Authors: Tammi Labrecque
c 2015 Tammi Labrecque
CaroBella Publishing June 2015
Cover, title design, and interior design by Larks & Katydids
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All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, in any form, by any means electronic or mechanical, including but not limited to photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system currently in use or yet to be devised.
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual people, places, institutions, TV shows, or infernal creatures is entirely coincidental.
Books by Tammi Labrecque
(Links are to the Amazon US store. For international versions, search the appropriate Amazon store.)
Paranormal Chick Lit:
(The Cambion Trilogy Book 1)
(The Cambion Trilogy Book 2)
Note from the Publisher
During the promotional period for
One Hell of a Guy
’s release, we are also including, for a limited time, sneak peeks of
For Better, For Worse
, Tammi Labrecque’s two best-selling romances. You will find them after the conclusion of this book (at about the 90% mark in your Kindle edition). We hope you enjoy them, and want to read more!
One Hell of a Guy
will be free or $0.99 for the entire week after release, and
(normally $4.99) will be only $2.99. So be sure to grab all of these quirky romances!
For Myra Scott,
who came up with most of the best ideas for this story.
Any half-baked ideas are probably mine.
And for Jenny, who keeps writing my funniest lines.
Neither one of you is getting any royalties, though.
IT WAS THE voice that got her attention. Rich and deep, unbelievably compelling. It was unmistakably female but no less intoxicating, even to straight-as-an-arrow Lily. She’d never had occasion to use the word “throaty” in conversation — and, God willing, she never would — but if anyone had asked her to describe the voice, she would have been forced to use it then.
She had to have a look at the kind of woman who sounded like that, which was why she was currently peeking around a display of insanely expensive hand cream, trying not to make a sound and — more importantly — not to knock any of the pricey jars onto the hard Mexican ceramic tiled floor.
was the sort of high-end boutique store where the Rich and Beautiful people shopped. Lily, barely getting by and decidedly average-looking, wouldn’t even have been there if she’d been buying something for herself; she didn’t make the kind of money required to be a
patron. But she wanted to get a bridal shower gift for her coworker Brit that would impress everyone at the office without driving her to bankruptcy, and Miri insisted this was
perfect place, and there was a large clearance section.
Large clearance section
had turned out to be a bit of an exaggeration. If hyperbole were an Olympic event, Miri would gold-medal every year. Lily, on the other hand, couldn’t even tell someone their ugly baby was cute without breaking out in a cold sweat. But, exaggeration or not, there were at least a few things in her price range. Lily was trying to decide between a sweet-but-slutty peignoir set and a pair of exquisite hand-blown champagne flutes when she first heard the woman speak: “I’ll just take them all. I hate making decisions, don’t you?”
So there they were, Lily craning her neck to see around the hand cream and Miri pressed up close behind her, watching the woman take off a cranberry-colored stiletto and hand it to the attentive saleswoman.
“Wow,” Miri breathed. “Get a load, huh?”
Wow, indeed. The woman was absolutely stunning: slender but well-endowed and clad in a skin-tight leather miniskirt and paper-thin white silk blouse that clung to and showcased every robust curve. Her hair was the kind of white-blonde that didn’t come in a bottle and she wore it loose and waist-length, allowing it to wave and curve against her face, shoulders, and arms. Even seated it was obvious she was easily six feet tall. Her eyes were almost on the same level with the petite Asian saleswoman, who was her absolute opposite, short and reed-slender with a silky black bob.
The blonde was older than Lily — she could have been anywhere from forty to a very well-maintained fifty or so — and carried herself with the kind of poise and confidence Lily didn’t even bother to covet, it was so far beyond her.
“Some girls have all the luck,” Miri whispered, and Lily nodded slightly.
“They sure do,” she whispered back, eyeing the woman as she pulled on a pair of knee-high leather boots — they were in great shape but not new, so probably what she had worn into the store — and stood, towering over the Asian girl. Shoes and empty shoeboxes littered the floor at her feet. Lily did a quick count: six pairs.
“Can you just have them sent to my house?” the woman asked, gesturing at the pile. Lily wished she could have them sent to her house instead, particularly those hot cranberry stilettos. Some days life just seemed so
. She wasn’t poor, exactly, and neither was Miri. They lived in one of the most expensive places in the world, though, and neither of them had ever walked out of a store — not even a discount store, let alone a place like this — with a half-dozen new pairs of shoes.
And Lily knew she sure as hell didn’t look like
in a miniskirt.
“Where do I sign up?” Miri whispered. Lily turned to look at her over her shoulder and found her grinning, but she had an odd gleam in her eye as well. Literally a gleam; a weird, faint light swirled into her eyes and then out again, almost too fast for Lily to see. But that was ridiculous. Trick of the incredibly posh boutique lighting, no doubt.
“To be her, or to be
her?” Lily asked, snickering. “You look like you might go jump her bones any second.”
Miri shook her head a little as if to clear it, then squinted at the woman. “I don’t swing that way.”
“Apparently the salesgirl does,” Lily said, pointing with her chin at the scene in front of them. The blonde had a hand on the salesgirl’s shoulder, making a motion that wasn’t quite a massage but wasn’t a casual touch either. The salesgirl was staring up at her adoringly, nodding at whatever the woman was now saying, though her voice had dropped so Lily could no longer make out her words.
The blonde gave the salesgirl’s shoulder a final squeeze and sailed out the door. The salesgirl stood quietly for a moment, then shook her head much like Miri had a few moments before. After a moment, she crouched down to begin slowly boxing up the shoes — so slowly, in fact, Lily wondered if there was something wrong with her.
Lily tilted her head and elbowed Miri. “Does she look high to you?”
Miri considered, shrugged. “A little floaty, maybe. Weird question.”
“Well, it’s the oddest thing, but … I don’t think that woman paid.”
Miri shrugged again. “I doubt she drugged the help. Probably has an account or something. Once you get to a certain point, you have so much money you don’t even have to carry any money.”
“Yeah, but she didn’t give her a credit card or anything.” Thinking about credit cards gave Lily a little pang of guilt. She was pretty sure her own credit cards would have wept openly if she’d tried to use them to purchase anything. In fact, she was so close to maxed out on the worst of them that she wasn’t sure the automatic payment that would soon be coming out of her also-weepy bank account would be enough to keep her from going over the limit. She needed to learn some self-control. Or win the lottery.
She made a mental note to stop and pick up a lottery ticket on the way home.
“If you get rich enough, you don’t even bring your card,” Miri said.
“Where do I sign up for
?” Lily asked, and giggled. “What do you suppose it takes to get to that point? Because I’d very much like to be rich as well as hot.”
“Deal with the devil?” Miri suggested.
“Hard work and sacrifice certainly don’t seem to be doing it.” Lily frowned and put the peignoir set back on the rack. She really didn’t know Brit well enough to be buying her lingerie, and the champagne flutes were unbelievably beautiful — not to mention a little cheaper. “I bust my ass at work and I haven’t had a slice of pizza in weeks, but I’m still just regular old under-employed, overweight me.”
“Overweight?” Miri scoffed. “By what, five pounds?”
“More like twenty,” Lily said. “And now I want pizza. Great.”
“What do you say we pay for this crap — you know, with our regular old plebeian debit cards — and get out of here?” Miri suggested. “Finnegan’s has pizza rolls for Tuesday happy hour. I’ll smack your hands away if you have more than three.”
That was Miri in a nutshell. She’d never have suggested forgoing pizza rolls — or any good thing — but she was so sensible about it.
Moderation in all things
was her motto, and Lily knew she meant it, too. For Miri, it was all about willpower.
, Lily thought,
if I had the willpower to stop at three pizza rolls, I wouldn’t need to worry about stopping at three pizza rolls.
Still… pizza rolls.
“It’s a deal,” she said.
After Finnegan’s — where Lily had a fourth pizza roll, and Miri did indeed smack her hand for it — Miri suggested Club Domino. They had a single drink there, but it was full of older guys on the prowl. Like, really old. The third hand Lily had to remove from her ass belonged to a leathery old guy with enough mileage on him to be her grandfather.
They hit the sidewalk ready for something new, something fun — and found it in the form of a flyer tacked to a telephone pole, spotlit by a nearby streetlamp. It was a garish red, with glossy black lettering slashed across the front spelling out one word:
The fine print informed them it was a brand-new club and it was only four blocks north.
“Hey,” Lily said. “I’m doing a photoshoot there tomorrow.”
Her job with NYC Monthly wasn’t glamorous — the magazine positioned itself as hip and happening but it was too new to have any real cachet yet — but she did get some cool assignments. For the last six months, she had been shooting a series on hot new clubs. If memory served, Abaddon had been open for about six weeks — and this would be an excellent chance to scope it out before the formal shoot.
“That’s a weird thing to name a club,” Miri said. “Isn’t that the hot chick from