Romance Novel Giveaways - Freebies and Giveaways of All Things Romance Romance Novel Giveaways: Becker Circle by Addison Brae πŸ’• Book Tour & Gift Card Giveaway πŸ’• (Romantic Suspense)

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Becker Circle by Addison Brae πŸ’• Book Tour & Gift Card Giveaway πŸ’• (Romantic Suspense)



My first and only boyfriend believed I was too gutless to leave. He was dead wrong. My name is Gillian. I graduated Harvard early and left his hot temper and everyone else behind for Dallas. Determined to make it on my own, I land a second job bartending at the neighborhood pub smack in drama central where most every jerk in the neighborhood hits on me—at a huge price.

A week into the job, the neighborhood’s very popular drug dealer falls to his death a few feet from the table I’m serving. The cops say suicide, but the hot guitar player in the house band and I suspect foul play, and I intend to prove it. We dig deeper, grow closer, and make a shocking discovery. We know the murderer.




Chapter One
I peek back at my butt in these loose-fitting jeans and all I see is sad. Remembering what my new boss said about better tips if I wear something a little sexy, I button a plaid shirt halfway up to show a little. I fasten one more and brush through my wavy auburn hair. Why did my apartment come with a full-length mirror in the bathroom? I’m nothing like my curvy new next door neighbor in that dress.
Even though I had to borrow a can opener from her to eat lunch today, I’m prepared with every bartender’s necessity. A good bar blade. I dig out the one I used to open bottles during my forty-two days of bartending at the place on Harvard Square back in Boston before Connor made me quit and stick it in my back pocket so I don’t look like a total rookie. It’s one of the few utensils in my kitchen drawer.
With the pink fuzzy scarf Lauren gave me for Christmas tucked inside my jacket, I message her before I talk myself out of going. “First night. Wish me luck!” I glance at the collage photo frame of our college memories she gave me before I packed up and left.
Mixers, whisky brands, and vodka flavors run through my head down the six flights of stairs and on the short walk to the first shift of my new night job. My jacket shields me from the cold as I step through the circles of light shining on the dark red brick sidewalk. A couple jogs by totally into one another, and three guys who were probably high school stars toss a football near the fountain, yelling back for not throwing right.
What am I doing? Am I invisible? Everyone’s with someone like I was. Taking the CPA job in Dallas seemed like such a great idea. It’s where no one knows me. Away from Connor. Before he had a chance to break me.
Rule one of my new life—forget about what already happened. Period.
Just as I turn the corner toward the tree-lined park, someone rams into me from behind. I gulp a breath as he twists me to the ground, dragging me along by the arm. The strap to my purse connects me to a guy who looks barely old enough to drive until he yanks it away. The purse holding the cash I have to live on until I get paid, my ID, one credit card, and proof I took an exam today.
The purse Mom gave me for my eleventh birthday.
“Stop!” I struggle to untwist my legs and sprint toward the strap dragging behind him. “No!” The distance between us widens.
At the edge of the park, a well-dressed man jumps out of a shiny SUV and shoves the guy into the shrubs. He leans over as they exchange words. Then the man extends a hand to help the purse thief out of the bushes.
I stop running to observe. The guy bolts without looking back and I still haven’t remembered to breathe.
Then the man, who’s at least my dad’s age, walks toward me. With my purse.
“Are you okay?” He hands it to me.
“Thank you so much.” I nod and glance at the leaves caught in it and back at the man, not quite believing any part of what just happened and fighting back the anger that it happened to me. “But what the . . .?”
“I understand. He has some problems. He won’t bother you again.” He bows his head like a nineteenth century prince and heads back to his truck.
I shake off the soreness in my arm. Who was that guy and why would he rescue a purse for some stranger?
The George & Dragon Public House sign creaks in the breeze. Smokers corralled on the patio by the black iron fence huddle around heaters, an occasional laugh rising above the steady hum of music and conversation. I walk through the door luckily ten minutes early. The smell of bleach mixed with mesquite from the fire lingers covering every secret that’s happened here. Clanking bottles drown out the low music.
Steve’s bald head pops up from behind the bar, his ginger beard even thicker and longer than I remember. “There she is. We took bets whether you’d chicken out.”
His ink makes my little teddy bear look like someone slapped a postage stamp on my right butt cheek. It’s what Connor gave me for my twenty-first birthday last year. One of many reminders I’d like to forget. “Why would I?” Nice to muster such confidence. If they only knew what just happened.
“I knew you’d show. Joey owes me twenty bucks I’ll never see.” Steve glances down the bar at Joey, who’s hovered over a phone with another guy. “Help me check these bottles, and then I’ll show you around in back. It’s our every-other-weekday inventory.”
I walk slowly behind the bar and file into memory where everything is—the beers, most popular whiskeys and vodkas, what’s on tap.
“Here, you take the other side.” Steve hands me a laminated page listing liquors and a dry erase marker. “Mark any bottles less than half full and how many back-up bottles.”
“Yo, Gillian!” Joey raises his hands in the air, his Hollywood smile glistening under combed-back sandy blond hair. “You came back! I’m ready for you to serve me.”
“You are, huh?” I’d be totally pissed off if I didn’t recognize his reaction as innocent leftover ego from his years of being a famous child actor. “It’s only appropriate you be my first. Crown and Coke?” Or will he opt for another JΓ€gerbomb?
“Awww, you remembered. Same for my buddy, Sam.”
“Nice to meet you, Sam.” I’m glad I paid attention to what Steve was doing last night. I serve up the two drinks and pass them down the bar. Two girls re-up the jukebox with a nineties boy band tune.
“Okay, here’s how you add to a tab.” Steve brings up an order. “I’ll do Joey’s then you can do Sam’s.”
At least their system resembles what we used at my last job.
“Oh,” his voice lowers, “mind your pours when Eddie’s here. He only sees dollar signs.”
I grab Joey’s empty glass and wipe the bar. “What are y’all so engrossed in?”
Joey shakes his head. “You don’t want to know.”
Sam hands me his phone. “Video from my last couple of dates.”
He’s splashed across the screen. Naked. A girl riding him like a prized bronc at the county fair.
“Oh!” The phone falls out of my hand like a hot skillet. “Is she aware you videoed this?”
“She was all for it.”
I can imagine how this plays out. He tells her how he wants to remember her amazing body. How hot they are together. Says the video’s just between us. She’s all into him. Caught up in the moment. Tomorrow she’s a porn queen—all over the neighborhood. Then she says, SHIT! What was I thinking?
“Aren’t I a stud?” Sam’s white smile sparkles back at me.
Joey shakes his head.
“Is she your girlfriend?”
“We hang out.”
“Wouldn’t she have a problem with the neighborhood seeing the full lights, camera, action?” I absently wipe down the bar and wait for the answer that doesn’t come. He’s too into the video.
A guy at the corner of the bar eyes me. Head to toe. He’s muscular and not bad looking, but I have no interest in knowing anything about him, especially after meeting Sam. Is this what the leasing agent rambled on about the community of young people, new friends, parties, and hot guys?
Steve looks up from the shot glasses he’s filling. “Dude, leave her alone. It’s only her first night.” He shakes his head in my direction. “Mind checking that table on the patio? They’re probably ready for a refill, and the girls don’t clock in for a while.”
What did I get myself into? Shots, beers, purse thieves, neighborhood porn stars, and the night’s barely started. Bartender is the last thing I thought I’d do. I finally forced myself to stop by the pub last night. How would I know a bartender hadn’t shown up for the last two days? My timing wins again.
Joey steps off his barstool right as I walk behind him with a tray of empties. I juggle the tray in slow motion trying to regain control, but they crash to the floor right next to his expensive-looking reptile boots, launching a chorus of applause. My face turns six shades of hot.
“Sorry, sweetheart.” Joey leans down to grab the big chunks of broken glass.
“That was choreographed well enough to be a scene in my old TV show.”
“Graceful moves, Gillian,” Steve says. “Look behind the door and you’ll find a broom and dustpan.”
Yeah, that’s not happening again. I reach with the broom for stray shards scattered across the floor. I take the long way back past the ATM nook and coat rack filled with a collection of lost and found wraps so I can pause to warm up in front of the fireplace. At least I had already delivered the full drinks.
“Hey Gillian,” Steve yells over the bar. “Grab a keg of Amstel from the cooler when you go back there. We just tapped one.”
Perfect. Gives me a chance to disappear for a minute. Connor would have a good laugh over my mess—never missed a chance to point out what a disaster I am. Except for school work, he couldn’t find a convincing way to top me there.
I struggle to pull the heavy load through the swinging door and maneuver around the row of propane tanks for the patio heaters.
“I’ll get it from here.” Steve meets me at the edge of the bar and grabs the keg. “Glad you got your little spill over with early in your shift,” he says as he changes them out. “Don’t worry about it. Happens to everyone.”
Like I’m not already humiliated enough, two waitresses come in wearing low-cut tanks and even lower-cut jeans. They glance past me like I’m not there. I catch a glimpse of my slightly saggy-in-the-butt jeans and shirt that covers it all.
Maybe I am invisible.
The next hours fly and pop me out of my pity party. Steve and I dance around each other swinging drinks to fill orders for the servers and keep the full bar happy and hydrated. His wallet chain clanks against the sink. Someday I’ll spill as little as Steve does.
The first moment I have to stop, breathe, and wipe down the mess, Steve motions toward the two customers who just sat at the bar. One is Kyle, his eyes still smiling like they did when I met him last night right after Eddie hired me for this job.
The other is the man who rescued my purse. His red cheeks glow under the muted lights. “Beam and soda.” He hands me two crisp twenties. “This should cover it, and keep the rest. Hopefully, your evening will end better than it started.”
Rule two of my new life—meet people.
“Thanks,” My eyes linger on his. He already saved my life and now he’s over tipping. What does he want? Is he here with Kyle?
“Wouldn’t believe it’s your first night the way you’ve got things handled,” Kyle says.
Clearly I have him fooled. “What do you think so far?”
“Holding my own. How was your golf game?” He’s pretty hot with his winter tan and thick black hair.
“Hope your exam was better than my game.” He shakes his head, then peers back up with a sheepish grin. “Good to see you though.”
“We’ll see.” Nice thing to say. I think he even means it. “After this morning’s audit exam, I’m one-quarter of the way to becoming a certified public accountant in Texas. Corona?” I remember that one. “Or more tequila?”
Glad drinking those two designer tequila shots he bought last night didn’t lead to anything I might regret after he insisted on walking me home. No one should make permanent decisions after shots.
“Beer,” he nods as I grab a glass. While I pour from the tap, the purse rescuer I just served walks around the bar talking to everyone.
“Do you know him?” I ask Kyle, nodding toward the man with the rosy cheeks and curly ginger hair.
“Bobby.”
“Does he know everybody in here?”
“Yeah, he’s a friendly guy.” His smile fades. “Headed out for a smoke. Catch you later.”
I nod and watch him walk through the door.
“Cute couple,” Steve glances up from washing wine glasses.
“Who?”
“You and Kyle. You both have your stuff together.”
I have him fooled too. “I don’t even know the guy. He’s at least thirty, a little old for me anyway.”
He holds a glass up to the light and polishes off the water spots. I don’t expect such rugged guys to be so meticulous with glassware. “He’s been married though. She comes in here sometimes.”
“I’m not ready to be a couple again.” I pan the bar looking for empty glasses and rearrange the bottles by kind.
“Why? All you girls want boyfriends.”
I’ll spare him from my starting-after-a-bad-relationship saga. “For me, a boyfriend would be jumping out of the chili pot right into the flames.” I shove those memories away again but they keep coming back.
“Not sure I want to know,” Steve answers.
Probably not. If no one here is aware of my past, it will be easier to forget. “This is my first JΓ€gerbomb round tonight. Must be a slow Saturday.”
“Yeah, it is. Why don’t you call it a night? I can take it from here.”
“You sure? It’s only eleven-thirty. I don’t mind staying.”
“I’d rather you come back.” He grins like he truly means it. “Can you work Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays?”
I chuckle to myself. Let me check my busy social calendar. “Sure.”
“We’re covered tomorrow, but we’ll start this schedule Wednesday.” He nods to the end of the bar. “Let me take care of these guys and I’ll show you how to cash out.”
Kyle sits back down at the bar, “You leaving already?
“Yeah, Steve’s got things covered.”
“Walk down to Pinkie’s with me then. It’s still early, and you can’t have another exam tomorrow.”
“Give me a few minutes to wrap up. How about I meet you there?”
He nods, chugs the last third of his beer, and steps off the barstool. “If you don’t show up, I’ll come back for you.”
For some reason I believe him.
The wind blows briskly on the two-block walk along the grassy boulevard, and I tuck my purse under my coat. I’ve jogged by Pinkie’s Bar & Grille but never been in. The deep, narrow room has a long bar down one side and a stage near the middle. It’s packed, probably why the Dragon is so slow. Kyle stands in the middle of a group and motions me over.
“Let’s sit at the bar. What would you like?”
“I’ll get this round.” I turn to the bartender. “House cabernet and Corona draft, please.” I hand Kyle the beer. “Thanks for coming out tonight. The outing helped make up for the not-so-great tips.”
He raises his glass to mine. “Cheers to surviving Becker Circle, round one.”
A pretty and very tall girl wedges herself between us and hugs him. Kyle doesn’t welcome the advance, but doesn’t ignore it either. He turns her around. “Brianna, meet Gillian. Just moved here.” She flashes a smile and a quick “Hi.” Then she turns back to him, squeezing me out of the conversation.
So this is the way things will be. I notice her heavy eye makeup, skin-tight jeans, and short top exposing a naval ring. No wonder I didn’t get great tips. I stare at the television above the bar playing old music videos wishing I had gone straight home. Another body squeezes in on the other side. My eyes still glued to the TV, I shrink into the tiny space between Brianna and the other person until I hear his voice.
“Saw you talking to Kyle. I’m Joaquin.”
I follow the outstretched hand up to his dark eyes and thick curly brown hair.
“Gillian.”
The girl on the other side walks away. “Mind if I join you?”
“No problem.” He’ll be here until some other girl squeezes in.
“I have to confess, I saw your little accident with the glasses at the Dragon.”
“Oh no, really?” I hide my face in my arms. “At least the glasses went down instead of me.”
“Nicely played.” His contagious laugh and I forget about Kyle. “What brings you to Dallas?”
So he knows I’m new here too. “Good salary and better weather.” Then everything else floods in—Mom’s death and losing Dad to the bottle, what Connor did on my last birthday, never going back to my tiny hometown, missing Lauren— shoved back into things I try to forget. “But mostly a fresh start.”
“Okay, spill it. Anything but ex-boyfriend stories.” Two shot glasses appear. “This should help.”
I raise the glass of foggy liquid. “I’ll drink just one if you’ll tell me about living here.”
Rule three of my new life—have more fun.
“To living in the Circle,” he toasts, shoots a selfie of us, and then taps the glass bottom on the bar and empties it. “Put your number in. I’ll send you the pic so you remember me.”
A few glasses of wine and too many shots to count later, everything’s funny. Except Kyle doesn’t appear amused at all standing at the end of the bar, hands on hips and scowling at Bobby, who’s saying something to him looking as jovial as ever.
At least that’s what I see. “I’m exhausted.” I step off the barstool with no effects until I stand. “Got to go home.”
“Don’t leave.” Joaquin’s eyes almost beg. “I have to go to the bathroom. Please stay until I get back.”
“Bye, Joaquin.” He walks toward the back of the bar. “See you soon.” I stumble through the door. My footsteps echo into the empty night as I step carefully across the uneven bricks. I eye the stairs to my apartment that disappear into the darkness. “Elevator. Definitely.”
I drop my purse, keys, and coat inside the door and my phone rings. It’s Joaquin.
“I came back and you were gone,” he says.
“I said goodbye.”
“How about a glass of wine so I can say goodnight?”
“I’m sleepy.” I yawn and drop one shoe in the middle of the floor and then the other.
“I’m coming over.” At the same time, there’s a knock and his voice is outside the door.
“You should go home.” I say through the phone and open the door.
But he doesn’t. As I pour the wine, he gently brushes his hand down the back of my head, then slowly across my neck and back. Did he follow me home? I close my eyes. Stop pouring and wondering. The tingle trickles even further than his fingers travel.
He wraps his hands around my waist, turns me around and teases my lips with his tongue. He carefully unfastens each button on my shirt, slips it over my shoulders, and unhooks my bra. Then he pulls his shirt over his head.
“You’re even more beautiful than I expected,” as his soft fingers brush my breasts spreading warmth in a way I’ve never felt before.
“Thank you.” My mind tells me to cover up and send him home, but no one’s ever said something so nice to me. I’d follow him anywhere. I relax into his firm chest. My exhaustion. The alcohol. He leads me to the sofa, pulls off his jeans, and then peels mine off. The apartment walls don’t seem so boring and white any more.
“Oh baby, you feel so good.” He runs his fingers all over my skin. His tongue tickles my stomach and then slowly up teasing my nipples. Our bodies tangle. I forget who I am. He reaches places deep inside I didn’t know existed. My body tenses and releases as he lets loose a soft groan and relaxes on top of me. A dream I don’t want to end.
* * *
The morning sunlight through the blinds wakes me. Joaquin’s arm rests under my neck. His legs intertwined with mine like we fell asleep the way we were.
His eyes pop open. “Oh, sorry.” He rolls off the couch and grabs his underwear and jeans. “Good morning, Gillian.”
“Morning.” In the sun’s spotlight, I hide underneath the blanket so I’m not so exposed. “Want some coffee or something?”
“No, thanks.” He rubs his face and sits. “So, did we? Did we do it?”
I open my mouth to answer, but don’t. The condom wrapper on the floor answers.
“Guess we did then.”
I wrap up in the blanket and stand. “You’d better go.” I can’t believe…“See you ‘round.”
I lock the door behind him and pull up the photo Joaquin took last night. How can I adore and despise him at the same time?
Rule four of my new life—figure out if they’re drunk before letting them in.
Lauren will say the right thing. I text the photo to her with the message, “If he doesn’t remember, did it happen?” then start the countdown. Ten-nine-eight-seven-six-ring.
“Who’s he and what didn’t happen?” Lauren asks.
“I’m so humiliated. How can I be so smart, but also stupid?” I lean against the window and watch him walk down the street. “He was so cute and nice and we had such a great time.”
“And?”
“I came home. Alone. Then he followed me and wanted to come in for a glass of wine. He was so persistent…and said all the right things…”
“But he doesn’t remember? Asshole.”
“I’m aware now.” I sink into the soft sofa and wrap tighter into the blanket. “But he walked and talked just fine. How do you know when someone’s too drunk? I thought they, you know, can’t get it up.”
“Clearly he’s an exception.” We sit in silence for a few seconds. “Was it fun?”
I see my jeans in a wad and the sofa cushions strewn around the floor. “Yeah, I’m not sure fun fully captures everything. Being with him was really nice. Now I kind of like him.”
“Then don’t worry about it.”
“If he doesn’t remember, did it really happen?”
Lauren laughs. “If you remember, it happened. You okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine. I just want to sleep. I need to study. I take my next exam section Tuesday.”
“It’s barely afternoon there. There’s plenty of time today for naps and studying.”
“I never want to be forgettable again.” My lack of excitement happens to be one thing Connor wouldn’t let me forget. “On the bright side, Joaquin remembers my name.”
“Gillian. You’re not forgettable—to him, to me, or to anyone.”


   


“I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to finding out what will happen in Becker Circle next.” ~ 4* Goodreads ARC review by Cathy Geha,

· “Overall, Becker Circle was a good book that I’m sure many people will love.” ~ 4* Goodreads ARC review by Kiss Like a Girl

· “Brimming with both action and drama, Becker Circle draws readers into its social milieu and keeps them hooked, page after page.” ~ 5* Cadia Cox, Award-Winning Author of Double Shot of Love and Mistletoe & Macaroons

· “This is an awesome mystery/thriller set against the backdrop of a popular neighborhood full of intrigue, a fascinating cast of characters and a sexy romance. It'll make you look at your favorite neighborhood bar in a different light.” ~5* Amazon reader review

· “Becker Circle and Gillian kept me on the edge of my seat between the romance, suspense, and mystery. Every chapter took me to a place I didn't see coming and an ending that I would have never anticipated.” ~5* Goodreads reader review

· “Becker Circle has a main character you'd like to know, and a slow burn suspense that just keeps getting creepier.” ~ Kris Bock, Author of suspense, mystery and romance


Addison Brae lives in Dallas, Texas on the edge of downtown. As a child, she was constantly in trouble for hiding under the bed to read when she was supposed to be napping. She has been writing since childhood starting with diaries, letters and short stories. She continues today with articles, video scripts and other content as an independent marketing consultant.
When she’s not writing, Addison spends her time traveling the world, collecting interesting cocktail recipes and hosting parties. She’s still addicted to reading and enjoys jogging in her neighborhood park, sipping red wine, binge-watching TV series, vintage clothing and hanging out with her artistic other half and their neurotic cat Lucy.


   



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