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Monday, February 17, 2020

Blog Tour, Character Interview, Review, & Giveaway for Murder at the Million Dollar Pier by Gwen Mayo & Sarah E. Glenn





Character Name: Cornelia Pettijohn

1)      Tell us a little bit about yourself--both something we learn from [the story] and something that readers might not guess? 
I am a nurse with the Army. I began service with Theodore Roosevelt in Cuba, and joined the Army Nurse Corps when it formed. I served in both the Spanish-American War and the Great War. One of my proudest accomplishments in my career, however, didn’t involve a war at all. I was stationed in San Francisco when the Great Earthquake struck, and the nurses from Presidio were called upon to render emergency aid to injured civilians, setting up first aid tents because the hospitals couldn’t handle the casualties. I feel that this was one of the greatest services I rendered to the country.

Something few people know about me: along with academics, I also excelled in music in school. I play the violin (or ‘fiddle’ as my father called it), and Teddy and I often do duets of popular music to entertain the soldiers in our care. During our tour of Florida I’ve been pursuing another hobby of mine, birdwatching.

2)      How did you first meet your writers?
It was a family introduction. Sarah’s great-great aunt served as an army nurse in the Great War, and she inspired Sarah and Gwen to write about the women who served. I fear that the civilian population keeps distracting from that purpose; it has proved far more treacherous.

3)      Want to dish about them?
They both need to exercise more frequently; they’re soft and have no endurance. They’re also too permissive with Teddy’s access to alcohol, and keep introducing my uncle to situations where he gets in trouble. He’s good enough at doing that himself without help.

4)      Why do you think that your life has ended up being in a book?
I’ve seen a lot of drama during my years of service, but I think our soldiers are the ones whose story deserves telling. They risk their lives daily for our country.

5)      Who's your favorite character? Why? 
Teddy Lawless is my favorite character; she’s such a dear. She wouldn’t have these lung problems or drink so much if she hadn’t given that young soldier her gas mask. It was a remarkable act of courage for someone raised in the lap of luxury.

6)      Who's your least favorite character? Why? 
My least favorite living character is Evelyn Stevens. She reminds me of my rich classmates at Johns Hopkins who think only of themselves. I’m sure you know the type; they went into nursing for the sole purpose of marrying a doctor. She’s also determined to send Teddy to the electric chair for her father’s murder without bothering to learn whether Teddy is guilty first.

7)      What's next for you? 
That’s my current project. I will retire from the Army in a few months and don’t yet know what to do with myself. Sitting around isn’t in my nature.

About Murder at the Million Dollar Pier

Million Dollar Pier  
Historical Cozy Mystery 2nd in Series  
Publisher: Mystery and Horror, LLC (September 26, 2019) 
 Paperback: 260 pages  
ISBN-10: 1949281078  
ISBN-13: 978-1949281071 
 Digital ASIN: B07WMN9V79 
 
"Never waste good rum on a bad night." - Teddy Lawless, February 1926.
There are many bad nights ahead for Teddy. Shortly after she arrives at the newly opened Vinoy Hotel in Saint Petersburg, she comes face to face with her ex-fiancé, Ansel Stevens, in the dining room. Cue the slap that was thirty years in the making. Unfortunately, her ex-fiancé dies during a yacht race shortly thereafter. Conclusion of the authorities: poison. His family closes ranks, leaving Teddy as the prime suspect. Worse, Teddy's hair comb is found on the deck of Ansel's boat, leading to her swift arrest.
Can Cornelia Pettijohn and Uncle Percival save fun-loving Teddy before she goes from the grand hotel to the big house?
 REVIEW
*I received a free copy of this book which I voluntarily chose to write an honest review for.

Welcome to the 1920's with this delightful cozy mystery. We follow Cornelia as she travels with her elderly Uncle and a friend of hers Teddy. On leave as an army nurse she is looking forward to the fancy hotel they will be staying in and she is not disappointed. Things are going great until they run into an ex-fiance of Teddy's which causes her to make a scene. This would not be an issue if the same man did not turn up dead a few days later with Teddy being the main suspect. Cornelia starts investigating to save the day though she does manage to get herself in some hot water as well. A delightful mystery full of cute historical facts that really bring the story to life. A must read for fans of historical cozies. I really liked it so I give it 4/5 stars.

About Gwen Mayo

Gwen Mayo is passionate about blending the colorful history of her native Kentucky with her love for mystery fiction. She currently lives and writes in Safety Harbor, Florida, but grew up in a large Irish family in the hills of Eastern Kentucky.
Her stories have appeared in anthologies, at online short fiction sites, and in micro-fiction collections. She belongs to Sisters in Crime, SinC Guppies, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and the Independent Book Publishers Association.
Gwen attended the University of Kentucky on a poetry scholarship but has an associate degree in business and a bachelor's degree in political science. Interesting side note: Gwen was a brakeman and railroad engineer from 1983 - 1987.

About Sarah E. Glenn

Sarah E. Glenn loves mystery and horror stories, often with a sidecar of humor. Several have appeared in mystery and paranormal anthologies, including G.W. Thomas’ Ghostbreakers series, Futures Mysterious Anthology Magazine, and Fish Tales: The Guppy Anthology. She belongs to Sisters in Crime, SinC Guppies, and the Short Mystery Fiction Society.
Her great-great aunt served as a nurse in WWI, and was injured by poison gas during the fighting. After being mustered out, she traveled widely. A hundred years later, 'Aunt Dess' would inspire Sarah to write stories she would likely not have approved of.

Author Links  
Gwen's Blog - http://www.gwenmayo.com/three-snowbirds.html
Gwen's Website - http://www.gwenmayo.com/  
Sarah's Website - http://www.sarahglenn.com/  
Sarah Twitter - https://twitter.com/SarahEGlenn  

Purchase Links -  



TOUR PARTICIPANTS  
February 5 – I'm All About Books - CHARACTER GUEST POST  
February 6 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST  
February 7 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT  
February 7 – Hearts & Scribbles - SPOTLIGHT  
February 8 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW, RECIPE  
February 9 – Jane Reads – GUEST POST  
February 10 – Literary Gold – CHARACTER GUEST POST  
February 10 – ebook addicts – SPOTLIGHT  
February 11 – The Book Decoder – REVIEW  
February 12 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT  
February 13 – StoreyBook Reviews – CHARACTER GUEST POST  
February 14 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW  
February 15 – TBR Book Blog – SPOTLIGHT  
February 16 – Celticlady's Reviews – SPOTLIGHT  
February 17 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews - REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW 
February 18 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

   

Have you signed up to be a Tour Host? Click Here Find Details and Sign Up Today!
 

Blog Tour & Giveaway for The Kendrick Pennsylvania Series by J. McCreary


Under the Sycamore 
The Kendrick Pennsylvania Series Book 1 
by J. McCreary 
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Welcome to Kendrick Pennsylvania... where the secrets and lies are rooted deep

For Evan Masters one secret has controlled and destroyed her life. A secret that has kept her from the one place she could truly call home. A secret that has kept her from the person she loves most. But, when that person calls for her help, Evan swallows down her fears and goes and finds that sometimes hidden secrets have an annoying way of resurfacing.

For Levi Kincaid one lie has freed him and given him life. A lie that has brought him happiness and a home. A lie that he has forged deep friendships from and when Evan Masters comes into his life that lie brings him someone to love.

When the two bring their secrets and lies together, it forms a beautiful bond. One that is unbreakable, even when those secrets come to light.

Can Levi help Evan free herself from the secret that has controlled her every move for the last nineteen years? And will Evan learn to trust the gorgeous, tattooed and bearded man telling her that she is worthy of love?

Under the Sycamore is a beautiful story of learning to trust, second chances, love, family, friends, small towns, restoration and excavation.

Out of the Flames 
The Kendrick Pennsylvania Series Book 2
Welcome back to Kendrick Pennsylvania, where the secrets and lies are rooted deep...

Della Richardson has finally got her life together. Freshly clean and sober, she is determined to no longer be called the town junkie, that girl who everyone knows as a lost cause. She is determined to get her life together and make it a normal one. At least as normal as possible living in Kendrick.

Rex Whitney has never had his life together. He has never cared that he is called the town gigolo, the male whore that no one wants to see their daughters with. Drugs, booze and women are his favorite parts of life, and living in Kendrick has always made his favorite things easy to get.

But when Rex sees Della running down his road every day and stopping in front of his home, the home that was once hers, feelings from the past come flooding back.

A past that comes back to haunt.

A past that comes back to ruin lives.

Together Rex and Della uncover the lies that destroyed so much, but will they be able to cope with the truth?

Out of the Flames is a story of two broken people coming together to form one mended and complete soul. Two people who put the ugliness of their pasts behind them and learn to move forward to see the beauty that is all around them.
J. McCreary resides in Battle Ground Washington where she lives for pajamas, coffee and rainy days. She is the wife of a bearded man-child, mother of a teenage daughter and mom to two giant dogs and one sassy little cat. 

When she isn't writing you can find her looking at Pinterest, drinking beer or taking a nap. She lives a very full and exciting life. 

Her 5th grade teacher predicted she would be a published author some day, so J took matters into her own hands and made the prediction come true with her first book, giving her a taste of the writing world. It sparked a small fire for her, giving her what she needed to keep going and live a dream.
1 ebook copy of Under the Sycamore and 1 ebook of Out of the Flames, I Love Diverse Romance bookmark and bracelet, one paperback of Under the Sycamore, one paperback of Out of the Flames. (So there is a total of 5 prizes) 

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!


Blog Tour & Giveaway for Between Love and Death by B.L. Hayse


Between Love and Death 
by B.L. Hayse 
Genre: Supernatural Romance
Inspired by Edgar Allen Poe's Annabelle Lee:
When love is so deep, a man will pursue any path to grant his beloved her greatest desire- even after she's left the world of the living. Grief leads him to an old Colonial on the cliffs of Maine that holds a secret in its hearth- a secret that will bring peace to one beyond the grave. 
This story gives restless entities a voice, allowing others to hear their sorrow as they beg for absolution. It gives power to those whose cursed lives binds them in chains of sorrow and offers fresh hope to the hopeless.
But at what cost?
**Only 99 cents!!**
BDSM/AP lifestyler Breanna Hayse strives to give her readers truth and reality of the BDSM/Age-Play/Total Power and Erotic Exchange lifestyle.
Who am I?
I'm a native Californian gone 'wild', and had the opportunity to travel the globe and discover the world through the eyes of both a Marine Intelligence specialist and a BDSM lifestyler. I left the service to go into hospice nursing and grief counseling, eventually working as a marriage and family therapist for those involved in alternative lifestyle development. This experience has allowed me to gain unique inspiration for my books and offer realistic plots and relatable characters.

In 2004, my husband, John, and I joined forces to work with both submissives and dominants- teaching, training, listening and loving. Our goal was to take the mystery and fear out of the lifestyle and mentor people in safe, consensual and healthy relationships.

My first book, The Game Plan, was published in 2012 and opened the door to the now-booming world of Age-Play literature. Since that time, I've devoted my 'spare' time to writing, researching, community involvement, and private and group pro bono counseling in deviant behavior, alternative lifestyle, and addiction recovery.

I was formally 'dungeon trained' as a Domme before discovering my submissive side when I joined the service. My scenarios are pulled primarily from either personal experience or observation, including spending time in BDSM clubs as the safety/medical officer. My multi-faceted background allows me to glean from many avenues and give a unique and intelligent literary experience through elements of fantasy and fiction. I also discuss the questions and psychology of the lifestyle in a manner that is fun and informative, and based on 'the real deal.'

I live with my husband, musician, and fellow-author, John Hayse, and two border collies in southern California. We practice a 24/7 D&S relationship with speckles of AP (and many trips to Build-A-Bear), and happily spend every moment together that we can. My hobbies include my puppies, hiding my vanilla salt-water taffy where John can't find it, exotic art, collecting inspirational trinkets, and developing my own paddle line. You can also see me as a featured author/instructor in professional conference settings and as a Sexpert for kinkyliterature.com.
$15 Amazon 
Follow the tour HERE for exclusive content and a giveaway!


Sunday, February 16, 2020

Confessions of a Wicked Fae by Jenna Wolfhart


Confessions of a Wicked Fae by Jenna Wolfhart


*I received a free copy of this book which I voluntarily chose to write an honest review for.

Book two in Moira's adventures and she is still fighting her mate bond die to the prophecy of Lugh dying by her hand. He needs her help in an official capacity though which places them in close proximity whether they like it or not. As the danger increases so does their control which makes for a great story I must say as you never know what is going to happen next. A fantastic adventure none the less. I really liked it so I give it 4/5 stars.

Reclaimed by Maya Riley


Reclaimed by Maya Riley

 *I received a free copy of this book which I voluntarily chose to write an honest review for.

First off I must say that I need my very own Puppy! This dog is totally awesome!! Blyss is no slouch herself though which those is their new safe zone soon learn. One would think that Blyss and the guys could relax once they find the Salvaged Lands but that is hard to do after being condition to be alert at all times for survival. To make it that much harder attacks keep happening after they arrive too so they don't even really consider letting down their guard. it quickly becomes apparent that they are caught up in something and things may get dicey until they figure it out. Makes for a great read as it all plays out. I really liked it so I give it 4/5 stars.

Sister of Embers & Echoes by Annie Anderson


Sister of Embers & Echoes by Annie Anderson


*I received a free copy of this book which I voluntarily chose to write an honest review for.

Wow just wow!! Max is totally awesome I must say and this book is no exception to that. She gets no chance to breathe after joining the council quickly being swept up by the needs of the fates. Given a task that seems impossible she tries to figure things out in time to save them all but a few twists along the way do not make that easy. Quite a few surprises, lots of action, and an MC you can root for make for a must read. I totally loved it so I give it 5/5 stars.

Blood Payment by Laura Greenwood


Blood Payment by Laura Greenwood



*I received a free copy of this book which I voluntarily chose to write an honest review for.

What a great introduction this is! The creation of the City of Blood was quite the coup I must say and this short story tells you how it was done setting things up for what sounds like an intriguing series. A fun read overall that I really enjoyed so I give it 4/5 stars.

Book Blitz & Giveaway for Married to the Earl by Samantha Holt


Married to the Earl
Samantha Holt
(The Wallflower Brides #3)
Publication date: February 10th 2020
Genres: Adult, Historical Romance, Romance
Going from vivacious society belle to widow wallflower can leave a lady wanting…
Joanna Lockhart is trapped in a mire of grief and boredom. Still recovering from the sudden death of her husband, the beautiful widow is tired of being treated like a fragile porcelain doll. But when a severe illness nearly claims her life, Joanna finds the perfect outlet for her natural vitality—a charity.
Unfortunately, her sudden interest in all things philanthropic is marred by the presence of one Ambrose Creassey. For some unknown reason, this handsome cad has decided to cast aside his reputation as a rake, and take up the mantel of charitable patron.
As the Earl of Newhaven, Ambrose has enjoyed his life of delicious debauchery. But recently the earl has hungered for more noble pursuits. A charity seems to be the perfect outlet for his newfound desire to be more than just a rake. And of course, he doesn’t mind the aid of a beautiful, well-connected woman like Joanna… Especially when he cannot resist riling her a time or two.
After all, she does rise so beautifully to the challenge.
Focusing on their work is harder than either of them thought. There’s no denying the attraction between them, but is Ambrose truly prepared to cast aside his hedonistic history? And even if he does, is Joanna ready for a new love?
EXCERPT:
“It is hard to see how this will become a hospital,” she murmured.
“I should imagine you would rather see it as a grand house once more, ready for a ball.”
She glared at him. “Considering we hardly know one another, Lord Newhaven, it is a wonder you can imagine anything that I might think.”
He shrugged. “It is not hard to take a guess.”
“If we wish to take guesses, I would rather expect you would prefer this house to be used for raucous house parties.”
His lips quirked. “I suppose we should cease guessing then.”
“That would be preferable, yes.”
“Let us continue our tour.” He opened another door, leading through into a drawing room.
No furnishings existed and a thick layer of dust coated the grand stone mantlepiece. Beneath her feet, the rugs were worn and frayed. “This is going to take a lot of funds.”
“My understanding is we have enough to ensure the house can be converted into a hospital, but our current pledges will not cover the ongoing running of it.”
So, he knew something about his charity. That was interesting. She could not be certain why the earl had decided to take a closer look at how things were run but he was not entirely ignorant. However, if he was to be interfering with her work, she would have to speak up. They had far too much toil ahead of them for him to be causing any chaos.
She paused by the fireplace and turned to face him as he wrenched open the shutters on one window. Blinking in the sudden influx of light, she tilted her head. “Why exactly have you decided to assist the charity? Mr. Bartlett told me you are only a figurehead.”
“Well, that is incorrect. I am also the biggest donor.”
She lifted a brow.
“Does it surprise you that I might wish to actually have a hand in the running of the charity?”
“Frankly, yes.”
A smile curved his lips. “Well, I do enjoy a frank woman.” He strode over to join her by the fireplace. “And why have you taken up the mantle as the charity’s latest philanthropist?”
She could come up with some pithy remark perhaps. Some flippant reply that would have him eyeing her with amusement once more, but she could not help feel they had reached some odd moment of honesty. She blew out a breath. “I should like to find something useful with which to occupy myself. Being a widow is a tiresome occupation.”
“For someone like you, I imagine it is.”
“Someone like me?” She stiffened her shoulders.
“Someone as vivacious and as intelligent as you.”
The air flew from her lungs. She let her shoulders drop. “Oh.” for some reason, the flattery made her cheeks warm.
Preposterous.


Author Bio:
USA Today Bestselling author Samantha Holt lives in a small village in England with her twin girls and a dachshund called Duke. If you’re not sure where to start why not try…
Amelia and the Viscount (Bluestocking Brides #1) for a fun, slightly hot shorter length read. Meet the Chadwick sisters and follow their adventures in each of their standalone stories.
You’re the Rogue That I Want (Rogues of Redmere #1) is a longer read with heat, witty dialogue, a feisty heroine and adventure. All books in the series are standalone.
Sinful Confessions is the first in the Cynfell Brothers Series. These are all novella length and standalone–ideal for a quick dip into the world of the sexy Cynfell brothers.
Wake Me With a Kiss is a sweet, fairytale romance. Twists on Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella are also available if you love a clean, fun read.
To Steal a Highlander’s Heart is a full length dive into the world of sexy highlanders. For those who love braw Scots, some steamy scenes, and medieval romance, this series is a perfect escape.

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Book Blitz & Giveaway for Finding Forever by Rachel Blake, RJ Gray, Stella Moore


Finding Forever
Rachel Blake, RJ Gray, Stella Moore
(Blushing Books Publications)
Publication date: February 10th 2020
Genres: Adult, Mystery, Romance
Three sisters, separated at birth, identical down to their DNA. For over thirty years, they lived without knowledge of the each other’s existence until one fateful night changed everything.
Now, a new revelation is testing the bonds of their relationships. Hidden family secrets and broken promises threaten to tear them apart and destroy the family they’ve just begun to build. And it’s not just their relationships with each other on the line.
Can they work past their differences and face these trials together? Or will these three sisters become nothing more than strangers who happen to look alike once again?
Publisher’s Note: The conclusion of the Missing Pieces saga contains mystery, secrets, and a theme of power exchange.
Previous books in the series:
EXCERPT:
Rowena turned back, resting her chin on the duvet. “I need this. We need this connection.” Hiding her smirk in the blanket, she let the next words fall from her lips, “Do your worst.”
His first spank connected as his chuckle bounced around the room. “Be careful what you wish for.” He focused first on her right cheek, smacking the same spot until she started to squirm and whine before moving to the left to give that cheek the same treatment.
When he paused, she clenched her cheeks. She knew her sit spot were about to receive the same treatment only to be followed by her thighs. “Bear?”
“Yeah, sunshine?” Without words, she held the hand that wasn’t pinned to the side of her body back. “Need some help, baby?”
“Please.” She relaxed as soon as his long fingers wrapped around her wrist securing it to the small of her back. “Okay, I’m ready now.”
Octavius continued his assault as she knew he would. It didn’t take nearly as many smacks on her sit spots to get her squirming this time, but he didn’t stop. Instead, he gave them the same treatment as he did her full ass.
It was when he moved to her thighs that the struggle to stay still became all too real. Gone, was the good girl who wanted him to hold her hand for comfort; in her place, was the wife who suddenly wasn’t so sure she wanted or needed this spanking.
“You have your safeword. Use it or settle down, baby.”
The final word he spoke broke her. Tears she had previously thought all cried out raced down her face. “Stop calling me that. Fucking stop.” A bitter laugh left her lips as a particularly hard swat connected, her reprimand for the curse. “I can’t give you a family, I sure as hell don’t deserve the pet name.”

Author Bio:
Rachel Blake:
I have been writing since high school, but truthfully never thought it would go any further than a few short stories hidden deep within my laptop. It wasn't until my family moved away from everything we knew that I started writing stuff worth sharing. Now, my husband, three kids, our plethora of animals, and I live in the Midwest. When I'm not running around like your stereotypical soccer mom (sans the minivan) I am writing the type of stories I have always secretly treasured. Love stories with a sexy alpha male and a strong submissive female.
RJ Gray:
RJ Gray romanticizes life with a slightly kinky mind. She resides in Virginia with her husband, two young sons and naughty beagle lab puppy. Her hobbies include whipping up delicious meals, capturing life's beauty with her camera and spending time in the strong arms of her husband of fifteen years, Bomb Dom.
RJ brings her over two decades of experience in BDSM and domestic discipline to the page, writing books with dominant alpha males and feisty, stubborn females. RJ holds college degrees in both social work and criminology, topics that can often be found in her novels. Having spent the past fifteen years married to a military bomb technician, RJ has a passion for military and veteran causes.
Stella Moore:
Stella has been writing spanking fiction off and on for years, but she's just recently taken the plunge into writing full on novels. She is from the school of "write what you know", and her husband is always willing (sometimes too willing!) to assist with any research she needs.

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Release Blitz for Damage Control by Ree L. Diehl (aka Nia Farrell)

💋.•°*❤*°•. NEW RELEASE!! .•°*❤*°•.💋



DAMAGE CONTROL
Author: Ree L. Diehl (aka Nia Farrell)
Length: 20,088 words
Cover Image Photographer: Lori Stead / Copyright 2019 Wet Silver LLC
Cover Model: Jenn R. Turnham
Cover Design: Crystal Visions
Release Date: February 14, 2020



LINKS:
Amazon Universal Link http://mybook.to/ReeDC
Goodreads TBR Goodreads http://bit.ly/ReeDCGR
BookBub reviews http://bit.ly/ReeDCBB


TAGLINE:
Wentworth’s new plus-size lingerie sales clerk thinks a boss with benefits could be just what she needs.

BLURB:
Curvy Isabella DeLorean knows what it’s like to be the butt of jokes but she has brains, talent, beauty, an irrepressible sense of humor, and a plus-size body that matches her big heart.  Tough as steel and built for comfort, this DeLorean would love nothing more than to take her new boss for a ride.

Nicholas Wentworth III is CEO of the Wentworth’s department store chain.  His newest sales clerk is so popular with customers, Bella wins Employee of the Month and all the perks that come with it—a sizable bonus, a premium parking space, and dinner with CEO.  Bella’s hot Italian-American blood thinks that a boss with benefits might just be what she needs.  She’s already dealing with vicious coworkers, a shady manager, and office gossip.  Accepting the award from Nick puts an even bigger target on her back.  Someone’s aware of their mutual attraction.  Someone who’ll stop at nothing to keep her and Nick apart.  With Bella’s life in peril, can Nick find her stalker before it’s too late?

***Damage Control is Ree L. Diehl’s first novella, her first BBW, and first romantic mystery. The story originally appeared in the Stand Your Ground charity anthology, published June 7, 2019. BBW/billionaire workplace romance / romantic comedy / erotic romance / romantic suspense. Written for Ages 18+.


EXCERPT:
Bella put the credit card printout with the cash register receipt and handed them to Lola.
The bride-to-be tucked them in her billfold.  “I’ll give these to Vito when I get home.  Thanks for all your help, doll.  You’re the best.”
“Thank you, Lola.  I wish you and Vito every joy.”
Glancing over, Bella saw Maria carrying Justinian on her hip.  The way that he was gnawing on a finger, she wondered if a tooth was coming in.
She was so focused on her nephew that she didn’t see Ms. Cohen coming from the back with a spray bottle of perfume in her hand.  “There,” she said, misting away.  “Much better!”
For Ms. Cohen maybe, but not for Bella.  One whiff and she felt her throat start to close.  She stumbled to the chair just outside the lingerie display room, gasping for air.
“Someone get a doctor!” Maria yelled.  Justinian burst into tears, wailing like a banshee.  Lola called 911.  “Bella, can you hear me?  Do you have one of those shot things for allergies?”
Bella shook her head weakly.  She had an inhaler if she started to wheeze.  A runny nose and sinus headache were the norm.  She’d never had a reaction this bad, with a fat tongue and dangerously constricted airways.  Dear God, what if her throat swelled shut before help came?  Not being able to breathe was the most frightening thing she’d ever experienced.
She felt dizzy.  She couldn’t get enough air, and she was losing consciousness.  Her eyelids closed, too heavy to keep open any longer.
“Hang in there, sweetie.  Help is on the way.  Stay with me, Bella.  Stay with me.  Come on, sweetheart.  Stay with me.”
Strange, but Maria’s voice had changed to Mr. Wentworth’s.
Try as she might, she couldn’t force open her eyes.  Couldn’t see him and couldn’t stay with him, as much as she wanted to.  How ironic was it, to win a date with the man of her dreams and die before dinner?

***

“I agree.  It is ironic.”
Bella stopped breathing again, but this time it wasn’t a medical emergency.  She felt the sting of an IV in the back of her hand and heard the blip of monitors even before she opened her eyes and saw Nicholas Wentworth sitting by her hospital bed.
He looked exhausted.
She was pretty sure that she looked worse.
“Hi,” she croaked.  “What are you doing here?”
He conjured a tired smile.  “Checking on my Employee of the Month.  Your mother tells me that you’re a fighter.  She swears that you’ll be out of here in time for the presentation tomorrow night.”
Tomorrow?
Good lord.  She’d lost a day?  A day’s pay.  No, two days.  Yesterday and today and maybe tomorrow, depending on how soon they would let her go.
Bella burst into tears.  “I’m s-sorry,” she keened.  “It’s just—I can’t afford to miss work.”
“Workmen’s Comp,” he said, waving a dismissive hand.  “Everything’s covered.  Your pay.  Your stay.  This is a result of an incident while you were on the clock.  Trust me when I say that everything will be taken care of.  All you need to do is relax and recover.  Lingerie will be waiting for you when the doctor releases you.  Ms. Cohen, however, will not.”
“Wait.  What?”
Bracing his elbows on the arms of his chair, he clasped his hands and leaned toward her.  “After your review yesterday morning, I started checking, comparing department profits and sales commissions paid.  The figures showed a disturbing pattern.  When I called Ms. Cohen to discuss my findings, I was told that she was busy with a medical emergency.  Yours.”
He rubbed a hand across his face and smiled grimly.  “Miss Chin—Qua—found your phone on the counter, still recording.  She had me listen to it.  Ms. Cohen was ready to let your sales go through another register.  But what she did next was worse.  Ms. Cohen knew that you had fragrance allergies.  That’s why we put you in lingerie, in a part of the store farthest from the makeup and perfume counters.  Yet she deliberately sprayed perfume without your permission, without bothering to ask if you were allergic to that brand.  It was an unconscionable act, and I fired her.  The search is on for a new lingerie department manager.  HR recommends the one from our Charleston, South Carolina, location.  Ms. Jackson—Evalynne—has an excellent record but she’s not fond of hurricanes and is looking to relocate.”
“Same job, new boss.  I can handle it.”  Truthfully, she was relieved to have a job to come back to, especially if it meant that she could catch a glimpse of Nicholas Wentworth III from time to time.
He smiled softly.  “I’m certain you can.”
“I’m a DeLorean,” she quipped.  “Tough as steel and built for comfort.”
It was one of her standing jokes when someone pointed out her weight.  Bella groaned when she heard what had flown out of her mouth.  “Forget I said that.  Jesus, take me now.”
Mr. Wentworth chuckled.  “Sorry, he’ll have to wait until I’m done with you.  We have a presentation tomorrow night, and there’s still your Employee of the Month dinner with me.  Your mother is looking forward to the first, and I,” he said, “am looking forward to the second.”
She looked for the signs, but he wasn’t joking.
Holy schneiky.
She needed to make a major fashion statement.  In her mind, she saw a basic black mermaid wrap with an asymmetrical draped bodice, crossing to one side and fastening at her waist.
“Two weeks,” she said.  If they were going to do this, she wanted enough time to make the perfect dress.
“Good,” he said.  “Good.  You’ll be out of here and back to work.  Speaking of which, I’d better get going.  I have a conference call in an hour.  I’m glad to see that you’re doing better, Miss DeLorean.”
That sounded so formal when she was sitting here with her ass hanging out of a hospital gown.  “My family and friends call me Bella, Mr. Wentworth.”
Standing, he smoothed the creases from his suit pants and draped his matching jacket over his arm.  “And my family and friends call me Nick.  I’ll see you soon, Bella.  Get some rest.”
She didn’t want to rest.  She wanted to watch that fine specimen of manhood leave her hospital room and memorize how his bubble butt looked in motion.  She wanted to bite it.  Lick it.  She wanted to bend over the bed and let the CEO of Wentworth’s own her every orifice.
God, what she wouldn’t give to have her vibrator right now.




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