Pride and Papercuts (The Austens #5) - Staci Hart


Loincloths and Leather


“How about Find-a-Fabio?” Cam asked, pulling a highlighted blond Fabio wig from the box.

A laugh bubbled out of me. “Fabio-and-Seek.”

“Where’s Fabio just doesn’t have a ring to it for a themed party. What about Hide-and-Go-Fabio?”

When I giggled again, she shrugged.

“I can’t believe we actually got the Fabio to come to Wasted Words. When he gets here and we make people find him in a sea of Fabio wigs, it’s going to be a riot. Let’s make sure we’ve got a good freaking seat for that.” She tugged on her wig and adjusted it blindly. “Is it straight?”

“Here,” I said, fixing it. “How’s mine?”

“You look absolutely ridiculous. So … perfect.”

I picked up one of the two giant boxes of wigs and headed toward the front of the bookstore with Cam in my wake.

When I’d started working at Wasted Words last year, the massive book bar instantly became one of my favorite places on the planet. My twin brother, Jett, was a manager here, and after talking it up for years, I jumped at the chance to run the social marketing here when presented the chance.

Cam and I had become best friends within five minutes.

She was a tiny thing with big glasses that somehow managed to look cool despite their size. Like most people, I found Cam impossible not to like—her propensity to make me laugh until my stomach stitched was a big factor. That she was technically my boss added to the appeal of the job exponentially. The access to all the books I could possibly read tipped it into Best Job Ever status.

“Think anyone will refuse to wear one?” I asked, adjusting my grip on the box of wigs.

“No wig, no entry.”

“Even for the ad execs?” I tried to sound enthusiastic, but the invasion of the ad executives who’d been brought in to manage the national expansion of Wasted Words put my job in a precarious position. Why use me when they had one of the biggest ad firms in New York on the payroll? If I didn’t end up phased out at some point, it’d be due to loyalty alone.

She snorted. “Especially the ad execs. If I don’t see Liam Darcy in a Fabio wig tonight, I might shrivel up and die. But I bet you ten bucks he refuses.”

“He can’t be that bad.”

“He has the bone structure of Adonis and the personality of Adonis’s marble representation in the Met. Darcy is the owner’s buddy. Plus, their ad agency is a BFD.”

“A BFD?”

“A Big Fucking Deal. Darcy I could do without, but his sister is a goddamn delight. Is it weird that I want to be her best friend?”

“For you? Not even a little. You asked her already to be your best friend, didn’t you?”

“Just because I asked you to marry me within the first four seconds of meeting you doesn’t mean I asked her too.”

I shot a look at her over my shoulder.

“Well, why’d you ask if you already knew?” she defended. “I can’t help it, Laney. This is just who I am as a person.”

“I’m trying not to be jealous, but you’re not making it easy.”

“Don’t worry,” she said on a laugh. “You’ll always be my number two.”

“I’d ask you to call me your deuce, but that’s not any less shitty.”

That earned me a full-blown cackle. “Sorry to imply that you, one of my favorite people, are excrement. I have a toddler. Everything seems to come back to poop talk these days.”

I dropped the box on the table at the door, where one of the cashiers, Ruby, started sifting through it.

“Anyway, I’m glad you’re going to meet them, since you’ll be working with them,” she said. “You’ll fit right in, I’m sure—so long as it’s not up to Liam Darcy. But he’ll warm up once he sees what you can do.”

“You make it sound like he’s going to oppose me.”

Cam’s dark brow rose with one side of her smile. “Don’t take it personal. I’m pretty sure Liam opposes everybody.”

“That’s comforting,” I deadpanned.

Cam addressed Ruby with the fire-engine red hair behind the table, “Free drink tickets to any guy who takes his shirt off. Fabio Freebies!”

“Even the chubby ones?” Ruby asked hesitantly.

“Especially the chubby ones. In fact, give those guys two for being good sports.”

“You got it, boss,” Ruby answered on a laugh, and we headed toward the bar, where several of our hottest bartenders were prepping for the crowd.

And what a mighty sight that was to behold.

Three gigantic, shirtless men in middle-parted, flowing blond wigs worked