A Real Estate Romance
By Liz Crowe
100% free to subscribers of her monthly newsletter November 17, 2015 PLUS again on Liz’s milestone 29+20 birthday December 17, 2015.
APPRAISED is rated NC17 (NOT XXX) for language and adult situations.
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Sign up! On November 17 AND December 17 you will receive a link to download this book in your preferred format, plus the sequel CONTINGENT in early January.
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Sawyer Callahan is a former cop turned accounting instructor, part time real estate appraiser and handy man, and single dad to a teenaged girl. He keeps his once-chaotic life now firmly under his strict, somewhat OCD control. Until he decides to sell the house that reminds him too much of his late wife.
Miranda Landon is hot-shot real estate agent with a relationship-sized chip on her shoulder that she exorcises, frequently, with the help of as many men as possible.
These two meet, of course. But what happens may surprise you.
APPRAISED is the first in a series of 100% FREE Liz Crowe novels told in a unique back-and-forth point of view style. Real Estate Romance with humor and spice available to subscribers to Liz’s once-a-month newsletter.
Amazon best-selling author, mom of three, Realtor, beer blogger, brewery marketing expert, and soccer fan, Liz Crowe is a Kentucky native and graduate of the University of Louisville currently living in Ann Arbor. She has decades of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as a three-continent, ex-pat trailing spouse.
With stories set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch, in successful real estate offices and at times in exotic locales like Istanbul, Turkey, her books are unique and told with a fresh voice. The Liz Crowe backlist has something for any reader seeking complex storylines with humor and complete casts of characters that will delight, frustrate and linger in the imagination long after the book is finished.
Don’t ever ask her for anything “like a Budweiser” or risk bodily injury.
Excerpt #1 (rated R for language):
It was a buzz writing up offers and listings practically on the hood of my car. But the fall-throughs from all the fakers and porch pissers were, by statistical necessity, also increasing.
Maddening, I thought as I ran my hands down my torso, studying my almost-forty imperfections with a critical eye. I’d never be skinny. I never had been. I was almost five foot ten flatfooted and had broad shoulders thanks to my years spent in the pool as a kid and teenager. I’d never, ever been anything less than a size eight, which as I’d been told by the helpful and knowledgeable Ashley was “the new ten” or something equally depressing.
At the moment, I bordered on “the new twelve or fourteen” I supposed, being the ten going on twelve I bounced between no matter how little I ate or how many hours I sold my soul to the cycle. Ashley again—she’d insisted that I’d change my entire perspective on the universe if I tortured myself three times a week with her on those stupid stationary bikes. I did like it. It made me forget everything but the extreme urge to jump off the bike, declare everyone in the room full of shit, and stomp out. The three hours a week I spent forcing myself not to do that were hours well spent, if they kept me under the deadly number twelve on the clothes tags, I figured.
“You’re truly statuesque,” Ashley always insisted. “Womanly. In perfect proportion. No wonder all the guys tent their tighty-whities every time you walk into a room.”
I didn’t bother reminding her of the basic simplicity of men. No, I wasn’t hard to look at. My thick auburn hair was exotic. I had huge, expressive green eyes and had lived enough years to know how to use them. I had decent tits, full hips, natch. And did two hundred crunches every fucking night to keep my unruly belly in check. But my basic shape was, in a word, larger than what was considered perfect in this snake-hipped, ironing-board stomach obsessed world. I’d learned to live with it.
No, men sensed something else about me—either an eagerness or desperation for their direct, most personal attention. That was what kept them all salivating in my presence. I put out. And I didn’t want anything more than that. It wasn’t rocket science.
But I wasn’t taken advantage of, oh no. No man left my bed—or empty house, office, or broom closet—without having satisfied me. I came first. And often. That much was understood and I had not met a guy yet who wasn’t willing to fulfill that basic, simple order of operations. I’d spent way too many years thinking I’d had an orgasm at the inept and self-centered hands of my husband. Those days were over.
Thanks to my Las Vegas friend, I mused, letting my mind wander to him—he of the amazing skill set, the beautiful face, the lovely laugh, the generous lips and hands. He was a trained masseur, he’d claimed when we first met. He’d just “relax” me. And we’d see where it took us.
I shivered at the memory of that first week I spent with him. He’d taught me about the triggers, the zones, the way I could use my body to please my partner. I think I fell in deep love with the man that week, but I refused it, rejected it. I’d paid him after all. He’d taken my money that first time. The other times—all the deeply erotic experiences we’d shared since—were free of charge, he’d claimed.
Excerpt #2 (rated R for language/situations):
Sawyer pressed the young man up against the closed side of the double doors, lifting him by his neck. Sawyer knew how to scare without really hurting. And it all came rushing back to him now. “Get out of my house,” he said, keeping his tone conversational. “Don’t ever come near my house again. If I see you here, or smell your muskrat breath anywhere near me or my house or my daughter you will need a doctor, not a lawyer. We clear?” He put a bit more pressure on the kid’s throat, knowing it for effect and nothing more, getting a twinge of regret for giving up his old life for one at a desk, helping prosecutors build cases against fraternity punks like this one before being forced out of that job thanks to…no. Not tonight.
He let go. The kid crumpled the floor, coughing, staring up at Sawyer with the sort of fear that made him feel whole again. Standing, arms crossed, putting the full effect of his six foot five, broad shouldered, ex-cop’s body into his “get the hell out and stay out” message, Sawyer watched as the no-doubt future politician, or perhaps smarmy English professor with a penchant for fucking other men’s wives, scrabbled for the door knob and threw himself out into the dark front lawn.
He sighed and turned. Kelly lingered on the bottom step, tears standing in her eyes. “Are you…hurt?”
She glared at him. “No, Dad. I told you. I’m still pure as the driven fucking snow. Christ.”
“Get a shower,” he barked, unable to stand it another minute. “Then come downstairs. I want to show you some houses we’re gonna go look at together.”
“I don’t give half a rat’s ass where we move.”
He swallowed the ugly retort, horrified that he would even think such mean things about his own daughter. But she was like some kind of possessed evil demon anymore. And it got worse every day. Times like this he hated his dead wife even more for leaving him with this mess. Among other things. He took a long, shuddery breath. “Get a shower. Come back downstairs. I got drumsticks.”
Her eyes flickered. The corner of her chapped, swollen looking lips lifted. He crossed his arms over his chest, thinking, “point to dad.”
“Fine,” she said, flouncing up the steps and giving the bathroom door a solid slam for good measure. He sat, flipping through the options on his computer, his appraiser’s mind already evaluating and tsk-tsking over how grossly overpriced everything was. Figures. He should have made this move last year.
When Kelly appeared, her face scrubbed clean and healthily pink, her dark brown hair scraped back in a ponytail, her eyes bright he felt something loosen in his chest. Still seated, he held out an arm, willing her to come to him, to let him hang onto her a minute or two. She did, lingering nearly fifteen entire seconds before pulling away and rubbing her eyes, hiding her emotion from him. He let himself have the outsized sensation of victory.
“I’ll take a vanilla one,” he said, pointing to the freezer. She pulled out the box of her all time favorite, disgustingly processed frozen desserts. “Sit. Look with me.”
She handed him one and they spent a few minutes thumbing through the listings he’d picked out, smaller houses, smaller lawns, real start-over attempts to let go of the horror of the past few years. When they’d eaten the last bit of chocolate-filled, over-sweet cones, she poured them each a glass of water. He drank his, waiting until she finished to ask The Question.
“So, what did I interrupt earlier?”
She rolled her eyes and got up for a refill. “Nothing. He wanted me to give him a blowjob. I wasn’t about to do that, but then you showed up while he was trying to convince me.” She shrugged, the gorgeous future woman in her shining through so brightly it made Sawyer’s teeth ache. “Gross,” she muttered around the rim of the water glass.
He cleared his throat, trying to find words, or even thoughts that might turn into words for this moment.
“I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’ve done it before. He’s gross. Not giving a blow job.”
“Oh, uh…” He clenched his fist around the drumstick wrapper. “Well…”
She grinned, then kissed his forehead and ruffled his hair. “I’m kidding. God, you should see your face right now, Daddy-o.”
“But he was…uh… had his…um…”
“Yeah. I was giving him a hand job. But it was mutual. It’s what teenagers do. Don’t tell me you didn’t.”
Her extreme bluntness was like someone stabbing him between the eyes and turning the knife. He hesitated. “Okay, well. It’s why we got you on the pill.” His voice was hoarse. He thought he might very well puke beer and ice cream all over the floor.
“Yep. And don’t think I didn’t notice the box of condoms you stashed in my panty drawer, Dad.”
“Yes, well…um…” He wiped a hand down his face. She cupped his lightly bearded cheek. “I…”
“It’s okay. I’m fine. I’m not doing anything I don’t want to do. And when I do want to, I have that Cosco sized supply of rubbers thanks to you.” She yawned and stretched. Sawyer closed his eyes, willing the images of her with some boy’s hand down her pants out of his head. It made him want to put his fist through the wall despite his self-satisfied feelings about buying her rubbers. “’Night,” she said, blowing him a kiss and heading upstairs in her ratty blue robe and thick socks.
Sawyer sat a long time, staring at his tightly clenched fists and cursing his life, before hauling himself up and over to the couch where he’d been sleeping since Helen had died. He pretended he didn’t, always getting up well before Kelly did. It was but one of the many reasons he had to get the hell out of this house for good. Right before passing out, his gut churning with the unwelcome frozen preservatives, he touched his left ring finger with his thumb. Finding the new nothing there, when it had taken him thirteen years to get used to the something, he rolled over and squeezed his eyes shut.
“You know what I think,” Miranda said, bumping his shoulder companionably. He shook his head and finished his third, ill-considered beer. He’d not eaten since Kelly’s breakfast this morning and it was going on eight-thirty. He should go home, be a responsible dad and make sure his daughter made her grounded curfew. “I think you like me.”
He snorted and set the empty glass down, motioning for the check as he tugged his wallet out of his gym bag. “You think too much,” he said, not looking at her. He loved it when women felt confident enough not to wear makeup in public. And this woman, with the spray of un-concealed freckles across the bridge of her nose, had done just that, showering, dressing and meeting him without a stitch of artifice between them. Helen would hardly ever leave the house without the full compliment of foundations and whatever else that littered her side of the bathroom vanity, even if just out for a few groceries.
“No, no, don’t get me wrong, pal,” she insisted, waving the bartender away when he appeared and turning to face him so he had the full, breathtaking affect of her cleavage revealed at the v-neck of a thin T-shirt. “I don’t mean like I’m your type to date or whatever.”
“Whew, what a relief. I’d hate to have to be the one to break that to you.” He leaned on the bar, relaxing ever so slightly for the first time since he’d walked in here and found her sitting, drinking, and watching sports. He didn’t really like how she made him feel. But somehow, having broken the ice with the invite for a game and now this comfortable, friendly round of beers, he was easing into a place in head where he didn’t feel like he had to guard himself from her. “Since we’re well established buddies now,” he said, wondering how in the hell this might go and going for it anyway, “Tell me what made you think hiring a total stranger in a strange city to fuck you out of your divorce funk was a good idea.”
She blinked, tilted her head, frowned, and turned away from him. He didn’t move, rolling the eff-bomb around in his mouth. He rarely used it and wasn’t sure why he’d said it to her now. Even as a cop all those years hanging out with some of the most foul-mouthed, foul-tempered men going, he’d maintained his ability to not say words that flowed from them like water over a cliff. She held up a hand. The bartender appeared.
“My friend here and I are in need of something stronger,” she said, pushing their empty pint glasses away. “Do you have Jefferson Reserve?” She named a bourbon he’d tried a few times, when someone else was paying, in his typical, tightwad fashion. The guy nodded, pulled a bottle off a mirrored shelf behind him and grabbed two rocks glasses. Miranda took them, and got off her barstool. “Come on, pal,” she said, emphasizing the word a little too much for his taste. “I’ll tell you all of it. But at a table.”
He grabbed both of their gym bags and followed her, forcing himself to look at her bobbing, red ponytail and not the sway of her hips. They sat. She poured them each a small portion and lifted the glass to her nose, closing her eyes and making him break out in a cold sweat at the way she caressed the edge of the glass with her lips.
Oh for crying out loud, Callahan. This is not a soap opera. This woman wants a friend. Be one and get over yourself.