Read an Excerpt
“The only woman she’d ever loved had just walked out the door.” The author closed her book and looked up, scanning the standing-room only crowd. “Thank you all for being here.”
Naomi Rivers started the applause then wiped a tear from the corner of her eye. She’d read Destiny’s Choice soon after she’d confirmed the book signing event at her store. It was much more poignant hearing the words in the author’s resonant, sexy voice. She glanced around. Her friends and fellow townspeople must have agreed. They jostled around the book display, reaching for copies.
“There’s a table off to the side.” She spoke loudly enough to be heard over the noise, pointing to her left. “As soon as I can get Ms. Cross to it, she’ll sign your books. There are refreshments too.”
Weaving through the group, she reached the front where Courtney Cross stood chatting with the other bookstore employee, Melissa Danes. “That was great!” Naomi smiled at the gorgeous, well-known writer. “Everyone loved it. Looks like we might sell out.”
“I brought a few extra copies, just in case.” Courtney brushed her blonde bangs off her face. “I’m amazed at the turnout. I heard Cattle Valley was a small town.”
“It is. Less than three thousand people, actually. But lots of folks here have what they like to call ‘alternative lifestyles’. The subject matter of your lesbian novel has been a huge topic of discussion since everyone found out you were coming. People were very excited.”
Courtney shook her head. “I can’t believe that either. A gay town. It’s unheard of.”
“Not everyone’s gay,” Melissa said. “Some people moved here to be with gay family members. Some just wanted a peaceful, non-judgemental place to live.”
“Speaking of peaceful...” Naomi scanned the crowd, some of whom seemed to be getting restless. “We’d better get the signing started. I’ll take her over there, Mel. Would you make sure the display of her books stays stocked? There’s another case of her first title, Destiny’s Rule, in back if we need it.”
“Yep.” Melissa left the author’s side reluctantly, making a face behind the woman’s back at Naomi.
Naomi smiled sweetly at the young brunette then took Courtney by the arm. The softness of her skin jolted Naomi for a moment, and she paused to control her breathing. Keep it together! she chided herself. With a store full of customers, she had no time to melt into a puddle of lust. “This way, Ms. Cross. Get your fingers limbered up, looks like you’ll be doing some writing.”
“My favourite part.” Courtney settled into the padded chair behind the table. “Next to the writing, that is.” Picking up a pen, she smiled at the first person in line and the small talk began.
Stepping back, Naomi watched with interest. She’d always been an avid reader but could only admire someone who put words to paper the way Courtney did. And facing a crowd of strangers— Naomi shuddered. She’d rather spend time in a room full of books than people.
“That’s one poised woman.” Sheriff Ryan Blackfeather stepped up behind her. “Making nice with one person after another, smiling like there’s no place she’d rather be.”
Naomi looked over her shoulder and up at the tall man. “She said it’s her second favourite thing to do, after writing.”
Ryan scanned the crowd. “I can think of several things I’d call my favourites, and none of them include books.”
Naomi saw him making eyes at one of his handsome partners, Nate Gills, who waited in line for an autograph. Straight or gay, most people in Cattle Valley agreed—Nate was about the prettiest thing west of the Mississippi River. Naomi concurred, but also knew what a great friend the man was.
She swatted Ryan’s arm. “I wasn’t talking about that. We all know how good you’ve got it at home. Speaking of which, where’s the third partner in your man sandwich? I haven’t seen Rio in here.”
He snorted. “Rio’s at The Gym. He said he’s not into lesbian book readings but asked you to save him a cookie.”
“Tell him to forget it,” she teased. “They’re lesbian cookies.”
“Yeah, well, we happen to know you got them at Brynn’s Bakery. Kyle Brynn may be many things, but he’s no lesbian.”
“Smart ass. I bought them, so they’re mine now. Lesbian cookies, get it?”
Ryan smiled. “Nate’ll take him one. Nate looks out for Rio.” He watched his lover talk to the author.
“I know he does.” She looked from one man to the other thoughtfully. They were an unusual trio. Ryan—tall, dark and handsome, massive tattoos and flowing long hair—made a wonderful, yet atypical, town sheriff. He lived with two partners, Rio Adega, also tattooed, with multiple piercings and hair to die for, and the metro-sexual Nate, who along with Rio had opened a fitness centre and called it—thinking like men—The Gym. Nate and Rio spent lots of time there, and where they could be found, Ryan usually wasn’t far away.
Glancing from Ryan to Nate, Naomi wondered how they did it. Not the physical how—she blushed thinking about that—but the mental how of loving two people. Didn’t they get jealous? What if one of them wasn’t in the mood? Though judging by appearances, that wasn’t often a problem. When they weren’t working, the men were all over each other.
Nate finished up with Courtney and walked towards Naomi and Ryan. After planting a kiss on the lips of his tall lover, he smiled at Naomi. “Courtney’s one nice lady. You should get yourself some of that.”
“Excuse me?” She blinked. “Just because she wrote a lesbian book, doesn’t make her a lesbian.”
“She is.” He nodded with authority.
“How do you know?” Naomi scoffed.
Nate shrugged. “I asked her.”
“You did not!”
Ryan laughed. “I’m sure he did. Why does that surprise you? You know him well enough, by now.”
“Oh my god!” She shook her head.
“We need to go.” Ryan slipped an arm around his lover. “Have you paid for your book?”
“No, I’m stealing it.” He patted Naomi’s face.
She grinned, shoving his hand away. “You bought it weeks ago, jackass. I put the sticker on it myself when you brought it in tonight. Go on, get out. Make room for the paying customers.”
“I need a cookie first.” Nate looked offended.
She shook her finger. “Don’t take any for Rio.”
“Cross my heart.” He turned his back, where she could see his fingers in the shape of an ‘X’, the universal symbol for cancelling a promise.
Chuckling, she glanced up at Ryan. “How can you live with him?”
He leaned down, kissing her cheek. “He makes life very interesting, if you know what I mean. ‘Night, Naomi.”