Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Jump Into Author Carolyn Brown’s Empty Nest


Giveaway Alert!

Good morning, and thank you for inviting me to stop by to talk about my new book, The Empty Nesters. I’ll be giving all y’all a few of my favorite scenes and a little commentary during the time we get to spend together.

As Ma used to say on Golden Girls, imagine this—Carmen, Joanie and Diana have just dropped their daughters off at the recruiter’s office. They’ve managed to keep the tears at bay and put up a brave front, but now it’s time to let the tears loose. 

“For the first time ever, Natalie and I won’t decorate the house for Halloween together. Nine months of carrying them, then we basically raised them on our own while our husbands were deployed or got sent someplace to train other officers. And now they’re gone, and we won’t see them for Halloween or Thanksgiving. And who even knows about Christmas? It’s not fair.” 

It’s always amazing what comes to mind during a sad time, isn’t it? Things pop into our heads that seem trivial in the face of the event, and yet, at the time, the good memories are what keep us sane.

Tootsie, their elderly neighbor, has just lost her husband, after they’d bought the huge RV and planned a trip to northeast Texas. She’s trying to convince the women that they need to get away from their empty nest for a while.

“You need to get away for a little while and get some perspective,” Tootsie said.

“Let’s pool our money and blow it all on a trip to Paris. We can shop and have lattes in little bistros,” Diana suggested. 

Joanie sighed. “That’s a pipe dream. We probably don’t have enough money to even get to Paris, Texas, between the three of us.” 

The three of them have known the support of each other through the past thirteen years, and just because they’re now alone in their homes, they have no doubt that the love is still there between them—and that it’s even stronger than blood sisters.

“We’re only half a block and a phone call away. If any of us feel the world dropping out from under our feet, we can get back together in less than five minutes.” 

I was amazed at how supportive all of them, including Tootsie, were of each other. They might disagree, but Lord help the person that tried to come between them, or who had the nerve to say an ugly word about one of them.

Everything happens for a reason and in the time that it should happen. I believe that with my whole heart. Diana had gotten her divorce years before the book opens, but she remembers the pain and anger of it all. Then she focused all her energy and time on raising her daughter. But now it’s her time to find a new love, and a new life—maybe with a younger man.

“That many trips into town on those roads would shake the hell out of their Caddy. And believe me, Aunt Tootsie treats that car like family.” Luke chuckled. “Age, on a truck or on a person, makes no difference. It’s how well they’re maintained that matters.” 

Why, oh, why, couldn’t he have smooth pickup lines like other men? Luke asked himself. What he’d just said could be taken as an insult. She might think that he thought she looked like an old pickup truck at her age, when in reality she was downright gorgeous. He wouldn’t be a bit surprised if she still got carded at bars when she ordered a drink. 

Thank you again, for inviting me into your world, and letting me talk about the amazing ladies (and Luke of course), from The Empty Nesters. Happy reading to each and every one of you!



THE EMPTY NESTERS

Dear friends and army wives Diana, Carmen, and Joanie have been through war, rumors of war, marital problems, motherhood, fears, joy, and heartache. But none of the women are prepared when their daughters decide to enlist in the army together. Facing an empty nest won’t be easy. Especially for Carmen. With emotions already high, she suffers an even greater blow: divorce papers. Diana understands the fury and tears. She’s been there.
With nothing to lose and no one at home, the girlfriends impulsively accept an unexpected offer from their elderly neighbor. The recently widowed Tootsie has an RV, a handsome nephew at the wheel, and an aim for tiny Scrap, Texas, to embrace memories of her late husband. Still grieving, she can use the company as a balm for her broken heart. So can the empty nesters.
Embarking on a journey of hope, romance, and healing, Diana, Carmen, and Joanie are at a turning point in their lives. And with the open road ahead of them, it’s just the beginning.


Author Biography
Carolyn Brown is a New York TimesUSA TodayPublisher’s Weekly, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author and a RITA finalist with more than ninety published books. Her genres include romance, history, cowboys and country music, and contemporary mass-market paperbacks. She and her husband live in the small town of Davis, Oklahoma, where everyone knows everyone else, knows what they are doing and when . . . and reads the local newspaper every Wednesday to see who got caught. They have three grown children and enough grandchildren to keep them young. Visit Carolyn at www.carolynbrownbooks.com.

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Monday, August 19, 2019

Society Girl


Congratulations to "Jessica S.", the winner in Alys' giveaway. Please contact JUST CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE to claim your prize!

Hey, Just Contemporary Romance readers! Society Girl is my romance set following an American girl named Samantha, who tries to enter an elite, secret society in Oxford, England, after discovering that her father is a Duke! The Animos Society tries to make her enter a cruel bet to enter their ranks, but she finds herself falling for her mark, threatening everything she’s ever wanted…

In this scene, Samantha sets eyes on Daniel Best, her father’s driver, and we can already see her mind drifting towards romance. I really hope you enjoy it!

***

It was really beautiful, Ashbrooke. Like stepping into another time. Some days, when she was walking along the paths outside, she’d carry a book and pretend she was Elizabeth Bennet, rushing home to meet her large, welcoming family at Longbourn. It wasn’t hard to imagine Ashbrooke as one of those grand Regency houses. Mostly because it had been around since the eleventh century, so… During the Regency, it had been one of those Regency houses.

It was less easy to imagine it covered in curricles and flushed maidens when a vintage Rolls-Royce—her father’s car of choice—curved around the gravel drive, stopping dead in front of the house to give Sam a full view of the decidedly unhistorical man driving it. Her heart skipped a beat. She hadn’t seen him before.

Rising from the car, but keeping the engine running, he stood to his full height. Standing well over six feet, he glistened in the rare British sun, his tan skin broken up by blocks of car oil and grease. A tight, holey T-shirt and a pair of work coveralls tied at the waist revealed the strength in his smooth, surprisingly languid form. This was not a man who’d ever lost a fight. He was a man chiseled from stone, with high cheekbones and floppy, golden hair. His eyes were…green? No, she couldn’t tell, but she could tell how they would crinkle at the edges if he smiled too wide.

Behind her, someone cleared their throat. She didn’t pay attention. She couldn’t look away. A busy mind made quick work of memorizing him. She’d… She’d never seen a man like him. Certainly not one so handsome, not in person.

There was something else, though. Something not entirely physical about him. He seemed…good. Not a breath of pretension or falsehood hung around his broad shoulders.

He was real.

She’d been surrounded by the elite of Great Britain for weeks now, but none of them caught her heart and held it by the wings like a hunted butterfly like this man did without even realizing it. Not that she was interested in that kind of thing. She wasn’t. She definitely wasn't.

SOCIETY GIRL


Sam Dubarry is a cynic. Growing up in the foster system in NYC does that to you. And falling in love is by far the stupidest thing you could do in her opinion.
But there’s one thing she craves more than anything—family. The illegitimate American daughter of an English Lord, Sam is desperate to make her father take notice of her. Which is where the Animos Society comes in.
The exclusive Oxford University club is her family’s legacy—and full of the worst kind of rich men. But becoming the first female member will take everything she has. Maybe more.
Daniel Best is the one man who truly sees Sam. The real her. The new mechanic for her father, Daniel is everything the Animos’ aren’t. Kind, honorable, good. But then the worst thing she can imagine happens…

The Society will let her in, if she destroys the one person she might be falling in love with first.


Giveaway:
Since Daniel, our hero, is a musician as well as a part-time mechanic, let me know your favorite love song in the comments below! I’ll send one lucky commenter a copy of Society Girl and a signed Oxford University postcard to add to your collection of bookmarks!

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST August 20th. 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 maureen@JustContemporaryRomance.com to claim your prize. Your email address will be shared with the author/publicist providing the giveaway.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Interview with Melissa Foster


Giveaway Alert!

1) ”If a woman can’t find love in the quaint town of Harmony Pointe, it’s sure to find them…” —this is the tagline for your newest series Harmony Pointe. Tell us a bit about the town and these women who are finding love.

I love writing about close-knit small towns, where gossip is ripe, and embarrassing tales of youthful rascals abound. Harmony Pointe is nestled between Sweetwater and Port Hudson, New York, not far from the city. It offers grand views of mountains as far as the eye could see. Cobblestone streets, brick-front eclectic shops, and old-fashioned street lights add to the small town’s charm. Readers who are familiar with my Sugar Lake series will recognize Harmony Pointe as Derek Grant’s hometown.

2) What was the idea that sparked the beginning of the series? 


I have been itching to write Ben Dalton and Aurelia Stark’s story since I first read about them in WILD BOYS AFTER DARK: LOGAN and BAD BOYS AFTER DARK: MICK (Billionaires After Dark series) and THE REAL THING (Sugar Lake series). Harmony Pointe is a Sugar Lake spin-off, and in the Sugar Lake series several of Ben’s siblings find love. It was finally Ben’s turn.

3) For longtime fans, can you tell us what this series has in common with your previous books? How is the series different from what you have written before?


Avid readers of my Love in Bloom series will have met Ben and Aurelia in several previous books and series. Their story is filled with humor and sexy times, and this one wallops the reader with an ugly-cry worthy punch. This family is very female centric, which is different than most of my other series. The exception is the Montgomerys, cousins to the Daltons, in which the males are also outnumbered. #GirlPower (Bradens & Mongtomerys series).

4) Why was it important that Ben and Aurelia launched this series in Call Her Mine?

Ben and Aurelia were too loud for me to ignore! They were finally ready to share.

5) There are friends-to-lovers romances and then there is Ben and Aurelia who are closer-than-close. Seriously, these two just about live in each other’s heads. What takes them so long to realize that they belong together?

Have you ever had a friend who you love so much that you can’t imagine life without them? I have. It instills a certain level of fear—what if you risk that friendship, lay your feelings on the line, and the other person doesn’t feel the same? True friends, the ones who “get” you, who accept you at your worst, bitchiest states, and at your best, are hard to come by. Risking the friendship is terrifying. I think this was the case for Ben and Aurelia—Plus there’s Ben and his damn planning...
That man made me crazy.
I love him so hard!

6) When romance finally (finally!) is in the cards for these two, they have one very tiny situation that turns up—Ben’s previously unknown infant daughter. What was it like to create an insta-family for this pair? 

It was so frigging fun I wish I could do it again! I loved every second of writing this book. I was able to strip Ben and Aurelia down to their most raw selves and emotions, and then watch as they found their new footings together. It was glorious.

7) While it is unfair to ask if you have a favorite hero, we’d love to know what makes Ben so special to you. 

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes—arrogant, funny, introverted, brilliant, average, overly serious, etc. Ben is like the guy you see sitting at the end of a bar in a fine suit and think he’s probably taken, or at the least too refined to be fun. And then he opens his mouth and melts you, or makes you laugh, at every turn. He’s protective, but not in a bullying way. Don’t even get me started with that man holding a tiny baby, falling in love with her page after page. I’ve got goosebumps just thinking about it. 

***

Call Her Mine Excerpt

“I’ve got to go.” She tried to pull away, but he dug his fingers into her knotted muscles, releasing tension and drawing a moan from her traitorous lungs.

“Don’t run off,” he coaxed. “I wasn’t kidding. You are my best friend. I trust you with my secrets, and I love who you are.”

Hope bubbled up inside her, and she closed her eyes, glad he couldn’t see her face. Had their time finally come? “Really?”

“Of course,” he said, and she heard the smile in his voice.

That made her feel all sorts of good, and the truth came easily. “I love who you are, too.”

He leaned his chin on her shoulder, his hard chest pressing against her back as he said, “I especially love who you are when you’re making me breakfast.”

“Ugh!” She pushed to her feet, but he snagged her wrist, giving her the puppy-dog eyes she’d never been able to resist. The ones that said, Please don’t leave me. “Ben,” she warned.

Relsy,” he pleaded.

“I am not making you breakfast. I have to go.” She yanked her hand away and said, “And I’m busy for the next few weeks. Actually, for a lifetime, so . . .” She shoved her feet into her red Converse sneakers and grabbed her purse.

“I seriously have to make my own breakfast?” Ben pushed to his feet and stretched, six-plus feet of hotness towering over her five-two frame. “But you make waffles better than I do.”

“I do a lot of things better than you. Don’t forget to call Aiden back.” Aiden was his business partner. He’d called Ben last night while they were watching a movie and Ben had made her laugh, causing tequila to come out of her nose, which had sent him into hysterics and rendered him unable to answer the call.

“That’s right.” He grabbed his phone from the table. “He was supposed to set up a meeting with our legal team.”

“For the hotel chain you’re buying?”

“Yeah. Hey, take my sweatshirt. It’s early. You’ll be cold.”

He pulled his sweatshirt over his head and tossed it to her, revealing a dusting of chest hair over muscular pecs and a treasure trail that disappeared beneath the waist of his low-slung jeans. His sweatshirt hit her in the chest and landed at her feet, reminding her she was staring.

Ben laughed. “Nice catch, Rels. Remind me not to pick you for my baseball team.”

“I don’t want to be on your team. You run the bases too slow,” she mumbled as she picked up his sweatshirt and tugged it over her head, inhaling his masculine scent. “I’m out of here.”

“How about cereal?” he asked with a wink. “I’ll make it.”

“Since when did you become so needy?”

A coy grin slid across his face. “I know that once you’re in my kitchen, there’s no holding back. You won’t let me eat crap when you can make something delicious.”

“Yeah, you should see me in the bedroom.” She felt her eyes bug out. She slammed her mouth closed, unable to believe what she’d said. She stormed through the hallway and out the door, followed by Ben’s laughter—and almost tripped over a basket. She leaned back, holding the door open, and hollered, “I think Willow left you muffins. There’s a basket on your porch.”

“Way to go, Willow,” he said as he strode down the hall. “Let’s see the goods.”

She realized she was staring at his bare chest again and snapped, “I’m taking the biggest muffin,” as if it was his fault he had great pecs and abs she wanted to lick, and bite, and—

Down, girl.

He cocked a grin and said, “Take as many as you’d like, but you’ll pay for them later.”

In my dreams.

***

CALL HER MINE

Ben Dalton has always been honest, except where his heart is concerned. He’s been in love with his best friend—saucy, smart-mouthed Aurelia Stark—forever. But Ben’s a planner, and timing has never been on his side. When he finally decides to make his move, Aurelia beats him to the punch with a move of her own—to a different town.

Aurelia loves her new life in the charming town of Harmony Pointe. She has a great apartment and her very own bookstore, and best of all, the sinfully hot, commitment-phobic friend she’s crushed on for years is no longer just around the corner. Maybe she’ll finally be able to leave her unrequited love behind and move on.

But when a baby is left on Ben’s front porch—a baby that is presumably his—Aurelia is there for him. Neither one knows the first thing about babies, but how hard can it be? Ben and Aurelia are catapulted into a world of love, laughter, and tracking down the baby mama, and it might even add up to a very happily ever after… just not one either of them expects.



Author Biography

Melissa Foster is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of more than eighty books, including The Real Thing and Only for You (from her Sugar Lake series). Melissa and her books have been featured in USA TodayHagerstown magazine, The Patriot, and more. Her novel River of Love has been optioned for film by Passionflix. Melissa also writes sweet romance under the name Addison Cole. When Melissa isn’t writing up a storm, she’s living her own happily ever after with her husband and a gaggle of grown children. For more news, information about her books, and to chat with her, visit Melissa at www.MelissaFoster.com.


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Thursday, August 15, 2019

The Best Friend Problem


The night after crossing a line in their friendship Pru wakes up to grapple with the fact that not only did she have sex with her best friend last night, but it was the most amazing sex of her life.
***Excerpt***
What did this all mean? Her heart raced, panic gripping her. She didn’t regret last night. Not one single second of it, but she had no idea what to do now.
She’d never had a one-night stand. Which was kind of what they’d agreed this was, right? Sating a curiosity. Scratching an itch. It wasn’t like either of them planned to turn their friendship into a relationship. So where did that leave them this morning?
Did one-time sex only count at night or was it like a twenty-four-hour kind of deal? Did she stay and have breakfast? Run out claiming an important work meeting?
You can’t say that, dummy; he knows you.
That was the problem. They knew each other so well. She usually knew what to do when she crashed over at Finn’s place after a night of trivia or a movie marathon. They’d hit up Dozens for Novo coffee and a plate of Here’s Your Aspen scrambled eggs, then walk down 16th Street Mall and people watch. But she’d always kept her clothes on those nights and slept on the couch, not in bed with him.
Could she sit across a busy breakfast diner chatting away with him now that she knew when he blew on his hot coffee, it was with the exact same gentle breath that rose goose bumps on her naked flesh just last night?
“Morning.” His voice rumbled in her ear as he nudged the tip of his nose along her temple, leaving a soft kiss on her cheek. “Sleep okay?”
She turned to face him. Oh crap, it hadn’t just been the booze. He was even sexier this morning than he’d been last night. Couldn’t he have horrifying bed head or something? A small flaw for her to make fun of to get this strange panic out of her chest?
“Yup. You?”
The left side of his lips curled up in a grin. “Best sleep I’ve had in a long time.”
Her too, oddly enough. She supposed good sex did that to a person. No. Not good sex—phenomenal sex.
“Sooooo, this is good. Fine. Totally cool,” she said.
His smile faltered.
“I mean it’s, you know, not weird.”
“Okay.”
She pushed her hair away from her face, fingers tugging on the strands. “’Cause we were wondering if it was going to be weird and, you know. It’s not.”
He raised one eyebrow. “Sure.”
“Totally not weird.” Tug.
The second eyebrow joined the first. “Right.”
“Not weird at all.” Tug, tug, tug.
He snorted. “Yeah, I’d be more convinced if you weren’t commenting on how not weird it is. That’s weird, Pru. And you’re tugging on your hair.”
Crap. The problem with sleeping with someone who knew you so well was you couldn’t hide anything from them. Like an encroaching panic attack from the fact that she slept with her best friend.
“How’s that freak-out going in there?” He reached out to poke at her forehead.
She swatted his finger away, scowling. “It’s going just fine, thank you.”
“Gonna run out on me or wanna grab breakfast?”
And there it was. He was offering her their agreement. One night of exploration and then everything back to normal. A wave of relief crashed over her.
They hadn’t ruined anything. She didn’t need to figure out what this meant or what she should do next. They were just Finn and Pru. Best buds, grabbing breakfast after a sleepover. Different from their usual sleepovers—naughtier, oh so naughtier. But he wasn’t kicking her out or asking for more.
They were good.
They were them.
“If you think I’m running anywhere before I get some coffee and food in me, you’re a bonehead.”
“I’ve been called worse.”
She laughed, starting to rise, but then the sheets slid against her skin, the sensual action reminding her of her lack of clothing. “Um, could you…?”
His eyes widened. “Seriously?”
“Yes, you perv! Close your eyes.”
“Pru, I’ve seen it all. Seen it, touched it, tasted it—”
She smashed a hand over his mouth to stop the outrageous words from escaping. Her cheeks burned, knowing everything he said was true, but unable to tamp down the embarrassment of it all in the light of day. Her best friend now had intimate knowledge of her. It was… Okay fine, it was freakin’ weird.

THE BEST FRIEND PROBLEM

Prudence Carlson has been lucky in life. A fulfilling wedding-planning business run with her girlfriends in Colorado, plus the best guy friend ever in her firefighter bestie Finn. All that’s missing from it is a baby. Luckily, it’s the twenty-first century—Pru can take matters into her own hands. She doesn’t need to find true love to create the future love of her life.
Except all this talk of babies and insemination and...Pru and Finn cross a line they never expected to. Sure, one night of passion won’t change their close friendship. Until Pru goes in for a fertility check-up to find… she’s already pregnant.

As best friends, Pru and Finn have survived college, new jobs, and bad breakups, but can they survive crib shopping, birth classes, and late-night cravings? Especially when Finn has never considered himself even remotely Daddy material?


Tuesday, August 13, 2019

RULES OF A REBOUND


Giveaway Alert!

RULES OF AREBOUND (release date August 12th) is the second, standalone title in the Breakup Bash series. Natalie Winters is ready to move past the ending of her failed marriage. She attends a party with her friends, looking for a night of fun. Rome Collier, the sexy bartender at the party, catches her eye. Her attempt to land him without a wingwoman doesn’t quite go as planned.

Enjoy this RULES OF A REBOUND excerpt!

Heat flamed in her cheeks. “Oops. That was an accident.” She’d just meant to take out cash to pay for her drink.
But the amusement in Rome’s golden-brown eyes expressed exactly what he thought. Yeah, right, the condoms just magically flew out of your purse. 
More heat surged into Natalie’s face. But they really had. Determined to salvage some of her pride in failing the flirting game, she made a grab for the condoms, but he did, too. As he slid them from the counter, his fingers brushed hers. A rush like the kind that came from heady, high-proof alcohol almost threw her off-balance.
“Uh-uh.” He grinned, and a slight dimple sunk in below a semi-circle shaped scar on his right cheek. “I’m not giving these up. They’re the best tip I’ve gotten all night.”
“They’re my property.”
“Looks like they’re mine now.”
Mine. His husky possessive tone conjured up images of him pinning her up against the wall as he made good use of one of the “Do Me” condoms, doing her.
“Excuse me,” a woman farther down called out. “Can we get some service? The show’s about to start.”
Rome’s attention remained on Natalie. “Hold on. I’ll be back.”
She held out the money. “But I need to pay.”
“You will.” Rome’s mouth lifted with a faint lopsided smile before he turned away.
His self-assuredness made Natalie’s heart flutter. She was all into compensating for whatever transgressions he accused her of. Was it wrong for her to strip off her clothes, lay on the bar, and give herself to him as payment? Yeah, it was definitely inappropriate, no matter how much the thought of doing it turned her on.
The woman Rome served at the bar smiled coyly up at him and brushed her fingers over his forearm.
As his deep chuckle floated over the woman’s laughter, Natalie suppressed an eye roll. And a tinge of envy. Obviously, she wasn’t the only one willing to be his sexual sacrifice. So what? Like she cared if some bottle-blonde flirted with him. Technically, she’d caught his attention first. Yes, things had gotten a little messy in the process, but she’d still landed him. Experiment over. Time to go. Cori and Alexa were probably wondering where she’d run off to.
As she went to put her money down and leave, Rome opened a mini fridge and grabbed a bottle of champagne. He stripped off the foil covering, deftly loosened the wire cage, then draped a towel over the bottle. As he pointed it away from the crowd, he twisted the bottom of it, and a muffled pop reverberated. Rome glanced over at her and winked.
Seriously. Did he think opening that bottle would impress her? But as much as she tried, she couldn’t stop a laugh or tear her gaze away from him as he served champagne to customers at the bar.
Natalie put her purse on the counter. Staying until he came back to her was purely about principle. No way in hell was she leaving her party favors behind so he could use them on some other woman later on. He had her “Do Me” condoms, and she wanted them back.
Minutes later, Rome returned to her with a cocktail glass filled with ice, amber liquid, and topped with a maraschino cherry. He set it in front of her.
“Sorry. I’m all out of condoms to pay for my drinks.”
He nudged the glass closer. “This one’s on the house. Try it. I think you’ll like it.”
She would, huh? No one read her that easily, but he had made the effort. Natalie took a drink, and the bite of alcohol mingled nicely with a hint of sweet. “Not bad. What’s it called?”
“A Do Me Slowly.”
The low tone of his voice made her tingle. “If this is some kind of ploy to change my mind about getting my condoms back, it won’t work. I have plans for using them.”
Lust sparked in Rome’s eyes, mesmerizing her to the point where she failed to realize his mouth was suddenly just inches away.
“So, you still think they’re yours?” As he leaned in farther, his hair-roughened cheek brushed hers, and her knees grew weak. “That’s definitely something we need to talk about.”



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Monday, August 12, 2019

I love tropes...


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



I love tropes… They come, they go, but there are a few it seems that are timeless. Writing a Brazen category romance was something I’ve always had in my writer’s bucket-list. One of the biggest differences in writing a category romance compared to a single-title book was adjusting the pacing of the story. Here’s an excerpt of the latest, hottest, Nanny Romance to hit the market…

The Nanny Rules
Amelia

“Who the hell are you?”
I startle at the demand and spin around to find a man standing in the kitchen wearing nothing but a pair of low-riding gym shorts and a surprised scowl. The glass of orange juice slips from my hand and shatters on the floor. Words fail me as I stand there in my pajamas, braless in a tank top and turtle-patterned shorts. This is not how I envisioned meeting my new boss. “I’m your—”
“Daddy?” The shrill squeal and patter of tiny feet cuts off my feeble explanation.
“—nanny,” I finish, not sure if he hears me. But then his gaze cuts from Lily back to me. Yep, he heard.
Muttering a curse under his breath, he steps through the juice, navigating the broken glass, and swoops up his daughter as she races around the island. “Lily pad.” As soon as he catches sight of his little girl, a dimple-flashing grin of genuine joy lights his face, and he places a lip-smacking kiss on her cheek.
My biological clock ticks to the cadence of my quickened pulse. The heat pooling low in my belly is an unwelcome sensation.
 “I didn’t hire a nanny,” he says over Lily’s squealing laughter as he pretends to munch on the side of her neck.
“No, your sister did,” I tell him tartly, unsure which is more annoying, his dismissive tone or by my reaction to watching him play with his daughter. “I wasn’t expecting you back until this afternoon.”
Brody shifts Lily into one arm and props her on his hip. The action nudges those low-riding shorts a skosh lower. My breath catches as I anticipate gravity doing its thing, unsure if I should warn him, but then he pins me with a scowl.
“Obviously.” His tone is ripe with disapproval as he drags those vibrant sapphire eyes over me in a slow, head-to-toe perusal, taking in my scant attire, and his brows tighten. “I caught an early flight home.”
My skin heats everywhere his gaze touches. And to my displeasure, my body tingles in response to his dispassionate stare. This is embarrassing. No, it’s beyond embarrassing—this is humiliating. My reprieve comes when Lily’s little hands clap her father’s cheeks, and she turns his head toward her, commanding his attention.
“I missed you, Daddy.”
“Well, that’s good. Because I missed you, too.” He gives her a quick kiss on the tip of her pixie nose, eliciting another giggle, then turns toward the kitchen table.
“I’m sorry for your loss.” My condolences roll off my tongue before I can call them back, and his broad shoulders briefly tense. He sets Lily on the chair with instructions to finish her breakfast, then turns and walks out of the kitchen. And there I am, left standing barefoot amidst a pool of orange juice and broken glass. Well, shit.
Sighing, I grab a dishtowel off the counter and stoop to collect the broken glass when Brody returns. The only addition he’s made to his apparel is running shoes. Saying nothing, he grips my waist and effortlessly plucks me out of the mess, plopping me onto the counter.
“I can do that,” I offer from my perch as he opens the pantry door and retrieves a broom and dustpan. Ignoring me, he proceeds to sweep up the wet, glassy mess, the muscles in his broad shoulders rolling and flexing as he focuses on his task.
“I’ve got it,” he grumbles, making his way toward me. There’s a brief pause before he speaks again. “Look, lady, I don’t want to sound like a dick here, but I don’t know you. I get that Julia was trying to help when she hired you, but I don’t think this is a good idea. Lily’s in a vulnerable place right now and—”
Lady? Did he just lady me? Crossing my arms over my chest, I raise a challenging brow. “Look at my resume before you decide you don’t want to hire me,” I cut in.
He pauses in the cleanup and shoots me a look that says he’s not used to being interrupted or anyone second-guessing his decisions. Who does he think has been taking care of Lily for the last week while he was at training camp? Who’s been drying her tears when she cries for her mother and asks why she isn’t coming home, because she’s not old enough to comprehend the finality of death. I’m not leaving Lily. Not without a fight…

Giveaway:
Thank you for joining me today on Just Contemporary Romance and helping me celebrate my new release of The Nanny Rules with a $5 Amazon giftcard giveaway!

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