Authors: Cooper Lovell
Erotic horror author Tessa Danvers's limited experience with men has her convinced that she just doesn't need to waste time on them. Her writing career is hot enough, and she recently purchased the home of her dreams.
When a scheduling conflict prevents her cousin Jaime from making some much-needed renovations to her new house, he sends his friend, Gavan Murdoch—a gorgeous, hulking Scotsman with a brogue thicker than Highland fog—in his place. One look at the diminutive author and Gavan's protective defenses are up. He swore off women years ago following a devastating heartbreak.
After getting off to a very rocky start with Tessa in an effort to keep her at arms' length, Gavan succumbs to his desire for the petite, hot-tempered author, only to learn that he'll have no choice but to share her with millions of other men.
Siren Publishing, Inc.
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A SIREN PUBLISHING BOOK
IMPRINT: Erotic Romance
Copyright © 2011 by Cooper Lovell
E-book ISBN: 1-61034-716-1
First E-book Publication: August 2011
Cover design by Jinger Heaston
All cover art and logo copyright © 2011 by Siren Publishing, Inc.
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This book is for all the authors who have created heroes I’ve fallen in love with and for Lori who has been my unwavering cheerleader since I couldn’t sleep one night and decided to do some writing.
Copyright © 2011
Tessa couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Jaime promised her weeks ago he’d do this for her. Now, he was telling her another job took precedence because of an emergency and was sending another contractor in his place.
C’mon, T. You know if I could do it myself I would
,” Jaime said. “The job I’m doing right now has major deadlines, and if I don’t keep up my end on the timing, they’ll sack Danvers Construction. I have no control over the weather, and all this damn snow has really messed with my schedule.”
Tessa’s brother Jaime was three years older. Their family had been very close and they relied on each other frequently. When Tessa was in her last year of college, their parents were killed in a car accident while on vacation in Europe. They’d become orphans in one devastating phone call.
The guilt in his voice was palpable and Tessa relented. “Look, Jaime, I understand. It’s just that I have a lot going on, too. My editor’s on my butt about the book, and having a stranger coming in and out of my house all day doesn’t exactly thrill me. Honestly? You know how I hate having people I don’t know in here when I’m busy.”
She released an irritated sigh and ran her fingers through her hair. “What if I just hold off on the renovations until you have time to do them yourself? I’d rather wait for you to do it.”
She could just kick herself for not foreseeing the need to have built-in ladders and step-ups wherever possible in the house. Despite its overall cottage-like appearance, the house was built on a grand scale. It wasn’t a huge house, but the sizeable rooms all had high, vaulted or cathedral ceilings, and the amenities boasted larger-than-life dimensions, which made life for a five-foot-one shrimp, like herself, frustrating. It was the price for having a penchant for all things big. She’d loved the house since she was a little girl and always called it the “enchanted cottage” because, to her, it looked like something straight out of a storybook. The bonus and advance she’d earned after her third book debuted on the ten best-sellers list arrived only weeks after she noticed the house had been put on the market.
Immediately following her move into the house, Jaime made himself available to handle a laundry list of repairs and renovations. He and his crew provided her with three long months of near constant noise and general mayhem. But in the end, the inconvenience of sharing her days with a construction crew was well worth it. She had been able to purchase her dream home and had it renovated and decorated to her liking. It was comfortable, unique, and aesthetically pleasing. She loved it.
“Listen, I wouldn’t send Doc over in my place if he wasn’t a first rate master carpenter. He’s more than a carpenter, T. He’s built a reputation as an artist. I’m actually really psyched that he’s available. He just returned from Mexico where he was working on some millionaire’s mansion for the last year. I’ve sent him all the specs on the house with the details of the renovations you want. Really, if you think about, it’s actually a better situation for you, T.”
“Oh? And how is that, exactly?”
“Well, since basically everything that needs to be done is woodworking and he’s a master carpenter, he won’t need to haul a crew in with him. He’ll be able to do the job alone. That should seriously cut down on the annoyance factor, right?”
Tessa rolled her eyes. “If you say so. I guess, in a way, you could be right, considering I have this ridiculous photo shoot for some magazine that I’m just dreading scheduled to come here next week. Having a construction crew and a film crew here at the same time would definitely suck.”
She couldn’t help but smile at the sound of relief in Jaime’s voice as he quickly jumped on her change of heart. “Great then, it’s all set. I’ll tell Doc to be there tomorrow morning. Oh, and since I’m so tied up on this other site, I probably won’t be over for dinner for a couple of weeks. Talk to ya later, T.”
He hung up before she could say another word.
Placing the phone back in its base, she turned toward the back door.
“He better be right about this guy,” Tessa grumbled to herself as she headed out to the barn to take care of the horses.
* * * *
Greetings of “Hey! Happy to see ya!”, whinnies, and
helped to curb Tessa’s annoyance at the whole Doc situation. She grabbed four apples and fed one each to Rusty, her pony who acted more like a dog than an equine, Jasmine, the palomino that she loved to take for long, relaxing rides so they could have girl talk,
Aladdin, her jet-black Arabian that she rode with an ease that led one to believe they became one being when she was astride him, and last but not least, her newest addition to the barn. The big, beautiful Blanco. His former owner tried to talk her out of the purchase, warning that he had an untamable wild streak and that such a large horse, eighteen hands, would be too much for such a little girl. But Tessa would not be swayed. From the moment she saw the whiter-than-white giant, her mind had been made up.
She worked her way through the evening chores, giving each horse a quick brush down while she vented her anger at Jaime’s change in plans. By the time she had everyone settled for the night, she’d done enough complaining and physical labor that her anger was gone, replaced by resignation and exhaustion.
After a quick dinner of soup and salad, Tessa sat before her computer staring at the list of final revisions to her latest book. She worked long into the night, and when she looked up to see that it was after two in the morning, she saved her changes, tossed her Passport into the wall safe, and went to bed.
Unfortunately, the revisions, the renovations, the strange guy she expected tomorrow, and that damned upcoming photo shoot kept playing in her mind like internal movies. On the one hand, she was beyond thrilled that she had managed to make what was, at this point, a successful career out of writing, which was something she loved to do. On the other hand, though, her sudden popularity among the fans of her novels was something she hadn’t been prepared for. It turned out she’d stumbled into quite the niche with her blend of horror and erotica. When her first book hit the shelves, it drew a quick and loyal fan base, largely comprised of college-aged males. Her second book catapulted right to the top ten, resulting in preorders for the third book, which, at that point, was only an outline. Sometime between the second and third books she had been assigned a publicist when word got to her editor that fan sites were being created in her honor. One had named her “High Priestess of Horror,” a nickname that caught on among her fans like wildfire. Instant celebrity, unusual for a new, young author, became part of Tessa’s routine. She’d enjoyed making appearances to discuss her books and appeared on a few minor national talk shows. She fielded the typical questions like, “How does a nice girl like you dream up such dark storylines?” or, “Have you heard that yours is the best-selling poster on college campuses?” and the like. Two issues ago, the trendy men’s magazine
named her the ultimate fantasy in the twenty-to-forty age demographic. When the issue hit the stands, her publicist decided it would be a good idea to make the most of it and scheduled the upcoming photo shoot for the magazine.
Just the thought of what could be in store for her on this shoot made sleep impossible.
appear on the clock before she finally fell asleep. At six, her alarm sounded and she dragged herself out of bed, groaning the entire time, and stumbled into the shower. She towel dried her hair and dragged a brush through the long, sandy blonde layers, grimaced at its typical unruliness, and gave up, tossing the brush onto the vanity top. Her eyes were gray and red—gray irises surrounded by bloodshot whites—but a couple of
relieved the effects of sleep deprivation. Feeling every bit as haggard as she looked, she pulled on a creamy, short-
turtleneck sweater, her favorite 505s, and a pair of thick, wooly socks and went downstairs.
The mug of much-needed, very light coffee was millimeters from her lips when the doorbell rang.
“Here we go,” Tessa said aloud, feeling the irritation of having her plans changed against her wishes creep back up her neck as she walked to the door, coffee mug in hand.
The bell sounded again as she reached for the door. “Jeez, give a person time to walk across a room,” she groused, pulling the large door open.
“Gavan Murdoch. Jaime sent me.”