Jax and the Beanstalk Zombies

BOOK: Jax and the Beanstalk Zombies
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Cover Copy

 

You know there’s trouble ahead when zombies aren’t your biggest worry.

 

The treasure hunter... Veronica Kwon is determined to be the only person in control of her destiny. After surviving a broken engagement and turning her back on her wealthy manipulative father, she’s started a treasure hunting company and is ready for the adventure of a lifetime.

 

The ex-fiance... Jax Taylor is a Southern charmer with enough sex appeal to melt the polar ice caps. He disappeared three months before their wedding and swore he’d never cross paths with Veronica again.

 

The magic beanstalk... Brought together again by their dying mentor, who has found three enchanted beans, Veronica and Jax agree to an uneasy partnership. Together they’ll climb a magic beanstalk to the cloud kingdom, but will their destiny be the riches they so desire, the passion they thought dead...or will the undead get them first?

 

Content Warning: Fans at the ready, please. Graphic sexual content bound to steam up your ereader!

 

 

Highlight

 

“It can’t be,” Veronica said. There had always been stories. Her cousin Lulu had whispered the tale to her late at night as a test of pre-pubescent courage. No one ever had experienced an actual sighting–well, and lived to tell the tale. The proof, however, lay dead in a heap at their feet.

Veronica glanced up at Jax.

“Zombie,” they said together.

Somewhere out in the darkness another giggle sounded.

Then, another.

They snapped off their flashlights.

The world turned inky black.

She strained in an attempt to pinpoint the zombies’ location by hearing but that information remained elusive. Fear settled in her stomach like a bad Mexican dinner, making her queasy and clammy.

“We have to get Antoine and get the hell out of here,” Jax whispered.

God, yes. All she wanted to do was run screaming for the beanstalk. But they couldn’t. She squeezed his forearm. “Agreed, but we need to be smart about this. We can’t attract their attention.”

“I know you like to make a plan for everything, but we have about two minutes before we’re lunch,” he snarled.

 

 

Jax and the Beanstalk Zombies

By Avery Flynn

 

 

 

 

Thank you for purchasing this Lyrical Press book

 

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Dedication

 

For the kickass Veronica Kwon in all of us.

 

Acknowledgements

 

I was lucky enough to have several amazing people join me on this novella’s quest. A huge thank you to my editor Mary Murray, cover designer, Covers by Ramona, and the entire team at Lyrical Press. And of course, I couldn’t have done it without my partners in crime: Robin Covington and Kimberly Kincaid. Hugs, kisses and a travel-sized flying magic carpet for all of you!

 

 

Chapter 1

 

Karma hadn’t just caught up with Veronica Kwon. It had gotten behind the wheel of a massive SUV, mowed her down, paused for half a breath then slid into reverse and run her over again.

She had no clue what she’d done in a past life to end up at Antoine Felix Antiquities right in time to bump–literally–into her ex-fiance, Jax Taylor, but it must have been awful. Her father had always told her she was as stubborn as Ghengis Kahn. Maybe there was something to that.

Five brief minutes ago, she’d strolled into Antoine’s store, texting her assistant about the latest treasure hunt request sent to Kwon Limited. She’d cut her professional teeth in this store so had navigated around the display of dwarf-sized pickaxes without even glancing up from the glowing screen in her hand. That’s how she’d ended up walking right into a man’s hard chest. Before they could both topple over onto a miniature pumpkin coach, he’d enveloped her in his strong arms and pulled her close. One whiff of Jax’s distinctive spicy cologne, and the lusty feelings she’d buried with her engagement ring roared to life.

Time to get the hell out of here. As much as she loved Antoine, she’d catch up with him another time about his latest discovery, magic beans.

Inhaling one last sniff of Southern Sex God, or whatever cologne Jax had on, Veronica pushed out of his embrace and took a long step back, separating her now tingling breasts from his hard bod. The space should have helped, but it only gave her a better view of the well-defined chest and strong arms his crisp white shirt couldn’t hide.

Damn, he didn’t even have the common courtesy to look like shit. He’d grown out his hair since they’d been together. Gone was the close-cropped buzz, replaced with tight black curls that complemented his warm brown skin. The kissable mouth remained with its touch of pink on the center of the bottom lip.

On cue, the butterflies in her stomach careened in spirals and her pleasure sensors hummed to life.

However, judging by the way Jax’s full lips had flattened into a hard line, his body was having a totally different reaction. “I never thought I’d see you again.”

Of course not. He’d broken up with her during a static-filled cell phone conversation, leaving her crying in the dressing room of Madame Cecile’s Dressmakers surrounded by piles of white lace and silk three months before their wedding.

The butterflies dropped dead in her stomach and a red haze bled into her peripheral vision. He’d left her practically at the altar. At the time she’d been crying too hard to tell him off, but now was the perfect opportunity. Maybe running into Jax wasn’t complete bad luck.

His gaze locked on her mouth and his pupils dilated.

Her breath caught. The kamikaze butterflies jolted awake.

The air crackled around them, strong enough to blow an electricity transformer.

A moment ago she’d had the perfect scathing remark. Now she barely remembered her own name.

Jax took half a step toward her and every rebellious nerve in her began singing the
Hallelujah Chorus
in three-part harmony. A year was a long time to go without the man she used to need even more than her twice daily caramel iced-coffee fix. Even if he did take up the first five spots on her shit list. Okay, the entire top ten.

Electricity sizzled in the half foot of open air between their bodies. Needing to touch him, Veronica smoothed his shirt collar. Her pale fingers brushed his neck, which was the same color as the single cup of dark French roast coffee he had every morning. The slight touch of skin to skin sent shivers of awareness up her arm.

“Why now?” He groaned and tilted his head lower.

Not the most romantic of words, but the need rushing through her overwhelmed any SOS because Jax was about to kiss her. The last thing she needed and the one thing she wanted most in the world. Heat rushed over her skin as he leaned in closer and she parted her lips.

The shop door’s shrill bell shattered the moment’s magic.

Jax’s eyes went wide. He straightened and took two steps back.

Embarrassment flushed her cheeks with heat. What had she been thinking? She hadn’t, which tended to happen around Jax. So what if he was sex on a stick? Once the good times between the sheets were over, she’d be the one to end up sobbing while her father issued a curt I-told-you-so lecture. She’d rather stick a spoon in her left eye than have to go through that again.

“Oh good, you two found each other.” Antoine shuffled toward them. “And no one’s been beaten senseless. I have to say, I was worried about that. Fabulous, just fabulous.” He clapped his gnarled hands and his gaze flicked between them. “Everything is alright, isn’t it?”

She squared her shoulders and raised her chin, ready to tell Antoine to find someone else besides her to round out his little trio. She loved the man who’d been her first mentor, but she’d walk before working with her ex-fiance ever again.

Jax cleared his throat. “Look, I’m sorry, Antoine, but if she’s going to be involved I can’t work with you on this one. She has to go.”

His brown-eyed gaze met hers, unflinching.

Steam blasted from her toes to her perfectly arched eyebrows so hard and fast, her hair should have stood on end.

Oh no, he did not just try to kick her off this job. That she had been about to walk away of her own volition didn’t matter. No one pushed Veronica Kwon around–not anymore. “What’s wrong, Jax? Afraid you can’t keep up with a spoiled little rich girl? If you can’t do the job, just admit it.”

“My abilities are not in question. I’m the trained archeologist.” His slight smile matched his condescending tone.

“A lot’s changed. I’ve gone on more than twenty treasure hunts, ninety percent of which paid off. I heard you burned out. Rumor has it you’re living at home with mommy in North Carolina.”

His square jaw hardened.

“Oh, did I touch a nerve?” When it came to dealing emotional body blows, she’d learned from the master. Her father tossed out insults with a circus knife thrower’s precision.

“Children, there’s no need for all the dramatics,” Antoine said. “Just wait until you see what I have here.” He waved a crumpled piece of paper. As he made his way through the aisle lined with talking mirrors of all sizes and shapes, his pace picked up to old-dog speed.

He stopped at his roll-top desk and pushed loose stacks of papers aside. “Now, where did I leave those glasses? I can’t read a darn thing without them.”

The mid-afternoon sunlight streaming through the skylight bounced off something tangled in the older man’s shoulder-length flowing locks, making it gleam. “Antoine,” she said.

“Just a minute, Veronica, darling, I have to find my glasses.” A pile of folders jiggled precariously under his touch, nearly falling off the overcrowded oak desk.

“Your head.” She pointed a red-tipped fingernail.

“What about my head?” Papers spilled off the edge, joining a mountain of others on the floor.

God love him, Antoine was always a bit of a scattered mess.

She held back a giggle. “Your glasses.”

“Yes, my glasses, that’s what I’m looking for.” His face stilled for a moment then he ran his fingers through his wild mane of pure-white hair. When his fingers wrapped around the metal frame, he chuckled. “Well done, Veronica. Well done.”

He slid the wire-framed spectacles down to his nose. The thick lenses enlarged his sky-blue eyes to comic proportions as he scanned the words on his prized document. “I know it’s here somewhere... Lake Erie...magic beans...golden goose...amazing riches... Ah! Here it is. To work, the beans must be divided between three persons who work cooperatively to spin the spell and grow the beanstalk taller than the heavens.”

Antoine looked up, barely-leashed glee beaming from his baby blues.

Jax crossed his arms and kept his face averted. “You still need the magic beans.”

The antiques dealer dug into his pants pocket and pulled out a small brown glass bottle. He shook it gently and the contents rattled. “Got ’em.”

BOOK: Jax and the Beanstalk Zombies
13.45Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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