Feckless, luckless, and charming, Mackenzie Detweiler is the author of a self-help book one reviewer calls “the most misbegotten motivational tool since Mein Kampf.” He’s maneuvered himself into a career as a life coach, but more often than not, his advice is bad. Really bad.
It’s even getting people hurt… and Mackenzie sued.
It falls to Mackenzie’s long-suffering editor, JD Chambers, to deliver the bad news. He chooses to do so face-to-face—to see if the spark he senses between them is real when they’re together in the flesh. Unfortunately, a snowstorm, a case of nerves, a case of mistaken identity, and finally a murder get in the way of a potential enemies-to-lovers romance.
There are many, many people who have good reason to want Mackenzie dead. JD must find out which one is acting on it before it’s too late for both of them.
JD was pissed because he felt goddamn nothing.
Stupid for hoping that, if he embraced the worst, his fears would
Stupid for asking for more than he had when he was arguably the
richest, luckiest person he knew.
Stupid for trying out any advice he got from a dumbass like Mac,
who had turned out to be just another fucked-up human being after all—even if
he was a delightful one.
They were all lucky no one had gotten killed. Yet.
Everyone from editorial to corporate had put in a word. Plummet was going to be pulled off the shelves the following Monday. Press
releases had been written. Lawyers were on standby. And he had to tell Mac
about that too.
Sorry. I’m the man you trusted with
your career, and I’m here to pull the rug out.
It wasn’t right to keep it from him. Years back, they’d pulled a
book on canning while the author reworked the section on food safety. Those
things happened. But they wouldn’t offer Mac a chance to rewrite and rerelease.
The ideas JD had embraced so fully only alarmed them after his ludicrous brush
with death, though it had nothing to do with the book.
No. The board didn’t want anything to do with Mac anymore.
JD had argued at first. Thrown his weight around. What happened to
him didn’t result from Plummet to Soar. All he’d
done was attend a contentious co-op board meeting. Those were a bore but not
normally dangerous. It wasn’t like he’d run with the bulls in Pamplona. No one
could have foreseen his ex catching him in the parking garage alone.
JD absently rubbed his knee. And why, when his leg was broken on
one side, did the other knee hurt so much? JD made a mental note to call his
doctor and find out.
His eyes snapped open when the water shut off. From the other side
of the door came the sound of more humming and rustling noises. Curiosity was
killing JD truly. Killing him.
How did connecting doors in hotels work, anyway? Were there two
doors or just one? It seemed kinda old-school—a knob, a dead bolt.
Is the lock engaged?
As though it heated before his eyes, the lock seemed to glow with
some inner fire. The knob was the only thing he could focus on.
God, his leg hurt. The buzz from the fight, from the bar, was
fading. If he took a pain pill, it would knock him out too hard.
JD laid his cheek against the door and put his hand on the knob.
Nope. Nope, Nope. Nope. The door
between their rooms felt cool. He let go of the knob, as though it would brand
him, but that was just more melodramatic bullshit. He could hear his mother’s
voice telling him to get a grip on himself. Which, really, anyone who ever met
him would have known that having a grip on himself was part of the goddamn
Try the door.
It was almost as though the door were talking to him—or was that
He wanted to try it anyway, and what was it they said about confirmation
bias? You generally fall in with the data that supports what you already
No. It wasn’t all a scam.
The doorknob turned in his hand. The door opened in his direction.
He had to step back to get out of its way. And then he was standing there,
staring at Kenzie Detweiler, who wore nothing but a towel.
He looked like a tanned monster, pieced together from scraps. His
skin, a patchwork of scars from the dozens of surgeries required after his
Christ, he was beautiful. He had a warrior’s body—lean and
weathered, hard from surfing and hiking and biking and sun. He smelled like
coconuts, as absurd there in the frozen tundra as Kenzie himself, as absurd as
a man created entirely from sunshine and disaster. It was agony to be with him
in the darkened room. But JD only had to smile to make Kenzie come to him.
Kenzie offered a small, courageous smile in return, and that was it.
They came together sloppily, with more heat than finesse. Lips
crashed, teeth clacked together, hands found purchase on skin. There was only
hair for JD to grab on to—hair or the rigid, well-defined muscles of a mature
athlete. Kenzie got hold of JD’s clothes and dragged him close, his cock
rampant, shocking both of them with the fierceness of his need.
JD fell back against the doorjamb, dizzy with lust and shock and
the utter wrongness of Kenzie kissing a man he didn’t know was him.
He let his head fall back. “Wait—”
As soon as the word was out of JD’s mouth, Kenzie dropped his
hands and stepped away, red-faced and sweating.
“No.” Kenzie’s eyes were too bright. “Shit, shit, shit. I’m so
“No worries.” All JD could think about was how to get rid of the
towel. He reached for it.
“Wait.” Both hands up, Kenzie confessed. “I left the door unlocked
on purpose. I’m such a fucking dog. But the way you acted, I thought you’d want
to talk, not—”
“My fault.” JD worked to unstick his tongue. His mouth was
bone-dry, his heart racing. He was so turned on he hurt, and fuck—no way. He’d
have to tell Kenzie everything. Now. “I’m not who you think I am.”
Mac laughed. “Duh, secret squirrel. There’s no Douglas on my flight
manifest. Who the hell are you?”
“Er—” Having Kenzie’s body against his robbed him of speech, of
breath, of functional brain cells. He couldn’t think of anything he wanted more
than he wanted to feel that lightly furred athletic body against his, without a
towel, without clothes, or a goddamn broken leg. He’d have to keep his boot on
if they fucked, and suddenly he felt vindicated for all those scenarios he’d
placed his anatomical drawing figurines in since puberty.
Kenzie cupped his face. His thick, hard cock proved JD’s desire
wasn’t one-sided. The contact made him squirm, and when Kenzie finally
stiffened with resolve to pull away, JD wanted to collapse at his feet and sob.
“I can’t do this.” Kenzie let him go. “I’m sorry. You have no
idea. If there were any other way, I’d totally be down. But—”
JD tried to follow him and stepped wrong. Oops. There went the
pain again, and the sweat, and his body was so confused. He was hard, he was
hurt, he was hungry too, goddammit. He wondered if taking a pill after all the
alcohol was even safe.
“Oh God, Kenzie.” He practically threw himself at Kenzie. “It’s
me. JD. Just… don’t flip out. Okay? It’s JD.”
“JD?” Kenzie pulled back, pale with shock.
He swallowed. “Er—”
“This is how you do it?” Kenzie
asked. “This is how we meet? You lie to me?”
“No. Not really. My name is Douglas.
Middle name.” It was time to come clean, but it was harder than he’d thought.
“I… I had to see you. I missed you so much.
But there’s… umm… a business problem we need to talk about.”
“My God, JD. I thought you’d been downsized or something.”
Apparently oblivious to his near nudity, he caught both of JD’s hands and
peered deeply into his eyes. “Are you all right? Jesus, you’ve got a broken
leg, and you’re probably angry with me, and I’m not even sure—”
“I’m not angry—”
“Don’t lie. You came here to give me hell. I could see it when we
met.” Kenzie glanced at JD’s leg in horror. “What did you do? Please tell me
you didn’t go skydiving or something stupid like that.”
“It’s nothing to do with Plummet.” Still in
the doorway between their rooms, still throbbing with unaccustomed lust and
shame, he waved off the question. “It was a total fluke. I was just—”
“Were you mad at me about something? Because all of a sudden you
were just—gone. Breathe with me.” Kenzie stood on tiptoe to brush their cheeks
together while they breathed in that familiar way. Count to four on the inhale.
Count to eight on the exhale, which felt so much nicer in person. A text with
the words Breathe with me had nothing
on the feel of Kenzie’s body, flush against JD’s—the sharp angles and crisp
hair and pebbled brown flesh of his nipples. “You can tell me. Did I piss you
off somehow? I do that. Most people—”
“Oh, no.” His heart was going to break if Kenzie thought he’d been
faithless…. He pressed his forehead to Kenzie’s. “It’s nothing like that. I
was an idiot.”
Kenzie’s smile was hesitant. “Was it because I pressured you to
talk on the phone? To meet me in person? I shouldn’t have—”
“It’s not that either, Kenzie. I—”
“I felt like we really had something, JD. You and me were
Lamplighters. We were gonna light up the world. You haven’t changed your mind,
Oh, when Kenzie said the words that way, how could he? Of course he was Kenzie’s man. #RideNDie. No choice
anymore, really. Not since he’d fallen in love.
His heart hurt. Whether it was because it wasn’t going to be easy,
or because Kenzie felt the need to ask, he didn’t know.
“It’s seems pretty cheesy, now.” JD’s turn to blush.
“Waging love and peace is not cheesy,” Kenzie said softly. “It’s
more essential than ever in a frightening world. We have to be brave and strong
and uphold our principles.”
JD cleared his throat. “I didn’t have the confidence to meet you.
I’m sorry about that now. That was the one thing I did think, when”—he tapped
his boot with his crutch—“this happened. I wished I had.”
Kenzie’s smile was radiant, glowing with warmth and humor and
wickedness. “Never too late.”
“Please?” JD was taller by half a foot, and yet it was Kenzie who
wrapped him in his arms and Kenzie who bruised him with the most exciting
kisses he’d ever received. Kenzie shoved his back into the doorjamb again.
Switzerland, he guessed. Between the rooms was neither Kenzie’s nor his
Soon, though. Soon he’d let Kenzie roll past his borders and over
his hills and valleys. Kenzie could plant his flag on anything of JD’s he
wanted, anything in the world he asked for, everything JD had.
“Please,” he whispered again as he pressed kisses to Kenzie’s
face, his neck, and his jaw.
“On it.” In Kenzie’s impatience, he broke a belt loop pulling the
buckle loose. JD let his hands play while he memorized the mesmerizing sweep of
muscle that was Kenzie’s back—strong, tan, ripply, sure.
He was warm and alive and there. Oh God, Kenzie was right there,
and he was real, even if the plummet things were the saddest little parade JD’d
“Where?” Kenzie asked. “Wing chair? Bed? I’ll suck you. Where would
you be most comfortable?”
“Fuck it.” Kenzie dropped to his knees and mouthed JD’s cock
through his boxer briefs.
“Oh—” JD’s mouth stayed in that shocked, round O of perfection
that is the surprise of hot breath on your dick through cotton fabric— and also
the sound of glass shattering when the curtains blow in, along with a massive
gust of wind and snow.
Boom, crack, crack, crack. Kenzie’s
paper cutout flew across the room—head full of holes and smoking—to land on the