Smittened - Jamie Farrell

Smittened

Misfit Brides, Book 3

A Bad Boy, a Good Girl, and Ice Cream!

Dahlia Mallard has finally found her destiny—running an ice cream shop in Bliss, the happiest bridal town in the Midwest. Problem is, her heart is bigger than her bank account. After spending her last dime on a less-than-worthy cause, she needs a serious influx of cash to get through the winter. Her last-ditch effort? Convincing country music superstar Billy Brenton to attend the risqué flavor-tasting event she’s planned to boost sales. But the closest she can get to Billy is his drummer, the womanizing Mikey Diamond.

Mikey loves the ladies, and he makes no secret of it. But he’s not such a fan of this town devoted to weddings, love, and marriage. And he’s even less of a fan of people using him to get to Billy. When circumstances land Mikey in Dahlia’s house as her new roommate, though, all his caution—and all his interest in any other single ladies—flies out the window. Dahlia’s quirky and funny and, unlike his usual women, she doesn’t tolerate any of his baloney. But when Mikey discovers that Dahlia, too, is using him to get close to Billy, will he take the chance to be her hero instead, or will he revert to his manwhore ways?

(Smittened expands on the Mikey-Dahlia subplot inside Matched)

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Mikey Diamond lived large. He worked hard, he played hard and now, apparently, he burned hard.

His house sure did, anyway.

Sirens rang out, red lights flashed in the night and the acrid taste of smoke choked him. Worst part was, that burning fire hadn’t done a dang thing to warm up the cold January night.

Or it might’ve been his own conscience causing that bitter chill under his skin.

“You think they’d let us close enough to roast marshmallows?” a feminine voice said beside him.

He blinked down at a curvy woman with an upturned nose. She pushed a pair of glasses back up said nose, then squinted at the fire. “Good thing it’s vacant, huh? I wonder what started the fire.”

Mikey looked at the burning two-story structure lighting up the night. Then back at the lady.

She was vaguely familiar—he and Will had been in town a few days and had met a lot of people—and Mikey was all but certain his momma would label her one round short of a full clip, then probably toss a bless her heart on top of it.

“That’s my house,” Mikey said.

She drew back and squinted at him. “No, it’s the—oh. Oh.”

Ding-dong, the lightbulb had entered the building. “Yeah.”

She shot a glance around. No doubt looking for Will, Mikey’s best friend and travel companion, known to the world as country music superstar Billy Brenton. In other words, the more interesting of the two of them.

Also, the one who had just left Mikey here to fend for himself with no transportation and no shelter. Not that Mikey could blame him.

It was Mikey’s fault the house was on fire. And while Mikey had lost a suitcase of clothes and a computer, Will had lost a little more.

A hell of a lot more, matter of fact. Better Will was gone, or he might’ve tried to go into the fire after it.

Mikey shuddered.

The girl shifted a speculative glance in Mikey’s direction. What was her name? Something with a D. Delaney? Delilah?

“So…” she said.

Mikey treated her to a slow grin. Not because he felt like it, but because she was wearing loose pants and clunky slipper shoes under her coat, because he’d never minded using his status as Billy Brenton’s drummer to his advantage when it came to women, and because she obviously knew the neighborhood.

Which meant the girl most likely lived close by.

She probably also had a car nearby and could give him a lift to a hotel. And a lift was all he was up for tonight, which might’ve said something about how badly rattled he was at seeing the house burn down. Because Mikey was always up for something when it came to women.

Except now, apparently. “So?” he prompted.

She visibly swallowed, nose wrinkling as though she’d drank curdled milk. “So… you’re still sticking around Bliss?” she asked.

It was Mikey’s turn to taste that milk. If it were up to him, he’d be on the first flight back home to Georgia.

But he was here in Illinois—in the Most Married-est Town on Earth, God help him—to keep an eye on Will, both for his own peace of mind and as a favor to Will’s sister, Mari Belle. Mikey wasn’t leaving until his buddy did. Given what Mikey knew about why Will was here, neither of them would get gone until either Will solved his love life, or until the next leg of the Billy Brenton Hitched tour started next month.

“Yep, sticking around awhile,” he said slowly. What was her name? Dixie? Darla?

“So you need”—she visibly gulped—“a place to stay?”

Mikey opened his mouth to say no, but choked on a lungful of ash.

He did need a place to stay.

She fluttered her hands at something behind them. “My house is just over there, and I have a spare bedroom, so this is quite serendipitous. Except for the part about your current rental house burning down. That’s a little unfortunate. Obviously.”

“Obviously,” Mikey echoed. “Unfortunate.”

“A tragedy.” She puffed up her chest under her fluffy coat. The more primitive parts of Mikey’s brain noted that she did, in fact, have a nice chest. Even if covered with infinite layers of polyester. Were they somewhere other than Bliss, he would’ve noticed sooner.

“My heater works very well,” she said. “No frostbite in my house. Did I mention that part?”

“Don’t think so, sweet pea. But it’s right good to hear.”

“Yep. Working heater, and I even cook breakfast. Won’t get that at a hotel. You two will have to share a room since I only have one guest bed. Or maybe I could sleep on the couch. You know. I’m flexible. With sleeping stuff.”

The normal alarm bells rang out in his head over her assumption that she’d be getting Billy Brenton as part of the package. But the primitive part of Mikey’s brain was getting louder too, cheering every time she said bed or sleep. Share was another he didn’t mind either. And flexible.

But it still wasn’t loud enough to distract him from the fire and his concern over Will. Mikey needed to give him a call. Make sure he was okay. Had found a place to stay.

“Billy’s making his own arrangements,” Mikey said to—what was her name?

“Oh.” Her lips twitched down, but she beat them into submission and flashed him a semi-brilliant smile with wide, full lips and dark eyes that sparkled with the reflection of the fire. “Pity for him, isn’t it? So. Are you coming, or would you rather be a Popsicle?”

He took one last look back at the burning house. Fire chief had Mikey’s number and had already said there wasn’t much else Mikey could do tonight. Everything inside the house was gone.

“Suppose I can give you a night to impress me.” He gave her a slow wink.

“Best night you’ll ever have,” she said with a naïveté that was almost refreshing. “Best breakfast too.”

Probably not, but he’d take what he could get.

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