Title: The Trickster’s Treat
Author: Kameron Claire
Genre: Contemporary/Paranormal Romance
Death cannot stop Love
She lost her fiancé years ago. He’s looking for something that feels like home. When they meet at the Halloween Fest, will they embrace the supernatural elements bringing them together and give love a second chance?
Trixie: I lost the love of my life days before Halloween, only hours after he proposed, and every year since then he’s come to visit me in my dreams—except this year. So, when a stranger (who reminds me of him in every way) comes to down with his sights set on me, I have to wonder if he is a trick or a treat.
If he’s a trick—well, my heart's already broken.
But if he’s a treat—he’s the happily ever-after I thought I lost years ago.
What do I have to lose, besides my mind, if I play trick-or-treat with the new guy in town?
Treat: I woke up from a coma three months ago, and nothing of my previous life has felt right. So, I follow my instincts into the Sangre de Cristo mountains to a little town hosting a Halloween Festival, and suddenly everything feels right. Right place, right time, and right girl who shines like a beacon in an otherwise muted world. The closer I get to her, the more I realize the man on the inside is not the man on the outside, and if I want to stay, I have to convince her to risk her heart and love me as the man she once loved.
The carnival is five days long, starting on a Wednesday night. We’ll work the night shift for four nights and put a few hundred dollars in our pockets. Although I feel like an empty shell, I have to admit that seeing the eager faces of the kids running around lightens the load in my heart. Maybe getting out of bed and not wallowing in my feelings is the right path on the road to mending my broken heart.
After a brief introduction to the carnival manager and a quick tutorial of our games, they leave Lori and me to man our booths. Wednesday nights are typically quiet, with only the locals coming out to play. Thursday will get a bit more crowded, and by Friday night, we’ll have lines at every game and ride. The Halloween Fest is the biggest thing to happen in this town every year, and as Lori pointed out, it’s the only thing that brings people in from our neighboring mountain communities.
The hours fly by, and I’m feeling pretty good. No one has recognized me, or if they have, they haven’t thrown me any pity glances, and I’m thankful Lori forced me out of the house.
“Good toss!” I clap my hands and turn to the wall of stuffed animals. “You can pick anyone from this row.”
The little boy looks up at his dad and screams, “I want the turtle!”
There is no turtle. I assume he means the frog, but why should I crush his dreams?
“Then the turtle you shall have,” I say before handing over the small plush frog.
As the father and son walk away, I notice a guy watching the booth from the shadows several yards away. He’s tall, and his shoulders are broad in a sexy black leather jacket. I glance to my right and realize Lori is standing nearby in her booth, laughing at something Patty, or maybe it’s Parker, said.
Cool. He’s not looking at me, and that’s good, because I don’t want the attention.
Or do I?
I move over to the other side of my booth and dip below the counter to check on the bucket of ping-pong balls—but mostly to get out of his line of sight. When I stand up, he’s there, the overhead lights illuminating his handsome, rugged face.
“Hey there, rascally rabbit.” He says, a cautious smile spreading his lips.
“What?” I yelp, taking a step back, a sense of déjà vu tingling up my spine. Trey used to call me his rascally rabbit, and sometimes bunny, a play on my name and the popular breakfast cereal.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you.”
“You didn’t.” I try to recover by motioning to the pool of floating plastic teacups. “It’s five dollars for three ping-pong balls.”
“Oh, right.” He reaches for his wallet in his back pocket and pulls out a twenty-dollar bill. “Give me four turns.”
“Okay.” I pocket his money and then hand him a set of three balls, taking a step to the side. “Good luck.”
“Is there any skill to this?” His voice is husky, gravelly, and completely sexy, speaking to something deep in my belly. I look up into his dark obsidian eyes that are fixed on mine, another sense of déjà vu picking at my brain. I don’t know this guy—of that I am certain—because there are no guys in South Vista as hot as him. That is, except for my departed Trey.
“Uh, well—” I pick up a teacup to give my hands something to do “—these are plastic, and they’re floating on about two inches of water, so any direct shots will probably bounce out.”
“So, a gentle, underhand, off-the-rim shot?”
I smile and nod my head. “Something like that.”
A genuine smile spreads his lips before he focuses on the teacups. He tosses all three in a rapid succession, landing one of the three in a white teacup.
“That’s one-point,” I say as I pluck the balls out of the water and bring them back to him. “I forgot to mention, land in a red cup and it’s worth three points.”
He glances up at the plush animals on the wall while juggling the three little white balls in his hand. “Okay, new strategy.”
Before I can ask him what he means, he tosses all three at once, hitting two out of three.
Laughing for the first time in what feels like forever, I shake my head and retrieve the balls, making the game last longer than necessary. “That’s three points.”
“What’s your name?” He asks casually, inspecting each ping-pong as if this was a championship game.
I take a deep breath, rationalizing with myself. Since I’m positive this guy is not from this area, what would it hurt to tell him my name? “Trixie.”
“Cool name. I don’t think I’ve met a Trixie before.”
“And what’s your name?”
“Shut up.” I laugh again. “That is not your name.”
He gives me a gorgeous smile. “Swear to God. I heard my mom had a huge crush on Treat Williams when she was pregnant with me.”
“Well, I’m sure I've never met a Treat before.”
“I’m glad to be your first.”
The lights overhead flash. He looks up at the fluorescent bulbs strung overhead. “What's that all about?”
“We close early on Wednesdays. That’s the fifteen-minutes-to-last call warning.”
“Bummer. Will you be here tomorrow?” He tosses all three again, this time only one of them landing, but at least it’s in a red cup.
“Yeah, I’m here every night while the carnival is in town.”
“Do you live in South Vista?”
I sigh while handing him three more balls. “My whole life.”
“Seems like a pretty cool town. Is there anything happening tonight?”
“After nine on a Wednesday night? Fat chance.”
“Hmmm.” He tosses his last three in rapid succession, landing only one of the three.
“Seven points total. I think you hold the current high score.” I motion to the wall of plush animals. “You can choose anything from the third row.”
His eyes slide over to the toys, his lips quirking as he considers his options. “Which one would you choose?”
On the wall are varying sizes of the same plush. A rabbit in a waistcoat, a frog with a crown on its head, a flamingo with the croquet ball on its foot, and the Queen of Hearts head sans her body. “That’s hard to say; they’re all so tempting.”
He tilts his head towards the wall. “I’ll take the rabbit. It’ll give me something to remember you by.”
“Why would you want to remember me?”
He shrugs, tucking the rabbit I hand him into his jacket. “Despite the costume and makeup masking your true beauty, you are a beacon of light on an otherwise dark night. You are the first person I’ve seen in color since I woke up.”
I stare at him and say nothing. What am I supposed to say when I’m unsure of how I feel about his beautiful words?
Smiling, he wraps his knuckles on the bench top. “I hope to see you tomorrow, Trixie.”
And with those words, he walks away, my gaze glued to his retreating form.
Lori slaps her palm down on the bench top Treat had tapped on only thirty seconds earlier. “Hello? Earth to Trixie.”
I jump and swing to face her. “What?”
“What are you looking at?”
I point to the copse of trees Treat walked toward. “My last customer.”
Lori looks at where I’m pointing and shakes her head. “I don’t see anyone.”
“Are you kidding me? He was standing here thirty seconds ago.”
“No, sweetie, I was standing here thirty seconds ago trying to get your attention. Neither one of us has had a customer for the last twenty minutes, so let’s close up shop for the night, take the cash to the manager’s office, and eat a funnel cake.”
Neither one of us has had a customer for the last twenty minutes?
“Okay.” I nod my head numbly, wondering how she couldn’t have seen him. Did I imagine him?
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Kameron Claire loves building worlds where heroes and heroines push, pull, and fight their way to the love and happiness they deserve. She writes full length and short, steamy, contemporary romance with an emphasis on strong female characters—often in male-dominated roles—and the alpha men who know how to love and support kick-ass, take-charge women. While she may not need him to save her, she wants him to love, support, and most of all, RAVISH her.
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