Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Cover Reveal - Chasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis

CHASING CHRISTMAS EVE - banner    

From New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis comes the next sexy, standalone novel in the Heartbreaker Bay series...

    CHASING CHRISTMAS EVE - cover
About CHASING CHRISTMAS EVE:
Meet cute...
Run for the hills—temporarily. That’s Colbie Albright’s plan when she flees New York for San Francisco. Wrangling her crazy family by day and writing a bestselling YA fantasy series by night has taken its toll. In short, Colbie’s so over it that she’s under it. She’s also under the waters of a historic San Francisco fountain within an hour of arrival. Fortunately, the guy who fishes Colbie out has her looking forward to Christmas among strangers. But she’s pretty sure Spencer Baldwin won’t be a stranger for long.
Make merry...
Spence’s commitment to hiding from the Ghosts of Relationships Past means he doesn’t have to worry about the powerful—okay, crazy hot—chemistry he’s got with Colbie. Just because she can laugh at anything, especially herself... just because she’s gorgeous and a great listener…just because she “gets” Spencer immediately doesn’t mean he won’t be able to let Colbie go. Does it?
…and hope for a miracle.
Now the clock’s ticking for Colbie and Spence: Two weeks to cut loose. Two weeks to fall hard. Two weeks to figure out how to make this Christmas last a lifetime

Pre-Order CHASING CHRISTMAS EVE in ebook or paperback, releasing 9/26/17

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The bathroom door opened, and even better than his fantasy, Colbie emerged from a cloud of steam, her willowy body wrapped in one of his towels, her exposed skin gleaming and dewy damp. Her hair had been piled on top of her head, but wavy strands had escaped, clinging to her neck and shoulders. 

He couldn’t tear his gaze off of her. There was just something so uncalculated about her, so . . . natural and easy. She was like a beacon to him, which was both crazy and more than a little terrifying. 

Clearly not seeing him against the wall, she moved with an effortless grace to the suitcase she’d left at the door. Bending low enough to give him a near heart attack, she rifled through her things, mumbling to herself that she should’ve researched more about how to be a normal person instead of how to kill someone with an everyday object. 

“Do you kill a lot of people, then?” Spence asked. “Motherforker!” she said with a startled squeak of surprise, whirling to face him, almost losing her grip on the towel. 

Five days a week, Spence worked out hard in this gym. Mostly to outrun his demons, but the upside was he could run miles without losing his breath. But he lost his breath now. 

And that wasn’t his body’s only reaction.    

Heartbreaker Bay graphic

And don’t miss the previous books in Jill Shalvis’s Heartbreaker Bay Series, SWEET LITTLE LIES, THE TROUBLE WITH MISTLETOE, ONE SNOWY NIGHT and ACCIDENTALLY ON PURPOSE, now available! Grab your copies HERE!


Jill Shalvis - headshotAbout Jill Shalvis: New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s sexy contemporary and award-winning books wherever romances are sold and click on the blog button above for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.      

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Cover Reveal - Say I'm Yours by Corinne Michaels

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I'm so excited today to share the cover of a new novel 

coming from Corinne Michaels, 


Say I'm Yours, expected March 27, 2017 


  SayYours Amazon   
From New York Times Bestseller, Corinne Michaels, comes a new second chance standalone romance. 

I spent twenty years waiting for Trent Hennington to open his eyes and see me. But it was all for nothing. He chose to keep himself guarded and let me walk away, proving that my time and efforts were wasted. 

I'm done being invisible. 
It's time to move on. 

A single dance sets my new reality into motion, and I welcome it. After all, Cooper Townsend is perfect. He's kind, sexy, and attentive--everything a girl could want. 

I thought I got it right this time. 
That my heart could mend, and I would be happy. 
Apparently, some things really are just too hard to walk away from. 

Say I’m Yours Pre-Order

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Corinne Close Medium Corinne Michaels is the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling author of The Salvation Series and Say You'll Stay. She's an emotional, witty, sarcastic, and fun loving mom of two beautiful children. Corinne is happily married to the man of her dreams and is a former Navy wife. After spending months away from her husband while he was deployed, reading and writing was her escape from the loneliness. 

Both her maternal and paternal grandmothers were librarians, which only intensified her love of reading. After years of writing short stories, she couldn't ignore the call to finish her debut novel, Beloved. Her alpha heroes are broken, beautiful, and will steal your heart. 

Newsletter | Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Amazon Author Page | Corinne Michaels Facebook Group  

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Cover Reveal - Take Me Back by Meghan March

Today we are excited to share the cover for a brand new novel TAKE ME BACK a brand new standalone from USA Today bestselling author Meghan March that brings the heat and is packed with emotion and action. Get ready for a wild ride on MARCH 20!

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We fell in love on a beach, got married in paradise, and I carried her off into the sunset. It should have been perfect, but saying “I do” doesn’t guarantee a happily-ever-after. Two years later, I barely recognize either of us behind the walls we’ve built. It’s time to bring it full circle. Back to a tropical paradise. Back to find out if we can still make this work. I’m not willing to give her up, but to save us, I have to risk everything. Two damaged people. Countless secrets. The fight of our lives. We might be broken, but we’re not done. 

PRE-ORDER

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meghanmarchpic
Meghan March has been known to wear camo face paint and tromp around in woods wearing mud-covered boots, all while sporting a perfect manicure. She's also impulsive, easily entertained, and absolutely unapologetic about the fact that she loves to read and write smut. Her past lives include slinging auto parts, selling lingerie, making custom jewelry, and practicing corporate law. Writing books about dirty talking alpha males and the strong, sassy women who bring them to their knees is by far the most fabulous job she's ever had. She loves hearing from her readers at meghanmarchbooks@gmail.com.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Re-Cover Reveal - Wanderlust by Daisy Prescott

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Today we are revealing the brand new cover and title for Missionary Position by Daisy Prescott. The gorgeous cover is below and the new title of the book is WANDERLUST. It will be re-lanched on February 20th and it is part of Daisy's Modern Love Stories series! Read the author note below to find out why Daisy decided to make these changes and re-launch the book.

  Wanderlust Amazon

WANDERLUST (previously titled Missionary Position) by Daisy Prescott Re-launching February 20, 2017 (Modern Love Stories, #3)

ADD WANDERLUST TO GOODREADS

BOOK BLURB:

#1 Top Rated Book in Humorous Women's Fiction Top 20 Humorous Women's Fiction Best Seller Romantic Comedy Best Seller

"A captivating story about life, love, and an exciting and unintentional quest for self-discovery."

Selah Elmore is a confident, curvy woman who knows exactly who she is and what she wants. Her less-than-stellar love life is another story. Hoping for a fresh start, she leaves her home and job in the Pacific Northwest to spend six months in West Africa.

After accepting an offer from a stranger in an airport bar, Selah's real adventure begins during a stopover in Amsterdam. Will the daring, mysterious Kai show her what love really is?

Sparks fly on three continents when perpetually single Selah discovers there's more to love and life than she ever imagined.

Wanderlust is book three in the Modern Love Stories series. It's a spin-off/standalone from Geoducks Are for Lovers.

 

BUY THE BOOK NOW

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AUTHOR NOTE

Hi lovely readers,

The first thing you're probably asking is if this is a new book. It's not. It's the same book but with a new title and cover as Missionary Position.

Why the change?

While the Missionary Position title works for Selah's love story (and makes us both giggle), it might give readers the wrong idea. Wanderlust is one of my favorite words and better captures the romance between Kai and Selah set on three continents. Because of the sexual implications of the title, MP keeps being put in the erotica dungeon despite being more of a rom com (again, giggles about this from both Selah and me).

Plus, Missionary Position is also the title of a Mother Teresa biography, and well, that's kind of awkward.

After stewing about this for a few years, I decided to rebrand the book with a new look and title in hopes more people will discover this wonderful book. It's still one of my favorites. Wanderlust is a love story between an older woman and a younger man set on the West African coast, full of humor and unexpected adventures.

Thanks for reading!

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OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES

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WE WERE HERE (Modern Love Story, #1)

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GEODUCKS WERE FOR LOVERS (Modern Love Story, #2)

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AUTHOR INFORMATION:

 

new daisy prescott full sizeUSA Today Bestselling Author Daisy Prescott writes romantic comedies with heart. 

Her Modern Love Stories feature characters in their thirties and forties finding and rediscovering love in unexpected and humorous ways. Her Wingmen books star regular guys who often have beards, drive trucks, and love deeply once they fall. Look for her new Rom Com series, Love with Altitude, in 2017. 

Born and raised in San Diego, Daisy currently lives in a real life Stars Hollow in the Boston suburbs with her husband, their rescue dog, and an indeterminate number of imaginary house goats. When not writing about herself in the third person, Daisy can be found traveling, gardening, baking, or lost in a good book. 

To learn more about Daisy and her writing, sign up for her mailing list here (copy and paste this link): eepurl.com/xhXb5. Send her an email at: daisyauthor AT gmail DOT com Or chat with her on Twitter (@daisy_prescott) and Facebook: /daisyprescottauthorpage, and follow her on Instagram: /daisyprescott      

AUTHOR LINKS: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | Newsletter

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Monday, February 13, 2017

Believer - My Review of RIVETED by Jay Crownover - Blog Tour

RIVETED - header banner  

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Marked Men books comes the next installment in the Saints of Denver series.

    Riveted - cover

Everyone else in Dixie Carmichael’s life has made falling in love look easy, and now she is ready for her own chance at some of that happily ever after. Which means she’s done pining for the moody, silent former soldier who works with her at the bar that’s become her home away from home. Nope. No more chasing the hot as heck thundercloud of a man and no more waiting for Mr. Right to find her; she’s going hunting for him...even if she knows her heart is stuck on its stupid infatuation with Dash Churchill.


Denver has always been just a pit stop for Church on his way back to rural Mississippi. It was supposed to be simple, uneventful, but nothing could have prepared him for the bubbly, bouncy redhead with doe eyes and endless curves. Now he knows it’s time to get out of Denver, fast. For a man used to living in the shadows, the idea of spending his days in the sun is nothing short of terrifying. When Dixie and Church find themselves caught up in a homecoming overshadowed with lies and danger, Dixie realizes that while falling in love is easy, loving takes a whole lot more work…especially when Mr. Right thinks he’s all wrong for you.

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    RIVETED - Review Tour teaser  

ADD RIVETED TO YOUR GOODREADS

 

Can’t wait to hear what others are saying about RIVETED? 

Follow along with the tour here!

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Jay Crownover - headshotJay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men, The Point, and the Saints of Denver series. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she'll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her three dogs.        

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I have to admit that I had other Saints of Denver characters I was hoping to read about besides Dixie and Church (Can you say Wheeler and Poppy?), even though their characters have been around since the Marked Men series and the tension has been growing between them throughout the Saints series. Despite their loaded dialogue and awareness of each other, to me, they kind of got lost up until now in the large cast of strong characters. I have to say, I am so grateful to Jay for telling Dixie and Church's story when she did.

Church keeps himself secure behind a very thick wall. After enduring a childhood peppered with bigotry and the loss of many loved ones, Church has decided to never let himself be vulnerable again.


Dixie is a bright ray of sunshine. She wears her incredibly large heart right out there on her sleeve where anyone could damage it, and yet she freely makes herself available to people who need her.


When Church is suddenly needed back home, he asks Dixie to accompany him to act as his excuse for staying away from Mississippi for so long. Dixie's attraction to Church, as well as her giving spirit, are to blame for her climbing on the back of Church's bike for the ride of her life.

While Church and Dixie are learning to navigate their feelings and attraction, sinister forces are at work all around them. Amidst several life-threatening, hair-raising, could-be accidents, Church begins facing the ghosts of his past and making room for his family in his future. This brings up the questions; will there be room for Dixie in that future, and will she actually want to be a part of it.

Jay Crownover writes the most authentic characters I've ever read. They are flawed and sometimes even broken, but Jay always takes them on a journey of growth and acceptance. 

Jay doesn't have a formula or pattern to her stories. Each one has a unique signature but told with her trademarked voice. Her words and phrases are never repetitive. Some authors, especially authors writing a series, use the same phrases during pivotal moments, but Jay creates word patterns that are particular and relevant to each story.

This book is about so much more than romance. Jay tackles some issues like racism, self-acceptance, and grief. These characters experience some major growth and I feel blessed to have read their adventure. I look forward to seeing updates from them in the future.

5 out of 5 Stars



Imagine Dragons - Believer


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99 CENT SALE - Paper Hearts by Claire Contreras

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Today we are celebrating a sale of PAPER HEARTS by Claire Contreras! This is the second book in her Hearts series, but it can be read as a standalone! If you haven't had a chance to read this series yet, now is the time to grab it! Celebrate Valentine's Day by getting this treat for yourself or a friend.

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PAPER HEARTS by Claire Contreras

Hearts Series, #2 (can be read as a standalone)

Blurb:

I lost her. No. I threw her away. She was my best friend.

I was never supposed to fall in love with her. I was careless. She was heartbroken.

I thought I was doing fine. But here she is, years later, forced to work with me, reminding me why I fell in love with her in the first place. And this time I'm going to do everything in my power to never let her go.

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ON SALE FOR JUST $0.99 CENTS FOR A LIMITED TIME!

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PURCHASE THE OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES

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KALEIDOSCOPE HEARTS (Hearts, #1)

28673982

ELASTIC HEARTS (Hearts, #3)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Claire Contreras is a New York Times Best Selling Author. Her books range from romantic suspense to contemporary romance and are currently translated in seven different languages.

She lives in Miami, Fl with her husband, two adorable boys, three bulldogs, and two stray cats that she refuses to admit are hers (even though they live on her porch, she named them, and continues to feed them). When she's not writing, she's usually lost in a book.

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Friday, February 10, 2017

Blog Tour - Somebody Like You by Donna Alward




SOMEBODY LIKE YOU
By Donna Alward



Description:
A kiss to last a lifetime

Aiden Gallagher was only five years old when he appeared in a photograph on the Kissing Bridge. The town of Darling, Vermont, has used Aiden’s image on the famed bridge—local legend has it that a kiss there results in everlasting love—as part of its tourism campaign. Now, twenty years later, Aiden is asked to recreate the moment with the woman he once kissed: Laurel Stone.

Recently divorced, there’s nothing Laurel wants less than to pretend happily-ever-after with Aiden. As teenagers, their romance was no fairy tale—and Laurel has never quite forgiven Aiden for breaking her heart. But now that she is back in her hometown, and keeps bumping into police officer Aiden, Laurel can’t deny that there’s still a strong flicker between her and her old flame. Could it be that the Kissing Bridge is working its magic on Laurel and Aiden—and that all true love ever needed was a second chance?

DONNA ALWARD BIO: While bestselling author Donna Alward was busy studying Austen, Eliot and Shakespeare, she was also losing herself in the breathtaking stories created by romance novelists like LaVyrle Spencer, Judith McNaught, and Nora Roberts. Several years after completing her degree she decided to write a romance of her own and it was true love! Five years and ten manuscripts later she sold her first book and launched a new career. While her heartwarming stories of love, hope, and homecoming have been translated into several languages, hit bestseller lists and won awards, her very favorite thing is when she hears from happy readers!
Donna lives on Canada’s east coast with her family which includes a husband, a couple of kids, a senior dog and two crazy cats. When she’s not writing she enjoys reading (of course!), knitting, gardening, cooking…and is a Masterpiece Theater addict.

BUY LINKS:

SOCIAL LINKS
Twitter- @DonnaAlward
Facebook- @DonnaAlwardAuthor
Author Blog


Chapter 1
Every single terra- cotta pot was smashed.
Laurel Stone blinked quickly, annoyed at the sting at the back of her eyes as she stared at the mess. She was angry. Furious. Most people would rant or turn red in the face. But not Laurel. When she got mad, she angry- cried. And right now she was so infuriated that she could barely see through the hot tears.
She’d come in early to do some watering and deadheading before starting the weekly stock order, but discovered the gate hanging limply from its hinges, its lock busted. She immediately took out her cell and called the cops, working extra hard to keep her voice from shaking. Falling apart was not an option. She’d made it through a lot of life changes lately and had kept it together. This time was no different.
Now, as she waited for the police, she swiped at her face and bit down on her lip. It was only six thirty in the morning and she hadn’t even had her first coffee yet. The brew sat cooling, forgotten in her ladybug print travel mug.
Normally she hummed away to herself, unwinding the hose in the cool morning air. Not today. Today she had to deal with the fact that crime actually happened in quiet,
idyllic Darling, Vermont.
And that left her shaken.
The Ladybug Garden Center was her pride and joy, her foray into building a new life for herself. There’d been little incidents in her first few weeks of opening, but she hadn’t
thought much of them. The parking lot had been messed up a bit where someone had pulled doughnuts with their car. Two lilac bushes from the bed by the store sign had been stolen. She’d sighed at the incon ve nience, but chalked it up to simple mischief.
This time the intent was obvious. Deliberate. And it felt personal.
All the pottery was in shards on the floor. Six- packs of annuals had been pushed off their tables, spilling dirt and crushed blossoms. Hanging baskets had been carelessly dropped, so that the planters cracked and split. Tomato and pepper plants were strewn everywhere, broken and wilting. The lock on the little safe had been smashed, and they’d taken the small amount of money set aside for a float.
Laurel was sweeping shards of pottery into a dustpan when she heard the gritty crunch of tires on gravel. She stood up and braced her hand on her hip as the cruiser crept slowly up the drive and into the parking lot. Might as well get the report over with, and then get on with the cleanup and the call to the insurance agent.
The cruiser door opened.
Damn, damn, damn.
She’d forgotten, though she wasn’t quite sure how she could have since Darling was such a small town. Aiden Gallagher. One of Darling’s finest, complete with a crisp navy uniform, black shoes, and a belt on his hip that lent him a certain gravity and sexiness she wished she didn’t appreciate.
The last time she’d seen Aiden, she’d been home from school, barely twenty- one, and he’d flashed her a cocky take- a- good- look grin, all the while parading around the Suds and Spuds pub with some girl on his arm. Not that she’d expected any other sort of behavior from him. But still. Ugh.
Aiden approached the gate and she took a deep breath. He was a cop answering a call. Nothing more. And that was how she’d treat him. She definitely wouldn’t acknowledge that they’d known each other since they were five years old. Or that he’d once had her half- naked in the backseat of his car.
“Laurel,” he greeted, sliding through the gap in the fence. “Looks like you’ve had some trouble.”
She would do this. She would not cry again, especially not in front of Aiden. She had too much pride.
“A break-in last night.” She opened the gate a bit wider so he could get through. He passed close by her, his scent wafting in his wake. She swallowed. After all these years, he still wore the same cologne, and nostalgia hit her right in the solar plexus. He took off his cap and she saw his hair was still the same burnished copper, only shorter and without the natural waves, and his skin showed signs of freckles, but nowhere near as pronounced as they’d been. He wasn’t a boy any longer; he was a man.
He looked over his shoulder, his gray- blue eyes meeting hers.
Definitely a man.
“Wow.” He stopped and stared at the carnage. “They made a real mess. Was anything taken?”
She shrugged, focusing on the issue at hand once more.
“Inventory- wise, I won’t know until I get things cleaned up and do a count. But I doubt it. The float for the cash is gone, but that’s only a few hundred dollars. Mostly they just made a mess.”
Laurel bent over and righted a half- barrel of colorful begonias, purple lobelia, and million bells. Her gaze blurred as she noticed the crushed, fragile blossoms and pile of dirt left on the floor.
“Laurel?”
She clenched her teeth. If he saw her with tears in her eyes . . . today was upsetting enough without adding humiliation to the mix.
“Laurel,” he said, softer now. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine.” She bit out the words and pushed past him, going to the counter area. She could stand behind it and the counter would provide a barrier between them. “You don’t need to worry about me, or take that soothing-the-victim tone. What do you need for facts?”
She sensed his withdrawal as he straightened his shoulders, and she felt momentarily sheepish for taking such a sharp tone. But she was angry, dammit. Hell, she was angry most of the time, and starting to get tired of hiding it with a smile. This was truly the last thing she needed.
“Do you have a slip or anything with the amount of the float?” Now he was all business. It was a relief. She took a piece of paper from beneath the cash drawer in the register. “This is our rundown for what goes in the float each night. It’s put in a zip bag in the safe. Like a pencil case.”
He came around the counter, invading her space, and knelt down in front of the cupboard. “This is the safe?”
“I know. It’s not heavy- duty . . .”
“It looks like they just beat it open with a hammer.”
Great. Now she was feeling stupid, too. “It’s Darling. I didn’t expect something like this to happen here.”
He stood up and gave her a look that telegraphed “Are you serious?” before stepping back beyond the counter again. “Something like this happens everywhere, Laurel. What, you didn’t think crime happened in Darling?”
Well, no. Or at least, not until today. The fact that she’d already come to this disappointing conclusion, and then he’d repeated it, just made her angrier.
Coming home was supposed to be peaceful. Happy. The town was small, friendly, neighborly. Even after years away, many of her customers remembered her from her school years and recalled stories from those days. Darling even had a special “Kissing Bridge” in the park. There were several stories around how the bridge got the name, so no one really knew for sure. But the stone bridge and the quaint little legend to go with it brought tourists to the area and made Darling’s claim to fame a very romantic one. In a nutshell, those who stood on the bridge and sealed their love with a kiss would be together forever.
She should know all about it. Her picture— and Aiden’s— hung in the town offices to advertise the attraction. Just because they’d only been five years old at the time didn’t make it less of an embarrassment.
“I’m not naïve,” she replied sharply. “Is there anything else you need or can I get back to cleaning up?”
“Can you think of anyone who might want to give you trouble? Someone with a grudge or ax to grind?”
Other than you? she thought darkly. This was the first time they’d actually spoken since she’d poured vanilla milkshake over his head in the school cafeteria in their senior year. “No,” she replied. “I can’t imagine who’d want to do this.”
“I don’t suppose you have any video cameras installed.”
She shook her head, feeling inept and slightly stupid. Maybe she was a little naïve after all. She hadn’t lived in Darling since she was nineteen— nine years. Things had changed in her absence. New people, new businesses.
“I’ll have another look around. It looks like a case of vandalism more than anything. Probably some teen agers thinking it’s funny, or after the cash for booze or pot, and smashed some stuff for show.” His gaze touched hers.
“Kids can be really dumb at that age.”
Her cheeks heated. He hadn’t had to say the actual words for her to catch his meaning. “You never know. They might have been dared to do it. Or some sort of stupid bet.”
He held her gaze a few seconds longer, and she could tell by the look in his eyes that he acknowledged the hit.
He’d kissed her because of one of those bets . . . more than kissed her. They’d been parking in his car and he’d rounded second base and had been headed for third. And then she’d found out about the wager and lost her cool. Publicly. With the milkshake.
The only thing she regretted was saying yes to going on that drive in the first place.
“So you still haven’t forgiven me for that.”
Laurel lifted her chin. “To my recollection, you haven’t asked for forgiveness.”
Aiden frowned, his brows pulling together. “We were seventeen. Kids. That was years ago.”
Which didn’t sound much like an apology at all.
“Yes, it was. Now, I have a lot of mess to clean up. Is there any more information you need or are we done here?”
He stared at her for a long minute. Long enough that she started to squirm a bit at his continued attention. Finally, when she was so uncomfortable she thought she might burst, she turned away and retrieved the broom and dustpan from where she’d left them.
“Do you want some help with this?”
She didn’t want him to offer. The idea of spending more time with him was so unsettling that she immediately refused.
“No. Don’t you have to get back to work? Besides, I have someone coming in at eight. You go do what you need to do, Officer Gallagher.”
“Officer Galla . . . oh, for Crissakes, Laurel. Is that necessary?”
She pinned him with a glare. He was standing with his weight on one hip, accentuating his lean, muscular physique, one perfect eyebrow arched in response to her acid tone.
She wasn’t the kind to hold a grudge. Not generally. Heck, she’d forgiven Dan months ago, and that was for something far bigger than a silly teenage bet. Why did Aiden get under her skin so easily?
Maybe it was because he’d been so callous, even after the fact. If he’d shown any remorse at all . . . but he hadn’t. He’d taken the paper cup the milkshake had been in, and fired it across the cafeteria floor before charging out. And he’d never once spoken to her again. Until today. And despite the change in circumstances, she felt much the same as she had that night in the backseat of his car. Out of her depth, over her head, and at a distinct disadvantage.
She looked away. “Sorry. I just want to clean this up and get ready to open.”
She picked up the broom and began sweeping the little bits of broken pots and dirt into the dustpan. She saw his shoes first; big sturdy black ones that stopped in front of her. Then his hand, warm and reassuring, touched her shoulder. She’d been rude and brusque, and he was being kind. Damn him. Emotion threatened to overwhelm again. Couldn’t he see that gentle compassion was harder for her to handle than cool efficiency?
“Are you afraid to stay here alone this morning?” He throat tightened. “No, of course not.”
“I’m on duty until this afternoon. I can check in from time to time.”
“I’m fine.” She looked up at him and set her jaw. “I can take care of myself. I’m a big girl.”
He stepped back. “All right. But if you think of anything or anything else happens, call right away.”
“Okay.”
She kept sweeping and listened to his footsteps walk away across the concrete floor. The building always smelled delicious thanks to the flowers, but this morning the scent was even more pungent because many had been crushed and mangled. She sighed and rested her weight on the broom handle. He was just doing his job. And she was pissed off—at the state of the garden center and the fact that the one person in Darling she didn’t really care to see was the one who’d been sent to help.
“Aiden?”
He turned when she called his name, but his expression was neutral. She wished she could be that way. Unfortunately she always seemed to wear her emotions all over her face.
“Thanks for your help this morning.”
He nodded. “Just doing my job.”
He walked to his cruiser and got in while Laurel stood there with a flaming- hot face. Once he’d turned to exit the driveway, she kicked a plastic bucket that had been abandoned in the middle of an aisle, sending it spinning away with a loud clatter. No sooner had she decided to extend an olive branch than he came back with a line that deflated any sort of possibility of amity. He was just doing his job, like he’d do for anyone else. She was no one special. Never had been. The knowledge shouldn’t have cut, but it did.
Anyway, the bigger issue was the prob lem at hand— getting the store ready to open in just a few hours. The Ladybug Garden Center was her baby now. She’d invested all of herself into it, and she was determined to see it succeed, not only this spring and summer but into the fall and winter. In order for that to happen she would have to take steps to ensure this sort of thing didn’t happen again.
Just as soon as she cleaned up the mess.
And stopped thinking about how Aiden hadn’t changed that much, either. In good ways and in bad.

Copyright © 2017 by Donna Alward and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Paperbacks.