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Heart's Cove Hotties Book 8: Dirty Little Midlife Drama

Heart's Cove Hotties Book 8: Dirty Little Midlife Drama

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Second chances and sizzling heat. Dirty Little Midlife Drama is small town romance at its best.

Recent divorcée Georgia doesn’t want to be anywhere near her high school sweetheart. Especially not in her new town, where she’s supposed to be enjoying her fresh start.

But there he is: Tall, broad-shouldered, wearing faded jeans and a Texas tan.
When Sebastian kisses her, she has a very natural reaction: pure, blind panic.

The past should stay where it belongs. Dead and buried.

She should just avoid the growly, possessive, oh-so-protective hunk, but as it turns out, he’ll be sticking around town for a while.

Sebastian just found a job—as the only available contractor in her new town. And Sebastian has no plans to let her slip through his fingers a second time.

MAIN TROPES

  • 40+ year old characters
  • Small town
  • Second chance romance
  • High school sweethearts
  • Texan hero
  • Comedy
  • Steamy/Spicy

Chapter 1 Look Inside

AN HOUR AFTER kissing Sebastian Finch, my lips burn.

Fifty-nine and a half minutes after slapping him across the face, my palm stings.

And the whole while, my thoughts are stuck on repeat: What have I done?

No, that’s not right. I should be asking, What did he do?

The two-faced jerk. Sauntering up to me, grabbing me around the waist, and kissing me without permission? Overbearing, domineering, unbelievably rude pig.

Twenty-five or so years later, and Sebastian hasn’t changed a bit.

And me! Ogling his sculpture, thinking I finally understood art. Feeling something at the sight of that metal-and-wood hunk of abstract lawn ornament. Distracted by his square jaw and his strong throat and his stupid Texas twang. Melting in his arms like ice cream on a hot day, waiting to be licked up and savored.

I am such an idiot.

I slam a wine glass down onto my quartz countertop, arresting the movement at the last possible moment to keep from shattering the base. Then I glare at the intact glass, wishing I had courage enough to break it.

My hand trembles—still. This isn’t fair. Sebastian doesn’t get to waltz into my life and mess it up again. I left that too-small Texas town when I was eighteen. I left everyone behind, and I was happy. Now…

Red liquid glugs out of the nearest dark bottle and into my glass, splashing up the sides in an undignified manner. Derrick would have hated that. He’d have told me to control myself, to get a handle on my overwrought female emotions.

Ugh.

As if my ex-husband isn’t the most emotional person to grace the face of this planet. But when it’s anger, and when it comes from a man, it doesn’t count as emotion. He could rant and rave for minutes, hours on end, but I was the hysterical one. I would be apologizing, soothing, placating.

Why is it that all the men in my life are such lecherous turds? What is it about me that screams, Pick her! She’ll love your ham-handed advances! She’ll be perfect as a live-in maid and personal cheerleader! She wants nothing more than to service your manly needs! Don’t worry about her wants or her needs or her ambitions. They can be swept up into a dustpan and dumped out the back door. In fact, she’ll do it herself. Sweeping is women’s work, after all.

What is it about me that makes men think I’m a damn doormat? I’m not! I’m a CEO, for crying out loud.

Well. Former CEO. And whose fault is that? That weasel-faced, anger-management-needing bastard.

I taste none of the wine that slides down my throat in one quick shot and dump another quarter of the bottle into my glass.

“That kind of day, huh.”

I jump, turning to see a woman standing in my open front door.

Simone is a shortish, curvy redhead who seems to have taken a liking to me recently. Normal people would probably say, “Simone is my friend,” but friendship as a whole is so foreign a concept to me that I can’t quite help feeling nervous about her advances.

It’s like once I hit thirty, everyone around me grew out of having friends. I can’t blame them. I was busy with my career, with my marriage. Former friends had children, bought houses, moved away. I blinked, and ten years had passed—and I was alone. Hanging out was replaced with “networking” and loneliness.

Now I’m forty-three, and the landscape of female friendship is nothing short of bleak. Or it was, until I moved to Heart’s Cove.

Simone nudges the door open wider with the tips of her fingers, giving me an amused and slightly mystified look. “Didn’t even have time to close the door on your way to the wine rack. I can’t say I’ve never been there, but what brought this on today?”

I scowl over the rim of my glass and take an angry sip. “Sebastian Finch.”

“Ah.” She bumps the door closed with the generous curve of her hip, marches into my house, and grabs the bottle off the counter before inspecting the label with an expert’s eye.

“Glasses are up there.” I point to a cabinet beside the gigantic refrigerator that came with my enormous kitchen.

Stupid house. Why did I buy it? It’s way too big. It had to be on the outskirts of this stupid town, which hosts a stupid Fringe Festival, featuring stupid artists like Sebastian freaking Finch.

Fresh start—ha! I must be some kind of delusional. Now I have a huge house on the Northern California coast to take care of, when what I really want to do is turn into an ostrich and bury my head in the sand until I suffocate and die.

Simone follows my gesture and opens the correct cabinet. “Lovely.” She helps herself to a glass like it’s her own damn gargantuan house. When she’s got a cupful of wine between her fingers, she leans against the kitchen counter opposite me and glances around curiously. “Nice place.”

I frown. “Nice place?”

Her eyes meet mine. She gestures broadly at the room. “Yeah. Nice place. Your house, I mean.” There’s a pause, then, “I’ve never actually been inside.”

“You’re not even going to ask about Sebastian?”

“I’m giving you time to decompress,” she informs me, then nods to the half-empty bottle beside me. “I figure when that’s done, we can introduce the subject of men.”

A noise comes out of me, from the very back of my throat, that can only be described as the sound of pure, visceral disgust.

“Maybe two bottles,” Simone amends before tasting her wine and wandering toward the big bay window at the far side of the kitchen. “Wow. Great view.”

I clomp over the solid hardwood floors and scowl at the crashing waves. The feel of Sebastian’s stubble is imprinted on my palm, and no matter how many times I wipe my hand on the side of my leg, the feeling doesn’t go away.

I actually kissed the scumbag back. Why was my hand even on his face? What is wrong with me?

Simone’s eyes dart to my manic movements, then back to the ocean.

I force myself to be still. “Yeah. The view’s what made me buy the place.” It sounds like I’m a crotchety old man complaining about the neighbor’s overgrown hedge, not a successful woman staring at a multimillion-dollar view.

That’s funny—successful. What does that even mean? From where I’m standing, this life sure doesn’t feel like a success.

The sun sets over the Pacific Ocean before us, leaving a trail of glittering fire across the surface of the water. The sky is a riot of burning orange and deep purple.

And all I want to do is scream. I take another drink of wine.

“So, I googled you,” Simone announces while she inspects the chandelier in the adjacent dining room. She walks into the space and trails a finger over the back of one of my velvet-upholstered chairs, glancing over her shoulder to meet my gaze.

Half my brain is occupied by the thought of a firm male mouth pressed against mine, parting my lips, plundering. The other half is screeching in inchoate fury. There’s not much left over to keep up with Simone’s conversation.

“Huh?” I manage to say before gulping down the rest of my wine.

“I googled you,” she calls out while I pour the rest of the red stuff into my glass, jiggling the bottle to get every last drop. I can do that now, because my prick of an ex-husband isn’t looking over my shoulder criticizing my every move. I lick the rim of the bottle for good measure. Take that, Derrick. You jerk.

“Oh,” I answer, shoving all thoughts of my ex into a dank, dark corner of my mind. Then another man pops into the forefront of my thoughts, and I have to wrestle him to that dark place too. “Anything interesting come up about me?”

“You mean apart from the fact that you’re a brilliant businesswoman, a philanthropist, and obviously a gazillionaire?” Pause. “Nah. Not much.”

I join Simone, who’s walked through to the small living room on the western side of the house. I’ve furnished it as a reading room, complete with big comfy chairs, a long couch, and lots of task lighting anywhere I might want to sit or lie down to read. In the evenings, this room grows warm and cozy, but right now it just makes me sweaty.

Simone flicks one of the lamps on, then touches the throw blanket draped over the side of the armchair. “Sounds like you’re a pretty big deal, Georgia.”

“Are you sure you googled the right name?”

Simone gives me a flat look, apparently unimpressed by my quip. “False modesty doesn’t become you, lady.”

“Did you also read the section that says, ‘Bitter divorcée and asshole magnet?’”

A bark of laughter. “Didn’t get that far. The Wikipedia page is pretty long.” Her eyes gleam as she meets my gaze. “Does that mean we’re ready to talk about a certain Texan sculptor?”

I slump into the armchair and squint at the bright light of the lamp. Simone flicks it off and takes a seat on the couch across from me, kicking her legs up onto the cushions. The fading sun streams through the gaps in the blinds, leaving parallel lines on the ceiling and walls.

Simone curls an arm behind her head and takes a sip of her drink, staring at me expectantly. The woman is more comfortable in this house than I am. “Take your time,” she says, meaning the exact opposite.

“He kissed me.”

Coughs and splutters are the only answers I get for the next minute and a half. Simone sits up, sets her wine aside, and coughs until tears stream down her rosy cheeks. I get up, slap her on the back, and rush to get her a glass of water, using those precious moments to pretend the kiss never happened and I didn’t admit it out loud.

Finally, Simone dabs the corners of her eyes with a tissue and lets out a long breath. “Wow,” she says. “I think we need to call the girls over.”

“No,” I answer…meaning the exact opposite.

Simone already has her phone to her ear. Before I know it, there are plans for charcuterie boards and wine and company. I barely have time to put the empty bottle of wine in the recycling bin before the doorbell rings and a coven of forty-somethings descend on my home.

Fiona’s the first to arrive, her dark hair pulled back in a tight ponytail. She’s closely followed by Candice and Trina, sisters, who rode here with charcuterie-board-carrying Jen.

Excuses are made for Nora, who’s out of town to look after her mom, and Iliana, who’s at home with her child.

They take over the kitchen, huddled around the island where the food and drinks are set out. Jen produces phyllo-wrapped brie and pops it in my oven, which somehow magically preheated while I wasn’t looking. My cabinets are opened and hunted through, wine is poured, and chatter fills the space.

When the pastry-covered brie emerges from the oven, appreciative sounds echo around the lively kitchen. I mostly stand aside until Simone lifts her wine glass for silence (her other hand is balancing gooey cheese on a dangerously overloaded cracker) and says, “Let’s get down to business. Sebastian Finch kissed Georgia tonight, and she’s not handling it well.”

If Simone had told them the world was ending in three minutes, the ladies in my kitchen could not have been more shocked.

Before I can open my mouth to deny Simone’s accusation, someone pounds on my door. It’s so loud it could be a sledgehammer crashing against the tall timber entrance. The whole house seems to shake, like a giant is standing on my front porch rattling the frame.

“Georgia!” a booming male voice calls out. “Open the door, Sweet Peach. We’re not done here.”

Wide eyes turn to me, and every inch of my skin grows hot and itchy. I grip the edge of the counter while my legs do their best imitation of two columns of Jell-O.

I know that voice. I know that drawl. I feel those thumps on my door like they’re knocking on my ribcage.

Bang. Bang-bang-bang.

“Georgia. Get out here and talk to me!”

“Oh my God,” I say, inconsolable.

“Oh my God,” Simone answers, giddy.

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