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Please scroll down for an ADULTS ONLY excerpt of "Holding Out for a Hero"
Holding Out for a Hero
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Praise for Holding Out for a Hero

"Witty, irreverent dialogue interspersed between great narration and with an unfolding plot line that was so natural it seemed effortless."

Five-Star Amazon Review

About Holding Out for a Hero

By day, Quinn Campbell works as a set decorator and costume designer for television and stage productions. By night, she's a romance novel addict who dreams of her secret crush in the role of every hero she reads about. Quinn concocts elaborate fantasies starring her handsome upstairs neighbor - ex-pro football player Jesse Knight.

She imagines the big blond has a Viking warrior, a stagecoach bandit, and a Scottish lord. Will she ever find out if the real man can live up to her dream lovers?

 

ADULTS ONLY EXCERPT ~ MUST BE 18 or OLDER TO PROCEED

~~~

Chapter One

 

 

Quinn Campbell stepped out of the taxicab and turned to retrieve the box of wine from the back seat. The strap of her oversized hobo purse snagged on the open door and ripped from its grommet, yanking out a few strands of her long ponytail in the process. She only saved the contents from spilling by throwing out one hip and clamping the bag to her side.

“Shit!”

The purse had cost her a week’s salary and she’d grown to hate it. Like so many of her fashion investments, it was cute, overpriced, and completely impractical. It was too big, too floppy, and she could never find anything in the cavernous leather pouch. Maybe breaking the strap was a sign from the retail gods that she should base future purchases on function rather than form.

Quinn plopped the bag atop the case of wine and – after much rummaging – found enough cash to pay her fare. She hefted the box of Cabernet from the taxi, held the broken purse in place with her chin, then headed for the front door of her cute, overpriced, completely impractical, loft apartment.

The buzz of downtown rush-hour traffic dampened when Quinn stepped into the wedge of the revolving door.  Half a spin later, she skittered into the lobby of the repurposed factory before the door could swing around and hit her in the ass. Congratulating herself on a moment of uncharacteristic grace, Quinn peered over her load. The elevator suddenly seemed much farther away than usual.

She glanced at the bank of mailboxes set into the wall to her right and decided the bills and catalogs could wait. Right now she needed to focus on getting across the expanse of concrete that stretched out before her.

You’ve got this. Just put one foot in front of the other and you’ll be sipping cabernet and reading a smutty novel in the tub before you know it.

Quinn’s snug skirt forced her to take tiny steps and she could feel the hem creeping up her thighs. She wished she had a free hand to tug it back into place.

The cute red heels she’d recently adopted—scandalously, at full retail price —were cutting into her feet and after a long day on the set, she wished she’d remembered to bring sneakers to change in to. She was certain she’d find her comfy shoes sitting right where she’d left them—just inside the door of her loft.

 ~

That morning Quinn had woken up late—again—and had bolted out of the apartment, hell bent on getting to the studio on time. After all, that soundstage wasn’t going to turn into a suburban breakfast nook on its own. Quinn had to work her set-decorating magic before the rest of the crew could get started.

She’d been at the commercial shoot for nearly two hours—making sure the fake kitchen looked perfect, but not staged—before she checked her reflection in the restroom mirror and realized she’d only put mascara on one eye.  Her cosmetics bag was back home as well—probably having a good laugh with her sneakers.

The makeup artist had taken pity on Quinn and evened her out so she didn’t look like she was perpetually winking.  But even after getting her lashes touched up, Quinn had had the gnawing feeling that people were whispering behind her back. She’d chalked it up to jangled nerves.

It had been a long week and she’d never been happier to hear a director announce, “That’s a wrap!”

By the time she’d made a stop at the liquor store and weathered a harrowing ride in the back of a careening cab, her sole focus was a hot bubble bath, a juicy book and a glass of wine—preferably enjoyed simultaneously.

 ~

Quinn had made it half way across the lobby—huffing under the weight of her case of liquid relaxation—when she heard his voice.

“Need a hand?”

She spun around too quickly and one of her ridiculously pointy heels skittered sideways. While trying to regain her balance – and save the precious wine – Quinn wildly contorted her body.

Miraculously she remained upright, but her purse dropped to the floor and she watched in horror as the contents scattered across the polished concrete.

“Fuckity fuck!” she yelled.

His deep chuckle caused her to grimace before looking up.

“Hadn’t heard that one before. It’s a keeper.”

One corner of his beautiful mouth lifted and for a moment Quinn forgot that all of her personal business was on display at her feet.

Jesse Knight had been the object of her desire—and the star of her most blush-worthy fantasies—for nearly two years. He was six-and-a-half feet of athletic good looks and a smile that would make any woman with a pulse willingly kick off her panties.

He’d obviously just come back from a run. His long blond hair was pulled back in a disheveled ponytail and his T-shirt was drenched with sweat. Quinn involuntarily licked her lips when she saw how the thin, wet cotton clung to every chiseled curve of his chest.

Get a grip, Campbell, she silently coached herself.

“Yeah, I’ve got a million of ‘em,” Quinn muttered before turning her attention back to the mess on the floor. She cringed at what she saw.

Her discreet plastic case of feminine hygiene products had sprung open, sending out a fan of tampons. The tin of breath mints had come unhinged and little white peppermint tablets rolled to every corner of the foyer. A brush, snarled with a disgusting rat’s nest of her long brown hair, jackknifed into the corner. The back of her cellphone had popped off and the battery ricocheted off of a potted plant.

Quinn froze. She didn’t know where to look—or what to pick up—first. Finally, she set the case of wine on the floor and started shoving things back into her destroyed purse. She snapped the cellphone battery in place, replaced the back, and breathed a sigh of relief when it came to life with a familiar jingle. 

She couldn’t meet his eyes as she jammed her tampons—and their obviously faulty case—into hiding. She’d just retrieved her gnarly hairbrush from the corner when she turned and saw Jesse holding a little pink leather case in his hands. Before she could find her voice to stop him, he had flipped open the cover of her Kindle and hit the power button.

“Doesn’t seem to be broken,” he said.

Then a bemused looked crossed his handsome face. Quinn squeezed her eyes shut, knowing that he was looking at the titles on the device.

Smut. Pure, unadulterated smut.

Besides wine, Quinn had one other vice—trashy romance novels… the trashier the better. It was a guilty pleasure she never wanted anyone to discover—least of all the guy whose face she’d imagined on every hero she’d read about since meeting him.

Quinn had always had an active imagination. As a kid, her daydreaming had gotten her in plenty of trouble. She was grateful that she’d figured out a way to make a living at it. Decorating sets and doing costuming for stage plays and television commercials meant she could live in her fantasy world and afford to pay for living in the real one.

Reluctantly opening her eyes, Quinn watched Jesse scroll through her eReader. Her heart sank. He was going to think she was some kind of lonely, vacuous single woman who retreated into make-believe because she couldn’t handle real life.

He raised one eyebrow. “Vikings, cowboys, guys in kilts. Quite a library you’ve got here.”

Quinn’s face was so hot she thought she must be a nice shade of crimson. “Well, you know, I work on a lot of period pieces. Some of those books are really pretty good. Lots of descriptions about what people wore, what they ate, how they lived…”

“Ah,” Jesse interrupted, “So, you read this stuff for research purposes.”

He continued to sweep his finger over the screen, no doubt feeling some pity at the endless list of ‘clit lit.’

The corners of Quinn’s eyes stung and she was afraid the tears were inevitable. In one fell swoop she’d screwed up any hope of him ever being interested in her. Not that she had much of a chance in the first place. If only she weren’t such a pathetic klutz. If only she hadn’t spilled that ridiculous purse… or broken the strap… or ever bought the damned thing in the first place!

Quinn dropped the cursed bag at her feet and strode toward him, hand extended. “C’mon, give it back.”

He didn’t raise his eyes from the Kindle, but she saw a look of surprise cross his face. “Delivering Kadlin? That’s a good one! Have you read the sequel?”

Now he was pissing her off. “Yeah, you’re hilarious. Now, give it!”

“I’m serious,” he said. “You know there’s a sequel, right? Rescuing Kadlin. It follows what happens to Kadlin and Bjorn after they see the Viking jarl.”

Quinn’s mouth fell open and it took a moment for her to regain her composure. “You’ve read a romance novel?”

Jesse smiled at her. “Lots of ‘em. I traveled quite a bit with my old job and it was a great way to pass the time in the plane.”

His ‘old job’—as she was the last in the building to know—was as a linebacker for a professional football team. The ‘Knight Train’ was something of a neighborhood celebrity—albeit a reluctant one.

The thought of this massive man, jammed into an airplane seat, engrossed in a steamy romance made Quinn forget about her embarrassment. With a bemused shake of her head, she left him to his scrolling and turned to retrieve her things.

With her back to Jesse, Quinn bent to scoop up her wallet and realized too late that her unladylike motion had caused her skirt to creep up the back of her thighs. She cringed when she realized that doubled over like that, legs spread, in her come-fuck-me heels, must have given Jesse quite a view.

She hoped he hadn’t noticed, but when he coughed like he was choking, she knew he had. Quickly righting herself while tugging down her hem, Quinn grabbed her purse from the floor, unable to turn around and face him. She was afraid if she did she’d find him waving a dollar bill and asking for a lap dance.

Quinn set her purse on the case of wine and—carefully this time—stooped to grab it.

“Let me get that,” he offered.

She stepped back and watched as he stuffed the Kindle into her bag then easily lifted the heavy box. Quinn struggled to keep up with his long strides. When they got to the elevator, he effortlessly shifted the load to one arm and hit the call button.

While they were waiting for the ancient, industrial lift to creak and groan its way to the main floor, Jesse muttered, “You missed one.”

Quinn followed his nod and groaned when she saw the long, slender, paper-wrapped tube beside his running shoe. Certain she was blushing every shade of red, she snatched up the unmentionable, grabbed her purse from the top of the box and quickly crammed it to the depths of the cursed bag.

This day just keeps getting better and better.

~~~

Like what you've read so far? Buy "Holding Out for a Hero" today and find out what happens next!

 

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