About the Book
by Inara Scott
Bad Angels Book One
February 25, 2019
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None of the three of them remembered exactly where the nickname “Bad Angels” had come from.
Connor and Nate accused Mason of making it up to pick up women. But as a six-foot-two former quarterback who also happened to be a founding member of one of Silicon Valley’s hottest venture capital firms, Mason didn’t exactly need a nickname to get a date.
On the other hand, as Connor and Nate were quick to point out, being called a Bad Angel didn’t hurt—and Mason Coleman wasn’t the sort of guy to give up an advantage unnecessarily.
Most likely, the nickname had been the invention of an intrepid gossip reporter, looking for a creative headline for a story describing the latest San Francisco venture capital firm and its three hot founders. To be fair, Mason and his partners weren’t really angel investors, as the name was intended to suggest. Angels were usually older, more established individuals who invested their money in young, risky start-ups. Mason, along with his partners Nate Etherly and Connor Ashton, managed an investment fund made up of a combination of their and other people’s money. But if someone wanted to call you an angel, why fight it?
Mason chose to use it.
Sometimes, just before he brushed his lips against the soft, delicate skin at the base of a woman’s neck, or gently cupped the back of her head in one large palm, he’d whisper, “Which do you prefer? The bad…or the angel?” And then he would laugh, wickedly, because he knew the answer to the question was both.
Early on, Mason had been pegged the pretty boy of the trio, with Connor being the smart one, and Nate being the negotiator. He had more money than he could have ever imagined. He got to go to work with his best friends and live in San Francisco, a city that amazed him every day. Life was pretty damn good.
But then on Friday afternoon, he’d run into a small problem. Or rather, a big problem. A problem that was currently lying on his white leather couch, panting.
“Move, Wick.” He gave the dog’s massive shoulder a push as he squeezed alongside it on the couch. A ray of sunlight broke through the early afternoon clouds—a welcome sight on a damp and cold February afternoon, after two weeks of unusually heavy rain. But the beam of light did little to transform the hulking beast on the leather couch, or disguise the long strand of drool that was dangling above his pants. “Do you have to do that on the leather?”
The monstrous mastiff whined and gave a doggie version of a smile in response but made no attempt to move. Since Wick’s naturally high level of laziness was currently paired with a prolonged recovery from a knee injury, once he got on the couch, he tended to stay there.
Ditto Mason’s bed.
“What the hell am I supposed to do with you?” Mason ran his fingers through his hair with a familiar feeling of frustration. “You’re as big as an ox, totally untrained, and Alli failed to mention that you need medication two times a day and go to the bathroom every few hours.” He pointed at the beast, whose massive tail thumped in pleasure. “That, my oversized friend, makes it very hard to entertain.”
Wick seemed to have a knack for finding exactly the wrong moment to request assistance going outside. And since his “request” came with a bark that could wake the dead and slimy kisses from his perpetually soggy face, ignoring him wasn’t an option.
Promise me you’ll keep him with you, Alli had said, tears dripping from her eyes. Just till graduation. It’s only a couple of months! You know my landlord always hated him. He’ll evict us if he sees Wick here again. What am I supposed to do?
The landlord, Mason mused, sounded entirely rational. Wick was the worst behaved dog he’d ever seen. He howled and barked when he didn’t get his way, stole food off counters, and had already put deep gouges in the soft wood floors and the front door from scratching to go outside. Once outside, he lunged at any dog he saw, or, when his knee hurt or he got tired, he just lay down and refused to move.
And then there was the bladder control. Alli swore it was the medications he was taking—some kind of steroids for a chronic skin allergy. Mason was pretty sure he’d never recover from watching the massive beast let loose with a gallon of pee when denied a trip outside at 4:00 a.m. It was like watching a Clydesdale taking care of business in a pasture.
Except on his hardwoods.
Still, Mason had never been able to deny his baby sister anything, and with his parents out of the country, he felt responsible for her. Now in her senior year—or whatever you called it when you’d been attending college half-heartedly for six years and finally teetered on the brink of graduation—she’d threatened to drop out for the third time if he didn’t promise to personally nurse Wick back to health.
Don’t even think about sending him to some kennel, Alli had warned, wagging her finger at him like she’d done as a little girl when he’d forgotten one of her instructions. Wick is a very sensitive animal. He needs to be at home, with his family.
Right. Mason snorted his disgust. Wick would call anyone with a hot dog or a large ham bone family. “You need a babysitter,” he told the dog. “Round-the-clock.”
Since the dog arrived forty-eight hours
ago, Mason had been forced to cancel all his plans for the weekend, including lunch with a couple of college kids who had apparently invented some new kind of fuel cell, and a charity black-tie event that he’d paid thousands of dollars to attend, mostly because there would be several of his competitors attending and he did his best work when he could get people drunk on cheap champagne and convince them to spill all their deepest, darkest secrets.
It was one thing to clear his weekend, but tomorrow was Monday, and he had a full day of meetings and no idea what he was going to do with the giant catastrophe on his couch.
As if he could hear the path of Mason’s thoughts, Wick made a groaning noise deep in his throat and half fell, half stumbled off the couch and walked to the door. Thanks to his size and weight, Alli said it could be several more weeks before he was completely recovered from his injury. Or, she’d hinted, he might need surgery, an expensive prospect she had happily assumed Mason would finance.
Once at the door, Wick scratched an enormous paw down the wood and barked once.
Mason closed his eyes and sighed. “Really? Didn’t we go out like an hour ago?”
Wick replied by scratching again, then lowered his head and gave a good hard shake, sending jowls and drool flying. He briefly lost his balance, nails skidding on the hard wood. Mason gritted his teeth and jumped up. After two “accidents”—which really felt like the wrong word, given that they seemed quite intentional—he’d learned to jump when Wick decided it was time for a potty break.
He grabbed the worn leather leash from the table beside the door and clipped it to the dog’s collar. Wick lumbered along obediently by his side to the elevator bay and waited patiently while Mason pressed the button. A moment later, there was a quiet ping and the doors opened silently.
“Stop pretending you’re trained,” Mason grumbled to the dog. “We both know the truth.”
That became painfully clear a moment later, when the elevator reached a lower floor and the doors opened again.
As Tess Papion waited for the elevator, she sent out a silent prayer that it would arrive empty, and she wouldn’t have to encounter any of the wealthy residents of the Stella looking like she’d just rolled in from a rough night in the Tenderloin.
She pushed one long strand of hair behind her ear, wishing she had taken five minutes to fix her haphazard ponytail before she’d left her client’s apartment with three dogs in tow and a rat’s nest on top of her head. Then again, would a better ponytail really make a difference? Her white T-shirt had a coffee stain somewhere around her left boob, her army green cargo pants were covered with muddy paw prints, and her oversized bomber jacket had a suspicious odor that probably had something to do with her neighbor’s dog Fifi, who she’d been dog sitting for the past two nights.
What, exactly, Fifi had done to it, she didn’t want to know.
It wasn’t that she didn’t like clean clothes. She did. She liked them very much. It was just that when you ran your own dog-walking and pet care business while also working part-time at a vet clinic and doing landscaping on the side, and it had been the rainiest February in San Francisco history, clean clothes could be hard to come by.
And in her defense, the jacket had looked clean when she grabbed it from the couch, and the T-shirt and pants had been clean when she left the house this morning.
And her hair?
Well, she really had no excuse about the hair.
emingly clear recognition of his own charm.
pped back farther.