Enjoy this sneak preview of Leopard Print Love:
Most of my personalities, all in one place.
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As Callie stood in yet another airport line, she closed her eyes and slowly counted to ten, again. As she mentally got to eight, she felt a sudden, sharp, stabbing pain as something drove itself into her shin.
"Ow! Fuck, that hurt! What the hell?"
Her very un-Zen-like exclamation made several heads turn to see who had violated the unspoken rule that passengers in line were to be as quiet and as cattle-like as possible, for the best travel experience for everyone.
It also got the guy who had elbowed past her with no regard for the rolling suitcase he rammed into her shin to throw a 'Sorry!' over his shoulder at her as he hurried on.
"Sorry? I'm bleeding, you ass!"
She shouted the words at his back, and watched as he hunched down into himself, trying to appear smaller as he hurried away from her and got lost in the crowd.
She looked around at the others in line with her in a huff, with a 'did you see that guy? The nerve!' look of offense on her face, but she found no one to commiserate with as everyone had already gone back to the blank-faced, empty-eyed expressions handed out to them at the security checkpoint.
She took a deep breath and started to dig for a Band-Aid or a napkin in her bag, as well as some Tylenol, as she was quite certain her aching shin was only going to feel worse before it felt better.
Hell, she thought, the bruise that is going to leave will look great peeking out from my bridesmaid's dress. Thankfully the dress is aqua, maybe a huge, bloody, soon-to-be baseball size, blue-green lump on my shin will blend right in.
As she yanked up the leg of her jeans and dabbed at her shin, she felt someone watching her. She turned her head, upside down, holding the absorptive side of a maxi-pad to her wound, as it was the only thing she could find to stop the bleeding. She found herself staring into a pair of big, brown eyes.
The little girl had to be about five years old, she was holding tight to a woman's hand and staring at Callie like she was waiting to see what loud, scary thing she'd do next.
"Shit," she mumbled under her breath. "Way to corrupt the next generation, Callie. Perfect."
She glanced up at the girl's mother with apologetic eyes but the mom was too busy shooting daggers at Callie as she stood bent over, dabbing her leg with a feminine product. She followed the woman's pointed stare and realized that to add insult to injury, her boobs were about to fall out of her top as she continued to hang practically upside down in line.
She lowered her ass and righted herself so that she was squatting beside the little girl instead of hanging upside down as she mentally discarded her idea to pull out the tape she'd bought as a gag gift to wrap the bride's present in, and wrap her leg with it instead.
No, she figured wrapping her leg with tape that had tiny little penises all over it to hold a menstrual pad she didn't even know why she had in her bag against her bleeding shin would probably tip this kid's mother over the edge.
Writing the woman off as a lost cause, Callie turned back to face the little girl instead.
"I'm sorry, sweetie. I should not have cussed at that man like that. That wasn't very nice, was it?"
The girl shook her head no, not speaking.
"He hurt me, and I got angry, but that's no excuse. Bad words don't solve anything, and I'm sorry you had to hear that. Ok?"
The girl nodded her head yes, and smiled at Callie.
Callie smiled back, glad that at least one minor issue today could be so easily repaired. She started to ask the girl her name, but the girl spoke first, grinning wide now at having made a new friend.
"My daddy says something like that, too. Only he says 'Yes dear, I know that whiskey doesn't solve anything, but neither does Valium.'"
Callie blinked at her. The tone she used clearly showed that she was imitating something she'd heard quite often, and the way the girl's mother flamed bright red when she mispronounced 'Valium' told her that she was probably wishing she had one of those pills right about now. Hell, maybe she did.
Callie just nodded sagely and said, "Your daddy is so right."
Callie stood up as her line finally moved some. She gathered her own rolling suitcase, smiled at the girl's embarrassed mom, winked at her to add to the fire, and said, "You two have a great day."
Finally it was her turn at the counter and she gave the frazzled customer service agent a friendly smile. The encounter with the little girl had taken away all of the pain from not only being run over with the deadly suitcase, but also all of the other shitty things that had brought her to this point in her day.
Starting with a wake-up call at the hotel that came an hour late, and ending with missing her connecting flight and having to lay over here now, three other rigged connecting flights later, waiting to finally board the very last leg of a long and exhausting journey, was a lot for one little girl's out-of-the-mouths-of-babes comments to cure, but cure it is exactly what she had done.
Callie was ready to let it all go, get on her last plane, and finally get to the tropical island where her best friend was getting married in a few days.
She'd pushed the departure date of her open ticket off as long as she could, as her stomach had been way too queasy lately to fly. Thankfully she thought she was finally over all the puking her little virus had put her through and she was past ready join everyone for the rest of the week leading up to the wedding day.
Her best friend Karen, Karen's whole family, her fiancé's whole family, and a bunch of their friends had already been at the island resort for a week now, setting things up and enjoying the sun, and Callie was beyond ready to join them for the second week of the two weeks Karen had booked.
Some sun, some swimming and some hot sex with a nameless island local or two was just what the doctor ordered, and the only thing standing between her and all that was the tired-looking lady behind the counter.
"May I help you?"
Her nametag said 'Leilani,' but her face just said 'exhausted.'
"You look like it would be better if I helped you. If I sneak you a potent drink from one of these airport bars you could pour it into your travel mug there, what do you say? I've recently heard that whisky doesn't solve anything, but I know for a fact that that's bullshit."
Leilani actually looked up from her computer screen at Callie like she was a real person and not a seat number to be handled as gently, and as quickly, as possible.
"If I thought for a second we could get away with that..." she teased.
"Take a quick break and meet me in the bathroom away from all the cameras. We can totally pull this off."
"Thank you, but I can't. I appreciate the offer though. What can I do for you?"
Callie handed her a tattered ticket that had been through as much today as she herself had, and said, "I was told to come here to board my final leg, but your screen says you are boarding for the mainland. I'm trying to get to this island."
She pointed at the word on her ticket, not trusting herself to pronounce the island's name in anything close to a correct fashion.
Karen had booked the most remote, most tropical island she could find that still had some sort of a resort on it, but no matter how often Karen had said it out loud, Callie still couldn't get her tongue to say all those vowels at the same time.
"You are in the right place. The company that flies there uses our gate, but they actually board over there."
Leilani pointed to a door a bit away from where everyone in her line was going. The gate going to the mainland had one of those expanding tunnels that you walked through to get from the gate to the plane, but through the window where Leilani pointed out she only saw a set of metal stairs going down to the tarmac on the other side of the small door.
The wall by that door had a small sign on it that said Sunset Tours, and below the sign were four ugly, green chairs made from what looked to Callie to be molded plastic and despair.
"There? My flight boards there? That looks like a time-out corner for unruly children."
"Wow, it does, doesn't it? I've never noticed that before. Probably because the pilot that usually stands there when it's time to board makes that corner look like a great place to be pressed up against that wall to make unruly children."
"Oh, yeah," she nodded knowingly. Leilani's eyes had already glazed over just thinking about it. "Whiskey may or may not solve anything, but that guy? He could solve my problems all day long."
Callie eyed the corner differently now, saying, "Hmm, I've got a few problems of my own that are way beyond solving, but forgetting them for a while by looking at a sexy pilot will work in a pinch. Ok, then. I'll take a seat over there and wait. But if you decide you'd like a little something added to your travel mug after all, you just let me know."
"Will do. Enjoy your flight, and your pilot," she said with a grin.
Callie settled into the curved plastic chair as best she could, pulling her suitcase close in front of her and leaning her elbows on the top of it.
They'd offered at least a dozen times today to check her suitcase for her, so she wouldn't have to keep lugging it around, but she'd declined every time. Checked baggage gets lost. Hell, they barely seemed to be able to get her to her destination in one piece, and she bribed agents with liquor. She just knew that if she'd checked her bag it would have been lost by now in all her flight changes, or it would be sitting at her destination already, mocking her, but either way, trusting airlines to not lose everything she needed to be a bridesmaid in this wedding was not something she was willing to do.
So she leaned on it instead, tired and ready to be done with the day, as she watched people from her sad, time-out corner.
She watched as one tall guy in a suit hush-hushed his wife as she was trying to deal with a ticket agent. The wife finally stopped even trying, her mouth pinching closed and her jaw tightening as she let him assert his rights as a man to take over.
Hmmph, she thought. What an asshole.
She saw another couple, sitting in the chairs and waiting to board. They never said a word to each other the whole time, both lost in their phones.
She watched a woman with a newborn baby for a long while. Everything the woman did was for the child. She rocked it, singing softly, trying to keep any sounds it made from disturbing others. The woman gazed on its pinched pink face with adoration and weariness, making Callie wonder where its daddy was.
He probably dumped her when he found out she was pregnant, she thought, not seeing a ring in any of the woman's readjustments. Figures. Men are assholes, you can't rely on a single one of 'em. You love em and leave 'em, if you're smart. Use them before they use you. Guess you learned that one the hard way, huh lady?
The sharp, metallic clang of the door beside her made her jump. Her eyes noticed the plane through the window first.
Please, please, oh please, tell me that's not my plane. It's tiny! And old. The way my day is going- there is no way I'm getting on that thing. Nope, nope, nope. That thing is made for drug running under the radar, not for delivering people to island weddings. It will never make it. I'll be shark food in the middle of nowhere when that thing falls out of the sky!
Panicked, she looked toward the door which had startled her so badly when it clanged shut, and she saw him staring down at her.
Yep, I could totally make unruly children with you, right here, right now. Dude, you can take me right up against that wall, in front of God and everybody, just like Leilani said. Shoot, she could even join in if that's what floats your boat, but I'll be damned if I'll get on that plane with you, cause that would be crazy.
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When a wolf shifter with commitment issues teams up with a runaway bride to find her a new groom- the claws come out and the fur flies!
USA Today Bestselling Author J.M. Klaire sucks at writing bad boys. She knows it. She embraces it. Instead she writes about shifters who kiss hard and love deep. Shifters who aren't alpha-holes, but who will lay down their lives for their woman, if needed. Wolf shifters. Bear shifters. Even lion and dragon shifters.
Her stories are hot, steamy, funny, mostly light-hearted M/F romances with an occasional M/F/M menage romance thrown in there. J.M. Klaire loves shifters, and she loves to share her sexy stories with you.