COMING FRIDAY 7 PM PST. WELCOME MARIE HARTE AUTHOR OF: ALL I WANT FOR HALLOWEEN (SEE EXCERPTS)
7 PM PST.
Tonight, she plans to let go.
Dressed up and anonymous, Sadie Liberato feels powerful, sexy and free. Where better to lose herself than a masked party?
Gear Blackstone’s cheating ex and a scheming best friend have managed to spin his life into a serious downward spiral. At least with a mask on, he can cut loose for one night. And cut loose he does—with the sexiest, snarkiest chick he’s ever met.
After a scorching-hot encounter, Sadie and Gear are desperate to find each other in real life. But can the heat last when the masks come off?
A large, muscular man with tattoos, ear gauges, and a Mohawk standing inside the foyer bro-hugged Elliot, gave Sadie a refreshing once-over to let her know she was indeed a woman, and then let them continue inside.
The music grew louder the farther they walked into the party. But not so loud Sadie couldn’t hear Elliot’s apparent shock. Or rather, his shock.
“I have no words.” Elliot stared at her as if Sadie had grown two heads.
“You keep saying that…which is kind of ironic, don’t you think?”
She sighed. “What?”
“You’re…hot. I mean, really sexy in that getup. Ew, I think I threw up in my mouth a little.” Elliot pretended to gag. Dressed as the Phantom of the Opera, her brother looked magnificent. The half mask he wore emphasized the vivid green of his eyes and the square line of his jaw. But now, inside and adjusting to the festivities, Sadie saw more beautiful people, making Elliot appear almost normal.
“You know, I can look good when I put my mind to it.”
“I see that.” He smiled.
She glanced around at men and women in costumes a lot more revealing than hers. She’d been annoyed enough that she’d decided to go as a warrior princess, complete with a fake sword she considered using on her brother. Sadie’s costume showed a lot of skin but kept the important parts covered. Nothing less than what she wore at the gym, to be honest. A short skirt of fake leather and a matching halter top that bared a good bit of her toned stomach, complete with a scabbard at her back. Fake-gold armbands tightened around her biceps, while quality leather boots with tufts of faux fur around the tops looked authentic enough to be part of the costume. In reality, she’d borrowed them from Rose.
Sadie had left her hair long with a single braid on each side of her face, and she’d darkened her eyes and lips with black makeup. A few fake war-paint lines under her eyes and across her cheeks apparently made her look authentically man-eating—or so the drunk guy brushing by her thought out loud.
Not bad. If he hadn’t been so sloshed, she might have considered trying him on for size. She had a leather satchel belted to her waist containing some money, a few condoms, and her phone.
“Oh my God. Is that who I think it is?” Elliot dragged her around the packed dance floor and up a half level toward the rear of the home leading out into the patio, where the crowd was thin enough to see a small gathering under bright lights. Space heaters and tall tables had been placed around a slate-slabbed yard, while strategically placed minibars provided drinks.
“Who are you talking about?” She rubbed her arms, feeling the chill before Elliot squeezed them in next to two couples by a space heater. Before she could ask again, her brother shushed her.
To the small group near them, he asked in a low voice, “Is that Gear in the Joker costume? And B-Man with Sahara?”
“Yeah” came a low reply from one of the men. “See the camera guy standing just behind the tall Batman? And the other one, the lighting guy there, is wearing scrubs, but he’s no doctor. Dude is working to keep the lights on in this clusterfu—”
“Foley,” the redhead next to him chastened.
“Come on, Cyn. This ain’t the place for reality TV. I just wanna party.”
Sadie glanced at the guy and blinked. The large man had dark hair, a muscular build—the way she liked them—and amazing gray eyes. Dressed as a sexy cop, he exuded menace more than law and order. Très sexy. Before Sadie could close her mouth, Cyn, the stunning redhead wearing an orange prisoner jumpsuit that clung to her curves, whispered something into his ear. He chuckled, and Sadie turned away, knowing she could never compete with a woman that pretty. Not that she’d ever try to break up a relationship, but with that woman, she’d stand no chance.
“Look, Sadie,” Elliot whispered with excitement. “It’s the guys from .”
“Oh, right. Birdman and Glock.”
“B-man and Gear,” he growled.
“Whatever.” She wanted to turn away, but their dialogue sucked her in.
Gear, the bodybuilder mechanic from the TV show, wore white makeup and a green wig and had a Joker grin painted in red over his lips, making him seem both perpetually smiling and sneering at the same time. The purple pin-striped suit he wore seemed painted onto his larger-than-life body. was all she could think, wondering when she’d become so desperate that now maniacal clowns turned her on.
“Jesus, he shaved off his beard.” Elliot fanned himself. “I’m in lust.”
“I know.” Cyn sounded in awe until her boyfriend grunted. “I mean, I’m surprised about the beard.” She coughed. “It’s so sad they broke up, isn’t it, Foley? Gear and Sahara were perfect for each other.”
He shrugged. “Too bad about the show. They sure made some killer bikes.”
Next, to them, another guy agreed while his girlfriend called Gear some unflattering names. Her boyfriend started to argue with her, defending the mechanic.
“People, we’re getting ready to roll.” A man holding a large mic over the TV combatants glared at the onlookers. “Quiet.”
The growing crowd around Sadie and Elliot grew silent.
Elliot gripped Sadie’s hand. “They’re starting. Oh, my God. Best. Night. ”
Illuminated and surrounded by heat lamps, standing across from each other with the mediator seated on a barstool between them, the three leads of —Gear as the Joker, with B-Man and Sahara as Adam and Eve—faced off.
Rough and tumble bad boy mechanics
Living fast and loving hard
Johnny Devlin's a charmer with a checkered past. He has had his eye on scorching-hot bartender Lara Valley for ages, but she's rejected him more than once. That doesn't mean he won't come to her aid when some dirtbag mauls her. When she asks him on a date as a no-strings-attached thank you, he can't say no.
And then he's saying nothing but hell, yes.
Grinning, Johnny left the guys swearing at the table and nabbed a free place at the crowded bar. Lara, Sue, and a few others were hopping, grabbing drinks, and pouring like mad. Behind him, he heard a scuffle break out, and he turned to see two guys who used to be friends hammering on each other.
“That’s rough,” a biker covered in tats next to him said. “But then, Jim should have known better than to hit up Sheila with her new guy right there.”
“He really needs to lay off the tequila.” Lara sounded exasperated. “I told Earl to keep an eye on him.”
Johnny turned and locked gazes with her. She had her long brown hair pulled back in a familiar ponytail. The silky mass reached her lower back, and he was dying to see her hair down just once. She wore minimal makeup, a bit of liner and some thicker mascara. Growing up around women who glammed up for a living, he’d learned early on about a woman’s trade secrets. But he doubted the red in her cheeks came from blush. More like from the heat in the place. And damn, it would have been nice if everyone around him cared about personal hygiene as much as he did.
He wrinkled his nose when a new guy replaced the one next to him and leaned toward Lara, wafting his less-than-pleasant scent. Lara wiped her hand over her nose and pretended a cough.
He and she shared a grin, and his pulse galloped like a racehorse. The sight of her smile, and that heart-stopping dimple, always made it hard for him to breathe. More than physical beauty, Lara possessed a warm inner core that got him hazy and drunk faster than a hometown IPA.
“So, you the bartender?” Smelly drunk guy wanted to know.
She glanced at her black T-shirt that read “Bartender” in bold white letters. “Um, yeah.” Lara gave smelly guy a fake smile. “Another beer?”
“Yep. And keep the change.” He slid a grimy twenty her way.
She poured his beer and handed him back a few bills. “You gave me a twenty. You sure about me keeping all that change?” She was so sweet, so honest.
Way too good for you, Devlin. Leave her alone.
The guy belched, then pulled back ten, giving her a few bucks. “Thanks, honey. I’ll be back.” He stumbled from the barstool, which was quickly occupied by a new customer. Thankfully, this one a woman who smelled like cheap perfume instead of BO.
“What can I get you, Johnny?”
He loved hearing his name on Lara’s lips. She had a husky quality to her voice, and he could too easily imagine it whispering her pleasure while he showed her why she should take a chance on him. Foley thought he had oral foreplay down to a science, but Johnny could have written a book on how to please women, a virtual connoisseur by age sixteen.
He cleared his throat and tried to will away his lecherous thoughts. “A pitcher for the crew.” He nodded to the guys across the bar then leaned closer to her, to be heard above the crowd. “So what’s with Sue? I hear she and Foley split.”
Lara rolled her eyes. Of all the staff at Ray’s, she and Rena seemed the most levelheaded. No drama for them. “She’s pining for the guy. I warned her about him, but did she listen to me?”
“Foley’s a good guy.” He felt the need to defend his friend.
“Sure, but he’s not a permanent guy. None of you are,” she said with a direct gaze that aroused and annoyed him at the same time.
“Maybe we just need to find the right woman.” He gave her the Devlin smile.
For a second it looked like he might have connected with her, but then she laughed and shoved his pitcher at him. “For you guys, there’s a right woman, and a left woman, and a woman on the side…”
The woman next to him laughed. “Seems like she’s got you pegged, sexy.”
He gave her the Devlin smile and winked, and she stared at him, her lips parted. So at least he hadn’t lost his magic. He took the pitcher from Lara, and their fingers brushed. He felt the tingle all the way to his cock and swallowed a groan. Pasting on a sly grin, he said, “But, Lara, if I had you, I wouldn’t need any of those others.” He drew her hand to his mouth and kissed the back of it. “See you later, gorgeous. And you know, you ever change your mind about mixing pleasure with pleasure, you have my number.”
“You mean business with pleasure,” she corrected.
“Do I?” He grinned and left, doing his best not to look over his shoulder at her, but it was damn hard. Especially when she laughed. The sound carried like wind chimes, and he felt a shiver start from his toes and work its way up his body. That hollow in his gut hit him because he had a crazy urge to go back to the bar just to stare at her. Take in her joy with life.
I am such an asswipe.
Caffeine addict, boy referee, and romance aficionado, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Marie Harte has over 100 books published with more constantly on the way. She’s a confessed bibliophile and devotee of action movies. Whether hiking in Central Oregon, biking around town or hanging at the local tea shop, she’s constantly plotting to give everyone a happily ever after. Visit http://marieharte.com and fall in love
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