Hard to Handle
Love in the Balance, book 2
Novella Alert! ⚠️ To read Aiden & Sadie’s entire story, be sure to buy a copy of the prequel novella Can’t Let Go.
Features Aiden Downey & Sadie Howard
Sadie Howard never dates a guy more than once-but Fate has other plans for her when it comes to Aiden Downey, the one that got away. Aiden loved her, left her, and broke her heart. Yet suddenly she’s bumping into him at every turn, driven to distraction by his wicked grin and rock-hard body. Now she can’t resist finishing what they started-as long as she doesn’t let herself fall in love . . .
Twice as Tempting
Aiden Downey threw away the best thing he ever had when he let Sadie go, and now he’s determined to win back the woman he’s always wanted. Sadie agrees to let him into her life-and her bed-as long as there are no strings attached. But Aiden’s not about to make the same mistake again. Can he convince her to take a second chance on a once-in-a-lifetime love?
Determination lengthening her stride, Sadie stood tall and proud in her studded black heels, lifting her to almost five foot six. Axle angled down a long corridor and led her to a cramped office, its shelves sagging under the weight of hardcover books on everything from bike repair to Catcher in the Rye.
He hulked over his desk, long gray braid trailing down his back, tree-trunk legs testing the task chair’s weight limit. He was also a former boxer, which one would guess given the way his massive chest nearly burst the seams of his shirt.
Smoothing his thick, walrus-like moustache, Axle folded meaty hands in front of him on the desk and addressed Sadie with a quick lift of his eyebrows.
Sadie smiled, her confidence soaring. Axle liked her. She’d cultivated a careful professional relationship with him for the past three years, just waiting for the day Truman left. Axle endured her persistence, never once asking her to leave him alone. A good sign.
“Let me stop you there.” Axle’s flat gray eyes gave no hint as to what he was about to say. “You’re going to pitch this to my new second-in-command.” He gave her a gruff smile…or at least she thought he did. His moustache twitched on one side. “I’ll go get him.”
“But—” was all Sadie got out before Axle was out of his office. He moved fast for a big guy. She adjusted her skirt and mentally reviewed her sales pitch. The one she’d be giving to a newcomer. Whom she knew nothing about.
She’d need to be professional, of course. And not as familiar as she would have been with Axle. If the guy was a recent college graduate or CEO type, she’d have a lot of glossing over to do to explain her less-than-professional attire. She grimaced down at the silver studs on her feet. Why hadn’t she worn sensible pumps?
Taking a breath, she considered the more likely scenario: that Axle had hired someone like himself. Someone with a penchant for hogs, an admiration for irreverent T-shirt sayings, and a strong head for business. Axle wasn’t stupid. Far from it. She’d learned his IQ hovered around genius level though she couldn’t dredge up the figure. Sadie’s talent with numbers extended only to the ones with dollar signs before them.
She leaned and peeked through the doorway and down the hall, and caught a glimpse of an arm behind Axle, who came toward her like a tank in Tiananmen Square, his big body obscuring the rest of the man behind him.
No matter who the new guy was, Sadie had just one chance to impress him, not insult him, and get a sample of his penmanship on the bottom line. Sadie straightened in the out-of-date, stained guest chair. Sure she could be prickly, smart-mouthed, and sarcastic. But she also could be charming. And she knew her stuff. She could handle whoever came through that door.
Then Axle entered, his new second-in-command at his side, and Sadie felt the blood drain from her face.
Anyone except for Aiden Downey.
As big as Axle was, Aiden dominated her vision. His muscular legs in a pair of soft worn denim frayed over black motorcycle boots, broad shoulders and firm chest covered by a black collared shirt with the word Axle’s embroidered over his right pectoral. And his face. The jaw she had kissed, had raked her fingernails against; the same jaw that had scraped the softest part of her neck when he kissed her, was covered with enough scruff to make her feel the phantom scratch of it on her skin now. And then there was his hair…long, thick strands she used to spear her fingers into—
She blinked, sure she must be imagining things, and swallowed the gasp working its way up her throat. Somehow she had to keep from appearing alarmed while her stomach took a dive to her toes. The dark blond ponytail he normally wore low on his neck was…gone. The strands that used to hang loose and brush his cheekbones, shorn. His hair had been such a part of him, so…Aiden. And that she’d loved touching it, feeling it brush against her face when he kissed her, had surprised no one more than Sadie.
Kind of like the next four words out of her mouth...
[from the back of the book]
I love a scruffy-faced, tattooed, motorcycle-riding bad boy as much as the next girl, so when it came time to write HARD TO HANDLE, I knew what qualities I wanted Aiden Downey to possess.
For inspiration, I needed look no further than Charlie Hunnam from the famed TV show Sons of Anarchy. I remember watching Season 1 on Netflix, mouth agape and eyes wide. When Charlie’s character, Jax Teller finished his first scene, I looked over at my husband and said, “That’s Aiden!”
In HARD TO HANDLE, Aiden may have been crafted with a bad-boy starter kit: he has the scruff, the tattoo, the knee-weakening dimples that make him look like sin on a stick, and yeah, a custom Harley Davidson, to boot. But Aiden also has something extra special that derails his “bad boy” image: a heart of near-solid gold.
When we first met Aiden and Sadie in TEMPTING THE BILLIONAIRE, (and again in the e-novella CAN’T LET GO) there wasn’t much hope for these two hurting hearts to work out their differences. Aiden had been saddled with devastating news, and familial responsibilities, and Sadie (poor Sadie!) had just opened up her heart to Aiden, who stomped on it, broke it into pieces, and set it on fire for good measure. How could they forgive each another after things had gone so horribly, terribly wrong?
Aiden has suffered a lot of loss, but in HARD TO HANDLE, he’s on a mission to get his life back. A very large piece of that puzzle is winning back the woman he never meant to hurt; the woman he loved. Sadie, with her walled-up heart, smart, sassy mouth, and fiery attitude isn’t going to be an easy nut to crack. Especially after she vowed to never, ever get hurt again. That goes double for the blond Adonis with the unforgettable mouth and ability to turn her brain into Silly Putty.
The best part about this good “bad” boy? Aiden’s determination is as rock-hard as his abs. He’s not going to let Sadie walk away, not now that he sees how much she still cares for him. Having been to hell and back, Aiden isn’t intimidated by her. Not even a little bit. Sadie is his Achilles Heel, and Aiden accepts that it’s going to take time (and plenty of seduction!) to win her over. He also knows that she’s worth it.
Think you’re up for a ride around the block with a bad-boy-done-good? I have to say, Aiden left a pretty deep mark on my heart and I’m still a little in love with him! He may change your mind about scruffy, motorcycle-riding hotties…. He certainly managed to change Sadie’s.