She has two words for love. “Make me.” Then love changes the rules…
Unbelievable, Book 3
As far as hairstylist Celia Occam is concerned, she's struck out at marriage twice, and there will be no “third time’s a charm”. So what if one salon employee and the town gossip seem dead set on fixing her up with Prince Charming. She’s nobody’s princess.
She’s all for scratching the occasional itch with the right man, but flirtatious firefighter Mason Delacroix is all wrong. Besides, with three broken engagements on his romantic rap sheet, even a one-night mattress mambo sounds like a bad idea.
From the first moment Mason encounters Celia’s emotional barriers, he’s determined to turn up the heat as high as it takes to melt the ice. If the whole town wants to back him up by playing Cupid, he’s on board. Track record be damned. He wants Celia, and he’s ready for permanent.
When her self-appointed guardian angels conspire to lock them in the basement, their long-denied chemistry explodes. She finds herself relishing every moment—though her subconscious is already on the run.
Funny thing, though. Every time she zigs, Mason’s already zagged. Making her wonder if this time it’s for real, or if Cupid is just up to its old tricks.
A hairdresser with a slight fetish for naughty lingerie. A sexy fireman who knows what he wants, which includes having said hairdresser in every possible way. Frontways, backways, sideways…and always.
How did she get herself into these messes? Oh, right. She had friends with the utter gall to be happy.
Celia Occam rolled her eyes and tried to ignore the fact that she was up to her eyeballs in decorations for her best friend’s surprise wedding reception. Aubrey had eloped with her new husband Price a few weeks before, without any of the frills of a real wedding, so a surprise party to celebrate the occasion was in order. Actually, the owner of the local bed and breakfast inn had insisted on throwing the shindig and had roped Celia into helping put it together. Silver balloons and navy blue streamers hung from every surface of the B&B.
“Give me a hand with this, won’t you, dear?” Mrs. Chambers called. The elderly woman—and certified small town busybody—wobbled on top of a stepladder, the white knot coiled on top of her head wobbling even more precariously.
Celia’s heart tripped when she saw the old lady go up on her tiptoes to string more streamers from a doorway. “Get down, Mrs. Chambers.”
“Oh, I can do it. Just hold—”
“No, ma’am.” She leaped up from where she knelt attaching a table skirt, jogging over to brace the other woman’s legs. “Please, stop. I can take care of it for you. Really. Come away from there.”
“If you insist.” Climbing down with more grace than Celia would have imagined, Mrs. Chambers brushed off her dress. Then she wagged her finger. “I’ve told you to call me Tori.”
“Right. Tori.” Celia sighed in relief at having the older woman on solid ground, grabbed the dangling end of the streamer and hopped up on the ladder while Tori watched. “I might slip and call you Mrs. C sometimes, Mrs. C.”
“So I see.” Tori laughed, but then her tone turned coy and teasing. “Mason Delacroix is coming to the party tonight.”
Celia’s heart thumped at the mention of his name. She stomped down on the reaction, ignoring it as she had for the year she’d known him. Forcing her voice into nonchalance, she busied herself with hanging more paper doodads. “Well, he’s the groom’s brother, so I assumed you invited him.”
“He’s such a nice young man. Handsome too.” Tori handed her a piece of tape for the next streamer. “I think he likes you.”
“I think he’d just like to get in my pants,” Celia muttered.
“What was that, dear?”
“Nothing.” She glanced down and smiled as innocently as she could, which wasn’t very, but she gave it a shot.
Tori’s white bun teetered when she tilted her head and narrowed her eyes. Lately, she’d been hell-bent in her mission to fix Celia and Mason up, and she fired a new salvo. “He’d be good for you, and he does like you. You should take him up on it the next time he asks you out. He’s not going to your hair salon just for his looks.”
Of course, everyone knew Mason made appointments at Occam’s Razor to have her shave his head on a regular basis. Each time he’d come in, he’d asked her out. But he hadn’t come in the last few weeks, and his hair had grown into a dark stubble. It did nothing to detract from his good looks. Tori was right about that… Mason was undeniably handsome.
When Celia didn’t respond, Tori heaved a dramatically disappointed sigh. “I’ll just go see if Jerry needs help in the kitchen.”
“You do that.” Celia shook her head as the town gossip bustled away, reluctant affection winding through her. Mrs. Chambers got her hair washed and styled at Celia’s salon at least three times a week, just for an excuse to eavesdrop on any juicy conversations that might be going on. The woman knew everything about everyone—her abilities in that arena never failed to impress Celia. Spending a good portion of her childhood in Cedarville meant everyone knew everything about Celia’s sordid past already, so she didn’t have to worry about what Tori might hear about her. Ah, small town life.
While she twisted and taped up the crinkled paper decorations, she could hear the sound of Tori talking to Jerry. The flamingly gay man was Celia’s newest stylist, and he’d struck up a tight friendship with the gossipy biddy that she couldn’t begin to understand. But as long as they were happy, Celia wasn’t about to question it. She’d figured out long ago that it was best to enjoy the moment she was in, and worry as little as possible about things she couldn’t change. If people were happy, it was all good.
“There,” she said, affixing the last bunch of balloons to the corner of the doorframe. Clamoring off the stepladder, she executed a slow spin to take in the whole room. She propped her hands on her hips and grinned.
“It looks great,” a deep voice rumbled from directly behind her.
A high-pitched squeak erupted from her throat, and she whipped around. “Damn it, Mason! Don’t sneak up on people like that. Make a noise or something.”
“I did make a noise. I said it looked great. Good to see you again, Celia.” One dark eyebrow rose, but not an ounce of chagrin crossed his face. Instead, he just grinned at her, a slow, wicked smile that would make any woman’s toes curl.
Any woman except her, damn it. She was immune, and that was final. Her body could just get with the program and stop melting down every time he came near her. She crossed her arms over her breasts to cover her beading nipples, which just drew his gaze down to her cleavage. A wave of heat sluiced through her, and she dropped her arms. “What are you doing here?”
If she sounded breathless and her heart beat too fast, she blamed on it the fact that he’d startled her. It was a lie and she knew it. The man was hot enough to be hazardous to her mental well being. Just having him this close made her pulse flutter. The truth was, the man was sex on a stick. At well over six foot tall, he was a solid wall of muscle. Then again, firefighters had to be in good shape. His sub-bass voice and emerald eyes just completed one scrumptious package. She cleared her throat, tearing her gaze away from every luscious inch of him. The last thing she wanted was to encourage him to come on to her. Again. He’d slacked off lately, and she shouldn’t mess with that progress.