Title: Mismatched in Mayhem
Series: Whiskey Sisters #4
Author: L.E. Rico
Publisher: Entangled Publishing LLC
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Comedy
Release Date: January 13, 2020
Welcome to Mayhem, Minnesota, with its sweater-wearing cats and ultra-competitive trivia nights. Where love really does conquer all…if you’ll let it.
Walker O’Halloran is finally ready to shed her “wild child” persona. Bartending at her family’s pub, babysitting her adorable niece and nephews, and getting her degree during the day. What she doesn’t do is date–or even think about dating. Ever. Until he walks into her bar, looking like a former Mr. Quarterback of the Football Team and Student Council President all rolled into one. No, thank you.
Mason Stevens has a secret—and it prevents him from knowing if someone is truly interested in him, or just what he can do for them. Until he meets Walker. She’s the first person in ages who doesn’t recognize him, and her grouchy attitude feels like the greatest challenge of his life. And he’s ready for it.
But the more time they spend together, the more he’s desperate to come clean—it’s just never the right time. Until the paparazzi do it for him…
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When he glances back down again, he finds me staring. At him.
“Come here,” he says quietly, opening his arms to me.
For a second, I fell bashful, and it’s such a foreign feeling for me. I loathe the feeling of vulnerability. But it’s not just a feeling. It’s what I am. And somehow, that’s never a problem when I’m with him.
I step forward and he draws me against his large, broad body, making me feel delicate and fragile—like a bird. A bird he could easily crush. I know this now. But I go to him anyway. Because my heart won’t let me not go to him. So I stand on my tiptoes, wrapping my arms around his neck, and pressing my lips to his. This is my answer to his apology. This is my promise to him. This is the moment that finally frees me from the self-imposed curse that’s plagued me for so long.
When we finally stop kissing, we’re still attached—every part of me touching every part of him. We’re staring at each other, and I feel an intensity between us that sends a wave of heat throughout my entire body. He puts his hands on either side of my face, stroking my skin with his thumbs.
“How’d I get to be so lucky?” he whispers, more to himself than to me.
“I don’t… What do you mean?”
“You have absolutely no idea, do you?”
I don’t. Maybe I’m dense, but I don’t have any clue what it is that he’s trying to tell me. “Mason, I don’t—”
Before I can finish, he’s scooped me off my feet and into his arms. “Johnny Walker Black O’Halloran, you have well and truly stolen every bit of my heart. And, if you’ll have me, it would my great honor to spend tonight showing you just how much that means. Just how much you mean to me.”
I want to believe him. But…
“Look at me,” he commands, sensing my reluctance. “Look at my face.”
I do, scanning every inch from forehead to chin.
“Look in my eyes.”
I do, settling my gaze there.
“Do you see it?” he asks. “Do you see how much I care for you, Walker?”
My acknowledgment comes slowly. It’s a nod that arrives only when I do see it for myself.
“I do. And I…I think I…I might…”
His lips are on mine again before I can struggle with the words for too long. And then, I press my lips against his ear, and I whisper.
I head to the only place where I seem to be able to clear my head. The roof. At nearly two in the morning, the entirety of Main Street is dark and deserted. I sigh and close my eyes, hoping maybe I’ll doze off. And I do…but then I’m dreaming that someone is calling my name. It takes a few seconds to realize that it isn’t a dream. Someone really is calling my name.
“Walker! Are you up there? Walker!”
Startled, I jump up and follow the sound to the edge of the roof overlooking the alley between our building and the one next door. Looking up at me is Mason Stevens.
“Mason? What are you doing here?”
“I have to talk to you. Can you please come down here?”
I shake my head.
“Uh-uh. No way. Go home, it’s late.”
“Please! Just let me talk to you.”
“I am not coming down.”
“Okay, then let me come up and see you there…”
“Dude! You’re not listening to me. I don’t want to talk to you. There’s nothing to say.”
“Of course there is! I have to explain about Cassandra. And I know what my mom said to you at the pub. Walker, there’s so much I have to say to you. Please, don’t make me do it from down here.”
I’m about to turn around and go inside when he does something incredibly bizarre. He grabs the long drainpipe that runs down the side of the building. And he starts to climb.
“Hey!” I holler down at him. “Hey, stop that!”
“Walker O’Halloran, I love you!” he’s saying as he passes the first floor windows and starts on the second floor.
“Mason! That thing is not going to support your weight. Stop! Please! Just go down before you kill yourself!” I hear myself getting louder and shriller. A light comes on across the street in an apartment over the newspaper office.
“No. I won’t stop. Not until we get our H-E-A.”
“Happily ever af—”
I presume he was going to say “happily ever after” right up until the moment that the brackets holding the pipe against the brick façade break free and the pipe starts to bend backward, taking Mason with it.
“Oh, shhh—” I hear him mutter just before I lose all sense of time and place.
He’s falling. He’s high enough up that he’ll surely break his back, or his neck, or crack his skull open. Oh, sweet Jesus, he could die! He came here to see me and I wouldn’t let him up. So he climbed the wall…and now he’s going to die! I’m going to kill someone else.
“Mason!” I hear myself screech as he continues his backward descent, still clutching the pipe with his arms and legs.
It’s all happening in slow motion and, for a brief second, he’s almost horizontal, like a pig hanging off a spit at a luau.
“Mason!” I shriek again, running back and forth along the ledge of the building, my eyes scanning the roof around me for inspiration. But there’s nothing. And it’s too late, anyway.
I can only watch in horror as he falls out of my reach. And out of my life.
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L.E. Rico didn’t set out to be an author. In fact she’s made a name for herself as a classical music radio host—doing her best to make the music and the composers relevant by putting them into a modern context. It was just a few years ago that she discovered a passion for writing that blossomed into an entire novel. And then another. And another. And, while she still spends plenty of time on the radio, telling the stories of the great composers, she spends even more time composing her own great stories.