tHINGS HEAT UP FAST IN THIS NEIGHBORS TO LOVERS ROMANTIC SUSPENSE/THRILLER. rEX, THE fORMER MILITARY SPECIAL OPERATIVE GETS KNOCKED TO HIS KNEES BY THE SASSY, THIN-FILTERED LYDIA.
ARE YOU READY FOR THIS WILD RIDE OF A ROMANCE?
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.
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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.
Was there a better plan out there?
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.
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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.
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ARE YOU STALKING ME, YET?
And of course, don’t forget about the BONUS epilogue that you can download for free!
Get it HERE!
Checkout Books 1 and 2 Here