WINTER RAIN (Love in the Rain #2)

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Love in the Rain #2
Winner of the 2015 Independent Publisher Magazine award for Best Romance / Erotica E-Book

What happens when love gets caught in the rain?

In this second volume in the Love in the Rain series, Del Dryden’s heroines find shelter from a powerful thunderstorm in their feelings for each other, while Alexis Hall’s heroes find the past between them washed clean by falling rain. Inara Scott’s hero and heroine upend their lives with a kiss in the rain, while Serena Bell’s characters set their world to rights in a winter storm. Rain helps Amber Lin’s lost lovers find each other, light morning rain washes away evidence of a goddess’s visit in Suleikha Snyder’s story, and rain-slicked city streets provide a backdrop for a burgeoning romance in Tamsen Parker’s tale. Rainy days bring solace to Cole McCade’s hero, while Stacy Reid’s heroine makes a bold journey toward love in a raging storm. Nine romance novelettes, edited by Sarah Frantz.

All proceeds from the volume will be donated to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (, the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the United States.

Cole McCade

The first time he met her, he couldn’t speak.

She spilled into the bar with a laugh, raindrops glinting in her cloud of copper-fire hair and dotting the shoulders of her thick winter coat. When she opened the door she let in the riot of the storm, as if she’d ridden the wave of boiling thunder until it spilled her over the threshold and into the ordinary banality of the crowded, noisy bar.

Two other women orbited her, sallow against her brightness. If asked, Ethan couldn’t have said just why she was the one. The other women were prettier, their laughter sweeter, their dresses nicer. Her nose was slightly crooked, and the thin pink pucker of a scar traced the edge of one eye socket, stark against her pale skin. She wasn’t perfect.

But she was luminous, and it hurt to look directly at her.

“Hey. Hey, bartender. You going to finish that or not?”

Ethan tore his gaze from the woman and back to the frat boy eyeing him impatiently across the bar. His small eyes and flat, bland face blended with a thousand others Ethan had seen throughout the week. One of the perils of living in a football town, on par with night after night of serving up draft beers and a monotonous litany of Alabama Slammers and Slippery Nipples and Jäger Bombs.

“Yeah.” Ethan wiped off another shot glass. “Sure.”

He lost her in the noise and bustle of bodies. Now and then, while topping off another pint or running another tab, he’d glimpse a flash of glowing white skin, dappled in glass-prism colors. Then she was gone again, swept into the undertow of human life. Part of that sea of endless movement, immersed so deep Ethan thought it must be like drowning. He’d never been able to get that deep. Never been able to follow the currents to let them swallow him whole. It fascinated him to watch, even as he wondered what he was missing when he was always floating on the surface, never moving beyond the shallows. That was why he liked bartending: nameless faces flicking in and out of his life, a few regulars, no one who really knew him or wanted to know him.

It was safer that way.

But as he fit a pour spout to a fresh bottle of Jose Cuervo, a slender hand with prettily painted nails slid into his line of sight, drumming lightly on the bar. “Hey.” Her voice made him think of the late nights when he couldn’t sleep, but rather lay staring at the ceiling while the pine trees whispered to each other in the dark outside. “What’s good tonight?”

He almost dropped the bottle.

He couldn’t speak. He thought if he spoke, she’d see the stains that turned him black inside, starting on the inside of his mouth. He could never speak when it mattered; those stains smothered his words and turned them ugly and broken.

For just a moment, he met her eyes. Wide and tawny amber, sly with sweet amusement. Then she looked away as a tall, burly man—sweaty from dancing, his shirt dark in patches under his arms and across his chest—sidled up to the bar. “How’s it coming with those drinks, baby?”

“Still trying to make up my mind.”

She turned her smile on the guy, and for an irrational moment Ethan hated him. Hated how easy it was for people like him, who never had to close their mouths to hide how broken they were.

He must have been scowling; his face locked too stiff to tell, but the look the man turned on him was wary, his smile full of hard-edged teeth. Like a silverback gorilla in a dominance display, puffed-out chest and all.

“Hey, buddy. How about you get me a Michelob, and a Screaming Orgasm for the lady?”

He leered at her. Ethan told himself he wasn’t imagining that her laugh was nothing more than dutiful, but he ground his teeth as he turned away to make their drinks.

He felt more than saw when her date left. He could breathe again, without that silverback raising his hackles in Ethan’s direction. But she stayed. She stayed, and his hands fumbled on the bottles as she watched him.

“I didn’t really want a Screaming Orgasm.” Quiet as a secret, she leaned close. “Tell you what—why don’t you surprise me?”

He glanced over his shoulder at her. Still he couldn’t speak, but he managed a nod, and his hands were a bit steadier as he pulled a pint of Michelob for the silverback—and mixed a Bailey’s toasted almond brittle cocktail for her. It was the drink he’d thought of when he’d first seen her. Sweet and creamy with a touch of bite. People’s drinks tended to reflect their personalities, and he wondered if he was reading her right, or was just seeing who he wanted her to be.

Barstool psychology. Probably more useful than his liberal arts degree.

When he slid the drinks across the bar she smiled, and he imagined it was just for him.

“Thanks.” She took a test sip of her drink. Her smile widened. “It’s good. Sweet. What is it?”

He only shrugged and looked down, swiping a towel over the bar.

Say something. But the words dug their hooks into his throat and refused to let go. She hovered for an awkward moment.

“Okay.” Her smile faded. “Well, thanks again.”

He looked up again, but she was already gone.

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