MISCHIEF AFTER MIDNIGHT by Jennifer Bernard is out now! Check out the gorgeous new contemporary romance and grab your copy today!
Title: Mischief After Midnight
Author: Jennifer Bernard
Genre: Contemporary Romance
About Mischief After Midnight:A sizzling "brother’s best friend" standalone in the Lost Harbor, Alaska series Bartender Toni Del Rey is the quick-witted queen of the Olde Salt Saloon, famous for trading barbs with grizzled fishermen and putting rowdy customers in their place. Independent and fearless, she’s only ever lost her cool over one man—the childhood crush who got away. These days she sticks to the F’s: friends, fun, and fu…well, you know. But now Bash is back, and more crush-worthy than ever. Worst of all, he just bought the Olde Salt, which makes him her brand-new boss. Bash left Lost Harbor long ago to become a professional fighter—and to forget his nightmarish childhood. He’s only back to return a favor, but when he sets eyes on Toni, he may never want to leave again. His best friend’s little sister has gone from tomboy to tempting, from mischievous to maddening—a fact he can’t ignore while they work side by side at the Olde Salt. But between Toni’s fierce independence, his reputation as “Bad News” Bash, and a few deep dark secrets, they’re hardly suited to anything lasting. Then again, you never know what a little mischief after midnight will lead to…
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Trembling between anger and vulnerability, she’d never looked more beautiful to him. Her wide eyes seemed to take up half her face, her thick lashes damp with tears. She’d been through a terrible twenty-four hours, after all. And now he’d added to it, which was the last thing he’d ever want.
“You can jab me with that cactus if it’ll make you feel better.”
She looked at it as if she’d completely forgotten it was in her hand. “Excuse me? That’s no way to treat a perfectly innocent plant.”
He smiled, hoping that her joke meant she was feeling better. “Are cactuses innocent, though? With all those spikes?”
“It’s cacti, not cactuses, and don’t you dare disrespect mine. I’ve always related to this little guy. We have so much in common. There’s the liquor connection. The South American origins. The prickly exterior.” Her voice caught and he couldn’t bear it any more.
He strode toward her and caught her in his arms—gingerly, because she still held that cactus. “Toni. I’m really fucking sorry I ever made that bet. I’d rather gnaw my arm off than hurt you.”
She trembled against him. He felt her long, fine-boned legs press against his thighs. His brain hazed over, and all he knew in the entire world was her. Would she believe him? Know he was being real? That he wasn’t playing some kind of game with her?
“Really?” she muttered from behind her cactus. He lowered his head so he didn’t miss a word. “Do you mean the right one with the really great uppercut? Or the left one that sometimes drops and leaves you exposed?”
He looked down at her, then took the cactus from her hand and set it on the desk. Cupping her head in his hands, he scanned her face. That Toni bravado undid him. Even when she was injured, hurt, confused—she kept her sense of humor.
His heart gave a slow, helpless somersault, an upside down roundabout turn that left him somewhere very different when it was over. It left him at her mercy. Completely and hopelessly.
“Both my arms. And my legs. All the damn body parts. You can have them. Just tell me you’re okay. Tell me you forgive me.”
She blinked at him, looking a little stunned. “It matters to you that much?”
“That much. Yes.” Was all his pent-up emotion showing on his face? He didn’t care. He wanted her to know how much this meant. Cautiously, braced for rejection, he tilted her head and lowered his mouth to hover above hers. “Are we okay?”
“I’m still quitting the Olde Salt,” she whispered. The movement of her full lips riveted him. He wetted his own lips because his mouth had just gone dry.
“I don’t care about that,” he said harshly. “I just want to know that we’re okay. You and me.”
He caught her rough swallow, the shift of the muscles in her slim throat. Then another soft whisper.
“We could be better.”
“How? What can I do? Just tell me.”
“Take me to bed,” came her answer.