Family has always been so important in my life, so when I got the idea for a mom and two daughters who found themselves needing a new start, I knew I had to get to know them better. Sugar Cassavechia feels responsible for her mother and sister, especially now that she’s dragged them to Pecan Creek, Texas, on a mission to start her online business, hotterthanhellnuts.com. Yet the only person in town who seems to welcome them is Jake Bentley—and Sugar’s not all that pleased with her new landlord, not after seeing the house he’s rented them. Jake appears determined to charm her out of her shell—and though Sugar has seen red-hot charm before—something about Pecan Creek makes her hope this time will be different.
There’s lots happening in this small town where sex is a hot topic. I hope you enjoy this excerpt—and I invite you to also check out HOTTER THAN HOT, a free online prequel for the Pecan Creek series, available at www.samhainpublishing.com. Please join me in Pecan Creek—it’s going to be fun!
HOTTER THAN TEXAS
Sugar got into the car, gunning the engine so Jake would know she was good and ticked and backed up fast, making him jump back a foot.
Lucy giggled. “What a bunch of wooden dummies.”
“I liked them,” Maggie said. “Why’d you drag me off?”
“Because they were being rude, Mom.” Sugar glanced over at her mother. “They don’t want you to be the mayor.”
“So? I don’t want to be a mayor. I don’t want to be anything. I just want to be.” She lit a cigarette, inhaling deeply. “They’re just a little set in their ways.”
“They’re a lot set in their ways.” If she saw Jake too soon, she was going to slap him silly for subjecting Maggie to that. “The casting for Norman Bates’s mother could be any one of those women.”
“I don’t care how frozen they are,” Maggie said. “I’m not trying to sleep with them, for heaven’s sake.”
“Who would?” Lucy asked. “They looked at us like we were termites.”
Sugar shuddered, remembering Vivian’s piercing glare on her sister’s clothes. “Cockroaches.”
“You girls are too sensitive,” Maggie said, and her voice was so cheerful that Sugar just shut her mouth and drove home in silence.
* * *
“Jake, a word, if you can spare a moment.”
Jake watched Sugar’s long blue ragtop Oldsmobile fade into the distance. “Sure.”
“What exactly do you think you are doing by renting our house to those people?” Vivian asked.
He couldn’t say he hadn’t known this was coming—just perhaps not this soon. “Where do you expect me to find the kind of people you want? Blue- blooded, wealthy, well-heeled aristocrats don’t just drop out of the sky into Pecan Creek looking to rent a rundown house decorated like Rancho Sex-o.”
Vivian drew in a sharp breath. “Those rooms are art.”
Jake sighed. “They are not art, unless it’s art you’d find— Never mind, Mom. The Cassavechias are nice people.”
“A little class would be nice, Jake. That’s what would have been nice. Do you have any idea how embarrassing this is?”
“Embarrassing to whom? I’m not embarrassed. I was over there today, and they’re taking great care of the house. Between the repairs I’ve done and the flowers they’ve planted, the place looks alive again.”
Vivian’s brown eyes pierced him. “The young one is trash, a slut. The mother is a trollop. I don’t even know what to say about the oldest daughter except that she seems tough.” Vivian’s voice rose. “They all look low class, Jake. Like fifty miles of bad road.”
He’d thought Maggie was a pretty soft cookie, actually, and Sugar wore her heart in her eyes. She tried to be a general, but she was trying to keep everything together. Lucy, he’d grant, was nobody’s fool. “You’ve got a bit of toughness in you too, Mom. And you know,” he said, his voice softening, “we haven’t rented the place in over two years. It was time.”
“The family home,” Vivian said bitterly.
“Yeah, and Dad’s not coming back.” Jake took no joy in the pain that flared in his mother’s eyes. “He’s not. He found another woman years ago, and he’s made a life with her, and he’s gone. That’s it. Over. One day, you’ll have to accept it.”
Vivian’s shoulders slumped. “They’re trouble, Jake. You don’t think I recognize trouble when I see it?” She gazed at her son’s unmoving face for a few moments, then seemed to realize Jake had no intention of bending. She turned and walked away. Jake watched her go, hating himself for saying anything, for shattering his mother’s illusions that she wrapped herself in, but Sugar had a right to be upset. Vivian had been rude as hell to Maggie, and as far as he could tell, there was no reason to turn away good money just for the sake of illusion.
The fact was, Sugar wasn’t the kind of woman he’d throw out of his bed for eating crackers. He wasn’t about to toss her out of his house just because Vivian’s self-righteous standards had been violated.