On December 3, the fifth and final installment of my holiday sensual/erotic contemporary romance series is released from Rebel Ink Press - Bubbly!
Beth’s had the best of everything, and the worst of everything. From the outside, a poor little rich girl, hounded by the press, but, on the inside, bruised by dark memories. When she seeks escape from her suffocating world on New Years Eve, she accidentally gets a taste for how the other half lives. Rough-edged bartender Tig Riley offers her a whole new outlook on life in his arms and maybe even a brand new future, if only she can trust him. Can he really help her heal herself?
Here's a little taste:
There was definitely a hand on Beth Alexander’s ass.
She once believed there would come a time when she’d be successful enough, rich enough in her own right, boss enough, that men would stop doing things like that. But now she accepted that she was wrong. The only “enough” that would stop men pawing whatever they liked on you was probably “elderly enough,” but even then who knew what kind of horseplay they were up to in the retirement homes?
Beth didn’t concern herself with subtlety as she moved her sequined rear end well away from Sheffield’s tentacles. She didn’t have to move very far, since Mrs. Sheffield was standing right beside him, the dirty old bastard.
Another lesson Beth had learned: men never get tired of snagging a little pussy on the side. What she wouldn’t give to know there was one decent man left in the world. But she knew for sure that such a man wouldn’t be found in this crowd.
Feeling filthy and more than a little depressed, she pasted on the pretend smile she learned so well as her father’s little princess in the public eye and moved away from the cluster. Jeanne clucked something about her looking pale, but she shrugged off the concern.
“Just a little headache.”
She wanted these people out of her house, immediately. They grated on her more than usual. But being a good hostess had been bred into her, first by her elegant Swiss mother and then after her death by her demanding and powerful father. Being the daughter of one of the most influential and wealthy theater moguls since the 1930’s was like being a First Lady. Beth had been playing hostess at expensive gatherings since she was fourteen; dressing (and drinking) the part of a much older woman.
Now approaching thirty, she was her own hostess, ordering about a domestic staff and imported catering cadre with the help of her personal assistant, Suze, and making sure everyone talked about her New Year’s Eve bash for the next month. Inside she longed to spend New Years with just one special person, even though she knew fate had other things in store for her.
When does one become rich and famous enough to stop the networking grind? If her father was any example, never. He ran himself dry living up to the image, despite his immense income. For people in the world of entertainment finance, like in her own world of designer clothing, image was everything. You were nothing if you weren’t wining and dining your friends, allies, customers and even your enemies.
At seventeen, the tall, lanky, wayward Beth made her most shaming error, right in front of a slavering press corps who loved gathering photo evidence of the downfall of America’s decadent and well-heeled. For a year, her elopement with fading pop star Neal Bishop was the talk of New York and the whole country. The snobby little bitch daughter of some filthy-rich pig had thrown away her fledgling modeling career and the potential she had as a young singer on too much coke and booze. To top it off, she ran away with a flavor of the month one-hit-wonder rock star on the skids.
Well, they were right about the booze, and about Neal being a flash in the pan, but they were wrong about the coke. Even as a wild teen she shied away from it, recalling how her own mother had been hospitalized with burned out sinus cavities. She faked it, in order to be polite and fit in. Yet the photos of her pretending to snort it all up off shiny gold mirrors would likely never go away from the public memory.
After her disastrous five year marriage, as her trust fund dwindled away, she dragged herself out of Neal’s pit and his shadow. Now, Beth was the one with an income, and he was here as her ex-husband groveling for contacts to strengthen his new recording company.
It was some sort of sickness, this hostess-gentility that forced her to invite him every year. She loathed the sight of him, drinking her champagne, with his arm around yet another pretty, thin, young thing that could’ve been her twelve years ago. He’d aged, but his dates hadn’t.
“Lady, if looks could kill,” Beth heard a male voice remark.
She whipped her head around to look at the man standing behind the bar. He seemed to be in his mid-thirties, tall, dark, handsome, but not pampered. She almost felt like dressing him down for talking to her like that, but there was something about him that rejected the social ranking. Perhaps it was the devilish glint of good humor in his steel-gray eyes, or the up-curled corner of his mouth that suggested he sympathized with her glaring derision of all the beautiful people surrounding them. Whatever it was, she merely turned her face downward and pressed her manicured fingers to her brow. The headache she faked earlier now manifested itself, and she was embarrassed at having been caught shooting daggers at her ex-so-called-husband.
“That bad, huh?” he asked, his voice a bit more gentle than before, as if he saw the tears around her edges before she did. He reached for a bottle of wine from the ice bucket, but she stopped him.
“None for me,” she said sharply, hating and loving the look of the chilled sparkling white. When he raised an eyebrow slightly, she clucked her tongue bitterly and snapped, “Don’t tell me you’re the only man left in the world who doesn’t know I’m a recovering lush?”
“We’re all recovering from something,” he said, unconcerned with her quiet yet venomous outburst, and poured a glass of ginger ale. “Here.” Magically, he also produced a bottle of ibuprofen.
“Bless you,” she sighed, taking the bottle of pills gratefully.
“Go easy on those,” he cautioned, watching her take three with her soda. “Nothing’s as bad as all that.”
“Oh, don’t tell me. You want to snag a role on TV as an understanding barkeep, so you got a job with a catering company so you can audition the role at producers’ parties?”
He chuckled and shook his head as if to say, “Like I care what any of these jerk-offs think of me.”
“You’re not an actor?” she asked incredulously. He wasn’t pretty, but he was very appealing and Beth could picture him doing well for the cameras.
“Nope,” he said. “I tend bar. The ‘understanding’ bit is just an added bonus. A trick of the trade, perhaps.”
Beth said nothing, and scanned the crowd. It wouldn’t do for any of the entourage clingers to snap a picture of her standing too long at the open bar with their phone. Pictures of celebrities falling off their various wagons always went for prime prices these days.
“No one’s watching,” he tempted her. “I think you could sneak off.”
“What?” Her eyes widened, and she realized how wonderful that sounded. “It’s my party.”
“It’s your party and you can hide if you want to?” he joked.
She didn’t respond right away. She watched the tiny columns of golden bubbles fight their way to the surface of her soft drink. He made it sound so easy. Was it that easy for people who weren’t raised to be elite in some old-fashioned, capitalist sense?
“I won’t tell,” he said with a smile and snagged his little white apron off. “Join me for a break outside?”
(Excerpt from the pre-finalized draft.)
SALES LINKS! Starting to go live, and updated as the official release is complete...
***If you'd like a chance to win an ARC PDF of Bubbly, leave a comment between now and midnight (and your email), and tell me about your New Years Eve plans/memories!
(Winner will be contacted by 8am EST tomorrow.)
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