Santa Baby by JC Valentine

Santa Baby, A Christmas Short Story

by J.C. Valentine
Publication Date: December 6, 2018
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Short Story, Holiday, Steamy, Romance

AVAILABLE NOW!

Universal link: http://bit.ly/2BTCQEh

SYNOPSIS:

Sunny’s outlook on the holidays isn’t so merry, but when she gets roped into playing Mrs. Claus for the local hospital, she discovers Christmas miracles aren’t just reserved for the children.
Note: This is a standalone short story with plenty of heat to chase away that winter chill, an HEA, and NO cliffhangers!

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EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT!

Chapter One

How did I get talked into this? Looking back, I know exactly where things went sideways. I should have skipped that last mimosa.

It started with Roberta’s retirement party. She wasn’t exactly the likable sort—kind of stodgy, rigid. But she was also like everyone’s grandmother, which is why everyone tolerated her. That and she made an amazing pineapple upside-down cake that made everyone look forward to the monthly potluck.

I would miss those cakes, but Roberta was eloping with some Polynesian guy she’d met in one of those outdoor yoga sessions, and apparently, it was love at first downward dog.

So yeah…

Seventy-year-old Roberta found love, and here I am, thirty-four, single as a Pringle, and not a prospect in sight. Hence the drinking. And also why I’m standing here in front of the storage closet while Travis rummages through dusty old boxes to find the Santa outfit I somehow got roped into wearing.

I am severely displeased.

The first thing I did when I arrived at the office this morning while nursing a hangover was tried to get out of it. Travis wouldn’t hear of it. Apparently, every year they get some poor schmuck to agree to dress up and play Santa to the kids down at the children’s hospital, and it usually falls to the newest member of the team.

Since I was hired in just after the New Year, that poor, unsuspecting fool happens to be me.

Plus, I’m the only one, supposedly, who doesn’t have out-of-town plans. I’m “it” by default on more than one level.

Lucky me.

“Found it!”

I snap to attention as Travis climbs over boxes on his way over to me, holding a mass of red fabric over his head like a trophy.

I groan, depressed at the thought of having to put that thing on. I can already smell the mothballs. “Just what I need to make it look like I put on an extra fifty pounds instead of ten.” It’s a holiday tradition, eating cookies and fudge and pies. My sweet tooth cannot be denied, so every year I pack on a little extra insulation to get me through the cold winter months.

Travis gives me a flirty smile and wink as he hands over what I now realize is a lot less red than I’d originally thought. “You’ll look anything but fat in this, trust me.”

The way he said that makes me completely distrustful of him. Narrowing my eyes, I reluctantly accept the offering, shaking it out as I say suspiciously, “What is that supposed to me—oh…”

This is not the Santa suit I’d expected. It’s…well… “I think you went to the wrong costume shop, little buddy,” I say sarcastically because this has to be a joke. “I think you need to go back in there and find the rest of it.”

Travis’s smile is positively wicked now. “That is the rest of it.”

My eyes widen, and I look at it again. “Where did you find this thing, Strippers R Us? I can’t wear this!”

Like the asshole big-brother-type that he is, Travis playfully pokes the end of my nose. “You sure can, hon, and you’ll do it with a smile on your face and merry little laugh, too.” Closing up the closet, he locks it back up and brushes by me. “Make sure you dry-clean that thing before you put it on. It’s been around the block a few times.”

His mockingly jolly laugh makes me want to sprint after him, tackle him to the floor and jab my elbow into his ribs a few times. But as much as we were all family, office violence was just as frowned upon by human resources as workplace romances.

I’d just have to find my revenge another way. Until I did, it looked as though I was cursed to play Mrs. Santa.

ABOUT J.C. VALENTINE

J.C. Valentine is the USA Today and International bestselling author of the Night Calls and Wayward Fighters Series and the Forbidden Trilogy. Her vivid imagination and love of words and romance had her penning her own romance stories from an early age, which, despite being poorly edited and written longhand, she forced friends and family members to read. No, she isn’t sorry.

Living in the Northwest, she has three amazing children and far too many pets. Among the many hats she wears, J.C. is an entrepreneur. Having graduated with honors, she holds a Bachelor’s in English and when she isn’t writing, you can find her editing for fellow authors.

Sign up for J.C.’s newsletter and never miss a thing! http://bit.ly/1KxXWWB

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He’s the king of all he surveys.

Except her.

Exiled for 15 years, Hayes Rivers has finally assumed his place as head of Houston’s oldest and most powerful family.

Now, they call him King.

A legacy of wealth and prestige are his to claim.

As age-old rivalries, long-buried secrets, and generations of betrayal threaten his birthright, he finds himself in a battle for control of his family’s future.

When he meets Confidence, she’s a sweet distraction.

Everything he shouldn’t want.

But after a weekend of passion and surprising intimacy,

he realizes she’s everything he needs

He holds the keys to a kingdom,

But he covets the key to her heart.

And he’ll stop at nothing to claim his queen.

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He rakes his eyes down my body. My white blouse feels thin under his heated gaze. I shift in my shoes when he lingers on my hips.

“You’ve missed me,” he says.

“I haven’t,’’ I lie.

“If I touched your pussy, what would I feel?” he asks.

“That’s one question you won’t be answering tonight.”

“I want to touch you.” He dips his head and kisses my cheek. His hand grips my hip.

“You’ll feel better when I’ve made you come,” he whispers against my cheek.

He moves so fast that my ass is up on the edge of the sink before I can protest.

“Do you want me to stop?” he asks. His finger trails up my leg and stops at my knee. Blood rushes in my ears, heat pools between my thighs.

“Of course not,” I breathe.

His fingers slip under the hem of my shorts and I grab his fingers.

“But I’m going to ask you to anyway.” His eyes fly up to mine in surprise, but there’s no anger there. In fact, I think what I see is respect.

“Why?” he asks and stands back up.

If it could speak, my vagina would be cursing me out.

“Because what I want isn’t what I need, Hayes.”

“Why are they mutually exclusive?”

“I don’t want to just be your partner in bed,” I admit.

“Oh, Tesoro,” he sighs and drags his nose across my temple before he moves us back to facing each other. He cups my face in his hands and presses a soft kiss to my lips before he pulls back.

“There’s not a pussy in this world I’d fall on my knees for. Not even yours,” he says, the fierce love and tenderness in his eyes stealing my breath.

His eyes never leaving mine, he continues. “But for this, Tesoro…” His palms cover the space between my breasts and my heart kicks against the wall of my chest, desperate to find its way into the hand of the man it loves.

“For the love of the most brilliant woman I’ve ever met.” He kisses me again. “I would spend the rest of my life on my fucking knees.”

And then, my big, strong, beautiful man brings my entire world to a halt. He drops to his knees in front of me. On the floor of the public restroom.

“Hayes, get up.” I tug his arm. “Please.”

He grips my hips and presses his face in between my legs and inhales.

“Goddamn.” His groan vibrates against me and moisture blooms beneath his mouth and nose. “I love the way your pussy smells. I fucking miss the way it tastes. I’m dying to feel it gripping my cock.” He rubs his nose against my clit and pleasure skitters, like the kiss of butterfly wings, all over my body.

I thread my fingers into his thick, silky hair just as he leans away and stares up at me with that same fierceness.

But now, it’s laced with need.

He has the look of a predator, and I wish he would hurry up and catch me.

“I want to plant my flag there so that everyone knows it’s mine. But, it’s not even in the top five of my favorite things about you, Confidence. And it’s certainly not the only thing I want.” He looks up at me through his honest, smart eyes, and the rest of the world falls away.

“Oh, Hayes …” I trace the line of his strong brows and sweep down the slope of his nose.

“I want your fire. I want your courage; I want your loyalty. I want your anger, your disdain, your disappointment.” I brush a lock of hair off his forehead. “I want your smiles; I want your laughter. I want you fighting for my team. And yes, I want your pussy. Every day.” He squeezes my hips, and I want to give him everything he’s just asked me for.

But …

“I can’t.” I shake my head, caught between my fear and my love and feeling like neither one of them are serving me well right now.

“You won’t,” he chides me gently, but with real reproach in his voice. “But I understand.” He cuts off my protest. “You want to protect yourself. But you can’t. Not from me. Not from us. It’s all or nothing. And as long as we’re alive, it will never be nothing.”

“Hayes, don’t …” I pull back slightly and shake my head. I don’t know what to say.

“I know,” he says with real regret in his eyes. “I fucked up. But, I am not that asshole who treated you like you were nothing. I’m not ashamed of anything except that something I did made you feel like you were less than the miraculous person I know I’ll never deserve,” he says.

My hand comes to my chest and my fingers clutch the front of my blouse. “Oh, Hayes,” is all I can manage.

“But, I need you to understand—” His eyes go from pleading to demanding in a blink.

“That you thought I was hiding something?” I interject.

“No,” he says sharply. “That I’m responsible for my entire family. Not just the ones that are alive right now. But the ones who will be alive in a hundred years. I just had to keep the estate intact because I lost sight of that once and married someone who I barely knew.”

“Well, I’m not her,” I remind him.

“I know that … and I knew it in Italy, too. By the time the report came, I didn’t care what it said.”

“Why not?” I ask.

“I already knew everything that I needed to about you. You’re the woman who leans in when most people lean away,” he says. I want so badly to throw my arms around his neck and tell him it’s okay. That I see him, and that I’ll always lean in.

“I’m going to show you why us. How us. I’m asking for a lot. Your future. Your love. Your loyalty. Your body. Your children. Your life,” he says. “But I’m offering you the same things in return.”

About Dylan Allen

Dylan Allen is a Texas girl with a serious case of wanderlust.

A self-proclaimed happily ever junkie, she loves creating stories where her characters chase their own happy endings.

When she isn’t writing or reading, eating or cooking, she and her family are planning their next adventure.

Dylan Allen

Connect with Dylan

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

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“Waiting for Autumn” by J.A. DeRouen

 

 

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Title: Waiting For Autumn  NEW RELEASE
Author: J.A. DeRouen
Release: October 25, 2018
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Cover Design: Mignon Mykal of Oh So Novel Design
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40241196-waiting-for-autumn

Blurb:
Sebastian

“Race me for it.”
Four simple words. Five desolate years.

Sebastian Kelly believes he isn’t worthy of redemption, of a chance to right his wrongs. But an unexpected trip home, the place he dreads most, calls in question everything he’s come to believe. And who knows, he may find exactly what he’s been waiting for.

Autumn

One broken promise. Two pink lines.

Autumn Norris knew in an instant her life would never be the same. Years have flown by in a flurry of sparkles and dress up, and Autumn has refused to let the anchor of regret pull her under.

Until she lays eyes on Sebastian, and the wave of why, where, and how could you flood her every thought.

Old hurt and new betrayal twist first love into a reluctant partnership, and theirs may be a bond even pigtails and butterfly kisses can’t mend. But the past five years have felt like a lifetime, and Seb is willing to wait as long as it takes.

Because the truth is, he’s always been waiting for Autumn.

 

Buy Links: Kindle Unlimited – Special Release price $2.99
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2ytVGB1
Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/2yDyoJp
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2yuKrIR
Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/2yumOA2

Praise for Waiting for Autumn:
“This author again floors me. She brings together a Story about love, loss, and a forever that nobody can touch.” – Books and Bandanas

“My Lord, this book was the most uplifting thing I’ve ever read.” – Little Red Reading Hood

“…J.A. DeRouen’s exquisitely beautiful writing to all of that and you have the makings of this 5-Star read…” – Bewitched Reader

Playlist:
Embedded:

Direct Link: https://spoti.fi/2yumdyi

Author Bio:
J.A. Derouen lives in South Louisiana with her husband, son (aptly nicknamed “The Professor”), and her furry friend, Scout. She has a bachelor’s degrees in psychology and nursing. When she’s not writing or inhaling romance novels by the stack, she works as a women’s health nurse. She’s been an avid reader and daydreamer since childhood, and she’s never stopped turning the page to get to the next happily ever after.

Social Media Links:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JADerouen
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/JAsJezebels/
Instagram: https://instagram.com/jaderouen/
Book+Main: https://bookandmainbites.com/jaderouen
Newsletter: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/p4q2p1
Amazon: amazon.com/author/jaderouen
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8184871.J_A_DeRouen
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/j-a-derouen

Prologue and Ch. 1 Sneak Peek: 

https://www.jaderouen.com/waiting-for-autumn-sneak-peek

or read it below:

Waiting for autumn

Prologue

Dear Seb,
Do you love me? Circle yes or no.
Love, Autumn
P.S. – If you show this to my brother, I’ll tell everyone you cried at the end of Where the Red Fern Grows.

Autumn

The Past
Prosper, LA

The afternoon sun hangs heavy in the Louisiana sky, like a fiery basketball drooping from a sleepy hammock. The blistering heat burned off any remnants of clouds hours ago and singed my exposed thighs right along with it.

Who wears cutoffs for a day of mudding with Sebastian Kelly? After all these years, I should know better than that. When he showed up on our doorstep bright and early with an ice chest, four-wheeler, and his jam-box, circa 1980, all signs pointed to this being an all-day affair. I threw on the first clothes I could find, wrapped my hair into a high bun, and hit the fields with my boyfriend and my brother. Now, at the end of the day, my bun has taken a precarious plunge south, and sweaty, blonde curls stick to my flushed cheeks and neck.

“Ty Landry’s having a bonfire behind his dad’s old barn tonight. Who’s in?” I ask, knowing exactly on which side of the fence both Brady and Sebastian will land. Brady, the altar boy, and Sebastian, the devil on Brady’s shoulder. A hot, harmless devil … well, mostly harmless.

Me? I’m the cheerleader for all hair-brained schemes. You only live once, and I plan to skid into those pearly gates with a boatload of epic tales. That’s part of the reason why Seb and I are meant to be together. Well, that, and a thousand other reasons adding up to forever.

“I’ll pass,” Brady says after turning off his four-wheeler and running a hand over his neatly cropped hair. He swears the haircut helps to keep him cool. I say he looks like he battled with the clippers, and the clippers won. We agree to disagree.

“Like hell, you’ll pass.” Sebastian purposefully hits the brakes late so his tires bump into Brady’s with a jolt and a muttered curse.

“Not this time.”

My brother’s clenched jaw and puffed chest only serve to amuse Sebastian. Brady’s drank one beer too many if he thinks that’ll be the end of it. Sebastian and I never take no for an answer. We’re all too familiar with lassoing a reluctant Brady.

Cow-tipping in Old Man Johnson’s field? What’s the harm? Everyone conveniently forgot about Mr. Johnson’s penchant for firing his shotgun first and asking questions later. I don’t even need to mention his notoriously bad eyesight.

Driving lessons, better known as donuts, in the field behind the neighborhood? At the age of twelve? Yeah, only Sebastian could make that one sound like a good idea. Good thing Seb’s older brother came to the rescue with a four-wheel drive truck and an alibi.

Skinny-dipping in the country club’s pool at midnight? Who’ll ever know? Thanks to security cameras, the entire country club staff. The phone rang off the hook that summer when the girls in town got a peek of the goods. A gnarly case of the flu saved me from that fiasco, and I often thank Bernadette Jenkins for not covering her sneeze and saving my tits from going viral.

“What kind of friend would I be if I let you miss the biggest blowout of senior year?” Sebastian chides with a theatrical groan. Hands thrown up in frustration, his beer sloshes and splashes onto my bare thigh. He wipes the spill with his thumb, then sucks it into his mouth, shrugging his apology.

“And what kind of sister would that make me? I’m Team Seb on this one. You’re comin’, and that’s the end of it.”

“Come on, give it a rest. I’m tired as hell, and I’ve got to work at the feed store bright and early tomorrow. You know what’s worse than schlepping fifty-pound bags of feed? Doing it hungover. I need to sleep off this beer.” Brady peers at his watch and then throws back the rest of his Budweiser.

“All work and no play makes Brady the worst best friend ever. Am I right, Autumn? Brady the Buzzkill strikes again.” Sebastian casts a glance over his shoulder, and I nod in agreement. I shrug and blow a kiss when Brady glares at me.

“Our time for screwing off is coming to an end. Soon enough, you’ll be neck-deep in two-a-days at LSU, wishing all you had to do was schlep bags of feed. Let’s blow off some steam before you become the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy for being the best fucking quarterback the SEC has ever seen!”

“Hell yeah!” I cheer, with a fist pump to the sky. My brother tips his head and sighs, while Sebastian pulls me closer and leans his weight against me.

My arms curl around his waist, and I lay a flushed cheek against his damp back. He tugs my hands to his lips and kisses my inner wrist. God, I’ll miss this when he leaves for college in the fall. A day is too long to be away from him, let alone an entire year. It’s a done deal; I’m all set to meet him next fall, but next fall feels so far away. As soon as that diploma hits my hand, I’ll have lightning shooting out of my heels to get to him.

Truth is, I’ve been following Sebastian since the day I learned to crawl.

Trailing behind, griping for them to let me play, too.

Holding his hand as we ran down the block, narrowly beating the streetlights home.

Arms circling his waist as we splashed through mud and muck on his four-wheeler.

And finally, finally, my lips pressed to his, when he opened his eyes and saw the little girl with pigtails was more than just a tag-along.

“Hurry, Autumn. Catch up, I’ve been waiting for you.”

He squeezes my clasped hands, and I slip my fingers under the seam of his shirt. His skin is warm and sticky, and his hair is drenched with sweat. I press my mouth to the curve of his neck and lick his salty taste from my lips. He lets out a low, tortured groan, only loud enough for me to hear.

“No play? We’ve been riding all damn day!” Brady raises up the empty twelve-pack carton and waves it in the air. “Beer gone. Sunburnt. Tired as hell. I’m tapping out, man. Y’all are gonna have to party without me. I’m sure you two can figure something out.”

Honestly, a night alone with Sebastian sounds perfect to me. I’m usually first in line for a party, but I feel our time together slipping through our fingers. I want every second with him to count in some indelible way. The future pulls and frays the ties that connect us, and I’m not the only one feeling it. It’s all in his eyes—Seb wants us all together, all the time, the way we’ve been since we were kids. Like keeping those he loves close will dull the hurt when it’s time to go. Brady leaves for LSU next month, and Sebastian moves the month after for Southern Louisiana University … and I’ll be all alone in Prosper without my partners-in-crime. My best friends.

The boy I love.

“How about this—” Seb starts.

“Nope,” Brady interrupts, leaning back and crossing his arms.

“Race me for it.”

“Screw you, man.”

“I win, you come. You win, your momma can tuck you in before dark.”

“No,” Brady repeats.

And the silent stare down begins.

Softly, almost unintelligibly, Sebastian mutters under his breath, “Pussy.”

The whispered taunt lingers in the air like the kicked-up dust dancing all around us. Brady fires up the four-wheeler with a kick of his heel, the sound piercing the silence around us. “You’re on. First to the fence, and when I beat your ass, you’re gonna clean my bike, too.”

Sebastian barks out a laugh and cranks his bike while I hop off, kiss him fast and hard, then grab one of the empty cans out of his front crate. Standing between the two of them, I raise the crumpled beer can high in the air as their bikes growl on either side of me. Seb presses play on his damn near antique jam-box, and “Welcome to the Jungle” howls through the speakers. Guitar riffs amp up, and the air crackles with anticipation.

My hands stay high in the air as I look at Brady … then Seb. I mouth “I love you” to him, and his eyes close as if he’s caught the words mid-air. I grin, the excitement bubbling up inside me, as they both sit poised and ready for my cue.

“Ready … set…” I bite my lip as two weighted seconds pass, then hurl the can high up into the air. “GO!”

Kicked-up dust swirls and grits between my teeth as I spin around to watch them shoot across the field. Axl Rose’s primal cry pierces through the air, intertwining with the screaming engines as they’re pushed past their limits. Chasing their trails of rolling dust, I race up the hill behind them.

“Faster Autumn, I’m right over here.”

Tires devour dirt, and engines grind like a deafening thunder. Brady shoots to standing as he nears the hill, arm fisted in the air, and lets out a bellowing battle cry before he races over the top. Sebastian follows closely behind, and they both disappear from my view, as I race to catch up. My lungs burn from the effort, sucking in filthy air in short bursts as I squint to see what’s ahead of me.

My legs pump harder once they vanish from sight, thighs burning with each pounding step. I race to the finish line without even a care about who wins, just caught up in the moment with my two best friends—my brother and the boy I love. The Fearsome Threesome.

The grinding hum of motors morphs into something high-pitched and sickly, turning my insides to acid. My gut twists as an engine whines in the distance, out of my range of sight. Something’s not right … something’s very wrong … something’s—

An agonizing howl shoots from the other side of the hill and steals the breath from my lungs. I trip over my frantic feet, dirt and grass filling my mouth as I fly forward and hit the hard ground.

“I need you, Autumn. I need you, hurry!”

I stumble to my hands and knees, bits of stray rock piercing skin as I fight my way to standing … running … flying across the field.

“Brady, oh fuck, Brady! Christ!” Sebastian’s voice sinks its teeth into the stagnant air and rips it wide open, all sounds bursting into high velocity and waves of technicolor horror.

I’m trudging through tar to get to them, stumbling the entire way as the world whips around me in a haze of terror. I round the top of the hill, and my knees buckle. I can’t see … I can’t see … I don’t want to see …

“Hurry, Autumn, help me. Fuck, help me get the bike off him. Please, Brady, do you hear me?” Sebastian howls like a wounded animal as he frantically wrenches the crumpled four-wheeler off my brother’s limp body. “Please, please, please,” he whispers as tears spill and splash onto my dusty cheeks, streaking them with rivulets of salty mud.

The sickening groan of the motor dies away, amplifying Sebastian’s cries and a piercing scream I only then recognize as my own. I fall to my knees at Brady’s side, drowning in paralyzing fear.

I will never forget Seb’s frantic pleas as he heaves the four-wheeler off my brother … or the absolute stillness of Brady’s body twisted and contorted in a way that tells me, with utter certainty, our lives will never be the same again.

Chapter 1

Sebastian
Present Day – Five Years Later
Haven, LA

“Cappuccino, one sugar, light foam!” Lexi calls out, sliding the coffee mug to the edge of the pick-up counter. The customer doesn’t notice her forced smile as she picks up her drink.

“Simmer down, woman. Your inner snob is showing,” I whisper as I wrap a friendly arm around her shoulders and smile at the retreating customer.

“Light foam,” she mutters, lowering and shaking her head. “A cappuccino is all about the foam, Seb. Who are these heathens we’re serving?”

“Customers, Lex. Paying customers.”

I slide the double shot espresso ticket in her direction, and she nods her approval.

“A man after my caffeinated heart,” she sighs, her lips quirking up into a quasi-smile. She pushes up her sleeves, revealing a tiny sliver of the Alice in Wonderland mural tattooed on her forearms, and gets to work.

We’re all mad here. Truer words …

Lexi’s been with me from the very beginning when Fuel was a run-down coffee shop named Marge’s Cup of Joe, run by … Joe and Marge Reynolds, of course. Joe is an ornery old man with glass packs in his lungs and a weathered saddlebag for skin due to centuries of smoking. Marge has never met anyone she didn’t want to mother to death and is as tall as she is wide. I take that back—there’s one person Marge doesn’t want to mother—Joe. Her favorite pastime is nagging the old man to death. Luckily, she mothered the hell out of me the day I showed up in Haven five years ago, broke and broken.

Marge took one look at me holding her help wanted sign and realized I needed a shitload more than just a job. She started with an unfinished apartment upstairs and an offer for free rent in exchange for fixing up the place. Once my apartment was transformed from open walls and concrete to exposed beams and graffiti murals, I got to work on downstairs. Diner chairs with cracked and frayed vinyl were swapped out for galvanized metal barstools. Stained Formica tables were replaced with distressed wooden plank tables and benches. And when Marge and Joe were ready to retire, a lease-to-own agreement between a generous couple and their wayward employee transformed me into a business owner. The exiled black sheep of Prosper, LA turning into a contributing member of society. Who would have thought it was possible? Definitely not me.

And that was when the big changes came.

Espresso machine instead of old drip coffee pots.

Eminem instead of Chuck Berry.

Fuel instead of Cup of Joe.

And with every addition, every step in the direction of making this place my own, I became less of a dejected boy and more of a confident man. A confident man with a chip on his shoulder, but miles away from the screwup I used to be. Hell, on a good day, that ever-present chip looked more like a tiny speck of lint.

Brush that shit off, man. You can’t rewrite the past.

On a bad day … well, we won’t talk about the bad days.

“Hey, welcome to Fuel. What can I get started for you?” I ask the striking brunette opposite me. Her blue eyes saunter over my lips, chest, colorful arm art, then land squarely on my dick. I smirk at her appreciation and resist the urge to return the perusal. When her eyes return to mine, I raise my eyebrows in the universal “like what you see?” gesture.

She chuckles and leans closer, like she’s got a secret she’s dying to tell. I meet her halfway, all too eager to hear where she plans to meet me later. Her lips curve up, and she whispers, “Your barn door is open. Thought you’d want to know.”

I can’t help it—I grin and let out a laugh. I place my hand on my zipper and watch her eyes make their descent … again.

“Thanks for the tip. We wouldn’t want the rooster to get loose,” I quip, slowly pulling up my zipper as I smirk. “Cock-a-doodle-dooooooooo,” I singsong.

Lexi’s groan drowns out my rooster crow, and we both turn in her direction. “Seriously, have you no shame? And that goes for the both of you, since I have no doubt she’ll be handing over her number shortly. It’s hard to watch sometimes.”

After taking her order and getting her to sign her receipt, which she wrote both her signature and phone number on, I might add, I narrow my eyes at my insolent employee.

“Cock-block much?”

“Cock-a-doodle-doooo,” she sings, and then bursts out laughing.

I open my mouth to ban her from speaking for the rest of the morning when the ringing phone interrupts me. I grab the portable off the back counter and check the caller ID. If the 318 area code doesn’t grab my attention at first, the Prosper, LA across the screen punches me square in the gut. No name, just Prosper, LA.

I don’t give a fuck who it is—there’s no one in Prosper who’s got anything good to say to me. And there’s nothing I can do or say to change that.

“Telemarketer. Let it ring,” I say in a clipped tone as I toss the stick of dynamite on the counter and stalk to the back.
I pace the storage room as the incessant ringing rattles my brain. I clench my eyes shut and push out every thought of that godforsaken town. Over the last few years, I’ve become adept at locking those memories away in the deepest part of my heart, never letting them see the light of day. It’s funny how a two-inch-by-four-inch illuminated screen can dismantle five years’ worth of work … suppression … denial … whatever.

When the ringing finally stops, I fold in half, hands gripping my neck and head hanging between my knees.
If I could just breathe.

The answering machine flips on, and my recorded voice ricochets off the walls, punctuated at the end with an ear-piercing beep. My lungs seize in my chest as a voice I’d know from anywhere fills the room, deliberate and somber.

“Seb? It’s Lance … your brother.” He sighs into the phone, sounding like a harsh, piercing whistle. “I’m here … in Prosper. Look man, you’re gonna need to come home.”

Home. Home. Home.

The unrelenting guilt I battle every time I think of Prosper rushes over me. There’s a reason I’ve shoved those memories to the furthermost corner of my mind. Tentacles of regret pull me under like a thousand-pound cinder block at the bottom of the Black Sea. Memories, emotions, and sorrow for the mistakes I’ve made barrel through me. Brady … my parents … Autumn … my Autumn.

One phone call unravels me as I’m pummeled with the only truth I know with any amount of certainty.

I lost my home on a summer day five years ago, and I’ll never get it back.

 

 

SPOTLIGHT SPOTLIGHT SPOTLIGHT SPOTLIGHT SPOTLIGHT SPOTLIGHT

 

FINDING HOME by JC Valentine

Roped by the Cowboy, Duet Book 1

SYNOPSIS

Life is unpredictable. Vee learned that the hard way and did the only thing she could: she ran. But life
isn’t about to let her off easy.

 Nash is everything a woman wants and nothing Vee could have planned for.
Gorgeous with his sexy blue-eyed stare, toned body, and wearing a cowboy hat, he’s the perfect package and Vee’s ideal rebound. Too bad he wants nothing to do with her. That’s fine. Vee wasn’t looking for love anyway, but her
meddling new roommate has other ideas. Two people from different worlds shouldn’t make sense, but desire is an animal that won’t be denied. With secrets lurking on both sides of the fence, however, it’s just a matter of time before someone gets hurt.

 

EXCERPT:

“Do you feel it, too?” he murmured, watching her closely.

Vivian blinked. “Feel what?” She knew exactly what he meant, but she had to be sure.

“Whatever this is between us. You feel it, too.”

Vivian couldn’t form words, so she nodded mutely. Yes, she did. It was strong, the sensation a fire inside that burned bright and hot and undeniable.

“Maybe Ms. Gretta was on to something,” he suggested.

“Maybe she was,” Vivian agreed. The old woman saw more than most, that was clear, and her attempts at playing matchmaker might just be paying off. But was Vivian ready for it? Fresh out of a marriage, it didn’t seem like a great idea to jump right back into another. Especially with someone she bumped heads with and whom she hardly knew anything about.

But what if…

“Hmm…” Nash made a contemplative sound as he stared at her mouth, and when Vivian licked her lips, he leaned down and laid the gentlest kiss on them she’d ever experienced.

Lightning flashed through her veins, lighting up her insides like a fireworks show and curling her toes in her boots. She thought of her favorite movie growing up, Pretty in Pink and thought that Nash must have been practicing on watermelons, too, because he was a hell of a strong kisser.

My. God.

He must have been just as affected, too. Breathing heavily, his lips parted from hers, and he pressed their foreheads together, his eyes closed as if he was savoring the moment. Vivian was running through her own memories of her first kiss, the many she’d shared with Andrew, but they all came up short in comparison.

She’d never been so affected, never felt this way from a decidedly chaste and simple kiss before.

Nash was doing something to her that she was afraid to put a name to…because it felt too serious for too short a time.

No, Vivian couldn’t have feelings for Nash. Not the kind her heart was suggesting, proving that it really was a dumb organ that needed to be kept watch over so it didn’t get her into something too deep to dig herself out of.

Nash must have reached the same conclusion because instead of kissing her again, he pulled away, his eyes soft but hard at once.

“It’s getting late. Come on, I’ll take you back to your car.”

The high she’d been riding diminished when he dropped her hand, breaking all connection, and walked away, expecting her to follow. She did. All the way back to her car, where he told her goodnight and was on his way again, leaving her in that lonely parking lot surrounded by dark storefronts.

 

Get your copy of book one of USA Today & International bestselling author J.C. Valentine’s brand new duet, FINDING HOME!

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2CfxHIC

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Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/2RMOacB

Amazon AUS: https://amzn.to/2Oq6ryj

Amazon MX: https://amzn.to/2NHjeXW 

 

“HeartLess” by Kristy Love

Title: HeartLess
Author: Kristy Love
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: October 18, 2018
Cover Design: Emily Wittig Designs and Photography

 
Plan the wedding of the century. Get the job. To hell with the guy.
 
Bianca Fair’s hard work was paying off. After slaving for years as an event planner, the partnership of her dreams was in her grasp. The respect and admiration of her peers was only a wedding away. All of her carefully crafted plans were falling into place. Finally.
 
Enter Nash James … heartthrob … sex symbol … rock god … His band was number one on the charts, and he was number one on the freebie list of every woman alive.
 
Rock music’s “It Boy” was marrying Hollywood’s “It Girl,” and Bianca’s career hung in the balance.
 
No problem. Piece of cake. She could plan this wedding in her sleep. This was what she thrived on.
 
Too bad the last time she saw Nash James, he was skipping town after crushing her heart.
 
And no way in hell could the bride-to-be find out Bianca had loved her fiancé first.

Prologue

Ellie Goulding was the perfect way to start my day. My hips swayed, my steps bounced, blood pumping.
I was an event planner for a prestigious planning company in Pittsburgh. I’d even planned a few events in other countries. I loved it. I loved the way I could break down the events into tiny details and plan them, control every element. I loved the order, the procedure, turning chaos into something beautiful.
My song ended and turned into another song, the collection randomly generated by Spotify. I didn’t immediately recognize the opening bars of the tune, but as soon as the voice filled my ears, I ripped my headphones out and shoved them in my purse. I scowled at my phone, annoyed at it for disrupting my few moments of fun. My heel snagged in the cracked pavement. “Fuck,” I mumbled. I stumbled but was able to regain my balance before I fell flat on my ass.
I turned the music off, my Zen completely ruined. I got to the crosswalk and pressed the button, so I could cross the street. A bus stop shelter was a few feet away from me, and a poster caught my eye. HeartLess at the PPG Paints Arena. I glared at the poster. Not only had they graced my morning jam session, but now they were crashing my city? My good mood from earlier crumbled. I trained my eyes forward and waited for the walk sign to flash, then speed walked across the street as soon as I could.
I opened the door and inhaled a deep breath, centering myself. I had a huge client coming in today, and I needed to be ready. I had no clue who it was or what type of event I’d be planning. My boss, Nadine, had called me yesterday telling me she’d cleared my schedule to take on a last-minute client that needed the ultimate VIP treatment. In her usual fashion, she’d neglected to tell me who it was. It didn’t matter; I’d handle it.
On the fifteenth floor, I smiled at our receptionist who was on the phone. In huge, sweeping letters, As You Wish was etched behind her on a pane of glass. I was filled with pride every time I saw it, knowing I’d taken my passion and made it into a career. Not only had I made it into my livelihood, but I was good at it. Not just good, I was excellent. Clients requested me by name—even sports figures and celebrities.
I went straight to my boss’s office and knocked on her door. “Come in,” she called from behind the closed door.
“Hey, Nadine,” I said. Her brown eyes swept over my body, taking in my appearance. Nadine believed in perfection, and I had no doubt she’d send me back home to change if I didn’t meet her criteria for the day. Well, maybe not home, but definitely to Macy’s to pick up something that satisfied her. I fought the urge to smooth my gray pencil skirt or adjust my burgundy blazer. I didn’t want her to see me squirm. She gave a slight nod of her head, meaning I met her standards and motioned for me to take a seat.
“Are you prepared today, Bianca?” Nadine never beat around the bush. She’d built this company from the ground up and expected nothing less than the absolute best. That’s how I became her right hand; she demanded, and I rose to the occasion. Over the last five years, I’d proven that I delivered—every time. Perfection, professionalism, and punctuality. The three Ps that were Nadine’s mantra.
“Of course.” Really, there was no way for me to prepare. I had no idea who I was meeting with, what type of event it was, or how much time this would take, but I’d never tell Nadine that.
“Good. I want you to take special care of these clients. They’re important and need to be treated with the utmost care and discretion.” She tipped her glasses down her nose, gazing at me over them. “They’re our top priority as a company. Anything you need, you let me know. If they want you to paint the sky purple, you make damn sure you get it done, understood?”
Nerves tingled in my stomach. Whoever these clients were, they were big. “You know you can count on me.”
“That’s why I assigned them to you.” She handed me a manila folder from her desk. There wasn’t any writing on it or any indication of what I was getting myself into. She narrowed her eyes at me. “Everything else you’ve been working on has been handed off to other planners. You are to work on nothing else. If this goes well, we can expect a whole new level of clientele.”
I fought the urge to look in the folder. I was so anxious about who I was going to be working with, but I didn’t want Nadine to know. I portrayed my usual self-control. We’d planned galas, weddings, and birthday parties for some big clients already. A few movie stars, some musicians, and almost all the sports figures in the city came to us. We already had A-list clients. Who was making Nadine so twitchy? “I’ll do everything in my power to make sure they’re satisfied.
Nadine gave me a shrewd smile and pushed her glasses back up her nose. She turned her attention back to her computer screen, her interest no longer in this conversation. “You should head to your office. They’re waiting for you.”
A twinge of annoyance raced along my spine. If these clients were so important, why did Nadine keep me in here to chat? To intimidate me and make me feel like I couldn’t handle these clients? I was early to the office, as I always was. “I thought the appointment wasn’t for another fifteen minutes,” I said as I checked my watch.
“They got here early, Bianca. The bride-to-be is most eager to get started.” Nadine raised her hand from her keyboard and actually shooed me away. Sometimes, I wanted to smack her across her perfectly made-up face.
I didn’t bother saying anything before I slipped out the door. I rushed to my own office and noticed the wall of windows I had separating my space from the rest of the floor were blocked by my drawn blinds. Seeing that, it sunk in that this was no joke. The fact that I knew it was a wedding filled me with a slight amount of dread. I hoped to God she wasn’t going to be a bridezilla. I didn’t have the patience for them with normal clients, but a client that Nadine was so set on pleasing… This could end badly.
I paused briefly outside of my office, tugging down my blazer and smoothing my skirt. I ran my hands over my hair, making sure nothing was out of place. I straightened my posture and plastered my most endearing smile on my face. My planning persona washed over me, making me unflappable, pleasant, and orderly. I opened my door.
“I’m so sorry to have kept you waiting,” I said as I strode across my office. My eyes connected with the female sitting across from my desk and I steeled myself. This client wasn’t just a big name, she was the name. And then…
And then I was leveled by the freight train that was my past.
From the time she was old enough to form words into sentences, Kristy Love has been writing stories. She attended La Roche College and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Professional Writing. When she’s not writing, Kristy can be found with her nose stuck in a book or spending time with her family and friends.
She lives with her husband and two girls in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
HOSTED BY:

“COCKY” by JC Valentine, Blog Tour: August 6-10

COCKY

by J.C. Valentine
Spartan Riders MC, #5
Publication Date: July 30, 2018
Cover Credits: Sara Eirew
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, MC Romance, Biker, Standalone

AVAILABLE NOW!

SYNOPSIS

USA Today and International and bestselling author J.C. Valentine is back with the latest in her captivating, enigmatic, and rousing world of the Spartan Riders MC…

They’ve been through hell and back and have the scars to prove it.

Kade “Moose” Hunter doesn’t tolerate drama. He’s cocky, unapologetic, and all about the quiet side of life.

That’s why Mouse fits him so well.

Angel “Mouse” Grace isn’t like the other women hanging around the club. She’s sweet and gentle, and when Moose gets her engines revving, her passion burns bright. She’s the yin to his yang, and Moose is almost certain she’s the one, but life is never that easy for a Spartan.

The catch? Their town is falling apart.

A cesspool of crime and addiction, the Spartans face yet another challenge: confront crime lord Manuel Contreras and risk war, or worse, death. When Angel’s kid sister rolls into town and takes a shine to the Spartan’s mortal enemy, Moose is torn between doing what’s best for his family…and what’s best for his love life.

Will he be able to strike a balance, or lose everyone he cares about in the process?

*NOTE* COCKY can be read as a STANDALONE! Although a part of the Spartan Riders series, COCKY features a brand new couple, therefore, can be read as a standalone!

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EXCERPT 

A wave of icy cold water connected dead center with his right eye, and Moose squeezed his eyes shut while scrubbing the butt of his palm over it to get rid of the uncomfortable, shrinking, burning sensation.

“Damnit, woman,” he growled, “you’re gonna pay for that.”

“Ooooo I’m so scared,” Angel taunted, throwing another load of water at him.

When he’d woken up this morning with a woody the size of Nebraska, he’d had nothing more on his mind than getting over to her place and getting inside her, but the ride over had been so nice, he couldn’t stand the idea of being cooped up indoors another minute. So when he’d arrived on her doorstep early and unexpected, finding Mouse still in her Hello Kitty pjs and her hair a mess, he’d told her to get her bikini and a towel and meet him outside.

She hadn’t been too happy being woken up nor him throwing his weight around, but she was getting used to it. Shooting him the stink-eye, she’d left the door hanging open as she turned and disappeared back into the apartment.

Ten minutes later, she was on the back of his bike in a pair of tiny jean shorts and a white tank top with the florescent pink and yellow bikini top strings peeking out the top with her sexy legs on the outside of his where he could reach down and touch them anytime he wanted and her hot body fit snug up against his back. Every bump on the long stretch of highway bounced his favorite parts of hers, increasing his need for her more and more by the mile.

But as much as he wanted her, Moose wanted to test the theory that they might have more between them than just sex.

As much as he enjoyed it and wanted it every second of the day, the idea of giving her his patch was a serious one, and he needed to make sure that there was some substance to their relationship before he made such a huge commitment.

If he did. He was bouncing back and forth with that decision more than a kid on a pogo stick.

The problem was, even if Moose hadn’t been entertaining the idea of making thing between them more permanent, Angel was pretty fucking awesome. He couldn’t be around her without smiling, and they were always laughing about something. And when they weren’t laughing, they were having amazing, world-shaking sex. Plus, she was hot as hell and just as smart.

What wasn’t there to like?

Clearing his eyes, Moose dug his toes into the mud and trudged through the water, his intense focus right on her. Angel wasn’t getting away, and he knew just how he was going to make her pay.

“Whoa now, big man,” she said, palms held out in front of her as she tried to bounce backward away from him, each bob revealing her water-slicked breasts and pointed nipples that made his dick harder than the wall of rock that hid them from prying eyes in three directions.

“You play with fire, Mouse, and now you’re about to get burned.” When she was within arm’s reach, he lunged, and she screamed.

Falling back into the water in her haste to get away from him, she went under before reappearing a second later, her feet slipping out from under her and giving him a leg up.

Moose was on her fine ass before she could get any traction. Banding an arm around her narrow waist, he fisted her wet hair and held her head tight, immobile. Those wild, green eyes stared up at him, daring him to keep going.

* * * * * 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOUT J.C. VALENTINE

J.C. Valentine is the USA Today and International bestselling author of the Night Calls and Wayward Fighters Series and the Forbidden Trilogy. Her vivid imagination and love of words and romance had her penning her own romance stories from an early age, which, despite being poorly edited and written longhand, she forced friends and family members to read. No, she isn’t sorry.

Living in the Northwest, she has three amazing children and far too many pets. Among the many hats she wears, J.C. is an entrepreneur. Having graduated with honors, she holds a Bachelor’s in English and when she isn’t writing, you can find her editing for fellow authors.

Sign up for J.C.’s newsletter and never miss a thing! http://bit.ly/1KxXWWB

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COVER REVEAL AND EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT — JC VALENTINE'S LATEST "ACE OF HEARTS"

ACE OF HEARTS

by J.C. Valentine
Blind Jacks MC, #3
Publication Date: May 24, 2018
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, MC Romance, Biker, Standalone

PREORDER YOUR COPY FOR ONLY 99c!

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2vyqUIs (99c)

SYNOPSIS:

Being granted a second chance at life and a first time at love was every man’s dream, but for Ace, it came with a price.

Ace
By all rights, he should be dead. Serving ten years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit had affected him in ways he couldn’t begin to understand. He’d rolled out of the slammer and into a revenge plot that almost got him killed. By the grace of God, when he’d hit rock bottom, one person reached out a helping hand.

A beautiful redhead with a penchant for mischief took a shine to him and then disappeared, leaving behind only her number scribbled recklessly on his arm. Assuming he can make out all the numbers, he just might have a chance at something amazing.

Barbara
Finally divorcing her narcissistic husband was the best choice Barbara ever made. After living under his control for seven long years, she might have gone a little wild for a minute, what with jumping the hot biker and all. None of that mattered, though, because today was the day she got herself back on track.

After being given the opportunity to excavate a small cache of fossils in a remote area, Barbara is horrified to discover she’s inadvertently led a small team of her archeology students into danger. When they stumble on a secret dumping site of a vicious serial killer, Ace, the big, handsome biker takes charge. But she may have gotten herself and her students into more danger than even he can handle.

*NOTE* Although a part of the Blind Jacks MC series, ACE OF HEARTS can be read as a STANDALONE and features a new couple!

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EXCERPT

Cupping his handsome, scarred face in her hands, Barbara kissed him on the lips. “Don’t carry all your brother’s sins around in your heart and head for the rest of your life. You deserve a little peace from all that.”

His expression turned soft. “I honestly don’t deserve you.”

“You know what Shakespeare said.”

“Troubles come not single spies but in battalions?”

She grinned. “He did say that. You really know your Shakespeare.”

“Like I already said, I read a lot when I was in lockup.”

“Well, William Shakespeare also said that if we use every man as he deserves, who shall escape whipping?”

“I guess he was pointing out that no one’s perfect,” Ace surmised.

Somehow, quoting Shakespeare while having her hands on his face shifted the darkness of the moment to something approaching intimate.

Rubbing one thumb over his bottom lip, she murmured, “Then again, he never met you. You’re totally my idea of perfect.”

“Bet you say that to all the guys.” His sexy smile made her girl parts flare to life.

“Please tell me that we’re having sex tonight.”

Ace’s expression lit up. “You want to have some sex with me?”

“Did you miss the part about me thinking you’re perfect?”

Picking up the cherry in her glass by the stem, he brought it to her lips. Parting her lips, Barbara allowed him to slide it into her mouth. Closing her teeth slightly, she waited for him to pull the stem. The intensity of his gaze as he watched her chew made her feel crazy things.

“Fuck, you are one sexy woman.”

She smiling, swallowing the cherry. “Another?”

Without looking away from her, he groped around in his little chilled metal dispenser for another and brought it to her lips. Wrapping her hand around his wrist, she used her other hand to take the cherry from him. Bringing it to his lips, they repeated the whole scenario, only in reverse. Tossing the stem onto the bar, she looked down at his hand. “Your fingers are stained red.”

“I’ve been handling cherries.”

Not taking her eyes off his, she brought his finger to her mouth. He swallowed thickly, as he watched her suck his finger. She swirled her tongue around his thick digit, just like she wanted to do to his cock. That concept wasn’t lost on him.

Hooking his finger behind her lower teeth, he pulled her gently forward. When their mouths collided, white-hot need pulsated through her entire body. Ace was a damned good kisser and those hot lips were making her wild. Sliding her fingers through his hair, she practically climbed over the bar to get more of him, vaguely aware that he was shoving the items on the bar to the side.

The next thing she knew, he’d lifted her out of her seat, dragged her over the bar, and was walking off with her. That he could manage all that so gracefully and without breaking their kiss was nothing short of amazing. Barbara liked everything about this man. His casual dress, open honesty, and protective nature got to her like nobody’s business.

And now he was about to get to her in ways, she suspected, that no other man ever had.

ABOUT J.C. VALENTINE

J.C. Valentine is the USA Today and International bestselling author of the Night Calls and Wayward Fighters Series and the Forbidden Trilogy. Her vivid imagination and love of words and romance had her penning her own romance stories from an early age, which, despite being poorly edited and written longhand, she forced friends and family members to read. No, she isn’t sorry.

Living in the Northwest, she has three amazing children and far too many pets. Among the many hats she wears, J.C. is an entrepreneur. Having graduated with honors, she holds a Bachelor’s in English and when she isn’t writing, you can find her editing for fellow authors.

Sign up for J.C.’s newsletter and never miss a thing! http://bit.ly/1KxXWWB

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EXCERPT…from "Fighting Dirty" by JC Valentine

 

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“Fighting Dirty” by J.C. Valentine has 70, four- and five-star reviews. You can get your copy here: https://goo.gl/svYwiq
In the meantime, for your reading pleasure, here’s a little excerpt. Enjoy! <3

***
~Tiffany~
Hearing a gunshot, Tiffany ran to her vehicle and grabbed her medical bag from the back. Racing back in the direction the sound originated from, she was intercepted by one of the brothers and hustled into the MC clubhouse instead. Clutching her soft-sided first-aid bag, she came to a staggering stop inside the back room.
The sight unfolding in front of her was nothing short of alarming. Ace was lying on his back across a pool table, and Ryder was standing over him, plugging a hole in his thigh with a pool stick. The table was covered with copious amounts of blood, and if that wasn’t bad enough, black bats and Halloween streamers hung down around the arguing pair, like a not-so-funny comic backdrop.
Stumbling over a hay bale, she ignored the pumpkin that went rolling off to the side and slid to a stop beside the pool table. “This is not proper compression procedures for a wound, babe,” she chided Ryder.
Jerking open her bag, Tiffany snapped on a pair of rubber gloves before shooting the love of her life another disapproving glare. “Why in the hell did you take the first-aid class if you weren’t going to take it seriously?”
Jerking back, Ryder stared at her indignantly. “Don’t look at me like that, doll. I tried to push on it with both hands, but the blood wouldn’t stop gushing out all over the damn place. The stupid fucker’s got abnormal goblin blood or some shit. I swear, it was fightin’ to get out of his body. What the hell am I supposed to do with that? Pluggin’ the damn hole up is the only thing that worked.”
Tiffany shook her head and mumbled, “Yeah, you’re a freaking hero, babe.”
***