Sometimes, you have to lose something to appreciate what you have. That's the situation my heroine finds herself in in my recent release, TuDawgs. Melody "Nicey" Alexander has lost everything, thanks to her affair with the lieutenant governor, but she's about to find out that what she has left is more than enough. The story is an erotic romp through a carnival, a tale about a bad girl and a carnie, and how to find your way back home.
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We soon reached the double-length booth. Cheap glassware glittered under hot lights. Glasses, baking dishes, clear plates, coffee cups, and ash trays were stacked so the easy-to-land tosses would net something small or garish. The more desirable items perched on rotating platforms. Squinting, I studied the wares.
The booth attendant approached. I handed over eight quarters and got back twenty-five dimes. “Uh, you miscounted.” I handed five coins back, raising my voice to be heard over the guy calling bingo in the next tent.
“Nah, you’re good,” the young man assured me, darting a look at Carnie from under raised brows. He curled my fingers over the coins. “Keep ‘em. Call it a customer loyalty bonus.”
Carnie snorted and glared at the teenager. “Yeah, right.” Was he jealous? The kid couldn’t be twenty.
I spied a red casserole dish with a clear glass lid. There were several more scattered throughout the display, in various sizes. I pointed to one about three inches square, atop of one of the rotating stands. The small ones would be the hardest to win, since it’d be easier for the dime to slide off the miniscule surface. The dishes were perfect to hold leftovers when my mother cooked for one—after I found a way to move out.
“Aim for those.” I pointed.
Carnie huffed. “You say that like my mama doesn’t need new drinking glasses.”
His aggrieved look made me burst out laughing. He was easy to be around. God, did I ever need someone easy to be around.
“Okay, but if I stick this dime, you’re kissing me.” He waved the coin under my nose.
“And if you miss?”
“I kiss you.”
I threw my dime. “You must know a lot of dumb women.” The coin skidded across the bottom of the upended dish and fell off the other side.
The attendant yelled, “Winner! Winner!” He reached into the display and turned, sitting a striped tea glass in front of me. I slid the tumbler in front of Carnie.
“Looks like you’re not going home to mama empty-handed after all.” I took aim again, breathing deep and trying to calm down, so I could take a little off my throw. The dime struck the same spot as before and began to skid. I grabbed Carnie’s arm, jumping up and down. “Stop. C’mon, stop!”
The leading edge hung over the side, but the coin stayed on the dish.
“We got us another winner!” the young carnival worker cried. He lifted the tablecloth and grabbed an identical dish from a big box underneath. After popping the lid on top, he placed my prize on the railing in front of me.
“I think you’re a ringer,” Carnie said, poking me in the rib. “Tell the truth. You throw dimes for a living.”
“No, but I used to rake them in.” He raised a brow and I regretted bring up the topic. No sense getting depressed. “I’m two for two… and you?” I faked a grin, overwhelmed by a surge of longing for my former position as fundraising director for a children’s charity.
He dragged his dime along the side of his jaw. Think about that nice, square jaw. Not Deuce Tattersall or the job he cost me.
“For the record, I prefer intelligent women.” Carnie’s coin struck the side of the dish I’d hit. He laughed when the dime bounced off and landed on the white table covering. “Looks like you get a kiss.”
Why not? I lifted my chin as he moved close. His body blocked out the hustle and bustle around us. The rock and roll rhythm blaring from the nearby rides pounded through me. He moved one hand to the small of my back, pulling me against him. But he took his sweet time lowering his head.
There’s a place between being manhandled and being handled by a man that turns my will to water. Carnie made himself at home in that spot.
He didn’t try to take more than I offered. No tongue forced itself into my mouth. His lips were firm, yet soft. I enjoyed the way his hands felt on my body. His warmth was welcome in the crisp, evening air. This is nice.
When Carnie raised his head, he stared into my eyes for a long moment, then leaned in again. This time, he brushed his lips back and forth over mine. The soft friction generated a tingle that lingered on my lips long after he pulled away and sailed his dime through the air.
Very nice. I couldn’t keep staring, so I looked for an easier dish to aim for. His coin struck the side of the dish but ricocheted onto the ground. “Oh, look. You get another kiss.”
He turned toward me. My heart skipped a beat when his lips touched mine. I expected another chaste kiss, but he teased his way inside my mouth. I forgot about the stupid dishes. I forgot my vow to give up bad boys. I forgot I was only with him to piss Molly off. All I could think was how good he tasted and how damn well he kissed.
Stroke for stroke, I responded eagerly, exploring him and letting him explore me. I slid my hands underneath the denim jacket, enjoying the way his muscles felt against my palms.
“Hey, Brass. You gonna pitch a dime or pitch a tent?” The young attendant snickered.
What kind of name is Brass? Insider joke, no doubt about his balls. Nobody named their kid Brass. I decided to stick with Carnie.
Carnie broke away with a growl. Wordlessly, he tossed his entire handful of dimes over his shoulder and put his hand at the small of my back again, pulling me closer. Pressed to his chest, my nipples began to throb. The sensation echoed between my thighs.
“Damn, brother. You trying to break me?” Glass clinked behind us when the attendant moved his winnings to the wide rail at Carnie’s back. Paper rattled, but I was lost in the man.
“Hey, lady. Isn’t this you?”
I broke away and stared in horror at the crumpled newspaper the young man held up. My face stared back, schooled into the mask I wore walking into the Columbia FBI office with my hands locked into steel cuffs.
The bold headline screamed. Lt. Governor’s Mistress Set Free in Children’s Charity Scam Case.Set free. Not “exonerated,” but set free, like little elves worked some magical spell to conceal my guilt. No one conceals guilt from the FBI. Those bastards ripped my life apart until they knew which brand of tampons I prefer. No, their investigation was more intense than that. They knew which coupons I’d clipped for those tampons were expired.
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