Pricked by Winter Renshaw ~ CHAPTER REVEAL

He said it would only hurt a little …

On her sixteenth birthday, Sleeping Beauty pricked her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel. On my twenty-second, I pricked mine on the needle of a tattoo machine wielded by a beautifully complicated man who would go on to become my ruin.

Madden Ransom was everything I was never allowed to be: unfeeling, opinionated, rebellious … free.

He was also everything I was never allowed to be with.

And while Sleeping Beauty fell into a peaceful slumber as she awaited true love’s kiss, I fell into something else entirely—my heart in the hands of a man who’d never given nor received anything remotely like love.

It turns out when Madden told me it would only hurt a little … he didn’t mean the tattoo.

***  AVAILABLE IN KINDLE UNLIMITED  ***
Amazon

Brighton

“I can’t help but notice you don’t have any tattoos.” At least none that I can see beyond his white tank top and ripped jeans. I scan the smooth, tanned arms and the arch of his muscled shoulders as he concentrates on my bare flesh. “Why is that? If you don’t mind my asking?”

“I’m going to need you to stop shaking.” The raven-haired man with bronze skin ignores my questions and quiets the buzz of his tattoo machine. He forces a hard breath through his nostrils like he doesn’t have time for this, resting his forearms on the tops of his thighs as he studies me. “You want this to be crooked?”

“It’s a little chilly in here.” And I might be the tiniest bit anxious. If I could stop myself from shaking, believe me, I’d have done it by now.

A cool draft of air from the AC kisses the bare skin of my exposed abdomen, and a rush of goose bumps spray across my flesh.

His full lips press together as he studies the custom drawing he sketched and stenciled on me a little while ago, and I can’t help but wonder if he always looks this serious. I figured the owner of a tattoo parlor would be more on the laidback side, but Madden Ransom hasn’t so much as smiled since I got here, and every time our eyes meet—little bursts at a time here and there—there’s a kind of heaviness in his stare that I’ve never seen on anyone else before.

“A lot of people come in here saying they don’t have a thing about needles, and then as soon I get started—”

“—I don’t have a thing about needles.” I clear my throat, my fingertips tucked under the hem of my shirt, which is lifted just enough to cover the lowermost part of my bra. “I’m pre-med actually.”

I offer a nervous chuckle and, in this moment, I detest how much I sound like my mother, casually and nonchalantly working humble brags into conversations. Only despite the way it might seem, I’m not bragging, I’m simply trying to prove a point.

“Good for you.” He doesn’t look up, doesn’t seem to care in the slightest. His needle returns to my skin, the buzz filling my ear, and my body tenses. “The pain okay?” His voice is monotone, disingenuous. I suppose if a person does this job long enough, their sympathy eventually wears off. “You need a break?”

Madden stops.

“No … keep going.” Dragging in a hard breath, I let it linger in my chest as I brace myself against the hard bed beneath me.
He readjusts his black latex gloves before switching the machine on again. And that’s what it’s called—a machine. According to the research I did before coming here, tattooists hate when you call it a “gun.” I wanted to make sure I knew the vernacular before I wandered in here like a lost child off the street (or an overprotected, naive, Park Terrace princess who’s rarely allowed to venture outside her castle).

“So, why don’t you have any tattoos?” Once more I ask the question that’s been bothering me since I walked through the doors of Madd Inkk a half hour ago. A ribbed tank top made of bleached cotton hugs his sinewy torso, and I couldn’t help but notice when he took me back to his station that there wasn’t so much as a hint of ink on his perfect skin.

The man at the next station over gives a puff of a laugh, his full chest rising as he shakes his head.

“Madd’s got commitment issues for days,” he says, turning his crystalline blue focus back to his client and filling in a geometric pattern with ink the color of midnight.

The sturdy-shouldered man in his chair doesn’t so much as flinch as the needle pricks his skin. He just keeps scrolling his thumb along his phone like it doesn’t feel like a thousand tiny kittens are scratching his flesh.

“Can’t commit to a woman, a car, or a tat,” the artist adds.

“Fuck off, Pierce.” Madden returns a gloved hand to my ribcage and starts the machine once more. A moment later, the needle peppers tiny specks of ink into my skin. Every so often, he wipes the area clean and starts again. “About half done.”

He said it would only hurt a little, and that it wouldn’t take long, but the past eight minutes have all but dripped by, like morphine into saline, tiny drop by tiny drop.

“Seriously though, why don’t you have any?” I ask.

I’m not letting this go because it’s a valid question given his profession as both an artist and the sole proprietor of this shop.
Plus, I’m curious.

And I need a distraction to get me through the rest of this. The front of the shop is covered in wall to wall “flash.” Drawings and renderings. Hundreds if not thousands of them. Back here the walls are less interesting. There are certificates. State licenses. A few framed photos. And a privacy curtain.

I don’t expect some lengthy, personal response. I’ve spent maybe a half hour with this man and he’s said all of fifty words to me. A simple answer would suffice.

The needle drags against my ribcage and his mouth flattens into a hard line. “Guess I haven’t found the right one yet.”

I don’t buy it. And I’m pretty sure he’s giving me an answer just to shut me up, but it’s not like I can call him a liar. I don’t even know him.

“It’s ink, bro. Not a woman.” The artist at the next chair—Pierce—says without so much as glancing in our direction.

“No fucking shit, bro,” Madden snaps back at him, and I can’t tell if he’s joking or not. His expression hasn’t changed since the moment I first laid eyes on him.

I lift my gaze to a hand-written sign across the room, hanging behind the cash register.
NO TRIBALS
NO CHINESE SYMBOLS
NO INFINITY SYMBOLS
NO TRAMP STAMPS

The distractingly pretty, lavender-haired girl working the front snaps her gum as she hunches over the glass counter, her face colored with boredom as she thumbs through her phone. The shop isn’t as busy as I thought it would be, but then again, it’s the middle of the day on a Wednesday. It’s not exactly peak hours around here.

“I think you’re going to like this.” He wipes a damp rag across my stinging flesh, his inky brown eyes resting on his work. Madden sniffs, though it isn’t quite a laugh. “Shit. You better. It’s forever.”

He looked at me sideways when I told him I wanted him to choose the design. I didn’t come prepared. I didn’t bring screenshots or Pinterest pins or any other kind of inspiration. To be perfectly honest, this isn’t about the tattoo so much as it is about getting the tattoo.

“I trust you,” I told him as his dark brows knitted together, and then I added, “I just want it somewhere hidden.”
A moment later, I was handed a clipboard and a small stack of forms to complete, trying my hardest to steady my breathing as he prepped his station.

When he brought me back, Madden suggested the side of my ribcage, in an area easily hidden by bras and bikini tops, and he didn’t once ask me why I’d take the time to have this done if I wasn’t going to show it to anyone. His one and only caveat was that I never ask him what it means.

Ever.

He was adamant.

“Not even on your deathbed,” he said. One of his colleagues overheard him and called him a “heartless bastard,” offering a laugh that was more amusement than anything else, and for a split moment, I felt like the butt of some inside joke.

And then I wondered if he was gaslighting me. I know what people see when they look at me.

Privileged.
Naive.
Innocent.
Gullible.
Easily had.

“Still doing all right?” he asks, not glancing up.

I nod even if he isn’t looking at me right now. “Yes.”

The muscles of his forearm flex as his left palm splays across my skin. A moment later, our fingers brush when he pushes the fallen hem of my top out of the way.

In the strangest way, this feels like a dream.

The icy-cold air on my bare flesh …
The sterile scent of alcohol wipes and powdered gloves …
The vibrating sting of the needle against my skin …
The heavy metal playing on speakers in the back …
The shaved heads, “sleeved” arms, Harleys parked out front, and the girls in half-shirts and mini-skirts all work together to form an ambiance foreign to any I’ve ever known …

I try not to stare too much, but this must be what Alice felt like when she first arrived in Wonderland.

“There.” Madden shuts off the machine when he’s finished, and then he cleans the tattoo one more time before dabbing on a finger-sized scoop of ointment.

“Can I see it first?” I ask when he reaches for a bandage.

He stops, turning to face me, his shoulders slumping like I’m asking the world of him. “Right. Go ahead.”

Sitting up, I contort myself until I can almost see the beginning of a black and blue outline against warm pink skin.

“Here.” Madden shoves a handheld mirror toward me.

It’s a butterfly. Small. Not much bigger than a silver dollar. Brilliant blue with black veining.

“You done now? We good?”

I place the mirror aside and let him patch me up. Tattoos are flesh wounds, I know that. And I’ve already read up on the aftercare. I say nothing as he hands me a set of instructions printed on yellow paper.

Madden cleans up his station before yanking off his gloves and tossing them in the trash. “Missy will check you out up front.”

“Oh.” I’m not sure why I expected him to walk me up. He’s not a hairstylist or aesthetician. People don’t come here because of the service.

Sliding off the client bed, I tug my shirt into place and locate my bag. My skin throbs from beneath the bandage, but it’s tolerable and not as bad as I expected.

“Thank you,” I say, turning to him before I make my way to the front. My gaze falls to his right hand for some reason—as if my subconscious was expecting a freaking handshake—and he definitely notices.

Awkward.

I can’t get out of there fast enough, and as I trot to the front in my pink Chanel flats, I’m not sure if all eyes are actually on me or if I’m imagining it. I’m sure to them, I’m an alien—a strange sight. I even heard one of them say, “They don’t make ‘em like that in Olwine,” when I first arrived.

If they only knew how much I’d rather be like them than like … me.

I envy their freedom more than they could ever know.

As soon as I pay—$150 cash plus a twenty-five percent tip—I step lightly toward the door and eye my little white Volvo parked on the corner, but the closer I get, the more I realize something looks … off.

“Oh, my God.” I clap my hand over my mouth when I see it—the boot. “No. No, no, no.”

A sign a few feet back says: NO PARKING 4-6 PM MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY, and I check the time on my phone.

4:07 PM.

“Seriously?” I talk under my breath, a habit my mother detests. But if she knew I drove to Olwine today to get a tattoo, she’d detest that even more.

I grab the ticket off the window and dial the number on back, which goes to voicemail after a few rings.

Great.

Taking a seat on the curb, I hold the ticket in one hand and my phone in the other and try, try again.
And again.
And again.

I just need the jerk who did this to take it off so I can get home before my mother marches down to the police station and tries to file a Missing Persons’ report—which she’s done before when I was forty minutes late coming home from the library once.

True story.

“You, uh, need help?”

Following the sound of a man’s voice, I twist around and shield my eyes from the afternoon sun.

Madden.

Rising, I tug my shirt into place and exhale. “Seven minutes past and they put a boot on my car.”

“Probably just did it to be a dick.” He almost smiles. Almost. It’s more of a smirk.

“Really?”

“Probably thought you were some yuppie, suburban soccer mom with that Volvo.”

I wish I could tell him that I didn’t choose that car, that I didn’t even want it, but my parents insisted because they wanted the safest, most reliable car they could find for their “precious cargo.”

Digging into his pocket, he retrieves his phone and thumbs through his contacts. A moment later, he lifts it to his ear and paces a few steps away. The sound of traffic and revving motorcycles drowns out his words, but when he returns, he slides his phone away and rests his hands on his hips, studying me.

“He’s on his way,” Madden says.

“Who’s on their way?”

“Dusty. Works for the city. You’re lucky he owes me a huge fucking favor.” His gaze grazes over my shoulder before returning. “You can wait inside if you want.”

“Thank you,” I say, taking careful measures not to look at his hand this time. “I really appreciate this. This has never happened before. I don’t know what I’d have done if—”

Madden gives a nod before strutting off while I’m still mid-sentence, almost like a silent way of telling me to shut it.

No one’s ever done that to me—walked away while I was speaking to them.

I watch him stride down the block, stopping next to a black muscle car with two white racing stripes—I think my brother had a model of something like that many years ago—and when he climbs inside, I catch him glancing at me for a single fleeting second.

Fumbling with my keys, I get into my own car and crank the air. It was kind of him—at least I think he was being kind—to offer for me to hang out and wait in his shop, but I think I’m going to ride out the storm in my own little UFO, counting down the minutes until I’m en route to my home planet of Park Terrace.

I kill some time on my phone and pretend not to notice when Madden drives by, his engine rumbling with the kind of contradictory unruffled intensity that almost matches his personality perfectly.

Twenty-six minutes later, a white-and-yellow City of Olwine truck pulls up behind me and a little gold light on its roof begins to flash. A minute later, a man in a gray uniform steps out, grabbing an oversized wrench of some kind from the back and waddling toward me.
I roll my window down. “Thanks for coming. I tried calling the number on the ticket, but I couldn’t reach anyone.”

Dusty, as the name on his shirt reads, doesn’t look up from what he’s doing, crouched next to the front tire on my side.

“You’re lucky you’re friends with Ransom,” he says when he stands, his face red and his breaths shallow. The wrench hangs in one hand, the boot in the other.

Free at last.

“Ransom?” I ask before remembering that it’s Madden’s last name.

“Madden,” he says. “I was on break. You’re lucky I answered for the bastard.”

An elaborate “piece” runs down his left arm, intricate and filled with bold greens and reds and purples, and barely hidden by the cuffed, long-sleeved button down the city forces him to wear even in June.

“Oh. Right. He was just helping me out. We’re not actually friends.”

Dusty snorts, his squinting eyes scanning the length of my car. “Yeah. Of course you’re not.”

“I didn’t mean it like that.”

“Right.” He begins to walk away.

Climbing out of the car, I yell for him to wait. “Do I need to pay the ticket?”

He hoists the wrench in the back of his truck, the metal hitting metal with a hard clunk, and then he waves his hand.

“So is that a ‘no’?” I ask, just to be sure.

Dusty gives me a thumb’s up before squeezing back into his truck.

I swear, it’s like I don’t even speak the language here.

The tattoo hidden beneath layers of bandages begins to throb just enough to grab my attention, and I return to my idling five-star-safety-rated princess carriage. Pressing the “home” button on my GPS, I head back to Park Terrace, back to Charles and Temple Karrington’s castle-like manse complete with iron gates, a staff of seven, and a million security cameras.

You can make a prison beautiful but at the end of the day, that doesn’t make it any less of a prison.

But I’m making plans to break out.

And this tattoo? It’s only the beginning.

Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author Winter Renshaw is a bona fide daydream believer. She lives somewhere in the middle of the USA and can rarely be seen without her trusty Mead notebook and ultra portable laptop. When she’s not writing, she’s living the American dream with her husband, three kids, and the laziest puggle this side of the Mississippi.

And if you’d like to be the first to know when a new book is coming out, please sign up for her private mailing list here —> http://eepurl.com/bfQU2j

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Pricked by Winter Renshaw ~ Sarah A’s Review

He said it would only hurt a little …

On her sixteenth birthday, Sleeping Beauty pricked her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel. On my twenty-second, I pricked mine on the needle of a tattoo machine wielded by a beautifully complicated man who would go on to become my ruin.

Madden Ransom was everything I was never allowed to be: unfeeling, opinionated, rebellious … free.

He was also everything I was never allowed to be with.

And while Sleeping Beauty fell into a peaceful slumber as she awaited true love’s kiss, I fell into something else entirely—my heart in the hands of a man who’d never given nor received anything remotely like love.

It turns out when Madden told me it would only hurt a little … he didn’t mean the tattoo.

***  AVAILABLE IN KINDLE UNLIMITED  ***
Amazon

I loved the premise of Pricked, the intrigue, the secrets, the rich girl/poor boy aesthetic. Pricked was different than I expected. I was sure it was going to be a bad boy alpha romance, but it was so much more than that. Madden was better than I could have anticipated. He was fascinating – and not because he was a reformed bad boy – in a way that tugged at my heart and made me feel a kinship with him. Once I learned his secrets, I understood a good portion of the reason why.

When I read the blurb and started this book, I was sure Pricked was going to be an opposites-attract novel. And it was, on the surface. Once we got to know Brighton and Madden more fully it was obvious, they were both very hurt – in different ways – and only showed the world the façade they’d built to protect themselves. They were both also looking for someone to love them, to give them a soft spot to land, and to show them their worth. Their hearts and souls were so similar; it was no wonder they found each other and fell into such an easy relationship.

The only thing I wish about Pricked was that the ending not be so rushed. I felt like we were going full-steam ahead and were going to get some real answers and closure, then BOOM, flash forward epilogue. Sure, everything was tied up in a neat little bow in the epilogue, but I would have loved to have seen how it all played out, rather than recapped. I know tons of readers are just in it for the love story, and that felt (mostly) complete to me, but there were a few other storylines that deserved better treatment than they got.

Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author Winter Renshaw is a bona fide daydream believer. She lives somewhere in the middle of the USA and can rarely be seen without her trusty Mead notebook and ultra portable laptop. When she’s not writing, she’s living the American dream with her husband, three kids, and the laziest puggle this side of the Mississippi.

And if you’d like to be the first to know when a new book is coming out, please sign up for her private mailing list here —> http://eepurl.com/bfQU2j

Goodreads | Facebook | Amazon

NEW RELEASE!! Pricked by Winter Renshaw

He said it would only hurt a little …

On her sixteenth birthday, Sleeping Beauty pricked her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel. On my twenty-second, I pricked mine on the needle of a tattoo machine wielded by a beautifully complicated man who would go on to become my ruin.

Madden Ransom was everything I was never allowed to be: unfeeling, opinionated, rebellious … free.

He was also everything I was never allowed to be with.

And while Sleeping Beauty fell into a peaceful slumber as she awaited true love’s kiss, I fell into something else entirely—my heart in the hands of a man who’d never given nor received anything remotely like love.

It turns out when Madden told me it would only hurt a little … he didn’t mean the tattoo.

***  AVAILABLE IN KINDLE UNLIMITED  ***
Amazon

Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author Winter Renshaw is a bona fide daydream believer. She lives somewhere in the middle of the USA and can rarely be seen without her trusty Mead notebook and ultra portable laptop. When she’s not writing, she’s living the American dream with her husband, three kids, and the laziest puggle this side of the Mississippi.

And if you’d like to be the first to know when a new book is coming out, please sign up for her private mailing list here —> http://eepurl.com/bfQU2j

Goodreads | Facebook | Amazon

P.S. I Dare You by Winter Renshaw ~ Sarah A’s Review

Dear Ms. Keane,

Before this ridiculous little arrangement commences, I’d like to make myself indubitably clear: I know who you are, I know that my father hired you, I know why my father hired you, and lastly, your services aren’t needed.

In fact, I want no part of my father’s billion-dollar empire, and him “gifting” me with one of the “best concierges in the county” won’t change that. He’s wasting his money. You’re wasting your time.

However, seeing as how you foolishly signed an ironclad contract with an Act of God clause and my father has strong-armed me into taking this position, it appears as though we’re stuck together—at least until your contract is up next month.

That said, our time together at WellesTech should be relatively painless but please don’t fool yourself into thinking I don’t notice when that pretty little stare lingers a little too long or the way your breath catches when our hands graze. You’re fascinated by me and it kills you because you can hardly stand to be in the same room as me.

Think I’m a problem worth solving? An impossible riddle worth figuring out? By all means, go ahead and try. Solve for X. Crack the code. It might even be fun (but only for me, not you).

V/r,

Calder Welles, II

P.S. I dare you.

Amazon

While I did enjoy P.S. I Dare You; it didn’t quite stand up to the other books in this series. It was an entertaining, quick little read; I loved Aerin and Calder, and how they complemented one another.

I loved the concept of this book. I’m a little bit of a sucker for office romances, and the situation these two were manipulated into made it all the more intriguing. Add the less than idyllic childhoods – and the effect those childhoods had on Aerin and Calder’s personalities – and P.S. I Dare You was bursting with dysfunction. Aerin and Calder served as a great balance for one another, both in highlighting each other’s strengths and helping to overcome some of their weaknesses.

Aerin and Calder both had a lot of baggage they were dragging around with no idea how to let it go. Watching them, each learn to let go of the pain and find new ways to deal with the lack of true parental concern in their youths, was heartwarming. I loved how much they gave to one another simply by being who they were and allowing the other to have a safe, judgment-free place to fall apart when they needed it.

P.S. I Dare You is the third book in Winter Renshaw’s P.S. series. These books are standalones, with minor character overlap. They do not need to be read in order, nor does the series need to be read in its entirety. P.S. I Dare You is written in dual first-person perspective, narrated by Aerin and Calder.

My biggest wish for the novel is I would have liked to have seen more of the emotional connection between the character. It seemed like Aerin and Calder were either fighting or connecting physically, with little time spent working on the part of their relationship that would make it last. I felt like the book could have been a little longer and explored that dynamic more and still delivered a sweet enemies-to-lovers romance.

That was … interesting.
I have to admit, I expected her to throw herself at me today. I expected tension so ripe, we’d have no choice but to act on it—especially since we went all of Friday without so much as exchanging a single word thanks to my father hijacking my schedule. But what I got was a girl who showed up, did exactly what I told her to do, and kept her hands to herself.
I’m not used to this—girls with self-restraint.
But it’s for the best.
Over the course of the past week, my life has become unrecognizable. Throwing a few more complications into the mix won’t help anything. And besides, if I fuck my assistant, that makes me no better than the man whose shoes I’m being forced to fill.
I’m better than that.
She’s better than that.
And I meant what I said—I don’t fuck girls I have to see every day.
“Closing up?” the security guard asks, looking up from his Spiderman comic.
I nod, heading back to my father’s office to grab summaries and lock the door. Five minutes later, I hit the pavement, opting to take the long way home. I haven’t been able to run all week and my muscles are screaming from too much sitting. My body wasn’t designed to be this sedentary.
Popping into a little Eastern medicine shop off Houston, I grab this miracle balm one of my Olympic skier friends told me about. I don’t know what the hell is in it, I just know it smells like nothing and works like magic the instant I rub it into my skin.
I leave the shop and hook a left, passing a trendy Japanese eatery across the street called Kaio, where their waitlist spans months because apparently pancakes shaped like sushi is the next hot thing. A small outdoor dining area is filled with patrons, and the benches outside hold even more, all of them patiently waiting, noses buried in their phones.
Crossing the street, I glance back at the restaurant once more when something catches my eye. Seated at a table for two on the patio is Aerin Keane and an exceptionally handsome gentleman in green scrubs.
I watch them long enough to see him smile, her laugh.
She reaches across the table and bats at his hand.
He rolls his eyes.
They look like they’ve known each other forever, completely comfortable in each other’s presence. Her shoulders are relaxed, his legs crossed.
So that’s why she was so adamant about us not sleeping together again—she has a boyfriend.
I smirk, rounding the corner and getting the hell away before I start to care again, only ten steps later, I’m in the presence of an overly excitable blonde with flailing arms running in my direction.
“Oh my God! Calder? Calder Welles, is that you?” Thessaly Thomas, a socialite-turned-reality-TV-star I foolishly stuck my dick into in my early twenties, practically wraps her entire body around me, nearly letting her mint green Birkin fall to the ground in the process. “I can’t believe it’s you! How are you? Ugh. You look so good. It isn’t fair. I swear you look even better than when we were dating and that’s saying a lot because …”
Dating?
We went on five dates.
I’d hardly call that dating.
And the only reason I knew it was five was because she went all out for our “one-month anniversary,” hiring some C-list band to give us a private concert on the rooftop of her father’s pool club in the Meatpacking District.
“What are you up to these days?” she asks, hand on her hip and smile on her face. Her forehead is smooth, glass-like. And her lips are much larger than I remember. “What’s new?”
She asks like it’s any of her business, like she cares. But I see that thirsty look in her eyes. Rejection does something to you. It makes you want the things you shouldn’t have, the things you can’t have.
“You’re looking good. CrossFit?” She smooths a palm down my arm.
Thessaly knows she can’t have me, and God, does she still want me even after all these years.
“I was just telling Raya—you remember Raya, right? About how you took me skiing in Vermont for our third date. Do you still have your plane?” she asks. “A Cessna, was it?”
Her phone chimes twice, and she lifts a finger before reading a quick text and typing back an even quicker response.
“Sorry about that.” She peers up at me through fake lashes the color of midnight, and she’s still wearing that same dopey grin. “I can’t believe I ran into you on Houston of all places. Do you live around here now? I’m still on Lexington.”
She rolls her eyes, like she’s ashamed to live in a two-thousand-square foot classic six bought and paid for by her parents the day she graduated from NYU.
Thessaly is still talking, though I’ve tuned her out. Something about a mutual friend who thought they saw me in Paris over the summer. It’s kind of crazy, but all my mind can think about in this moment is Aerin smiling with that fucking Dr. McDreamy-looking tool. Her hand on his. Her eyes lit. Her body at ease.
God, she’s so easy to be around—even if she hates me with every fiber of her classy little being.
She isn’t like Thessaly or the other women that tend to hurl themselves at me. Those women have desperation in their eyes, insecurity in their smiles, and diffidence in their demeanors.
They just want me to like them.
Aerin doesn’t.
And I’d be lying to myself if I said that didn’t make me feel some kind of way.
“We should do coffee or something sometime,” Thessaly says, her hand swatting at my arm. It’s like she needs every excuse she can get to touch me. “What are you doing right now? You have plans?”
“Yeah, today’s not good for me.”
She pouts her Kylie Jenner lips. “Your number still the same?”
Indeed. “Yeah.”
Her pout transforms and she rises on her toes. “Great. I’ll text you and we can figure something out. It was great running into you, Calder. Glad you’re doing well.”
How would she know? I couldn’t get a word in.
Thessaly runs her hand along my arm one more time before readjusting her Birkin over her left forearm and giving me one of those cutesy girl waves complete with a shoulder shrug.
I wave back before continuing on my way.
Good lord, that was painful.
Almost as painful as seeing Aerin on a date.

Amazon

Amazon

Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author Winter Renshaw is a bona fide daydream believer. She lives somewhere in the middle of the USA and can rarely be seen without her trusty Mead notebook and ultra portable laptop. When she’s not writing, she’s living the American dream with her husband, three kids, and the laziest puggle this side of the Mississippi.

And if you’d like to be the first to know when a new book is coming out, please sign up for her private mailing list here —> http://eepurl.com/bfQU2j

Goodreads | Facebook | Amazon

NEW RELEASE!! P.S. I Dare You by Winter Renshaw

Dear Ms. Keane,

Before this ridiculous little arrangement commences, I’d like to make myself indubitably clear: I know who you are, I know that my father hired you, I know why my father hired you, and lastly, your services aren’t needed.

In fact, I want no part of my father’s billion-dollar empire, and him “gifting” me with one of the “best concierges in the county” won’t change that. He’s wasting his money. You’re wasting your time.

However, seeing as how you foolishly signed an ironclad contract with an Act of God clause and my father has strong-armed me into taking this position, it appears as though we’re stuck together—at least until your contract is up next month.

That said, our time together at WellesTech should be relatively painless but please don’t fool yourself into thinking I don’t notice when that pretty little stare lingers a little too long or the way your breath catches when our hands graze. You’re fascinated by me and it kills you because you can hardly stand to be in the same room as me.

Think I’m a problem worth solving? An impossible riddle worth figuring out? By all means, go ahead and try. Solve for X. Crack the code. It might even be fun (but only for me, not you).

V/r,

Calder Welles, II

P.S. I dare you.

Amazon

What.
The fuck.
Was that?
She’s the woman my father hired? The girl who spilled her coffee down her shirt after bumping into me in the hall?
That’s fucking golden. I can’t even be mad right now.
It makes perfect sense.
He brought on an assistant who happens to have all of the qualities he thinks I lack. She’s civil, tactful, punctual, classy as fuck.
I bet he thinks she’s going to be a good influence on me, like she can fucking domesticate me and turn me into a Corporate American civil servant.
Poor thing. She doesn’t realize she stepped inside the lion’s ring with nothing but a flimsy whip and a barstool. I’m not that easily tamed.
Regardless, I don’t know her name, but already I’m impressed. She’s not afraid to stand up for herself. I like that. If she’d given me a chance to explain, I’d have told her that’s what I meant when I said she was exactly my type.
I’m not a moron. I know she didn’t think I was flirting with her. I know she didn’t come back over because she wanted me. Quite the opposite. I saw the contention in that caramel-brown gaze of hers.
I also sensed a very raw, very real mutual attraction brewing—and that’s why I called it like it was and referred to her as a snack.
It was for the best.
I didn’t come here tonight to get laid. I’ve got bigger, more important things on my mind.
I watch the pretty little brunette with the black sweater grab her bag from her booth and storm out of the bar, her blonde friend in tow, and I toss back the rest of my Hennessy in one swallow.
Slapping some cash on the table, I take off and head back home, this time opting to walk.
Fresh air.
Deep thoughts.
A strong drink coursing through my veins.
If I’m lucky, these things plus a good night’s sleep will work together, helping me come to terms with what I’ve got to do in the morning.
Making my way through a crosswalk, I pass one of those sickeningly sweet couples walking hand-in-hand with that new-in-love look in their shiny eyes.
That kind of thing has never appealed to me, and if I’m being honest, a long-term relationship baked in exclusivity seems like a prison sentence. Who the hell wants someone they have to report to? Someone who has to know where they are at all times? Someone who expects them to be there when they call? Someone who has access to every aspect of their life?
It’s Bridgeforth Academy all over again, only the relationship version.
Pass.

Amazon

Amazon

Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author Winter Renshaw is a bona fide daydream believer. She lives somewhere in the middle of the USA and can rarely be seen without her trusty Mead notebook and ultra portable laptop. When she’s not writing, she’s living the American dream with her husband, three kids, and the laziest puggle this side of the Mississippi.

And if you’d like to be the first to know when a new book is coming out, please sign up for her private mailing list here —> http://eepurl.com/bfQU2j

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P.S. I Miss You by Winter Renshaw ~ Chapter Reveal

Melrose,

The first time I met you, you were a stranger. The second time, you were my roommate. The third time, you made it clear you were about to become the biggest thorn my side had ever known.

You sing way too loud in the shower and use all the hot water.

You’re bossy as hell.

You make my life all kinds of complicated.

But no matter how hard I try, I can’t stop thinking about you.

And truthfully … I can’t stop wanting you.

I was going to tell you this. I was going to sit you down, swallow my pride, hang up my noncommittal ways and show you a side of me you nor anyone else has ever seen before … but then you dropped a game-changing bombshell; a confession so nuclear it stopped me in my tracks.

How I didn’t see this coming, I’ll never know.

Sutter

P.S. I miss you.

***  AVAILABLE IN KINDLE UNLIMITED  ***
Amazon

Melrose

I’ve been a dog-walker on an episode of Will & Grace.
A bakery shop owner in a Lifetime movie.
Ryan Gosling’s kid sister in an indie flick that never saw the light of day.
Victim #2 in a season eighteen episode of Law & Order: SVU.
But today I’m faced with my most challenging role yet; a camera-less reality show called Girl with Lifelong Crush on Best Guy Friend starring Melrose Claiborne as … Melrose Claiborne.

Standing outside Nick Camden’s Studio City bungalow, I straighten my shoulders, smooth my blonde waves into place, and press my index finger against the doorbell. The heavy thump of my heart suggests it’s going to fall to the floor the second he opens the door—but I’m hopeful the butterflies in my stomach will catch it first.

He has this effect on me.

Every. Single. Time.

And that’s saying something because it takes a lot to make me nervous, to throw me off my game. But my crush on him has only intensified over the years, growing stronger with each unrequited year that passes.

But last night, out of nowhere, Nick called me—which was strange because Nick never calls. He only ever texts. He’s so against calling, in fact, that he has his ringer permanently set to “off’ and his voicemail box has been full for the last six and a half years.

“Mel, I need to talk to you tomorrow,” he’d said, breathless almost. There was a hint of a smile in his tone, giddiness. “It’s really important.”

“Nick, you’re scaring me,” I told him, half wondering if someone slipped something into his drink and he was drugged out of his mind. “Just tell me now.”

“I have to tell you in person. And I have something to ask you, something crazy important,” he said. “Oh my god. This is insane. I’m so damn nervous, Mel. But as soon as you get here tomorrow, I’ll tell you. I’ve been wanting to tell you about this for a long time, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t until now. But now I can. And I can’t fucking wait. This is huge, Mel. This is … oh, God.”

“Nick …” I paced my bedroom floor, my left palm clasped across my forehead. In nearly two decades of friendship, I’d never heard Nick so worked up before. “Can’t you just tell me now?”

“Come over tomorrow. Around three,” he’d said. “This is something that needs to be done in person.”

I ring his doorbell again before checking the time on my phone. Stifling a yawn, I rise on my toes and try to peek inside the glass sidelights of his front door. Knowing Nick, he probably got sidetracked or ran out for burritos and got caught up in conversation with someone he knows.

Then again … he was pretty insistent about talking to me in person at three o’clock about this “major” thing. I can’t imagine he’d space this off.

All night, I tossed and turned, trying to wrap my head around what this could possibly be, how I could know someone for so long and fail miserably trying to get a read on them.

Growing up, Nick lived next door, and the two of us were inseparable from the day he first moved into the neighborhood and I found him by the creek trying to capture bullfrogs—which I promptly forced him to set free. By the end of the day, we both realized our bedroom windows aligned on the second floors of our houses, and by the end of the week, he gave me a walkie-talkie and told me I was his best friend.

When we were ten, he gave me a friendship necklace—like the kind girls usually give to other girls. He gave me the half that said “best” and wore the “friend” half but always tucked it under his shirt so no one would give him any shit—not that anyone would.

Everyone loved Nick.

It wasn’t until the summer after seventh grade that Nick hit a growth spurt and everything changed.
His voice got deeper.
His legs got longer.
Even his features became more chiseled and defined.

It was like he aged several years over the course of a couple of months, and I found myself looking at him in ways I never had before. And when I closed my eyes at night, I found myself thinking about what it’d be like if he kissed me.

Almost overnight, I’d gone from running next door with a messy ponytail to see if he wanted to ride bikes … to slicking on an extra coat of Dr. Pepper Lip Smackers and running a brush through my hair any time I knew I was going to see him.

Suddenly I couldn’t look at him without blushing.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one who noticed Nick’s head-turning transformation.

Nick’s door swings open with a quick creak and I don’t have time to realize what’s happening before he sweeps me into his arms and swings me around the front porch of his rented bungalow.

“Melly!” He buries his face into my shoulder, squeezing me so hard I can’t breathe, nearly suffocating the swarm of butterflies in my middle.

I breathe in that perpetual Nick scent, the one that always feels like home. Like the faintest hint of bar smoke and cheap fabric softener and Irish Spring soap.

Growing up in Brentwood, the son of a successful screenwriter and composer, Nick could’ve had it all—materially and professionally. His parents had connections that would put Steven Spielberg to shame.

But all he ever wanted was to be a regular guy who got by on merit, and I adored that about him.

“Look at you,” he says when he puts me down. His hands are threaded in mine as his ocean gaze scans me from head to toe. “I haven’t seen you in months.”

Three months, two weeks, and five days—but who’s counting?

The last time we hung out was on my birthday, and there were so many people at the bar, I barely had a chance to say more than two sentences to him all night. We’d made plans to get together the following weekend, but his band booked a gig in Vegas and I was leaving to film a Lifetime movie in Vancouver the day before he was coming back.

Life’s been consistent that way, always pulling us in separate directions at the most inconvenient of times.

“You find the place all right?” he asks as he leads me inside. The scent of Windex and clean laundry fills my lungs, and a folded blanket rests over the back of a leather chair in the living room.

I chuckle at the thought of Nick tidying up before I got here. He was always a slob growing up. Case in point? One year I tripped over a pair of his Chucks as I entered his bedroom and almost knocked my front teeth out on a messy stack of vinyl records. His empty guitar case caught my fall, but the next day he bought a shoe organizer.

“I did,” I say, glancing around his new digs. Last time I saw him, he was living in some apartment with four roommates in Toluca Lake. The time before that he was shacking up with a fuck buddy-slash-Instagram model named Kadence St. Kilda, but that was short-lived because the girl ultimately wanted exclusivity, and that’s something Nick’s never been able to offer anyone—that I know of. “When did you move here?”

“Last month,” he says. “I’m subletting from my drummer’s cousin.”

The sound of pots and pans clinking in the kitchen tells me we’re not alone, but I’m not surprised. Nick has always had roommates. He’s painfully extroverted. Guy can’t stand to be alone for more than five minutes but not in the clingy, obnoxious sort of way. More in the charismatic, life-of-the-party, always-down-for-a-good-time sort of way.

I follow Nick to the living room, and he points to the middle cushion of a cognac leather sofa before slicking his palms together and pacing the small space.

“Nick.” I laugh. “You’re acting like a crazy person … you know that, right?”

His ocean gaze lands on mine and he stops pacing for a moment. “I’m so fucking nervous.”

“You don’t have to be nervous around me. Ever.”

“This is different.” He stops pacing for a second. “This is something I’ve never told you before.”

Oh god.

My heart flutters, and some long-buried hope makes its way out in the form of a smile on my face, but I bite it away.

I’d never admit this out loud, but last night a very real part of me believed this entire thing centered around Nick wanting to tell me he has feelings for me, that he wants to date me.

The idea is absurd, I know.

Things like this don’t happen out of nowhere.

I’m not naïve and I’m not an idiot. I know the odds of my best friend going months without seeing me and suddenly professing his love for me are slim to none, but I’ve tried to come up with alternate theories, and none of them made sense because Nick’s never been nervous around me for any reason.

Ever.

What else could possibly make him nervous around me other than a heartfelt confession?

Crossing my legs and sitting up straight, I say, “Come on. Spit it out. I don’t have all day.”

He cups his hands over his nose and mouth, releasing a hard breath, and when he lets them fall, I find the dopiest grin on his face.

His eyes water like a teenage girl with a backstage pass to a Harry Styles concert.

Nick tries to speak but he can’t.

Oh my god.

He’s doing it.

He’s actually telling me he likes me …

“Melrose,” he says, pulling in a hard breath before dropping to his knees in front of me. He takes my hands in his, and I swear my vision fades out for a second. “You know when we were kids and we used to tell each other everything?”

“Yeah …”

“There was something I never told you,” he says, eyes locked with mine. “I guess … I guess I was afraid to say it out loud. I was afraid this thing I wanted so bad, this thing I wanted more than anything I’d ever wanted in my life, wasn’t going to come true. And I thought that by admitting it, I was only going to jinx myself. So I kept it to myself, but I can’t anymore. It’s too big. It’s eating away at me and it has been for years. But it’s time. I have to tell you.”

He’s rambling.

Nick never rambles.

His trembling hands squeeze mine and then he rises, taking the spot on the couch beside me. Cupping my face in his hands, he offers a tepid smile that’s soon eaten away by his own anxiety. “This is insane, Melrose. I can’t believe I’m about to tell you this.”

My mouth parts and I’m milliseconds from blurting out something along the lines of “I’ve liked you since we were kids, too …” but I bite my tongue and let him go first.

“You know how I have my band, right?” he asks, referring to Melrose Nights, the band he founded in high school and named after me.

I nod, heart sinking. No … plummeting.

“What about it?” I ask, blinking away the embarrassed burn in my eyes.

“My dream, Mel, was always to hit it big,” he said. “Like, commercially big.”

My brows lift. This is news to me.

He was always about the indie scene, always so against the big music corporations that controlled every song the American people were played on the radio.

“Really?” I tuck my chin against my chest. “Because you always said—”

“I know what I always said,” he cuts me off. “But the more I got to thinking about it, the more I thought … I just want my songs to be in the ears of as many people as possible. And it’s not even about becoming famous or having money, you know I’m not about any of that. I just want people to know my songs. That’s all.”

I swallow the lump in my throat and glance toward a wood-burning fireplace in the corner where a crushed, empty can of Old Milwaukee—Nick’s signature beverage of choice—rests on the mantel next to what appears to be a crumpled lace bra.

Guess he forgot a few things when he was straightening up …

“Okay, so what are you trying to tell me?” I ask, squinting.

“We got signed …” his mouth pulled so wide, he looks like a bona fide crazy person right now, “… and not only that, but we’re going on tour with Maroon 5.”

I try not to let my rampant disbelief show on my face, but something tells me I’m failing miserably. He reads my expression, searching my eyes, and his silly grin fades.
“You hate Maroon 5,” I say.

“I used to hate Maroon 5,” he corrects me. “Anyway, the act they had fell through last minute, so they got us. We leave next week.”

“Next week? For how long?”

“Six months.” His callused hands smack together. “Six months on the road with one of the biggest music acts in North America.”

He says that last part out loud, like he’s still in disbelief over this entire thing.

Which makes two of us.

“Wow, Nick … that’s … this is huge. You were right. This is some big news,” I say. Everything is sinking. My voice. My heart. My hope. “I’m so happy for you.”

I throw my arms around him, inhale his musky scent, and squeeze him tight. There’s a pang in my chest, a tightness in my middle, like that indescribable sensation that washes over you when you know something’s about to change and things will never be the same again.

But I meant what I said. I am happy for him. I had no idea this was what he wanted, but now that he’s shared this with me, I am thrilled for him. He’s my best friend, my oldest friend, and all I want is for him to be happy.

Plus, he deserves this.

Nick is insanely talented.
Music.
Lyrics.
Singing.
Playing.
Producing.
Mixing.
It all comes natural to him. Keeping it under wraps on some lowdown indie scene would be doing a disservice to the rest of the world.

“I get that this is huge, Nick, but I’m curious … why couldn’t you tell me this over the phone?” I ask. “Why’d you make me drive all the way out here just so you could tell me in person?”

Nick leans back, studying my face as he rakes his palm along his five o’clock shadow. “Because I have a favor to ask you …”

Lifting one brow, I study him right back. He’s never asked me a single favor as long as I’ve known him (excluding those times he wanted me to talk to girls for him in middle school or steal him an extra Italian Ice at lunch).

“See, I’m taking over this guy’s lease,” he says. “I pay fifteen hundred a month for my half of the rent. Plus utilities. You know what a cheap bastard I am, right? I just don’t want to throw that money away over the next several months, and I don’t want to stick Sutter with my half of the rent and everything because that’s just shitty.”

“Sutter?” I ask.

“Sutter Alcott. My roommate,” he says. “Cool guy. Electrician. Owns his own company. You’ll like him. Anyway, I know you’re living in your Gram’s guesthouse, but you’re the only person I know who’s not locked under a lease, so I thought mayyyyybe you might want to help me out for a few months? As a favor? And in return, I’ll … I don’t know. I’ll do something for you. What do you want? You want a backstage pass to a Maroon 5 concert? You want to meet Adam?”

“You’re already on a first name basis with Adam Levine?” I ask, head cocked.

Nick smirks. “Not yet. But I will be.”

“I don’t know …” I pull in a long, slow breath. “What about Murphy?”

“We’ve got a fenced-in yard,” he says, pointing toward the back of the house. “He’ll love it here.”

“What about your roommate? Would he be cool living with a stranger?” I ask.

“Totally.”

“And you’re sure he’s not a serial killer?” I keep my voice low, leaning in.

Nick chokes on his spit. “Uh, yeah, no. He’s not a serial killer. Lady killer? Sure. Serial killer? No way.”

Our eyes hold and I silently straddle the line between staying put and saying yes to this little favor.

My cousin-slash-roommate, Maritza, recently moved out and got a place with her boyfriend, Isaiah, so it’s just Murphy and I in the guesthouse now. It gets quiet sometimes. Lonely too. And Gram’s on this travel-the-world kick lately. One week she’s home, the next week she’s in Bali for twelve days with her best friend Constance or one of the Kennedys.

A change of scenery might be nice …

“I’ll do anything, Mel. Anything.” He clasps his hands together and sticks out his bottom lip, brows raised.

Dork.

“Begging’s not a good look for you. FYI,” I say.

“Okay, then what’s it going to take for you to say yes?” His hands drop to his lap.

I try to speak, but I don’t know what to say.

“See,” Nick says. “You don’t even have a good reason to turn me down.”

He’s right.

I can’t blame it on the location because it isn’t out of the way. I can’t blame it on my dog. I can’t blame it on a lease. I can’t blame it on money because fifteen hundred a month is exactly what Gram charges me for rent, because free rides aren’t a thing in the Claiborne family.

But aside from all of that, I know Nick would do this for me if I ever needed him to.

Shrugging, I look him in the eyes and smile. “Fine.”

A second later, I’m captured in his embrace and he’s squeezing me and bouncing like a hyper child. With one word, I’ve unearthed a side of Nick I never knew existed.

“I freaking love you, Mel,” he says, hugging me tighter. “I love you so much.”

I expected to hear those words today … just didn’t think I’d hear them in this context.

Amazon

Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author Winter Renshaw is a bona fide daydream believer. She lives somewhere in the middle of the USA and can rarely be seen without her trusty Mead notebook and ultra portable laptop. When she’s not writing, she’s living the American dream with her husband, three kids, and the laziest puggle this side of the Mississippi.

And if you’d like to be the first to know when a new book is coming out, please sign up for her private mailing list here —> http://eepurl.com/bfQU2j

Goodreads | Facebook | Amazon

NEW RELEASE!! P.S. I Miss You by Winter Renshaw ~ Sarah A’s Review

Melrose,

The first time I met you, you were a stranger. The second time, you were my roommate. The third time, you made it clear you were about to become the biggest thorn my side had ever known.

You sing way too loud in the shower and use all the hot water.

You’re bossy as hell.

You make my life all kinds of complicated.

But no matter how hard I try, I can’t stop thinking about you.

And truthfully … I can’t stop wanting you.

I was going to tell you this. I was going to sit you down, swallow my pride, hang up my noncommittal ways and show you a side of me you nor anyone else has ever seen before … but then you dropped a game-changing bombshell; a confession so nuclear it stopped me in my tracks.

How I didn’t see this coming, I’ll never know.

Sutter

P.S. I miss you.

***  AVAILABLE IN KINDLE UNLIMITED  ***
Amazon

After reading P.S. I Hate You I was excited to get my hands on Melrose’s story.  P.S. I Miss You was different than I was expecting, but still a lovely book.  It didn’t quite pack the emotional punch as its predecessor, but it made up for it in other ways.

P.S. I Miss You was a slow-burn, adversaries (not quite enemies)-to-lovers romance.  It was a little angsty and but still very adorable and sweet.  Melrose and Sutter were both guilty of making rash judgments and assuming the worst about every situation they encountered.  They’d entered each other’s lives when neither of them was in a place where a new relationship was something they were looking for and also a little lonely.  Their meeting was a perfect storm, and once they figured out how to navigate the waves, theirs was an interesting and significant ride.

My favorite part of P.S. I Miss You was the secondary storyline with Sutter’s brother, Tucker.  It was heartbreaking and also incredibly heartwarming.  It shed light on who both Sutter and Melrose were beneath all the pranking and snark they threw at one another.  It also gave the book a seriousness that was needed to balance out the playful tension between them.

P.S. I Miss You, while technically a standalone it a spinoff of a previous novel, P.S. I Hate You from Winter Renshaw.  The heroines in the books are cousins, but otherwise, there are few ties between the stories, and both can be read completely independently of the other.  P.S. I Miss You is written in dual first-person perspective, narrated by Melrose and Sutter.

Winter Renshaw again impressed me with her story building in P.S. I Miss You.  She also showed her variability in storytelling, even within the same world, by writing lighter fare while still keeping similar threads of strength and vulnerability in both.  Her pacing was great and kept me engrossed in the book until the final page.

I’m standing outside Melrose’s door, two sweaty beer bottles under one arm as I knock.

“Go away, Sutter,” she calls, voice stuffy.

I knock again.

“Go. Away,” she says.

A third knock should do it. A fourth if I must. I’m not going anywhere tonight.

Seconds later, the door swings open with a hard pull and Melrose’s frown neutralizes when she sees the drinks in my hand.

“What’s this?” she asks.

“You look like you had a rough night.” I hand hers over, but she doesn’t accept it right away.

Her tired stare rests on my outstretched hand. “Why are you being so nice to me?”

“Weirding you out too, huh?”

I manage to get the smallest smile out of her. I think. It’s gone before I can be sure.

Finally taking my generous gift, Melrose raises her brows and takes a swig. “Guess not.”

“You want to talk about it?” I ask, hooking my hand behind my neck. I’m terrible at these kinds of things and I don’t like to talk for the sake of talking, but I’ve come this far.

“Is your girlfriend gone?” She ignores my question.

“Acquaintance. And yeah. I sent her home.”

“You did?” Her forehead crinkles, like she doesn’t believe it.

I nod. And I don’t believe it myself. I’ve never put sex on the back burner so I could comfort some crying chick.

“I need to let Murphy out.” Melrose scoops the wrinkly beast into her arms and treks downstairs, cutting through the living room and kitchen to get to the backyard.

I follow, stepping out to the patio and sliding the door closed behind me. Murphy trots off, disappearing somewhere in the dark yard, and Melrose takes a seat on one of the steps. The moonlight makes her shine almost, painting a glow onto her bronzed skin and silky hair.

“So … you’re okay then?” I ask, picking at the label on my bottle. It occurs to me that I still haven’t thanked her for folding my shirts the other day, but this doesn’t feel like the right time.

“You don’t have to do this,” she says.

“Do what?”

“Feel sorry for me,” she says, turning and glancing up. “I don’t need your pity.”

“I don’t feel sorry for you. I don’t even know what happened,” I say. “But judging by the way you were dressed when you came home … I’m thinking it had to do with some douche.”

“You were right, Sutter.” She picks at the label on her bottle. “I went out with Robert McCauley tonight.”

My chest tightens. I already know where this is going.

Amazon

Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author Winter Renshaw is a bona fide daydream believer. She lives somewhere in the middle of the USA and can rarely be seen without her trusty Mead notebook and ultra portable laptop. When she’s not writing, she’s living the American dream with her husband, three kids, and the laziest puggle this side of the Mississippi.

And if you’d like to be the first to know when a new book is coming out, please sign up for her private mailing list here —> http://eepurl.com/bfQU2j

Goodreads | Facebook | Amazon

P.S. I Miss You by Winter Renshaw ~ COVER REVEAL

Melrose,

The first time I met you, you were a stranger. The second time, you were my roommate. The third time, you made it clear you were about to become the biggest thorn my side had ever known.

You sing way too loud in the shower and use all the hot water.

You’re bossy as hell.

You make my life all kinds of complicated.

But no matter how hard I try, I can’t stop thinking about you.

And truthfully … I can’t stop wanting you.

I was going to tell you this. I was going to sit you down, swallow my pride, hang up my noncommittal ways and show you a side of me you nor anyone else has ever seen before … but then you dropped a game-changing bombshell; a confession so nuclear it stopped me in my tracks.

How I didn’t see this coming, I’ll never know.

Sutter

P.S. I miss you.

Amazon

Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author Winter Renshaw is a bona fide daydream believer. She lives somewhere in the middle of the USA and can rarely be seen without her trusty Mead notebook and ultra portable laptop. When she’s not writing, she’s living the American dream with her husband, three kids, and the laziest puggle this side of the Mississippi.

And if you’d like to be the first to know when a new book is coming out, please sign up for her private mailing list here —> http://eepurl.com/bfQU2j

Goodreads | Facebook | Amazon

P.S. I Hate You by Winter Renshaw ~ Chapter Reveal

Dear Isaiah,

Eight months ago, you were just a soldier about to be deployed and I was just a waitress, sneaking you free pancakes and hoping you wouldn’t notice that my gaze was lingering a little too long.

But you did notice.

We spent a “week of Saturdays” together before you left, and we said goodbye on day eight, exchanging addresses at the last minute.

I saved every letter you ever sent, your words quickly becoming my religion.

But you went radio silent on me months ago, and then you had the audacity to walk into my diner yesterday and act like you’d never seen me in your life.

To think … I almost loved you and your beautifully complicated soul.

Almost.

Whatever your reason is—I hope it’s a good one.

Maritza the Waitress

PS – I hate you, and this time … I mean it.

****  AVAILABLE IN KINDLE UNLIMITED  ****
Amazon

 

Chapter One

Maritza

“Welcome to Brentwood Pancake and Coffee. I’m Maritza and I’ll be your server,” I greet my millionth customer of the morning with the same old spiel. This one, a raven-haired, honey-eyed Adonis, waited over seventy minutes for a table by a window, though I suppose in LA time that’s the blink of an eye.

He doesn’t so much as acknowledge me.

“Just you today?” I ask, eyeing the empty chair across from him. The breakfast rush is about to end, and lucky for him, I only have one other table right now.

He doesn’t answer, but maybe he doesn’t hear me?

“Coffee?” I ask another obvious question. I mean, the diner is called Brentwood Pancake and Coffee for crying out loud. Everyone comes here for the coffee and plate-sized pancakes, and it’s considered a Class-D felony to order anything else.

Placing his mug right side up on his saucer, he pushes it toward me and I begin to pour. Waving his hand, he stops me when the cup is three-quarters of the way full. A second later, he adds two creams and one half of a sugar packet, but the way he moves is methodical, rigid. With intention.

“Ma’am, this really can’t be that interesting,” he says under his breath, his spoon clinking against the sides of the porcelain mug after he stirs.

“Excuse me?”


“You’re standing here watching me,” he says. Giving the spoon two final taps against the rim of the mug, he then rests it on the saucer before settling his intense amber gaze in my direction. “Isn’t there another table that needs you?”

His eyes are warm like honey but his stare is cold, piercing. Unrelenting.

“You’re right. There is.” I clear my throat and snap out of it. If I was lingering, it wasn’t my intention, but this I’m-sexy-and-I-know-it asshole didn’t need to call me out on it. Sue me for being a little distracted. “I’ll be back to check on you in a minute, okay?”

With that, I leave him alone with his menu and his coffee and his foul mood and his brooding gaze … and his broad shoulders … and his full lips … and I get back to work, stopping at table four to see if Mr. and Mrs. Carnavale need refills on their house blend decafs.  

By the time I top them off, I draw in a cleansing breath and head back to Mr. Tall, Dark, and Douche-y, forcing a smile on my face.

“We ready to order?” I ask, pulling my pen from behind my ear and my notepad from my Kelly-green apron.
He folds his menu, offering it to me despite the fact that my hands are full, but I manage to slip it under my arm without dropping anything.

“Two pancakes,” he says. “Eggs. Scrambled. Rye toast. Butter. Not margarine.”

“I’m so sorry.” I point to a sign above the cash register that clearly reads ONE PANCAKE PER PATRON – NO EXCEPTIONS.

He squints, his expression calcifying when he reads it.

“So that’s one pancake, scrambled eggs, and buttered rye toast then,” I recite his order.

“What kind of bullshit rule is that?” He checks his watch, like he has somewhere to be.

Or like he doesn’t have the time for a rule that I entirely agree is pure bullshit.

“These pancakes are huge. I promise one will be more than enough.” I try to deescalate the situation before it gets out of hand because it’s never pretty when management has to get involved. The owners of the diner are strict as hell on this policy and their day shift manager is even more so. She’ll happily inform any and all disgruntled customers there’s a reason the “pancake” in Brentwood Pancake and Coffee is singular and not plural.

I’ve seen many a diner walk out of here and never return over this stupid policy and our Yelp review average is in the dumps, but somehow it never seems to be bad for business. The line is perpetually out the door and down the block every weekend morning without fail, and sometimes even on weekdays. These pancakes are admittedly as delicious and more than own up to their reputation, but that stupid rule is nothing more than clever marketing designed to inflate demand.

“And what if I’m still hungry?” he asks. “Can I order a second?”

Wincing, I shake my head.

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.” He sits up a little, jaw clenching. “It’s a goddamned pancake for fuck’s sake.”

“Not just any pancake,” I say with a practiced smile. “It’s a Brentwood pancake.”

“Are you trying to be cute with me, ma’am?” he asks, directing his attention at me, though he isn’t flirting. His nostrils flare a little and I can’t help but let my mind wander the tiniest bit about how sexy he looks when he’s angry—despite the fact that I would never so much as entertain the idea of getting down and dirty with an asshole like this.

He’s hot AF but I don’t do jerks. Plain and simple.

I’d have to be drunk. Like, really drunk. And I’d have to be desperate. And even then … I don’t know. He’s got some kind of chip on his shoulder, and no amount of sexiness would be able to distract me from that.  

“Let me put your order in, okay?” I ask with a smile so forced my cheeks hurt. They say good moods are contagious, but I’m starting to think this guy might be immune.

“As long as it’s the full order, ma’am,” he says, lips pressing flat as he exhales. I don’t know why he keeps calling me “ma’am” when I’m clearly younger than he is. Hell, I couldn’t legally drink until three years ago.

I am not a “ma’am.”

“The cook won’t make two,” I say with an apologetic tone before biting my bottom lip. If I play it coy and helpless maybe he’ll back down a little? It works. Sometimes.

“Then it’s for my guest,” he points to the empty seat across from him. His opposite hand is balled into a fist, and I can’t help but notice his watch is programmed in military time, “who happens to be showing up later.”

“We don’t serve guests until they’re physically here,” I say. Yet another one of the restaurant’s strict policies. Too many patrons have tried to use that loophole over the years, so they had to close it. But they didn’t just close it—they battened the hatches with hurricane-proof glass by way of a giant security monitor in the kitchen. They even make the cooks check the screen before preparing orders, just to make sure no one’s breaking the rules.

The man drags his hand through his dark hair, which I’m realizing now is a “regulation cut.”

Military.

I bet he’s military.

Has to be. The hair. The watch. The constant swearing juxtaposed with the overuse of the word “ma’am.” He reminds me of my cousin Eli who spent ten years in the U.S. army, and if he’s anything else like Eli, he’s not going to let up about this.

Exhaling, I place my palm gently on his shoulder despite the fact that we’re not supposed to put hands on the guests for any reason, but this guy is tense and his muscled shoulders are just begging for a gentle touch.

“Just … bear with me, okay?” I ask. “I’ll see what I can do.”

The man serves our country. He fights for our freedom. Despite the fact that he’s unquestionably a giant asshole, he at least deserves a second pancake.

I’m going to have to get creative.

Heading back to the kitchen, I put his order in and check on the Carnavales one more time. On my way to the galley to refill my coffee pot, I pass a table full of screaming children, one of which has just shoved his giant pancake on the floor, much to his gasping mother’s dismay.

Bending, I retrieve the sticky circle from the floor and place it back on his plate.

“Would you like the kitchen to fix another?” I ask. They’re lucky. This is the only time they’ll make an exception, and I’ll have to present the dirty pancake as proof.

The child screams and I can barely hear what the mother is trying to say. Glancing around the table, I spot five little minions under the age of eight, all of them dressed in Burberry, Gucci, and Dior. The inflated-lipped mother sports a shimmering, oversized rock on her left ring finger and the father has his nose buried in his phone.

But I’m not one to judge.

LA is lacking child-friendly restaurants of the quality variety, and it’s not like Mr. Chow or The Ivy would welcome their noisy litter with open arms. I don’t even think they have high chairs there.

“I don’t want a pancake!” The oldest of the tanned, flaxen-haired gremlins screams in his mother’s face, turning her flawless complexion a shade of crimson that almost matches her pristine Birkin bag.

“Just … just take it away,” she says, flustered, her palm sprawling her glassy, Botoxed forehead.

Nodding, I take the ‘cake back to the kitchen, only I stop when I reach the galley, grabbing a stack of cloth napkins and hiding the plate beneath it. As soon as my military patron finishes his first pancake, I’ll run this back to the kitchen and claim he accidentally dropped it on the floor.

“Order up!” one of the line guys calls from the window, and I head over to see my military man’s breakfast is hot and ready—though I may have accidentally moved it to the front of the ticket line when no one was looking because I don’t have the energy to deal with him freaking out if his breakfast is taking too long.

Grabbing his plate, I rush it out to him, delivering it with a smile and a sweet, “Can I get you anything else right now?”

His gaze drops to his food and then lifts to me.

“I know,” I say, palm up. “Just … trust me. I’ll take care of you.”

I wink, partially disgusted with myself. He has no idea how difficult it is for me to be accommodating to him when he’s treating me like this. I’d love nothing more than to pour a steaming hot pitcher of coffee into his lap, but out of respect and appreciation—and only respect and appreciation—for his service, I won’t resort to such a thing.

Plus, I work for tips. I kind of have to be accommodating. And lord knows I need this job. I may be living in my grandmother’s gorgeous guesthouse, but believe me, she charges rent.

Free rides aren’t a thing in the Claiborne family.

He peers down his straight nose, stabbing the tines of his polished fork into a chunk of fluffy scrambled egg.

He doesn’t say thank you—not surprising—and I tell him I’ll be back to check on him in a little while before making my way to the galley where another server, Rachael, is also seeking respite.

“That table with the screaming kids,” I ask, “that yours?”

She blows her blonde bangs off her forehead and rolls her eyes. “Yup.”

“Better you than me,” I tease. Rachael’s got three of her own at home. She’s good with kids and she always seems to know the right thing to say to distract them or thwart a total meltdown.

“I’ll trade you,” she says. “The family for the dimples at table four.”

“He has dimples?” I peek my head out, staring toward my military man.

“Oh, God, yes,” she says. “Deep ones. Killer smile, too. Thought maybe he was some model or actor or something, but he said he was an army corporal.”

“We can’t be talking about the same guy. He hasn’t so much as half-smiled at me and he’s already told you what he does for a living?”

“Huh.” Rachael lifts a thin red brow, like she’s wondering if we’re talking about two different people. “He asked me how I was doing earlier and smiled. Thought he was real friendly.”

“That one. Right there. Dark hair? Golden eyes? Muscles bulging out of his gray t-shirt?” I do a quick point before retracting my finger.

She takes another look. “Yeah. That’s him. You don’t forget a face like that. Or biceps like that …”

“Weird.” I fold my arms, staring his way and wondering if maybe he has a thing against girls like me. Though I’m pretty ordinary compared to most girls out here. Average height. Average weight. Brown hair. Brown eyes.

Maybe I remind him of an ex?

I’m mid-thought when out of nowhere he turns around, our eyes catching like he knew I was watching. Reaching for a hand towel in front of me, I glance down and try to act busy by wiping up a melted ice cube on the galley counter.

“Busted.” Rachael elbows me before heading out to check on the Designer family. I swat her on the arm as she passes, and then I give myself a second to regain my composure. As soon as the warmth has left my cheeks, I head out to check on him, relieved to find his pancake demolished, not a single, spongey scrap left behind. In fact, his entire meal is finished … coffee and all.

Reaching for his plate, he stops me, his hand covering mine, and then our eyes lock.

“Why were you staring at me over there?” he asks. The way he looks at me is equal parts invasive and intriguing, like he’s studying me, forming a hard and fast opinion, but also like he’s checking me out which makes zero sense because his annoyance with me practically oozes out of his perfect, tawny physique.

“I’m sorry?” I play dumb.

“I saw you. Answer the question.”

Oh, god. He’s not going to let this go. Something tells me I should’ve taken Rachael up on her offer to trade tables. This one’s been nothing but trouble since the moment I poured his coffee.

My mouth falls and I’m not sure what to say. Half of me knows I should probably utter some kind of nonsense most likely to appease him so he doesn’t complain to my manager, but the other half of me is tired of being nice to a man who has the decency to ask another waitress how her day is going and can’t even bring himself to treat his own server like a human being.

“You were talking about me with that other waitress,” he says. His hand still covers mine, preventing me from exiting this conversation.

Exhaling, I say, “She wanted to trade tables.”

His dark brow arches and he studies my face.

“And then she said you had dimples,” I expand. “She said you smiled at her earlier … I was just thinking about why you’d be so polite to her and not me.”

He releases me and I stand up straight, tugging my apron into place before smoothing my hands down the front.

“She handed me a newspaper while I waited. She didn’t have to do that,” he says, lips pressing flat. “Give me something to smile about and I’ll smile at you.”

The audacity of this man.

The heat in my ears and the clench in my jaw tells me I should walk away now if I want to preserve my esteemed position as morning server here at Brentwood Pancake and Coffee, but it’s guys like him …

I try to say something, but all the thoughts in my head are temporarily nonsensical and flavored with a hint of rage. A second later, I manage a simple yet gritted, “Would you like me to grab your check, sir?”

“No,” he says without pause. “I’m not finished with my breakfast yet.”

We both glance at his empty plates.

“More eggs?” I ask.

“No.”

I can’t believe I’m about to do this for him, but at this point, the sooner I get him out of here, the better. I mean, at this point I’m doing it for myself, let’s be real.

“One moment.” I take his empty dishes to the kitchen before sneaking into the galley and grabbing that kid’s dirty pancake. My pulse whooshes in my ears and my body is lit, but I forge ahead, returning to the pick-up window and telling one of the cooks that my customer at table twelve dropped his ‘cake on the floor.

He glances at the plate, then to the security monitor, then back to me before taking it out of my hands and exchanging it for a fresh one. It’s a verifiable assembly line back there, just a bunch of guys in hairnets and aprons standing around a twenty-foot griddle, spatulas in each hand.

“Thanks, Brad,” I say. Making my way back to my guy, I stop to check on the Carnavales, only their table is already being bussed and Rachael tells me she took care of their check because they were in a hurry.

Shit.

“Here you are.” I place the plate in front of my guy.

He glances up at me, honeyed eyes squinting for a moment. I wink, praying he doesn’t ask questions.

“Let me know if you need anything else, okay?” I ask, wishing I could add, “just don’t ask for another pancake because I’ll be damned if I risk my job for an ingrate like you ever again.”

“Coffee, ma’am. I’d like another cup of coffee.” He reaches for his glass syrup carafe, pouring sticky sweet, imported-from-Vermont goodness all over his steaming pancake, and I try not to watch as he forms an “x” and then a circle.

Striding away, I grab a fresh carafe of coffee and return to top him off, stopping at three-quarters of the way full. A second later, he glances up at me, his full lips pulling up at the sides, revealing the most perfect pair of dimples I’ve ever seen … as if the past twenty minutes have all been some kind of joke and he was only busting my chops by being the world’s biggest douche lord.

But just like that, it disappears.

His pearly, dimpled smirk is gone before I get the chance to fully appreciate how kind of a soul he appears to be when he’s not all tense and surly.

“Glad I finally gave you a reason to smile.” I’m teasing. Sort of. And I gently rub his shoulder, which is still tight as hell. “Anything else I can get you?”

“Yes, ma’am. I’ll take my check.”

Thank. God.

I can’t get it fast enough. Within a minute, I’ve punched my staff ID into the system, printed his ticket, shoved it into a check presenter, and rushed it to his table. His debit card rests on the edge when I arrive, as if I’d taken too long and he grew tired of holding it in his hand.

He’s just as anxious to leave as I am to get him out of here. Guess that marks the one and only thing that puts us on the same page.

“I’ll be right back with this,” I tell him. His card—plain navy plastic with the VISA logo in the lower corner and NAVY ARMY CREDIT UNION along the top—bears the name “Isaiah Torres.”

When I return, I hand him a neon purple gel pen from my pocket and gather his empty dishes.

“Thank you for the …” he points at the sticky plate in my hand as he signs his check. “For that.”

“Of course,” I say, avoiding eye contact because the sooner I can pretend he’s already gone, the better. “Enjoy the rest of your day.”

Asshole.

Glancing up, I spot our hostess, Maddie, flagging me down and mouthing that I have three new tables. Great. Thanks to this charmer, I’ve disappointed the Carnavales, risked my job, and kept several tables waiting all within the span of a half hour.

Isaiah signs his check, closes the leather binder, and slides out of his booth. When he stands, he towers over me, peering down his nose and holding my gaze captive for what feels like a single, endless second.

For a moment, I’m so blinded by his chiseled jaw and full lips, that my heart misses a couple of beats and I almost forget our little exchange.

“Ma’am, if you’ll kindly excuse me,” he says as I realize I’m blocking his path.

I step aside, and as he passes, his arm brushes against mine and the scent of fresh soap and spicy aftershave fills my lungs. Shoving the check presenter in my apron, I tend to my new tables before rushing back to start filling drinks.

Glancing toward the exit, I catch him stopping in the doorway before slowly turning to steal one last look at me for reasons I’ll never know, and it isn’t until an hour later that I finally get a chance to check his ticket. Maybe I’d been dreading it, maybe I’d purposely placed it in the back of my mind, knowing full well he was going to leave me some lousy, slap-in-the-face tip after everything I’d done for him. Or worse: nothing at all.

But I stand corrected.

“Maritza, what is it?” Rachael asks, stopping short in front of me, hands full of strategically stacked dirty dishes.

I shake my head. “That guy … he left me a hundred-dollar tip.”

Her nose wrinkles. “What? Let me see. Maybe it’s a typo?”

I show her the tab and the very clearly one and two zeroes on the tip line. The total confirms that the tip was no typo.

“I don’t understand. He was such an ass,” I say under my breath. “This is like, what, five hundred percent?”

“Maybe he grew a conscience at the last minute?” Her lips jut forward.

I roll my eyes. “Whatever it was, I just hope he never comes here again. And if he does, you get him. There isn’t enough tip money in the world that would make me want to serve that arrogant prick again. I don’t care how hot he is.”

“Gladly.” Her mouth pulls wide. “I have this thing for generous pricks with dashing good looks.”

“I know,” I say. “I met your last two exes.”

Rachael sticks her tongue out before prancing off, and I steal one last look at Isaiah’s tip. It’s not like he’s the first person ever to bestow me with such plentiful gratuity—this is a city where cash basically grows on trees—it’s just that it doesn’t make sense and I’ll probably never get a chance to ask him why.

Exhaling, I get back to work.

I’ve worked way too damn hard to un-complicate my life lately, and I’m not about to waste another thought on some complicated man I’m never going to see ever again.

 

Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author Winter Renshaw is a bona fide daydream believer. She lives somewhere in the middle of the USA and can rarely be seen without her trusty Mead notebook and ultra portable laptop. When she’s not writing, she’s living the American dream with her husband, three kids, and the laziest puggle this side of the Mississippi.

And if you’d like to be the first to know when a new book is coming out, please sign up for her private mailing list here —> http://eepurl.com/bfQU2j

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NEW RELEASE!! P.S. I Hate You by Winter Renshaw ~ Sarah A’s Review

Dear Isaiah,

Eight months ago, you were just a soldier about to be deployed and I was just a waitress, sneaking you free pancakes and hoping you wouldn’t notice that my gaze was lingering a little too long.

But you did notice.

We spent a “week of Saturdays” together before you left, and we said goodbye on day eight, exchanging addresses at the last minute.

I saved every letter you ever sent, your words quickly becoming my religion.

But you went radio silent on me months ago, and then you had the audacity to walk into my diner yesterday and act like you’d never seen me in your life.

To think … I almost loved you and your beautifully complicated soul.

Almost.

Whatever your reason is—I hope it’s a good one.

Maritza the Waitress

PS – I hate you, and this time … I mean it.

****  AVAILABLE IN KINDLE UNLIMITED  ****
Amazon

The second I read the cover copy for P.S. I Hate You I was hooked. Once I started reading the book I couldn’t stop, regardless of what other responsibilities I had waiting for me. Maritza and Isaiah pulled me in with their conflicting personalities, and they kept me hooked with how perfectly they balanced the more extreme parts of one another’s persona.

P.S. I Hate You is a standalone novel, though there will be a spinoff book about Maritza’s cousin, Melrose. The book is written in dual first-person perspective, narrated by Maritza and Isaiah.

I thought the way Winter Renshaw brought Maritza and Isaiah together was quite clever. The way she had them explore the intricacies of their relationship with a no strings attached, strangers exploring the city together over a week of Saturdays arrangement was unique and ingenious. It helped them both to let down their guards and interact without any preconceived notions. I loved how naturally it seemed to build their relationship and constructed a deep and genuine bond between them.

By the time Isaiah was deployed, I was all in on their relationship; I didn’t care if they were committed to just being friends and keeping the romance out of their relationship, they were better together than tons of couples I read about. They were magic and effortless. Their letters, while sometimes not as truthful as their in-person interactions, were deeply emotional and cemented my affection for them. When everything started falling apart, I was heartbroken, as I felt so much for these characters,

Winter Renshaw has long been on my radar, but this is the first time I’ve read her work, and I’m impressed. She drew me in from the beginning and made me care deeply for her characters with just a few well-placed expressions and precisely chosen words. I loved the unique storyline and how artfully she brought the characters together. I will definitely continue reading her work and can not wait for Melrose’s book, P.S. I Miss You.

There’s no denying something’s there, something that makes my heart trot when he looks at me, something that makes me slick on an extra coat of lip balm or an extra spritz of perfume before dashing out the door to meet him.
And while I’m the one who made the rules—no romance and only honesty at all times—I’m the one who can’t stop thinking about what would happen if we broke one of them.
Only problem is, I have zero idea if he’s thinking what I’m thinking. He’s so even-keeled and emotionally guarded, but they say actions speak louder than words and the fact that he’s here, spending time with me doing stupid shit has to count for something … right?
“Why are you staring like that?” Isaiah asks when he turns around.
My cheeks warm. I’d been spacing off. “No reason.”
“Bullshit. You can’t lie, remember? Tell me what you were thinking about.” His lips draw into a playful smirk, and I can’t decide if I like his mysterious side or his spirited side best. It’s like trying to choose between white chocolate and milk chocolate, which are both delicious in their own ways.
“You don’t want to know.”
And I’m serious. He doesn’t want to know that I’m thinking about him in a way that I was determined not to. Besides, he’s leaving in a few days. There’s no point in ruining the rest of our time together by making this situation unnecessarily complicated.
“Try me,” he says, his stare boring into me. Something tells me he’s not going to let this go.
Giving myself a moment, I gather my thoughts and nibble on my lower lip. “I was just thinking about connections.”
“Connections?” His hands rest on his hips, his shoulders parallel with mine. I have his full, undivided attention.
“I was just thinking about how I hardly know you, but I feel connected to you,” I say, cringing on the inside but fully embracing the discomfiture of this conversation.
He says nothing, which doesn’t make this moment any less awkward for the both of us.
“You asked!” I remind him, throwing my hands up.
Another moment passes, the two of us lingering next to some hairy elephant-looking creature with a long-as-hell scientific name as a group of children runs past us.
“Now I want to know what you’re thinking about.” I nudge his arm. “It’s only fair.”
He smirks, then it fades, and he gazes into the distance. It’s like there’s something on the tip of his tongue, but if I push or prod too much, he’ll never share it.
“Nothing, Maritza. I was thinking about nothing.”
I don’t buy it, but I don’t press any further. I want to burn this awkward moment into a pile of ash and move on.
“Are you going to remember me after this week?” I ask after a bout of silence.
His golden irises glint as his eyes narrow in my direction. “What kind of question is that?”
“A legit one,” I say. “Will you remember me? Or am I always just going to be that waitress girl that you hung out with for a week?”
“Don’t think I could forget you if I tried.” He speaks in such a way that I’m not sure if what he’s saying is a good thing or a bad thing. “Can I be honest right now?”
“You must. It’s a requirement.”
Isaiah’s tongue grazes his full lips for a quick second and he holds my gaze for what feels like forever. “I don’t want to make this any more confusing for either of us, but I feel like kissing you right now.”
I fight a smile. I don’t want to smile. I want to scoff at him and tell him to stop being such a hypocrite.
But that’s only half of me.
The other half of me wants him to kiss me, wants his hands in my hair and his taste on my tongue just one more time because we’ll never have this moment again and once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.

Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author Winter Renshaw is a bona fide daydream believer. She lives somewhere in the middle of the USA and can rarely be seen without her trusty Mead notebook and ultra portable laptop. When she’s not writing, she’s living the American dream with her husband, three kids, and the laziest puggle this side of the Mississippi.

And if you’d like to be the first to know when a new book is coming out, please sign up for her private mailing list here —> http://eepurl.com/bfQU2j

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