Read an Excerpt
“Tiffani you have a dozen roses waiting on the counter for you.”
Tiffani McIntire bumped her head on the refrigerator as she moved back to stare at her best friend and co-worker Sasha Miles.
“From who?” She pulled out a bottle of water and shut the door with her hip.
Having moved to Chicago four months ago after graduating design school, Tiffani had spent most of her time working. With a full schedule, several clients and a new wedding dress designs business off to a booming start, it left little time for the dating or much less anything else associated.
Sasha shrugged. “The delivery guy just said your name and the name of the flower shop, uh, Cupid’s Arrows or something like that.”
Tiffani scoffed, though curiosity got the best of her. Who would send me flowers? She made her way to the front of the building and plucked the card from the bouquet.
Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
I’m horny as hell
And hard for you.
Tiffani’s eyes widened.
“What does it say?” inquired Sasha.
“Nothing.” She crumbled the card in her fist and stuffed it in her pocket. “They’ve got the wrong recipient.”
“Whatever. Let me see the card.”
Tiffani shook her head and Sasha narrowed her eyes.
“You’re blushing. Why are you blushing? What did the card say?”
Tiffani glanced over at the large gold-plated mirror on the wall and saw her cheeks glowing pink. A small smirk of a smile tilted her lips. Who the hell would me send flowers with a dirty note?
“I’m flushed because it’s hot in here.”
“It’s sixty degrees. How the hell are you hot?”
Tiffani picked up her water bottle top and threw it at her friend. “Because I’m the only one that’s been working!”
The door jangled, announcing the arrival of their latest client, Marie Stewart. At best Marie was a bitch. At worst, well, there wasn’t a worse. Bridezilla didn’t even begin to explain her demanding ways or her rebuttal of everything recommended for her wedding. Everyone who knew her was literally counting down the days until she married Senator Robert Hallister and the massively horrid wedding was over.
“Why on God’s green earth would you put such an ugly bouquet of yellow roses out for display. Don’t you idiotic people know carnations are the new rose?”
Sasha snarled at Marie who smiled mockingly. Dressed in her usual attire of the latest Donna Karan masterpiece and a bag as big as Mary Poppins’ on her shoulder, Marie smirked at Tiffani.
“I trust my dress is ready for my fitting?”
“The contract says the dress is due by Friday. Fitting doesn’t happen until all designs are approved and then a mock-up is made. It’ll be a couple days before we have the actual fabric in and sewn to your satisfaction. Don’t worry. The dress will be done in time, perfect for your Valentine’s Day wedding.” Tiffani knew what Marie wanted, and for some reason Marie chose to suddenly be shy. After years of their mother’s friendship, Marie was an open book to Tiffani who could efficiently read her every action.
“Oh. That’s right.” Marie glanced down at the counter and ran a perfect manicured red-tipped nail along an imaginary crease in the Formica countertop.
“What do you want to ask me, Marie?” Tiffani raised an eyebrow at her client.
“My brother needs a date for my wedding. I wouldn’t normally ask someone out for him, and I especially wouldn’t think of you first, but my family needs someone who won’t embarrass us.” She made a disgusted face. “For some reason, my mother thinks you’d be a perfect match.”
“No. I don’t do blind dates, and I’m sure I’m supposed to be flattered, but having you ask me out for him is a bit creepy.” Tiffani grabbed the roses and shifted them to a small desk behind the counter. “Not to mention I have too much to worry about and not enough time.”
“You’re not coming to my wedding? It’s on Valentine’s. It’s not like you have anybody to be with.”
Sasha snorted and exited the room. Tiffani propped her hands on her hips and sighed. “No, Marie. I can’t. I won’t.”
“But Jeremy needs to come to my wedding and if he doesn’t have a date then I’ll be embarrassed and how will that look in the papers? You’ll be responsible for ruining the best day of my life! Do you want that on your conscience? How would you live with yourself?” Marie’s voice hitched to a squeak as she pouted her perfectly pink-glossed lips.
Did this shit really work with her family and friends? Tiffani closed her eyes and ran a hand over her face. The room blazed and sweat beaded across her forehead, though outside it was barely forty degrees. She had a million things she needed to do, yet time slipped away from her. And without a doubt she knew she’d never hear the end of it from her own mother if she skipped out on Marie’s wedding. She had to go. Might as well not look like a fool while she was at it.
“Is he cute?” Tiffani glanced at Marie who smiled and nodded. Was she really going to Marie Stewart’s wedding with her “cute” brother? “Fine, Marie. Valentine’s Day, Trinity Church—I’ll be there, with your brother no less. Tell him to meet me there.”
“Oh, goodie!” Marie clapped her hands and squealed. “I can’t wait to tell, momma. For some reason she likes you and for once, Jeremy won't embarrass us with one of his random floozies on his arm.”
“Glad to know I’ll save you the embarrassment,” Tiffani remarked dryly.
“Oh, you won't save me anything. And please, I’m begging you, go to the store and buy a new dress to wear. Those rags you pass off at church won't do at my wedding. I can't have the paparazzi capturing an ill-fashioned guest. I can see the headlines now.” She shivered.
Yeah, Tiffani could see the headlines now. Homeless woman in rags strangles Donna Karen’s biggest fan. Tiffani grinned at her thoughts and pretended to care what Marie chatted about.
Saturday would be the wedding of the century. Tiffani would push herself to finish a masterpiece of a wedding dress, and in the end, attend the wonderful wedding with some dork she didn’t know.
I so deserve a drink.
<p align="center"><strong>* * * *</strong>
You’re as beautiful as the roses in the daylight,
I’ll make you scream and beg all night.
I want you wet and whimpering when I come for you.
Cupid was at it again, this time delivering a pink rose bouquet with sprigs of baby’s breath in the mix. Cupid had left the flowers on her doorstep in the frigid weather, conveniently placed for her to trip over when she went to retrieve the morning newspaper. The card stated the same thing, minus the new poem—same flower shop, same handwriting, same Cupid—all inadvertently arousing a strong reaction from her.
Wet and whimpering? Oh, dear Lord. Scream and beg? Tiffani swallowed hard and clenched her thighs. No man had ever said anything like that to her before. No man ever made her whimper or beg or scream. She reread the note and blushed.
She should be offended. She wanted to huff and scream at the absurdity of the situation. It should have scared her knowing some stranger was making sexual remarks towards her and knew where she lived. But it didn’t. Her mind played vivid images of her mysterious lover licking and stroking her to orgasm, continuing well into the night until she begged him to quit.
How twisted is that? Tiffani’s cheeks heated despite the winter breeze blowing in her face.
“Early Valentine’s present?”
Tiffani jumped at the sound of her neighbour’s voice.
“Uh…no.” She quickly stuffed the card in her pocket.
“Boyfriend’s apology?” He crossed his arms and leaned against the railing on the porch they shared.
She’d only met her neighbour twice after purchasing the town home five months ago. The first time he’d caught her ogling him the day he’d moved in, and the second time when she’d pounded on his door to request silence. To her surprise a woman had answered that last time.
Tiffani didn’t know his name and worked too much to bother learning his habits. She left the house at six and came home around six. He, however, was at home at both times.
“I don’t have time for a boyfriend.” Tiffani sighed thinking of the note again. “I honestly don’t know who they’re from.”
“So you’ve got an admirer.”
“Something like that.” Tiffani raised her eyes to meet his and reminded herself to breathe.
His dark hair was tousled, his green eyes still filled with sleep—both giving him the just out of bed look. Though outside it had dropped to nearly freezing, he stood in a simple T-shirt and jeans watching her. Oh, shit. Tiffani glanced away quickly picturing how awful she looked without makeup and wearing her favourite snowflake pyjamas.
“Uh, I’m Jay, by the way.” The corner of his lips tilted in a small half-grin. “Jay Stewart. I don’t think I’ve properly introduced myself since I moved in.”
Tiffani nodded dumbly. “I’m Tiffani McIntire.”
She stood waiting awkwardly for him to say something else. Instead he simply stared at her, with a maddening hit of arrogance. She shivered as an unexpected tingle crept down her spine.
“Well, uh, I need to get my work done.” Tiffani bent to pick up the bouquet. “I guess I’ll see you around.”
“Tiffani?” When she looked over her shoulder, Jay smiled. “Good luck with your admirer.”