With: Traci Douglass
Congratulations to "Elizabeth H.", the winner in Traci's giveaway. Please contact JUST CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE to claim your prize!
Originally in Worth The Wait, I had Mandy take Alex to a performance art show put on by a friend of hers from high school, named KoZ, in an old abandoned warehouse on the edge of town. Booze, bad decisions, and bawdy fun was had by all. LOL. Unfortunately, this scene/storyline ended up being cut from the final book, but it was still one of my favorites to write. Enjoy!
Deleted Scene – KoZ Show:
They walked up to the front of a dilapidated, graffiti-covered building near the train tracks on the other side of Heavenly Falls and Alex double-checked the address on the tickets.
He thought an art show meant a gallery and fancy-schmancy hors d’oeuvres and champagne. Not Rave-O-Rama. He whispered in Mandy’s ear, “Are you sure this is the right place?”
She tugged him forward, bypassing the noisy line and heading straight for the beefy bouncer near the door. Alex kept an eye on the surrounding patrons, shuffling his feet and frowning until she returned.
“C’mon. We get VIP treatment because I know the artist.” She pulled him inside.
Alex squinted in the near total darkness. He’d expected rough, industrial and sparse. Never in a billion years had he imagined this train wreck. This was something straight out of a post-apocalyptic thriller, all Mad Max wasteland and thrash-punk skank.
As they moved deeper into the massive structure and his eyes adjusted to the neon-enhanced gloom, his outlook on the venue only worsened. From the scarred concrete floor to the bird-poop encrusted walls, the place shrieked dump.
“There’s Kay,” Mandy said. They walked across a makeshift dance floor, complete tacky disco ball strung up with rusted chain. On the walls were what looked like huge bedsheets covered in weird abstract designs. He squinted more closely as they passed.
Is that a butt print?
“Kay?” Alex shouted above the chest-pounding baseline of the electronic house music.
“Short for KoZ. Get it? Chaos.”
The word described both the decrepit warehouse and his thoughts about all this.
The word described both the decrepit warehouse and his thoughts about all this.
Before them stood a humongous hippie dude with a rainbow-hued afro, Jesus sandals and a torn white tank top. In the room behind the guy, half naked people soaked in paint hurled themselves at huge canvases strung from the ceiling or draped on the floor.
Guess that explains the butt prints.
“K!” Mandy gave the guy a big hug. “The new show looks great.”
“Thanks.” KoZ grinned. “We’re living the dream, eh?”
“We are.” Mandy took Alex’s hand as a live band kicked into gear from near the dance floor, and shouts erupted from the revelers. The screech of electric guitars and angst-ridden lyrics filled the air.
“Doing okay?” she whispered. “It’s quieter in the next room, if you want to go in there.”
“Where they’re making the art?” Alex swallowed hard. “I don’t know…”
He scanned the area again. Part of him wanted to get the heck out of Dodge ASAP. But then he looked down into Mandy’s blue eyes, her hand warming his, sweet smile driving away his inner demons and for the first time in a long time, he wanted to try. He nodded. “Okay.”
“Okay.” Mandy toed off her sneakers. “Let’s do it.”
Let’s do it.
Alex tossed his loafers on the pile beside Mandy’s then followed her into the next room. Open cans of paint in a rainbow of neon hues surrounded them. Mandy snagged two test-tube-shaped shots from a passing server and handed one to Alex.
Someone bumped him from behind and shoved him closer to Mandy and her soft curves brushed against him, sending his already-simmering need into full boil. Closing his eyes and praying for the best, Alex chugged his drink then coughed slightly from the burn in his throat. “What was in that?”
“Not sure.” She gave a quick full-body shudder. “Rum maybe. Or vodka. Definitely some fruit juice.” Next thing he knew, she hoisted her top over her head. Her jeans soon followed, leaving Mandy in nothing but a few scraps of lace that she seemed to think passed for underwear.
Alex stared, his vision wavering. His skin tingled and his ears buzzed, and a newfound admiration for KoZ blossomed.
Mandy fully clothed was a force to be reckoned with, all sweet curves and sexy smiles.
Seeing her nearly naked was downright lethal.
She scooped up paint on a brush and covered her exposed limbs with strokes of different colors. “This stuff is cold and kind of slimy, like mushy paste.”
In a daze, Alex peeled off his sweater and jeans.
Mandy waved a paintbrush in front of him. “Hold still while I put some of this on you. Then you can do me.”
You can do me…
He stood in his boxer briefs while she painted a design on his back with cold, wet paint. Her strokes dipped lower, slicking over his cotton-covered butt and she laughed. “Perfect. Now it’s your turn.”
Alcohol buzzed alongside the adrenaline in his system and Alex’s senses clicked to high alert. He swirled the paintbrush across Mandy’s spine, her flowery scent intoxicating.
Once he was done, they found a secluded corner behind several other canvases and the world reduced to only the now.
This woman, this moment, this night.
They each rolled off toward opposite ends of the long canvas before tumbling toward the center again, colliding in a mass of limbs in the middle of their questionable masterpiece. The rough white cotton scuffed his bare skin and brought their near nakedness to the forefront.
Before he second-guessed his actions, Alex closed the gap between them and kissed her. When she finally pulled back, Mandy placed her hand over his heart and smiled. “Your pulse is going a mile a minute.”
“Oh, yeah.” She pulled him down for another kiss, deeper this time, wrapping her legs around his waist to keep him close. Her fingers tangled in his hair and his muscles quivered beneath her touch. He kissed his way down her neck to her collarbone and she traced her hand along the top of his boxer briefs.
With his last ounce of willpower, Alex leaned back and cupped Mandy’s cheeks. “Want to go home?”
Her smiled widened. “Yes.”
They stood and he handed Mandy her clothes before turning away to pull on his own.
Mandy leaned against him for balance. “Don’t forget our shoes. I’m not leaving here without my Chuck Taylors.”
After sorting through what felt like a million pairs, he located her pink high tops and his loafers from the ever-growing pile by the door. They both jammed their feet into their shoes then Alex held the nearest exit door open with his shoulder while Mandy stumbled after him.
Whatever concoction had been in those special drinks seemed to be hitting them both hard now. Pineapple and peach schnapps coated Alex’s tongue and the air around him seemed hazy.
“Lemme order our Uber.” Mandy fumbled in her pocket for her phone and he held her arm to keep her upright. After a few tries, she got her passcode correct and brought up the app. After ordering their ride, she tried to shove her phone in her pocket and missed, dropping it on the ground. Mandy bent to pick it up and swayed precariously. Alex pulled her close once more to keep them both steady.
“Wait til were alone,” she said, her words slurred as she climbed into the backseat once their car arrived. “I’m gonna put all kinda kinks in your cord.”
“Yeah?” He snorted as he slid in beside her. “Sounds painful.”
“Hurts so good, baby.”
By the time they reached Concord Lane, though, Mandy was out cold.
The taxi pulled up to the curb outside the house and Alex got out then reached back inside for Mandy.
“You need help?” the driver asked.
“No. I’ve got her.” He balanced her weight on his hip and made the tricky climb up the front stoop. Dizzy, Alex blinked several times then unlocked the door before limping inside with Mandy’s dead weight in tow. There was no way either of them would make it upstairs to her room in their current conditions, so his room it was. After traversing the never-ending hallway, Alex got her stripped down to her undies then onto the bed before removing his own paint-caked clothes and climbing in beside her. He pulled the covers over both of them and switched off the bedside lamp, intending to keep to his own side, but Mandy snuggled up against him and they both fell asleep.
WORTH THE WAIT
Mandy Reynolds needs a reset on life in so many ways. Her acting career isn’t exactly where she’d hoped it to be. She can’t even get a job as a germ for a commercial. When she inherits half a house she sees it as a sign and heads home to Heavenly Falls, Illinois. She’ll sell the house, and use the money to take her career to the next level in Los Angeles. That is if she can convince her hard-headed––and stupidly gorgeous–– ex-stepbrother, Alex Noonan, to sell fast.
The last time Alex saw Mandy, she was a gangly teen, who followed him around like a sad puppy. But she’s grown into a smart and funny woman, who is as frustrating as she is beautiful. The fact that they have to live in the house––together––while they fix it up, is one temptation he doesn’t need. And while he’s having fun spending time with her, she’s moving on soon, and he needs time to heal.
Plus, she has no idea he’s got a secret that could put a monkey wrench in all of her plans...
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