What's a naughty fairy tale like Red Riding Hood without Red, the huntsman, grandma and especially, the big bad wolf?
Before we go on a journey with Red, I've got a question for Daryl. Red's name is Esmerelda, right? And her mother is Katrina, right? So, why is the name on Red's mother's office door "R. Hood?" Does she go by something else, too, or are you trying to make us ponder this until later in the book?
When the elevator doors slid open, Red stepped into the hallway. Before her, the impressive glass and brass doors of Hood's Chocolatier –the corporate offices of one of the country's largest independent chocolate makers. She stepped through the doorway and marched toward her cubicle.
Three steps from her destination, the word, “Esmeralda!” broke the silence.
Caught! She sighed, formed a smile, and turned. “Yes, Mother?”
“Where have you been? I've called and called.”
“I noticed. Six voice mails and fourteen text messages. Nothing flagged urgent. You seem fine. I'm fine. So, what's the big deal?” She frowned. What could be the problem? “Oh no, is it Grandma?”
Her mother threw her hands up. “Yes!”
“What? What's wrong? Is she sick? She didn't fall and break anything, did she?”
“She's driving me out of my mind.”
Red bit back the sentence – Oh happy day – and instead managed to say, “What's she done now?”
“Not here. Come into my office.”
“Can I go put my coat and things—”
Hearing her mother's sigh of frustration, Red surrendered then remembered that following her mother to her office would mean passing by the office of Stanley Parkinson, VP of Sales. She stood a little taller, pulled in her stomach and strode near his office then deflated at the sight of his closed door.
Red had barely stepped into the office marked R. Hood, when her mother pushed her aside and closed the door. “Your grandmother has booked a stateroom on a cruise ship and is taking a man with her.”
Sensing So what?? was the wrong answer, Red let her mother vent whatever bothered her. This day could still be saved. If her mother stayed focused on the crisis-of-the-moment she might forget the weekly discussion of her love life.
“A man. Did you hear me?”
“Yes, Mother.” Red unbuttoned her coat, dropped her gloves, scarf and onto the seat next to her then settled in the brown leather chair in front of the desk. Her mother walked around and sat behind her large, hand carved, oak desk. It provided an imposing barrier between mother and daughter.
“I haven't told you this before, but your grandmother's going through your grandfather's money faster than you can go through a tub of maple walnut ice cream after a breakup.”
Folding her immaculately manicured hands and placing them on her desk, Red's mother looked up. “Your flight's at two.”
“I've booked a flight to Miami and a stateroom on The Emerald Forest.”
Red shook her head. “I can't afford a stateroom on a junior accountant's salary.”
“The company is paying. I had my secretary send everything to your cell. Now, you have no time to talk. Go home, pack, find your passport and save your grandmother.”
Red's voice rose an octave, “Save my grandmother? From what?”
R. Hood placed her fingers on her forehead. “Save your grandmother from spending your inheritance on some gigolo. Your grandfather built this company from nothing to a multi-million dollar business. And he had to fight the big boys like Hersey and the Mars brothers to do it.”
Red sighed. “I know the corporate story, Mom. He started by making his chocolate in great grandma's kitchen and from those humble beginnings—”
“Put you through Harvard Business School,” snapped her mother.
“Only to be dumped in a junior accountant's position.”
“We'll fight later. Now go. No. Wait.” Red’s mother pressed an intercom button.
A disembodied voice responded. “Yes, Mrs. Hood?”
“The box for my mother-in-law, where is it?”
“I'll bring it right in, Mrs. Hood.” A moment later, the door opened and Brittnee entered carrying a silver box. She offered it to Mrs. Hood.
Robin pointed to her daughter. The secretary handed the box to Red and left the office, closing the door behind her. Red didn’t need to ask, she knew it was the box. It contained the new samples for next year's line. Grandma Hood retained the right of final decision on what chocolates were sold at Hood Chocolatier.
“Take those to your grandmother. A taste of home might bring her to her senses.”
Red held back a frustrated sigh. She didn't want to fly to Miami. If she was away, Katerina would jump at the chance to sink her claws into Stanley. Her man, the stud, the gorgeous VP of Sales who made her body swoon with desire whenever he walked by. The smell of his aftershave made her undies wet. Once, she rode from the lobby to the sixth floor with him and almost had an orgasm before the elevator doors opened. She couldn't concede this hunk of a man to Katerina. But what could she do?
Her mother snapped her fingers. “Why are you just sitting there? Go. Save your grandmother. Save your inheritance.”
Esmerelda 'Red' Hood is summoned to her mother's executive suite only to learn her sweet granny is headed for a romantic cruise with a gigolo. Horrified, Red races off to save her grandma before it's too late.
On board, Red meets Andrew Woodsman and Willem Olf. One a cutie with the biggest puppy eyes and the other a dark, sophisticated predator. Her grandmother's warning rings in Red's ear "Never trust a wolf in sheep's clothing."
Even with the warning, Red has trouble choosing which man could be the big bad wolf and which could be her happily ever after.
Note: This book was previously published by New Dawning Bookfair under the title Sexy Red Hood.
About the Author:
Why Esmerelda as a name for your heroine?
Total and complete honesty – absolutely no idea. It’s the name that popped into my head. Obviously, she goes by the name Red, but she needed a “real” name and Esmerelda was what my muse offered.
Two writers in one. Daryl Devoré writes hot romances with sexy heroes and strong heroines. Victoria Adams is Daryl Devoré's alter ego when she's inspired to write sweet romances with little to no heat.
Daryl (@daryldevore) lives in an old farmhouse in Ontario, Canada, with her husband, a large salt water aquarium full of fish, a black cat named Licorice and some house ghosts. Her daughter is grown and has flown the nest. Daryl loves to take long walks on her quiet country road or snowshoe across the back acres, and in the summer, kayak along the St. Lawrence River. She has touched a moon rock, a mammoth, and a meteorite. She’s been deep in the ocean in a submarine, flown high over Niagara Falls in a helicopter, and used the ladies room in a royal palace. Life’s an adventure and Daryl’s having fun living it.
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