Welcome to another Wingman Wednesday. This scene is from my romantic suspense, Friends and Lovers. Enjoy.
An hour later Wes and Chuck left the station. Wes clipped his cuffs back onto his belt and headed over to the driver’s side.
“Now what?” he asked across the roof.
Chuck gave it some thought. “I know it’s early but I could eat. Vickie’s grapefruit diet is killing me. I need a big juicy burger, and if you sell me out to my wife I’ll have to kill you.”
Wes laughed. “Noted. A hamburger sounds good.”
“But let’s walk over. It’ll give the car more time to air out. Goddamned alcohol fumes were making my eyes burn.”
Wes stepped back with his hands up, key ring bouncing against his palm, and grinned. “Now you’re talking. You sure you can handle a Broiler burger? Maybe we should find you a bib?”
Chuck snorted. “The wife will never know if I roll up my sleeves. Hell, I’ll open my shirt if I have to.”
“My day’s getting better and better,” said Wes dryly.
They cut across the parking lot, hopped a couple of curbs, and after a brief wait at the crosswalk, finally placed their orders at the window. The enticing smell of caramelized onion, sizzling beef, and crispy fries hung in the air.
Wes’s mouth was already watering when he picked up his tray and they claimed an empty picnic table. He bit into his burger then tugged a napkin out of the dispenser on the table, stopping a drip before it reached his watch. Glancing up at his partner, he snickered at all the napkins strategically poking out from between his buttons. At least the guy was still dressed.
“So, you start teaching tonight?” Chuck asked, munching a fry.
“That’s right.” Wes shook his head. “It’s funny how some things just seem to work out, like me dropping by the gym and finding out they were already looking for someone to take over the class.”
He took another bite, mulling it over as he chewed. Swallowing, he reached for his glass, using the straw as a pointer. “You should come too.”
Chuck screwed up his face in distaste. “No way. Unlike you, I have a woman who would miss me if I didn’t come home right away.”
“Rub it in.”
“Every chance I get.” Chuck popped a pickle into his mouth. “You really should give that woman at the shelter a call. It’s pretty obvious she floated your boat. What’s her name again?” He thought about it for a second and snapped his fingers. “Lauren.”
Wes set his burger down and blotted the corner of his mouth as it curled up. “Way ahead of you, big guy.”
“Good. There was something happening there, no denying it.”
Wes reached for his soda. “Is that right?”
Wes grinned and slipped his straw between his lips, allowing that comment to be the last thing said on the subject.
In honor of the March for Science this weekend, I thought it would be fun and fitting to share this scene from Grading on Curves. Enjoy.
“Why don’t I grab what we need and we can head outside, okay?”
“Good plan.” Her eyes swept the classroom. “At least now I have a visual so I can picture you when you’re working. I’ve tried to do it in my head a few times.” She laughed softly. “Okay, more than a few times. Do you walk around or hover in certain spots around the room?”
“During classes, I pace. During tests, I circulate. I guess it all depends on what’s going on.”
“Interesting.” Her eyes tracked him to the built-in cupboard in the far corner. “What are you after?”
He grabbed a pair of binoculars and a green Army blanket from inside. “These.”
Rejoining her at the door, he flipped off the lights and closed it behind them. The corridor was entirely dark except for the glowing exit sign at the very end. They went out that way. Since there was no way to open it again from the outside, he wedged it open with a large rock.
“Now what? Where are you taking me?” Mia asked.
“Out there, across the field.”
Holding hands, they left the sidewalk, crossed a utility driveway, and stepped onto the damp grass on the other side, every step taking them farther away from the lights. Without the moon in the clear night sky, he wasn’t surprised when Mia stumbled.
He was ready and kept her on her feet. “Watch your step.”
“I would if I could see anything.”
“Need to slow down?”
“I’ll be fine.”
He led her across the wide expanse of mown grass to the far edge of the football field and the un-developed acreage beyond.
“How much farther?” she asked a half second before he let go of her hand.
“We’re here.” Curt spread the blanket out on the ground. The sounds of crickets and frogs came at them from out of the darkness. “Sit.” He sank onto the blanket and drew her down with him.
“Now what?” The playful innuendo in her voice implied she already knew the answer.
Chuckling softly, he set her straight. “We’re going to stargaze. This is the perfect night—no moon and we’re as far as we can get from the lights. Hopefully, we should be able to see something.” Even though he knew she could barely make him out, she was staring at him anyway. It amused him. Curt stretched out on his back and gazed up into the inverted bowl of sky over them. “Mia, lie down. I won’t molest you.”
“Now you tell me,” she grumbled and dropped to her back.
He was smiling when he said, “Pick out a spot in the sky and really look at it. Try to notice how many points of light there are in it.”
Mia could hear the teacher coming out in Curt’s voice, the gentle direction. She liked it. She never noticed how soothing and persuasive his voice was because his heavenly eyes and his sinful body were such a distraction. It was a very stupid oversight. Now she knew she didn’t have to see him to respond.
Following his lead, she chose a cluster of stars just over her head. “Okay, I’ve got one.”
He gave her the binoculars. “You might need to adjust the focus. There’s a knob on top.”
She brought them to her eyes and fiddled for a second. “All clear.”
“Good. Do you remember your spot? Find it again with your naked eye. Then, when you’re ready, look at the same area through the binoculars.”
“Wow.” She was amazed. “There’s so many. A lot more than I realized.”
“Imagine what you could see through a telescope. I’ll have to set one up for you when the moon is out sometime. You’ll love it.” He was relaxed and silent at her side for a few minutes while she continued to investigate the night sky.
“Hey! Check out Mars,” he said.
“Right under Leo.”
“Shit. You don’t know your constellations, do you?”
Mia nibbled her lip, embarrassed. “I know the Big Dipper.”
He laughed and sat up. “Come here.” Spreading his knees, he created a back rest for her with his body. “Lean against me.”
She scooted between his legs and dropped her head back on his shoulder.
He swept her hair aside, out of his way. “Okay, I’m going to direct you.”
“What am I looking for?”
“About one o’clock.” He positioned her head back a little more. “I want you to find Leo with your naked eye first, because if you use the binoculars you’re going to have a harder time picking out the constellation.”
“Let’s give it a shot.”
“Now picture a crane or a flamingo. Can you see my finger?”
“Follow it. Imagine the corner of the body on the left, the arch of the back. Here’s the head right here looking to the right. Have you got it?”
“I think so.”
“Damn. I wish I had a book with me.”
“No worries. We’ll get you there.” He gave her leg a reassuring pat. “Follow my finger again. We’re going back to Denebola—our original star. Still with me?”
“Now let’s shoot straight down. See that planet?”
“Can I actually see the red?”
“Yes. Keep your eye on it so you can find it with the binoculars.”
Mia located Mars and laughed with excitement. “This is so cool.”
“Welcome to my world.” He hugged her.
“I’ve never done this before.” She panned away, then back and wondered if she’d be able to find it again without his help.
“I couldn’t tell,” he teased and was rewarded with an elbow to the solar plexus. After a beat, he pointed out the faint arc spanning horizon to horizon.
“See the dusty curve across there?” His arm followed it.
“Focus on it.”
“Whoa,” she said with a breath of wonder.
“That’s the Milky Way, our galaxy. Just imagine, we’re only one of those specks within that mess of specks—from any other point of light, indistinguishable from the rest.”
“Incredible.” She raised the binoculars again and exclaimed, “Hey, there’s a plane way up there!”
Curt laughed, shaking her gently. “You’ve just had your virgin satellite sighting.”
She passed the binoculars back so he could focus on his own points of interest. Just when she was starting to understand the appeal of stargazing, a dark shadow swooped over their heads. She shrieked and ducked, cowering against him.
“Was that a bat? I think it was a bat.”
“You’re okay. Calm down. They’re not interested in us.” His soothing teacher voice was back. “I put bat boxes all around this field to attract them. They’re extremely beneficial. You wouldn’t believe how many insects a single bat can eat in one night.”
She shrank again as another flew a few feet in front of them. While she continued to scan for more bats, he went back on topic.
“It’s too bad we aren’t outside the glow of the city. That’s when you’d really get a shock at how much it interferes with night sky viewing. Sure, I could set up a telescope,” he went on. “But even with a nebula filter, visibility isn’t great and the stars themselves will look dimmer.”
He eased down on his back and took Mia with him. “Fortunately, there’s a movement now to reduce light pollution and shade or direct city lights downward where they belong. Without government involvement though, astronomers face real challenges with their big telescopes.”
Mia turned over and kissed him, effectively cutting off his lecture.
He ruffled her hair and laughed. “Enough?”
“Okay.” His smile was barely visible when he asked, “Wanna fool around?”
“You read my mind.”
Mia curled over him, molding her body to his as they kissed. Curt’s hand came up behind her head and locked her mouth to his and the kiss deepened, leaving her breathless. She could feel him thicken and grow under her. Inspired, she rubbed against him, more than ready to take things to the next level.
“This time, I’m on top,” she informed him in a sexy purr and sat up to straddle him.
He gave her an encouraging bump from underneath. “Whatever makes you happy.” He fished his hands up the front of her shirt and gave her breasts a rousing squeeze.
“Mmm. You do that so right.” She leaned into his palms with a throaty moan.
“Um, Mia? You’re crushing me.”
“What? Sorry!” Horrified she’d hurt him, she slid back enough to take her weight off of his restricted erection and allow her access. “This should make you feel better,” she promised and drew the tab down to give him a little relief.
She was just running her thumb teasingly over the bulge swelling out of his fly when a black shadow dive-bombed her head. Mia screamed and dove for the blanket. She flattened out on her stomach next to him. “Fucking bats!”
The sexy mood now completely blown, Curt sighed, tucked himself back, and zipped up. “Well, it was a nice thought. But I guess this isn’t happening tonight. Come on.” He climbed to his feet and waved her off the blanket.
She rolled to the side, but kept her head down. “Don’t fold it. I’m going to hide under it.”
Laughing, he dropped it over her. “It’s yours. Maybe I’ll take you to visit the planetarium instead.”
Mia got pretty warm under the heavy blanket. But as she warily scoped the sky for more flying rodents—and yes, she knew bats weren’t technically rodents—she still preferred it to going back to the school without it.
She waited just inside the door while Curt returned the binoculars and blanket to his classroom then locked it again. He tested the outer doors to be sure they locked automatically behind them.
“I’ll follow you on our way back. You should wear something reflective next time we do this. I don’t want you to get hit. I’m easier to see.”
Mia couldn’t help but think my hero as she threw her leg over her bicycle.
Was it any wonder she’d fallen for him?
"Welcome! Betty Bliss here, coming to you live from the top of the Lewiston Marriott Plaza, overlooking the beautiful St. Clair River. I'm at the much anticipated launch party for the sexy contemporary romance, Caution: Filling is Hot. The energy in this ballroom tonight is palpable. Oh, I see the stars of Caution: Filling is Hot are making their way through the room. I'm off to intercept them before they're pulled away again."
BB: "Piper Frost! Piper, don't you look lovely. Can you tell me who you're wearing tonight?"
PF: "Betty, hello. Thank you. You look wonderful, yourself. I'm wearing Donna Karan."
BB: “Classic black formal gown—exquisite. And don't you look dapper, Chad. Armani?"
CT: Laughs. "Why, yes. Good eye."
PF: With a sidelong glance, but pride in her voice. "Chad's turning a few heads here tonight."
CT: He gives her a devilish wink. "So is Piper."
BB: "You look stunning together. I can see you're inundated by well-wishers, but I know my fans are wondering how you'll be spending tomorrow?"
Chad and Piper look at each other, obviously unprepared.
CT: "Well, I think we'll be spending time with the kids. Trying to be low-key. You know how it is. You want to keep things normal for children."
BB: "Of course. Are they here with you now?"
PF: "Actually, they're with my parents tonight."
BB: "Oh, how nice. And Chad, is your mother, Alice, here?"
Chad turns and nods toward the champagne fountain with a grin. "We hired a driver for her tonight."
BB: Laughs. "I see she's waving me over, and you're about to be pulled away. Why don't we wrap this up for now and I'll let you get back to your other guests? I'm so pleased for you both. Good luck tomorrow."
CT: Leans in and kisses Betty on the cheek then whispers with a playful smile. "You know, Mom's driver can always take you home, too."
BB: "Chad, you could lead a woman into temptation."
PF: Laughing and nodding. "Now you understand how hard he made it for me."
BB: "I do, Piper. I understand perfectly. Go—enjoy yourselves."
PF: "Thanks. You too."
BB: "This is Betty Bliss for Coming Attractions, signing off. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for all the details and highlights of this wonderful celebration. You won't want to miss it. Good night."
"As promised in my earlier interview with Chad Thomas and Piper Frost, the stars of the new Caution: Filling is Hot, I'm willing to tell you all about their big launch party at the Marriott Plaza last night, but I beg you—no questions today. And if anyone raises their voice above a whisper, I will not be held accountable for my actions. Mandy, if you knock anything else on the floor—and I'll hear it—you're fired. Not…today.
I'd like to say I had my finger on the pulse of this gala affair; unfortunately, I was the victim of Chad’s evil mother.
Alice, you won't know when, you won't know where, but it’s happening. I owe you.
That woman must have been a bartender in a former life. Or the hostess from hell. I never had an empty glass in my hand.
I'd also like to say that I behaved with grace and decorum, but, well, the pictures out this morning took care of that. It's true, and I'm not proud of it, I did get shoveled into the back of Alice's limo by three male guests. Thank god, I can't remember them.
Gentlemen, thank you for your service last night, but please, don't call me with reminders. Just a moment.
I need aspirin, Mandy. How did you not understand what I was signaling and mouthing to you through the glass? Honestly.
Sorry about that. Anyway, I'm going to put on a repeat of my Coming Attractions interview with Chad and Piper then go home, gently lay a cool compress on my forehead, and hope I can face tomorrow with my usual plucky disposition. Thanks for understanding. This is Betty Bliss, signing off. Good morning to you.”
To celebrate the re-release of Caution: Filling is Hot in all it's scrumptious glory, I'm sharing this scene today. Enjoy. Oh, and keep reading. I'm also posting some fun stuff from Betty Bliss of Coming Attractions fame.
When Chad’s guests arrived thirty minutes later, the steaks were just about to go on the grill, the potatoes were nearly done, the salad looked beautiful, and the bottle of red wine was uncorked and breathing.
Piper hid out in the kitchen when he went to greet his friends. Taking a peek around the corner, she saw him show them into the living room. Her heart dropped into her nervous stomach when he came back for her.
“Come on,” he coaxed. “They want to meet you.”
She shook her head and backed away. “I’m not staying.”
“Of course you are.” Without giving her a chance to argue, Chad took her by the hand and tugged her through the archway. She half hid behind him when his friends looked up and he announced, “Tonight’s dinner might not have happened if not for the cool intervention of this woman here. Piper Frost, take a bow.”
His grin got even bigger when she rolled her eyes at him. Looking at the bewildered couple, she explained, “He ruined his roast.”
“We’re having roast?” the woman asked.
Chad gave a quick little headshake and screwed up his face. “Not anymore. Now it’s steak.”
“Now it’s edible,” Piper amended with a laugh.
“Piper, meet my two oldest friends.”
“Oldest?” The woman shuddered.
Chuckling, he corrected himself. “My closest friends then—Brent and Pam Fuller.”
“Hello,” Piper said, a tad bashfully.
“Hi,” said the Fullers at the exact same time, and in the exact same way. They all laughed at that.
Then Chad rubbed his hands together, poised to play his part. “Anyone interested in a glass of wine?”
Pam raised her hand. “If you’re pouring, I won’t say no.”
He glanced at her husband. “Brent?”
“Sure. I’ll give you a hand.”
Chad looked at the two women. “Why don’t you ladies get acquainted? We’ll be right back.”
With that, he walked out, placing the unofficial hostess duties squarely on Piper’s shoulders.
“Might as well sit down.” Piper motioned to the couch.
Once seated, the inevitable awkwardness returned. Piper gave a helpless laugh.
“Why don’t I start us off? Tell me, how long have you known Chad?”
Pam’s brows pinched together as she did the mental calculation. “Hmm, I guess it’s been what, twelve years now?”
“So you can vouch for him then?” she joked.
“I’ve done it before,” Pam said with a twinkle in her eye. “When I introduced him to my best friend, Chelsea.”
Piper’s smile collapsed. “Oh god. I walked right into that one. I’m so sorry.”
Smiling kindly, Pam shook her head. “Don’t be. It’s not a decision I regret. Not even a little. Chad made her happy.”
“You must miss her.”
“I do. But it gets easier over time.” Her expression softened and she smiled at Piper. “I’m so glad he’s finally going out again. You have no idea how much we’ve worried about him.”
“Oh no. We’re not dating.” Piper rushed to correct her. “It isn’t like that between us. We’re just friends.”
Clearly taken aback for a moment, Pam didn’t get an opportunity to pursue it further because the guys returned. Brent strolled over to his wife and handed her a glass of wine, then settled into the nearest wing chair.
“I guess this one’s for you.” Chad handed the extra glass he carried to Piper. He claimed the remaining chair.
“Hold it,” Brent said before anyone could take a sip. “I want to make a toast.”
Pam stared, hard, at her husband, trying to communicate something to him while Chad shot him a stern look across the coffee table. Brent merely winked at him and sat forward, holding out his glass. “Here’s to round two.”
Chad’s eyes bulged in alarm. The idiot was going to ruin everything! He shook his head, silently pleading with his friend to shut up.
Brent simply grinned and ignored his expressive glare. “Let’s call it flank steak.”
Flank steak, my ass, Chad thought as he leaned in to rap his glass against the others. Luckily Piper didn’t appear to read anything more into it, but if he didn’t haul Brent aside and explain a few things to him, pronto, all his best-laid plans were going to come crashing down on his head.
The opportunity came only minutes later when Chad invited Brent outside while he checked the steaks. The ladies moved to the kitchen table where a platter of munchies awaited. From the deck, he watched them draw fresh vegetables through the dip while they chatted like old friends.
He gave the steak an inattentive poke and leaned back to peer around Brent. He couldn’t believe he was actually spying on them through the screen door. His ear perked up at Piper’s laugh. She shook her head at what she was hearing. By body language alone, he could tell when Pam said, “I swear!” They fell over themselves laughing.
That probably wasn’t good. What was she telling Piper, anyway?
“Um, Chad?” ventured Brent. “Are you going to flip that steak or do you want me to do it?”
Brent laughed. “Oh man, you are gone.”
Chad’s spun on him and whispered in a harsh tone, “Don’t say that.”
“Just stating the obvious.”
“Please.” Chad pressed the air with his hand and lowered his voice. “If Piper hears that, she’s out of here.”
Brent twisted open a beer, his drink of choice, and frowned. “I don’t get it. She likes you. Even I can see that, and I’m not the most perceptive guy in the world.”
“Yeah.” Chad flipped the last steak and closed the lid. “But that old boyfriend of hers did a number on her. I’d love to track him down and punch him right in the face.”
Brent’s eyebrows shot up at Chad’s simmering anger. “What did he do?”
“Used her, drained her, and threw her away.”
Chad sneered in disgust. “Big time.”
Brent nodded slowly. “And now he’s casting a shadow over your love life.”
“Looks that way. Let me have some of that.” He held out his hand and Brent passed him the beer. Chad took a swallow and handed it back.
“If that’s the case, can I say something?” Brent asked cautiously.
“You need to pull it back a notch.”
Chad chuckled at himself, at the situation, at the whole bloody mess of it all. “How am I supposed to do that?”
“You can’t take your eyes off of her. A blind man could see how you feel about Piper. It’s obvious. That’s all. You should know that if you think you’re going to pull this off.”
Chad closed his eyes and groaned. “Shit.”
It's Teaser Tuesday and I'm sharing a doozy. Enjoy this scene from Sweetest Taboo, part of the Pelican Cay series.
Lance had a kitchen table somewhere under all that clutter, but he preferred to eat standing up, leaning against his counter. It was easier to wander over to the cabinets or fridge if he wanted to doctor up the dish du jour. Though he thought he might want a little soy sauce for his pineapple shrimp, it was perfect as is.
There were three large take-out cartons on the counter behind him and a steaming plate in one hand, a set of chopsticks in the other. He was in heaven. Just as he scooped some rice into his mouth, he heard a knock on the door followed by Kavita’s voice.
“Lance?” She’d popped her head inside, knowing she was welcome anytime.
He took a couple of steps back from the counter and peeked around the archway. “Hey. Come on in.”
They joined him in the kitchen.
Angie came to a dead stop when she saw he was eating. “We don’t want to interrupt your dinner. We can come back later.”
“Don’t sweat it. You want some? There’s plenty…and it’s good. So good.” He groaned with pleasure and they both grinned at him.
“You sure you don’t mind?” Angie asked.
“Hell no. Grab a plate and a fork.”
“Ooo,” Kavita sighed, moving in to take a hungry peek in the cartons. “What are we eating?”
He swallowed a slivered carrot and said, “Pineapple shrimp, mixed vegetables, and rice.”
“Excellent.” Angie got down two more plates and handed one to Kavita. They dug in, savoring the aromas they’d released.
“Wait,” Kavita announced. “I just remembered we have a bottle of wine next door that would go great with this. Why don’t we take the party over to our place? I’ll pop the cork and we can sit outside on our deck.”
Angie turned to him, pristine fork poised over a container, waiting. He smiled. “Sure, sounds good.”
They brought the containers with them, going the back route and up onto their deck. As he and Angie set things out on the table, Kavita went inside for the wine and glasses. Angie ran into the kitchen for napkins while Kavita poured.
Settling into chairs, they enjoyed the meal. Angie was the one to eventually bring up the radio spot.
“I hope that gives you enough time to throw something together,” she said after filling him in.
“More than enough time,” he assured them. “Do you want any music behind it? I recommend it.”
“Maybe some Brazilian Café?” suggested Kavita, her brows raised as she looked to Angie for input.
Angie shrugged. “That would be good. Or bossa nova? I don’t know. Just make it something upbeat, but not distracting.”
“I’ll find something.” He stood and began to close up what was left in the containers now that they were done eating.
“Wait.” Angie rose and held out the nearly empty bottle. “Finish your wine first. I want to pop another bottle.”
Lance drained his glass and held it out to her. Kavita followed suit.
“Be right back.” Angie blew a saucy air kiss over her shoulder then sauntered into the house.
He grinned at Kavita. “She’s a flirty thing. I didn’t know that.” Wandering over to the railing, he leaned against it and sipped what Angie had poured him.
She laughed. “There’s a lot you don’t know about Angie.”
Intrigued, he simply studied the beautiful woman watching him. The expression in her eyes beguiled him. The temptress was out tonight.
Angie rejoined them, holding the next bottle. “Who’s first?” She looked equally wicked, or playful. Could she be both? He wondered.
“I’ll probably regret it…hit me.” Kavita held out her glass and Angie filled it halfway. Then Kavita cast a challenging glance his way. “Lance?”
“What the hell?” He offered his own glass and received an equal pour.
All three stood there in the waning light, contemplating one another while the steady sound of the waves rising then retreating filled the quiet gulf between them. He was getting the strangest vibe off of them tonight.
Kavita turned to Angie and asked, quite seriously this time, “I know we talked and talked about it, but now I’m having second thoughts. What do you think?”
The manner with which Angie quietly studied him made Lance swallow—hard. Then she nodded to Kavita. “Me too. We have to know. Go ahead.”
He drew back, suddenly wary. “What’s going on?” Growing more paranoid by the second, he felt a little like an explorer who’d just strayed into a band of cannibals.
“Nothing.” Kavita stalked slowly toward him. “Yet.”
He gave an uncomfortable laugh and looked over at Angie. “You can tell me. It’s okay.”
Kavita stopped right in front of him, her bare toes touching the tips of his. He felt the brush of her gorgeous breasts against his shirt. God, she was beautiful.
“Tell me something.” Her voice was in a seductive register. The musician, and the man in him, responded. He couldn’t look away from her dark eyes. They owned him. “Why aren’t you seeing anyone?”
His mind scrambled to find an acceptable answer for her. He swallowed again and said, “Not interested.”
“Uh huh.” She cast a look over her shoulder at Angie and they smiled at one another. Angie gave her a nod.
Turning back to him, Kavita set her glass of wine on the railing behind him then gently lifted his out of his hand. She set that glass beside her own. He was frozen, waiting, wondering, hoping, terrified to hope. What the hell was going on?
Then she rose up on her toes, leaning her body full against his, and slid her hand up his chest and around the back of his neck. He didn’t resist. He thought he should. Felt he should, but couldn’t. He’d wanted this for too long.
Their lips brushed, caressed then devoured. He wanted to gulp her down, consume her, yet he forced himself to keep his hands on her hips and not take over. What he couldn’t control was the long hidden secret spilling from his tongue to hers as they kissed.
Kavita eased back with a sad, sober smile and touched two fingers to her lips. “I thought so.”
He dropped his hands, ashamed of himself.
“Lance, are you in love with me?” she asked.
Knowing the truth was out now, it was pointless to deny it. “Yes,” he whispered. He looked toward Angie, silently begging her forgiveness, but she looked back at him with the same understanding smile.
“And Angie?” Kavita asked softly, bringing his attention back to her. “Do you love her too?”
Ah fuck. “There’s a distinct probability,” he replied, even more ashamed.
Kavita turned and held out her hand to Angie. “Come here. You have to try this. It’s nice.”
Drawing Angie forward, Kavita stepped aside and suddenly he was looking into Angie’s luminous face. Her eyes were a dark, midnight blue in this light and her slender body had less give than Kavita’s, but it was still soft and felt wonderful against him. She slid both hands up and behind him and he took hold of her slim hips as she drew him down.
The technique between the women varied, but he liked both kisses equally. Where tender Kavita gave and shared, Angie took. She was assertive, aggressive, and she made soft growling sounds deep in her throat as their hungry mouths mashed together. Those base sounds shot straight to his groin.
Then she drew back, stroking his face just before she broke contact with him.
“Very nice,” she agreed with a smile for Kavita.
“I told you.”
They considered him thoughtfully then both dropped their eyes down his body to the incriminating bulge in his shorts.
Angie turned to Kavita, her smile deepening, and said, “Something tells me it’s time we talked.”
*Read the FULL story today.
There are a lot of 'inspirational' photos drifting my way through my romance connections. I look forward to Man Candy Monday and Hunks Who Read. I rather enjoy straying upon the random day- brightener wearing nothing more than a smile. But here's where I get weird. I try to get into these bare-chested guys' heads. I wonder, "What are they thinking here?"
When they're stripping for one of these photo sessions, they obviously know they're about to be objectified for those pecs, those arms and shoulders, those tight abs. How does that make them feel? Do their biceps start to cramp when holding a certain position for several minutes? When they're told to give the camera a sultry come-to-me look, do thoughts like, 'This is lame,' and 'I feel like an idiot,' drift through their minds?
Hot book covers really present me with questions. Does this guy mind pulling on a kilt for an hour? How about wearing a wig? Is it awkward being posed with a total stranger in a compromising position? When he's sliding his hand down her bottom could he be wondering, ’Did I put the dog out before I left?’ Is he regretting what he ate for lunch and trying hard not to exhale onion breath in the woman's face? Is he uncomfortable in that leather get-up, holding that whip? Are there pictures he really doesn't want his mother to see?
I suppose this type of modeling is like acting. They're given a wardrobe, or at least props, told how to get into character, and directed. It's a job. Still, I often imagine doing this would demand one heck of a sense of humor. I can totally see the models hamming it up just to alleviate the awkwardness.
"You want me to put my hand where?" he'd ask the photographer.
See what I mean? There's a guaranteed smile after a cheeky question like that.
When I think about how my spunky heroine, Charley, first reacted to Drake in Forest Fires, I'm reminded of the song from Sesame Street, One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just doesn't belong. Remember it? A simple song meant to teach association skills to young kids.
Unfortunately, in the real world we use subtle clues to compartmentalize people as well. We make snap judgments based on appearance, cars, jobs, even where a person lives. Those are just the superficial distinctions; faith, political persuasion, sexual orientation, marital status, income bracket—all these are used to create social cliques. From there, we continue to weed people out, or include them in our circles.
When Charley and Drake first meet, he's only just arrived in the wilderness area she calls home. Regardless of her immediate attraction, she’s quick to write him off simply for the shirt he's wearing. He doesn't dress like the local guys. This biologist looks too neat, too clean-cut to tough it out up there.
Her initial impression is wrong of course, but it takes an act of bravery on Drake's part before she's finally convinced her snap judgment was way off base.
Charley grows to understand and accept herself for the first time once she allows Drake into her closed world. But suddenly the question always at the back of her mind, "Are you strong enough to be my man?" is flipped on her.
Maybe the question she should have been asking is, "I'm I strong enough to love this man?"
It's Wingman Wednesday. Enjoy this scene from Going Solo.
The betrayal, anger, disappointment, and shock directed at Shasta crushed her, yet it was entirely understandable.
Dee’s pretty face contorted in fury. “You bitch! How long have you been keeping this from us?”
Ashamed of herself, Shasta gave her stunned audience a sorrowful shrug. “I don’t know. Honestly. I don’t know. Call it denial—whatever. I didn’t want to deal with it…so I didn’t.”
Sarah pinned her anger on Blake. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
Shasta took exception to the shift in blame. “Sarah, stop. Blake’s been ragging on me to come clean with you guys. It wasn’t his responsibility. It was mine, and I blew it. I’m sorry. I just, well—” Letting her guitar strap catch the weight of her guitar she linked her hands behind her head and blew out a heavy breath. “I just didn’t want to let you down.”
She looked from one face to the next. When she came to Bose, she paused, seeing sympathy and understanding in her eyes.
“I get the voice thing,” said Bose. “But are you sure you have to quit? We still need a bassist.”
“She’s done,” Dee broke in, not giving Shasta a chance to answer.
“Hang on!” Miri’s back went up and, her hands on her hips, she confronted Dee. “This is a band decision. You don’t speak for all of us.”
Bose glared at their lead guitarist, equally angry at the unilateral decision. “Screw that, Dee. We need to talk about this.”
Dee’s arm slashed toward Shasta. “She burned you--all of us. You’re telling me you’re still willing to work with her?”
Miri and Bose turned to Shasta. Both looked unhappy, but clearly reluctant to vote her out of the group so quickly. All three started talking at once, forcefully, vying to be heard. Then Sarah stepped into the fray, her voice adding to the racket.
Blake’s hand landed heavily on Shasta’s shoulder. The unexpected weight made her list sideways a good two inches. She looked up and they made eye contact.
He cocked his brow at her. “What do you think?”
“I fucked up.” She deflated in shame and misery, braced to accept the consequences.
“No question, but what I was asking…ah never mind. I’ve got this.” He removed his hand and, slipping the index and middle fingers between his lips, blew a piercing whistle. The sound was so shrill everyone jumped, including Shasta. Even though she knew it was coming, nothing could have prepared her for the volume.
All five women spun around and stared at him. He held up a peaceable hand and calmly said, “You need to talk. Talk.” He enunciated the word to get his point across. “Go easy on Shasta. This wasn’t easy for her.”
With that, he walked out, towing the eyes of every woman with him. The heavy steel door closed behind him with an audible whump.
Four sets of eyes swung back around and landed on Shasta. It sent her back a step and made her even more uncomfortable now that Blake was gone. Not for a million years would she have expected this from him. He’d shown up and stood by her. The guy had her back. Far-freaking-out.
What the hell did that mean?
**Read the book today**
It's Teaser Tuesday again and I'm sharing a scene from Dark Storms, the third Pelican Cay story. Hero's sister, Adriana, craves excitement but gets more than she bargains for.
Gabe was sprawled face down on his bed, the twisted sheet draped loosely over one leg and pinned beneath the other, when he was roused by a rap on his door. He shook himself awake as another knock sounded. The digital clock on the bedside table told him it was nearly two in the afternoon.
Grunting and groaning, he rolled to his side and rubbed his eyes. “Hang on. I’m coming.”
He swung his legs off the bed, grabbed the untucked sheet, and wrapped it around his waist as he shuffled to the door. Still a little drowsy, he tried and failed to manage the chain stop and gave up, pulling the door open without it.
Adriana was on the other side. Her eyebrows shot up and she gave him a wicked grin. “Good afternoon. I brought coffee from the lobby.” She looked him over, very carefully, and her smile widened. “Why don’t you get dressed and meet me on your little patio?”
“Ah…” He followed her eyes down his bare torso to the loose bed sheet and rubbed the back of his neck. “Sure. Be right with you.”
She put a little extra wiggle in her walk as she wandered off. Grateful and grinning now himself, he closed the door. Whatever was on top in the bureau drawers is what he grabbed and took into the bathroom.
Adriana was relaxing in one of his two patio chairs when he joined her. She took in his lightweight track pants and Navy t-shirt and gave a sad little sigh. “Gone, but not forgotten.” Before he could respond, she picked up a thermal mug from the little table next to her and offered it to him.
“Thanks.” The mug was brand new and stamped on the outside with the resort’s logo.
“I didn’t know what you like, so I just went with our special Pelican Cay roast and two amaretto creamers.”
He leaned against the railing and took a taste. “Mmm, works for me. Thanks again.”
“Did you get enough sleep?”
“Plenty. I usually only need about six hours a night.”
She frowned. “So you didn’t go to bed right away?”
“I needed to wind down first.”
“Hmm.” She seemed to mull that over for a moment then shook herself and looked up at him, brows arched. “I noticed you don’t have a shift until tomorrow morning. Would you like me to show you around? I’ll give you a tour of the island.”
“Aren’t you working?”
“It’s slow. I asked if I could leave early.” She winked at him. “I have an in with the boss.”
He took another pleasurable swallow, finally waking up. “Lucky. Sure, I’d love a tour.”
“Bring your trunks. Who knows, we might find time to take in a little swim.” She stood up and tipped back her own cup, draining it. “I have a couple of things to finish. Why don’t you meet me at the front desk? I’ll introduce you to Rosa. After that, I’m all yours.”
It was hard to mistake her invitation when it came coupled with a flirty little smile. Not only were they on the same wavelength, but he was receptive to the idea. “Sounds good. I’ll catch up with you.”
She left him there and Gabe ran back into his quarters to brush his teeth, find his trunks, and grab his wraparound sunglasses. Working his feet into his leather sandals, he looked around, wondering how he was supposed to carry his damn trunks. He didn’t have a bag small enough. Ah, screw it. He wadded them in his hand, slid his wallet into his back pocket and plucked his keys off the bedside table. Out of habit, he tested the door once it closed to be sure it locked properly.
The grounds crew was busy. He could hear the buzz of trimmers being used around beds and borders. At least one riding mower passed nearby, making curving patterns in the grass on its way back between the buildings.
Skipping up the two steps and into the airy lobby, he met Adriana’s gaze over the counter and they both smiled. His heart beat just a little faster at seeing her again. It was ridiculous. She’d just left him five minutes ago. Yet, he couldn’t stop his blazing grin from flaring to life when she looked at him.
“Hey,” he greeted her. “Almost ready?”
“Just about. I have to put the paychecks into the boxes then I’m done. Hang on.” She turned and called, “Mom? Gabe’s here.”
An attractive woman stepped out of the office. She was a little shorter, a bit thicker through the body, but clearly Adriana’s mother. Smiling, she approached the tall counter, giving him a friendly once over. The women’s smiles were identical. Where they differed was the eyes, or rather the expression in the eyes. Adriana looked at him with familiarity, intimacy, and open amusement.
“Gabe? I’m Rosa. It’s nice to have you here with us. Are you settling in okay? Have any questions or concerns?”
Startled, his eyes cut to Adriana and he shook his head. “Um, no. Your daughter was very helpful.”
Rosa patted Adriana on the back. “I’m glad to hear it. Honey, I’ll take those checks. Don’t make him stand around waiting for you.”
“Thanks.” Handing them over, Adriana gave her mom a quick kiss on the cheek. “I guess we’re out of here. I’ve got my phone if you need to reach me.”
Rosa turned her around and with hands on both shoulders, walked Adriana out from behind the counter.
Summarily dismissed, Adriana spun around. “Wait, I need my bag.”
Gabe was snickering when she came back out of the office swinging a canvas bag by the straps.
“Here.” She opened the top of the bag and thrust it at him. “Drop your drawers.”
She cringed at how that came out, but he was grinning when he dunked his swim trunks in her bag.
“You have a talent for innuendo.”
Adriana slapped herself in the forehead and laughed. “This isn’t me. I have no idea where it’s
coming from, but I can’t seem to help it.”
“I’m not complaining.” In fact, he was enjoying it. He hoped she didn’t stop.
“Good.” Still shaking with the giggles, she admitted, “The last thing I want to do is make you uncomfortable.”
“That’s not possible.”
“Whew.” Fanning her face to cool her blush, she gestured to the double doors. “Let’s go.”
It was when they rounded the building and followed the walkway to the parking lot that he felt the same damn prickling sensation on the back of his neck again. Glancing around, he spotted the same maintenance man who’d glared at him the day before. He was working on a guestroom lock today.
Gabe quietly pointed him out to Adriana. “Who is that?”
She released a deep, uneasy breath. “Derrick Palmer. He’s been here about six years, a couple of years longer than me anyway.”
“I don’t think he likes me.”
“Lucky you,” she muttered quietly.
His head turned sharply back to her and he frowned. “What do you mean?”
She threw up a hand, waving his question away. “Just being flippant. It’s nothing.”
“Is he hassling you?”
“Not exactly.” She picked up the pace, forcing him to pursue her if he was going to read her face.
“It’s not even what he says. It’s how he looks at me when he says it. He watches me. It makes me uncomfortable. It’s my issue.”
“I could talk to him.” Regardless of what she said, he was going to keep an eye on Derrick. She wasn’t the only one getting a bad vibe from the guy.
“That’s the last thing I want.” She stopped on the edge of the parking lot and looked up at him with a tight, apologetic smile. “Do you mind driving? All I have is my motor scooter.”
“My Jeep is a piece of shit.”
Adriana laughed. “I don’t mind.” He pointed it out to her and she grinned. “I’ve seen worse.”
“You’ve been forewarned.”
“I’ll risk it.”
They hopped in. She looked up from fastening her seatbelt and made another request. “Can we stop at my house so I can run in for my bathing suit?”
He slipped on his sunglasses. “That depends. Is it a bikini?”
She shoved him in the shoulder and broke into another wonderful laugh. “A sexy one.”
“Point the way.”
**Read the full story today.**
Hopeful scribe and word-aholic. Loves reading, loves writing, loves my family and friends, and is tickled beyond measure that you've stopped by.
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