Monday, October 25, 2021

REVIEW TOUR~ WELL PLAYED by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward




Title: Well Played
Authors: Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance
Release Date: October 25, 2021


BLURB

It all started with a bet.
When my young son inherited half of his great grandfather’s historic inn, I decided to move us both to the place where I grew up.
Notice I said half of the Inn. The other half now belonged to Levi Miller, the famous quarterback who had other ideas about what we should do with the property.
We won’t mention that I accidentally injured him during our first meeting, causing him to get eight stitches.
You could say we got off on the wrong foot.
We bickered a lot as we both moved into the property while we figured things out.
He wanted to unload the rundown place which, admittedly, needed a lot of work.
I wanted to restore The Palm Inn to its original beauty and re-open it as a bed and breakfast.
We couldn’t agree on anything. So Levi made me a proposal. One he thought I would surely lose. If I could sell out the place by the time he had to leave for training at the end of summer, he would back off and let me run it.
But in the weeks that followed, we got more than we bargained for while we were living under the same roof.
Levi and I got closer, and before I knew it, my nightly fantasies about the brawny Adonis became a reality. Not to mention, he was so great with my son.
We were in over our heads in more ways than one.
Because not only was he the last man on Earth I should be falling for because of our deal, but Levi was also my ex’s older brother.
And now the inn was the least of my problems.







PURCHASE LINKS

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

Free in Kindle Unlimited







REVIEW

Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward never disappoint with their writing. They write so well together, you cannot tell who writes what parts. I was completely captivated from the very beginning and finished the book in one sitting. I mean, who needs sleep anyway? I was so emotionally invested in this book, I could feel the emotions pouring out while reading. All the feels. 


Preston’s son Alex inherited half of The Palm Inn from his great grandfather, while the other half went to his uncle, Levi. It remains unknown why Alex inherited it, rather than his father Tanner, who is Levi’s brother. Since Preston and Tanner are no longer together, Preston made a big decision to uproot her and Alex’s life to move back home and restore the Inn to its former glory. Hoping she can raise Alex like she was raised while also finding her way again. Preston and Levi’s first meeting was definitely something to laugh about. it was not the reunion they expected but you just can’t help but laugh. They never saw eye to eye on anything. Preston wanted to bring life back to the Inn while Levi wanted to sell it and return to his life in Colorado, where he plays football. 


Preston is very persistent until she breaks Levi down and they make a deal. He will give her a chance to get the inn up and running before he needs to return for the season and if she can’t hold up her end of the bargain, they sell, split it down the middle and move on with their lives. Staying in the same building as Preston and Alex isn’t easy for Levi. When he realizes that Tanner hasn’t been here for Alex, he takes it upon himself to be the best uncle there is. 


The chemistry between Preston and Levi is a strong one, you can feel the sizzle between the two. They have such a strong connection to one another but yet they fight their feelings for one another, while fighting over everything else possible. This is not a path that they should go down. If things don’t work out, it’s more than the two of them to consider, it could break apart their family.  In the end, their connection is too strong to fight and it becomes a losing battle. but they couldn’t predict what would happen next. 


I loved how independent Preston was and everything she did was the best for Alex. She didn’t need to rely on a man for happiness. Once you got to break down a couple of Levi’s walls I started to swoon over him. Deep inside, he was looking for someone real that he could spend forever with and not just a body to pass the time with. That broke my heart. Though there were many times where I wanted to smack Preston and Levi upside their heads. Like come on, Preston and Tanner haven’t been together for a long while. He shouldn’t have any say about anything that goes on between the two of them. Forget the guilt, you don’t choose who you fall for , the heart does.  I think my absolute favorite character was Fern. She’s been living at the inn for a long time. She’s hilarious, a straight shooter and  knows everything possible. She cracks me up. Everyone needs a Fern in their lives.


This book will absolutely take you through all the emotions, but if you’re looking for a good laugh, this will be the one for you. 



VI KEELAND


Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author. With millions of books sold, her titles have appeared in over a hundred Bestseller lists and are currently translated in twenty-five languages. She resides in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.



PENELOPE WARD


Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of contemporary romance. 

She grew up in Boston with five older brothers and spent most of her twenties as a television news anchor. Penelope resides in Rhode Island with her husband, son, and beautiful daughter with autism. 

With over two million books sold, she is a 21-time New York Times bestseller and the author of over twenty novels. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages and can be found in bookstores around the world.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

EXCERPT REVEAL~ WELL PLAYED by Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward




Title: Well Played
Authors: Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance
Release Date: October 25, 2021


Excited about Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward’s upcoming release, Well Played? 
Check out this SNEAK PEEK!


Presley

Harper picked up the notebook that contained my to-do list from the table and opened to a fresh page. Clicking the pen open, she scribbled across the top.
To do with Levi
I chuckled. “Are we making a dirty to-do list?”
She wiggled her eyebrows and put the pen to the paper. “We certainly are.” “Tell me one thing you fantasize about doing with him.”
Yep, I was definitely drunk, because sober me wouldn’t have participated in this. Though, even in this state, I felt my cheeks blush. “Well, every day he goes out back and does pull-ups in that big oak tree. Sometimes I imagine he’s naked while doing them, and then I walk out naked, too. I wrap myself around him like a koala and he’s a tree, and he keeps doing the pull-ups. Hoisting us both up and down.”
Harper smirked. “Nice start.” She then jotted down koala pull-ups. “What else you got?”
“Well, I also have this running fantasy that I’m watching him do the pull-ups from my bedroom window with binoculars, and then I lie down on the bed and…you know…go to town on myself. And when I’m just about to orgasm, I look up at the window and see Levi with the binoculars. He’s watching me masturbate from outside.”
“Oooh… I like that one.” Harper wrote down voyeur masturbation.
For the next half hour, we polished off our spiked lemonades, laughed a lot, and added more than a dozen sexual to-do tasks to my list. It was the most fun I’d had in ages. But Harper had to fly home in the morning, and I didn’t want her to have a raging hangover. So rather than make another pitcher of spiked lemonade, I grabbed her a water bottle and some Motrin and told her to drink up before going to bed.
But as I walked around and shut off the lights, another fantasy hit me. “That peach cobbler we had for dessert at the restaurant was orgasmic, wasn’t it?”
“It sure was.”
I pointed to the notepad. “Sit on Levi’s face while eating that pie.”
Harper had been drinking water and spit it out all over the place. “Oh my God. That is most definitely going on the list!” She picked up the pen and spoke while jotting something down. “Double orgasmic peach cobbler.”
We started to crack up, but a knock interrupted our laughter. At least it interrupted mine. I looked up to find Levi standing in the doorway to the living room.
My eyes widened. “Levi… What are you doing here?”
His brows lifted. “I own half the place.”
“No, I meant I didn’t know you were back.”
He looked between Harper and me and seemed to smirk. “Oh, I’m back.”
My palms started to sweat. “I didn’t hear you come in. How long have you been…standing there?”
Levi tilted his head, and his smirk elevated to a cocky smile. “Not too long.”
Oh my God. I wanted to crawl into a hole and never come out. What if he heard? I suddenly felt pretty damn sober. “Umm…well, this is my friend Harper. She’s leaving early tomorrow, so we were just going to bed.”
He nodded. “Nice to meet you, Harper.”
Harper stood and hiccupped. She covered her grinning mouth. “Nice to meet you, too. Your family’s inn is beautiful.”
“Thank you.”
Her eyes shifted to me. “Although there’s a lot to do around here. Presley and I made a list. You might want to take a look at it and get going on some of the new to-do tasks we added.”
My eyes nearly bulged out of my head, and I lunged for the notebook on the table.
Levi squinted at me. “Everything okay, Presley? You seem stressed.”
“I’m fine!”
He nodded slowly. “Right.”
“Alright….” I grabbed Harper’s arm and tugged. “We’re going to bed. Welcome home.”
Levi never moved from the living room doorway as he watched me drag my friend out of the room.
Harper waved over her shoulder. “’Night, Levi. Enjoy your to-do list!”
Somehow I managed to get Harper to her room without her yelling anything too obscene. But for the next half hour, I lay in my bed with my heart pounding. What if he’d heard us? What if he’d been standing there listening the entire time? Oh my God. I covered my face with my hands. The things I said I wanted to do to him. My head began to ache, and tomorrow’s hangover hadn’t even started yet.
After another twenty minutes of lying there freaking out in the dark, my mouth was so parched that I needed a bottle of water. But there was no way I wanted to run into Levi again. So I cracked open my bedroom door and listened for any sounds of someone moving out in the common area. Finding it quiet, I snuck down the hall and peered around the corner to see if any lights were still on. They weren’t, so I breathed a sigh of relief and went to the kitchen for a drink.
I guzzled half a bottle of water before turning to slink back to my bedroom. But I froze at the sight of Levi standing in the kitchen doorway. My hand flew up to cover my racing heart. “Oh my God. You scared me.”
“Sorry. I was just going to head out to grab a bite to eat.”
“Oh…there are leftovers from lunch in the fridge, if you want. I made chicken pot pies this morning.”
Levi held my eyes for a moment. “Thanks, but I think I’m going to go out.” He walked over and leaned down to whisper in my ear. “I have a real hankering for peach cobbler.”
Oh.
My.
God.
My jaw dropped to the ground. I had no idea what to do or say.
Levi winked as he walked to the door. “Get some sleep. I wouldn’t want you to be too tired to work on that to-do list.”

★★★ 

Excited? We are too!

RELEASING OCTOBER 25th!







Please note: There will not be an Amazon ebook pre-order, but it will be available on Amazon in Kindle Unlimited on release day.

Sign up for Vi and Penelope’s mailing list now and be the first one notified when it goes live!



Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author. With millions of books sold, her titles have appeared in over a hundred Bestseller lists and are currently translated in twenty-five languages. She resides in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.



PENELOPE WARD


Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of contemporary romance. 

She grew up in Boston with five older brothers and spent most of her twenties as a television news anchor. Penelope resides in Rhode Island with her husband, son, and beautiful daughter with autism. 

With over two million books sold, she is a 21-time New York Times bestseller and the author of over twenty novels. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages and can be found in bookstores around the world.




Sunday, September 5, 2021

COVER REVEAL ~ WELL PLAYED by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward




Title: Well Played
Authors: Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance
Cover Design: Sommer Stein, Perfect Pear Creative
Photo: Celso Colaco
Model: Gonçalo Teixeira
Release Date: October 25, 2021


BLURB

It all started with a bet.
When my young son inherited half of his great grandfather’s historic inn, I decided to move us both to the place where I grew up.
Notice I said half of the Inn. The other half now belonged to Levi Miller, the famous quarterback who had other ideas about what we should do with the property.
We won’t mention that I accidentally injured him during our first meeting, causing him to get eight stitches.
You could say we got off on the wrong foot.
We bickered a lot as we both moved into the property while we figured things out.
He wanted to unload the rundown place which, admittedly, needed a lot of work.
I wanted to restore The Palm Inn to its original beauty and re-open it as a bed and breakfast.
We couldn’t agree on anything. So Levi made me a proposal. One he thought I would surely lose. If I could sell out the place by the time he had to leave for training at the end of summer, he would back off and let me run it.
But in the weeks that followed, we got more than we bargained for while we were living under the same roof.
Levi and I got closer, and before I knew it, my nightly fantasies about the brawny Adonis became a reality. Not to mention, he was so great with my son.
We were in over our heads in more ways than one.
Because not only was he the last man on Earth I should be falling for because of our deal, but Levi was also my ex’s older brother.
And now the inn was the least of my problems.











VI KEELAND


Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author. With millions of books sold, her titles have appeared in over a hundred Bestseller lists and are currently translated in twenty-five languages. She resides in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.



PENELOPE WARD


Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of contemporary romance. 

She grew up in Boston with five older brothers and spent most of her twenties as a television news anchor. Penelope resides in Rhode Island with her husband, son, and beautiful daughter with autism. 

With over two million books sold, she is a 21-time New York Times bestseller and the author of over twenty novels. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages and can be found in bookstores around the world.




OTHER BOOKS BY VI & PENELOPE


AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

Free in Kindle Unlimited

ALSO AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK & AUDIO

Monday, July 12, 2021

REVIEW TOUR~ THE SPARK by Vi Keeland




Title: The Spark
Author: Vi Keeland
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance
Release Date: July 12, 2021


BLURB

Before I even met Donovan Decker, I knew his shoe size.
You see, I’d gone away for a few days, and in my haste to get out of the airport, I’d grabbed the wrong suitcase.
After checking out the expensive footwear and tailored clothes, I dialed the number on the luggage tag hoping maybe Mister Big Spender might have my bag.
A deep, velvety voice answered, and as luck would have it, he had my suitcase, too.
Donovan and I met at a coffee shop to do the exchange.
Turned out, it wasn’t just his voice that was sexy. The man holding my luggage was absolutely gorgeous, and we had an immediate spark.
He got me to admit that I’d snooped in his bag and then convinced me to make it up to him by letting him buy me coffee.
Coffee led to dinner, dinner led to dessert, and dessert led to spending an entire weekend together. Donovan wasn’t just handsome with a panty-dropping voice. He was also funny, smart, and surprisingly down to earth for a man who wore seven-hundred-dollar shoes.
Did I mention he also did my laundry while I slept?
Definitely too good to be true.
So what did I do to repay him for his kindness?
I waited until he was in the shower, then ghosted him.
My life was too complicated for such a great guy.
In the months that passed, I thought about Donovan often. But New York City had eight-million people, so what were the chances I’d run into him?
Then again, what were the chances I’d run into him a year later…when I’d just started dating his boss?







PURCHASE LINKS




REVIEW

Holy cow! Have you ever been so engrossed in a book that when you finished you are extremely disappointed to see that you’re back to reality? That’s exactly how I felt or still am feeling after I’ve read The Spark. I have the itch to read the book again and i know for a fact that i will love it as if it was my first time reading it. Vi Keeland has a way to always suck me into this fairytale, I feel as if I am transported into the story and have tuned out the world around me. She is at master at slow burn books, but they always suck me in.

The Spark is a very fitting title for this book. During their first encounter over the phone your an instantly feel the spark between Autumn and Donovan. I knew from that moment on, there was a special connection between the two of them and I was looking forward to watching it unfold. 

Autumn and Donovan grew up on two completely different sides of the tracks, but you would never know it. Even with their differences, they have so much in common. Donovan is a lawyer but came from a rough past. Hearing his story and seeing how he turned his life into a positive outlook just amazes me. I love how he still takes care of those that helped him grow into the man he is now. Autumn grew up on the uppity parts of Connecticut, but has suffered her own struggles. Autumn, I loved her character and who she was. I just knew there was a story behind her and I was heartbroken to hear of her past. She is such a strong person and very closed off, she just needed that one person who would push their way and break down those walls. Sigh… Donovan.. everyone needs a Donovan in their lives. He’s so patient, so caring and so thoughtful. He is rough around the edges, but once you get to know him he’s a soft teddy bear who puts the needs of others before themselves. 

I absolutely enjoyed watching these two. Donovan is a man who knows what he wants from the beginning and goes after it. Autumn has a lot of reservations that is stemmed from that past and resist a lot. There’s a lot of push and pull, back and forth but Donovan wont let her slip by. He stands his ground and shows his extreme patience. Their first interaction started by chance with the luck of wrong suitcases. They meet months later but chance due to a work assignment. She’s dating his boss and he’s up for a promotion. They try to keep things as professional as possible. As much as they try to resist one another, that spark is always there. I knew that once Donovan and Autumn ignited that spark, it was going to be explosive and boy was I right. Donovan has never felt this way about anyone, but how patient will he be with Autumn? How does one choose his job over the girl who makes him feel whole? What happens when the past comes back? Can they both get over that hurdle or will the past be their demise? 

There’s so much more to love about this book. Do yourself a favor and get your copy today. 

AUTHOR BIO


Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author. With millions of books sold, her titles have appeared in over a hundred Bestseller lists and are currently translated in twenty-five languages. She resides in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.


AUTHOR LINKS





OTHER BOOKS BY VI


AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU



AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

Thursday, July 8, 2021

EXCERPT REVEAL ~ THE SPARK by Vi Keeland




Title: The Spark
Author: Vi Keeland
Genre: Standalone Contemporary Romance
Release Date: July 12, 2021


Excited about Vi Keeland’s upcoming release, The Spark? Check out this SNEAK PEEK of CHAPTER 1!


CHAPTER 1
Autumn

I’m definitely getting too old for this.
I tossed a pile of mail on the couch and plopped down beside it. It was barely six o’clock, and I wouldn’t have minded climbing into bed and calling it a day. I needed a vacation from my four-day mini vacation. Thank goodness I’d scheduled myself a weekend to recover. My girls’ trip/early bachelorette party in Vegas for my friend Anna—the one where we were all going to relax by the pool and get spa treatments—had turned into all-night clubbing and almost missing my flight home earlier today because I’d overslept. It had definitely been a while since I drank more than two glasses of wine in the span of a week, and I was feeling my ripe old age of twenty-eight before the sun had even set this Friday night. Thank God I didn’t have to work tomorrow.
I briefly considered going the hair-of-the-dog route and sucking back a vodka cran while zoning out on Netflix, but then my phone rang, crashing me back to reality.
Ugh…
Dad flashed on the screen. I should’ve just gotten it over with and spoken to him, but I didn’t have the energy. Nonetheless, allowing myself to avoid the stress speaking to my father would inevitably cause reminded me of the other thing I needed to do that I’d been avoiding all afternoon. Laundry. One of my least-favorite tasks—mostly because it required me to sit downstairs in my building’s dingy basement laundry room. Up until a few months ago, I would start my laundry and come back forty-five minutes later to make the switch to the dryer. But that practice had come to a halt after one of my loads went missing—an entire load of wet bras and underwear. Who the hell stole wet clothes? At least nab dry ones. Nevertheless, it was an expensive lesson, and now I didn’t leave the basement until my clothes were washed and dried.
Sighing, I begrudgingly went to the bedroom, where my suitcase still sat on the bed, and unzipped it. I’d packed a linen skirt on top that I hadn’t wound up wearing, and I figured I’d hang it in the bathroom and hope the wrinkles worked themselves out over the course of a couple of steamy showers. I hated ironing almost as much as I hated doing laundry downstairs.
But when I flipped open the top of the suitcase, my linen skirt wasn’t on top. At first I thought my bag must’ve been selected for search, and things hadn’t been put back in order… Though the wingtip shoe I lifted was most definitely not mine.
Shit.
I rummaged through the suitcase in a panic.
Slacks, running clothes, a men’s dress shirt… A sickening feeling washed over me, and I scrambled to look at the luggage tag. I’d never filled out the identification card inside, but the leather had my initials embossed on the outside.
And this one…had no initials.
Crap. Crap. Crap.
I’d grabbed the wrong bag off the luggage carousel. I started to sweat. All of my makeup was in that bag! Not to mention a week’s worth of my best outfits and shoes. I needed to get it back. Rushing to the kitchen, I grabbed my cell from the charger on the counter and Googled the number for the airline. After wading through a half-dozen prompts, I reached a recording.
“Thank you for calling American Airlines. Due to unprecedented call volume, your estimated wait time is approximately forty-one minutes.”
Forty-one minutes! I blew out a rush of air. Great. Just great.
In the meantime, while I waited on hold on speakerphone, listening to staticky music, it hit me that whoever’s luggage I had might very well have mine. I hadn’t even checked the luggage tag to see if, unlike mine, the identification information was filled in.
I zipped back down the hall to my bedroom.
Bingo!
Donovan Deckerkind of a cool name. And he lived here in the city! Thankfully, Donovan even had his phone number listed. It couldn’t be that easy, could it? I doubted it, but considering I still had forty minutes before I could speak to someone at the airline, I wasn’t losing much for trying. So I swiped to end my call. I started to punch in the numbers on the tag, and then decided to hit *67 first to make my number private. With my luck, the guy wouldn’t have my luggage, but he’d be a total creeper.
I was caught off guard when a man’s deep voice answered on the first ring. I hadn’t yet figured out what I was going to say.
“Uhhh. Hi. My name is Autumn, and I think I might have your luggage.”
“That was quick. I just hung up with you guys two minutes ago.”
He must’ve thought I was calling from the airline. “Oh, no. I don’t work for American. I traveled home this morning and must’ve grabbed the wrong bag at JFK.”
“What are your initials?”
“My initials?”
“Yeah, you know, the first letter of your first name and the first letter of your last name.”
I rolled my eyes. “I know what initials are. I just don’t understand why you would ask—Oh! Does that mean you have my luggage? I have my initials embossed on the luggage tag.”
“That depends on what your initials are, Autumn. The first letter matches.”
“My initials are AW.”
“Well, then it seems you are indeed the thief who clipped my luggage.”
Sure, I hadn’t checked my luggage tag, but it offended me that he was calling me a thief. “Wouldn’t we both be thieves? Since you’re in possession of my luggage?”
“I only took yours because it was the last one left rotating around the carousel. You see, unlike you, I checked the luggage tag the first time it passed, and when I saw it wasn’t mine, I left it for the rightful owner to claim. But the line at baggage customer service was twenty deep, and I had a meeting I was already late for. So I took the one I have hostage until the airline could sort it out.”
My shoulders slumped. “Oh. Sorry.”
“It’s fine. Are you here in the City?”
“I am. Could we possibly meet to swap bags?”
“Sure. When and where? I’m out now, but I’ll be back in an hour or two.”
The tag had an address on the Upper East Side, but I lived on the West Side, farther downtown. “Could we meet at the Starbucks on 80th and Lex?” That was closer to him, but at least I’d only have to drag the suitcase onto one subway.
“I can’t think of any excuse not to. What time?”
That was sort of a weird way to phrase a yes, and the way he emphasized the word excuse seemed odd. But hey, I was getting my bag back. So what if he turned out to be a little strange? At least I’d hidden my phone number, and we were meeting in a public place.
“How about eight?”
“I’ll see you then.”
It sounded like he was about to hang up. “Wait…” I said. “How will I know it’s you?”
“I’ll be the one holding your luggage, Autumn W.”
I chuckled. “Oh, yeah. Sorry...long week in Vegas.”
I bent and lifted the shoe from the top of the bag. Ferragamo. Expensive. And big, too. A quick peek revealed it was a size thirteen. The inner teenager in me couldn’t help but think big feet, big…. Plus, the guy had a deep, sexy voice. I would definitely be exploring more of the dude’s luggage after we hung up.
“I’ll meet you at eight,” he said.
“See you then.” I was just about to swipe my phone off when something hit me. Oh God! “Hello? Wait...are you still there?”
It took a heartbeat or two, but the sexy voice came back on the line. “What’s up?”
“Ummm… Did you…open my bag?”
“I unzipped it at the airport to make sure it wasn’t mine when I noticed the luggage tag initials.”
“Did you…see anything?”
“There was a pink thong on top, so that pretty much sealed the deal that it didn’t belong to me. But I didn’t rummage through, if that’s what you’re asking.”
I forgot I’d shoved that thong in at the last minute. It had been at the back of a drawer when I’d checked the hotel room one last time on my way out. But I’d take him seeing my underwear over the other stuff inside my bag. I blew out a sigh of relief. “Okay, that’s great. Thank you. I’ll see you at eight at Starbucks.”
“Whoa. Hang on a second—not so fast. You sounded pretty nervous that I might’ve gone through your bag. Are you hiding something sinister in there? I’m not going to be walking around with a suitcase full of drugs or something, am I?”
I cracked a smile. “No, definitely not. I just...I’d prefer if you didn’t go through it.”
“Did you rummage through mine?”
I glanced at the shoe in my hand. Taking out one measly piece of footwear wouldn’t be considered rummaging, right? Nah. “No, I didn’t.”
“Are you planning on it?” he asked.
I had no idea what the man looked like, yet I could tell by his voice that he was smiling now.
“Nope,” I lied.
“Alright. Then we have a deal. I won’t go through your bag, and you won’t go through mine.”
“Okay. Thank you.”
“Do I have your word on that, Autumn W? I might have some things I’d prefer you didn’t see in there.”
“Like what?”
He chuckled. “See you at eight.”
After we hung up, I tossed the shoe back into the suitcase and bent to close it. But as I reached for the zipper, my curiosity got the best of me. Was he just screwing with me, or did he really have something in here he didn’t want me to see? Of course, I knew what I had in mine, which made me extra curious.
I shook my head and started to pull the zipper closed. About halfway, I laughed out loud. Who was I kidding? Now that I didn’t have laundry to do, I had almost a full two hours to kill before I met Mr. Bigfoot. This suitcase would taunt me all that time. I’d most certainly give in eventually, so why not put myself out of that misery and just take a little look-see inside now? Then I’d be able to relax. He’d never know I hadn’t lived up to my end of the bargain. Not to mention, for all I knew, he was elbow deep in my suitcase right now. In that case, it would only be fair that I got to go through his, right?
I nibbled my lip for a few seconds as a wave of guilt washed over me. But I quickly forced that out of my mind. Of course I’m right.
Feeling justified now, I unzipped the suitcase and took a minute to mentally note how everything was packed: a white dress shirt was folded on top, and two shoes were set on either side, heels facing up. I carefully unpacked those and placed them on the bed next to the suitcase in the same order. The next layer had more folded clothes: two expensive dress shirts, a pair of sweats, boxer briefs, and a few T-shirts, one of which had something emblazoned on the front—familiar lettering that began HA—so I unfolded it to see what it said. Harvard Law.
Ugh. One of those. No wonder he could afford Ferragamo shoes.
Underneath the pile of clothes was a white laundry bag—the kind a hotel gives you to put your dry cleaning in, but most people used it to separate their dirty clothes. With no desire to sort through smelly socks, I started to fold the clothes back into the suitcase, feeling a twinge of disappointment. But when I smoothed out the layers of the pile, I felt something lumpy and hard underneath in the plastic laundry bag. So I took the clothes back out and looked inside, hoping to find…I’m not sure what. Though what I found was definitely not what I expected.
The bag was filled with at least twenty or thirty of those little shampoo bottles hotels give out. Actually, a closer inspection revealed some were conditioner and a few were moisturizer. Buried on the very bottom were also three little sewing kits and half-a-dozen toothbrushes wrapped in plastic—the kind you could get at the front desk of a hotel when you forgot yours.
What the heck had Mr. Bigfoot done? Rob a housekeeping cart? This kind of stuff, though a lesser quantity, is what you’d usually find in my suitcase since I was broke all the time. But it wasn’t the type of thing you’d expect in the suitcase of a man who had gone to Harvard and wore seven-hundred-dollar dress shoes.
Now I was even more curious to meet Donovan Decker.

***

I arrived at Starbucks almost twenty minutes early, so I went online to treat myself to a flat white with honey almond milk. Even ordering it had me salivating, thinking about the sweet, creamy drink. Expensive coffee was my indulgence, but it didn’t happen too often with the five-dollar price tag and my skimpy budget.
I stood at the end of the counter, waiting for my drink and mindlessly scrolling on my phone, when a man walking through the front door caught my attention.
Oh, wow.
Now that was one good-looking man. Describing him as merely tall, dark, and handsome didn’t cut it, not by a mile. Jet-black hair framed a magnificent face with a chiseled, masculine bone structure, full lips, and a Romanesque nose. I wasn’t the only one to notice, either. I watched as the Adonis took a step back outside to hold the door open for a woman exiting the store, and the poor lady caught one glimpse of him and literally tripped over her own feet.
Seemingly oblivious that he’d caused the incident, he extended a hand to help her up, flashed a killer smile, and strolled inside. His bright blue eyes scanned the room, stopping right on my ogling ones. Embarrassed at being caught, I quickly diverted my attention back to my phone. A few seconds later, I was still pretending to be enraptured by my screen when footsteps came to a halt in front of me. I glanced up and blinked a few times. The guy from the door flashed a crooked smile.
“Were you able to control yourself?”
My forehead wrinkled. “Excuse me?”
His eyes danced with mirth, and his voice lowered. “I bet you couldn’t.”
I stared at him for an awkward moment before finally shaking my head. “What on Earth are you talking about?”
The man’s brows furrowed. “We made a deal, remember? I wouldn’t go through yours, if you didn’t touch mine?”
I’d watched the man walk in, stood right in front of him staring for at least a solid minute, and it took until now for me to notice he had something in his hand.
“Oh my God. You have my suitcase!”
He laughed but still looked perplexed. “What did you think I was talking about?”
“I…I don’t know. I was thoroughly confused.”
“I thought you saw me walk in.”
I did. But I hadn’t made it past your face. “No, I hadn’t noticed. Sorry. I guess I was just zoning out.”
The barista behind the counter yelled my name. I was glad for an excuse to put some distance between this guy and me. I needed a moment to gather my wits. Though when I returned, I still felt a little off-kilter.
“Thank you for meeting me to swap suitcases,” I said. “I’m really sorry I took the wrong one.”
“No problem.”
I rolled his case forward and released the handle. But the Adonis didn’t do the same. In fact, he pulled my bag closer to his side.
“Before we switch...” He tilted his head and studied my face. “I’m curious to know if you kept your word.”
I mimicked his pose and tilted my head. “What if I say I didn’t?”
“Well, then you’d have to pay a penalty for violating the terms of our deal.”
I raised a brow, intrigued. “A penalty?”
He nodded. “That’s right. There’s a penalty.”
I laughed as I lifted my coffee for a sip. “I just got back from a girls’ weekend in Vegas. Pretty sure this overpriced drink just used up the last five dollars in my bank account.”
“I wasn’t referring to a monetary penalty.”
“What kind of a penalty, then?”
He stroked the stubble on his chin for a moment. “You’d have to have coffee with me.”
Did this guy really think that would be a hardship? I debated how to answer. If I told the truth, it would be embarrassing. I mean, I went through the man’s personal belongings. But the flipside was I’d get to check him out some more over coffee. Then again, I’d be agreeing to spend time with a complete stranger. Though…whenever I met a guy online, I usually met him at a coffeehouse, and I probably knew more about this guy after going through his suitcase than I would from an online chat. Not to mention, none of my online dates had looked like Donovan Decker lately. In fact, none had made it further than coffee in a while.
Adonis had been watching my face as I debated my answer. His smirk made me think he already knew I’d checked out his bag. So, what the hell?
I stood tall and met his stare. “Was the lady from housekeeping harmed in the robbery?”
His eyes narrowed for a heartbeat, but then a giant smile spread across his face. He held his hand out toward the seating area. “After you, Autumn W.”

★★★ 

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AUTHOR BIO


Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author. With millions of books sold, her titles have appeared in over a hundred Bestseller lists and are currently translated in twenty-five languages. She resides in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.


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