I opted to walk home instead of a cab, needing to think. It felt great to be outside. My head certainly felt a lot clearer. When I was almost home, I spotted a lot across the street that was being set up for their annual Christmas tree sale. It was December, after all, so I could get a tree. I could use something bright and cheery in my otherwise white apartment. I waited for a break in traffic and hurried over to the lot.
“How much for this one?” I pointed to a bushy Douglas fir and admired its long, whimsical branches.
“Forty-five.” The kid eyed my cast. “You need some help getting it on the roof of your car?”
“No, I’ll be fine, thanks.” I handed him the money and waited for ten minutes for it to be wrapped in twine. I awkwardly stood at the traffic light then dragged it across the street, ignoring my now throbbing arm.
The doorman, Otis, must have been wondering what the hell I was doing in heels, leather pants, a cast on my wrist, and a tree at midnight. But, as he had done the last few times I saw him, he simply nodded politely and opened the door for me. I really liked this building. They were professional and knew everyone by name.
“If you want, Ms. Lexington, I can put that out back and have someone bring it up to you in the morning.”
“That’s all right.” I yanked it through the door, sending needles everywhere. “I can manage.” I wanted to thank him for calling me Ms. Lexington and not Mrs. Young, but when I went to say it, he was already helping someone else. It could wait.
How I got it in the elevator was beyond me, but I did, and I felt very proud of myself. That was, until I somehow managed to get it stuck in the hallway just before I reached my door. I kicked, pulled, and pushed, but the freakin’ thing wouldn’t move.
“Come on, you stupid piece of—” I stopped mid- curse with my head covered in branches when I heard a little chuckle. I peeked through the needles to see a pair of legs standing in an open doorway across the hall from me.
“Planning on keeping that there?” a husky voice laced with undisguised humor asked.
I puffed a piece of hair out my face as I tugged again at the base of the tree, not caring that my behind was stuck in the air. “Well, you know,” I huffed sarcastically, “I thought I would decorate it out here, bring a little life to this drab-looking hallway.”
“It’s a bit of a fire hazard, don’t you think?”
I rolled my eyes, yanking harder. “Are you planning on calling the fire department?” I heard him laugh again, which further pissed me off that he did not offer to help. “Good, so don’t burn the place down and we won’t have a problem.” I lost my balance and fell backward, tossing my hands back with a yelp at the pain from my wrist as I tried to stop myself.
“Oh, shit.” The guy knelt, and I got my first view of him and almost died. It was as if someone plucked this man off the cover of a Men’s Health Magazine. Tanned skin, brown hair, green eyes, and a smokin’ body. His arms flexed as he reached for my wrist to check out the cast. “Are you all right?”
“Yes,” I answered too quickly, and he shook his head with a smile that had my stomach instantly doing flip flops.
“Do I even ask?” He nodded toward the tree. “You know, it’s after midnight.”
I moved to stand, but he did first and hauled me up with him. “Thanks.” I winced and held my throbbing arm to my stomach. “Ever just need something to make you feel better?” He nodded. “Well,” I point to the wedged tree, “that’s my upper.”
“I see.” He watched me for a moment then smiled. “Okay, then, open the door and we’ll make this happen.”
“Oh, no,” I held my hand up, “please. I’m sorry I woke you. I can get this.”
He gripped the midsection, kicked the base, and released the tree from its hold. “It’s no trouble, and I was still awake.”
“Traitor,” I hissed at the tree and quickly opened my door to let him pass.
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: March 25th
J.L. Drake’s All In, is an emotionally raw, romantic suspense, written in the K. Bromberg’s Everyday Heroes Worlds project.
Physical and emotional wounds that stem from a ten-year marriage are hard to get over. It takes something out of a movie to snap Arizona back to reality. It’s time to start over.
With the help of a Christmas tree, a cast, and some dark sarcasm, she comes butt to face with an amused neighbor—a very attractive neighbor.
Unfortunately, as much as she wants to close the dark chapter in her life and move on, there are a few more secrets that must cross her path first.
Lieutenant Carter with the New York Fire Department runs a smooth ship over at Firehouse Fifty-Nine. He is well respected and loved by all.
With the Fireman’s Curse deeply rooted in his subconscious, living alone is something he’s made peace with. But when he hears a struggle outside his apartment and finds a woman trying to move a tree nearly twice her size, he finds himself entertained at her predicament and witty comebacks. More so, he finds himself very intrigued and unable to walk away.
Massive fires suddenly start to consume nightclubs and bars, sending the community into a frenzy. With too many close calls and the police on edge, Firehouse Fifty-Nine is now running on fumes.
As evidence piles up and the truth starts to surface, links are made. With everything unfolding around Arizona and Carter, one thing is certain—hearts could end up broken once more.
You’re either all in or you’re not.