Release Day! Miami Heat
A trip to Miami for a blind date--what could go wrong?
Violet Wilson is a book lover at heart. As a librarian she loves her job and quite frankly no one else, from her prospective, could do it better. The only downside for being such a voracious reader, she has a high expectation of men.
Violet needs to let her hair down, embrace life and have fun—something her best friend Kate is willing to help her with. After an afternoon lunch with her best friend, she is handed a plane ticket and a hotel reservation to Miami. However, there is a catch…her date.
Roman Carpino isn’t looking for love. He has his tattoo parlor, his friends and several different women whenever he needs or wants a companion. To him, his life is golden. But, given the chance to take a vacation on his friend’s dime, he relents. What he isn't expecting however, is his date, Violet.
With a weekend to spend together, will they find what each desires most--or will a friendly gesture damage two lives forever?
Violet smoothed out her pants and took a deep, solidifying breath. The midday heat had her pants clinging to her in unflattering ways. Thanks to the ignorant apartment manager, who waited until the hottest day of the year to call an air-conditioning service technician. She pulled at her shirt, trying to still the angry butterflies beating in her belly.
How many times had she stood on her friend’s front porch, her finger inches away from the doorbell, contemplating why she did this to herself? Several. More times than you even want to consider. Kate had a bad habit of trying to set Violet up on blind dates—most of which ended with her going home alone and humiliated. Nevertheless, Kate wouldn’t be deterred. It seemed like every party she threw, someone had been picked out and would be presented to Violet as a “suitable suitor.” Whether for the evening or long term, the dates made her very uncomfortable.
With her finger poised to push the button, she went over all the reasons why she should run. Go home. Hide under the covers and never come out—at least until Monday morning, when she had a date with her books and a cozy library on the other side of town. The books knew how to treat a woman, and though they grew old, they never lost their charm or disregarded her feelings. Yet, as much as she wanted to leave, the sick, twisted part of her, the part that lusted after a man she knew mingled behind the ornate oak door, kept her rooted in place.
His sleek, black-on-black Harley-Davidson Panhead sat parked in the driveway. What she’d give to feel the wind whip through her hair and the sun on her face as the freedom of the open road transported her away from her dreary, boring life. However, fiction and reality were two different things. And in this reality, she deserved someone better.
“I’m so glad you could make it,” Kate squealed, opening the door.
Startled, Violet pasted on a grin and walked through the entrance of the house, trying not to give away her wayward thoughts.
“I thought I told you to dress casual? What the hell is that getup?”
Compared to Violet’s khakis and silk shirt, Kate wore a summer dress that clung to her voluptuous curves. Heat crept into Violet’s cheeks. “Well, I gave your idea some thought, and I decided to play it safe,” she replied with a nonchalant shrug. Truth be told, she didn’t own anything remotely relaxed.
“Don’t worry. I have something in your size waiting in the guest bedroom,” Kate said, guiding Violet up the stairs instead of outside.
“Of course you do,” she muttered under her breath.
“I said, I don’t know what I’d do without you,” Violet answered, covering her blunder.
“You know I’d do anything for you, Vi, right? It’s what friends are for.”
They stopped a few feet from the guest room as Kate took her hand. “I want you to be as happy as Jesse and I are.”
“I am,” Violet assured her. “Really. Don’t worry so much.”
“I think I’m always going to worry.” Her friend laughed. “Come on. Your outfit is in here.”
They stepped into the room, and there on the bed lay a beautiful, dark blue frock. Violet gasped. It was too much. It had to have cost Kate a fortune. “Oh, Kate.” Violet sighed. “I can’t take this from you.” She ran her fingers over the soft, lightweight material. The made-for-her dress tempted her beyond reason. But she couldn’t wear it. Where Kate had cleavage, she had none. Her less than desirable, boyish figure left nothing to a man’s imagination. Thank you, overactive metabolism.
“Nonsense. You’re going to look amazing. If you shower, we can do your hair and put on a little makeup. We’ll make it a total girls day,” Kate said. “Besides, what else would you be doing?”
“Well, given a choice between sitting in a coffee shop all day because my building’s central air is out or being here with you…” Sitting alone seemed a little creepy. At least if she were writing a novel like every other patron in the coffee shop, she wouldn’t feel so awkward.
“Wow. I guess I should feel honored you decided to come, then.” Kate ushered Violet into the en suite bathroom. “Hurry so we can get you sexified.” Then Kate left her to get a shower.
“Whatever you’re thinking of doing, don’t.” Violet winced at her harsh tone as she stripped. “We both know none of them like me. They’ve never liked me,” she said, reaching into the tub to turn on the water.
“I’d beg to differ, but whatever you say, Vi,” Kate replied from the bedroom.
“Why do I feel like you’ve got something planned even if I say no?” Violet stepped under the spray. The cool water felt refreshing against her overheated skin. Her eyes popped open as a terrifying thought crossed her mind. “Wait. You’re hoping they’ll hit on me. That’s why you wanted me to wear slutty clothes.” She groaned. “I can’t believe you.”
“Don’t pretend you didn’t already know my nefarious plans. Self-righteous doesn’t look good on you,” Kate quipped. “Besides, how will you know whether or not they like you if you continue to hide in your books?”
“Yeah, well… So, what’s this party for anyway?” Violet asked, changing the subject as she washed her hair. She’d go along with her friend’s plans, and when they backfired, she’d quietly say I told you so.
“Does there have to be a specific reason to party?” Kate replied. “It’s fun. People enjoy each other’s company. Others get drunk and make asses of themselves. It makes for great conversations come Monday morning.”
“I’m thinking right now the coffeehouse was a better decision.” Violet rinsed the soap from her hair, then washed herself. “In fact, I know it.” Yet she didn’t have the willpower to leave. She finished her shower a few minutes later and dried off. Once she had the silky wrap dress on, Kate went to work on her hair.
“You should really think about cutting your hair. Style it into something spunky and fresh. Something that says, ‘Here I am, people. Notice me.’” Kate gathered up the wet tresses and began braiding them into a loose fishtail braid.
“I am so not an attention whore, or whatever. I’m fine sticking to the background.” But Violet had to admit, she’d love a cut that would make her look a little bit older than twelve.
“Well, I promise you’ll stand out in a crowd today, missy. Now, sit still so I can do your makeup.”
* * * *
Across from Violet stood the one group of guys she dreaded seeing whenever she came to one of Kate’s functions. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught a glimpse of Roman.
From the skintight T-shirt he wore, encasing his broad shoulders and muscular upper body, to the loose, low-slung jeans showcasing his tapered waist, he had been her wet-dream fantasy for a while now, not that she’d cop to it. She could make out the colors of his tattoos but not necessarily what they were, and truth be told, she didn’t have the courage to ask or get closer to him. While his black hair had been slicked back and brushed the top of his shoulders, his cool gray eyes assessed her from where he stood. Then a slow, sensual smirk tugged at his mouth. He lifted the bottle of beer in his hand to his lips, taking a drink. She watched his throat bob with each swallow and sighed. What she’d give to have one night with him.
Not going to happen. He’s out of your league. Besides, he’s probably here with one his bimbos from his shop. He owned a tattoo shop in one of the warehouses downtown, according to Kate. Of course Violet had never stooped low enough to seek him out. She didn’t need to see firsthand how he treated women.
She snorted and continued on, uncaring of where she went as long as he didn’t follow her.
Roman reminded her of a period in her life she didn’t want to think about anymore. A time when she was naive. A time when she’d have given her left arm, maybe a leg, for a guy like him. In fact, she had. Don’t go there, Vi. You don’t need to torment yourself any longer. What’s done is done. You lived and learned, and now you’re moving forward. But she wasn’t. Not really, anyway.
She hid herself away in stacks of books that couldn’t hurt her or let her down. She’d become a reclusive person who didn’t go on dates, let alone have sex. Not that it’s enjoyable or anything. Or so she thought.
Still, her heart wanted what it wanted. And right now, Roman was all it desired. Why couldn’t he be a banker or a schoolteacher? Why does he have to be covered in tattoos, buffed out to perfection, and everything I can never have?
She watched him from behind a pillar adjacent to where he stood by the infinity pool overlooking the Pacific Coast. People—some she knew; the majority she didn’t—milled around the pristine area. Jesse stood by the grill, beer in hand, talking with the guys while flipping burgers. Across from her sat a tableful of catered side dishes and appetizers. Kate might like having these little backyard get-togethers, but that didn’t mean she liked doing all the work on her own.
Violet pulled her gaze back to Roman. Her mouth watered every time his muscles bunched and pulled. A veritable god among men, he called to her. Demanded she pay attention, even though she knew nothing good would come from him.
“Having fun?” Melody asked, coming up beside her. “You know, you’re putting off a creepy-chick vibe.”
“Huh?” Violet turned her attention to her friend. Melody’s cool, assessing, whiskey-colored eyes narrowed as she tucked a lock of her auburn hair behind her ear.
She crossed her arms and gave Violet a knowing grin, showing off the dimple in her right cheek. “You’ve been here an hour so far, and all you’ve done is watch him. Why don’t you go talk to the guy? Say hi or something less weird,” Melody said, nudging Violet toward the object of her lust-filled fantasies.
“I can’t. What if he’s here with someone? I don’t want to interrupt.” Violet frowned.
“Oh bullshit.” Melody snickered. “I’ve seen his date. He looks about as happy as a lion in a cage.” She nudged Violet again. “Go break him out.”
“I-I can’t. Um…” She panicked. “Did you hear that? Kate’s calling me.”
“Wuss,” Melody teased. “Grow some balls, Vi. You’ll never know if you have anything in common with him if you don’t say hi.”
“Says the woman who won’t talk to Chris.” It was well-known her friend had trust issues due to what had happened to Melody in high school with a guy like Chris.
“Whatever, Vi. He’d end up letting me down just like all the other assholes of the world.” She took a sip of her wine. “Anyway, we’re not talking about me,” Melody deflected. “Go talk to him and stop being a baby about it.”
Yeah, right. Violet and Roman would never have anything in common. He liked bimbos, booze, and tattoos—which was obvious to her, anyway, by the company he kept.
His boisterous laugh brought Vi out of her musings. When she looked over to where he stood, Roman high-fived Chris. He wore a polo shirt stretched tight over his muscles and shorts, showing off his tattooed lower legs. He was an inch or two taller than Roman and had a high-and-tight haircut. Violet wondered if the man had been in the military at some point, especially with the way he sought out Melody in the crowd. His movements were calculating, executed without giving himself away, or so he thought, but she saw him. Roman and Chris’s conversation was animated, filled with hand gestures and shouts. How she wished she could be so free with herself. Express herself with Roman’s kind of exuberance and unadulterated joy. He represented everything she loved and feared all at the same time.
Everything she’d never have in her life because she wasn’t good enough.