Gretel, er, I mean, Gabriella Salazar finds temptation and desperation to be too great and breaks into a wicked witch’s—uh, that is—a pretentious, rich woman’s condo, only to discover she’s not the only one with a B & E fetish. The twist is that the mysterious, handsome Hansel to her Gretel who has also stolen into the same apartment is anything but brotherly, and the two strangers find themselves lip-locked before the evening is over. Now Gabby and her new, aggravating accomplice must get crafty and work together to free themselves and everyone they hold dear from a mad woman’s clutches.
But breaking and entering never ends with a happily ever after…right?
“Give me the tissues.”
I looked up in alarm. Oh shit, was he going to prevent me from taking anything? Why hadn’t I considered that possibility?
Probably because he’d just covered for me to his mother, and he had his own unknown ulterior motive for breaking into her house.
God, I was so stupid for blindly trusting him.
But then he opened his jacket, flashing me the insides. “I can probably hide them here.”
My mouth fell open. “You…” I shook my head. “Wait, you’re going to help me?”
He met my gaze, dead serious, no longer arrogant or sarcastic. “Why not? You worked your ass off for these.” Then he lifted one eyebrow until it arched in that snarky little bent I was becoming all-too familiar with. “Isn’t that how you put it?”
For the first time since meeting him, his acerbic manner didn’t grate on my last nerve. I just blinked at him, beginning to see a vague glimpse of the man beneath. And I realized it was all a front. He expertly hid his true self behind taunting barbs and haughty expressions. There was more to him than the asshole he tried to convince people he was.
How incredibly unusual.
He motioned toward my stolen goodies with one finger. “The tissues would be in that rectangular-shaped cardboard box right there,” he explained unnecessarily, having way too much fun talking down to me.
Damn, he was really good at playing the sarcastic jerk. Except this time, I saw the compassion behind his supercilious ruse.
“Uh…” Shaking my head to clear it because I was still discombobulated by this turn of events, I grabbed the tissues without hissing at him for his rude crack and I handed them over, murmuring, “Sorry. Here.”
He frowned at me in confusion, then tipped his head to the side as his eyes narrowed distrustfully. But even as he took the tissues, he added, “The soup too. You can probably conceal the soda in your front hoodie pouch, if it’s the only thing in there.”
He had a point. Nodding, I removed the can from my hoodie’s pocket. “Okay. Thank you.”
The thank you actually made him rear his face back in shock. This time, he refused to take the can from me, just eyed it as if I was offering him poison instead. “What the fuck is wrong with you?” he hissed.
“What do you mean?” Lowering my voice, I gaped at him. “Nothing’s wrong with me.”
I thrust the chicken noodle soup at him again. Why didn’t he just take the damn can before his mother showed up in the closet too, wondering why the hell we were taking so long?
He glanced toward the opening of the closet as well before turning back to me and whispering harshly, “You’re acting weird.”
“Oh my God.” My eyebrows shot sky high. “You’ve known me five fucking minutes. How do you know what my weird is? And besides, this is frankly a weird, super unreal situation. How else am I supposed to act?”
My irritated answer, along with the scowl I sent him, seemed to settle him again. His shoulders relaxed and his features lost their alert confusion.
“Well, your compliance was at odds with the first four minutes and forty-five seconds of our association,” he explained.
Wow, he didn’t respond well to politeness at all, did he?
But compliance? Did he seriously just call me compliant? Way to make me sound like a submissive little lap poodle.
Maybe his pomposity wasn’t entirely an act after all. He was probably a genuine asshole with just a small side serving of kind.
Narrowing my eyes, I bit out from between gritted teeth, “You were helping me. I was being grateful. But don’t worry; I’m over it now.”
“Good,” he bit out. “We don’t have time for that bullshit, anyway.”
Linda writes romance fiction from YA to adult, contemporary to fantasy. Most Kage stories lean more toward the lighter, sillier side with a couple meaningful moments thrown in. Focuses more on entertainment value and emotional impact.
Published since 2010. Went through a 2-year writing correspondence class in children’s literature from The Institute of Children’s Literature. Then graduated with a Bachelors in Arts, English with an emphasis in creative fiction writing from Pittsburg State University.
Now she lives with hubby, two daughters, cat Holly, and nine cuckoo clocks in southeast Kansas, USA. Farm girl. Parents were dairy farmers. Was youngest of eight. Big family. Day job as a cataloging library assistant.
Harry Potter House Gryffindor, Patronus White Stallion, character match Hagrid. Supernatural Team Dean. Game of Thrones Team Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister. The Walking Dead Team Daryl. Outlander Team Jamie Fraser. Teen Wolf Team Stiles. Avenger Team Thor…or Hulk (can’t decide). Justice League Team Flash. Arrow Team Stephen Amell. Stranger Things obsessed. Heard Laurel, not Yanny.
Started out reading with the Baby-Sitters Club. Then moved to Sandra Brown, Linda Howard, Julie Garwood, and LaVyrle Spencer in high school. Now all over the place with her romance reading tastes.