"Gabrielle Holly spins her stories in a way that will take you on an emotional rollercoaster you'll never forget!"
~Paranormal Romance Junkies

Thursday, August 1, 2013

"Mr. Fix It" Book Birthday Celebration the entire 1st Chapter FREE READ

Break out the party hats and noise-makers, Darlings! It’s another Book Birthday celebration! This time I’m marking the anniversary of my first Total-e-Bound release “Mr. Fix It”

As my gift to you, please enjoy the entire first chapter of this fun, erotic, romantic comedy.

xoxo ~Gabrielle


About "Mr. Fix It":
Deena can’t help but fantasise about the hot handyman she meets next door. She’s certain that the gorgeous blond has exactly the tool she needs.

Curvy, quirky Deena Stevens never quite fitted in. She feels especially out of place in the company of "The Botox Brigade"—the kept and polished women populating the upscale homes that border her organic farm.

Regardless of their differences, Deena’s neighbours seem to enjoy her company. They sit and chat when they come to buy Deena's free-range eggs and pesticide-free veggies. They even invite her to join their book club—despite the objection of Suzanne, who hosts the club meetings and clearly considers herself the queen of the group.

The book-clubbers peacefully coexist until a house call from sexy handyman, Bill, disrupts the monthly meeting. The women jostle for attention and superficial friendships are tested. Jealousies flare when the hot, handsome blond openly flirts with Deena and ignores the trophy wives. Suzanne has already set her sights on Bill, and when Deena reveals his surprising connection to her past, Suzanne gets territorial.

After their surprise reunion, Bill promises to keep in touch with Deena. Bill shows up at Deena’s door and a night of incomparable passion leaves them both craving more. When Suzanne discovers their tryst she begins crafting a plan to destroy the new love affair and steal the sexy handyman for herself.

Will Mr. Fix-It have what it takes to repair the damage?



Praise for "Mr. Fix It":
This was a very good story. The author portrayed a not so perfect woman among cosmetically perfect ones and still showed how love can look past the surface. Not everyone is perfect but everyone deserves a chance at love, and Bill wanted Deena. Suzanne was the bitch you knew you would hate, especially with her snide remarks, and scheming ways. She couldn't stand that Bill only had eyes for Deena, especially when he had someone as perfect as her in front of him. Mr. Fix-It is an enjoyable read and if you do pick up a copy I hope that you will enjoy it as much as this reader did.   ~Long and Short Book Reviews


Chapter One of
“Mr. Fix It”
by Gabrielle Holly


Deena Stevens stopped brushing her hair in mid-stroke and cocked her head to listen.

THUD! THUD! THUD!

The rhythmic banging was coming from the laundry room.

“Shit! Not again!”

Deena tossed her hairbrush into the open vanity drawer then slid it closed with a smooth swing of her ample hip. Her bare feet slapped on the age-worn oak floor as she ran out of the bathroom, down the hall, across the big country kitchen and into the laundry room.

The 1970s avocado-green washing machine was rocking wildly back and forth; thudding at the apex of each shimmy. Deena flipped open the lid and looked inside the ancient appliance. The rotating drum inside was off kilter, spinning in an oval pattern rather than a circle. As she’d done a hundred times before, Deena waited as the interrupted spin cycle slowed and finally stopped with one last THUD!

Deena was just south of five-foot-four, and had to stand on tiptoe when she leaned over the edge of the machine to get at the load of whites inside. She rearranged the sopping wet bed sheets and ankle socks until they were as balanced as they’d ever get, then dropped the lid closed.

The machine gradually rumbled back to life, spinning slowly at first, then picking up speed. Deena stood back and squinted at the washer. She crossed her arms under her generous breasts, and bit her lower lip. She didn’t take her eyes off the ‘Avocado Beast’ until the spin cycle was whirring away at full speed and it was clear that the cantankerous old machine wasn’t going to go walking out of the laundry room.

Satisfied that the spin cycle was going to be completed without further drama, Deena stepped back into the kitchen. She supposed she should finish getting ready before the phone rang.

Deena had barely finished the thought when a slightly robotic version of Wagner’s ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ blasted out of her cell phone.  She glanced at the phone sitting on its charger on the gleaming granite countertop, then up at the clock over the big stainless steel restaurant-grade range. She registered the time in her mind, then looked back at her ringing phone.

“Shit. Shit. Shit,” Deena muttered.

She took a deep breath, pulled her cell fromthe charger and swept her finger over the touch screen to answer the call. She didn’t have to look at the Caller ID, or the photo of the fashion-model-perfect face that popped up on the screen, to know who was calling.

“Hey, Suzanne. I know I’m late. Be there in ten…”

Deena rolled her eyes and held the phone a few inches from her ear as Suzanne Flowers launched into her rant without bothering with ‘hellos’.

“Are you always late or are you just operating on special ‘Deena time’? No one else seems to have any trouble getting here by eight, and everyone is pretty sick and tired of waiting around for you. I mean, really, how hard is it to—”

Deena put the phone down on the enormous antique farm table that filled the centre of the kitchen. She knew that Suzanne would continue with her tirade, whether or not Deena was actually listening.

Deena had heard the same lecture at least a dozen times over the past four years. That’s when Suzanne and a whole gaggle of other ‘Barbie wives’ had become her neighbours. Six years ago, she’d sold off some of her inherited family farmland for a new high-end housing development. Gigantic homes had begun popping up on the rolling landscape and had been almost instantly snapped up by folks with lots of money and, with a few exceptions, very little depth.

Sooner or later nearly every member of the Botox Brigade had made her way over to Deena’s big, white farmhouse, drawn in by the folksy hand-painted wood sign at the end of her driveway that promised organic produce and free-range eggs. She loved the irony of women who would willingly implant silicone, and other synthetic plumping agents, into their bodies, then worry about a little fertiliser on their snap peas.

Most often the women would fill their over-priced, limited edition woven baskets with organic goodies, then hurry back down the road. Sometimes, however, they would linger and chat. They would sit at the big farm table and sip rich, strong coffee (no sugar, ever, but occasionally a splash of cream…as long as it was real cream with absolutely no carbs). Deena was fascinated by how the women would visibly relax after just a few minutes in her kitchen. She supposed that they didn’t have anything to prove when they were away from the rest of the plastic herd. Surely her easy, earthy style threatened no one in that group. She wore her long, wavy hair loose, never bothering to blow it out or iron it straight. She had an unfashionably full figure, and favoured flowing natural-fibre clothes.

Deena definitely did not fit in. In spite of this, or maybe because of it, she had been invited to join their little book club, the book club that she had, once again, kept waiting. Deena knew, without being told explicitly, that from the beginning Suzanne had been reluctant to include her. Suzanne hosted all of the meetings and organised them like she organised the rest of her life, as if staged for a photo shoot. The charter members of the book club were all cut from the same designer cloth. Deena knew that she definitely upset that balance. She glanced at the clock again and wondered if her seemingly pathologic inability to be punctual for the meetings was in fact a passive-aggressive poke at Suzanne’s sense of order.

Suzanne was still scolding Deena’s tardiness when she picked up her cell phone and dropped it into her big, fringed leather purse with this month’s assigned book. Slinging her purse over her shoulder, Deena could still make out Suzanne’s muffled voice. She slid on her sandals, grabbed a plate of cookies (which no one would eat) and pulled a bottle of wine (which everyone would drink) from the rack and hurried out of her back door.

Deena crossed her side yard into Suzanne’s backyard. Through the double French doors, she could see the women gathered around Suzanne’s huge kitchen island. Suzanne had her cell phone to her ear and one hand on her boyishly narrow hip. Deena was sure that, if Suzanne had been able to wrinkle her forehead, she would have.

Deena tucked the wine bottle under one arm and balanced the cookie plate while she fished into her bag for her cell phone.

“I’m walking out the door right now, Suzanne,” she said into the phone before ending the connection.

Deena paused at the bottom step of Suzanne’s back deck and peered into the kitchen as if watching a movie unfold on a drive-in movie screen. She noticed that the Botox Brigade was even more done up than usual. Freshly flat-ironed hair gleamed, gaudy jewellery sparkled and preternaturally smooth skin was painted to perfection. At least six of the eight book clubbers inside had chosen plunging necklines to show off their synthetic cleavages. Several of them were huddled in a conspiratorial whisper that dissolved into schoolgirl giggles.

What are they up to?

She crossed the big deck and pushed open the French door. She entered the huge kitchen, where she knew few meals were actually cooked, and her nose was assaulted by a cloud of intermixed designer perfumes. She pushed the door shut with her round bottom and placed the plate of cookies and bottle of wine in the centre of the island.

Suzanne tossed her cell phone on the counter beside her ridiculously huge pink and purple designer bag, and planted both hands on her hips. “Well, I guess we can get started now that our perpetually late neighbour has graced us with her presence.”

Deena dropped her purse on an empty barstool, pulled the plastic wrap from the plate, snagged a homemade oatmeal raisin cookie and pointed it towards her hostess. “Please, Suzanne. We all know that I’m the only one who actually read the book.”

Deena winked and took a big, chewy bite. Her mouth was full when the door to the powder room swung open and she saw the reason for all the primping and giggling.

An enormous man, nearly a full foot taller than Deena herself, stepped into the kitchen. His deep tan stood out against a tight, sky-blue T-shirt that was just a shade lighter than his eyes. His longish, tousled, sandy hair was streaked with sun-bleached strands. He held a battered, red, metal toolbox in one big hand and extended his other towards Suzanne. She reached out and he dropped a pea-sized diamond earring into her upturned palm.

Suzanne tossed the jewellery beside her cell phone, then pressed her hand against the man’s bulging upper arm. She dipped her chin and looked up at him through a fringe of pharmaceutically enhanced lashes.

“Oh, Billy, I just knew you’d be able to get it!”

Without removing her hand from Billy’s biceps, Suzanne turned towards her guests to explain. “I dropped it in the sink this afternoon. I didn’t even bother calling our regular plumber—he wouldn’t have come out right away. But this was an emergency and I just knew I could count on Billy. John found him downtown doing some work on an old house. He’s turned out to be such a treasure! He can fix absolutely anything!”

Suzanne’s voice dropped a full octave when she dragged out the word ‘anything’.

Deena was vaguely aware of the shifting and giggling around her, but she was more focused on the awesome creature in front of her. She watched his masculine face carefully. He seemed embarrassed by Suzanne’s obvious flirtation and forced a small, closed-lip smile that looked more like a grimace. Deena saw a ball of muscle gather at the corner of his square jaw and guessed that he must be clenching his teeth.

Suzanne stared at him for a long, awkward moment. The handyman cleared his throat and took a half step backward, breaking Suzanne’s grip on his arm.

“How rude of me!” Suzanne exclaimed. “Billy, you’ve met the girls,” Deena noticed half a dozen fingertip waves in her periphery, “but I don’t think you’ve met our neighbour, Deena. She lives in the old farmhouse behind us.”

Billy swivelled his head to find the newcomer in the group. His blue eyes locked on Deena and the grimace dissolved. It was replaced with a broad smile. His full lips framed white, even teeth and a matched set of dimples appeared on his stubbled cheeks. He set down his toolbox and took a step forward, his right hand extended.

Deena suddenly realised that her jaw had stopped moving the moment he’d walked in and she still had a mouthful of cookie. She chewed quickly and swallowed hard, then reached out her hand to meet his. His hand covered hers completely and she was enjoying the warmth of it when Suzanne’s fake laugh pierced through the moment. Everyone turned toward the hostess.

“Cat got your tongue, Deena?” Suzanne asked. “Or should I say, ‘cookie got your tongue’?”

Suzanne cackled and the others joined in.

Suzanne reached up and patted the handyman on his shoulder. She stage whispered to him, loud enough for even those in the cheap seats to hear, “Deena’s so lucky. She never gives calories a second thought. We’re all totally jealous!”

With a self-satisfied grin on her flawless face, Suzanne spun around towards the cupboards and reached up for a fresh wine glass. The other women had stopped laughing, but Deena felt the heat creep up the sides of her neck and rush into her cheeks. She knew she must have been blushing deep red. She dropped her eyes to the granite island top and tried to pull her hand away from Billy’s. He held it for another moment and then gave two quick squeezes before letting her go. Deena was confused by the tiny, secret exchange. She looked up and saw that Billy was still watching her. He gave her a covert wink. She wondered if the others had seen it, but, when she looked around, everyone but Suzanne had dropped their gaze, seemingly engrossed in their fingernails.

Suzanne set a wine glass in front of Deena and held out a half-empty bottle of wine.

“Something to wash down your treat, Deena?”

Deena started to nod her assent, but suddenly found her voice. She covered her glass with one hand then nodded towards the bottle she’d brought.

“Thanks, but I prefer the good stuff.”

A couple of the women covered their mouths to stifle giggles. Billy let out a single chuckle that conveyed delighted surprise.

Suzanne’s eyes widened, then she blinked. She put down her bottle of wine, and forced a smile. “Of course,” she managed.

Deena snagged the corkscrew and deftly opened the bottle, filled her glass, and took a sip. She closed her eyes for a moment, savouring the rich Cabernet. When she opened her eyes, Billy was still watching her.

Suzanne slid up beside him until they were touching. “Billy, I hope you’ve changed your mind and you’ll stay for a beer?”

Billy looked down at Suzanne, then back across the island. “Not much of a beer drinker. But I would like to sample that ‘Cab’, and one of these. If you don’t mind,” he said, reaching for an oatmeal raisin cookie.

Billy had actually moaned as he ate the cookie and was popping the last bite into his mouth by the time Suzanne returned with his wine glass.

“Incredible! Nothing like homemade,” he said.

Deena saw Suzanne’s eyes narrow as she poured Cabernet into Billy’s glass. “Yeah, Deena’s quite the baker. I can’t even let that stuff into the house or I’d positively blimp out!”

Billy shook his head and gave Deena another wink. This time, Suzanne caught it. A look of surprised disgust crossed her face.

“Oh, God, Deena! What did you get all over yourself?”

Deena followed Suzanne’s gaze to the front of her shirt. She pulled the dark brown cotton away from her body and saw an uneven, horizontal trail of tan splotches just below her breasts.

Bleach. Shit!

“My washing machine,” she began. “It started banging around and I had to lean in and redistribute… Damn it, there must have been bleach on the edge…”

Deena felt her blush returning.

“You don’t still have that hideous old green thing, do you? You go and spend a small fortune remodelling the kitchen but you still do your laundry in that antique? I mean, really, Deena, why don’t you just—”

Billy interrupted, “Unbalanced during the spin cycle?”

Deena looked up and nodded.

“Have you had the belt replaced, or tightened?”

“I don’t think so,” Deena said.

“It’s an easy fix. Should probably try adjusting it first, then order a new belt if you need to. I could check it out if you’d like?”

Before Deena could answer, Suzanne dropped her hand on top of Billy’s, then traced a path up his thick forearm.

“So, Billy, how’d you like the wine?”

Billy’s smile broadened and, never taking his eyes off Deena, he said, “Perfect. Just the way I like it, full-bodied and unpretentious.”

He laughed and the hair stood up on Deena’s arms, there was something familiar about this big, beautiful man. Deena was drawn in by his eyes. She followed the faint laugh lines that fanned out towards his temples, stopping at an inch-long crescent moon scar framing the outside corner of his right eye like a parenthesis.

Deena focused on the scar. She looked into Billy’s blue eyes, back to the scar again, then scanned every inch of the handsome face. Recognition inched up on her until there was no denying it. She laughed and shook her head.

“Bill Swenson!”

Bill laughed. “Took you long enough, Dee,” he said as he shook free of Suzanne’s grip and walked around the island.
 

Deena was aware that the kitchen had grown silent, but, beyond that, she lost sense of her surroundings and who, besides Bill, was in the room. By the time he was standing in front of her, she had complete tunnel vision. He dropped his big, warm hands on her shoulders. “You look amazing, Dee.”

Deena looked into his blue eyes and wished she could believe him.

He wrapped his arms around her and, when he pulled her against him, she returned the hug. Bill bent his knees until their cheeks touched. Deena breathed in deeply. He smelled wonderful, masculine. She felt a chill zip up her spine. As if he’d felt the electrical surge beneath her skin, Bill pulled her in closer. He gave her one final squeeze, then backed up, taking her hands in his and looking her up and down. The sweep of his eyes over her body was as exciting as hugging him had been. Deena felt the tingle that had run the length of her spine gather again at her throat, then travel down over her breasts, making her nipples push outward against her shirt the moment his gaze passed over them. He continued to look over her and, when he got to her full, round hips, one side of his mouth tugged up in a devilish grin. Her pussy responded by growing warm and wet.

“I can’t believe you recognised me,” Deena said. “I was fifteen the last time we saw each other!”

Bill tapped the scar beside his eye and then winked at her. “What can I say, Dee? You made quite an impression.”

~~~

Like what you’ve read so far? Find out what happens next. Purchase “Mr. Fix It” today from Total-e-Bound, Amazon for Kindle, Barnes & Noble for Nook, All Romance eBooks and other fine eBook retailers.

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