Tabloid scandals have driven TV star Ryan Hertzog to North Carolina’s Outer Banks, where he’s hiding out doing summer stock at his cousin’s seaside theater. When a hookup with local handyman Trey Donovan results in Ryan being photographed butt naked, he vows to keep his pants on and his hands off Trey. How was he supposed to know Trey would turn out to be the summer stock set builder?
Trey isn’t looking for a relationship; he’s still recovering from the emotional fallout of an abusive marriage. But Ryan’s laughter draws him in again and again, and he’s not about to say no to fooling around.
As the summer heats up, the paparazzi catch Ryan in increasingly compromising situations. Ryan might be too much drama for a summer fling—and Trey might be just an intermission from Ryan’s Hollywood life. But if they take their cues from Shakespeare, all’s well that ends well.
Ryan woke in a strange bed with a splitting headache and a stale mouth.
Shit. What happened? He had a vague memory of a brawny townie smiling at him over a margarita laced with jalapeño peppers, and then later—how many drinks later?—spicy-hot kisses and a low chuckle and a pool of want in his gut. A promising beginning—too bad he couldn’t remember what had come next. He rolled onto his back and flinched as his muscles protested the movement.
A glance to his left granted him a peek at his hookup from the night before. Soft golden stubble on a square jaw. A cauliflower ear. Ryan blinked—had he gone to bed with a boxer? Then his eyes traced the high, chiseled cheekbones, ruddy from sunshine. They flanked a nose that could charitably be called distinctive, and soft, full lips twitched around a snore.
For about half a second, Ryan looked at those lips, remembered jalapeños, and thought about waking the guy up for another round—one he’d be sober enough to remember. Then it hit him like a freight train.
He was in North Carolina. Not to shoot a TV show or a movie or anything real. No, his ass had been banished to this backwater in disgrace. To do summer stock.
So what if he’d gone willingly? If he’d asked—begged—his cousin Caro to get him a job like they were teenagers again and he was too shy to ask the manager of the Piggly Wiggly if they needed weekend baggers?
He wouldn’t have had to ask if there hadn’t been an ultimatum.
“Stay out of the tabloids or find another agent. You’re on your third publicist in a year. I can’t get you work if I’m constantly bailing you out of trouble with the press.”
Ryan glanced down at the snoring townie. Having drunk hookups with strangers—of any sex, but particularly male strangers—might be exactly the sort of thing Mike would consider trouble. What exactly had they done the night before? Had there been drugs? The room didn’t have the stale smell he associated with regular pot smoking. He looked around. No bongs. Better still, no mirrors lying out on the horizontal surfaces. It appeared the damage from their party was confined to margaritas and that lamp they’d knocked over on the way to the bed.
But where were his clothes?
Gingerly, he eased himself out of the bed and peeked underneath it. A single white sock—not his—and a pair of filthy Converse, again not his. The dark-stained hardwood floor was clean except for the lamp, and his clothes were nowhere to be seen. He racked his brain for a memory, any memory, of their arrival at the townie’s apartment. Did the guy have roommates? If Ryan opened the door and walked into the living room, would someone see his wedding tackle hanging out?
He tried the door anyway, freezing when a muffled groan emerged from the blankets. But the townie just pulled a pillow over his head and rolled onto his stomach. Poor bastard was probably as hungover as Ryan.
Oh so slowly, Ryan eased the door open, wincing as it creaked. He was in luck. His shirt was on the floor outside the bedroom door, and when he picked it up, he discovered one of his socks, a little smelly, but no worse for wear. He pulled on the T-shirt and kept moving. He came around the corner into a bright living room dominated by a massive sectional. His attention was immediately drawn to a flat-screen that would be the envy of any home theater aficionado, but then he spied the other sock beside the couch.
No sign of roommates or family members. So far, so good. When he spotted his jeans thrown over the back of the sectional, he grabbed them, then froze again as a memory washed over him.
“Keep your hands on the back of the sofa,” in a rumbling coastal drawl.
The pants fell to the floor as he remembered the stranger’s rough hands on his body and a stubbled kiss along his spine. The recall evoked a flash of mind-bending pleasure, and he nearly moaned out loud. Clearly, they’d had a good time. But where the hell was his underwear? He dropped to his knees and peeked under the sofa. Nothing.
A quick stroll around the couch didn’t reveal their whereabouts either.
He was just about to give up and go commando, when a low snarl ripped through the air. Turning slowly, he cupped one hand protectively over his junk.
To celebrate the release of Summer Stock, one lucky winner will receive a Summer Stock swag bag! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on May 20, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!
About the Author & Links:
Author of over a dozen novels, novellas, and short stories, Vanessa North delights in giving happy-ever-afters to characters who don’t think they deserve them. Relentless curiosity led her to take up knitting and run a few marathons “just to see if she could.” She started writing for the same reason. Her very patient husband pretends not to notice when her hobbies take over the house. Living and writing in Northwest Georgia, she finds her attempts to keep a quiet home are frequently thwarted by twin boy-children and a very, very large dog.
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