Keane is an incubus coasting through life without a care. When he meets Quinn, her lack of reaction to him piques his interest. No human has ever been able to resist him.
Quinn is less than impressed by Keane. He’s cocky and has sex on the brain. A typical guy in her experience. Despite their differences, they can’t deny the attraction between them. Can an incubus and a human make a relationship work? But something sinister is lurking in Keane’s world. Young incubi are vanishing. When Quinn is kidnapped, Keane realizes someone is after him. Now, he must race to find Quinn and uncover who is behind the abductions. Will he be able to get to Quinn before she becomes the next victim?
Tempting Friendship is a new adult urban fantasy book about friends to lovers.
**Please note: Your credit card statement will say Hi-Five MI Designs as that is my Square account that allows me to offer signed paperbacks to you.**
The man threw his head back and cried out. His back arched off the bed, and he clutched the sheets so tightly his knuckles were bone-white. With a shudder, he came and then slumped back. His breaths came in shallow pants. Keane crawled over the man, trailing his nose along his collarbone. The smell of sweat mingled with the sweetness of sex. He inhaled deeply, soaking in the energy pulsing off the man. It seeped into Keane’s pores and penetrated to the marrow of his bones. He felt invigorated as if he had woken up from a deep sleep. A groan worked up his throat. His hunger wasn’t sated yet.
But his phone had beeped at least fifteen minutes ago, and he had already pushed the man over the edge multiple times. Any more and the man would die of exhaustion. Already, he was fast asleep.
Keane sucked up the last wisps of energy before climbing off the bed. He padded to the bedroom for a towel. The man didn’t stir as Keane wiped the sweat from his face. He stripped the condom off and tossed it in the trash. A soft sigh escaped the man’s lips as Keane pulled a blanket over him.
“Oh, you’re going to hate me when you wake,” Keane told him. “But in my defense, you were too irresistible. All that repressed sexuality. It’s like dangling a steak in front of a dog. No incubus in his right mind would pass you up. Take this as a sign to come out of the closet.” He gently patted the man’s cheek. A check of his phone told him he had time. But he had to hurry. After slipping on his clothing, he left the slumbering man behind.
Traffic was gridlocked, and impatient drivers laid on their horns. Orange signs warned of construction, and a jackhammer rattled the sidewalk. Keane crossed 28th Boulevard, squeezing between a truck and an SUV. The driver gave him a sour look, but Keane smiled innocently and continued his trek. Traffic didn’t let up for six blocks. A helicopter hovered overhead, no doubt a reporter covering the traffic jam. All the news stations had warned people months in advance about the construction and had detailed alternate routes.
“But like most humans, you didn’t want to listen,” he said in a singsong voice.
Getting off the main stretch through Grand Taqua Falls, he turned down Hazel Street. The traffic vanished, and the annoyed horns faded away. Small businesses lined the streets. A church cast a towering shadow over the buildings. Keane ducked down the alley between the church and the dry cleaner and exited on Spruce Avenue. A few cars were parked along the curb. Two women, one a succubus and one a human, loitered on the street. They wore tight, sequined dresses that showed off ample cleavage.
The succubus noticed Keane and nudged her friend. “Hey Key,” she called.
“How’s it going, Annie, Sherry?” he replied.
“Slow.” Annie sighed. “Construction has shut everything down. Haven’t seen a single person all day.”
“I’m sure some men will find their way to you two lovely ladies.”
“I hope so,” Sherry said. “Rent is coming up and so is Benny’s birthday. I gotta earn enough for both.”
“How old is Bennie going to be now?”
Sherry dug into her bedazzled purse. Keane joined them and took the picture she offered. A little boy, missing a lower front tooth and sporting a mop of ebony hair like his mother, grinned. “Six. He lost his first tooth and was excited for the tooth fairy to visit.”
Keane pulled out his wallet.
“Don’t you dare,” Sherry scolded.
Keane pressed the twenty into her hand. “Oh, shut it and take the money. I can’t in good conscious let Benny go without a birthday present.”
Sherry huffed. “Always get me with your weird accent. I wish you’d tell me where you’re from.”
Keane winked. “That would ruin the mystery.”
Sherry rolled eyes and tucked the money into her purse. “I owe you, Keane.”
“I’ll take a free handie one day.”
“Twenty dollars will get you about four minutes,” Annie said.
“I’m a man. That’s all I need.” He checked the time on his phone. “Yikes. Better get going.” He kissed the back of both the women’s hands. “See you ladies later. Be safe.”
They said goodbye, and Keane hustled to the restaurant and bar between a tattoo shop and hair salon. In the window, a neon sign read The Crown’s Inn with a little crown over the C. Underneath it a closed sign was propped against the glass. He let out a breath. Made it on time. He should get a gold star. The smell of booze hit his nose as he entered. A slow, country song played on the radio, the singer mourning a lost lover.
A blond head poked up from the bar. “Hey, Keane.”
Keane wandered around the counter. The bartender, a broad-chested man named Gerry, was on his hands and knees cleaning up shards of glass. “There’s a sight I like to see.”
Gerry shoved his black-rimmed glasses up his thin nose. “Funny. I was changing the keg and knocked a six-pack over in the process.”
“Was it at least crappy beer you spilled?”
Gerry showed him a piece of the bottle. The colorful label was soaked. “No,” he moaned. He gestured to the mess. “Look at this wasted booze.”
“Alcohol abuse,” Keane chided. He left Gerry to finish cleaning and entered the kitchen. Food sizzled on the grill, and a deep fryer popped. A sweet and tangy aroma mixed with the stench of seafood. “Jesus, what on earth are you cooking, Deon?”
Deon straightened up from the pan before him. A hairnet kept his Afro contained. He inhaled deeply and smiled. “Sweet and sour shrimp. It’s tonight’s special.”
Keane waved a hand in front of his face. “It stinks.”
“There is something wrong with your sense of smell, man.” Deon shook a piece of shrimp at Keane. “Everything stinks to you. I’m sure there’s a doctor you can see for that. They say the majority of your taste is influenced by smell.”
Keane didn’t reply. He clocked in, donned an apron, and gathered his dreads into a ponytail. After washing his hands, he got to work making sure the kitchen was stocked for the night.
“Do you know what the crash in the dining room was?” Deon asked.
Keane swallowed a gag as he filled a jar with banana peppers. Human food was the worst. He had no idea how they shoved crap like this into their mouths. “Gerry was changing the keg and dropped some beer.”
“Was it crappy beer at least?”
Deon winced. “That sucks.” He finished breading the shrimp and laid them on a tray.
“Yeah, I think he’s having a good cry over it.”
The kitchen door swung open, and the owner, Adira, walked in. She was dressed in a navy-blue business suit. The hungry part of Keane wanted to peel that suit off with his teeth. Her chestnut hair was styled and curled, her lips were painted a deep shade of red, and black eyeliner made her green eyes sparkle. She always dressed immaculate, despite the restaurant being in a rundown part of town where a person didn’t leave their car unlocked and finding a prostitute was as easy as breathing. Keane admired Adira’s efforts to pretend they were a high-end establishment.
He caught a whiff of vanilla when she stopped on the other side of the counter. She gave him a sideways glance, the barest of acknowledgement, and the reason for his urge to strip her naked. She found him sexually attractive but kept a professional distance from him. He didn’t cross the line, either. This was his job, and the last thing he needed was an air of awkwardness between him and his boss.
A woman followed Adira into the kitchen. Her coppery-red hair was tied in a bun. A few strands framed her round face. She had wide, olive-green eyes. A spattering of freckles covered her cheekbones and stout nose.
“This is our kitchen.” Adira gestured to Deon and Keane. “Deon is the head cook, and Keane is one of his prep cooks. Guys, this is Harlequin, our new waitress.”
Pink tinted her pale cheeks. “Just Quinn is fine.” Her gaze stopped on Keane, and she blinked. Her eyebrows lifted.
The pause didn’t surprise Keane. He often got second glances from humans because of his multiple pierces and dreadlocks that hung to his waist. “This way is the walk-in cooler, freezer, and the pantry.” Adira strode away.
Quinn stared at Keane a moment longer before rushing after Adira. He watched her vanish through the door. When Deon spoke, he jumped. “You dig short, curvy chicks?”
Keane swung around to Deon. He snapped his mouth shut, not realizing it had been hanging open. “What?”
Deon smirked. “You’re drooling over the new girl as if she’s a piece of meat.”
“I was not!”
Deon laughed and resumed breading his shrimp. “Whatever, man.”
Keane opened his mouth to retort but opted against it. When Adira and Quinn came back through the kitchen, he kept his focus on the onion he was chopping. Deon chuckled but didn’t say anything, which was a good thing because Keane would have thrown the knife at his head. Humans, they think everything is about sex.
READER REVIEWS Samantharated it 4 stars. The premise of this urban fantasy romance almost sounds like a joke. "An incubus and an asexual work together at a bar…" But the relationship building for Keane (the incubus) and Quinn (the asexual human) really drew me in. The non-relationship plot about a power grab among the incubus community was also compelling. It was a fast and light read that had enough meat to it to keep me turning the pages.