OMG! I have been waiting for this book forever. I know I say that a lot, but when I planned out the business of love, my first real rom-com series, I wanted to add in a poke at my brother, Weston Parker. And this book was it! We’ve been hinting over and over at the romance writer that can’t find love in the series… well, it’s my brother. Ha!
I protected the innocent by not making Wes too much like my brother, but this book is fully dedicated to him. He’s my only sibling and my little brother, my best friend in the whole world, and a great dad and husband.
Bubba—I love you with beyond what words can ever describe. No matter what, I’m here to catch you when you fall and kick you in the butt when you pause. Love you with all of my heart & I’m proud of what you’ve done.
“Son of a two-faced weasel!”
The knife fell, and my blood seeped into the wood cutting board and stained the slice of aged cheddar I’d just cut from the block. I squeezed my hand into a fist and spun around to the opposite counter so I could turn on the sink and hold my sliced finger under cold running water.
I scowled over my shoulder at the knife where it rested with the blade propped against the cutting board.
“This has happened too many times,” I muttered. “Do I deserve this for trying to plan a nice night for my friends?”
The knife, of course, had nothing to say in return. It just sat there, sharp and glistening under the lights above the kitchen island, taunting me with its complete and total lack of empathy. My finger burned and ached, and I worried about how bad the damage was going to be.
When I mustered the courage to look, I found that it wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d expected. The cut was clean and thin. Sure, it was a little too deep for comfort, and after looking at it for too long, I promptly gagged and scrambled to the bathroom to find a band aid, but the bleeding didn’t last long. After wrapping up my finger tightly, I saw to cleaning up the cutting board and the knife and decided that I wasn’t going to cut any more cheese.
“Those bitches get what they get,” I said decidedly.
Over the next fifteen minutes, I assembled the charcuterie board I’d been chopping and dicing treats for. I loaded it up with a variety of cheeses, meats, crackers, and toppings like olives, pickles, jalapeno jellies, dried apricots, and sides of vegetables. Once it was arranged to my liking, I carried the tray into the living room and set it on the black leather ottoman my two roommates and I had been using as a coffee table since we moved in together two years ago. The corners were a bit destroyed, courtesy of Riley’s damn nuisance of a cat, Mercutio—a name I vehemently hated and steadfastly thought was too long of a name for a cat. Who gave a cat a four-syllable name? And what was more, who named a fluffy white demon cat after a Shakespeare character?
The fluffy furniture-destroying, ankle-attacking, early-morning-meowing feline would have been better named something like Hades. Or Satan. Anything inspired by Hellish characters would have sufficed.
Riley didn’t think that was too funny. My other roommate, Madison, and I thought it was hilarious, and we’d seen to calling the cat the Kraken for the last few months simply because of his destructive asshole ways.
I’d come up with other colorful names for the feline spawn from Hell but those made Riley particularly pissy, so I settled for the Kraken.
“Speak of the devil,” I said as the fluffy white beast crept out of Riley’s bedroom in the hallway off the living room, tail flicking, ears angled forward, little pink nose sniffing at the air. I pointed menacingly at him. “Cheese makes you shit yourself, Krak. So you stay the hell away from our spread. Got it?”
His tail flicked again.
I arched an eyebrow.
Kraken yawned indulgently and padded away with his tail straight in the air and his asshole on display.
“Dick,” I breathed.
The clock above the fireplace told me I only had five or so minutes before my roommates came home from work. They both worked at a fashion retail store here in Waynesville, North Carolina. The store was called Strut and I had never felt like it belonged in our country town. Waynesville was more of a denim and plaid, hair up, boots on, getting-shit-done sort of town rather than a neon patent-leather high-heel town. But apparently, they did all right business here. I supposed it was because every woman in the county came to Strut for something shiny, new, and nicer than what they might find in the usual thrift shops or department stores.
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