What’s That Tune? Or, My Soundtrack/Trailer Music Obsession

I very rarely listen to the radio anymore, only sometimes when I’m in my car. But since I work from home now, I don’t spend as much time in my car. So the radio is rarely where I discover new music. My love of TV and movies actually leads me to more new songs than anything now. This happens one of three ways.

Movie or TV Show Trailers — My two most recent song purchases came via this pathway. First there was “Warriors” by Imagine Dragons, which was used in one of the TV spots for Insurgent, the second movie in the Divergent trilogy.

The other was “End of All Days” by 30 Seconds to Mars, which is being used for the promos for the upcoming new CW show The Messengers.

Fan Videos — Okay, I admit I’m a big shipper of couples on TV shows. Sometimes I cruise YouTube looking for fan videos dedicated to my ships. I’ve found some good songs this way, such as Plumb’s “Don’t Deserve You,” which I found while watching fan videos dedicated to Aramis and Anne from The Musketeers. This video seems like a dance mix rather than the version I downloaded, but you get the idea. Plus, let’s all pause to appreciate just how yummy Santiago Cabrera looks in musketeer garb. :)

Actual TV Show/Movie Soundtracks — I LOVE movie soundtracks, and I own a lot of them. Sometimes I love an entire instrumental soundtrack such as Last of the Mohicans or, more recently, Interstellar. Sometimes it’s just a song I hear on a TV show, such as “Don’t Let Me Go” by Raign, which was used during an emotional scene on The Vampire Diaries.

Sometimes it’s the actual theme song for a show that I love, such as the one for Vikings — Fever Ray’s “If I Had a Heart.”

 

I also discovered a band that does Viking-inspired music by watching the show. The song “Helvegen” by Wardruna, which played in a season 2 episode when the Vikings set sail for England, was so atmospheric and fitting for the show that I went in search of who sang it. That led me to Wardruna’s album Yggdrasil, named for the holy tree in Norse mythology.

This was one of many songs I’ve identified via the website TuneFind, which lists the songs used in many TV shows, by episode.

Do you hear songs in trailers or TV shows or movies and just have to know what they are? Do you watch fan videos on YouTube?

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GuiltCon: One Fangirl’s Habit of Ditching Her Family

I may never make it all the way across the country to participate in Comic Con, but that’s okay. Because right here in my backyard (the city of Atlanta) there is an annual four-day extravaganza known as Dragon*Con, which celebrates sci-fi, comics, gaming, books, movies, TV, fantasy, independent musicians, cosplay, robotics, steampunk… Tens of thousands of people attend each year, and I am one of them.

I’ve attended wearing my Sunnydale High t-shirt, covered in vampire bites. I’ve attended in more elaborate costumes as Luna Lovegood and purple-haired Tonks. But why should I feel guilty about this celebration of fandom? For starters, Dragon*Con takes place every Labor Day weekend, which is terrible timing for me. That is also the weekend of a major regional book festival that, as an author, I should be attending for professional reasons. But professionalism takes a back seat to hanging out with fellow Browncoats and Whovians. Also, Labor Day often coincides with my late-August wedding anniversary. I…may have left my hub with the kids on our tenth anniversary because I was busy having this picture taken.

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And speaking of my kids… They may have inherited some of mama’s geek tendencies.

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They keep asking, when will you take us to stay in a fancy downtown hotel so we can participate in all four days of Dragon*Con? Um…never. Some of the evening activities just aren’t child appropriate. Of course, as they enter their teen years, that excuse is starting to wear thin. Okay, FINE, really I’m using the four days as my annual chance to catch up with bestie and fellow Bad Girl Trish Milburn.

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July is a heavy travel month for both me and my husband for work reasons. August is not only our chance to be back together as a family, but it’s the start of school, a whirlwind of buying supplies and chauffeuring kids who are auditioning for band chairs and starting new activities. There’s always a massive call for parent volunteers this time of year. Ever told someone you can’t help with the PTA bake sale because you’re trying to build a Dalek? Dragon*Con is crowded and hot and not cheap. I have every reason in the world not to go–(have you priced school supplies lately?!)–and yet…

It’s something I do for me, completely for me. To see my similarly geek-minded friends, to revel in a few days of out-of-this-world craziness and fandoms and shipping. Will I feel guilty about going this year? Perhaps. But will it stop me from having a blast? Not on your life.

(For the record, I do try to occasionally get the kids downtown for the parade or an hour or so of autograph collecting. I’m not a total monster.)

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Guilty of Being Geeky

Do I have Guilty Pleasures? Sure, I do. Tons. Make up, food, getting my nails done, vodka…

But my REAL guilty pleasure is somewhat of a secret. Until now, that is.

Picture it: Detroit 1986.

I’m an eight-year-girl who loves to play school and office and secretary to the astro-physicist I will never become (I was a realist–even back then). My grandpa, who was manager of a paper company, always came home with awesome office supply samples.  Paper (of course), pens, pencils, stickers, post-its.

FullSizeRenderI treasured every neon pink index card and every company-branded pencil my grandpa brought home. (See, I still have one)

My addiction grew each August with the arrival of that beautiful business-sized envelope with my school’s logo in the upper left corner. The letter containing my teacher assignment and THE LIST. The list of spectacular school supplies to buy. My elated heart almost floated out of my chest.

The obsession didn’t stop, or even slow, in high school. Or College. Or when I joined the working world. As receptionist for an office of 25 financial planners, I was in charge of supply orders. Woo hoo!

As HR Manager at two different small companies, I was in charge of office supply orders – and had the power to buy whatever I wanted without approval! **insert evil laugh** Though, I always chose cost effective products because I’m a budget-friendly addict.

The addiction…the pleasure…the guilt…hasn’t stopped. I present this evidence:

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Pens and pencils and Sharpies! OH MY!

So why did I feel the need to buy these:

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They weren’t on sale.

I didn’t have a coupon.

If there’s an emergency and someone needs a ten pack of both fine point and precision point Sharpies – I’m your girl!

 

I’m guilty! Someone arrest me. It’s gone too far.

You don’t even want to see my collection of Post-its or multi-colored paperclips or hot pink staples or…

YOU DON’T!

mypen-2<< For any other Kids In the Hall fans out there.

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My Guilty Pleasure by Sally Effing Kilpatrick

Oh, this post came at a most opportune time.

I have a book coming out in about a month, and it’s an odd hodgepodge of, well, me. You see, there’s the Sally that grew up in a small town and made very good grades and behaved very well after the age of five. (Ask my mom—she’ll tell you!) She went to a little white church and learned all of the hymns. Then she went to college and even kept going to church there. She doesn’t smoke, hasn’t done drugs, and didn’t drink until she was 21.

And then there’s the Sally who cusses like a sailor. No. There are times when sailors would probably plug their ears to escape the vitriol. I cuss when I’m happy or sad or mad. I would cuss in a box. I would cuss with a fox. Or in a boat or with a goat. . .

I think you get the picture.

This puts me in a pretty pickle because The Happy Hour Choir has some decidedly inspirational moments. And then there’s the cussing. Even worse? Bittersweet Creek is about my country farmers. They cuss even more. the happy hour choir

I know I shouldn’t do it. It’s not ladylike for one thing. It’s not what nice people do. I’m supposedly showing how deficient I am in vocabulary. *cough* Bullshit *cough* I doubt very seriously that my blue streaks make my parents or husband proud, and it’s not really a habit I want to pass on to my children.

So, I asked myself, “Self, why do you cuss so damn much?” And my self came up with the following reasons:

5. There was that boyfriend who once remarked how much he liked the fact I didn’t cuss a lot. Yeah. About that. I may or may not have exerted my freedom from him in a litany of four-letter words. Huh. I would’ve thought that would’ve worn off by now.

4. As a student of the English language, I am mystified by how creative we are in our cursing. Take any curse word, and I bet you can shoehorn it into just about any part of speech. That’s a flexibility not every language enjoys. We owe it to ourselves to explore our native language’s fluidity, don’t you think?

3. It’s fun. Phrases like “shit fire and save the matches” amuse me. Add “bitches” to the end of just about anything, and it’s hilarious. See Bitches, Teacups! Also, don’t you really want to end your yoga classes with “Namaste, bitches!” You know you do.

2. It’s cathartic. Somehow “Dadblame it!” doesn’t really help me when I stub my toe. On the other hand, a long and drawn out “Son of a bitch” really helps me manage my pain. I swear it’s true. They should do scientific studies. I volunteer as tribute.

1. Here’s the real reason: some of my favorite people in this entire world curse. My Aunt Dot tried her darnedest not to cuss in front of me with some hilarious permutations like “Bullcorn.” I was supposed to be sleeping one night when her friend Dennis was talking about almost getting into a traffic accident and made the story more hilarious while repeating, “F*ck a duck!” over and over again. (I sometimes make this one “Fornicate with aquatic fowl” in an attempt to make it a bit more Twitter friendly. In related news, I’m also a fan of “defecate adobe.”) And, finally, a shout out to my father who has always enjoyed adding a blue word here and there to elicit a giggle. One day—as an adult, mind you—I said a certain word, and he responded with “You’ve got stuff in your mouth that I wouldn’t hold in my hand. Where’d you learn such things?” I narrowly avoided going all 80s PSA on him and shouting, “I learned it from listening to you, Dad!”

At any rate, if all of those people are cursing, I don’t think cursers go to hell. I could call out some closet cursers, but I won’t. I’ll just say that little pitchers may have big ears, but they also have big eyes. If I’ve been emulating Aunt Dot and Dennis and Daddy, it’s not really because they cuss. No, it’s because I like the way they treat other people and that shouldn’t be forgotten just because they have a colorful vocabulary.

So, cuss all you want, bitches!*

Work Bitch

 

*As the pragmatic feminist I am, I understand that the word “bitch” can be problematic. Personally, I like to feel as though I am appropriating it. Already I don’t feel the sting when it’s hurled at me as an insult. And if I don’t feel the sting, then your insult hasn’t succeeded.

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Captive is Coming!

Or, more aptly, it’s already here! I’ve gotten several “in the wild” pictures from readers who’ve found copies of Captive already in their local Barnes & Noble, but for those who aren’t as lucky, Captive will be officially released into the world tomorrow! *throws confetti* *blows noise maker*

As I said in my acknowledgements for this book, writing this was a marathon. An exhausting one at that, and I’m so happy that it’s finally here. A finished, pretty product that I will soon cry over when I see it on the shelves at Target hold in my hands.

So far, people have said some really nice things about it:

“A vulnerable but indomitable heroine and a hero who will haunt your dreams long after the last page. Raw, sexy and unexpectedly tender, Captive is a powerful, gripping story.”Kit Rocha, New York Times bestselling author

“A sexy, suspenseful, and deliciously forbidden love story!”Laura Kaye, New York Times bestselling author

“Walsh entices readers with the lure of romance and a hint of mystery.  Sensuous detail…with intense heat and complex characters.” —Publishers Weekly

“If captor/captive romances have you crying Stockholm syndrome, we don’t blame you—but don’t let the premise of Captive scare you off. Told from dual perspectives, nothing is as it seems—and everything is really freaking hot.”—Women’s Health

“Brighton Walsh has penned a beautiful love story that will pull at the reader’s heartstrings.”Affaire de Coeur

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He’s the most dangerous man she’s ever met…and she’s falling in love with him.

Madison Frost is desperate to escape her life. Daughter of a prominent businessman, she has everything a girl could ask for. Except for a family who’s present in her life, and anyone to talk to outside the four walls of the prison she calls home. Madison dreams of one day leaving her life behind. She never thought being kidnapped is how it would happen.

Now she’s being held captive by a man who’s as frightening as he is sinfully gorgeous. Enormous, muscular, and filled with secrets, the man they call Ghost is an enigmatic mercenary, and Madison is trapped with him. She doesn’t know who hired him or why, but the more time she spends at his mercy, the more she realizes he’s not what he seems. Beneath his rough exterior lies an unexpected gentleness and a heart as broken and battered as her own.

But as Madison lets down her walls, Ghost holds tight to his, hiding secrets that could destroy everything.

For those who want a little more than some nice reviews and a summary, here’s a little taste of Madison and Ghost…

***

His lips parted when his name left mine, his eyes dropping to my mouth, and it felt like he’d sucked the air right out of my lungs. Suddenly we were closer than we were a second ago, his shoulder flush against mine, and I let my eyes flutter closed the moment I saw him lean toward me.

In the back of my mind, my conscience was screaming at me, telling me this was a bad idea, I shouldn’t be doing this—not with him. But my body had other ideas. My body wanted this, and right now, I was letting that part of me lead.

I met him in the middle, the first brush of our lips tentative. Only a whisper of flesh upon flesh, and when I didn’t pull back, he leaned in again, pressing his mouth firmly to mine.

And his kiss . . . his kiss was an unexpected contradiction of the man I’d come to know. The softness of it surprised me, considering the rough edges of him. His lips were tentative, questioning in their exploration, and I answered every unasked question, moving with him without hesitation. When my tongue licked against the seam of his lips, he groaned, a deep sound resonating from his chest, and then his hands were on me. He cupped my face, pulling me closer to him as he opened his mouth to me, slid his tongue against mine.

It was everything I’d ever imagined and yet nothing I’d ever experienced. He was consuming me, every single one of my senses honing in on him. The scruffy whiskers of his beard were long enough that they didn’t chafe so much as brush softly against me. His hands were rough, the tips of his fingers marred by calluses that ran across my cheeks, down my neck. He smelled like fresh soap and laundry detergent and the scent I’d grown accustomed to that was all him. Every time a groan echoed in his chest, I felt it against my own, and I could barely hold in a reply.

And his taste . . . God, the way he tasted. His tongue swept into my mouth, sliding against mine as he tilted my head so he could push the kiss deeper, harder.

My hands were still limp at my sides, but I wanted to touch him. I inched them over toward him as he continued to kiss and lick, his teeth scraping lightly against my bottom lip. With one hand, I gripped his arm, feeling his muscles flex with every movement. Reminding me exactly how much power he had behind his body, yet showing me how gentle he could be. With the other hand, I reached over until I found his leg, and as soon as my fingers brushed against his thigh, he stiffened.

But he didn’t pull away.

***

Did that get your interest piqued? Well…I’ll just leave these right here then… :)

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My Guilty Pleasure? Girls’ Weekend

So, I’m supposed to admit to a guilty or non-guilty pleasure. Here’s the thing, my guilty pleasure should be a non-guilty pleasure. It’s taking time to hang out with friends. In my case, it’s heading out for a weekend with my college girlfriends.

Like lots of us out there, I struggle with balance. And, while I am (finally) making some money, I’m certainly not the primary bread-winner in our family. I have two kids and a husband who require things like clean laundry and food. My son has soccer games every weekend, and it’s tough for my daughter to get dragged everywhere.

Yet, even with as the guilt sets in, I make sure I make time for one weekend get-together a year. The number varies, but we have a solid seven women who come. Together we’ve gone through fun times like births and marriages, and tough times like cancer and divorce. Even though we are scattered throughout the southeast—no one is allowed to move north of the Mason-Dixon or west of the Mississippi (I’m looking at you Jenny!)—everyone makes our weekends together a priority.Tuplets_2015

Sometimes we take the town by storm. One year we toured the Jack Daniels distillery and schooled a bunch of pre-teens rollerskating. Last weekend was our annual get-together. We rented a cabin in Middle Tennessee and never left. We ate lots of junk (someone made chicken wings at 9AM!?) offset with a little bit of fruit. We drank lots of wine and whiskey. We played games. Mostly, though we talked. Talked about the pressures of working, the go-go-go of our lives, our health problems, our families, world events. But, most importantly, we laughed—a lot. Until our stomachs and cheeks hurt.

I wouldn’t call our weekends restful. We don’t get much sleep. But, the weekends are revitalizing in other ways. And, necessary. They always end with lots of stalling and breakfast/lunch and a final picture at Cracker Barrel… Look at those lovely ladies!

My writer lunches are a non-guilty pleasure. In fact, I might be on one as you read this! Writer friends understand the craziness of this business and talk me off the ledge when necessary. And, I return the favor.

Whether you need time with your high school friends, or college friends, or writer friends, it’s important. It lets you know that you are not alone! With guilt or without, I urge you to enjoy your friends!

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Unplugging. Completely.

First off, let’s get one thing straight: the internet is my favorite thing. Right up there with coffee, wine, and chisel-jawed superheroes. My. Favorite. Thing. I love staying connected with my friends through email and texting, talking with readers and other writers via social media, endlessly scrolling Tumblr for new pictures of Chris Evans, and keeping up on the latest developments in my fangirl communities.

Seriously. Have you seen these new pictures of him??

Seriously. Have you seen these new pictures of him??

So it may come as a surprise that my entry for our Bad Girl series on guilty pleasures is all about unplugging.

The thing is, no matter how great it feels to be connected 24/7, in this day and age, it means being connected 24/7, and every now and then, it just gets exhausting.

I can always tell when the press of it all is starting to get to me. The flurry of instant communication switches from being vital and invigorating to draining, and I hit a point where I feel like I’m missing what’s happening right in front of me. The tweets and Facebook status updates that usually have me excited for my friends and colleagues make it seem like everyone is having an amazing life except me. Every alert about an incoming email sends a shiver of fear up my spine, because it could mean yet another thing I have to add to my unending to-do list. Hell, even the fan reactions to the latest movie trailer have me feeling like I’m behind on my fangirl activities, and that’s when I really know it’s gone too far.

It’s time to turn it all off.

Sometimes, I unplug in little ways. My husband and I will sit down to binge watch some old TV show, and I’ll leave my electronic friends in the other room. I’ll put my phone on airplane mode before going to sleep so I won’t wake in the middle of the night to that alert light blinking, tempting me to see what I’ve missed. I’ll close Tweetdeck until I’ve hit my word count for the day.

Other times, I go whole hog.

Like right now.

You see, I’m writing this post from thirty-thousand feet, somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. My husband and I are on our way home after a week-long vacation on the Big Island of Hawaii. We’d been planning it for months, and with everything going on with our careers and our families, we needed the break. Yet still, when the time finally came to leave, I was almost dreading it. I was on deadline and anticipating edits incoming at any minute. I had a workshop to lead at my local RWA chapter meeting in just a few weeks. Captain America 3 was on the cusp of beginning filming. How could I possibly go offline for an entire week???

Easily, as it turned off. And wow, I hadn’t been kidding about needing a break.

Over the course of our stay in Hawaii, we snorkeled with sea turtles and hiked volcanic craters and reconnected with ourselves and each other. I read books instead of articles and blog posts and tweets. I barely checked my email, and I didn’t open Facebook once, and I feel amazing and energized for it.

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Try feeling stressed out here. Just try.

Now, with those beautiful islands an invisible speck long-gone over the horizon, I’m feeling ready to reconnect and to tackle all the big challenges coming up ahead. I’m excited to see what’s been going on while I’ve been gone, and to get back to the characters I left to fend for themselves for a few days, and what’s more, I have a whole host of new sparks of ideas for stories buzzing around in my head.

I felt awfully guilty about unplugging, but it truly was a pleasure to turn it all off for a little while.

So much of one—and so revitalizing of one—that who knows. Next time I feel the exhaustion settling in again, maybe I won’t even have to be guilty about taking some time to unplug.

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Tiny Treats 2: A Saint Patrick’s Day Collection

Announcing Tiny Treats 2: A Saint Patrick’s Day Collection! 

Tiny Treats 2

Tiny Treats 2 is a multi-author collection of micro stories, tales that can be read in their entirety in only a handful of minutes. The stories in this free anthology are set during St. Patrick’s Day as stand alones or in the world of each author’s respective books. Several Bad Girlz contributed to this anthology:

  • Sydney Carroll – Springs Love
  • Sophia Henry – To Love A Leprechaun
  • Sally Kilpatrick – Green Bear and Shenanigans
  • Heather McGovern – Love and Corned Beef
  • Tanya Michaels – Lucky In Love
  • Trish Milburn – Lucky Day
  • Lori Waters – A Pinch For Good Luck

Download your FREE copy from the links below. We hope you enjoy these stories of love and luck. Slainte!

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My Mid-Mod Madness

For my take on the guilty pleasures theme, I don’t see it as a truly guilty thing: I own them wholeheartedly! I guess a guilty pleasure is something I spend inordinate amounts of time obsessing over. That really makes it hard to pick just one, though. Hell, I could fill volumes about New Order and nail polish alone! But, since I don’t want this post to bleed over into next week, I’m settling on the most unifying focus of my obsessions: mid-century modern style clothes hair furniture decor cocktails everything architecture. Not that any of this is a surprise to those who know me or read me.

I couldn’t say why I’m so engrossed in a particular building style, but I am. It grabs at something deep in my being….you know, just like New Order’s music does. My grandparents lived in a ranch with a soaring A-frame great room when I was little, so I guess it took hold before I was even aware of such things. Y’all, I’ve actually cried in the presence of beamed ceilings and floor to ceiling windows before. Still question my devotion? Here’s just a tiny sample of proof:

 

mid mod florida brochure1. I get seriously worked up over lack of time machines in real life. Not to change or participate in major historical events, but for the shopping and real estate. Seriously, I’d figure out a way to build one myself if it meant I could get a sweet deal on one of these puppies. Isn’t the islander 3 cute as a boat full of poodles in yachtsman hats?

 

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2. This beauty is actually a scale model. Can you believe it? Who knows how much time it took to build? And now I want to do one, too.

 

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3. Notice the awesome decorative breeze blocks on the model carport? Yeah, I’m really obsessed with those. I have a Pinterest board devoted to them. Other people actually follow this board, so that makes it not weird. Because life is unfair, I don’t have any of these in my own house (yet). If you don’t live in SW Florida or Palm Springs, good luck trying to buy some new, though. In a testament to his awesomeness, my Hubs found a vintage mold on eBay and guess who got it for Christmas? That’s right, another insane home project is in my future!

 

 

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4. We’re going to Myrtle Beach, and this is the hotel where we’re staying. It’s kind of a dive now, and I don’t care. What it does have, besides the gorgeous entrance, is a serious load of gorgeous breeze blocks. Be sure to check in with me on Pinterest for the close-ups!

Love,

 

 

 

 

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SLOW AND STEADY RUSH is Here!

Friday Night Lights meets Sweet Home Alabama in my new release SLOW AND STEADY RUSH. I’m Slow and Steady Rushexcited for everyone to meet Robbie, a high school coach tasked with turning the Falcon football team around, and Darcy, a librarian reluctant to come back to her hometown.

SLOW AND STEADY RUSH received a 4.5 star TOP PICK from RT Book Reviews “…a marvelously funny, engaging, and memorable romance in a place where everyone knows your name.”

Here’s an excerpt toward the beginning of the book, the second time Robbie and Darcy meet…

She drained the fresh drink, and the man replaced it without comment. The door opened every few seconds, belching groups of two or three. As she sipped, she observed the easy camaraderie and recognized several people. A group of popular women, who had been popular teenagers in high school, bunched around two tables close to the dance floor and attracted a fair amount of male attention. But no one approached her, and she felt invisible—in a good way.

Then he walked in. Dear God in heaven, she hadn’t exaggerated his blatant masculinity. Thick blondish hair settled in wavy clumps as if his routine involved fingers and not a comb. A red T-shirt this time. Nothing special except in the way the cotton spread over broad shoulders and tucked messily into a pair of broken-in jeans as if the shirt begged for some woman to pull it out . . . and maybe even off. Damn, he was hot. Tongue-lolling, fantasy-inducing, panty-dropping hot.

He scanned the room. Choosing his conquest for the evening? She was surprised none of the women raised their hands and yelled “Pick me, pick me!”

She took another sip and snorted. Although there was no way he could have heard above the din, his gaze stripped away her cloak of invisibility. In a loose-limbed amble, he approached. Several men stopped him to chat, but there was no question as to his ultimate destination. His gaze flicked to her even as he replied to them.

Heat prickled her scalp, burned down her face, through her body, and finally banked in her lower belly. Then, he was there, standing a few feet in front of her. Close enough to bask in his maleness and become high on the tang of his cologne. Her inhibitions dangerously low, her knees parted a few inches.

Keep it between the damn lines. She clamped her legs together and swiveled back to the bar. He took the stool at her side. Well-worn denim brushed the skin above her knee sending a small shiver down her leg. A beer landed in front of him without a word to the bartender.

She tapped her fingers on the bar and waited for him to say something, anything. He had stalked her from across the room and had taken the seat next to her. Nothing. What kind of game was he playing?

She opened with an eloquent, “Hi,” and immediately felt like an idiot.

His cutting gaze, expressionless face, and lack of response dampened her uncomfortably potent lust. The man could at least be freaking polite. They were in Alabama not New York, no matter what she was drinking.

She poked him in the arm. “I said Hi. By the way, I was going to make you a blackberry pie. Maybe even pick the berries myself, but not now. No sir-ree.”

He turned and braced his legs wide, nearly encasing her. His finger hooked around the neck of the sweating beer, and he took a drag. The muscles of his throat worked, and she swallowed in response. The beer bottle landed back on the bar with a thump.

“Why would you make me anything?” he asked in a tight, suspicious voice.

“That’s what a good neighbor does. It was for taking care of Ada, maybe for the snake thing, but you can forget it. You’re not even getting dry, store-bought cookies from that stupid elf. In fact, you deserve a kick in the butt for being rude.” She poked him in the chest this time.

He rubbed his nape and shifted on the stool. “I know what you think, but I swear I’m not taking advantage of your grandmother. I worry about her being alone.”

The sincerity shading his eyes threw the door open on the fears that had kept her up at night. “I’m worried too, you know. I’m not a nurse. I don’t know how to take care of anyone. What if something bad happens?”

“Then you call for help. I’m right down the road.” His soft voice offered comfort.

“You don’t have a twin brother, do you?”

“No. Why?” His brows drew in, and his forehead wrinkled.

“You’re being all nice. You were scary this afternoon.”

His head jerked backward. “I wasn’t scary.”

“Right.” She shot the word with sarcasm. “Man holding a gun looms over woman innocently swimming in river. Said man annihilates snake not ten feet away. You’re obviously a fuzzy, soft Care Bear. The one with the rainbows.”

“What are you drinking?” Although he didn’t actually smile, something in his face lightened, and his body relaxed against the bar.

“I wanted sweet tea, but Logan gave me this.” Playing her best Vanna White, she presented the glass with flourishing hands but ruined the effect by bobbling it into his arm. The glass left a damp spot on his shirt, which she felt an uncontrollable need to wipe. A multitude of thin puckered scars peeked from under his shirtsleeve.

Her fingers slipped under his sleeve to trace more scars. “What happened?”

He ignored the question, took her glass between two fingers, and sniffed the contents. His bicep rippled under her hand. “How many have you had?”

“That must have hurt terribly. I’m so sorry.”

His shoulder rolled, maybe to shake her hand off. His jaw clenched, furrows framed his thinned lips, and his body stiffened again. In fact, he looked pained. She took her hand away long enough to kiss her fingers and lay them back over his scars.

They stared at each other. His lips parted, and the frost in his eyes melted. Had she actually . . . yes, she had kissed his boo-boo. She snatched her hand away and tucked it under a leg. Obviously, her appendages couldn’t be trusted.

The bartender slid another full glass between them. Dalt’s gaze stayed fixed on her. “Take it away, Brian. She’s had enough.”

The bartender dumped the contents of the glass behind the counter.

“But . . . but, they settled my nerves.” She reached for the now empty glass and fake pouted.

“You want to wake up hung over in some asshole’s bed?” He chucked his chin toward the end of the bar.

She looked over her shoulder and caught a couple of guys staring at her. One she recognized from high school, and she waggled her fingers. He waved back with nothing more than a friendly smile and turned away. “You seriously think someone would take advantage of me?”

His gaze flickered down her body. “Someone that looks like you? Hell yeah.”

“How do I look?” She wiggled to pull her hemline down as far as the stool would allow. Oh my God, did she look slutty?

“I don’t take bait.”

“I didn’t even know you liked to fish,” she said. Only in Alabama could a conversation about drinking and one-night stands get tangled up with fishing.

He blinked a few times. “I wasn’t fishing. You were. You look real pretty.”

Had someone turned the AC off? Her breaths came faster, but it wasn’t anger driving her lungs in and out. Her gaze dropped to his chest, and she tucked hair behind her ear. This man had seen her naked mere hours ago.

“You spied on me in the river.” Her accusation came out breathy, not blameful.

“Thought you were a pig.”

Outrage shot her head up. “That’s . . . that’s a terrible thing to say.”

Was that red flush coursing up his neck a blush? He grunted in what she could only assume was his approximation of a laugh. “Jesus, not you . . . you were—” He shook his head. “Feral pigs have been rooting the bottoms, causing flooding, overtaking natural species. I fully intended to respect your privacy until I saw the snake.”

Propping his elbow on the bar, he rested his jaw on his fist. Fine blond hair dotted the back, thickening to cover his forearm. How much hair covered his chest? Her stomach tumbled, a different kind of nerves this time.

“Why are you so nervous?” he asked.

“What?” She shifted on the stool. Was it that obvious she found him as hot as sin?

“You said the drinks settled your nerves.”

“Oh, that.” She huffed a sigh and cast a quick glance over a shoulder. It seemed like an inordinate amount of eyes were on her or him or maybe them. She leaned closer and whispered as if delivering a dire secret, “People around here remember me.”

“I thought Logan was the resident wild man growing up. You’re a librarian.”

“What’s that supposed to mean? Librarians know how to party. Anyway, it’s not me they remember.”

His nose scrunched. “That made zero sense.”

“Sense and Sensibility.” She snapped her fingers and pointed a finger between his eyes.

“What?” he asked. This time his laugh was unmistakable. He wrapped his hand around her finger and pulled it away. His fingers skittered over the back of her hand before retreating to the neck of his beer. The heat of his touch made her feel like looking for a brand.

“The last party I went to in Atlanta. Everyone came as a famous author. I dressed up like Jane Austen. A corset and everything.”

“Wow. You librarians are animals.” His smile was wide and sexy and teasing. The somber cast of his face transformed into a thing of beauty. Warm, tingly ribbons trailed over and inside her body.

“Dalt is an unusual name. What’s your last name?” she asked.

“Dalton.”

“Your name’s Dalt Dalton?”

His smile crinkled his eyes. “Robert Dalton. Most people called me Robbie before I joined up. Dalt since then.”

“Robbie.” It was a good name. A name that felt natural on her lips. “You have a nice smile, Robbie.”

“So do you,” he said with a rasp.

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