Title: Cream of the Crop
Author: Alice Clayton
Series: Hudson Valley, #2
Publication Date: July 12, 2016
Synopsis:Manhattan’s It Girl, Natalie Grayson, has it all: she’s a hot exec at a leading advertising firm, known industry-wide for her challenging and edgy campaigns. She’s got a large circle of friends, a family that loves her dearly, and her dance card is always full with handsome eligible bachelors. What else could a modern gal-about-town wish for? The answer, of course, is...cheese.
Natalie’s favorite part of each week is spending Saturday morning at the Union Square Farmer’s Market, where she indulges her love of all things triple cream. Her favorite booth also indulges her love of all things handsome. Oscar Mendoza, owner of the Bailey Falls Creamery and purveyor of the finest artisanal cheeses the Hudson Valley has to offer, is tall, dark, mysterious, and a bit oblivious. Or so she thinks. But that doesn’t stop Natalie from fantasizing about the size of his, ahem, milk can.
Romance is churning, passion is burning, and something incredible is rising to the top. Could it be...love?
Still . . . I paced.
I was making her nervous. I knew this because every three or four minutes, she’d set down her knife/spoon/ladle/grinder and say, “You’re making me nervous, dammit.”
I kept an eye on the road. Leo had texted to let Roxie know they were coming for lunch soon—they being the key word. They were on their way, they included Oscar, the tattooed god-like creature that I’d humiliated myself in front of for the last time.
I chewed on a piece of celery, gnawing almost angrily as Roxie told me again that she thought I should go easy on this one, let things happen naturally, cool my jets and maintain my composure, and simply remember that I was a knockout who could have any man I wanted. But while I placated her with a few “yeses” and “you got its” and “shit yeahs,” I knew that I’d be using a different tactic when the milkman cameth. And just over the ridge, here he came, thundering down the road on a shit-yeah motorcycle. I almost couldn’t take it. Hair flying in the wind, sunglasses on like an ad for Ray-Ban, Oscar came to rest just outside the kitchen door, kicking up dust. Leo followed in his old Jeep, the two of them almost overkill.
Just as my skin tingled and my thighs clenched, Roxie’s voice brought me back from the brink of a public orgasm.
“Remember, Nat, be cool,” she said, flipping the chicken cutlets.
Be cool? Tell that to my clitoris . . .
Time to nip this in the bud.
I nodded as I stood, my eyes locked on the tall drink of gorgeous as I went to the door and strode purposefully toward the man on the motorcycle. Leo took one look at me and wisely beat feet toward the kitchen, where I could see Roxie peeping through the flour-sack curtains.
“Oscar, right?” I said, keeping my eyes focused on the pastoral scene just above and beyond his left shoulder. Powerful muscles, beautiful golden skin, swirled with enticing ink.
I let my eyes run down toward his hand, which I grabbed before I could lose my nerve. Avoiding eye contact, I headed toward the unrenovated part of the barn, where Roxie had shown me the old milking stalls. I could feel the heat of his hand as he held my fingers tightly in his grip, making me fully aware that he was along for the ride.
I could also feel that his gaze was firmly on my backside. A smile crept over my face as I felt Normal Natalie show herself for the first time around this guy.
Sweet-smelling hay crunched underfoot and the sun fell through the space between the rafters as I led him toward the stalls in the back of the barn.
Reaching the end of the aisle, I turned to face him, keeping my eyes straight ahead. He was so close behind I nearly crashed into his chest. I noticed, not for the first time, how very tall he was. I was used to men being only a few inches taller than me, the same height when I was wearing my heels. Which I almost always was. But this guy’s collarbone was exactly the same height as my mouth.
I released his hand and placed both of mine on his warm, broad chest. Inhaling, I got an intoxicating noseful of Oscar. My eyes were drawn up past the sight of my hands on him, which made me shiver, to the sliver of skin above his T-shirt with just the barest hint of ink. Licking my lips, I lightly pushed him backward toward the side of the stall. And when we were there, I ran around the wall to the adjoining stall.
Where I couldn’t see him.
Where I could finally talk to him.
I took a deep breath, then opened my mouth to speak.
“So here’s the thing, Oscar. Can I call you Oscar?”
“My name is Oscar,” he said, sounding a little amused.
“Right,” I nodded, screwing up my eyes in frustration. Hmm.
That was actually even better. I couldn’t see him, and now I couldn’t see anything. Much better. I reached out, catching hold of a wooden slat, rough under my fingertips, yet grounding somehow. “Here’s the thing, Oscar,” I repeated. “You’re fucking incredible to look at, and when I see you, I turn stupid. Weirdly, oddly stupid, because normally I can talk to any guy. But with you, it’s like all I can say is what I always say. Oh. Yes. Which believe me, I’ve thought about all the different ways that I could say that. And obviously your cheese is amazing, but it’s not all about the cheese for me. What I mean to say, is . . .” I bit down on my lower lip. Should I just come out with it? “I think about you all the time, naked all the time, with me, and I’m naked and I’m doing things to you, and holy shit are you doing things to me, and it’s so very very good, and if you were any other guy we’d already be doing the naked very good things, but you’re not, it’s like you’ve got some kind of mysterious hold over me—speaking of which, I’ve thought about you over me, and under me, and behind me.” I laughed out loud, realizing that my brain had clearly decided to just come out with it. “So—I needed to say this, and you needed to hear this, and now maybe I can be in the same room with you and actually have eye contact and not turn stupid anymore, because it’s out there now. We’re both aware of it, and now when I come to see you in the city and you ring up my order, you’ll know and I’ll know that while I definitely want your Brie, I’m also imagining banging the ever-loving fuck out of you.”
And he wasn’t saying anything. Not good.
“You know who I am, right?”
Still nothing from his side of the stall.
I climbed up one rung, then the second. Was he still there? I made it to the top, peered over—but the stall was empty.
“I know exactly who you are,” a deep voice said behind me.
I startled, then realized Oscar was exactly where I wanted him to be. Behind me, getting a great view of my exceptional—
“You’re the Brie girl with the great big ass.”
I turned slowly on my precarious perch, a slow burn building toward the top of my head.
As I turned, his eyes flickered up from my ass to my face, and he blinked in surprise when he saw my expression. Springing lightly to the ground—a feat I’m sure someone with all this great big ballast wasn’t supposed to be able to do—I poked him squarely in the chest and looked him dead in those beautiful gray-blue eyes. “You want to say that again? To my face?”
A slow grin spread across his face. “Which part?”
“You know exactly which part.”
He moved closer. “Oh, the part about your great big ass?”
I blinked in total surprise. “I can’t believe you have the balls to say that out loud.”
“What, that you’ve got a great ass?”
“Come again?” I asked, confused.
He took a step closer to me. Which made me take a step backward from him. “Seeing you standing in my line is the second-best part of my Saturday,” he said, taking another step.
I was up against the wooden wall with nowhere to go. “What’s the first-best part?”
“Watching you walk away.” He placed his hands on either side of my head and leaned in. “I love watching your great big ass.”
“Hold up,” I said, placing one hand on his chest and slowing his roll. “Are you saying great big ass? Or great comma big ass?”
He looked at me quizzically. “Great comma big ass?”
This was going to be harder than I thought. “Okay, I’m confused. So you’re not saying that I have a great big . . . ass, you’re saying that I have a great . . . big ass. Meaning—”
“Your ass is big. And it’s great.” He dipped down to bring his face to within inches of mine. “How is that confusing?”
“You’re not supposed to say something like that to a woman,” I said, narrowing my eyes and trying not to notice that he’d just licked his lips, making them look even more delicious. I lifted my chin. “Luckily for you, I’m aware that it’s a great ass. And yes, it’s big.”
He studied me. “You sure talk a lot. If you’re going to talk this much, say more about the naked stuff you want us doing.”
“Oh, you mean like the—”
Oscar grabbed me by my hips, his giant hands wrapping around my look-how-tiny-he-makes-it-look waist, and pulled me against him. Before I could even take a breath, he kissed me. Intense heat burned against my lips, crushing, twisting, slanting this way and that as he consumed me.
My breasts were pressed against his chest as he moved impossibly closer, and I slid my hands up his arms and around his neck, tangling into the hair that I’d been dying to touch. I wrapped my fingers around the thick, coarse strands as I tugged his head down toward mine while he kissed me again and again. My feet slipped on the hay, but he held me against the stall with the strength of his body.
From the back of his throat came a rumbling sound halfway between a groan and a moan, and I reveled in the knowledge that he was as lost as I was. But just as his tongue swept out to lick my lips and scramble the very last part of my brain, he pulled away abruptly, leaving both of us panting.
He ran his hands through the hair mussed by my roving hands, then scrubbed at his face as though trying to get his bearings. His eyes burned as he took me in again, messy and still glued to the back of the stall, wondering where all the heat had gone. He reached out to run one thumb across my swollen lips, which I quickly took into my mouth ever so slightly and nipped.
There was the heat again, flaring in his eyes, and I could see him weighing his options of whether to pursue once more (yes yes and a little more yes) or back away and save some for later (also a fan of this).
“Those naked very good times you mentioned?”
I dropped a kiss on his thumb. “Mm-hmm?”
His eyes raked over me, thrilling every inch. When those eyes focused once more on mine, I was on fire. “I’m in.”
And then I heard a metal triangle being clanged, and Roxie’s voice calling that lunch was ready.
I smoothed my shirt, shaking out my hair and trying to make myself look like I hadn’t just mouth-fucked a god.
Oscar stood aside, suddenly a gentleman with a devastatingly ungentlemanly grin, allowing me to go first. And as I walked past, I heard that same rough, rumbly sound from Oscar.
So I put some extra sway in my great . . . big ass.
Internal soundtrack picked up the cue and immediately hit Play on the Commodores’ “Brick House” . . .
About the Author:
New York Times Best Selling author ALICE CLAYTON worked in the cosmetics industry for over a decade before picking up a pen (read: laptop).
She enjoys gardening but not weeding, baking but not cleaning up, and has finally convinced her long-time boyfriend to marry her.
Now, about that Bernese Mountain dog.
I have been a big fan of Alice Clayton ever since I read Wallbanger and you can bet that anything she writes, I will want to read, and Cream of the Crop was no different. I knew going in that was in for a great read and I was not wrong! This book was absolutely fabulous and I simply loved it.
Oscar - boy, that man is HOT! He has the whole brooding, silent thing down pat and if that wasn't enough, he's all growly, possessive caveman-like too. Of course, I loved that - a lot - but I also loved that when he talked, he meant what he said and he doesn't just say something to say it. Oscar is a dirty, sweet gentleman and it was impossible not to love him!
Natalie - oh, that woman. She. Is. Just. Awesome! She's confident, funny, and almost always says what's on her mind, even if it's not the most appropriate thing in the world to say - but that's what makes her so great! I loved her honesty, her bluntness, and that she knows what she wants and goes after it. Natalie is inspiring and amazing and I wholeheartedly LOVED her!
I can't tell you what a good time I had reading Cream of the Crop! It made me hoot, holler, and made me having laughing fits. It was highly entertaining, playful, light and so much fun. Even with all that though, there were moments when it gets you right in the heart and makes you want to cry. You'll be in for a terrific ride with this book, but you'll get all the ache-y feels - both the good and the not-so-good ones. Cream of the Crop was wonderful, beautiful, amusing and just... nice (you'll get that when you read it, wink wink).
Cream of the Crop is a standalone told from Natalie's POV and it ends with happily-ever-after that will have you grinning and feeling all warm and fuzzy inside.
~ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Stars