Friday, January 24, 2020

Lucky Chance Cowboy

Giveaway Alert!

Lucky Chance Cowboy
by Teri Anne Stanley
Publication Date: 1/28/2020
Genre: Contemporary
Series: Big Chance Dog Rescue #2

At Big Chance Dog Rescue, everyone can find a forever home

Marcus Talbott is a soldier through and through, and he's not going to let an injury keep him from his Army unit. Sure, his last mission nearly broke his back, but that's nothing his positive attitude and work ethic can't fix, right? In the meantime, he's got a place on the board at the Big Chance Dog Rescue, and flirting with his friend's sassy sister, Emma, is a welcome distraction.

Emma Stern is barely scraping by while working and caring for her elderly grandfather, but she's running out of options—and hope. The last thing she has time for is Marcus and his flirting, sexy as he might be. But every time Emma thinks she's reached the end of her rope, Marcus is there to lend a hand. Maybe there's more to the handsome playboy after all…

When Teri Anne Stanley isn’t writing sassy, sexy, love stories from her home near Sugartit, Kentucky (which is between Beaver Lick and Rabbit Hash. Seriously), she’s probably doing some sort of arsty-crafsty thing and hanging with Mr. Stanley, her three favorite children, and the dogs. Sometimes she’s masquerading as a day job science geek. She’s definitely not cooking or cleaning.

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Marcus’s ridiculous vintage muscle car was parked in its usual spot next to the barn, but he could have gone with Adam.

She thought about calling again, but what would she say? “Hey, I stopped out at the ranch to make sure you weren’t being held hostage by terrorists, but you’re not here”?

No thank you.

She decided she’d say hi to Jake, then head home and fume until it was time to fetch Granddad from day care. Day Club.

A quick movement from the other side of the frosted glass next to the door made her pause. She saw it again…a flash of something light passing by.

And then she heard it. A light thump, followed by more movement. One of the dogs was inside, jumping up and down by the window.

“Hey, who’s that?” Emma asked, squatting to look.

Another thump, and the flash—this time she realized it was a big, light-colored dog.

Adam’s D-Day was black. Lizzie’s dog, Loretta, was white, but would be in the kennels with her pups anyway. The only other option was Patton, Marcus’s big golden retriever, who never barked. Like, ever.

He was also trained to never leave Marcus’s side unless he were dismissed—or if Marcus was injured and in need of help.

All the paranoid fantasies she’d ever had about bad things happening to her family squeezed Emma’s heart and lungs.

“Marcus?” she called, pushing open the unlocked door and stepping into the dim interior of the house.

The dog stood panting and wagging at Emma.

There was no obnoxious eighties hair-band music blasting from the kitchen, no explosions and screams coming from the giant television and game console in the living room. No creaks and groans from an old house giving clues to the whereabouts of its inhabitants.
Patton wagged and nudged her with his head, so she petted him. “Good boy. What’s going on? Where’s Marcus?”

He turned and padded toward the stairs, stopping to make sure she paid attention. Was Marcus upstairs, somehow injured? The band around her chest tightened another notch. She followed Patton, but by the time she reached the top step, a thought occurred to her. What if Marcus wasn’t alone? What if he’d exiled Patton because he had company?

It was quiet in the house, but maybe Marcus and his guest were snuggled down, enjoying some postcoital z’s while everyone else was working their asses off.

Well, she was outside his door now, and she had to be sure he was safe.

On Patton’s heels, she pushed open the door to her childhood bedroom and saw Marcus laid out flat on his back, feet crossed at the ankles, hands folded neatly on his hard stomach, eyes closed. He was sacked out so hard he didn’t seem to be breathing.

But Marcus wasn’t dead. He was living, breathing, and very warm, which she knew because she’d somehow made her way to his side.

The room smelled of spicy man and something she couldn’t quite put her finger on…something dangerous.

Since he was sleeping and not winking, smiling, or flirting with her, she gave herself a moment to study him. He was beyond beautiful. His thick, black hair was twisted into little corkscrews that normally bounced and bobbed like an outward extension of his personality. Russet brown skin, large nose, square jaw, and soft-looking, sensual lips that seemed to smile, even in sleep.

Before she knew it, she’d reached out toward him, then stopped, feeling like a creeper.


“Oh crap!” She jerked her hand back, but not before Marcus took her slim wrist in his big hand.

“It’s okay. I don’t bite,” he murmured, his gaze hooded. “Unless you ask me to.”

A pool of heat formed low in Emma’s belly, chasing away her reason for being there. “I didn’t mean to wake you,” she said, though she didn’t even convince herself.

“I’m glad you did,” he said softly, slowly tugging the hand he held. She didn’t pull away, intoxicated by his scent, the heat in his eyes. When he tugged her hand again, she toppled onto his chest. To escape those half-mast eyes, she looked down at his full, luscious lips, which opened to say, “You can kiss me if you want.”

She wanted. Oh, how she wanted as his hands spanned her waist, then traveled to her hips. There was something unreal about this moment that made her believe she could kiss him, that it would be a good, good thing to kiss this man.

Excerpted from Lucky Chance Cowboy by Teri Anne Stanley. © 2020 by Teri Anne Stanley. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Sold To The King

The new year has arrived, and with it hopes and challenges. I’m releasing the second book of my hottest series to date, so writing it definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone. *blushes*

Please enjoy this excerpt from Sold to the King (FREE with KU!), a super sexy romance about a man who’s enjoying his last free days before he’s crowned king, and a woman who sells her virginity to said man to get enough money to discover who killed her stepmother. But exposing the truth will destroy his life…


Nassor walked up to her. “Tell me why you’re a virgin, Izzy.” Not the smoothest ice breaker, but certainly a woman her age living in the States had to have had opportunity for sex? Curiosity stabbed at him.
She didn’t turn to him, but the planes of her back stiffened, stretching the corset. “Does it matter?” she said in a clipped voice.
He nudged her shoulder, making her spin on her heel and stare at him. “I don’t do well with bullshitting. You’re a young, attractive woman. Just tell me.”
She clutched the wineglass in her hand, studying the red contents. Then, she took a generous amount of it, so much a little bit dribbled down the corner of her mouth. A knot formed in his throat, and he wanted to reach out for her, kiss her and lick her lips. “I never met my biological father. My mother was an addict and gave up on me, and, unfortunately, my adoptive father died a few years after he adopted me. I learned to be self-reliant and my focus was on studying, and finishing high school, then college.”
Though she spoke with the nonchalance of a much less important subject, the vein in her neck pulsed. His heart clutched a bit. Damn. He could feel her pain, even if she tried so hard not to show it to him.
“You’re a survivor. I admire that.” His father had always been an absent loser, and now more than ever, Nassor appreciated his mother—she’d done her best, after she’d been shunned by her family for years, and had no emotional support.
“Boys were never my priority.”
“What about the auction? What made you change your mind?” Besides money.
She caressed the rim of the glass. “When I heard about it, I thought I’d never make it. A lot of women are far prettier than me. I wanted to see if I’d get picked.”
Because she’s not used to getting picked. Sadness clogged his throat. Hell, growing up, he hadn’t been the family’s favorite, either. The bastard son got shunned from most royal events, until recently when his mother married his father—after decades of a dysfunctional relationship.
“What’s on your mind?” She put the glass on the table and studied him. For the first time, a pang of insecurity laced her voice.
He shook his head, eager to will the naive thoughts about their similarities aside. Don’t feel bad for her, a voice inside him warned. Despite her difficult childhood, she’d managed to get a degree and would have access to a lot of cash after this thing between them ended. A lot of people weren’t so lucky—like his late friend Jonah.
“You.” He took a swig of his wine. Best to keep reality in check. He touched her cheek, outlining her jaw. She quivered under his touch, and he leaned closer, enjoying her response.
Desire gleamed in her eyes. He cupped her face, looking deep into her soulful gaze.
He dipped his head down and covered her lips with his—in that instant, a thread of arousal powered through him with an intensity he’d never experienced from such minimal contact.


I’m less than a week away from being crowned king.

To celebrate my last days of freedom, I’m indulging in all kinds of hedonistic activities —including attending the coveted Virgin Auction.

When I see Izzy on stage, I forget where I am. She’s gorgeous. I must have her. At any cost.

Even if only for three weeks.

Even if it can only ever be temporary.

And especially because it’s the last time I can do something for myself and not what’s best for my country.

I’m bound by duty and honor, but for the next few weeks I get to have my American cake and eat her too… one decadent bite at a time.

Monday, January 20, 2020

The Best Man Problem

Lilly Walsh is used to keeping things buttoned-up and aboveboard. After all, the last time she hooked up with someone in a wedding party, it nearly cost her her wedding planning business. Thankfully, those rules don’t apply when she meets a handsome stranger in a hotel bar. One bad pirate joke leads to the best night of her life, but come morning, she’s got a wedding to plan. 

Lincoln Reid never imagined he’d see the woman who rocked his world last night and then ran out on him ever again. But there she is, planning his best friend’s wedding with the same passion and drive that brought him to his knees. She’s adamant that wedding planner and best man can never mix, but that just means he’s got four weeks to make her see him as more than just a one-night guy. Because he’s itching for more than one night…or five, or ten…

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The office computer, the bane of Lilly’s existence, is frozen and there is no tech support available, but lucky for Mile High Happiness the ladies know of a friendly company computer guy…Lincoln. Lilly is reluctant to spend more time with Lincoln, but they need their computer so she allows her friends to call him. He rushes over to fix the problem while her friends conveniently head out to grab food. Leaving Lilly alone with a man who tempts her more than any cheesecake ever could…
“There. All done.”
“You fixed it?”
“I fixed it, but you might want to think about upgrading to a newer computer soon.”
Lilly leaned over him, staring at the screen as if it held the answers to life.
“Just like that? You came in here and solved my problem with a few clicks of the keyboard?”
Not quite so simple, but basically. He’d figured it’d be a fairly easy fix; what he couldn’t understand was why she seemed upset by it.
“Yup. Happy to help.”
With a huff, she pushed herself up and started to pace back and forth from the wall to the desk, frustration fueling her every step.
“Of course you’re happy to help. You’re always happy to help. You’re just one helpful, happy guy.”
“Um, did I miss something?”
She ignored him, continuing to pace.
“You can’t even have the decency to be an asshole or have a bad habit. No, you’re just so damn helpful and sweet and sexy.”
That got him to smile. “You think I’m sexy?”
He kind of figured she didn’t find him hideous, since she had slept with him. But it never hurt a guy’s ego to hear an insanely beautiful woman found him attractive. He rose from the chair, risking life and limb—or at least the very real possibility of a knee to the nuts—by moving into her pacing path. She didn’t slow down, didn’t even notice he moved, merely crashed into him. He reached out to grab her arms, steadying her when she would have tumbled.
“Ugh! You even smell good. This isn’t fair, Lincoln. You’re impossible to resist.”
His brow rose as it dawned on him that her anger stemmed from sexual frustration. And he was the source of it. That went a small way to easing his bruised pride from waking up the morning after their amazing night together to find her gone.
“Really?” His gaze roamed over her face, pausing on her lips. Lips he tasted once, lips he tasted every night in his dreams, lips he burned to taste again. “You seem to be doing a pretty good job of resisting me so far.”
Her hands came up—to push him away, he’d bet—but he bet wrong. Lilly grabbed two fistfuls of his shirt. With a frustrated moan, she tugged, pulling him down as she lifted her chin. Her mouth crashed against his, those sweet lips colliding with his own, tasting even better than he remembered.
Surprise kept him immobile for all of 0.1 seconds before he came to life, tugging her by the grip he had on her arms, pulling her into him until he could feel every inch of her soft, heavenly body pressed against his.
Yes! This was what he’d been missing, been craving. This passionate, fiery woman who knew what she wanted and took it. This was the Lilly he met that night at the hotel. The one who brought him to his knees. He’d known she was there, hiding under all that prim and properness. Though he had to admit, the prim and proper thing was hot as hell too. Seemed no matter what this woman did or how she acted, it never ceased to get his motor running.
She moaned, low and deep, the sound causing him to harden to the point of pain. She backed them up, lips still fused as if their lives depended on it, until he felt his back hit the hard, solid wall. He didn’t care. She could bash his head against all the walls she wanted as long as she kept kissing him. Because kissing Lilly was the best damn feeling he’d ever experienced.
Second best.
Being inside her held the honor of the first.
Her muttered curse reached him through a fog of lust. One second she had her tongue halfway down his throat, and the next she was gone. Pulled out of his embrace and standing a foot away. Felt like a million miles to him.
“Lilly?” Her name came out shaky, because he was feeling damn shaky. The woman had that effect on him.
Her dark hair was mussed, clothing wrinkled, glasses slightly askew on her sharp nose. She adjusted her frames with a single finger, then pointed that finger at him.
“That did not happen.”
“Okay…” But it had.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Just A Little More

With: Allie York

Congratulations to "Laney4", the winner in Allie's giveaway. Please contact JUST CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE to claim your prize!

I am so excited to be the first book in the second season of the 425 Madison Series! Season one was the most amazing project I have ever been part of. In season one we met Piper and Derek as the sister and best friend of our main couple Eliza and Murphy in ‘Just Swipe Right’. They both decide to put away their serial dating ways to give a relationship a shot. In ‘Just a Little More’ Piper and Derek are in for a wild ride on their way to happily ever after.

Piper finally has her life together and Derek thinks everything is perfect. It seems like they may be in for just a little more when their world is turned upside down. Readers will devour this accidental pregnancy romance. The beloved 425 Madison series is back with season two, JUST A LITTLE MORE by Allie York is now live!

Only on Amazon + Read for FREE on Kindle Unlimited

Goodreads ➝

Dream career - check.
Amazing luxury apartment - check.
Stable relationship (with sexiest man ever) - check.
I finally have my life together. Or I did until the universe decided to throw one heck of a curveball.
Nothing could prepare me for the rollercoaster I’ve boarded.

Move from Alabama to NYC - check.
Job at the hottest restaurant in the city - check.
Stable relationship (with sexiest woman ever) - check.
Five years after my last heartbreak and I’m finally living my best life.
Everything is perfect, until the surprise of a lifetime.
My future and my past collide, turning my world upside down -when I’m finally starting to get things right.

Piper and Derek are in for just a little more - after all, 425 Madison is the perfect place to fall in love!

Author Info
Allie is a mom and dog groomer by day. At night she is posted at her laptop writing or reading in a cozy corner. She has a soft spot for gooey romance, over-creamed coffee, and anything cute and furry.


Allie is giving away a$5 Amazon gift card + eBook copy Just Swipe Right, 425 Madison, #3 to one lucky person leaving a comment or email entry!

About the 425 Madison Series
Welcome to 425 Madison Ave the perfect place to fall in love. Nine delicious romances set in fast-paced & sexy NYC just waiting for you to read.

This season will feature some new authors as well as some of season one's favs. Back for season two is Allie York, Leigh Lennon, MK Moore, Aubree Valentine, Lauren Helms, and Katy Ames. Plus a warm welcome to KC Enders, and Marcie Shumway!

Not only do we have a sexy mix of new and returning authors, prepare for pages packed with new romances, characters, and tropes all from the same well-loved high-rise apartment building in NYC.

Make sure to follow the 425 Madison Avenue Facebook page for more on release dates, cover reveals and author spotlights. For exclusive excerpts, giveaways, and news subscribe to our 425 Madison newsletter!

Newsletter ➝

Get caught up on the first season today! You can read all nine books for FREE with Kindle Unlimited ➝

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST January 17th. Due to GDPR regulations you no longer need to submit your email address in the comments. If you have been selected as a winner your name will be posted at the top of the post. You may then contact to claim your prize. Your email address will be shared with the author/publicist providing the giveaway. 

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Happily Ever After

Hi and thank you Just Contemporary Romance for hosting me. I’m excited to be here and tell you about my story, Happily Ever After.

This story is about Beth Alexander, a best-selling romance writer who has lost her muse, her fan base, and maybe the loyalty of her beloved agent. Sales of her new release plummeted on the best seller list, and her contract with her publisher is in jeopardy. She believes another author JD Watson is to blame. To add insult to injury, her downfall is fueled by a horrid review.

Ah, book reviews. They speak for the author and the story. Some of the reasons authors want reviews is to increase sales, understand what their readers want, and even help improve their writing. Readers read reviews to get familiar with the story and decide if this is the right book for them.

I was so excited when I wrote my first book and it was published. I eagerly (and anxiously) waited for reviews. The first ones were great (to a new author, they were AWESOME). Then I got this one review that was devastating. I read it several times hoping I misunderstood, but I hadn’t. The person said horrid things about me and s/he didn’t know me.

Fast forward to 2017. I was writing a story about an author and decided to use a portion of that horrid review in the opening of my story. It was a wonderful way to take the lemon of a review and turn it into lemonade!

I hope you enjoy the story.

He was the cause of her fall from literary stardom until he became her salvation.
From a fall from literary stardom to becoming the heroine in her own romance story, Beth Holmes has turned around her career and her love life. She owes it all to one very special person.
Jarred Watson has loved Beth since he read her first novel and suspected the heroine was the embodiment of the author. But the road to romance was fraught with pitfalls. He almost lost everything because of a conniving agent and a little white lie that got out of hand. At the eleventh hour, with honesty and hard work, their book sales are off the charts and a movie deal is in negotiations.
Interfering families and changed plans take their toll. Will they go their separate ways or will Holmes and Watson continue their literary collaboration and personal partnership in order to find their own happily ever after?

“Interesting.” He chuckled. “Men are not known for their empathy.” Jarred brought his chair closer to hers. “Like stress,” he said. “Under stress, men exhibit the “fight or flight” response.”
Beth nodded. She hadn’t considered the differences in gender reactions in that context. “Women don’t think fight or flight, at least not initially. Under stress they work to protect the group. It has to do with protecting the young and seeing to the family unit. They also think very differently about sex.”
A sly smile brightened his face. She wanted to slam her hand over her mouth.
“We do?” He dropped his voice to a low raspy whisper and sent chills, the good kind, up her back and to other places.
“For a woman, sex starts in their head, not necessarily between her legs.” Shit. Her face was so hot she was going to go up in flames. Jeez, that’s what her heroine Jo Dee would say, definitely not Beth Alexander.
“Oh really?” If she thought his soft, male mellow voice or his smoldering stare couldn’t get any sexier, she got that totally wrong.
“I’m a romance writer. I write about relationships and emotions,” she replied.
“And sex,” he added. Was he extending an invitation? She wasn’t a loose woman, but she was more than tempted to say yes. And that was her notion, not Jo Dee’s.

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Ruth’s Bio
RUTH A. CASIE is a USA Today bestselling author of historical swashbuckling action-adventures and contemporary romance with enough action to keep you turning pages. Her stories feature strong women and the men who deserve them, endearing flaws and all. She lives in New Jersey with her hero, three empty bedrooms and a growing number of incomplete counted cross-stitch projects. Before she found her voice, she was a speech therapist (pun intended), client liaison for a corrugated manufacturer, and vice president at an international bank where she was a product/ marketing manager, but her favorite job is the one she’s doing now—writing romance. She hopes her stories become your favorite adventures. For more information, please visit or visit her on Facebook, @RuthACasie, Twitter, @RuthACasie, or Pinterest RuthACasie

Ruth’s Links:
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Saturday, December 28, 2019

The One You Fight For

With: Roni Loren

How hard would you fight for the one you love?

Taryn Landry was there that awful night fourteen years ago when Long Acre changed from the name of a town to the title of a national tragedy. Everyone knows she lost her younger sister. No one knows it was her fault. Since then, psychology professor Taryn has dedicated her life’s work to preventing something like that from ever happening again. Falling in love was never part of the plan…

 Shaw Miller has spent more than a decade dealing with the fallout of his brother’s horrific actions. After losing everything—his chance at Olympic gold, his family, almost his sanity—he’s changed his name, his look, and he’s finally starting a new life. As long as he keeps a low profile and his identity secret, everything will be okay, right? 

When the world and everyone you know defines you by one catastrophic tragedy…
How do you find your happy ending?

Google Play:


“This does not look like an establishment that serves cake,” Kincaid said as Taryn stopped in front of the Tipsy Hound bar. “And if it did, I wouldn’t want to eat their cake.”

“After that workout, I need something stronger than cake,” Taryn said, feeling grumpy after the grueling session that Kaya, the perky female trainer who was definitely not Lucas, had put her through. Taryn had not been feeling in the mood for a workout already, but when she’d found out Lucas was no longer going to be her trainer because he’d decided to take some night classes, her attitude had plummeted further. Kaya’s unending enthusiasm had not helped. If she’d said You can do it! one more damn time, Taryn might’ve pushed her in the pool.

Kincaid glanced at the chipped paint on the sign by the door. “This place looks like a dive.”
“It is,” Taryn agreed. “It’s perfect.”

Kincaid gave her a skeptical look. “And it’s eighties open mic night. Are we really going to subject ourselves to that?”

“You signed me up for something that involved trapeze and falling into swimming pools. I have earned the right to choose the next activity.”

Kincaid relented and waved a hand. “Yep, you’re right. Lead on, and I shall follow.”

“Thank you.” Taryn pushed open the door and was hit with the smell of beer and the sound of a Phil Collins song being murdered mercilessly by the woman onstage. “I’ve been here before. It’s got…some charm.”

Honestly, Taryn had no idea why she’d decided to come back to the Tipsy Hound. There were plenty of other places in Austin where she and Kincaid could’ve grabbed a drink. Better lit places. Places where their shoes wouldn’t stick to the floor. But something about this bar had called to her again when they’d driven past. Maybe after watching her life’s work get flushed down the toilet the night before, she needed to remind herself that at least she hadn’t taken the path she’d originally planned and tried to be a songwriter. This would’ve probably been her future. Sticky-floored dive bars. She was still doing better than that, right?

Kincaid fluffed her hair, somehow managing to look completely put together with just a five-minute gym shower and some quickly applied makeup. Taryn had done her best to look presentable, but all she’d packed in her gym bag were hair products, lipstick, and some mascara. Maybe it was good the place was dark.

“Let’s grab a table and see if this joint can make a decent margarita,” Kincaid said, eyeing the possible places to sit.

Taryn pointed. “The one in the back over there looks good. And it won’t be as loud.”
“Hey, Jamez with a z!” a voice called from somewhere off to Taryn’s left.

Taryn winced. She hadn’t considered that someone might remember her from the other night. This place seemed to do open mics every evening. She was just one of many who’d gotten on that stage, but the owner apparently had a good memory. She gave Kaleb a discreet wave, hoping Kincaid didn’t notice.

But he didn’t take the hint. He stepped closer and flicked his bar towel over his shoulder. “Hey, do you do eighties, too? I hope so because, goddamn, we could use a good song tonight. The offerings have been bleak. This has been worse than karaoke night. And karaoke night makes me want to drink the hard stuff.”

Kincaid turned around at that, doubling back. “Excuse me?”

Kaleb smiled affably. “Oh, you brought a friend. Right on.” He put out his hand to Kincaid. “I’m Kaleb, co-owner of the place. I was just telling Jamez here that we could use her onstage tonight.”

Kincaid cocked her head as she shook his hand, no doubt remembering the name Lucas had first called her at the race. Kincaid didn’t forget anything. “Right. Jamez. Onstage.”

“Have you seen her play?” he asked, jabbing a thumb toward the front. The singer ended her tortuous rendition of “Sussudio,” and a smattering of lackluster applause followed.
Taryn put her hands up as if there was a way to stuff that cat back into the bag, but of course, there wasn’t. Kincaid’s attention flicked to Taryn, her eyebrows arching. “Play. Like an instrument. On a stage?”

“Yeah, man. Good guitar player and has some pipes on her, too.” Kaleb grabbed his phone out of his back pocket. “What song you wanna do, Jamez? You can pick anything that hasn’t already been sung tonight.”

“Oh, no, no,” Taryn said, waving her hand. “I’m just here to listen and have a drink tonight. I’m not up for performing.”

Kaleb’s face fell. “Really? You sure? Could I entice you with free drinks for both of you in exchange for a song?”

Kincaid perked up. “Yes, do you have marg—”

“No,” Taryn said quickly. “Not tonight. Eighties really aren’t in my wheelhouse. But thanks.”
Kaleb shrugged and his affable smile returned. “Ah, nineties to the end… I get it. Well, let me know if y’all need anything. And first drink’s on me anyway.”

Kincaid put her hand to her chest. “Well, thanks, sweet thing.” She waited until he walked off and then looked at Taryn with a wicked light in her eyes. “For the drink and the information. Jamez with a z.”

“Don’t look at me like that,” Taryn warned.

“Like what?” Kincaid asked innocently.

“Like I’m now the cake you were looking for. Can we just ignore that this conversation happened?” Taryn asked, stepping past her friend and heading to the table.

“Um, no, we cannot, missy,” Kincaid replied, following closely behind, her high heels clicking on the floor. She waited until Taryn had taken her seat and then slid into the chair next to her. “That is not a conversation I can just forget. You play guitar and sing? Since when?”

Taryn ignored her for a moment and ordered two margaritas on the rocks from the waitress. When they were alone again, she relented. “Since middle school, but I don’t do it anymore. The other night—the night after that bad date—I had a lapse in judgment, gave Kaleb a fake name, and ended up getting onstage here.”

Kincaid’s lips parted on a gasp. “That’s why Lucas called you Jamez! You met him here? He saw you sing?”

She shrugged. “He saw me freak out onstage and bail. Yeah.”

Kincaid set her chin in her hand, a look of wonder and delight on her face. “It’s like I don’t know you at all. I need to see this singing Taryn. I need that in my life right this minute.”

“Not happening. I’m retired.” Taryn accepted a complimentary bowl of homemade barbecue chips and her drink from the waitress and took a long sip, the sweet and salty liquid cooling her dry throat. “It was a stupid thing to do that night. It brings back…too much crap. That was the person I was in high school, before everything. It just brought back painful memories.”

Kincaid frowned. “Oh, I’m sorry, honey. Is that why you freaked out onstage?”

“Pretty much.”

“Ugh,” Kincaid said, leaning back in her chair and grabbing a few of the chips. “Trauma sucks.”

“I’ll drink to that,” Taryn said wryly. “But at least we can sit here and listen to a sure-to-be-stellar rendition of ‘Billie Jean’ by that guy.”

Kincaid looked to the stage where a very paunchy white dude with a biker vest was gearing up for some Michael Jackson. She groaned. “Oh Lordy, I’m going to need a lot of liquor for this.”

However, to their surprise, when the biker actually started singing, he turned out to be pretty damn good. Good voice and much higher-pitched than anyone could’ve guessed. He was hitting every hee-hee with perfect pitch. Taryn found herself bopping her head to the music and enjoying the performance. But when he turned to the side, beer belly on full display beneath his T-shirt, and busted out his moonwalk, she and Kincaid almost lost it. Taryn put her hand over her mouth to stanch her laugh. “Oh my God, he’s so nailing it.”

“I take everything I said back. I love this place,” Kincaid said, clapping and letting out a whoop. “It’s my new favorite.”

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