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Authors: Jessica Sims

Beauty Dates the Beast

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Supernatural Speed Dating

 

Bathsheba Ward is human, which means dating supernaturals is strictly forbidden—unless the interested party happens to be the powerful head of their Alliance. So when were-cougar Beau Russell insists that she join him for dinner at a fancy French restaurant, she agrees.
Not
because the man is sooo incredibly hot he makes her hormones sing. She’s more interested in saving her desk job at an exclusive dating service that caters to a clientele with rather … eclectic tastes.

 

But just try hiding a supernatural family secret when your would-be boyfriend has supersharp animal senses. Then again, try protecting yourself from a bloodthirsty, home-invading mythological creature with just a bottle of liquid silver and a carving knife. Hmm … maybe having an übersexy supernatural partner isn’t such a bad idea after all… .

Go wild for the tantalizing debut novel from Jessica Sims!

BEAUTY DATES THE BEAST

 

Pocket Books
A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
www.SimonandSchuster.com

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

Copyright © 2011 by Jessica Sims

 

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information address Pocket Books Subsidiary Rights Department, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.

 

First Pocket Books paperback edition November 2011

 

POCKET STAR BOOKS and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

 

The Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau can bring authors to your live event. For more information or to book an event contact the Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau at 1-866-248-3049 or visit our website at
www.simonspeakers.com
.

 

Cover design by Min Choi; art by Aleta Rafton

 

Manufactured in the United States of America

 

10  9  8  7  6  5  4  3  2  1

 

ISBN 978-1-4391-8823-1
ISBN 978-1-4391-8825-5 (ebook)

 
Contents
 

Acknowledgments

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-one

Chapter Twenty-two

Chapter Twenty-three

For Holly Root—I’ve said it before, but I’ll say
it again. Thank you for showing me how great an
author-agent relationship can be.

 
Acknowledgments
 

I would love to give a big, happy thank-you to the Pocket team for taking my lump of coal and making it into a diamond of a book. Thank you to my fabulous editor, Micki Nuding, who knows just what my weaknesses are in the first version so that I can fix them in the next one and make the book terrific. And a thank-you for the production team—and my copyeditor!—who always impress me with the thorough, amazing job they do.

 

I would also love to thank my daily email peeps—you know who you are—who make me feel connected even though we are thousands of miles apart. You guys keep me sane and make me laugh my head off. I am richer for having you in my inbox.

And for my husband, a thank-you for being endlessly patient when I whine, understanding when I’m lazy and messy, and always, always
ready to lend a helping hand when I need it. I know I don’t ask for help as often as I should, and this book wouldn’t be nearly as cool if you hadn’t given me the idea in the first place. Your genius is understated but never underappreciated. Love you.

Chapter One
 

M
idnight Liaisons,” I said as I cradled the office phone to my ear. “This is Bathsheba. How can I help you?”

 

“Hi,” the man breathed nervously into the other end of the phone. “I’m looking for … company. Tonight. Maybe a redhead.”

I winced. There was no way to misunderstand what he was looking for, as he’d clearly stated “redhead” in a rather obvious (and breathy) fashion. We got at least one of these kinds of calls a day, and I’d become an old hand at deflecting the creepiness of misguided callers. “Midnight Liaisons is a dating service, sir. Not an escort service.”
Now please, never call again.

There was a pause on the other end of the line. “Oh,” he said. “Well, that’s fine. How can I access your website to look at the dating profiles? It won’t give me a password.”

“The password is your Alliance ID number,” I said, my voice effortlessly pleasant from years of answering questionable phone calls. “Or I can check your credentials and get you set up with a temporary log-in. If you can tell me who your pack leader is, I’d be more than happy to send through the background check—”

“My what?”

Definitely a civilian on the line. A “natural,” as my boss liked to joke around the office. I decided to play dumb anyhow. “If you don’t have a pack leader … perhaps your master?” If this guy was familiar with undead society at all, he’d catch the hint.

“Huh?”

“Coven? Fey king?” I couldn’t resist. “High lord?”

“What are you talking about, lady?” The man on the other end of the line had lost his patience. Gone was the smarmy tone, replaced by your typical, run-of-the-mill angry customer. Except he definitely wasn’t one of
our
customers.

“I’m sorry,” I said in my most sugary voice. “But Midnight Liaisons has an exclusive clientele. Our dating service is open to referrals from current clients only. Have a nice day, sir—”

“Now just a minute,” the man began, but I hung up on him anyway. The chances of him ever becoming a client were slim to none, unless he had the
luck to run into a vampire looking for a new friend.

From the back of the room, Sara snickered as she typed at her desk. “You always get the weird ones.”

“Of course I do,” I said, turning in my chair to glance at her. Sara’s gaze was glued to her screen, but she had a smile on her face. “We get weird calls because the company name sounds like an escort service. And I get them because
you’re
not answering the phone.”

“I’m busy,” she said, but her mouth quirked.

“Part of your job is to answer the phone,” I retorted, exasperated. “I’m the office manager! If anyone shouldn’t have to answer the phone, it’s me.”

“But you’re so good at it,” Sara soothed me, grinning. “I’m not half as patient with the freaks as you are.”

I snorted.

Sara just laughed. Seeing as how she’s my baby sister, she got away with just about everything. She flipped through the slender stack of profiles on her desk. “Midnight Liaisons is a stupid name, but what else would you call a dating service that caters exclusively to the paranormal?”

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