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Feature Friday: All Fired Up

Be sure to pick up ALL FIRED UP, the first book from the DreamMakers series, co-written with Elle Kennedy, for FREE. It’s free for a limited time.

Cover - All Fired Up
Chapter One

“This needs to be big. No, it needs to be huge. I’m talking flowers and candles and sunset helicopter rides and—whatever the hell it is you people do. If she says no, I’ll… I don’t know what I’ll do. She has to say yes. She has to. Got it?”

The grade-A douchebag on the black leather couch crossed his arms over the front of his tailored suit jacket, his cobalt-blue eyes daring the two men across from him to challenge his final remark.

From their respective armchairs, Parker Wilson and Dean Colter exchanged a brief glance. In the three years DreamMakers Inc. had been in business, Parker and his colleagues had met with a lot of asshole boyfriends, but Parker could honestly say Phil Shotelle was one of the worst. From the moment the sharply dressed executive had sauntered into their office, Parker had been attempting to hide his disdain for the dark-haired man. Something about Shotelle rubbed him the wrong way. Probably the air of self-entitled importance the dude exuded in spades.

Dean, whose poker face was most definitely lacking, addressed their client with an unmistakable smirk. “You seem mighty worried your lady is gonna turn down the proposal. Any trouble in paradise we need to be aware of?”

Phil’s expression clouded over. “No,” he said in a tight voice. “Our relationship is rock-solid—and, frankly, none of your concern. I’m hiring you to plan a fantasy date, not to play therapist.”

Parker leaned back in his chair and tried not to grin. Clearly Dean had hit the nail right on the head—there was trouble in paradise, and the panicky glint that kept flashing in Phil’s eyes confirmed it.

But the douchebag was correct. DreamMakers didn’t provide counseling services, or matchmaking. The business had been designed to help clueless men plan the most romantic dates that said clueless men weren’t able to conceive of on their own—a job a battle-hardened soldier like Parker would never have imagined himself doing, not in a million years.

After his stint in the Rangers, he’d figured he’d wind up working security or taking an instructor gig on one of the army’s training bases. Instead, he’d founded DreamMakers with two of his fellow Special Ops soldiers, and somehow their little operation had transformed into a booming business, offering a service that was in surprisingly high demand in the San Francisco area.

Unfortunately, the influx of clientele meant jerks like Phil Shotelle were bound to cross their path.

“All right, why don’t you tell us a bit about your girlfriend?” Parker said in his most diplomatic voice, all the while fighting the urge to kick their new client right out of the office.

Phil shifted awkwardly on the sofa. “What do you want to know?”

“Her name would be a good start.” Dean’s tone was laced with humor.

“Ah, right. It’s Lynn. Her name is Lynn Davidson.”

“Okay. And what does Lynn do?”

“She works at the Bay City Press. We both do. I’m the junior vice president of advertising. She does the layouts for the paper.” Phil’s lips curled in a sneer. “She’s declined three opportunities for promotion in the last two years.”

Parker didn’t miss the note of scorn. In fact, he didn’t sense an ounce of love or warmth coming from the guy in relation to the woman he was going to propose to.

“How long have you been together?” he asked briskly.

“Almost five months.”

Dean’s dark eyebrows shot up. “And you’re already planning on popping the question? You must really believe she’s the one, huh?”

Phil offered a blank stare. “What?”

“The one,” Dean echoed. “The woman of your dreams, the fabled Mrs. Shotelle, your one and only, etcetera, etcetera.”

The other man blinked. “Ah. Right. Yeah, sure, she’s the one.”

It took all of Parker’s willpower not to gape at the moron sitting in front of them. “Yeah, sure, she’s the one” was about the most half-assed response he’d ever heard in his life. He didn’t normally root against his clients, but damn, he found himself hoping Phil’s main squeeze rejected the proposal. He didn’t know this Lynn, but he already felt pretty fucking sorry for her.

“So, what does she enjoy?” Parker asked. “What are her hobbies?”

Cue another blank look.

He smothered a sigh. “What about favorites? Favorite color, movie, music?”

Phil shrugged.

Oh, for fuck’s sake. The man was about to propose to the woman and he couldn’t even name her favorite color?

“You know what,” Dean spoke up, “why don’t you take a few minutes to think about it? We’ll need you to fill out some forms anyway, including a questionnaire about your woman. And there’s also a couple of waivers you’ll need to sign.”

“What kind of waivers?” Phil asked suspiciously.

“Standard 374-9. Release of liability for performance of services. Then we have the 17-4 regarding transportation.”

Phil’s eyes glazed over as Dean rambled on, spewing a list of numbers and techno jargon that sounded damn impressive. When Dean stopped and flashed his grin, Parker covered his mouth with a hand to hide his amusement behind a cough.

“I beg your pardon?” Phil blinked a few times. “Release of liability?”

Dean cleared his throat. “Means you acknowledge and understand that while we’re planning the date, it’s your job to woo your woman. If it’s a proposal, we can’t guarantee she’ll say yes, and we won’t be held liable if the answer is no.”

A nod. “Fair enough.”

“Just head to the lobby and ask Didi for the paperwork, and you can take as long as you need with it. We’ll talk fees and ideas when you’re done,” Dean added.

Looking relieved, Phil rose from the couch and nodded. “Sounds good.”

A moment later, the heavy oak door closed behind him, leaving Parker and Dean alone in the office.

“That poor woman,” Parker declared.

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First Line Friday: Don't Walk Away

Love a second chance romance? Be sure to pick up Don’t Walk Away!

A black widow hung two feet over Dean Colter’s head.

A second one perched on the nearby window seat, legs bouncing as she stalked a new victim.

He stood smack-dab in the middle of freak-house central. Tangled white cobwebs filled the corners of the windows while battery-operated candles cast flickering shadows in sharp contrast with the disco ball sparkles raining down on the dance floor.

The second weekend of October was far too early for Halloween, but one thing Dean knew was when to argue with a female and when to close his damn mouth and put on the costume.

At least his get-up wasn’t something lame like Zorro. Nope, he’d wandered through the private entrance to the warehouse fashionably late to discover he’d been left the makings for Iron Man. Nothing more than leggings and light body armor, his muscles filling out the rest. The symbolism made him grin.

The mask, however, he’d “forgotten” in the back room where he’d found the costume waiting. Screw wearing something that covered his entire face.

He glanced around the noisy room, impressed by the size of the crowd that had appeared after just a few phone calls.

The guy beside him weaved hard to his right, and Dean dodged aside with military precision, catching the man with one arm and tipping him back to vertical with a laugh. “Whoa, there, cowboy.”

The drunken partier’s date giggled loudly, bracing her hands on her hips as she arched her back and presented a well-filled jean vest in Dean’s direction.

“Thankee, pard’ner.” Her interest flashed nearly as bright as the shiny sheriff’s badge pinned over her ample bosom.

“You might want to hog-tie your man for the rest of the night,” Dean suggested, amused as the man’s hands wandered over her curves. “Maybe take away the keys to his horse.”

She stepped between them, chin rising. “You wanna come for a ride with us?”

“Thanks for the offer, but I’m not allowed to mix business with pleasure, darling.” He pretended to tip a hat, then strode off, determined to catch up with his buddies who were somewhere in the mob.

Parker Wilson and Jack Hunter were not only his business partners, but also his best friends. They’d gone through hell together during their Ranger days, but now that their two tours of duty were over, they’d all settled in San Francisco. Even with their time on foreign soil long behind them, they seemed to have little difficulty finding new ways to get in trouble.

A pair of identical Playboy Bunnies sauntered past, eyeing Dean with great enthusiasm. He offered a smile, but kept going without even a second glance at their fluffy tails as he examined the crowd for the rest of his team.

Three steps later he jerked to a halt.

God, he had to be running a fever, or dying…or something. He glanced over his shoulder, but nope. The urge to reverse direction and work on seducing one, or both, of the bunnies into his bed wasn’t there. Maybe his libido had finally succumbed to pure exhaustion from all those other times when he’d jumped in enthusiastically, leaving a trail of satisfied women in his wake.

A burst of familiar laughter rang from the corner where the refreshments were, and Dean changed course, once again struck by how many people were enjoying the haunted house around him.

It wasn’t difficult to spot the rest of his crew once he’d cornered them. Someone with a sense of humor had replicated the entire Avengers team and he was pretty sure with one guess he could name the troublemaker.

“Dean.” His buddy Jack went to extend a hand toward him, jerking to a stop as if surprised to spot the curved bow he held. Amusement filled his dark brown eyes, and he paused to sling the contraption over his shoulder. “About time you got here.”

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All Fired Up - First Two Chapters

Want a sneak peak at the first two chapters of All Fired Up? Read the PDF here: All Fired Up – First Two Chapters