Mike Simmons had it all-until his perfect wife turned his perfectly ordered life upside down by leaving him and their two children. Now Mike's struggling with the chaos of juggling his career as a security consultant with being a divorced single dad. It's no surprise he's not entirely comfortable with the anatomically correct treats their new client, Getta Piece Bakery, offers. And he doesn't mind letting the client know it.
Free-spirited and spunky, baker extraordinaire Georgie Walters is about as far from a soccer mom type as you can get. She owes a lot of her success to the bachelorettes who have a special appreciation for her creations. But as Mike stands in her tiny shop nervous, but clearly intrigued, Georgie has to admit the guy is beautiful when he's wound up tight. In fact, she finds she can't resist getting a rise out of him. When she hires him to take care of her security needs-she gets so much more in the bargain. Now, her challenge is to teach him to look beyond the candy coating to all the warmth she has inside . . .
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.44(d)|
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Mike Simmons clicked the remote on his Lexus SUV and stepped onto the sidewalk. A plastic grocery bag blew past him, and eddied in a swirl at the opening to the alleyway. Grimacing, he tossed his empty coffee cup into a wire trash bin attached to a light post and turned in a half-circle. The neighborhood had once been fairly seedy, but now appeared to be making a fresh run at relevance. The street corners were still anchored by money exchanges and liquor stores, but the prewar storefronts between glittered with an array of small businesses aimed at snaring the expendable income of the area's young professionals. In other words, the shop was a security nightmare.
A trendy unisex clothing store butted against a dingy-looking wig shop. Mike smirked at the mannequin heads. Particularly those sporting the pink, purple, and sky-high beehive styles. His son Tyler would have been both horrified and delighted by them. He would also make terrorizing his baby sister with those faceless, disembodied females his life's work.
Scanning the rest of the block, Mike noted a sports bar, two salons, a store specializing in yarn of all things, and a smattering of eateries with goofy names like Macho Taco and Oodles-O-Noodles. But none of these cutting-edge businesses had quite as sharp an edge as Trident Security's newest client.
The entrance to Getta Piece, an adult bakery, was marked only by a small wooden sign shaped like a slice of layer cake. The chains holding the sign creaked as the weight of the slice swung from a scrollwork arm anchored to the building's stone edifice. The single octagonal window embedded in the old limestone façade was covered in decorative pastel-colored one-way film. The covering read No peeking! The same type of film concealed the glass door. Just above the door handle, a discreet sign read No admittance under 18 years of age. Don't make me tell your mom.
Mike eyed the door warily. One of his business partners had done the initial assessment of the bakery's security needs. Colm had given Mike and their other partner, James, some in-depth detail on the shop's very special offerings. He met their cries of disbelief with a superior sniff and a tour of the company's website.
From a strictly technical point of view, Mike was impressed by the site. The colors and layout were as playful and inviting as a saucy wink. The sometimes outrageous monikers the baked goods sported elicited a mixture of laughter and pained groans. But, taken as a whole, the business looked to be fresh, well thought out, and tongue in cheek enough to appeal to the city's young hipsters.
Getta Piece was an erotic bakeshop with something to suit everyone's tastes.
The shapely figure depicted by the Va-Va Velma cake was enough to make a guy's pants fit a bit more snug. He couldn't imagine what the added calories would do. Though, to his way of thinking, the Big Kahuna penis cake — available in full-sheet size only — would dry up any drool. At least, the cake shaped like a giant dick had for the decidedly male partners of Trident Security. Their one and only female employee, their indispensable office manager, Rosie Herrera, merely quirked an eyebrow at the impressive peen and wondered aloud what flavors were offered.
Mike had spent hours reviewing Colm's notes and laying out a suitable security plan for the bakeshop. Trident offered every type of security: the arrangement of personal bodyguards and off-duty officers, cybersecurity, and wired alarm systems. According to Colm, Ms. Georgianna Walters had become the go-to caterer for the city's bachelor and bachelorette parties. Her website claimed she also provided treats for birthday, retirement, and uncoupling celebrations.
Whatever those were.
The problem had started as some petty vandalism, but she'd had at least one attempted break-in. Though they all enjoyed a good joke about busting into a boob-filled bakery, Getta Piece was a legitimate business with very real security concerns. The neighborhood might be getting better, but transformation wasn't complete yet. Plus, their potential client reportedly lived above the shop, which opened a whole new can of security-related issues.
Checking the portfolio he carried under his arm, he took a deep breath, braced himself for the X-rated onslaught, and opened the door. The scent of yeast and sugar assailed him, and his insides melted like butter. Bakery smell. There was nothing like it. Every bakery he'd ever been in had the same smell.
Except this one sold some very devilish treats.
Mike reminded himself all he had to do was concentrate on the delicious scent and ignore the display case of cookies shaped like dicks. He could always concentrate on the cream puffs in the shape of vaginas. Or the delightfully fluffy doughnuts frosted in varying shades from peach to cocoa. Each topped with an areola of pinktinged chocolate and a pebbled red raspberry nipple.
"Be right with you," a voice called from the back.
"No worries," Mike answered.
Pulling the portfolio from under his arm, he flipped the folder open to look at the proposal he spent the morning checking. Everything was in order, but if he kept looking at the neatly typed sheets, he wouldn't have to look at the Va-Va-Velma prominently displayed in the center case. She was damn hard to ignore. The display version was bombshell blond, peachy-pink, and ripe as any pinup girl painted on the fuselage of a warplane. Except this vixenish Velma didn't bother wearing a teeny-weeny bikini. She was completely nude.
He was trying not to stare at the cake's ample bosom when a slight young woman wearing a T-shirt hacked into a tank top and a flour-dusted apron emerged from the back.
"Sorry for the delay." She wiped her hands on a towel, then tossed the colorfully stained ball of white cotton onto the counter behind her. A welcoming smile crinkled her eyes into crescents. "May I help you?"
Mike did his best not to goggle. Colm had mentioned the girl was unique, but the word didn't seem to be an apt descriptor. She was ... captivating.
In the most disturbing way possible.
She wore her hair cut short over her ears. Nearly shaved, in fact. But the rest was long enough to brush her jawline. It was also purple. Bright purple. A violently violet shade of purple that reminded him of one of his daughter's teddy bears. Judging from roots peeking through, she was a natural brunette. And her hair was wavy. Not the kind of carefully cultivated waves coaxed out by the judicious use of a blow-dryer, either. They fell over one eye when she tipped her head to the side. She was waiting for him to answer.
He opened his mouth, but she moved a fraction of an inch, and her entire face sparkled. Snapping his jaw shut, he stared at her, wondering if he'd somehow managed to drop into one of those ridiculous half-animated shows his kids watched on Kidtoons.
A tiny silver hoop bisected her left eyebrow, and an even tinier diamond winked at him from the right side of her nose. Not magic, or even fairy dust. Piercings. The girl had piercings. She pushed her hair back, and he thought he saw a smudge of something dark on the inside of her wrist. A tattoo. Right. Of course. Piercings. Tats. Purple hair. One by one he added the attributes in his head. The girl behind the counter wasn't some kind of mystical creature. She was a woman. Nothing less, and likely a whole lot more than a guy like him could handle.
"Quite the selection, don't you think?"
He realized he'd been staring too long when her smile widened and she gestured to the array of semi-pornographic pastries in the case. Like she was some kind of game show hostess showing off the fabulous and exciting prizes she had to offer.
She slid her hands along the case, drew back, and did a pirouette to encompass the array of goods on display. "Anything catch your eye?"
He caught a flash of leg as her apron flew in a circle around her. Despite the approaching winter, she wore nothing but some skimpy shorts under her apron. Well, a tank top and shorts, as well as some knee-high socks striped like the Wicked Witch of the West's, but his brain shorted out when he got an eyeful of toned thigh, so the rest hardly counted.
She also wore boots. Thick-soled combat-style boots like the soldiers wore to march for miles over rugged terrain. Boots that made a man want to test exactly how kickass the wearer might be.
Mike shook himself out of his daze. "Oh, uh, no. I mean, yes." He shook his head harder. "I mean, everything looks, um, great."
"People come from miles around to get their hands on my Boston Cream Bosoms."
Mike expelled a short laugh. She didn't need to convince him; he was a believer. "I bet they do."
She tipped her head to the side. "This is one of those moments when, as a feminist, I don't know whether to be offended or flattered, but I bring the confusion on myself, so ..." She shrugged and wrinkled her nose. The tiny diamond winked at him.
"This is one of those moments when, as both a feminist and a card-carrying member of the man club, I don't know whether to ..." He trailed off, letting the thought dangle.
"Make a break for it?"
She laughed again, and this time, a pulse of pleasure reverberated in his body. This woman was ... infectious. And he didn't have time to come down with a bad case of lust.
"Don't feel bad. A lot of guys feel the same way when they first come in."
"Don't you think some of this is just the least bit ... degrading to women?"
She nodded gravely. "And to men."
"It's a little obscene." The words came out with more heat than he intended. Almost immediately, he regretted them. She was a potential client, after all. Who was he to judge?
"I think the human body is beautiful in any form," she replied, seemingly unfazed.
"It's objectifying the human body."
"We objectify the human body every day in a million ways." She leaned in a fraction of an inch. "I'm pretty sure you were objectifying mine when I walked out here."
Her cool demeanor in the midst of all these ... breasts and butts and, yes, dicks, raised his temperature a few degrees. He was getting upset over pastries shaped like pussies, and for the life of him, he didn't know why. She was right. He had ogled her. But she'd ogled him back, damn it.
"We'll call it even," she announced, putting an abrupt halt to the debate.
For a second, he wondered if she had somehow read his mind, but then she plucked a food service sheet from the box on the counter and wrapped the waxed paper around one of the cookies she had on a rack. If his lascivious thoughts were written all over his face, she certainly didn't seem to be bothered by them. Or even impressed.
Before he could puzzle out whether he needed to press his point or thank his lucky star, she spun on her heel, killer smile in place and arms extended. "Here, this should help."
A hot flush crept up his neck and dread pooled in the pit of his stomach as he eyed the waxed paper bundle with suspicion. What the hell was he supposed to do if she handed him a pink frosted dick? Eat it?
"No, seriously," she waved the paper-wrapped treat at him, "on the house. First-time visitors always get a free cookie." When he didn't jump on her offer, she cocked her head to the side, her brows beetled in puzzlement "Hot and fresh, like me."
Resolved to take one for the team, he ignored the echoes of his friends' imagined taunts in his head. Their new client was giving him an X-rated treat to taste, and he would have to bite into it like a man. He wasn't a kid, or even a teenager, but the imagined peer pressure gave him the courage to man up.
Mike reached for the crinkly paper. To his surprise, she'd given him a plain round sugar cookie dotted with colorful sprinkles. He exhaled in a whoosh of relief. He didn't care if the sigh marked him an adolescent — or worse, a prude. He really didn't want to eat dick. Even on a dare.
"Thank you." He toasted her with the cookie and took a small bite. She hadn't been lying. The cookie was still warm from the oven, and so soft the crumbs almost melted on his tongue. He was no foodie, but his taste buds told him this was no ordinary sugar cookie. There was something special about it. "This is the best cookie I've ever eaten."
She grinned. "You're relieved I didn't hand you a wanker." Mike had the good grace to grimace. "Also true. But this really is an awesome cookie."
"The secret is in the vanilla."
"Is it spiked?"
She laughed again, and Mike gave serious consideration to giving up his day job and becoming a stand-up comedian. He would do whatever he had to do to keep hearing her laugh.
"Imported." Again, she gestured to the display cases with the flourish. "Only the best ingredients go into my bodies."
He narrowed his eyes at her. "Not a particularly good slogan."
"I'll scratch it off the list." A bell rang in the back, and she straightened. "Can you excuse me for a sec?"
She disappeared into the mysterious back room, and Mike looked away from the goodies on display. Closing his eyes, he whispered to himself, "Get a grip. Get a grip." Falling back on tricks he learned from his buddy Colm, he tried counting backwards from ten. He got as far as four before she returned, a tray of steaming rolls in her hands.
"Sorry, had some buns in the oven."
He couldn't help but chuckle. "I bet you get a lot of mileage out of jokes like those."
She shot him a sidelong smile. "No shortage of innuendo in the culinary world." Sliding the tray into a tall metal rack, she wiped her hands on the towel she had discarded earlier. "Have you decided what you want?"
The unexpected answer flashed through his head, but he bit down hard, making sure the rogue thought didn't escape. Instead, he fell back on standard deflection. "What I want?"
Dark eyebrows rose. He found himself gazing at the thin silver hoop in fascination. As if she were aware of his wandering attention, she tapped her fingernails on the top of the glass case. They were trimmed close and polished a purple so dark it was almost black. Her whole look should have been masculine, or at least somewhat gothic, but the look didn't come across as dark and dangerous on Georgianna Walters. No, for some reason she came across more like a rebellious fairy than some kind of badass.
"I don't mean to be rude, but I have a batch of bungholes ready to go in the deep fryer."
Mike jerked as if a bullet ripped through him. "I'm sorry, a batch of what?"
She rolled her eyes, but the playful up-tilt of her lips told him she was getting a charge out of shocking him. "Bungholes. Chocolate doughnut holes."
He shot her an incredulous stare. "You don't really call them bungholes, do you?"
She gave a pert nod. "Yep."
"And people buy them?"
"All the time." She touched the tip of her pink tongue to her upper lip as if giving the question due consideration. She raised one eyebrow in challenge. "I add a dollop of fudge sauce to the center. I'm telling you, people love to tongue my bungholes."
Mike tried to conjure an appropriate response to the assertion, but thinking was damn near impossible when his lungs had ceased to function and every drop of blood in his body was rushing to his groin with the force of a tidal wave.
This time the curve of her lips was sly. "I'm sorry. I'll stop messing with you."
"No, I, uh ..." But he couldn't get anything more out. Not when his mind was flooded with images of her messing with him in every way possible.
"I can't help myself sometimes. Guys get so funny when they come in here."
Running his hand through his hair, Mike conceded the point with a chuckle. "Yeah, I'm sure they do. Weird seeing all this out here, you know, like this. On display."
Georgianna nodded sagely. "And in such quantity."
"And we won't even discuss the quality."
The beringed brow rose again. "By quality I assume you mean my culinary skills."
Seeing no way out of the hole he dug himself, Mike decided the best course of action was to simply agree. With everything. "Yes. Definitely. Great cookie."
This time she threw her head back and let the laugh fly. "Wow. You are really uncomfortable."
"I'll get over it." Determined to get down to business, Mike set the portfolio on the counter top. "I'm Mike Simmons from Trident Security. You met my business partner Colm last week. I'm delivering the proposal for your new security measures."
Her eyes widened. "Oh! I'm so sorry." She stretched a hand across the counter. "I'm Georgie Walters."
"Figured as much." He gave her a sheepish smile as he shook her hand. "I'm not usually so ..." He paused, searching for the word. "Awkward." He tapped the cover of the portfolio. "I knew what to expect when I walked in here."
"Yeah, but seeing the array live and in person is a tad overwhelming," she conceded.
Straightening his shoulders, he looked her straight in the eye. "Let me start again?"
Excerpted from "Easy Bake Lovin'"
Copyright © 2018 Maggie Wells.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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