So, in the spirit of anything and author’s choice and a little bit of freedom, I’m going to give you a snippet from my upcoming title, Trouble In The Making, due out at the end of July.
Liz needed coffee. She didn’t just want coffee. She needed it. Dark, rich, sweet, and hot. In room coffee just didn’t cut it, no matter how swanky the hotel. No, she needed the real thing and the desk clerk had told her of the espresso bar on the second floor mezzanine when she’d checked in last night. She looked down at herself. Could she get away with no make-up, her hair brushed into submission, no shower yet, lounge pants and t-shirt? She’d even put on flip flops and brushed her teeth, which was really pushing it before her first sip of coffee, but…
Yeah, she was good to go. It was after ten in the morning on a Thursday. Surely they weren’t that busy and since she was traveling, there was like zero chance she’d know anyone.
She punched the button on the elevator door to take her downstairs. Hell, she didn’t even know why she’d said yes to this. Yes you do. Liz sighed. Voices shouldn’t be able to talk inside her head until she had coffee flowing through her veins. She had no energy to mount a defense yet.
Inside the elevator, she counted the floors and was thankful she made it to the second one without stopping. She seriously wasn’t fit for company. Her reputation around the college where she taught theater tech was legend and she hadn’t been there five years yet. If class started before nine in the morning and she walked in without a cup in her hand, it wasn’t going to be a good day. Lucky for her and her students, those days were far and few between.
The sign in front of her when the doors opened had an arrow which pointed to left for the espresso bar. She made a beeline for it.
The aroma hit her before she crossed the threshold and she inhaled deeply. The menu stretched four panels long. One for coffee, one for hot espresso drinks, one for cold, and one for everything else. She scanned the espresso drinks. What would they think if she ordered one of each?
She started and held her breath. She knew that voice. It was nearly as potent for her as coffee. She’d heard it just last night before she’d drifted off to sleep and she’d heard it just the other night over dinner when they’d made these ridiculous plans.
“Liz? Turn around and look at me.”
He was closer now, almost standing against her back, his breath fanning her ear, breezing through the loose strands of hair at her nape.
He was teasing her, taunting her. Slowly she turned. Oh. Dear. God. Johnny.
Were her eyes as wide as they felt? Was her mouth hanging open, because she feared it was? Damn.
“Speechless? Really? After all these years, all the meetings in restaurants and coffee houses, you’re finally speechless?” he observed with a small smile. “Taken aback with my celebrity the way you should have been all along?” Liz nodded. Johnny. He was teasing with that last little bit, knowing she was never and would never be star-struck around him. Proud of him yes, but she knew his flaws and imperfections the way his adoring fans never could.
But in this moment, in this small coffee infused space, in this hotel, she couldn’t seem to form any actual words beyond his name in her head. Could she chalk this up to no coffee yet? He took a step forward and she struggled not to back up.
“Cat got your tongue?” He leaned down so his mouth pressed against her ear. “Because if so, he’s going to have to give it up. I have plans for its use later.
Oh God. Oh God. Oh. God. Liz didn’t know how to answer him. Where had all her cutesy, flirty behavior from the other hundreds of times she’d been with him gone? He stood to his full height, towering over her and her gaze followed the movement. Hi long blond hair hung loose across his shoulders and back, the scruff of dark blond beard made him look rough around the edges, and the gray ice of his eyes froze her on the spot and melted everything deep down inside her. Then, there was the head to toe black silk and leather. He was gorgeous and still taking her breath away after twenty years..
“Johnny Trouble,” she breathed.” You do live up to your name, don’t you?” This morning, he looked every inch the rock star he was.
“Ah, cat let go?” He smiled and her heart stopped beating. Mid-thump and it just stopped.
His smile had always been open and friendly, but there’d been more to it when he looked at certain people. Some got the friendly smile. Some got the friendly but you’re an asshole smile. Then there was the friendly but I really only tolerate you because I have to smile and the friendly but I wouldn’t touch you with a ten foot pole smile.
The smile he’d always gave her was the friendly but I really wish it could be more smile. It was the one which sent shivers and quivers through her body and made her ache in all her girly parts. It’s what stopped her heart. Only this time, there was an extra gleam in his eyes when he smiled, an extra little lift to his lips. This altered version of his smile was personal. It said he was going to have her, and that she was going to let him. It was a smile filled with promise, with heat, with pleasure.
His gray gaze roamed her body from her purple painted toes to her messy pony-tailed head. “ I like the just out of bed look, Liz. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it.”
She smiled, self consciousness pricking her skin and she stuffed down hard the urge to fidget. “You lie so sweetly.”
“Never lied to you about anything.”
“Nothing important at least.”
“Tit for tat.” His laugh echoed off the walls of the nearly empty room. “My table is over in the corner.” He pointed in the farthest corner of the coffee bar. “Come join me.”
“I really need to get back to my room and….”And what? She didn’t have any plans other than him. For the next couple of days, doing him was all she had planned. She’d played it over in her head since dinner the other night.
“Why are you suddenly so shy? Come join me, Liz. I don’t bite.”
Liz scoffed. “Now I know you’re lying because you so do bite. Or at least you used to.”
“Only those who want me to. And you,” he leaned close and pressed his lips to her ear again, “wanted me to.”
Liz turned away and his low chuckled reverberated down her spine. She walked on unsteady feet up to the counter. She tried not to stare at him, tried to resist the urge to follow him with her eyes glued to the back of his leather duster, but she stared after him anyway.
“What can I get you?”
“Huh? Oh right. Sorry.” Liz looked up at the menu again. What was it she’d settled on before? “Caramel latte please.”
If the barista only knew. “Yes please.” She was on vacation. She could splurge on the extra calories for the weekend, especially considering the exercise she was planning to get.
“Would you like an extra shot of espresso?”
“Oh yes,” she said a little too enthusiastically to her own ears.
Liz paid the bill, gave her name, and against her better judgment made her way to Johnny’s table. He smiled when she sat in the chair he motioned to. This smile was his friendly but I’m going to eat you alive smile. Those quakes on her insides started up again.
The thing about Johnny’s smiles were that as long as you looked at his mouth, gorgeous as it was, full and kissable and wicked, they were just smiles. The real messages were conveyed in the way his eyes smiled, the way the ice would change with his moods and who was in front of him. He was an enigma and she’d spent four years watching him, staring at him, studying him, lusting after him, and still was just as taken by him twenty years later as the day she met him in high school.
“This is just coincidence, right?”
“One caramel latte, extra shot and whip for Liz.”
She started to get up, but Johnny stayed her with a motion of his hand and a hard pointed look in his eyes. “I’ll get it.”
Liz could only nod and turn in her seat to watch him. She couldn’t see his ass for the coat that trailed along his calves, but she’d bet it looked as good in leather now as it had looked back then. Probably better if the front of him was any indication. He was still lean and trim whereas she’d filled out.
He set the steaming cup in front of her. Aside from the lattes she made herself at home, she never got one in a ceramic cup. Those from coffee houses were always in cardboard cups with plastic lids. This was a treat indeed.
Johnny took his seat again, crossed one leg over the other and laid his hands on his knee. “A coincidence? How so?”
“You being in the coffee shop right now, right when I walk in. I mean, it’s pretty odd.” She sipped at the coffee. Espresso, sugar, caramel, whipped cream all hit her system at once. It was hot, very very hot, but so very good. She knew exactly where she’d be the next few mornings, afternoons, evenings until they closed. Well, when she wasn’t busy with the man across from her, that is. This was the best damn latte she’d ever had and she wasn’t leaving til she was sick of them.
“I suppose you could say it is. My flight got in a little while ago and my room isn’t ready yet. They told me to have a seat while they finish up.” He shrugged. “This little shop was better than the lobby. All the leather might draw attention, you know?” He winked and made her blush. “You didn’t check your voicemail, did you?” Oh shit. “No.”
His smile was indulgent and she melted. She couldn’t remember the last time any man had indulged her in anything. She took another sip for fortification.
“Don’t worry. I wasn’t sitting down here waiting to pounce. This is purely coincidence. However, since that’s where your mind has gone, I guess we could go on up to your room and get down to the pleasurable business of why we’re here.”
Be sure to check out the following blogs for more Say Anything snippets:
Megan Hart:Read in bed!
Mandy M Roth