When Beth Cho is tasked with interviewing elusive musician Tristan Harty, it’s hate at first sight. Despite his sapphire eyes and lithe frame, he’s got to be the most infuriating man on the planet.
Tristan Harty is already sick of reporters and this one is proving no different. Sure, she might be adorable with her ebony hair and big brown eyes. But her incessant need to dig into his past is dragging on his last nerve.
The bickering duo vow never to meet again, but Mother Nature has other plans for them, trapping them in a Vermont cabin via a blizzard. The more Beth learns about the aristocratic Tristan, the harder it is for her to keep her professional distance, just as Tristan discovers a familiar heart beating in the beautiful reporter’s heart.
But what happens when the snowstorm’s over, and the melted Tristan and enamored Beth are free to leave? Can their reluctant attraction bloom into a deeper love with the thaw of their judgmental ice. Pride & Pancakes is a sweet yet steamy contemporary story inspired by Pride & Prejudice.
Available for Pre-Order November 5th!
Tristan asked plaintively, “Do you want to learn?”
A music lesson with Tristan Harty?
God, that sounded like some contest one won by sending in enough box tops or magazine coupons. He extended the cherrywood guitar to her and Beth tried to pull in a breath. Fifteen years ago, girls would have ripped each other to shreds to be in her position. To jockey for his flitting attention, to dream that he’d sing a song just for her, that he’d fall head over heels and the two would go to the prom together.
But she was thirty and well aware of her lagging talents. Beth’s mouth ran dry at the thought of playing around him. “I’m not sure if… Okay?” The small part of her that sensed a potential lede in this reached out. The rest was panicking. She was going to make an epic fool of herself in front of him.
Why did she care? Taking the guitar, she folded her palm over the neck, the strings digging into her flesh.
“Ah, that’s not how to hold it,” Tristan instructed, quickly flipping it around in her lap. Warm wood cuddled around her thigh, Beth got a feel for the alien instrument entrusted to her. It was heavier than she expected and almost too large for her size.
“Feel good?” the musician asked.
No. She nodded, trying to act as if the foreign muscle pulls and arm movements were completely normal. “Is…is this a special guitar?”
“What if I…I could break it?” she squeaked out and a laugh of pure joy erupted from the man.
“As long as you don’t channel Pete Townshend, I think it’ll be okay. Start by pressing your finger here.” He pointed to a spot on one of the neck strings. “And here.”
Gently, she placed her fingers over the hard strings, struggling to reach with her ring finger.
“Now, strum with…I don’t have a pick but if you scrape down the side of your thumb, that should work.”
Scraping my skin over strings? Sounds pleasant. Darting to the fingers hovering above hers, Beth wondered if he’d developed calluses over his thumbs. What would those feel like rubbed against intimate skin?
Why am I thinking that?
With a gulp and a prayer, she swung her thumb across the two strings he pointed to. An ungodly whine, as if she was slaughtering an entire village, broke from the guitar. Beth’s face cringed inward, but Tristan seemed unsurprised. “You have to press tighter with your fingers up here. Really tight. Don’t worry, you can’t strangle it.”
“What if I snap it in half?” she gulped even while doing as told.
“We check you for superpowers?” was his less than useful response. “Trust me.”
There was no reason for her to. He could be setting her up to fail, watching that dim-witted blogger struggle with something he was born to do. The warmth of the guitar hugging her lap spread up her chest and Beth picked at the string.
A single note echoed from the guitar, humming out through the fire-lit air. Beth’s face cracked into a cheesy grin. She wanted to leap up and crow about managing one note, but the teacher wasn’t finished.
“Here, this is the next one.” He guided her finger lower down the neck and Tristan nodded. Giving another swipe of her thumb made a higher note erupt from the guitar in her lap. Before its reverberations vanished, he called, “Quick, repeat the same moves as before.”
Beth struggled to remember where her finger went, swiping at the strings in the hope it was close enough. When the familiar note rang through, she glanced up at him. “Am I playing a song?”
“Of course,” he snorted as if there was no doubt. “Okay, now you have to move it, ah…” The teacher, her only port in this confounding storm, clouded over. Tristan peered closer to the strings as if he’d never seen them before, and winced.
“Sorry, I…I’ve never really done it in a mirror-reverse situation. Um…” He popped his lips, trying to buy for time while switching around the moves for her. “Ah! I know.”
The hands that’d been fussing over her fingers suddenly wrapped around Beth’s waist. Her jaw dropped, but she gave in to him spinning her on the couch. With almost no force, he pulled her between his thighs. She sat up rod straight, uncertain what he was going to do next.
Slowly, warm palms slipped over the tops of hers. No way he could see the strings with her body blocking his view. But he seemed to know where they were even while the guitar was sitting in her lap. “How about I lead?” Tristan’s warm words tickled against the back of her neck.
She should refuse. Leap to her feet, thank him for the lesson and return to her work. Keep up that necessary professional distance that’d seemed so easy before. It was just a day back that she’d wanted to pluck out his eyes, and now his body was curled around hers.
Nodding, Beth tried to lick her chapped lips. A single whisper made it through her chattering jaw. “Yes.”