Blazing Bedtime Stories, Volume IX: The Equalizer\God's Gift to Women

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9780373797158: Blazing Bedtime Stories, Volume IX: The Equalizer\God's Gift to Women

Add some spice to your bedtime with naughty tales from bestselling authors Rhonda Nelson and Karen Foley...

The Equalizer by Rhonda Nelson

For as long as he could remember, soldier Robin Sherwood wanted Marion Cross. Unfortunately, his sexy childhood sweetheart considers herself way out of his league. But when she tells him about his rich friends reneging on their charity promises, Robin seizes the chance to prove himself. Take from the rich. Give to the poor. And show Marion that a rich-boy-turned-outlaw can be her hottie-ever-after!

God's Gift to Women by Karen Foley

When she sees the glorious bod of Nikos Christakos, sculptor Lexi Adams knows she's found inspiration. This sculpture, she thinks, will be the perfect man.

But Nikos refuses to model for her, and Lexi's only choice is to take a hands-on approach—and commit his body to memory by touch! But can her sculpture of The Perfect Man take the place of a real one?

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About the Author:

A Waldenbooks bestselling author, two-time RITA® Award nominee, RT Book Reviews Reviewers Choice nominee and National Readers' Choice Award winner, Rhonda Nelson has more than thirty-five published books to her credit. Rhonda and her family make their chaotic but happy home in a small town in northern Alabama. She loves to hear from her readers, so be sure to check her out at www.readRhondaNelson.com, follow her on Twitter @RhondaRNelson and like her on Facebook.

 

Karen Foley is an incurable romantic. When she's not working for the Department of Defense, she's writing sexy romances with strong heroes and happy endings. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters.  You can find out more about her by visiting www.karenefoley.com.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

With a name similar to a fabled outlaw, a passion for archery and a best friend named John Little, former Ranger Robin Sherwood had been the butt of many jokes, the bulk of which he'd accepted good-naturedly.

This, however, was different, because the situation he presently found himself in was a hell of his own making.

The maitre d's eyes rounded in alarm, presumably because Robin was in every possible violation of the dress code and, while it was October, it wasn't yet quite Halloween. The conundrum had clearly flummoxed him.

"My usual table, please, Branson," Robin instructed briskly, sparing the man their usual chit-chat.

"Certainly, sir." His gaze slid over him once again—further confirmation that his eyes hadn't deceived him, Robin imagined—and, with a small gulp, Branson turned and led the way. "If you'll follow me."

"It's like Christmas has come early," John crowed behind him through fits of smothered, wheezing laughter. "And this is the best present ever."

Determined to see this humiliation through to the end, Robin released a long suffering sigh and soldiered on.

A series of gasps, snickers and the clatter of fumbled cutlery followed him through the five-star restaurant. Though he was generally shameless and couldn't be bothered to care what people thought, he came as close to blushing as he ever hoped to and knew a small measure of relief when they finally arrived at their table.

"Paybacks are hell," Robin told him, his tone mild. He casually placed his napkin over his lap. "Just remember that."

John, irritatingly, continued to beam. He was in custom Armani, naturally—nothing off the rack would fit his Hercules-like frame—and every blond hair had been gelled meticulously into place. "You shouldn't have accepted the bet if you weren't certain of the outcome. Isn't that what you've always told me? A glass of Cristal," he happily told the waiter. "i'm celebrating."

Robin ordered a nice red wine and pretended not to notice that almost every eye in the exclusive restaurant was trained on him. He glanced out the window and admired the view instead. Downtown Atlanta lay spread out in a sea of night, punctuated with glittering lights and the occasional flash of neon. Though many of the storefronts were decorated with pretty mums, hay bales and gourds, fall seemed reluctant to make an official appearance thus far. It was unseasonably warm in Hotlanta for this time of year, which made his current outfit all the more uncomfortable. He grimaced.

That would teach him to bet when drunk.

"You look positively miserable," John said, smiling.

Robin smothered a curse and glared at his friend. "I'm hot."

"I imagine so." John's gaze darted to the top of Robin's head and he heaved a grudging sigh. "You can take off the hat, I suppose, but be careful not the crush that feather," he warned with a scowl. "It's rented, not bought."

Thank God for small favors, Robin thought. Better that the damned thing was returned than put away for future use. Particularly his. And given how much fun his friend was currently enjoying at his expense, he could easily see John pulling this little number out again and again.

Robin's phone suddenly vibrated in the leather pouch attached to his waist and, though it was bad form to answer it in the restaurant, he couldn't dismiss the call. It was an old friend from boarding school, Brian Payne, and more recently—more importantly—his new boss at Ranger Security. After the hit to his leg in Mosul had shredded his thigh muscle and thus ended his career in the military—as he'd envisioned it, anyway—Robin was eternally thankful for the job. Though there were many who would argue that he didn't need gainful employment, he'd never felt that way. Trust fund or not, he'd always needed a purpose. Needed to be useful. What was that old saying? Idle hands were the devil's playground?

He didn't know if he completely agreed with that—a battlefield seemed more apt—but he understood the sentiment. Busy people didn't have time to get into trouble. The only reason he'd been horsing around with John and had lost this damned bet was because he was between jobs at Ranger Security.

"Sherwood," he answered, turning away from the din.

"My Facebook feed just blew up with pictures of you, taken at Dolce Maria's, in what appears to be some sort of costume," Payne said, the humor barely registering in his cool voice. "I know it's been a while since you've been in polite society, Robin, but surely you haven't forgotten all the rules."

Robin swore hotly under his breath and Payne's chuckle echoed over the line.

"'The boy who wouldn't grow up,' one caption reads," Payne continued. He laughed appreciatively. "Clever."

Robin felt his eyes widen and he shot a dark look at John. "I'm not freakin' Peter Pan," he told him, outraged. "I'm Robin Hood, dammit." He glared accusingly across the table and lowered his voice. "I told you I needed the bow and arrows, but would you listen? No."

John blinked innocently. "I was afraid they'd call security if you came in with a weapon."

The staff would make them leave, more likely, thus ruining John's prank, Robin thought. Bastard.

"Ah, I see it now," Payne remarked, as though he'd just noticed something in the photo he'd missed before. He paused. "Fine. I'll ask the obvious question. Why are you dressed up like Robin Hood?"

Robin chewed the inside of his cheek for a moment before responding. "Because I lost a bet."

Payne grunted knowingly, as if this explanation made perfect sense. Which it did, Robin knew, because like him, Payne was a man who believed reneging on a bet—no matter how ill-conceived or asinine—was the same as lying.

He'd agreed to the terms and given his word. Balking was out of the question.

"And what if you hadn't lost?"

Robin grinned and glanced across the table at his completely unrepentant friend. "Then John would be dressed up like a vampire, acting out the Twilight saga via interpretative dance outside the High Museum. For tips."

Payne laughed softly again. "Oh, I would have liked to see that," he said. "Too bad you lost."

"There's always tomorrow," Robin told him, firmly in the glass-halffull camp. He took another sip of his wine. "Did you need anything else? Any new assignments come in?"

"No, that was all. Everything's covered for the moment. Enjoy the downtime. I'm sure it won't last."

Robin certainly hoped not. Though he had plenty to do to oversee his own business—look at financial reports, review his various charitable endeavors—he'd hired good people to attend to those things in his absence while in the military and, though he'd had a career change, he didn't mean to impose one on them, as well. That was not how one repaid good service.

In fact, everything he'd learned about being a good boss had come from following his father's short-lived example and by not taking any advice from his grandfather—railroad mogul, Henry Sherwood—who was a notoriously hard man. Robin inwardly snorted.

Hard hell. He was greedy and mean, a textbook narcissist whose first love was himself, his second, money. The old adage "only the good die young" had certainly proved true in Robin's experience. He imagined his grandfather would outlive Methuselah.

Currently, the old bastard was confined to his bed, a rotation of nurses on staff to see to his every need. His master suite had been outfitted to look like something that would no doubt rival NASA's Mission Command center, with banks of televisions streaming information from all over the globe—and the house and grounds, of course—attached to the walls and portable computers a mere roller table away at all times. He was just as formidable at eighty as he'd been at forty-eight and kept an eagle eye on his vast business and estate domains.

Though he'd always accused Robin of "being weak just like his father" and had never shown any interest in his grandson, evidently the significance of his own mortality had finally surfaced. Now the old man was acting as if he'd like nothing better than to groom Robin to take over the reins. Robin's response? Not no, but hell, no. He didn't have to own a crystal ball or possess any supernatural powers to know that they'd never see eye to eye, particularly when it came to how to treat employees. How the old man had managed to sire Robin's unbelievably kind father was an unsolvable mystery, one that had always baffled him.

Having lost his mother to an aneurysm while just a toddler, Robin had no memories of her, but he cherished the ones he had of his dad. And those were too few. Robin had been officially orphaned at fifteen, when his dad had died in a car accident. Gavin Sherwood had been buried less than a week before Robin's grandfather had shipped his grandson off to an exclusive boarding school—one notorious for corporal punishment, of course—in Maryland. That's where he'd met Payn, and a lifelong friendship was formed. Robin inwardly grinned. Nothing like a good thrashing to forge a bond.

As for John—his gaze darted to his friend across the table—that bond had been formed from the cradle. John Little was the son of Robin's father's best friend and as such, they'd grown up more like brothers than friends. Laughing one minute, pummeling the hell out of each other the next. Robin inwardly grinned. Good times.

John's father, Vince, had stepped in to fill the gap after his father had passed away and for that, Robin would always be thankful. Despite the distance once he'd been sent aw...

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