Are you ready for a BEEFCAKES excerpt?!
Things are about to get sticky…
I might as well permanently add the label “Ex” to my name. I’m an Ex-Mr. Universe. Ex-Mr. Olympus. An Ex-Hollywood Stuntman. But no one from my small hometown cares anything about that. They only care that I’m the ex-boyfriend to the beloved Mayor’s daughter, Elaina Dyker.
And now, ten years later, I’m back, helping my siblings run my mother’s bakery while she takes on chemo. What should have been a routine cupcake delivery turns into utter chaos when the bachelorette party thinks I’m a stripper. And what’s worse? Elaina is the maid of honor.
But the meme about us sure went viral fast. My small hometown has become positively infested with tipsy bridesmaids looking for my erotic cupcakes.
Now Hollywood’s knocking again—and this time they want me and my ex, Mr. Beefcake and Ms. Prude, to star in a reality show.
It could solve all my problems—except her.
Preorder for only $2.99!!
Keep scrolling for a BEEFCAKES EXCERPT!
My Jeep hit a bump in the road, sending my brother Liam and I bouncing in our seats, our heads nearly hitting the top of the car.
“Easy, Neil!” Liam shouted, pushing out of his seat and trying to glance back at where two dozen decorated cupcakes were carefully stacked.
“Sorry,” I grunted. “Fucking potholes. You’d think New Hampshire would be on top of fixing them after winter.”
“Or,” Liam rolled his eyes, “You could just drive carefully.”
I leaned my bare arm out the window, enjoying the hot sun against my skin. “Why the hell did Mom book a cupcake delivery that was forty-five minutes away?”
Liam’s silence was deafening—if silence could ever be such a thing. I snuck a glance to my right, catching the hard set of his jaw before he finally huffed a sigh and answered, “Because,” he said, “while you were on the other side of the country working on that tan of yours, she and I, along with Addison and Finn, were doing everything in our power to keep her bakery afloat. And that included taking deliveries outside of the normal zone.”
Damn, he got me there. Liam, Finn, and Addy had taken care of Mom while I was trying to get my ducks in a row to move back home on the East coast. Even still… it wasn’t my fault that a cross country move can’t be done in a day. It’s even slower when your arm is in a sling.
“Hey–I packed up and moved back home as soon as I could after Mom’s diagnosis.”
Liam leveled me with a glare that I only caught out of the corner of my eye, opting to keep my attention on the road. “And what if you hadn’t hurt your shoulder?” He lifted his chin the direction of my arm which was stronger now, though not entirely healed yet. “What are the chances you would have moved back to help if you hadn’t lost your job?”
“I would have packed a bag if I’d known we’d be going on this guilt trip,” I mumbled.
“It’s not a guilt trip,” he said. “It’s the truth.” He paused, fiddling with the seatbelt cutting across his chest and wrinkling his shirt. “But if you must know, bachelorette parties and weddings pay exceptionally well. It’s worth the extra driving time.”
“If they pay so well, remind me again how you guys got so deep into debt?”
He didn’t answer me, even though I know he heard me.
Liam’s gaze flicked over my bare torso. “Explain to me again why you have to drive with no shirt on?”
Right. So, there’s a few things you should probably know about me.
1) I was Mr. Universe, Mr. Zeus, Mr. Olympia and Cosmo’s most Eligible Bachelor three years in a row. I’m not bragging, I swear (Okay, I might be bragging a little).
2) I left the body building life because Los Angeles is the fucking worst and I never want to set foot on another stage again. I still work out—just not as often. And I don’t gloat as much about it.
3) After leaving competition life, I worked as a stuntman in Hollywood for Silhouette Studios until I tore my rotator cuff three months ago. Stuntman career basically over.
4) I’ve never taken steroids.
5) No, my penis is not average sized. It’s much, much larger. Lastly,
6) I don’t believe you must deprive yourself of delicious food to look and feel your best. That’s just bullshit.
Okay, that was a lot, I know. But it’s important.
I gripped the wheel tighter as Liam asked again. “Well? Why exactly are you driving shirtless?”
I loved my little brother. I really did. I just wish I knew why everything I did—literally, everything—seemed to annoy him. I flicked him a pointed look. “Dude, look at your shirt.”
Liam glanced down, running his palm over the white button down he wore. It was already littered with wrinkles and we weren’t even there yet. Based on the huff he gave, he saw them too.
“I drive without a shirt to avoid those wrinkles you’ve got going on there,” I added. Also, it’s summer in New Hampshire. The most amazing season for this state and I’d be damned if I didn’t soak up every incredible second of summer before the God-awful winter rolled back in. If there was one thing, and one thing only, I missed about California… it was the weather.
“Fine, whatever.” Liam gave me his signature eye roll. Because he knew I was right. And no doubt he was probably wishing he too had thought to take his shirt off before hopping into my passenger seat. He was a good looking guy. Hell, he was my brother… of course he was. He had a good torso, muscular. Not as muscular as me of course, but then again, he didn’t exercise as a profession for almost a decade. We worked out together at the gym a lot, despite the fact that he always seemed annoyed with me, we still spent most of our time together. He was my best friend. Even if I wasn’t his.
“Just please drive—”
We hit another pothole, sending the Jeep jostling about once more and this time, even I winced.
“—carefully,” Liam sighed.
Twenty minutes later, we arrived at the beachfront rental. I didn’t quite know what to expect from the bachelorette party, but Mom said she knew the family of the girl getting married and we had to be extra nice to them.
Can’t say I trust my mother’s opinion on this though. She didn’t see the side of these “sweet girls” that I saw after 11pm downtown. Four shots in and those sweet, faithful brides turn into amateur strippers, egged on by their friends also downing lemon drops.
I put the Jeep in park and climbed out, opening the backseat and inspecting my dress shirt hanging there. Not a wrinkle on it.
Liam on the other hand, looked like he had pulled his shirt out of the dirty pile in his hamper. He moved to the back of the Jeep, throwing open the hatch. “Son of a bitch, Neil!” he hissed with a careful glance over his shoulder toward the house behind him.
I made my way to the back of the Jeep, still shirtless and grimaced as I saw what he was pissed about.
Shit. I guess he was right that we should have taken the highway, not the bumpy back roads. At the very least, I guess I shouldn’t have been going fifteen over the speed limit.
The back of the car looked like a food fight had erupted. There were cupcakes scattered about, the icing, which earlier that morning had been beautifully piped into various flowers was now smeared throughout the interior of the box we had so carefully placed them into.
I gulped. “Maybe it’s just the top row of cupcakes that fell?” I offered, but even I knew that wasn’t likely. Not from the sight I saw in the trunk. Somehow, despite our most careful packing, my snowboard had fallen over– on top of the cupcakes, smashing them to oblivion.
Think, Neil, think.
“Why do you even have your snowboard back here?” Liam snapped. “It’s fucking May!”
“The snow only just melted a few weeks ago, asshole. I just haven’t found a place to store it in my cabin, yet.”
Liam shook his head and I tried my best to ignore the heavy, disappointed sigh that came from my right.
I tugged my snowboard off the cupcakes and looked at the hook I was certain had been so secure when we left. Yet again, Liam had been right. He had begged me to clear out the back of my Jeep before we left. But I swear, I’d been driving with that snowboard clipped there for two months and it’d been fine.
“One, two, three, four….” I counted the salvageable cupcakes. “And a half.”
“Four and a half?” Liam spat through gritted teeth. “Are you fucking kidding me? What are we supposed to do with half a cupcake? That’s not even enough for each girl to have one cupcake!”
I drew in a deep breath and lunged for the industrial sized Tupperware we had packed alongside of the damaged cupcakes. “Look, this is why we always bake extra and bring more buttercream.”
“We only ever bring a few. We have maybe six undecorated cupcakes as a backup.”
I swallowed. That wasn’t quite true. “I have the dozen sugar-free, grain free cupcakes I baked for mom in here,” I said. “We can use those and decorate another dozen or so now, out here, before we go in. This will be fine.”
“Aren’t those meant for her for her cancer?”
“Well, yeah. But they’re healthy for anyone to eat.” My mom loves her sweets, but the chemo took its toll on her appetite. And since cancer cells feed on grains and sugar, I started making these so that she wouldn’t have to give up her beloved cupcakes. “Besides,” I sighed. “They’re delicious. I doubt the party will even know.”
“So… you want us to serve creatine cupcakes to ten bachelorettes?” he hissed.
“They’re baked with protein powder… not creatine.” I pursed my lips together and squeezed my eyes shut briefly. “And unless you have a better option, I think this is our only shot right now at saving this for mom. Are you going to help or not?” I asked, holding out the icing bag toward him.
He snatched the bag from my hands. “It took us hours to frost those cupcakes in the shape of peonies,” Liam said, his voice rising.
I glanced to the front door of the beach house and through an open window, I watched the silky curtains billow as a light breeze caught them.
“Shhhh,” I hissed. “They’ll hear you.”
“This is your fault,” Liam said, his voice back to a whisper. “When are you going to take responsibility? Things were fine before. We were doing fine, just Finn, Addy, Mom and me.”
Yeah, right. Regardless of the fact that Mom had called me three months ago practically begging me to come home and help Liam. Her cancer was taking its toll on her and where she thought she could handle treatments and keep her business afloat, she’d been wrong.
I rolled my eyes in spite of my brother and massaged the cold buttercream in my hands to warm it up. “Can we save the lecture for later? Right now, let’s focus on salvaging this delivery.”
I looked at Liam, his emerald eyes scrutinizing me before they widened, looking to the house and back to me. “I have an idea,” he said. “It’s sort of out there, though.”
At this point, I’d take a fucking crazy idea if it saved our asses. Because as much as I hated to admit it, Liam was right. This was my fault.
He set down the pastry bag, holding his hands out, looking at the stuff we had brought. “Did you bring butter and confectioner’s sugar?”
I narrowed my eyes at him. “In the cooler. Why?”
“I’m having what I think is a genius idea,” he said. “We do this two-fold. The girls can decorate their own cupcakes… learn from me how to pipe flowers and peonies onto their own cupcakes.”
My brows lifted. “That could work,” I said. “Women love DIY and Pinterest shit, right?”
He rolled his eyes at me. “Pinterest shit. Right.”
“What’s the second part of the idea?”
Liam chewed the inside of his cheek in thought an extra moment before he grabbed one of the demolished cupcakes in the back seat and swiped the icing onto my bare chest.
I blinked, taking a step back in shock. “What. The. Serious. Fuck.”
But he didn’t stop. He grabbed a second cupcake, and did the same thing.
“Dude,” I said again. “I’m going to kill you. What are you doing?”
He grinned wickedly at me. “It’s a bachelorette party,” he said. “They can learn how to pipe flowers from me, but also decorate their own cupcakes off of Mr. Universe’s chest.
“Ex-Mr. Universe.” My hand went to my hair and a sudden heaviness landed in my chest. I pushed it down, ignoring the empty feeling that came whenever someone mentioned my title.
We each hoisted the cupcakes and cooler of buttercream out of the Jeep. “It’s not like the Mr. Universe competition broke up with you. You just passed the title on to the next winner.”
He had no idea how abusive that contest was. How much they push you and force you to change your body in the most unnatural ways. Mr. Universe isn’t about being the healthiest… it’s about being the largest. I happily passed that title onto the next person. I shook the thoughts away, leaving thoughts of my previous life behind as the gravel crunched beneath my loafers. Mom would have whupped our butts if we had shown up to deliver cupcakes in flipflops.
I glanced down at my bare chest, covered in frosting. Jesus. Imagine what she’d say about this.
“Look,” Liam whispered, “We need something to get us out of this mess. And a bachelorette party that gets to decorate cupcakes off a man’s chest? They’ll fucking go nuts for it.”
Shit. I wanted to be mad for being treated like a piece of meat… but he was right. It was a genius idea. A genius idea to get us out of the mess I’d gotten us into in the first place
I paused in thought for a brief moment as he looked at me, brows raised. “Fuck,” I hissed and dove my hand into the demolished cupcakes, following Liam’s lead and spreading more icing all over my torso. “I hate you,” I said.
“I know.” He paused a few steps away from the door. Setting the cooler down, Liam unbuttoned his shirt, sliding an apron on over his bare torso.
“What’s that for?”
“Brand consistency,” Liam answered quickly.
Once I had what I thought was an adequate amount of icing on me, I stopped, wiping my hands clean with a bottle of water and a spare towel. “Good thing my abs are saving our asses.”
“As I recall, it was your ass that got us in trouble in the first place.”
Don’t remind me. With buttercream beginning to melt down my chest in the warm summer sun, we walked the final few steps to the front door and rang the bell.
“I feel like I’m violating about a million health codes right now,” I muttered below my breath.
“Shut up and look pretty for the girls,” Liam whispered.
“Wait… didn’t mom say she knew the bride’s family?” Because if Mom knew the bride’s family, chances were, we knew her too. But Liam didn’t get to answer me as the door opened in front of us.