Publication date: April 1st 2023
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Bethany West upgraded her lucrative career as a sex worker for her dream job as a death worker when she partnered at Smythe & Co. Mortuary. She expected her eco-friendly innovations and death positive attitude to blow the roof off the Victorian-era relic. But that was seven months ago, and during that time, she’s only managed to piss off her embittered business partner, George Smythe, a man dead set on maintaining the status quo and driving Bethany out of his namesake business.
When the pair reluctantly travel together to a mortuary conference in New Orleans—and compete in dueling embalming demonstrations—George finally recognizes the value of Bethany’s business model for the first time. He’s also starting to recognize a growing attraction to his blonde bombshell business partner. Meanwhile, Bethany learns the truth behind George’s cold contempt, and it’s much worse than she thought, stemming not from a single incident, but from the constant on-call status, the compassion fatigue, and the overwhelming stress of the job.
Bethany has 4 days to crack open his tough outer shell to reveal the compassionate man she knows is inside, and she has a plan, but unless George learns to open his heart and lean on her, at the risk of succumbing to their cremation-level attraction in a dangerous way, he’ll jeopardize both the business and their hearts by refusing the true partnership they both need.
My body was broken.
I blinked hard to lubricate my eyes, struggling to stay awake behind the wheel. The vent blasted tepid air into my face, trying its damnedest to desiccate my skin and sabotage the efforts of my latest hyaluronic acid injections.
My stomach churned from too much coffee and too little sleep.
A sweat broke out under my arms and boobs.
Great. Now I could smell all that coffee excreting from my pores and ruining my favorite silk blouse.
I glanced at the man in the passenger seat.
George’s pores were looking perfectly dry, as usual. He wouldn’t think of sweating, even from the most strenuous effort.
I’d seen him pull a rotund, decomposing man out of that impossible space between the toilet and the bathtub and plop him on a mortuary cot in an un-air-conditioned, third-floor apartment in the middle of August without breaking a sweat.
The man never had a hair out of place, was never not freshly shaven, and he never forgot to button his suit jacket when he stood, or unbutton it when he sat.
And he was a consummate professional—as long as you didn’t work with him.
And as long as your name wasn’t Bethany West.
I breathed in a lungful of stale air. Even now, in the mortuary van, George managed to smell fresh, yet intensely masculine. The faintest notes of sandalwood and citrus wafted toward me as he fiddled with his ear, pushing his earbud deeper in.
I suspected he wasn’t listening to anything producing actual sound; the earbuds were just a tactic to try to keep me from making “unnecessary” conversation.
I was almost too tired to care.
I stifled a yawn, hoping he wouldn’t catch it.
He did, of course.
I saw the tick of his jaw from the corner of my eye. Glaring at the screen of the laptop balanced on his crossed legs, his flexed fingers hovering over the keyboard, a ballpoint pen clutched in his teeth.
I’d never seen the man smile except for a wince-like approximation of the real thing, and he saved that stingy expression for our clients.
After an entire life spent in the trenches of the funeral business, his handsome face was permanently etched into a show of bland sympathy—except when he scowled in contempt.
That expression was reserved exclusively for me.
Megan Montgomery writes romance. Sometimes they're funny. Sometimes they're morbid, but all her characters have cool jobs. She and her husband, Johnathon Olavarria co-host Forced Proximity podcast, a weekly romance book and movie club.
Her debut novel, Well . . . THAT Was Awkward was inspired by her homesickness for southern Maryland. She now lives halfway across the US on the prairie with her husband, son, and mom.
When she’s not writing, reading, lifting weights, or cooking dinners her son won’t eat, you’ll find her toiling in the garden or brewing potions from her medicinal herbs.
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