouds and the powerlines look like they’ve been Bedazzled with diamonds.
But last night, when I went to do the stairs (FYI, it’s a set of 295 stairs down to the beach at a 40degree incline and I do them multiple times with and without weights and with and without resistance bands. I love this new workout and my husband has even commented on how nice my butt looks. I think it might be the Tik Tok leggings I bought, but he doesn’t agree.) Anyway, back to my point, last night while I was climbing the stairs, it started to rain, while the sun was still shining.
W A S
M A G I C A L.
You have to walk down the stairs through the trees, so when I was under the canopy I barely got hit with drops, but as soon as I broke free from the cover, or landed on the beach I was drenched. The wind off the water was balmy and refreshing and the rain hitting my heated skin was instantly cooling. I caught myself smiling and laughing so many times as I listened to my dirty hip hop music and ’90s boybands. Yeah, that’s what get’s my ass moving. Pitbull and The Backstreet Boys. But as I climbed and panted, wiping the sweat and rain from my brow, I was transported back to 2012 when my husband and I went on our six-month, twelve-country honeymoon backpack trip.
We’d just been robbed in Miraflores, Peru, then he caught a horrible gastrointestinal bug in Cusco (two days before we planned to go to Machu Picchu), but because I married a thrifty bugger, he refused to spend the money on the bus ride up to Machu Picchu and insisted we hike up the 1500 stairs. Well, as you can image, being the Andes and the jungle, it started to rain while we hiked. But neither of us grimaced. Rather, we embraced it. It was magical. Warm and tropical. Is there really anything more relaxing, more brilliant than the sound of rain hitting leaves? Of Mother Nature feeding herself?
I took our experience traveling in Peru and the major roller coaster of events and emotions we experienced and cathartically turned it into a romance novel. Now, obviously, some events have been changed, names have been changed and we certainly weren’t pursued by drug traffickers, but so many of the emotions are spot on. We also met wonderful people who helped us along the way named Matt and Elissa (they’re in the book!)
But, even after being robbed, the hubby getting sick and me nearly getting arrested because I let my temper flare a little too brightly when I went back to speak with the receptionist at the hostel where we were robbed, our bond, our love, and our obsession with each other never waivered. In our entire six-months, we only fought once. And it wasn’t even so much of a fight as it was him getting frustrated and telling me to stop sulking about being robbed and ruining the good parts of our trip, and instead just be grateful we weren’t robbed at gunpoint or killed. He was right, and I stopped my pity party (eventually).
Now, the scene excerpt below DID NOT happen in real life. He was recovering from his gastro infection and we know better than to drift off the path (we live in a place with a lot of ticks), but the emotions are all real. The love is all real.
The hero in Lust Abroad is named Derrick — my husband’s name is Eric. But my husband wasn’t recovering from brain surgery, and he’s not a photo journalist, he’s a research biologist in aquaculture. The best way to describe what he does is Ancestry. com for fish, or Maury for fish (you are the father … you are NOT the father, get it?)
Please enjoy this super steamy, sex in the rain up against a tree in the Peruvian Andes excerpt of LUST ABROAD. Inspired by true events, true emotions and true love.
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Derrick’s eyes caught mine as I blinked the water off my lashes, licking my lips while brushing my hair from my face. His shirt clung to him, defining each pec and ab, while the skin on his arms and neck glistened like polished bronze.
“Okay?” he asked. “I’m not going anywhere. I’m not going to die.”
My lip trembled, while tears stung the back of my eyes. I couldn’t lose him. He reached for me, pulling me hard against his chest. Absorbing my fear. His hands drove into my hair, holding my face inches from him. “I’m not going anywhere, okay? You believe me?”
I nodded again, a sudden shiver racing down my spine.
His eyes shifted across my face, studying me as the rain continued to hammer down and around us. And then his mouth smashed against mine, obliterating any thought besides yes from my mind. Devouring me, savoring me, possessing me. He wasn’t going anywhere, because I wouldn’t let him.
I returned the kiss in kind and grappled at him, leaping up onto his hips as he ploughed us off the path and through the woods a few yards. He tossed my pack to the ground and then my back was slammed up against a tree, his hands roaming my body and caressing my breasts, pushing into me, showing me with his body how he felt.
I was hot for him. This needed to happen. I needed him now like I needed to breathe. I started to work his belt, and then the zipper on his shorts. His bags fell to the ground as he let his hands slide up my tank top, like he was desperate to have skin to skin. Everything was wet and slippery, and the way his hands skimmed across my body and up under my bra made me quiver with longing.
His teeth grazed my jaw. “Yes,” I panted, letting my head fall back against the tree, my eyes and mouth opening up and welcoming the falling sky.
My shorts were next, and within seconds they were off and dangled by an ankle, his cock poised at my entrance and ready to thrust. Moving my thong to the side, he drew his hand up between my folds, making sure I was good and wet for him, ready. And I was, I was so ready.
“Please…” I begged. Knowing he loved it when I begged, but also truly feeling the need to plead with him for my life. “Please.”
Pure masculine triumph smiled back at me, and then he bit my lip, lifted my hips and drove home.
I grunted from the impact. “Oh, God.” My back slammed into the tree, rough bark damp against my skin. “More… harder.”
He bared his teeth and started to pick up speed, slamming into me. Dominating me, taking me, captivating me. My whole body was trembling from the savagery of his passion, the brutality of his need. I wanted bruises, I wanted bite marks, and I wanted them to be from Derrick. I raked my teeth down his neck, followed by my tongue. Feeling the pulsing vein that ran beneath his salty skin.
I felt alive. On fire and so damned good. Every draw of his cock left me greedy for more, while my whole body sighed and submitted each time he filled me, welcoming him home, pulling him in. Derrick brought his hand between us again and started rubbing rough and erratic circles around my clit. His digits slipped easily through my slick folds, feeling them swell as my need for release grew. I felt the warmth of the orgasm begin to bloom deep in my belly, threatening to unleash and overthrow my entire being.
“Derrick,” I mewled, not sure I’d be able to hold on much longer, and not sure if I wanted to. It was all becoming too much to handle. I needed to let go.
“Piper…” he said. “Come for me.” And then once again, maybe because he loved it, or perhaps because he knew I did, either way the vampire re-emerged, and he clamped down on my shoulder, snarling as he came.
I broke with a sharp cry as the climax blossomed and unfurled inside of me, spearing through me and rocking my very soul. I panted and sighed as the sensation washed over me, feeling him pulse as I contracted around him, milking him, claiming him, taking everything he had to give me.
A slippery wet forehead fell to mine while his body started to shake. I opened my eyes, rain blurring my vision. He was laughing.
I wasn’t even sure what was funny, but I started to laugh, too. “What’s so funny?” Our bodies were still connected.
He continued to chuckle, rubbing his nose against mine while our lips softly slid across one another. “Just how maniacal you make me. Since first seeing you in the airport, a flurry of gypsy skirts and mermaid hair, I’ve been consumed with this need to take you, hard and often. And hell, if I’m not trying my damnedest to do that.” He shook his head. “You’re driving me crazy.”
I blinked up at him. I’d felt the same way. I’d wanted him the moment I saw him, too. Thought about his body covering mine. His tongue between my legs, his hands on my breasts. And since that first day in Miraflores, I hadn’t been able to get enough. The man was a drug.
I flicked my tongue out and grazed it against his bottom lip. “Crazy’s just fine when the sex is as hot as this.”
He growled low and feral in his throat. “You’re going to ruin me, Piper.”
“Ruin you, or reinvent you?” I snagged his lip between my teeth and pulled.
Another growl rumbled, this time deep in his chest, and I felt him begin to grow again inside of me. The man was absolutely insatiable.
“Oh, little Piper…” He bucked up into me while a wily grin caught on his mouth as he took in my sudden wide eyes from how hard he already was again. “I think the word we’re looking for here is resurrect.” He started to slam into me again. “Because, baby, before I met you… I was damn near dead.”
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Piper Valentine knows all too well that life is short. Off to Peru to heal after a grievous loss, she finds more than solace in the hot, charismatic travel journalist sitting across from her on the airplane. Derrick King’s had a brush with death, too, but he has no idea that he’ll face it again—and again—after giving in to his instant attraction to Piper. Their journey to the top of the world, filled with parties, humor, and fun, is turned topsy-turvy as they’re pursued by mysterious gunmen.
Determined to reach Machu Picchu and fulfill her promise to her dead husband, Piper finds that having Derrick along makes her feel safer, even as his lust for her endangers her heart. She’s never found another man so sensual, and with danger on their trail, they keep ending up in each other’s arms. Derrick’s a man with needs—and secrets. Will Piper find strength in surrender? And can Derrick find a way to believe in a future—for both of them?
He’s not her teacher anymore, but he can still teach her a few things.Welcome to Seattle, the Emerald City and home to The Single Moms of Seattle. Three sexy single ladies who drink a ton of wine every Saturday night, bitch about life, have each other’s backs, are the ultimate mama bears, and hope to one day, just maybe find love again. This is Celeste’s story …
Fifteen years ago, Celeste was eighteen, in love and on the honor roll.
Then she got pregnant.
Now, a widow and a single mom, she does her best to give her daughter, Sabrina, a good life.
But something is missing in her world.
Back when he taught her math, Celeste didn’t have a crush on Mr. Travis, but that doesn’t mean she’s not hot for teacher now or able to ignore her rampant fantasies.
All Max wanted to do was buy was a pair of jeans.
However, when he bumped into his former student, Celeste, he ended up with so much more.
She’s not a kid anymore and it’s impossible for him to stay away from her. Even when he knows he should.
But an angry student is out to wreak havoc for them all.
One who hates Sabrina, and wants to cause problems for Max and Celeste.
Like love, high school can be a battlefield, only neither of them knew just how dangerous it could be until the scandal explodes like a grenade.
Celeste and Sabrina’s relationship hangs precariously in the balance, and Max isn’t sure if he should stay and fight for the woman he’s falling for, or get out of dodge before everything he’s worked so hard for goes up in smoke.
**Note: This book can be read as a standalone. It includes lots of steamy scenes, cursing, a sexy alpha male, and of course as with all my books, this has an HEA and no cliffhanger or cheating. If you liked my single dad series, then you’ll love this spin-off trilogy.
DON’T FORGET TO CHECK OUT TRACY’S DOG!!
ALL THE SINGLE MOMS OF SEATTLE SWEAR BY IT, AND SO DO I!!
OR GO TO Tracysdog.com and use the promo code WHITLEYCOX to receive 10% off your purchase
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Hey there my Fabulously Filthy Friend!
If you haven’t noticed, I’ve moved my blog over from Blogger to my WordPress website. It’s just easier to have everything in one place. I’m going to be giving you way more content, excerpts, deals and an inside look at the process of how I come up with ideas for each of my books. I’ll post cover reveals here, preorder announcements and more, so stay tuned.
Book 3 of my Harty Boys –my military romantic suspense series– came out May 15th and I am loving all the love that everyone has for Rex and Lydia. He might have no hair, and muscles to spare on the outside, but inside our sexy Rexy is just a big ol’ teddy bear nerd and we love him to bits. Sure, he makes some mistakes along the way and struggles to listen to reason or his gut, but deep down this Hart has a heart of gold and we love him all the more for it. All these buff, military men are easy to love, but also easy to get on your nerves when their protector-mode comes out. But how can you not fall for a man who rescues a Pitbull puppy, has a penchant for puzzles and could snap a man’s neck with just a flick of his pinky finger? I don’t know about you, but I’m getting a little flushed just remembering all the hotness I put into this sexy military romantic suspense
Here’s all of Chapter One for you. Just to give you a tasty, mouth-watering sample of Rex and Lydia and their hilarious, sexy banter that make the sparks quickly morph into a full-on inferno.
Book 3, The Harty Boys
Fuck, sweet and sour pork was goddamn delicious. Particularly when he didn’t have to share his six-person combo meal with anyone.
Rex’s stomach grumbled, demanding to be filled.
Every last bite was for him, and he was more than okay with that.
Was there anything better than the smell of Chinese food wafting up from the back of your vehicle?
He sure as fuck didn’t think so.
Well, maybe the smell of Chinese food wafting up from the back of your vehicle while a woman’s head bobbed in your lap in the front seat.
But he only had one of those things currently, and his angry belly was winning out over his full balls and lonely dick.
Especially after a long fucking day at work—he’d been up since four and on the job by five—followed by an hour at the gym hitting the punching bag. He’d earned every damn carb that he intended to consume tonight and then some.
He’d have to make do with his fist tonight. He was too tired to send out messages to women he knew would be interested in a little no-strings fun.
Maybe tomorrow night.
With enough Chinese food to feed a family of six, and a six-pack of beer from a local microbrew in the back seat of his truck, he was gearing up for a satisfying evening alone.
It was late Wednesday afternoon, but considering he started work before the sun was up, he’d put in a full day and then some. He was going to head up to his apartment, grab his dog, Diesel, and take him for a quick piss outside. After Diesel did his thing, they’d head back inside, he’d feed his dog, strip down, have a shower and nut one out. Then, finally, at long last, he’d sit in his incredibly expensive recliner, put his feet up and eat a fuck-ton of chow mein and sweet and sour pork, drink his beer and watch a riveting documentary on the Discovery Channel while his dog snored and farted at his feet.
There sure as fuck wasn’t.
Unless of course, while he did all of that, a beautiful woman’s head bobbed in his lap.
Again, tonight he’d settle for the chow mein and beer, followed by his fist.
With his belly continuing to grumble like an angry bear woken up mid-hibernation, Rex pulled his big, black Chevy into his parking spot behind his apartment building and turned off the engine.
Thank fuck the weather was starting to get better.
Spring had arrived and with it, longer days, warmer weather and the heady and sweet scent of blossoms on the air.
Always on the alert, even when he wasn’t on the job, he scanned the parking lot as he climbed out of his truck, slammed the door, then opened the back cab to grab his beer and dinner.
He’d been in his apartment for nearly two years, and so far, nothing weird or nefarious stood out to him. It was a decent neighborhood, not too far from the University of Victoria, and the building was only about five years old. The majority of his neighbors were students, but nobody was rude, loud or obnoxious. And the odd party he heard didn’t affect his sleep at all.
He’d been to hell and back during his time with Joint Task Force 2 and the special operative team he and his brothers joined after their stint in the Canadian Navy. He could sleep on a concrete floor next to a mosquito-infested swamp while ten other men farted and snored around him.
If he was tired, he could sleep.
He tossed his coat over his arm, grabbed his gym duffle bag, and heaved the Chinese food and beer out of the back seat of his truck, his keys in his teeth as he struggled and juggled all his shit before finally getting to the lobby door. He’d done this over a hundred times, this exact same scenario. You’d think he’d have figured out a more productive and effective way to carry all his shit.
He was just checking his mail when the sound of sobs and sniffling drifted down the hall, followed by the sweetest smell of wild strawberries and summer sunshine.
He’d always had the nose of a bloodhound.
As a kid, he could usually guess what his mother was making for dinner simply by how she smelled when she picked up him and his brothers from school.
He glanced up from where he was scrutinizing a misaddressed letter only to come face-to-face with a beautiful woman with tear-stained cheeks and red-rimmed eyes.
She was stunning, tall and lithe, with feminine curves, long auburn hair that coiled down just past her shoulders and wide, deep-set hazel eyes. Eyes that were filled with sadness as tears continued to fall. She looked up at him, her nose red, while her cheeks held a rosy glow.
Rex had never met this woman, but he’d seen her around the building—only from a distance, however. She liked to run on the weekends, and he liked to watch her leave. She pulled off Lulu Lemons like no woman he’d ever met.
He instantly felt the need to protect and find out what or who made her cry and make them pay.
He wasn’t sure how he could fix her, but he really wanted to try. Those weren’t just tears from a sad movie or seeing a three-legged dog on the side of the road. Those were tears of pain. Heartbreak. Devastation.
Protect those who are unable to protect themselves.
And although that often meant “protect the weak” he didn’t see this woman as weak; he just saw her as sad. Hurt.
Either way, he wanted to help.
It was just how he and his brothers had been raised.
If someone was in trouble or needed help, you helped them. Simple as that.
And right now this woman looked like she needed help.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
She shook her head, her breath catching as she struggled for words. “N-no.”
“Is … is there something I can do to help? Do you need me to beat up an ex-boyfriend or something?”
She snorted a small laugh and wiped the tears from her cheeks and beneath her eyes. “Unless you’re willing to kick the shit out of a twenty-six-year-old, hundred-and-thirty-pound chick, I don’t think your muscles are needed.”
“Uh …” He scratched the back of his neck. “Ex-girlfriend?”
“No.” She sniffed loudly. “I was fired!” And then before he knew it, she flung herself at him, collapsing against his chest and wailing.
He’d dropped everything in his hands to check his mail, so he was able to comfort her now. His hand gently fell to her back, her small body feeling like a child’s in his giant palms. Then he found himself petting her back and shushing her like he did his nieces and nephews when they fell and hurt themselves. “It’s okay,” he hummed. “It’ll be okay.”
He shifted her under his arm and with his free hand grabbed his dinner, coat, gym bag and lastly—and most importantly—his beer, and he ushered her toward the elevator.
“Which floor are you on?” he asked softly. She didn’t say anything but hit the number three. They rode in silence, and then when the door opened, he figured she’d take off, leaving him to his Chinese and microbrew, but he suddenly found himself inside this stranger’s apartment, watching her take off her shoes and then slump onto her couch, clutching tissues to her nose.
“You know I’ve never met a nice girl named Odette?” She sneered. “Not that I’ve met a ton or anything, but the few I’ve come across have been the biggest bitches ever. The one I went to grade school with was a mean girl—even two years younger than me, she was still just a little witch—and this cow was no different. I worked there for one month. Did EVERYTHING right, went in early, stayed late, bought my own supplies, took work home with me. I spent three hours of my own time at home sewing up the holes in the canvas parachute and the big stuffed alligator that sits in the reading corner. I never asked for money for doing it. Never even told them I did it. I just did it. I was an exemplary employee, and she waltzes in as the new manager, is there for less than a week and she fires me because she thinks I’m after her job.”
Rex watched her reach into her purse and pull out a brown paper bag, the neck of a booze bottle sticking out. She took a swig, then made a face, only to take another sip before offering it up to him.
“No, thanks.” He grimaced. “I have beer.”
She shrugged. “More for me.” She tipped the bottle up and took another drink. “Have you ever met a nice Odette?” She caught a rather dainty burp with the back of her hand before offering him a crooked, slightly embarrassed smile.
He snorted. “Can’t say I’ve ever met one. But I did date an Odessa briefly. She dumped me.”
“Why?” Another cute little burp, followed by a hiccup.
“Ah, you know, same old story … she complained that my penis was too big.” He grinned wide, hoping his joke made her smile.
Her sweet little rosebud mouth hung open for the briefest of seconds before she shot him a skeptical look, hiccuped again and then burst out laughing.
Good. His joke did the trick.
He widened his smile. She had a really adorable laugh, and at least for the moment, he’d managed to take her mind off her problems. Little did she know that it was actually a true story. Odessa had dumped him because she said his cock was too big. If he remembered correctly, she’d called him Godzilla dick, said he nearly split her in half and then tossed him out of her apartment in nothing but his boxers and his work boots.
Good thing she hadn’t tried to sleep with his brother Heath. He might be the baby of the family, but he was also the biggest. She’d probably chase him down the hallway—at a cowboy waddle—claiming he was part horse.
He snorted hard at that thought.
He lifted his shoulder. “So … uh, can’t you just get another job? What did you do?”
She mimicked his shrug before taking another sip from her brown paper bag of secrecy. “I was working full-time at this day care and loving it. I got the job midyear because another teacher went on maternity leave. It was perfect. Monday to Friday, eight until five. Then they hired a new program manager. She’s younger than me and doesn’t have near the experience with kids that I do. I’ve been babysitting since I was thirteen, then I nannied and babysat all through college. I got my preschool teacher certification as soon as I finished my teaching degree because I knew that I wanted to teach little kids. I’m also certified to teach Montessori and special-needs kids.
“But preschools aren’t open as long as day cares and the money isn’t as good—unless you’re at a full-day Montessori or a Waldorf or some fancy private preschool. And I applied to those, but they had no available positions—or they said I was overqualified and they couldn’t afford me. So I found this job. It’s the best of both worlds. A preschool in the morning, then day care for the rest of the day. I still get to teach—sorry, I still got to teach, past tense and all since I was canned.” She sighed. “Canned from the perfect job by the biggest bitch on the west coast.”
“Did you try telling them this?”
“Pfft,” she scoffed. “I was still within my three-month probation period. They could fire me for having a hangnail if they wanted to.”
He looked around her apartment, unsure what to say next. Her place wasn’t quite the carbon copy of his, but it was close. Small but open concept. A big bedroom, small but homey living room and kitchen, new stainless appliances and cramped bathroom.
Or maybe everything just felt cramped and small to Rex, but to an average-size person, it was all completely normal. She’d decorated her place in a very feminine way, with soft oranges and light blues. A white overstuffed leather couch faced the television with a slew of throw pillows on it, while paintings of seashells and flowers in black plastic frames hung behind the couch. He saw very few photo frames or pictures of people, except for a small black and white photo of what he could only assume was her as a little girl, maybe six or eight, at the beach with a man and woman who he would guess were her parents.
“So what’s your name?” she slurred, appearing to be bored or perhaps just too upset to want to continue talking about her job or lack thereof. “I’ve seen you around the building a bit. You have the big black truck and the pit bull puppy, right?”
He nodded. “My name is Rex. What’s your name?”
“Lydia.” She yawned. “Rex, eh? Like T. rex.”
He rolled his eyes. “I suppose.”
“Is it short for anything? Like Rexworth, Rexwell or Rexington … Rexthalomew?”
She shrugged again. “Rexly?”
He simply snorted and smiled, ignoring the grumble of his belly. Man, she was drunk. “It’s not short for anything.”
She shrugged again. “Do you have any siblings?”
“And do they all have weird names too?”
“I personally don’t think Rex is weird, but no, they don’t. We all have one-syllable names, though. Brock, Chase, and Heath. And our dad was Zane, and our mother is Joy.”
She made an interested pout. “And what’s your middle name?”
“You looking to steal my identity? Want my social insurance number next?”
She stuck her tongue out at him.
He grinned. “My middle name is Barry.”
That had her nose wrinkling like a cute little bunny. “Why Barry?”
“What’s wrong with Barry?”
She shrugged, and her eyes lost focus for a moment, reminding him of her inebriation. “Nothing. But why? Is it like a family name or something?”
He exhaled through his nose. “My parents—in their infinite wisdom—thought it would be fun to give my brothers and I the middle name corresponding to the artist they were listening to while we were conceived.”
“So you’re Rex Barry after … Manilow?”
“White. You know, ‘Let’s Get It On …’” He made sure to drop his voice to baritone level when he sang that little bit.
She nodded in understanding. “And your brothers?”
“Brock Lionel, Chase Marvin and Heath Leppard.”
“‘Sugar On Me’!” she finished with a wide smile. “That’s hilarious.”
“At least it’s our middle names and not our first names.”
“True enough. What’s your last name?”
She rolled his name around on her little pink tongue like foreplay. “Rex Hart … Rex Barry Hart,” she murmured, cocking her head to the side and giving him a once-over. “I like it.” He continued to watch her, wondering when the bottle of whatever spirit she’d chosen to numb the pain was going to hit her like the freight train it inevitably was and send her rushing to the bathroom to go and vomit.
“What’s your full name?” he asked. “Fair is fair, right?”
“Lydia Andréa Sullivan.” She tipped back her booze bottle, then frowned when she realized it was empty. She set it down on her coffee table, and her eyes darted to his case of beer. “So … sexy Rexy, how are you going to make me forget about my jobless woes?”
He searched her face for a moment.
His belly grumbled again.
He needed to go let Diesel out.
He needed to shower.
He needed to fucking eat.
His bald head was covered by a black knit cap, but he pulled it off and ran his hand over his bare scalp. “I’m not in the habit of taking advantage of drunk women,” he said slowly, choosing his words carefully. “So I can offer you some dinner—got enough Chinese food here to feed a family of six—but as far as sexy Rexy goes, I’m afraid I’m going to have to say no.”
Her face fell. “How old are you?”
Well, that was a random and abrupt subject change. Though, he was grateful for it none-the-less.
“Thirty-six. How old are you?”’
“Twenty-eight.” She pursed her lips. “So you reject me but then you offer me food. What the fuck?” Her anger was building, and without thinking, his gaze flitted to the door. She saw him, and he watched heat and embarrassment creep up her neck and into her cheeks.
Rex took a deep breath. Despite his hunger and how drunk this woman was, he could already tell she was a good person. Anyone who wanted to work with kids usually was. He’d already come up with a few ways that he might be able to help her. “What kind of qualifications do you have?”
“I told you. I have a degree in education and preschool teacher certification and a Montessori teaching certification. I’ve also taken courses to work with children with special needs and kids who are on the autism spectrum. I have my first aid certificate, a clear criminal record and a clean driving record. Why? Do you have kids that need watching?” She took a hard swallow before standing up and heading to her kitchen, where she ran the tap in the sink and filled a small tumbler of water.
“I don’t have kids. But I know a lot of people who do, and they are looking for childcare. It might not be completely full-time, but it will probably be close. Unless this is just you licking your wounds and allowing your ego to heal and you could go out and get another similar job tomorrow. Seems to me you’re crazy-qualified and people would be champing at the bit to hire you.”
Her eyes formed thin slits as she stood in her kitchen, her hip cocked against the counter as she sipped her water. “It’s hard to get hired in March for anything school-related. I lucked out with covering that maternity leave. And I was looking everywhere before I got that job. It’s slim pickings. And I don’t want to teach older kids.” She huffed. “Even if I did, the on-call teacher list is a mile long, and the school districts have put a moratorium on hiring new substitute teachers.”
Well, that was shitty.
His gaze drifted to the fur ball that had wandered into the living room from the bedroom. A calico cat with bright yellow eyes sauntered toward him and rubbed its back up against his leg. His mind immediately flew to Diesel upstairs, and he knew that he had to get to him and take him out for a walk. Poor guy was probably pacing the living room with a full bladder.
He made to stand up, but the intense look in her eyes had him pausing where he sat.
“I can’t figure you out, Rex Barry Hart. You turn me down for sex, then you offer me food, and now you might have a job for me? What’s your deal, dude?” Her words were only slightly slurred for someone who should be struggling to remain vertical if she’d consumed that entire mickey like he figured she had.
Relaxing his shoulders, he stood up, reached for his duffle bag, beer, coat and dinner. “I’m in unit four-eleven if you want to come up and have some dinner. I need to get my dog out first. But I’m more than happy to share my food with you.”
She stumbled back into the living room and squinted at him. She was either on the verge of passing out or puking. And even though he normally found drunk chicks to be nearly as intolerable as two cats mating at midnight, Lydia was a cute drunk. “What’s your angle … Rexly?”
Rexly? Oh lord.
His head shook. “No angle. Just a nice guy. Give me twenty minutes. I need to get Diesel out and then have a shower. I was just at the gym.”
Her eyes struggled to roam his body in a new way—a way of appreciation—but she finally smiled. “Maybe.”
He was not one for head games. If she didn’t come up, then so be it. More food for him. But if she was going to come up for dinner, she needed to get there before he ate it all.
His stomach made another noise of impatience and desperation. If he didn’t get something in it soon, it was going to start consuming him from the inside out.
Oh, good lord.
This was one of the things he hated most about drunk chicks. The self-deprecation and melodrama.
However, Lydia was an unusual case. She wasn’t drunk simply to party. She was nursing a wound. She’d been fired out of the blue from a job she loved. She deserved to wallow for a night with whatever spirit was her vice, and he needed to cut her some slack.
“Lydia, you’re fucking gorgeous, and you know it. Let’s not play that game. But you’re also drunk as fuck, and I don’t fuck drunk chicks.” He paused for a moment. “Unless we’re already together and it’s a consensual thing, but you know what I mean. But I’m turning you down for sex because we just met, you’re drunk off your cute little ass, and you’re sad. The only kind of man who would tap you in that state is not a man worth knowing. If we have sex, I want you sober and knowing what you’re agreeing to. If I fuck you, it’ll be until you’re damn near cross-eyed, and forgive a guy for wanting the chick awake and aware for something like that.” He headed to her door and rested his hand on the knob. “I’m upstairs in four-eleven if you’re hungry for Chinese food and want to know more about the job.”
He went to open the door, but her voice had him pausing again. “I know what I want,” she slurred.
He highly doubted that.
She tossed her feet up onto the couch and slid down into a horizontal position, her eyes closing like a vintage doll when her head hit the orangey-pink checkered throw pillow. His mother would probably call that color coral.
Turning the knob, he opened the door but glanced back into her apartment. “Well, if you still want it tomorrow when you’re sober, you know where to find me.”
But she didn’t reply. A low and very unladylike snore rumbled up from the sad little drunk woman on the couch, while her cat hopped up and snuggled up next to her leg.
Rex took a deep breath, closed the door again and stepped back into Lydia’s apartment. The glass she’d been drinking water from was empty on her counter, so he filled it again. Then he opened up a couple of kitchen cupboards until he found a bottle of Advil. He shook out two tablets and carried them and the water over to her coffee table.
Reaching for the baby-blue knitted blanket off the back of her couch, he draped it over her, making sure not to disturb the cat. “I hardly know you, but I don’t like how sad you are. I’d like to help,” he whispered.
And of course, don’t forget about the BONUS epilogue that you can download for free!
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