Authors: Sommer Marsden
Van really wants to dislike her blind date, on principle of
course. So naturally she really likes Sean Tierney on sight. Her thoughts
automatically go from zero to naughty when they meet. He’s a tall, green-eyed
blond who drives a smoking-hot classic car.
Speaking of smoking hot, the Halloween party he takes her to
turns into a nightmare. Not because it’s a blind date, but because the whole
thing goes to hell when a ghost in the shape of evil black smoke starts taking
out the guests. Van decides she’d like to live to see another date with
sinfully handsome Sean and she learns there’s something to be said for
life-affirming sex. Lots and lots of life-affirming, we-may-die-here-so-lets-do-it-while-we-can
Ellora’s Cave Romantica Publication
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Smoking Hot Copyright © 2010 Sommer Marsden
Edited by Helen Woodall
Cover art by Syneca
Electronic book publication July 2010
The terms Romantica® and Quickies® are registered trademarks of
Ellora’s Cave Publishing.
With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not
be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written
permission from the publisher, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.® 1056 Home
Avenue, Akron OH 44310-3502.
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This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons,
living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The
characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.
To the man, of course. My smoking-hot guy minus all the
chaos and fear. :) Forever and ever amen.
Thanks to my fat, red wiener dog. He sat and listened to me
read this book aloud to him on multiple occasions (as I wrote it) and never
ever tried to make a break for it. He even allowed me to walk him daily and
still held his head up high. Also, thanks to my kiddos for loving me even when
I keep saying, “Wait a minute…wait a minute…okay, now! Talk now!” And the usual
suspects: The man, P.S. Haven, Alison Tyler, Scarlett Greyson and ghost hunters
everywhere. I know a bunch of them. :)
The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark
owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction:
Godzilla: Toho Co. Ltd.
Mustang: Ford Motor Company
Valium: Hoffman–LaRoche, Inc.
I have to admit, when I opened the door to Sean, I almost
shut it again. I had told Clarice tall, dark and handsome. She’d gotten one out
of three. Sean Tierney was tall and blond and so pretty I felt like a troll
“Hi there,” I said, faking a smile, calculating sixty
different ways to string Clarice up by her thumbs and torture her.
Green, green eyes flashed at me, making me think of feral
cats and wild things slinking in the night. Okay, so that was a pretty damn
sexy image and looking at Sean Tierney was not hard to do.
“Hi, there, to you. Van, is it? Did I get that right?”
I nodded. “Yep. Like the shoes.”
“Short for…” He waited, toeing the threshold of my home with
a big, beat up black boot. Boots. Nice. So, Clarice gets a point. That’s two
points. One for the eyes, one for the boots.
“Vanessa. Vanessa is way too stuck-uppity for me. So it’s
been Van since, oh, about kindergarten.”
He looked me up and down and I considered shutting the door
again. I’m usually the captain of the ship. The one in charge. I say jump and
my date says how many times. But the way Sean Tierney looked at me, I felt like
I should buckle my seat belt and hold on. I cleared my throat and he smiled—his
full lips a pale shade of pink. Rather striking for a guy, and hot as hell with
the green flashing eyes and the shaggy wheat-colored hair.
“Are you dressing up?” he asked, shifting gears. “Are you?”
I countered, suddenly feeling not so sure of myself. Less annoyed with Clarice,
more annoyed with myself for being so rattled by a pretty boy.
Sean glanced down at himself, faded jeans, charcoal-gray
button-down, cuffed casually, left to hang loose over the jeans and
beat-to-shit motorcycle boots. “Nope. Not unless I have magical powers. But you
know…ladies—” he caught himself and stopped, another heart-pounding smile
spreading across his lips.
“Ladies what?” I snapped. “They get all googety over
dressing up?” Why was I getting so cross? Why was I being such a bitch? Why, oh
why, were my panties so wet? Damn!
“I made up a word for ya,” I sniped. And then just for fun,
“Is there a bike to go with those boots or are you one of those men?”
He stepped back as I stepped out and locked the door behind
me. No, I was not going to let him in, so sue me.
“Those men?” he asked. He looked handsomely confused and for
some reason that annoyed me more. How dare this stranger I did not want to go
out with anyway have the nerve to make me be attracted to him. For shame.
“The ones with the boots and the leather cuffs and—” I
snorted to show my derision, “the wallets on chains and no motorcycle to show
He smiled, laughing softly and put his hand on my lower back
to guide me down the wooded path from my townhouse to the parking lot. He might
as well have put a match to my skin. The pressure and electricity from his hand
on my body was like licking a light socket. Or so I imagined. I was having a hard
time concentrating with him touching me. Which simply pissed me off, if you
“I do have a bike. An Indian. Was my dad’s. I got it when he
I stalled out, verbally and physically. I turned to him,
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
“Thanks. Anyway, I do have a bike but I didn’t bring it
because some folks are pretty anti-bike and I didn’t want to start our date
with me asking to borrow your car because you’re afraid of motorcycles. I
figured if we hit it off…next time.”
I felt a blip of disappointment because deep down I truly
loved riding on a motorcycle. And riding on an Indian would be so kick-ass.
“Oh,” I said, having nothing mean to say about that. He hadn’t brought it to be
“Where are we going? I know it’s a party but whose party?”
When he stopped in front of a cobalt blue ’66 Mustang my
mouth went dry. He unlocked the door and opened it for me. “My friend
Patrick’s. New house. So it’s a housewarming slash Halloween hoedown. Are you
going to get in?” He waited patiently. A gentleman with a mane of lion-colored
hair, supernatural green eyes, pink kissable lips, a motorcycle, a classic
Mustang and a tight ass. Not that I had noticed.
“Is this yours?”
“God, I hope so or I might be going to jail.” Then he
shocked me by putting his hand on the crown of my head and guiding me gently
into the coupe. He shut the door and made his way around to the driver’s side.
“I’m gonna take a wild guess and say you’re a cop,” I said.
He turned those eyes on me and then white teeth flashed in
the purpling light of dusk. Something in my body warmed and okay, my panties
got a little wet. He was handsome in my doorway. Stunning in the close confines
of the Mustang.
“Was a cop. Now I own a bar.”
“Huge leap from cop to bar owner,” I said, tongue-in-cheek.
I knew a lot of cops thanks to an uncle who was high up on the police
department food chain. Most of the cops I knew called their favorite bar home,
or a close second.
Sean laughed and fired the engine. I’ll admit it, the sound
of that puppy starting up triggered a rolling thrill low in my belly. I
imagined what it would be like to be all tangled up with Sean Tierney in the
backseat. I caught him watching me.
“It’s rude to think dirty things about your blind date so
early in the evening,” he said and chuckled. The easy roll of his laughter made
me shiver. I tried to cover with a cough.
“Stuck up much? I was totally thinking about this cherry
ride of yours,” I lied. Good thing I was a good liar.
He narrowed those feline eyes at me and said, “I don’t buy
it. But I’m a gentleman. I’ll let it roll.”
Whew. That had been close.
He guided the majestic steel steed from the parking lot and
took a left on Torrington Way. “So you own a bar. What happened? Big scandal?
Huge blowup? Drug bust gone awry? Thievery? Did you shoot a man just to watch
him die?” I rambled. I was nervous. When had that happened? I had started the
night mildly annoyed with Clarice and now I was as nervous as all get out.
My panties rubbed my now tender clit and I shifted on the
smooth seat. I was nervous and turned on and locked in a sexy car with a pretty
“Wow…you don’t have a very high opinion of the boys in blue,
do you?” he said.
I had the good manners to blush. “Oh, well, I’m sorry. I’m
sure you’re…I was just…well, Sean, I was being an asshole, is what I was
being,” I blurted, my cheeks burning.
He put his hand on my leg and patted. “It’s okay. I was
joking.” Those fingers were so, so, so very close to my good parts I couldn’t
think for a moment.
I cleared my throat, wiggled in my seat, realized that was a
huge mistake because it only made my sudden and yes, somewhat inconvenient,
arousal that much worse. “So!” I practically screamed and we both jumped. “Why
did you go from being a copper to a bar owner?”
Maybe I needed to date more often. I was not dealing well
with my attraction to Mr. Tierney.
“It was a dream my dad and I shared. We talked about it and
talked about it and plotted it. One day he’d retire and one day I’d retire and
we’d open the bar and we’d put all the beer coasters we’d collected over years
and years and years under protective plastic to make the bar and then…”
“Your dad died,” I said.
“Yep. So I took a deal they were offering officers who
wanted to retire way early and there you go.”
“There you go,” I said, liking him even more. Crap. Why did
he have to be pretty and nice and have a fine car and a good heart? Damn him!
He parked in a cul-de-sac and led me to a front door. Red
door, number 213, and music literally shaking the windows. “So here we are,” he
“Yes. Let’s get down with our bad selves,” I murmured,
feeling even more spastic at that moment. What makes me more nervous than
liking a sexy guy? Walking into a party chock-full of folks who I don’t know,
who all know each other. It is my socially awkward woman version of hell on
He grinned and then he leaned in and kissed me. Right on the
mouth. I let him, too, parting my lips for his warm tongue to stroke over mine.
I shivered a little from the electricity of that kiss and when he pulled back
he said, “I know you’re lying. I know you were thinking dirty things about me.”
“I—” I shook my head. I wasn’t even going to finish that
sentence. Even I couldn’t lie about it anymore.
He grinned and pushed the front door open.
* * * * *
It was some dipshit named Ted who opened the box. Patrick,
the new owner of the old house, had led everyone down into the basement. It was
an old, old, old basement with a semi-dirt floor and low ceilings and hooks on
the walls, and let’s face it, it was pretty much an instant horror movie set,
just add fake blood and screaming bimbo. So Ted, who’d had his share of spirits
for the evening—the kind that live in a bottle—had taken a shine to me.
Something that I found horribly annoying and Sean found immensely amusing.
It was Ted who yelled, “Hey, Van, baby, look at this old
thing!” And snicked the lock back and pried the box wide.
Before it was actually open, someone said, “There’s symbols
carved all over it maybe you shouldn’t…”
Yeah, but see, just like in the movies, that never works. Someone
always has to open the bad box or the wardrobe or do the spell because they
think it’s all horseshit or fake.
So when Ted pried open the box we all waited and…nothing.
“Wow, that’s spiffy, Ted,” I said and Ted grinned. Ted had
apparently never heard of sarcasm.
But Sean laughed softly and put his hand on the small of my
back. I turned really fast and pressed against him and kissed him. I did it so
fast because I wanted to, but turned back so fast because then I could pretend
I hadn’t done it.
But Sean yanked me in when I tried to turn and put his hands
in my hair. It was sappy movie romantic and yes, it worked. I turned to girl
goo in his nice, buff arms and let him kiss me so hard my knees turned to jelly
and I gasped like some romance book heroine.
“Ted’s not the only one who’s enamored of you,” Sean said
against my cheek.
Then the big shadow came swooping up out of the box
and…well, it ate Ted. At least we were pretty sure it did.
Ever seen it happen? I have. Just at that moment, a whole
horde of drunken people made for the rickety stairs as if they could all mount
them at once. The steps were the old-fashioned wooden slat ones. Unfinished.
The creepy kind of steps, you know what I mean. The back of each step is open,
so you could totally imagine some cold, clammy hand reaching through there and
grabbing your ankle. And then it would drag you to your untimely death in the
smelly, dusty basement. Those kind of steps.
The third person who hit the middle of the staircase lived
that nightmare. A hand made of black smoke and pure intent snagged that girl—a
little blonde dressed as a cheerleader for our Halloween festivities—and
yanked. I watched her fight like hell, but she was pulled through the narrow
space of the stairs in no time at all. Not pretty. Trust me.
“Move,” Sean said in my ear and started the policeman
shuffle. He hustled me off to the left, to what appeared to be another door as
the swell and crush of bodies parted and folks started making their way for
other exits or offshoots of the basement.
He pushed me into a narrow nook that held the boiler. Thank
god it wasn’t cold enough for the boiler to be used yet, or it would have been
a tad toasty in there.
“Oh my holy shit, what the fuck was that?” I was babbling. I
thumbed my cell phone and the screen said
out of range…out of range
“Don’t know, but it looked like smoke. So—“ He was glancing
“So? So! So what? You can’t just say that and then leave me
hanging here, Sean. My cell won’t work!” I squeaked.
“Van!” he barked.
“Shut up and look for rags. Sheets. Carpets. Anything like
that. I don’t think any cells are working. Mine’s totally dead. Now move!”
“No need to be rude,” I grumbled, but did as I was told and
found a huge pile of shop rags in one corner. There was more screaming coming
from outside the door and I winced. I started shoving rags under the door crack
just as a black feeler of smoke snaked in. Sean shoved a rug over it and pushed
it into the crevice. Thankfully that one tendril snaked back out and was gone.
“You okay?” he asked, taking me by the upper arm.
“I’m having a stroke,” I said very calmly. My heart pounded
so hard I felt ill. My hands shook as I pulled the ends of my long dark hair to
try to focus myself. Yank, yank, yank. The sharp bites of pain kept me from
melting down but at this rate, I’d be bald before we were free.
He tilted my head back and studied my face. I feared flawed
makeup, tears, twitches…boogers. God, I feared boogers. “You’re not having a
stroke,” he said and leaned in to kiss me. I took that kiss like a drowning
woman takes a life raft. “You’re just scared, girl.”
“Stroke,” I muttered, but I pushed my hands into that unruly
surfer-boy hair and yanked so that he retaliated by biting my bottom lip.
“Nope. Just fear.” He pushed his hand into my jeans and I
let him. He shoved his warm fingers into my panties, and I moved forward to
help him. He buried his fingers inside me and I sighed. “See, fear. You’re so
“Heart attack, maybe?” I countered. His mouth tasted like
summer fruit and handsome man.
“Terror,” he said, flexing his fingers and finding my
G-spot. My body was one big nerve ending fueled by adrenaline. I nearly came
just from that pressure.
“This would be life-affirming sex,” I said. I rubbed my palm
along the front of his jeans, feeling his cock twitch under my pressure. So
hard and long and perfect. If we died
then…what a way to
go. We certainly couldn’t leave just yet. So…