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They are friends. Without benefits. Unfortunately.
Michael LeClaire is small-town Louisiana. A firefighter. A single dad.
And Amelia Landry is New York City. A social media influencer. A model.
Sure, she’s his son’s favorite person on the planet.
And yeah, their families spend so much time together it’s hard to remember who shares DNA and who just shares secrets, inside jokes, and a sincere lack of boundaries.
And okay, he’s seen her nerdy side. Her sweet side. Her funny, self-deprecating side.
Fine, yes, resisting this woman has taken a saint’s share of willpower.
But he has to. He just cannot do long-distance. And he can’t have a casual fling with someone he’s known–and will know–forever.
Thankfully, he only has to hide his feelings a few times a year when she visits.
And then, he slips. One time. One spontaneous I-knew-it-would-be-everything kiss and he’s a goner.
Now every time they see each other it’s harder and harder to ignore the heat.
And when she shows up on his doorstep after a car accident changes her entire life, there’s no way he can resist the chance to see if this can last…or if they’ll finally flame out.
Fall in love today!
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Keep reading for a look inside Bayou with Benefits!
“If you don’t want our sisters to think they’re right about everything, you have to quit looking at me like that.”
Michael LeClaire had three choices here.
He could pretend he had no idea what Amelia Landry was talking about, turn, smile nonchalantly, and try to have a normal, casual conversation with her.
That was going to be nearly impossible, of course. This was Ami. There was no being casual around her. He hadn’t been able to pull nonchalant off since he’d first seen her walk down the dock in a lime green bikini the summer she’d turned twenty. But then, eleven months ago, everything had changed and now…yeah, casual was completely off the table.
He’d known she’d be here. Of course. It was her sister’s wedding. She was a bridesmaid. He’d been preparing to see her. Still, it had been three months and the last time…leaving her at that airport had been so much harder than he’d expected. He didn’t think there’d be anything casual about the things he’d end up saying to her tonight if they talked alone.
His second option was setting something on fire so that he would have to don his fire gear and do something with his evening other than watch Ami in her off-the-shoulder peach-colored bridesmaid dress, laughing and dancing and looking fucking stunning while he struggled to remember why they were only friends. As he did every single time she stood too close to him.
The reasons were good. He knew that. The primary one being that she lived in fucking New York City and he lived in Autre, Louisiana and that would just never work out. He had a kid. He was the fire chief here. His entire family was here. He couldn’t move to New York—nor did he want to—and he couldn’t travel there on a regular basis.
Ami was a model. She’d just landed a huge contract. The contract she’d been hoping and working for. She’d moved from Shreveport to New York only three months ago. She wasn’t coming back to Louisiana and also couldn’t be traveling back here on a regular basis.
Fuck New York City.
Yeah, setting something on fire kind of seemed like a great idea.
And then there was his third option: turning, throwing her over his shoulder, taking her straight back to his house, and not letting her out of his bed for a week, whether they could be together long-term or not.
Which would only make all of this—the wanting her, the thinking about her, the missing her—so much worse.
He wasn’t going to be able to do any of those three things.
He was screwed.
So, he sucked in a deep lungful of oxygen and turned, deciding to go with his fourth option—just praying to not fuck everything up. “Am I that obvious?”
Ami smiled up at him. “I just really think it’s unfair that they’re assuming things that I didn’t actually get to experience.”
He shook his head. “Don’t.”
“Don’t what? Talk about how Charlie and Naomi are assuming their matchmaking worked and we spent the entire weekend you were in New York in bed together?”
“Ami,” he said, his voice low with warning.
“Hey, you’re the one looking at me like you’ve seen me naked and want to again,” she said. “Don’t blame me.”
He tossed back the rest of his drink, wished it was alcohol and not just soda, reminded himself that staying completely sober while Ami was in town for the first time since New York was a really, really good idea, and said, “That’s not how I’m looking at you.”
She put a hand on her hip. “Then how would you describe the way you’ve been watching me from across the room but totally ignoring me whenever we’re close enough to talk?”
“Like I’ve been jerking off practically every night for the past three months because I didn’t get you naked, and like since you got back to town I’ve been constantly about ten seconds away from picking you up, taking you home, and tying you to my bed for the next week or two.”
Okay, so even without alcohol he was going to be dangerously inappropriate. And honest. Just as he’d feared.
Her eyes went wide.
Then she grinned. “Yes. You’re right. That’s a much better, more specific, description.”
About Erin Nicholas
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Erin Nicholas has been writing romances almost as long as she’s been reading them. To date, she’s written over thirty sexy, contemporary novels that have been described as “toe-curling,” “enchanting,” “steamy,” and “fun.” She adores reluctant heroes, imperfect heroines, and happily ever afters.
Erin lives in the Midwest, where she enjoys spending time with her husband (who only wants to read the sex scenes in her books), her kids (who will never read the sex scenes in her books), and her family and friends (who claim to be “shocked” by the sex scenes in her books).
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What would you do with a Scrooge?
Professional holiday decorator Natalie Fiorre loves tinsel, gingerbread, and the magic of Christmas. She believes there isn’t anything in the world that a dash of Christmas Spirit can’t fix—until she meets Gabe.
Perpetual Scrooge Gabe Cavanaugh loathes candy canes, jingle bells, and all things merry and bright. He believes Christmas is the worst time of year.
So when Miss Christmas and Mr. Scrooge meet, sparks fly.
When Gabe threatens to evict Natalie and her neighbors on Christmas she does what any right-minded Christmas-lover would do…
Natalie has two days to stop the evictions and help Gabe discover the magic of Christmas, but a lot can go wrong in two days, and in Romeo, the soul mate capital, there’s another kind of magic in the air.
A delightfully cheeky rom-com romp through the holidays, Scrooging Christmas is Book Seven in the Soul Mates in Romeo Romance Series by Sarah Ready.
Grab it for only 99 cents before it’s too late!
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Keep reading for a look inside Scrooging Christmas!
“So today we’re going to cut down a Christmas tree and decorate it.”
I shake my head, “No we’re not.”
She stares at me, and I’m pretty certain she’s surprised at my resistance.
The coffee has slowed to a drip, so I take down two mugs and pour the steaming black liquid, enjoying the rich smell. I shove one across the counter toward her and take a long drink of the hot liquid.
“Just like that?” she asks, frowning at me.
“Just like what?”
“No. Just like that?”
I take another sip. It’s good coffee, then say, “Of course. What are you going to do? Make me?”
She pulls the pan off the stove and holds it high in the air. “Here’s the deal. You come Christmas tree cutting with me and you get delicious sausage and pancakes. You don’t…and you get…you get…”
“The lotion?” I ask straight-faced.
Apparently she’s not a fan of horror, because she waves that away.
“No. Last year’s fruitcake. It’s in the cupboard, soaked in rum. And lemme tell you. It’s fluorescent green and goopy brown. There are oozy bits. And when you take it out of the tin, it makes a squishy splooshy noise. Like it’s exhaling.”
I stare at her, appalled at her fruitcake description. Maybe she is a fan of horror. “This is a real thing? A breathing fruitcake?”
“Of course. You should see the one we’re saving from 2012. Actually, maybe I’ll give that one to you.” She shakes the pan at me, the sausage smell drifting over. “You decide. Sausages and pancakes. Or respirating fruitcake.”
“You are diabolical.”
There’s no way she knows that I can only cook two things: toast and microwave meals. And I didn’t see any bread or microwaveables in the pantry. So…am I actually at her mercy?
I consider the pan of sausages, the maple scent drifting across the kitchen. It’s a homey smell, sweet and savory, matching the warm wood cabinets and the butcher block counters. My stomach lets out a growl, reminding me of how hungry I am.
I haven’t eaten since yesterday’s lunch. A microwave noodle bowl that I half-ate while going through emails and making calls.
I weigh the options. Go hungry. Go Christmas. Go hungry. Go Christmas.
“Fine. I’ll kill a tree with you then decorate its carcass in lights and shiny balls.” I take the plate from the counter and hold it out to her, “Serve it up. Even prisoners get two hots and a cot. Something you’ll be learning very soon.”
About Sarah Ready
Author Sarah Ready writes contemporary romance and romantic comedy. Her books have been described as “euphoric”, “heartwarming” and “laugh out loud”. Her debut novel The Fall in Love Checklist was hailed as “the unicorn read of 2020”. She loves to write fast-paced, emotionally compelling romances about quirky, smart women and the men who love them.
Before writing romance full-time Sarah had lots of fun teaching at an Ivy League. Then she realized she could have even more fun writing romance. Her favorite things after writing are adventuring and travel. You’ll frequently find her using her degree at a dino dig site, crawling into a cave, snorkeling, or on horseback riding through the jungle – all fodder for her next book. She’s lived in Scotland, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland and NYC. She currently lives in the Caribbean with her water-obsessed pup and her awesome family.
You can visit her online at www.sarahready.com
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Scoring on the ice? Piece of cake.
Scoring off it? Well, there’s a reason I’m still a virgin.
I’m not entirely clueless with women, though I do tend to put my foot in my mouth around them far too often.
Like I did with Scout, the donut maker I stupidly introduced myself to despite visiting her truck for years.
Maybe my teammates have a reason to call me the dumb one, but I’m determined to prove them all wrong—Scout included.
I want to be her friend. Want her to see the real me.
What I’m not expecting is to like her so much when we start spending time together…or want to kiss her so badly.
I’m the jock, and she’s the bookworm.
On paper, we make no sense together.
But maybe I have a scoring chance with her after all.
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Read Kay’s Review: Scoring Chance
TEAGAN HUNTER is a Missouri-raised gal but currently lives in South Carolina with her Marine veteran husband, where she spends her days begging him for a cat. She survives off coffee, pizza, and sarcasm. When she’s not writing, you can find her binge-watching various TV shows, especially Supernatural and One Tree Hill. She enjoys cold weather, buys more paperbacks than she’ll ever read, and never says no to brownies.
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