MAKING UP is the fourth interconnected standalone book set in Helena Hunting’s hilarious and sexy world of Shacking Up! Enjoy this sneak peek from the story and be sure to grab your copy!
Working in an adult toy store is the opposite of glamorous. Sure, I get a fifty-percent discount, which is a real perk, but it doesn’t offset some of the weirdness I have to deal with. Such as Eugene, one of the locals who frequents the shop on a regular basis. He came in this morning and handled all the display toys. He’s mostly harmless, but the silicone fondling is pretty high on the creepy factor. Eventually I told him I had to close up for a few minutes so I could grab lunch. The deli across the street has the best daily specials.
While I wait for my chicken shawarma, I make a mental list of all the things I need to do this afternoon: check the magazines to make sure the pages aren’t stuck together, restock the flavored lube, and wipe down everything Eugene molested with toy cleaner. Once I’ve tackled those less-than-fun chores, I can work on my assignment for my hospitality class, provided I don’t have real customers.
I glance out the window, checking to make sure Eugene isn’t loitering around in front of the store, waiting to be let back in. Sometimes he’ll stop by more than once during my shift. He’s not there—thank God—but there’s a black sports car parked in the lot. It looks nice and possibly expensive, which might mean an actual customer who will spend money.
Loki, the cashier at the deli, hands me my drinks and shawarma.
“Thanks! Have a great day!”
“You too,” Loki says to my chest.
As I leave the store, I see a man in a suit reading the sign I taped to the door. I don’t want to miss a potential customer, so I take a deep breath and mentally shift gears, putting on my best sales-person mask. I have to pretend to be a completely different person when I deal with customers, so I can get through what would otherwise be a fairly embarrassing event. Discussing the ins and outs of sex toys with strangers is not something I particularly enjoy, but it’s a paycheck, so I’ve learned to roll with it.
My root beer foams and drips down the straw while my coffee sloshes onto my hand—the lids never fit right—and my chicken shawarma dangles perilously between my pinkie and ring finger as I cross the street.
The suit doesn’t look creepy like Eugene, but then, suits can be deceiving. Half the time they think they can proposition me like a sex worker. Or they pretend the weird stuff they’re buying is a gift and not for them. Pfft. I know better.
Suit turns and heads for his car, so I call out, “Hey! You in the suit, hold on!”
His shoulders hunch, as if he’s trying to be smaller, which is physically impossible. Based on the size of him, he probably played college football. Or he has Marvel comic hero blood relatives. Either way, he’s a big dude.
He stops walking, though, which is good. I could use some sales today. The commission boost is always a plus to the sh!tty minimum wage. Rent is due next week, and judging by his car, he has money to burn.
My heels are skyscrapers, and everything I’m wearing is either too short or too tight to facilitate running—the Sex Toy Warehouse uniform is supposed to be sexy, aka revealing—so I awkwardly jog the rest of the way while trying to get the key to the shop out of my pocket and not drop my shawarma. The manager gave me my own set since I frequently open the store.
“Sorry to keep you waiting; plastic dicks don’t quite cut it for lunch.” Inwardly I cringe, because seriously, why did I say that?
“I would imagine they’re not all that satisfying,” he replies in a deep voice that would probably sound good whispering naughty things in my ear.
I’m not sure if he meant that suggestively or not. Regardless, I walked right into that one.
I finally look up. Dear sweet Jesus on a cloud of marshmallows, this is my lucky day. The suit is gorgeous. Like the kind of hotness that sucks the breath right out of your lungs and sends all the blood in your body rushing between your legs. It’s a good thing clits don’t react like penises, otherwise mine would be hanging out of the bottom of my shorts with excitement. I’m thankful my physical reaction is limited to damp underwear and tingles.
His dark hair is straight and cut short, parted at the side and neatly styled. He’s a cross between a mobster, and a fifties movie star. Capone and Ward Cleaver rolled together and dipped in lust. His nose is straight, lips are full, and he’s got a chin that looks like it could cut glass. His features are strong, but he somehow manages to be boyish even though everything about him screams pure, undiluted masculinity.
His tongue drags across his pillowy bottom lip and his throat bobs. I lift my gaze and meet his eyes. They’re a strange color. Not brown, not green, but some kind of honey-lemon color, ringed in emerald. Like a cat maybe. His lashes are thick and dark, like a girl’s.
I still can’t seem to get my keys out of my pocket, and my ability to think is compromised by his excessive hotness, so I tuck my shawarma down the front of my shirt, between my boobs and thrust the drink tray at him. “Can you hold this?”
He blinks a bunch of times, gaze darting to where I’ve stored my shawarma and snapping back up to my face. “Sure.”
When he takes the tray, I notice his nails are nicer than mine. Not long, but short and neatly filed. Often the men who come in here have those chewed-off nail stumps. Or there’s dirt under them. Not this guy, though.
The ching ching ching of the cash register ringing up items is a sound track in my head as I finally manage to get the keys out of my pocket. I dangle them from a finger. “Found ’em.”
“Great.” He gives me one of those half smiles—it’s pretty, like the rest of his face—and looks around nervously. It’s obvious he doesn’t want to be seen here. Unfortunately, my hands are all sweaty, so I have some trouble getting the key into the lock, prolonging his discomfort.
The air-conditioning hits me as soon as I push the door open, sending a wave of goose bumps rushing over my skin. It’s hotter out than Satan’s ball sack in a pair of too-tight briefs, which is unusual this time of year in Vegas. The contrast between the temperature outside and the excessive air-conditioning is amplified. I have a cardigan behind the cash register, but I only wear it when there aren’t customers in the store.
I take the tray back and motion for him to go ahead. As I follow him inside I remove my lunch from its safe place between my boobs. I’m starving and would like to scarf down my delicious shawarma, but I’m aware it’s phallic-looking, so I’ll have to wait until the suit is gone to avoid inviting potential penis-eating commentary, or staring.
He stands just inside the door, wide eyes darting around. He runs his hand over his chest and down his black tie, then slips it in his pocket. I hope he’s not one of those guys who plays with himself while he browses. It’s happened before. Many times. Eugene is a frequent fondler.
“I’m Cosy.” I tap my nametag. “Let me know if you need help finding anything.”
His eyes swing my way and snag on the tag pinned to my shirt over my left breast, before quickly shifting to my face. Possibly because I’m wearing a purple bra with pink hearts under my white Sex Toy Warehouse tank, and the design is visible. I was in a rush this morning, and it was my only clean bra. Also, this look tends to help with sales. Degrading? Maybe. But I can’t pay rent with pride.
He blinks a few times and rubs the back of his neck. “Okay. Thanks . . . Cosy.”
He says my name the way most people do—slowly and with uncertainty. Like he’s unsure if it’s a porn store joke. It’s not. At least he doesn’t make a pervy comment.
Suit wanders through the store, still kneading the back of his neck. He’s so uncomfortable. It’s actually rather fascinating to watch his face turn red as he rushes past the magazine rack of naked people only to stop in front of the Wall of Peen. The embarrassment blushing used to be a problem when I first started here, but once I learned how to put on my “sales mask,” it got easier. People like to stick weird things in their holes.
Suit produces a piece of paper from his pocket. He scans it, shakes his head, and mutters something under his breath. My stomach growls. I ate a granola bar at nine and it’s after two. The longer this guy takes, the colder my shawarma will get. It’ll still taste good, but it’s best right off the panini press. On the other hand, the longer he stays, the more likely he is to impulse buy.
I decide to offer my assistance, even though he hasn’t asked for it. Also, he’s hot, and his awkwardness is both cute and amusing. I check my appearance in the tiny mirror I keep by the cash register—my lipstick is perfect and my mascara isn’t smeared under my eyes, which happens on occasion when one lives in a place hotter than hell. Mission Commission commence.
I strut over to where he’s standing; it’s something I’ve had to practice so I don’t roll an ankle. “Need some help?”
Suit jumps like he’s been tasered and shoves the paper back in his pocket. “I didn’t hear you come up behind me.”
“Sorry about that.” I give him my brightest smile. “You look a little lost, so I thought I’d offer my professional assistance. Can I help you find the right dildo for your particular needs?” It comes out without being pitchy, which is fantastic.
“Uh.” He glances at the selection in front of him and then back at me. “My buddy’s getting married, and we’re having a bachelor party. I drew the short straw and now I’m here, buying a bunch of”—he flails a hand toward the shelf—“stuff.”
“Right. Okay. It’s for a bachelor party.” The world’s most common excuse, ladies and gentlemen. “Let’s get you set up with a basket, so you’re not walking around with a handful of floppy peen.”
I spin on my heel and saunter over to the baskets, internally chastising myself for the floppy part. A lot of men who come here have erectile issues and calling them out on that is bad for sales. I focus on my catwalk skills and purposely bend at the waist when I reach for one of our hot-pink shopping baskets with the phrase sin bin written in pretty cursive letters on the side. My shorts are ridiculously short, as per the recommended uniform stipulation. It’s not in writing, but it’s implied. Flashing ass cheek is just as helpful as bra visibility, according to my sales record and wardrobe correspondence study. Don’t judge.
Like a provocatively dressed, hoodless Little Red Riding Hood, I strut back to the suit, ready to have some fun. I thread my arm through his, which seems to shock the hell out of him. He’s not wearing a wedding band, so I’m not above using the flirty angle for sales on this one. The fabric of his suit jacket is extra-soft. I bet it’s expensive. I also notice how firm and defined his bicep is under all those layers of fabric. I think the cold shawarma will be worth it.
I sweep a hand out, motioning to the Wall of Peen. “I noticed you were checking out the double-headed dildos, and as you can see, we have several options available.”
“Whatever one you think I should get is fine,” Suit mumbles.
His discomfort puts me more at ease. I can totally do this. I can sell him a double-header no problem. I release his arm and set the basket on the floor, bending at the waist again for maximum impact. “Well, there really is a big difference between models, so it’s best if you can give me an idea of what you’re going to need it for.”
His eyes go wide again, and he clears his throat. “I’m pretty sure most of the stuff I’m getting should be considered gag gifts, so I don’t think it matters what it’s used for.”
“Hmm. Okay. Well, I still think we should test the models out before you decide, in case your friend does have a plan to use it.” I hold up a finger. “Gimme a sec!”
I do another one of my graceful spins—those stupid twerk-offs my sister and I have when we’ve been drinking seem to be paying off—and strut back to the cash register. I grab the toy cleaner and a couple of moist wipes and return to the suit whose face looks like it’s about to burst into flames.
In the few seconds it takes me to grab the toy cleaner, he’s already dropped one of the peens into his basket.
“Mmm.” I give it a slightly disapproving look and reach for the display model on the shelf. We always have a few of our most popular sellers available, so we can help our purchasers compare models.
I spray down the hot-pink monstrosity and use one of the wipes to stroke up and down the length.
“What’re you doing?” Suit sounds like his balls are caught in a vise.
“Cleaning it for you. Eugene was in here earlier, and he likes to touch all the display items.”
“Just someone who shops here.”
“And you know him on a first-name basis?”
“He’s in here a lot.”
“I bet he is.”
I wipe off both heads a second time for good measure before I thrust it at him. “Can you hold this, please?”
Judging by his facial expression, holding it is the last thing he wants to do. I let it slide through my fingers anyway, and like a good suit, he catches it before it can hit the floor.
“Nice reflexes.” I wink and pick up the sister model, giving it the same treatment. I’m aware that my actions look very much like I’m giving a hand job , which is kind of the point.
Is it the most ethical way to get sales? Probably not, but uncomfortable guys who are also turned on tend to spend a lot more money.
“Okay! Comparison time!” I use the toy as a pointer and motion to the one the suit is holding. “That one is eighteen inches versus mine, which is fourteen, now go and give it a shake!”
He gives me a look, but does as I ask.
“Great! Now see how stiff that one is compared to this one?” I shake the one I’m holding and remind myself that this is going to help me get sales. At least it has in the past.
“There’s no guessing. Here.” I grab the one he’s holding—he lets it go without a fight—and shake them both again. “See, mine has way more flexibility.”
“Is that a good or a bad thing?”
Based on the number of these we sell in a week, I’m guessing a lot of people think it’s a good thing. “With the right lubricant, it can be a pleasurable experience for your girlfriend.” I have no idea if this is true or not, but that’s what the lubricants advertise. Also, I’m fishing for information.
“I don’t have a girlfriend. And even if you’re right, if I did have a girlfriend, I’d prefer to insert my own . . . body parts rather than one of these.” He motions to my hands, which are both full. “Not that my relationship status is relevant since this is all for a bachelor party. Not me.”
I give him a conspiratorial wink. “Of course it’s not.”
“Seriously.” He roots around in his pocket and produces the list. “I really did draw the short straw, and now I’m here buying all the weird sh!t—”
I snatch the list out of his hand and spin out of reach when he tries to grab it back. It’s fairly extensive, so either he’s not lying about the short straw, or he is lying about the girlfriend. Neither would be a first.
“Okay, well, we’ve crossed one item off your list. I’ll have you stocked up for this party in no time.” I grab the basket and one of the packaged double-headers and sashay over to the Pocket Rockets, the next item on the list.
When we get to the flavored lube, he seems at a loss. There are twenty different flavors, so instead of choosing, he grabs one of each. My commission on this sale is going to be amazing.
“Have you worked here long?” he asks after I hook him up with a top-of-the-line personal pleasure device, cleaner, and special lube.
“A couple months,” I say.
He nods, as if my answer is riveting. “Is this your full-time job?”
He finally seems to be finding some chill, which is great, so I entertain the idle chitchat. “No, it’s a part-time gig.”
“What do you do when you’re not working here?”
Oh my God. Is this suit hitting on me? I mean, he’s hot, but he’s buying a lot of weird stuff, and while he might be telling the truth about the party, he also might be lying. Still, this is fun, so I play along. “I’m a toy tester on my off days.”
“I’m sorry, what?” he sputters.
I throw back my head and laugh. He really is adorable. “Kidding! Oh my God, your face. You need to relax, Suit, you’re too buttoned up.” I tug on his tie. “I mean, I get a sweet discount on everything in the store, but who wants to test this?” I tap the black rubber fist next to the butt plugs, since we’ve made it to the end of the list.
He says something under his breath that I don’t catch.
“Anyway, I’m taking some college courses, furthering myself and my career and so forth, so I don’t have to sell this stuff to people for the rest of my life.”
“You’re in college?” It sounds like he’s choking again.
“Mm-hmm. It’s taken me a little longer to finish since I like to travel. I’ll be working for at least four more decades, so I’m thinking I should enjoy my freedom while I have it, you know? So many people say they’re going to travel when they retire. They save up all this money, and then two months into retirement they have a heart attack and die. Or they’re too old and rickety to do any of the fun stuff.”
“That’s an interesting outlook.”
“Probably not super popular either, but you only live once, right?” I point to the plug that’s roughly the same size as my head. “That’s the biggest one.”
Suit makes a face. “Please tell me people don’t actually buy these.”
I shrug. “I usually sell one every few weeks or so.”
“As a gag gift?”
“I don’t ever ask.”
He shakes his head and motions to the one beside it, which is about half the size, but still enormous. “If nothing else, it’ll function as an interesting door stop.”
After we’ve checked everything off his list, we head back to the register. He sets his wallet on the counter and flips it open, withdrawing a credit card as I scan his many purchases and bag them.
“Your total is $657.69.”
He blows out a breath and passes over his card. “He sure as hell better use some of this stuff.”
I glance at the name on the card. Griffin. Kind of different, like my name, but not as weird.
The bell over the door tinkles as a new customer enters the store. It’s another suit, but this one looks cheap and slimy. Like a pawn shop sales man or something. Ugh. Here’s hoping this one is quick so I can finally eat my shawarma, which is probably cold and soggy by now, although that’s my fault for being so thorough with Griffin. And it totally paid off.
Griffin glances at the new customer and hunches his shoulders. As if that’s going to make him any less noticeable. The receipt seems to take forever to print. I hand it over, and his long, thick, well-manicured fingers graze mine.
Goose bumps flash over my skin. The thermostat is probably set too low because the vent above suddenly blasts me with cold air, and I shiver.
He tucks the receipt in his wallet and grabs the bags. “Maybe I’ll see you around.”
“Looks like you’re pretty stocked on the sex toys, but you know where to find me if you run out of lube.” I wink, and then internally chastise myself because I have no idea what this guy is really like, and now I’ve given him the equivalent of a green light to come back and visit. Not that I’m opposed to seeing his gorgeous face, but he could be one of the crazies. Then again, maybe he’s not.
He chuckles and taps on the glass top counter. “Have a good day, Cosy. Thanks for sharing your extensive knowledge with me.” He flashes me a grin, and holy hell, I think that alone might have given me a mini orgasm.
Okay, no it didn’t. But his smile is damn pretty.
I watch him leave before I turn my attention to the cheap suit. He’s hanging out in the video section. I don’t understand why people pay money for that stuff when it’s all over the internet for free, but whatever.
Cheap suit buys two granny flicks and makes his exit. I assume he has mommy issues or something.
After he leaves, I finally have a chance to eat my lunch. As predicted, it’s soggy, but still delicious. I make random doodles as I eat and find myself writing the suit’s name over and over, like I’m some smitten high school girl. I roll my eyes. That guy is one of a million suits who fly in for a business trip, mix it with a whole load of excess and pleasure, and then go back to their regular life and talk about that trip they took to Vegas.
Doesn’t mean I can’t fantasize about him, though.
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date published : July 16, 2019
pages : 448
audiobook narrators: Jacob Morgan, Muffy Newtown
audiobook length: 7 hrs, 10 min
Cosy Felton is great at her job—she knows just how to handle the awkwardness that comes with working at an adult toy store. So when the hottest guy she’s ever encountered walks into the shop looking completely overwhelmed, she’s more than happy to turn on the charm and help him purchase all of the items on his list.
Griffin Mills is using his business trip in Las Vegas as a chance to escape the broken pieces of his life in New York City. The last thing he wants is to be put in charge of buying gag gifts for his friend’s bachelor party. Despite being totally out of his element, and mortified by the whole experience, Griffin is pleasantly surprised when he finds himself attracted to the sales girl that helped him.
As skeptical as Cosy may be of Griffin’s motivations, there’s something about him that intrigues her. But sometimes what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas and when real life gets in the way, all bets are off. Filled with hilariously awkward situations and enough sexual chemistry to power Sin City, Making Up is the next standalone in the Shacking Up world.
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