Saturday, December 21, 2013

25 Days of Christmas Reader Celebration: Day 21

With me today is Andrea Dickinson with her book Baltimore Heat! Remember you must comment to be entered to win. Plus your comment enters you in the grand prize drawing on Christmas Day. Only one entry per day! All winners are selected via So visit daily and comment!

Baltimore Heat by Andrea Dickinson

A City Hearts Story... At the end of a busy workweek, young businesswoman Raquel Walsh just wants to shorten the distance between her and the train station while she searches for a taxi. She never expects to find herself lost in a rough Baltimore neighborhood, the victim of a mugging and the unexpected houseguest of the grandmother of a retired, professional basketball player. 

Marcus Jones isn’t in the market for a new woman as he nears the end of the self-imposed year of celibacy after his vicious breakup with his last gold-digging girlfriend. And having to play host to a temporarily homeless woman for the weekend is messing with his plans, especially since Raquel constantly distracts him with her curvy, womanly figure and her tendency to land on her face.


So much for her good sense of direction. 

With her heart thumping against her ribs and a trickle of sweat sliding down her spine, Raquel Walsh eyed the boarded-over windows and peeling paint on the houses lining the street. What the hell she was doing walking through this part of Baltimore? 

Obviously, she should have taken the time to call a cab before she left the office, but she’d been so sure she’d find one waiting at the nearest corner. With only the thought of catching the first train home to Philly after a long workweek, she’d rushed through the revolving door of the downtown building into a wall of heat and humidity. Then, with no taxis in sight, she’d hiked her computer bag over her shoulder and started walking in the direction of the station as she kept an eye out for a ride. 

Now, because of her impulsiveness, she was hurrying through an area of town where a white woman in a business suit didn’t belong, and from the heavy feeling in her gut, she suspected she was going the wrong way. 

Hanging above the sidewalk up ahead, a red neon sign shouted “bar” in capital letters. In her mind, it translated to “relative safety”, a public place where she could stop and call a cab. 

But first, she had to pass a large black man sitting on the front steps of the house across the street on her right. Even from a distance, she was aware of his size and her vulnerability. 

His athletic tank top revealed sculptured shoulders and muscular biceps, and his shorts exposed long, powerfully built legs. A basketball rested on the step between his feet. With his hand on top of the ball, he looked capable of easily palming it. 

His eyes tracked her as she tried not to resemble a scared rabbit scurrying across the sidewalk in front of a waiting panther. Sitting silent and still, he looked ready to pounce. 

She could never hope to outrun him, not with her propensity for clumsiness. In this skirt and heels, she would definitely fall on her face. Squaring her shoulders, she continued walking toward the bar, but a few steps beyond his house, the hair on the nape of her neck stood on end. 

Someone ran at her from the gap between the two houses on her left. The man across the street shouted a warning. A shove in the middle of her back sent her sprawling forward onto the rough sidewalk. Even though her hands shot out to brace her fall, her forehead bounced off the pavement, and her computer bag was jerked off her shoulder, wrenching her arm backward. 

Momentarily breathless, she remained facedown, stunned. Her muscles tensed, anticipating another attack. 

She dragged in a breath to scream.

“Get away from her!” a man nearby yelled, startling her.

The sound of running feet faded into the distance.

“Miss, are you all right?” A deep, slightly southern voice spoke from above her.

Tilting her head up, she found herself looking at the well-developed leg muscles of a dark-skinned man crouching in front of her. His large hand reached for her shoulder.

“Don’t touch me!” she yelped, and he snatched his hand back.

“Are you all right?” he repeated. His voice remained calm and soothing as if he were talking to a frightened child. “Do you need me to call an ambulance?”

Shaking her head, she immediately regretted the fast movement as pain pierced her forehead above her right temple. “No. I’m not that hurt.” At least she didn’t think she was. 

She pushed herself up from her stomach to her knees, but they stung from skidding over the gravelly sidewalk. She plopped backward onto her butt with her knees bent to the side, keeping her legs together under her black skirt. 

When she looked up, she came face-to-face with the oversized man from the house across the street. Her breath caught in her throat as she froze. Had he been part of the attack? 

“You’re bleeding, miss. Can I hold this to your forehead?” He reached out with something in his hand. 

She flinched and tried to scoot away. “Stay away from me.” Her gaze darted around, as she frantically searched for someone to help her, but they appeared to be alone on the street.

“Please, miss.” His tone was gentle and patient. “I’m not going to hurt you. I want to stop the bleeding, so we can see if you’re going to need stitches.” He opened his hand, revealing a white handkerchief. 

She stared at the clean, white cloth. “A handkerchief?” Where had he gotten that? He was dressed to play street basketball, so she might have expected a sweaty bandana... 

There’d been only one man in her life who’d carried a handkerchief, and his old- fashioned sense of etiquette had been one of the things she’d loved most about him. Now, the ache of his abandonment lived permanently in her chest. 

She reached for the offered handkerchief, but the man didn’t release his hold. Their hands met as they both brought the cloth to her head. His skin was warm and smooth, and a little shiver ran down her spine. His brown eyes softened with concern as he gazed at her face, but his full lips held a grim line.

Wow! Sounds great!
Happy Reading!

Lacey Thorn
It's your world...unlaced...

@laceythorn1 Twitter
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  1. I have the world's worst sense of direction and so this story certainly appeals to me.

  2. Another interesting book. I'm pretty bad with directions too, lol

  3. Amy Myers is the random winner of Baltimore Heat! Congratulations!