Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Decidedly with Love by Stina Lindenblatt

Title: Decidedly with Love
Series: By the Bay #3
Author: Stina Lindenblatt
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Release Date: January 15, 2018


From the
author of sexy romantic comedies comes the story of a meddling grandmother
searching for lifelong love. For her hockey player grandson…

Fake Boyfriend Rule #1: never fall for your
fake girlfriend.


I run
Aphrodite’s Boutique, a store that specializes in all things love-related. A
store that I adore with all my heart, and which is at risk of being shut down
and replaced with a condo development.

To save it,
all I have to do is pretend to be Travis Hamilton’s girlfriend.

simple enough. Right?

Except he
and I have a history together...but he doesn’t seem to remember me.


My feisty,
well-meaning grandmother raised me after my parents died, but now she’s
determined to help me find The One. But when most women I meet tend to
be puck bunnies or women only interested in my hockey-player salary—and let’s
not forget the nutcase of an ex-girlfriend—why bother?

Only a fake
girlfriend will deter my grandmother’s matchmaking scheme.

Too bad the
one woman who can help me is the sexy redhead who wants to assist me as much as
she wants her eyeballs dunked in hot sauce and barbecued.

To convince
her, I promise to help her with her own dilemma. But sometimes fire and ice
really do mix. Now I have to decide if love is in the air—and if together Emma
and I make something hotter. Something stronger. Something real.

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Sitting on
the fountain’s ledge, I pulled on my rubber boots. Why the boots?
You didn’t
expect me to climb into the fountain in my heels or go barefooted, did you?
“Wow, that
looks like so much fun,” Hannah said, laughing. “If I didn’t have to go to work
in a few minutes, I would’ve volunteered to help you. But alas…” She snickered.
“Why are you doing this when there are no birds in the store to crap on the
because there are no birds doesn’t mean Aphrodite doesn’t get dusty.” I had no
idea if the woman in the toga really was supposed to be the Greek goddess of
love, but she looked similar enough. “Plus I need to remove the coins, and it’s
a lot easier to do that by climbing in the water to retrieve them.”
“If you say
so.” The laughter in her voice was still there.
The bell
above the door jingled and I glanced up to see if I was about to be busy—or if
Lisa could handle things. Several people already were milling around, checking
out the merchandise or trying on the lingerie in the fitting room.
Oh, God. Not him again.
entered the store and his gaze settled on me.
“Oh, this
should be good,” Hannah said. “Too bad I have to leave now if I want to make it
to work on time.”
I turned my
head to look at her. “What should be good?”
“The guy
you were scowling at the other day is obviously here for a repeat. And this
time he’s minus the senior citizen squad. On that note, I’m off now. I’ll call
you later for the scoop.” She started backing away. “And have fun with your
Before I
could respond, she was out the door, pausing only long enough to give Travis a
quick once-over and wave good-bye to me.
He wasn’t
the only one to be given a once-over. Except in my case, his gaze slowly
traveled up my body as if he were undressing me—removing my ever-so-sexy rubber
boots; my whimsical blue floral sundress that brushed against my knees; my
white lacy bra and underwear, which he couldn’t see but I was sure he was
imagining on me. That, or he was imagining I was in a thong.
Once his
gaze was on my face, his mouth slid up to one side. “The boots are definitely a
nice touch. But I must admit I’m more a fan of stilettos.” He leaned in closer,
his breath brushing against my ear…and my body decided to go rogue and ignore
my brain telling it to take a step back.
when the legs they’re attached to are wrapped around my waist,” he added.
No—the girlie part between my legs did not release a longing sigh. Not. At.
Note to self: add dirty talk to list of
requirements for next boyfriend.
I stepped
away from him, the back of my calves hitting the low fountain wall. “What are
you doing here? I thought we weren’t checking out any more retail spaces until
next weekend.”
“I came to
talk to you.”
“I figured
that, but now’s not a good time.”
I indicated
the fountain. “I have to clean it and remove the money. So unless whatever you
need to tell me can be done while I’m working, you’ll have to come back later.”
Or preferably never.
“I can
Of course
he could.
“Don’t you
have to be at work or something?” I had no idea what he did for a living, but
it probably didn’t involve hanging around my store.
He opened
his mouth to answer but didn’t get that far.
aren’t you, like, Travis Hamilton?” A tall teenage girl asked him. She was
pretty, with an athletic body and long dark hair spilling down her back.
She didn’t
wait for him to reply. “I also play defense. You’re like my idol.”
I felt my
eyebrows climb north. Idol? Why would she idolize him?
And how did
she even know him?
Maybe I
should have Googled him…like I had with some of my past dates.
Not that I
was going out with him.
He offered
her a friendly smile—not like the smiles that threw me off kilter. “Nice to
meet you.”
Her friend
was looking at Travis as though she also had no idea why the girl was excited
seeing him here.
“This is
Travis Hamilton,” the dark-haired girl explained. “He plays defense for the San
Francisco Rock. The NHL team.”
He does?
She kept
chatting to him, mostly about hockey. Since I still had work to do, I grabbed
the cloth on the ledge and climbed in. I’d already turned the water off before
putting my boots on.
Have you
ever tried walking through a fountain while wearing rubber boots? It’s not
easy. And I don’t care how graceful you normally are, this sucks all the
gracefulness from you in one easy swoop.
But I
figured the sacrifice was worth it. For Aphrodite’s sake…which could only help
benefit the store.
Now if only
Aphrodite could help me with my lease problem.
Splosh. Splosh.
“Ready for
a little spa treatment?” I asked the statue in almost a whisper. No need for
the customers to believe I was crazy.
I dipped
the cloth in the water and began cleaning her.
“What are
you doing?” Travis asked.
“What does
it look like?” I spared him a glance over my shoulder. The girls he had been
talking to were no longer with him.
“It looks
like you’re giving her a sponge bath. Very kinky, by the way.”
I rolled my
eyes. “I’m cleaning her and then I have to remove the money.”
“What do
you do with the money?”
“It goes to
charity,” I said, my attention on my task.
“A youth
center for underprivileged kids where I volunteer.”
“Why a
local youth center for underprivileged kids?”
I shifted
around and glanced at him from over Aphrodite’s shoulder. “Why not there?”
The corner
of his mouth twitched up to one side. “I asked you first.” At my silence, he
continued, “The Rock encourages its players to be active in the community. Some
players donate large amounts of money to a charity of their choice. Some
participate in various events at the children’s hospital, which are always
popular with the kids. For some players, they do it simply because publicity
recommended they give back to those less fortunate—because it makes the player
look good. Others do it because their charity has special meaning to them. So
which is it for you?”
“Which type
of player are you?” I replied. Or maybe he donated neither time nor money.
“I donate
money to a charity that provides sports equipment to kids. Because of the cost,
they might not otherwise be able to play hockey. And I participate in the annual
wheelchair hockey game at the kids’ hospital.”
Did I have
“selfless” on my list of requirements for potential boyfriends? No—but it was a
given. I’d written off a few individuals in the past because they didn’t
believe in donating either time or money to a worthy cause.
So, yes, my
heart had warmed up a little bit more toward Travis. Not that it mattered. He
wasn’t looking for a girlfriend, and I wasn’t looking to be a fake one.
“How come
that charity and event?” I asked.
The smirk
was back on his face. “Uh, uh. You first. Why the youth center?”
The coins
in the water shimmered under the bright store light overhead, almost as if
encouraging me to tell him.
“Because I
understand what it feels like to be underprivileged. I grew up in foster care.”
Which he
would know if he remembered me from school.
But he
didn’t—so what was a girl to do?
Aphrodite had an answer for that. The pump that I had turned off before
climbing into the fountain suddenly turned on. Water burst up from the jets,
hitting me full on—and I shrieked. Ugh!
Then the
fountain turned off as quickly as it had turned on, leaving me standing there with
water dripping from my hair and down my body. My now-wet dress clung to me,
leaving not much to the imagination, including my white lacy bra and underwear.
Lisa called out, returning from the back. “I accidentally hit the switch to the
fountain.” Her gaze landed on me, soaked and still standing in the water, and
her hand flew to her mouth. Not from shock. She was attempting to hold back a
I stepped
over the fountain’s low wall. Squish.
“I’m so
sorry,” she said, her hand still covering her mouth. The corners of her eyes
crinkled with barely held back laughter.
wasn’t doing much better.
I tried to
yank off a rubber boot—which wasn’t easy when your foot was wet and you were
standing. Swaying on one foot, I grabbed the closest thing available to hold on
to: Travis’s arm.
And wow,
the man worked out.
Don’t think about his muscular body. Don’t
think about his
hot, muscular body.…
I would’ve
removed my hand from his arm, but it was either touch him or risk falling over.
The boot
eventually slipped free of my foot. I tilted it, pouring the water back into
the fountain. Once it was empty, I placed the boot on the ledge and proceeded
to do the same with the other one while still holding on to Travis.
With what
dignity I had left—which was pretty much zero—I walked toward the back where my
office was located. With my body shivering, thanks to the air conditioning, I
tossed an “I’ll be back in a moment” over my shoulder to Lisa.
In my
office, I scanned the area for something to dry off with.
The door
clicked shut behind me. I startled and spun around. Travis was standing in
front of the closed door, his eyes dark and focused on my breasts. Or more
specifically, my perky nipples pressing against the wet fabric of my thin bra and
I crossed
my arms in front of me, doing my best to hide the view. Doing my best to warm
my girls up.
“Is this a
good time to ask you again about being my fake girlfriend?” In his hand was a
soft wool throw from the store. Red on one side and white on the other, it was
covered in hearts of the opposite color.
“So what’s
the deal? You’ll give me the throw if I agree to be your fake girlfriend?”
There might have been some teeth chattering when I said it. “And just so you
know, that’s not going to work. For one, I can’t sell the blanket if it’s
“And what’s
the second?”
“It will
take a lot more than a blanket for me to agree to be your fake girlfriend.” A
deliciously warm blanket.
“So does
that mean you’re considering it?”
I shook my
head. “There’s nothing you can offer me that will make me change my mind.”
“How about
you not being forced to relocate? Would that cause you to change your mind?”
I snorted a
laugh. “How exactly do you expect to do that? The owner doesn’t want my store
in the building anymore because it won’t fit with the new image.”
“I might be
able to change his mind.”
“Right. Might. So what you’re really saying is I
help you and at the end of the day I’m still screwed?”
“No. That’s
not it at all.” He stepped closer. “The blanket’s now mine. And I don’t care if
it gets dirty.” When I didn’t say anything, he wrapped it around my shoulders.
His finger accidentally brushed against my bare arm. And this time when I
shivered, it was for an entirely different reason.
welcome. Now back to you being my fake girlfriend.”
I shook my
head again. “Not happening.”
“How about
if I can’t get the owner to change his mind about your store by October first,
I’ll help you find another location that fits your needs.”
“That’s not
enough. If I’m pretending to be your girlfriend, I won’t be able to date a real
“The last I
looked, I am a real man.” He gestured
at his shorts…and the noticeable bulge there. A bulge that wasn’t so noticeable
A laugh
burst free. “Sorry. I wasn’t laughing at your manhood,” I quickly said, doing
my best to not start giggling.
He raised
an eyebrow and my attempt to curtail my giggle failed.

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Author Bio

Born in
Brighton England, Stina Lindenblatt has lived in a number of countries,
including England, the US, Finland, and Canada. This would explain her mixed up
accent. She has a kinesiology degree and a MSc in sports biological sciences.
In addition to writing fiction, she loves photography, especially the close-up
variety, and currently lives in Calgary, Canada, with her husband and three

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