It’s College GameDay! First Saturday of the 2013 football season and I’ve finally sat down. I’ve been in the kitchen today making yummy snacks, nothing fancy just enough that I don’t have to move from the couch and go cook, only go refill the plate.
Today’s snippet is going to be from my upcoming Ellora’s Cave release, Slide Down On Me. I don’t have a release date yet, but oh boy I can’t wait! Oh and if you haven’t had the chance to view the cover, I’ll give you a few minutes to pull your tongue back in your mouth…
You good now? Okay… How ’bout a snippet?
“Twenty-five hundred dollars?” Bella barely got the words out before she had to close her mouth. Her throat seized up and nausea rolled through her belly. She was going to throw up. That’s all there was to it. If she said anything more, her breakfast of toast and coffee from several hours earlier were going to be all over the garage floor. They probably wouldn’t even notice, given the stains of oil, gasoline and what she could only hope were other car fluids dotting the concrete.
“Close. Twenty-five hundred, sixty-seven dollars and thirty-nine cents.”
Bella lifted her gaze to meet that of the man standing in front of her. He was as gorgeous as ever. His cobalt eyes held no hint of emotion, no matter the sarcasm that dripped from his lips, but she was riveted by them just the same.
His arms were covered in tattoos, which disappeared under his short-sleeve shirt and drifted up the sides of his neck. Black hair brushed his collar and was so dark that in the right light, one could swear it shown blue. He was tall, broad and she’d wondered for years how it would feel to have those rough mechanic’s hands on her skin.
She’d had a secret crush on him when she was growing up. She’d see him around around town and out on the lake, but they were from two different worlds and though their paths rarely crossed, when he was near, she was always acutely aware of him. “I…I don’t have access to that kind of money anymore, Travis,” she said quietly. No thanks to her brother. Humility seemed to be her new best friend, but in front of Travis? That was a new level she wasn’t exactly comfortable with.
Heat bloomed in her cheeks, but at the same time she refused to show the embarrassment she felt in every cell of her body. She wanted to get out, run as far as she could, but there was nowhere for her to go, no place for her to hide from it all. And now, thanks to the transmission in her car, no way for her to get anywhere. She squared her shoulders and swallowed past the queasiness.
“That’s as low as I can go, Bella.”
Bella sighed. “Going that low or lower or raising the number doesn’t matter. Not even the sixty-seven thirty-nine. At least not until pay day, but that might even be a stretch.” Her voice sounded stronger than she felt it should under the circumstances, but she’d take it. He might be sexier than a man in ugly blue coveralls ought to have the right to be, but she wouldn’t let him be the one to break her. “Can you hold the car for a little while? A couple of days until I can figure something out?”
“Don’t generally do that for anyone other than friends. The lot is pretty small, you see,” he observed, looking over her out the bay door. “I don’t want legit customers thinking I can’t take care of them because there’s a fancy piece sittin’ out front.”
She ignored his emphasis on the word piece. His hard-as-marble tone was better than the condescending or mocking ones she usually heard from some of the people in town, though. She once thought Travis might have had a thing for her too, but she guessed that was well and truly dead now. She might have been able to flirt her way out of a few hundred dollars years ago, but not now. “It’s a Cadillac. People drive them all the time. Please, Travis. Just a couple of days until I get paid on Friday.”
Please had become the most-used word in her vocabulary. She’d always used it, along with thank you, excuse me, yes ma’am, no sir among other courteous terms, but they had all taken on whole new meanings since she was no longer the heiress who lived in a mansion. She was a regular person now, working class, and while she’d never looked down her nose at anyone, she’d learned quickly that her perceptions were vastly different than the perceptions of the average person.
He stared at her with unblinking, cold eyes. He probably trusted her about as far as he could throw her, but her word was pretty much all she had anymore and she’d been trying hard to stick to it.
“It was all I could do to get it here this morning. You know I don’t have any way to get it back to the lake or anywhere else to keep it.”
He heaved a sigh. “Until Friday. Not a day later.”
Relief swelled inside her and she smiled. “Friday. Yes. Th-thank you, Travis. Thank you. I have to get back to work, but I’ll be in touch Friday when I get off.” She turned, her heart thumping in her chest, her mind whirling with the fact that she had no way to come up with the money to get her car fixed in so short a time frame, but at least she had a couple of days to deal with it.
His voice from behind abruptly stopped her forward progress.
“Do you need a ride?”
Bella masked the lust his words brought to the surface before she turned to face him again. Yes, she’d love a ride. A long, hard, naked ride. On him. He hadn’t moved but she could’ve sworn there was a flair of heat between them. Maybe he wasn’t as indifferent as he’d have her believe. “N-no. I walked here from work. I can walk back. I don’t want to owe you any more than I already do.”
Travis shrugged, the gesture full of indifference. “Suit yourself. Have a good day then.”
This has been a fun book to work on. The edits so far are a bitch, but the book itself… It’s fun and HOT!
I’m going to settle in for football and you have other snippets to take in on the following blogs:
I love Author’s Choice. I can give you a snippet from any book at all and it doesn’t have to fit a particular theme. Makes it so much easier sometimes. 😉
So, let’s see… What do you want to read a snippet from? Something old or something new? How about something new. So new in fact it doesn’t yet have a cover but that’ll be coming soon… It’s unedited so any mistakes, just know when the final product comes out they will be corrected!
Slide Down On Me (Coming soon!)
Bella locked the flower shop. Her boss, Mrs. Cleary, had been her mother’s closest friend up until the plane crash that had killed Marianne and William Drake when Bella was in her freshman year at college.
Mrs. Cleary had lost her savings, same as everyone else in town had at the hands of Bella’s brother, Arthur ‘Artie’, but she didn’t hold it against Bella and had gladly given Bella a job.
Bella had been grateful for the help, for the kindness, but every time she looked at Mrs. Cleary, she couldn’t help feeling a little responsible. Then again, Bella felt a little responsible for what everyone had gone through.
When she was certain the lock was secure, she turned and couldn’t disguise her surprise to find Travis leaning against his truck in the front parking spot. “I thought we decided on Friday? I don’t have any more money now than I had at lunch.”
“I’m not here for money. Thought you could use a ride home. It’s about five miles out your place and I didn’t figure you’d be wanting to walk all that way after being on your feet all day.”
“Oh. That would be… You don’t have to do that. It’s out of your way and—”
“C’mon.” He cut her off and waved her forward. “I don’t mind.”
Bella stood at the edge of the curb, uncertain what to do. Travis was a secret, a wet dream, a fantasy she’d never be able to have. He was the only man in town who didn’t look at her with distain. Okay, make that the only person, aside from Mrs. Cleary, who didn’t look at her with disdain. She hadn’t had control over Artie or what he’d done, but the way people treated her, she figured they thought she should have.
“I won’t bite,” he teased and Bella laughed. It had been a long time since she had, since she’d even felt like smiling.
“From what I remember hearing, you used to like biting.” As soon as the words were out, she clamped her hand over her mouth and glanced around to see if anyone was within hearing distance.
Travis was grinning when she met his gaze again. He gave a slow wink and shoved his hands in the front pockets of his jeans. The move pulled the denim tight across his cock and the sight did things to her insides she’d only wished to experience with the hotter than hell mechanic.
“There were stories about you too, so don’t think I believe you’re any more innocent than I am.”
“Hush,” she urged. “This isn’t the place to discuss any of this.”
He leaned casually against the front quarter panel of his truck and chuckled. “Let’s see,” he started. “If I recall the rumors correctly, you liked your sex a little rough and tumble.”
Bella blushed. She knew it, from the heat in her cheeks and the way her blood pumped through her body faster. It was summer in the South, but for the first time since she’d stepped outside the shop, she was sweating. “You heard about all that?”
“There was nothing you did that was a secret. Those private school jocks you dated weren’t worth shit when it came to keeping their mouths shut. You were an extremely naughty girl, Bella Drake.”
Oh dear God. Had her parents known? Her brother? The whole damn town? She wanted to look away, to look down at the ground and wait for it to swallow her whole, but she wouldn’t hide from who she’d been anymore than she hid from who she’d had to become.
She kept her gaze leveled at Travis. “Were being the operative word.”
“Pretty and perfect on the outside,” he continued, “Never a hair out of place, but behind closed doors, you were something else entirely. Heard tell the goth girls had nothing on you in the name of freak.”
Bella could only imagine what ‘freak’ things he was talking about. He was right that she’d been rather wild as a teen. She’d never been into the drinking or smoking or any of the drugs that floated around, but she was always up for a good time with guys and girls. Her time at Brown had mellowed her out quite a bit though, especially when her parents died. She’d taken the loss hard as they’d been on their way to see her on Parent’s Weekend.
Her grades had been high, her social life full, money at her fingertips. Then real life set in. She spent a lot of time alone, mouring. She tried to turn herself into something she wasn’t at the time, but that soon became second nature. She stopped dating for a while, and when she started again, it wasn’t at the same level it had once been. There were no more threesomes, no more female lovers, no more sex clubs. She’d been a young socialite with plastic in her pocket and nothing was off limits.
She’d been stifled. She did it to herself, but the definition was the same.
And her greatest temptation was offering her a ride home.
“Well, that’s all in the past. I’m completely respectable these days.” Or trying to be, at least. Too much more time spent in Travis’ company and everything she was trying to bury about herself in the name of respectable and sensible and trustworthy would go up in a pile of smoke and ash.
“Really?” At her nod, he clucked his tongue. “Now that’s a damn shame.”
How had they gotten on this topic? And how could they get off of it? “Why?” Of course, if she kept asking questions, they wouldn’t.
“Why, indeed. Let’s get you home.” He moved to the passenger side door and opened it for her.
“Won’t people talk if they see us together?” She was hedging, putting off accepting his kind gesture. Whatever sexual overtones or blatant conversation, his offer to take her home was kind. Heck, it would be the highlight of her week, but… “I mean, as we’ve just discussed, gossip is rampant around here. I don’t want to cause further harm to your business by you being seen with me. Guilt by association isn’t fun.” Of course, she had firsthand knowledge of that and she wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
However, that was only one of her objections to accepting a ride from him. Her other one was the sheer fact that it was him. She wanted his hands out of his pockets and on her. She wanted his cock out from behind his zipper and inside her. She wanted to toss away the respectability she’d been attempting to cloak herself in and get nasty with him the way she’d always wanted to.
Being in his truck, mere inches from him, she didn’t trust herself not to reach out.
“Don’t you worry about that. I can handle myself and any of my customers who may have issues. C’mon now. In the truck with ya. It’s screamin’ hot out here.”
Bella couldn’t find any other way to argue with him. She wanted to but couldn’t. Hurting his garage’s business wasn’t something she wanted. Heck, none of this was what she’d wanted. Her brother’s actions had killed something wonderful in a small town. They no longer trusted anyone, especially outsiders, and most especially her. Her family had always done right by the town, had always helped see to its prosperity, its charm, its way of life. Drakes had lived in the county since before the War Between the States and their money had kept the town from falling into Union hands, into enemy hands.
And now, she was the enemy. Southern pride was something strong and unyielding. As close as she’d come to breaking down, mentally and emotionally over the months, that pride had never faltered or failed her.
She nodded once and stepped off the curb. The door closed firmly once she’d climbed inside the truck and was seated. He joined her from the driver’s side where he slid behind the steering wheel. She stared straight ahead until they were passed the seed store on the edge of town. She didn’t want to see the accusatory looks from anyone. Oh she was used to it for herself, but those looks wouldn’t be aimed at her this time.
“Why are you being nice to me?” she asked when the silence became too much for the small cab of the old truck. She was too aware of him seated within touching distance. Dirt, sweat, grease all assailed her, but underneath it all was the scent that was Travis. He’d always had dirt under his nails and oil smudges on his clothes and arms, but he smelled like the country. Fresh cut grass, hay bales, freedom. All of it went against the look of him; hard, inked, pierced. He’d had the tattoos and the ear piercings for as long as she could remember. Every time she saw him, it seemed there was some new piece of art on his body, but he still had that smell of springtime and summer all rolled into one.
The two lane road out to her side of the lake was deserted but that wasn’t unusual. She’d come to enjoy the solitude, the privacy that was so different than the social scenes and clubbing she’d been used to. She didn’t so much like the pariah stigma, but she’d had to get used to it real quick.
Out the passenger window, the lake glistened under the late afternoon sun. She’d gone swimming in it along with the rest of the county when she was growing up. Even Travis and his friends would hang out on the water. There were several floating docks that all the kids swam out to and sunbathed on, but Travis, his brother, and their friends would water ski, or fish at one end, or swing out and jump in from long hanging ropes that dangled from tree limbs.
It was her guilty pleasure to watch him. She did it discretely so her friends or whatever boy she happened to be dating at the time hadn’t noticed and if they did, she always told them she didn’t understand the foolishness. In truth, she was in awe of him, fascinated by him, crushing on him so hard it made her bathing suit bottoms wet and her heart beat fast in her chest.
She would’ve thought growing up, moving away, living among her own privileged kind in Nashville society, and finally the hell she’d been through would have cured her of fairy tales filled with hot, sex-in-a-pair-of-jeans Prince Charmings. She’d obviously been mistaken.
“Why shouldn’t I be nice to you? You didn’t do anything to me.”
He said it casually, easily, and Bella struggled not to look at his profile. Gone was the cold, businesslike tone he’d used on her earlier in the day, and while part of her was grateful for it, it made another part of her wary.
“No, I didn’t, but that doesn’t change the fact that my name is Drake.”
“You’re not your brother or his actions.” Bella did look over at Travis then only to find him looking at her. There was something unreadable in his eyes, in the slight curve of his lips, but her heart thundered all the same. She nodded once, again grateful, and turned her head until she was looking back out over the water.
When the curve of her driveway came into view and Travis made the veer to the right that would take them to the front of her house, she couldn’t deny the pang of disappointment. She wasn’t ready to be out of his company yet. Though they’d said little after their little bantering conversation outside the flower shop, she found she wasn’t as prepared to be alone as she usually was.
He was magnetic, completely at home and yet out of place in this little country setting. Global warming had nothing on the heat of Travis’ Southern drawl and the crazy things it still did to her insides.
He pulled to a stop and before she could say anything, even a thank you for the ride, Travis had the truck in park and the keys out of the ignition. She gaped at him, but he didn’t look at her, only got out and came around to open her door. “Thanks,” she said, hopping down from the cab.
Travis inclined his head and gave a small smile. “My pleasure.”
She thought he’d leave then, but after he closed the door to the truck and she started up the steps to her porch, Travis cleared his throat. Bella turned. He was leaning against the same front quarter panel as he had been earlier. His arms were crossed over his chest and his feet crossed at the ankle. There was arrogance in eyes, and heat. She couldn’t mistake that because it matched her own. The arrogance however, made her shiver in the humid Tennessee heat with uncertainty. “Travis?”
“Sleep with me.”
Now, when you’ve fanned yourself off enough to read some more, please slip over to the following blogs for more snippets:
Mandy M. Roth
Have a fantastic Saturday!