Now, the message in this about saving face, not acting crazy, just smiling, keepin’ it together… Yeah, I wasn’t raised that way. There’s been a lot of stuff going on the last few weeks in the publishing world and for the most part, I’ve kept my mouth shut save for a few cryptic comments here and there and agreeing with others who’ve taken a stand… I’ll be posting about that later this week, but for now, it’s Music Monday…
This song was also the inspiration for my book, Keep It Together…
Jilted bride? Check. Hangover? Check. Shotgun? Double check. Wayward groom’s half-brother Colt on her porch the next morning, hat in hand, with concern in his sexy blue eyes, and apologies on his full kissable lips? Uh… Check?
That was six months ago. Now, with a job she loves, her heart mended and her pride put back together, the last thing Chrissie expects is that same half-brother standing behind her saying he’s got an answer for her. Problem is, she can’t seem to remember what she’d said on that long ago day that would warrant a visit from him.
Colt does. And as the CEO of a cookie company, it’s his job to pay attention to the details.
“Maybe I should have married you instead.” She’d been right. He was the brother she should have married and all he has to do is convince her of it with a blend of persistence and seduction. But their first kiss is hotter than the southern Georgia summer and catches him off guard. She’s primed and ready to burn up the sheets and he’s not inclined to say no. Will she believe that he won’t ever leave her? Maybe. If he brings her cookies…
I’m a little late today and I apologize. I did however make some homemade bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit sandwiches for brunch so…
Snippet Saturday is sad today, as well. It is our last Snippet Saturday as a collected group. It was started by Lauren Dane and I know all the authors who’ve participated over the years appreciate all the hard work she’s put into it. And I know we authors appreciate all the readers who’ve given us time on Saturday’s.
For myself, I will continue to post snippets and excerpts here on my blog under the heading of Temptation Tuesday.
As the subject heading states, today is Author’s Choice…
Windows in her pickup rolled down, and her stereo blaring with the latest Miranda Lambert album, Chrissie couldn’t wait to spend a little time alone. She needed some space, some time to think. It would probably be a good idea to call Colt, to let him know that she was all right, but after months of depending on herself in a time of need…
Calling her mother was out of the question too. She’d have expected Chrissie to smile and ask how Russ was doing instead of running down the hall like her ass was on fire. She’d have expected Chrissie to wish him all the happiness in the world and for her knees not to shake and her palms not to sweat.
Chrissie’s mother was the soul of genteel Southern upbringing, and though she’d tried to raise her only daughter to be the same, the lessons just hadn’t taken.
Lost in thought as she was, sucking down the sweet, thick chocolate ice cream, and singing along to the songs, her house seemed to appear out of nowhere. It wasn’t good to drive by rote on the curvy country roads, but she had a hard time keeping herself focused. Luckily, she was between schools letting out and people getting off work, so traffic was light. The biggest hazard she might have come up against was a squirrel or two.
The vase of flowers on the front porch surprised her, but the man who pulled up and parked behind her before she was out of her car was the shock.
“Russ?” To say she was caught unawares would not be much of an understatement. She hadn’t noticed him or anyone following her, a testament to just how deep inside her own head she was. “Twice in one day. Dare I ask why?”
He smiled that charming smile she once knew so well, and as he came close, she could see the uncertainty lurking in his eyes. She felt nothing. Not the old twinge of anticipation. Not the thrill she used to get when he’d show up unannounced. Not a thing. Well, okay, some sadness perhaps, a bit of regret. But even those were in very small amounts.
How could seeing someone she once loved and was prepared to marry make her feel nothing?
Whereas his brother Colt made her feel something. Something deep and wonderful. He made her feel…everything. All at once. She could be herself with him and she never tried to impress him, like she’d done with Russ. Colt had seen her at her worst, and he’d seen her at her best. Everything else was the gravy in between.
“They…” She nodded. “They are. Thank you.”
“Probably.” She edged around him and headed toward the house, the vase of flowers in her hand. “What are you doing here?” she asked as she walked.
“I honestly don’t know. After this morning, I wanted to see you, talk to you. I wanted to see if…” He pursed his lips and looked away, out toward the trees at the edge of the property.
She didn’t need him to finish his thought. “After all these months?” Chrissie unlocked the door and stepped inside. Russ followed her, taking one tentative step after another.
She was attuned to uncertainty and wariness. She’d been hunting. She knew what it was to walk through the woods and not make a sound. She knew what it was to smell another hunter’s scent and not want to encroach on his territory. Russ had it written all over him in the way he moved, careful and cautious. Maybe he thought she would shoot him…
She set the vase in the kitchen window. The red, yellow, and orange-colored roses lit the room up in a way that was different than simply the sun shining in. They were brilliant and so full of life. She loved them immediately. She loved that Colt thought enough of her to send them, and even though there was no card, she knew in her gut they were from him. She loved him for it, for the night before, for the morning tease, for wanting her.
She loved him.
“When I saw you this morning with Colt, I… Christina, please look at me.”
He was the only person other than her mother who’d ever called her Christina. She was sure that should have told her something a long time ago, only it wasn’t until now that she’d realized it.
Then again, she’d just put it together that she was in love with her ex’s brother. She turned to Russ with that sentiment front and center in her brain. She didn’t know how to look at Russ and not wince at the mere idea that Colt meant more to her than just a one-night thing. But then, how could she love him? She’d spent one night with him, sharing stories and making love. They hadn’t even talked for any length of time before that, unless she counted the day after when he came to check on her. Then there was his admission that he’d been calling her father every once in a while to make sure she was all right. Those things touched her in ways nothing ever had with Russ. He really had done her a favor by skipping out on her.
Someone—Colt—cared about her. Just her. Not money. Not connections. Not for whatever reason Russ might have thought he cared about her.
Colt didn’t have to do any of the things he’d done, however small and insignificant they may seem to others. To her, they were everything.
Maybe she had meant that she should have married him instead. Maybe she had meant, been admitting without actually saying the words out loud, that Russ had never been the right man for her.
Romance between them hadn’t been instantaneous or earth-shattering. They’d seemed to fit and liked each other well enough, spent time together, and love grew into it, only… Was it really love?
Her mother would have said that whatever it was, love or not, was better than what most people had ever found with someone else. Would Chrissie have really believed that? Would Russ?
If so and if they had married, somewhere down the road…
“What?”She shook herself out of her thoughts. “Sorry. What did you want to say?”
“My brother seems to have worn you out.” He said it with a small smile, and there was no hint of malice in his eyes or his tone of voice. Chrissie knew she should have felt bad, but she didn’t. Russ made his choice. Colt had made his. And now it was her turn to make hers.
“Yes, he did.”
“Good.” He shifted his stance but he didn’t look away from her. “I want to apologize. No, that’s not right. I need to apologize for what happened.”
“You mean, leaving me at the altar?”
“Yes.” He drew himself up. “For leaving you at the altar.”
“It was a bit Cowardly Lion, Russ. For a man who can talk to courtrooms full of people, become best pals with attendees at a party, you were cowardly in how you handled me.” She wasn’t interested in embarrassing him or humiliating him or making him feel any worse that he had probably already felt. It was about moving forward and cleaning the slate, so to speak.
“You’re right, it was,” he admitted. “I can’t explain. I tried, with Colt this morning, but I—“
“I don’t need one, Russ. Maybe some women would, but not me.”
“Most women would.”
Chrissie smiled. A full, real smile. “I think we’ve all established that I am not most women.”
“Yes, we have.” Russ cleared his throat after a few minutes. “I, ah… Even though I’m glad you and Colt seem to have found each other out of this whole thing, I was jealous when I saw you with him this morning.”
“Jealous? Really, Russ. That doesn’t sound like you at all.”
“I know, yet it’s true. My brother in a hotel room with my ex. It was the first time I’d seen you since the night before we were supposed to get married. I was… It was unexpected. A lot of old feelings came rushing back, and I wondered briefly if—”
“If they were still real? If you still loved me?”
“Yes,” he said with relief evident in his voice. “Something like that.”
Chrissie stared hard at him. She didn’t want to hurt him with what she had to say, but she knew the words might. Whatever fantasies she might have had about hurting him, harming him in the days immediately following the jilting, she never meant any of it. She never really wanted him to feel the things she’d felt. “I don’t have feelings for you, Russ. Not anymore. Not like that. I think I could be your friend without issue, but that’s all.” She felt helpless and emotional. She’d imagined this conversation going so many different ways, and in all of them, he ended up dead or gutted like a fish or pierced through the heart and penis with arrows. Then again, that’s how she’d had to get through it, deal with it. This emotional-freeing feeling was better than any of her imagined outcomes. “When I was trying to get over you, I shot. I spent hours outside shooting. I went through so many boxes of ammunition. Each one had a word written across the top. Not very nice words, but they served the purpose I needed them to at the time. I bought enough ammunition, enough arrows for my quivers that I was offered a job at the local gun store. Somewhere in the middle of all that, I started getting over you. I could never have been what you wanted me to be. I wasn’t the feminine, gush-over, talk-up-her-man kind of woman we all, including me, tried to make me believe I was, but in the end…” She shook her head. “You did us both a favor, Russ. And we should both be able to admit that. You hurt my pride, you humiliated me, you even broke my heart to some extent. I’ve never hurt like that, and I don’t want to hurt like that ever again.”
Sometimes it’s over but we still hang on. Sometimes it’s over and the other one still hangs on. Sometimes it’s over but you simply can’t move on. And sometimes it’s over and you just want to forget it ever happened at all.
Relationships. Friendships. Jobs. Books. Movies. Sometimes we don’t want it to be over, sometimes we do.
“I got your package in the mail as well and decided to take that as a good sign,” he was saying.
Chrissie forced herself to refocus on him. Marriage. What the hell did she feel about it? On one hand, it was completely ridiculous. On the other though, the man was delicious and gorgeous and she could definitely see herself getting lost in those eyes.
What was she thinking? What had he said? “Package? What…?” Her confusion lasted for barely a second. “You mean the ring?”
“Yes. Thank you. Russ’s mother was thrilled to have it back in her possession.”
“I’m sure. I had no intention of keeping it. I just couldn’t bring myself to send it back to Russ.” It was the first time in one hundred eighty two days since the last time she’d said his name, not that she was counting, and she found that she felt… “Nothing.”
“I’m sorry? Nothing?”
Chrissie thought she’d feel something. Pain. Bitterness. Regret. Something. Anything. But there was nothing at all. She couldn’t help the smile that crossed her lips.
She’d spent so much time healing. When she was awake, that is. Asleep was a different story. Colt somehow healed her in her dreams. Damn, the man was fine. And he was standing in front of her, flesh and blood. Yummy.
“What’s that smile for?”
“I’m over him,” she said. “I’m over him,” she repeated, louder this time, with a wider smile and a lightness she hadn’t felt in months.
Colt laughed. “Are you just now realizing that?”
“For certain? Yes.” She wanted to bounce and jump and run and dance around. “I am just now realizing it. It feels really good.” The weeks of simply going through daily life, one foot in front of the other, crying when she needed to, seeing her parents when she was desperate for a hug, hanging with friends when she needed a beer, had healed her tarnished pride and wounded heart.
And her pride had been the biggest thing. It was something she hadn’t wanted to admit to herself or to anyone else for a long time, but it was no less true. She saw the pitying looks when she went back home, and so she learned to stay away. Then there was her mother, who, bless her heart, kept telling Chrissie of all the eligible men who’d inquired after her.
Mostly though, she’d just wanted to be left alone. “Lonely” hadn’t entered into her equation. Less sexed than she’d have liked, definitely, but she wasn’t lonely. She liked her own company.
She’d even started to convince herself that she’d be fine alone for a good long time, that if she could just find someone to ease the sexual urges, she’d be good to live alone. Maybe for always. She could take care of herself, do things her mother shuddered over, like fixing a leak under the sink or cleaning a dryer vent.
A naked Colt, even if only in her head, hadn’t hurt either. On some level it was probably wrong to have erotic thoughts about her ex-fiancé’s brother, but she hadn’t while she was engaged and wouldn’t feel bad about it now that she wasn’t. The man was sexy and hotter than the day was long.
But in the flesh, within touching distance, she wasn’t so sure about that “alone” thing. Just his presence made her think of sharing and home and warmth and together and rolling naked in the sheets for days on end.
“I’m glad to hear you feel that way.”
Feel what way? Shit, the sun must be getting to her. She didn’t she say she wanted to be naked with him out loud, did she? No. Over Russ? It took her a moment to remember what they were talking about. With Colt in front of her, Russ was really the last thing she wanted dominating the conversation. “I’m glad to feel it. To say it. It—”
“Maybe you’d like to have dinner with me to celebrate.”
Just like that, her smile fell and her eyes grew wide. “Huh?”
“Oh, that was elegant,” he teased. “I’ll chalk that effort up to my having surprised you.” He touched her again, rubbing his thumb over her bottom lip. “How about a real answer now? Yes or no?”
“I, uh…” She was doing her very best to keep from tasting him with the tip of her tongue. Her lips were dry, and she felt the need to lick them, but she wouldn’t. Him right there, touching her, was doing more to her insides than her dreams of him had, and she wanted to crawl all over him. “I have to work tonight.”
Colt removed his sunglasses and pierced her with a stare that had her looking away quickly. Those eyes… Then she met his gaze again because she couldn’t stop herself. He was beautiful to look at, dark where she was light, big and bold where she was a muddle of putty in the palm of his hand.
Take some time if you have it, to visit the following blogs to see what they’re up to getting over…
Has it been a hot Summer for you? Temperatures rising? Air conditioning not working hard enough to cool you off? Ice cream melting before you can get home from the store down the street? Sweat dripping the second you step outside?
Has it been a HOT Summer? Sexy bodies on beaches? Tans and tan lines? Tropical drinks during sunsets? Skinny dippin’?
There are many ways to enjoy Summer. Sometimes it’s all about fun. Sometimes there’s the fun of Summer romance… Have you ever have one? Three months of unbridled, uninhibited sex?
I haven’t. Not in years. But it’s fun to read, fun to write about, fun to let yourself go and just live in the moment, and have fun…
Do you have any Summer romances, beach reads that you just love to get lost in? Repeat reads or brand new?
So, now that we’re all thinking about romance, let’s talk about this fabulous hop you’re here to participate in.
We have a couple of amazing grand prizes:
1. Kindle Fire
2. $50 Amazon Gift Card
The way to be considered for one of these prizes is to leave a comment and the big hosts have asked that you leave your email address so that if you’re chosen as a winner, they can contact you.
I will also be giving a prize away. Three actually. Ebooks for that Kindle Fire or for whatever eReader you have…
Arrested Holiday… it’s a cool, snowed in kinda erotic romance with a little kinky play.
Batter Up… a short story with the same characters in Arrested Holiday having some summertime fun at a baseball game.
Keep It Together… bride gets left at the altar, wayward groom’s brother comes and sweeps her off her feet.
To be considered for these books… you have several options…
You can sign up for my Newsletter which comes out whenever I have a new release or when there’s some news to share. The form is at the top of the sidebar.
You can give my Facebook Fan Page a Like. It hasn’t been very active recently, but we’re looking to change that in the next few months.
You can follow me on Twitter, or follow my Blog.
All my Links are on the sidebar where the coffee cups are. Just give a click on any one of them and you’ll be all set. After that, just let me know in the comments.
Oh, and tell me what romances you’re escaping with this Summer…
I hope y’all have a great time on the hop. I know there are some awesome prizes being given away and there are going to be some really lucky winners. For the complete hop list, please click on the Blog Hop button above…
It’s been a long weekend, y’all. San Antonio was awesome. I definitely want to go back, rent a car, and drive around. It was green and lush and beautiful. It was busy and vibrant and completely not what I was expecting but exactly what I’d hoped for. I’m feeling inspired and curious and ready to get back to work on the Lone Star Sweets series…
But before that… I’ve always had musical inspiration on all my writing, even the pieces that are stuffed in the back of cabinets and drawers and file boxes. Most know that Keep It Together came from Miranda Lambert’s Mama’s Broken Heart. Twisted Up came by way of a SheDAISY song, 360 Degrees of You.
The song Famous In A Small Town is what hit me as a great theme for my short story, Small Town Famous…
Twisted Up might have come from a line in the SheDAISY song, but Justin (the real Justin) loved Sugarland and so as I wrote the book, those two groups played the entire time.
I love music and it keeps me sane, keeps me feeling young even. One of the reviews I glanced at for Trouble In The Making commented that Liz and Johnny talked/acted younger at times than their ages and yes, they probably did. I don’t talk for my age either. Not always. I feel old a lot of times, but certain music makes me feel different, years younger and maybe that translates into my books. A lot of the musicians I loved when I was in my teens are in their 50’s and 60’s and they act, talk, play younger now than when they were 20 years younger.
In our 40’s we’re still insecure, still emotionally unsettled, still uncertain, still trying to find our way. When the younger set is our age, they’ll be the same… Hell, there are many 18-19 year olds who act like they’re still 10, so…
Music and laughter help us feel younger, act younger, even play younger, especially when we get around people who are younger or who we knew in our younger days… I definitely don’t want my characters, who are in their mid-30’s-early 40’s to come across as old and stodgy 😉
Before I go, I think I like this song. This girl… damn, I wish I had her body, but LOVE the title, Giddy On Up..