â€œThis is Penny Reid at her finest.â€ — L.B. Dunbar, author
Beard With Me, an epic and breathtaking story from New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Penny Reid, is available now!
No one is better at surviving than Scarlet St. Claire and making the best out of circumstances beyond her control is Scarletâ€™s specialty. In an apocalyptic situation, sheâ€™d be the last person on earth, hermitting like a pro, singing along to her CD Walkman, and dancing like no one is watching.
Scarlet is clever, Scarlet is careful, and Scarlet is smart . . . except when it comes to Billy Winston.
No one is better at fighting than Billy Winston and raging against his circumstancesâ€”because nothing is beyond his controlâ€”is Billyâ€™s specialty. In an apocalyptic situation, heâ€™d be the first person on earth to lead others to safety, overcome catastrophe, or die trying.
Billy is fearless, Billy is disciplined, and Billy is honorable . . . except when it comes to Scarlet St. Claire.
â€˜Beard With Meâ€™ is the origin story of Billy Winston and Scarlet St. Claire (aka Claire McClure) and is just the beginning of their epic love story.
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Excerpt*Scarlet* â€œDo you want me to leave?â€ Yes. That would be best, a wise voice said between my ears. So of course I inhaled deeply and said as calmly as I could manage, â€œI thought we were going to go get firewood.â€ â€œOkay. Good.â€ â€œBut then,â€ I blurted, flustered and irritated with myself for not speaking wisdom, â€œYou should go. You canâ€™t tell me carting firewood back and forth between your house and here is how you want to spend the last of your Thanksgiving weekend.â€ â€œI didnâ€™t say it was.â€ He began making his way up the incline. â€œBut you just saidâ€”â€ â€œHow about we make a deal.â€ Billy dropped the kindling next to my little woodpile, dusting his hands off on his pants. â€œIâ€™ll cart the firewood, and you sing.â€ â€œYou want me to serenade you while we carry firewood?â€ He smiled, slow and easy as he walked to me and reached out his hand. On autopilot, I accepted it and allowed him to help me up. As soon as I was standing, his gaze moved from my hairline down to my nose, lips, and then chin, saying quietly, â€œIâ€™ll take a serenade from you anytime.â€ Thunk ka-thunk. That was my heart. It had been doing the thunk ka-thunk quite a lot around him. I ignored it, because what else could I do? â€œAnd youâ€™re not carrying the wood.â€ He tugged on my hand, pulling me out of my daze and past my tent. â€œI will too carry wood.â€ Struggling to find my bearings, I stumbled after him. â€œI can carry logs just fine.â€ â€œYouâ€™ll carry a log.â€ Billy fit his fingers between mine, pressing our palms together and grinning at me like he was waiting for me to argue and he couldnâ€™t wait. Snapping my mouth shut, I glared at him. â€œNothing to say?â€ Maintaining my glare, I walked next to him. I wasnâ€™t being led anywhere I didnâ€™t wish to go. Not anymore. He wasnâ€™t talking me into anything else. â€œThatâ€™s an awfully mean look, Scarlet.â€ His grin grew, his brutally attractive eyes glowing happily as he peered down at me. â€œWell, you deserve it. Always trying to tell me what I can and canâ€™t do. Iâ€™m not arguing with you about this. Iâ€™m carrying as much wood as I want and you can take your stupid, chauvinistic opinions and shove them up your pretty-boy ass.â€ Goodness. Where had that come from? Billyâ€™s steps faltered and his mouth fell open, his eyebrows rising high on his forehead. He stared at me, looking shocked as hell. And then in the next moment, he threw his head back and laughed. But he did not let go of me, instead bringing my knuckles to his chest as his deep, rumbly laughter filled the empty spaces between the trees, surrounding us. Crushing me. Yes. I was well and truly crushed as I could only watch Billy Winston laugh, desperately basking in the image of him so delighted and relaxed. I had the odd sense that his laughter also filled the empty spaces inside of me, the neglected, vacant rooms, and even a few places that felt brand-new, like heâ€™d created them. All that noble honesty he carried around like a boulder abruptly lifted, revealing him. Just him. Carefree and young and happy. Someone he mightâ€™ve been if his burdens hadnâ€™t been so heavy, his responsibilities so broad. It lasted only a minute, maybe two, maybe less, but I had the sense of being caught afterward. Billyâ€™s laughter had receded, but heâ€™d spun a web while Iâ€™d been staring at him, holding his hand. His grin became smaller and he bit his bottom lip, his gaze dropped to my mouth. â€œYou think Iâ€™m pretty?â€ â€œYou know youâ€™re pretty,â€ I said, bizarrely out of breath, rattled, needing to anchor my focus to a tree beyond him and waging war against the heat climbing up my neck to my cheeks. Oddly, my eyes stung. I blinked. His attention was still on me. I felt it, but I didnâ€™t dare look at him. I couldnâ€™t handle one of Billy Winstonâ€™s intense stares right now. Heâ€™d probably use my scattered wits to his advantage, talk me into something I shouldnâ€™t want to do, and then Iâ€™d be kicking myself later. â€œWhatâ€™s wrong?â€ he asked, his voice deep with concern, all trace of his earlier humor gone. I huffed, trying half-heartedly to steal my hand back from him. He didnâ€™t let it go, instead taking my tugging as a signal to step closer, filling my vision. â€œScarletâ€”â€ â€œAre you ever going to teach me how to play the guitar?â€ I closed my eyes. He didnâ€™t answer right away, and I felt him hesitate, his mind work before he muttered, â€œItâ€™s only been a week.â€ A quality to his voice made me think he wasnâ€™t answering the question Iâ€™d asked, but rather he was reminding himself that it had only been a week since weâ€™d struck the deal. Was that only last week? Why does it feel like so much has changed? Then he said, â€œDonâ€™t be angry.â€ â€œIâ€™m not angry.â€ I was muddled, my head and heart hurt, I was incredibly confused, but I wasnâ€™t angry. The air shifted and I felt him move closer. A second later, the fingers of his free hand were at my ear, tucking my hair behind it, his fingertips lingering at my neck, sending wave after wave of goose bumps every which way. I couldnâ€™t breathe. I couldnâ€™t swallow. I couldnâ€™t think. Every nerve in my body strained toward him and I didnâ€™t understand it. What is happening? â€œHave you ever been kissed, Scarlet?â€
Meet Penny Reid:Penny Reid is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Best Selling Author of the Winston Brothers, Knitting in the City, Rugby, and Hypothesis series. She used to spend her days writing federal grant proposals as a biomedical researcher, but now she just writes books. Sheâ€™s also a full time mom to three diminutive adults, wife, daughter, knitter, crocheter, sewer, general crafter, and thought ninja.
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