When Buck finds Caroline looking lost and confused in the local hardware store, this owner of a successful contracting company is ready to play simple handyman and get as hands on as the lady will allow.
Caroline is starting over. Her less-than-blissful marriage to the local golden boy is over, and she’s declared her independence by starting her own business, making time to take road trips…and having her nipples pierced. Once her house is fixed up enough so she can sell it, she’ll be completely done with her old life. Luckily, Buck is ready to show her his skills with a hammer and drill.
But Caroline’s plans for a life of independence might go up in flames when toys like floggers and clamps are brought into play…
Each book in the Blue Jeans and Hard Hats series is a standalone story that can be enjoyed in any order.
Book #1: Sweet Caroline
Book #2: Cracklin’ Rosie
Book #3: Forever in Blue Jeans
About the Author
Coffee drinker extraordinaire, author Lissa Matthews lives and writes in North Carolina with her family and their six cats. Yes, you read that correctly. When not at the keyboard, she can be found in her backyard on the swing, in the kitchen trying a new recipe she found on Pinterest, watching sports, or perfecting her nap ninja skills.
If you’d like to learn more about Lissa and her books, please visit her website at www.lissamatthews.com, follow her on social media, and/or sign up for her newsletter.
Read an Excerpt
"I'd have never guessed you'd be interested in clamps."
Caroline, the object of his affection, his lust, his raging out of control hunger jumped and dropped the items in question on the ground. She bent to pick them up and when she stood straight again, looked at him. She usually avoided direct eye contact with him, but not now, not here. In this place, the small hole in the wall adult toy store and lingerie shop, she seemed different, more sure and certain of herself. It seemed odd because most women he knew or had known, wouldn't admit to being in a place like this, much less admit to liking any of the store's contents. Not all, but most.
"There are a lot of things I'm interested in that I'm sure you wouldn't have guessed at."
Buck's dick did just that. Bucked. Of all things he thought she might say, that was definitely not it, but since it was out there ... "Really? Then by all means, Caroline, enlighten me. Show me."
For a second he thought she would decline and walk out, but she tilted her head slightly and regarded him. A blush stole through her cheeks, but she kept her head held high and nodded.
"These. I'm interested in these."
She handed him the clamps. They looked like miniature clothespins, but he imagined they'd hurt like a bitch. They were heavy for being so small. "What else?"
She looked down and pulled another package from the rack. "These."
Japanese clover clamps. His favorite. Not always the favorite of others. He used them on some of his more adventurous lovers. Loved the look of them hanging from a pair of breasts, the chain being its own instrument of torture when tugged and pulled. Caroline said she was interested in them, but had she tried them? Did she know what kind of pain and pleasure she was looking at? The clamps looked harmless enough sitting in their plastic bubble packs, but taken out, put on naked, tender nipples and they became anything but harmless. "Have you used these before? Either of these?"
The blush deepened, and that damn little tongue of hers came out to swipe at her lips.
"Yes. A long time ago. My ... Derek used them on me. Before everything went south with us, we used to play with toys a lot. He liked clamps."
Derek was her ex-husband. Divorced for four months or so, he knew Derek had remarried this past Christmas to the younger-than-should-be-legal-for-a-fifty-year-old man-to-marry girl he'd left Caroline for. Buck couldn't begin to know how Caroline had felt or what had been going through the other man's mind to leave her, but Derek's dumbassness and loss was Buck's gain. He wasn't about to squander the gift fate had dumped in his path.
She looked him straight in the eye again. Since it was something she rarely did with him, he liked it and hoped she would do it more often. "I grew to love them and find I miss them."
Holy ... He held on tight to both sets of clamps. "What else?"
Caroline looked around and walked over to the back wall. Floggers, whips and crops hung on hooks at various heights. She took her time looking from one end of the wall to the other, from floor to ceiling. As he watched her take them all in, he noticed the blush was gone.
"These, but none of these. These are toys, novelties, play things. Derek knew a guy who made them, and he taught me to appreciate the handmade craftsmanship, the sting that came with something being made to specifics. He spent a lot of money on toys and instruments, but always felt it was well worth it."
Buck nodded. He used to make his own floggers and had tried his hand at making a crop, but that wasn't his forte. He knew some guys that made amazing crops and some of the most beautiful whips.
He hadn't made anything in a long time, not since Derek's last order, but he didn't think Caroline knew he was the guy Derek knew. Buck hadn't had anyone personal to make anything for in recent months. Maybe he would now. "In general, which of these instruments do you like?"
"In general, the crop."
Fuck. How in the hell he was going to form any further thoughts, words and sentences? She was flaying him open at every turn. Outside she was this pretty but plain woman he'd never imagined would have a river of molten lava running through her veins. There'd been rumors of course, about her and Derek. Heck, Derek had even invited him to join in, but the last few months, all rumors and whispers were about Caroline being a block of ice, cold and untouchable. Buck hadn't seen it. To him, she was warm and sweet. If she really was the Ice Queen Derek made her out to be, she wouldn't be in here, in this store. "Anything else?"
She turned and walked to the counter, standing on the opposite side from the clerk. Inside the glass case were glass dildos. Behind her, Buck hung his head and closed his eyes. He was hard before, but with clamps and crops he was in jaw clenching pain. There was more though. There was Caroline, looking at glass cocks that would be, could be, should fucking be used inside her.
"I like these. No, that's wrong. I love these." She pointed to one with a red and purple swirl pattern that was about the same length and width as him at his hardest. He swallowed, and it was hard to do past the lump in his throat. "This is my favorite. I don't know why, but ... It's the most realistic looking, and it's how I imagine passion to be if it were in color."
He had no idea what to say. Pretty much knew words wouldn't come out. Instead of even trying, he placed his hand on the curve of her waist where it flared out to her hip. He squeezed lightly, and she leaned back into his body. It wasn't what he'd been expecting, but hell, nothing about her was what he'd been expecting, not from the first moment he'd met her and definitely not today. He knew she could feel his erection. There was no hiding it. No denying he was harder than a hammer. She didn't rub her ass against him. Didn't press into his dick for which he was very thankful.
Then, oh fuck, then she pointed to a butt plug, and he had to count backward from a million or he was going to come in his jeans. It was a brilliant sapphire blue glass with three graduated balls that looked to be at one-inch intervals.
"I miss having a plug inside me sometimes."
Her voice was soft, but he heard her and again, instead of being able to speak, he simply squeezed her hip.
The clerk jingled his keys in his hand. "You want to look at one? I'll open the case for you. You'd be surprised at how smooth they are, and if you hold them for a bit in your hand, the glass warms. My customers that buy them rarely ever go back to the silicone ones."
Buck looked at the man whose gaze was trained on Caroline's face. She shook her head and murmured a "no thank you" then slipped away, leaving them both staring after her. She was looking through the lingerie now. The woman was going to give him a damn heart attack there in the adult store.
"I like corsets, but, not these. I like the ones handmade for me. I don't usually buy lingerie in stores, only online lately for things other than the corsets and bustiers." She gave him a small smile that just tilted the corners of her lips. "Do you want to see what else I like?"
He couldn't handle seeing anything else, he really couldn't. "Yes."
She kissed him. With her pretty smiling mouth, she kissed him. Over the rack of corsets she didn't like because they weren't made for the curves of her body, she touched her soft lips to his and kissed him.
It was short and tender. Over way too soon. She pulled away and was smiling, though the blush was back. She looked directly at him, into his eyes again and he didn't dare blink.
"I like the way you look at me. That you're aroused and that you want me."
Buck nodded. Mute. It was all he could do. He was so smooth, so in control, so sure of himself that he couldn't utter one fucking word in response. All he could do was stare in awe and nod.
"I need to get home. Are you still coming back to the house?"
He nodded again and watched her turn and leave the store. The little bell jingled over the door and then it was quiet, and he was left wondering what to do next. She'd shocked the crap out of him.
"She's rare, you know?" The clerk spoke from the counter, and Buck looked over. "I don't know many women that know what they like or are confident enough to say so. She comes in here once in a while and just looks, never buys, but always seems a little sad or something."
When was the last time she had a lover? When was the last time she'd had someone touch her, want her, use her body for pleasure? He realized he still held the packages of clamps. Dumbfounded, he raised his hand and looked at them, seeing her topless in his mind with her nipples pinched between the little metal fingers.
"She your girlfriend?"
"No." In a daze he made purchases, his mind in a state of he wasn't sure what, but part of it wanted to know what the hell had just happened, and the other part was making plans. He put the bag in the hidden compartment under his seat in the truck and got in, lunch forgotten. He needed to get a few things from Lowe's, but then, it would be back to Caroline's house. Hopefully by then, he'd have his voice and his composure back. He was still painfully hard, and he'd bet his balls were a deep, almost purple shade of blue.
He definitely should have stopped on the side of the road earlier and jacked off because now it was way beyond uncomfortable and walking through other stores was going to be a real treat. Shit.
When she left her house earlier and was at the end of the driveway, she'd hesitated when he stepped into her line of vision. Part of him had hoped she would turn around and come back and the rest of him hoped she didn't come back for the rest of the day. When she turned out of the drive, he breathed a sigh of relief, of frustration.
He wanted her. He wanted her way too fucking much and if she'd backed up the driveway instead of turning and leaving, he wasn't sure what would have happened. He might have met her at the door of her car and taken her back against the seat, or he might have waited for her to come to him at the shed, where he'd have considered taking her on the worktable or over the sawhorse. Either would be fine with him, especially with their recent encounter. He'd love to bend her over the sawhorse, tie her ankles to the legs, clamp her nipples and bind her wrists to one of the hooks in the wall. Whatever way he took her, he just knew he wouldn't be able to keep his hands to himself for much longer.
He was still fascinated by the lust that ripped through him each time he thought about her, saw her, got in his truck and drove to her house, and he'd always had a thing for older women. Something about their maturity and most being very sure of what they liked and enjoyed. They were more adventurous and knew what they wanted in a man and that, turned him on in ways women his own age never had. There was roughly five years or so between he and Caroline. He was thirty-five and wouldn't guess her to be too much more than forty. When he'd seen her in Lowe's staring at the aisle signs, he'd been a goner. She'd had little to no make-up on, her straight dark chocolate hair pulled back in a short ponytail, her full ass in jeans with her full chest encased in a V-neck cream colored sweater, and confusion written all over her face. Even though he didn't work there and never solicited business like that, he asked if he could help her and when she turned those whiskey colored eyes on him, his knees nearly buckled and his dick threatened him within an inch of his life if he so much as thought to walk away from her.
He couldn't remember ever having a reaction like that to a woman. She talked to him, told him in the sultriest, most beautiful southern accent she needed some work done on her house to sell it. He'd jumped into gear and offered to do the work for her. He was a general contractor, having grown up in his father's construction firm and knew everything there was to know about the field. And, if by chance he didn't know something, he could find someone that did without any trouble.
Shaking his head, he put his truck in gear and started to pull out of the parking lot only to make a sharp turn and head back to the corner restaurant, his reason for stopping in at the little e strip mall in the first place. The barbeque place in the back had the best all-you-can-eat pulled pork with beans and their signature barbeque potato salad. He didn't have time to sit inside though and talk with the other construction workers, electricians, or contractors, so he pulled up to the take-out window for a sandwich and tea.
Caroline had no idea she was only paying cost for his work, but as he understood it, Derek was the one actually paying to have the work done. It was something they had worked out when the house went up for sale. Derek would pay for the inspections and the repairs, and Caroline would pay the realtor commission and fees out of her part of the sale. Not for the first time, he thought perhaps he should charge labor, just to make Derek pay a little more.
Buck's contracting business did well enough and what he was doing was for her versus what he wanted from her had nothing to do with gouging her ex for money. He enjoyed helping her out and over the last few months had gotten to know a lot about her. Her simplicity, her need for her own life, to make her own way all tugged at him. But her need to give, to care for, to take care of ... well, those things pulled at a different part of him, one he longed to show her.
He crossed through the intersection and parked at the contractor entrance of the home improvement store. There he finished his sandwich before going in to pick up the new screen door for Caroline's back porch and the new boards for her deck. A few of the old ones needed to be replaced and after he did that, he'd put a weatherproofing stain on it. The frame around the current screen door had a bit of dry rot, and he'd decided to simply replace the whole frame and put in a new door, one with a rolling screen that could be closed or opened.
The more work he did, the longer he'd get to be around her. Plus, the house really needed it. From the looks of things, Derek hadn't been much on upkeep and there was a lot to do. It wasn't rundown by any stretch of the imagination. It just needed some routine maintenance that came with owning a house. The floors were new inside, wood and stone and some new carpet. Caroline had had those done before she and Buck met. Whoever installed them, had done a really good job, and Buck would be looking into using them with his business.
The last thing to do before the job was finished would be to paint the inside and outside. It was amazing what a fresh coat of paint could do for the look of a house. He'd have to ask her what color she wanted to use. Neutrals were best, with little flairs of complimenting colors. And the house was already so completely uncluttered it was as though it were a show house rather than one that was lived in day in and day out.
He wanted to help her get the best price on the sale, and the nicer the house looked, the better the sale price, even in the current economy.
He had a feeling as soon as he was done, she'd be gone. He didn't know where she was going or anything about her plans, but his gut told him he didn't have long to make his move, to touch her, hold her, play with her. He grinned. Play with her. The sooner he got his materials, the sooner he could get back to her place. And after the episode in the adult store, he had every intention of playing with her.
Caroline's hands were still shaking as she held onto the steering wheel so tight her knuckles were ghostly white. She couldn't believe she'd been so forward with Buck, especially kissing him, telling him she wanted him, liked him wanting her, but ... He never said anything else after she showed him the dildos and plugs. He'd been aroused. She felt it in his hand squeezing on her hip, in the press of his cock to her ass. Had she pushed him too much though? Had she been too forward?
Seeing him in the store surprised her, but when she heard his voice, the amused interest in it, saw his smile, something happened inside her. Her lust for the handyman took over and she showed him what he wanted to see. He wanted to know what she liked, and she was more than willing to oblige. She'd harbored the fantasy of wanting him to see her as a forty-year-old woman who had life and hunger and freedom to be herself and not the forty-year-old woman whose husband emotionally and physically left her long before she'd ever asked him to move out. It had taken a lot of courage, but then a lot of what she had done over the last year and especially over the last few months had taken more courage than she knew she possessed. Showing Buck what kind of sex toys she liked wasn't really such a big deal. If it ended up that he wasn't interested, well, that was okay. It at least showed her that she could put herself out there again and express herself.
Excerpted from "Sweet Caroline"
Copyright © 2010 Lissa Matthews.
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.
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