Man of the Month 4
Wicked days. Sinful nights.
Meet Mr. April.
A high school drop-out with only his twisted sense of humor and panty-melting good looks going for him, Nolan Wood has turned a small radio gig into a thriving career.
Now a local celebrity, Nolan never wants for female companionship. But he never gets too close. And he damn sure never lets them see the man—or the pain—behind the jokes.
Then a one-night stand changes everything.
Career-focused, goal-oriented, and buttoned-down accountant Shelby Drake isn’t the kind of woman who’d usually catch Nolan’s attention, but her soft mouth, hidden curves, and deep sensuality blow his mind. And after only one taste, he wants more.
But Shelby wants nothing more to do with him. And now the radio playboy is on a sensual mission to convince her that opposites really do attract.
Her pleasure is his passion.
Start Me Up is Story # 4 in the Man of the Month series.
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About this StoryPublication Date 02/27/2018 Story Type Book Series Man of the Month Place in Series Story #4 Genre Contemporary Romance
More About This Story
When a group of fiercely determined friends realize their beloved hang-out is in danger of closing, they take matters into their own hands to bring back customers lost to a competing bar. Fighting fire with a heat of their own, they double down with the broad shoulders, six-pack abs, and bare chests of dozens of hot, local guys who they cajole, prod, and coerce into auditioning for a Man of the Month calendar.
But it’s not just the fate of the bar that’s at stake. Because as things heat up, each of the men meets his match in this sexy, flirty, and compelling binge-read romance series of twelve novels releasing every other week from New York Times bestselling author J. Kenner.
“With each novel featuring a favorite romance trope—beauty and the beast, billionaire bad boys, friends to lovers, second chance romance, secret baby, and more—this series hits the heart and soul of romance.” —New York Times bestselling author Carly Phillips
“Goooood morning, Austin,” Nolan belted into the mike in his best Robin Williams impression. “It’s six am on Wednesday, and if you thought you’d gotten up early enough to miss the traffic, then you’re crazier than I am. It’s a madhouse out there, but that’s okay because it’s crazy in here, too. But I’ll be here to make your drive just a little more whacked, whether you’re heading down the street or all the way across town.”
He hit the switch on his console to pull up the Twilight Zone theme song, then leaned closer, deepened his voice, and channeled his inner Rod Serling. “It’s the dimension between comedy and stupidity, between humor and idiocy. That’s right, folks. I’m your host, Nolan Wood, and this is…” He paused for dramatic effect as his producer, Connor, increased the reverb on the sound effects, then finished on his show’s title, “…Mornings with Wood.”
He’d been standing—it might only be six am, but Nolan was always revved before a show and he did his best work with a little bounce in his step—but now he fell back into his chair. He rolled a few feet to the back wall of the small, glassed-in studio as Connor cued the Satisfaction Sound Effect, a little clip Nolan had put together with rising applause that crescendoed on a woman’s satisfied purr of, “Oh, Nolan!”
Then the drive-time show’s theme music played, ending with the tag—recorded by one of the station’s voice actors—”You’re listening to Mornings With Wood on K-I-K-X Austin—kicks FM—at 96.3 on your radio dial. Classic music and classless chatter with your host, Nolan Wood.”
In a rhythm as natural as sex, Nolan was back at the mike on cue, his body humming with energy as he slid into his schtick. “That’s right, campers, it’s a beautiful May morning. The sun is shining. The grass is green. The birds are singing. And there’s one hell of a pile-up on southbound Mo-Pac near the Far West exit. Get off while you can, because that ain’t pretty.
“And if you don’t have an alternate route, well, I hope you like the sight of your dashboard, because other than the rear of the car in front of you, that’s your view until you get off that highway to hell. And if that’s not a good segue, I don’t know what is. So here’s a little AC/DC to wake you up and ease your pain.”
As Nolan finished, Connor faded in Highway to Hell, and Nolan looked up with a grin. “Damn, but I love my job.”
“Good,” Connor shot back. “Because I sure as hell don’t want it.” He glanced down at the yellow pad that was never far from his side. “We’re spinning into a commercial next, then where do you want to go? Requests? Naked News? Date-a-palooza?”
That’s one of the reasons Nolan loved working with Connor. Nolan’s last producer had insisted that he plan out the program in advance. But when Connor had stepped in nine months ago, Nolan had insisted the show would have more energy if Nolan had more leeway. He’d expected push-back, but the skinny former surfer from California had only shrugged and said that so long as he knew what was on the menu, he’d dig into whatever dish Nolan chose.
Honestly, if Connor had tits, Nolan would have dropped to one knee and proposed marriage right then. As it was, he took his new producer out for a drink at his favorite local bar, The Fix on Sixth, then exchanged life stories as they got rip-roaring drunk in that time-honored male-bonding ritual.
As for that marriage thing, it wouldn’t have worked out, anyway. Gail—Connor’s wife of five years—would never have approved. Then again, maybe she would. After all, unlike Nolan’s ex, Gail had a killer sense of humor.
Frustrated, Nolan shook his head to clear out the unwelcome thoughts of Lauren. “Let’s go with Come With Me,” he suggested, referring to a new segment he’d only recently outlined.
Connor made a rough noise in his throat. “Ix-nay on that one until Mannie gives us the thumbs-up. He thinks you’re going to push the line with too many orgasm jokes.”
For the most part, the station’s General Manager, Manuel Ortega, kept a loose rein on Nolan. But every once in a while he got a bug up his butt about a particular concept.
“It’s a travel-themed call-in segment,” Nolan protested. Which was, more or less, an entirely accurate statement. Heavy on the less side of that equation.
“So you’re not going to choose the winner by deciding which of the callers convinces you they’re coming right then? And I don’t mean in the transportation sense of the word.”
“How about we just go with Naked News, after all,” Nolan suggested, aiming his most charming smile at his friend in order to avoid the question. “I feel the need to get visible.”
Connor grinned, shaking his head in mock exasperation as he reached for his phone. When Nolan had first suggested live video streaming some segments on the station’s social media platforms, Connor had been dubious. But the first time they’d tried it—with nothing more than Nolan behind the mike doing a riff—the ratings had zipped skyward and callers had tied up the phone lines for hours.
Never a sore loser, Connor had come to work the next day with a list of segments they could work into Nolan’s usual routine. When he’d suggested Naked News, Nolan had clapped Connor on the shoulder, wiped away a fake tear, and told his friend he was as proud as a new father.
Now, Nolan rolled the segment’s key prop—a picture of a bubble-filed bathtub painted on plywood—in front of his chair. Then he whipped off his shirt and sat down while Connor positioned the phone on a tripod at a ninety-degree angle to the prop.
Nolan was wearing sweatpants this morning. So for extra effect, he pulled the material up to bare his left leg, kicked off his shoe, and hooked his foot up onto the wooden edge of the fake tub. That put him too far away from his usual mike, but they’d installed pull-down mikes in four key places in the studio. He grabbed the one above him, tugged it down to the proper level, then grabbed the newspaper.
With just three seconds to go on the ad spot, Nolan leaned back into place. And as soon as the ad faded out, he slid in, telling his audience that it was time to get real with Naked News. “We wash away the dirt and leave you with nothing but the hard, clean truth behind the story. And we’re doing it live,” he added, to the applause and cheers of one of the show’s many programmed sound effects.
He turned his head toward the camera as the streaming began, the result being that any listener not currently behind the wheel—and, sadly, probably a few that were—could hop over to the station’s social media accounts and see what looked to be a naked Nolan sitting in a tub full of bubbles, with one leg hanging out, and a newspaper open in front of him. The paper, of course, remained miraculously dry.
One of the station’s mandates was to keep listeners informed about local news, and even though the news department had that squarely in-hand, Connor reviewed the Austin American-Statesman every morning, then gave Nolan an oral report as part of Nolan’s pre-show routine. Invariably, he found something in the news that he could turn into comedy gold.
Today was no exception, and he’d found fodder in an article about the city’s recent hiring of a consulting firm to weigh in on the pros and cons of the city acquiring downtown historic property for preservation as museums and meeting spaces. “Don’t these guys know that alcohol’s a preservative? That makes Sixth Street one of the most preserved historic streets in the country. What the hell more do they want? And while we’re at it, let’s give away a couple of tickets to the upcoming Pink Chameleon concert in San Antonio. Just a little over a month away.”
He held onto the arms of his chair, hidden from view, then pushed his body up so that his chest rose up out of the fake bubbles. At the same time, Connor hit the control for the low, breathy female voice. “Ooooh, Nolan! You’re so big and strong! Tell me more!”
“Always happy to please,” he said, grinning at the camera as he slid back into the chair and into the illusory bath bubbles. Usually, Connor made sure that Nolan had been briefed on at least five news items. Today, however, the second item on Connor’s list had chilled Nolan, and he’d completely zoned out on the final three. Which was why Nolan was now confusing Connor by giving away the concert tickets far earlier in the program than his usual routine.
Well, too damn bad. Right then Nolan needed filler.
“Pink Chameleon’s got a bright, shiny Grammy now, and the performance promises to be top-notch. Lead singer Kiki King’s a local Austin gal, and I’m sure she’ll be happy to be back in Texas for these two new additions to the tour schedule in Dallas and San Antonio. So how do you win? First caller with the original name of Austin’s historic Sixth Street is our lucky concert-goer.”
He started taking the calls—surprised by how many listeners were clueless. “Must’ve all moved here in the great California migration,” he said to the camera. But then caller number six got it right—Pecan Street—and Nolan pulled an old-fashioned car horn out of his prop box, held it above tub level, and squeezed the bubble at the end to make the thing toot in victory.
“And that’s it—” he began, in his vocal cue to Connor that the segment was over. But Connor, damn him, signaled for him to continue the Naked News skit, apparently because Connor was dealing with some sort of glitch on the control board.
Well, fuck. Because while Nolan was more than comfortable bullshitting his way through life and riffing off of any piece of news or gossip, the only other bit of news he’d heard in the briefing wasn’t something he wanted to think about, much less talk about.
But there was no more news. Not unless Nolan wanted to skim the paper himself and parse out a story on-the-air. Since that wasn’t happening, Nolan had to either dive into the news about his ex-wife Lauren and her shiny new husband … or else he had to sit on dead air time.
And Nolan never had dead air on his show.
Screw it, he thought. And then he dove into the cold, deep waters of humiliation.
“This next bit of news is part public service announcement. Just a friendly reminder to all you unsuspecting folks out there to handle newspapers carefully. You never know when the words are going to reach out and bite you. Like this morning. See this?” He pointed to his neck. “Teeth marks. Big, gnarly, pointy teeth marks. The kind that are only left by wild animals and ex-wives.”
Connor lifted his head, frowning. Nolan wasn’t surprised. Nolan had been twenty-two when he and Lauren had split after six very non-blissful months. He was twenty-nine now, and he rarely thought of her. And he certainly didn’t tend to mention her in passing. Even during drunken male-bonding marathons of debauchery.
“She and her Senator husband—and, yeah, I mean one of our United States senators from Texas—are apparently in town for a few different events, including a reception last night at the Governor’s mansion. I sure hope there were ice sculptures at the reception. Would be a shame to waste those chilly ex-wife vibes.”
He intended to stop there, but his mouth kept going. “But seriously, I wish them both my best. Of course, she always said my best wasn’t very good. But you know what? I think she’s wrong. I mean, look at me now.”
He indicated the fake tub with a sweep of his hand, then pushed himself up again and used one hand to indicate a chest that he knew damn well women drooled for. “Naked and on the radio. I mean, come on. Can it really get much better than that? So you know what, babe? Here’s all I have to say to you.”
He turned his hand to flip the bird, and saw that Connor got the camera shut down just seconds before thatimage went out live. But, Nolan was sure, not fast enough to appease Mannie.
And then, in a move of pure programming genius, Connor manipulated the controls and killed Nolan’s mike as he faded in the boisterous strains of Toby Keith’s How Do You Like Me Now?!
“Fucking perfect,” Nolan said.
“What the hell?” Connor retorted. “I brief you on that article, you don’t even mention that the Senator’s wife used to be yours?”
“Trust me, it wasn’t worth mentioning.”
Connor’s eyes narrowed, as if he was trying to decide if Nolan meant it.
“She’s gorgeous, and I was young and stupid. But we never meshed. She was a poor little rich girl, and all about her image. About making sure her whole life—and everyone in it—was picture perfect. When we were together, I thought she was a princess. And it took me a while to realize that she considered me a frog.”
Before she’d walked out, she’d told him that she’d mistaken hot sex and multiple orgasms for love. That he was her walk on the wild side, and that it had been fun, but she wanted a man who would be somebody, and she should never have married him. Apparently, her idea of Prince Charming didn’t include a high school drop-out who earned minimum wage as a file clerk and part-time board operator at a tiny AM station forty miles outside of Austin.
He shook his head, trying to knock the remnants of Lauren out of his brain. “It’s better now. Mostly I hang with other frogs. And as for princesses…”
He trailed off with a shrug, thinking about all those gorgeous women who sought him out now because of his local celebrity. “I let them in my bed,” he admitted, because Connor already knew that. And Nolan made damn sure that no woman he got horizontal with ever walked away unsatisfied or bemoaning his lack of sexual ambition. “But I’m not looking for anything serious.”
He’d played the fool once. No way was he doing it again.