Category Archives: Extras

Valentine’s Rewind: The Storm Inside meets Tease

Valetine's Rewind Banner

Hello everybody! Welcome to this stop on the Valentine’s Rewind Blog Hop! I’m Alexis, your host for this stop. I write steamy, emotional, knock-your-socks off erotic romances and today I’m bringing back TWO couples for one very important reason. My two series were born out of the same (unpublished) book. Part of that story went into creating Jake and Eve from The Storm Inside. The rest of that book is Adam and Elizabeth’s story in Tease. Today I’m uniting the families (this feels very gangster mob…should I have a gun for this??) and explaining how they are (still) connected. This might also be a lead-in to a new book.

Maybe.

I hope you enjoy it!

Valentine Rewind

REVIVAL

Goodwood (Adam & Elizabeth…with a little Theo & Allison)

I was one of those people.

You know the ones, they say money can’t buy happiness. I walked around honestly believing that money and happiness were, at their core, unrelated.

But the truth? The truth was money could buy a whole lotta happiness. Case in point: money had purchased Elizabeth a slot at the Goodwood Revival in West Sussex. And the look on her face as she gunned Theo’s Mercedes 300SL down the winding track was nothing short of pure joy.

“I had no idea she was so proficient behind the wheel,” Theo murmured, his hand tucked inside Allison’s as they stood beside me watching Elizabeth’s run.

I chuckled as Allison threw me a shrug. She and I both knew all too well that Elizabeth was a pretty amazing driver. Allison’s face mirrored mine. We wore giant smiles as we watched. Theo on the other hand? He had some pretty wide eyes and a slack jaw.

“She could’ve been a driver if she’d wanted to. Lucky for her, she’s got me.” In the last year I’d managed to get her track time in my AMG, and a run in one of my team’s cars. Working for a Formula 1 racing team had come with far more perks than I’d originally dreamed. I occasionally kicked myself for waiting so long, but then again, if I had taken the job in Brackley working as a design engineer for Mercedes AMG, I might not have met Elizabeth. At least not when we did.

“Lucky indeed,” Allison murmured, giving me a much longer look than she had before. This one, if I wasn’t mistaken, was meant to be a statement on the current state of my relationship with her best friend.

We lived together and there was no one else on the planet for me…but Elizabeth wasn’t the kind of girl who wanted a ring, to change her name, or have a big wedding. She liked things the way they were. And because of how far she’d already come, I wasn’t going to be the one to push the idea of making our relationship more permanent. Most mornings I woke up thanking my lucky stars the drop-dead gorgeous woman who could drive a stick and command a classroom full of brilliant college students was still in bed beside me. I was a lucky fucking bastard and I knew it.

Asking her to marry me would push her over the edge. I wanted to love her, not hurt her. But Allison didn’t agree. Of course, she was also the one who’d been pushing Elizabeth since they became college roommates. She was a lot more comfortable with the boundaries Elizabeth could handle.

The crowd erupted in cheers as the cars on the track crossed the finish line. I watched with a ridiculous amount of pride coursing through my veins as Elizabeth navigated the car into the line headed off the track, wondering if Allison was right. Maybe it was time to test the waters.

“Could you grab us another round, and we’ll meet you down there?” Theo murmured in Allison’s ear.

She nodded and smiled. “See you there. It’s time to celebrate.”

We strolled across the grounds, making our way between exceptionally well-dressed groups. The fun thing about Revival was that it was a period festival. You didn’t have to dress up, but most did. Theo was in one of his throwback three-piece gangster suits. Allison was dressed to match in one of her champagne-colored gowns, and I was in one of my standard suits. After Elizabeth had the car squared away she’d be slipping back into her bright red dress as well.

Between the clothes and antique racecars, the music, and the food, I felt like I’d stepped back in time. Maybe it was time to act like we were in someone else’s life.

Theo cleared his throat. “Thank you for arranging all this, Adam. It’s more than perfect.”

I reached into my jacket pocket and pulled out the red velvet box. “It’s been my pleasure. I don’t think you could have picked a more appropriate time or place for this.”

He grunted and came the closest Theo ever came to smiling when Allison wasn’t around. “If her parents have their way, we’ll be here in this exact same spot one year from now for the wedding. Her mother is losing her mind. The minute she saw the pictures of Revival she started seeing the perfect wedding in her head.” He shrugged. “It gives her a year to plan the wedding to end all weddings, and I think Allison will be okay with it since she’ll get to have a period wedding.”

He tucked the box into his pants pocket and straightened his suit. I had to give it to the man, he had a style all his own and he made it work.

“How did you know?” I asked.

He cocked an eyebrow. “Please, please tell me you aren’t pulling this shit. You’re supposed to be my mature friend.”

I just barely managed to hold in a snort. “Ummm…what?”

“My mature friend.” He waved his hand through the air as we wedged between a particularly enthusiastic group dressed in WWII uniforms. “Higgins is clearly the guy who gets me in trouble, and James is my girly guy. You, my friend, are supposed to keep my ass out of trouble while being wise and practical about women. James has the over emotional crap all under control. Please tell me you aren’t switching sides on me. I don’t think I can handle being married without a mature friend.”

“Okay…” I drawled as I tried to figure out what Theo was talking about. “You’re saying I’m the guy you call when Allison’s been standing in the closet for an hour saying she has nothing to wear even though she has an entire closet full of clothes?” Girls were often very confusing.

“Yes!” he exclaimed. “Exactly. I love that woman with everything I have, but sometimes I don’t get her at all. I need someone to call and say ‘what the ever living fuck’ to so I don’t say it to her. Higgins will never get that. James will just call Allison and tell her what I said.”

“So it’s up to me.” I clapped him on the shoulder. “Don’t worry my friend. I wasn’t asking you anything mushy. I promise.”

He sighed and pulled to a stop. “Good. What are you asking me?”

I tried very hard to put myself in Elizabeth’s shoes. Her level of distrust was earned a hundred times over. I wished that I could wave a magic wand and make her problems disappear, but I couldn’t. And sometimes, I had no idea what kind of fire I was playing with.

“By all accounts, you’re the last man who should be jumping into marriage with that cheesy fucking grin you’ve got on your face, but you have it, and you seem really happy about the choice you’ve made in asking her today.” I shrugged and shifted uncomfortably on my feet. “How do you know when you can move forward without the past pulling you back?”

His face fell and then his jaw ticked as anger took over. “Fuck everyone who ever hurt the women we love. Fuck every one of them.” He shoved his hands in his pockets. “I got a clean break. That past was always coming for me. It was like quicksand. No matter what I did, I couldn’t escape it. Then I got a gift. I was able to surgically sculpt the past right out of my life. Everything pulling me back…it’s gone. I was left with a choice. Do I wallow in the doubts, or do I cut ties and fucking run?” He shook his head. “The choice was pretty clear. I’d take a life of ups and downs with that woman,” he cocked his head toward Allison as she came toward us with a bottle of champagne in her hands, “over anything else. Period.”

“What on earth are you two talking about? Elizabeth is waiting!” Allison huffed as she shot right past us and over to the car, oblivious to the fact she was about to be engaged.

Elizabeth was grinning from ear to ear as she threw her arms around Allison. Her cheeks were red and her eyes were bright. She was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.

“Thank you!” she squealed as she launched herself into my arms. She smelled like petrol and exhaust. Not to mention, the fire retardant suit she was wearing was itchy as hell.

And I didn’t care about anything other than the look in her eyes.

I brushed her sweaty hair back from her face. “You’re happy?”

“So fucking happy!” she breathed, and then kissed me.

Like, kissed me. It was deep and it was dirty. “I always forget how horny you get after driving fast…” I murmured against her lips.

“So horny,” she shook her head, her breathing growing deeper.

“Champagne, then shower sex?”

She shivered as she jumped out of my arms and yanked the zipper down on her suit. “You sir, have a date.”

Fifteen minutes later we were all a little tipsy. I was relieved when Theo whisked Allison away to complete his plan. It left me alone in a fast car with a fast woman that I happened to be madly in love with.

“What are you thinking so hard about over there, lover?” she drawled, feet up on the dashboard, hair spilling everywhere. We had the seats pushed back and down as far as they’d go—which wasn’t far. Not that being squeezed into a small space was a bad thing.

I ran my hand up her leg (the fire suit was now long gone and she was in leggings and a t-shirt) and to the spot I knew would make her sigh.

And sigh she did.

“Oh, Adam…you better get me up to our room. Now.”

“In a minute. Let me warm you up first.”

She groaned and closed her eyes, sinking into the discrete pleasure I was giving her. Everyone outside the car was so busy they weren’t paying any attention to us…or where my hands were wandering.

She lit up for me, her chest rising and falling, her cheeks flushing as I applied pressure in the ways she liked it best. We’d been like this from the moment we met. We sparked. We fed off each other. She made me a better man, and I stood by her side while she put the past behind her. We were good for each other. We were a team. And we were damn good together—in every way possible.

But could she see that through the fog of everything else?

“What are you thinking?” she whispered.

I was so deep in thought I hadn’t realized she was watching me. “About you.”

“What are you thinking about me?”

“That I want to spend the rest of my life with you. That I want everyone to know we belong to each other. That no matter what happens, or where it happens, no one can keep up us from each other.”

She studied me for several long beats, her eyes practically digging inside me. “So what’s stopping you?”

I swallowed. The emotions swirling around the tiny car were far bigger than anything I’d ever dealt with before. “I don’t want to scare you. The last thing I ever want to do is hurt you.”

To my complete surprise, she grinned, then twisted around so that she was leaning toward me, our lips almost touching. Her eyes drifted from my mouth up to my eyes. “I double dog dare you to ask me the question you’re thinking right now.”

Her breathing was ragged. She was turned on, excited, and she was absolutely terrified.

I looked up and waited until it felt like we were wrapped up by some invisible cloak, connected from the current buzzing across my scalp, all the way down my spine, and into my toes. “Will you be my wife?”

She stopped breathing and so did I, and then her head started bobbing up and down, eyes still locked on mine. “Yes,” she finally breathed.

“Yes?” I growled as some sort of alpha-instinct kicked in. I took her face in my hands and pulled her closer.

“Yes,” she repeated, her voice several octaves deeper than it had been a moment before.

“Well isn’t this an interesting development,” I said a split second before I kissed her. She melded into me and it took everything I had not to brand her right there in the driver seat of Theo’s car with all of the revival watching.

Instead I cradled her against me and dropped my hand back down to finish what I’d started.

“Are you absolutely sure you’re ready for something this big and permanent?” I wanted to be absolutely positive this was what she wanted.

She shuddered in my arms, her nails digging into my shoulder. “Yes!” she cried out, a little louder than was prudent, not that we ever cared what anyone thought. “I moved here to cut all those ties. They’re gone, Adam.” Her panting grew deeper, more erratic. She was close and I was about to lose my damn mind.

“I love you, Elizabeth.”

Her eyes flew open, locking with mine as she pulsed against my hand. “I love you too, Adam. I want to marry you. I need to make sure those eyes and lips and hands are legally mine to have and to hold and all that shit.”

She grinned as her post-orgasmic high blissed her out.

“Oh, I’m yours babe. I have been since you grinned at me over your book at Seychelle’s. How about we take this to the shower and explore all the ways you can use and abuse me for the rest of our lives?”

*****

“Someone’s at the door!” Elizabeth yelled from the bathroom. We were…well we were significantly cleaner than we’d been an hour and a half ago. She was drying her hair and getting dressed for dinner while I watched football highlights.

The last person I was expecting to see staring at me through the hotel door peephole was my grandfather.

I ripped the door open. “Senator?”

He grinned and threw his arms open. “Adam! It’s good to see you.” Secret Service, or bodyguards, or whoever the heck traveled with him overseas, stood to either side with more down at the ends of the hallway.

“What are you doing here?” I asked as I hugged him and invited him inside.

“Same as you. I’m a special guest at Revival this year. I saw your lovely girlfriend listed as a driver today and tracked you down.”

“She’s just getting dressed for dinner,” I stammered as I took in the sight of my grandfather, one of the longest serving and famous United States Senators, sitting in my suite. What in the hell was going on? “Can I get you a drink?”

“A scotch would be lovely, if you have something decent.”

I held up the bottle we’d brought with us and poured him two fingers. He immediately downed half of it. That’s when I knew something was wrong.

“Senator McKinley!” Elizabeth gasped as she stepped out of the bathroom dressed in a sexy vintage red cocktail dress and stilettos. Her lips were red, her eyes were dark, and I was suddenly struck by the realization that I couldn’t wait to escape tomorrow to find a ring to put on her finger.

My grandfather shot to his feet and kissed my fiancée on both cheeks. “You look lovely, Elizabeth. And you drive like a bat out of hell.”

“Thank you,” she blushed, throwing me a curious look over his shoulder. “Sit, let’s talk.”

He cleared his throat and my nerves spiked. Were my parents hurt? Was there a terrorist threat? He was the head of the intelligence committee…

“I’m glad I caught you. I was going to set a meeting with you for next week.” He shot the rest of his scotch and set the glass down. “I’m running for president. The announcement is set for the first.”

My jaw dropped. Sure, we all knew the Senator would run one day. It was an inevitability. But now? And with this look on his face? There was more.

“Congratulations. We’ll help in any way we can.” Well, as long as Elizabeth could handle the spotlight. The Senator would understand if we limited our involvement…unless this was about her family.

“I appreciate that. I do need your help on one matter. We’ve been doing the necessary background checks. Digging in places we’ve already dug, but you know how it is when you take things to this level.”

I nodded. I hated it, but I understood.

“We’ve hit one small, new bump in the road. Your aunt. Lydia. Her husband’s finally died and our investigators have discovered she has a son. He’s just a couple of years older than you.”

I instinctively reached for Elizabeth’s hand. She squeezed it. “Aunt Lydia?” she asked.

I nodded. “My mom’s oldest sister. She married this…drunk,” I shrugged as I tried to find the appropriate words to explain the family black sheep. “The family was opposed to the marriage. She was being rebellious and stupid. The man was abusive and went through money faster than he could earn it. Lydia thought he was the answer to her high-profile family nightmares.”

“Your family cut her off?” she guessed.

The Senator stared at his feet, listening but not joining the conversation. This had to be killing him. Letting Lydia go was the regret that always haunted him.

I sighed. “Yeah. The minute she married him, they cut off all ties and told her she was on her own—which was exactly what she wanted. To be free of the family.”

“I’ve kept up with her over the years,” the Senator murmured. The pain…it was so raw and evident in his voice. I couldn’t imagine what it was like to have a child hate me. “Nothing formal or too specific. Just making sure she was alive. We knew she had a son, but we lost track of him for several years. We weren’t sure we’d want to reestablish contact after Jake died, but my investigators have informed me that the son is a good man with a nice family. And that he has no idea about us.”

That wasn’t surprising. From what my mother had told me, Lydia would have done anything and everything to stay as far away from the McKinleys as possible.

“You want me to make contact.” I guessed. There was no way I could ever say no to the haunted look in my grandfather’s eyes.

“You’re close in age and profession, actually. He’s an engineer as well. He’s got a wife and a couple of kids, so I thought,” he glanced at Elizabeth, “perhaps the news would come easier from the two of you.”

“Before the media digs up the connection and surprises them on their doorstep.” And turns a perfectly happy family’s life upside down.

“We’ll go straight from here,” I said.

Elizabeth nodded. “Of course. I’ll make it work.”

If anyone understood what these people were in for, it was her. I needed her help desperately.

“Where are we headed?” I was already fifteen steps into a plan.

“Tampa,” my grandfather said. “The weather should be nice this time of year.”

Valentine's Rewind

Tampa

(Jake & Eve)

“Yes, yes, yessssss!” Eve moaned above me as she came. “You are a freaking genius!” She collapsed on my chest, panting. “Happy house birthday…” she sighed as she quickly moved from exhilarated to sex-drunk, slurring her words.

I chuckled and wrapped my arms around her, looking out at the thunderstorm. The kids were on a play date with Natalie and I’d brought home this ridiculously expensive chaise lounger for our upstairs screened-in porch to celebrate a full year of living in our new house.

Just as the daily afternoon thunderstorm rolled in.

Life is all about timing.

“I take it you like it,” I said as I dropped a couple of kisses on the top of her head.

She nodded. “Does life get any better? I think not.”

She had a very good point. I’d just had amazing sex in the middle of a thunderstorm, on my porch, with the most beautiful woman in the world. Not to mention our two daughters were happy, healthy, and entertained while we indulged in a little marital bliss. Life did not get any better.

We really should have known better than to say that out loud. My phone started ringing from the bedroom. I ignored it.

Eve burrowed in closer and started to drift off. My phone rang again, which was weird, but I ignored it again. Natalie, Lily, and Marie all had a special ringtone. If there was a problem with the kids, I’d know. Whoever was calling me, it was not about the kids.

“I love Sam and Max, I do. But this is nice…” she sighed again.

Peace and quiet was a luxury once you became a parent. But peace and quiet, alone with your spouse? Might as well sell it on the black market. It’s that valuable and rare.

“We need to take advantage of our babysitters more often. We get caught up and forget to schedule down time,” I agreed. That was probably my fault. It was baseball season. Eve barely had enough time to eat, sleep, and spend time with the kids. I needed to pick up the slack and plan the alone time…like I did today.

Obviously planning had its benefits.

“Your phone’s ringing again, Jake. I think you better see who has a stick up their ass before I remove it for them.”

I chuckled as I rolled Eve to the side, offering her my t-shirt as I slipped away. “Here, babe. I’ll be right back.”

“Bring water!”

By the time I ducked inside, my phone was already ringing again. I was annoyed until I saw who it was.

“What?” I barked. Charlie, my private investigator, only called like this when there was an emergency.

“We have a problem.”

My heart took off. “The kids?”

“No,” he quickly reassured me. “Your family is safe. We have more obtuse problems to deal with. Something I didn’t see coming.” His voice was laced with disappointment. Charlie was the best and he took his job very seriously. Missing a piece of the puzzle was the kind of thing Charlie took personally.

“What is it?”

He took a breath and let it out. “I’ve been contacted by a representative of Senator McKinley. You know the guy?”

I knew of him… “What did he want?”

“That’s the thing,” Charlie said. “He says the senator is your grandfather and the family wishes to make contact. They have a representative landing at TIA now.”

I knew I’d heard every word he said, and yet not one made a lick of sense. “I’m sorry…what did you just say?”

“You said your mother’s family disowned her when she married your father, right?”

“Yeah.” I sank down onto the bed. It really wasn’t safe for me to stand any longer.

“Well, her family is the McKinley. The McKinleys. The political dynasty. They disowned her and have had zero contact until they reached out to me.”

I always knew my mother had taken a twisted joy in punishing her parents by marrying my father. I’d assumed it was your typical overbearing parents not wanting their daughter to marry the abusive alcoholic. A few times I’d imagined she was from a rich family. And yeah, on one of those occasions I’d let myself pretend I was descended from royalty, but I’d never imagined I was right. The McKinleys were American royalty. And apparently…my family?

“Is this a joke?”

Charlie laughed. “Nope. I’ve got the documents they sent me and they line up with the holes I’ve never been able to fill in your family history. I’m assuming this representative they’re sending will have more information. Do you want me to be there?”

I nodded, then realized Charlie couldn’t see me. “Yeah. If you can.”

“I’ll be there. You might want to have someone watch the kids.”

“I’ll take care of it. When will they be here?”

“Four o’clock. I’ll see you then.”

He clicked off and I let the phone dangle from my fingers.

“What’s wrong?” Eve asked, standing naked in our doorway.

“It’s just family shit. Charlie is bringing someone over to talk to me. Can you call Natalie and ask her to keep the kids?” The sooner I found out what the hell this all really was, the sooner I could get it out of my life.

In a blink she was kneeling in front of me. “Tell them to take a hike. We’re busy.” She squeezed my hand.

“Not this time, babe,” I whispered. “We can’t ignore this one.” There was only one reason Senator McKinley—if he was my grandfather—would be making contact now. He had to be running for president. If I ignored this we’d wind up with a sea of reporters on our lawn. It would disrupt our lives so much more than a single meeting with a representative. “It’s one meeting to clear up some confusion. By dinner we’ll be free and clear and back to normal. Promise.”

Eve ran her hand down the side of my face, across my shoulder, and over my bicep. Then she squeezed my arm and rested her head on my knee. The anxiety I was feeling evaporated. It was like that one movement erased it from existence.

I returned the gesture and brushed back her hair. “I love you, Eve Spencer. That’s the only thing that matters in this fucked up world. Loving you and Sam and Max. You don’t have to worry about what this meeting is going to do to my head. I’ve got too much to at stake to let the past pull me back.”

That was the thing about love…it was never about happily ever afters. It was about the fight. True love was in the battle. Standing side by side with your partner, defending each other and celebrating life’s victories. Love was messy and it was beautiful.

Her worry lines disappeared, then she smiled. The sweet, slow, seductive kind. “Damn, you’re sexy when you pull the defensive father card,” she growled.

She’d said that on more than one occasion since the girls entered our lives. Something about men in love with their daughters being the ‘hottest thing ever.’ I was absolutely fine with that.

“I have my problems, we know that. But I will never allow anything to hurt my girls. All three of you. You’re my world.”

“And you’re ours.” She sat up and ran her hands up my thighs. “How long until this meeting?” Her right eyebrow arched up.

I glanced at the clock on my phone. “An hour.” I really liked where this seemed to be heading.

“Then how about I give Natalie a call while you start the shower. I think we need one more round of stress relieving exercise before we face the firing squad.”

“I love the way you think Mrs. Spencer.”

“I love the way you love me, Mr. Spencer.”

As she sashayed around the bedroom, stark naked and mine, I was struck by one very overwhelming thing: I was the luckiest man who ever lived. Despite all the hell I’d survived to get where I was, I’d do it all over again. Going head first into the storm allowed me to come out on the other side stronger than ever. Loving my girls with all my heart and soul was the only way to love them, and I couldn’t do that if I hadn’t dealt with my past. I’d weather a hundred storms for the chance to live this life.

And nothing from my past would take it away from me.

♥♥♥

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed reading REVIVAL, a look at how Tease and The Storm Inside connect! The next stop on the hop is Rebecca Grace Allen. Be sure to comment on each story to be eligible for the massive giveaway at the end. Thanks for joining us for #ValentinesRewind! ♥

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Exclusive TEMPT Prequel!

4

Tempt: Volume 1 is out on Tuesday and I’ve started the process of uploading to each of the retailers! Today I’ve got a special little preview. This is a prequel, if you will. It is not in Tempt, but takes place a few weeks before our story begins. It will give you a taste of what is to come and a look at our heroine, Allison Riley. Enjoy!


“You’re evil, Allison.” My best friend, Elizabeth, huffed through the phone. She was not taking my move to London well, and I was still hearing it while trying to catch my flight.

“I’m not evil. Stop saying that.”

“You’re abandoning me in this new apartment. You’re forcing me to make friends. You’re evil.” Elizabeth was being dramatic, but not overly so. She was a unique case and I loved her for it.

Let’s just say making friends and being “out there” were not her forte.

“You know, not everyone is out to get you. There are actually a few lovely people out there in the world. You should meet some of them.” Heaven help me if I ever met anyone else like her.

She groaned and I could picture her pulling the comforter up over her head. “Fine. Have it your way. Good luck. Call me when you land.”

“Love you.” I was really going to miss her.

“Love you, too.” Then she clicked off the phone.

I took a deep breath and glanced up at the red letters on the board behind the flight attendant. Everything was still on schedule. By dinner I would be in my new flat in a new country starting a new job. Well, not new. My firm was sending me over to work on a project for our London branch. They did things like this all the time, but it was my first time.

Six months living in London, working on one of the hardest projects I’d ever handled. I was taking a secondary design position of a new state of the art business complex that would be housing everything from a small museum, to labs, to offices. Everything had to as efficient as possible, all while being unique and aesthetically gorgeous. In other words, this was huge.

After my phone conversations with Luis Menendez I knew I was going to love my new project lead, but my new boss, Margaret Hickman, I wasn’t too sure about her. The “H” in HDM2 Architects, she was cold, clipped, and seemingly never happy. I don’t even know why she requested me if she was so damn unhappy with everything I’d ever designed. But I was coming in hot with some new ideas that I really thought were going to put this building—and me, by extension—on the map. That is if I had the guts to actually follow through and not play it safe.

“Are you on vacation?” The man beside me leaned a little closer. I think he was flirting with me.

Oh god, what if he was flirting with me? He wasn’t going to ask if I’m a member of the Mile High Club or anything cheesy like that, was he? “No, work.”

“Ah. In London, or are you headed on somewhere from there?”

“London.” I kept my answers short. This strange man didn’t need any more information—he could be a stalker.

“I’ve been working there for about a year now. I don’t think they’ll ever get me to leave.”

“And why is that?” Why did I ask that? I didn’t want to make this conversation any longer than it already was. Dumb. Dumb move, Riley.

“The city just speaks to my soul. It has a vibe. Have you ever been?”

I took a second to look him over. He wasn’t my type at all. Baby faced and slender, he was a handsome enough guy, just not what got me all hot and bothered. I preferred my men manly. Broad shoulders, deep voices, and dark eyes did me in every single time.

God, I hoped I didn’t meet anyone like that in London. I was there to work, not play. I had a goal. Shit was getting real with my folks and if I stood any chance of making architecture my life instead of Riley Cosmetics, I needed this to be big.

It wasn’t going to be enough to be good at my job. I needed to be great. I needed to be the best. It was the only ammunition I had against being forced into taking over my family empire and still keep a good relationship with the people I loved.

Did we have a great relationship? No. It was far from perfect. But they were my family and we were all trying our best. We usually made it work. My parents just happened to come from a world in which empires were built and passed on generation after generation. They couldn’t conceive of a world in which their only daughter wanted nothing to do with their company.

Not to mention they were still scratching their heads about my refusal to marry Tristan Whittaker. I mean, he’s a Whittaker. According them, we were a perfect match.

On paper.

And sure, I gave in and dated him briefly in college—back when I was still under the delusion I could be the daughter my parents envisioned—but the guy made my skin crawl. He was so boring. And obsessed with money and position. I could have gotten off a little bit if he was all about the power and control, but that wasn’t what got his juices flowing. It was money and superficial shit I didn’t care about.

Tristan was not an option. And neither were all the other guys my mom kept suggesting. I didn’t want an heir to a fortune as my partner in crime. I wanted someone with passion. Someone who took life by the balls and laughed at danger.

Okay, maybe that line was a little dramatic, but you kinda see what I’m saying, right?

I wanted more out of life than a stable merger of two companies.

The man cleared his throat and I realized he’d asked me a question. “I’m so sorry, can you repeat that?”

He smiled kindly. No, this man was not flirting me with me. He was lonely and making conversation to pass the time. “Have you ever been?”

“Yes, but it’s been a few years.” More than a few, actually. I hadn’t been since our family vacation in high school.

“Well, enjoy it. All work and no play…”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ll have some fun, too.” But not too much.

My phone vibrated in my hand. “Oh good god!” Elizabeth was photo bombing me pictures of naked men draped in the Union Jack.

The man chuckled. “Maybe not that much fun.”

I shrugged and powered off my phone before Elizabeth moved into porn. Maybe I could make time for a hot British guy or two. They did have sexy accents after all…


Tempt: Volume 1 releases Tuesday, July 14th!

Mr Sutherland does not laugh

Add it on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25733048-tempt

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“Tempt blazes off the page! The moment Allison and Theo meet, you know they’re meant to be together.” — Vivienne Thorne, author of The Lady Taken

“Steamy, sultry, and sexy…Alexis Anne offers up her most mysterious and tempting hero yet!” Anne L. Parks, author of The Return

 

 

Magical Match Up: The Leprechaun vs The Tooth Fairy

I write stories with my kids. We write a lot of stories. On the walk home yesterday we got to talking about leprechauns since a sneaky one had caused chaos and havoc in my youngest’s preschool classroom that day. I mentioned that a mischievous leprechaun might come by our house that night. And wouldn’t it be funny if my oldest finally pulled out his two impossibly loose (yet somehow still in his mouth) teeth and then the Tooth Fairy arrived at the same time as the leprechaun. The following silliness ensued:

Magical Match Up: The Leprechaun vs The Tooth Fairy

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One night, after weeks and weeks and weeks of my parents begging me to pull out my tooth, it happened. Pop! One wiggle before bed and suddenly the tooth was in my hand. 

We bundled up my little tooth and stuck it inside my little blue tooth pillow. I stuck it under my sleeping pillow, kissed my parents goodnight, and fell asleep. I was excited to find money under my pillow the next morning.

There was only one problem.

One giant. Terrible. Horrible problem. 

Something I hadn’t thought to prepare for. 

It was St. Patrick’s Day Eve.

There’s nothing to worry about! You might be thinking. It’s only St. Patrick’s Day! We all wear green. That’s all there is to it! But you’d be wrong. So very wrong, as I discovered that fateful night. The night the sneaky, tricky, somewhat greedy leprechaun visited my house in search of gold.

You see, it was just after midnight. I was happily snoozing. When suddenly I was awakened by a horrible scuffle. When I opened my eyes I could scarcely believe what I was seeing! The Tooth Fairy was hovering high near my ceiling! She was pink and purple, and there was glitter was everywhere. Her long hair hung in ringlets and her wings flapped faster than a butterfly. She was very beautiful.

She was also very angry.

You see, while she was hovering high in my room, a tiny green man with a very stern face was running around my floor. A leprechaun. The Leprechaun! 

“Ahhhh!” I screamed.

The Tooth Fairy looked at me and wailed. “Now do you see what you’ve done you tiny, greedy man! You’ve woken the child up! He can see us both! You’ve ruined everything!”

I looked back and forth between the Tooth Fairy and The Leprechaun with my comforter pulled high up under my chin trying to decide what to do next. What does one do when they wake up with two magical beings in their room? Run? Hide? Go back to sleep and hope this is all really one crazy dream?

But before I could decide, The Leprechaun charged right at me. I thought he was going to punch me in the nose! Instead, with his lightning fast leprechaun speed, he ran up the wall and leapt at the Tooth Fairy.

“Give me your gold!” he cried. His fingers caught her boots. He dangled as she flew in circles. 

“Never! This is for the children, not you!” She swung him into the wall, then turned and did it again on the opposite wall. With each bang the leprechaun yelled and glitter showered down like rain. My bedroom was sparkling. 

“But I need it! I need the gold! It’s safer with me than these young humans.” 

“Ha! Nothing is safe with you little green man!” She flew straight toward the ground, dragging the leprechaun along the carpet, ramming his head into a wall and flying away when he finally let go. 

The leprechaun looked hurt. Actually, he looked unconscious. What should I do? Should I help him? Hide? Go back to sleep and hope this was a really, really crazy dream?

But before I could decide, the leprechaun hopped up. He was so fast I barely had time to register that he wasn’t hurt before golden flying discs went hurtling through the air. “Stop moving you little pixie!”

“I am not a pixie!” she yelled back, then dodged away from another gold coin. 

The Leprechaun was a really good shot. The coins thudded against my walls. Thump! Thump! Thump! They were making so much noise! Too much noise!

“Shhhh!” I hissed. “You’ll wake up everyone!”

That’s when the Leprechaun landed a good shot. The Tooth Fairy went flying, then dropped to the ground. 

Oh no… I’d accidentally killed the Tooth Fairy by distracting her! 

“Haha! I got her!” The Leprechaun howled. “All her gold is mine at last!”

He crept closer and closer. I had no idea what to do. The Tooth Fairy lay there on the ground hurt or wounded I was sure. She couldn’t defend herself. Would it really be that bad if The Leprechaun took all the gold? He’d leave and we wouldn’t have to worry about him anymore.

But I also wouldn’t get my gold coin. And neither would any of the other kids who’d lost their teeth that night. They would wake up with their old teeth still under their pillows. No magic. No money. No glittery hope for a new day.

I could not let this happen.

“Stop!” I cried, finally leaping out of bed. 

The Leprechaun did stop. I surprised him. Plus I was much, much bigger. In that split second of hesitation the Tooth Fairy jumped back up and whacked The Leprechaun over the head with her wand. “His gold coins are for you to keep.” She waved at the coins The Leprechaun had used as deadly flying saucers.

The coins that were now lying all over my room.

“But what about him? What about you?” I asked.

She smiled brightly. “Oh don’t you worry about me. This isn’t my first encounter with a leprechaun. I’ll just drop him off by the rainbow on my way to the next tooth. Have wonderful dreams my dear and thank you for helping me catch The Leprechaun.”

And with a flash of light and glitter, she was gone. And I was alone in my room, covered in sparkling dust and five golden coins. 

I had a hard time explaining exactly what happened. I’m pretty sure my parents don’t believe me. But there is no way I could ever make up what happened that night. The truth was much crazier than anything my imagination could dream. I mean really, who expects to wake up to a magical match up between The Tooth Fairy and The Leprechaun on St. Patrick’s Day?

Certainly not me.

Magical Match Up: The Leprechaun vs The Tooth Fairy © Alexis Sykes 2015

Read Chapters 1 and 2 of When Lightning Strikes NOW!

Hey gang! How is everyone? You enjoying 2015? I sure am. It’s my hubby’s last semester of college, I just got a brand new nephew who is easily the most adorable baby in the history of babies, a new book on the way, and kids who are happy. 2015 is looking to be a good year!

But let’s start with that book I was talking about. When Lightning Strikes is the third book in the Storm Inside series. It features Jake’s best friend Greg, who I fell in love with while writing Reflected in the Rain. He’s a unique dude and one I couldn’t simply walk away from. His book was a pleasure to write, and I’m still not quite sure how it happened. He just kind of leapt onto the page all on his own while I did my best to keep up.

I can’t keep him to myself any longer, so while we’re waiting for all that important proofreading, formatting, and such, I’m sharing the first few chapters of the book, starting with Chapter One and Two today! The book will be available on January 30th, 2015.

**This book is filled with swearing. It is an integral and essential part of Greg’s personality. The following excerpt is no exception. If you are offended by foul language, this book is not for you.**

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When Lighting Strikes

Chapter One

I needed my fucking coffee like I needed air to breathe. If one more person stopped me from getting my cup I was going to put my fist through their face.

“Greg!” The familiar shout stopped me in my tracks.

“What?” I clenched my fist at my side and counted to ten. As much as I wanted to punch Stephen, it was probably bad form to hit a cop—friend or not.

“Damn. Chill out. I was just going to tell you that you left your window down.” Stephen was leaning out the side of his police car which was stopped only a couple of feet away from me.

I glanced up at the sky. Rain was moving in, but it wasn’t here yet. I’d be in and out of the coffee shop in a minute. “Thanks. I think I’ll take my chances.”

Stephen looked at me like I was crazy. “Suit yourself. Have a nice afternoon.” And with a wave he was gone.

I shook my head at the red Porsche I’d over-indulged in when I moved back to the States to start my company with my best friend, Jake Spencer. The car had been my baby for the first year, then the newness started to wear off and now I was itching for a different toy.

But moving and starting a company with my best friend? Best decision ever. Spencer, Hamilton, and Associates was quickly becoming one of the most innovative and unique engineering firms in the country. With Jake’s brain and my leadership, we were unstoppable.

Thunder rolled and bounced off the tall buildings of downtown Tampa. The stupid car was the one thing I let myself waste money on, so I didn’t usually feel guilty about it, but at the moment I was feeling like an ungrateful asshole. I jogged back over and took the extra thirty seconds to roll my window up.

By the time I finally pushed inside the coffee shop I was in a truly foul mood.

“Your usual?” The young girl behind the counter asked with a smile.

“Yep.” I glanced at her nametag. Lisa.

She shook her head as she grabbed a cup off the top of the pile. “Bad day?”

I must’ve been frowning or some shit like that. “Yep.”

“So two cookies instead of one?”

“Yep.”

I tossed the cash down on the counter and glanced around the mostly empty shop. I stopped in every afternoon on my way home from the office. It was a weird holdover habit from my childhood, but it was something I looked forward to every day: a coffee and a chocolate chip cookie every afternoon at four o’clock.

Usually there were a few stragglers like me, looking for an afternoon caffeine fix and maybe to satisfy a sugar craving. But today the shop was dead as a doornail except for the girl who always sat in the corner with her textbooks spread across the table and her nose stuck in a book she was entirely too young to be reading (and probably not part of her homework).

“Here you go.”

I glanced back as Lisa placed my coffee on the counter beside my cookies. “What’s she reading today?”

Lisa glanced over at the girl and smiled. “I believe she was talking about The Stranger, whatever that is.”

I grunted and took a sip of the ridiculously hot liquid. “A depressing book a girl her age shouldn’t have even heard of, let alone be reading. Where is her mother, anyway?” I never saw her there. It was always the girl and whoever was working at the shop. I knew she didn’t belong to Lisa—or the owner of the coffee shop—because I’d asked.

“Miss Bancroft works until five.”

I knew that curt answer was meant to stop my questions. And really, why did I care? The kid wasn’t mine.

But she reminded me so much of Jennifer.

Jenn always had a book in her hands, no matter where we went or what we did. She even kept a stack in our tree house. When we got older and started dating, as everyone expected, she started keeping some at my house and in my car.

A dull ache formed in my chest, and I started to massage it.

“Are you ok?” Lisa was staring at me wide-eyed and I realized she probably thought I was having a damn heart attack instead of a bad case of regret and nostalgia.

“Yeah. Heartburn.”

“Well, I’m pretty sure a cup of café con leche and chocolate chip cookies are not going to help that.”

“I’ll take an antacid when I get home.” Remembering Jenn always hurt. And it always would. “Have a good afternoon, Lisa.”

“You, too.”

I wandered over by the girl and found that she was stretched out across the chairs clutching a paperback of The Stranger. “Aren’t you a little young for existentialism?”

“Aren’t you a little old for afternoon cookies?” she replied without looking away from her book. She had strawberry blonde hair, light hazel eyes, and a smartass smile. I liked the kid. She had attitude and the smarts to back it up.

“Don’t tell me you’re debating the absurd and the meaninglessness of existence before you’ve even hit adulthood.” I still didn’t fully understand the concepts in that book, and I was thirty-five.

She rolled her eyes and set the book down. “Quite the opposite actually.”

“Why don’t you read something fun for a change? You always pick such dark books.” Last week it had been Of Mice and Men and As I Lay Dying. Both still gave me the heebie jeebies and I hadn’t read them since high school.

“Actually, after this I’m re-reading it in the original French, and then doing a translation project for school with Notre-Dame de Paris, as well.”

“Meaninglessness and destiny in the same week? In a second language? I’m gonna buy you some Boxcar Children to read.”

“You know I’m not eight, right?” she grinned. “Maybe I should buy some large print books for your poor eyesight, old man.”

“Whatever.” I tossed the second cookie on the table. “Act like a kid for a change.” And she did. She squealed and grabbed up the cookie, popping the first bite in her mouth before I’d even made it to the door.

“Have a nice night, old man!”

I chuckled and ducked outside just as the rain hit.

 Chapter Two

“Marie, baby…” Brandon cooed.

“I swear if you make me fly to Paris…” I threatened into my phone as my blood pressure spiked. Spring break started in three days and he was changing our plans at the last minute—as usual.

Brandon replied with his typical laugh. “Babydoll, we can meet half way. London?”

“How the hell is London half way?” I shrieked. The cocky son of a bitch was my least favorite person on the planet, and unfortunately, the one person I would never be rid of. Brandon was arrogant, self-absorbed, and lived to antagonize me. He was also the father of my daughter.

“New York then? I’ll cross the pond this time, Ree.”

Like nails on a chalkboard—that was what I heard every time Brandon attempted to be nice and use his old nickname for me instead of my full name. Marie was not a long name, but somehow Brandon had found a way to shorten it.

“Fine. New York. Natalie will be thrilled. Can you take her to the library again? She hasn’t stopped talking about it.”

“Absolutely. Whatever my baby wants, my baby gets. You know that.” Despite being the world’s worst boyfriend, Brandon was a fairly decent dad. He always dropped everything for Natalie.

“Excellent. Forward me your itinerary and we’ll plan accordingly.”

“See you soon, ReeRee,” he replied as he ended the call.

I wanted to gag. I would love the opportunity to go back and give my seventeen-year-old self a good lecture on reproduction and birth control, but then it would mean I wouldn’t have Natalie. I loved her to pieces even though her mere existence meant my life was tied to Brandon’s for the rest of time.

I always comforted myself with the knowledge she was conceived out of love. I loved Brandon in the way any rebellious seventeen-year-old loves the perfect seventeen-year-old bad boy that pisses her father off. He was the perfect man for me at the time, but it quickly became clear that Brandon was the last person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. We made a lot of decisions during my pregnancy, including the agreement we drew up and signed before Natalie was born. We were partners in the loving and raising of our daughter with clearly defined roles and expectations.

We were also clearly the over-educated children of successful businessmen. Because I mean, really? Who draws up contracts for raising their illegitimate daughter at seventeen? Brandon and me. We were hands-down the most unique family I’d ever encountered, but it worked for all of us even if I sometimes fantasized about setting Brandon’s pants on fire.

I stared at my daughter’s picture to calm myself down. It was my typical habit after talking with Brandon: stare at my daughter and remind myself of all the reasons I was nice to Brandon.

My phone chirped and I flipped it back over in time to see a message from Natalie flash across the screen. Ready when you are.

With a sigh I grabbed my bag and sweater. “Have a good night, Joan.”

My assistant glanced up from the novel she was reading. “You, too. Say hi to Natalie for me.”

“Will do,” I replied as I pushed out into the muggy Florida afternoon. There was no way I’d be able to spend the whole week in New York with Natalie and Brandon, which meant I’d be doing a lot of flying. But work was work. I led the southern branch of my family’s company: Bancroft Sports. We had dozens of major athletes under contract with our agency, and hundreds of minor athletes. Florida was a logical choice with the insane number and variety of sports franchises and camps throughout the state. Tampa put me in a nice central location…and near the beaches.

Not to mention the thousands of miles it put between my father and me.

Natalie was waiting at the curb when I pulled up. Her bright blue backpack was slung over her shoulder and her uniform was almost perfectly in place. Only the white shirt was untucked. There were no electronic devices in sight. No cell phone (though I knew it was stowed safely in her bag). No iPad or Kindle. There weren’t ear buds dangling from her ears or unauthorized touches of makeup on her beautiful face.

She wasn’t that kind of kid. Or to put it more plainly, she was pretty much the exact opposite of me at that age. The things that had driven me and gotten me excited were completely and utterly boring to my daughter.

Natalie opened the back door and tossed her giant backpack onto the seat before slamming the door shut and climbing in front beside me. I watched her as she buckled in. “You know you can change into something more comfortable after school.”

She shrugged. “Why waste the clothes? My uniform is comfortable enough.”

I shook my head. “What about something fun?”

She rolled her eyes and crossed her arms over her chest. “I’m good. Trust me.”

“Suit yourself,” I sighed as I slid back out into traffic.

Thirteen had been fun so far. Natalie and I were so alike and yet so… not. I blame it on my awesome parenting. And the massive differences in our childhoods. I had two incredibly successful parents who hated each other and never wanted to spend time with their child. Natalie had two parents who didn’t particularly like each other, but loved the ever-living crap out of her—enough to move heaven and earth to make her happy.

Love and happiness was the difference between living to piss someone else off, and living for you. I could look back now and see how my clothing and makeup choices had been motivated by rebellion. I could also see how my friends and relationship with Brandon were about more than fitting in. I’d raced into adulthood for one very important reason: I wanted to escape my parents.

It was different for Natalie. She could become whoever she wanted to be, instead of a reaction to everyone else.

I envied her sometimes.

“You should have some fun while I’m gone.”

The quiet statement came out of nowhere and hit me like a ball out of left field. “Ummm….” Eloquent. I could nail pitches in the boardroom and think on my feet in a meeting, but a comment from my daughter left me speechless.

“Seriously, it’s been like, six months since your last date.”

“I’m busy,” I replied a little too quickly.

“You are not too busy. What did Dad say about spring break?”

“We’re meeting in New York now.”

The grin on my daughter’s face was so enormous I didn’t care that I hated her father for changing all our plans at the last minute. “Yes! Did he say he’d take me back to the Morgan Library?”

I smiled as I turned the car into the driveway. “He said you could do whatever you wanted, including the Library.”

Last time in New York, Brandon hired a touring service to personally take Natalie through each of the museums and give her a guided tour. Natalie had been in heaven, but the Morgan Library had been her favorite.

“Don’t work too hard while I’m gone. In fact, try not to work at all. Go out with your friends…Grace said she’d love to do a girls night. Go on a date. Or three.” The words were bubbling out of her mouth as fast as she could spit them out. Obviously this was something that had been on her mind and, more than likely, she’d been waiting for the perfect moment to say.

She looked down at her delicate hands. “I worry about you, Mom. You spend so much time working and being a mom, but you don’t do anything for yourself.”

“I take care of myself, baby.” I stroked her hair. “I don’t need a love life right now. I have all the things I need.”

Honestly, even thinking about having a love life usually made me nauseous. It was so much work for so little payoff. It was shocking how many jackasses existed on the planet. Not to mention the sexist jerks. Most were flat out intimidated by me. (That was at least partially my fault. I liked to see if they scared easily and well…most of them did.) That left about two dudes on the planet who weren’t scaredy-cats or assholes, and I hadn’t yet had the pleasure of meeting either of these mysterious men.

Natalie frowned. “Just…think about it?”

I could think about it all I wanted, it wasn’t going to change my feelings on the subject, but for the sake of my daughter, I let her have a small victory. “I will,” I promised.

Stay tuned for Chapters 3 & 4!

Make sure you don’t miss anything! Signup for my newsletter! Or follow my author page on Amazon.

A laugh rolled across the bar. A deep,

Alexis Anne CLUE (kinky games for kinky people)

How much of my books are real, and how much are total fantasy? Well apparently, even my closest writing friends have trouble telling the difference! I mean, we all know that writers don’t retell their own lives. They are storytellers. They make up characters and events, we build whole new worlds, and can describe things we’ve never, ever done…

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But that doesn’t stop any of us from picturing the author while we’re reading. We just do. We need to put a face with the words. You read a very intense chapter on abuse, you wonder if the author has experienced abuse first hand. You read a detailed description of heart break, you wonder who broke the authors heart. Same with cheating, death, exotic locations…the list goes on.

But the the things is…good writers have an innate ability to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and describe something they have never seen. It’s our super power.

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So I’m in a video chat Sunday night with a few of my writer friends, and they start laughing and having a good time because–they inform me–when they read my books, they wonder what it looks like inside the bedroom of Alexis Anne and The Sexy Editor. They ponder which scenes are real, and which ones are fantasy.

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I want to tell you all that every single one is made up, but I’d be totally lying. I love to pepper Easter eggs into my stories for The Sexy Editor. Call it our version of love notes. I get a high off of his reactions when he finds a secret treasure from our real life hidden inside one of my stories. So yeah, there are absolutely a few nuggets of real life in my books.

By the way, I *always* look like Jessica Alba in the bedroom. Always.

By the way, I *always* look like Jessica Alba in the bedroom. Always.

And The Sexy Editor always looks like Jensen. Always. Shit-eating grin and all.

And The Sexy Editor always looks like Jensen. Always. Shit-eating grin and all.

BUT MOST OF IT IS TOTALLY MADE UP!!

Just want to make that clear. Almost every scene is inspired by too much time on Tumblr (aka the land of kinky fuckery). Which scenes are real and which ones are fantasy? I say I’ll never tell. I kind of like letting everyone guess. It keeps the mystery alive in our writer/reader relationship. But then I had an idea last night as I was trying to figure out how to write this blog post.

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And I laughed and laughed and laughed. Cuz we could totally make up a kinky version of CLUE to play with my books. Allow me to illustrate:

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I put the answers in the secret envelope and we all gather the clues to find out which kinky scene is from my real life. Winner gets to know the truth! Who wants to play? Any guesses?

Protected: Deleted Scenes: The Storm Inside #1

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Flash Fiction Friday: Chapter 4 of The Unspoken Game

Welcome to the next addition of Flash Fiction Friday! This week I’m continuing with The Unspoken Game and next week I have some special stuff planned! Not only am I participating in the First Kiss Flash Fiction Blog Hop on Tuesday, April 8th, but (if all goes as planned) I will also have something different to offer next Friday!

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I’m super excited about the First Kiss Blog Hop! Not only are there more than twenty authors participating, but every piece of flash fiction is brand-new, original content! Every story will be different, but they are all based on the same premise: two strangers kissing for the first time on cameraI can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with! Make sure you stop by here on Tuesday, April 8th to see my piece! (Click on the link above for all the details plus the schedule of every blog on the hop!)

I have a special giveaway for my email newsletter subscribers! This month I’m giving away a signed copy of Tracie Puckett’s new New Adult novel, Breaking Rules! Make sure you are signed up for my newsletter! A name will be chosen on April 15th!

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Alright, now onto today’s Flash Fiction! (If you aren’t caught up, you can still read Chapter One, Chapter Two, and Chapter Three!)

The Unspoken Game: The Mummy Maneuver — Chapter Four

“Who are you?” the fiery red head looked Donovan up and down.

“My name is Donovan and this is my associate Dr. Antonia Warren.”

“Should I be excited?”  Sophie Reynolds looked tired, as he would expect after a night in a Vegas jail.  She was wearing black pants, a white blouse, and day-old makeup.

“I have a job offer for you.”

She laughed and tried to walk around him, but Donovan blocked the way.  “From Theodore Seleron.”

That got her attention, it always did.  Everyone knew The Old Man and they were always surprised he was looking for them.  It was a real selling point.

She stepped back, put her hand on her hip and looked Antonia up and down.  Antonia returned the careful examination with equal fervor.  “I’m not interested,” Sophie said without looking away from Antonia.

“At least let me tell you what the job is.”

“Not interested,” she repeated.

“We can help you find Bernard Redemski in exchange for your assistance.”

Sophie Reynolds glared at him with her jaw thrust out as she struggled.  She’d been the hardest of the team to track down.  The woman was angry, smart, and hell-bent on revenge for the death of her brother.  She had other objectives in her life, but the exact skills Donovan needed.  He was more than willing to exchange helping Miss Reynolds with her revenge for her help—if he could keep her out of jail long enough.

“Fine, what’s the job?” She finally looked back at him.

Donovan pulled out the tablet computer once again, “We need your help tracking down a mummy.”

Miss Reynolds snorted.  “I haven’t heard that one before.  Painting, sculpture, jewelry… not mummy.”  She ticked the items off on her fingers.

“I have a private message from Mr. Seleron for you.” Since she was walking out of jail, Donovan assumed she’d need a set of headphones to listen to the message.  He handed her both the tablet and the ear buds.

She frowned about half way through the message.  When it was done, she scowled at Donovan before practically throwing the tablet back at him.  “Fine, give me the contract.”

He quietly handed her a document nearly identical to the one he’d given Antonia.  Miss Reynolds signed it with a great deal of enthusiasm, folded it back up, and slapped it against his chest.

“Thank you, Miss Reynolds,” he said, slipping the contract into his jacket pocket.

“Call me Sophie.  Now, get me food.”

The three of them drove through a fast food restaurant that was open late at night (like everything else in Vegas) before heading back to the airport.

“I need a hamburger! No pickles.  And a double order of fries… with cheese.  A diet coke!  Aaaaand… another hamburger!” Sophie was leaning across Donovan’s lap as she screamed at the intercom.

“Will that be all?”

He looked back at Antonia who simply shook her head.

“Yep, that’s it.”

“We’ll have your total at the window.”

Donovan drove around the side of the building and waited at the window.  “You must be hungry,” he said to Sophie dryly.

“I haven’t eaten in twelve hours,” she replied.  Then she turned back toward Antonia.  “What’re you in for?”

“I know the man with the mummy.”

Donovan kept his eyes forward.  The less he looked at Antonia the better—even in the rearview mirror.  He’d already noticed his tendency to stare whether she was talking or not.

“Ah,” Sophie nodded.  “And what is it you do?  Wait, don’t tell me, let me guess.  Jeans, t-shirt, ponytail… yeah I got nuthin’.”

“Archaeologist.”

“Oh!” Sophie cooed, clapping her hands.  “That makes sense, actually!  Except I would have expected a bandana or something.”

Antonia laughed, “I do have some.  I’ll try and wear one for you.”

“Thanks!” Sophie exclaimed.  “How about one of those funny vests or a pith helmet!”

“I’m afraid all I’ve got for you are my boots.”  Antonia clunked her foot down on the console.

“Hey,” Donovan exclaimed.  “Get your dirty feet off the rental car!”  So far this car was in perfect working order.  The last thing he needed was one of these women adding to his track record.

Both ladies gave him questioning looks.

Antonia shrugged and pulled her foot back down.  “He has a thing about rental cars.”

“I can tell,” Sophie drawled.

They got their food and Donovan hurried toward the jet.  When he pulled up at the private hanger Scott was already laughing.  Donovan had no idea why Scott was laughing which made him feel very, very uneasy.

“Man, we can’t let you go anywhere, can we?”

“What do you mean?” Donovan sighed knowing full well when he turned around he was going to see something wrong with the car.  Sure enough, there was a beautiful ding on the rear bumper.  He swore a few times before shoving the keys at Scott and stomping aboard the plane.  At least everyone was used to his luck.

Unfortunately Scott was right on his heels.  “I’m sorry Donovan, but there’s more than bad luck with rentals.”

He spun around, coming nose to nose with Scott.  “Don’t tell me Patterson said no.”

Scott shifted uncomfortably and cracked his neck.

Donovan swore.  “Can’t anyone do their job?”

Scott shrugged.  “Patterson sent you a message.  He said ‘it would be a cold day in hell before he worked for you’.”

Donovan grunted.  Apparently the little twerp was still bent out of shape about their last encounter.  He’d hoped Patterson would take one look at the check and agree to let the past stay in the past.  Apparently money wasn’t a good enough motivator.

“Looks like we’re stopping in New York, Scott.”

Scott nodded, “Thought you might say that, boss.  We’re ready to go.”

After Antonia and Sophie boarded the plane and settled into their seats, Donovan jumped into bringing Sophie up to speed.

“Dr. Warren has been reviewing the data from the crime scene and our team in Atlanta is tracking down some leads she gave them.  What I need from the two of you now is a list or an idea of who would be interested in taking a mummy like this.”

Sophie slammed her feet down on the table and made herself comfortable before closing her eyes and holding her hands in the air like she was meditating.  “What are we working with here?”

Donovan looked at Antonia, “I believe you can handle bringing Sophie up to speed.”

Antonia took a deep breath and dove in.  “The mummy was nicknamed The Little One by the team that excavated it in 1923 and is approximately four thousand years old.  It was acquired by a small museum in Boston where it remained for several years before it was stolen in 1937.  It was found in the private collection of a formerly wealthy aristocrat and was returned to the museum.  In 1953 it was acquired by the University of Georgia.  It was stolen again in 1977 and returned a year later.”

“Why do people keep stealing this mummy?” Sophie asked without opening her eyes.

“A couple of reasons.  The Little One was excavated by Liam Pembrooke.  Pembrooke was famous for taking items under the guise of research and never returning them.  Add that to the fact he was a ladies man and did a brief stint in early Hollywood, the man had become a legend in his own right.  Collecting Pembrooke items are a niche market for a certain crowd of unusual items.”

“And the other reason?” Sophie prompted.

“Egypt requested the mummy be returned years ago.  It has been caught up in a legal battle ever since.  Because of the mummy’s strange history, a series of claims were made on the item.  Because of some other political things happening at the same time between the US and Egypt, it became a sore subject.  The mummy was scheduled to be returned last month when Simon put in a plea for a final scan of the mummy.  Apparently he was only granted the extension when Seleron stepped in.”

“So we’re looking for Pembrooke collectors, Egyptology fanatics, and political connections for anyone who has anything to gain by poking Egypt and the United States for funsies.  You guys sure know how to pick your friends.”

Antonia looked right at Donovan and he suddenly felt very naked.  “You have something to add, Antonia?”

“I still think we should look into the possibility they were after Simon, not the mummy.”

Donovan hesitated.  He never liked divulging too much unless it was absolutely necessary. “I already have someone looking into it.”  And by someone, he meant Sparks.

Donovan pulled out two phones and two computers.  “Work whatever magic you can between here and New York.”

Then he turned his attention to Gerard Patterson.  How the hell was he going to get Patterson to come to Atlanta?  The Old Man had made it very clear he needed all four of them or it wouldn’t work and this whole crazy extravagant plan would fall apart.

One thing was clear, Donovan was going to have to do something he’d tried really hard to avoid: apologizing to the kid.  Technically he’d done nothing wrong.  Patterson had perfectly duplicated an unduplicatable piece of Seleron technology.  It was Donovan’s job to make threats like that disappear.  He tracked down the kid to his apartment in New York with the plan to either hire the kid or scare him so badly he never dared come near Seleron Technology ever again.

The only problem was Patterson wasn’t really a kid and he was hardly your average computer geek. He was younger than Donovan by seven years, and thinking of Patterson as a punk teenager instead of a twenty-six year old man, helped Donovan hate him more—even if it wasn’t logical.  Patterson was brilliant, savvy, and incredibly quick on his feet.  The kid could take care of himself in a heartbeat and it caught Donovan completely off-guard.  When Patterson laughed at the job offer from Seleron, Donovan took it upon himself to teach the kid a lesson in spectacular fashion.  Not only would it keep Patterson from meddling in Seleron Technology affairs, but it felt damn good.

And all would have been fine if there hadn’t been one little hiccup: needing Patterson now.

The minute the jet was on the ground in New York, Donovan was out the door and on his way, leaving Antonia and Sophie behind to work their combined connections.

Since it was New York, he took a cab and saved himself the joy of a three-peat of rental car hell in a single trip.  Patterson lived in the same apartment and walking up to the familiar door Donovan remembered the anticipation he felt a year ago.  It was now replaced by dread.

He reached up and knocked anyway.

A minute later he heard the locks inside sliding and the deep laugh of Gerard Patterson.  The door swung open, the kid’s longer hair dancing in the rush of wind from the opening door.  “Well, well, well… to what do I owe this expected visit from my old friend?”

Donovan resisted the urge to roll his eyes.  “You know why I’m here.  Let’s make this simple.  We need your help, what can I do to change your mind?”

Patterson grinned, a wide proud grin.  His hazel eyes were dancing with absolute delight—he was loving every second of this.  “Oh, my dear, dear Donovan.  I think you and I both know I’m never going to work for Seleron and it has everything to do with you.”

Of course it was.  If this whole thing weren’t so damn important to The Old Man, and if they had any more time to find someone else, Donovan wouldn’t even consider what he was about to do.  But things were the way they were.

He swallowed down his pride and apologized.  “Patterson, I’m sorry for the way I so aggressively shut down your operation.  Your problem is with me, not Seleron.”

Patterson ruffled his hair and leaned against the doorjamb.  He was barefoot and for some reason that irritated Donovan.  “Yeah, but as your associate already explained to me, I’d be working under you, not Seleron.”

It took everything Donovan had not to simply grab Patterson by the scruff of his neck and force him to come along.  They could argue and hash things out later.

“I promise I’m much nicer when you work for me, not against me.”

Patterson chuckled low in his throat.  “Nicer maybe, but I’m not sure you’ll be much more fun.  It was one of the best days I had all year.  Sparring with you was a true test, not one I get very often.”

The kid had raw talent mixed with extensive training.  Sparring with him had been fun for Donovan, too.  “How about this?  I promise to leave you alone to do your thing with no interference from me—”

“And no wise cracks.”

Donovan sighed, “I’m not going to say anything unless it relates to the job.  I’ll leave you alone and spar with you when we’re done.”  He cracked his knuckles and grinned for the first time.  “I won’t hold back at all.”

Patterson perked up, pushing away from the door frame.  “Promise?”

Oh, he had no idea.  Donovan was going to thoroughly enjoy kicking the crap of Patterson.  “I promise.”

The kid smiled and walked away.  “Give me a minute to grab my bag.”

“And a pair of shoes,” Donovan called.  Now all he had to do was get to Atlanta and find a missing mummy.

Read Chapter 5 now!

*****

Thanks for reading! I’m really excited about getting this series out to you! Let me know what you think in the comments!

And don’t forget to stop by the First Kiss Blog Hop next week!

25 Romance Authors25 First Kisses

 

Flash Fiction Friday: Chapter 3 of The Unspoken Game

Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday! This week I’m sharing Chapter 3 of The Unspoken Game: The Mummy Maneuver (out this May). I don’t think anyone has read this chapter yet (except the Sexy Editor). Not even my CP’s. So this week is pretty special.

If you need to play catch-up, you can read Chapter One here, and Chapter Two here.

And then Tuesday, April 8th I’ll be participating in the First Kiss Blog Hop with a piece of Flash Fiction inspired by the viral video of strangers kissing on camera! All I can say right now is my piece includes an adorable geeky-type guy (or is he?!) and a reluctant lady. And a kiss, of course!

But for now, here is this Friday’s Flash Fiction. Enjoy!

Music as Muse 2

Chapter 3

Antonia was relieved to see the familiar Seleron Technology logo on the side of the private jet.  In the back of her mind there was still a little lingering doubt she’d just agreed to follow a complete stranger to her death.

The jet was top of the line.  Leather seating that felt like butter beneath her fingertips, dark wood-grain accents, and soft lighting that was soothing to the eyes.  She could get used to traveling in private jets.

“Can I get you a drink?” the flight attendant asked.  He was incredibly short compared to Donovan and Scott, who turned out to be nearly as tall and fit as Donovan.  Maybe there was a corporate policy at Seleron Technology that required all men to be huge?

Antonia wasn’t exactly short herself.  Five-foot eight wasn’t tall, but it was above average.  Maybe she’d fit right in.  “Just a water for me, thanks.”

“Sparkling?”

“Sure…” she drawled.  She didn’t really care if came from a spring, carbonated, or distilled from the air.  She just wanted a glass of water.

“And for you Mr. Donovan?”

Antonia’s eyebrows shot up.  Mister?

“A water for me, as well.  Thank you, Hank.”

Hank smiled and left to get their drinks.

“So…” Antonia began.  “Donovan is your last name?”

His expression didn’t change in the slightest.  “Yes, it is.”

The man could be surprisingly difficult when he wanted to be.  “So what’s your first name?  You introduced yourself as Donovan, I just assumed it was your first name.”

This time he smiled behind his black sunglasses.  “You know what they say about assuming.”

Antonia sighed.  “Fine, Donovan.  I take back my offer.  It’s back to Dr. Warren for you.”

This time it was Donovan’s eyebrows that shot up with surprise.  He didn’t seem to like that turn of events very much, which was fascinating to Antonia.

“No one calls me by my first name,” he finally said.  He sounded stunned, like he couldn’t believe he was telling her this.

And that made Antonia bizarrely thrilled.  “Why is that?  Is it something embarrassingly horrible?”

Donovan chuckled.  “No, actually, it’s not.”

“You aren’t named Fitzpatrick or Himey or something?” she was playing with him now.

“Hey,” he scoffed.  “What’s wrong with Fitzpatrick?  That sounds distinguished to me.”

“Fitzpatrick Donovan?  Talk about a mouthful…”

He grinned, showing all of his perfect white teeth.  “You do have a point.”

Antonia wished she could see his eyes and gauge what he was thinking better.  As it was, she was staring a set jaw and a pair of shiny black lenses.  He was impossible to read like that.

“What’s with the glasses, Donovan?  You wear them all the time.  Can you see through those things?”

He nodded, and adjusted in his seat, sitting forward to reach across the little table separating them, taking off the glasses and handing them to her.  “Take a peek.”

He was actually offering his sacred glasses.  Antonia had a feeling it wasn’t something he did every day.  She hesitated at first, taking a moment to look at his eyes one more time.  He looked wary despite the smile on his face.  “Alright.”  She took the glasses and slid them on her face.  “They’re a computer!”

“Basically.  I can do just about anything with these babies.”

Running down the side of each lens was a stream of data.  It took her a moment to adjust to what she was seeing, but only a moment.  Down one side seemed to be coded updates, and down the other was data for Simon’s case.  “How do you control it?”

“Eye movement, mostly.  And this baby.”  He held up the watch on his wrist.  Upon closer inspection Antonia realized it was also a computer.

“It’s like I’m wearing glasses, not sunglasses.”  Everything around her was as clear as day, not shaded like she expected.

“The lenses always look black on the outside, but inside adjusts based on the lighting of the room.”

“Amazing, can I get a pair?” she asked, reluctantly sliding the glasses back off.

“Negotiate it into your next contract.”

Next?  Was there something she needed to know?  But before she could ask, they were interrupted.

“Donovan,” Scott called as he climbed inside.  “Here are the updates you asked for from HQ.”  He handed Donovan a black laptop.

“How are things coming with the others?”

Scott smiled tightly, “Sparks has agreed to meet you in Atlanta and we’re still working on Patterson, but there’s a complication with Reynolds.”

“Complication?” Donovan asked as he opened the laptop.  “What kind of complication?”

“She’s in jail.”

Donovan groaned.  “Again?  I told Jones to keep her out of trouble for forty-eight hours.”

Scott smiled and crossed his arms, easing himself into a wide stance.  “In his defense, I don’t think it was Jones’s fault.”

“I’m sure,” Donovan agreed under his breath.  “Change of plans, then.  We’re headed to Vegas.”

“You got it, boss.”  Scott headed directly for the cockpit.

“Vegas?  Shouldn’t we getting to Atlanta as fast as possible?”  She didn’t like this turn of events one little bit.

“It will be a quick detour, besides,” he said turning the laptop toward Antonia.  “You have plenty of work to do.”

On the screen was a 3D scan of Simon’s lab.

“As you can see we’ve scanned everything.  There’s also enhanced security footage and photographs of any evidence our team was able to find.”

Antonia studied the screen intently.  She worked with 3D scanning all the time.  It was common to scan archaeological sites and digs, even artifacts.  She knew the software in front of her well, but it was like it was juiced up on crack.  “Let me guess, this is the Super-Seleron version of 3D scanning software.”

“You better believe it,” Donovan replied.  “It’s like you’re already in Atlanta.  I think you’ll find this is just as useful as being in the lab yourself.  Besides, my team is tracking down leads right now.  Hopefully they’ll find Simon before we get there and all of this will turn out to be a fun plane ride for you.”

Somehow, Antonia doubted that very much.

“Who’s Sparks?”

“An old friend with as many—if not more—interesting connections to unscrupulous people as you.”

He was probably slimy and completely untrustworthy.

“And this Reynolds we’re going all the way to Vegas for?”

“She’s… complicated.  But her skills will be useful to us.  Trust me.”

Interesting choice of words coming from a man she’d known for a couple of hours and hid behind computerized glasses.

During the flight Antonia combed through the data from the lab.  She was so focused on the images in front of her she felt like she was really there in the lab.  It was hard to believe Simon felt scanning this mummy was important enough to risk so much.  It was a mummy.  A person dead and gone for thousands of years.

She was often in the minority when it came to her opinions on the past.  She wasn’t a “put in a museum” kind of girl.  The past was a tool for the present and a way to plan for the future.  It was incredibly important, but it had a time and place in modern society.

Yeah, her mother hadn’t agreed with her on that point, either.

She moved away from the scans of the lab and started pouring through the security footage.  It was hard to watch.  Seeing Simon dragged off, limp and drugged, was painful.  The question that kept bugging Antonia was why.  If they were after the mummy, why did they take Simon?  Or were they really after Simon and using the mummy as cover?

“We’re getting ready to land,” Donovan said quietly.

“Good,” Antonia replied.  The sooner they got Miss Reynolds, the sooner they could move on.

“Finding anything useful?”

Antonia took a deep breath and sat back and away from the computer for the first time in well over an hour.  She rubbed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose.  “I’m confused.  Why do you think they took both Simon and the mummy?  It seems like if they were after the mummy they wouldn’t need or want Simon around to complicate matters.”

“That’s an interesting point.”

“I mean, the whole history surrounding this particular mummy is complicated at best.  It’s now been stolen three times and because of its bizarre history.”  She sat up and ran the security footage again.  “They took the everything with them, Donovan.”

“What’s your point?”

She had his attention now.  “Why? What are they doing that requires Simon and his equipment? They aren’t just taking it to sell it. Something else is going on here.”

Donovan rubbed his jaw thoughtfully.  “You don’t think they’ve moved it very far from the lab, do you?”

“I think it’s somewhere very close by.” The thieves had an objective–and it wasn’t fleeing the country.

While they prepared to land, Donovan sent off several emails to his team in Atlanta refocusing their search.  Antonia set aside the data she’d been asked to look at and instead started to think like a thief.

She scanned maps of the surrounding neighborhoods hoping something would jump out at her.  Then she looked at her contacts, hoping to see a connection.  The minute they landed she had her phone out making calls.  Even if they weren’t planning on selling the mummy, they had to prepared to take it.  There had to be a clue somewhere.

“Leave your things here, we’ll be back in less than an hour.”  Donovan grumbled.

“It’s going to take you more than an hour to spring this lady out of jail, Donovan.”

He smirked at her as he stood up.  “Maybe for you, but not for me.”

“Does everybody always do whatever you say?”  Antonia was starting to see a trend where Donovan was concerned.

“Pretty much.  I have that special way about me that makes people bend to my will.”  He was grinning the whole time he was talking.

“Be careful, those special qualities have a way of backfiring,” she warned.

He laughed out loud, but then suddenly stopped at the door and turned around, looking down at her.  He was impossibly tall.  “My name is Cole—but never call me that,” he warned, then turned and walked down the stairs.

Antonia was stunned.  Cole was the perfect name to go along with those black eyes and dark demeanor.

Read Chapter 4 now!

*****

Thanks for joining me for another Flash Fiction Friday! Stop by next week and see what I have in store! And don’t forget about the First Kiss (#firstkiss) Blog Hop the week of April 7th! Three blogs a day, all week long, posting fresh flash fiction for free!

Also, join us Tuesday, April 1st for Music as Muse!

First Draught 2

Books! Giveaways! Books!

IT IS MY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!

As you can tell, I’m still like a six year old when it comes to my birthday. Well, any birthday really. I love them. I love the opportunity to celebrate life and have fun. Since I like celebrating so much, I’m having a giveaway. Actually, I’m having three. It’s pretty simple, in each giveaway are books I’ve read and enjoyed over the last few months that I want to share with all of you! I love books, I think the perfect gift are books. So BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS!!

Here’s how you enter. Each giveaway is posted here, plus Instagram, Facebook, TwitterGoogle+, and Tumblr. To enter, like each post on the social media platforms you use, plus leave a comment on this post. Each like, comment, and share is an additional entry! The more you do, the more entries you have in the giveaway. The contest will be open through the of the day Friday, February 28th, 2014 for entries. I’ve included the direct link to each post below each giveaway. I will draw random winners (three for each giveaway). Each winner will win one ebook from the giveaway.

*One note: these ebooks are purchased by me and have nothing to do with the authors in any way. I simply liked each of these books and want to share them with my fans as a special birthday gift. If we have enough entries I may throw in some additional ebooks and signed bookmarks… or even a paperback or two!

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And finally, a personal update from me (while hiding from my children):

Preview: Chapter 1 of Reflected in the Rain

Below is an special preview of Reflected in the Rain.  In Chapter One we pick up where Jake and Eve left off in The Storm Inside.  The end of the chapter has been left off since it is too sexy for my unrated website but trust me, like The Storm Inside, it is super steamy!  You’ll have to click on the Wattpad link if you want to read it in all its glory!

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Reflected in the Rain: Chapter One

Chapter 1

~Eve~

 

 

“You are not wearing that.” I stated flatly, shaking my head and putting my fists on my naked hips.

Jake’s eyebrows shot up in surprise as he stepped out of our closet.  “And what exactly do you suggest I wear instead?”

I thought about it for a moment before blurting out the only thing that came to mind.  “An orange prison jumpsuit.”

He burst out laughing and snuck his arm around my waist, kissing my neck up and down while he ground his hips against mine.  He wasn’t wearing anything special—just my favorite dark wash blue jeans and my favorite tight black t-shirt that showed off his tan skin, green eyes, and that fantastic body of his.  He looked hot and I knew every single woman who saw him all night long was going to see the same thing.  When he added in that casual nonchalance he had about life, Jake was irresistible.

For some reason, I could just picture Greg taking him to a strip club and getting a private room.  I could see Jake all casually sitting in a booth with one leg propped up on his knee and his long arm resting along the back of the booth.  I could see that bored, uninterested stare.

“Darlin’, you have nothing to worry about.”  His lips kissed the spot behind my ear that made my knees weak and I gasped as I was suddenly, completely, turned on.

“Want a quick present before you leave?” I gasped as his hand palmed my ass and jerked my body against his.

He pulled back just enough to look down into my eyes.  “Maybe.  But only if it’s because you’re horny and desperate, not because you think it will somehow keep me faithful.”

I squirmed under his intense gaze.  I felt stupid, but the jealousy was not going away no matter how hard I tried to push it down.  “Couldn’t it be both?”

Jake took a step back and put his hands on my arms.  “Eve.  How could you possibly…?” his mouth fell open.

I knew it was stupid and irrational.  I mean seriously, the man came back for me after ten years of waiting.  Of course he was mine, every bit as much as I was his.  I knew Jake had eyes only for me—it was actually one of the few things I believed in without question.  But that didn’t stop me from feeling jealous when he looked like that.

“It’s not you, Jake.  I promise.  It’s this ritual.  It just seems so silly…”

He laughed and pulled me onto the corner of the bed beside him.  “Babe.”  His green eyes searched all of mine.  He didn’t need to say anything else but I appreciated the way his hands wove up into my hair and the intense way his eyes were making love to me.  It almost pushed away the feelings of jealousy.

Almost.

“Have fun.  Just not too much fun,” I grumbled.

He kissed the tip of my nose and then my mouth—we made out like teenagers for a minute before he pulled away gasping.  “F*ck, Eve.  Only you…”  I knew exactly what he meant.  How could just kissing be so much fun?  “Go get dressed, woman.”

I hopped up and curtsied.  “Yes, sir.”

My hair and makeup were already done.  I even had on my jewelry.  I just needed to slip into my dress.  But it wasn’t until I looked into the mirror that I realized how sexy the dress was.  It didn’t seem that way on the rack yesterday, it almost looked classy.  Black and shiny, but skin tight.  With our crazy schedules I didn’t have time to try it on until now… turns out “black, shiny, and skin tight” was also very low cut and hit all my curves in just the right ways that my breasts looked bigger and hips looked sexier than normal.

My hair was down in long, loose waves and my makeup was dark and seductive.  I looked good.  I just wished it was Jake and I going out together like this so we could actually enjoy being dressed up.

As I stepped out of the bathroom, Jake’s eyes widened and his jaw flexed.  “Nope.  Not happening.”  He pointed at the closet.  “Pick out something else.”

I popped out my hip and tossed my hair over my shoulder.  “And what exactly do you suggest I wear instead?”

He glared at me and his nostrils flared.  “Do not go there.  I do not look like you!”

I laughed.  “You’re kidding right?  This,” I waved my hands from my head to my knees, “is exactly like that.” I did the same thing to his outfit.  “A sexy black dress is the male equivalent of what you are wearing, Jake.”

He opened his mouth to argue, then stopped.  “Really?”

I nodded and drank in the sight of him again.  He’d added a shiny silver watch to his wrist and black shoes.  Hot didn’t even begin to describe him.

“Well, f*ck!  What do we do now?  Because you are not going out like that.  Not without me on your arm.  Or wrapped around you.  F*ck.”

I sauntered across the room, wiggling my hips and breasts as I walked.  “I have a proposition for you.”

He raised an eyebrow and followed me with his eyes.  He was trying to look angry and skeptical, but it wasn’t working.  I could see he was both intrigued and turned on.

“We have,” I grabbed his wrist and held up his watch so I could read it, “thirty minutes until our rides arrive.  I will let you strip me out of this dress if you let me peel you out of your clothes and wrap my mouth around your cock.”

He was breathing harder now as his eyes wandered over my breasts.  “And we both pick out new outfits?”

I nodded, sliding my fingers under his shirt and against his warm skin.  “Deal?”

He didn’t answer me right away.  Instead he kept staring at me with a faraway look.  I was starting to wonder if he was going to answer me when his eyes darted up to mine.  “Tonight doesn’t mean anything.  And our wedding is only a formality, you know that right?”  His hand tightened on my hip and his gaze sharpened.  “There is no one else for me but you.  There’s never been anyone but you.  I’m already married to you in my mind.”

“I know,” I whispered, taking his face in my hands.  He had a little bit of stubble and it was rough against my palm.  I wanted to feel the bite of that stubble between my thighs.  “You know I feel the same way, right?”  Sometimes, in the midst of my own happiness, I forgot that inside Jake there was still some past insecurity that occasionally bubbled to the surface.

He nodded slowly, but I felt like my words somehow fell short.  “I could get ‘Property of Jake’ tattooed somewhere,” I offered with a smile.

He rolled his eyes and licked his lips, his eyes zeroing in on mine for a kiss.  “Don’t be ridiculous,” he murmured before kissing me so softly it took my breath away.  He kissed me again and again, taking more of my breath with him each time.  “Let’s have some fun before the cavalry arrives and pulls us apart.”

“Deal,” I whispered as I tugged at the hem of his shirt and he let me slide it over his head.

Read the rest of steamy Chapter One on Wattpad!  And stay tuned for more teasers!

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