Hiya peeps! We have Cass Lennox visiting today with her new lesbian release The Wrong Woman, we have a great excerpt and a brilliant giveaway, so guys check out the post and enjoy! <3 ~Pixie~
The Wrong Woman
As an independent filmmaker, Katie Cherry is used to difficult shoots—but a band’s music video in a tiny lesbian bar is proving worse than most. Stress-busting, expectation-free sex with Zay, the calm, gorgeous bartender, seems just the ticket. But then she and Zay discover the band’s lead singer beaten into a coma in the bar bathroom. They need an alibi, but playing girlfriends is a role Katie’s never excelled at, so she can’t see this ending well.
Zay Fayed-Smith is finally getting her life back together after her junkie ex broke it apart. She’s working part-time while pursuing her dream of being a lawyer, and definitely keeping things chill on the girls front. Of course, that’s when a crime happens in her bar and her ex shows up wanting to try again. “Dating” Katie seems like the best way for Zay to keep her head down and teach her ex a lesson.
Except pretty soon, the charade begins to feel less and less like acting. And when the attacker turns his attentions toward Katie, they have to cut through the lies to discover what’s real.
About Toronto Connections series!
The winters might be cold, but hearts are warm in Toronto. Canada’s largest city is home to a big lake, a big tower, and a big queer community. People here are trying to get by like everyone else: pay the bills, deal with life in the city, and maybe find some happiness along the way with someone who’s sweeter than maple candy and more constant than a Canadian’s love for Timmie’s coffee.
For some, falling in love is a real challenge. For others, falling is the easy part—it’s the happy ever after that proves a little more difficult. But in the end, love is worth every complication, misunderstanding, and occasional swear word.
Zay had heard better bands, but she had to admit Brine generated enough energy to power the entire bar. She thought they would’ve been exhausted after the afternoon of filming, but nope, they were still on form.
On the stage, the lead singer howled into the microphone, shimmying and grinding, while the guitarist strummed with blurring fingers. The drummer seemed in her own furious world, arms and sticks flying, while the violinist swayed and the bassist attacked her guitar. The audience was going nuts.
And perched on a stool in front of the crowd was the cute redhead with a camera. Zay could barely see her when the crowd was jumping to the music, but she was there. She’d been directing the band all afternoon with patience that had to have been gifted by the divine. The number of times the band members had completely ignored her was staggering. Zay would’ve walked out. The band manager—a short woman with a loud voice who’d snapped out orders every so often—had to have known it was bad, because she’d looked torn between killing the band and taking a permanent seat at the bar the entire afternoon.
Really, it was kinda funny. Probably because Zay wasn’t directly involved. But she’d thought that Red was more than ready to let off some steam and was interested—and she’d been right.
Flirting felt good again. Exciting. Who knew, maybe one of these days she could try dating someone long-term again.
She poured herself a glass of water and drank deeply. The music was loud and kind of grating, but it meant a break for her and Nik, the other bartender. This wasn’t her last shift at the Dam, not yet, but every shift brought the end closer. Zay needed free moments like this to take stock and make memories. Right now she was sweaty and splashed in various beers and spirits, her feet hurt, her head hurt, her ears hurt from this music, and her arms ached. So maybe this moment had its less-awesome parts—she definitely wouldn’t miss aching feet or being sticky—but it was still part of working here.
Seeing bands while working? Chatting up cute girls with a free drink and a smile? Yup, she was totally going to miss those parts. Working in a legal firm was going to be so different.
Nik reached over and tugged the end of her braid. “Hey.”
Zay was definitely going to miss having this half-shaven hairstyle, even if she did have to braid the long side out of the way. So badass while it had lasted.
She reached over and tugged at Nik’s buzz cut in turn. “What?”
“The hot filmmaker can’t see you making eyes at her from here.”
“So? She already promised me a drink.”
Nik grinned. “When did that happen?”
“She came up to the bar.” With a look on her face that said alcohol was desperately needed. “Asked for beer.”
“With a side of Zay?”
Zay scoffed and shoved Nik good-naturedly. “With a side of water. Zay was offered freely.”
Nik shook her head. “I’m going to miss watching you work.”
People turned up for drinks, and Zay was quickly back in the swing of serving, handling money, and clearing empties. Throughout the rest of the set, she glimpsed the filmmaker working, her red hair caught by occasional flashes of light. She bobbed off the stool at one point when the lead singer sang at someone in the crowd, but otherwise she was poised and still.
Zay had a warm, bubbly feeling about this one. Which was dumb, because you totally couldn’t tell what a person would be like before you got with them, but nonetheless, Zay felt sure Red would at least have a few good stories. She hadn’t seen her around before—but then again, Zay had taken herself out of circulation for a few years while she got over Parry, so she barely knew anyone on the scene anymore. In the past, Zay would’ve texted some of her friends asking if they knew who Red was, but she was over using the network to dig up the dirt on a potential hookup. Nah, she could ask Red her name and take things from there. Adulting was cool like that.
When the set was over, things got busy again, and she fell into the relentless pattern of making drinks, taking money, quick clearing, frantic glasses washing, and occasional dancing on the spot to the bar playlist. Fun, but tiring.
The band members popped up at the bar over and over, Red occasionally trailing them with the camera. There had been a second woman with a camera, but she seemed to have left. Not that Zay cared about her—nah, she was all eyes for Red. Sweet, sweet Red, with the hot frown and a gorgeous jawline. Mmmm. All that needed to happen now was for her to clock off and approach the bar.
But as the night ticked on, it seemed Red was still on the job, and that job was catching the band’s drinking antics on camera, rather than their musical ones.
And what antics. Jeez. Zay lost track of the drink requests. Mostly shots. There were flaming shots, tequila, Slippery Nipples, sour apple schnapps, freaking Aftershock—honestly Zay didn’t know why Holly even stocked half this crap. The band threw back the shots, then spun away to dance, then came back for more in an endless loop, the filmmaker trailing them awkwardly. And as the crowd started thinning towards midnight, the band kept coming.
Nik checked out for a long overdue break, and Zay was left on bar with Holly. She went on a quick clearing circuit and saw the band sitting in one of the booths playing a drinking game. The filmmaker sat with them, one of the band members—the guitarist?—pressed up against her. Really up against her. Huh. Seemed someone else liked camera-toting redheads.
The filmmaker caught her eye and made a sorry grimace.
Well, okay. Did that mean Red was still interested or what? Maybe not.
But she didn’t have time to find out. She turned away and took the dirty glasses back to the bar. When she was done loading the glasses into the washer, she saw Red at the bar, camera on the counter next to her arms.
“Hey,” she said.
Zay walked up to her. “’Sup.”
“Are you still free for a drink?”
Red seemed worried. Hmm. Zay glanced over Red’s shoulder. The band members were stumbling out of the booth, the lead singer especially drunk and hanging all over a blue-haired boi. The guitarist didn’t seem exactly territorial. Or upright. She was also wearing a corset—which was a gorgeous look on her. Yeah, Zay would’ve been tempted too. She looked back at Red. “Maybe.”
Red appeared relieved. “What’s your poison?”
Zay grinned. “IPA.”
“And what’s your name?”
Red’s mouth quirked as though she found that amusing. “Katie.” She extended a hand, and Zay shook it. “How about I buy you an IPA, Zay?”
“How about you do?”
“How about we get some service down here?”
Zay turned to the right, where the band was gathering. The lead singer slapped her hand against the counter, splashing up whatever was spilled there. “Come on, we’re thirsty.”
Considering how much they’d already drunk, Zay was pretty sure thirsty was the last thing they were. Fucking drunks. Please, please give me an excuse to cut you off. She grit her teeth and headed down the bar. “What can I get you?”
The lead singer still had her arm around Blue Hair. “We wan’ed . . . Sweetie, what did we wan’?”
Blue Hair giggled. “You forgot already? We wanted drinks, babe.”
One of the band members—the violinist?—rolled her eyes. “Jesus fucking Christ. Tequila, please. For . . .” She counted. “Eight of us.”
The lead singer threw up her arms. “Yeaaah! Tequila, whoo!” Then she slipped and fell down behind the bar, taking Blue Hair with her.
Damn. Zay leaned over to see them spread out on the floor, eyes wide. The band fanned out around them, staring down.
“You all right?” Zay asked.
Blue Hair burst out laughing, and the lead singer groaned.
Good enough. “I’m cutting you off,” Zay said to them.
The lead singer sat up so quickly everyone jumped. “What?”
“Six of us, then,” the violinist said.
The lead singer jerked to her feet. “You can’t cut me off!”
“Can and did.” Zay turned around to catch Holly’s eye. She stood at the other end of the bar, mid-pour, and nodded. Cool.
“I’m a goddamn rock star!”
Zay turned back to the lead singer. She was now leaning on the bar—maybe collapsed on the bar—face furious and hand waving. “I wan’ a drink, so fuckin’ gimme a drink.”
“Oookay.” The guitarist put a hand on her shoulder. “Nave, sweetie, maybe it’s time to—”
Nave shrugged her off, eyes on Zay. “Serve me or I’ll tear the rest of your fuckin’ hair off, bitch.”
Zay saw red. “Get out.”
“Oooh, what’re you gonna do?” Nave didn’t seem to realize her friends were looking aghast. “You gonna kick me out? You wanna start this? Who the fuck even are you? Where the fuck do you even come from? Durkastan or wha’ever? Yanno what Canadians can do? ’Cause I can take you any day. I’ll take you righ’ now, you raghead bitch.”
Hell. Zay hadn’t heard that one in a while. She didn’t even cover, so what the fuck. She gripped the shelf behind the bar in a very, very strong effort not to jump over the bar and rip this shithead a new one.
Hands grasped the singer’s shoulders and voices began yelling.
“Nave, shut the fuck up.”
“Omigod, I’m so sorry.”
The blue-haired girl patted at her. “Babe, you have to, like, stop.”
Nave began struggling against the hands on her, and Zay took a step back. Where the fuck was Holly?
Someone held a glass of water in front of Nave, angling her body between Nave and the bar. Red hair in a ponytail swung across lean shoulders. “Drink that and shut up,” Katie growled.
Nice move, Red. Had she poured herself that water?
Nave blinked, took the glass, then threw the water in Katie’s face.
Then Holly showed up. With the bouncer. And the band’s manager.
As the shouting continued, Zay reached for the closest bar towel. Wet already. Damn it. She dug around for a drier one, but by the time she had one, Katie had moved from the bar.
She was marching to Holly’s office, camera in hand and the guitarist running after her. Nave and Blue Hair were cackling together while the manager, Holly, and the bouncer yelled at the band, who seemed to be trying to process what was happening. And surrounding them all were lesbians with wide eyes, open mouths, and upheld phones.
A hand came down on Zay’s shoulder. Nik stood next to her, a grim expression on her face. “You okay?”
“Jesus. That was incredible.”
Nave fell down in front of them again with a shriek. Zay tried not to smirk, then saw Katie walking through the crowd. She had her coat on and camera in hand, the guitarist still following her with a stricken expression on her face.
Looked like that beer wasn’t going to happen anymore. Damn it.
Nik cleared her throat. “You know, I reckon Holly would be cool with you going home early.”
Zay blinked at her, not comprehending.
Nik inclined her head at Katie and the guitarist, who were talking near the front door. “Like, if you wanted. Considering what just happened.”
Zay saw Katie glance at her. Just a glance, but a dark one: Katie’s face was stormy and intense. Meeting her gaze sent a shock through Zay, right from her head down to her toes. Katie looked all fierce and sexy and delicious. Pent up. Hot.
“Taking you up on that,” Zay heard herself say.
Seriously, no fucking way did Zay want to stay here and watch this racist asshole get chewed out when she could go home—either with Katie, or home home.
She hustled to the back of the bar, collected her stuff, then practically sprinted to the door. She waved bye to Holly and almost slammed the door open in her need to get out and see where Katie was.
Outside. She was still outside, on the sidewalk, glaring at the guitarist.
“I’m so sorry,” the guitarist was saying. “I don’t know what got into her tonight.”
“Try tequila and racism,” Katie spat.
“Seriously, she’s never like this.”
Zay began shivering in the night air. It might officially be spring, but the weather wouldn’t be seriously warm for another month or two. Fuck, it was cold, and she’d only grabbed her things, not put any of them on. Now she pulled on a hoodie and her favourite green coat, keeping an eye on Katie.
“If Riz is still working for you in the morning”—Katie was almost yelling now—“tell her I’m charging her overtime and the taxi fare.”
“Shit. Well, okay, of course, I mean, that’s fair—”
“Bye, Ana.” Katie started walking away.
Ana swore, then ducked back into the bar. Zay wasn’t sure if she saw her. Not that it mattered. As soon as Zay pulled on her toque and shouldered her backpack, she was running after Katie.
Read more at: https://riptidepublishing.com/titles/the-wrong-woman (just click the excerpt tab)
Cass Lennox is a permanent expat who has lived in more countries than she cares to admit to and suffers from a chronic case of wanderlust as a result. She started writing stories at the tender age of eleven, but would be the first to say that the early years are best left forgotten and unread. A great believer in happy endings, she arrived at queer romance via fantasy, science fiction, literary fiction, and manga, and she can’t believe it took her that long. Her specialties are diverse characters, gooey happy ever afters, and brownies. She’s currently sequestered in a valley in southeast England.
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