An all-new Boston Belles romance is coming next week from L.J. Shen, and I have a sneak peek for you.
I downed the After Shock in one go, slamming the glass on the counter and moving straight to the wine.
A tall, dark, and handsome type appeared in my periphery. He propped an elbow against the bar, his body tilted in my direction.
“Aren’t you Emmabelle Penrose?”
“Aren’t you a middle-aged man with enough life experience to know better than interrupt people when they’re trying to get drunk?” I snapped, ready for another round.
He chuckled. “Feisty, just like I thought you’d be. I wanted to say I appreciate your business model. And your ass. Both look great hanging from a billboard in front of my building.” He leaned forward, about to whisper in my ear.
I swiveled on my stool, grabbing his wrist in a death grip and twisting it down, rotating his entire arm in the process, on the verge of breaking it. He let out a moan, squeezing his eyes shut.
“What the f—”
It was my turn to lean toward him. “The fuck is I’m trying to enjoy my drink here without getting sexually harassed. Think it’d be too much to ask? My being an owner of a burlesque club doesn’t give you permission to try and feel me up. Just like if you were a dentist, it wouldn’t give me the authority to lie on your dinner table at a restaurant and ask you to fill my cavity. Now beat it.”
I pushed the guy, sending him careening across the bar, back to his stool, spitting out profanity in his wake. He grabbed his coat and stormed out of the bar.
“Whoa. Is your day as bad as the hangover you’re going to have tomorrow morning?” The bartender grinned at me impishly. He looked to be in his mid-twenties, with ginger hair and a shamrock tattoo on his forearm.
“My day’s worse than any alcohol poisoning recorded on planet Earth.” I smacked my wine glass on the bar. “Trust me.”
“Do not trust her. She’s a flighty one.” A posh English accent chuckled three stools down. The person it belonged to was shadowed in the depth of the bar, a stain of darkness concealing his elegant silhouette. I didn’t have to squint to know who it was.
Only one man in Boston sounded like power, smoke, and an impending orgasm.
Say hello to Devon Whitehall.
Also known as The Bastard Who Broke My Strict One Night Only Rule.
He’d made it to a third hookup before I came to my senses and cut him loose. From the moment we jumped each other’s bones about three years ago at my brother-in-law Cillian’s cottage in the woods, I knew Devon Whitehall was different.
He was a dangerously mild creature, the scholar out of his group of friends. Manipulative, arrogant, and in a league of his own.
Other men around him had glaring shortcomings—Cillian, my brother-in-law, was a cold fish in a suit; Hunter, my best friend’s husband, was loose-tongued and goofy; and Sam, my friend Aisling’s husband, was … well, a mass murderer. But Devon had no giant neon sign warning you to stay away. He wasn’t damaged, or broken, or angry. At least not outwardly. Still, he had that same untouchable quality that made you want to burn like a meteor, which would inevitably, reduce you to nothing but cinders.
He was everything a woman wanted, wrapped into one godlike package.
And that package had a state-of-the-art body, down to the corded, Michelangelo’s Moses forearm muscles that made my IQ drop to room temperature whenever I touched them.
I had put a stop to our rendezvous after the third hookup, on the grounds that I wasn’t an idiot. I always like to say that where there’s a willy, there’s a way. But in Devon’s case, he looked like the kind of dude I could actually catch feelings for.
That hookup, after we had had animalistic sex, Devon turned around, dropped his head on the pillow next to me, and did something outrageous and vulgar. He fell asleep.
“Um, what do you think you’re doing?” I’d asked, appalled.
What’s next? Taking me to dinner? Matching Minnie and Mickey hoodies? Binge-watching Schitt’s Creek together?
“Sleeping,” he’d said in his patient, everyone-around-me-is-an-idiot tone. His eyes, blue and silvery like molten ice, blinked open. A devilish smirk formed on his lips. I sat upright, glaring.
“Go sleep in your own bed, bro.”
“It’s three o’clock in the morning. I have an early court day tomorrow. And please do not use the term ‘bro’. Excessive use of common monikers is indicative of poor linguistic culture.”
“Cool story, bro. Do you have a version of that sentence in English?” And then, because I really was tired, I said, “Never mind. Just get out of here.”
“Are you taking the mick?” He wore a blank expression like it was a full-blown tux.
I had marched over to the door and tossed out his clothes and loafers. He stumbled out half-naked in my hallway, collecting the designer items from the floor. Truth be told, it wasn’t my finest exhibition of character. I was overwhelmed with throat-clogging fear that I would get attached.
Now, Devon was in front of me, all tall and gorgeous and screwable. I caught his frame in the fringe of my sight, hands in pockets, square jaw as sharp as a blade.
“Calling me untrustworthy is libel, Mr. Hot Shot Lawyer.” I puckered my lips, slipping into the role of the ball-busting siren. I wasn’t in the mood to be quick-witted, eccentric Belle—but that was the only version of me people knew.
“Actually, it is slander. Libel is when the false accusation is written. I could text it to you, if you’re so inclined.” He turned to the bartender, tossing a black Amex card on the counter. “One Stinger for me, and a Tom Collins for the lady.”
“W-why, yes, His Highness.” The bartender flustered. “I mean, sir. I mean … what should I call you?”
Devon quirked an eyebrow. “I would honestly prefer if you didn’t. You’re here to serve me drinks, not hear my life story.”