Avarice Unforgiving ♥ Release Day Blitz!

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Synopsis

Run.

That’s Kami’s first instinct when shit gets a little too real for her peace of mind.

Kink was supposed to be an escape, a release, but her mysterious Dom robbed her of that and there’s no going back. Her job was supposed to be an accomplishment, a step forward, but Mr. Kress took that from her and twisted it to his own design.

They want her to submit.

If Kami had her way, they’d both be kissing her ass on her way out the door.

Now, there’s a new threat hanging over her head. An unknown enemy wants to expose all of Kami’s sordid, depraved secrets to the media. Little do they know, that even she has no clue who in the hell she really is…but someone does.

Someone who’s about to reveal an incomprehensible tale. A truth that will unravel Kami’s entire life at the seams. Everything she’s ever believed will be altered as she’s thrust into a world she’d never feared existed, and only one undeniable fact will ring through the loudest:

Running had never been an option.

Trigger/Content Warning: This book contains unorthodox religious views, graphic anal sex, explicit language, dark eroticism, BDSM, violence and references to demonology, paganism and the occult.

Intended for mature 18+ audiences only!

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Teaser

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Excerpt

With her sight disabled, she became more aware that the group behind her were quite chatty and flirty. She also grew increasingly aware of the man whose legs were caging her in, whose lap her bound arms were resting upon. She felt the approach of his heat, and then his hand touched her face. His fingers outlined her lips, played at the seam, before crawling their way inside. They conducted a shallow inspection at first, but gradually sank deeper. The first time she gagged, she thought he would retreat, but she was sadly mistaken. The more she choked, the deeper and more aggressively he stroked his fingers in and out. Kami could feel her eyes watering under the blindfold as she did everything in her power to keep from retching all over him.

Grabbing her bound wrists, he yanked her into his hard chest as he continued to finger-fuck her throat.

“If you can’t even take my fingers, demon, how the hell do you plan on taking my cock?”

Once again his tone was mocking, but there was amusement behind it, rather than the cool displeasure he’d offered the anti-blindfold committee. Kami understood the question was rhetorical. Regardless if she could take it or not, his cock would be down her throat if and when he wanted—and he undoubtedly hoped she choked on it. A strange, rubbery noise sounded right before her. He’d adjusted his mask, she realized. His wet fingers abandoned the inside of her throat, cupping the curve of her jaw, and his mouth crushed down on hers.

It was a whole new kind of oral sex. That was the only way to describe the aggressive, needy assault. His tongue thrust as his lips dominated hers harder and greedier, like there was some kind of climax waiting for him at the end. A preview of his skills, or a promise that it would be the only way he would invade her body, no matter which part of himself he was using? Regardless, it was ferocious, filthy, and the best damn kiss Kami had ever experienced.

She could feel his mask bumping alongside her temple, as if he’d turned the bull snout to the side, but that meant his face was still mostly covered. He must not trust the blindfolds. Did that mean he wasn’t planning on removing the mask at all? Kami hoped not. She wanted him to keep it on. That way her imagination could continue filling in the blanks the way she wanted them, rather than chance being disappointed by reality. She didn’t care how damn shallow that made her. This was her night, and it was already panning out better than any Halloween before it, so no. She didn’t want anything to ruin it.

“Mmm, you taste foolishly brave,” he groaned quietly as he licked and nibbled at her lips, diving back in for one last devastating kiss.

Settling back in the seat, he returned the mask to its rightful place and forced her down onto her knees again. His thumb picked up its previous stroking over her lips, but when her bound wrists slid down the hard plane of his stomach and into his lap, there was no mistaking the bulging line of his erection. The feel of it had her lust spreading hotter, dampening her panties with desperate anticipation.

She earned a soft mocking laugh when she started rubbing her arms over the steely line.

“You like knowing what you do to my cock, demon? How hard you make it just by choking on my fingers?” he asked. “Is that what you were hoping to accomplish while you were dancing for me?”

If he was trying to embarrass her with that insight, he was going to be disappointed. Knowing he knew, that he’d been aware, only turned her on more.

“No, but it’s a start,” she replied.

He laughed appreciatively at that, and it was far more sinister than his mocking laugh. “Ambition and Greed go hand-in-hand, little one. As you said, it’s a start.”

He wanted her to be greedy? He probably shouldn’t have told her that. Before she could reply, the limo slowed to a stop, reigniting the thrill of uncertainty. When the driver opened the door, her bull man climbed out first, then reached inside and hauled her out by the waist.

Once she was on her feet, he grabbed her bound wrists and started leading her across old asphalt. Her heels clicked and wobbled in the rough patches. She thought she heard water lapping and a nearby buoy. It definitely smelled like the docks. The way the noise and voices echoed indicated they were surrounded by warehouses or giant shipping containers.

Again, it should have been a red flag, but Kami wasn’t afraid, only morbidly curious. It took her a moment to realize they were drawing closer to the pulsing bass of music. Her escort paused for a moment before a door opened and it washed over them loud and clear. They stopped directly inside to wait for everyone. When the metal door finally closed, her bull man untied the blindfold.

Blinking in the dimly lit entrance, Kami saw that it was a makeshift foyer with draping velveteen crimson, black-and-white jack-o-lanterns, Gothic candelabras, antiqued mirrors, and other décor that would indicate they were getting ready to enter a vampire’s secret lair. Even the music thumping and crawling over her flesh was more along the lines of Screamo-Goth-Rave, than the Dubstep bass would suggest.

“You know, there are at least a hundred different horror movies that begin this way,” she referred to the space around them by drawing a small square in the air with her index fingers.

A more difficult task than one would think with bound wrists.

“That’s what makes decorating so easy,” he said, pulling her against his body to slip a hand under her skirt and take his fill of her ass cheek. “The question is, was that just an observation or cold feet?”

“My feet never get cold,” she replied.

She barely heard the low rumble of his laugh when he bowed his head right beside her ear. “Careful, demon. Some might take that answer as a deliberate challenge.”

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AboutTheAuthor

A.C. Melody is a quirky, unconventional and often contrary (mostly to herself) hybrid author, both traditionally and self-published. She has a soft spot for hard ass alphas and the strong women who capture their hearts. Her favorite part of writing, is having the ability to explore her favorite subjects from angles she’s never read before. Also, she loves putting her characters through the ringer one way or another, to expose all of the various facets that make them tick.

Outside of writing, A.C. is a confessed javaholic who loves reading, music, gaming, American Football, ancient civilizations, foreign cultures and everything supernatural. She has an insatiable curiosity that tends to earn her more hobbies than time. You can find her in the beautifully green Pacific Northwest with her two teenage sons and two blue-eyed, Himalayan-Siamese mixes who think they own the joint.

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Final Countdown!

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YAY! Super-super excited girl right here, can you tell? Tomorrow is the Release Day Blitz for this 2nd installment of my Hell on Earth series and I really hope to see you all there!

**GIVEAWAY UPDATE**

There will be a Rafflecopter giveaway as promised and here are your chance prizes:

  • 3 FREE copies of Avarice Unforgiving
  • 1 FREE Winner’s Choice Title
  • 1 $25 Amazon Gift Card

Again, I want to thank all of the bloggers who’ve signed up to help promote this new release, BIG HUGS for being so amazingly supportive!

Avarice Unforgiving ♥ 1 Week Countdown!

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Yay! I’m so excited!! Only one week left before the launch of Avarice Unforgiving, 2nd book to my Hell on Earth series. This event will be hosted by Once Upon an Alpha. If you’d like to participate, please sign up as a host here: https://goo.gl/forms/jlQgyTrNIHWX36dP2

**READERS** This event will have a Rafflecopter Giveaway for eBooks & Gift Card so make sure you stop by any of the participating blogs for your chance to win!

Pre-Order your copy today!

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Thank you to all participating bloggers!

♥ Color of Love Blog Hop & #BigBookSale! ♥

It’s Black Friday, the biggest holiday shopping day of the year – so it’s no surprise that a lot of authors are hosting crazy good deals today. This is a multi-sale post, so bear with the length, but you’re only a click away from tons of deals & your chance at some major prizes!

Color of Love Blog Hop

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Hosted by Kiru Taye, Nana Prah and Empi Baryeh, this is a celebration of multicultural and interracial love, so if you enjoy romance novels featuring people of color, then keep reading. Below are the links to all of the blogs hosting this event and each will be promoting a different book or a post on why they love this genre so much.

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Kiru Taye Nana Prah Empi Baryeh RWOWA Sexy Romance Novels Kai Tyler Love Bites and Silk Felicia Denise Guinevere & Libertad G.L. Thomas Georgia Lyn Hunter Lea’s Crazy Nights Lily Harlem Kim Golden Ines Johnson Sharon C. Cooper Candace Shaw Natasha Blackthorne Sydney Aaliyah Michelle Kenya Wright Delaney Diamond LaVerne Thompson Tia Kelly Patience Saduwa Paulette Harper LENA HART S.W.Frank Reana Malori Rina Gray Joyfully Reviewed Synithia Williams L. Loren LaQuette Jamie Wesley A.J. Locke Kay Blake Sheena Binkley M.J. Kane The Reading Addict Reviews by Crystal Dionne Grace Nana Malone Inger Iversen

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This is also a Massive Giveaway Event! So, make sure you checkout the Rafflecopter Giveaway for all your chances to win.

Grand Prizes

1st prize $75 GC + 7 ebooks
2nd prize $50 GC + 7 ebooks
3rd prize $30 GC + 7 ebooks
4th prize $15 GC + 7 ebooks
5th prize $10 GC + 7 ebooks
6th prize $5 GC + 7 ebooks

I’m here to help promote the book I’m currently reading (and almost done with, I’m gobbling it up!), which is:

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Please make sure to stop by Felicia’s blog to get even more information on this truly heartfelt, inspiring and charmingly romantic Women’s Fiction novel. I can’t say anymore, you’ll have to wait for my review or better yet – go grab a FREE copy today at our next sale event…

#BigBookSale

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This event is hosted by Nicole R. Locker and features over 50 Indie Authors with books on sale for $1.99, $0.99 or Free starting today and running through Cyber Monday (Nov. 25-28). There you will find my book, Avarice and Felicia Denise’s book, In The Best Interest of The Child absolutely FREE! So hurry and load up your Kindles while the sales last!

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New Release & Giveaway ♥ Mission: Saving Shayna by Elle Boon!

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WLK synopsis

Professional violinist Shayna Macintyre has a problem. Her borrowed, multi-million dollar Stradivarius violin has been stolen—and someone is leaving her threatening messages to present herself to them, or else.

Mike Royce is used to being backup for the CIA, until him and his partner decided to retire and open their own security business. However, the best plans don’t always follow the rules when love is involved. Now, he’s working for the Omega Team on a special assignment as a babysitter. He’s never had a problem keeping things professional, until he sees Shayna, and now all he can do is think about her, and the very dirty things he wants to do with her. And to her.

When the threat to Shayna’s life intensifies, Mike will do anything in his power to keep her safe. Even if it means spending days on end locked up with her.

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WLK Author Bio

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Elle Boon lives in Middle-Merica as she likes to say…with her husband, two kids, and a black lab who is more like a small pony. She’d never planned to be a writer, but when life threw her a curve, she swerved with it, since she’s athletically challenged. She’s known for saying “Bless Your Heart” and dropping lots of F-bombs, but she loves where this new journey has taken her.

She writes what she loves to read, and that is romance, whether it’s erotic, Navy SEALs, or paranormal, as long as there is a happily ever after. Her biggest hope is that after readers have read one of her stories, they fall in love with her characters as much as she did. She loves creating new worlds, and has more stories just waiting to be written. Elle believes in happily ever afters, and can guarantee you will always get one with her stories.

Connect with Elle online, she loves to hear from you:

Author Web & Social Media links:

www.elleboon.com
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It’s Live! Avarice Release Day Blitz!

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Synopsis

Devils Only

It was a permanent note-to-self tattooed right above Kameo Kross’s panties, because anything less was a disappointment. Had anyone cared to issue the warning: Be careful what you wish for, she might have thought twice before wording it like an actual invitation.

Kami doesn’t fear pain, death or eternal damnation. She fears only submitting completely. A matter she usually has well in hand… until an unexpected detour into kink and a relentless bastard of a new boss decide to put all of her resistance–and chosen ink–to the trickiest of tests.

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Excerpt

The bull-headed suit was sitting comfortably in a plush armchair, staring at her. Okay, technically it was impossible to know where he was looking, but she couldn’t shake the feeling of being watched, which was undoubtedly wishful thinking on her part. Regardless, she started a new dance. A dance just for him. She let herself believe that it was real, that she’d caught his attention, because he’d certainly caught hers.

Then she was lost in the music, lost to the bodies grinding all around her. A man’s hands started groping her clumsily, too sloppy and weak to break the spell. The profane promises and suggestions he bellowed rolled right over her. Let him touch. Let him talk. He wasn’t getting inside. There was only one kind of man allowed inside of her on All Hallows’ Eve and it wasn’t the type to shout his own stupidity at the top of his lungs.

“…I’m gonna fuck you so hard.”

Apparently tired of being ignored, he shoved his face into hers. His hot, putrid breath assaulted her nostrils. Stumbling when it knocked her off rhythm, Kami was righted

by a pair of wide, firm hands landing on her hips from behind. They turned her with confident ease, pinning her against the large, solid form donned in exquisite Armani. An arm crossed over her ass, palming her right cheek territorially. The red bull head was staring beyond her, to the man who’d been molesting her personal space, vowing things that were never going to happen. Kami’s eyes were glued to where the mask met his throat, giving her just a glimpse of hard jawline.

“Hey, don’t look at me. She never said she was here with anyone!” The guy stammered, fearful, angry and drunk.

He must have left the area, because the bull looked down at her at last and just stared. It was odd how a mask could stare at you. It was an inanimate object, yet there were eyes behind it that could look right into you, without being vulnerable to the same treatment in kind. It was a wicked power, that.

“A demon in an angel costume? Not very subtle,” a deep, masculine voice remarked from within the mask, both muffled and amplified by it.

“Isn’t that the point?” She arched a brow.

She flirted shamelessly now, because the chemistry was charging between them and it was not just wishful thinking this time.

“Perhaps.”

“Wherein lies your irony, bull man?”

It was more curiosity triggered by Zoe’s comments than small talk.

“I represent a conspiracy,” he answered at length.

“And?”

Tucking his head beside her ear, his cologne aroused her senses, her skin tingling with awareness. His tone never hinted at anything other than stone-cold fact.

“I am a conspiracy.”

Straightening, he tilted his head and regarded her for another moment, before lightly fingering her halo. “Were you looking for someone to remove that pesky Grace from your body, angel?”

A delicious shiver worked through her. “Absolutely.”

“Good. We’re heading to a more intimate party. Would you like to invite your friend?”

Searching the crowd, she saw that Zoe was still happily occupied with her alien counterpart, so she shook her head. “No.”

“Even better.”

It should have been a red flag, but the truth was, Kami agreed with him. Just because Zoe knew everything about her, didn’t mean they shared the same thrills. There were things her bestie would never do, lines she would never cross, and situations that would make her uncomfortable, which Kami found absolute bliss in.

Just outside of the VIP entrance, an actual stretch limo was idling. A chauffeur in a bright gold Greenman mask waited by the open door. The cold air felt exhilarating to her skin and lungs, despite the taint of car exhaust. Before she could climb in behind the Roman entourage and their companions, her bull man grabbed her wings and roughly yanked them off of her, handing them to the driver. Her halo went next and then he preceded her into the car. After seating himself, the bull man held his hand out for her to take.

She could have walked away then. He didn’t seem the type to chase or persuade. The choice to join him inside of the limo was ultimately hers. What a pisser. Ignoring the jilt of disappointment, she put her hand in his, ducked her head and was pulled inside, right down onto her knees at his feet. The door slammed shut behind her. Her choice was made. All chances of escape… gone.

Cupping the nape of her neck, he tucked his head alongside hers again and corrected her mistaken assumptions without mercy, proving himself to be exactly the kind of ruthless bastard she’d been hoping for.

“I’m almost disappointed you decided to come willingly, angel,” he purred darkly. “Now, I’ll have to devise another way to get my point across.”

It wasn’t fear she swallowed, but a rush of heady arousal that went straight to her sex. Thank fucking God. “What point would that be?”

Laughing quietly, he sat back and stared at her. “After tonight, you will never ask that question again.”

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AboutTheAuthor

A.C. Melody is a quirky, unconventional and often contrary (mostly to herself) hybrid author, both traditionally and self-published. She has a soft spot for hard ass alphas and the strong women who capture their hearts. Her favorite part of writing, is having the ability to explore her favorite subjects from angels she’s never read before. Also, she loves putting her characters through the ringer one way or another, to expose all of the various facets that make them tick.

Outside of writing, A.C. is a confessed javaholic who loves reading, music, gaming, American Football, ancient civilizations, foreign cultures and everything supernatural. She has an insatiable curiosity that tends to earn her more hobbies than time. You can find her in the beautifully green Pacific Northwest with her two teenage sons and two blue-eyed, Himalayan-Siamese mixes who think they own the joint.

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Excerpt & Giveaway ♥ Not A Game by: Cardeno C.!

Not a Game

An accidental meeting and a misunderstanding lead to a life-altering connection.

A new job, a new city, and hopefully a new life. When chubby gamer Oliver Barnaby receives a job offer from the best boutique game developer in the country, he leaves his family and his less than spectacular existence in Oklahoma without a second’s hesitation. Determined to change more than his career and his geography, Oliver implements a plan to finally land a boyfriend. Step one is improving his skills in the bedroom.

A life that looks perfect on paper, but feels empty in reality. Attractive, successful, charismatic Jaime Snow has a life other people envy. His already booming business is growing. He isn’t lacking in friends. And he has no trouble finding a date. But there’s an emptiness in Jaime’s heart and a hole in his life that only the right man can fill.

An accidental meeting, a misunderstanding, and falling in love. When Oliver and Jaime end up at the same bar at the same time, they each see something they want in the other. Going to bed together that first night is easy. Building the lifetime relationship they both desperately crave will require trust, time, and a little misunderstanding.

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EXCERPT

Not a Game Print

Chapter 1:

He had chosen the bar because of its name: The Bookstore. It was clever and unusual and he had laughed internally at how happy his mother would be if he told her he was spending time at the Bookstore instead of in front of his computer. Oliver’s entire life, she had mourned the fact he wasn’t a reader, and even though he had now moved two thousand miles away from their home in Oklahoma City, she still sent him books she was sure he’d love. Maybe someday he’d open one of them.

For now, he glanced down at the only book he had read countless times and adjusted it at the edge of his table to make the spine as visible as possible. The title—Coding—wasn’t as clever as the bar name, but the information and the way it was phrased had clicked perfectly in Oliver’s brain when he was a college freshman. He had long since moved past the information inside, but the textbook was the closest thing he had to a security blanket, so he had held onto it through four years of progressively more complicated computer science classes, three dead-end computer repair and technical support jobs, and a move to Seattle to finally, finally, live his dream developing video games. When he had to pick a way to identify himself to the stranger who would guide him on the last phase of his journey toward living the life he had always wanted, the first thing that came to Oliver’s mind was the book that had started it all.

With the spine facing the bar and walkway and his glass empty, Oliver had nothing left to do but wait or get his phone out to play a quick turn on Clash of Clans. He reached into his pocket almost before his brain had formulated the thought. A quick glance at his screen confirmed it was still twenty minutes shy of eight o’clock. Oliver prided himself on timeliness, something his father had drummed into him since he was a boy, and after two months in Seattle, he hadn’t yet gotten a handle on how long it took to get anywhere, so he had erred on the side of caution and ended up arriving half an hour early.

In his head, his mother lectured him about playing on his phone when he should be paying attention to people, but he was twenty-eight years old, and she was too far away to see him, so he ignored her and tried to lose himself in a game. Besides, taking his mind off why he was in that bar would stop him from falling headfirst into an anxiety attack, and even his mother would agree that was a good thing in a social setting. Not that she would ever have the chance to know about his plans that evening, because, despite how close they were, this was one activity Oliver absolutely would not share with his family. Or anyone else for that matter.

Nerves rising, he scratched his upper back through his shirt with one hand and his thigh with the other. Recognizing what he was doing, he forced his hands away before he broke the skin. Hoping for a distraction, he jerked his gaze toward his pop when, suddenly, from the corner of his eye, he noticed someone moving in his direction. Instinctively, Oliver grabbed the glass and scrunched over it, using the act of sipping from a straw as a

shield to keep himself from staring at people who inevitably didn’t notice him. But when the man didn’t veer away and instead came closer, Oliver glanced up and realized the stranger was looking right at his book. Which meant he was either coming to tease the chubby nerd for having a textbook at a bar on a Friday night or…

Oh my God. This is him. Oliver kept his head down but couldn’t stop himself from flicking his gaze back and forth between his still empty glass and the approaching man.

Older than Oliver, but not too old, broad shoulders, light eyes, short dark hair, and a sculpted face. The man stopped right next to the table, waited for Oliver to look up, and then said, “Interesting reading choice.” He tapped the top of the cover and tried to meet Oliver’s gaze.

Even though this was one situation where Oliver couldn’t be rejected or laughed at, he still struggled to speak to such a handsome man, and he definitely couldn’t make eye contact with him. And now that he was close enough for Oliver to see him clearly, he definitely knew that was true. He set his gaze on the man’s chin and took in his features.

The dark hair was brown but it had strands of chestnut at the top and flecks of silver in the sideburns, which extended to the bottom of his earlobe. The light eyes were green, a pale shade that still managed to look warm. And the broad shoulders topped a chest so muscular that it stretched the black T-shirt he wore underneath a well-fitted jacket. This guy was fantasy material, and Oliver couldn’t believe he had gotten so lucky.

“Is this book yours?”

“Yes,” Oliver said hoarsely and then cleared his throat. “It’s mine.”

The man’s forehead crinkled. He tilted his head to the side and stared at Oliver.

At first, the odd look discomforted him, but then Oliver remembered the social etiquette classes he had been forced to attend in middle school, and he realized where he had gone wrong.

“Please have a seat,” he said, raising his hand toward the empty chair across from him. Though his voice still shook more than he would have liked, it was a bolder invitation than he usually gave. Of course, usually men didn’t approach him, especially incredibly handsome men, and usually people didn’t want to hang out with him, and usually he didn’t look up escort services and set up a meeting. So today was anything but Oliver’s usual.

“Thanks.” The man pulled back the empty chair, sat, and then scooted it forward. “I’m Jaime.” He reached his hand out.

Oliver glanced down at the hand, blinked, and then remembered his manners. “I’m Oliver.” He wiped his sweaty palm on his jeans, took Jaime’s hand, and shook it. “Oliver Barnaby.”

Oh crap. Was giving his last name in this situation a bad idea? Oh well. If everything went as expected, Oliver would be spending time alone with this man, which would put him at more risk than sharing his name. He had made reservations at the hotel upstairs, which was expensive and not completely secure, but it had to be safer than bringing a stranger to his apartment.

“So, Oliver Barnaby.” Grinning, Jaime glanced at the book and arched his eyebrows. “What are you doing here with this?”

Straight to the point. In Jaime’s line of work, being direct made sense, but Oliver wasn’t skilled at holding an articulate conversation with a live human so he fidgeted in his seat. “Well, uh…” He gulped.

“Late night study session?” The comment was teasing, but the tone held no malice and Jaime’s expression, while most definitely amused, wasn’t cruel.

“Sorry. I’m being silly.” Oliver shook his head. “We both know why we’re here so—” He drew in a deep breath. “I’m not sure how much he told you.” He frowned and thought back to the brief phone call he’d had with the man from the ad. “Actually, I don’t remember how much detail I gave him other than saying I needed someone experienced.”

“Experienced?”

“Uh-huh. Because, uh.” He looked at Jaime’s handsome face and once again lost the power of speech.

He hadn’t thought through how the escort agency would interpret his request but now he realized they had taken it to mean Oliver wanted someone a bit older. As luck would have it, older men were very much Oliver’s type. Or they would be if he had a type. Someone probably needed to go on actual dates rather than just fantasize about them before he could say he had a type.

“Oliver?”

Oliver blinked.

“You were saying you needed someone experienced?”

“Right.” He bobbed his head. “See the thing is, I didn’t hire you for sex.”

There was no missing the shock that crossed Jaime’s face.

“That didn’t come out right.” Oliver quickly backtracked. The last thing he wanted was for Jaime to think he was being stiffed because then he’d get up and walk out and Oliver would have to start his search all over again. The odds of finding someone as attractive and nice as Jaime to teach him were so low they rounded to zero. “I know what escort means and I’m all set to pay you. I have the money.” He patted his pocket and said an internal thank-you for his new company’s generosity. “What I meant was that I don’t want to have sex with you.”

Jaime chuckled and arched his eyebrows, but he didn’t say anything.

“Ugh.” Oliver shook his head. “I didn’t mean that either.” He raised his hand and moved it up and down in Jaime’s direction. “Look at you. Obviously, I want to have sex with you. But it’s not about eating the meal, it’s about learning to fish, you know?”

“I think I’m getting the picture, but why don’t you fill in the details?” Jaime lowered his voice. “And try to keep the whole paying for sex thing out of it.” One side of his lips rose in a crooked smile. “We are in public after all and not everything is legal in Washington.”

Oh God. Oliver jerked his head from side to side, checking to see if anyone was close enough to hear him. The bar wasn’t big and there were a decent number of customers, so someone probably had. He leaned forward, his belly squishing against the table. “Do you think people will call the police? Should we leave?”

“No and”—Jaime’s smile shifted from amused to wicked—“eventually. But first, tell me about learning to fish.” Jaime settled into his chair and crossed his arms over his chest, his biceps giving the gray suede jacket a workout. “I assume we aren’t talking about the great outdoors, so what exactly are you hiring me to teach you?”

When he had come up with the idea to hire an escort, Oliver had focused on how much it would cost, where to do it, and what he’d be able to squeeze into one night. He had also spent a decent amount of time second-guessing his plan. But he had never considered how he would explain what he wanted to the man he paid to help him.

“Do you guys have like, uh, confidentiality requirements?” Oliver asked.

Jaime arched his eyebrows. “Confidentiality?”

“Yeah.” Oliver bobbed his head. “What I tell you has to stay between us, right?”

“Well.” Jaime’s mouth turned up at the corners and then he licked his lips, coughed, and said, “I’m not a psychiatrist or an attorney, so there’s not a licensing board out there keeping me honest, but I’ll give you my word to keep this just between us. How’s that?”

After considering the response and his alternatives for a couple of seconds, Oliver said, “That works.”

“Glad we got the preliminaries out of the way.” Jaime smiled. “Tell me what you need, Oliver.”

When he said Oliver’s name, Jaime’s voice dropped, going deeper and raspier. The tone sent a pang through Oliver’s gut and reminded him why this man got paid to do what he did. That made what Oliver had to say even more humiliating, but he didn’t want his life in Seattle to be like his life in Oklahoma, so he pushed through the shame and forced himself to speak.

“I’m pretty sure I’m bad in bed and I want help with that.” He bit his lip. “Real help. Not what people brag about online.” He had read endless blogs and subscribed to chat rooms, but loath as he was to admit it, the internet didn’t have all the answers.

Looking surprised, Jaime blinked a few times, cleared his throat, and then said, “Why do you think you’re bad in bed?”

That question was easy to answer. “My ex told me.”

The good-natured, amused expression disappeared from Jaime’s face. “Your ex sounds like a dick. Find someone else and forget about him.”

“That’s just it. I can’t find someone else.” Realizing he sounded whiney, Oliver took a moment to breathe. He sat up straight, rolled his neck, and then ruined his attempt at looking confident by slumping. “People never like me in real life. I’m twenty-eight and Ted was the only guy who’s ever been willing to sleep with me. That was four years ago.” His voice shook. “I need help.”

“Hey.” Jaime’s eyes softened, and he leaned forward, curling his hand around Oliver’s forearm. “It’s going to be okay. I promise.”

Jaime’s touch was ten times more potent than his voice, and suddenly, Oliver wanted to follow through on his plans for the night because of something entirely unrelated to learning and improving himself. He stayed perfectly still, letting the pleasurable feelings wash over him until Jaime removed his hand. And then the floodgates opened.

“I just moved to Seattle in August. Did I tell you that already? I want things to be different here. I got this great job making lots of money, and I have my own apartment, but that’s not enough. I’m going to join a gym so I can lose weight, because I know guys aren’t going to be interested in me like this.” He waved his hand up and down beside his too fat, too flabby body. “I’ll never be good-looking like you, but hopefully exercise will help, and I can diet too and then maybe someone will be interested, but then what? At some point we’ll end up in bed and then he’ll never want to see me again.” He took a deep breath, his heart racing. “That’s why I hired you. I need to get better, so if I actually find someone who’s interested, I can hold on to him.” He squeezed and released his hands and stared at Jaime, hoping he’d understand.

“All right,” Jaime said calmly. “I hear you and I’m not turning you down.” He looked at Oliver meaningfully, only continuing after Oliver nodded in understanding. “We can get out of here and do this, but before we do, I want you to know that not every guy is into gym bunnies or twinks. You’re really good-looking, Oliver.”

“You’re getting paid to say that,” Oliver mumbled, dropping his gaze from Jaime’s eyes. Even that part of him was attractive—layers of green far more interesting than Oliver’s own boring brown.

“No, I’m not.” Jaime’s jaw ticced as he spoke, and he sounded so firm that Oliver would have believed him if he hadn’t found the man through an escort ad.

“It’s fine,” Oliver said. “I’m past worrying about being pathetic for paying for sex.” He sighed and dragged his fingers through his hair, hoping he wasn’t making the too long strands stick out in weird directions. “Actually, it helps. I’d never have the nerve to talk to a guy like you in real life, even if it was just to answer a question about directions or something.” He rolled his eyes at his own shortcomings. “Knowing you can’t laugh at me or judge me or turn me down makes this better.” It made it possible. “That’s all I need. Don’t worry about the fake compliments.”

“It wasn’t fake.”

Of course it was. Oliver was good-looking in the same way the bar was a bookstore. But that didn’t matter and Jaime sounded angry, so Oliver stopped arguing and refocused the conversation on the reason they were both in the Bookstore that wasn’t actually a bookstore. “I reserved a room upstairs in the hotel.”

Jaime pulled his eyebrows together and narrowed his eyes and, for a horrible moment, Oliver was sure he had changed his mind and he was about to leave. Oliver was about to plead for another chance, but then Jaime’s face smoothed and he rose from his chair.

“Lead the way, Oliver. I’m looking forward to”—he dragged his gaze over Oliver’s body, his expression unlike any Oliver previously had seen directed at him—“fishing with you.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cardeno C - Logo

Cardeno C. – CC to friends – is a hopeless romantic who wants to add a lot of happiness and a few “awwws” into a reader’s day. Writing is a nice break from real life as a corporate type and volunteer work with gay rights organizations. Cardeno’s stories range from sweet to intense, contemporary to paranormal, long to short, but they always include strong relationships and walks into the happily-ever- after sunset.

Cardeno’s Home, Family, and Mates series have received awards from Love Romances and More Golden Roses, Rainbow Awards, the Goodreads M/M Romance Group, and various reviewers. But even more special to CC are heartfelt reactions from readers, like, “You bring joy and love and make it part of the every day.”