Category Archives: Mid Week Tease

Mid Week Tease: Shifter Woods: Snarl #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, lovelies! This week we’re cutting away to my shifter romance Shifter Woods: Snarl and picking up where I’d left off. Jack, a former SEAL and Alpha wolf shifter, has discovered that the cougar shifter daughter of his former commander is his mate — but she can’t smell due to an accident and has no idea that they’re meant to be together. He’s just dissuaded a horny customer of the Cougar Ridge Ski Resort from harassing her, and Kate is both appreciative and irritated. Let’s see which emotion wins out.

Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

A flicker of pleasure lit Kate’s belly at Jack’s behavior. She wasn’t looking forward to having to put the guest on the floor, but it wouldn’t be the first time she’d had to physically discourage a horny human male.

And then Jack made it unnecessary. The independent side of her bristled at him stepping in, but something very basic and female appreciated both the effort and his verbal support of her. “Let go of the gentleman, Mr. Hawthorne. I have this,” she said crisply.

Jack let go of the guest immediately. “Yes, ma’am.”

As expected, the human straightened up and went directly into aggression mode. “Who the fuck do you think you are,” he yelled at Jack. “I’m gonna sue you for assault.”

“No, you’re not.” Kate stepped between them, giving the guest a flat, feline smile. “Because if you do, I’ll countersue for harassment, which our cameras captured,” she nodded at the unobtrusive camera mount in the ceiling. The man looked up at it and blanched. “And then I’ll make sure you’re barred from every ski resort in New Mexico. And believe me, I can.” She allowed her smile to widen. “So I suggest you go upstairs, get packed, and leave. We’ll reimburse you for the day’s room rental, of course.”

The human swallowed audibly, attention flickering between her and Jack. She could feel the wolf shifter standing just behind her, menace radiating over her shoulder. “Fine. Didn’t want to stay here, anyway,” he muttered, shuffling around them and through the bar’s double doors.

Kate let out a breath, then turned to Jack. “Thank you for that, but it wasn’t necessary.”

Unexpectedly he smiled at her. The expression lit his eyes, making them sparkle, and she couldn’t stop herself from smiling back. “I know, and I’m sorry if I overstepped,” he said, his voice a low rumble. “But you applying a beat down would’ve hit him on his male bump, and he would have sued just to soothe his ego. This way, he gets to think he was smart to leave, and you don’t have to worry about nuisance lawsuits.”

She felt a moment of surprise at the assessment, then wanted to laugh. Why the hell are you surprised? He’s a SEAL — threat assessment is what they’re good at. “I … see. Well, anything that makes my life easier is always appreciated.”

His smile warmed a few degrees. “I live to serve.”

And the flutter low in her belly was back. She couldn’t help imagining him naked and in her bed, all furry and hard and willing to serve— Jesus Haploid Christ, Chandler, get your mind out of the gutter. “Are you off now?”

“According to Wayne.” He looked abashed. “I came up here to drop off the stuff I found on the trails. I offered to go back and keep working, but—”

She wanted to smack herself. Every SEAL she’d ever met had insane levels of endurance when it came to physical labor, and clearly Hawthorne wanted to work. “That wasn’t a criticism,” she said quickly. “If you were heading back to the house, I was going to ask you to take out the sausage meat out of the freezer and let it thaw. I forgot to do it before I left this morning.”

“Oh. Yeah, I can do that.” He shoved his hands in his parka’s pockets. “Do you want me to do anything else?”

The need beneath the question, the drive to be active and useful, was something she understood perfectly. “We’ve got some wood behind the house that need splitting. Dad keeps meaning to get to it, but he’s been swamped these last few weeks. If you could get those chopped for the fireplace—”

His smile was back. “Be happy to. Where do you keep your ax?”

“In the shed behind the house. There’s a chainsaw there, too, if you want to cut the logs up for easier chopping.”

He snorted. “Where’s the fun in that?”

Kate shook her head. Yeah, he’s a SEAL. “You got your orders, specialist,” she said, allowing a hint of playfulness into her tone.

“Yes, ma’am.” Another arm twitch of a smothered salute and he headed off. She watched him go, wishing that his parka didn’t get in the way of watching what she suspected was a truly magnificent ass.


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Mid Week Tease: To My Muse #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, lovelies! This week I’m going back to To My Muse, where Lily keeps waiting for the other shoe to drop with Tom, but it never does.

Yet, anyway. Hur, hur, hur.

Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

That morning slowly turned into an afternoon, and both of them ranked as the most amazing in my life. We strolled through the best shopping Palm Springs had to offer and I couldn’t even be bothered to drool over any of the dresses, shoes, or jewelry. I was having too much fun being with Tom.

There’s one huge difference between fantasy and reality, and it’s not just because one takes place in your head and the other takes place in front of you. When you have a crush on someone and fantasize about being with them, your imagination is supplying everything that’s going on so it’s going to be perfect (at least, unless you’re into self-flagellation. I have a friend who always imagines her crushes cheating on her so that she doesn’t get too sucked into the dream. I ask you). So your fantasy partner is always funny, charming, great in bed, and interested in all the same things you are. And then you wind up hooking up in reality, and you realize he’s an anime fan and you barely know who Sailor Moon is, or he looks at you blankly when you rhapsodize about the MCU, or he turns out to be a Republican and you voted for Hillary.

The point I’m making is, fantasy is always better than reality because it’s exactly what you want it to be. So I kept waiting for the point where I discovered that Tom chewed with his mouth open, or smoked, or thought that Kim Kardashian was the height of sexiness.

And it never came. He wound up being better than my fantasies, the gorgeous English bastard. We kept trading embarrassing childhood stories, favorite movie quotes, and opinions on everything from politics to whether or not Benedict Cumberbatch had green or grey eyes (“Look, I met him, and I tell you they’re green. When he’s not playing Sherlock or Doctor Strange he’s a ginger, right? All those soulless bastards have green eyes”). At one point he made me laugh so hard I had to hang onto a lamp post in order to stop myself from peeing. I returned the favor a block down, causing a couple of perfectly tanned and coiffed matrons to sniff in disapproval as he howled in glee. A few younger women pulled out their phones and took pictures. I was tempted to do my best Xena pose in front of him, but he just giggled and pulled me away, wiping tears from his own beautiful brown eyes.

“Don’t worry,” he chortled. “If the worst they can post to Twitter is a picture of me laughing my arse off, I’m well away.”

I winced. “I didn’t think about that, sorry. Most people don’t bother to take pictures of me unless I’m playing grabass with home goods at Target.”

“Oh, God, we need to do that,” he said, instantly enthusiastic. “Do you go into the Christmas department in December and spell out rude words with the initialed stockings?”

I stared at him. “I have never been so turned on as I am right now. Will you marry me?”

He threw his head back and laughed. “Christ yes. Can I add your last name to mine? I always wanted a hyphenated name like the aristos.”

“Morrison-Nayar. I like it,” I decided. “Or do you want to go with Morrison-DeVries?”

“I suppose all three would be a bit much?”

“Lazy-ass Westerners,” I chided. “Morrison-Nayar-DeVries is nothing next to Balasubramaniam.”

“Morrison-Nayar-DeVries it is, then.” He threw an arm around my shoulders and hugged me as we went into yet another elegant men’s clothing store. “Come along, Mrs. Morrison-Nayar-DeVries-to be. I believe I was promised kisses in return for trying on more blasted suits.”

“As it is written, so shall it be done.”


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Mid Week Tease: Shifter Woods: Snarl #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, lovelies! This week I’m continuing on with a snippet from my paranormal romance Shifter Woods: Snarl. In this section, former SEAL and packless wolf shifter Jack Hawthorne has just started working at Cougar Ridge Ski Resort and is trying to adjust to life as a maintenance worker — oh, and he also has to figure out how to convince gorgeous cougar shifter Kate Chandler that she’s his mate. No pressure.

Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

Jack slowed the snowmobile, leaning over to snag a pair of polarized goggles off the disturbed snow. Reaching behind to flip open the small bin attached to the back of the vehicle, he added the goggles to his collection of hats, gloves, sunglasses, and other lost apparel. Actual garbage such as waxed cups, napkins, and other detritus from the outdoor snack bar went into a separate, larger container behind the Lost and Found bin. The level of the crap in the garbage bin was depressingly high.

Jesus, humans are slobs. He revved the throttle and kicked the snowmobile back into gear, continuing his trash patrol along the sides of the ski run. Do they think cleaning fairies pick up after them or something? A sudden image of the burlier members of the maintenance crew in sparkly tutus came to him, each shifter gravely waving wands at dropped paper plates while intoning Potteresque cleaning spells.

Despite his disgust at the slovenly habits of the resort customers, his first day had gone well enough. The parka Kate had washed and dried for him, plus a layer of long johns under his jeans and thick wool socks in his boots kept the worst of the mountain chill off his body. The only part that really ached was his face. He could feel traces of windburn around the edges of his goggles and over the scarf (also provided by Kate) that protected his mouth. Compared to SEAL training, though, a little windburn was a walk in the park.

He completed his ascent to the top of the crest, slowing to a crawl and guiding his machine away from the resort’s public areas to the maintenance garage at the back of the lodge. A tall, shaggy cougar shifter named Wayne who had been introduced as the head of maintenance looked up from tinkering with another snowmobile’s engine, raising a hand in greeting. “Hola, buddy. How goes the trash run?”

Jack shut off the engine. “Got a full bin, plus some lost stuff. The customers need to be schooled on policing their trash.”

Wayne snorted. “Yeah, good luck with that. They figure that’s what we get paid for. And it can get nasty, too. One time I found an adult diaper out there. Used.”

Jack grimaced as he unlatched the garbage bin and hauled it over to the large green trash barrels. “Found some goggles and stuff, too. What do I do with them?”

“Take them up to the lodge’s check-in desk. They have a lost and found box there. Anything that isn’t claimed after a month gets auctioned off to the employees.” Wayne waggled his eyebrows. “I got a sweet iPod Classic that way.”

“Nice.” After reattaching the now-empty garbage bin to the snowmobile, Jack opened the lost and found bin and grabbing the damp items he’d stowed there. “What do you want me to do after I drop these off?”

“A work ethic. I like it.” Wayne shook his head. “No, it’s after five, man. You’re done for the day. Stop off at the canteen and grab something hot to eat, then head on home. I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”

The statement had been well-intended, but it still made Jack’s soul ache. Home. He had a spare room (a nice one, granted), but that wasn’t really a home, at least not for him. Pushing the lurking depression to the back of his mind, he nodded and headed over to the ski lodge.

As he ducked through the gate in the maintenance shed wall his nose was hit with a olfactory sledgehammer of humanity. Cougar Ridge was a popular skiing getaway in New Mexico, and even this late in the season there was still a steady stream of people getting off the lift and heading down the deep powder trails. The crisp air was at just the right temperature to hold a daunting array of scents—human sweat, musk, pheromones, perfumes and colognes, the long chain monomers of expensive ski gear, diesel from the lift, and the dimmer smells of surrounding evergreens, hard-packed dirt under melting snow, and various small furry creatures in the underbrush.

Keep it under control. Breathing through his mouth, Jack lowered his head and edged through the humans, focusing on the two-story redwood lodge up ahead.

“Excuse me?” A trio of young women, all of them dressed in upscale cold weather gear, stepped in front of him. “Do you work here?” the leader of the trio, a pretty brunette with big doe eyes, asked.

He glanced down at his worn parka and stained jeans. The other workers all wore Cougar Ridge jackets, but there hadn’t been one big enough to fit him in the lodge’s locker area. Yeah, not like any of these folks are wearing decade-old gear. “Um, yes. Can I help you?”

Her smile’s wattage kicked up a notch. “We were just wondering if there’s anything to do around here at night? Like, is there a place to go dancing?”

Jack tried to remember if he’d seen anything when he first hit down. “I can’t think of anything, ma’am. But it’s my first day here and I don’t know the area that well.”

She giggled. “Ma’am—that’s so sweet. My name’s Andrea, and this is Jazmine and Rachelle,” she nodded at her friends. “What’s your name?”

“Um, Jack.”

“Well, Um-Jack, it’s nice to meet you.” She extended a hand coyly, and he juggled the retrieved items in order to shake it. “Maybe you’d like to get to know the area with us? My rental fits four. We can pick you up after you get off work.”

Belatedly, Jack realized the lithe human female was hitting on him. Judging from the pheromones wafting off all three of them, her wingmen were just as enthusiastic about the idea. Man, you’re getting old. In the old days he would have been more than happy to go out dancing with them and spend the rest of the night rocking their worlds if they were up for it.

Now that he’d met Kate, however, the idea held absolutely no appeal. “I’m sorry, ladies, but I’m seeing someone and she’s absolutely vicious,” he said. Well, it wasn’t completely untrue. He had seen Kate a handful of times, and was confident she could take on three human women and slash them to ribbons. “Thank you for the offer, though. It’s much appreciated.”

He added a wink and Andrea giggled again. “Well, if you change your mind, we’ll be here until Monday,” she said, winking back before the three of them sauntered towards the slopes, healthy young things on the prowl for some entertainment. Good hunting, ladies. More amused than anything, Jack continued towards the lodge.

Inside, he headed to the checkin desk where a pretty cougar female was doing something behind the high counter. “For the lost and found,” he said, placing the retrieved items on the desk.

“Thanks,” the female said, then blinked. “Oh, wait. You’re the new guy, right?”

“Yeah. Jack Hawthorne.”

The female smiled. “Patty Elgin. Kate said she wanted to talk to you if you stopped by. She’s checking inventory in the bar.” She pointed down a hallway towards a redwood-bordered double door with a carved sign over it that said THE PANTHER’S PROWL.

“Thanks.” Jack headed to the bar, wondering if he was in some kind of trouble. Kate had seemed friendly enough at breakfast, but she was also very upfront about what she expected from the males she shared a home with. Shit, did I leave something in the sink this morning?

The moment he stepped through the doors he picked up a cheerful array of beer, wine, and liquor scents that reminded him of various shore leaves over the years. Over them, however, was Kate’s warm rosemary and sandalwood scent, along with the odor of a human male who had been drinking.

He immediately spotted her standing next to the long bar, arms crossed over her chest as she glared up at a beefy male in an expensive sweater and slacks who was looming over her. “I just want to get to know you, honey,” the human said, giving her a sloppy smile.

Jack’s hackles rose and he had to smother a growl. Get the fuck away from my mate.

“And I already told you, I’m working,” Kate said in a clipped tone. “So if you’ll excuse me—”

The man’s arm shot out, blocking off her escape route. “Come on, honey, don’t be like that,” he wheedled. “We could have a lot of fun in my room.”

Her expression changed, turning icy. “Do you like that arm?”

The man blinked. “What?”

She nodded at the thick limb in her way. “Do you like that arm?”

“Uh, yeah. Why?”

“If you want to keep it attached to your shoulder, get it off my bar now.”

The human’s heartbeat and respiration sped up, and a complicated mix of anger, shame, and arousal bubbled up through the beer scent. Clearly the man was one of those assholes who got off on intimidating women.

“Ooh, you some kind of black belt?” he sneered. “You think you can take me?”

Before Kate could reply, Jack stepped up and grabbed the man’s wrist, yanking it off the bar. The man stumbled in surprise and Jack used the momentum to slam him face first into the polished mahogany, neatly pinning him while yanking his hand up between his shoulder blades. “Hey, boss,” he said, keeping his tone pleasant. “Want me to show this gentleman to the door?”


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Mid Week Tease: Forsaken #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, lovelies! The WIPs are progressing but I don’t have anything tease-worthy yet, so today I’m going to feature my fellow Metroplex author J.R. Gray and his hot new MM romance Forsaken. Read on for some pyroclastic action, and stay tuned — next week I fully intend to set the internet on fire with my teaser.

Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!


Titus had lived and breathed religion his entire life, tucked away from the rest of the world in a compound in northern Wyoming. He’s destined to be the next leader of the church, deemed so by the Prophet.

God spoke and with His word He created. But God made a mistake. Titus isn’t worthy. He was born sick and it’s solidified when he rescues the most beautiful man he’s ever seen.

Torn between fidelity to his faith or his soul, Titus must reconcile the two parts of himself before he’s discovered hiding among the chosen.


Story Excerpt

“Is this okay?” Angel asked.

“Is what okay?” Titus had a hard time getting words out. He had a hard time making his brain function with Angel’s hands on him.

Angel laughed and scooted his body closer so their legs were pressed together. “Me touching you.”

“Yes,” his voice was unsteady.

“What about this?” Angel put his other hand on the side of Titus’ neck.

“Sure.” Titus swallowed past the lump in his throat, and was happy for the way he was sitting, because he was as hard as he’d ever been in his entire life. Harder maybe.

“What about this,” Angel whispered over his lips and then brought them together.

This wasn’t like back at his workshop. Angel parted his lips, and used his tongue. Titus was left trying to keep up. As soon as he got the hang of something Angel would change it. He’d done a little necking with girls, but this was completely different. He hadn’t been turned on while kissing those girls. It was more like something to do just to try it, but this was heat and his entire body reacted. There wasn’t a part of him that wasn’t flushed and on fire.

Angel’s fingers slid around to the back of his neck and tightened, keeping Titus close. He grabbed Angel’s bicep, needing something to hold on to so he didn’t spin out of control. Angel seemed to like it, groaning into his mouth. It spurred Titus on. He wrapped his other arm around Angel’s back, desperate to feel more of him.

There was a fire demon inside him demanding more and he wanted nothing but to listen.


Where to Buy

J.R. Gray Books


About the Author

When not staying up all night writing, J.R. Gray can be found at the gym where it’s half assumed he is a permanent resident to fulfill his self-inflicted masochism. A dominant and a pilot, Gray finds it hard to be in the passenger seat of any car. He frequently interrupts real life, including normal sleep patterns and conversations, to jot down notes or plot bunnies. Commas are the bane of his existence even though it’s been fully acknowledged they are necessary, they continue to baffle and bewilder. If Gray wasn’t writing…well, that’s not possible. The buildup of untold stories would haunt Gray into an early grave, insanity or both. The idea of haunting has always appealed to him. J.R. Gray is genderqueer and prefers he/him pronouns.

Website | Twitter – Personal | Twitter – Books | Facebook | Facebook Group | Tumblr
Mailing List | Amazon Author Page


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Mid Week Tease: Zero Tolerance #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, lovelies! This week I don’t really have anything appropriate to tease you with, so I’m going to feature the delightful Lynn Burke and her hot new entry in her Elite Escorts series, Zero Tolerance. Read on for some smouldering action!

Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!


As the owner of Elite Escorts, Micah Fox’s material needs are met, but money isn’t everything. Watching his friends all settle down makes him realize he needs a woman of his own. The one thrust into his life, however, is unable to tolerate physical contact. Not exactly the ideal submissive he can dominate. Can he truly be happy without kink in his life?

Faced with her new boss, Jasmine Swift experiences a hunger to touch—and be touched—for the first time in twelve years. Psychological baggage from her childhood has always hindered any hope of a normal relationship, let alone one with a man as dominant as Micah. Passion flares to life between them, however, and Jasmine blossoms under Micah’s touch.

When her past returns to haunt her present, it threatens everything. Love and peace can be found in true submission if only Jasmine can trust her Sir.


Story Excerpt

Tense silence zapped between us, but she didn’t lower her head like usual when she seemed uncomfortable. Her pale-green eyes peered at me with a hint of question. Insecurity. But the pupils dominated, and the pulse jumped in her neck.

“Have you dreamed about me touching you?” I heard myself ask.

So much for inappropriate.

“Yes,” she whispered.

I wouldn’t touch her, but I wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity to enjoy every fucking inappropriate bit of information I could get passed her lips. “How?”

“You mean how do you touch me in my dreams?” Her low, husky voice rushed the blood to my cock, but I didn’t bother trying to hide the fact she turned me on.

I nodded.

“Gently.” She swallowed, but held my gaze. “With your fingertips until I grow accustomed to your touch.”

“Where do I touch you?” My voice sounded strangled in my ears.

“Here.” She lifted her hand and glanced at her palm.

“Where else? Put your wine down and show me.” I relaxed back into the chair, legs spread, giving her an eyeful of the hard ridge lining my jeans.

Her attention drifted down between my legs, her lips parting on a sharp inhale as her trembling hand set the wine glass on the table beside her. When she sat back, she uncrossed her legs, but kept her thighs together, the darkness beneath the skirt beckoning to me. “H-here.” She trailed her fingers up her arm, over her collarbone where she lingered. Up her neck. Over her lips.

I groaned. “Where else do I touch you?”

She swallowed, gaze still on my cock, and ran her hand back down her neck and over the swell of her breasts.

“Show me.” My Dom voice took over, and she followed the command without hesitation, slipping her hand up inside her tank top.

Lower lip between her teeth, she squirmed on the couch, same as when I’d caught her drooling over sex toys online.

“Is my touch still gentle?” I asked, my attention glued to the hand moving beneath her shirt, hiding one of the hard nipples pressing against the cotton.

“N-not so much.” Her needy tone brought another groan to my lips.

“What else do I do in your dreams?”

Face red, she closed her eyes. “You suck on my breasts. Bite my nipples.”

“And do you like it?”

“Yes,” she gasped and clenched her legs together.

Fucking heaven, I mused, watching her touch her breasts. I’d never wanted a woman so much in my fucking life. “Are you turned on right now?”

She swallowed and nodded.

“Where else do I touch you, Jasmine?”

“D-down there.”

Fuck, yes. “Lift your skirt and show me.” Every tense muscle in my body ached to move, but I held myself still. Waiting.

She didn’t even hesitate, but shimmied the skirt up to her hips.

Pink, fucking panties.

With one finger, she skimmed down the lace covering her pussy from me.

“Goddamn,” I groaned, my own fingers digging into my knees.

She slid her fingertip beneath the edge of her panties and rubbed up over her clit, a gasp parting her lips and tipping her head back.

I found myself stroking my cock through my jeans. “Do I make you come in your dreams, Jasmine?”

“Yes,” she whispered, eyes still clenched shut.

“Show me how.”

With one hand, she pulled her panties to the side. Pink lips glistened beneath a thatch of blonde curls.

Drooling, I stroked myself and stared as she pressed two fingers of her right hand into her pussy.

She moaned, slowly fucking herself with her fingers, hips grinding her against her hand.

“I want to watch you come, Jasmine,” I murmured, lifting my attention to her face as little noises flew past her parted lips. “Open your eyes and look at me.”

Panting, she did as told, hazed, pale-green eyes peering my way. A sharp inhale lifted her chest, and her back bowed off my couch. “O-oh!” Her breath caught again, and she shuddered, crying out. I squeezed my cock to keep from blowing my load in my jeans, my blood rushing and ears ringing as she slowly settled, her breaths slowing. “If you ever decide you want me to touch you for real,” I murmured, “you only need to ask.”

Third Wheel:  https://www.authorlynnburke.com/third-wheel.html

Second Go-Round: https://www.authorlynnburke.com/second-go-round.html

First Time: https://www.authorlynnburke.com/first-time.html


Where to Buy

Evernight | Amazon | Amazon UK | Bookstrand | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords


About the Author

Lynn Burke is a full time mother, voracious gardener, and scribbler of spicy romance stories. A country bumpkin turned Bay Stater, she enjoys her chowdah and Dunkin Donuts when not trying to escape the reality of city life.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter


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Mid Week Tease: Shifter Woods: Snarl #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, lovelies! This week I’m breaking away from To My Muse to tease you with the third installment in my Esposito County Shifters series, Shifter Woods: Snarl. Kate Chandler is a cougar shifter with an embarrassing handicap — a childhood accident destroyed her sense of smell. When Sheriff Lynch deposits a tall, hunky vagrant searching for her father at her door, she has no idea that the new arrival is a wolf shifter…and her mate.

But Jack Hawthorne knows. An Alpha without a pack and a SEAL without a team, he’s hoping that his former commanding officer can give him a job and some direction on what to do next. Learning  that a sexy blonde cougar shifter who can’t smell is his heart’s mate just makes things more complicated. But Jack is determined to win Kate  — if he can convince her to give him a chance, that is.

Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

Kate Chandler heard the rumble of a truck crunching through the snow out front and groaned. Dammit, Dad, you weren’t supposed to be back for another hour or so. How am I supposed to get this tax paperwork done if you keep interrupting me?

Leaning back from the desk, she twitched her office window curtain to one side, expecting to see her father pulling up to their shared home outside the family business of the Cougar Ridge Ski Resort. Instead of a dark green SUV, one of the Esposito County Sheriff’s Department trucks had rolled into the driveway.

Oh, great. The ski resort was one of the tourist attractions of the county, bringing in avid skiers from Albuquerque and the surrounding sections of New Mexico. It also generated its share of drunken visitors doing stupid human tricks. By now she was used to one of the police trucks pulling up with a guest who’d gotten caught trying to steal a street sign or something equally moronic.

But she really didn’t need the hassle now. Cursing under her breath, she got up and headed to the front door just as a rapping knock sounded. She pulled it open, smirking at the tall, handsome coyote shifter in a uniform jacket standing there. “Hey, sheriff. What did one of our idiot guests do this time?”

Sheriff Caleb Lynch shook his head. “It’s not a guest this time, Kate. Is your dad home?”

“He’s running some guests to the airport, then he was going to stop off at the store.” She checked her watch. “Should be back in an hour or so. Can I help you?”

The sheriff frowned. “Maybe. Could you come out to the truck?”

“Sure.” Curiosity now mingling with annoyance, she slipped on her boots and a jacket and followed Lynch back to his truck. In the back seat was a large, hunched shape. “I picked up this gentleman from one of the culverts out on Muenzler Road,” the sheriff said, nodding at his passenger. “He said he was trying to reach your dad. Do you know him?”

Kate peered through the truck window. This close, she saw that the shape was a man in a dirty blue parka. Heavy brows and a strong nose that had been broken at some point stood out over a thick, unkempt beard that bristled from the parka’s hood like a miniature tumbleweed. The man stared at the floorboards of the truck so she had no idea what his eyes looked like.

No, not a man–a male. She could sense his aura just as she could sense Lynch’s. Whoever this male was, he was also a shifter. Her handicap meant that she couldn’t tell which animal form prowled inside that human body, but a hunch told her he wasn’t a cougar shifter like herself and her father.

A headache began to build behind her eyes. “Let me guess. Ex-military?”

Lynch nodded. “Said he was in the Navy with your dad. Do you know him?”

“Nope. But he wouldn’t be the first one to show up here. Can I talk to him?”

“If you like.” The sheriff opened the door, eyes narrowing at his passenger. “Come on out.”

Kate stepped back instinctively as the man unfolded from the back seat and got to his feet. Jesus, he’s big. The shifter easily topped 6’4” and she suspected his shoulders were proportionately broad when they weren’t hunched. Jeans that were as stained as the parka had been neatly cuffed over worn military boots. He was still staring at the ground, but seemed more comfortable now. Well, yeah. Getting out of that cramped seat would do that.

She edged forward, bending down a little to try and catch his gaze. “I’m Kate Chandler. What’s your name, sailor?”

His head came up at that and she saw his arm twitch as if he was about to salute. She found herself looking into a pair of eyes the color of warm Caribbean water. Oooh, pretty.

“Jack Hawthorne, ma’am,” he said softly, blinking. “Are … are you with Commander Chandler’s family?”

“I’m his daughter. The sheriff said you were trying to reach him?”

“Yes, ma’am. I served under him at Coronado.” His gaze flickered to Lynch, clearly not wanting to discuss the all-shifter SEAL teams commissioned by the US Navy in front of a civilian, even one with a badge. “The commander said that if we ever needed him on the beach, he’d help us.”

Kate swallowed a groan. Her father was a tough old bastard with the stereotypical solid gold heart. In the past, his promise to be there for his men had covered anything from a loan to helping someone establish a new identity. “Are you AWOL?” she asked bluntly.

Hawthorne flinched, anger flickering across what she could see of his features. “No, ma’am. I was honorably discharged six months ago. I … there was a problem with my pack.”

Pack. That gave her a hint. “Canine?”

His anger was replaced by puzzlement. “Can’t you tell?”

Damn. She hated having to explain her handicap. “No. I can’t smell your animal. Or anything, to be honest.”

He grimaced. “Jesus. I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, so am I. So, canine?”

“Wolf. From the Rugged Pines pack in North Carolina.” He chewed his lower lip, giving Lynch another of those suspicious looks. “Look, I’m not a criminal. I didn’t know it was illegal to stay in the culverts. I’d been walking since dawn and I just needed a quiet place to rest.”

“In a big metal pipe under a road. Right.” She looked him up and down. “Why do you want to talk to my dad? You need a job?”

Those broad shoulders had straightened while they talked, but now they sagged again. “Wouldn’t turn it down if one’s going.”

The bulk of the jobs at Cougar Ridge tended to be seasonal, filled with locals who knew how to run the lifts and do the rest of the work that a ski resort required. It was already February, nearing the end of the season, but there was one last big event coming up and they always needed extra hands for that. She eyed him again. If he could ski and had a halfway decent face under that facial fur, the female guests would fall over themselves to take lessons from him. “Well, like I said, Dad won’t be back for an hour or so. Should be enough time for you to take a shower and get cleaned up. I’ll see if I can rustle up some clothes for you.” She turned to Lynch. “Thanks for bringing him by, sheriff. I’ll take it from here.”

Lynch frowned. “I don’t know if that’s a good idea, Kate. I’m fine with Mr. Hawthorne cooling his heels at the sheriff’s office until your dad gets home.”

“There’s no point. If Mr. Hawthorne served under Dad as he claims, Dad will find something for him to do. And if he didn’t,” she bared a humorless grin at the big wolf shifter, “I’ve got about fifteen big ol’ boys within shouting distance who will be more than happy to toss him off the resort if I can’t manage it myself.”

She expected Hawthorne to bristle at that, but his shoulders hunched again under the dirty blue parka. “I served under your father,” he muttered. “I’m not a liar.”

“Fine. You might as well get cleaned up, then. I may not be able to smell you, but I can assure you Dad will.” With a parting nod to a still-wary Lynch, she waved at the wolf shifter to follow her, mentally reviewing what clothing she could scrounge up from the extras bin they kept for just this purpose. Don’t know if any of the shirts will fit, but we’ve got to have some XL sweats somewhere…

****

One long, hot shower later, Jack leaned closer to the bathroom mirror, wiping the condensation from it. A stranger peered back, eyes weary and hard over a thick growth of facial hair. Helluva beard, guy. You look like the Abominable Snowman.

Not that he’d had a reason to do much personal grooming since his discharge. He’d hacked off his hair with his knife when it got too long, but the beard kept his face warm when he slept outside. It was easier to find a safe place to crash in the woods or other outdoor locations, easier to find food and clean water in the towns. He shifted back and forth between the two as he slowly headed westward, remembering the promise Commander Chandler had made and praying that his former commanding officer would made good on it.

And if Chandler couldn’t…

Jack grimaced and picked up the trimmer the female had left for him in the bathroom, a disposable razor and a can of shaving cream placed next to it. Then I’ll leave. Simple as that.

The empty spot in his soul ached at the thought. He couldn’t help prodding it, the emotional equivalent of tonguing a gap where a tooth had been extracted. It was the place where he should have felt the connection to his pack, the solid link that an Alpha always maintained with the shifters he led.

But he wasn’t an Alpha anymore. Nobody’s fault but your own. He could still hear his brother Ed’s words as they stood at the edge of their father’s grave the day he’d returned, three months too late to say goodbye. You wanted to go off and be a hero, Jack. I stayed behind and took care of the pack, like Pa wanted. You can’t blame him for making me Alpha.

He switched on the trimmer and started paring down the beard, bits of dark brown and grey hair pattering into the sink with each buzzing pass. Slowly his face began to emerge, the family resemblance to brother and father too strong to ignore.

He could have challenged Ed for leadership, and he would have won. Both of them knew that. But Ed had been a good Alpha after their father’s death. Before that, he had been Pa’s trusted beta while Jack had been off traveling around the world with the SEALs. The clincher was that Ed had already found his mate and had a pup on the way. Even if the pack wouldn’t reject him for it, there was no way in hell Jack would fight his own brother and risk orphaning his oncoming niece/nephew.

So that was that. At least Ed hadn’t insulted him by offering him a position as a beta, which was something. He’d left North Carolina and headed west, searching for something that would convince him that life still had some meaning. His retirement pay was deposited into his account regularly, more than enough to buy a car or RV and travel in comfort. But he didn’t want comfort. Traveling by foot to New Mexico gave him a chance to atone for not being there when Pa died.

He’d finally made his way to Esposito County, Chandler’s last listed address, only to be picked up for vagrancy by a damn sheriff. He’d been lucky that Lynch was willing to listen to him, even agreeing to take him to the commander’s house instead of throwing him in a cell for a couple of days. But the thought of being brought in front of Chandler as a prisoner had been damn humiliating. He hadn’t even been able to look up, guilt and shame gnawing at his belly, when Lynch ordered him out of the truck.

And then the scent hit him. Something irresistible, a deliciously warm, spiced scent that made his mouth water and his cock stir at the same time. When he looked up into a pair of celadon green eyes, it had taken every ounce of his will to stay in place and throw himself bodily at the female who smelled like home. Like his mate.

He put down the trimmer and picked up the shaving cream, decanting a foamy blob into one hand and smoothing it over his newly trimmed stubble. Christ. She’s a cougar shifter. And Commander Chandler’s daughter. And she can’t smell me. Somewhere, he could hear Fate laughing at him.


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Mid Week Tease: To My Muse #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, lovelies! This week I’m teasing you with another snippet from To My Muse. Lily and Tom are busy looking for party clothes when the right dress changes everything for both of them.

Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

The interior of Huffington’s was just as luxe as the exterior, but instead of a tall, thin, snooty saleslady we were approached by a curvy woman only a little taller than me with huge doe eyes and a bright smile. “Mr. Morrison? Mrs. Chapman called ahead and told us to expect you,” she confided in a warm alto. “I’m Taffy Carlyle Huffington.”

“Um, Huffington?” I said faintly. “As in…” I waved an index finger around the store.

She beamed at me. “Yes, I’m the owner. I hope you don’t mind, but Ana sent over your estimated measurements and I took the liberty of picking out some dresses for you to try on.” She headed towards the back of the store, waving for us to follow. “We have a number of things to go through, so we’d best get started. Mr. Morrison, take a seat and I’ll have someone bring you a drink.”

Have you ever met someone who radiated calm and absolute confidence, and simultaneously made you feel like you had been admitted to some utterly cool inner circle? That was Taffy. I suspected she could organize a tea party for the Queen on the fly and wind up with a damehood at the end of it. While Tom took a seat in an area that screamed “upscale man cave,” she showed me to a large changing room with an actual chair, a table, one of those old-fashioned standing screens that had probably been in some Western bordello, and a large three-way mirror. Along the wall opposite the mirror was a small clothing rack that held dresses in an array of luscious colors that were perfect for my skin tone. Clearly Ana had clued Taffy in on my complexion as well as my measurements.

“Let’s start with the Christian Serrano,” she said, plucking a magenta number off the rack and handing it to me. “And we’ll take it from there.”

What followed was the absolute best hour of dress-up I’ve ever experienced. I got to try on dress after dress, preening in front of the three-way mirror while Taffy studied my silhouette and offered tasteful suggestions. We finally settled on a gorgeous sapphire blue number with a strappy halter neckline that showed off my boobs and made me look like a pin-up model. “That one, yes,” Taffy said with a firm nod. “Why don’t you go show Mr. Morrison?”

Grinning, I skipped out of the changing room and over to where Tom was perusing a copy of Variety. “What do you think?” I said, twirling.

A huge grin bloomed on his face as he studied me. “Oh, yes,” he purred. “That one, definitely.”

I remembered that I hadn’t checked the price tag. “I didn’t ask how much it was. If it’s too much, we can go with another dress–”

“No.” He was out of his chair with that, pacing around me and taking in every inch of the stubbed sapphire silk. At least, I assumed that’s what he was doing. “No, you’re wearing this one. I don’t care how much it costs. It was made for you.”

“Are you sure?”

“Very.” He mimicked Taffy’s definite nod, taking my hands and holding them away from my body. “You look absolutely spectacular, Lily. You have to have this dress.”

His hands were warm and felt marvelous around my own. For one moment I wished with all my heart that this was real, that we really were dating and I was showing off a gorgeous dress for him. And later we could go somewhere private where he would help me take it off, and then…

Something must have shown on my face because his grin changed, growing softer. “Would it be absolutely horrible of me to say that I really want to kiss you right now?”

My lips parted on their own recognizance, damn them. And then I remembered. We’d agreed on a handful of public kisses. “Oh, right,” I mumbled, trying to hide my disappointment. “Okay.”

He hesitated. “If you don’t want me to, I won’t.”

Dammit, I could feel tears rising. I blinked hard. “No, that’s not it. I just wish…” I had to be honest with him about this, if nothing else. “I wish you really wanted to kiss me. That it wasn’t an act.” I tried to smile and felt my lips tremble. “Sorry. I’m being stupid, I know. Guess I’m not a very good actress.”

Those beautiful chocolate eyes darkened as he moved closer, enough for me to feel the warmth from his body. “This isn’t an act, Lily. I really do want to kiss you. May I?”

After a moment of not breathing from pure shock, I sucked in a gulp of air. Thanks be to every god and goddess out there, it kicked my brain into gear. “Yes.”

“Good.” He leaned down and our mouths met. Remember how I’d said that our kiss yesterday was good, definitely in my top five? This one blew all of them out of the water. It’s next to impossible to describe without going into the purplest of prose, so just imagine finding your soul mate, the people who’s destined to be your other half, and then imagine them kissing you for the first time. Chemistry, desire, delicacy, awareness of the other, a willingness to please, and a simple, perfect happiness–it was all there. I forgot about Nathan, the script, my fibs, everything. All I wanted to do was melt into Tom’s arms and stay there forever.

At some point I noticed that someone was clearing their throat repeatedly. When I finally, reluctantly pulled away from Tom’s delicious mouth, I saw Taffy shaking her head in amusement. “Much as I hate to interrupt your moment, this might not be the best place for it,” she murmured. “Also, you haven’t paid for the dress yet, Mr. Morrison, so let me get her out of it before you start tearing at the seams.”

Oops. His hands were on my waist, fingertips gently digging into the fabric. And somehow my arms had gotten around his neck, as well. I may have been clinging to him, I’m not sure. And I’m pretty sure that hadn’t been his wallet pressing into my stomach. Hoo boy.

Color spread over his cheekbones as he stepped back, casually tugging his shirt lower. “Er, yes, of course,” he said through an unrepentant grin. Then he winked at me.

I knew exactly how he felt.


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Mid Week Tease: To My Muse #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, lovelies! Here’s another snippet from my very first contemporary romcom, To My Muse. Lily and Tom are still in bed after their host mistakenly gives them one room, and some truth is about to surface. Heh, heh, heh…

Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

Tom sighed. “I’m hoping this doesn’t happen, but I feel I should warn you in case it does. Nathan might collar you at some point and give you a speech about not breaking my heart. If he does, just smile and agree with him.”

Ooookay. “Should I know the background for this?”

“Oh, hell. I suppose so.” He shifted onto his back, lacing his hands over his chest. “I told you we met during a run of Titus Andronicus, yes? At the time I was dating a woman named Cate. We’d been together for a year and were very serious about each other, or at least I thought so. She was everything I wanted in a partner—bright, funny, talented, incredibly empathetic. She worked with disabled children in North London and painted beautiful watercolors as a hobby. I was madly in love with her, and she said she loved me just as much.”

The romance writer part of my brain poked its nosy head over the parapet. “But something went wrong.”

There was a long pause. “You could say that,” he finally said. “I was planning on asking her to marry me after the run finished. The second-to-last weekend, there was a flood at the theater and we had to cancel the performance. I got back to our flat in time to catch her in bed with on of her colleagues.” He huffed out a soft, humorless laugh. “After he left she burst into tears and explained that he’d been going through a rough patch at work and she had only meant to comfort him, and somehow they’d fallen into bed together. And because I knew how kind and gentle she was, I believed her and wanted to beat the shit out of him.

“Until the next day, when he texted me. I still don’t know how he got my mobile number. He told me that they’d been having an affair for the last two months, and that he wanted to marry her. When I confronted Cate, she insisted he was lying, that he was obsessed with her and was clearly trying to break us up. And then he texted again and said they’d gone to Paris together not a month before, and sent pictures of them kissing in front of the bloody Eiffel Tower. She’d told me she was going to a teaching conference in Brighton that weekend.”

I winced. “Jeez. I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t be. As I soon found out, her colleague wasn’t the only man she’d been fucking that year, only the most recent.” He cleared his throat. “I’m not proud of this, but I got into her Facebook page. She used to use my laptop to check it sometimes, and she’d added the password to my browser. Sometimes I think she did that on purpose so that I’d find out.” I heard an audible swallow. “She’d been with at least five other men that year. There were pictures, love notes, everything. When I confronted her, she burst into tears and claimed that it was my fault, that I left her alone too much when I was in a play or doing telly work.”

“Oh, that’s bullshit,” I snapped. “If she wasn’t happy, she should have said something. Or pulled on her big girl panties and left. But fucking around behind your back is not cool.”

“I did point that out. She said that she couldn’t bear to leave me because it would be like abandoning a kitten on the high street.”

Ouch. Bitch certainly knew how to hit a guy where it hurt.

“After that, I was packed up and out of there within the hour,” Tom continued. “Luckily I ran into Nathan as I stormed down the street to the theater. He and Ana insisted that I stay with them until I could find another flat. They let me stay with them for months until I’d worked my way through everything.” Another soft breath. “We’ve been friends ever since. It’s why I want to give him this role. He’s done so much for me, and I want to do something for him, now that I have the chance.”

The pain in his voice pulled at me, and I wanted to hug him so badly. “Well, if it helps at all, I think you’re a good person,” I said instead. “Hollywood is so full of people all out for themselves. It’s nice to see someone who wants to do something nice for someone else for a change.”

“Yeah, it isn’t the easiest of cities. Or industries, for that matter. That’s one thing I don’t like about acting — the falseness of it all. Lying through perfect smiles, and complimenting people you hate, and shoveling so much horseshit just to get some work. If nothing else, Cate did me one favor by breaking up with me the way she did. She crystallized my hatred for dishonesty.”

I went very still at that. I was lying next to him thanks to a big fat lie. “Oh. Um, well, I can’t blame you,” I said in a small voice.

He snorted. “I must sound like the biggest hypocrite in the world right now, considering how you’ve wound up here. I’m sorry about that, Lily. I wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to leave in the morning.”

Great, more guilt. “I’m here because I want to be,” I said as firmly as I could. “You have an amazing property and I want to write the screenplay. And Cate was an idiot. You deserve better than that.”

A quiet sound, not quite a laugh. “That’s what Nathan and Ana said. I don’t suppose you’re single?”

That stopped me breathing for a moment.


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Mid Week Tease: To My Muse #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, lovelies! This week I’m teasing you with another snippet from my very first contemporary romcom, To My Muse. In this scene, Lily and Tom are staying overnight at Sir Nathan Chapman’s luxurious Palm Springs home for a party the next day. The problem is, Sir Nathan thinks they’re a couple and has put them in the same guest room. Now they’re trying to come to an agreement on how to share a room platonically. Needless to say, there are going to be complications. Muwahahaha…

Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

Tom let me have first crack at the bathroom (more aquamarine and blue Moorish tile, a bathtub I could do laps in, and a separate glass-enclosed shower that looked sinfully luxurious. Also, a bidet, because Europeans). After I finished getting washed up, brushing my teeth, and sticking my impossible hair into a ponytail for the night, there was nothing left but to head back out there.

He was sitting at the little table reading a paperback copy of La Popessa when I came out. Looking up at my entrance, he gave me a quick, unconscious once-over, smiling when he saw the motto “This IS my lingerie” on my nightgown. “Did you leave any hot water for me?”

“Gallons,” I promised, padding to the bed. Grabbing a handful of pillows, I nodded at the rug. “Okay if I put these down here?”

“Please.” He headed into the bathroom to get ready for bed while I set up a mini-pallet for him using the pillows, coverlet, and an extra blanket I found in the armoire. Fluffy rug or not, the whole thing was still on tile, and I worried about how comfortable that was going to be for him.

When the bathroom door opened I turned around. “I think—”

And nearly swallowed my tongue. Tom was wearing dark blue boxer shorts and nothing else. And yes, I’d seen him practically naked before but this was live. Lean and muscular without being ridiculously ripped, he had the nicest scattering of curly dark chest hair that led downward in a treasure trail across clearly defined abs. Not only that, but he had that lovely arrow-shaped band of muscle that some guys get on their hips.

And I had to share a bedroom with him and couldn’t touch. Vishnu, what did I do to piss you off this time?

“I hope this is okay,” he said hesitantly, glancing down at himself. “I tend to run warm when I sleep, especially out here, so I usually don’t wear anything. Clearly that’s not on tonight, but I’m happy to put on a shirt if you want.”

Have you ever tried to sound cool and collected through a mouthful of drool? It’s not easy. “No, that’s okay,” I mumbled. “Um, is the set-up on the rug good enough?”

“It’ll be fine.” Tom padded over to the folded coverlet, stretching out on top of it. With nothing else to do, I climbed into bed. “Thank you, Lily. For everything.”

A pang of guilt prodded me. He had no reason to thank me for anything. I was here on, if not false pretenses, then extremely dubious ones. “You’re welcome. Can I turn off the light?”

“Go ahead.”

I did and the room went dark. Unfortunately the filmy saffron curtains didn’t do crap about the outside light, dim as it was. After a few minutes I opened my eyes and could pretty much make out everything in the room.

A sigh wafted up from the floor. “I think I might have been wrong about this rug.”

Another thing to feel bad about—I’d put him out of the bed that should have been his. I rolled over to the edge of the mattress, peering down. Tom was a collection of grey shapes, his arms and chest pale against the dark coverlet.

Okay, Nayar, my subconscious said, time to cowgirl up and do the right thing.

Which is what, exactly?

The bed is built for two. You do the math.

Are you out of your damned mind? I cannot ask Tom Morrison to sleep with me!

Yes, you can. You’ve slept on the floor before–you know how you felt the next morning. You want Tom hobbling around tomorrow?

Well, no–

All right. Tell him to grab the other side of the bed. If he doesn’t want to, he’ll say no.

He’ll think I’m hitting on him! And I’m not! Although yes, I wanted to, but this was just too tropey even for me.

So make it clear that you’re not. And if he tries something you don’t like, use that move Theresa taught you. I could feel the smirk radiating from my subconscious. But he won’t. He’s not into someone like you. Beautiful people breed with their own kind.

That was true. “Look, this is ridiculous,” I said. “We’re both adults, I know you’re a decent guy, and I assure you that your virtue is safe with me. Take the other side of the bed.”

I couldn’t make out his face clearly but I saw his head turn towards me. “Are you sure?”

I swallowed. “If you don’t, I’m going to spend the rest of the night feeling bad about you being in pain on the floor. It’s okay, really.”

“God, thank you.” He got up, grabbing the pillows and blanket and heading to the other side of the bed. “I was picturing myself limping around tomorrow night and trying to pass it off as a skiing injury or something.”

I tried to ignore the mattress dipping as he got in beside me. “Or you could just tell people I write romance,” I said quickly. “That way, you can say you pulled a groin muscle while we were working out a sex scene for my new book.”

Aaaand an awkward silence fell. Just as I was working out how best to crawl out of bed and sleep in the bathtub, he laughed. “Do you actually do that?”

The one time I had asked Kirk to help me plot out a sex scene, he’d acted as if I had just asked to peg him with a Colby Keller replica. “No. My characters are usually pretty tame about sex positions,” I admitted. “The one time I wrote a menage story, I used Barbie dolls to get the positioning right. I usually focus more on emotion and sensuality than athletics.”

“Yes, I noticed.”

Awkward silence, part deux. “You know, we’re actually doing a romance trope right now,” I blurted.

“It is?”

“Yeah. Hero and heroine have to share a bed for some reason. Unresolved sexual tension sets in, and either they finally give in and jump each other or spend the night acutely aware of each other but unwilling to cross boundaries because it’s too soon in the book for them to have sex. Or the writer doesn’t do that kind of story.”

“Ah. I see. What kind of story are we in?”

Not the kind I wanted, clearly. “Well, if I was writing this, we’d go to sleep because we’d just met that morning and there isn’t enough buildup to account for a believable love scene yet,” I said.

“So no leaping on each other in a crazed frenzy. I can see that. But we’d be acutely aware of each other.”

Why was it suddenly hard to breathe? “Well, yeah. If this was a romance novel. Which it isn’t, obviously.”

“Mm. Maybe it’s a romantic comedy? Beautiful but quirky writer accidentally winds up in dashing hero’s hotel room, saves him from sex-mad actress after his body, and hijinks ensue. The script practically writes itself.”

Now my stomach was doing Olympic-caliber flip-flops. He thought I was beautiful? He’s being nice, you idiot. Besides, he’s talking about a romcom, not reality.

Misunderstandings, mistaken identities, and in retrospect my panicked anxiety-induced plan was actually kinda funny. Yeah, that was a pretty good description of what was going on with us. Of course, the problem with romcoms is that there’s always some sort of disaster that splits up the couple around the end of act two.

I cleared my throat. “Quirky?”

He chuckled softly. “I thought you’d say that. Do I get any points for using ‘beautiful’ first?”

“Meh. This is a romcom. The female lead is always beautiful, and the male lead is always handsome.”

“Are you saying I’m handsome?”

Actors and their egos. “You know perfectly well you’re handsome.”

“Still, it’s nice to hear, especially from my beautiful leading lady.”

“Beautiful quirky leading lady.”

He shifted, turning on his side to face me. “That’s not an insult, you know. This morning you wound up in my hotel room through a key mixup. You picked up on my silent pleading without missing a beat and gave Claudine the verbal smackdown she’s richly deserved for quite some time. Then you turn out to be this smart, funny screenwriter who actually knows the subject material of my dream project, and you once again indulge my panicked begging and agreed to come to Palm Springs, stay at a complete stranger’s house, and pose as my girlfriend. Most women would have run screaming long before we got on the plane.”

The way he put it, I did sound kind of quirky. Also more than a bit badass. “Well, helping you out with the Wicked Ho of the West was the least I could do,” I said modestly. “As for everything else, it’s just what I do.”

“And I’m grateful for it. Speaking as the hero in this romance, of course.”

“Of course.” I was liking this man more and more with every passing moment. And I couldn’t make a move because he wasn’t into me, goddamnit.


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Mid Week Tease: To My Muse #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, lovelies! This week I’m teasing you with a snippet from my very first contemporary romcom, To My Muse. LA tech writer by day and romance novelist by night, Lily Nayar is still recovering from being dumped by her screenwriter boyfriend. When she gets loaded one night with her BFF and tweets to hot British actor Tom Morrison about the romance novel he inspired, hijinks ensue! In this scene, Lily is posing as Tom’s girlfriend (it’s complicated), and they need to get some details straight before they head off to Palm Springs for an important party.

Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

I made it back to the hotel a few minutes before Tom showed up in the lobby. I’d been entertaining myself with spotting various actors and trying to remember the first time I’d ever seen them when he strode in, a classy black wheelie case rolling behind him.

“Good, you’re here,” he said, sounding relieved as he dropped into the chair next to me. “I thought we should take the opportunity to get our notes straight, make it look like we’ve known each other for longer than six hours.”

“Works for me,” I agreed. “Who starts?”

He gestured towards me. “Ladies first.”

“Okay.” What had Kirk known about me (apart from the fact that I was a damn better writer than him)? “Um, I’m Lily Nayar, I’m twenty-seven, I graduated from USC, I live in an apartment in Highland Park, I don’t have any pets, and I write fantasy romance novels as Lilian DeVries, as you know.”

“As I know,” he said, smiling. “Rather naughty ones.”

He had noticed the sex scenes. Damn. “Anyway,” I said after clearing my throat, “I have a younger brother named Derek, and my mom and dad are still together. What else would my boyfriend know?”

He considered. “Ethnic background?”

Good point, and a graceful way of asking. “Mom’s white, Dad’s first-generation American. His parents are from Mumbai, hers are from Pasadena. You can imagine the holiday dinners. What about you?”

He sat back in his chair, scratching his chin. “Well, you know my name. Which is my real one, by the way. Born in Swansea, raised in London. Dad died when I was twelve, after which Mum raised me with Aunt Margery and my sisters.”

I felt a twinge of sympathy at that. I might fight with Dad sometimes, but I’m damned glad he’s here. “When you say Aunt Margery, are we talking an actual blood relation, or your mom’s girlfriend that they gave a familial title to in order to ward off a homophobic society that wouldn’t accept their love?”

His smile turned into a grin. “I like you. No, actual relation, although I suspect Aunt Margery wasn’t adverse to a bit of flannel. Went to a comprehensive secondary school—I think you’d call that junior and senior high over here—before heading off to the University of Manchester, where I studied history with a view towards teaching it until I was seduced by the drama department.”

“So you didn’t go to RADA?”

Ooh, he raised an eyebrow at me. I love men who can do that. “No, I didn’t go to RADA, mainly because I didn’t have the money. Besides, there’s nothing wrong with the University of Manchester’s drama department. Cumberbatch went there, you know.”

Well, if it was good enough for Sherlock, it was good enough for me. “And after you graduated?”

“Went back to London, split my time between being a substitute teacher and acting in anything that would hire me, and finally got my break in a tea commercial, if you’d believe it. Through that and a very clever agent, I sit before you now as one of a number of interchangeable British actors currently occupying Hollywood.” He spread his hands in a “ta-da” gesture.

I pretended to study him. “Got news for you, dude. You’re not interchangeable.”

“Ha. I regularly get mistaken for Ben Barnes, Tom Ellis, and Sam Claflin, and I don’t even have the same color eyes as Sam. English actors of my age and facial type are about as interchangeable as Lego, especially in Hollywood. It’s one of the reasons why I want to do this movie and get some experience in producing.”

I could see that. “Do you want to get out of acting?”

“God, no. I love acting. I want to keep doing it as long as I can. But unless the heavens bless you with a lucky break, the real money and power are in producing.” His expression softened, turning reflective. “That makes me sound like an arsehole, doesn’t it? I’m not in it for the money per se. I just want to make sure Mum and Auntie Margery are taken care of, as well as my sisters. I promised Dad I’d look after them.”

Oh, I heard that. My paternal grandparents came from India with nothing but a cousin willing to sponsor them. Taking care of family was woven into my DNA. “Okay, we’re both driven overachievers who love our families and are determined to support ourselves in a crazy business. No wonder we make such a good couple,” I said. “So that’s personal info done—how long have we been dating?”

“Let’s say two months? Makes it sound like we’re a bit more established that way.”

“Works for me.” And that way I could mentally blank out that last month with the dickhead. “How did we meet?”

“You’re the writer,” he pointed out. “What’s a good meet cute for us?”

Okay, Romance Writer Brain, go to work. “How about … my car overheated on the 110 and you stopped to help me,” I offered.

“Suicidal but very noble of me,” he agreed. “I like it. Go on.”

“And I almost called the cops on you, thinking you were trying to assault me.”

He snorted in appreciation. “But then you recognized me from TV and let me take you out for coffee while the tow truck hauled your car off to a nearby garage.” He pronounced it GAR-aj. “You do drink coffee, yes?”

“I’m a writer. Caffeine makes up seventy-five percent of my blood volume,” I said. “I think that’s a plausible meet cute for LA.”

“Sounds good to me.” Now he looked hesitant. “Er, we’d probably be publicly affectionate by this time. How much physical contact are you willing to engage in?”

A little thrill went through me, until I remembered that he was an actor and had to negotiate this with actresses all the time. “Holding hands, totally fine,” I said, trying to sound casual. “Arm around my shoulders and occasional hugging is cool. Kissing…” Aaaand there went my brain into vapor lock. “Um, I’ve never kissed someone I wasn’t actually dating. What do you think would be acceptable?”

He looked at my mouth, and his own curved slightly. “Let’s make this warm but discreet. The occasional peck on the cheek or temple, and one affectionate kiss with no tongues in front of Nathan. Sound reasonable?”

Kissing Tom Morrison would never sound reasonable to me. Unbelievable, amazing, addicting, yes, but not reasonable. “Yes.”

“Good.” Those cappuccino eyes twinkled now. “Do you want to do it once here, just so that we get the hang of it? Plus if anyone spots us, it’ll help deflect any more sneak attacks from Claudine.”

Crap. I could feel my cheeks heating up. “Um, how…”

“Just lean forward.”

Stamping down on my inner gibbering fangirl, I did as he asked. He mirrored me, cupping my cheek. “Relax,” he murmured, then touched his lips to mine.

It … was not what I expected. I thought it would feel fake, somehow, that I’d be able to tell he was acting. But it felt like I was kissing someone who was genuinely interested in me. Plus he smelled amazing, and his mouth was just the right amount of soft, warm, and mostly dry, definitely not Kirk’s sex beast technique. And there was the strangest little tingle that spread through my lips, like Tom was touching a live wire as our mouths met. Yet another romance trope that turned out to be true.

He held it for maybe two seconds, then pulled back. It was hard to tell with brown irises but I was pretty sure his pupils had dilated, turning his eyes even darker. Maybe he’d felt a tingle as well.

Without a word, we started to lean towards each other again—

“Sorry to interrupt your tête-à-tête, children, but our winged conveyance awaits,” a cultured British voice said cheerfully.

I have never wanted to kill an Oscar-winning actor so much in my life.


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