Take a peek into the sensual world of BDSM…
Her Russian Knight by Red Phoenix is available now!
Rytsar Durov is a sadist—and he’s upset. He just sent Tono Nosaka packing
and is about to confront Master Brad Anderson. Bones may be broken.
The Russian Dom is a force unto himself, and he intends to take care of the threat once and for all.
No one touches radost moya. NO ONE!
Nothing fazes this sexy Russian Dom, but how will he cope when he finds out the tragedy
that’s befallen his comrade—the only man he calls Brother?
Rytsar grasped her head with both hands and lowered it so he could kiss her firmly on the top of the head. “What you do not realize, Tatianna, is that I will make sweet, sensual love to this mind. Every thought will become mine, not because I demand it, but because you will be hopelessly devoted to me.”
Her eyes shone with the enthusiasm of young love, and she tentatively took his hand and placed it on her right breast. “Make love to me, Anton.”
Rytsar had to check himself. What she was asking was exactly what his entire body ached for, but he could not succumb to the temptation.
Tatianna deserved to be swept off her feet, and that was exactly what he planned to do. After a day of being treated like a princess for her birthday, then—and only then—would he claim her virginity.
Rytsar took the Durov family ring off his pinky and slipped it onto her delicate finger. “The day I ask for this ring back is the day I will make love to you, Tatianna. It is my solemn vow.”
Tatianna stared at it, knowing it’s worth and significance to Rytsar. His grandfather had gifted him the ancestral ring, passing over his father and older brothers to do it. Although it had created animosity with his kin, Rytsar treasured this symbol of his grandfather’s belief in him. He was not a product of his current lineage—his reputation and destiny was his alone to forge.
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About Red Phoenix:
Red Phoenix, USA Today Bestselling author, has received numerous awards for her original romances. When she’s not writing, you can find her online interacting with fans. Visit her website: RedPhoenix69.com
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Dirty Filthy Rich Men, an all-new sexy, contemporary romance from NYT Bestseller Laurelin Paige is available now!!!
Dirty Filthy Rich Men by Laurelin Paige
Genre: Contemporary Romance
From NYT Bestselling author Laurelin Paige, discover a whole new world filled with sex, love, power, romance and dirty, filthy rich men.
When I met Donovan Kincaid, I knew he was rich. I didn’t know he was filthy. Truth be told, I was only trying to get his best friend to notice me.
I knew poor scholarship girls like me didn’t stand a chance against guys like Weston King and Donovan Kincaid, but I was in love with his world, their world, of parties and sex and power. I knew what I wanted—I knew who I wanted—until one night, their world tried to bite me back and Donovan saved me. He saved me, and then Weston finally noticed me, and I finally learned what it was to be in their world.
And then what it was like to lose it.
Ten years later, I’ve found my way back. Back to their world. Back to him.
This time, I’m ready. I’ve been down this road before, and I know all the dirty, filthy ways Donovan will try and wreck me.
But it’s hard to resist. Especially when I know how much I’ll like it.
After she was gone, I walked over to the windows and drank in the scene. The Town Center was high enough that it had an unblocked view of downtown Manhattan, Brooklyn, and beyond.
Giddiness surged through me, starting like a pinprick at my center and moving out through my veins in all directions until even my fingers and toes felt warm.
I was really here.
I made it.
It wasn’t the way I thought it would be, but in the end, it still came out of my time at Harvard. I’d always known that connections made the difference in a career, and here I was. Finally. At the top of the world, looking out.
I couldn’t stop grinning.
“It’s incredible, isn’t it?” a male voice came from behind me.
Still smiling, I glanced up and caught his reflection in the window.
And everything disappeared.
The world that had buzzed below, the beautiful scene, the excitement that had unfurled through my body—all of it evaporated and all that existed in its place was a pale, hollow shell of myself and the man in the perfectly tailored suit behind me.
I turned to look at him directly. Our gazes smashed together, and my legs nearly fell out from under me.
“Donovan,” I rasped. It was a miracle that I managed to find enough voice to say that much.
And there was so much more that had to be said. So much more that I hadn’t prepared for. Which was ridiculous since I’d talked to him so many times in my head over the years, practiced so many conversations, but never did he show up out of the blue looking so dastardly handsome in a dark gray three-piece suit, his face rugged with scruff, his eyes hazel and earnest despite the playful smirk on his lips.
I opened my mouth to say something, but nothing came out. I wasn’t even sure how to breathe anymore.
He broke our gaze to nod out the window at the skyline, walking toward me as he said, “I’m sure you found the Empire.”
Though his focus was now on the scenery, I didn’t take my eyes off him as he approached. He didn’t stop until he was right beside me. So close our shoulders would touch if I coughed. Tension ran off him like foam spilling over from a mug of beer. Good tension. Bad tension. I wasn’t sure if there was a difference when it came to Donovan.
Which was why I was screwed if he was here.
Why the hell was he here?
“I thought you were in Tokyo.” I couldn’t stop staring at him. He’d gotten more refined with age, and rougher at the same time. His hair was short and his curls gone, giving him a polished look he lacked before. The lines by his eyes were more defined and his expression seemed harder than I’d remembered. It made him sexier.
As if he was a man who needed to be sexier than the one I knew.
“I came back two months ago,” he said offhandedly. “That’s it right there.” He leaned his face in close to mine as he pointed to the famous structure. “Do you see it?”
Fuck if I cared about the Empire. I was in Donovan Kincaid’s orbit. What else was there in the world?
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About the Author:
USA Today and New York Times Bestselling Author Laurelin Paige is a sucker for a good romance and gets giddy anytime there’s kissing, much to the embarrassment of her three daughters. Her husband doesn’t seem to complain, however. When she isn’t reading or writing sexy stories, she’s probably singing, watching Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead, or dreaming of Michael Fassbender. She’s also a proud member of Mensa International though she doesn’t do anything with the organization except use it as material for her bio. She is represented by Rebecca Friedman.
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Title: Heart of a Savage
Author: Lashanta Charles
Genre: Romance — Contemporary, Sports
Heart of a Savage by Lashanta Charles is on SALE for 99¢ through March 31st!
They call him THE SAVAGE PRINCE.
He told me to call him MY SALVATION.
Bailey Ross-O’Malley has spent her whole life catering to others. She used to enjoy it. Until her father died. In an attempt to protect her, her father chose Connor to be her husband, but that was a mistake. Connor was supposed to love her, be her rock – but some rocks need to be tossed as far away as possible. She only has one source of happiness now, her son, and if Connor doesn’t get his way, he’ll take that joy from her as well.
MMA fighter, Dominic Prince, has only one mission in life: forget his past. Forget the pain, the drama, and the loss of things taken away from him too soon. He’s guarded and secretive and that’s the way he likes it. He was doing a damn good job of keeping it that way. Until her. Bailey showed up and Dominic’s life became a minefield. He can’t decide if he wants to kiss her or shake her, but he does know that he’ll fight to keep her safe. He’ll be as savage as he is in the octagon, outside of it.
Neither of them wants to accept it happening, but the past has a way of sneaking into the present. Hearts will be shattered and bonds will be broken. Will they survive it?
Free on Kindle Unlimited
As I lock the door Tyrese and one of The Isley Brothers are extolling the virtues of having a girl who loves them. Why the fuck did he think it was a good idea to team up with Tank and Ginuwine? Something small and soft touches my forearm and I barely resist the urge to jump a mile because, what the fuck, I see a hand. A hand with long, slender fingers and neon pink nail polish, sharp in its contrast to the smooth, mahogany skin. I follow an arm covered by a leather jacket to a face with big brown eyes, stretched wide as they look up at me, a small nose, and luscious lips. Her brown eyes are surrounded by long, dark lashes and arched eyebrows. They’re beautiful. She could be beautiful. She’s not though. There’s something blocking it and against my better judgment I want to know what it is. A beanie covers her head, but short black hair peeks out from one side. Those luscious lips move and I remember I still have my headphones on, but I also remember that since Janae, I hate being touched. I should really go talk to someone about these issues I’m having, but I’m a guy. Soooooo . . . I look back down at the hand that’s still on my forearm and she quickly pulls it back before dropping her gaze to the ground. I slip my headphones off just as she speaks again.
“I’m sorry. I was trying to ask you about the gym, but I knew you couldn’t hear me.”
And Junior has decided he likes her fucking voice. Soft and sweet and conveying utter innocence, even with her mumbling like she’s scared out of her mind. I would contribute that to my size, but she’s pretty tall for a chick. I’d say about 5’ 9” at least. Not to mention that chicks seem to be more turned on by my size than afraid of it. Being bigger means I can protect them. Not her though. I expect her to run for safety at any moment. She hasn’t made eye contact since I initially turned to her and she’s fidgeting. I take in her clothes, which look like they could be expensive, and I notice that she’s skinny as hell. No hips, no ass, no tits, just slim and athletic. So why in the hell is Junior stepping up to full throttle? The icing on the cake? I feel beads of pre-cum. Eleven months dry as the desert and this timid little boy-girl is un-manning me. That gets my blood boiling and for a second causes me to question my masculinity, which is totally unacceptable. Did I just say totally? This girl is destroying my vibe.
“What the fuck are you doing creeping around here this late at night?”
She squeaks. Literally jumps a foot in the air and squeaks like a scared little mouse. Granted, I did snap at her, but come on. Really? I glance around the parking lot and around the building. She can’t be out here by herself, but there is no one else and I don’t even see a car. When I look back at her, she’s hugging herself and slowly backing away. I reach out and grab her by both arms and she whimpers, her face a mask of terror. What the fuck?
“Please,” she begs. “I’m s-sorry. I-I only wanted to ask about the gym. I’ll leave. I promise.”
“You think I’m going to hurt you?” I try to keep the growl from my voice, but I can’t. Everything about this girl is irking the fuck out of me. Why would I want to hurt her and why in the hell is she so scared when she sought me out? She shrugs her shoulders in answer and although she tries to cower away, she doesn’t physically try to get free. Now I’m upset and confused. Either she’s scared or she isn’t. “I’m not going to hurt you. I’m going to let you go and you’re not going to run, okay? You’re going to tell me what you’re doing out here and why you’re alone.” She nods her head in agreement and I let her go. She keeps her eyes trained on the ground and that gets to me even more.
“How’d you get here?”
“I walked . . . from the bus.”
“Why?” The bus stop is roughly a quarter-mile from here. This isn’t a bad neighborhood, I made sure of that when I picked the location, but she’s a female and no place is really safe for her to be alone at night. But shit, why do I even care? Why does her being here, alone, unsafe, bother me so much?
Captain Obvious. Of course she’s here for the gym. She’s literally at the gym. And why is she still mumbling? “Why?”
“I looked online. It said you have self-defense classes.”
At no point would I have considered that to be her reason. She’s asking about self-defense classes and yet she’s here alone this late at night. She risks a glance at me just as a pick-up truck pulls into the parking space in front of where we stand. I groan because I know that as scared as she is, it’s about to get ten times worse.
LaShanta Charles was born and raised in the small town of Orangeburg, SC. She has always been an avid reader of all genres, but Romance has always been her true love and is what inspired her to pursue a writing career. In high school, she began letting her classmates read the short stories that she would write and based off of their feedback, her passion for writing pushed her to become a published author. She published her debut novel, Lovely Lies, in 2013 and released the sequel, Lovely Lies 2, in February 2014. Her third novel, Splitting Karma, was released in October 2014. She lives in Yelm, WA, with her husband and three children and also serves in the US Army. She’s a home body who enjoys SLEEPING, reading, SLEEPING, eating, SLEEPING, white chocolate mochas, SLEEPING, sexy alien romances, and of course, writing. Oh, and she hates spiders; they’re extremely creepy, why do they need eight legs??
Wedlocked from Ella Frank & Brooke Blaine is available now!!!
Wedlocked by Ella Frank & Brooke Blaine
Photographer: Wander Aguiar
Cover Designer: Jay Aheer
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Because you have believed in them,
Celebrated with them,
Loved and encouraged them,
Ella Frank and Brooke Blaine invite you to join
Ace Samuel Locke
Saturday the Twenty-Fourth of May
At Six-O’Clock in the Evening
The Grand Floridian Hotel
4406 Palm Way
For Love, Laughter and Happily Ever After
“SO YOU’RE GONNA want to keep your toes on the tail of the board and grip the rails under your chest like this,” Dylan said as he lay across the surfboard to show me the basics of his favorite pastime on the secluded stretch of beach. Not that I was paying much attention to the words coming out of his mouth. I was much more interested in the way his muscles flexed beneath the skintight Body Glove wetsuit he wore.
As he pushed himself up into a standing position, my gaze traveled down the broad expanse of his back and down to his ass.
“See how my dominant leg is in the back, and— Ace? Are you paying attention?”
“Mhmm,” I murmured as I bit down on my lower lip and continued my perusal.
Dylan turned to face me, and his hands went to his hips. “Oh yeah?” he said when I looked up. “What did I just say?”
Taking a step forward, I gave him a cocky grin and tugged him off the surfboard and onto the sand until he was flush against me. Then I let my hands roam down over the firm, round muscles of his ass. “Something about being a dominant in the back,” I said, nipping at his lobe. “So why don’t you turn around?”
A groan of frustration left Dylan then, but his head tilted to the side to let my lips trail down his neck. “You’re not gonna feel so cocky when you can’t get up on that board.”
“Oh, I can always get it up, don’t you worry.”
His hands covered my chest and he gently pushed me away. “How about you prove it, hotshot?” Then he pointed to the longboard I’d rented for the weekend. “Why don’t you show me how it’s done.”
“It’s more fun watching you.”
“Ace. Get your ass on that board.”
I squinted in the sun and grinned. “You gonna be this bossy all weekend?”
“If you’re lucky.”
I took a step back so I was by my board, and crossed my arms. I had my wetsuit on, but it was still undone and hanging around my hips while Dylan walked me through this process step by step, and my move had the desired effect. He rubbed a hand up the back of his neck and over his hair, leaving it tousled and oh so sexy.
“What?” I asked. “I’m back on my side of the board.”
“Don’t try and act innocent with me, Locke. I’m trying to teach you a new skill. One that will keep you from hurting yourself. And you’re standing there being all…” He waved his hand up and down, gesturing to my exposed upper body.
“See. Stop it,” he said, and then pointed to the board. “And zip up that damn wetsuit so I can’t see all your muscles.”
I arched a brow as I moved to slip my arms through the stretchy synthetic material, and when I reached for the zipper and pulled it up to the base of my skull, Dylan groaned.
“Okay, that’s almost worse than no wetsuit.”
“I’m sorry. You’re not checking me out, are you? Because you’re supposed to be paying close attention to teaching me something that could save my life,” I said as I turned around and made a show of bending down to get on the board.
“You having fun right now?” Dylan asked.
“Maybe a little.”
“Yeah, well, let’s hope that holds true when the wave dumps you on your ass.”
I let out a sigh and gripped the board just as he’d told me, because the truth of the matter was, I had never surfed a day in my life. I grew up in Chicago, for God’s sake. But Dylan, with his sun-kissed hair, long, lean body, and eyes the color of the sea, looked right at home with the sun shining down on him as his feet sank into the sand by my head.
“Let’s try this a couple more times here on land, and then we’ll get you out in the water. We won’t have you trying to stand up just yet. But if you can get the hang of at least catching the wave into the shore, we might be able to progress.” He crouched down and said, “Remember, toes on the tail of the board and grip the rails, and then push up.”
As I did as he instructed, I paused in the push-up position and was rewarded when he leaned in and took my lips in a sweet kiss.
“Again,” he whispered, and I moved back down to repeat the move, and this time when I paused, I was rewarded with a deeper kiss. When he pulled away too soon, I grumbled and he laughed, straightening. “Any more of that and we won’t make it into the water. On your feet, Locke, it’s time to hit the waves.”
(Free in Kindle Unlimited)
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Everything about this series has just made my life. I have loved each and every book. So I had high hopes for Ace and Dylan’s wedding and *SWOON* Ella Frank and Brooke Blaine created a wedding and all the festivities leading up to the day that just made my heart burst!
First, let’s start with YES this is the third book in the PresLocke series. And yes if you have not read Ace and Locked you are MISSING out! I mean MISSING out on one of the sexiest love stories… no, really you NEED to see how they meet and fall in and love — you need to watch their relationship develop!
My cheeks hurt as I finished reading Wedlocked. Seriously, I think I had such a huge smile on m face through so much of this book. I was just so happy and smiling throughout so much of it… or flat out cracking up like during the bachelor party or best man’s speech 😉 But there were just so many feel good moments. It truly had me wishing that I had someone who loved me that strongly in my life. And let’s not forget to mention how scorching hot the sex is! I won’t ever look at cake the same!
You all definitely want to read this book.. well the whole PresLocke series. I know that reading this series had me going back and #1clicking the rest of these authors books!
I received a complimentary copy of Wedlocked.
About Ella Frank:
Ella Frank is the USA Today Bestselling author of the Temptation series, including Try, Take, and Trust. Her Exquisite series has been praised as “scorching hot!” and “enticingly sexy!”
A life-long fan of the romance genre, Ella writes contemporary and erotic fiction and lives with her husband in Portland, OR. You can reach her on the web at http://www.ellafrank.com and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ella.frank.author
Some of her favorite authors include Tiffany Reisz, Kresley Cole, Riley Hart, J.R. Ward, Erika Wilde, Gena Showalter, and Carly Philips.
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About Brooke Blaine:
You could say Brooke Blaine was a book-a-holic from the time she knew how to read; she used to tell her mother that curling up with one at 4 a.m. before elementary school was her ‘quiet time.’ Not much has changed except for the espresso I.V. pump she now carries around and the size of her onesie pajamas.
She is the author of Flash Point, a romantic suspense standalone, as well as the co-author of the erotic series, A Desperate Man, with Ella Frank. The latter has scarred her conservative southern family for life, bless their hearts. Licked, a romantic comedy, will be released November 11th, 2015 and is the first in the L.A. Liaisons series.
If you’d like to get in touch with her, she’s easy to find – just keep an ear out for the Rick Astley ringtone that’s dominated her cell phone for ten years.
Connect with Brooke:
“I bet I can untangle you.”
At an airport baggage claim, Penny Darling looks up from her knotted mess of ear buds to find the sexiest hunk of man she’s ever seen. He’s got a military haircut, a scar through his eyebrow, and he’s rocking a pastel pink dress shirt like only a real man can. But Penny is on a man-free diet so she leaves the airport without succumbing to his delicious double-entendres…or his dreamy dimples.
PI Russ Macklin can’t take his eyes off Penny. As she sashays out of the airport with hips swaying and curls bouncing, he suspects they may share more than just sweltering chemistry. That suitcase she’s rolling along behind her? It looks a lot like his.
Because it is.
When he tracks her down, he holds her bag hostage in exchange for a date. Their night begins with margaritas and ends in urgent care, and Russ proves that Cosmo’s theory about a very particular type of orgasm was oh-so-wrong.
In Penny, Russ finds a small-town sweetheart with a very naughty side. For the first time ever, he’s thinking about picket fences. Penny finds in Russ a loving, caring man who understands the power of massaging showerheads.
But Russ is only in Port Flamingo for a week. They agree it’ll be a fling and nothing more. Because really, they can’t fall ass-over-teakettle in love just like that…
99k words. HEA. Dual POV. No cheating.
Featuring a big drooly dog named Guppy.
Welcome to Florida. God bless the Sunshine State.
The place is dismal, except for her. On the walls are 1980s tourism posters, rippling with the humidity. All the guys have Magnum, P.I. mustaches, and all the women look like extras from Baywatch. She’s a vision in the middle of all of it, an oasis at the goddamned baggage claim. I circle the clumps of old people bumping into each other with walkers, like slow-motion bumper cars. As I get closer, I see her face. Her freckles, her slightly shiny pink lips. Her breasts, which are fucking beautiful. But her expression, it isn’t beautiful. It’s seriously pissed. Nostrils flared, teeth set, jaw clenched.
In her hands is a whole big tangle of ear buds, and maybe a phone charger. A big knot of cords, like a wad of cold pasta.
I get closer. Not too close, because I don’t want to be that guy, but close enough to see the small starfish necklace dangling from her neck, and close enough to smell something warm, and sweet. Familiar. Vanilla, maybe. Whatever it is, it’s fucking delicious.
On the wall behind her is a big banner. It’s got a faded old cartoon flamingo, flapping his wings and grinning. Underneath is the caption:
WELCOME TO PORT FLAMINGO! HOME OF THE FIRST AIR CONDITIONER!
No shit. Because it’s hot, and I don’t mean like ordinary summertime hot. I mean hot like the time the sauna malfunctioned at my gym and turned all the drywall in the locker room into oatmeal. She doesn’t look hot at all though. She looks cool, and soft, and beautiful. Just the thing I need. Like a vodka soda after a long fucking day.
I set my shoulder bag at my feet and take off my suit jacket. Her braid comes down over one shoulder, the curl at the bottom nestling into her cleavage. I roll up my sleeves. “I bet I can untangle you.”
She looks up at me. Her eyes are deep blue and sparkling. A smile starts to pinch her cheeks. The end of the charger swings between us. “I’m okay. Got myself into this mess, got to get myself out of it.”
“Sometimes two is better than one.”
She smacks her lips at the cords. “Sometimes.” She pulls hard on the plug end, making the wires tighten even more. “You’d think I’d learn to keep that little plastic box that comes with these, but oh no, every—” She tugs. “—single.” Tugs again. “—time.”
Granted, she’s not exactly in need of rescue from a burning building, but no way am I going to stand here and watch her struggle, no fucking way. Without another word, I start undoing the end of the tangle that’s nearest me, and I watch that smile of hers get bigger. She doesn’t look at me, but I see a dimple, and she bites her lip.
Still focused on the knot, she says, “Let me guess. You’re not from around here, are you?”
Can’t imagine what gave me away. Maybe the fact that I’m the only guy in the building wearing slacks and actual shoes. “Here on business.”
She looks me up and down. “What kind of business? FBI?”
Fuck. Not the first conversation I want to have, definitely not. Also, I don’t know a single fed who wears pants this nice. “Private business.”
“Hmmm.” She eyes me more mischievously. “Tall, dark, and a military haircut. Something tells me you’re not here to do some competitive bass fishing. “
Oh man. Cute. Really cute. “No, I’m not.”
Slowly, the tangle comes undone, until we’re in the middle together. Reminds me of that scene in Lady and the Tramp.
But before I can say anything more—like, for instance, I’m down for 20 questions, as long as it’s over a drink—the buzzer on the carousel roars to life, as loud as a tornado siren. The crush of people starts to tighten around the conveyor. She winds the three sets of ear buds and the cord around her palm. From the pocket of my bag, I take out the plastic case that came with my ear buds and hand it over. “There.”
She laughs through her nose. “I’ll be okay.”
“I insist.” I press it into her hand, and her eyes meet mine.
“I’ll bet you do.” She looks away as a blush covers her cheeks.
The bags start to rumble off the conveyor. For one long second, she watches me, smiling. Sizing me up. The little curls around her face tremble in the air conditioning, and I’m about to say You, me, a pitcher of margaritas, tonight when she looks away and hoists her purse up on her shoulder.
“That’s my bag,” she says. “I should get going. Thanks for…untangling me.”
She steps away and threads her way between a handful of old ladies in walkers. I know I should help her, I know I should grab her bag, but holy fuck look at that body.
She grabs her bag herself and flips up the handle.
“Give me your number. Let me take you out for dinner.”
Her smile dissolves into a scowl. “You married?”
I shake my head slowly. “I’m a lot of things, but married definitely isn’t one of them.”
Shake my head again. “Nope.”
She takes her starfish charm between thumb and forefinger and loops the chain over her lip. “Under any restraining orders? Involved in a complicated love triangle that your Match.com profile describes as an open marriage? Divorced five times and counting? Polyamorous?”
Whoa. This girl’s got to find a new dating pool, stat. “Promise. I’m Russ, and what you see is what you get.”
Zip-zip-zip goes her necklace.
“Just a drink.” I lift my hands out between us, to say C’mon. “Maybe dinner, if I make the cut.”
She blinks hard a few times and she drops her necklace charm. “I’m sorry. You’re sweet, but I can’t.”
Well, fuck it. The first time I try to get back in the saddle in ages and the goddamn thing slides right down onto the ground again. I respect it though. I don’t want to overdo this, so I give her a final nod and clear my throat. “Had to try.”
She swallows hard. “I’m glad you did.”
And she’s gone. As she goes, her hips sway with her dress. She works that sashay, as my aunt says, like a fucking pro. She looks back over her shoulder, only once, as she walks through the sliding doors. I give her a wink.
And she fucking winks back.
She takes a left out of the door, which means she isn’t gone yet. Not by a long shot. The architecture does me a favor, and I get to watch her sashay right past the floor-to-ceiling windows. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her, not even if I wanted to. She smiles at the sidewalk without looking up, and laughs a little. Like she knows I’m watching her and is feeling pretty good about it.
God, what a cutie. And what a bummer. She was fucking sexy, she seemed sweet, and there was something about her that was up to no good. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but it was somewhere between the bikini top and I’m glad you did. But the spark wasn’t all we had in common. I realize, as she finally disappears from view, she also has a bag that looks just like mine.
Medium-sized black Samsonite. Sensible, dependable. Number One Amazon Bestseller in Luggage.
But that couldn’t be my bag, I think to myself as I turn back toward the conveyor. Couldn’t be.
It was. Twenty minutes later, I’m the only guy standing by the carousel, and there’s a single black bag going around and around in front of me. It’s exactly the same as mine, except it’s overstuffed and has a pink puff of yarn tied to the handle. Same color as her bikini top and literally hanging by a thread.
It slides to a stop, and the yarn ball swings off the side of the carousel. Tick-tock, tick-tock.
A rattle from the center of the conveyor sounds promising—I was early connecting through Atlanta, so my bag had to be the first one on—but no dice. What comes off the conveyor isn’t a bag at all, but instead one of the baggage guys in big set of protective earphones and a reflective vest. He crawls up through the flap and pokes his head out. He wipes his forehead on his bare leathery shoulder and then looks from me to the bag and back again. “Nice pom-pom, man,” he says and backtracks down the hole.
I glance around for some airport help on this, but all I see is a handwritten sign at the baggage claim desk. Will Return On Monday!
As I take hold of the bag, I notice it’s got not one but three “LIFT WITH CAUTION” tags: the first one new, the second one beat up, and the third one halfway shredded, all together the way people keep lift tickets from ski areas. I give it a hoist. The thing is so heavy it makes me grunt like I’m doing a dead lift. With a two-handed lug, I yank it off the conveyor and set it on the ground, wheels down.
Squeezing the roller handle, I pull it up…and it snaps off right in my hand. The arms stick up from the suitcase like the tines of a fork.
I clench my eyes shut and think back to “the most helpful critical review” from Amazon. “Looks like every other bag on the planet. Sh**ty handle.”
Touché. But it is what it is. Which is her bag, hopefully.
I wheel it along to a bank of benches, by some old beat-up phone booths, lining the far wall. I open up the ID pouch and read:
125 E. BEACH POINT DRIVE
PORT FLAMINGO, FL 34102
I bite down on my gum and groan. How cute is that name? Jesus Christ, come on. Penny Darling. What’s more, it’s not a business card or typed up like mine, but written by hand. Her writing is sweet, pretty, and feminine, with big plump letters written in bright pink marker that’s bled into the plastic cover, so they’ve got a haze around them like neon lights. And there, at the bottom.
It might not be my smoothest move, but I’ll take it. I pull my phone from my pocket and give her a call. As I wait for the ringtone, I decide to hell with suave and understated. I want her, and I need her to know it.
But then in my ear I hear, “Mobile Network Temporarily Unavailable.”
Goddamned Verizon, jamming up my plans. So I try to text her instead.
This is Russ.
From the airport.
I’ve got your bag and I think you’ve got mine.
How about that drink?
I hit send, and I’m answered immediately with a row of red exclamation points and four repetitions of NOT DELIVERED. What. The. Fuck.
Then I noticed my cell service flips over from 1 bar, to Roaming, to Searching for service…
I pull my hot pack of gum from my sweaty pocket and take out a second piece. The gum is weirdly melted even before I put it in my mouth.
The options now are pretty simple: I could touch base with the guy who hired me to come down here to the land that Verizon forgot or…
I think about those tan lines, the curve of her hips. That bikini. The glisten on her rosy lips. The way she wrinkled her nose when she smiled.
Why is this even a goddamned question? It’s four o’clock on a Saturday. A beautiful woman is on East Beach Point Drive with all my stuff. And somewhere in this town, I’ll bet there’s a beachside bar with a pitcher of margaritas with our names on it.