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Sugar on the Edge (E-Book)

Sugar on the Edge (E-Book)

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Gavin Cooke, bestselling British author, is tortured and existing in a dark spiral of despair. He has come to the Outer Banks to escape the seedy lifestyle he’s been living in London, in a desperate attempt to regain his writing focus. Twisted, bitter, and angry at the world, Gavin needs nothing from life but his bottle of scotch and a laptop.

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Savannah Shepherd’s life is falling apart. Struggling to make ends meet, Savannah watches as her dream of being a wildlife photographer slips away. Ready to pack up her bags and head home with her tail between her legs, Savannah receives an opportunity that seems too good to be true, and definitely too good to pass up.

He’s a raw, forceful, dirty talker. She’s a flowers and romance type of girl. Yet within one another, Gavin and Savannah find a mutual craving that can only be satisfied by giving in to their desires.

Lust turns into something more, but an unexpected turn of events and the obstacles of Gavin’s bitter past may prove to be more than their tentative bond can withstand.

Read Chapter One

Chapter 1

Gavin

“And, as you can see here, all the panels of glass slide so you can open the entire back wall to the beach.”

“Not a real handy feature in the winter months,” I grumble under my breath as the woman… my realtor… prattles on about the features of this 2.7 million dollar beach house I just purchased—sight unseen—in Duck, North Carolina. Stupid fucking name for a town, but I’d live with it since the house met all of my requirements.

And there weren’t many. It had to be oceanfront with no other house near it for at least two hundred yards. I like my privacy, so in order to afford said privacy, I had to shell out a shitload of cash to purchase it.

“Excuse me?” I hear from behind me. I turn to see the woman looking at me with her blonde eyebrows arched high. What was her name again? Casey Markham, I think.

“Excuse me what?” I ask, trying to keep my features bland. I’m normally not passive aggressive. In fact, most would call me just aggressive, but I’m hungover as hell and not as combative as normal.

“You just mumbled something. I didn’t hear what you said,” she challenges me. I know damn well she heard what I said but, she wasn’t about to let the smart-ass comment go unnoticed.

“I said,” I drawl out in a strong voice laced with my own special brand of assholery, “not a real handy feature in the winter months. I apologize if you didn’t hear me, but what I meant by that is it’s a pretty fucking stupid feature to have on a house that has cold winter months. I mean… if this house was in the tropics, sure… I get it. But what wazzock installed that knowing it would only be used maybe half the year?”

I’m a prick, I know it, and this woman, Casey, knows it too. I’ve been dealing with her from my flat in London over the past several weeks while she’s diligently tried to find a piece of property to suit my needs. I really don’t give a fuck if I hurt her feelings though; I’ve gotten beyond caring what anyone thinks of me and besides, she’s earned a hefty commission off this sale, so she has no reason to whine.

Rather than stick out her lower lip and pout, she does the opposite instead. She throws her head back and laughs from deep within her chest and suddenly, the woman becomes a bit more interesting to me. She’s beautiful, sure. Long, blonde hair, streaked pale in some areas from the hot, Carolina sun. Perfectly sun-kissed skin and runway model features. Her smile exudes happiness and contentment with her life, sparkling with brilliance. She apparently also has a backbone as well, which is intriguing because that means she’s breakable, not just bendable, and sometimes, I find joy in breaking things.

Still chuckling, Casey shoots me a wink as she walks past me. “I thought the same thing when I saw that. Our summers are very nice here, but we can get some nippy winters, no doubt. Now, let’s go upstairs, and I’ll show you the second level.”

Shaking my head, I follow her up the stairs, definitely eyeing the way her ass sways under the slender, cream-colored skirt she’s wearing. It makes me think about bending her over and fucking her with it hiked up around her waist.

Maybe.

If my head wasn’t pounding and my stomach wasn’t threatening to expel up the half bottle of Scotch I drank last night.

I follow her around, letting her point out the features of the house… zebrawood flooring throughout, five bedrooms, each with its own bath suite, and a third-floor office that has its own private deck overlooking the Atlantic. It came completely furnished, even stocked with pots and pans, so I don’t have to do anything but unpack my suitcase. There’s even an entertainment suite on the basement level that houses a private cinema, billiards room, and fully functioning bar.

The bar is my favorite feature in this house by far.

By the time we make it back down into the kitchen, I’ve pretty much tuned my realtor and her perky, sweet disposition out and started calculating how quickly I can get her out of here. There’s another half bottle of Scotch calling out to me, and be damned that it’s only one o’clock in the afternoon.

“Here are your keys, and congratulations on your new home, Mr. Cooke.”

I look at Miss Casey Markham standing there, holding out the house keys to me, all sunny and bright, and realize it’s not worth trying to get in her pants. My brand of fucking is dark and rough, something a sweet girl like her would never understand.

Would never tolerate.

“Thanks,” I say as I take the keys and pocket them.

I walk her to the door. Once she steps out onto the front porch, she turns to me with a huge, sparkling smile and says, “Is there anything else I can do for you, Mr. Cooke?”

How about a blow job, sunshine?

Yet, her sunny personality is exactly the reason she doesn’t really appeal to me. I don’t like my women smiling, happy, or carefree. I like them quiet and passive, taking what I give them, and otherwise leaving me the fuck alone.

“Nope. I’m good. Cheers,” I tell her and start to turn away to close the door. My last glance at her shows her smile still fixed in place, but there’s a hint of a smirk she’s showing that tells me she very much knows I’m a supreme asshole, yet she couldn’t care less. She just made thousands of dollars in commissions off me, and that will keep her in rainbows and unicorns for many months.

After the door closes, I lean back against it and survey my new kingdom. It’s massive… four stories if you include the basement and way more room than any one man could ever hope to possess, or live in for that matter. It’s going to be a bitch to keep clean, and that’s the last thing I’m looking forward to because all of my attention needs to be focused on trying to stay away from the bottle and working on my manuscript, which is due to my editor in two weeks.

Pushing away from the door in a spur of the moment bout of insight, I pull it open and call down to Casey, who has made it to the bottom of my porch staircase. “Wait a minute.”

She turns back around and pastes a pleasant smile on her face. “Yes, Mr. Cooke?”

“It’s Gavin,” I say, tired of the formality, because Mr. Cooke is my father and it makes me feel fifty rather than twenty-seven.

Casey cocks her head to the side in curiosity.

“Do you know of a cleaning service you can recommend that can come in a few times a week?”

She chews on her lip in thought and takes a step back toward the staircase. Looking up at me, she says, “There are a few here in the Outer Banks, but I actually have a friend… my roommate actually… who might be interested.”

Shaking my head, I say, “No, thanks. I’d rather have a professional company.”

Casey’s brows draw inward, and she steps up on to the bottom of the staircase, poising one hand on the bannister, the other sliding into the pocket of her skirt. “She’s really fantastic. She cleans a few other houses on the island. She’s very unobtrusive, and she will do a better job for a better price than the professional companies do.”

“Is she as talkative as you?” I ask skeptically, but what I really mean is she bubbly, perky, and outgoing. “Because I don’t like to be bothered.”

“Quite the opposite. She’s shy and a little withdrawn. You probably won’t even know she’s in your house.”

Drumming my fingers on my thigh, I think about her offer. My gut says to decline and insist on a professional company, because if they don’t work out, there are no awkward feelings if I have to fire them. But then I think… what the fuck do I care if there are awkward feelings? If I don’t like her, I won’t have a single qualm about booting her arse out.

“Okay,” I capitulate. “Give her my contact information and have her give me a ring. I’ll discuss the details with her.”

Casey pins me with a huge smile and says, “I’ll do that. Her name is Savannah Shepherd. I’ll have her call tonight.”

I nod at Casey and turn away from her, walking back into my house and straight down to the entertainment suite, where I pull out the bottle of Scotch and pour myself a “welcome home” drink.

***

Just a mere hour later, and I am fully unpacked in my new home. All I had was two suitcases of clothes, and a box of office supplies that I had shipped over from my flat in London. I pour another two fingers of Scotch in my empty tumbler, which is actually a plastic glass with a big, pink flamingo on it that I found in the cupboard, and take a sip as I sit down behind my desk. The office chair creaks and moans, causing me to make a mental note to get a new chair. This one will drive me nuts if it makes this much noise.

Reaching over into the almost-empty box of office supplies, I pull out the last item in there. The only piece of decor that I had shipped over.

The small frame feels light in my hands. As I turn it over to see the picture inside of it, I’m wholly unprepared for the sharp stab of pain in the center of my chest. I haven’t seen this picture in over two weeks, and it opens up a fresh wave of longing and bitter feelings. I take another sip of the Scotch, willing the peaty burn to start numbing my mind and my heart as it slides down my throat. I gently set the picture on my desk in front of me.

Reaching out, I rub an index finger lightly over the glass and swallow hard so as to prevent the buildup of tears that will often hit me when I stare at Charlie’s picture. It’s my favorite one of him… taken just a few weeks after he turned two. He’s sitting on the front porch of our house in Turnbridge Wells, a midsize town about sixty kilometers from London. Charlie had his elbows resting on his knees, his hands clutching on to his favorite stuffed animal… a ridiculous-looking, bright blue octopus. He’s smiling big, his little baby teeth winking at me, while his blue eyes sparkled in the morning sun. I remember he was smiling so big because I was dancing around and making a fool of myself while Amanda snapped pictures. It took almost no effort on my part to get Charlie to smile and giggle, but I always hammed it up hard around him. It was just my thing as a dad.

I can almost feel his soft, brown hair on my fingertips if I think hard enough. My favorite times were when he’d lay across my lap to watch TV, and I’d stroke his head. He’d never make it very far, often falling asleep within minutes, and then I was free to just watch his tiny chest rise and fall with every breath he took.

I miss him so bad that I ache in my bones, and it’s the main reason I turn to my good friend, Macallan, to help numb the pain.

Speaking of which, I lift the plastic glass to my lips and swallow the rest of the smoky liquor down in one huge swallow. My eyes burn in response, but then I become gloriously warm all over. Reaching for the bottle, I pour another two fingers and set the glass down, reaching instead for my laptop. I need to check my email before I get too drunk. My agent, Lindie Booth, will want a status update from me to make sure the house closing went off without a hitch. She’s been afraid that I’ll change my mind and head back to London to the life of dark debauchery that I’ve been living for the past several months.

It was actually her idea that I move here. She said my writing wouldn’t survive my lifestyle, and that I needed to get away to craft in peace. She suggested the Outer Banks, having vacationed here herself many times.

Maybe she’s right. Maybe she’s full of shit. Who knows, but here I am.

Lindie is a power hitter in the world of traditional publishing and snapped me up quickly when my last book, Killing the Tides, hit number one on the New York Times Best Sellers list. I had self-published it, having spent four years being turned down by every agency and publisher in the United Kingdom and the United States. My brand of dark, paranormal thrillers with a heavy dose of erotica was not something anyone was willing to take a chance on. But apparently, the readers knew something that the big publishers didn’t, and my book stayed on all the major best-seller lists for weeks and weeks.

Just four months after its release, I was represented by Lindie. Three months after that, and I had one of the big five offering me a huge, eight-figure deal for another two books. Even though I was drunk and high as hell when Lindie pitched the deal to me, I recognized it as the money train I had always been waiting for in recognition of my work as a writer. I’m pretty sure I was stoned out of my mind when I signed the contract. In fact, I was pretty tanked when Lindie flew to London to confront me, telling me that I needed to get my shit together, get away from the sordid lifestyle I was living, and move away from the UK so I could concentrate on saving my fledgling career. I agreed to all of those life changes without really having any good lucidity whatsoever.

And, so here I am, in a new country, a new home, with a manuscript that is just about forty-thousand words shy of completion and only two weeks left to finish it.

Staring at the bottle of Scotch before me, I know I’m going to have to set it aside starting tomorrow.

I hope I can set it aside.

I don’t want to, but I need to.

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Product Release Date: July 26, 2014

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