Mon
Jun 5 2017 12:05pm

Men in Uniform Sampler from Addison Fox, Suzanne Rock, Diane Kelly & Nicole McLaughlin

Addison Fox, Suzanne Rock, Diane Kelly and Nicole McLaughlin

SMP Sampler

A detective, a special agent, a National Guardsman, a SWAT team member, and a firefighter await you in this Men in Uniform sampler from authors Addison Fox, Suzanne Rock, Nicole McLaughlin, and Diane Kelly. Whether you're in the mood for a best-friend's-older-sibling story, a spin on Pretty Woman, a gruff man with a soft spot for animals, or a story filled with second chances, you're sure to find it in one of these great upcoming titles! Get ready to add to your TBR pile! 




Forever Yours by Addison Fox

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Detective Cade Rossi has spent the majority of his life oblivious to Jasmine Shane. She’s always been his little sister’s best friend, but after coming to her rescue one night, Cade is starting to see the woman behind the lawyerly suits.

Since childhood, Jasmine has harbored an embarrassing crush on Cade. She’s seen him work his way through nearly every eligible bachelorette in Park Heights, Brooklyn, and Jasmine’s given up hope of them ever having a chance together.

But summer is the perfect time for a fling, and as Cade and Jasmine grow closer, what starts out as an innocent flirtation could turn into so much more…

Read a selected scene:

He wasn’t in love with her. As a friend and member of the extended Rossi family, yes, she knew he loved her. As a life partner he didn’t, and her endless need to question why was her shortcoming, not his.

When had she lost sight of that?

“You haven’t done anything.”

“You sure about that? Because every time we’re together you can’t wait to get away from me.”

“It’s not—” She stopped when he threw the pillow and blanket he still held on the end of the couch, where they landed with a dull, puffy thud. “Do you think I can’t see it? Or that I haven’t noticed? The cool disdain or the subtle jabs? I see it and I don’t fucking deserve it.”

“No, you don’t.”

“So what did I do?”

“Nothing. You did nothing.”

Where she thought her answer might bank some of that anger, it only served to add fuel. He stepped closer, and the heat of his body and his warm, lush scent shot off rockets in her brain, tripping her pulse.

What was that scent? It was elusive and so hard to describe, yet so completely Cade. She’d noticed it as a teenager, this sense of him that seemed to fill her from the inside. She’d thought to mention it to Daphne once, but held back. A discussion of how her best friend’s brother smelled was sure to prompt eye rolls and disbelief.

Yet it was the first thing she noticed every time she was in his company. The scent was masculine and musky, sensual without being offensive. He smelled like a man. Strong. Powerful. Sexy.

In a word: Cade.

He didn’t move, but she gave herself a moment to look at him—really look at him—taking in the hard lines of his jaw, his evening stubble growing in. He was so capable. So strong. And even if she remained perpetually irritated by his dating choices, she couldn’t ignore his innate kindness or fundamental need to protect.

“You didn’t do anything,” she finally said. “You’ve just been a handy punching bag.”

“That’s all?”

“What else would it be?”

His gaze remained steady on hers, as if he sought the truth of her words. She fought the urge to squirm or to embellish her statement further. She did act different with him, and he’d finally taken the opportunity to call her on it.

There was no way she could give in. She needed to stay strong and not allow the quiet intimacy of the moment to lull her into saying something she’d regret. She couldn’t give up the mantle of control she fought so hard for each and every time they were together.

But it was exhausting.

Hiding her feelings. Getting angry and frustrated with herself because she continued to pant after him like a puppy, even as he continued his personal conquests through half of Brooklyn. Riding the roller coaster of hope and loss as month after month passed, nothing changing between the two of them.

Would it ever change?

She knew this idiotic state of being was keeping her from taking things further with Gardner. Even as she well knew Gardner deserved better than a woman who was only in a relationship with him halfway.

Or maybe that was the problem. . . .

The angst that had dogged her since beginning the relationship faded, a fresh idea falling into place.

A fresh, tempting idea.

Perhaps it would be easier to move forward with Gardner if she put her curiosity to bed. What would it hurt if she simply reached out and took what she’d always wanted? It had been a bad day, and no one would argue with her need for comfort. She could kiss Cade, assuage her curiosity, and chalk it up to an anxious night.

Get in, get out, no harm, no foul.

Surely women threw themselves at him every day. Hell, she’d seen women throw themselves at Cade. Adding herself to that number would hardly phase him.

And then she’d know.

She’d know if the angst and the anxiety and the endless questions could—finally—be put to bed.

“Thank you for helping me tonight. Even if it doesn’t always show, I’m more grateful than I can tell you.”

“You’re family. I’ll always help you.”

The words nearly spilled forth, a tart answer about feeling the love and support from a man who acted like nothing more than a brother, when she stopped. Cade had given her the perfect opening.

They weren’t family. Of the heart, yes, but not of the blood.

And it was damn time the man understood that.

Without giving herself time to check the action or rethink her approach, she closed what little space was left between them, fisted his shirt in her hand to hold him in place, and pressed her lips to his.

The move was bold and very unlike her. But more than that, it was the work of a mere moment to realize exactly where she went wrong. His arms wrapped around her, crushing her to his chest as his lips moved against hers. The solid footing she was so sure of evaporated, the floor vanishing beneath her as she fell completely, utterly, and fully under the spell of Cade Rossi. 

Learn more about or order a copy of Forever Yours by Addison Fox, available June 13, 2017:

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Protecting His Interests by Suzanne Rock

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After spending months undercover at a high-end escort service, Special Agent Gabriel Ferreira hits a dead end in his case. Then a gorgeous art restorer picks him as her date, and his luck changes in more ways than one.

Gabe won’t let Scarlett Bishop come between him and his goal of taking down Miami’s newest serial killer, no matter how great she is in bed. Unfortunately, the more he tries to distance himself from the sexy redhead, the more tangled up she becomes in his investigation. Now she has a target on her back, and he must figure out her connection to the killer and keep her safe at the same time. Every second he spends with the sarcastic beauty, he becomes more infatuated. Now if only he can keep his hands off of Scarlett’s gorgeous body and concentrate on his mission before they both become pawns in the killer’s dangerous game.

Read a selected scene:

The alarm next to the bed went off. Scarlett groaned, turned and slapped her hand on one of the buttons on top.

“What time is it?” I asked.

She let out a helpless groan. “Too early.” She sat up and rubbed her eyes. “Let me shower first.”

How could she have so much energy? There was one way to fix that . . . I grabbed her arm as she tried to get out of bed. “Kiss me first.”

She smiled and pulled her arm from my grasp. “Gabe, I really don’t have time for this. It’s the first day of the art show.”

“So?” I plastered on my most innocent expression. “It’s just one kiss.”

“I know you. It’s never just one kiss.” She gave me a quick kiss on the nose and scooted away before I could grab her again. “Later.”

“Scarlett—”

“I have an exhibit to put up. Besides, now that I know I have you for the entire week, we can take our time.”

I frowned. This wasn’t what I had in mind when we had made our agreement last night. In between our lovemaking, Scarlett had brought up Bridget’s private showing at the end of the week. She didn’t think she’d get in there without me on her arm. I agreed and suggested making up some excuse about a change of plans to explain my hanging around. Seeing us together might take some of the heat off her with the murder investigation, and I could make her look good in front of investors. Everything was set. I just had to run it by my “boss” at the escort agency for confirmation.

“Let that woman do it,” I said.

She frowned. “That woman?”

“The one I saw the night we met. Your assistant.”

“Violet?” She seemed to consider my words for a moment before responding. “If this was any other show I would.” She put on her robe and smiled. “Believe me, it’s tempting, but I need to be there to make sure things go smoothly. Artists are counting on me.” She fluffed her long hair out of her robe, a careless gesture that caused a stirring in my lower abdomen. “Besides, it’s not just the exhibit. I’m on panels and have meetings, too.”

“You sound busy.” I propped my head up on my hand and watched her move about the room. “What will I be doing during all of this?” Besides watching you and remembering how wonderful you were last night.

She considered me a moment before responding. “I don’t know.”

I raised my brows. “You don’t know?” Was she already giving me the boot? She couldn’t. I needed her to take me to that art show. Everyone who was at the party last night would be there. It would be the best time to question people about Henri and the events at the Morales estate.

She tilted her head to the side. “What do escorts do during the day?”

A red flag went off in my head, and I looked away, pretending to think. “I . . . I’m not sure what you’re talking about.”

“Do you take classes, or have a day job?”

I glanced at her inquisitive stare. “What do you mean?”

She shrugged and tried to look nonchalant, but I could see that her eyes shone bright with questions. “You just seemed to know a lot about dead bodies yesterday. Then there was police procedure, and hiding from the cops . . .” She held my gaze. “It just seemed as if you knew more than the casual gigolo.”

Scarlett had always been smart, and I silently cursed at my bad luck. I didn’t want to lie to her, but I didn’t want to blow my cover, either.

“I guess I do know more,” I hedged.

“Why?”

“Military training,” I said, falling back on my online profile.

“That’s right, you had gone into the military after high school.” She flashed me a suspicious look.

“Yeah.”

“Where did you go?”

“Basic training.”

“And then?”

“Afghanistan.”

She stared at me for a moment, then nodded. “Must have been hot.”

“Hot?” I asked as she strode toward the bathroom door.

“In the desert,” she said over her shoulder. “I’m sure there was the danger of heatstroke.”

“Oh. Yeah.” I didn’t like where this line of questioning was going. It seemed as if she was fishing for something, and I wanted to change the subject before she discovered whatever she was looking for.

She turned around in the doorway to the bathroom and flashed me a thoughtful look. “Your father must have been disappointed with you going into the military.”

“Huh?”

She gathered her clothes and turned to face him. “He had always wanted you to enter the police academy, right? It must have been a disappointment to learn that you didn’t follow in his footsteps.” She widened her eyes. “He doesn’t know that you’re an escort, does he?”

I blinked as I tried to come up with a suitable response. “He died several years ago,” I said.

“Oh, my God.” She crossed back through the room and sat down on the edge of the bed. “I’m so sorry.” She touched my hand and gave me that sympathetic look I had seen so many times before. “I didn’t know.”

“No one did.” We had already graduated when he died, and the following year I had joined the police academy. My brothers had moved in with my aunt and had transferred schools. There was no way anyone at our former school would have known.

“Still, I’m sorry.”

“Thanks.” I swallowed the lump in my throat and nodded toward the shower door. “You’d better go take your shower. We don’t want to be late.”

“Oh.” She straightened away from the bed. She hurried toward the bathroom and paused at the door. “Gabe?”

“Yeah?”

“I really am sorry about your father. I liked him.” 

Learn more about or order a copy of Protecting His Interests by Suzanne Rock, available June 20, 2017:

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Keeping Her Close by Suzanne Rock

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As the newest SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) Team member, Officer Maximo “Max” Ferreira is irritated that his first assignment is not diffusing a terrorist threat, but instead providing protection to the controversial blogger Tess Abbott during her lecture tour in New York City. He believes the job is nothing more than glorified babysitting but after one look at the sexy journalist, suddenly, his job is no longer a hardship.

The attraction between them is immediate, and Tess's take-charge personality in the bedroom is like a dream come true. Unfortunately, Tess is too wrapped up in her work to take their relationship seriously. When an attempt is made on her life, it will take all of Max's training to convince her to stop trying to handle everything on her own and stay where he can protect her best—in his arms.

Read a selected scene:

He cleared his throat and shifted his stance, pulling his suit jacket over his slacks. “I asked if there was anything wrong. You were staring.”

“Was I?” I swallowed, suddenly feeling nervous. “I’m sorry. I was just thinking about . . .”

“About what happened?” he asked when I didn’t answer.

“Yeah.”

“Don’t worry, it was all an act. That hotel employee was getting a little nosey, and I didn’t want him to start digging too deep.”

I knew that it couldn’t be completely an act. He was far too aroused to have been faking all of it, but his words still hurt. I wasn’t sure how to respond, considering how much the kiss had affected me.

“I was faking it, too.”

He raised his brows. “Were you?”

I crossed my arms and lifted my chin. “Of course. You aren’t the only person on the planet who can fake a kiss.”

He started to respond, but then the elevator doors opened, distracting him. I rushed out into the hall before he could call my bluff, hoping that he wouldn’t see my embarrassment. What was wrong with me? I was the daughter of a United Nations representative and an established political blogger. I was above throwing myself at a man, certainly.

I hurried to the door and stood to one side so he could let us in. Max casually strode up to the room and leaned on the opposite side of the door frame.

“You weren’t faking it back there. I could tell.”

“Oh yeah?”

He nodded. “I know when something is real””

I snorted. “Do you, now?”

“Is that a challenge? Because we’ll have a few hours to kill in this room, and I’m sure that’s more than enough time to make you a believer . . .”

I shook my head in disbelief. “I’d like to see you try.” As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I regretted them. What was I doing? Someone out there was trying to kill me and here I was, flirting like some schoolgirl. This was ridiculous. I had contacts to talk to and Kami to check up on. There wasn’t any time for this nonsense.

“Challenge accepted, sweetheart.” Inching closer, Max’s features turned predatory.

My throat suddenly went dry. “You don’t have to—”

He stopped inches away from my body. I could feel the heat radiating off him in waves. He was so hot, so undeniably male. I had all I could do to not throw myself at him like some sort of groupie.

Seconds passed, and he didn’t touch me, didn’t speak. Slowly, my desire gave way to awkwardness and confusion.

“Well?” I finally said as I waved to the door knob behind him. “Aren’t you going to do something?”

He twisted his lips into a half-smile and dropped his gaze to my chest. “I’d love to . . . do something, but I can’t.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m not going to take you out in the hall like some crazed animal.”

“I—I don’t understand.”

“The door, Tess. We need to open the door to the room.” He brushed his finger over the top of my breast. His heat pushed through the cotton sweater, then trickled down my torso until it reached my lower abdomen. “You’re the one with the key.”

“Oh, right.” I wanted to step back, to grab the key and retreat to safety, but there was something in his gaze, something in the way his finger brushed over my breast that had me rooted to the spot.

“Unless you would rather have me do it for you.”

My breath caught as he reached out and slid his fingers underneath the low-cut seam of my shirt.

His warm fingers made it all too easy to remember the kiss we had shared only a few minutes before. I held my breath as he reached deeper, slipping his fingers along my skin and sending tingles of anticipation running through me.

Then abruptly he retreated and waved the room card in the air between us. As he turned toward the door, I started breathing once more and tried to use the moment to gather my wits.

I lifted my chin as he flicked open the door and breezed past him with as much dignity as I could muster.

“Hold that thought.”

“What?”

“I said—hold that thought.” He closed the door, tossed the card on the table, and moved about the standard-size room, pulling the cream curtains shut and peering underneath the navy-and-white bedsheets.

“What are you doing?”

“I need to secure the area. Can’t have anyone peaking in on our little game.”

“Our little—” I fisted my hands and ground my teeth. “This is not a game.”

“No?”

“No. You’re supposed to be protecting me, not trying to seduce me.”

“Trying to—” He turned to me and smirked. “I’m not ‘trying to’ seduce you, my dear. I’m succeeding.”

“Of all the egotistical—”

He nodded in my direction. “You’re so revved up that I can smell your desire all the way over here on the other side of the room.”

I made a sound of both surprise and disgust. Was my attraction to him really that obvious? “You cannot—”

“Hey, hey,” he said, raising his hands in mock surrender. “It’s okay. I get it. It’s been a while for me, too.”

“What? I’ll have you know that I—” I pressed my lips together before I could tell him about my lipstick vibrator. Something told me that he’d only laugh at my confession.

He shrugged. “Like I said, it’s no big deal. The whole team has been busy preparing for your arrival. We’ve all been working overtime, which means there hasn’t been any time for fun.” 

Learn more about or order a copy of Keeping Her Close by Suzanne Rock, available June 20, 2017:

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Love Unleashed by Diane Kelly

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Between wrangling her rambunctious kindergarten class and trying to catch an elusive Dalmatian pup who’s been hanging around the playground, teacher Jessica Bellingham can hardly seem to catch her breath. And when hot, hunky fireman Louie DeLuca arrives to teach the children about fire safety, she just might need mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Who’d have thought a yellow slicker could be so sexy?

Things heat up quickly, igniting a passion the two would gladly allow to consume them. But will their romance become a four-alarm blaze, or will a dark secret from Jesse’s past threaten to cool things off for good? And what will become of the playful puppy who seems to stay just out of reach?

Read a selected scene:

After dinner, we changed into our bathing suits to relax in the hot tub in Louie’s backyard. Of course I wasn’t sure I’d be able to relax. There was too much at stake.

Us.

I’d brought a black T-shirt to wear over my bathing suit. I wanted to be honest with Louie, to show him what had happened to me, but I didn’t feel quite ready. I knew he’d be shocked. Maybe even disgusted. Scott certainly had been. Once he’d seen my scars, he no longer looked at me the same way. Before I dared to show Louie, I had to know he could see past them.

While I might not be ready to bare myself—or my soul—I was more than ready for a hot and heavy make-out session in a hot tub. I’d just have to let Louie know that certain parts of me were still off-limits. I’d already come up with a convenient excuse. I’d claim to be ticklish. That ought to work, right?

Louie was already in the tub by the time I ventured out back. Disappointment flickered in his eyes as he took in the T-shirt covering my bathing suit. But how disappointed would he be if he could see what lay underneath?

His arms were stretched along the rim of the tub on either side of him, the water bubbling up to the center of his burly chest. Though I’d gotten a general sense of his muscles through his clothing, his shoulders and biceps and pecs looked even larger when they were bare like this. A warm tingle spread through my lower half, desire manifesting itself.

“Need a hand?” Louie asked, standing in the tub and reaching out a strong arm to help me in.

“Thanks.” I climbed up the steps and took a seat across from him, slowly lowering myself onto the bench. The water was warm, but not hot, and the sound and feel of the bubbles was soothing.

The tub wasn’t large, but spacious enough that four people could have sat comfortably. I was glad it was only the two of us. Well, the two of us plus Stinker, who climbed up the steps, sniffed at the bubbling water, then yelped and scampered off in surprise when a bubble popped on her nose. She sat on the porch, eyeing the hot tub with suspicion.

My outstretched legs tangled with Louie’s under the water, the occasional, unexpected contact sending jolts of primal want through me. I wondered if Louie was experiencing the same thing. I looked over at him. But instead of seeing a look of smoldering desire on his face, or even a relaxed calm, he looked pensive.

“You okay?” I asked him.

He exhaled a long, loud breath and looked away for a moment before turning back to me. “Remember the other day when you asked me why I became a firefighter?”

I nodded. “You said it was because you liked physical work.”

“That’s part of it,” he said, “but it’s not all of it.” He shifted in his seat, as if he’d become uncomfortable. “The main reason is because, when I was a kid, I . . .” He closed his gorgeous brown eyes for a few seconds before opening them again and locking his gaze on mine. “I burned down my grandparents’ house.”

My mouth gaped, but not for the reason he probably thought. He proceeded to tell me the entire story, how he’d had a raging appetite and been too impatient to wait for his nonna to return home.

The strained look on his face told me he was worried how I’d react to the story. It also told me he wasn’t used to sharing something this personal very often. I knew I had to respond in a way that would let him know this childhood mistake didn’t at all change the way I felt about him. “Nobody was hurt, right? So it all turned out okay.”

“Hardly,” he said. “The house was a total loss. All of the family heirlooms my grandparents had brought over from Italy? Gone.”

I nudged his foot with mine under the water. “Don’t beat yourself up about it, Louie. You were a kid. I know kids. They do things they shouldn’t all the time. It’s how they’re wired. It’s how they learn.”

“Well, I learned a big lesson that day for sure.”

I reached out, put my hand over his on the rim of the hot tub, and gave it a reassuring squeeze. I hoped my words and touch would convince him that I thought no less of him for what had happened. I desperately wanted to tell him then that I’d done something similar, that I’d wanted to light my mother’s lavender candle, the one that smelled so good, the one she’d told me time and time again to never try to light by myself. I, too, had ignored the warnings and struck a match to light the candle. When it burned my fingers, I’d dropped it. It had fallen onto the front of my pajamas and caught the top on fire. On instinct I’d run, my manic mind not comprehending that I couldn’t run from this fire because I was wearing it.

My running further fanned the flames. By the time my father tackled me to the ground, I had third-degree burns over most of my upper abdomen and the center of my chest, between my yet-to-be breasts. Despite extensive medical treatments, the skin remained discolored an odd pinkish-white, thick and leathery, looking as if it had melted. Not exactly sexy. I’d hated the smell of lavender ever since. Now, I stuck to vanilla.

Not knowing what was going on in my mind, Louie continued his story. “Everyone called me Meatball back then. I was big and round until the summer after my junior year of high school. I didn’t lose any weight, but I shot up five inches in just a few months and the pounds rearranged themselves.”

I found myself smiling. “They rearranged themselves quite well.”

Louie’s lip curled up in a relieved and sexy grin. “Oh, you think so, do you?”

I used my hand to send a splash his way. “Don’t go getting cocky on me.”

“Too late.” He chuckled and slid forward off the bench, easing through the water toward me, his brown eyes flashing with need. He angled his body over mine and put his lips to that sensitive, sensual area right below my jawline. When he trailed kisses along my neck, all thoughts of the lavender candle and the burning pajamas escaped my mind. This must be what paradise is like.

“As long as I’m being honest,” he said softly, pulling back to look me in the eye, “I might as well admit that I remembered you from the coffee house. I’m the one who asked another firefighter to switch shifts with me so I could go to your assembly, not the other way around.”

I couldn’t help smiling. “You’re a liar,” I teased. “You know what happens to liars.”

“Yeah. Their pants catch fire. But you know what else sets my pants on fire?” He slid me a sexy grin. “You.”

Oh, Lord!

He kissed along my neck and shoulder, the warmth of his mouth blending with the warmth of the water, my entire body feeling the sensual sensations. I melted back against the wall of the tub.

Louie hooked his arms under mine and gently eased me forward to his side of the tub. He put his mouth to mine now, his kisses starting soft, but growing more urgent and insistent. I was right there along with him… 

Learn more about or order a copy of Love Unleashed by Diane Kelly, available June 20, 2017:

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Along Came Us by Nicole McLaughlin

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National Guardsman Tyler Cavallo knows all too well what it feels like to be a volatile teenager. There was a time when it seemed like everyone—be it his father, a rival gang member, or his opponent in the MMA cage—was out to get him. These days he focuses that fight into his gym where he mentors at-risk youths. But one particular teen has Tyler more concerned than usual, and if he’s learned one thing in life, it’s to trust his instincts, and right now those instincts are telling him that this boy isn’t safe.

Lia Hanson is a woman on a mission. With bills to pay, and a younger brother to raise, and two full time jobs, she’s working her ass off and doing the best she can. But in a few months she will finally graduate from college and be able to put most of that behind her for good. Or so she thinks, until a certain overbearing and stupidly good looking gym owner acts like he knows what’s best for her brother. A man is the last thing she wants, and this man is certainly not who she pictured as a stable role model. Lia thought she had a plan, but Tyler’s support, strength and passion have her realizing that sometimes the best things in life come when they’re least expected.

 

Read a selected scene:

Pulling her phone from her bag, she found his contact. Her finger hovered over the screen as she made her way toward her car. As soon as she unlocked it and sat down, she pushed the call button.

She listened to it ring, her heart pounding. The minute he answered with a sexy “Hey,” she felt relieved. His tone completely told her that he was happy to hear from her.

“Hi. Busy?”

“Not too busy for you.”

Lia smiled. She could hear the telltale sounds of the gym in the background. She imagined him there in his element, maybe in sport pants or shorts. Although he looked good in whatever he wore. “That’s nice of you to say.”

The noise started to fade away until it was gone. She figured he must have gone into his office or the training room. “I was going to call you today.”

“Were you? Guess I should have waited,” she teased.

“No way. I like seeing your face pop up on my phone.”

“My face?”

“Oh shit,” he chuckled. “Yeah, I guess I just outed Reeve for covertly taking your picture the other day at the coffee shop.”

She gasped. “Are you serious? Oh gosh, do I look ridiculous?”

“Of course not. You look beautiful.”

Biting her lip, Lia’s body went warm all over at his compliment. So, his friend had taken her picture and sent it to him. How adorable. It’s like they were two teenage girls. The thought made her laugh quietly as she turned her key in the ignition just enough to roll down the windows.

“How come you didn’t come with him?” she asked.

“I wanted to, but I’d been working out and was all nasty so I needed a shower before a client showed up. I did you a favor.”

“I don’t know about that. Were you shirtless?” she teased in her flirty voice. It made her cringe a little at how easily she slipped into it, but she had a job where flirty voice was profitable, so she could hardly help it. She was good at it, although she was pretty sure it was the first time she’d used it on Tyler.

“Not at that moment. But I’m happy to be shirtless whenever you want me to.”

“I’ve just never seen you without a shirt. I’m a little curious.” The absolute truth, although she’d fantasized about what she thought he’d look like.

“You should have said that the other night. I guess we’ll just have to fix that next time.”

She was happy to hear that he wanted to see her again. “I think so. I want to see all your tattoos.”

“Oh boy. You’re in for a treat, then. I’ve got a few.”

“Do they each have a story?” Lia asked, enjoying the fall breeze on her face as she imagined discovering all his tattoos.

“More or less, although some of them have a similar story. It goes like this. ‘Once upon a time I was young and stupid. The end.’”

She laughed. “You wouldn’t be the only person with that tattoo story, I’m sure.”

“Definitely not.”

“Do you regret any of them?” She asked.

“Nah. They are all part of my past. No use in regrets. I’m happy with where I’ve ended up.”

“I like that philosophy.”

“Yeah? I think it’s a good one. You have regrets now?”

She hesitated, watching the person get into the car across from her. Answering this question was tricky as she didn’t want him to pry too much. “Trying not to.”

“Well, as far as I can tell, you have nothing to be ashamed of. I’m impressed by you.”

Lia glanced at herself in the review mirror, hating that she saw a woman staring back at her that wanted to be strong, brave, and honest, but was usually faking all three.

Soon. Soon she would finally become the person she was meant to be and everything would fall into place.

She changed the subject. “Thank you for . . . helping me to bed the other night.”

“My pleasure.” Another awkward pause. “What are you doing right now?”

“Sitting in my car.”

“Do you have anywhere to be?”

“I have to work at three.”

“I was going to run home for lunch. You want to come over? No point in sitting here on the phone when I could be showing you my tattoos in person.”

Lia laughed, loving that he’d used his own flirty voice. “Okay. I guess so. If you promise.”

“Oh, I promise. In fact, I’m not letting the sun set on this day without you seeing all of them. Even the one on my butt.”

What? Do you seriously have one on your butt?”

“You’ll have to check to know for sure.”

He gave her his address and her excitement grew as she pulled out of the campus parking lot and headed to his neighborhood. He owned a home, apparently, and she was extremely curious to see what it looked like.

She’d been so certain she’d pegged Tyler correctly in the beginning, but she’d been wrong. Yes, he looked a little rough and badass, but once you saw him joke with his friends, learned he mentored teen boys, and listened as he spoke about his brother, you know he was just a once-hardened man who’d become a softie.

Learn more about or order a copy of Along Came Us by Nicole McLaughlin, available June 27, 2017:

Buy at Amazon

Buy at B&N

 

 


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Copyright © 2017 by Addison Fox, Suzanne Rock, Suzanne Rock, Diane Kelly & Nicole McLaughlin
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2 comments
Kareni
1. Kareni
I think I may be reading too many romances when I start to see duplicate cover art. The cover of Along Came Love by Tracey Livesay is the same as the new book by Addison Fox. Is new cover art so difficult to come by?
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