Hi, y’all! Welcome to Shelbyville, Texas. My debut contemporary romance, Personal Assets, kicks off a four-book series set in this small, fictional town north of Houston.
Then came the metallic sound of his bumper hitting the asphalt, and his gut cramped the way it did when he occasionally overindulged in beer weenies.
Cameron sucked in thick Texas air, but the humid stuff did nothing to soothe the sudden burn in his belly. He should’ve crawled back into bed. The signs had all been there. Shower water icy enough to permanently shrink his balls. Nothing but tap water to pour over his cereal. Boxers the color of Pepto-Bismol after a run-in with a red T-shirt in the washing machine.
His mom always warned him to wear clean underwear in case he was ever in a car accident. Cameron might flirt with other types of danger, but he wasn’t stupid enough to disobey Emmalee Wright. He climbed out of his prized possession, a 1963 Caddy convertible with butter-soft leather seats and fins big enough to propel a shark. The car’s door handle caught the back pocket of his jeans, and well-washed cotton gave way with a thread-popping rip.
Of all the days to mind Mom’s advice.
“Welcome frickin’ home,” he muttered. Jesus, bare-assed or half of Shelbyville ogling his pretty-in-pink underwear?
Give me bare-assed any day.
His car sat in two pieces in the middle of his hometown’s busiest intersection, and people were already craning their necks to stare out the front windows of McIntosh’s drugstore and Bitsy Miller’s beauty shop. What a way to kick off his career as a respectable business owner.
He stalked to the back of his car to inspect the damage. Cracked taillights, ruined bumper and buckled trunk. Goddammit. Now he definitely wouldn’t pick up the garage keys from Scooter Kaynes on time.
Allie is a sex therapist, working specifically with women trying to overcome body issues. But while she encourages her clients to go for what they want, she’s neglected that part of her own life. When she spots Cameron—in his Levi’s, cowboy boots and well-worn T-shirt—she decides he’s just the special sexual project that will allow her to walk the walk and earn her clients’ respect.
Roxanne pointed to the red velvet chaise near the dressing rooms. “Sit down and tell me why rear-ending a man as hot as Cameron Wright is a bad thing.”
Allie recalled the dark intent in his eyes when he’d ripped off his sunglasses and pressed his thumb and forefinger to the bridge of his nose. Oh, Lord, the way he’d looked standing in the middle of the street. Short, dark hair spiked up from driving the convertible or maybe from running his fingers through it. The rough stubble on his cheeks. Awareness shimmied up her spine. Wait a minute…
“How do you know what he looks like?”
“I make it my business to know these things.” Roxanne waggled her fingers at Allie. “Deets, please.”
She glanced toward the door joining Red Light and her counseling business. “I’m already late for this morning’s session. The ladies are here, aren’t they?”
“They won’t mind waiting two minutes. I bet they’re all inside chattering away about their latest homework assignment.” Roxanne knelt on the floor and pinned the hem of a turquoise harem outfit on a mannequin worthy of wearing it. “I need something to hold me over for an hour, so spill.”
A guy who looked that good wearing a faded Cotton Bowl T-shirt, battered Tony Lama boots and Levi’s with half the butt ripped out should come stamped with a warning label. Any other man would’ve appeared silly stomping across the pavement with his back pocket flapping behind him. Cameron looked dangerous. “You should’ve seen his face, Rox. He was madder than a cat in a bathtub.”
Roxanne glanced up, studied Allie. “Oh my God, he got you hot and bothered.”
Unfortunately, Allie’s dad, a bank president, keeps his thumb on everything happening in town. Even his daughter. Especially his daughter. As you can imagine, he hates what she does for a living. In an attempt to put her shameful little “sex shop” out of business, he calls her outstanding business loan due.
“Come to my office immediately so we can discuss this urgent business.” His computer keyboard clicked along as he spoke. He never simply talked to her without engaging in another activity at the same time. Even when they were face-to-face, her father found it necessary to be busy. Typing an email. Running profit-and-loss figures. Practicing his golf stroke.
She’d waited almost twenty years to be important to him. He could wait another day. Setting terms and boundaries wasn’t disrespectful. It was self-preservation. “I’m about to leave my office for the day and I have a previously scheduled meeting.” At Cameron’s garage.
“We must talk as soon as possible. It’s a matter of the Shelby family name and the bank’s financial security.”
Checking her calendar, she told her father, “I can stop by before lunch Monday.”
“See that you’re in my office at 11:30 a.m. Sharp.” With that, the silence of dead air hovered in her ear.
“Good-bye. Love you too.” How could a man whose only desire was to control her love her back?
She would not cry. She was a grown woman and it was past time she stopped dancing to her father’s demanding tune. Allie carefully laid her phone on the side table, rather than give in to her temptation to hurl it into the trash.
Later, when Cameron discovers that he’s not only Allie’s special project but also that his mother is one of her clients, he blows a gasket. Still, he finds it hard to resist the good girl exploring her bad girl side. Cameron has a long history as a problem fixer and soon he’s not only trying to solve the community’s economic problems, but Allie’s money problems as well. You can imagine how well that goes over with a woman tired of being controlled by a man.
She twined her arms around her waist, and apparently his office floor was riveting. “My business is having minor money problems.”
He blew out a relieved breath. For some self-centered reason, he’d expected her issue to have something to do with him. “I thought you said Personal Assets was doing fine between your local and out-of-town clients.”
“Clients aren’t the problem. Cash flow is.”
He waited for her to elaborate.
“Okay, here’s the deal. I was stupid enough to go through my dad’s bank for a business loan. He decided to call in the loan, requiring the entire amount be paid back in full within fourteen days.”
“This is what had you so down the other night, isn’t it?” Which meant Allie had just over a week to repay the money she owed. He thought he’d understood Shelby’s game, but the man was using every weapon he had to try to manipulate Allie. Cameron’s blood pressure inched up.
“Yes, but I’ll handle it.”
He lifted her chin, forcing her to look at him. “But what if I could—”
“I don’t need your help. I will fix this by myself.”
“How do you plan to do that?”
“I’m still working on the details.”
He was pretty sure that was girl code for “I don’t have a fucking clue.”
In Personal Assets, Allie and Cameron make the journey from a physical-only affair to a relationship based on hard-won trust and love. And they must do it under the entire community’s scrutiny.
As a reader, do you like hometown stories? If so, what makes them so appealing?
www.KelseyBrowning.com. For info on her upcoming releases, subscribe to her Sass Kickin' News.
Personal Assets by Kelsey Brownings
Book #1 in the Texas Nights series
Sex therapist Allie Shelby has the professional credentials, but she could use a bit more practical experience. Finding the right man to bring out her inner bad girl is tough in a population-challenged Texas town. So when sinfully sexy Cameron Wright rolls back into Shelbyville, Allie wastes no time inviting him to join her in some hands-on research.
But while her personal life heats up, Allie's business is about to crash and burn. And she has to convince Cameron that she's one princess who's not looking for a prince to ride to her rescue.
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