March 25, 2017

Elapse by Lou-Ella Fields Cover Reveal!




Title: Elapse
Series: The Expiration Duet #1
Author: Lou-Ella Fields
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: April 25, 2017



Blurb

I thought our love was infinite, unbreakable. 

After six years together, butterflies would still take flight in my stomach every time he walked into a room. With just one smile I was putty in his hands. He promised me forever with every touch of his lips. Too late, I realized that I was being kept in an illusion made of glass; only to have him smash it apart and disappear before he could see it shatter around me in perfect ruins.

With a tiny life held in the palm of my hands, I'm haunted by the man who abandoned us.

And then there was him.

Immersing himself within the dust and debris as I was slowly opening my eyes to this new reality. He says he wants forever, but how can I believe him when love lies and forevers don't truly exist.








Author Bio


Lou and Ella Fields have always been lovers of the written word, especially when it comes wrapped up in a neat little package of pages and labelled romance. You can usually find them running up their phone bills as they spend hours on the phone, plotting and planning various ways to break hearts before deciding how to deliver the perfect happily ever after.



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March 24, 2017

Tempt The Boss Chapter Reveal!



















Coming April 3rd

Pre-order exclusively via iBooks HERE









































Lauren
Going back to work was supposed to be a painless transition, but when my new boss turns out to be an arrogant, cocky jerk, he quickly turns my professional life into a world of torture. Okay, fine, calling him an asshat before knowing he was my boss wasn't my finest moment. Hating him should be easy. I just never counted on him being so gorgeous or charming when he's not annoying me.

Austin
I expected my new assistant to be professional and punctual, but all I'm getting are dirty looks and rude comments. I should fire the little hellion, but instead all I can think about is bending her over my desk and breaking every rule I've ever made for myself.

One look. One touch. One night. If we break the rules, our lives will never be the same again.

Good thing rules were made to be broken. And besides, it feels so good to Tempt the Boss.


















Lauren


Beep, Beep, Beep. My hand snakes out from underneath the warm cocoon of my blankets. Grabbing my phone from the side table, I shut it off and bring it under the blankets with me. Seven minutes later, I feel it vibrate under my pillow between my hands.

Pulling myself up and swinging my legs out of the bed, I walk downstairs, going straight for the coffee machine. Thank god for this programmed machine, because the coffee is ready for me to drink.

I blink my eyes a couple of times while I turn on the light over the stove. With it lightly dimmed, I lean against the counter and look at the clock. Five-thirty on the nose. Smelling the coffee, I slowly take a sip to not burn my tongue. My brain jolts awake as the hot, strong brew rolls over my tongue.

It’s the calm before the storm. In thirty minutes, I will have to get the kids up and get them ready for the bus that is always here at exactly seven-ten.

I look into the dining room, taking in the hurricane that is my children. Opened backpacks linger on the floor near the chairs, papers are tossed on the table, homework they finished but haven’t put away. No matter how much I tell them to clean up the table before they go to sleep, Gabriel, who is ten, and Rachel, who is six and a half going on twenty, always leave it until the last minute. Something they inherited from their father.

I look around the house—the open concept floor plan makes it easy to see into the rooms around me—taking in the changes that the house has gone through in the last six months. No more men’s sneakers at the door. No more suit jackets hanging on the back of the chair at the table blending in with the backpacks.

Nope. Nothing. Nada. Taking another sip of the coffee, I let my mind wander to when it all changed.

Walking up to the children’s school for the parent/teacher interview, I am running late, of course. I had to pick up Gabriel from soccer practice, while rushing Rachel to gymnastics, then we grabbed McDonald’s in the car on the way home. Eating my cheeseburger in the car is why I now have a mustard stain on my shirt. Pulling a scarf that I find in my backseat, I throw it over my neck hoping it covers the stain.

Once in the school, I make my way to the classroom of Gabriel’s teacher. I run down a list of things that I need to get done when I get home. Thinking about the birthday parties that the kids are invited to this weekend. The gifts are already sitting in the trunk waiting to be wrapped. I hope that Jake will at least be available on Sunday.

Stay-at-home mom. That is my job, and I love it. Sometimes. Most times. More days than not. My husband, Jake, is an ad executive in the biggest marketing firm in the city. He spent the last eight years working his way up the ladder. His long work hours are our sacrifice until he gets that corner office, then he can cut back a bit. At least, that’s what he keeps saying. I still stand by my conclusion he is a workaholic.

We met when I was fresh out of college; I had just started working at the same agency he did. Not the one he’s with now, but the first agency he worked at after college. I was hired as the office temp assistant. Since it was a small office of only five, it was normal that we spent all day together. Those long hours together resulted in us becoming good friends. Becoming a couple was the natural next step. I don’t think it surprised anyone when we walked in on a Monday morning holding hands, both of us looking at each other with our hearts in our eyes.

Getting to Ms. Alvarez’s door, I knock once and then walk in. Looking around, I’m shocked to see Jake sitting in one of the chairs in front of the desk, while Ms. Alvarez sits in hers.

Walking up to him, I lean down and kiss him on the lips. “Hey, I didn’t know you would be here,” I say, sitting down in the chair next to him.

He nods at me and then looks down at his shoes. I don’t know how to describe what came next, except to say that my world crashed around me. It’s like my heart knew it. It’s like my body knew it had to go into protection mode.

“Lauren,” he says, still looking at his shoes. I look down at them wondering what he is looking at exactly. I will never forget them. Brown, with light brown laces. Stain free, scuff free. Clean.

It is at this point I start to panic, start to think something is wrong. “What’s the matter?” I ask him and then look over at Ms. Alvarez. She is gorgeous with beautiful thick, black curly hair that is always styled perfectly. Whether she wears it in a ponytail or loose, you can’t help but envy her fantastic hair. She always looks so put together, but right now, she’s looking at my husband nervously as she blinks away tears, and her hands clasped together in her lap are shaking.

“I’ve met someone.” The breath I have been holding rushes from my lungs. My legs go so weak, I feel it so strongly even though I am sitting. My heart is beating so hard and fast, I hear it echo in my ears. My mouth gets dry, and my hands start to tremble as I feel that heart starting to break.

“What?” I look at him and then at Ms. Alvarez. “Jake, now is not a good time. Not here.” It’s like I’m begging him to not tell me. Like I’m begging him to take it back.

“I love her,” he says with a whisper, and then all the pieces to the puzzle start coming together. Gabe’s tutoring classes that Jake would always pick him up from—the ones they’d always be late getting home from. I look at my son’s teacher and see a tear run out of the corner of her eye while she smiles at my husband. My fucking husband—the one who made vows to me. The one who promised to love, honor, and cherish me for the rest of his life.

“You?” I say to him and then look at her. “You slept with my husband?” I ask her while I feel Jake’s hand on top of mine. I shake it off, not wanting to feel his touch right now. Not wanting him to try to comfort me.

“It was me. I started this. I did this, not Camilla.” He tries to reach out and touch me again. Getting up from the chair, I start to pace the room. Thoughts are running through my mind. How did I not know? How did I not suspect? Was it because I was too tired for sex? Was it because I still needed to lose the extra ten pounds that I had lingering on me? Was it because I was too tired at the end of the day to even talk to him?

Stopping in my tracks, I look at them. He has now stood up and so has she. A desk still separates them. “We had sex last night,” I tell him, and he doesn’t continue to look at me; instead, he looks at her.

“It was the last time. Kind of a good-bye kind of thing,” he says, now looking at the floor.

“A good-bye thing.” I now raise my voice. “A good-bye thing?” I shake my head. “How long? How long has this been going on? How long have you been sleeping with your student’s married father?” My voice is firm, anger starting to rush through me.

“Lauren, let’s not—” he tries to say, but I don’t give him a chance. I yell, and this time loudly, “How long? How long have you been sleeping with her and coming home to me? How long have you been telling me you love me and lying about it? How fucking long, Jake? How much of my life is a lie?”

They both look at each other. “Seven months,” he answers right before there is a knock on the door. The principal sticks his head inside “Oh. Mr. and Mrs. Watson, is everything okay?”  The poor man doesn’t see anything coming.

“Oh, we are totally fine.” My voice starts to rise, while my hands start to shake. “I’ve come to attend my son’s parent/teacher conference only to be told his teacher is fucking my husband. Looks like in addition to tutoring her students in math, she also offers sex ed lessons to their fathers! She deserves a raise.” I laugh humorlessly. Maybe I’m having a stroke. Maybe, just maybe, this is all a dream. “But other than that, I would say everything is perfect.”

I walk to the chair that I have been sitting in, picking up the purse that fell off my shoulder while my life fell apart. Grabbing it, I turn to walk out as Jake grabs my wrist. “Lauren, wait.”

I yank my wrist away from him, the force shocking both of us. “Don’t fucking touch me,” I hiss before I walk past the principal and right into the hallway, where I’m greeted by the president of the PTA, Colleen.

The tears have now started to freely fall down my cheeks. “Oh, honey, I just heard.” I look at this woman who I thought was actually my friend. I tilt my head to the side. “You knew?” I don’t really need her to answer, since she puts her head down to look at her hands she is wringing together.

I can’t stop the angry laugh that bursts from my mouth. I’m that oblivious spouse who everyone makes fun of. I’m that wife who said it would never happen to me. I’m that woman who they all feel sorry for. I’m her. That poor, clueless woman who can’t seem to keep her husband from falling dick first into a sexy, twenty-something woman. I look around to see who else is looking at us.

The secretary, the principal, Colleen, and four of her posse, who are there trying to get parents to join the PTA, Jake, and her. “Does everyone know he was having an affair? Was I the only one who didn’t know?” I throw my hands out to the side, turning on my heel as I walk out of the school, vowing never to return.

I get in my car and make one phone call to Kaleigh, my sister. I don’t know how much she understands between the sobs and the yelling, but ten minutes later when I pull up to the curb of my perfect house, she is there throwing Jake’s clothes out of our bedroom window. They land right in the front of my house on the lawn.

It takes her a full five minutes to toss everything out. I stand here, still in shock, still in a daze, looking at the mountain of his clothes. Clothes I bought him. Clothes I picked out. Clothes I washed, ironed, and put away. I don’t see Kaleigh come from the side of the house with the gasoline container in her hand. I just see her pouring it all over his clothes. She walks over to me, handing me the packet of matches. “Let’s burn this motherfucker down.”

And we do. Till one of the neighbors calls the fire department, who rush out, three full trucks, lights blaring in the night, an EMT, and one police cruiser. I sit here on my lawn, watching the flames rising up from the pile of everything that he owns before the whole mess is drenched in water.

The second alarm sounds, bringing me out of my trip back into that nightmare.

“Gabe! Rachel! Time to get up, guys! Mommy starts her new job today,” I yell, hoping they hear me. I take another sip of my coffee before I make my way upstairs to get ready for my new job. Yay me.














When her nose isn't buried in a book, or her fingers flying across a keyboard writing, she's in the kitchen creating gourmet meals. You can find her, in four inch heels no less, in the car chauffeuring kids, or possibly with her husband scheduling his business trips. It's a good thing her characters do what she says, because even her Labrador doesn't listen to her...

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The Banker by Piper Rayne Cover Reveal!




Title: The Banker
Series: Modern Love #3
Author: Piper Rayne
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Cover Design: Djordje Grbic
Release Date: April 5, 2017



Blurb

Who knew my brother’s friend could be Mr. Right, and not just Mr. Right Now? 

My brother refused to introduce me, so I blame him. If he’d just caved, and introduced me to Jasper, I wouldn’t be in this mess. I mean, really, what’s the big deal? I’m not interested in the guy’s looks. 

Oh no, I want his cold hard cash. (Be honest, you were expecting that other four letter ‘c’ word weren’t you?) 

Now, before you go getting all judgy, I’m not a gold digger. I have a legitimate business opportunity for Jasper to invest in. The problem is that my stick-up-his-ass brother is embarrassed that his twin sister invents kick ass sex toys. His problem, not mine. 

So, I took matters into my own hands. Defeat isn’t a word in Lennon Hart’s dictionary. 

Using my stealthy P.I. moves, I narrowed my search to a time and place where I knew I could find him. It was completely innocent. A chance meeting that would give me the opportunity to pitch my business. 

It wasn’t until I sat down across from the gorgeous panty soaking man in front of me, that I realized I wanted so much more than just his money. I could very well want his heart if I wasn’t careful. 

Apparently my P.I. skills aren’t as stellar as I thought because Jasper had his own secret—and it changed EVERYTHING. 







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Free in Kindle Unlimited



Author Bio

Piper Rayne, or Piper and Rayne, whichever you prefer because we’re not one author, we’re two. Yep, you get two established authors for the price of one. You might be wondering if you know us? Maybe you’ll read our books and figure it out. Maybe you won’t. Does it really matter?


We aren’t trying to stamp ourselves with a top-secret label. We wanted to write without apology. We wanted to not be pigeon holed into a specific outline. We wanted to give readers a story without them assuming how the story will flow. Everyone has their favorite authors, right? And when you pick up their books, you expect something from them. Whether it’s an alpha male, heavy angst, a happily ever after, there’s something you are absolutely certain the book will contain. Heck, we’re readers, too, we get it. 

What can we tell you about ourselves? We both have kindle’s full of one-clickable books. We're both married to husbands who drive us to drink. We're both chauffeurs to our kids. Most of all, we love hot heroes and quirky heroines that make us laugh, and we hope you do, too.



Author Links

The Banker by Piper Rayne - Cover Reveal!

Cover Design: Djordje Grbic
Release Date: April 5, 2017
 
Synopsis
Who knew my brother’s friend could be Mr. Right, and not just Mr. Right Now? My brother refused to introduce me, so I blame him. If he’d just caved, and introduced me to Jasper, I wouldn’t be in this mess. I mean, really, what’s the big deal? I’m not interested in the guy’s looks. Oh no, I want his cold hard cash. (Be honest, you were expecting that other four letter ‘c’ word weren’t you?) Now, before you go getting all judgy, I’m not a gold digger. I have a legitimate business opportunity for Jasper to invest in. The problem is that my stick-up-his-ass brother is embarrassed that his twin sister invents kick ass sex toys. His problem, not mine. So, I took matters into my own hands. Defeat isn’t a word in Lennon Hart’s dictionary. Using my stealthy P.I. moves, I narrowed my search to a time and place where I knew I could find him. It was completely innocent. A chance meeting that would give me the opportunity to pitch my business. It wasn’t until I sat down across from the gorgeous panty soaking man in front of me, that I realized I wanted so much more than just his money. I could very well want his heart if I wasn’t careful. Apparently my P.I. skills aren’t as stellar as I thought because Jasper had his own secret—and it changed EVERYTHING.
   
Goodreads
 
Preorder Links
   
Giveaway
One of Five ARC's for The Banker
 
 
 
 
About the Author
Piper Rayne, or Piper and Rayne, whichever you prefer because we’re not one author, we’re two. Yep, you get two established authors for the price of one. You might be wondering if you know us? Maybe you’ll read our books and figure it out. Maybe you won’t. Does it really matter? We aren’t trying to stamp ourselves with a top-secret label. We wanted to write without apology. We wanted to not be pigeon holed into a specific outline. We wanted to give readers a story without them assuming how the story will flow. Everyone has their favorite authors, right? And when you pick up their books, you expect something from them. Whether it’s an alpha male, heavy angst, a happily ever after, there’s something you are absolutely certain the book will contain. Heck, we’re readers, too, we get it. What can we tell you about ourselves? We both have kindle’s full of one-clickable books. We're both married to husbands who drive us to drink. We're both chauffeurs to our kids. Most of all, we love hot heroes and quirky heroines that make us laugh, and we hope you do, too.    
Connect with Piper Rayne
Newsletter Sign Up: http://bit.ly/2l84PKd
Facebook Author Page: http://bit.ly/2gspDsQ
Goodreads Author Page: http://bit.ly/2lci6B5
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2lcsdG6
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Just Like That Chapter Reveal!






















Coming April 10th




Pre-order exclusively via
iBooks HERE




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"I bet I can untangle you."

At an airport baggage claim, Penny Darling looks up from her knotted mess of ear buds to find the sexiest hunk of man she's ever seen. He's got a military haircut, a scar through his eyebrow, and he's rocking a pastel pink dress shirt like only a real man can. But Penny is on a man-free diet so she leaves the airport without succumbing to his delicious double-entendres...or his dreamy dimples.

PI Russ Macklin can't take his eyes off Penny. As she sashays out of the airport with hips swaying and curls bouncing, he suspects they may share more than just sweltering chemistry. That suitcase she's rolling along behind her? It looks a lot like his.

Because it is.

When he tracks her down, he holds her bag hostage in exchange for a date. Their night begins with margaritas and ends in urgent care, and Russ proves that Cosmo's theory about a very particular type of orgasm was oh-so-wrong.

In Penny, Russ finds a small-town sweetheart with a very naughty side. For the first time ever, he’s thinking about picket fences. Penny finds in Russ a loving, caring man who understands the power of massaging showerheads.

But Russ is only in Port Flamingo for a week. They agree it'll be a fling and nothing more. Because really, they can't fall ass-over-teakettle in love just like that...

Can they?

99k words. HEA. Dual POV. No cheating.
Featuring a big drooly dog named Guppy.
















1
Russ


I step off the escalator, and there she is. She’s looking down, doing something with her phone. Air conditioning blows on her from above, making the hem of her purple dress flutter against her leg. And fuck, look at those legs. Look at that body. Look at that woman. Underneath the dress, instead of a bra she’s wearing the top half of a pink bikini, tied at the nape of her neck in a bow.
​Welcome to Florida. God bless the Sunshine State.
​The place is dismal, except for her. On the walls are 1980s tourism posters, rippling with the humidity. All the guys have Magnum, P.I. mustaches, and all the women look like extras from Baywatch. She’s a vision in the middle of all of it, an oasis at the goddamned baggage claim. I circle the clumps of old people bumping into each other with walkers, like slow-motion bumper cars. As I get closer, I see her face. Her freckles, her slightly shiny pink lips. Her breasts, which are fucking beautiful. But her expression, it isn’t beautiful. It’s seriously pissed. Nostrils flared, teeth set, jaw clenched.
​In her hands is a whole big tangle of ear buds, and maybe a phone charger. A big knot of cords, like a wad of cold pasta.
​I get closer. Not too close, because I don’t want to be that guy, but close enough to see the small starfish necklace dangling from her neck, and close enough to smell something warm, and sweet. Familiar. Vanilla, maybe. Whatever it is, it’s fucking delicious.
​On the wall behind her is a big banner. It’s got a faded old cartoon flamingo, flapping his wings and grinning. Underneath is the caption:
WELCOME TO PORT FLAMINGO! HOME OF THE FIRST AIR CONDITIONER!
​No shit. Because it’s hot, and I don’t mean like ordinary summertime hot. I mean hot like the time the sauna malfunctioned at my gym and turned all the drywall in the locker room into oatmeal. She doesn’t look hot at all though. She looks cool, and soft, and beautiful. Just the thing I need. Like a vodka soda after a long fucking day.
​I set my shoulder bag at my feet and take off my suit jacket. Her braid comes down over one shoulder, the curl at the bottom nestling into her cleavage. I roll up my sleeves. “I bet I can untangle you.”
​She looks up at me. Her eyes are deep blue and sparkling. A smile starts to pinch her cheeks. The end of the charger swings between us. “I’m okay. Got myself into this mess, got to get myself out of it.”
​“Sometimes two is better than one.”
​She smacks her lips at the cords. “Sometimes.” She pulls hard on the plug end, making the wires tighten even more. “You’d think I’d learn to keep that little plastic box that comes with these, but oh no, every—” She tugs. “—single.” Tugs again. “—time.”
Granted, she’s not exactly in need of rescue from a burning building, but no way am I going to stand here and watch her struggle, no fucking way. Without another word, I start undoing the end of the tangle that’s nearest me, and I watch that smile of hers get bigger. She doesn’t look at me, but I see a dimple, and she bites her lip.
Still focused on the knot, she says, “Let me guess. You’re not from around here, are you?”​
Can’t imagine what gave me away. Maybe the fact that I’m the only guy in the building wearing slacks and actual shoes. “Here on business.”
She looks me up and down. “What kind of business? FBI?”
Fuck. Not the first conversation I want to have, definitely not. Also, I don’t know a single fed who wears pants this nice. “Private business.”
“Hmmm.” She eyes me more mischievously. “Tall, dark, and a military haircut. Something tells me you’re not here to do some competitive bass fishing. “
Oh man. Cute. Really cute. “No, I’m not.”
Slowly, the tangle comes undone, until we’re in the middle together. Reminds me of that scene in Lady and the Tramp.
But before I can say anything more—like, for instance, I’m down for 20 questions, as long as it’s over a drink—the buzzer on the carousel roars to life, as loud as a tornado siren. The crush of people starts to tighten around the conveyor. She winds the three sets of ear buds and the cord around her palm. From the pocket of my bag, I take out the plastic case that came with my ear buds and hand it over. “There.”
She laughs through her nose. “I’ll be okay.”
“I insist.” I press it into her hand, and her eyes meet mine.
“I’ll bet you do.” She looks away as a blush covers her cheeks.
The bags start to rumble off the conveyor. For one long second, she watches me, smiling. Sizing me up. The little curls around her face tremble in the air conditioning, and I’m about to say You, me, a pitcher of margaritas, tonight when she looks away and hoists her purse up on her shoulder.
“That’s my bag,” she says. “I should get going. Thanks for…untangling me.”
She steps away and threads her way between a handful of old ladies in walkers. I know I should help her, I know I should grab her bag, but holy fuck look at that body.
​She grabs her bag herself and flips up the handle.
“Give me your number. Let me take you out for dinner.”
​Her smile dissolves into a scowl. “You married?”
I shake my head slowly. “I’m a lot of things, but married definitely isn’t one of them.”
“Separated?”
Shake my head again. “Nope.”
She takes her starfish charm between thumb and forefinger and loops the chain over her lip. “Under any restraining orders? Involved in a complicated love triangle that your Match.com profile describes as an open marriage? Divorced five times and counting? Polyamorous?”
Whoa. This girl’s got to find a new dating pool, stat. “Promise. I’m Russ, and what you see is what you get.”
Zip-zip-zip goes her necklace.
“Just a drink.” I lift my hands out between us, to say C’mon. “Maybe dinner, if I make the cut.”
She blinks hard a few times and she drops her necklace charm. “I’m sorry. You’re sweet, but I can’t.”
Well, fuck it. The first time I try to get back in the saddle in ages and the goddamn thing slides right down onto the ground again. I respect it though. I don’t want to overdo this, so I give her a final nod and clear my throat. “Had to try.”
She swallows hard. “I’m glad you did.”
Fuck.
And she’s gone. As she goes, her hips sway with her dress. She works that sashay, as my aunt says, like a fucking pro. She looks back over her shoulder, only once, as she walks through the sliding doors. I give her a wink.
And she fucking winks back.
Jesus Christ.
She takes a left out of the door, which means she isn’t gone yet. Not by a long shot. The architecture does me a favor, and I get to watch her sashay right past the floor-to-ceiling windows. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her, not even if I wanted to. She smiles at the sidewalk without looking up, and laughs a little. Like she knows I’m watching her and is feeling pretty good about it.
​God, what a cutie. And what a bummer. She was fucking sexy, she seemed sweet, and there was something about her that was up to no good. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but it was somewhere between the bikini top and I’m glad you did. But the spark wasn’t all we had in common. I realize, as she finally disappears from view, she also has a bag that looks just like mine.
Medium-sized black Samsonite. Sensible, dependable. Number One Amazon Bestseller in Luggage.
​But that couldn’t be my bag, I think to myself as I turn back toward the conveyor. Couldn’t be.
***
​It was. Twenty minutes later, I’m the only guy standing by the carousel, and there’s a single black bag going around and around in front of me. It’s exactly the same as mine, except it’s overstuffed and has a pink puff of yarn tied to the handle. Same color as her bikini top and literally hanging by a thread.
​It slides to a stop, and the yarn ball swings off the side of the carousel. Tick-tock, tick-tock.
​A rattle from the center of the conveyor sounds promising—I was early connecting through Atlanta, so my bag had to be the first one on—but no dice. What comes off the conveyor isn’t a bag at all, but instead one of the baggage guys in big set of protective earphones and a reflective vest. He crawls up through the flap and pokes his head out. He wipes his forehead on his bare leathery shoulder and then looks from me to the bag and back again. “Nice pom-pom, man,” he says and backtracks down the hole.
​I glance around for some airport help on this, but all I see is a handwritten sign at the baggage claim desk. Will Return On Monday!
​It’s Saturday.
​Christ.
​As I take hold of the bag, I notice it’s got not one but three “LIFT WITH CAUTION” tags: the first one new, the second one beat up, and the third one halfway shredded, all together the way people keep lift tickets from ski areas. I give it a hoist. The thing is so heavy it makes me grunt like I’m doing a dead lift. With a two-handed lug, I yank it off the conveyor and set it on the ground, wheels down.
​Squeezing the roller handle, I pull it up…and it snaps off right in my hand. The arms stick up from the suitcase like the tines of a fork.
​I clench my eyes shut and think back to “the most helpful critical review” from Amazon. “Looks like every other bag on the planet. Sh**ty handle.”
​Touché. But it is what it is. Which is her bag, hopefully.
​I wheel it along to a bank of benches, by some old beat-up phone booths, lining the far wall. I open up the ID pouch and read:
PENELOPE DARLING
125 E. BEACH POINT DRIVE
PORT FLAMINGO, FL 34102
I bite down on my gum and groan. How cute is that name? Jesus Christ, come on. Penny Darling. What’s more, it’s not a business card or typed up like mine, but written by hand. Her writing is sweet, pretty, and feminine, with big plump letters written in bright pink marker that’s bled into the plastic cover, so they’ve got a haze around them like neon lights. And there, at the bottom.
​Her number.
​Jackpot.
​It might not be my smoothest move, but I’ll take it. I pull my phone from my pocket and give her a call. As I wait for the ringtone, I decide to hell with suave and understated. I want her, and I need her to know it.
​But then in my ear I hear, “Mobile Network Temporarily Unavailable.”
​Goddamned Verizon, jamming up my plans. So I try to text her instead.
This is Russ.
From the airport.
I've got your bag and I think you’ve got mine.
How about that drink?
​I hit send, and I’m answered immediately with a row of red exclamation points and four repetitions of NOT DELIVERED. What. The. Fuck.
​Then I noticed my cell service flips over from 1 bar, to Roaming, to Searching for service…
​ I pull my hot pack of gum from my sweaty pocket and take out a second piece. The gum is weirdly melted even before I put it in my mouth.
​The options now are pretty simple: I could touch base with the guy who hired me to come down here to the land that Verizon forgot or…
​I think about those tan lines, the curve of her hips. That bikini. The glisten on her rosy lips. The way she wrinkled her nose when she smiled.
​Why is this even a goddamned question? It’s four o’clock on a Saturday. A beautiful woman is on East Beach Point Drive with all my stuff. And somewhere in this town, I’ll bet there’s a beachside bar with a pitcher of margaritas with our names on it.


















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Nicola Rendell writes dirty, funny, erotic romance. She likes a stiff drink and a well-frosted cake. She is at an unnamed Ivy and prefers to remain mostly anonymous for professional reasons. She has a PhD in English and an MFA in Creative Writing from schools that shall not be named here. She loves to cook, sew, and play the piano. She realizes that her hobbies might make her sound like an old lady and she’s totally okay with that. She lives with her husband and her dogs. She is from Taos, New Mexico.




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