By Anne Holly
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 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?
“You are far from cold, lady.”
She felt herself swoon at his words.
“But you may well freeze,” he said. “We should get you inside.”
“Inside?” she chirped, suddenly alarmed.
“It’s up to you,” he said. “You can go in there, and go freshen up, and carry on with your party or we can go inside some place private and see where this leads us.”
She felt torn. His arms eased away from her and she was relieved he was giving her the option of escape, but she was suddenly too embarrassed to ask him to continue doing to her what she wanted him to do.
“But your job?” she asked, her mind hazy.
“It’s okay,” he said. “My buddy in there owes me one.”
“You won’t tell him?”
“Of course not,” he said. “My days of bragging are over. I’ll just tell him I have the shits or something.”
She laughed at his vulgar reassurance, and so did he.
“You’re so pretty when you laugh,” he said.
“So are you.”
“There you go again,” he mock-snarled. “You go on up, and I’ll meet you wherever you want.”
“My room, on the third floor?”
“Sure,” he said and touched a curled knuckle to her lips with incredible affection.
“Okay,” she said, reluctantly straightening off his lap. She wobbled a moment, her knees lacking assurance on those silly heels.
“You need some help?” he asked.
Oddly tempted, she almost said yes, but gathered her dignity enough to step away from him.
He grabbed his bag and gestured for her to go on ahead, and she carefully picked her way back to the door as she heard him slam and lock the van.
Whatever was about to happen, good idea or not, was not what Beth had planned for ringing in the New Year. But she had dreamed about spending it with someone special and that glimmer of hope gave her courage.
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Anne Holly is a Canadian writer of romance and erotic-romance, as well as a mother and teacher. She has found a particular niche in holiday romance. You may visit Anne at her blog or website, or find her on GoodReads, Facebook and Twitter (@anneholly2010). Sign up for her newsletter here. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.