Blog Archives

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

MWTease15Hello, lovelies! This week I’m continuing on from my most recent snippet of Shifter Woods: Snarl. When we last saw Jack and Kate, he’d just informed her that any shifter at Cougar Ridge Ski Lodge would be able to smell the fact that she’d just enjoyed a solo morning orgasm. After that, things get—complicated. Yeah, let’s say complicated.

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 winced as Kate jerked back in her chair, green eyes wide with shock. He hadn’t meant to be so blunt, but the heady scent of her satisfied desire hung in the air like a shimmering cloud of delicious, cock-hardening perfume. He wasn’t going to be able to stand up for a few minutes as it was, and the only thing stopping him from flipping over the table, grabbing her and taking her back to bed was the knowledge that Commander Chandler would undoubtedly boot him from the lodge for that. But damn, it would be worth it.

“You—you can smell that?” she stammered.

Christ, could he. “Yeah. And so can every other shifter in the lodge. Just wash up again, maybe get some fresh underwear.”

Biting her lip, she dropped the fork on her unfinished omelet and stood up, hurrying past him. A wave of guilt stung him and he grabbed her wrist. “Wait.”

She jerked free, not looking at him. “What?”

“I’m—I’m sorry. I just—” Don’t want you going out there smelling so goddamn good. It was bad enough watching the male cougars at the lodge stare after her like she was the hottest thing on the mountain. Which, of course, she was, but they weren’t supposed to look at her like that. His wolf howled in agreement. If she went out there smelling like sex in the bargain, one of them was bound to make a move, manager or not, and then he’d have to act. “I didn’t want you to be embarrassed,” he finished.

“Yeah, little late for that.” She crossed her arms defensively over her chest. All that did was plump up her breasts under the pretty sweater she was wearing, making his cock throb harder. “I’m not responsible for what happens in my dreams, okay?”

She still wouldn’t look at him, blooms of color tinting those sharp cheekbones and making her even more appetizing. A tantalizing thought occurred to him then—was I in her dream? Did her subconscious recognize him as her mate? It would only be fair, seeing as she was starring in all of his wet dreams this last week.

But there was a hot scent of rising anger under the humiliation, and pissing her off at this stage wasn’t smart. “I know, and I’m sorry for being so blunt. It’s like—telling you that you have a piece of spinach in your teeth.” He shrugged, wishing he was better with words. “You could be a little bit embarrassed in front of me, or really embarrassed in front of every shifter at the lodge. Including your dad.”

Her lips pursed at that. Finally, reluctantly, she nodded. “I see your point. In that case, thank you.”

If he hadn’t been able to tell from her scent, the terse tone would have told him she was still embarrassed. He searched for something reassuring to say when she added, “Does it smell … bad?”

There was no way she could ever smell bad to him, especially not at the moment. If he got any harder he’d rip through his damn jeans. “No,” he said roughly. “No, it smells … really good.”

“Even to you?”

Celadon eyes filled with another question, one that that caused his wolf to howl again, urging him to claim his female. It took every ounce of self-control to remain seated when his entire body ached with the need to touch her, pull her down on his lap and prove how much he wanted her. “Especially to me,” he breathed.

She swallowed hard at that. “I … I’d better go.” Ducking her head, she didn’t quite run out of the kitchen, but it was close.

Alone, Jack gazed at the remnants of his breakfast, then pushed the plate away. This couldn’t go on. He had to talk to Chandler. And then he had to figure out how to tell Kate the truth.


Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to view this Linky Tools list…

Mid Week Tease: To My Muse #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, folks! This week I’m teasing you with another snippet from To My Muse. I’ve backed things up a bit to Tom’s first scene, where we get to see his viewpoint upon finding a gorgeous romance writer in his hotel room about to throw down with his costar. There’s no real sexytimes in this teaser, but you do see the beginning of Tom’s attraction to Lily.

Oh, and to explain the pics, that’s hilarious actress/Youtuber Liza Koshy and Lucifer‘s Tom Ellis, who are playing Lily and Tom in my head. You’re welcome!

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!

“Jeez, Tom, will you relax?” Jolene chided me. “You snort up half of Peru or what?”

“Sorry.” I tried to stay still while the GearShifter makeup goddess dabbed some dark powder along my cheekbone, referring to pictures that the continuity girl had taken earlier that day to match up the distribution pattern. We’d already shot a full day and I’d been looking forward to a relaxing evening of memorization over room service followed up with a glass of wine and five fitful hours of sleep as I wondered how the hell I was going to pull At the Right Hand together.

Instead, God (or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, take your pick) had smiled down upon me and sent me Lily Nayar, screenwriter of my dreams. And then I had to leave her at the hotel and come back to this thrice-buggered set just as we were ready to discuss what I needed for the script, hence my jittering. She wouldn’t change her mind, would she? I mean, she’s getting gross points, for God’s sake.

I’m not sure what had shocked me more when I’d walked into my hotel room earlier that afternoon—seeing Claudine standing there in nothing but a towel and a scowl, or seeing this tiny, gorgeous woman glaring up at Claud as if she was going to shred her like a honey badger. It took me a beat before I recognized the shorter woman as the romance writer who had tweeted at me last week to tell me that I’d inspired her latest novel. I have an actor’s ego, just about able to fit through your average supernova, so of course I was chuffed that my performance on GearShifter had prompted someone to write a swoony kissing book. I’d asked her to send a copy to my agent’s office, figuring that I’d stick it in a bookcase and look at it fondly when I wanted to be reminded of the days when I was lusted after by American women.

What I hadn’t expected was it to be messengered to my house along with the contracts for the luxury car commercials I was going to be doing voiceovers for (a British accent makes everything sound more luxe to the Americans, bless their colonial hearts). Normally non-business items sit in my agent’s mail room until the pile reaches a certain size limit and then they get shipped to me en masse, but Eric’s minions had apparently decided to be industrious for once. I’d been leaving for the airport when the messenger showed up so I stuck the large envelope in my carryon, figuring I’d read the contracts on the flight to Las Vegas. When I reached in to get them, however, I pulled out Lily’s book instead.

Right off the bat the cover surprised me. It had a Dutch Master feel to the colors and composition, and not a himbo in sight. Instead, a rather intent couple posed back to back in front of a menacing medieval structure. I flipped to the first page, figuring I’d scan it to see what I’d wrought in the mind of a fantasy romance writer.

When we landed in Vegas forty minutes later, I was deep in the middle of Chapter Three. To my surprise Ms. Nayar had woven together a terrific combination of politics, sex, and comic revenge. It was as if someone had taken Game of Thrones, gotten rid of the gore and rapey bits, bumped up the sexytimes and made them consensual, and added a laugh track. I even rather liked “my” character, a rather cold but fundamentally decent baron named Montmorency who had to work with a noblewoman to stop her sister from being married off to an oaf. I was disappointed when I had to put the book away and deplane.

I picked it up again that night after memorizing my lines for the next day and kept reading far later than I should have. I did take a break at one point and went to Lily’s author website to see what else she had on offer. Apparently Feast of Lovers was fifth in a series so I had more reading material to look forward to. Curious, I clicked on her About page. “Lilian DeVries” turned out to be a gorgeous woman with sparkling brown eyes and a mass of lovely dark curls that, if they were anything like my sisters’, probably drove her spare every morning. She looked like she’d been giggling mid-pic, and I wondered what her laugh sounded like.

So you can imagine my surprise when I walked into my hotel room and saw her facing off with a terrycloth-clad Claudine. Actually, Claud’s presence tipped it out of the “surprise” box and into the “what the actual FUCK” box. You see, my costar had made it very clear early last season that I was expected to grace her bed at some point. I, in return, had made it very clear that I wasn’t interested. Or at least I thought I had. Claud was absolutely gorgeous, yes. She was also catty, manipulative, and more than a bit egotistic, and I didn’t feel like putting up with her “all shall love me and despair” attitude just for a shag.

Apparently she’d taken that as a challenge, hence her appearance in my room wearing nothing but a towel. I suspect things would have gotten TMZ-level difficult if Lily hadn’t picked up on my silent pleading and pretended to be my girlfriend. When she delivered her quintessentially American ultimatum, I was torn between sympathetically cringing and wanting to cheer.

Chasing off Claud was enough to make me worship the fierce Ms. Nayar in and of itself. But mirable dictu, she turned out to be a screenwriter as well as a novelist, and she was familiar with Piux XII and Mother Pascalina, and she was willing to write a spec script for me. I can only assume that the room key botch-up was divinely inspired because there was no other explanation for how she wound up in my hotel room at just the right time. Now that I had the script lined up, I could work on wheedling Nathan to commit to the film, at which point the rest of the production would hopefully fall into place.

While the business part of my brain plotted and planned, the part concerned with everything below the belt was reminding me that 1) Lily was even lovelier in person, 2) smelled amazing, and 3) she thought I was at least moderately attractive, if her book was anything to judge by, so 4) I could very possibly be in there. The business part overheard that and icily told the fun part that I needed her for her writing talent, not for her curvy little body and expressive face. I caved to the business side; my unruly penis would just have to stay safely in my trousers until we started production, bugger it all.

But now instead of discussing the plot of my movie with my talented (and gorgeous) screenwriter, I was back at the GearShifter set in my increasingly ripe costume while fake dirt was being applied to my face. So much for the glamour of acting.

“Did you ever find out why we got called back?” the man in the chair next to me asked. Liam Hennessy was an American character actor known for his work in police procedurals and paranormal shows. On our show he played a morally ambiguous fixer with a penchant for sadism, which was hilarious because in real life he was a perfect gentleman with a penchant for landscape photography. If he was grumbling a bit about being called back to set, I felt justified about being pissed off.

I shrugged and Jolene made an annoyed noise at my movement. “Sorry,” I apologized to her, before adding to Liam, “Something about the camera placement being off for the CGI.”

Liam glanced at the neon green sleeve that covered his right arm and hand and sighed. In post it would be replaced by the grungy biomechanical limb that his character used to terrorize my costars. “Why do I have a feeling that’s gonna involve me?”

I grimaced in sympathy. I didn’t understand all of the fancy special effects tech, but I did know that anyone who wore green neoprene or movement capture suits wound up doing more work than the rest of us. “Maybe it won’t take that long,” I offered. “Are you working the weekend?”

“Nope. As soon as they clear me tomorrow I’m heading back to LA.” He smiled. “Got a camping date with my kid. If they need anything else, they can wait until next week.”

“Good on you, mate.” One of my more treasured daydreams was to find someone who could put up with my mad career, settle down, and have a couple of squalling brats that we’d love to distraction. I couldn’t see that happening in LA, though, and I hadn’t met anyone in London that I’d fancied enough. “Have a s’more for me.”

Jolene declared Liam done and shooed him out of the makeup trailer. “You staying clear of the Queen of Whore Island?” she asked once we were alone.

“Oh, Christ, Jo. You won’t believe what she did.” Makeup people were a combination of artist, technician, miracle worker, and psychologist and always had their fingers on the pulse of a set, so I poured out what had happened in my hotel room. “You should have seen her face when Lily threatened to cunt punt her into Arizona.”

Jolene giggled in conspiratorial delight. “That one sounds like a keeper, babe. You better treat her right.”

Part of me wanted to do just that, ideally in my bed over a long weekend, or even longer if I could manage it. Down, lad. Movie first, seduction later.


Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to view this Linky Tools list…

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

MWTease15Hello, lovelies! This week is another teaser from the third book in my Esposito County Shifters series, Shifter Woods: Snarl. Kate’s becoming more and more attracted to this lone wolf shifter her dad invited to live with them — but will she ever figure out why? Hmm…

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!

Over the next week the Chandler household slowly shifted to absorb its newest member into the daily routine. Kate learned that Jack woke up earlier than she did, which made sharing the hallway bathroom easier. He even cleaned up after himself, wiping down the shower and sink and depositing the damp towels in the bathroom hamper, which constituted a genuine miracle in her opinion. And while they had an automatic coffee maker, Jack had unilaterally taken on the role of breakfast chef and made sure that they started the day off with omelets, bacon and eggs, or other protein-dense meals.

Judging by what she’d heard from Wayne and Patty, the wolf shifter was fitting in well with the maintenance crew at the lodge, too. He willingly took on the messier jobs, picking up garbage along the runs and unblocking clogged sinks and toilets without a complaint. He also handled cleanup tasks on the public side of things, and she’d had to push her cougar down firmly a few times when she caught some of the female guests flirting with him. He’s a free agent. He can do what he likes.

But he never took a single human female up on an offer. Instead, he showed up for dinner every night and handled the dishwashing and kitchen cleaning afterwards. In the back of her mind, she wondered if he’d left someone back in North Carolina. She couldn’t have been a heart’s mate, otherwise she would have followed him. A bitter memory bubbled up at that, and she squelched it. Or he—maybe Jack’s gay? But I haven’t seen him checking out any of the guys, either.

All she knew was that he wasn’t interested in her. After that first dinner she hadn’t tried to flirt with him again. Being shot down was never fun, and having it happen in her own kitchen sucked donkey balls. Which made it all the more frustrating that Jack still managed to carbonate her hormones, a fact she took pains to hide from her father. Worse, her REM sleep had taken on an erotic life of its own. That morning she’d woken up from a sweetly hot dream of making out with Jack during a spring thunderstorm. The sky flashed and growled through her bedroom window and rain pounded against the glass as they’d sprawled together on her bed, kissing enthusiastically. For some reason her sadistic subconscious had kept both of them fully clothed, but Jack was lying between her legs in the dream and she could feel his thick erection brushing directly over her clit, driving her crazy with need. When the alarm went off and woke her up, she’d been left with no choice but to rub out a mercifully quick orgasm, gasping his name softly as she stroked herself.

After showering and getting dressed, she was sure that all traces of her sexfest had been rinsed down the drain. But Jack’s head came up the moment she sauntered into the kitchen. His nostrils flared as he sniffed, and his pupils dilated before he lowered his head again and focused on his omelet.

She didn’t have a sense of smell, but she damn well knew the signs of desire when she saw them. Well, I’ll be damned. “Hey,” she said, pouring herself a cup of coffee before sitting in front of her own omelet. “Where’s Dad?”

“He went over to the lodge early, said there was some equipment he had to deal with.”

That made sense. It also meant she had Jack all to herself for a few minutes. Might as well make the most of it. “Sleep well?”

Jack coughed a little, clearing his throat. “Um, yeah. You?”

“Oh, yeah.” She decided to poke the wolf a bit. “You ever wake up from a really great dream and you just know it’s going to be a good day?”

Blue eyes came up to meet her gaze, sending a little thrill through her. “Yeah,” he said softly. “As a matter of face, I have.”

Holding his gaze, she sliced off a fragment of omelet and forked it into her mouth. “Well, it’s going to be a really good day,” she said after chewing and swallowing. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, wolf man.

He licked his lips, and she was pretty sure it wasn’t because of the omelet. “Kate?” he said softly.

She leaned a fraction closer. “Yes?”

“You should clean up some more before going outside. Every shifter who comes near you will know you just came.”


Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to view this Linky Tools list…

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

MWTease15Hello, lovelies! This week I’m doing another sneak peek at the third book in my Esposito Country Shifters series, Shifter Woods: Snarl. I am not making things easy for Jack, but hey, the only easy day for a SEAL is yesterday.

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 wiped up the last bit of sauce with a scrap of garlic bread and popped it into his mouth, chewing happily. The rich tang of sautéed garlic and onions had combined with the herbal bite of chopped fresh basil, the spice of toasted oregano, and a smooth, meaty tomato sauce into something that was purely amazing. Poured over al dente pasta and with a green salad on the side and a glass of good Merlot in front of him, it was by far the best meal he’d had in some time. “That was absolutely incredible, Kate,” he said after swallowing. “You’re a hell of a good cook.”

Across the table, Chandler was scraping his own plate clean with more garlic bread, having demolished his own pile of pasta and sauce with gusto. “Damn right she is,” he said with obvious pride. “And she makes a mean chicken parmesan, too.”

“Gotta keep you guys fed and functional,” Kate said, giving her father a wink as she twirled up the last of her own spaghetti around her fork. “And since I cooked, you two can clean up.”

Chandler sighed, but nodded. “Fair’s fair.”

Jack sat back, content. The dinnertime conversation had been easy enough, with Chandler sounding him out on how his first day had gone and Kate praising his assessment skills. The older male’s eyes had narrowed when he heard about the asshole guest in the bar. “He didn’t touch you, did he?”

A corner of her mouth curled. “He tried. Nothing I haven’t handled before.” Her smile widened in Jack’s direction. “But Jack definitely made it easier for me.”

Chandler gave him an approving look. “Well, all right. But next time you call security if some jackass tries something.”

“Sir, yes sir.” Her tone was gently mocking, but Jack thought he heard an edge under it. He hoped it was just the natural tension between a father’s protective instincts and a daughter’s urge to be independent. And if it isn’t, who do you side with? Your former commander, or your future mate?

That was a problem for another time. “Everyone done?” he asked.

Both Chandlers nodded. He got up, taking their plates and silverware and stacking them on his own. “I’ll get these in the kitchen.”

The surprised look on Kate’s face suggested that clearing the table wasn’t part of what her father considered “cleaning up.” He flashed a grin at her as he scooped up his former commander’s silverware and added them to the small pile of cutlery on the topmost plate. “Dishwasher, right?”

She grinned back. “I like him, Dad. Can we keep him?”

Chandler’s long-suffering eyeroll required Jack to swallow a chuckle as he carried the plates into the homey kitchen, opening the dishwasher he’d spotted during his reconnoiter after work and slotting things into their respective racks. Another trip brought in the wine glasses and salad bowls. He was studying the leftover sauce in its pot on the stove and wondering where the storage containers were when he smelled her standing behind him.

Turning, he saw her with hands on her hips, another of those feline grins lighting up her face. “You know, you don’t have to do everything yourself,” she chided. “Dad’s perfectly capable of putting stuff in the dishwasher.”

He shrugged, wondering what she would do if he admitted his real reason for being helpful—the hope that he’d get her alone for a few minutes. “Just trying to pull my weight.”

“Yeah, I figured.” She stepped closer, stopping when she was only a few inches away. “Look, I don’t know your back story, and you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to. But this isn’t Coronado. You don’t have to prove anything here.”

The mention of the Navy base made his gut contract a little with longing. “That’s not how SEALs work,” he said, trying to keep his tone gentle. “We keep going, no matter what. I’d think you’d know that by now.”

“Yeah, I guess I do.” She blew out a soft breath, and he couldn’t stop himself from inhaling. That was a mistake. Even with the overtones of garlic, onion, and wine, her essence was a sweetly golden beacon that reached into his soul and made his wolf howl in primal longing. Our mate. Ours.

And she was. His hands ached with the need to touch her, kiss her, pull her close and let her scent drench his skin. Her sweet round tits would feel amazing against his chest, and his rapidly hardening dick wanted to press against her belly, ride the rising tide of their paired desire—

No. I promised Chandler. She’s off limits.

The thought of the older male learning that he’d broken his vow had the same effect as diving into an ice cold breaker. His wolf growled this time, furious at his refusal. Our mate!

And she can’t smell that, plus I made a damn promise. So back the fuck off, furbag.

His wolf retreated, still growling. He stepped back as well, bumping into the stove. “There’s a lot of sauce left over,” he said, keeping his tone brisk. “Want me to freeze it?”

A flicker of disappointment flashed in her eyes. “Yeah. Use the pint containers in the cabinet left of the sink.”

“Got it.” He turned, aware that she was standing there watching him. You know the drill. It’s all mind over matter — if I don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.

Except that he did mind, dammit. And he had no idea how to fix it.


Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to view this Linky Tools list…

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.


Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to view this Linky Tools list…

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?”


Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to view this Linky Tools list…

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.


Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to view this Linky Tools list…

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.


Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to view this Linky Tools list…

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.


Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to view this Linky Tools list…

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.


Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to view this Linky Tools list…