Clandestine: A Garden Falls Novel
Finding himself in Claire's bed wearing nothing but a Zorro mask wasn't exactly how Zane planned his Halloween. It was a certainty his sister’s best friend would lose her mind when she realized what they'd done. Having been secretly in love with Claire for years, Zane has no choice but to hide his identity. But he can’t just walk away...
Claire knew waking up naked and alone was just a part of a one-night stand. So she wasn’t too upset to find her mystery man had bounced sometime during the night. But when she finds his mask and a note, she can’t help but be intrigued. A few corny poems later, Claire starts a hunt to discover the identity of the mysterious “Z”. His demanding, yet sincere, persistence arouses not only her desire to recapture the magic they had shared on Halloween, but stirs up hidden desires she’s held on to for years.
When her best friend’s brother suddenly ups his flirting game, Claire is caught somewhere between her clandestine admirer and the man she knows she can’t have. Will she choose the secretive "Z" who won't even tell her his name, or risk her relationship with her best friend and take a chance on Zane?
Turning into the packed parking lot at Garden, Claire stomped the brakes and winced. Her car screeched to a stop, the bumper mere inches from Dracula and Medusa. The kissing couple didn't seem to notice their near brush with death. If they did, it didn't bother them enough to interrupt their embrace, anyway. With an exasperated shake of her head, Claire eased her car around them, glancing toward the front of the building as she crept slowly by. The line of people went from the double front doors, all the way around the side under the big stained glass windows. Of course it would, every adult in town under thirty was inside the club—or wanted to be. She finally found an empty spot at the back of the lot. A sports car was straddling the line, but it left just enough space for Claire to squeeze her little compact car in between it and the red Ford truck on the left. The Richland Construction sign on the door of the big truck made her sigh.
Shit. The last thing she wanted to deal with tonight was Zane freaking Richmond. The big goof had made it his life's mission to make her smile for years. But lately? Oh, lately, he'd taken it a step further and the teasing had taken on more of a flirty tone. And now her heart went crazy every time he smiled her direction. Which happened way more than she wanted to admit. If he wasn't her best friend's brother, maybe... But after all that she and Talia had been through, endangering their friendship all for an uncertain relationship with Zane wasn't something she was willing to chance.
It was just one night. She could ignore him for one night.
Even if he flirted? No... Some things just weren't worth the risk. And despite how much that little dimple when he laughed begged her to kiss it, or how her heart fluttered whenever their hands brushed, she couldn't give in to the temptation of Zane.
With a fortifying breath, Claire stepped out of her car. She pulled the rest of her costume from the back seat. Huge wings. Tonight, she was an angel. The snowy white feathers weighed heavily on her back. But with her mask and wings firmly in place, she strode up to the worn brick building. Zane Richmond wasn't going to keep her from this party. Not tonight. Halloween was her favorite holiday and she'd be damned if she let his presence stop her.
She got in line behind a pair of ninjas and crept slowly toward the entrance, inch by inch. The slow moving line gave her too much time to worry. It would be a miracle if she was able to find her friends in the crowded club. At least she'd be able to find Sean. Even if he was in costume, the massive bartender her best friend had just married would be easy to find. And he'd be able to point Talia out.
A shiver coursed down her spine as the cool autumn breeze picked up. The angel costume really needed more fabric to be appropriate for this weather. She rubbed her hands over her bare arms, trying to warm the chilled flesh. She almost reneged on her promise to show up tonight when the line stopped moving for a minute. With the sun high in the sky today, the air had warmed to the mid-fifties. But now that it had eased below the horizon, those warmer temperatures were falling fast. She didn't recognize the bouncer, but the jerk laughed at her chattering teeth when she finally made it to the door. She showed him ID and got the 21+ stamp on her hand.
Oh she definitely planned to have a few drinks tonight. This week had been damn ridiculous at work. They'd lost three patients due to various complications and her stress level had reached its max. She was so ready for some alcohol and a little relaxation. A few drinks, maybe some dancing where she could get close to a hot guy for a bit.
Slipping her ID inside the tiny pocket she'd sewn on her costume, she fought a shiver as her body tried to adjust to the temperature difference. Ten feet inside the club Peter Pan asked her to dance. She eyed him carefully. He was kinda cute. Glancing down, she vetoed that. Nope. Not nearly enough in those tights to tempt her. She gave him a soft smile and let him down easy. "Sorry, Pete. I'm an angel, not a fairy. Keep looking, you'll find your Tinkerbell."
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Author website: www.alliekincheloe.com