The guy on the train is just Marcia’s type. A face like an angel, a scent like raw honey, treats her like he has a white horse and suit of armor stowed in his messenger bag. Perfect.
Too perfect. No guy like that would be interested in prim, awkward Marcia, notorious goody-goody and a twentysomething still clutching her v-card. She’s been following rules her whole life—but somewhere, the game changed. And left her behind.
So when she meets Damien, with his rumbling motorbike, gleaming piercings, and wicked imagination, she doesn’t care that he’s the exact opposite of “her type.” Her type would never dare her into such shocking, fiendishly inventive adventures—and she can’t wait to say yes.
Yes to whiskey in the middle of a workday. Yes to letting her hands roam over his body from the back of his bike. Yes to a fling full of wild abandon and absolutely no long-term potential. Except Damien’s not just the straightforward bad boy she imagined. And as they burn through Chicago’s nights, Marcia can’t shake the fear that this happiness is just another fairy tale…
“Shit! Aw, fuck it all. I’m sorry, lady. Here, let me help you.”
Hands scrabbled at my elbow, and I beat them off. “Just… stop!” Stupidly I was crying again. Shit. Could this day get any worse?
“Aw, motherfucker—you’re crying. You’re hurt. Where are you hurt, lady? Should I call an ambulance? I’ll call 911 and—”
“No!” I got a hold of myself and said it more calmly. “No, I’m fine. That is, I was crying already and… I’m just having a really shitty day.”
Something about the guy’s potty mouth had clearly infected me, that I’d say that to a stranger.
“Topped off with me knocking you over.” He cocked a thin dark eyebrow at me. One pierced with a thick bar. Head shorn on one side, showing a curling tattoo, and a fall of black hair fringed down his pale cheek on the other. Six—no, seven—rings in the ear on the shorn side, and two more coiled through one side of his lower lip that gave the odd impression of vampire fangs. His eyes, though, amid all that black and white, his eyes were a startling bright aqua—like those photos of the Caribbean—emphasized by a ring of deep gray-blue. They narrowed quizzically. “Help you up then?”
I frowned, mostly for me being a dazed idiot. “Did you call me lady?”
He popped an easy grin, perfect teeth gleaming. “Sorry—thought you were older at first. Dunno why. No offense or anything.”
“Great,” I muttered, scrambling to my knees and then my feet, ignoring his helping hand. I skidded a little on the slick tile and he caught me by the elbow. “Stupid boots.” I would never wear them again.
“They’re fucking hot though,” the guy said.
I was spared an answer by a woman handing him one of his dropped packages that had spun away. Though…hot, huh? No one ever called me hot. Maybe I would wear them again. I checked my shoulder bag, making sure my phone and tablet were present and not shattered. He finished collecting a rather impressive array of packages, stacking them again.
“They do offer bags,” I pointed out.
“Yeah, but bad for the environment. I always feel guilty, and ’sides, I can carry them fine. Except when hot women in blue leather boots knock me over.”
“Hey—you knocked me over. And you thought I was an old lady.”
He grinned easily, holding the stack in one hand. “Not old, just matronly, maybe. And you weren’t watching where you were going. I tried to dodge you.”
Great. I’d become matronly. Went well with spinster, at least. “I apologize then.” I sounded stiff enough to be all those things.
“Nah, it was my fault. I saw you coming—head down and charging ahead like a little French horse. I should have dodged quicker. Buy you lunch to make it up?”
A little French horse? Lunch? I glanced at my phone. “I just ate, and I have to get back to work.”
“Do you?” He dipped his chin, giving me a look I couldn’t interpret. “Do you really?”
“Um. Yes.” I spoke slowly. “That’s what grownup people with jobs do.”
He held up his one-handed pile of packages, balancing them like a juggler. “I’m a grownup with a job. Well, several. Enough to keep me from being homeless. Doesn’t mean I can’t pop off and buy a whiskey for a pretty girl to make up for knocking her on her arse.”
“Are you a Brit?”
He winked. “Can’t get anything past you, luv. What do you say?”
“A. Whis. Key,” he repeated slowly, just like I had. “You already ate, so let’s go grab a drinky. Take the sting out.”
“I have to go back to work.”
“So go later. It won’t take that long.”
“I can’t go to work drunk.”
He snickered. “One whiskey will hardly make you drunk.”
Well, it might, since I never drank. And I nearly told him so, but the words sounded insufferably prim and stuffy before I even spoke them. He’d thought I was some matronly woman at the food court. One who’d been sniffling over her salad and the fact that her mommy had a boyfriend. I was sick of myself.
And the idea of going back to my desk filled me with a sudden, deep loathing.
“Hey, it’s the holidays.” He waved a free hand at the decorations. “We’re supposed to live it up a little.”
“It’s not even Thanksgiving,” I replied automatically, then winced at myself.
“Looks like a party to me.” His grin widened the spacing of the hoops in his lip and added a bit of a wrinkle to his nose, a mischievous gleam in his eye. “Desks are boring.”
Just like me. Fine. Enough already.
“Okay,” I said. “Where?”
“Pub on the corner?”
I had no idea there was one. “Lead the way.”
“All right-y-oh.” He crooked an elbow for me, raised a brow when I stared at it. “Gotta keep you on your feet.”
“I’m not that bad.” But I took his arm, feeling more than a little wild. The music had switched to “Santa, Baby,” and it made me feel kind of sexy, even. I could work late to make up for the long lunch break. Again. Since I missed out on all the conversations at home anyway. It felt pretty nice to glide down the escalator holding onto a guy’s arm. A woman riding up the other way gave him the side eye, and then me, and that perversely pleased me, too. Not your usual Marcia.
About the Author & Links:
Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. Her essays have appeared in many publications, including Redbook.
Her most recent works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, and an erotic contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera. A fourth series, the fantasy trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms, hit the shelves starting in May 2014 and book 1, The Mark of the Tala, received a starred Library Journal review and has been nominated for the RT Book of the Year while the sequel, The Tears of the Rose, has been nominated for best fantasy romance of the year. A fifth series, the highly anticipated erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, released starting with Going Under, followed by Under His Touch and Under Contract.
She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.
Jeffe can be found online at her website: JeffeKennedy.com, every Sunday at the popular Word Whores blog, on Facebook, and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy. She is represented by Connor Goldsmith of Fuse Literary.