Title: Cardboard Hero
Author: Shelby Morgen
Word Count: 36101K
Page Count: 116
Release Date: 06/03/2017
Editor: Martha Punches
Copy Edit: Pat Sager
Cover Artist: Bryan Keller
Genre(s): Action Adventure & Suspense, Guilty Pleasures (Contemporary), New Releases, Romance
Theme(s): 2nd Chance Romance
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Victoria Townsen’s falling in love with her hero. She’s just not sure which one.
Ewan MacKenzie is a dangerous man. He’s in control of almost every situation — except the woman who haunts his fantasies. He’s perfect. The embodiment of every fantasy Tory’s ever written. There’s only one slight problem. Tory’s always written sweet romances. Her publisher wants something spicier. Tory’s just discovered her perfect lover’s not anatomically correct! That’s a problem she should be able to solve. With a little help.
Then there’s Evan. Her modern day hero. Her protector. How can Tory possibly expect him to understand she’s already in love — with the hero on the cover art he posed for more than a decade ago?
“Victoria Rose Townsend! Open this door!”
The noise was enough to wake the dead. “Use your key, goddamn it. That’s why I gave you the fucking thing.”
“Tory? Tory?” The door rattled open. Slightly less alarmed, the voice lost its screech. “Are you all right, Tory? I’ve been trying to reach you all morning!”
Tory fought her way to consciousness, trying to remember where she was and how she’d gotten there. Bed. She was in bed. And she wasn’t alone. She forced her eyes open. At least she hadn’t been alone. She brushed her hand over the satin sheets next to her. Warm. They still held the warmth of his body heat.
She smiled to herself. He’d been here. He’d really been here. She wasn’t imagining the heat. Not this time. He must have stayed with her for hours while she slept. And she had slept. For the first time in days, maybe weeks, she felt rested.
“You’re in bed?” The screech was back, angry this time instead of concerned. “At one o’clock in the afternoon you’re still in bed? Victoria, are you ill? You better be ill because if you’re not, I’m going to kill you!”
Tory couldn’t think of any safe way to answer that one. She felt wonderful, not ill. Unless you counted mental illness. Some people might think spending the night with her fictional hero was a little less than sane. “I was up late.”
“I’ve been trying to call you since nine. Nine! Four hours! I suppose you’ve turned off all the ringers. The kitchen stinks to high heaven. You burnt the coffee again.”
An angry denial formed on Tory’s lips, but she choked back her defense. Maybe she shouldn’t let Elaine know she wasn’t the one who’d turned off the phones. That would inevitably lead to the question of just who had turned them off.
“You found me, Elaine. I’m alive. What do you want?” Good. That came out with just the right amount of angst to sound like her normal morning self. Tory found herself beginning to get into the spirit of the role.
“Want? What do I want? Do you know what day it is? Do you have any clue what’s happening in the rest of the world today?”
Tory blinked slowly, trying to sort out the pieces as Elaine began wrenching open the drapes. When had he turned off the ringers on the phones? And closed all the drapes? How could a fantasy man do that, anyway? She could barely manage the damn sticking traverse rods herself and she was flesh and blood.
“Victoria, are you even listening to me?”
Tory turned her attention back to Elaine, who was now standing beside the bed, having tied the bed curtains open. “No. I’m sleeping. I was sleeping. Until you decided to dictate my schedule to me. Now I gotta pee.”
Elaine sighed dramatically. “Victoria Townsend, today is February 14th. Valentine’s Day. You have a book signing in exactly one hour and forty-five minutes. You have known about this book signing for months. You promised me you wouldn’t forget about this book signing. There will be thirteen other authors there. There are supposed to be a total of fourteen. Valentine’s Day. Fourteen authors on February 14th. I am the only one of fourteen agents who had to come find her author to get her out of bed for this book signing. I am probably the only agent in the world who has to come haul her author out of bed to remember a goddamned romance book signing on Valentine’s Day! Your hair isn’t done. Your nails look like you’ve been chewing on them again. And I’m willing to bet you have nothing ready to wear. I’m going to kill you. I’m going to fire myself. I’m going to…”
Tory realized immediately what had stopped Elaine’s tirade. She’d rolled out from under the covers, intent on hitting the shower, without realizing that somehow she’d ended up in bed quite naked. She felt the blush start up her cheeks. “Sorry. I’ll get myself together as fast as I can.”
“You’ve lost weight, Tory. A lot of weight.”
Tory paused in front of the hall-tree mirror. She took a moment to inspect herself, surprised and pleased with what she saw. “I have, haven’t I? I look pretty good for an old broad.”
“You look pretty good for a woman of any age. I just wish I thought it was from dieting and exercising. You’re just not eating, are you?”
“I eat!” she insisted as she took refuge in the bathroom.
“You’re living on coffee again.”
“What? Can’t hear you. Water running.”