Joe led a charmed life until the tragic night he lost it all. Once a master carpenter, he's now part of a restoration crew, when he isn't too hungover to crawl out of bed. He exists in a booze-fueled haze of one night stands, barroom brawls, and working until he drops.
Then Molly Hildebrandt shows up at the job site in a food truck as red as her glossy lipstick. She's no longer the jailbait girl who used to trail after him, but she's still the little sister of his best friends, Mason and Mac. Molly's a splash of ice water to Joe's whisky-addled heart, and as much as he hates the idea of screwing up his friendship with the twins, he can't keep his hands to himself.
Saddle up for The Carved Hearts Series, a funny, tear-jerking, swoon-worthy tale of a tattooed spitfire and her not-so-average Joe.
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Enjoying another cold one, I watched several couples take the plunge before gearing up. From what I could tell, they all made it to the bottom in one piece. Between the alcohol and the flirtatious ribbing from my fellow travelers, I soon found myself being buckled into a zip line harness, wondering what I had gotten myself into.
“Just remember how much you love me, Kelly,” Isaac called to me. I frowned at him as I fastened my helmet, completely confused about his random statement. He eyed the other zip line platform nervously, and I turned to see what he was looking at. I’d been so focused on trying not to freak out and make an ass out of myself, that I’d ignored the commotion at the platform a few feet away. Just as my handler was about to release me, I glanced over and saw Mac buckling himself into the other harness. The determined set of his jaw as he met my gaze made my breath catch.
“What the f—” I began, but my handler interrupted me. “Ready, set, go!” He gave me a shove and I found myself hurtling down the hill, clinging desperately to the nylon harness. My heart hammered with such ferocity that I was convinced it would take flight from my chest. With growing dread, I tracked Mac in my peripheral vision. He was rocketing down the hillside much faster than I was, and I realized that at the rate he was traveling, he’d be waiting for me at the bottom. We’d have to hike to the next zip together, so unless I wanted to hike back to the beach, I was stuck facing him, if that was what he had in mind.
The entire trip down probably took less than a minute, but our entire relationship flashed before my eyes in that short span of time. I’m not sure if it was the adrenaline or the alcohol, but I was a live wire by the time I reached the bottom.
As I reached the platform, I saw Mac was already free from his harness. Approaching me before I’d come to a complete stop, he grabbed hold of my trolley and reached for me as if he planned to free me from my restraint.
“Sir!” one of the zip-line attendants said, moving toward Mac as if to intervene.
“I got this, boy.” Mac turned toward him. I wasn’t able to see his face, but the attendants both took a couple of steps back.
“No!” I tried to wiggle out of his grasp. His eyes swept me, and I watched helplessly as the ghost of a devilish grin played on his familiar lips. I knew exactly what was going through his dirty mind.
“All clear?” The question sounded from the nearby attendant’s walkie-talkie. He raised the walkie to his lips and pressed the button.
“Hold please. We have a situation,” I heard him say and I fought with my restraint, trying desperately to free myself so I could get back on my feet. As it was, Mac was holding my trolley, and I could feel the tips of my toes scrape the platform, but only if I pointed them like a prima ballerina.
“Calm down, Chief. This is no situation.” Mac’s voice sounded gruff and commanding. “I just need a few words with the lady.”
“We have nothing to talk about,” I snapped through gritted teeth. I worked the straps of my harness hopelessly. I hadn’t been paying enough attention when the college boy hooked me in, and three beers on an empty stomach were getting the better of my coordination. Or maybe it was just Mac. Something about him flustered me, and that started long before our current state of affairs.
Regardless, he turned in response to my words and got in my face until I had little choice but to look him in the eye.
“I didn’t say we were going to talk. I’m gonna talk. You’re gonna listen.”
“Can you get me down, please?!” I called to the two attendants lurking nearby.
“I got this,” Mac called to them, without taking his eyes off of me.
“Let go,” I managed calmly, even though a storm raged inside me. I wanted to kick him where it would hurt the most, but he was too close for me to get the backswing to do the amount of damage I felt he deserved.
“Sure thing.” He twisted his hands and released the catch, steadying me so I wouldn’t fall. It happened so quickly that I found myself standing free before my mind had a chance to catch up. He towered over me, and his sudden closeness was painfully familiar. “Now, all I’m asking is that you listen.”
L.G. Pace III has spent several decades pouring creative energy into other things besides writing. He began his current journey by telling his two daughters bedtime stories about a magical realm and a hero named Terel. Though that story is still sitting unfinished in the electronic universe he has managed to bring several other stories out of the dark maelstrom of his mind for others to enjoy. He dwells in the great state of Texas with his wife, novelist Michelle Pace and their children.
OTHER WORKS BY L.G.PACE III:
The Lost One
The Carved Hearts Series (with Michelle Pace):
Oculus (with J.L. Mac)
CONNECT WITH L.G. PACE III AT:
Facebook: https:// www.facebook.com/ LGPaceIII
Michelle Pace lives in north Texas with her husband, Les, who is also a novelist. A mother of three, this former singer and actress has always enjoyed entertaining people and is excited to continue to do so as a writer.
OTHER WORKS BY MICHELLE PACE:
Something’s Come Up (with Andrea Randall)
Fury (with Tammy Coons)
Rage (with Tammy Coons)
The Perpetual Quest for the Perfect Life (with Tammy Coons)
Connect with Michelle Pace at:
Facebook: https:// www.facebook.com/ MichelleKisnerPace
Webpage: http:// www.michellepaceauthor.com