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:
We’ve all had this happen, haven’t we? Boyfriends, lovers, even friends. They come and go and come and go and at some point (hopefully) we get to the point where enough is enough and we scream and yell or just tell them to go. Our hearts can only take so much and we need to heal and they need to stop draggin’ it and us through the mud.
And then again, sometimes, we’re the ones draggin’ our own hearts around…
Justin liked exposing her where they might or might not get caught. The thing that made it okay, made it better, made her want it more was that he was willing to expose himself too. He would stand by her, stick with her and take the brunt of anything if someone caught them.
He was slowly, or rather not so slowly, showing her the risk of being vulnerable. The pleasure of such was high if she trusted him, and his protection of her was worth everything.
“I want them to smell sex on you. I want them to smell me on you.”
“It’ll single me out. I don’t like that.”
“Because you won’t be with me.” That was the crux of the matter. She was helpless and hopeless in the best of ways when it came to him, especially when he was with her, but when he wasn’t, when she was on her own, she was shy, uncertain in most things save her job. Divorce had been a big personal chance she had taken on her own and she’d made a life by herself, but she honestly didn’t want to live alone or exist alone. Sure she had friends, but what she really wanted was a lover, a man to share life with. She’d had a man, but not a lover and well, hell, she needed and craved and hungered for the lover part of the equation. It was as important as talking and communicating. At least to her. She’d lived enough years with just talking and no real communication, no intimacy or physical affection that being lonely had been inevitable.
She didn’t want that again. She didn’t want to be alone. She’d learned she could do it—she just didn’t want to. She didn’t want the dating scene either. Her single friends from work had enough horror stories about trying to date that Ella didn’t want to venture into those waters.
“I’m always with you, baby. Every word I’ve ever said to you is either inside your head or just a push of an app button away in your email.”
And that was true. “But you won’t be there holding my hand or there for me to hide my face against.”
“Why would you want to hide? Hell baby, you know how many people would be envious of what we’ve been doing the last few days?”
She didn’t know, but she could remember when she had been envious of people that had that same kind of wild and crazy sex life. If anyone had told her a year ago that she’d be sitting in the lap of a twenty-nine year old bartender-fireman in an airport parking garage having sex, she’d have told them they were just shy of admittance to the nut house.
Yet here she was.
If anyone had told her a year ago that she’d be divorced and free to be having sex in the lap of a twenty-nine year old bartender fireman, she’d have told them they were a few watts short of a light bulb. She’d have immediately hoped for and wanted it, but she wouldn’t have believed it possible, wouldn’t have believed herself fed up enough with mediocre and status quo.
Yet, there she was.
“I need to go,” she said.
“I don’t think so, Ella.”
“Justin, the time.” She looked at her watch. “I—”
His hands gripped the hair that framed her face. He twisted his fingers in the strands and held her head immobile, his gaze intense and dark, mesmerizing. She was once again amazed at the many different facets of her cowboy’s personality. “I don’t think I love you. I don’t think you think you love me either. I know I love you. I’ve known for a long ass time that I loved you, and we’ve both known you loved me too.”
“You’re just scared to say it without qualification or justification and that’s okay. You’ll get there.”
“It wasn’t supposed to be like this,” she said, leaning her forehead against his.
“It was supposed to be exactly like this. Now, you’re right. You do need to go. I don’t want you to miss your flight. Your job is important to you, and that makes it important to me.”
“What about after, though?” The worried tone was back in her voice.
“You’ll know what to do and whatever you decide is best, I’ll be here to support you.”
At first, she wasn’t sure they were talking about the same thing, but as she stared at those eyes, crystal clear but for the love shining back at her, she realized they were talking about the exact same thing. He was leaving it up to her, the direction or not, of their relationship.
She nodded, and he kissed the tip of her nose before opening his door and helping her down from his lap to the ground. She leaned against the inside of the door and adjusted her skirt, and did her best on the wrinkles in her top. She might need to make a few shopping stops once she got to New Orleans. She turned to him in time to see him adjusting his jeans. She hated to see his cock put away. He was gorgeous enough that he should walk around naked all the time.
She giggled at her fanciful thoughts. Must be the after hot sex in the truck giggles.
He handed her her purse and reached back for her laptop and carry-on bag and handed both of those to her as well. “You ready?” He got out of the truck and shut the door, locking it behind him.
“Yeah.” She wasn’t really. She didn’t want to leave him, but at the same time, she needed to get away from him. When he was near, it played tricks on her mind and all she wanted was him, day and night, night and day. She needed a break, her body needed a break, her head needed a break, but damn…. Leaving him again was hard. Leaving him again without knowing what was going to happen next was hard.
She took one step and another and had just started to take another when a gust of wind blew through the garage. The scent of sex coming from her was stronger than she’d imagined it would be. It was as though he held his come-coated fingers right beneath her nose.
Heat crept up her neck and into her cheeks. She dared a look up at him, and the grin on his face told her that he’d caught a whiff of it too. Damn.
He took her hand. “C’mon baby. I don’t want anything to delay you coming back to me.”
She didn’t budge when he tugged. He turned to her with a raised brow. The challenge was there in his green eyes, and she hoped there was challenge staring back at him from hers. “Coming back to you? I thought you said it was my decision where we went from here?”
“It is your decision.”
“Then why did you assume I’d be coming back to you?”
He tugged and she started walking, her hand firmly clasped in his and though she might be a bit irritated at him, she didn’t want him to let go of her. Not by a long shot. Instead though, for good measure, she huffed out an irritated sigh.
“I wasn’t assuming anything.”
“You said coming back to you. That’s assuming that that’s what I will decide.”
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I need to get writing and editing and you have the following blogs to visit for more snippets…
This is a fun little story to write. And little is what it is. Hot. Short. Sexy. Not long. You get the idea, right? 😉
However, we do have tattoos, loving, smexing, and a small piercing.
Love and Tattoos is on the calendar to be finished by the end of next week, if not sooner, but there are edits due on Slide Down On Me, and revisions to make on The Cupcake Cowboy.
This little gem though, I’m loving it. (And please remember it is rough and unedited)
Brax shrugged. He turned toward the board by the wall which held pictures of all the tattoos Joe had ever done. “You’ve been training her, right? Teaching her?”
“Yeah man, but —”
“Then let her have a client. Let her have me. I heard enough of your conversations before you knew I was standing here. There’s no harm. I won’t sue you if she completely fucks up.”
Oh yes, please. Let me have him.
Annie tried to be offended, that even Brax would doubt her ability, but she really couldn’t be. He didn’t know her and while she’d been itching to have an actual client for her own, she wasn’t sure she wanted it to be him. He was, his tattoos were flawless. She would hate to do anything to mar the canvas.
At the same time… “Joe? Please?” She glanced at Brax, then back to her brother. “He’s willing.” She was willing as well. She was oh so willing. She heard the hopefulness in her voice and prayed it didn’t sound quite like begging the way she suspected it did.
“Dammit, Brax.” Joe shoved his hands on hips. He heaved a sigh and turned to his friend. “You have to sign the same waiver as every other client and you don’t pay a dime, do you understand?”
“I’ll sign whatever you want me to sign but price and payment will be between your sister and I.”
“I don’t like the sound of that,” Joe remarked.
He might not, Annie thought, but she sure did. She was going to get to touch Brax, be close to him, smell him. Would he smell of city or sand? They weren’t too far from the beach but they were right in the heart of the city. The late Summer heat hadn’t changed anything on the west coast of Florida. It was hot three months ago and it was hot now.
Annie mentally shook thoughts of the weather out of her head. Though, the weather was probably a safer subject than her thoughts of Brax’s skin under her hands. Nervousness took immediate hold on her at the possibility of adding to his collection of tattoos.
Joe wagged a finger in Brax’s face. “If she screws up on you —”
“She won’t.” He hurriedly added. “Have a little faith, Joe. If you taught her, I know I have nothing to worry about.” Brax shifted his head and winked at her. “Now,” he said to Joe, “why don’t you run along and leave Annie and I work out the details.”
“I really don’t like the sound of that,” Joe muttered, but he relented and walked away without sparing her a glance. Annie watched until he disappeared around the corner. She stared until there was nothing else she could do to stall and keep from looking at her… Client.
“Do I scare you?”
Dumb question. Of course he did. “No,” she quipped.
“Damn.” He shook his head, pursed his lips, and sighed out an exaggerated breath. “I must be losing my touch.”
Annie grinned. Was he flirting with her? The light in his eyes seemed brighter, but that could be wishful thinking on her part. She hadn’t been flirted with, genuinely at least when someone didn’t want anything from her, since she was laid off last year. “Do you normally scare unsuspecting women?”
“Suspecting ones too,” he teased.
“A shame I don’t scare easily then,” Annie said dismissively. She presented him with the medical and liability waiver they presented to all their clients. Brax scrawled his name across the line at the bottom of both forms without reading them. “So, what are you looking for?”
“Loaded question, don’t you think? Assuming though, that you’re talking about the tattoo, my name, on my fingers. Here.” He indicated ‘here’ by pointing to the area of his fingers behind the second knuckle.
“Uh huh.” Annie needed to hold his hand in hers for a moment but she couldn’t make herself reach for him. Touching his skin, the feel of it where he wanted the ink, would help her visualize how to go about marking him, however, she was immobile. The messages from her brain to her hands weren’t getting through.
He must have realized she wasn’t going to be taking the initiative because he laid his palm across the back of her hand. “Annie?” His tone was all business and broke through her haze. “Don’t show hesitancy with your clients. If you do, they won’t have the confidence or trust in you they need to have. They’ll leave.”
She knew that. Really, she did. With most people she wouldn’t be this way and had rarely been nervous or hesitant in her advertising job. At the same time, she’d never reacted to her clients or potential ones in quite this way. Uncertainty filled her with dread. Maybe she couldn’t do this.
Only, she’d practically begged Joe to let her.
She nodded, took a steadying breath and turned her palm over to cradle his. He had rough hands with long fingers which weren’t too slender nor too thick. With the right font, she could make his name look incredible. “What color?”
Art. She was comfortable with art. She knew it, lived it, understood it. It’s what she had to focus on.
“The usual black.”
“Block, swirls, straight edge font?”
“Straight. No use putting my name on my hand if no one can read it, right?”
She couldn’t argue with his logic. “Right.”
“When would you like to schedule it?”
Annie’s gaze jumped to his. And there went her all business composure. “N-now?”
“I’ve got time and I think you probably do too. No sense in putting it off.”
“I guess that’s true.”
“Shall we discuss payment?”
“Y-you aren’t required to pay. Joe said so.”
“Who said payment had to be made in money, and who said I was one who would be paying?”
Annie didn’t know if he was still teasing her or not. He’d wrapped his fingers around her hand, holding it tight, palm to palm. His heat seeped into her, traveled up her arm, and the look in his eyes, with green shards around the pupils, made her shiver. There was no longer any lightness. There was now only dark lust.
She had no idea what he wanted of her besides a tattoo, but she did know that no matter what it was, she was willing to give it. “Go on.”
“You want the terms up front. Good girl. Never take on anyone without knowing what you’re in for. For this particular tattoo, with every hesitation mark, every little mistake, one article of clothing comes off.”
She couldn’t have been more surprised had he stripped himself naked in front of her right there and then. She quirked a brow. “Strip tattooing?”
Brax winked. “Yes.”
“Definitely don’t think Joe will agree to that during business hours.”
“Not here in his shop he wouldn’t.”
Annie giggled. “Honestly, he wouldn’t approve no matter the time or location.”
“Too true. Which is why it will remain between us.”
“Good idea, except, I haven’t agreed to this. You’ve signed the forms and I agreed to a tattoo. I did just meet you and you want me to strip for you?”
His shrug was just a casual lifting and lowering of his shoulders. Shoulders she’d like to cling to during a kiss, sex against the wall, or have her legs draped over.
“Only if you make a mistake. If you don’t make one, you remain fully clothed and I walk away with a very nice bit of ink and disappointment in my… Well, you know.”
“And if I make enough mistakes to render me completely naked,” she started, dropping her voice to a whisper with the word naked, “what then?”
Now, I must get back to work on writing and you need to figure out where and in what corner you’re going to read this when it comes out. Along with, if you plan on taking a fan or a bucket of ice with you…
I don’t know about y’all, but sometimes I just need to listen to something different to get myself into a whole new headspace. I’m not very good with a lot of the popular music today cause it just…well, sucks. Of course, that’s my opinion and mine alone. You may love it and that’s awesome for you.
When I’m in need for that different feel or mood or headspace, I’ll revert a lot of times to old songs or classical. I’m a trained musician and fall back to that a lot. For many years I inhaled and exhaled music and anything to do with it. I might be playing the Stamitz Flute Concerto in G Major (which has always been one of my favorites and I was never as good as this girl) by day and by night I was headbanging my best friend at a Motley Crue concert.
Music in various forms is healing, therapeutic, and powerful, which is most times why I will be listening to it when I’m writing, cooking, or just doing whatever. It’s been such a huge part of my life that I can’t imagine it not influencing me in profound ways…
I’ve needed a change in mindset for several months now. I desperately need a change in scenery too (mountains, please), but one thing at a time, usually. Music right at my fingertips is the easiest way to fuel creative juices and it’s been classical lately, mostly Bond and Sarah Brightman (she is so ethereal and she makes it look so effortless). There’s passion and flair and a depth, a range that inspires me…
If music in any way inspires you or moves you… play it loud and play it proud. I’m off to write now…
Smooth operators.We’ve all known them, right? They deliver smooth lines, quick with compliments, and in general give you the willies. They make your spine feel as though a snake is slithering and you can’t wait to get away.
The Sade song, Smooth Operator, comes to mind when you see the words. At least for me it did.
But, maybe there’s another kind. The one who means the lines, who means the compliments, who doesn’t give you the willies, but instead works his way under your skin before you even know what’s hit you. He can be the good one, the fun one, the right one…
Of course, what about the smooth friend? The one who tricks you without you even realizing what he’s up to and all for your own good…
“He drove all the way into the city, and he left just like that?” Edward questioned. He drained the rest of his latte and carefully wiped his mouth. Jane wanted to slug him for always being neat and tidy and so put together when half the time, she was less than all that.
“Yep.” What the hell was up with that? All because she told him to go? He didn’t have to give up so easily.
She really was better off that he did go, she knew that. There were just too many complications that came with being involved with a man like him. Life would be simpler without the want, the lust, the sheer hunger to crawl naked all over him.
If he had stayed, would she have given in? Of course she would have. She huffed out a frustrated sigh. She needed to shed the leftover shit from her relationship with Phillip. More than anything, reminders lingering in the house weren’t helping her move on. What was that thing about writing a letter and then burning it being somehow cathartic? Would the same hold true if she burned all the stuff he’d left at her door? Most of it was what she’d given him as gifts, so perhaps that would count as sort of her “letter.”
Indecision gnawed at her. Might be worth a shot. She didn’t want to hold on to someone that had walked away without a backward glance. She didn’t want to hold on to someone she had proved to herself she could live without, even if she had done so while consuming untold pounds of chocolate.
“Hey.” Edward snapped his fingers in front of her face. She blinked and focused on him.
“Where’d you go? I was talking to you and you zoned out on me.”
“I’m tired,” she lied. “You know I don’t get up until the sun is high overhead.”
“Time to get over that. C’mon, finish up.”
“It’s illegal to be this perky this early.” Jane lowered her head to the table. “I don’t want to go shopping.”
“Am not,” she whined. “You said we were going out for breakfast and coffee.”
“And we did. Now, I want to go shopping and don’t want to go alone, so you’re going with me.”
“What about your date from last night. Why not call him to go with you?”
“Because he’s the reason I’m going shopping.”
Edward usually didn’t need a reason to add to his wardrobe, but this was kind of interesting. “Are you ever going to tell me about this guy?”
“Are you ever going to stop moping around the apartment?”
Oh that was low. He was right, but still a low blow. “I’m not moping at the apartment right now.”
“No, you’re moping in this lovely little café.”
“I wouldn’t have to if you hadn’t promised me espresso drinks and pastries I don’t have to make.”
“I’m a sneaky bitch.” Edward winked at her and Jane couldn’t stop the laugh that bubbled up but she did her best to cover it up with a sip of espresso. Straight, unsweetened, smooth, rich espresso. If that didn’t wake her up, nothing would.
“That you are.” She took a big gulp of air and let it out in a huff. “Two stores. No more and if you don’t find what you’re looking for, tough.”
“Four stores and I’ll buy you lunch.”
“Three stores and you buy me lunch anyway.”
“Deal. And you have to try on this hot little black dress I saw yesterday.”
“No deal on that. I don’t need a little black dress, hot or not. I don’t want any new clothes. You can’t tempt me with them.”
“Again with the lies.” Edward shook his head. “Jane honey, you do need that dress and you do need new clothes.”
“Can we just go and get this over with? I want to get back to my sweat suit before it thinks I don’t love it anymore.”
“I’m going to burn it when we get back.”
Jane got up and set the pretty cup and dessert sized plate on the counter. “You’ll do no such thing.
“You’re right. I won’t. At least not the gray one. That one I tossed it in with the trash this morning when we left,” Edward said in his sing-song voice as he pushed the door open and walked outside. Jane was speechless. Momentarily so before she went chasing after him.
“You did what?” she asked, out of breath from jogging to catch up.
“I stuffed it in the trash bag while you were in the shower.” Edward paused outside his favorite kitchen store. “Do you want to go in? We could use a few more silicone spatulas.”
“Don’t change the subject. Why would you throw out my sweat suit?” Edward pushed open the door to the store and disappeared inside. He kept walking away. Did he think she wouldn’t kick him in the shin if they were in a crowded place? “And stop trying to get away from me,” she hissed.
“I’m not trying to get away from you. We need spatulas.”
“Oh you are so full of it. We have a whole drawer full of spatulas.”
“But I like these.” He pulled a wood handled silicone spoon out of a canister sitting on a small mosaic garden table. It was white with orange dots and Jane had to admit they were fun and that she would love to have a few of them in a variety of dot colors, but right at that moment…
She ground her jaw together and forced words through barely moving lips. “What are you up to, Edward?”
“I’m up to seeing you come out of hiding, Jane. I’m up to seeing you get over this depression.”
“I’m not depressed and I’m not hiding.”
“Oh?” He looked at her. “Then what would you call it?”
What did she call it? “Minding my own business,” she offered. “Something you should maybe think about.”
“Nice try.” Edward pulled three more spoons from the canister. One with green dots, one with blue dots, and one with yellow dots. “Do you want the red one, as well? We could have a complete set.” Jane flipped her hair and turned her back. She didn’t want to talk to him anymore. “Pouting won’t get you anywhere, but fine, I’ll get the red one, too.”
“While you’re being generous, I need a new cookie scoop too.” She walked around the end of the row to the next row over. In another canister, this time on the shelf of a book case, Jane picked up two different sized cookie scoops. One with a purple squeeze handle and one with a pink squeeze handle. She really didn’t need new cookie scoops for the truffles, but she and Edward were a lot alike when it came to kitchen stores. She found it impossible to resist them. Before candy making, she’d never really cared for cooking or baking, but she’d learned a lot by devoting and dedicating herself to her craft. The success of their boutique business, dreamed up over a box of candy and a good bottle of wine, was proof of that.
Which, now that she thought about it, Phillip–
“Do you want to look for anything else?” Edward nudged.
Jane shook herself from the puzzle pieces that still didn’t fit from her break-up with Phillip and turned her gaze to Edward. “No, I’m good.” She handed the scoops over and Edward fairly skipped to the counter and the sweet man manning the register. To see the two men flirting, she had to smile. Edward was really the sweetest, most adorable man she could have ever hoped to fall into lifelong friendship with.
She was still pissed at him though.
Do you have friends like Edward? I think we all should have at least one…
I’m headed off to work on edits, and you can head off to read more Smooth Operator snippets from the following authors: