When top Minneapolis exec Ric Holiday says refuses to design an ad campaign for Meiers Corners, Dr. Synnove Byornsson is sent to plead the city’s case.
On the way to Holiday’s penthouse, Synnove is accosted by rowdy drunks and her blouse is torn. Enter Holiday, with his tousled blond hair, blue eyes, and sinewy strength barely civilized by suit and tie. He’s style over substance, everything she hates, but when he drapes his coat over her she starts to discover he’s more than mere sizzle.
Each book in the Biting Love series is a standalone story that can be enjoyed in any order.
Book #1: Bite My Fire
Book #2: Biting Nixie
Book #3: The Bite of Silence novella
Book #4: Biting Me Softly
Book #5: Biting Oz
Book #6: Beauty Bites
Book #7: Downbeat
Book #8: Assassin’s Bite
Book #9: Passion Bites
About the Author
I write steamy paranormal romances and wickedly fun romantic adventures, stories that crackle with action and love. Challenging, smart alpha men—and women not afraid of a challenge. And oh, do the sparks fly when he meets THE woman guaranteed to infuriate and inflame him most.
In real life I’m an author, a spouse and mother, a flutist, a computer geek, and a binge-TV-watcher of The Flash, Elementary, NCIS, and Wynonna Earp.
Read an Excerpt
Life is like brain surgery: it's smooth and pretty until you have to open it to fix something. Then you see the wrinkled, slimy mess. The surprise reversal is, that mess creates poetry and music and seeks to understand the universe.
Well, some brains do, at any rate.
"Hey, Sugar Babe. Yeah, you. The classy blonde." The squeal was male, barely. "Where you going?"
I'd merry-go-rounded through a heavy revolving door into the Luxe Indulgence Condo Community of Minneapolis. The door whoosh-whooshed behind me as I searched for the speaker.
A young man leaned negligently against the wall, leering at me.
Lovely. I didn't care for the leer, but I understood it. Even in medical scrubs and a messy ponytail, when I walked by heads turned. Decked out in my cousin's skyscraper heels, short skirt and low cut blouse, I regret to say necks snapped. I guess I cleaned up good.
He let out a wolf whistle, eye-stripping me of the few clothes I wore.
Dammit. All I had to do was get to Holiday's penthouse to be safe. I swept a recon. Luxe Indulgence was one of those all-in-one communities, condos stacked above a cavernous concrete market bazaar. No signs saying "This Way To Penthouse". No elevator, escalator, or stairwell, not even a really long rope. The signs which marked stalls were mostly dark.
No other people were in sight.
Cold shafted my belly. Clutching my tiny evening shoulder bag and crunching my foil-wrapped package to my side, I gave the young man a no-nonsense glare, doing my best to radiate not a victim vibes.
He was radiating tough guy vibes, undermined by the stink of trendy, cheap cologne, the kind a kid would wear, like Eau de Boy Band.
I peered closer. Pink face, curly straw-colored hair, broad pug nose and squealing ... he reminded me of something, maybe an animal. I couldn't quite put my finger on it.
"C'mon, Sugar Babe. Talk to me." He stroked the sparse hairs on his chinny-chin-chin ...
Oh yeah. Little Straw Piggy from the Three Little Pigs.
I clamped my eyes against the image. During my surgical rotation I'd started reading The Big Red Book of Fairy Tales to a young patient. Apparently the stories had crawled into my brain and nested.
I consciously relaxed and opened my eyes in a friendly smile. "I'm trying to find the penthouse. Is there an elevator in this retail cave?"
His eyes lit up. "You lost, little girl? Let me help you." He pushed away from the wall and grabbed my arm.
Didn't it figure? I'd driven safely all the way from Illinois to Minneapolis, over four hundred miles, but Google Maps didn't cover this part of the route.
I slid out of his grasp. "On second thought, I'll find it on my own."
Two shop signs were lit — La Liquor and Zeki Sandalli's Turkish Coffee House. Maybe I could get directions at one of them. La Liquor was closer, so I shifted the package under my arm and headed that way.
He trotted after me in a wavering line. "Wait for me, Sugar Babe. Why the penthouse? Do you know Ric Holiday?" His tones were tinted with awe. "C'mon wait. You're classy, I'm rich. Not as rich as Holiday, but who is? You and me, we were made for each other. Let me show you my assets."
"Haywood, you idiot," a second male voice rasped. "She's not interested in your flat ass-ets."
My eyes snapped front. Reeling out of La Liquor were a brunet and a redhead. Clinking bags dangled from their arms.
I veered toward the coffee shop, pretending I'd been headed that way all along. Pretending nonchalance, but my heart beat faster and the air began to saw through my nostrils.
"Apple Bottom, wait." The scruffy brunet was on the porky side, like Little Twig Piggy. Trotting beside him, the redhead was built like a brick outhouse — yeah, Brick Piggy.
Straw Pig, Twig Pig, Brick Pig ... the rushing adrenaline had surely eaten my brains.
They cut me off from the coffee shop.
My heart kicked up a notch and my grip tightened on package and purse. The Three Little Pigs gone to the dark side. My eyes cut left and right for an escape route. Come on, stairs or escalator or even a clue. Or at least a store that sold jet packs. All this money, and not even a sign?
Apparently, like a pricey restaurant, if you had to ask, you didn't belong. Nothing resembling a "You Are Here", so I picked a non-Piggy direction and pushed into a power walk. If the fates were kind, I'd find a way to Ric Holiday's luxe penthouse before they could catch me.
"Fates" and "kind" in the same sentence? Virtually inviting a cosmic wedgie.
I stumbled, nearly breaking a heel. My cousin's very expensive shoes were four-inch spikes, originals from famous designer MB. Cousin Twyla had tried to tell me angular was sexy, but I think they were the original Cruel Shoes. I could have gotten the same effect by smashing my toes into beetle carapaces and cranking my arches with a winch.
I caught myself but not in time. Twig Piggy reached sausage-like fingers for me. I ducked, dodged and spun out of there so fast my nylons smoked. Well, in my skyscraper shoes, more rolled out, to keep from twisting an ankle or busting a heel.
Piggy trotters rang behind me. "Honey Nips," Brick Piggy bellowed. "Don't run — we'll have some fun!"
Ah, the flower of male poetic expression. True, my nipples were unhappily poking up — I wore my cousin's bra too, and Twyla's penchant for whisper thin lace, while perfect for her Ds, was somewhat abrasive for my doubles.
A set of silver doors sprang into sight. An elevator! I sprinted for it, churning my hips like an oil rig. I careened inside so fast I hit the rail in back, bounced like a ball through the car's bright, mirrored expanse and found myself at the panel. I blinked. Okay, roll with it. I hit the close button.
The doors huffed and began to shut. I pumped the button like I was rubbing a genie's lamp, scrunching my eyes and wishing really hard. If there were any fairness in this world, I'd escape now.
Right. Why not give myself that wedgie and be done with it?
Thunk. My eyes popped open. A hand was jammed between the parting doors. Stupid safety bumpers. I backed from the panel.
With a toothy grin, Straw Piggy sauntered in, Twig Piggy and Brick Piggy behind him.
A fourth man strutted in after them like a chicken. A yellow claw of bangs, beaklike hatchet nose, sallow skin and red wrinkled wattle of a neck added to the image.
Straw Piggy said, "How's it hanging, Little?" Chicken Little?
Briefly, I scrunched my eyes. Don't do Fairy Tales, kids. It's ugly.
"It's hanging low, Haywood." Chicken Little grinned at me as the doors closed behind him. "Hey, bay-bee. Going my way?"
Lovely. Four of them and one of me, stuck in a small metal box — porn setup number nine, cue the wacka-chew-wacka music.
What to do, what to do? If I were Dr. House, I'd say, "Give me a differential, people."
Chase would say Run. Foreman would say Attack. Cuddy would say Wait. The one whose name I never remembered would say Lupus.
Nah, it never ended up being lupus. Besides, there were twenty-five minutes left minus commercials and someone had to spew gouts of blood first.
I smacked myself discreetly on the forehead. C'mon neurons. Gotta fire faster than this.
Run? Not with these heels; they maxed out at a brisk strut. Attack? Nah. They'd harassed me, but as I've mentioned, my looks arouse guys who then expect me to be horny because they are. Not my fault, but it's not theirs either.
If they actually assaulted me, I'd take action. But for now, I decided to wait. I only had to make it to the penthouse.
"Hey, Apple Bottom." Twig Piggy licked his forefinger and drew slow circles around a white floor number button. "Which one you want pushed?"
Brick Piggy leered.
"Let's get one thing straight," I said. "The name is Synnove, not Sugar Babe or Apple Bottom or Honey anything. Sin-no-vah. And I push my own buttons." I strode past Twig Piggy to hit the top floor. Crossing my arms, I glared. I'd made my point. In a few floors I'd be at Holiday's penthouse. No need to go nuclear.
The elevator started moving.
So did Straw Piggy, who stumbled over. "Cindy's a nice name. What's in the pretty box?" His breath released a cloud of Irish cream, which had been a favorite of mine up until now.
"Synnove. Not Cindy. Could you back off?" I tried to ignore the alcoholic weather system. Twenty-seven stories to the penthouse. This could be a long ride. "It's Toys for Tots, for the party." My cousin had gotten me the invite. My cousin's artistry had also plumped my DDs into rather dramatic mounds, the better to lure Holiday into helping us. But as a drop of drool from Straw Piggy's mouth barely missed me, I made a mental note to kick her artistic ass.
"Party?" Brick Piggy sidled to my other side. "Party with me, Honey Nips."
Sure, that would happen. Right after I discovered the cure for chronic hemorrhoids and male pattern stupidity.
"Toy?" Stick Piggy leaned across my body and ran a finger suggestively along the gift's foil edge. "I like toys. Especially the buzzy kind." He waggled his eyebrows.
In case I, you know, didn't get it. As pickup lines went it ranked up there with "Hey, bay-bee." I pinched the bridge of my nose. Above the door, five went out. Six lit. Definitely a long ride.
Piggies sidled around me, packing tighter and tighter until I reconsidered the nuclear option. At the very least I could whack Piggy skull with my cousin's heels to give them more open minds.
Open minds. Of course. I hunted in my evening bag for my wallet. "Guys, listen up. I may look, um, tempting but that's because I have some persuading to do and my cousin thought it would help. I'm not really like this."
All four men blinked at me.
Got their attention, now to drag their brains up out of their boxers. I pulled my wallet and flipped it open to my pictures. The one I wanted was on top, ready to remind me who I really was. I waved it under their noses. "See?"
Twig Piggy took the snapshot. "Yuck. Who's the scrawny kid?"
Brick Piggy snatched it from him. "Lumpy boobs, hair like straw, teeth like a horse ... and those glasses, ugh. I've seen more attractive spectacles on a geek. Is this your ugly stepsister, Honey Nips?"
"That's me." Age fourteen, lost and alone. Before my sister set me on the path to medicine.
They stared at me, then at the picture. Then they stared at me again. Their faces lost the glazed lust and acquired a sort of shocked intelligence.
I sighed in relief. Finally, they were taking me seriously. Just in time too. The elevator slowed as we reached the top floor.
Then, with a laugh, Straw Piggy handed me the picture. The rest joined in. I smiled and tucked the photo away, wondering what the joke was.
"You had us going, Sugar Babe." Straw Piggy grabbed me in a tight hug. "That scrawny kid, you. Ha!"
It was just a hug. Despite his cloud of bad breath and boa constrictor arms, everything would have been fine.
But he gave me a hard slap on the butt, a whack that hurt.
I'd taken self-defense. Good self-defense courses teach you what to do if harassed or threatened. Great self-defense makes those actions ingrained. Mr. Miyagi's training had become part of my very cells' mitochondria.
At the whack, my knee jerked sharply into Straw Piggy's groin. I didn't quite sock him in the 'nads but his sucked-in breath said this is not a drill.
His hands dropped and he made a sort of sick moo.
I stiffened, horrified. "I'm so sorry. But really, you'll be okay. I pulled it."
"Not ... okay," Straw Piggy squeaked.
"Well, you may bruise. There's a lot of blood down there, the pampini-form plexus and the testicular ... well, a lot of blood. But really, it's okay."
With a moan, Straw Piggy curled over and slid to the floor.
"What the fuck?" Chicken Little got in my face, his spaghetti claw of bangs shuddering with emotion. "What did you do to him?"
"Nothing." I clutched my gift and purse and, heart hammering, edged toward the still-closed doors. C'mon open, open. "He grabbed me and I reacted, that's all. It's fine. He'll be fine."
Chicken Little stalked me nose to nose. "He is not fine."
My vision zoomed. My internal doctor kicked in. Bad breath. Small, purplish acne. Thinning hair under the hair gel but a whole swarm of chest hair escaping the neck of his shirt. "You should stop those steroids, Mr. Little. They don't make you look any healthier and they can lead to high blood pressure and testicular atrophy —"
"You witch," he snarled. "Don't try to weasel out of this. Haywood's hurt and it's your fault."
My warning congealed into a lump in my throat.
"Why are you really here, Sin-no-vah?" He poked a threatening finger in my face. "Who invited you to Ric Holiday's private party?"
I leaped back to escape the finger, expecting door but hitting air. My heart skydived into my stomach. I stumbled, sunk my spiked heel into the gap — my cousin was so getting a "Kick Me" slapped on her back when I saw her next — but I managed, barely, to turn it into a floundering spin.
I blundered into a plush lobby of red textured walls and well-oiled lustrous wood. A single alcove, lit by mellow lamps, housed the only door.
The penthouse. My salvation. I sprinted for it.
"Oh no, you don't." Chicken Little seized my arm.
I executed a simple twist, popped loose and skied on the balls of my feet across the thick red carpet. I didn't stop so much as splat palm-first against the door. Panting, I cranked the knob.
The door was locked.
My heart kicked into race. A thrown glance showed Chicken Little rolling toward me, arms waving like a Dalek, expression set to exterminate.
I hammered the door with the heel of my hand, getting in a couple good bams before he grabbed my arm and yanked me away.
"Holiday Buzz is most definitely my business." His eyes cracked with bloody lightning strokes.
"Oh, crap. Are you Ric Holiday?" Sick dread thickened my throat. Had I offended the guy I'd come to impress? One of the Piggies called him Little but it might be a nickname. My cousin said Holiday was good-looking in a blond business-y way, attractive enough to be a playboy, but it wasn't clear if the attraction was looks or money. She hadn't acted particularly impressed, but she liked her men a little darker and a lot more dangerously dominant.
Dammit, if Chicken Little was Ric Holiday, I'd royally fucked up.
Snatching both my wrists, he cinched me in until his sour breath cascaded over my face. "Would you like that? Would meeting a filthy rich ad man make you so hot you'd melt into a puddle of come?"
Eew. I gave up trying to be subtle and punched both hands down. He resisted, yanking up. I reversed with him, adding my own velocity, and swept my arms up and out. My wrists tore from his grip with such force that he stumbled back. For good measure, I gave him a chest pop, smacking his pec with the heel of my hand, putting my shoulder behind it. With an oof he hit the Piggies behind him. I noted with relief that Straw Piggy was standing again. Mostly.
I glared at Chicken Little. "Hands off."
"Bitch." He pushed away from the Piggies and came at me like Frankenstein, slow-slow-slow. I pivoted away, too scornful to block.
Mistake. He grabbed for me and managed to get his fingers hooked on the edge of my cousin's low cut blouse.
I went one way. The blouse, in Chicken Little's fingers, went the other. It tore, revealing Twyla's red lace push-up bra underneath. I stared down in shock.
Click. Pine-scented air flowed over me. My eyes lifted. The penthouse door had opened.
A man filled the doorway.
Everything — the scuffling, arguing, time itself — stopped. Even seeing extreme trauma during my ER rotation didn't freeze me like that. At first I only saw a broad chest in a tailored navy suit and snowy white shirt, a blue-black tie lining the valley between mountainous pecs. Eventually I'd have to get around to looking at his face. Eventually I'd have to start breathing again too.
"What's going on here?" The male voice was soft but the anger in it carried.
The Piggies shuffled their feet and stuttered.
"We were kidding around." Chicken Little's tone was pleading, almost whiny. "Just playing, honest. Roughhousing."
Excerpted from "Beauty Bites"
Copyright © 2013 Mary Hughes.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This was an amazing book and I would recommend it to every one. I can't wait for the next book to come out.