Thank you so much to Sinfully Addicted to All Male Romance for hosting the cover reveal for my upcoming release Between the Devil and the Pacific Blue. I'm so excited to be sharing this fabulous cover by the awesome Garrett Leigh. You'll also find an exclusive excerpt and a giveaway!
Between the Devil and the Pacific Blue
Release Date: 31st October
For the last six months, Detective James Ralston has worked the nightshift as security for the Pacific Blue Hotel, and every night at 2 a.m. his rounds lead him to the radio room where the handsome and mysterious Franklin Fairchild sits listening to waltzes as old as the hotel itself. James is drawn to Franklin, but Franklin is a man at the end of his rope, and James has no intention of getting caught up in whatever trouble Franklin is in. A heated encounter late one night sends James down a disturbing path and has him questioning everything around him, including his very sanity.
I wasn’t responsible for the guy. It wasn’t my place to be the soothing suitor, hold his hand and tell him the world wasn’t a god-awful place, because that was a load of crap.
If Fairchild couldn’t handle his shit, then, well, that was his problem, not mine. My problem had fifteen floors, provided an unrelenting onslaught of coral and faded blue-green from every direction, and kept me on my toes by drawing in every piece of scum within a ten-mile radius. Scum who came in to disturb the poor suckers who stayed here because they didn’t have the money or sense to end up somewhere else. I had my own shit to deal with.
Now I was in a real foul mood, and it was all Fairchild’s fault. Who the hell asked him to talk to me in the first place? I pushed myself to my feet and marched down the hallway, growling at Leslie as I walked past the front desk. “I’m making my rounds.”
Leslie mumbled from behind his paper, or at least it sounded like he had. I stepped into the elevator and told Pete to take me to the tenth. The ire must have been coming off me in waves, because Pete didn’t so much as glance in my direction. I got off on the tenth, walked to the end of the hall, out the door leading to the stairwell, and walked down to the eighth. I didn’t need anyone knowing where I was going. Old habits and all that. In no time I was standing outside room 810. I tried to summon some restraint and knocked on the door like a civilized person. No need to alert the entire damn floor I was there.
A whole load of nothing greeted me. I waited a minute and tried again. Same nothing. I took out my master key—because unsurprisingly the place never upgraded to keycards—jammed it in the lock, and went in before closing the door quietly behind me. Looking around, it was no different to any of the other small, sparsely decorated suites in this place, and like the rest of the hotel it hadn’t seen a lick of fresh paint in decades.
I headed down the narrow hallway, passing a tiny kitchen on my way to a small living room. To the right was a narrow hallway with a door I assumed led to a bedroom and another to a bathroom. The living room and kitchen were empty, so I made my way across the worn-out carpet in the same blue-green color as the radio room and headed into the bedroom. For a moment I thought maybe he had skipped out on the bill. Then I saw the toiletries and brush on the scuffed antique dresser, along with an old-school shaving kit and several other trinkets. A guy like Fairchild never went on a trip without shaving. Unless it was the last trip he’d ever make.
Goddamn him. I went to the balcony doors and opened them. Stepping outside into the crisp night air, I took a deep breath and glanced over the chipped-stone ledge. Next to some newspaper pages getting kicked around by the breeze and the usual sidewalk litter, there was nothing.
I still had that twisting feeling in my gut, so I went back inside before closing the balcony doors behind me. I ended up on my knees looking underneath the bed just in case. Maybe I’d watched one too many movies, or maybe experience told me that corpses had a habit of ending up in the darnedest of places around here, just waiting for me to stumble across them. Here’s hoping Mrs. Kaminski found her way to a better place after I found her stiff on the washing machine in the laundry room. I still didn’t know whether to laugh or cry about it. At least the old gal had gone out with a smile on her face.
“Lose something, Mr. Ralston?”
“You son of a bitch.” I jumped to my feet, the rest of my words carried off with the steam billowing out of the bathroom Fairchild had come from. He was wearing nothing but a crummy hotel towel wrapped around his slim waist. Shiny little drops of water traced the contours of his arms and chest as they rolled down. I never wanted to be a drop of water so badly in all my life. Lucky for me, my brain still had a few working cells, and everything became clear. I marched over to him and pushed him up against the wall. “You knew I’d come looking for you if I didn’t see you downstairs. What the hell? I don’t like being made an asshole of, Franklin.”
Either Fairchild was tougher than I thought, or the guy just didn’t care anymore. I was more concerned about the latter.
“It was the only way to get you alone. Please, Mr. Ralston—”
“James,” I corrected reluctantly. Dispensing with the formalities seemed like the right thing to do, considering the guy was all but naked in front of me. I followed his gaze down to his chest, where my palm was settled nicely. He felt warm and soft under my rough skin. The rest of him was as nice looking as his face, when I suddenly noticed some cat had mistaken him for a scratching post. I moved my hand to one particularly unpleasant looking mark over his heart. I absently caressed the round pink blemish with my thumb and heard his sharp intake of breath. How the hell had he survived this? “Is this who you’re hiding from?” I felt the muscles in my jaw clench now that I had a pretty good idea where Franklin had gotten his broken nose.
I looked up, meeting his near-black eyes. I’d seen that expression before. Why would someone like Franklin let a no-good bastard use him for a punching bag? It was enough to get my blood boiling again. Granted, I threw my weight around when some asshole wanted to get rough with me, but I never used my fists unless I had to, and never just to make myself feel like a tough guy.
“Not so much hiding as waiting,” Franklin replied quietly, unable to keep my gaze any longer.
Whatever had happened, whoever he was waiting for, it was clear that bastard was responsible for creating the broken man before me. A lot of things looked good on Franklin. Despair wasn’t one of them.
“Why don’t you go to the cops?” I took a step back. Being so close to him was playing tricks on me, and I couldn’t trust my body not to fall for it. I couldn’t afford to get involved in whatever trouble he was in. By the looks of it, it was bad.
“They can’t help me.” Something must have shaken him out of it, because he straightened and arched an eyebrow at me. “Thank you for your concern, James, but I didn’t invite you up here for a chat.”
“So it’s like that? All right, I’ll bite. What did you invite me up here for, then? I’m on the clock, if you haven’t noticed.”
“You’re assisting a guest,” Franklin stated with a shrug. “Isn’t that what they pay you for?”
Just what the hell did he think I was? “Do I look like a fucking rent boy to you?”
His eyes grew cold, and his voice came out clipped. “You have a filthy mouth, James. I don’t care for it.”
“I think you care for it just fine.” I took a step toward him. “If you didn’t, you’d have put some pants on by now.” Of course I knew why I was here. I wanted to hear him say it. That indignant look he got only added to his appeal. Speaking of pants, mine were starting to feel a whole lot tighter.
“You’re right.” His lips spread into a sensual smile as he looked me over. “Perhaps you could put that mouth to better use.”
Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From adventurous agents and sexy shifters, to society gentlemen and hardboiled detectives, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!Currently residing in Central Florida, Charlie is at the beck and call of a rascally Doxiepoo bent on world domination. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.