Spotlight & Excerpt: Dusk & Dawn Series + Giveaway

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The Hunter’s Bride
Dusk & Dawn Book 1
by Alexa Piper
Genre: M/F & M/M Paranormal Romance, Mystery, RomCom

 

Falling in love with your boss is never easy, especially if he’s a vampire.
 
Maxim, tall, whimsical, and a vampire, wants to hire a curator for his art collection. Robyn, a newly minted art historian looking for a job, loves fine art and old stuff, and Maxim soon realizes she is not just perfect for the job, but also for him.
 
Robyn never liked prejudices against vampires, werewolves, or Fae, but the moment she starts working for a vampire, things appear less black and white, especially when she begins to fall for her new boss.
 
Robyn and Maxim’s young love will have to overcome odds and odd vampires who take issue with the fact that Maxim happens to be a vampire hunter who doesn’t shy away from decapitating his own kind.
 
 
excerpt

Brian seemed to be slipping. He’d called up to tell Maxim of the interviewee’s arrival only about twenty seconds before the elevator had dinged, which barely gave Maxim the time to refresh his memory in regard to her name.

Heath had left a file on his desk titled Interviews, and Maxim had complained at the sheer lack of imagination that was obvious in that title. Heath had used magic marker to write it, though, and Maxim had wondered, out loud, if Heath had missed the developmental stage crayons were clearly meant for. Upon which Heath had broken into verbiage that came odorously dripping from the verbiage gutter. Heath had informed him that he, Maxim, best not pull any of this bodily refuse with the artsy people. They were, after all, artsy people and not likely to enjoy such shenanigans, at least if Heath’s soliloquy was to be believed. It was a shame the creativity he had displayed in his colorful speech had not translated into the simplistic title of the file that had sparked it.

“Robyn with a y,” Maxim mumbled to himself as he walked toward the elevators. “Y, y, y… Why would whiskey-vending witches want vigor with their witchy wits?” He pushed a strand of his hair back behind his shoulder and put on a smile. He could smell the interviewee even before he saw her, some perfume he didn’t know, light and floral, forgettable as Valentine’s Days spent alone. The scent underneath that was sunshine-warmed skin, a slight note of crushed cardamom pods. A shame to hide that with such perfume.

When Maxim laid eyes on the interviewee, he could feel his pupils spill black, and he immediately understood why Brian had taken so long to pick up the phone. Robyn with a y Somerton was gorgeous, though very much on the skinny side, always something that made Maxim’s memories of hunger float back to the surface of his mind, no matter how long ago that had been. Her hair was dark and wonderful, lush ebony, and her gray eyes and pale skin made her deep purple dress look even better on her. But damn it, he had promised Heath.

“Miss Somerton, thanks for coming in for the interview. My name is Maxim Vallois. I believe you talked to my assistant over the phone?” Now, there’s some perfect manners for you right there, Heath. If only that dhampire brat were here to see it.

The shock on her face at seeing Maxim and realizing what he was would have been amusing, should have been amusing, but for the first time in decades, Maxim felt futile fury at the reaction rise inside of him. She did go a shade paler, though, which was pretty.

“Y-yes. About the curator position?” she said, catching herself rather quickly and reining her expression back into normal. Maxim liked her voice. It was calm, not shrill. Heath sometimes brought home shrill, and that was usually headache inducing, rhetorically speaking. Maxim did not actually get headaches.

“Certainly. Please, come in.” Part of him wondered whether she would run. She was wearing terrible heels for that, and because he cared and paid attention, Maxim was pretty sure she was already headed for at least one blister on her left heel. Maxim had never understood heels, nor foot binding. He had understood what it said about having power over women, but he’d loathed that, loathed that society made it necessary for women to give that power.

Not the time to wax philosophical, Maxim reminded himself. Heath, if he were here and not away doing something that had to do with banks and money, would have been seething in the acid of his own glaring stares already. Stares glare glistening staffs of seeping solace. Not my best one, Maxim thought.

Robyn with a y came forward. Clearly she had decided running would be stupid. Mmh, Heath. Did you get me a final girl? Maxim filed that as a nice line for later. When he would tell Heath he wanted Robyn with a y. He wasn’t even sure why. It sure as bodily refuse wasn’t the cheap perfume, and it wasn’t the mildly scrawny look that Maxim found mildly headache inducing. Perhaps it was that stare of not quite fear but close enough to fear. Or lust at first sight?

Who knows. Whatever the why, Maxim wanted her.

Of course Maxim couldn’t just spring this on Y Robyn. It would sound as if he were planning to make her a plaything, something Maxim knew good and well vampires did. He could go off on a whole other tangent about that nasty habit.

He had to at least give Y Robyn the impression she had won the job, and of course he needed to be able to tell Heath as well, so he led her to the cluttered table he had lovingly prepared for the magic marker interview.

“I’m sorry I’m late,” Y Robyn said when he shook her hand. “You know how fickle the subway can be.”

“I don’t, actually. But it’s no trouble. This way.” He made a mental note of checking out the subway. It might be fun, ethnologically speaking.

When Y Robyn saw his table, she summed it up wonderfully concisely. “Wow,” she said, and Maxim glanced at her saucer wide eyes and at the appealing slackness of her drooping jaw.

 

The Hunting Party
Dusk & Dawn Book 2

 

Getting married isn’t easy, and a series of creative murders doesn’t help.
 
Maxim would love nothing more than to marry the woman he loves, in peace and without distractions, but a series of uncanny murders in the hunter’s city demands his attention.
 
Meanwhile, Heath is excited to plan Maxim’s and Robyn’s wedding. While he does that, he will have to learn to make time for his own budding relationship with Brian.
 
When Robyn’s bachelorette party ends in more murder, no one is happy. Yet all are willing to combine their efforts to end the bloodshed for good, so the wedding can be had, along with a happily-ever-after.
 
 

 

The Hunting Mates
Dusk & Dawn Book 3

 

Gordon and Orrin, vampire and wolf… Is their love impossible, or inevitable?
 
In New Amsterdam, supernaturals and humans live side by side. That doesn’t mean there are no borders or boundaries within supernatural society. Orrin works to save the living as an NA police detective, and Gordon labors to do right by the dead as a medical examiner. Fear and insecurity foiled their first attempt at a potential relationship. Now, they find themselves pulled to one another once more by a string of gruesome murders.
 
Prejudice and social conventions don’t make life easy for them, and their own insecurities don’t help. Will they dare to allow love between them while they work side by side to stop a violent murderer?
WARNING: This book contains mentions of violence/assault against minors and animal cruelty though neither are graphically portrayed.
 
 

 

The Hunter’s Mummy
Dusk & Dawn Book 4

 

Even vampire hunters should be allowed a break, but murder makes the French countryside less scenic.
 
Ravelle is looking forward to being back in France. All she wants is to have wine with her daughter-in-law, catch up with an old vampire acquaintance, and get closer to Yanis, who is a breath of fresh air to Ravelle. She is not looking forward to working, and a seasoned vampire hunter like Ravelle should be granted a simple, quiet vacation.
 
Yet the hunter soon smells murder on the air, and where there’s murder, there is a corpse, and where there’s a tenderly wrapped corpse, there tends to be a crime, in Ravelle’s experience. So rather than pursuing wine, Ravelle will have to solve all the mummy’s mysteries.
 
 
 

 

The Detective’s Mate
Dusk & Dawn Book 5

 

Werewolf Orrin and vampire Gordon want to enjoy their love, but a serial killer threatens the peace.
 
Orrin and Gordon come from different worlds: Orrin is a werewolf with the New Amsterdam Police, and Gordon is a vampire who likes the quiet of his morgue. Yet, they decided to be with one another even though Orrin’s vampire was at first afraid to commit.
 
Now, new complications come barreling at the two when Orrin realizes he will have to step up to become a parent to an orphan shifter, while New Amsterdam has become the haunt of a serial killer who targets mixed supernatural and human couples.
 
Gordon was slow to realize he loves his werewolf mate, but it takes him even longer to figure out he still has his own demons to deal with. A past hurt has left a scar on his soul. Gordon’s werewolf detective might just be what Gordon needs to heal the scars from his past. The only question is whether geeky Gordon is enough for serious and seriously handsome Orrin.
 
Together with Maxim, New Amsterdam’s bardic vampire hunter, Orrin and Gordon are on the case to save the city from sinking into fear and panic as more murders challenge the peace. Through turmoil and death, Orrin and Gordon must find a way forward.
 
NOTE: This book contains scenes of assault and kidnapping that may be triggers for some readers.
 

 

Alexa Piper writes steamy romance that ranges from light to dark, from straight to queer. She’s also a coffee addict. Alexa loves writing stories that make her readers laugh and fall in love with the characters in them. Connect with Alexa on Facebook or Instagram, follow her on Twitter, and subscribe to her newsletter!

 

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

$10 Amazon gift card,
ebook of A Taste of Magic (Fairview Chronicles #1)
ebook of The Hunter’s Bride (Dusk & Dawn #1)
ebook of Holiday Magic (Elvenswood Tales #1)
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Spotlight: Chaos Rising + Giveaway

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Chaos Rising
by Lyra Wold
Series: Nine World Chronicles (#2)
Published: April 9, 2021
Genre: Mythic Fantasy, High Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 314 (Print Length)
CW: Mild gore, PTSD
Possible Ultimate Tour Experience tickets: Represent, Elves and Dwarves and Orcs, Oh My! It’s All About the Journey, That Ship Has Sailed, Snark It Up, Love Actually, The More the Merrier, A Villain You Love to Hate, I’m Not Crying You Are Crying, Storyteller in the House, Valhalla Awaits, Bring On the Magic, Simply Mythical, A Gate to Another World

Let’s start Ragnarok, they said. It’ll be fun, they said.

Nothing pisses off a trickster god more than being imprisoned for five hundred years and not being able to annoy Thor. There are other reasons, secrets, and promises behind Loki’s rage, but that’s for Loki to know and the gods to find out—preferably painfully.

When the chance to start Ragnarok presents itself, Loki feels the apocalypse is as good a way as any to burn Asgard to the ground. And, it is, until the gods reveal their own teensy, tiny little surprise for Loki.

Suddenly, Loki has every reason in the worlds to stop them from ending. But this is Ragnarok, and one does not simply stop the apocalypse.

Chaos is all well and good, so long as Loki is in charge of it. Except chaos isn’t about to start taking orders from anyone, not even the god of pot-stirring himself, and it has a universe to destroy…

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Author Info

lyra-wolfLyra Wolf is an author caught between worlds. Ours, and those of the characters that won’t stop pestering her.

A lover of travel, Lyra has lived all over, from the cornfields of the Midwest, to the rugged mountains of Switzerland. Now, she calls the swamps of Central Florida, where “The Mouse” rules as supreme overlord, her home.

When Lyra isn’t at a theme park, listening to classic rock, or otherwise procrastinating, she writes about fantastical places and the complicated people who live there.

Lyra has earned a B.A. in History and M.A. in English.

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Book Blitz & Excerpt: Artifacts + Giveaway

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Artifacts by Bailey Bradford

Book 1 in the Intrinsic series

Word Count: 54,742
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 215

Genres:

CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
GAY
GLBTQI
THRILLERS AND SUSPENSE

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Book Description

Aldric Beamer thought working in an antique shop would be safe and boring. He never expected to find his life—or his heart—in danger…

Being the low man on the totem pole is nothing new for Aldric Beamer. The youngest of three siblings, he was always the afterthought in his family, but Aldric’s trying hard not to let the little confidence he has sink any lower.

Aldric loves the job he managed to land at Intrinsic Value, so much so that he often works off the clock—or maybe he doesn’t want to go home to his empty apartment. Just as he’s slowly learning to trust his boss and co-workers, he’s attacked outside the store, and all the security he thought he had vanishes with the force of a blow to the head.

San Antonio cop Darrell Williams takes one look at the beautiful, bruised man he finds in a dingy alley behind an antiques store, and something in his heart melts. This weakness scares him, making Darrell gruff and indifferent when he should have been—and longs to be—compassionate and caring.

Aldric’s no pushover, though. He’s had enough of being ignored and treated like he doesn’t matter as much as everyone else. And he’ll make damn sure Patrol Officer Williams doesn’t dismiss him in any way…

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence and assault. There are expressions of homophobia by several characters, mentions of non-nurturing parenting, references to addiction and a scene of attempted abduction.

Excerpt

The Help Wanted sign in the window stopped Aldric in his tracks. He’d been walking along San Antonio’s Pearl District, somewhat lost in his thoughts and worries, so why he noticed the sign, he couldn’t have said.

Maybe because it stood out in the day of internet-everything. All the job boards that he’d scanned and the applications for employment that he’d sent in had been online. That was just how it was done nowadays…except not at the business he’d stopped in front of.

Aldric stared at the sign for a solid minute while trying to calculate his chances of being hired if he went in and applied before going home and changing. Not that he had any fancier clothes. Jeans, T-shirts and one button-up were all that was in his wardrobe.

What are the chances someone else will apply and get hired by the time I go home, shower, shave, change and come back?

Whatever the odds were, his empty stomach didn’t want to risk them. Blinking away his musings, Aldric pushed his glasses farther up his nose, then caught himself screwing up his face to re-settle them exactly where they’d been. He attempted to smooth down his hair—being thick, it tended to tousle, even though it wasn’t long—and reached for the door handle, which was when he saw the name of the place that was hiring.

Intrinsic Value Antique Shop. At least shop wasn’t spelled all funky. It was a silly pet peeve he had, people adding extra letters onto words to make spellings like shoppe rather than shop. An antique store might have a better reason than most businesses or services to use an old spelling of the word, and he had no reason to be judgmental of anything—something he needed to keep in mind.

Even though he knew nothing about antiques, Aldric opened the door and stepped inside to the tinkling of chimes. He glanced down at the door handle inside and saw strings of silver and copper bells dangling from it.

“Good afternoon. May I help you?”

Aldric pivoted so quickly that he almost tripped over his own feet—nothing unusual for him. Heat rushed to his face, and he gulped as he spotted the older man standing with one hand on an ancient-looking cash register. “Er, yes, I, um, I—” Aldric took a deep breath and exhaled to the count of ten. If he didn’t get himself calmed down, he’d stumble over his words as well as his feet, as he tended to do when he was flustered.

“My name is Elliot Douglas. I’m the owner of Intrinsic Value. Please call me Elliot.” Elliot came around the counter and stopped in front of Aldric.

“Aldric Beamer.” Aldric offered his right hand to shake. “Nice to meet you, Elliot.” His mouth was dry, and a tickle started up in his throat.

“Nice to meet you, too.” Elliot pumped his hand one more time, then let go. “Are you here about the job? I noticed you standing outside and thought you might be considering it.”

Aldric covered his mouth and turned his head before he coughed. He lowered his hand and faced Elliot again. “Sorry, the mountain cedar is kicking my allergies into high gear. Yes, sir, I’m here about the job. Surprised me to see an actual sign in the window. Everything’s done online, it seems. I’ve been told to go home and apply online so often, I’ve quit thinking about actual signs.”

“Ah yes, the internet is an amazing tool for many things, but I prefer to meet people in person first, rather than online.” Elliot smiled, and Aldric realized the older, taller man, with his tawny-brown eyes and thick mane of slightly long, wavy light-brown hair that was just starting to silver, was quite handsome.

“Why don’t you come back this way and tell me what makes you think you’ll be a good fit at Intrinsic Value?” Elliot gestured in the direction of the cash register. “I was cleaning off my baby and would like to finish as we talk.”

“Yes, sir.” Aldric coughed again and wanted to melt into the floorboards.

“Would you like some cold water or hot tea?” Elliot offered. “I have both available.”

Aldric wasn’t sure about hot tea. He’d only ever had Texas tea—cold, with lots of sugar and ice in it. But maybe tea was a thing with Elliot. “Er, tea, please?”

Elliot glanced back at him. “You sound uncertain. Have you tried hot tea before?”

Lying wasn’t something Aldric did if he could help it. “I haven’t, but I thought a warm drink might help with my scratchy throat.”

“That it might. I have a few different kinds, but how about you try the chamomile? It’s good for all sorts of ailments.” Elliot stopped by an elegant-legged wooden table that had a silver tea kettle and several mismatched cups and saucers sitting on it.

A white ceramic dish held glass jars of tea and cubes of sugar, and a clear container was filled with what appeared to be honey. Delicate silver spoons were laid out as well. Aldric tucked his hands into the front pockets of his jeans. Everything on that table looked delicate, not only the spoons, and he was afraid to touch anything.

Which had to mean he shouldn’t apply for the job.

“Aldric?” Elliot arched one thick eyebrow. “Is chamomile okay?”

Realizing he’d more than likely made sure he wouldn’t get hired, because Elliot had to think he was on the dense side, Aldric shook his head. “It’s okay, thank you. I’ll just—” He started to take a step back.

“Just what?” Elliot asked, scooping tea from a jar before he put it into a little oval-shaped strainer. “Are you not interested in the job after all?”

Aldric bit his bottom lip and pondered whether he should stay or not. For one thing, he’d already made some kind of impression, good or bad. For another, Elliot hadn’t run him off. That has to mean I still have a chance, right? Until I tell him I know nothing about what this shop sells. Damn it.

“I’m interested, but I don’t have any experience with antiques,” Aldric rushed out, watching Elliot pour hot water over the strainer holding the tea. Elliot had put a lid on it so the tea leaves didn’t flow out.

Aldric took a step closer, unable to resist getting a better look at what Elliot was doing. He took off his round-framed glasses, polished them and shoved them back on.

“The tea needs to steep for a few minutes,” Elliot explained. “The infuser keeps most of the bits of tea leaves from escaping, but you still might have a few pieces in your cup. Those will usually settle at the bottom.”

“That’s the infuser?” Aldric asked when Elliot nudged the strainer holding the tea.

Elliot smiled at him. “Yes, it is. Do you like honey?”

“I—” Aldric’s stomach picked that moment to let out a rumbling growl. He dropped his gaze and pressed a fist to his belly. “Sorry. Skipped breakfast.”

“Well, that won’t do. It’s almost time for dinner. I’ll order us something to eat, then you and I will sit down for a proper interview—if you’re interested in the job?” Elliot picked up the jar of honey.

“Oh, I…I am, I just thought I’d blown any chance I had at it.” Aldric ducked his head and stared at the worn toes of his tennis shoes. “I don’t have any experience for it. I’ve only worked at fast-food places. I don’t know anything about antiques. I didn’t even know what that thing—the infuser—was.” His ignorance was embarrassing, and he hated that he didn’t know more.

“So,” Elliot drawled, one corner of his mouth curving up. “No experience at all? That would mean I’d have a clean slate in you, if I were to hire you. Wouldn’t have to rid you of bad habits and misinformation.”

Aldric was almost too afraid to believe he might have a chance of keeping his shitty apartment and not going hungry for much longer, after all. “Are you serious?”

“Utterly. Here, let me fix your tea, then I’ll order something from the restaurant across the street. It has a little of everything. I have a menu for it behind the counter. This won’t take a moment…” Elliot took the infuser out, then added honey to the tea.

“Thank you.” Aldric should have refused the offer of a meal, but the truth was, he was too hungry to let pride cost him sustenance. He took the warm cup of tea from Elliot and inhaled the fragrant steam rising from it. “Oh! This smells good.”

Elliot smiled at him, a delighted expression, if Aldric wasn’t reading him wrong. “I hope you’ll like the way it tastes as well. Let me grab that menu, then you can peruse it with me.”

“Okay, thanks.” Aldric took a sip of the tea. It was hotter on his tongue than he’d expected, and he winced as he swallowed. He was glad Elliot hadn’t seen him do that. The next sip he took was slower. The taste was as pleasant as the smell of the tea, the honey sweet but not overpowering.

“Here we go. I haven’t had anything bad from here yet, but then again, I always order the same thing. I’m a creature of habit in many ways.” Elliot’s smile had turned rueful.

“What do you get?” Aldric asked before taking another drink. He could get addicted to hot tea.

“Nothing adventurous, just the grilled salmon with steamed vegetables and mashed sweet potatoes.” Elliot handed him the menu. “I think the burgers should be good, though. Whenever I’m in the restaurant and see and smell them, they remind me very much of the ones my brother used to love.”

“Younger or older brother?” Aldric flipped the paper menu open to scan the selections.

Elliot froze for a second, as though something were wrong. Before Aldric could ask him if he was okay, Elliot drew in a breath, then touched his temples, where he had a few strands of gray. “Younger. Chris is thirty-two, Natty is thirty-four and I’m the old man at forty-something. Do you have any siblings?”

Aldric decided he’d get the bacon burger and sweet potato fries. He’d never had the latter before. “I have two, like you. Twins. They’re almost twenty years older than me.”

Elliot’s eyes widened. “That’s two whole decades!”

“Yeah. I was a surprise,” Aldric muttered. That was a nicer description than his family had called him at times. “Gregory and Simon are forty. I’m twenty-one.” He hoped Elliot wouldn’t ask any more questions about them, or Aldric’s family, period. Hoping to avert such possibilities, Aldric tapped the menu. “Can I get this? The bacon-mushroom burger?”

“Of course, of course.” Elliot moved back behind the counter and picked up something black. He stuck one finger in a silver ring that had smaller holes in it, and it took Aldric a moment to realize Elliot was using some kind of old phone.

Aldric had vague memories of his parents having a landline, but by the time he’d been old enough to care about it, they’d had cell phones. Even so, none of the phones Aldric had ever seen had looked like the one Elliot was now speaking into.

Elliot grinned as if he knew what Aldric was thinking, making Aldric look away and take another drink of his tea. When Elliot had looked at him then, it had occurred to Aldric that his potential boss was not only quite handsome, but very attractive. He’s about the same age as my brothers, so gross. Aldric needed a job more than he needed to get laid, and he’d never been attracted to older men, either—and he wasn’t about to start down that road now.

Not that Elliot would be interested in someone like him. Even though he’d only spent fifteen minutes in Elliot’s presence, Aldric could already tell that the guy was much classier than he’d ever be. There was also the very real possibility that Elliot wasn’t gay, despite the vibes Aldric was reading. Well, it didn’t matter one way or another.

Elliot hung up and tapped the black phone. “It’s an ancient rotary phone. My grandparents and parents had these, way back when, although we’d upgraded to a push-button phone by the time I started school. Want to see how it works?”

Aldric was itching to do just that. “Yeah, I mean, yes, I’d like that.”

The lesson taught him more than how to dial out on the phone—it taught him that Elliot was a patient and kind man. He encouraged and answered any questions Aldric had, which was freeing in a way that Aldric hadn’t experienced before. The old saying about children being seen but not heard had been a rule in his parents’ home.

“You have an inquisitive nature and a good brain.” Elliot propped a hip against the counter. “I think you’ll do well here.”

Aldric blinked in surprise. He was glad he’d set the teacup down, or else he might have dropped it, considering how much his hands trembled. “I have the job?”

Elliot nodded. “You do.”

“But…what about references and work history?” Aldric regretted asking as soon as the words were spoken.

“I like to believe I have excellent judgment when it comes to people,” Elliot said. “Am I wrong in regard to you?”

Aldric shook his head. “No. It’s just, I don’t know anything about antiques, or what I’ll be doing.”

“You can learn. Someone gave me a chance a few years ago and made this”—Elliot swept a hand toward the antiques in the shop—“possible. I’m still learning, one might say. That’s one reason I keep alphabetized cards on every item in the store, as well as those in the back. If someone asks about, say, this…” Elliot walked over to the second row of shelves and pointed to a silver tray. “What does it look like to you?”

Sweat broke out on Aldric’s brow. He knew what the object looked like to him, and it seemed obvious—was Elliot trying to trick him? No, Elliot had been nothing but kind to him. Aldric couldn’t let his own insecurity get the better of him now. “A-a silver tray?”

Elliot’s smile could have lit up the room. “Yes! So you’d just open the gold-leafed book under the register—go ahead and find it. Open it and look up ‘silver tray’.”

Aldric did as directed and was delighted to discover that most of the cards also had a small image of the item on the right corner. “It’s an eighteenth-century silver salver.” He read off the rest of the information, relief coursing through him even as he stumbled over some of the words. He could do this job.

“You won’t be alone in the store often, not at first,” Elliot said. “I’ll be out on the floor with you or, once you’ve been here for a while, in my office. Sometimes I’m away for a day or so, for instance at a fair or auction, or I might have to leave the city, to procure or sell an antique or attend an event, but I close the shop then.”

Aldric’s excitement fizzled out. “Oh. How…how long would you be gone? How often does that happen?” He’d lose out on work, and if he couldn’t support himself—

“I’d have you come in and work in the back while I’m gone. There will always be plenty of cleaning that can be done. I’ll show you how to polish silver and clean antiques—the ones that should be cleaned,” Elliot added before the door opened, and a young woman carrying a box entered. “Meredith! You are an angel of mercy.”

Meredith shook her head, making her brown hair ruffle over her shoulders, and chuckled. “Hardly. I’m just the delivery chick from across the street. Who’s this?”

“Aldric Beamer, my new employee,” Elliot answered, glancing at Aldric. “Right?”

“He’s not sure?” Meredith asked before Aldric could answer. She winked at him. “You should work for Mr. Douglas. He’s cool, and I bet he pays well, judging by the tips he gives me.”

Aldric hadn’t even thought to ask what his wages would be. The whole job-thing had happened so fast it felt like a dream.

“We haven’t discussed his pay.” Elliot took out his wallet and removed several bills from it. “But, of course, I believe in paying a livable wage.”

Aldric knew first-hand that minimum wage wasn’t a livable wage. He’d worked just under full-time and had often skipped meals to make rent. More than once, his electricity had been cut off. No fast-food joint he’d worked at had wanted to employ him full-time—that would have meant offering him health insurance. Then things had taken a turn for the worse and he’d found himself unemployed and hovering at the edge of homelessness.

“Aldric?”

Aldric lifted his glasses with one hand and rubbed a knuckle of the other into his eye. “Sorry. I sort of drifted off. I promise I won’t do that while I’m on the clock.”

Elliot held out a box and a drink. “I have utter faith in your ability to work well. Here, take this and head to the back. Second door on the left is my office. We’ll dine in there.”

“Fancy,” Meredith said, her brown eyes alive with humor. “Nice meeting you, Aldric.”

“Nice meeting you, too,” he replied, his face heating because he’d mentally checked out in front of her and Elliot.

He found Elliot’s office and was almost afraid to sit down in the plush leather chairs. The whole room looked like something out of an old-time movie, with its shiny wood surfaces, smooth leather seats and framed black-and-white photos from decades ago on the walls.

“Have a seat. Well, scoot closer to the desk if you want to use it for a table.” Elliot came around to the other side of his desk and sat, placing his own food on it. “There’s a coaster for your drink in the wood tray to your left.”

Aldric found the coaster and set his drink and boxed meal down before moving one of the leather chairs closer. “This is a very nice office. Is everything in it antique?”

Elliot began removing his food from the box it had come in. “Yes, except the pens and paper. Although I do have a quill pen!” He pointed at a long white feather. “It’s not quite an antique, but I like it.”

Aldric took a bite of his burger, and his stomach gave a happy rumble. “This is good,” he muttered after he’d swallowed.

Elliot grinned. “I’m glad you like it. My salmon smells amazing, as always. Before I start in on it, though, I want to cover salary, hours and health insurance.”

Aldric almost choked on the sweet potato fry he’d just bitten into. “Health insurance?” No. His ears were playing tricks on him.

But they weren’t. Elliot explained how he’d make sure Aldric was covered, without a waiting period. Aldric would have a full forty hours a week, would be paid at time and a half for any hours over that, and while he wouldn’t get rich working at Intrinsic Value, he’d earn that much-longed-for livable wage. It seemed too good to be true, and Aldric quickly and gratefully accepted everything he was offered, hoping that nothing happened to make this dream-come-true come crashing down around him.

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About the Author

Bailey Bradford

A native Texan, Bailey spends her days spinning stories around in her head, which has contributed to more than one incident of tripping over her own feet. Evenings are reserved for pounding away at the keyboard, as are early morning hours. Sleep? Doesn’t happen much. Writing is too much fun, and there are too many characters bouncing about, tapping on Bailey’s brain demanding to be let out.

Caffeine and chocolate are permanent fixtures in Bailey’s office and are never far from hand at any given time. Removing either of those necessities from Bailey’s presence can result in what is known as A Very, Very Scary Bailey and is not advised under any circumstances.

You can follow Bailey Bradford on Twitter and Facebook.

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BAILEY BRADFORD IS GIVING AWAY THIS FABULOUS PRIZE TO ONE LUCKY WINNER. ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A LOVELY GIFT PACKAGE AND GET A FREE EBOOK FROM THE AUTHOR! Notice: This competition ends on 27TH April 2021 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.