Readers will be charmed by this tale of mistaken identity that brings together a young woman with her high school crush in blush-worthy and chuckle-inducing scenes, keep reading to get a tempting glimpse of Fluffy by Julia Kent, then add this delightful rom-com to you bookshelf when it releases on April 30th!
It all started with the wrong Help Wanted ad. Of course it did.
I’m a professional fluffer. It’s NOT what you think. I stage homes for a living. Real estate agents love me, and my work stands on its own merits.
Sigh. Get your mind out of the gutter. Go ahead. Laugh. I’ll wait.
See? That’s the problem. My career has used the term “fluffer” for decades. I didn’t even know there was a more… lascivious definition of the term.
Until it was too late.
The ad for a “professional fluffer” on Craigslist seemed like divine intervention. My last unemployment check was in the bank. I was desperate. Rent was due. The ad said cash paid at the end of the day.
The perfect job!
Staging homes means showing your best angle. The same principle applies in making a certain kind of movie. Turns out a “fluffer” doesn’t arrange decorative pillows on a couch.
They arrange other soft, round-ish objects.
The job isn’t hard. Er, I mean, it is — it’s about being hard. Or, well… helping other people to be hard.
And that’s the other problem. A man. No, not one of the stars on the movie set. Will Lotham – my high school crush. The owner of the house where we’re filming. Illegally. In a vacation rental.
By the time the cops show up, what I thought was just a great house staging gig turned into a nightmare involving pictures of me with an undressed naked star, Will rescuing me from an arrest, and a humiliating lesson in my own naivete.
My job turned out to be so much harder than I expected. But you know what’s easier than I ever imagined?
Having all my dreams come true.
“It is time to DANCE! Find a partner and hold each other’s hands, facing one another.”
Five women start walking toward Will.
“Mal?” Shyness infuses his question, sending chills up and down my arms and legs. They settle at the base of my neck, riding shotgun next to the arousal centers of my nervous system. He’s adorable, one hand out to me, eyebrows slightly up, blue-green eyes asking to dance with me but hinting at more.
Or... am I inventing that part?
“Sure,” I say, instantly regretting my answer. Does it sound grudging? He doesn’t seem to think so as I take his hand and stand before him, tall in my high heels but he’s even taller. Looking at him from this height makes him even more human, more masculine, more real.
My heart skips a beat.
But the music sure doesn't.
“Now, the ‘man,’” Philippe starts, using finger quotes because there are several female-only couples in the class, “puts one hand on the woman’s waist. The right hand.”
It’s like sticking my finger in a light socket and orgasming at the same time.
His left hand takes my right hand and he holds it, strong and firm, smiling at me with a boyish grin that makes me feel instant remorse for hurting him today.
“I’m sorry I bashed your head in,” I whisper, moving near his ear, our mouths inches apart.
There is a gap between us. My lungs live there, in that space. They breathe. I don’t make a move. My autonomic nervous system works without intention. If it didn’t, I’d die.
Because I would hold my breath forever in Will’s arms.
Philippe is moving from couple to couple, adjusting positions, commenting and correcting.
“Closer,” Philippe says right behind me, the press of his firm palm against my lower back a shock as he pushes me into Will, closing that gap.
My autonomic nervous system gives up entirely.
“Look into each other’s eyes,” Philippe commands, his accent making this even sexier. “When you dance, you show your love with your hips, your eyes, your languid grace. You are making love in public with your bodies, fully clothed.”
Is Will holding his breath, too?
“Your hand goes here, Mallory,” the teacher says, taking my left hand and putting it on Will’s shoulder. My breasts brush against his chest, our breathing ragged. I try to look away, but we’re too close. All I can do is look at his eyes or his mouth, and right now, both are so, so dangerous.
No one else in the room exists. The light that bounces off the polished floors is ours. The murmurs and giggles in the background are ours. The way he breathes my air and I inhale him is ours, too. We’re touching, my thigh against his, and every warm part of Will Lotham’s front half that is decent to display in public is rubbing against me.
Except his lips.
“Now, take one step forward,” Philippe says. “Together.”
Will steps on my foot. Hard.
I make a very unfeminine sound and start to pitch backwards. Tightening his grip on my waist, his hand sliding, open and splayed, across the small of my back, he saves me from a complete wipeout.
But that save has its costs.
In an instant, all traces of that teenage girl in me are gone, disintegrating, turned to stardust that sweeps off me like a fine spring breeze. I am all woman now, mature and wanting.
All I want is this. Now. The man before me, his arms warm and assured, grasp confident and bold.
And very much wanting me back.
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New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Julia Kent writes romantic comedy with an edge. From billionaires to BBWs to new adult rock stars, Julia finds a sensual, goofy joy in every contemporary romance she writes. Unlike Shannon from Shopping for a Billionaire, she did not meet her husband after dropping her phone in a men's room toilet (and he isn't a billionaire). She lives in New England with her husband and three sons in a household where the toilet seat is never, ever, down.