All In by J.L. Drake is releasing on March 25th!
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I opted to walk home instead of a cab, needing to think. It felt great to be outside. My head certainly felt alot clearer. When I was almost home, I spotted a lot across the street that was being set up for theirannual Christmas tree sale. It was December, after all, so I could get a tree. I could use something bright andcheery in my otherwise white apartment. I waited for a break in traffic and hurried over to the lot.
“How much for this one?” I pointed to a bushy Douglas fir and admired its long, whimsical branches.
“Forty-five.” The kid eyed my cast. “You need some help getting it on the roof of your car?”
“No, I’ll be fine, thanks.” I handed him the money and waited for ten minutes for it to be wrapped in twine. Iawkwardly stood at the traffic light then dragged it across the street, ignoring my now throbbing arm.
The doorman, Otis, must have been wondering what the hell I was doing in heels, leather pants, a cast onmy wrist, and a tree at midnight. But, as he had done the last few times I saw him, he simply noddedpolitely and opened the door for me. I really liked this building. They were professional and knew everyone by name.
“If you want, Ms. Lexington, I can put that out back and have someone bring it up to you in the morning.”
“That’s all right.” I yanked it through the door, sending needles everywhere. “I can manage.” I wantedto thank him for calling me Ms. Lexington and not Mrs. Young, but when I went to say it, he was alreadyhelping someone else. It could wait.
How I got it in the elevator was beyond me, but I did, and I felt very proud of myself. That was, until I somehow managed to get it stuck in the hallway just before I reached my door. I kicked, pulled, andpushed, but the freakin’ thing wouldn’t move.
“Come on, you stupid piece of—” I stopped mid- curse with my head covered in branches when I heard a little chuckle. I peeked through the needles to see a pair of legs standing in an open doorway across the hallfrom me.
“Planning on keeping that there?” a husky voice laced with undisguised humor asked.
I puffed a piece of hair out my face as I tugged again at the base of the tree, not caring that my behindwas stuck in the air. “Well, you know,” I huffed sarcastically, “I thought I would decorate it out here, bring alittle life to this drab-looking hallway.”
“It’s a bit of a fire hazard, don’t you think?”
I rolled my eyes, yanking harder. “Are you planning on calling the fire department?” I heard him laugh again, which further pissed me off that he did not offer to help. “Good, so don’t burn the place down and we won’thave a problem.” I lost my balance and fell backward, tossing my hands back with a yelp at the pain frommy wrist as I tried to stop myself.
“Oh, shit.” The guy knelt, and I got my first view of him and almost died. It was as if someone plucked this man off the cover of a Men’s Health Magazine. Tanned skin, brown hair, green eyes, and a smokin’ body.His arms flexed as he reached for my wrist to check out the cast. “Are you all right?”
“Yes,” I answered too quickly, and he shook his head with a smile that had my stomach instantly doing flip flops.
“Do I even ask?” He nodded toward the tree. “You know, it’s after midnight.”
I moved to stand, but he did first and hauled me up with him. “Thanks.” I winced and held my throbbing arm to my stomach. “Ever just need something to make you feel better?” He nodded. “Well,” I point to thewedged tree, “that’s my upper.”
“I see.” He watched me for a moment then smiled. “Okay, then, open the door and we’ll make this happen.”
“Oh, no,” I held my hand up, “please. I’m sorry I woke you. I can get this.”
He gripped the midsection, kicked the base, and released the tree from its hold. “It’s no trouble, and I wasstill awake.”
“Traitor,” I hissed at the tree and quickly opened my door to let him pass.
MEET THE AUTHOR
J. L. Drake was born and raised in Nova Scotia, Canada, later moving to Southern California where she now lives with her husband and two children.
When she is not writing she loves to spend time with her family, travelling or just enjoying a night at home. One thing you might notice in her books is her love of the four seasons. Growing up on the east coast of Canada the change in the seasons is in her blood and is often mentioned in her writing.
An avid reader of James Patterson, J.L. Drake has often found herself inspired by his many stories of mystery and intrigue. She hopes you will enjoy her books as much as she has enjoyed writing them.
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