After the "Brian incident," foul-mouthed Harley swears off relationships—too messy and no one’s ever good enough. But then she meets Erik, a gigantic, brooding Viking of a man who’s too perfect to be real, and he makes her question everything. Having suffered his own heartbreak, Erik has his own rules to follow. So why is it, after meeting Harley, he seems to be breaking them one by one?
Age Rating: 18+
I’m baking, something I haven’t done in years. That time my life went to shit and I ran away to Italy, I learned to bake from Marco’s mother. Not that Marco, the other one. We have two—I’m starting a collection.
Baking is normally something I do when I’m depressed, so the fact it’s been years is a good sign.
When my hands are busy with something and I’m following a recipe written out in front of me, my turbulent thoughts subside. At least until I put whatever I made in the oven and realize I have to clean up.
Luckily, my kitchen here at home is top-of-the-line and makes that process a whole lot easier.
My sister Mikayla has roped me into making her a wedding cake. Her literal words were “If I have to suffer through all this wedding crap, I’m taking someone down with me.”
So here I am in the wee hours of the morning, fucking baking. I have no clue if these are appropriate flavors for a wedding cake either, but I’ve got chocolate, lemon, and mojito.
I was tempted to add weed to the chocolate one, but I thought mass doping at a family function with kids and cops present wouldn’t be the brightest idea.
That didn’t stop me from splitting the batter and making pot brownies for later, though.
My father is chill on the whole pot thing now. He was a cop all his life so it wasn’t always this way, but since he’s started using it for medicinal purposes, he’s turned over a new leaf.
By the time I’m done decorating the cakes, my kitchen is a complete disaster area and the procrastinator in me decides to leave everything where it is.
The mess is Evening Harley’s problem, because right now Morning Harley has to skedaddle. Mikayla and I agreed to meet at my café first thing this morning.
But there’s no way I can get these mini cakes to the Beanie on my motorbike, so after my shower, I decide to walk over.
It’ll be another hot July day, so I shimmy into a sundress and throw on a little makeup. I don’t wear a lot, but it’s another little routine that helps me Zen out in the morning.
Routine and the eight cups of coffee I try to limit myself to per day are what keep me going.
There are the standard caffeine addicts—your regular Joe’s—and then there’s me, someone who fell so hard in love with coffee that I had to open my own café just so I could be around the smell all day.
That and after my trip I wanted to bring a little piece of Italy back here with me. I say “trip,” but it was more than just that. It was a year of spiritual rehabilitation.
I was broken, and all the things that once brought me happiness were tarnished by him.
With nothing left to keep me here, I packed my shit and left. I never got “closure,” never went through all the “steps” that people consider “healthy,” but that doesn’t work for me.
I accept, without argument, that bad things happen to good people every single day, and that regret is a waste of what precious time we have.
Money is circulated, time is spent.
As I step out onto the pavement and start my commute, I run through all the things I’m grateful for.
I’m lucky to have a healthy, functioning body with all my limbs. I have an awesome family. I love my café and the people that work for me. I have my motorcycles, which make me feel alive and free on a regular basis.
And I’ve started seeing John, a sexy, successful man who puts Calvin Klein underwear models to shame. At least I think he does—we’re yet to do the dirty deed.
Italy healed my soul, and now I’m back in the city, wearing sundresses without a bra. Yas. Queen.
I wind my way through the busy morning rush. The sun hasn’t made its way past the buildings yet, so that refreshing morning chill still lingers.
I dare not look down; I know my nipples are saying howdy doody to everyone passing by. Care level: zero.
Instead I look up at the cloudless sky and breathe in the crisp morning air. It’s going to be a beautiful day.
Okay, these cakes are starting to get a little heavy. I try to pass them to my left hand, but I collide with someone and the box falls to the ground.
An entire night’s worth of baking lies at my feet.
“Cocksucking motherfucker!” Fuck, I just swore. “Fuck!”
My swear jar is off to a good start today, and it’s not even 8 a.m.
I look at the box on the ground, sigh, and then work my gaze up the ultimate specimen of a man towering over me. Mind you, I’m not short at six feet, but this wall of muscle standing before me is at least a head taller.
Must be hard getting through doors.
I laugh a little at my own joke, which seems to make the angry god before me even angrier.
Hey, those are my cakes that got wrecked, buddy.
I quickly scan him. His long blond hair is tied up in a messy man bun, his stubbly jaw could cut glass, and if his eyes weren’t looking at me with murderous intent, I’d say they were beautiful.
They’re my favorite shade of blue, like that sky-blue crayon that has just a little hint of green in it for when you want to draw the ocean.
This is no mere mortal; this is a Viking from the past that someone cleaned up and stuffed into a pristine, white, long-sleeved jogging outfit that fits him like a second skin.
Yes, please, a tree I’d like to climb.
His knit brows and undeniably Scandinavian, condescending eyes are clearly unamused by me and my box of cakes.
He’s got some serious alpha vibes radiating off him that I’m sure effectively render most women, or men for that matter, speechless. But lucky for me that shit rolls right off me.
Unlucky for me, my brain–mouth filter is practically nonexistent. “You know, anabolic steroids are okay in small doses, but you might want to consider cutting back. Prolonged use is clearly affecting your manners.”
The corner of his mouth twitches, and for a moment I think he might be human.
“You should be more careful,” he says, and the timbre of his voice melts me into a puddle right there on the sidewalk.
As he makes his way past me, I get a whiff of whatever scent he’s exuding. Goddamn, dude, that’s all man right there. Sploosh.
Good thing I wore underwear today.
“I’ll keep that in mind,” I mutter to myself as I pick up the cakes. “No, it’s all right, I’ve got this, but thanks!” I shout after him.
He glances at me over his shoulder and keeps walking.
“By the way,” I call out. “Those steroids are working miracles for your ass!”
That’s when the God of Thunder full-on stops in his tracks.
Shit. Why can’t I just shut the fuck up?
I don’t stick around to find out what he’ll do next and scurry off with my crumpled box. But the entire walk to the Beanie, his piercing gaze is permanently etched in my mind’s eye.
I pat myself on the cheek trying to swat him out of my head, but I just end up slapping myself like a crazy person instead.