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EXCERPT: How could she get turned on by a guy in full clown makeup? Was that unnatural? She’d never flirted with a clown before. Come to think of it, she never wanted to again. Because it was kind of creepy.
“Okay, kids. Gather round,” Lukas said, honking his clown horn. For right now, they were a rapt audience. And they would be, for as long as their attention spans held. Which, in her experience, was about ten seconds.
“Okay, hot assistant, get ready,” he said in a low voice.
She shot him the stink eye.
“For this next part, my brainy assistant will lie down on this bench,” he said out loud to the kids. He dragged a wooden picnic bench over from Meg and Ben’s lawn table.
She cocked a brow. “Are you going to saw me in half?”
“Sweetheart,” he said, his face very near, his voice rumbly and soft, “there’s a lot of things I could think of doing with you all stretched out in front of me, but sawing you in half isn’t one of them.” He reached out a hand to help her into position. She lay down on the bench, her feet hanging over the edge, making sure her dress was tucked in.
“How are you feeling today, Samantha?” He bent over and stuck his big clown nose close to her face. She squeezed it. The kids laughed.
“I feel great,” she said warily. “And I’d like to stay that way.”
“Open your mouth.”
“You aren’t going to try something, are you?”
“Oh, please,” he said in a low voice. “If I try something, it isn’t going to be in front of a yard of screaming five year olds.”
He reached down near her ear and began to pull ribbon out of somewhere—multicolored, red, green, yellow, blue, on and on it flowed.
“What did you eat for breakfast?” he exclaimed loudly.
The kids thought that was hysterical.
“Um, a rainbow?” she answered. The kids roared. Apparently that was also funny. Score one for the brainy assistant.
He helped her up until she stood next to him.
“Thank you for being so clever, Vanna White.”
“Go to hell,” she said between her teeth, still smiling.
“Close your eyes.”
“I should have cut you in half,” he mumbled. “Aw, come on. Close your eyes and hold out your hands.”
She did. And an enormous pouf of vividly colored fake silk flowers showed up. Then he really did kiss her—on the cheek.
“Thank you, Spike the Clown. What’s your next trick?”
“Um—I’m at a little loss right now. Any suggestions?”
“Can you spin plates? Balance a long stick on your chin? Ride a unicycle?”
“No, no, and no.”
“What kind of clown are you?”
“Um, a pathetic one? But I’m the only one they’ve got, so I’ll be right back.”
Even as he spoke, he was running toward the house. Which left her thinking she’d be doing something horrible to him in his sleep tonight if he wasn’t coming right back. While he was gone, she had the kids play a quick game of duck, duck, goose.
He returned with his guitar. His Gibson. Just in time, because one of the little girls fell chasing one of the other kids and was now crying.
He walked around the kids, playing “Old MacDonald,” getting them to make all the animal noises. He did a soulful version of “On Top of Spaghetti” and ended with “You Are My Sunshine.” By the end, all the adults were gathered around, unable to resist. It was so unfair that the package of sexy hot man also had the voice of an angel.
Next he blew up balloon animals, one for each kid—dogs, swords, flowers, even a poodle. Not bad for a minute’s notice. Finally, the show was over and Meg called all the kids over to a long table set with a bright yellow tablecloth for hot dogs and cake.
“You can carry a tune,” Sam said as she helped Lukas clean up the clown props. “You’re like the Pied Piper of rock-star clowns. You had everyone mesmerized, mommies and kiddies alike.”
“I’d like to have a chance at mesmerizing you,” he said, waggling those big clown eyebrows again and looking unabashed.
“Stop flirting with me.” But she couldn’t muster up enough steam to really mean it. Plus she was struggling not to smile.
He looked up from stuffing all the leftover balloons into a bag. His dark, soulful eyes, even surrounded in clown makeup, flared with something. Mischief? Or something darker. He shrugged. “Quit eyeing me like I’m nothing more than a piece of meat. It’s shameful.”
Her face heated. “I am not looking at you like that. I mean, come on, clowns are not hot.” But this one sure was.
He got up in her grill. The ridiculousness of that damn clown nose and the streaky white makeup made her want to laugh crazily at the madness of it all. But his eyes anchored her and she could not look away.
“Have you not heard of personal space?” Sam asked weakly. “Back up, Clown.”
“I try but I just can’t seem to stop myself,” he whispered in a velvety voice that sent shivers up her arms.
“Well, try harder,” she said, steeling her voice. Except it did crack a little at the end. “It’s irritating.”
“All clowning aside, Samantha,” he said, taking off his clown nose and sticking it on her nose. “No can do.” Then he walked away, chuckling at his joke.
Nonsense aside, a list was building in her brain. Funny. Kind to Stevie, even when irritated. Great with kids. Hot as hell. She couldn’t reconcile this adult version of him with the carefree rock star who wanted a fling. And she couldn’t help feeling the joke was on her.
About Miranda Liasson: Miranda Liasson loves to write stories about courageous but flawed characters who find love despite themselves, because there’s nothing like a great love story. And if there are a few laughs along the way, even better! She’s a former Golden Heart winner who writes series romance for Entangled Publishing and lighthearted contemporary romance for Montlake Publishing. She lives in the Midwest with her husband, three kids, and Posey, a rescue cat with attitude. Links: Author Website: www.mirandaliasson.com Author Blog: http://www.mirandaliasson.com/blog/ Author Twitter: : https://twitter.com/mirandaliasson Author Facebook: : https://www.facebook.com/MirandaLiassonAuthor Personal Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/miranda.liasson Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/10716626.Miranda_Liasson Newsletter: http://www.mirandaliasson.com/#mailing-list Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/mirandaliasson/ Pinterest board for the book: (https://www.pinterest.com/mirandaliasson/a-man-of-honor/ Enter Miranda’s Giveaway: a Rafflecopter giveaway