Monday, July 24, 2017

Christmas in July Fete Sackful of Giveaways! Free books and Amazon gift cards!

Christmas in July Fete Sackful of Giveaways


Here's the Rafflecopter link.

The grand prize is a $75 USD Amazon Gift Card. There are over 25 other prizes as well. It starts July 1, 2017 at 12:01 EST and ends August 1, 2017 at 12:00 am EST.

July 1- Alanna Lucas

July 3- Karl Beckstrand

July 4- Jean Joachim

July 5- The Revelers

July 6- Shirley Hailstock

July 7- Aubrey Wynne

July 8- Kris Pearson

July 10- Brenda Whiteside

July 11- Jacquie Biggar

July 12- Shirley Hailstock

July 13- The Revelers

July 14- David Gaughan

July 15- Alina K. Field

July 17- Shirley Hailstock

July 18- Melissa Keir

July 19- Lizz Lund

July 20- Jean Joachim

July 21- The Revelers

July 22- Shirley Hailstock

July 24- Carla Krae



July 25- The Revelers

July 26- Ruth A. Casie

July 27- Barb Caffrey

July 28- Shirley Hailstock

July 29- Aubrey Wynne

July 31- The Revelers





Monday, July 3, 2017

Happy 4th! Here's a July celebration from "The Keyboardist" #IndependenceDay #FourthofJuly #books


With most of the band coupled up now, Mike is the seventh wheel. Realizing he hasn't cultivated a life outside the band in years is a lonely epiphany. When a young woman mistakes him for someone else, the awkward encounter turns into a possibility for something real. Something lasting. Something like love.

Hannah, a recent arrival in L.A., is looking for a connection in her new life. Despite meeting Mike under less-than-ideal circumstances, she accepts his invitation to a Memorial Day BBQ with his friends, never expecting them to be famous rockstars with hearts of gold. Mike couldn't be nicer and sparks are flying, so when he insists on taking their time to get to know each other, part of her is flattered and the other side is frustrated he won't get naked. How far can she tease him before he gives in?

Settle in for a sweet and spicy romance in the My Once and Future Love Revisited universe where finding yourself means finding true love. This story is intended for readers over the age of 18 due to adult language, sexual content, and adult situations.

Apple | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Smashwords - 50% off in July! |

Now it was July 4th and Jake and Beth were hosting a BBQ again.  Mike said they had a great view of the fireworks shows in the valley last year, so I was looking forward to seeing that.  He picked me up at home.
“Pretty as a peach,” he said, making me twirl to show him my dress.  The fabric was red, white, and blue pinstripes, with the stripes horizontal on the bodice and vertical on the skirt and straps.  The straps crossed in the back and attached at my waist.  “Ready?”
“Yep.”  I locked up, then accepted his hand.
Mike was a major hand-holder.  Any time we were together, our fingers were entwined as long as possible.  Since our hands fit together so comfortably, I didn’t mind.
He wore one of those Old Navy flag tees with navy shorts.  I loved that he didn’t care about wearing a five-dollar shirt in spite of being able to afford five-hundred-dollar shirts.  The tee was soft, anyway—bonus points for snuggling.
“It still feels weird to go to a BBQ that’s not a potluck,” I said.
He smiled.  “Beth just wants people to have a good time.”
“I know. I’m not used to having rich friends. Wasn’t the money weird in the beginning?”
“Kinda came gradually. Jake fought for us to have a bigger piece of the pie after the first album. He was the instant star, but we were the support. And did you know artists make more from touring than record sales?”
“No, really?”
“The royalties from albums are tiny unless you’re independent. Ticket sales and all that tour merchandise, that’s where the better margin is.”
“Oh. When is the next tour?”
“Not until after the new album. You’re still stuck with me a while.”
“I wouldn’t call it ‘stuck.’”
He grinned and took the turn up the hill to the compound.
We beat the other couples to the party this time.  Mike had parked and led me to the backyard again, and found Jake at the grill.
“Hey!”
“Hey.”  They did the manly-pat-the-back greeting thing.
“Hannah, right?” he said.
“Yep.”  My first thought was to say yes, sir for some reason, but I kept it cool.  But now I knew what Jake Lindsey was to the world, whoa.  Intimidating.  And he was almost ten years older than me.
Beth came outside and her face lit up.  “Hey!”  She hugged my boyfriend, then me.  “Mike, you remember my dad.”  A tall older man stepped out behind her.
“Sir.”  They shook hands.  “This is my girlfriend Hannah.”
“Nice to meet you.”  He set a platter on the counter next to Jake and walked back into the house.
“Dad isn’t very talkative,” Beth said.  “So, ‘girlfriend’, huh?”  She grinned at Mike.
“Don’t make a big deal.”
“It’s the first one I’ve seen,” she teased.  “What about you, honey?”
“Yep,” Jake said.  “Mikey found a unicorn.”
“Yeah, yeah, get it out now.”
“Aww, we’re happy for you,” Beth said.  “We want all our family to be happy.”
“Speaking of which, the car service picked up your brother and Darcy, love.”
“Oh, good! It’s kind of a family reunion for the holiday,” she explained.  “When?”
“Called from the airport about twenty minutes ago,” Jake said.  He closed the grill lid.  “Beer?”
“Please,” Mike said.
Jake opened the mini-fridge and I was grateful conversation had shifted from teasing about our relationship.  They were like Mike’s siblings, but I was still a stranger and being the center of attention was awkward.  He squeezed my hand before letting go to join his friend in finishing preparations.
“Iced tea?” Beth offered, reaching for a pitcher.
“Thanks.”  The giant wood outdoor table was set for several people.  “Expecting a big crowd?”  I took the filled glass.
“The whole family. Hey, guys!”  She waved at Dylan and Jen.
He’d shaved the beard, but his hair was still long, though today it was back in a ponytail.  Jen wore a tank top and shorts, straps of a bathing suit peeking out from the neckline.  She hugged me again.  “Good to see you, Hannah.”
“Same.”  She put me at ease more than any of the others.
With the party starting to assemble, I sat under an umbrella.
Soon Celeste was there, then Bob, then Beth’s family.  Her brother was clearly older and took after their father in looks.  His wife carried a toddler and was quick to smile.  She and Beth went to each other right away, so they must be close.  They took the little girl in the house.  The guys shook Beth’s brother’s hand.
No drummer, yet. 
Mike had mentioned there was tension recently, but didn’t want to talk about it.  With the majority in attendance, food was on the grill and Beth was serving appetizers.  Everyone had a beverage and the party got rolling.



Chapter Twenty-Five
Mike

Watching Hannah be accepted made me love my friends even more. 
We had to censor ourselves some with Beth’s dad here, but everyone was still having a good time, and the old man would be the first to leave after the fireworks.  Jake had gotten pretty good at the grill since this hosting thing first started and I was currently full of steak and corn.  No one had the energy to jump in the pool after lunch, yet.
Hannah’s hair was up in a ponytail again and I couldn’t resist playing with the ends every time it draped over the back of her chair.  If she wore a swimsuit under that dress, I couldn’t tell.  The red lipstick was both tempting and untouchable.  She considered herself fair-skinned, but she was several shades darker than Beth with summer sun. 
But my favorite part—at the moment—was the metallic blue polish on her toes.  My girl took her red-white-and-blue patriotism very seriously.
“Do I have food on my face?” she murmured.
“No.”
“You keep staring at me.”
“Just feeling very lucky.”
Dark eyelashes fluttered down.  “Oh.”
Beth grinned in our direction.  I eye-rolled.  At least I met Hannah before Big Sis decided to start matchmaking.  Women in happy relationships can’t seem to help themselves when it comes to their single friends, and while I loved Beth like family, we’d never been close.  It would’ve been a parade of nice girls I had nothing in common with.
“Anyone save room for dessert?” Beth asked.  “Apple pie and vanilla ice cream.”
“Organic, of course,” Jake added.  Made Beth’s brother laugh.  Andrew and Darcy lived in Virginia and teasing the in-laws about California’s pretentious health-consciousness was a thing.
“I’m stuffed, Jen said.
“Boys?”
“Make ‘em work it off in the pool first,” Celeste said.
“You just want to see a bunch of wet abs.”  Bob.
Yeah.”
Bob stripped out of his white tank.  “Can’t disappoint the ladies, then.”  Asshole could fill his stomach with half the cow and still have an eight-pack, and had never been modest.  Only slept in boxers on the tour bus because Beth was along.
He dove in the nearby pool, then splashed Jake.  And Jake never left a challenge unanswered.  Darcy nudged Andrew.
“Go have fun.”
“Or can a forty-year-old not keep up,” Beth teased her brother.
“Try trash-talking when your kid is three, brat.”
“Did you bring a suit?” I murmured to Hannah.
“Maybe.”
I kissed her shoulder.  “I’ll get wet if you will.” 
She took in a sharp breath.  “Naughty. I think you’ve had enough beer for a while.”
Lifted my shirt over my head.  “Meant the pool, dirty girl.”  Wasn’t even buzzed, but I did feel comfortable enough to flirt.  And I really wanted to see her in a swimsuit.
Jake or Bob had found a volleyball.



Chapter Twenty-Six
Hannah

I’ll get wet if you will.
Mike’s tease had been ringing in my head since he said it.  When Jen paused in telling me about her latest manuscript, I excused myself to the bathroom.
 Stepping into the house gave me the cool air I needed.  I entered the nearest guest bedroom for a bathroom and dampened a wash cloth to press to my neck and cheeks.  A second layer of sunscreen was a good idea while I was here, and took the small tube out of my purse.  My makeup hadn’t melted in the heat; I needed to thank Marcy for the brand tip. 
A dip in the pool would be nice, but the boys played too rough and it was still too hot for the Jacuzzi.  I did have a suit on under my dress just in case.  Mike’s building had to have a pool, right?  No complex that nice would be without one.  If we were alone…
Respect his boundaries, Hannah.
I’d never had this lust bunny problem before, never wanted a guy this much.  In the past, sex was a step for intimacy in the progression of a relationship.  Brian was the outlier, but I was lonely and he’s a manipulative bastard.  Obviously, Mike was hot, but it wasn’t the outer wrapping that revved my motor.  Mostly.  No, I wanted the sweet guy that loved ‘80s music, spoiled me with stuffed toys, and trusted me to meet his famous friends.
The man completely sure of his convictions.
Yeah, his character is what attracted me the most.  I’d never met someone so confident in what they wanted and who they were.  Well, until this group on the patio.  They made success look pretty awesome.  It’s easy to be happy when you don’t have to worry about paying the bills every month, right?
New coat of lipstick and I was ready to rejoin the party.  I exited the bathroom.
A young man stood in the doorway of the bedroom.  “You must be Hannah. The gold-digger.”  Tank top, board shorts, flip flops, and a deep tan.
“I beg your pardon?”
“Brian told me all about you.”  So this was Aaron.  “Poor Mikey.”  He looked me up and down.  “I can see the appeal, though.”
“Brian is a pathological liar. Now excuse me.”  But he wouldn’t move out of the doorway.
“So he didn’t walk in to see you kissing his brother? You didn’t get him thrown out of the apartment?”
“I had nothing to do with that. Let me pass.”
He took a step forward.  “You don’t belong here.”  Stale beer on his breath.  Joy.
“I don’t want a scene, Aaron. Just let me go.”
“Why? You’ve been wrecking everything. How did you snow Mikey, huh? Brian said you’re not that great a lay, so the pussy can’t be it.”
I slapped him.  Didn’t think about it, my arm just reacted.  “How dare you.”  I stepped up.  “Get. Out. Of. My. Way.”
Aaron rubbed his reddening cheek.  “You’ll pay for that, bitch. I will own you. Better yet, have you arrested for assault!”
“You’re not even bleeding. You and Brian deserve each other.”
“Is there a problem here?”  Mike in the hall.
“Just dealing with the trash, Mikey.”
Mike grabbed Aaron’s arm and yanked him out of the doorway.  “What did you say?”
Aaron shrugged him off.  “You’re going to side with a piece of ass over one of your friends?”
“When you’re being an asshole, yeah. How much have you drunk today?”
“I’m the only one seeing clear here, Mikey. Your little bitch hit me.”
Mike got toe-to-toe with him.  “Speak disrespectfully about Hannah one more time and I’ll give you something to whine about.”
“Don’t,” I said.
Suddenly, Bob was pushing in between them.  “Not in the house. You two, back outside. You, we’re taking a walk.”  He grabbed Aaron’s arm and hauled him out the front door.
Having several inches and pounds of muscle on the drummer, Aaron didn’t have a choice about the escort.  Mike looked me over.
“Are you okay?”
“Fine. I think he was drunk. You’re dripping.”
“You weren’t at the table and Jen said you’d been gone a while.”  His hands cupped my jaw line, tilting my face up.  “Did he upset you? I’m sorry.”
“I can take care of myself.”
“When you’re here with me, you shouldn’t have to. What did he say?”
“Parroting Brian’s words. It’s fine.”  I extricated myself.  “Let’s get back to the party.”
“It’s not fine,” he growled.  “I need to have a chat with my brother.”
“He’s trying to get a rise out of you. It’s over.”  I started for the backyard.
Beth’s eyes held concern.  “What’s going on?”
“Aaron’s here. Bob’s handling it,” Mike said.  She looked to Jacob.
“He’s got it, love. Let’s crank on some music, yeah?”  He reached for a tablet on the mini-kitchen counter.  A few taps and hidden speakers blared a summer jam.
But I was still the center of attention for the four women and Mike was hovering too close.  Now I really did need some air.  Maria walked out of the house carrying a pie and carton of ice cream.  Thank God for the distraction.
“Let me help,” I said, and grabbed the stack of dessert plates.  Then Beth’s father brought the toddlers out and eyes shifted to the kids.
The Lindsey’s daughter climbed on Mike’s lap, spry for a one-year-old.  “Wet.”
“I was in the pool.”  He’d wrapped a towel around his waist before sitting down.
“I can take her,” Beth said.
“She’s fine, Bethie,” Jacob said.  “Mikey doesn’t mind sharing his pie, right, mate?”
“Thanks!”  But no, he didn’t mind, settling the baby securely on his lap.  It obviously wasn’t the first time holding her.
I helped serve until I was the last plate, nothing left to do except sit next to him again.  Bob hadn’t returned.  Celeste didn’t look worried. 
Mike’s focus was on the little girl.  Is that why he’d been pursuing me?  His biological clock was ticking?  His friends were in committed relationships, he had career success, he was the right age…I want to see where this goes
He was a commitment guy.  The only reason he wanted to go slow was to protect himself from getting hurt by the wrong girl. 
This group was too grown-up for me.
“Your ice cream is melting,” Mike said.
“Guess I’m not that hungry.”  I pushed my plate toward him.
“Are you okay?”
“I’m fine. Stop asking.”
“Alright.”
I’d kicked the puppy.  God, I wish I had my car.  A fun afternoon was now incredibly awkward and I didn’t know how to fix it.
Volunteering to help clean up gave me an excuse to leave the table.  Fireworks shows started at nine, so there were still two hours to fill, and plenty of light.  Jen dropped a pile of cutlery in the sink.
“What happened?” she murmured.
“Aaron showed up and said some rude things. Mike came in, they had words, and Bob broke it up before anyone got punched. That’s it.”
“I’m sorry he’s got his head up his ass. Dylan told me about the tension, but I didn’t know it was this bad.”
“It seems Brian excels at causing trouble. I wish I’d never met him.”
“Wouldn’t that mean you never met Mike?”
Leaning on the counter, I sighed.  “Yeah…”
“Hey, don’t let whatever this was get in your head. That guy is crazy about you.”
“It’s only been a few dates.”
She arched a brow.  “I think you’ve got a bit more than that.”
“Okay, he’s been my boyfriend for two weeks.”  I lowered my voice.  “It’s still not a commitment.”
“Okay.”
“We haven’t even had sex, yet.”
She held up soapy hands.  “No judgment.”
I dried what she rinsed.  “He’s holding out. What guy does that?”
“Don’t look at me. This is only my second long-term relationship. Ask him.”
“He has rules so he doesn’t get too deep too fast. Go overboard.”
“Sounds smart.”
“Yeah…”  Sigh.  “I feel like such a slut.”
“Don’t do that to yourself. There’s nothing wrong with wanting your boyfriend. I slept with Dylan the night we met.”
“Seriously?”
She grinned.  “It was one hell of a Christmas Eve.”
“That good, huh?”
“He’s healed me.”  She grimaced.  “Not with the sex. Point is, when a good man shows up, you know, and these are good people. Even Aaron. He’s obviously going through something.”
“Well, I wish it didn’t have anything to do with me.”  I dried the last fork.
“Go find Mike and let him make you smile. You’ll both feel better.”
As if summoned, he appeared in the open slider doorway, shirt on again.
“Hey.”
“Hey.”
“Got a minute?” he asked.
“Sure.”  Chewing my lip, I went to him. 
He led me over by the barn.  “Do you want to go home?”
“I did. But…it’s Fourth of July. Only comes once a year, right?”
“True.”  He reached for my hand.  “Were you mad at me?”
“Why would I be?”
“You were kind of snapping my head off.”
I sighed.  “I was upset.”
“I’m sorry he had an opportunity to corner you. I’m sorry my brother is being such a tool.”
“You’re not responsible for either of their actions. But…I can take care of myself, okay?”
“If you want me to stand by while someone harasses you, I can’t do that. I’m not made that way. That’s not me thinking you’re weak or lacking, so don’t go there—”
“I don’t think you’re a chauvinist, Mike.”
“Good.”  He caressed my cheek.  “I take care of what’s important to me, is all I’m saying.”
“Careful. That sounds close to moving too fast.”
“Cute.”
“I know I am.”  I leaned into his body and he kissed me.
The kind of kiss that usually led to his fingers making me fly.  “Let’s get back before someone comes looking for us.”
“Tease.”
He winked.
Jen smiled when she spotted us.  Beth, too.  I got what Mike meant about big sisters.
In the distance, the lights on the big tree were turned on and someone was sparking up the fire pit.  The patio and pool lights came on automatically with sunset which would be after eight tonight.  But the jets were bubbling in the hot tub.
Elizabeth.”  Mr. Lindsey.  “We’re ready to go.”
“Excuse me,” Beth said to the group.  She and her father went inside.
“He’s leaving before dark?” I asked.
“Taking the munchkins for the night,” Jacob said, handing Mike a bottle.  “Do you need a refill, Hannah?”
“I’m fine.”  That would explain why Darcy wasn’t out here, either.  “Guess it’s good to have close family.”
Mike sat and pulled me down on his lap.  “Cheaper than daycare.”
“Do these gatherings only happen on major holidays?”
He shrugged.  “First year for them. We had a party last Christmas and that was Beth’s first event since the baby was born. The paparazzi were intense in 2012 after she started showing.”
“Sounds awful.”
“It was. Jake had to get lawyers involved. He’s ruthless when it comes to family.”
“Are we photographed when we arrive?”  I didn’t want to be in tabloids.
Mike shook his head.  “The neighborhood is private.”  He squeezed my hip.  “And no one cares about the guy on the keyboard.”
“You’re hot, too.”  Gorgeous, in fact.
“Thank you. It’s like I explained before. The attention is always on the singer and guitarist, anyway. People can name Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, or Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, but only a small amount of super fans know any whole band. It’s about the guys at the edge of the stage, not those in the back, and I’m okay with that.”
“Music over fame and glory.”
“Yep.”  Another squeeze.  “Celeste and Bob like the spotlight as long as it doesn’t get in the way of work, so the pressure’s off the rest of us. You don’t have to worry.”
“I wasn’t until you mentioned it.”
A pinch.  “Brat.”
I glanced at my watch.  “Still half an hour to fireworks.”
“You’re cute when you pout.”  He kissed my lower lip.
“I’m not pouting. I’m anticipatory.”
“Okay. What would you like to do tomorrow?”
“Tonight’s not even over.”
“I’m anticipatory.”  Cheeky grin.  I liked when there was mischief in his eyes.  He so often looked like the good guy, anything else gave him edge.  Depth.  The safe kind of danger I could handle.
But I couldn’t let him know that, so I rolled my eyes.
“Tomorrow’s Saturday, so I know you don’t have to work, and neither do I. Do you want to stay in or go out?”  
“In, huh?”
“Not like that, naughty girl.”
Playing with his collar, I asked, “When?”
“Don’t you want to discuss that in private?”
“Yeah, but I’m putting it on the table that I want to discuss it.”
“That isn’t something you put on a calendar, Hannah.”
“Funny. You know what I mean. You know how I feel, so I want to know your timetable.”
He glanced into the coming darkness.  “It’s not about how much time goes by.”
“Okay…”
“Can we not do this now?”
“Alright.”  I stood.  “I’m going to visit the ladies’ room before the show.”



Chapter Twenty-Seven
Mike

 Bob returned in time to join us overlooking the valley, putting the group in pairs.  Must be a dozen shows visible tonight.  Beth had made popcorn and handed it out in paper boxes like at the movies.
“We used to wave sparklers around as a kid until my grandfather burned a hole in his pant leg,” Hannah said.  We were the only pair not cuddling where we stood.
“Fireworks aren’t legal in most cities here. The drought.”
“Oh.”
“Do you miss Arizona?”
“My popcorn needs more salt.”  She left my side for the tub of flavoring jars Beth brought out.
This wasn’t the fun holiday I expected, thanks to Aaron, and my brother’s influence.  We’d need a new drummer if things didn’t change soon. 
Then there was Hannah.
Chatting with Jennifer instead of coming back.  Well, at least she made a friend. 
Was I nuts to pursue a woman nearly five years younger than me?  She was just starting life while I was looking for something real and permanent.  I wanted to fall in love and feel secure in it.  Well, it was my first attempt back into the dating pool.  Practicality would say there was no guarantee the first relationship would be the right one—but I really liked Hannah.  She was the first girl I’d ever been tempted to toss out my rulebook for.
Which made it all the more important that I didn’t, right? 
To do things the right way the first time? 
Beth and Jacob did the epic second-chance-love thing with a lot of angst.  Bob and Celeste started with sex and never stopped seeing each other.  Dylan and Jen hit it off right away and were probably still in the honeymoon phase and always would be.  My parents met in high school, dated in college, and married after graduation.  I didn’t know Beth’s brother’s story with her sister-in-law, but they’d been together a long time and seemed happy when they visited.  Beth and Darcy were close.  Why couldn’t this be easy for me? 
Someone needed to write a textbook.
The longest fireworks shows were only thirty minutes.  The group meandered back to the patio.  Wanting to get past this awkwardness, I pulled Hannah to a chair.
“Please don’t be mad at me,” I whispered in her ear as I settled her on my lap.
She sighed.  “I’m not…”
“What’s wrong?”
“Today has been intense.”
“Who’s up for the hot tub?” Celeste hollered.  She shed her top and shorts to reveal a bikini that barely contained her curves.
“Do you want to leave?” I asked Hannah.
“I don’t know. No. I don’t think so. It’s a holiday.”
“Make the most of it?”
She nodded, then stood and slipped her dress off her shoulders.  A retro bikini in white.  Maria carried a pitcher of sangria to the table by the Jacuzzi.  Hannah picked up her glass.  “Coming?”
Yes, ma’am.  Walking behind her, I admired the view.  The high-waisted bottom flattered her small waist and curvy ass.  It was the most leg I’d seen of her and I approved of those, too.  Her body split the difference between Beth’s lankiness and Celeste’s petite endowment.  Similar to Jen, really.  They might wear the same size.
The generous-size tub seated several, so everyone that wanted in had space.  Beth and Darcy wore one-piece suits.  The band was used to stripping down around each other, but Andrew kept his shirt on, just dangling his legs in the water next to his wife.  Celeste, Hannah, and Darcy had full glasses of the wine punch.
“Good the sky stayed clear,” Beth said.  When she glanced up at the stars, Jake kissed her neck.  “Behave.”
“Why? We’re kidless tonight.”
Andrew’s face scrunched up.  “That’s my sister.”
“I’m not strippin’ her down in front of you, perv.”
Andrew splashed Jake.  Darcy slapped his leg.  “No water fights in the tub!”
“Hey, house rules,” Beth said.  “Water fights in the pool, no one drives drunk, and if you’re feeling frisky, that’s what we have guest rooms for. Clear?”
“Yes, Mom,” Bob said.  Beth wagged her finger at him.
Bubbles, steam, music, and social lubrication soon made for a loose bunch.  Somehow we got on crazy tour stories (that didn’t involve bedding groupies) and laughing at each other’s expense.  Hannah was leaned into my chest under my arm that rest on the deck.
I kissed the top of her head.  “Having fun?”
Her face tilted up.  “You have an interesting life.”
“At times.”  Jake and Bob had lived the wildest parts.
Darcy and Andrew bowed out before midnight, heading to the first-floor guest room in the farmhouse where they always stayed during visits.
Bob waited to carry Celeste off until she was a happy drunk.
Dylan and Jen left for his apartment.
Beth yawned.  “Sorry. My daughter is an early riser.”
“Here’s when I kick you out, mate,” Jake said, helping her out and wrapping her in a towel.
“Let’s get changed, Hannah.”  She looked sleepy, too.
She collected her purse and dress to find a bathroom while I grabbed gym shorts from my trunk.  “Meet you at the car,” she said.
I wanted to offer to help clean up, but Maria had quietly taken care of it all.  Jake used the smart house tablet to power down everything else.
Dried off, I waited for Hannah, leaning on the trunk of the Camry.  She smiled at me when she reached the parking area.  “Ready?”
“Uh-huh,” she said.  I helped her into the passenger seat.  “I like your people.”
“I’m glad.”
She was angled toward the driver’s seat when I got in.  “Does your building have a pool?”
“I think so.”
“We could go swimming without all the horse-play.”
“Any time you like.”
“The complex I grew up in had a pool, but they only turned the heat on from June to August, so it just sat there, collecting leaves. Was there a pool when you were a kid?”
“We took a basics class as toddlers, but didn’t have access until high school. Jake’s houses always have a pool, so I got more proficient. Bob surfs and used to play water polo, so you don’t challenge him.”
“Mm-hm.”
“Hannah?”  I glanced over at the light and she was asleep.  I turned the radio down.
Let her rest until I stopped in front of her duplex.  She stretched.  “Where are we?”
“Your house.”  I hurried around the car to help her out.  “Do you need a hand?”
“I can walk.”  Leaning on me, we made the short trip to the porch.  She rifled around in her bag for the keys.  And dropped them.
Got her inside and guided her straight to the bedroom.  Turned on a lamp.  She pressed into me, holding on to my shirt.  “Wanna know a secret?”
“What?”
“I’m not wearing anything under this dress,” she stage-whispered.  Oh my.
“That’s a wonderful image, but you’re a bit drunk right now, sweetheart. It’s time for bed.”
“That’s what I’m saying.”
“To sleep, Hannah.”
She pouted and walked into the bathroom.
A shelf on the wall across from the full-size bed held the plush toys from the zoo.  The walls were white, comforter light blue, and nightstand a dark wood.  A chair was layered with clothes and the other corner had some wooden contraption on a stand.
Water ran in the sink.  I should get her a bottle from the fridge.
She walked out of the bathroom when I returned, wearing a satin robe, her hair down, face clean, and glasses on.  Natural and very tempting.  She walked into the closet and a drawer slid open.  I hoped she had pajamas.
“What is this thing in the corner?” I asked.
“Thing? Oh, the loom.”
“Like for weaving?”
“Yep.”  She came out in a tank top and short shorts.  Her nipples were alert in the air-conditioned room.  She climbed onto the bed.
“I brought water.”  Set the bottle on the nightstand.  “You don’t want a hangover.”
“Mike…”
“Hmm?”  Don’t look directly at her.
“Stay.”
“I’m not—”
She took my hand.  “To sleep.”
“Uh…nope.”
“Why not?”  She drew random patterns on my palm, a teasing touch with her nail that was surprisingly arousing.
“You’d molest me in my sleep.”
“Would I?”  She was trying to pull out the innocent doe eyes, but it didn’t quite work on a sleepy drunk.
Shaking my head, I said, “Goodnight, Hannah. I’ll call you tomorrow.”
“Fine.”  She turned the light off.
I shut the bedroom door and used the spare key to lock the house.

Then headed home to a cold shower.