Yep, this is a super short and sweet blog post.
The IntlHeat authors are having a contest to start the new year off with a bang. The grand prize is a $100 gift card to Amazon.
Details below, in the Rafflecopter Giveaway link.
Yep, this is a super short and sweet blog post.
The IntlHeat authors are having a contest to start the new year off with a bang. The grand prize is a $100 gift card to Amazon.
Details below, in the Rafflecopter Giveaway link.
The print releases from Samhain this month rock. In more ways than one.
First off, they are 50% off at Samhain. THAT IS A MASSIVE SAVING!
And secondly, there are two rock star print books releasing.
The first is mine.
1) Rhythm of my Heart: Jess Dee
Under the heat of Zachary’s intense focus, Eve’s resistance melts away, but not the façade that hides her terrible secret. And when she accidentally catches a glimpse of his heart’s desire—his fated redhead—her instincts tell her to let him go…before he gets too close. Before he sees the real woman behind her mask, and her heart is left in the dust of his almost-certain retreat.
This is a Speed book, so you know there’s gonna be a small element of fantasy to it. And a big element of romance. Oh, yeah, and a whole lot of sex. Sex hot enough to make you throb to the rhythm of a very sensual beat…
Rhythm of my Heart is available now from Samhain for only $6.30. (That is ridiculously cheap for a print book!!!)
The second belongs to Lexxie Couper:
2) Steady Beat by Lexxie Couper
When Pepper Kerrigan overhears the band talking reunion, she pushes her self-doubt aside, calls on her encyclopedic music knowledge and challenges Noah Holden to a trivia contest. Her prize should she win? An audition. His? A kiss. Their smoking sexual chemistry guarantees victory—for them both.
With Pepper, Noah is finally able to control his stormy creative energy. But when his wild past catches up with him, he faces the fight of his life to keep from losing his smoky-voiced angel. The one woman who keeps his mind—and his heart—staying on rhythm.
There’s a thrumming primitive sexual energy in every rock drummer’s body just waiting to be released.
Steady Beat is also available from Samhain for the ridiculous price of only $6.30.
Have you heard about Lila Dubois’ BDSM Checklist series?
A BDSM checklist is designed to help people who enjoy BDSM play to identify what does and doesn’t interested them. In Lila’s books, the overseers of an exclusive BDSM club have decided to challenge the members to push their own boundaries by assigning every member a letter–and along with it all the things under that letter on the checklist.
Mae never imagined she’d be assigned to the most dangerous letter of alphabet… or paired with the most sinister Dominant in the club. The BDSM Checklist game doesn’t scare Xavier, but he prefers leather and steel, and the submissive he’s partnered with thinks silk ribbon is bondage equipment.
Pushed to her limits both physically and emotionally, Mae is shock to discover how much she enjoys Xavier’s touch. But in the end it isn’t just Mae who will be affected by the unexpected chemistry between two seeming opposites. Xavier will have to decide if he’s willing to trust the lovely sub with the truth about himself, as he proves to her that there’s a darkness in her—a darkness that just might match his own.
B is for…
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/BBandN
All Romance Ebooks: http://bit.ly/BisforARe
And if you’d like to start at the beginning, you can pick up “A is for…” for only .99c!
A is for…
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1hMMFoT
All Romance Ebooks: http://bit.ly/P1qn6U
Enjoy the read,
To help you kick off your spring/autumn, the authors of IntlHeat are holding an exciting contest this week.
There are many ways to enter and LOTS of prizes.
Win a $25 gift card to Amazon or a “first in the series” ebook to introduce you to some great new stories by Bianca D’Arc, Lexxie Couper, Lexi Blake, Lila Dubois, Rhian Cahill, Mari Carr, Sami Lee and myself.
Rhian Cahill has a great new book coming out today. Seven Minutes in Heaven is here just in time to heat up your holidays!
Are You Game? Book 1
Cassandra Moreland’s hard work to build her party-planning business is starting to pay off. There’s only one thorn in her side—a six-foot-five wall of testosterone throwing his weight around while she supervises her friend Lil’s first party. Butting heads doesn’t work. Ignoring him really doesn’t work. Not when he makes her pulse race and her palms sweat. But no way will she give in to his demand to shut the rowdy party down.
Lucas Wilhelm, head of McDermott Security, can’t believe the pint-sized brunette has the balls to go toe-to-toe with him. Strangely enough, that sassy mouth of hers isn’t ticking him off. It’s tightening his groin and stirring something much hotter than anger.
A stolen moment in a pantry leads to a challenge that pushes each other’s sexual boundaries to the limit. Except the rules go up in flames when they realize they’re not just playing around. They’re playing for keeps.
Contains an alpha male who’s used to being in charge, and a tough-as-steel woman who isn’t going down easy. Involves the use of beads, but not in the way you might think.
Luc relaxed the muscles in his arms and did the one thing he really didn’t want to. He set Cassie on her feet. Whoever had been hammering on the door had stopped, but the damage was done. Regret was written all over her pretty face. Scrubbing a hand over his stubbled jaw, he drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly.
“Luc,” he said
Cassie’s gaze met his, one delicate eyebrow arched.
“My name. It’s Lucas Wilhelm. I’m head of McDermott Security, a position I’ve held for ten years.” Luc added the last part in the hope of reassuring her.
“Oh. Um, well…” She lowered her eyes, hiding the uncertainty swirling in their honey-coloured depths.
Placing two fingers under her chin, he tipped her head back until her gaze met his once more. “Don’t back down now, Cass. Where’s the woman who’s fought me for control for the last couple of hours gone?”
She shook her head, dislodging his fingers. “She just had common sense kissed right out of her.”
The small smile tugging at the corner of her mouth pulled at his gut and eased his mind. He hadn’t been sure at first, but now he didn’t doubt she’d bounce back from their mind-numbing lip-lock. Luc had expected they’d be explosive, he just hadn’t realised how unstable their chemistry was. He’d have to keep his hands off her until they were in more suitable surroundings or they’d find themselves sans clothes. There was one sure-fire way to keep her at a distance though. Strip her of control.
“As of now, this party is over.”
“What?” Her eyes narrowed to slits.
If looks could kill, the one she aimed his way would slice him to ribbons, and Luc figured she’d used it to de-ball many a man before him. Good thing he’d spent years developing a tough exterior. Although she’d found a way under his skin already, he wasn’t about to cower beneath her hostile stare. Luc embraced the hum in his veins. The zap delivered courtesy of her returning ballsy attitude. He’d never gone looking for a fight. Sure he’d been in plenty, but he’d never started one. Except now. With Cassie. And there was no denying the thrill thrumming in his blood. He was more than looking forward to their combat. He was eager for it to begin.
“As you can hear, there’s no longer music blasting through the house and that’s thanks to Lachlan McDermott ripping out power cables. If I were you, I wouldn’t be surprised when your DJ files a damage report and insurance claim.” Luc smiled as a growl rumbled in her throat. He’d never heard that particular sound from a woman, and he’d certainly never found it a turn on coming from any man, but there was no mistaking the tightening of his sac or the hardening of his erection.
“Damn men.” Cassie shoved passed him and flung open the door, using it to push him out of the way.
Before he got his head in gear and made it out from behind the door, she’d disappeared into the kitchen. With long strides, Luc followed only to witness her sexy arse vanish through the far doorway. Covering the distance in seconds, he found his men doing as he’d ordered. Between them and Cassie’s staff, the guests were quickly being ushered from the house in a tidal wave of drunkenness. His search for Cassie was hindered by the surge of bodies moving towards the front door, with his chances to spot her zero he let himself be swept up in the tide. When he reached the front yard, hire cars and drivers lined the street. Inebriated partiers tumbled into backseats, car doors slammed and departing vehicles were quickly swallowed up by the night.
With the party down to the last few stragglers, he turned back to the house determined to find Cassie while his men dealt with the remaining guests. He found her back in the kitchen. Leaning his shoulder against the doorframe, he folded his arms, crossed one ankle over the other and watched as she gave orders while packing box after box with glasses. The image of efficiency, her movements were economical and fluid, her speed and accuracy proving she’d done this a thousand times before. Luc relaxed and enjoyed the view. His pants grew snug and he had to shift his stance to alleviate the pressure.
Whew baby. Bianca D’Arc has written a book sure to spice up your holidays! She’s back and better than ever with the next book in her Brotherhood of Blood series, Wolf Quest.
Brotherhood of Blood, Book 7
When Major Jesse Moore, brother to the Wyoming Pack Alpha, is sent to Iowa to check on his sister-in-law’s cousin, knocking politely isn’t an option. Sounds of a struggle send him storming into her kitchen—where he finds anything but a damsel in distress. The tiny human woman knows how to handle herself in a fight, and all Jesse’s senses shout she’s his mate.
Exotic-animal vet, Maria Garibaldi has never trusted the magic her aunt and grandmother claim is her birthright. She’s always known about the Others, but she had no idea she was also part of their world. When Maria sets out with Jesse to find the parents of a young grizzly shifter she found and treated, she learns the meaning of temptation in the form of the ex-Special Forces soldier.
As passion flares, the trail leads them toward the eye of a massive storm…where an unspeakable evil awaits the right moment to destroy the good in the magical world.
Things get explicit when a werewolf wants his mate and he doesn’t care where they are. Outdoors, indoors, wherever and whenever—never get between a wolf and his woman.
Jesse kicked the door in and found what he’d expected, though not exactly the scenario he’d anticipated. There was a struggle going on all right, but the two men attacking the young lovely in her nightgown were definitely on the defensive. One was already out cold, slumped against the far wall, while the other was face down on the kitchen floor, his arm twisted behind him in what had to be an excruciating position. The woman crouching over his back had a fierce expression on her lovely face and her dark hair flipped out to the side almost in slow motion as she turned her head to look at Jesse.
“What do you want?” She couldn’t have growled any better if she’d been a female werewolf in half-shifted battle form.
The thought made Jesse grin as he aimed his weapon at the ground, away from her.
“We thought you might need some help, but I see you have matters in hand here.”
“We?” she asked, arching one eyebrow as she pulled the man’s arm a little tighter. The guy grunted in pain but she wasn’t letting up.
Jesse gave the signal over his tactical radio and the rest of the team appeared in the hall leading to the kitchen. The woman would be able to see them if she looked up, but the dude on the ground with his cheek pressed into the linoleum wouldn’t. Jesse gestured toward the hall with his eyes, hoping she’d get the message.
Wonder of wonders, she did. This girl was on the ball. Of course, he shouldn’t have expected anything less from Sally’s cousin. His brother’s new wife had already proven to be more than a match for a male Alpha werewolf.
And Jesse was definitely Alpha. And male. And a werewolf.
All his senses were standing on end in the gorgeous female’s presence. A bare hint of her scent wafted to him and his hormones raged.
Whoa. Down boy.
“Ma’am…” Jesse made himself get back to business. “We’ve been pursuing these boys. They’re wanted in connection with a kidnapping in Wyoming. I’m sorry we had to barge into your home, but I thought you might need assistance. As team leader, I take full responsibility, and I promise we’ll repair any damage our entry may have caused.” He glanced significantly back at the kitchen door. It was badly splintered and still swinging slightly on its hinges.
She didn’t ease off the man on the floor. “Look, buddy, I don’t know you. For all I know you could be working for these guys, just waiting for me to let this one go.”
“While I applaud your caution, in this instance it’s misplaced. If you’ll allow me?” He didn’t wait for an answer before pulling a dart gun from the holster on his thigh and plugging the struggling man with sleep juice.
She didn’t even have time to blink, which was a good thing. Jesse sure as hell didn’t want to tranq her by mistake. Oh, no. He wanted her awake and spitting at him. He wanted the chance to try to gentle her. To woo her.
Woo her? Where the hell had that come from? Damn. She was every bit as attractive as her cousin and twice as alluring to Jesse’s senses. He’d thought his brother was a lucky man when he’d found Sally, but the mild envy he’d felt had nothing on the downright possessive streak that stirred in him at seeing Maria Garibaldi in her nightdress.
The dude under her went slack as the fast-acting drug kicked in.
“What did you just do?” she accused, outrage in her silky voice. Damn. He could listen to her for hours and never tire.
This thought from a man who found most women intensely annoying when they started to chatter? He was in trouble. Big trouble.
“He’ll wake in a few hours. I figured you wouldn’t mind since you knocked the other one out cold.” He glanced at the other man, still slumped against the wall. Signaling his men to enter the kitchen, he stepped closer to Maria. “We’ll take these guys off your hands, ma’am.”
Maria stood faster than he would have credited as he stepped forward. She was really quick for a human. Maybe her alleged magical ancestry gave her some physical advantages.
“You can have them, but I’m not going anywhere. And you can think again if you expect me to agree to anything else you may have in mind.”
He holstered the dart gun and held his hands out, palms up in the intergalactic gesture of I come in peace.
“We mean you no harm, Maria.” Her chin jerked up defiantly when he used her first name. “It’s okay. We really have been following these guys for a couple of weeks. Two of their friends kidnapped a young boy in Wyoming. We got those two, but these guys have been leading us cross-country.”
Arlo and Len had secured the unconscious man’s wrists and feet with zip ties. They’d also disarmed him while Jesse had been talking. Maria had been splitting her attention between them and Jesse for the past minute or more. She was like a caged animal, ready to strike and unsure what was coming next. He had to calm her down but he wasn’t sure how.
“Why here?” she whispered. “Why me?”
Now there was a question. Jesse paused. He wasn’t sure how much she knew about the magical world around her. She might be like her cousin Sally, who had been completely unaware of the weres, bloodletters and other kinds of magical beings living alongside the human population. Or she might know a lot more than Sally had. He’d noticed a couple of low-level wardings in Maria’s backyard. Nothing that could stop a werewolf of course, but enough to let a magic user know that someone was trespassing on their land.
“Do you know what I am?” Jesse tested the waters.
To his amazement, she sniffed in his direction. That wasn’t something a human would do. She looked at the man on the floor before speaking as if to make certain he was fully asleep.
“Were?” She didn’t seem too sure of her answer.
Jesse grinned at her, letting her see the slightly sharper teeth of the predator.
Happy double reading
I’m stealing Mari Carr’s blog posts again. And this one is a corker – I know, because I’ve read the book and LOVED it!
The unforgettable Sami Lee has a new release, Unforgettable Summer, out today and it’s a hot one!
Champion surfer Ty Butler is living the dream—a great career, a globe-trotting lifestyle, and his pick of women. Then a visit to his hometown forces him to face Summer Campbell.
A decade on, she still gives him an adrenaline rush to beat the biggest waves. She’s also as unavailable as ever, or so he thinks. When the truth comes out, Ty decides it’s time to lay old ghosts to rest—and lay Summer flat out in bed.
Ten years ago Summer committed the ultimate sin by falling for her sister’s boyfriend. She rejected Ty’s love out of duty, even marrying another man in an attempt to move on. An attempt that failed. She never forgot Ty—or the havoc loving him wreaked in her life.
Her body wants to finish what they started long ago. Her head tells her she can indulge in a wicked affair with no regrets. But when the pro-surfing tour inevitably calls him away, her heart could crumble like a sandcastle beneath his feet.
Book contains hot sex with a hot surfer. Might warm your heart and heat up a few other parts, as well. Might even inspire you to chuck it all in and chase the endless summer.
“The first book in the ‘Wild Crush’ series is sure to warm up any reader’s chilly fall evening. Both the passion and emotion here are stellar!”
– Library Journal, starred review
Ty hooked an arm over the back of his chair, assessing her from his seated position. “Hello, Summer. I thought that was you I saw the other day.”
The implication that he might have been unsure of her identity when she’d been instantly certain of his increased Summer’s discomfiture. “Ty, what are you doing here?”
Ty lifted his cup and drawled, “Grabbing some coffee.”
He might as well have said, asinine question, woman. Summer’s mortification intensified. “I suppose I meant here in Leyton’s Headland.”
“Back for a visit.”
He didn’t say he was planning to buy a house and move back to his hometown, but for all Summer knew he simply didn’t feel like telling her his business. He’d definitely been interested in real estate when she’d seen him.
“I see.” She looked at the staff working behind the counter, recognizing from the small crowd of people hovering that they had several orders to fill. How long before hers was done?
“Do you need somewhere to sit while you wait for your drink?”
Turning back to face Ty, Summer saw the way his brow kicked up and wondered if he found her inept attempts at conversation amusing. What had happened to all those cool lines she’d secretly rehearsed over the years? Part of her had wanted, if she’d ever seen Ty again, to appear aloof and sophisticated, as though she wasn’t still occasionally haunted by thoughts of him and what might have been.
Seeing no way of refusing his offer without looking ridiculous for standing right next to his table instead of sitting at it, Summer murmured a thank-you and took the seat opposite him. After an awkward silence during which Ty eyed her over the rim of his coffee mug, he remarked, “It’s been a long time.”
Summer forced herself to let out a breath. “It has. Ten years I think.”
“How have you been?”
“Fine.” Summer gave the standard response, hardly able, or willing, to condense the last decade into a five-minute conversation. “Not as well as you from what I hear.”
Summer almost winced when Ty’s brows hiked. “What is it you’ve heard?”
“Oh, only the sound bites. You’ve won the world title three times, scored several high-profile sponsorship deals and dated as many models as you’ve caught waves.”
Ty laughed. “That’s an exaggeration. Only a couple of my sponsorship deals are high profile.”
Ignoring his deliberate insinuation that the stories of his dating history were not inflated, Summer noted, “You’ve done well for yourself.” She’d always known he would. That his skill and personality were too big for a place like Leyton’s Headland, that they would take him places far away from here. Far away from her.
Ty merely lifted a careless shoulder in response. “So have you. Your own business and all.”
Summer tried to ignore the strange thrill she experienced because he’d noticed that achievement. “I’m a naturopath now.”
“Naturopathy. I bet your dad’s impressed.”
“You mean Dr. Rex Campbell, purveyor of all things western medicine? I think he’s finally taken the attitude that when it comes to his daughters, things could be worse.”
“Sounds like glowing praise.”
Summer shrugged at Ty’s drawled comment. What could she say about her dad? He was a demanding man who had expected his children to make full use of the educational opportunities afforded them. While he didn’t exactly think practicing herbal “mumbo jumbo” was making full use, he’d finally stopped verbalizing his thoughts on the issue. “Dad remarried last year. Dianne is a psychologist with two sons, both very successful in finance. He’s relaxed a bit with me and Jasmine, now that he has the sons he always wanted.”
Summer had meant the remark as an offhand joke, but Ty’s frown made her fear it had come out sounding bitter. Remorse niggled. She had no wish to malign her father, he’d done the best he could with the hand he’d been dealt when Joy Campbell died. He’d never asked to be a sole parent any more than Summer had asked to lose her mother.
“My dad loves me.” Summer felt the need to come to Rex Campbell’s defense. “Everything he’s done has been because he wants what’s best for me.”
Including making sure she didn’t throw her life away on a nomadic type like Ty Butler. The derisive turn of Ty’s lips made Summer wonder if he had made the same connection between her statement and what happened in the past. If so, he didn’t say. Instead he steered the conversation away from her family altogether. “So what do you do at the clinic?”
“Everything from aromatherapy to acupuncture.” Summer relaxed a fraction at the change of subject. She’d decided to study naturopathy despite the fact Duncan had shared her father’s disdain for the practice. After the divorce, it had given her something to focus on, to work toward. Now, she was proud of her job and the business she’d built all by herself. “I do sports massage too. I’ve treated your mother a few times.”
“Yeah, she’s still doing those triathlons. Not bad for an old bird.”
“I’ll tell her you called her that next time she comes in.”
“No you won’t.”
His smile was knowing, and Summer bristled. Okay so clearly Ty was making an affectionate joke and there was no way Summer would repeat it to his mother, but she didn’t much appreciate that he seemed so certain of how she’d behave. She wasn’t that predictable.
“Here’s your chai latte and cookie, Summer.”
Having apparently noticed her involved in conversation, Patrice chose that moment to appear at the table, delivering Summer’s order instead of having her pick it up. Summer’s regular order, the one all the cafe staff knew by heart. Not predictable, eh, Summer?
Smiling a thank-you, Summer silently cursed the missed opportunity to make her exit when her order was called out. It would have been the perfect excuse to leave the table, depart the cafe altogether so she could catch her breath. Instead she was still sitting here, part of her jittery with the urge to flee while her pride told her not to give away how strangely nervous she actually was.
For God’s sake, why are you nervous? Summer was dismayed to discover being in Ty Butler’s presence still had the power to do peculiar things to her heartbeat. Dismayed and…oddly relieved.
You’re divorced, not dead. The line Penny had delivered more than once echoed in her head. Summer had never told her employee how her flippant words saddened her, made her mind careen away from a truth she didn’t want to acknowledge. For a long time it had felt like a part of her had died somewhere along the way, the part that could still be physically affected by a man’s presence. The part of her that could still be exhilarated by anything.
She wasn’t miserable by any stretch of the imagination. But if she ever took time to examine her life, Summer couldn’t say she was exactly happy either.
“This is weirder than I thought it would be.”
Ty’s rueful statement made Summer lift her gaze from where it had been fixed on the plastic lid of her takeaway cup. Her eyes connected with Ty’s, making Summer aware she had been avoiding direct eye contact since she’d first seen him sitting in the cafe. Now, she forced herself to hold Ty’s gaze. That unexpected spike in her heart rate occurred again. She had once known those whiskey-hued eyes so well, and for a fleeting moment she was transported back in time, to those months of teenage longing and anguish.
And the lust. Dear God, the lust. A remnant of it passed through her like a ghost, sending tingles up her spine before common sense returned and Summer forcibly tamped the reaction down. His eyes were the same, but so many other things about him were different. The careless stubble that graced his jaw, the hard lines of his mouth that lent a sardonic edge to his smile. His shoulders and arms were more solid, more roped with muscle. He was more of everything, like nature had taken the boy he used to be and multiplied his physicality, his persona, by a thousand, creating a man who was both innately congenial and overtly intimidating at once.
(Stolen from Mari Carr’s blog)
Lila’s re-releasing an awesome story today at Ellora’s Cave, Savage Satisfaction!
William, the newest Lord of Eahrington, is a modern man living a medieval life. As payment for a centuries old debt were-wolf Christoffer and were-falcon Mirela arrive at William’s home—his Hunting Pair.
Scared by his past, William treats them like animals, locking them away. What he didn’t expect was his attraction to each of them. William must learn to trust the falcon and wolf before he can open his heart to their human halves. Destined to be together forever, their only hope at happiness is to learn to love one another, but can William overcome his past?
It’s blog theft time again.
This time, I’m stealing Mari Carr’s very own new release post from her blog for her latest book Status Update…
Laura Sanders thought post-divorce life would be simple. What a rude awakening to realize that after too many years as a wife and mother, she’s stuck in a rut so deep she’s forgotten how to have fun.
Determined that this year will be different, she sets a New Year’s goal to rediscover the woman she used to be—the one who loved to dance, to laugh, to kiss.
When Bryan Sinclair spots his best friend from high school in the Blue Moon bar, he wonders how the hell he failed to notice her beauty and vitality all those years ago. Laura’s confession that she plans to experience lost opportunities tempts him into joining her on the journey.
Together they make up for lost time, in and out of the bedroom. But there’s one area in which Laura has no plans to change the status quo—her heart. And Bryan has his work cut out convincing her to take another chance. On him. On forever.
This story contains sex at Rocky Horror, sex at a Jimmy Buffett concert, sex on the stairs, sex on the dining-room table, sex on the dance floor, and even sex in a bed.
“Hey, Laura.” Kevin was back, grasping her hand and pulling her toward the dance floor. “Dance with me.”
She tried to retrieve her hand, shaking her head, but Kevin was tenacious. She glanced behind him, hoping to signal Georgie for help dissuading the man, but her friend had spotted Nick.
Cue yet another World War. Tonight was about to implode. Quickly.
Kevin spun her, resuming his earlier dancing position. This time there was no mistaking what he was packing in his pants as he tightened his arm around her waist, grinding closer.
She tried to push his hand away, struggling to break free of his grip. While she knew he didn’t mean her any harm, she was more than uncomfortable with his inappropriate rubbing and touching.
“I really need to—”
“Laura? Laura Riley?”
Laura looked up at the sound of her maiden name and spotted salvation in blue jeans, a button-down shirt, and a beloved, familiar face she’d never dreamed of seeing again. “Bryan? Oh my God. What the hell are you doing here?”
Bryan Sinclair had been Laura’s best friend for four years. An Army brat, Bryan and his family had been stationed at the base near Harrisburg when she and Bryan were in seventh grade. One of the saddest days of Laura’s life had been the day Bryan told her his dad was being transferred. They were halfway through their junior year in high school and Laura had felt his absence in her life profoundly. They’d tried to stay in touch, writing letters and calling occasionally, but eventually, they simply lost touch.
“I was going to ask you the same thing.” Bryan smiled at Kevin. “Mind if I cut in?”
Kevin loosened his grip, but didn’t move away. Laura suspected the alcohol was dimming his senses and slowing his response time. “Uh…”
Laura used Kevin’s distraction to step away from the young man. “Thanks for the dance, Kevin.” She grabbed Bryan’s hand, leading him away from the dance floor and toward the bar.
As soon as they found a quiet corner, Bryan hugged her tightly. Laura returned the embrace. “You saved me, stranger.”
Bryan chuckled. “Yeah. It didn’t look like you were enjoying the mauling. Damn, you’re a sight for sore eyes.”
She laughed. “I’m so glad to see you. I have to admit you’re probably the last person on earth I expected to run into tonight.”
“I’m here for the band.”
She laughed. “Wow. Really? How many years has it been?”
Bryan shrugged. “I haven’t seen you since we were sixteen, so what’s that make it? Twenty-seven years?”
Laura winced. “Talk about making me feel old. I was just thinking about you the other day.”
She nodded. “One of my girlfriends talked me into joining Facebook. I wound up getting out an old yearbook and started plugging in names trying to find people from school. Your name was the first one I typed in.”
“I’m not on Facebook.”
She grinned. “I noticed.”
“I’ll correct that oversight as soon as I get home tonight.”
Laura marveled at how at ease she was with Bryan even after all the years apart. Despite the years that had passed, she could still see the boy he’d been in his face and hear it in his voice. While they’d never been anything more than friends, Laura had felt closer to Bryan than anyone. There was nothing they hadn’t talked about when they were younger, nothing they wouldn’t try together. Shortly after Bryan moved, Laura’s ex-husband, Mason, asked her out for a date. Sometimes Laura wondered what Bryan would have thought about Mason’s invitation. Would he have encouraged her to go out with Mason or told her to steer clear?
They say hindsight is twenty-twenty. That was certainly true for Laura. Mason had come along at a time when she was lonely, missing her best friend, and she’d hopped at the chance to go out with the hottest, richest guy in high school. She wasn’t so sure her answer would have been the same if Bryan had still been around.
“Are you seriously here for the band?”
Bryan nodded, pointing to the stage. “The blonde on the keyboard is my daughter, Trina. She’s a sophomore at the Conservatory.”
“That’s your daughter? She’s incredible. My girlfriends and I were talking earlier about how talented she is.”
Bryan lit up. It was clear he adored his daughter. “She’s pretty amazing.”
“Are you just in town visiting her?”
Bryan shook his head. “No. My company offered me a transfer here a few months ago. Trina had already done her freshman year at the Conservatory and I’d missed the hell out of her. I asked her what she would think of her old man moving closer. She told me to go for it.”
“What’s your wife do?”
“My wife passed away five years ago.”
Laura reached out to touch his hand. “Oh Bryan. I’m so sorry. That must’ve been terrible for you.”
Bryan nodded. “For a while there, I was pretty much living day to day. But it’s true what they say. Time heals all wounds. I miss the hell out of her, but I’ve accepted she’s gone and I’ve figured out a way to move forward. So now it’s just Trina and me. I’m renting an apartment in town and she’s living in a dorm on campus. That was the deal. I could follow her to college, but I had to keep my distance.”
Laura admired Bryan’s strength, his courage. There was a sadness in his eyes when he spoke about his wife that told her he hadn’t had an easy go of it these last few years. “My kids wouldn’t have let me move to their college towns, period, but considering they were twins and they attended universities on opposite sides of the state, it’s pretty safe to say that set-up wouldn’t have worked anyway.”
“They graduated a year ago. I’m very pleased to say my children are both presently employed in their chosen professions and have started paying their debt to society. Kevin is a medical technician at a hospital near Roslyn and Katie teaches kindergarten here in town.”
Bryan gestured toward the bar. “The band is finishing up this set and then they’re going to take a break. I promised to bring Trina a glass of water. You have a few minutes to hang out? I’d love to introduce you to her.”
“Sure.” Laura followed Bryan to the bar, waiting as the bartender made Bryan a gin and tonic and poured Trina a glass of water.
“You sure you don’t want something?” he asked.
She shook her head. “Better not. I’ve already overindulged on lemon shooters.”
Bryan feigned a wince. “Ouch. Tomorrow could be painful.”
“Sadly, I’m aware of that. I’m hoping to curtail some of the agony with Advil and water tonight before bed.”
“So what about you?” Bryan asked as they dodged dancers, working their way toward the stage. “What are you up to these days?”
“I’m a secretary in a high school.”
“And your husband?”
Laura paused. That question still took her unaware as she wondered if people would judge her harshly for giving up on a twenty-three-year marriage. “I’m divorced.”
“Oh. I’m sorry.”
Laura shrugged. “It’s okay. I initiated the split.”
“I see. Are you happy?”
Laura didn’t know how to reply. When she’d finally gotten up the nerve to ask Mason for a divorce, happiness had been her goal. She’d spent years in a relationship with a man who had no capacity for joy. Laura suspected he was bipolar—or perhaps suffering from depression—but Mason insisted he was fine, refused to go to the doctor and blamed her for his inherent unhappiness. For years, his misery took its toll. She’d left Mason because she wanted to be happy again. But was she?
Bryan interrupted her thoughts. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize that was a hard question.”
“Let’s just say I’m searching for my happiness.”
“Is that why you’re here tonight? Forgive me for saying it, but this doesn’t seem like it would be your normal environment.”
Laura laughed. “It’s not. At all. My friends dragged me along. And yeah, I think this is part of my quest to rediscover the Laura I used to be. The one who laughed and danced and enjoyed life.”
Bryan studied her face. “Is it working?”
Laura’s face hurt from smiling. She was tipsy, relaxed and she’d laughed more tonight than in the entire previous year. Running into Bryan after so many years apart was the cherry on top of an excellent evening. “Yeah. It is.”
The band announced they were taking a short break. Trina walked over to join them. “Hey, Dad. Thanks,” she said as Bryan handed her the glass of water. “What did you think of that set?”
“Best one of the night.”
Trina beamed at her father’s praise. “Wait ’til you hear the last set.”
Bryan turned toward her. “Trina, I’d like you to meet my best friend from high school. This is Laura Riley.”
“Sanders.” Laura corrected him softly. She was still torn over whether or not to take her maiden name back. With her kids grown and out of school, she couldn’t think of a reason not to, but given Katie’s unhappiness over the divorce, Laura hadn’t wanted to add yet another upset to an injury that wasn’t healing very fast.
“Sanders,” Bryan corrected.
“You’re an incredible musician, Trina. Your music has blown me away. My daughter would absolutely love that song you played a little bit earlier. Was it called ‘Soul’?”
“’My Soul’,” Trina said. “I wrote that.”
“No way! That was my favorite song of the night.”
Trina smiled. “We’re getting ready to cut our first CD in a couple weeks and I wasn’t sure if I should push for that song to be included. Now I think I will.”
“I’d buy your CD for that song.”
“Wow. Thanks, Ms. Sanders.”
“Call me Laura.”
Someone called Trina’s name and she turned toward the stage. “I have to get back up there. We’re trying to figure out which song to finish with.” Trina gave Bryan a quick kiss on the cheek. “Nice to meet you, Laura.”
While the band was on a break, a canned recording of dance music blared through the speakers. Will Smith’s “Switch”came on.
“Oh my God, I love this song.”
Bryan grinned and pointed to the dance floor. “Should we show these young kids how it’s done?”
Laura raised her hand to refuse. “Hell no. I’ve been told my dancing is out of style.”
“Screw ’em.” Bryan took her hand, dragging her into the throng of bodies. He grasped her waist, pulling her close. They began to move in time to the music, their gazes connected. Laura laughed when he spun her, mimicking the other dancers around them with the same bumping and grinding moves. Funny how the same too-close contact with the man-child Kevin had squicked her out, but with Bryan it was awakening all sorts of dirty desires.
Laura let the alcohol, the music, the flashing lights and the heat take over as she moved sinuously against Bryan. Her libido kicked in with a vengeance, taking her unaware. His hands on her waist reminded her of a time when sex was exciting, fun, something she looked forward to. How long had it been since she felt this way?
She twisted, wrapping her arms around Bryan’s shoulders, laughing when he placed a firm hand on her lower back and pushed her into a dip that was so sexual and hot, Laura couldn’t believe they weren’t setting off the smoke detectors.
“You look beautiful, Laura. How the hell did I miss this in high school? If I hadn’t been such a blind fool, I’d have been on you like white on rice.”
She rolled her eyes, grinning at his compliment. “We became friends when both of us were in the awkward middle school stage. Somehow I don’t think we ever managed to overlook that. You look incredible too, by the way.”
He was sexy as sin. She wondered how he’d respond if she ran her hand along his chest, maybe letting it drift even lower until she found his cock. Would he enjoy such an inappropriate touch? Would he accept an invitation to come back to her place for more?
Shit. She was starting to sound like Josie who’d developed a must-have-sex-soon obsession lately. Time to rein in the hormones.
Laura hadn’t lied about their geeky looks in school. She’d gone through a very unattractive Dorothy Hamill hairstyle phase, complete with braces, while Bryan had sported a crew cut and thick glasses. Neither of them had managed to outgrow that unattractiveness until sophomore year. By then, the friendship was solid, and neither of them was interested in messing with the status quo.
She was tempted now. Holy crap, was she tempted.
Bryan’s hands slid along her waist, finding the tiny bit of skin revealed by her lifted arms. Was she imagining the sensual stroke of his fingers?
He pulled her closer, their faces only inches apart. Heat coursed through her. Sure, the room was warm from so many gyrating bodies in a small space, but she didn’t think it was the exercise or crowd that was leaving her so hot and bothered.
She ran her fingers through Bryan’s shaggy salt and pepper hair. He’d lost the crew cut and embraced the waves he’d cursed during their younger years. His face had matured, as he’d shed the clean-cut boy-next-door look. His jaw was rough with a five o’clock shadow and there were laugh lines around his eyes that gave his face character. In a word, he was handsome.
And she was completely attracted to him.
She wasn’t sure where those feelings were coming from. She’d sworn with her divorce that she was finished with men. Laura had had enough male moodiness and so-so sex to last her a lifetime. She’d declared good riddance and hadn’t questioned that decision.
Until now. Her sex drive had reemerged, screaming out loud and clear that it wasn’t finished yet.
Bryan’s hand slipped beneath her blouse, touching her bare back, using his strength to guide them in the dance.
It was sex to music, just as Georgie said. Laura pressed her hips closer, unsurprised to feel Bryan’s hard cock. He studied her face, then winked.
Her smile grew. “You always were a shameless flirt.”
“And you were always ready to take a walk on the wild side.”
Laura turned her face away, staring at the dancers without seeing them. She couldn’t remember being that person, but as Bryan’s hands roamed over her skin, she wanted to escape the bonds of practicality. She longed to be uninhibited, carefree…wild.
Laura caught sight of Kristen approaching her, shoving her way through the crowd.
“We’re getting ready to go. Georgie overindulged on the shots and I’m afraid it’s not going to end well. Jason and Nick offered to drive us home. Okay?”
Laura stepped away from Bryan. “Sure. Give me a minute?”
Kristen took a long look at Bryan, then gave her a surprised, but approving, smile. “I’ll give you two if you make sure to get his phone number.”
Bryan chuckled at Kristen’s matchmaking as she walked away. “Exchanging phone numbers sounds like a good idea to me.”
Bryan led Laura back to where her friends were waiting. Georgie was definitely past the point of no return as Nick held her up. Kristen and Jason were settling the tab. “Looks like we better roll. Will you really join Facebook? There are quite a few of our friends from school on there and…” She paused, wondering if she was being too forward.
“And?” he prompted.
“I can send you my phone number through a private message.”
He nodded. “Yeah. I’ll join. Might be fun to see what some of the gang is up to. And I’d like to see you again. Catch up.”
“Laura?” Kristen said. “Ready?”
“Yeah.” Laura pointed her finger, making a circle around her face. “I’ll Facebook you.”
He laughed at her silly gesture, then put his pinky and thumb to his mouth and ear, mimicking a phone. “I’ll call you.”
Enjoy the read,
I’ve decided to become a blog thief. Mari Carr always posts releases from my fellow International Heat authors over at her blogs, and from here on I have vowed to steal those blogs and post them here. Starting today. (Thanks Mari.)
So, up first is our newest member of Intl Heat, Lexi Blake:
She is back with another amazing story! It’s another in her Thieves series. The first book, Steal the Light, is also available. And check out the cover on this! Gorgeous!
The world’s most unusual thief faces her greatest challenge—stealing a soul from the depths of Hell…
When a member of her crew is dragged to Hell by a demon, Zoey plans the most dangerous heist of her career. With her team at her side, Zoey intends to sneak onto the Hell plane and steal Sarah back.
The job seems impossible until a new client makes them an offer too good to refuse. If she can find an ancient artifact called The Revelation, she can use it to locate an angel who holds Sarah’s redemption in his hands.
Surrounded by warring angels and demons, the greatest threat may come from one of her own. Torn between her Fae lover and the vampire who has always held her heart, Zoey finds that she and Dev are trapped in Daniel’s web of secrets, and it may be Zoey who has to pay the ultimate price.
Buy it today at Amazon.
(Cut and copied from Mari Carr’s blog, with thanks.)
Bianca D’Arc is back with another fabulous addition to her Tales of the Were series. This woman is on fire! Have you checked out this series yet?!
Tales of the Were: Red
Redstone Clan #2
Steve Redstone agrees to keep an eye on his friend’s little sister while she’s partying in Las Vegas. He’s happy to do the small favor to an old Army buddy. What he doesn’t expect is the wild woman who heats his blood and attracts too much attention from Others in the area.
Steve ends up defending her honor, breaking his cover and seducing the woman all within hours of meeting her, but he’s helpless to resist her. She is his mate and that startling fact is going to open up a whole can of worms with her, her brother and the rest of the Redstone Clan.
Red is currently available at the following places: