Fire and Midnight by Sandra Renee Appet
Contemporary Romance / Women’s Fiction
“Fire and Midnight is a delightful story full of characters you won’t soon forget. I didn’t want it to end!” ~ New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Evanovich
He could be her best worst decision…
With a glass of wine in hand, Jane Keegan’s finger is poised to delete the account her pushy BFF created for her on “The Cowboys” escort service website. Sure, she’s lonely, but not desperate. Then an image of sky-blue eyes and warm, tanned muscles jumps off the screen. And she finds herself hitting the “Book Now” button.
After all, why not? She’s a free, divorced woman on business in San Antonio. There’s nothing to lose…except her nerve. Especially when Mr. Tall Dark And Incredibly Sexy meets her at a River Walk bar—and his only-for-you smile turns her insides into a quivering mass of second thoughts.
Ryan Zeigler is enduring one last escort assignment as a favor before hanging up his Cowboys hat to run his own restaurant. Yet there’s something about the pretty New Yorker’s vulnerable grin and I’ve-got-baggage eyes that halts his usual dating M.O. in its tracks.
When Ryan sweetens the deal—no strings, no payment expected—Jane the good girl takes the bold step of letting her vixen out to play. But when it’s time to go home, her heart is at a crossroads. Is Ryan the real deal? Or is she letting yet another man take her heart for a ride?
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Chapter OneMaybe she should adopt a cat, Jane mused as she unlocked the door. Drops of water rolled off her jacket onto the worn wood floor. Leaving her shoes on the mat, she flipped the light switch illuminating most of her cozy apartment, which was a far cry from the spacious home she’d left behind. The silence was the hardest thing to get used to. A clang echoed off the bare walls as she dropped her keys on the counter next to the copy of her divorce decree. She figured the signed copy had hit her lawyer’s desk that morning. She shoved the bundle of papers in the nearest drawer. “Out of sight. Out of mind,” she mumbled and padded with stocking feet to her bedroom and changed into a pair of sweats and her old Rutgers t-shirt.She checked her phone as she headed back to the kitchen and opened the fridge to survey her options. No messages or texts from Tyler. She pulled out some leftovers and a bottle of Cabernet Blanc and turned on the news. The drone of the television was a welcome diversion. Empty Nest Syndrome had arrived earlier than she had expected when Tyler, her only child, had jumped at the opportunity to take a summer class and move into his college dorm early. Her phone buzzed on the counter next to her plate. She glanced at the screen, hoping for a text from her son but smiled at the message from her friend, Charlotte.I have a surprise for you. Check your email.Charlotte had a way of lightening Jane’s mood even when she wasn’t around. Jane uncorked the bottle and poured a generous glass. She left the food container on the counter, carried her wine to the desk in the living room, and flipped open her laptop.“What’s up her sleeve now?” Jane took a sip, logged into her e-mail and clicked the subject line: Giddy Up.Jane,You’re my best friend in the world and I love you to pieces, but all work and no play has made Jane a dull girl. It’s time to get back in the saddle and what better place to do it than on your trip to San Antonio? So pour yourself a glass of wine (or two) and click this link. For once in your life, do something completely selfish. Do it for you…Xoxo ~ CharP.S. I’ve already signed you up (user name: JaneK PW: RideEm). Don’t bother to call and yell at me. I’m boarding a flight to LA.Intrigued, Jane clicked the link and was directed to a landing page containing a picture of a cowboy hat and boots along with the words:The Cowboys, A Personal Service: Are you searching for a companion with no strings attached? Look no further than our cowboys for hire.“What the heck?” Jane explored the website and discovered a whole new definition of a cowboy. The cowboys on the website didn’t wear dusty jeans and ride horses. They wore well-cut suits and drove sports cars. They spoke a range of languages, were versed in opera, wine, and art, and were perfect companions during getaway weekends or cocktail parties … at a cost.The Cowboys was a high-end male escort service.Jane poured another glass of wine. She took a healthy gulp and leaned back in her chair putting distance between herself and the screen. A bundle of emotions, mostly anger, raced through her veins. Charlotte, her happily single best friend, always had a steady stream of men at her door. Did she think Jane was so pathetic she had to pay a man to take her out? A vision of a greasy guy wearing a shiny shirt and gold jewelry flashed in her mind.“No way.” She shook her head and clicked around the site looking for instructions for deleting her account. Charlotte was damn lucky she was thirty-five thousand feet in the air because Jane had a few choice words for her. Jane clicked “About Us” in hopes of finding a phone number to call. No number was listed, but she jotted the e- mail address and continued reading.According to the website, escort services were legal as long as the escort was not compensated for sexual services. It went on to say if chemistry developed between the two parties, romance might occur, but it was never contracted.A few client testimonials followed…I travel all over the country on business. When I need to kick off my shoes (and other articles of clothing), I call The Cowboys. Their escorts are as charming and intelligent as they are good looking. I’ve never had a bad experience.Instead of a spa weekend, I schedule a date with Paul from The Cowboys. My tension automatically melts when I’m with him, and he gives a great massage.I’m recently divorced and had been feeling unattractive and unwanted. Jack from The Cowboys treats me like I’m the only woman in the world. One evening wasn’t long enough, so I booked him again for next weekend. The entire weekend.She hovered the arrow over the “Meet Our Cowboys” page and clicked. A half-dozen pictures of men filled the screen, many appearing to be not much older than Tyler. She was about to close the site when brilliant blue eyes leaped from the screen and caught her by surprise.She drank in the image as she refilled her glass. A shock of dark hair framed his chiseled features. He wore a gray t-shirt that teased the promise of warm skin and thick muscles. Mr. Tall, Dark, and Incredibly Sexy poked at her long neglected fire that had turned into a pile of barely warm coals. She clicked his picture, which opened his bio and more images.“Hello there, Ryan Zeigler,” Jane slurred.
About the Author
Sandra is an author of romance who stays up too late dreaming up sexy heroes. When she’s not writing, shoe shopping or saving wayward turtles, Sandra can be found with a cup of coffee browsing the shelves of an indie bookstore.