Black Friday is here and we’re discussing the season with Marie Harte’s Mike McCauley from What to Do with a Bad Boy.
WHAT IS WITH MIKE McCAULEY?
Every time Delilah Webster runs into Mike McCauley, he practically bites her head off. The rough-and-tumble contractor clearly has baggage. Del has her own emotional scars and knows she’s better off keeping her distance, but Mike’s temptation in jeans and a T-shirt and she’s always been good with her hands…
There’s something about the strong-willed mechanic that sets Mike’s motor running—and scares the hell out of him. Mike has loved and lost and will never hurt like that again, even if that means walking away from a woman who makes him feel alive for the first time in years.
When a simple kiss turns hot and heavy, Mike discovers he can’t stay away, no matter how certain he is they’re destined to crash and burn…
A Black Friday for Mike McCauley
“I don’t believe this. Even for you, this is cruel.” Mike McCauley watched his fiancée snuggle closer to his son in their bed. There was no way she could be serious.
“I’m not kidding. If you don’t meet your brothers—like you said you would—I will never, ever, let you drive my GTO again.” She didn’t even look upset about issuing an ultimatum. Not one iota. Colin murmured in his sleep, and Del kissed him on the head. Then she turned back to Mike and raised a brow. “What? You’re still here?”
“Shrew.” My GTO. Ha. They’d agreed to share everything. What’s hers was his and all that.
“Whiner. Just suck it up and take one for the team. Hey, I’m hanging with my future sister-in-laws later.”
“That’s sisters-in-law.” She shot him the finger, which he ignored. “And that’s no big deal. You get to sit around telling them how studly I am. You’re asking me to go out, on the worst day of the year, to deal with assholes in stores. At…malls.” He shuddered.
She blew him a kiss. “Don’t forget to walk Jekyll before you go.”
“Pain in my ass,” he muttered before taking the fastest shower known to man. Walking the puppy—who seemed to have tripled in size in the five months that they’d had him—Mike was glad for one thing, at least. The crisp Seattle weather. There seemed to be no freezing rain or snow on the horizon. A sunny Black Friday. The perfect day for hanging out with his brothers enjoying the college games on TV, watching Del wave her sexy tattooed arms in the air while she gave her brother hell for one infraction or another, or just playing with Colin in the yard, throwing a football.
Ah, what could have been.
Jekyll barked at him to get moving. At the rate Colin’s dog was growing, he might have to get a second job to pay for all the dog food. “Yeah, yeah. I know. If I’m late, I’ll never hear the end of it.” Stupid brothers.
Mike brought the dog back inside, and the damn thing darted down the hallway before he could catch it and clean off its paws. Great. Now he’d have to wash the comforter again.
He followed the trail of giggles and whispered hushes to see Jekyll lying at Del and Colin’s feet in his bed. He just stood there, his hands on his hips, and took in the scene, wishing he could join them.
Del smiled at him, her arms still around Colin, who gave him a sleepy grin. Mike felt such a well of love his eyes burned. Before he could say anything, Del warned in a low voice, “No slacking, or you sleep alone tonight.”
“Yeah, right. You know you can’t resist me.” He couldn’t leave without giving her a kiss. “You are such a pain in my ass,” he whispered, then planted a long one on her lips. One that told him if he didn’t soon leave, he’d show his son more than a kid his age should know.
Then he kissed the top of Colin’s head, rubbed the dog’s belly, and left before he changed his mind. He sure did love driving Del’s ’69 GTO.
Two hours later, he second, third, and fourth-guessed himself. Hell. It was just a car, even if it did drive like a dream and had an engine that purred. A glance around him brought pain, visual, mental, and emotional. Women chattered about underwear while frantic looking men dithered over what to buy. The frenzy of shoppers in the mall freaked him out. But if his brothers could brave the holiday buyers, he could.
He was, after all, the toughest of the McCauleys.
“Hey, Mr. Romance, pay attention.” Flynn, his younger brother, nudged him in the arm and held out two sheer nighties. “You think I should get the red one or the black one?”
After smacking Flynn in the head for bringing up the hated reminder of his book cover modeling days, Mike answered, “You know, red is really not your color.”
Brody, another brother and just as annoying at Flynn, snickered. “He’s right. You’re more a blue man.” Under his breath he added, “Like the blue balls you’re gonna have if you get her the wrong thing.”
Beside them, Cam, the youngest of the four of them, groaned. “If we don’t get moving, I’m going to miss out on that Prada dress Vanessa wants.”
“Wait. Here?” Brody glanced around the popular lingerie spot in confusion. “Guess that’s another of Victoria’s secrets. She sells Prada.”
Cam frowned. “No, you idiot. At Barneys New York.”
Mike grimaced. “My entire body is itching to leave this place. Who the hell goes to a mall on Black Friday?” He glared at Flynn. “This is all your fault.”
Flynn put the black garment back and held onto the red one. “Huh? What did I do?”
“Your wife started chatting up the others, so it’s this big contest to show how much we love them by going out on this nightmare of a day. I can’t stay home if you losers are braving the demons of discount.” He nodded around them.
“Please.” Flynn snorted. “We all know how much of a goner—”
“Sucker,” Brody substituted.
“—for Del you are,” Flynn continued. “Nobody forced you to go out with us. I mean, we love our women so much we’d do anything for them. But you…”
“Oh shut up and get in line.” Mike shoved him toward the register. “We’ll be at Barneys. We need to go before Cam has a seizure.”
“Thank God.” Cam raced out of the store, nimbly dodging the many shoppers and their hefty bags.
Brody chuckled. “Come on, Mike. You could have blown us all off. What’s Del got on you?”
“She said if I didn’t go, no more driving her car.”
“Oh, good one. That’s tough to pass up.”
Mike sighed. “I know.”
They left the store and found Cam already in line with a dress.
“Now that is true love,” Brody said.
“Yeah. Especially since I’m pretty sure that dress cost more than my monthly mortgage.” They snickered as they made fun of Cam. But Mike realized Flynn and Cam had already taken care of their presents. “What are you getting for Abby?” he asked Brody.
“I’ll show you at Barnes & Noble.” A place with coffee, food and seats.
“Sounds good. Let’s text the guys to meet us there.”
Half an hour later, while Mike sipped a black coffee and gave his feet, and his nerves, a break, he waited and wondered what he should do for Del. Brody had purchased research books for Abby, a writer. Flynn had a nightie for Maddie, and Cam had a dress for Vanessa.
Del didn’t seem to like frilly crap. She had tats, muscles, and a heart of gold. She’d rather hang with a smelly little boy and an even smellier dog than get her nails done, dress up, or read romance books.
His family would be easy to buy for. His brothers, mom and dad, and Colin were no brainers. But Del? She hadn’t asked for anything either.
Some big guy bumped into Mike, shot him a sour look, then stomped away. Mike would have rearranged the guy’s face, in that kind of mood, but he remembered Pacific Place was not like Ray’s, a ragged bar where Del and her degenerate friends liked to hang out. Considering he’d become a staple at the place, he figured that made him a degenerate too. He smiled and thought a date night with Del at Ray’s would be better than anything here.
The rest of the afternoon passed in a blur as he was bumped, poked, stepped on, and served as a pack mule for his brothers. After walking them back to Cam’s place, just a few blocks away, he realized that though he still hadn’t gotten Del a thing, he’d come away with a bunch of ideas for everyone else.
The drive back took twice as long as it normally did, and by the time he arrived home, he wanted nothing more than a beer and some couch time.
Instead, he entered to a warm house full of good smells and women laughing from what sounded like the kitchen.
“Surprise!” Colin yelled and barreled into him.
Mike lifted him high in his arms, then pretended to drop him. At his feet, Jekyll barked and danced.
“I told you he’d survive,” Colin said to Del, who’d joined them wearing a smirk under a face smudged with flour.
“You look terrible,” Del and Mike said to each other at the same time.
“I bet my day was way worse than yours.” Mike drew her close for a kiss.
She returned the kiss while taking Colin from him. Then she set the boy on the ground and swatted his butt. “Go play.” After he left, she leaned in and whispered, “Watch what you say. We have company.”
“I hear.” Maddie, Vanessa, Abby and his mother, if he heard right.
“Your mom brought the girls and baking stuff. Baking, Mike. I’ve been in my own hell while you were away.”
That brought a true smile to his face. “Well, well, Delilah. Seems karma has bitten you in the ass.”
She flushed. “Hey. I thought it would be nice for you and your brothers to bond.”
“Over shopping? On Black Friday?”
She tried but couldn’t stem a chuckle. “So okay, I was being mean. I notice you don’t have any presents for me.”
“We went to Pacific Place.”
She wrinkled her nose. “That overpriced mall? Man, now I feel sorry for you. A regular mall is bad enough. But that place creeps me out. Too much designer crap. I mean, if I have to pay over thirty bucks for jeans, come on.”
He hugged her tight. “I love you, baby.”
“I love you too.” She pulled back. “But I’ll love you more if you make the evil Betty Crockers in the kitchen give me a break. I hate baking. With a passion.”
“How will we survive?” He gave her a sad face, then laughed when she punched him in the chest.
“Mike, there you are.” His mother left the kitchen and saw him entwined with Del. She shook her head. “Enough of that, you two. Del, we’re not done. Vanessa just perfected a gluten free pie crust for Abby’s apple crumb filling.”
“Yeah, and I shouldn’t have to suffer the short dictator all by myself,” Vanessa yelled from the kitchen. “And I mean your mother!”
“I’m a dictator?” Beth McCauley blinked.
“Shoot me now,” Del said under her breath. To Beth, she added, “Um, I’ll be there in a minute.”
“Ma, I just got home,” Mike complained. “My woman is trying to welcome me properly. She can’t be bothered with pies and cookies.”
“Whatever.” His mother went back into the kitchen.
He stared. “Did my mother just ‘whatever’ me?”
“She did.” Del broke out of his hold. “So tell me this. Really, how bad was it?”
“I’d rather make pie crusts with Vanessa than tangle with eager shoppers again. I mean, I had more fun listening to Flynn yammer about Maddie.” And yammer and yammer… Then Brody and Cam had chimed in, so in love… Blech.
Del winced. “Oh, well. I’m sorry for that. But you know, the fact you’d go out because you’re that in love with my GTO. It’s just…” Her eyes grew shiny. “That means so much.”
To his sexy mechanic, it probably did. “There’s only one, well, two things I love more than that car.”
He pulled her close again. “You and Colin.” Barking sounded from the kitchen, interrupting them. Then Vanessa swore and many voices screamed at the dog to let go of the cookie tray. “And maybe Jekyll too.”
They grinned at each other.
“Happy Thanksgiving,” they said as one.
Meet Marie Harte!
Caffeine addict, boy referee, and romance aficionado, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author MARIE HARTE is a confessed bibliophile and devotee of action movies. Whether hiking in Central Oregon, biking around town, or hanging at the local tea shop, she’s constantly plotting to give everyone a happily ever after. Visit www.marieharte.com and fall in love.
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