28 March 2020

Q & A with Lacee Hightower on her NEW RELEASE!

Hello Lacee!  Thank you so much for visiting Written Butterfly with me today!  It’s such a pleasure to chat with you.  So tell me…

 Q) Is your book part of a series?  If so, can you tell us about it?  Call Me Sugar is book one of Sugar and Sin.  This series is an MMF menage based on three long-time friends who grew up together.  I wrote this series on a whim after a phone conversation with a friend.  Just hung up the phone thinking, hmmm I feel a story building.

Q) What type of research did you do for your book? I did some strange research for book one.  There’s a mystery involved and I did a lot of research on ‘things that smell like cinnamon’ and also on pier and beam foundations and types of western art.

 Q) What made this story special to you?

This book is very special to me.  Have you ever remembered a specific day from your childhood?  One that didn’t necessarily involve anything major happening, but just a day that you still remember many years later?  This entire series was written based on one of those experiences.  The museum and park I speak of in the book is real.  The book characters are real, although the two men were NOT bi-sexual and one of them actually died tragically at the age of 16, and the sex between the main characters is also fictional. I am still very close friends with the hero, aka Keith, and the female character, aka Rylee. When I told my male friend I was writing him up to be bi-sexual, he informed me that I would pay for this.  LOL!    

Q) Do you have a writing quirk, or habit when you write?

God, yes.  I’m a huge lover of music, mainly hard rock. I’ve been listening to it my entire life.  With each book I’ve written I always end up with a particular list of songs that I listen to over and over while I’m writing. I take my music very personal and get a lot of my ideas there.

Q) What do you think is your strongest asset as a writer? …what is your weakest factor as a writer?  I have many weak factors.  LOL.  However, I have to say my weakest is the fact that I’m extremely slow.  I’m not one who can sit down and scope out a store in a day or two.  And I also spend way too much time looking up synonyms, antonyms, etc., trying to come up with ‘new’ kinds of words and descriptions, and edit, and edit, and edit some more until I get to the point that I finally just say ‘enough’ and type THE END.



CALL ME SUGAR: AN MMF MENAGE

(Sugar & Sin Book 1)

By Lacee Hightower

Publisher:  Evernight Publishing

Keywords:  MMF, Dark Romance, Contemporary, Bi-Sexual, Cowboy Romance, Suspense, HEA

Warning:  This title contains explicit sex scenes, BDSM, and anal sex



A romance forbidden…


A lifestyle frowned upon and considered sin and damnation…


My name is Keith Ryker.  I’m a cattle rancher and sole owner to Ryker Ranch in Springhill, Texas. For fifteen years, I’ve loved a man, but longed for a woman. I’ve broken every rule imaginable, acted out reprehensible, frowned upon, unmentionable wrong-doings that people in these parts of West Texas would look down upon as sin and damnation.  But by all that is holy and hallowed, in all truth, I don’t give a damn.  I wouldn’t change a thing. 

Excerpt:

Lust breathes inside me. My body is hard, aching steel as I crunch on ice, deliberately, vulgarly, well aware that he’s fighting like hell not to cringe at the one thing that drives him mad. One can almost hear a pin drop as he remains stationary, speaking to me in a silence that’s so powerful, so calming and soothing, that it’s almost meditative.

Naked, bowing with hands clasped behind him, he kneels, respectfully, deathly still like a man praying at the altar. Cramps ricochet through the nape of his neck. Goose bumps blanket his back.  Teeth stave off chattering as cold licks his face, his lips turning purple as the fifty-five-degree room spreads chills straight through his bones like a raging wintery blast.

Despite the crispness of the temperature, the burning pain shooting up his neck like blistering flames, or the hard floor bruising his bare knees, he’s exactly where he wants to be, where he needs to be.  Respecting, yielding, his mind conceding to the biting anguish, the discomfort, the torment.

Like a garden gargoyle, he stoops before me, surrendering, waiting, patient and devoted, for the pangs, the cramps, and the stiffness to all fade away into sheer bliss and searing elation.   My body trembles and aches with dark wicked desire as I swallow the last drops of a Crown and Coke, place the tumbler aside, then lower my hands around his windpipe. There’s still no whimper of a sound when I know he yearns to speak.  There’s not an inch of movement when I’m certain everything hurts.  This is all because these aches, these pains, are like a welcoming hospitality to me, to him, to us, and what’s to come. Placing more force around his neck, I look down to see him beautifully hot and swollen, his tip dribbling clear arousal.  

“Look at me,” I command in a menacing whisper.  “Tell me what you need, boy.”

When I lessen my grip, he replies hoarsely. “To hand you everything. To give you my body. To submit only to you.”

My cock aches at the hunger in the piercing blue of his eyes, the urgency to leave his pretty thighs veiled in my marks spreading through me like billowing hot wildfire. His body is my temple—to use, to own, to take, take, and take again.

He’s salvation, redemption, deliverance, an indulgence that’s sweet, rich, and delectable.

And too good to only savor once. 

Buy Links:
Amazon US:   https://amzn.to/2WLNV6K
Barnes & Noble:  https://bit.ly/2wDCyD6
Books2read(Universal link):   https://books2read.com/u/49ZOEd


About the Author:

Lacee Hightower is an American writer and romance novelist, referring to her style as dark, contemporary romance with a nice big pinch of kink.  Living in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, she describes herself as a foodie that can’t cook, a large lover of fashion and shoes, and an enormous hopeless romantic.  Since she was old enough to know what the word meant, she loved the whole concept of romance and happy endings. Even though she has always enjoyed writing, life got in the way and she never really thought of pursuing it seriously until she decided to write her first book after both her children were grown in 2017.  Now with a nice glass of wine in hand, or not, she is learning to love bringing the characters in her head to life on paper for those who enjoy peeking into another world.
Social Media Links:


Facebook:  Facebook

Twitter:   Twitter

Instagram:  Instagram

Website:   laceehightower.com

BookBub:   Bookbub








27 March 2020

Flashback Friday...Love in the Apocalypse



In the year 2112, civilization is in ruins. The world has fallen from war. People live in designated cities.

Ares has one mission: to destroy the Overlords, the men who killed his family. To accomplish this, he is ruthless. Unforgiving.

Faith has grown up in a convent. She's heard what the world is like, but now she'll experience it first hand. Saved by Ares, he will demand her utter submission as payment.



Excerpt:
At the top of the landing, he halted and turned to face her.  Faith’s heart once again pounded at the heat in his dark gaze.  He traveled his hands around to her behind, gripping her cheeks until he picked her up.  “Wrap those pretty legs around my waist.”

She did as he asked, although she didn’t know why she was so compliant with his demands.  He walked with her through the hallway to their room.  She didn’t even notice the d├ęcor as she stared into his eyes, which were no longer cold and unfeeling.  Instead, he looked at her with a sharp hunger.  A call deep inside her body answered, rocking her soul. What was happening to her?

They entered a bedroom and he kicked the door shut behind him.  He sat down on the edge of the bed with her still wrapped around him.  Ares curled his hand into her hair and pulled her head back so he could lick up her neck.

“For the next five days, this is our room,” he said in a deep voice.  “I don’t want you to leave here.  You bathe, and you make yourself pretty for me, and when I come back after my business, you and I will finish this little dance.  You understand me, Faith?”

 Dazed, she nodded.

He claimed her mouth again, once again making all her thoughts disappear.  All she could do was hold on to the rush as he plundered her mouth with his tongue.  Tingles sparked through her. She was so close to something monumental, but before she could even begin to explore it, he pulled back.  Gently he stood back up, holding her like she weighed nothing, and laid her down on the mattress.  

He smoothed out her hair until it fanned around her head. 

“You’re mine, Faith,” he said thickly.  “I’m your protector now, which means my cock is the only cock you’ll know.  Any other man touches you, and I’ll kill him.  If someone tries to help you escape, I’ll string him up by his balls.  I may be a bastard, but I won’t hurt you unless you try to leave, touch another man, or put yourself in danger.  Then I’ll spank that gorgeous ass of yours until you can’t sit for a week.  Do you understand?”

Mutely, she nodded.
 
Two words "Loved It"
Written by Valari on 9th Apr 2015
I highly recommend this book to read. I think it’s a great start to a new world and *hint- hint* maybe a new series. As always Beth delivers an entertaining and quality read worth every penny I spent. 
Enjoyed It
Written by Tory Richards on 6th Apr 2015
First time I've read this author and I look forward to reading more from her. I really liked this little story, and thought she did a great job of writing a futuristic romance. Could have been fleshed out a lot more but it was still a good read. Well written, too, and hot! I liked how the heroine was innocent, yet not afraid to fight for her man when it came down to it. Edna was a hoot!

26 March 2020

The Evernight Blog Challenge - Week 13

Your destination is within 1500 and time is okay- fly or drive?


I have actually driven across the United States by myself three or four times. And when I was a kid, my parents would drive from Missouri to Delaware every summer. So I'm going to have to answer...drive.

As a kid, I would deck out the backseat of the car with blankets, pillows, books, cassette tapes (Yes, I'm dating myself), notebook and pens. It would take about two days to drive straight through to Delaware, through the Appalachian Mountains. It definitely fueled my imagination.

To this day, some of the best sleep I've ever had was sleeping the car with the window down, wrapped up in a blanket and wind washing over me. That's one reason I now have to have a fan on me when I sleep.

As an adult, I've moved many times across the country, first living on the east coast and now on the west coast. I've driven the northern route, across Colorado, as well as the southern through the Texas panhandle and even along the boarder in El Paso.  This is a beautiful country with amazing places to see and explore.

Besides, I'm not a fan of heights and although I have (and will if necessary) flown, flying still makes me a little nervous.

25 March 2020

Wordsmith Wednesday...Cover Art


As a reader, I’m very particular on which books I spend my money on.  The cost of print books has gone up so much its almost ridiculous. Not only does the dollar not stretch as far as it once did, the rise of eco conscious footprints has led to massive scaling back on recycling. Ebooks came along at the right time. Sure, I love the smell and feel of books, but you can't stop technology and eventually, paperback books are going to be a thing of the past. 

The first thing I look at is, of course, the cover art.  Let's face it, in this business, people will judge a book by its cover, at least initially.  I see a beautiful cover and it makes me want to read what it’s about.  I see a cover that’s not visually appeasing and I tend to pass it by. Graphic artists have been forced to design these covers to be better, bolder, and beautiful. 

Two of my books, Black Leather Pants & True to Her Heart, were written while I lived in Paris, France.  Much of the background of the story is basically day to day stuff of when I lived there.  For instance, the streets the heroines walked across were the ones I walked across.  Or the art she inspected while there was art I appreciated. When my paranormal trilogy, McKnight, Perth & Daire, was picked up, I wanted to portray that it dealt with ghosts.  The covers all match with wicked lightning in the background, giving it that spooky effect.

I had a book published through Siren titled "Dreamland", and it was a time travel where the hero was whisked back to 1927. It is one of my favorite books I've ever written. The cover I got was AWFUL! I asked for it to be revised because it had this half naked woman in a bikini with a feather in her hair...and this was supposed to be a Roaring Twenties Flapper. WTF? No! It was just terrible but my publisher wouldn't budge on how terrible the cover was, and because I had already signed a 7 year contract, I was stuck.

I ended up leaving Siren for that cover.

I eventually got the rights back, tweaked the story, added a scene, and now Evernight Publishing has picked it up for a 2020 release. I made sure to let the cover artist know exactly what I was looking for. Fingers crossed!

I firmly believe that having a great cover is the best asset a writer has, no matter if it’s a veteran or newbie.  Newbies don’t have fans behind them yet and so must rely on the visually pleasing covers to get readers to buy their books. And so my warmest thanks and praises go to the talented artists who bring characters (especially mine) literally to life. 

23 March 2020

Callous Criminal...New Release from Lynn Burke (Blitz)

Title: Callous Criminal
Series: Vicious Vipers #3
Author: Lynn Burke
Genre: MC Romance
Release Date: March 26, 2020 Cover Design: Designs by L~

I’m a cold hearted criminal, and I’ve lived a callous life as the Sergeant at Arms of the Vicious Vipers MC. I spent most of my childhood as a victim, and because of the junkie who raised me, I hate to be touched.


But her...
The social worker my fingers itch to reach for—she’s wholesome. Kind. Too good for a man like me, and yet, I can’t curb my weakness to be near her.
When one of her teenage clients needs protection from the same type of man who hurt my sister, I know I’ll be revealing my true self, my darker side, to help the girl.
For her.
I’ll lose the only person I’ve found who values my feelings above her own—the woman whose sweet nature is a force to be reckoned with.
I know I should walk away, but how do I leave the heart I didn't know I still had behind?
*This is the third book in the Vicious Vipers MC series and may be unsuitable for someone under 18 years of age. HEA guaranteed, however, secondary characters make appearances in other’s stories. Reading in order is recommended.






The sun hit my face along with hot, humid air stinking of exhaust, and I turned toward my bike.
Head down, focused on a cell, a woman hurried toward me, and I scuttled sideways to escape her fast clip.
Not fucking fast enough.
She slammed into my side and grasped hold of my bare forearm, a squeak of surprise ripping from her mouth as her cell clattered to the sidewalk.
“Oh! I’m so sorry!” She lessened her grip on my arm, and I clenched my teeth as my stomach knotted fast as fuck.
I hated to be touched.
Not wanting to be a complete asshole, I didn’t shake off her hold but waited for her to steady herself in her sandals. Her soft touch burned my skin. Sent a shot of need to lash out with my fists along with an energetic zap to my dick I hadn’t felt in years.
I pulled away the second I could and bent to retrieve her cell while she righted her purse and the sweater she had draped over one arm.
Standing, I handed her the phone she’d dropped.
Straight blonde hair brushed her shoulders, her blue-green eyes and pale lashes unframed or painted by makeup. Pink flushed her cheeks, and she pressed her lips together, drawing my focus to the sparkling gloss coating them while reaching for her cell.
I made sure to keep our fingers from touching. “Not a problem,” I stated with a gruffness I hadn’t meant to do while noting the flush across her chest and the hint of cleavage peeking at the top of her plain, buttoned up blouse.
She smiled up at me, a plain-Jane yet classically beautiful woman who smelled like fresh, juicy watermelon.
My mouth watered, and I stepped back out of her way. With a dip of my head, I moved around her, intent on my bike—and escaping the weird vibe breaking me out into a sweat atop the bright as fuck sun.
It is the heat, I told myself while fighting the need to look over my shoulder. See if her back was as pretty as her front, even if she hadn’t dressed to showcase the curves I’d caught a glimpse of.
The bike roared to life between my thighs, and I glanced toward Dunks while pulling on my helmet. She’d gone inside, escaping the heat, but I couldn’t see her past the glare of the sun on the shop’s windows.
Lips set in a line, I put on my shades and pulled out, already sweating through my t-shirt. 
© Lynn Burke 2020







Lynn Burke is a full time mother, voracious gardener, and scribbler of spicy romance stories. A country bumpkin turned Bay Stater, she enjoys her chowdah and Dunkin Donuts when not trying to escape the reality of city life.



HOSTED BY:

21 March 2020

Dark Erotic Romance from Lea Bronsen!


Ex-boxer Mike Logan struggles to put a brutal past behind and make ends meet as a bus driver. When a young runaway settles for an all-night ride, he seizes the chance to do a good deed—get her home safely. But first, they’ll drive around and talk. What he doesn’t anticipate is that this broken night angel is also a sexy little minx needing a lot more…and not just the gentle kind. **This is an expanded edition of the story previously featured in the anthology Passion, Pleasure, Pain in 2019** #Dark #Erotic #Romance  

Available from

Put the book on your to-read shelf on Goodreads
 


Thank you for having me, Beth! It’s lovely to be here and talk about my latest release, the dark, erotic romance Shade Addiction.

Q) What made this story special to you?

A) I wrote Shade Addiction in a difficult time, while one of my best author friends and supporters, Doris O’Connor, was undergoing cancer treatment. As her condition worsened, a group of friends decided to put together an anthology, with all proceeds from the sales going to her family. Shade Addiction became my contribution. A year later, I’m re-releasing an expanded edition, and even though it’s a standalone title with a new cover, it will forever remind me of the dear friend we lost much too early.

Q) What do you think is your strongest asset as a writer? …what is your weakest factor as a writer?

A) I think my strongest asset is my twenty-something-year career as a secretary, which helps immensely when it comes to paying attention to syntax and grammar. Over the years, I’ve developed a habit of constantly looking for better ways of saying things, and so I edit more than I write. – Which leads me to my weakest factor, my handicap: English is not my native language, so I have to look up every word and idiom to make sure my manuscripts are somewhat readable. Thus, my writing process can take ages, and when I’m finally ready to hit the SEND button, I have terrible panic attacks (laughs).

Q) Do you write in a linear fashion or do you jump from scene to scene and then go back and “fill in the blanks”?

A) I most definitely jump! It’s like doing a puzzle, with each piece a chapter or a scene. I often start with the edges aka the structure, add key pieces here and there in the middle, then go back and forth, filling in and tying the different parts together. The process is chaotic and exhausting, but that’s the way I roll.

Q) What are your upcoming projects?

A) I always have many stories in the works – too many, actually, because it takes years to finish them, and in the meantime, new ideas pop into my mind and I just have to write and publish these before the ones that are waiting (laughs).

My current project is a gay romance taking place in Norway at the end of WWII, between a young Norwegian prisoner and the commander of the local Gestapo bureau. We know what the Nazis thought of homosexuality, so you may ask if this is a likely romance, worth developing? I’ll leave it up to the readers to judge. What matters today is that my two very real and strong-willed characters insist that I put their abundance of feelings and desires onto paper... and I must oblige. 

Excerpt

She gives me a long, languorous look. I think I know what it means: She’s interested by my wild side. Dark attracts dark. She believes she’s found the same kind of fallen angel as she is, a soul mate.

Wrong, kiddo. What you need is someone good, not broken like me.

She reaches over the table to pat my chest. “So hard. Jesus. You definitely work out.”
Her touch sends electric sparks to my groin. My cock pulses. I push her hand away. “Don’t do that.”

“Why?”

“It’s inappropriate.”

“Why?”

I sigh. “I’m thirty-two, you’re what?”

“Nineteen.”

“Nineteen, that’s very young. I could easily be accused of taking advantage of you. Did you see how the waitress treated me?”

She crosses her arms underneath her boobs. “But I’m an adult, and I have boyfriends.”

“You have boyfriends.”

“Yeah.”

“Like, many?”

“Yeah.”

She holds my gaze. I don’t know why I had to make a deal of that. She continues, “So, it’s not like I’d let anybody touch me if I didn’t want them to.”

“Well, I don’t want you to touch me. Let’s go.”  

About the author

Lea Bronsen likes her reads hot, fast, and edgy, and strives to give her own stories the same intensity. After a deep dive on the unforgiving world of gangsters with her debut novel Wild Hearted, she divides her writing time between romantic suspenses, dark erotic romances, and crime thrillers.

Meet Lea Bronsen on
 

20 March 2020

Flashback Friday ... Love Story in Hollywood


Jake Coolidge is Hollywood’s hot new star.  Growing up in Los Angeles among the film sets his father worked on, Jake knows fame is fickle so he lives life to the fullest.  He never has to search far for a pretty face with an amazing body to fill his bed, and he never, ever, promises fidelity.



Norah Scaritt has lived her whole life in a fantasy world.  Knowing she would never be the girl to wear a bikini or short shorts, she’s come to accept that she has curves even though she secretly wishes she was one of the slim, beautiful models that decorates Jake’s arm.



She’s written a movie script that she knows Jake will be perfect for, but she’s ill prepared for the magnetic attraction she feels for him.  As she tries to form a professional bond with him, his hot and cold attitude breaks her heart one too many times.  Can Jake save a love that he denied before he’s lost the only person that ever really mattered?



Where to Buy…




Adult Excerpt:


She didn’t feel like writing. She was too restless, too…horny. As she walked toward her bedroom, her thighs created friction right upon her aching clit. She undressed quickly and crawled onto the bed, thoughts of Jake filling up her mind. She opened her nightstand drawer and pulled out her little hot pink vibrator and flicked it on. It instantly thrummed to life and she wasted no time applying it to the area she desperately needed it. She spread her thighs and pressed the vibrator against her clit. Pleasure tore through her body, sending tiny pulses along her nerve endings that had her shuddering. She’d never been one to hold back on her climax because she’d never needed too. Her one and only sexual encounter had more than satisfied her curiosity on what sex with a man would be like, although she had a feeling Jake would be much better at it.
So when her orgasm hit, she rode with it, crying out as her cream ran and flooded the tip of her vibrator. She pushed it into her pussy with ease, able to milk it out a little while longer as she slowly fucked herself. Each time she pulled it out, she’d angle it so the vibrations would hit her clit. After another minute, she had another mini orgasm.
When she was finished she dropped her toy onto the bed. She’d clean it later. Right now her body hummed with sexual satisfaction. She fell asleep with images of him running through her mind

19 March 2020

The Evernightes Weekly Blog Challenge - Week 12

If you won the $10,000 lottery I'd....?

Ten thousand? That's it?

You'd think ten thousand would be a lot of money but now-a-days, it's really not. I don't even think I could pay off my husband's truck loan. So I'd pay off all the credit cards and medical bills before I planned a really cool vacation to Great Wolf Lodge.

Have you ever been to Great Wolf Lodge? It's f*cking amazing! Seriously, one of the best places I've ever been to. It's so much fun.

Now, if the question had been if I'd won a million dollars, that changes everything. I'd quit my day job to write full time, I'd buy a house. I'd buy new cars, I'd get a tummy tuck. I'd take a world tour vacation.

A million dollars would be sooo much better than ten thousand. But, if it was ten thousand I'd still be happy.

If I ever won a thousand I'd be happy.

Hell, give me a hundred dollars. That's a week of groceries and a tank of gas. That would be heaven.

18 March 2020

Wordsmith Wednesday...Book review "The Boundless Deep"



I have said this before and I'll say it again...this is one of my favorite books.

Kate Brallier has written two books, this one and one called Seal Island. The characters from that book makes a brief appearance in this one. I'm really sad that she only has these two books because she's a fantastic author, able to weave a powerful, fantastical tale.

This is a love story that crosses the division of death into the realm of reincarnation.  Set amidst the era of whaling in Nantucket, it is told superbly in first person narrative.

           
Liza has had dreams of whaling her whole life, despite never having been to the ocean.  So she jumps at the chance to spend the summer working in Nantucket with her roommate and friend.  She has the idea that somehow she can disprove how accurate her dreams are, but quite the opposite happens.  Not only can she spout facts about sailing, she can identify even the most obscure piece of equipment.  Her dreams have revved up a notch as well.  Every night she dreams of Obidah Young, a whaling captain from the 1840’s accused of murdering his wife.

            
Liza’s summer in Nantucket is filled with work and romance.  She meets Adam, a museum guide, who has his doubts about her reincarnation theory.  There is also Lucian, who uses his sharp tongue to defuse the sexual tension between him and Liza.  The book is filled with memorable characters that help Liza solve the mystery of her dreams and who she used to be. 

            
Ms. Brallier does a great job of differentiating between Liza of 1840 and present day by changing how she “talks” in the dreams, from very formal to modern day slang.  But beyond how well this story is brought together, what really captures the reader is Nantucket itself.  The author really did her research on bringing to life the city of old.  I wanted to jump in my car and drive there, finding all the spots she wrote about and pointed out. 

This is one of those books that beautifully blends a mystery, a romance, a historical and a paranormal all in one. 

13 March 2020

Flashback Friday...Another Love Story


Caleb Tasker lost his wife to cancer but it took him a long time to put her memory to rest.  Deciding he needs a vacation, he accepts the gracious invitation of living in his friend’s Malibu home for an over due holiday.

Delilah Ward grew up in rural Mississippi and ran away when she was sixteen, moving to Los Angeles with thoughts of being anything but the person she was born to be.  But reality settled in quickly and the bright lights of Hollywood soon faded into the dark abyss of dancing on a darkened platform.

Caleb is used to love being easy and Delilah is used to fighting against everything.  They have nothing in common except a wildfire attraction that won’t let go of them.  But when tough choices need to be made, will they both be able to be honest to what they really want?  




Where to Buy…




EXCERPT


“I’m going to head to the bar,” Jake said.
“You go ahead,” Caleb replied. “I want to check out the stage.”
Jake grinned and disappeared into the crowd. As Caleb began to head toward the stage he happened to glance to his right and saw a beautiful African-American woman giving out beer to passing people. Even in the low light he could see disdain in her eyes as she smiled at the man standing in front of her. She held out a cold beer plucked from the icy casket in front of her, twisting off the cap with a deft flick of her wrist. She wore a one-piece bathing suit, scarlet red and cut high on the side, showing off her gorgeous long legs. Her black hair fell in a straight curtain past her shoulders and a silver headband held her bangs back. Her dark skin glistened under the overhead lights.
The man stuck a dollar in a tip bucket as he walked on, taking a long drink from his beer. The woman said thanks, and as she turned, the fake smile immediately slid from her lips. Before he knew what he was doing, he had walked over to where she stood passing out beer.
“Would you like one?” she said, the fake smile falling back into place.
“Sure,” he answered.
She popped the top and handed him one. When he took it, she turned back to look at the crowded room as if waiting for him to go. Only Caleb didn’t leave. He moved to the side as a couple more people came up to get beer.
“My name is Caleb,” he said, once they were alone again.
She flicked a cautious, hesitant look at him and flashed that impersonal smile.
“I’m sorry for lingering but I don’t know anyone here,” he went on. “And you seem to hold the monopoly on manly drinks.”
“‘Glass after glass you drain to quench his thirst,’” she quoted.
“‘Each glass contains a spirit like the first,’” he quoted back without missing a beat and he could tell he impressed her when her mouth dropped open.
“You know Ella Wheeler Wilcox?” she asked in disbelief.
“Yes. Why is that a surprise?”
She shifted back and looked him up and down. Caleb found himself strangely aroused by her perusal. “Pardon me for saying, but you don’t look like a man who quotes female poets.”
“What kind of man do I look like?”
She pursed her lips. “I don’t know. A lumberjack?”
Caleb scratched his beard and smiled. “Close. I’m a forest ranger, actually, from Alaska.”
A man walked up and the woman opened a beer before handing it over with a flirty smile. The man winked at her, nodded at Caleb, and walked away. And as soon as he was gone the brightness of her face drained away.
“What’s your name?” he asked.
“Candy,” she answered immediately.
“Really? Well, okay.”
“What’s wrong with my name?”
“You don’t look like a Candy.”
She raised a sculptured eyebrow. “What do I look like?”
“Something classical, with maybe a touch of exotic.”
She cocked her head and stared at him. Caleb had the distinct feeling that she was sizing him up, making some type of monumental decision. “Delilah,” she finally said, slowly, as if she still wasn’t sure she wanted to tell him. Then she gave a rueful laugh. “I don’t usually tell men my real name.”
That confused him. “Why?”
Another man walked up and a smile lit up Delilah’s face for the time it took to hand him a beer. When the man walked away, like before, the smile faded from her lovely face.
“Candy is my working name,” she told him abruptly.
“This work?”
She shrugged and made a sweeping gesture with her hand, encompassing the whole room. “Weekend work. Pays well, I can keep my clothes on, and I’m home by one a.m.
A hideous thought entered his mind. “Are you trying to tell me that you, ah, you’re a…”
She seemed to take grim amusement when words failed him. He saw her shoulders straighten as she stiffened her spine. Her dark eyes watched him, appraising him, and for some reason Caleb felt like he was on trial.
“I’m a stripper,” she told him bluntly. “At The Pink Pony. Monday through Friday. Stop by if you’d like.”