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Readers and Authors: What do you want to see next? (Contest)
Saturday, May 18th, 2019

I love working on anthologies: crafting the call for authors’ submissions, reading their entries, selecting the stories that “fit” best together, editing them, and then, seeing them go out into the world for readers to enjoy. Getting to know authors—some old friends accepting a fun challenge, newbies who are excited about their first publication—is hugely rewarding for me.

So far, these are the books in the Boys Behaving Badly series. I want to continue with this overarching theme, because it’s fun! And for readers, it’s a great deal! All of the books are stuffed full of sexy short stories and only $0.99 per download! So, they’re not a huge moneymaker, but that’s not the goal here. We, the authors, want to be read!

Rogues Blue Collar
Pirates Stranded
 

So, now that my latest, Stranded, is out in the world, I’m ready to start thinking about what’s next…

I could use your help.

I have one idea that a friend and reader, Fedora, gave me for “First Response”, which would be about cops, EMTs, firefighters, Flight for Life folks, Coast Guard teams, etc. I think there’s plenty of good stories authors could have fun with there. Thinking about it, I can imagine what a first responder in a galactic rescue might look like, or men passing buckets during a fire in the 1800s, so the theme doesn’t have to limit the genre.

But I would like to consider other options as well. So, my challenge to you is help me find my next anthology theme. If you have a new idea, great! If you want to approve Fedora’s “First Response” idea, that’s great, too!

And authors, if there’s a theme you’d love to write a short story for, offer up the idea! Let’s have some fun!

Contest

Comment for a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card!

Contests! Last chances to enter!
Thursday, May 9th, 2019

These contests are still open!

Be sure to check out these posts and enter to win the authors’ contests!

  1. Michal Scott: “Put It in a Book” from STRANDED (Contest) — Closes Saturday! Win a free download!
  2. Sam Heathers: “Too Deep” from STRANDED (Contest) — Closes Saturday! Win a signed copy of a book!
Sam Heathers: “Too Deep” from STRANDED (Contest)
Tuesday, May 7th, 2019

UPDATE: The winner is…Flechen1!
*~*~*

I am so excited to be included in Stranded: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology. For the most part, I don’t consider myself a fiction writer. I’m a lawyer. I started working with fiction as a way to improve my legal writing. But the more I do it, the more I love it. I saw the call for submissions just three days before they were due, and my mind started racing with different ideas. That night, I couldn’t fall asleep because I was mulling over scenarios and concepts, most of them involving heroines being professionally stranded.

Then, the nugget of an undercover officer popped into my head.

I wish I could say I had a classy, magical inspiration for the idea. I didn’t. It was a movie. A bad one. Like, one that’s so bad I’m a little embarrassed. It was 2 Fast 2 Furious. At least it wasn’t Tokyo Drift.

Fortunately, that meant that when the idea of an undercover officer came to me, an image of a heroine came with it—Eva Mendes’s character. I jotted down the idea (I knew I wouldn’t fall asleep if I didn’t) and laid back down.

As I waited for the bus the next morning, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to submit the story. I’d never done anything like this before, and I was nervous about trying to get a story together in just two days. But I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. I figured I had to give it a shot. I hopped on the bus, pulled out a notepad, and mapped out the beats on the way to work.

My writing process wasn’t anything special either. After work, I sat down at my computer and started following my outline. It was a late night, but productive—I got the first draft done a little after midnight. The next day, my significant other read the draft and loved it. We chatted about ideas and edits, and I spent the second night fixing the draft up. The next morning, I did some fine-tuning and sent it in.

The one thing I would say was different about this, was how much fun I had. In a sense, I write for a living day-in and day-out. It can be difficult to come back home and keep writing. I’ve been in the middle of writing a few different novels for ages, and it’s tough to find the energy to return. But with an idea I knew I liked, a tight word limit, and a quick turnaround, I was excited the entire time. When I finished, I felt like I had a fun, enjoyable romp, which is everything I wanted from it.

Sam Heathers

Excerpt from “Too Deep”

When an undercover officer loses her handlers in the outside world, she must trust the top lieutenant of a gun-running gang to survive

Stranded

“Pick up, pick up, pick up.” I paced the park walkway with a burner to my ear, trying to will Frank to answer. Five rings. Ten. After the twentieth, the phone system cancelled the call. This had already happened twice in the last ten minutes.

Frank hadn’t shown up to a meet for three weeks. For the last two, his voicemail had picked up after four rings. This week, no voicemail.

I glanced around the park as I sat down. Normally, I opted for the cheaper flip-phone burners. But with Frank’s disappearance, I bought the more expensive smartphone and a data card.

After opening an Internet browser, I typed FRANK HASNA and hit search. Random results, nothing helpful.

I drew a deep breath and added…OBITUARY.

The first link delivered a nightmare. The article was from three days ago. Frank was dead.

Shit.

I dialed the number for the local Bureau office. “Agent Drew Bowers,” I said before the operator finished answering.

After some clicks and annoying hold music, another voice answered, “Vice Unit.”

“Agent Bowers.”

“Agent Bowers isn’t with the Bureau anymore.”

Frank hadn’t told me that. Why the hell hadn’t Frank said anything? “Where did he go?”

“Can I help you?”

“You can tell me where the fuck Agent Bowers went.”

“I’m not at liberty to—”

I hung up.

Shit. I was stranded.

Stranded. That’s what we call it when an undercover cop is left without contacts. When I went undercover, I gave up everything. What I got in return was a new identity. New social security card. New driver’s license. New rap sheet. The point was to make the old me disappear.

Two people knew who I really was: Frank Hasna and Drew Bowers. Frank was my primary contact—my old Captain. Drew, my Bureau contact. If anything happened to one, I could reach the other. They were the only two people who could get me back to my real life.

But once in a while, agents’ contacts died, leaving the agents to fend for themselves. Sometimes, they made it back alive. Other times, the script stops being an act—the undercover embraces the life and is lost. And sometimes, the jig is up. That’s when we get killed.

My other phone buzzed and brought me back to reality. I looked at the burner, hoping. No such luck.

Meet at the warehouse in an hour.

I put my phone back in my pocket, took the battery out of the burner, and threw it in the last trash can on the way out of the park. I carried the burner another block and tossed it in a dumpster.

Shit.

Get your copy of Stranded: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology here!

Contest

Head to Delilah’s Collections to enter to win a signed copy of this book! 
Rogues: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology!

Rogues

Michal Scott: “Put It in a Book” from STRANDED (Contest)
Friday, May 3rd, 2019

UPDATE: The winner is…Debra!
*~*~*

Note from DD: My scheduled guest was a no-show today, so I’m recycling a post from the Collections website that appeared there yesterday. I’m sharing excerpts from all the stories in Stranded to help you make the choice to purchase a copy of your own! There’s an amazing variety of themes, genres, settings, but all are very, very sexy. Enjoy the excerpt, enter the contest, then head on over to the Collections site to read more about this anthology and meet the authors! ~DD

*~*~*~*

My writing journey resembles a spiral that took me from writing for newspapers through seminary and ministry to writing romance in retirement. I have a journalism background and worked as a stringer for awhile. Writing fiction during that time had always been a way to make the world come round right after a day of covering stories when everything in the world was all wrong. When I became involved in the church, writing remained a hobby, but I did it less and less.

Then I became an X-Files fan, and I entered the heady fun-filled world of fan fiction under the name Rev. Anna. I really enjoyed myself making up stories again. A challenge from my mother-in-law to put my energy into writing my own characters came at the same time the radio program “This American Life” did a segment on Romance Writers of America national meeting in NYC. Jeanette’s challenge and that segment lit a “Why not?” fire in my writing soul. I joined RWA in 2003, joined chapters, entered contests, won a few, and finally got published in 2008. By then, I’d attended a retirement seminar that encouraged us to start thinking now about what we wanted to do in retirement. Another “Why not?” flame ignited, and now here I am an erotic romance writing retired minister.

Michal

Excerpt from “Put It in a Book”

Stranded

Trapped in a book by a sorcerer for rejecting his sexual advances,
an ex-slave’s daughter discovers one hope of rescue – a nosy thief

Aziza, if you want to hide something from Black folk, put it in a book.

If her father had said this once, he’d said it a hundred times. As the daughter of a freed slave, Aziza Williams had resolved with every book she’d read, with every bit of content she’d memorized, no one would hide anything in a book from her.

How ironic the adage was being used against her now that she lived in the Free and Independent Republic of Liberia. Only someone as evil as Dulee Morlu could leave her stranded in a book.

Each time he removed The Story of Aziza from its shelf in his library, he’d badger, cajole, even plead with anyone present to read it.

“This book will change your life,” he’d say in a tone, always enticing, sometimes seductive, but never serious enough for anyone to take him up on the offer.

When they’d gone, he’d pressed his mouth to her image on the flyleaf. “No one will ever read your story,” he whispered with snake-like malice. His laugh bruised her heart each time he congratulated himself on his ingenuity. “You will remain hidden in these pages until you give yourself to me.”

Never had been her answer when he’d propositioned her a week after she’d arrived in Liberia. Never was her answer when he’d caught her pleasuring herself by the river’s edge after her morning swim. Never remained her answer from the day she’d awakened entombed within the pages of her own story to this.

How often had hope flared at the possibility of someone opening these pages and setting her free?

Too often.

How many times had Morlu’s possessive grip caressed her prison’s spine, his wet thumb sliding down the edges of its pages?

Too many.

“Everyone I’ve imprisoned yielded within a day. You’ve resisted for thirty,” he exclaimed. “I must dedicate a chapter to your resilience.”

He splayed his fingers across her prison’s pages, too accurately mimicking the spreading of her thighs. Her captive limbs shuddered. His calloused finger slid along the book’s gutter. Her inert hands tensed, unable to shield herself from the erotic—albeit vicarious—chafing his touch provoked.

“Your opposition makes your eventual capitulation that much sweeter.” He slid his finger faster, deeper between the pages. “And make no mistake…you will surrender.”

Each time he placed her back on the shelf, he planted a cold kiss on the book’s spine. Aziza quivered against the chill, unable to staunch the revulsion roiling in her throat—or at least, where she imagined her throat might still be.

“Until then,” he whispered.

Her spirit cringed at those words. She’d escaped from plantation owners eager to punish her for secretly teaching slaves to read. Her spirit had remained unbowed after fourteen harrowing weeks crossing the Atlantic. Even the hardships that had killed more than three-quarters of all who had emigrated to Liberia hadn’t vanquished her. If neither threats to her life nor dangers at sea nor the high mortality rate could defeat her, she’d be damned if this self-serving sorcerer would.

Still…

Her imprisonment seemed an unending stream of consciousness, punctuated only by Morlu’s uninvited intrusions. Thirty days. This sudden awareness of time weighed on her spirit and threatened to undo her.

How much longer could she hold out?

Get your copy of Stranded: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology here!

Contest

Comment for a chance to win a copy of Michal Scott’s eBook,
Better to Marry Than to Burn.

Reina Torres: Getting It On & Getting Off (Contest)
Thursday, May 2nd, 2019

I’ve always heard “there’s a time and place for everything.” Well, in romance… every time and every place is how it can work… but it’s not always easy to make it happen. Bedrooms… Well, they have beds. Houses, lots of flat surfaces.

But what happens when the right moment put you in a place that isn’t so easy to make it work. (Felt like I channeled Tim Gunn for a minute).

When I was writing Playing With Fire, I had a lot of fun, but part of the fun was finding my characters in a rather unconventional locale—the heroine’s old model VW Rabbit.

Now, I will admit to a certain affinity for this diminutive car. My first vehicle was a 1981 VW Rabbit (I bought it in 1991), and the poor dear wasn’t in the best shape, but it got me all over California during my last three years in college. And while Jefferson Automobile and I had a good time together, I thought it might be a challenge for my hero (six-feet-plus) to attempt a little sexy time in such a petite auto.

So what does any author do when confronted with a question?

That’s right… LOOK IT UP!

Sooo many articles online… Even one that gave suggestions for positions based on Auto Model that included SOUNDTRACK suggestions… *wink* So when you’re planning the “spur of the moment” sexy times…be prepared…

Playing With Fire
St. Raphael, CA Book 2

When Finley tells him that she’s given up on love and done with men in general, Jackson sets out to prove that he’s not only the man she was meant to be with, he’s a firefighter who knows how to heal her heart and soul. Is he Playing With Fire?

Get your copy here!

Excerpt

Finley slipped her hand between them, and curled her fingers into her pocket, withdrawing a small foil packet held loosely between her fingers. “We don’t want to waste this, do we?”

She felt him stiffen against her, and it wasn’t just the hard ridge in his jeans; it was every single inch of him and she smiled. She’d turned the tables on him, taken his impromptu admission to heart.

“Finley, this isn’t the place-”

“It’s the perfect place,” she argued back, taking a quick look around, “there’s no one out here, and even if they were, the trees are so overgrown no one could possibly see us.”

She worked her hand over his length. His open-mouthed groan muffled her soft satisfied laugh.

“You can’t do this to me, Fin.”

“To you? I’m hoping to do it ‘with’ you.” Her next pass along his length brought his zipper down with it, and he leaned into her touch.

It was addicting, she decided, having this power over a man as strong as Jackson. And as she released the button on the waistband of his jeans she heard him swear under his breath.

“I’m sorry,” she asked him in a sweet and playful tone, “I didn’t hear that. What did you say?”

“Dammit, Finley,” his voice ground out between his teeth as he drew in one breath after another, “don’t tease me. There’s no way we’re going to fit in your car.”

“Well,” she flattened her palm over his stomach and slid it down under the waistband of his briefs, “you fit on the drive up here.”

He turned them, bracing his hands on the top of her car on either side of her body. The shift in their positions added enough friction to make him hiss. “That stick shift is going to make one of us very uncomfortable.”

“You have to think creatively.” She leaned closer, pressing her lips against his chest, and wondered if that was really the speed of his heart or her own. “Or you could put yourself in my hands.”

She felt him swell against her palm and licked her lips. “Then again, looks like you already have.”

Reaching out with her free hand she tugged open the passenger door. A moment later she was busy fiddling with the seat. Behind her, Jackson leaned heavily against the car his jaw tightly clenched.

“Finley?”

She heard the impatient edge in his voice and couldn’t help but smile hoping he couldn’t see. “Just a minute.”

“Hurry up.”

The snap in his tone made her laugh outright. “If you want to hurry so much, you could get rid of those jeans.” She heard the rustle of fabric and turned a moment later to find Jackson gloriously naked in the moonlight. She pulled her lower lip into her mouth, enjoying the sharp brush of her teeth against the soft flesh. “Wow.”

His shoulders rose and fell as she looked at him, from head to toe and back again, with a long curious pause in the middle.

“Why did you take off the shirt?” Mentally she kicked herself. One didn’t question a panty-melting man about why he took his clothes off. One just enjoyed the view and said, “Thank you.”

Oh my god. “Did I really say that out loud?”

His broad grin was answer enough. But then he opened his mouth and made her go weak in the knees. “It’s going to get hot in your car, Finley.” He gestured at her with a gleam in his eyes. “I think you might want to get rid of all of that.”

She reached for her waistband and pulled it down over her hips, her panties caught up in the motion ended up tangled at her feet. The long hip-length tunic she wore kept her covered in shadow.

“That’s not fair,” he growled the words and moved closer, his hands reaching for the hem. “I think it’s only fair that I get to see all of you too.”

She wanted to cross her arms over her chest and back away, but that would be silly given the number of times they’d been together over the last few weeks.

Once you’ve had a man naked in your kitchen, your legs wrapped around his waist as you tumble half the spice rack into your sink, it’s silly to hide yourself from him when you’re alone and in the dark.

Jackson reached over and slid his fingers under the hem, brushing the back of his hand against her stomach. “Need some help?”

She shook her head. “Get in the backseat and I’ll take it off.”

It took only a second or two for him to climb into the backseat of her car, tucked into the corner with one leg bent and the other leg stretched out the door.

Against the aged upholstery, Jackson sprawled like a mythological god. And when he held out a hand, crooking his finger to draw her closer, she grabbed the hem of her azure tunic and pulled it off, the beaded neckline brushing over her face, another layer of sensation prickling along her skin.

Ducking into the car, she ended up straddling his leg. The heat of his thigh between hers set her skin aflame.

About Reina Torres

Who would have thought that I’d start off as a painfully shy child writing stories and end up as a painfully shy adult writing books and publishing them for others to read? Crazy? That’s me!!

When I was a little girl, I read every book I could get my hands on and if I didn’t have one available to read, I’d get out my pencils and paper and write down stories and scenes. Waiting for my mom to finish working, I’d duck into the ladies’ breakroom and use the typewriter. I’d feel like Jessica Fletcher, happily tap, tap, tapping away until I got to ‘The End.” Couldn’t quite get the flourish after that and end up tearing the paper, but it was cool and scary to sit down and read the book or give it to my friends to read.

Now, my ‘typewriter’ doesn’t clack the same way and the I don’t even have paper to pull out of it with a nod of satisfaction, but I have the joy and excitement of sharing my characters and books with people all around the world!

I hope you’ll enjoy reading my books, because I’m going to keep writing as long as the characters are feeling chatty!

Amazon Page http://www.amazon.com/author/reinatorresromance
Bookbub https://www.bookbub.com/authors/reina-torres
Reina Torres Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/ReinaTorresRomance/
Reina’s Readers https://www.facebook.com/groups/ReinaTorresReaders/

CONTEST

Tell me your favorite car/vehicle. Either one you’ve owned or want to own… and what was its name?/would be its name?

Prize—Two winners, for an ebook of Playing With Fire or any other of my St. Raphael, CA books

Diana Cosby: The Beauty of Spring (Contest)
Wednesday, May 1st, 2019

UPDATE: The winner is…Debra Guyette!
*~*~*

©Diana Cosby 2019

Spring is here! Yes, I love the longer hours of daylight, how with each day it’s growing warmer, but most, I love the gorgeous flowers blooming.

When I take a break from writing, it’s amazing to step outside and see the wash of colorful flowers; pinks, purple, red, and so many more.

Then there’s the wonderful fragrance of flowers that fills the air. At times you only catch a hint of their scent on breeze, but if you stop, smell a bloom, you enjoy the full impact of their fragrance.

I love how flowers are not only in plain sight, but half-hidden between blades of grass, sprinkled within the hedges, and woven within the vines.

Although it’s sad when spring flower’s pass, with the approach of summer, a riot of new, gorgeous blooms will appear.

What is your favorite flower?

About Diana Cosby

A retired Navy Chief, Diana Cosby is an international bestselling author of Scottish medieval romantic suspense. Books in her award-winning MacGruder Brothers series have been translated in five languages. Diana has spoken at the Library of Congress, Lady Jane’s Salon in NYC, and appeared in Woman’s Day, on USA Today’s romance blog, “Happy Ever After,” MSN.com, Atlantic County Women Magazine, and Texoma Living Magazine.

After her career in the Navy, Diana dove into her passion – writing romance novels. With 34 moves behind her, she was anxious to create characters who reflected the amazing cultures and people she’s met throughout the world. After the release of the bestselling MacGruder Brothers series, The Oath Trilogy, and the first three books of The Forbidden Series, she’s now working on book #4, Forbidden Realm, of the five-book series, which will be released August, 6th, 2019.

Diana looks forward to the years of writing ahead and meeting the amazing people who will share this journey.

Contest

***ONE winner will be drawn from everyone who posts on my guest blog post about, ‘The Beauty of Spring,” on Delilah’s blog between 27 April 2019 – 4th May 2019. The winner will receive one of Diana’s mugs and a tote.

Diana Cosby, International Best-Selling Author
www.dianacosby.com
The Oath Trilogy
MacGruder Brother Series
Forbidden Series: Forbidden Legacy/Forbidden Knight/Forbidden Vow/Forbidden Alliance‒Aug. 6th 2019/Forbidden Realm TBA

 

STRANDED: A BOYS BEHAVING BADLY ANTHOLOGY is out today! (Contest & Excerpt)
Tuesday, April 30th, 2019

UPDATE: The winner is…Booklady!
*~*~*

It’s finally here! 322 pages of goodness! My latest anthology, filled with wonderful stories—some action-packed, some poignant, some funny! All of them are sexy! I can’t wait to hear what you all think. And after you’ve had a chance to dive in, I want to hear what you’d like to see me do next. My plan is to publish at least one a year, depends on how busy I am. As always. 🙂

Anyway, I’ll give you an overview of the book then an excerpt from my shorty, which is a prequel to another Montana Bounty Hunters story (to be written soon!). My entry is entitled “Quincy Down Under”, and you’ll get the joke/double entendre when you read it. LOL

And there’s a contest, of course! You’ll have a second chance to win if you head over to the Collections website and comment there, too!

Contest

Comment for a chance to win a download of one of the full-size books below. You can tell me whether you love short stories. Tell me what theme you’d like to see for the next one. Or just ramble about what you’ll be doing while you’re reading the sexy shorties in this collection (passing time in a dentist’s office, reading sexy stories to your significant other in bed at night, etc.). Just be sure to comment!

Here’s what you might win (click on the covers to learn more):

Rogues Blue Collar Pirates

Stranded: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology

Stranded

Get it in Print or eBook!

The stories inside…

A Stranger’s Kiss by A.C. Dawn – Sparks in the sky ignite an inferno when a millionaire bad boy rescues a struggling romance writer stranded in an airport

Shelter from the Storm by A.J. Harris – A rogue super soldier and an ocean-dwelling scout discover the keys to surviving enemy soldiers and giant super-storms on their flooded world may be each other

Reviving Artemis by Ara Geller – Defying her alpha’s direct orders, a young warrior braves a pack of hunting werewolves to finally claim her Mate

Quincy Down Under by Delilah Devlin – A bounty hunter following a lead is trapped in an underground-bunker-turned-beauty-salon with a pretty beautician

Rescuing Alaska by Elle James – A Coast Guardsman on an Alaskan fishing trip jumps into frigid waters and dares a bear-ridden island to rescue a beautiful deckhand

Hourglass by Kenzie Mathews – With danger all around them, time-hopping graduate students find it hard to keep their clothes on while their time machine glitches

Out of This World by Kimberly Dean – When an astronaut is stranded without a research partner, her mission’s bad boy commander volunteers to help her complete her studies…on sex in space

Burning Stars by Kimberly Lithe – Heated glances and flirtatious banter ignite into a fever pitch when a mechanic aboard a stranded starship looks for her rescue from an intergalactic criminal

Switching Call by Lucrecia Christina – Stranded in a field, a tow truck driver learns from his sassy rescuer that there’s more to getting stuck in the mud than spinning tires

A Change in Predicament by Melanie Jayne – A doctor with a death wish and a history of bad decisions uses her wits to survive a kidnapping by the wounded leader of a dangerous gang

Put it in a Book by Michal Scott – Trapped in a book by a sorcerer for rejecting his sexual advances, an ex-slave’s daughter discovers one hope of rescue – a nosy thief

Undercover Lover by N.J. Walters – A DEA agent working undercover as a waitress in a dangerous biker bar is stranded without backup until a man from her past walks in

Too Deep by Sam Heathers – When an undercover officer loses her handlers in the outside world, she must trust the top lieutenant of a gun-running gang to survive

Going Down by Sukie Chapin – One broken elevator, one sexy boss, one hot night…maybe falling isn’t so bad after all

An Excerpt from “Quincy Down Under”

Meet my heroine…

“Looks like a damn hickey,” the elderly beauty operator said in her raspy voice as she set the straightening wand in its metal stand.

Tamara Adams rose from the seat at Miss Gracie’s station and leaned closer toward the marquee lights. Yup, the tender mark on her neck did indeed look like a love bite. She touched her finger to the burn and hissed.

“A little aloe vera will fix you right up,” Miss Gracie said and rummaged through a drawer to pick up a tube that looked to be twenty years old and squeezed of all its precious cream.

Tamara bit back a grimace and waved the woman away. “Thank you so much for straightening the back of my hair, but I’ll take care of the burn. You have a dinner at the senior center. Don’t want to be late,” she sang.

Miss Gracie’s eyebrows shot halfway up her forehead. “Thanks for reminding me.” She quickly retrieved her purse from her bottom drawer and headed toward the door leading out of the beauty shop.

The older woman glanced down at the cinder block holding the door open then gave Tamara a pointed stare. Tamara waved her hand in acknowledgement of the issue she still hadn’t addressed, and then held her breath as the woman slowly climbed the steep steps. Miss Gracie disappeared into the sunlight that filtered down the metal staircase—the only natural lighting in Tamara’s tiny shop.

When she was alone, Tamara moved toward her own station, her Sketchers sticking to the misting of hairspray that always surrounded Miss Gracie’s chair, making a sound reminiscent of Squidward’s tentacles.

She opened her own drawer, pulled out a tube of concealer, then did her best to mask the nasty red burn. So, maybe she should have treated it with antibiotic cream first, but she planned to hit Slim ’n’ Shorty’s for a drink as soon as she finished cleaning up and counting her earnings for the day.

Tamara snorted. Wouldn’t take a minute to empty her cash drawer. Miss Gracie’s elderly clients, the ones who could make it down the steep steps, had been the only customers that day.

Staring into her well-lit mirror, Tamara didn’t get it. She was a walking advertisement for her skills. Her messy-wavy, chin-length bob was all the rage in Hollywood. The platinum color with the lone rose-pink streak was flawless.

But she knew the problem was the location of her shop, and the fact she needed more noticeable signage for customers to even find it. Again, she snorted.

Hell, a billboard wouldn’t be enough to convince women to make the trek down into her doomsday-bunker-turned-hair-salon.

Footsteps sounded on the metal staircase, and she whirled, excited that she’d have at least one paying customer this day. However, the huge man descending the steps wiped her smile away. There was something about him that told her he was trouble. The hairs on the back of her neck prickled. She’d have to remember to take a razor to them later.

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