The 6th book of the Blackhaven Manor series is now live on Amazon and free to read with your Kindle Unlimited subscription!
It’s been twelve years since the Awakening. Otherlings are out of the paranormal closet. The whole world knows that creatures like vampires, werewolves, and witches exist. So, seeing dead people barely even rates on the freaky scale. Right?
Fritz Tolliver figures he must have done something terrible in a previous life to be afflicted with such a curse. In fact, every bad thing that has ever happened to him can be traced back to his unwanted ability. So, when a stupidly hot werewolf who’s way out of his league claims to be his mate, he should be thrilled. And he probably would have been if he hadn’t gone and gotten himself haunted by a nasty spirit on the same day.
When a gorgeous male strolls into the station asking for a job—and promptly spills an entire Americano on him—Sheriff Vander Hale has a feeling it’s going to be a bad day. Then, the door opens, the wind shifts, and suddenly, his whole world changes. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do for his mate, no battle he wouldn’t wage, even if his enemy is technically already dead. Unfortunately, there’s just one problem with his plan.
He’d go to hell and back for Fritz, but how is he supposed to fight something he can’t see?
Soft footsteps against the linoleum drew his attention, and he glanced up as a male who looked to be in his early twenties stumbled to a stop at the end of the counter.
“Oh,” the guy breathed. “Um, hi.” He lifted his hand in a stiff wave.
Dressed in a red vest with a matching tie over a white button-down, he looked ridiculously out of place in the grungy station. He wore his dark hair a little longer on top and spiked with probably half a gallon of styling gel, but the look suited him, and it highlighted big, wide-set eyes the color of fresh cinnamon.
Eyes that could drown a man, that could pull him under so that he never wanted to surface.
Vander turned to Hardy and nodded. Okay, he’d give the deputy this one. Fritz was absolutely stunning.
Bringing his attention back to the newcomer, he softened his smile. “Hello, I’m Sheriff Vander Hale.”
“I’m—oh, I almost forgot!” He rushed over to the waiting area, which consisted of four folding chairs and two tiny, square tables. Grabbing a familiar-looking paper cup, he held it up like an offering. “I brought you coffee.”
Pleasantly surprised by the gift, Vander grinned. “I appreciate that.”
“Americano.” Fritz stared at the cup with a furrowed brow. “I think it’s black. I don’t know. Emrys made it.”
So, the little pixie was in on this scheme as well. Fritz must have made quite the impression for so many people to be pushing for Vander to give him a job. At that point, he half expected to start receiving calls from every person the guy had even briefly interacted with in town.
“I’m sure it’s fine.” In the eight years since he’d been going to the hotel café, Emrys had yet to make him a bad cup of coffee. “Thank you.”
“Right.” The guy ducked his head as his cheeks flushed an alluring shade of pink. “Well, here you go.” Still staring at the floor, he stretched his arm out as far as he could reach to offer the cup again.
Vander barely managed to choke back his laughter. Damn, the kid was a fucking mess, but in a sweet, endearing sort of way. He was beginning to see what all the fuss was about.
Stepping forward to take the drink, he didn’t anticipate that Fritz would decide to bring it to him instead. They collided in the middle of the waiting area, crushing the flimsy cup between them. Coffee exploded from the top like a geyser, spraying directly into Vander’s face and sloshing down the front of his uniform.
“Oh. My. God.” The blood drained from Fritz’s face, leaving him deathly pale, and he took several steps away on trembling legs. “I’m sorry. Shit, I am so sorry.” If possible, his eyes grew even bigger. “Shit, I didn’t mean to say shit.” Then, he dropped his head and whimpered. “Just shoot me now.”
The Nocturne Bay books are now live and available to read on Amazon!!
Just a reminder that these books may start in the same place, but they are all standalone and can be read in any order. So, pick one and enjoy!
You may also notice that some books are available to read with Kindle Unlimited and some aren't. This was solely the choice of the authors and what works best for them.
Links are below and keep scrolling for an excerpt from Catnip!
Excerpt from Catnip by Arden Steele
On the other hand, if he didn’t walk through those doors, he might never see his mate again. Fate wasn’t exactly generous, rarely offering first, let alone second chances.
Oh, what did it even matter? The guy wore fancy suits and expensive shoes. He spoke with an air of class and sophistication that Ryo could never hope to match. They obviously came from two completely different worlds.
His mate hadn’t commented on his skimpy dress or elaborate makeup, but it was a party after all. The likelihood that he would find it acceptable on a regular Tuesday was pretty slim.
Not that Ryo gave in to those desires often, but in the privacy of his home, away from prying eyes and mocking tongues, he should be free to be himself. He shouldn’t have to worry that his mate might freak out over a pair of silk panties.
Startled out of his musings, Ryo jerked his head up, his brow furrowed as he watched his mate jogging toward him down the sidewalk. The male had pulled on a pair of tailored slacks before exiting the club, but apparently, he couldn’t be bothered with shoes or a shirt.
Then again, Ryo wasn’t even wearing pants, so it wasn’t like he had room to talk.
With all that smooth, gorgeously tanned skin stretched across hard, defined muscles, he was certainly garnering a good bit of attention from those waiting in line. Loud whistles and catcalls followed his approach, and one bold little imp actually stepped forward to block his path.
A sharp growl from Ryo’s mate sent the little pixie scurrying back into the queue.
“There you are,” he said as he marched right into Ryo’s personal space and cupped his cheek. “Are you okay? Do you need a ride home?”
“Yes…I’m…” Gods, his hand was so warm. Losing his train of thought, Ryo closed his eyes and leaned into the touch. “I don’t even know your name.”
“Andre.” He brushed his thumb over Ryo’s cheek, just below his eye. “Andre Vasso.”
Ryo’s eyes flew open, and he jerked his head up, searching the demon’s face for any signs of deception. He found none, not in his expression or his scent. This really was the owner of The Underground.
“Not what you were expecting?” Andre asked, his lips curved into a crooked grin.
“I’m just a little surprised, that’s all.” Honestly, he was doing his best not to completely lose his shit. It didn’t seem logical or realistic that fate would pair him with one of the most eligible bachelors in Nocturne Bay. “You’re a hot topic around here.”
The 5th Blackhaven Manor book is now available on Amazon and free to read with your KU subscription!
I've loved Emrys since he was first introduced in Purrfect Harmony, and Cyrus is the perfect mate for him. Fair warning: this hellhound is growly, sexy, and he says fuck A. LOT. I tried to rein him in, I really did, but he's impossible. ;-)
PIXIE LITTLE LIAR: BLACKHAVEN MANOR, BOOK 5
There’s a heaviness to the air, the kind that makes the hairs on the back of Emrys Whitehill’s neck stand on end. Something is going to happen. Something big. Something that will change him forever. Despite his powers of precognition, however, a hellhound walking into the hotel to arrest him for a crime he didn’t commit is the one scenario he never saw coming.
As a seasoned bounty hunter, Cyrus Rathborne thought he had experienced it all, but realizing his most recent target is his mate throws him completely off his game. While he can’t deny the connection, Emrys is wanted for the murder of a royal, and he won’t let those big innocent eyes deter him from doing what is right. Yet, the more he gets to know the sweet pixie, the harder it is to shake the feeling that the guy might actually be telling the truth.
He should have trusted his instincts.
It soon becomes clear that someone is determined to make Emrys disappear—permanently—and the only thing standing in their way is him. Transforming from hunter to protector, Cyrus will risk everything to keep his mate safe, because what started as just another job is now the one mission he can’t afford to fail.
“Enough.” Emrys didn’t speak loudly, but everyone present turned to stare at him. Once he had their attention, he pushed his chin-length hair back from his face and nodded a couple of times. “I appreciate that you want to protect me, but let’s be real for a second. Nothing you say is going to change anything.” His gaze flickered to Cyrus, his resolve manifesting piece by visual piece. “I’m assuming there’s evidence against me, and you didn’t just pull my name out of a hat.”
Fuck, Cyrus hated this, but his mate was right. Nothing anyone said would change the facts. “There is evidence.”
Emrys regarded him for another moment, then nodded again. “I’ll go with you.”
“What?” Kol shouted. “Em, that’s a really bad idea.”
“You didn’t do anything wrong,” the other male—Simon—added.
“You don’t have to go,” Skye said, still calm and collected.
Emrys gave her a sad smile. “Thanks, but I think I do. I know I didn’t kill anyone, and the best way to prove that is to just cooperate.” With only the smallest amount of hesitancy, he strode around the counter, coming to a stop mere inches from Cyrus. “Besides, my mate won’t let anything happen to me.”
It was naïve, far too trusting, and also absolutely fucking correct. No one would lay a hand on his mate, except for maybe him. Preferably both hands. Without any barriers between them like those preppy white chinos that hugged Emrys’ ass like a second skin.
Cyrus bit back a groan. Gods, he was so screwed.
“Okay.” Emrys bobbed his head a couple of times, then pushed his wrists together before offering his hands up to him. “Do you, uh, need to restrain me or something?”
That really shouldn’t have been as sexy as it was, but his cock apparently hadn’t gotten the message. Down boy.
“No, I’m not going to restrain you.” Gently, he curled his fingers around Emrys’ wrists and pushed his hands back down to his sides.
“Oh, okay.” An adorable frown pulled at his lips. “Sorry. I’ve never been a suspect before. I don’t really know how this works.” He held his hands up again. “Are you sure you don’t want to tie me up?”
Cyrus bit back another groan when his dick jerked against his zipper. Gods, it was going to be a long drive back to New Orleans.
7 M/M Paranormal Romance books featuring Bunny Shifters!
Did I mention they're all FREE??
HEART, BUNNY, AND SOUL
M/M Paranormal Romance
Approximately 15k Words
**This is a short story that I have no plans to expand or publish.
It will always remain a free read.**
When Nate Reed dropped by the new bookstore in town, he’d been hoping to find an escape in the form of a paperback. He never thought that the love story he craved would end up being his own, but from the moment he locks eyes with the sexy owner, he can’t deny the fire that burns between them.
Leaving the city for the small coastal town of Fate Harbor, Zach Thompson hadn’t expected much. In fact, he’d actively hoped for a quiet life free of complications. Then, a gorgeous man with a smile like the sun walks into his shop, and all those well-constructed plans go right out the window.
While he knows the sweet bunny deserves better than some damaged werewolf with emotional baggage, he just can’t seem to let him go. Because the only thing that scares him more than commitment is the idea of losing Nate forever.
Grin and Bear It: Blackhaven Manor, Book 4 is live a little early on Amazon! As always, it's available to read with your Kindle Unlimited subscription.
Thorne McIver is no ordinary bear shifter. He’s the monster whispered about in the dark, the beast feared in battles, and for hundreds of years, he’s used his formidable gifts to protect the royal families of the paranormal world. So, when he’s tasked with escorting the elven prince to a council meeting at Blackhaven Manor, he figures it’s just another assignment.
Until he meets a stunning human who fills in all the pieces he didn’t know were missing.
When he’d first started working at the hotel, Wren Covey had been a mess. He’d known almost nothing about Otherlings, their culture or rules, and everything had terrified him. Barely a year later, there’s not much he hasn’t seen, and hardly anything fazes him. Or so he thought, because nothing could have prepared him for being the mate to a genuine living legend.
When an attack on the hotel tests his already divided loyalties, Thorne finds himself torn between love and duty. Though honor-bound to protect the prince, his instincts will always be to put his mate first.
Now, he’ll have to find middle ground and figure out how to do both, or his happy ending will be over before it even begins.
Tired from the journey, annoyed about his argument with Orrin, and frustrated over the situation with Wren, he grunted when he heard the knock at the door. Shutting off the water, he exited the shower, grabbing a towel and wrapping it around his waist as he stomped out of the bathroom.
Ten feet from the door, his steps slowed, and his anger at being disturbed abated when a bright, earthy scent hit him like a wrecking ball. It reminded him of rain in early spring, when the days were still slightly chilled, and the winds gusted, sweeping away the last remnants of winter. There was only one being on earth who carried such an alluring fragrance, and he was the last person Thorne expected to be standing outside his room.
He took a deep breath, groaning quietly as the scent invaded his nose and made his head swim. Then, he arranged his expression into a mask of indifference before opening the door. “Can I help you?”
Wren stared up at him, his mouth slightly open, and his eyes so big they dominated his round face. The tip of his tongue darted out to wet his lips, and he looked down, only to jerk his head back up to meet Thorne’s gaze again. Though it looked like he might several times, he didn’t speak, but his shoulders rose and fell with every shallow breath.
His heart pounded frantically, the sound loud enough that Thorne probably could have heard it even without supernatural senses. A thin sheen of perspiration coated his brow, and the scent of anxiety soured his natural scent until it was the only thing Thorne could smell.
Putting it all together, he mentally sighed. His mate was absolutely terrified of him.
Abandoning all hope of remaining neutral, he softened his expression and let his lips curl into a subtle grin. “Wren, right?” He spoke quietly, trying to be as unintimidating as he possibly knew how. “What can I do for you?”
“I, uh…” He swallowed hard, his gaze raking over Thorne’s bare chest, all the way to his hips before snapping back to his face. “I’m…supposed to…”
When he trailed off and made the same trek with his eyes again, Thorne had to fight back a chuckle. “Would you like to come in?”
“No!” Wren practically shouted at him. Once he realized what he’d done, his eyes grew impossibly bigger, and the look of abject horror on his face was borderline comical. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that. I—”
“So, you do want to come in?”
“Yes.” He shook his head. “I mean, no.” He stopped again, frowning. “Can you please put some clothes on?”
Thorne couldn’t stop himself that time. He laughed. “All the indecent parts are covered.” It was an interesting development. While his mate still wreaked of nervousness, Thorne also detected subtle notes of desire. “Please, come in, then you can tell me whatever you were sent here to tell me.”
When Wren didn’t move, he reached out, keeping his movements slow and unthreatening. Placing his palm against the back of his mate’s shoulder, he applied a gentle pressure, encouraging rather than forcing him across the threshold.
“There,” he said, closing the door to prying eyes, “that’s better, right?”
Wren huffed. “Not really.”
Dragon it OUt: Blackhaven Manor, Book 3
As some of the last remaining dragon shifters in the world, Uriah Maddock and his siblings are regarded as something akin to royalty in the paranormal community. It’s one of the main reasons their hotel has become such a coveted destination for Otherlings. All he wants, though, is to be left alone. He’s not looking for love or romance. In fact, he actively avoids relationships and all their damning consequences.
Too bad his meddling sister didn’t get the memo.
Kit Meyers is pretty sure he’s hit rock bottom when his car breaks down in the small, mountain town of Echo Falls. He has no money, no place to live, and no prospects. When a not-so-chance encounter leads him to the infamous Blackhaven Manor, he figures he’ll stay for a few weeks, earn some cash, then head back to the safety of the road. But all that changes when he meets a surly dragon shifter with wounded eyes and even more baggage than himself.
Uriah can’t commit to a houseplant, let alone to being someone’s mate. Convinced that Kit is better off without him, he’s prepared to leave everything behind if that means the skittish human will be safe and happy. Yet, as the days pass, he keeps finding new excuses to stay, until he’s finally forced to admit that he’s not going anywhere.
Especially when he realizes he’s not the only dangerous person in Kit’s life.
Read it Free with Kindle Unlimited!
Uriah resisted the urge to roll his eyes as he returned to his desk. He didn’t like conducting interviews, and he certainly didn’t have the knack for it that Skye did. However, he wasn’t completely useless. Besides, as much as it pained him to admit it, if he did decide to take over the new hotel, his sister had a point. Hiring a new staff would be one of his first duties, so he might as well get used to it.
He took a moment to straighten his black T-shirt and smooth any wrinkles from his dark-wash jeans. Then, he tidied up his desk as best he could without disrupting the work he’d been doing. On the bright side, if he did the interviews, maybe he could talk Skye into finishing the inventory.
A soft knock sounded at his office door just as he settled down in his desk chair. A young woman with a pixie cut in a startling shade of bubblegum pink entered the room when he waved her in. She approached his desk cautiously, her hand shaking when she passed him what he assumed was her application and resume.
He skimmed it quickly, asked her a few appropriate questions, then hired her on the spot—pending a background check—to replace one of the missing housekeepers. Sadly, the next three interviews didn’t go nearly as well.
One guy had spent the entire interview flirting with him. Another young lady had been so terrified she had actually burst into tears and ran from the room. The other male had been decent, but unfortunately, Uriah had no choice but to send him away when he realized the kid was only sixteen.
An hour later, he had conducted eleven interviews and only managed to find one more member for the housekeeping staff and one porter. He didn’t even know if they needed another bellhop, but the girl had been sweet, and she’d clearly needed the job.
For all his bravado, by the time he reached the last name on the list—according to the two-word text Skye had sent him—he was starting to remember why he didn’t do interviews.
Tentative, muffled footsteps reached his ears first, followed by a nervous cough and a long, shuddering sigh. Goddess, he could smell the anxiety wafting in the air, and the guy hadn’t even reached the office door yet. Taking pity on the poor soul, Uriah arranged his features to appear as non-threatening as possible.
As the footsteps crept closer, however, the scent began to change, gradually deconstructing all of his careful preparation. The nervousness was still there, still the most prominent fragrance, but it was now tinged with something sweet and almost earthy. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it, couldn’t place the scent, but it was the most intoxicating thing he’d ever smelled.
It called to him, beckoned him closer. As if lassoed by some invisible line, he found himself halfway out of his seat by the time the newcomer reached the threshold of the doorway. That close, the scent hit him like a battering ram, nearly knocking him off his feet. If that wasn’t bad enough, it emanated from the most gorgeous man he’d ever seen.
Thick, wheat-colored curls haloed a round, youthful face with soft lips, a petite nose, and big, mesmerizing eyes the color of cinnamon. A baggy shirt and loose-fitting khakis flared around a slender, narrow frame, and the little bit of exposed skin on display looked too pale, too delicate.
That single word boomed inside his head, finally shaking him free of his hypnotic state. His mood plummeted, his emotions spinning from elation to fury in the span of seconds. And to think he’d actually believed his lying, conniving, meddling sister.
“Practice my ass,” he grumbled under his breath.
“Umm…Mr. Maddock?” The young man came forward a couple of steps. “I’m—”
“Sit,” Uriah barked, cutting him off and pointing at the armchair in front of the desk.
“Oh. Right. Okay.” He hurried to do what had been asked of him.
Sparing him only a passing glance, Uriah stalked past him and marched toward the door. “Stay there,” he commanded. “I’ll be back.”
“Is there a problem?”
Even in his anger, his instincts wouldn’t let him leave the room without offering some type of comfort to his mate. “You didn’t do anything wrong.” He still couldn’t bring himself to look at the guy. Instead, he stared through the open doorway and growled. “I just have to go murder my sister.”
Night and Fae: Blackhaven Manor, Book 2 is now available at Amazon and free to read with your Kindle Unlimited subscription!
Colorful and eccentric, Leelan Rivers knows he’s a little too “extra” for some people. Since those people are exceedingly boring, he couldn’t care less about their opinion. Yet, when a night out leads him right into the arms of fate, he never expected the broody vampire to deny the connection between them.
Wealthy and powerful, Sebastian Delgado is used to people wanting things from him. He’s not even surprised at the lies they’ll tell to get them. So, when Leelan claims to be his mate, he’s skeptical to say the least. Leelan might be beautiful and enchanting, but Sebastian has been disappointed too many times in the past not to be suspicious.
All it takes is one bite to reveal the truth but claiming Leelan as his own comes with its own set of problems. Especially when he realizes he’s not the only vampire at Blackhaven Manor interested in the faerie.
“No need to play hard to get. You know you want it, or you wouldn’t be dressed like that.”
While true Leelan had been hoping to attract someone to take back to his room for the evening, that didn’t mean he lacked standards or self-respect. “I really think you should leave.”
Too fast for his eyes to follow, the vampire reached across the table, grabbing Leelan’s wrist and squeezing it roughly. “I think you should be nicer—”
“Now, now,” a smooth accented voice interrupted. “Is that any way to behave?”
Leelan’s eyes rounded as the most gorgeous specimen of male he’d ever seen stepped up behind his date and wrapped a hand around the back of the vampire’s neck. Dressed impeccably in a tailored black suit that molded to his broad, muscular frame, the stranger looked like he could have stepped right off of a runway.
No visible tattoos marked his tawny skin. He had no piercings, wore no jewelry, not even a watch. His dark hair was cut short and styled in a conservative though stylish side part. While not really the type Leelan usually went for, he still somehow managed to embody every wet dream Leelan had ever had.
But that wasn’t why he couldn’t stop staring.
“Get your fucking hands off me,” the vampire growled as he struggled against the hold on his nape.
The new guy stroked the side of the male’s neck with his thumb. “Even a limited vocabulary doesn’t excuse poor manners.” As he spoke, his thumbnail grew, lengthening nearly two inches before ending in a sharp point. “Now, apologize.”
While he spoke calmly, danger practically radiated from his very being. The vampire must have felt it, too, because he subsided in his chair and lowered his head in obvious submission.
“I apologize,” he mumbled.
Leelan’s rescuer smiled then, revealing long, lethal-looking canines. “Not to me, fledgling.”
The guy seemed far less inclined to offer Leelan an apology, but he eventually lifted his head just enough to meet his gaze. “Sorry.” He winced when the sharp claw dug into his skin. “I’m sorry for being such a dick.”
The other vampire—Leelan was pretty sure the newcomer was a vampire as well—turned his dark, penetrating stare on him. “Well, it wasn’t very eloquent, but will that suffice?”
Leelan nodded numbly.
“Very well.” Releasing the younger male’s neck, he grabbed the collar of his tank top instead and dragged him to his feet. “Off you go.”
The guy wasted no time getting the hell out of there, and honestly, Leelan really couldn’t blame him. That had been simultaneously the sexiest and most terrifying thing he’d ever witnessed.
“Thank you,” he blurted. “For, well—” He waved his hand vaguely toward the exit. “—you know.”
“Of course.” Lowering himself into the now vacated seat, he reached across the table with another of those oddly chilling smiles. “Sebastian Delgado.”
Leelan took the proffered hand and shivered as a jolt of electricity raced up his arm from the contact. Distracted by the sensation, as well as the misty haze of pure golden light that surrounded the vampire, he lost all train of thought.
He knew he should say something, but by the fae, he couldn’t even remember his own name. Everything in his brain had been shunted to the side, allowing just one word to repeat on an endless loop.
Purrfect Harmony is live early! Read it for free with your Kindle Unlimited subscription!
Kol Livingston believes in the so-called fairy tales, the clichés—love at first sight, soul mates, and happily-ever-afters. He wants it all, but after a series of failed relationships, he’s beginning to think he’ll never meet Prince Charming. He loves his job at Blackhaven Manor, but with all the gorgeous paranormals strutting around the hotel, why would anyone choose him?
When cheetah shifter and infamous bad boy, Remington Raines, is asked to perform for the Heritage Festival at Blackhaven Manor, he can’t say no. Literally. Still, an all-expenses-paid vacation from tour buses and screaming fans might be just what he needs. Falling for the quirky concierge with big, brown eyes and a smile that melts him, however, wasn’t part of the plan.
He’s used to people—men, women, supernatural and human—throwing themselves at him, but Kol doesn’t care about his fame or his money. He’s been hurt, and he’s not about to give his heart to just anyone.
Image is everything, but if Remington wants to win over this jaded human, he’ll have to dig deep and show Kol the man behind the reputation.
“Are you sure you’re okay?”
Kol backpedaled when Remington took a step toward him. “Yes, of course,” he said, inching around the other side of the sofa as he did up the buttons on his shirt. He frowned when the shifter followed. “What are you doing?”
He wasn’t afraid, and he had no reason to think the guy would hurt him. That didn’t stop his pulse from racing or his hands from shaking, though. Damn it, nobody had any right to look that good, especially when Kol was dripping wet and about nine shades of embarrassed.
“I just wanted to make sure that you—”
“I said I’m fine,” Kol snapped, then instantly regretted it. Taking a deep breath, he held it for a count of three before releasing it slowly. “Thank you for your concern, but I assure you, I’m not hurt. I should be getting back to my duties. If there is anything else you need to make your stay more enjoyable, just ring the front desk and ask for Kol.”
“Kol.” Remington bobbed his head as he said it, his smooth, deep voice wrapping around it like a caress. “It suits you.”
Since Kol had no idea what to say to that, he just dipped his head and moved closer to the exit.
“Actually,” Remington said, stopping him before he could make his exit, “could you do something about the candles and roses?”
Pausing with his hand on the frame of the open door, Kol glanced around the room, his brow furrowed, and his lips tugging down at the corners. “Would you prefer something different?”
“I’d prefer it if they were gone.” The shifter tucked two knuckles under his nose and sniffed. “It’s a little overwhelming.”
Wet, cold, and confused, Kol’s patience had reached its limit. “Then why did you request them?”
Remington arched an eyebrow at him. “I didn’t.”
“Yes, you did.” Great, now he sounded like a fucking toddler. He cleared his throat and tried to explain in a politer, more mature tone. “I was informed that the guests for the Orion Suite had several requests, including a precise number of vanilla-scented candles and exactly sixty-three white roses.”
Remington’s eyebrow quirked even higher, disappearing into his side-swept fringe. “I don’t know who told you that, but I assure you I didn’t request any of this.”
Great. Just freaking great. He’d nearly set himself—along with the entire room—on fire for nothing. “I apologize for the mix-up, and I’ll see that they’re removed right away.” He tried to rein in his temper and smile, but really, it felt more like a baring of teeth than anything remotely friendly.
“Will there be anything else?”
Breathing a sigh of relief, Kol nodded once. “The hotel has several excellent restaurants. Do you have a preference?”
“Nope.” Shoving his hands deep into the pockets of his faded, ripped jeans, Remington shrugged. “Whatever you think I’ll like best.”
He would want somewhere private, probably with low lighting so he wouldn’t be recognized. Cheetah shifter, so probably not a vegan, but fastidious about cleanliness and order.
“Will seven o’clock at Matchstick work?” He smiled a little more naturally when Remington indicated that it would. “Someone will call to confirm your reservation. I’m assuming a table for two?”
The guest list indicated the suite held a double occupancy for the duration of the stay. Kol didn’t know Ruger Raines, but if he went by context clues, he had to guess the man was related to Remington in some way. Maybe a brother. Possibly a cousin.
The shifter arched an eyebrow and gave him a disarming smile. “I guess that depends.”
“On?” He clenched the doorframe more tightly and tried to ignore the way that lopsided grin made his stomach do cartwheels.
Remington took another step toward him, his lips parting wider to reveal dazzling white teeth with extended canines. “What time do you get off work?”
When Greyson Forrester receives an invitation to his cousin’s wedding, he knows he can’t refuse—even if the groom is his ex-fiancé. If he doesn’t go, people might think he still cares, which he doesn’t, thank you very much. Showing up alone isn’t any better, but he has neither the time nor the inclination to jump back into the dating scene. So, what’s a guy to do? Hire a fake boyfriend, of course!
+One isn’t a dating agency. Fine. He’s not looking to make a love connection, just survive one week with even a shred of dignity intact. Then, Jace Harkin walks through the door, and Greyson knows he’s in trouble. Jace is the total package—successful, witty, gorgeous—but falling for him wasn’t supposed to happen. Yet, every smile, every touch, every whispered endearment pulls him in a little deeper until the line between reality and fantasy begins to blur.
Too bad it can’t last. After all, it’s just make-believe, right?
Free to Read With Your Kindle Unlimited Subscription!
Without waiting for a response, Jace Harkins strolled into the office with an easy, self-assured gait. “You summoned me?”
Sweet baby Jesus, his voice could melt the panties off a nun. Deep and smooth with just a hint of a southern drawl, it pierced right through me, and I kind of forgot how to breathe for a second.
While his tone radiated sarcasm, the smile on his face when he looked at his sister belied his irritation. I’d thought he had a great smile from his photograph, but it was nothing compared to the real thing. Damn, that picture really hadn’t done him justice.
“You’re late.” From behind the desk, Anna grinned back. “But since you brought coffee, I’m willing to forgive you.”
Too busy staring at the way his black T-shirt stretched around his bulging biceps, I hadn’t even noticed the drink carrier in his hands. Coming forward, he took one of the plastic cups and placed it on the desk with an unopened straw as he rattled off some complicated name that sounded like it was made of sugar and glitter.
After thanking him, Anna reached for the drink with one hand while motioning toward me with the other. “Jace, I’d like you to meet Greyson Forrester. Mr. Forrester, this is Jace Harkin.”
“Nice to meet you, Mr. Forrester.” Instead of offering his hand, he nodded at the remaining drinks in the carrier. “I wasn’t sure what your poison was, but you’ve got some options. There’s plain black, an iced caramel macchiato, and a vanilla cold brew.”
I didn’t normally drink coffee, but his gesture was sweet, and I found myself not wanting to disappoint him. “Uh, whichever one tastes the least like coffee.”
His laugh made my stomach flutter and my pulse skip, and I nearly melted into the floor when he winked at me. “Ah, not a big coffee fan, huh? No worries.” He took one of the plastic cups from the carrier and passed it to me. “Try the macchiato. I think you’ll like it.”
I thanked him as I opened the straw and stabbed it into the lid. Since he was still watching me, I bent my head and took a polite sip. He was right. I did like it. I could practically feel my glucose levels rising, but it was just the right blend of coffee, milk, and sugar.
“Not bad,” I declared with a smile. “It’s actually pretty good. Thanks.”
Jace nodded as he eased his hip down on the corner of the desk. “So, Mr. Forrester, what is it you do?”
“Please, call me Greyson.” My nerves had mostly settled, making it easier to speak to him without hyperventilating. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what had changed, but there was just something about him that felt…calming. “I own a shop in Wakefield. The Apothecary.”
He leaned back a little and folded his arms across his chest. “Like a pharmacy?”
I tilted my head from side to side and flopped my hand around in the universal symbol for “kind of, but not really.” I did sell remedies out of my shop, but they were homeopathic and made with organic ingredients.
“I carry a lot of things in my store. Natural remedies. Organic bath products. Lotions. Lip balms. Things like that.”
As I spoke, I raked my gaze over the numerous tattoos that inked his arms. Part of me wondered how much they’d hurt. Another part of me—namely the part behind the zipper of my jeans—just found them sexy as hell. I’d expected skulls and flames, and while those things were represented in the art, there were also flowers, dragonflies, and an adorable pixie with dark hair and tattered wings.
They weren’t random. That much I could tell. Some of his tattoos were dark and eerie, others surreal, and some just cute, but they all flowed together like parts of a story, like pieces of his life.
“That’s amazing,” he answered, forcing me to pry my gaze away from the ink. “I’d love to see it sometime.”
His smile was warm, his tone genuine, and I preened a little, surprised by how much this stranger’s approval meant to me. “I’d like that.” I leaned to the side to look at Anna. “Your sister said you’re a business owner as well.”
He glanced over his shoulder, then shook his head as he turned back to me. “Yeah, something like that.”
He didn’t elaborate, so I let the subject drop and floundered for something else to say. Eventually, I settled on honesty. “I’m guessing this is the part where you’re trying to decide if you’ll take the job or not. So, what else would you like to know?”
His gaze raked over me slowly, intimately, and I fought the urge to squirm under his scrutiny. “Tell me in three sentences or less why you’re here.”
I could do that. No rambling. No apologizing.
“My ex and my cousin are getting married. I can’t get out of going to the wedding, and I don’t want everyone thinking I’m pathetic. I need someone to pretend to enjoy my company so I can get through it with even a shred of dignity intact.”
There, I’d said it. Now, all I could do was wait and hope it would be enough to convince him.
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The off-limit places turned out to be a library, a large office, and the master suite, all on the upper level. Not being able to enter the library hadn’t stopped Cameron from pressing as close to the glass squares on the French doors as possible to see inside, though. The room was beautiful, a proper library straight from a fairytale with wall-to-wall bookshelves that stretched all the way to the ceiling.
“Would you like to go in?”
Cameron squeaked—actually fucking squeaked like a cartoon mouse—and spun around so quickly he lost his footing and stumbled backwards. The doors rattled in their frame, and he winced when one of the knobs dug into his hip. Heart pounding, throat tight, he lifted his head, his gaze locking with amber eyes so deep he felt as though the floor shifted beneath him.
Never had he experienced such a visceral reaction to mere eye contact, and it did nothing to ease the tightness in his throat or the thundering of his heart. Right then, those eyes sparkled with humor and a hint of mischief. Realizing he should say something instead of just staring like an idiot, he opened his mouth, but every thought he’d ever had abandoned him.
A war started between his body and his mind, and while his brain scrambled to catch up, his body took great pleasure in betraying him. His hands trembled, his legs shook, and a soft gasp escaped as his eyes drank in the sight of the man standing close enough to touch.
Thick, brown hair—wet and limp, likely from a recent shower—fell over a smooth brow. High, defined cheekbones created a perfect symmetry to his angular jaw and square chin, and the shadow of scruff, just a smidgen past five o’clock, added a ruggedness to the otherwise beautiful face.
A thin, white V-neck did little to hide his broad shoulders or muscular chest. The sleeves strained around defined biceps encased in smooth, bronzed skin, and even the fingers wrapped around a black, porcelain coffee mug flexed with a strength that made Cameron’s knees weak. The loose ash-gray sweats hung low on his narrow hips, but the baggy cotton couldn’t completely conceal a pair of thick, toned thighs.
“Take your time,” the stranger teased, his voice a flawless combination of husky and smooth, like raw honey chased by a shot of aged whiskey.
Cameron shivered, even as the heat of embarrassment stung his cheeks. Coughing twice to clear his throat, he pushed away from the library doors. “Sorry, you startled me.” Yes, that sounded reasonable. He held out his right hand. “Cameron Stone.”
The man stared for longer than necessary, a smirk playing at the edges of his mouth. Then he shifted his coffee cup to his opposite hand and took Cameron’s in a lingering embrace that felt too intimate for strangers.
Cameron had guessed as much, but he figured it would be rude to say so, especially after he’d just been caught checking out the guy. Instead, he settled on saying, “Nice to meet you. Your home is really amazing.” Taking his hand back, he shoved it into the pocket of his dress slacks and curled his fingers into a tight fist. “Why are you selling?”
For a long time, Asher didn’t speak, and Cameron fought not to squirm under the guy’s casual scrutiny. His expression gave away nothing, his features carefully arranged into a mask of neutrality that made Cameron more nervous than outright hostility.
What the hell is he thinking?
“I’m not selling,” Asher finally answered.
“So…the estate sale?”
His T-shirt strained when he lifted his shoulders. “I was bored, and needed a change.” He took a sip of his coffee, then ran his tongue over his full, pink lips. “I needed to make room for something new. This seemed like the simplest way.”
While he tried to match the guy’s indifference, Cameron could feel his brow scrunch together between his eyes. The way he’d said it sounded as though he didn’t really care about the money from the sale. He simply wanted to get rid of a style he no longer found appealing to clear space for new, likely more expensive, things. He made it sound a lot like boxing up a closet full of winter clothes to make room for a summer wardrobe.
“Oh.” Not intelligent or articulate, but it was the best he could do.
“Would you like a tour?”
Cameron couldn’t be sure, but he thought the man might be teasing him. “Thanks, but I’ve already seen everything not restricted.”
“You sure?” Yes, there was definitely a teasing lilt to his voice. “We could start with the master suite.”