Read an Excerpt
“Hey, Gemma? I just want you to know how much I appreciate all that you and Martin have done to help me meet...people.”
“You mean guys.”
“You’ll love him,” Gemma gushed. “Richard’s cute and educated, and he’s got a fabulous mop of brown hair. He’s an awesome dresser, if a bit on the conservative side, which may or may not irk you. But the best thing is, he loves reading. The guy could talk books all night. God, I swear, he was born for you, Eve.”
Taking a deep breath, Eve nodded and tried to tell herself she believed her friend. Truth was, she didn’t. She didn’t really believe that the right guy was waiting out there for her.
God, it had been so long since she’d been out on a date, and even longer since she’d had a successful date. She didn’t even want to think about how long it had been since she’d had sex. And Pinkie, her vibrator, didn’t count. Even though she had used it that morning and had enjoyed a great orgasm. But Pinkie was silicone, and plastic, no matter how ‘realistic’ it might look, it just didn’t take the place of a man’s hands...or his mouth...or oh...god, she couldn’t think like this right now.
It had been so long since a man had been buried deep inside her, and Eve was loathe to admit how much she missed the sensation, how much she needed to feel that once again. But she couldn’t lie to herself. She knew what she wanted. To be desired. To be wanted. That more than anything was what she needed, to be some man’s fantasy. To be the type of woman who had a man dreaming and wanting. She wanted to be everything to this mystery lover. She wanted to be his ultimate, to do everything he’d ever desired, to live out every one of his fantasies.
“Eve?” Her friend’s voice drew Eve out of her thoughts, “I know relocating here wasn’t an easy decision for you. And it hasn’t been easy meeting friends, or the right kind of guy. But I want you to know, all that’s gonna change.”
“How do you know that, Gemma?”
“I can just tell. It’s in the air. I can feel it. This is gonna be your year, kiddo. Quills has been a smashing success and now it’s time for your personal life to have the same sort of triumphs. Hurry over, kay? And don’t worry about what you’re wearing, we’ll just order some pizza and wings and throw back a few beers. All the big posh parties will be cancelled anyway because of the weather. Deal?”
“Love ya,” Gemma said. “And don’t worry, Eve, you’re gonna knock Richard’s socks off.”
“Love you, too,” Eve murmured back before clicking the lid of her phone closed.
She stood at the window, marvelling at the stillness of the street. Normally Spadina Avenue was hopping. They were right around the corner from Kensington Market and the foot traffic alone was heavy, but not today. Today the street was a wasteland of swirling snow and howling winds.
Shivering, Eve ran her hands down her arms as the wind wailed, rattling the huge picture window. Behind her, a log in the fireplace crackled and she jumped, forgetting she had started the fire a few hours ago.
Glancing over her shoulder, Eve looked back at the ornate black iron grate and the carved stone mantelpiece. She’d found both in an antique store in London. The minute she had seen them leaning against a crumbling plaster wall, she knew they’d be perfect in the old tenement brownstone she’d bought with the intention of turning it into a bookstore.
The place was exactly how she had imagined it, an English gentleman’s study, complete with hearth and studded leather furniture. Lovingly she gazed at the mantel, at the way the orange flames flickered against the shiny black iron grate. On the tartan feather bed that lay before the hearth, was the black and white Springer Spaniel she had rescued from the shelter a few months ago. Lizzy was curled up in front of the hearth catching a few Z’s and snoring like a truck driver.
Eve smiled and turned back to the window. She knew it wasn’t going to be busy today. Who the hell wanted to buy books on New Year’s Eve? Besides, it was already four-thirty, and the daylight was quickly being eaten up by snow clouds. Soon it would be dark. She really should get going, especially while the going was good. And it wasn’t like she had customers lined up out on the street.
Even though she knew the day would be quiet, Eve hadn’t been able to resist the lure that was her bookshop. Quills. She loved the place and didn’t really consider it her job. It was more than that. It was her passion. Eve looked around the high beamed ceilings and the brick walls and then over to the antique rosewood bookcases that she had bought at an estate auction in England. On the shelves of those beautiful bookcases sat hundreds of books, some first editions, and priceless antiques. Some were today’s best sellers, and some were damn hot romance novels. There was something to suit every reader’s tastes, even beginning readers, and Eve couldn’t be prouder of the old place. She had made Quills what she had intended it to be when she set out on this venture—which was a book enthusiast’s paradise.
Within a year of relocating to Toronto, she had made her business a success. Every day the store was packed with customers of all ages, and all walks of life. They congregated by the fire and lounged in the leather wingback chairs, chatting and reading and using the computers she’d set up as an internet caf�. Hip and well known authors came to her store for book signings. New Age poets recited their gothic works of art, while crowds stretched around the corner, readers waiting in the bone wracking cold, or the scorching humidity just to get into Quills for the signings or the readings.
Yep, huge accomplishment—even more than she had hoped. Too bad she couldn’t say the same for her personal life. In that, she was as much a failure as always. What was it with her and men? Why didn’t she seem to click with any of the guys who had shown her any interest? They had been handsome enough, but they lacked...something. And that’s what frustrated Eve the most. She didn’t even know what it was she wanted. What was that elusive ‘something’ she was trying so desperately hard to find in the opposite sex?
Well, maybe this Richard had whatever that ‘something’ was. Maybe tonight she’d finally get lucky, and not just in the sack. Hell, maybe Gemma was right, maybe this was her year.
But first, she needed to go home and change into something sexier. Something that showcased her breasts and hips. Something Richard Stokes would find appealing—so appealing in fact, that he’d be forced to take it off later tonight to see those curves up front and personal.
Sex with a stranger. She’d never been the type before, but lately, she was feeling a bit more daring. The geeky bookworm was emerging from her chrysalis, and hopefully becoming the beautiful butterfly.
“Well, Lizzy, old girl, you ready?” Eve laughed as the dog stirred, swiped her tongue along her muzzle then buried her nose in the soft fabric of her bed. With a sigh, Lizzy closed her eyes and ignored Eve.
“You know, you really should have gone to a duchess. You’re so damn pampered.” Lizzy opened one eye and flicked her ear. “Yeah, I know. It’s too damn cold to walk home. Well, let me get the phone number for the pet friendly cab company, then we’ll get out of here.”
Lizzy ignored her as Eve turned back to the window and reached for the blind. Pulling on the white cord, the Venetian blind started to lower, when something hit the window hard. Eve immediately pulled on the cord, lifting the blind in time to see an enormous black feather slide down the iced glass.