Thursday, July 20, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Sawyer's Secret

Sawyer was the main character in Worlds Away, which came out at Christmas last year, and he was a departure for me. Readers of my series already knew his secret, because they'd met him in a prior book: he was a big, burly guy who felt at home in women's clothing. A few of my readers were uncomfortable with this, and some of them told me they had to take some time to examine why that was. 

To that I say: mission accomplished. Not that I wanted to make my readers uncomfortable per se, but I did want to challenge preconceived notions about gender, masculinity, and femininity. Sawyer was intended to bring up questions about gender roles and societal expectations. 

Almost always, when we see androgynous characters in books, or in movies and television, they're slim and small. They often have long hair and other traditionally "feminine" characteristics. But societal acceptance can't be limited to one body type. Because Sawyer is tall and muscular, he doesn't fit the stereotype of what an androgynous person should look like. But this is still his truth. This is who he is, regardless of whether or not that fits our expectations. 

If a big guy in a dress makes us uncomfortable, but we fawn over a slim, young, "pretty boy" in makeup, then really, how open-minded are we? I'm not pointing a finger here. I'm the first to admit I carry some bias too, and I wrote Sawyer to challenge my own perceptions, as well as society's. 



 Throughout Worlds Away, Sawyer gradually learns to accept who he is and begins to show his true self to the world. In the following scene, his love interest Alastair is finding out about Sawyer's other side for the first time:

“Thanks for being so open with me.”

“Well, I think you should know who you’re taking to bed.” I hesitated before adding, “You don’t have the whole picture yet, though. There’s something I need to show you. It might be a deal breaker, but I don’t want to hide it from you, like I do with almost everyone else.”

He watched me curiously as I pulled off my shoes and socks, then got up and turned to him. I took a deep breath as I began to unbutton my shirt. “If you’re not into this, that’s fine,” I said. “I know it’s…different.”

Alastair stared at me with rapt attention as I began to undress. I tossed my shirt on a nearby chair before unfastening my jeans, stepping out of them, and kicking them aside. My heart was pounding, and I swallowed hard and mumbled, “So, this is me,” as I stood before him. I was wearing one of my favorite outfits, a corset, stockings with garters, and a thong, all black.

His eyes went wide as they ran down my body. I was sure I’d freaked him out. He didn’t know what to make of me, he didn’t even know what to say. I was mortified, and so sad that I’d fucked up what could have been a great night. I should have hidden it and changed in the bathroom. I never should have—

“You’re the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life.” Alastair’s voice was low and thick with desire, and he pulled me to him and kissed me with raw hunger.

*****

Sawyer and Alastair will be back in a supporting role in Quinn's book, tentatively entitled Take a Chance on Me, which should be out in later September. 

As always, thanks for reading! 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Throwback Thursday: The Tinder Chronicles

Once upon a time, I decided to write a series of novellas centered around a vampire hunter. His name was Tinder (in case you're wondering, this was years before the dating app), and he was snarky and damaged and I adored him. But my writing career ended up pulling me in another direction, so my plans for an ongoing series ended after three novellas. They're published in one volume, The Tinder Chronicles.

Below is a little peek at Tinder and Bane, the vampire he really didn't want to fall for. As you'll see, their relationship is...complicated. In this scene, Tinder and fellow vampire hunter Lee have tracked a group of vampires to a warehouse near the Port of Long Beach in Southern California. Oh, and just a heads-up: like most vampire books, it's a little gory. But I think that's part of the fun. ;)


A big, burly vamp was coming down the stairs toward me, who I recognized as one of the fab five from Shoreline Village. I shot at him with my crossbow, but he managed to dodge the arrow. Damn it! He lunged for me, and again my agility worked to my advantage. I avoided his grasp and he stumbled down a few steps before righting himself. That gave me a chance to reload my crossbow. I didn’t miss the second time.

The other four were closing fast, and I sprinted up the stairs. On the top floor, I continued my mad dash. When the corridor ran out, I ducked into a big, drab office and slammed and locked the door behind me, a split second before one of the vamps reached me. It was a metal fire door and fairly solid, but I knew it wouldn’t keep a bunch of vamps out forever. I shoved the big desk across the room and up against the door, then leaned against it, gasping for breath, my heart pounding like it was trying to bust out of my chest. Shouts could be heard out in the hall. It sounded like the vamps who'd been chasing me were calling for even more reinforcements. Awesome.

I looked around the room. Besides the desk, all it contained was an office chair and a big metal file cabinet about five feet wide and six feet high. There were no windows, only a single skylight in the center of the fifteen foot ceiling. Yeah okay, I could make that work.

The file cabinet was a bit problematic, because it weighed a ton and I couldn’t budge it. I folded the top door of the cabinet up and back and swore vividly as I began grabbing armloads of files and flinging them out of the cabinet. As I worked on emptying it out so it was light enough to drag under the skylight, I wondered what had happened to Lee. There’d been no sign of him since I entered the building.

It took for-fucking-ever to empty the cabinet. Meanwhile, it sounded like the vamps out in the hall had located an ax and were trying to chop their way through the door. I rolled my eyes at that. If they’d been smart enough to hack through the wall instead of the metal door, they’d be in here already.

Even with all the paper out of it, the steel cabinet was still crazy heavy. Lucky me to find the one file cabinet in the universe built to survive a nuclear blast. I crouched down, grasped it by the edges and threw my weight into it. The cabinet slid about half an inch. I tugged on it again and again, painfully making my way to the center of the room and completely wearing myself out in the process. That sucked, because as soon as I got myself out of this room, I was going to have to run right back into the ground floor and get those civilians to safety.

The chances of living through this were not looking good.

When I very nearly had the cabinet in position, the skylight shattered. I held up the edge of my jacket and hid under it as glass rained down on me. A light thud alerted me that someone had just jumped through the skylight and landed beside me. I lurched to my feet and grabbed a stake from inside my jacket as I whirled around, but was immediately grabbed, transported across the room and slammed up against the wall with my wrists pinned to either side of my head.

I looked up into pale green eyes and a permanent smirk. “Which just goes to prove,” I said, my voice a low growl, “that no matter how bad a situation is, it can always get worse.”

“Hello, Tinder. You’re looking well.”

“Hi Bane. Hey, do me a favor. Let go of my right wrist for a second, so I can jam this stake through your heart.”

Bane was the most aptly named vampire ever, because he was, in fact, the bane of my existence. I’d gone up against him several times over the years. It somehow always ended with him getting away, despite my best efforts to reduce him to something I could suck up with a Dustbuster.

And now he had me pinned to a wall, his big, powerful body pressed against mine to keep me immobile. This was seriously not good. I threw everything I had into trying to break free. Failing that, I tried to head-butt him. He pulled back, just out of range, then changed his hold on me, grasping both wrists with one hand and holding them to the wall above my head while wrapping his other hand around my neck. It fucking pissed me off that he was so much stronger than I was.

“I don’t suppose if I asked nicely,” he said, “you’d be a love and stay in this room for the next half hour.” His English accent made his odd request sound downright civilized.

I knit my brows. “I think that’s about as likely as you jamming this stake through your heart yourself, just because I said pretty please.” I still grasped the big wooden spike in my right hand.

He sighed and said, “It’s such a bother that you can’t be compelled. Makes everything just that much more difficult.” He pushed down the cuff of my jacket with a fingertip, revealing the beginning of the incantation that was tattooed on both arms. My body was a canvas of spells and symbols, all of which provided me with various protections. Several, including the one he somehow knew to look for, made me immune to compelling.

“I live to annoy.”

He grinned at that. And then he said randomly, his voice low and seductive, “You smell like sex. That’s quite often the case, is it not? And yet, you never smell like the same bloke twice. You really should have more respect for yourself, Tinder.”

“Eat me.”

His grin erupted into a full-blown smile. This was slightly unnerving, because Bane was in the minority of vampires that had elected not to file their fangs down. Blending in with the general population was apparently of no interest to him. “Thanks for the oh-so-tempting offer, love, but I haven’t the time, I’m afraid.” In a lightning fast move, he grabbed the stake from my hand and drove it through my right shoulder. I cried out as pain shot through my body. “Rain check,” he said with a wink.

He stepped back from me. I started to collapse but was held up by the stake, which had passed all the way through me and embedded in the wall. “Son of a bitch,” I muttered through clenched teeth.

Bane scaled the file cabinet using the empty drawers as a ladder. He jumped up effortlessly and hung from the frame of the busted out skylight, then kicked the file cabinet over. I hissed, “God damn it!"

He hung by one hand and pointed at me. “Stay.” He said it like he was talking to a dog. Then he used both hands to easily pull himself up and out of the skylight.

I threw every swear word I knew at him as I grasped the end of the stake with my left hand and tried to pull it out of my shoulder. It wouldn’t budge. Just then, the ax finally broke through the metal door. I took hold of the stake again and tugged frantically. My chances of escape where nonexistent since that asshole had knocked the file cabinet over, and no way did I have the strength to pull it upright again. But when the vamps finally busted through that door, I wasn’t going down without a fight. I’d probably be able to take at least a couple of them out before they killed me.

Since the stake was embedded too deeply in the wall to remove it, I knew what I had to do. I gritted my teeth and lunged forward. The stake was a lot thicker at the handle end and the pain was so intense as it tore through my shoulder that I almost blacked out. I dropped to my knees, panting and shaking, but for only a few moments. Soon I pushed myself up and staggered across the room to my crossbow. I pointed the weapon at the door as I sat down, leaning against the upended file cabinet, and waited for the vamps to finish breaking through.

 Only, they never did. Some kind of commotion in the hall interrupted them, with the blade of the ax embedded in the door so deeply that I could see a few inches of it on this side. For several minutes, some kind of battle raged. I thought at first that it might be Lee, but that would have been over quickly, given how many vamps were out there.

Eventually, all fell silent. I gave it an extra minute, then pushed to my feet, holding my right arm against my stomach to try to stabilize my shoulder. I leaned back against the desk and used my legs to shove it out of the way, then paused and listened at the door. Nothing. When I flipped the lock and peered into the hallway, the only thing out there was six piles of clothing. What the fuck? 

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Buyer Beware

Last week, someone published several gay romances on Amazon under the name Alexa Land. I have been publishing with this name in this genre since 2012. I don't know if this was an innocent mistake or a blatant attempt at ripping off an established author, but either way: Buyer Beware! I'm fortunate to have a large reader base which I've built up over more than four years, and many of them will one-click books based on my name alone. But please look before you click! These other books aren't up to the standards my readers have come to expect.

Amazon is looking into it, and for now most of the books by this other person have been removed. If there's ever any question, remember that all my books are listed on my Amazon Author Page. If a book by "Alexa Land" isn't listed, it wasn't written by me. You can find my Amazon Author Page here.


Thursday, July 6, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Dance Floor Road Kill

Today, I'm looking back at Christian and Shea from Against the Wall
book 7 in the Firsts and Forever Series. 


I love these two! Christian, my free-spirited artist with a secret, and sweet, self-conscious police officer Shea are perfect together. But it didn't start off smoothly. 
Here's how they met. Christian is in a crowded nightclub with his new friend Chance and is just looking for a one-night stand. But Shea turns his world upside down -- once they both get past this awkward beginning:

“There’s a seriously hot guy staring at you. Did you notice?”
“No. Where?”
“Diagonally across the dance floor. Royal blue polo shirt, shoulders and arms like Atlas.”
I spotted the guy in question. Talk about gorgeous. He was totally built, with short, dark brown hair and eyes so blue I could see their color even at a distance. He was talking to three other guys. They all seemed to be about the same age, mid-twenties, but his three companions were all shorter and skinnier than him, and not to be unkind, but they were clearly dorks. The two white guys were a perfectly matched set (except that one was blond and the other brunet) who’d worn long-sleeved dress shirts along with their jeans, totally buttoned up and stiff. Their African American companion wore a bright t-shirt with the word Bazinga splashed across the front of it, along with a fedora. I had to wonder what Captain America was doing with the nerd herd.
“How would you know who that guy was looking at? This place is wall-to-wall people,” I yelled to Chance.
“You’re directly in his line of sight. Just watch him for a minute and you’ll see I’m right.”
The guy appeared to be having some sort of debate with his buddies. His friend in the fedora pointed across the bar, directly at me, and yelled something to his hot friend, who shook his head emphatically. Then one of the buttoned-down white boys took him by the shoulders, spun him toward me, and tried to give him a push. The hottie dug in his heels.
He did look up though and saw me watching him. Maybe. I still wasn’t convinced that I was the focal point of his attention, though he did suddenly turn a shade of red so vivid that it was noticeable even among the club’s bright, flashing lights. Chance leaned in and said, “Why don’t you go talk to that guy? Ask him to dance or something.”
I glanced at my companion. “First of all, I don’t dance. Secondly, why would he be looking at me, out of all the people in this place? Maybe he’s looking at you, you’re right beside me and pretty damn hot.”
“He’s not looking at me. Watch.” Chance got up and made his way to the center of the dance floor, then held his arms over his head and moved his slender body provocatively to the music. This got the attention of a half a dozen men around him, but not the guy in the polo shirt. Captain America was still glancing my way every few seconds while his friends appeared to give him some kind of pep talk. It involved a lot of hand gestures, yelling over the music and emphatic pointing.
I was still skeptical that any of that had a thing to do with me, but I had just decided to go say hello to him anyway when the pep talk finally worked. Captain America took a drink from the tall glass in his hand, then spun around and took a few steps in my direction, cutting across the dance floor. In the next instant, his arms were flailing over his head and he fell like a tree that had been chopped down, tripping over God knows what and landing flat on his belly. Oh man, the poor guy was dance floor road kill.
He knocked over at least ten people on his way down in a domino effect. The slippery ice that had flown out of his glass took out another dozen, most of them knocking down even more people as they fell. Chance was fairly nimble and managed to remain standing, but he was in the minority.
I leapt up to go help the guy in the polo shirt, but he was back on his feet in a flash. He darted toward the exit with his buddies in hot pursuit. Chance appeared beside me, somehow having navigated the wreckage on the dance floor, and said, “Aren’t you going to go after him?”
“I still don’t know if he was even coming to talk to me.”
“He was, trust me.”
“And what am I supposed to say to him?”
Chance grinned at me. “Try ‘hi’. Works wonders.” When I turned to look at him, he added, “That guy’s having the worst night ever. I bet he could really use some happy right about now.”
“You’re right. It was good to meet you, Chance.”
“Keep in touch, Christian,” he said with a smile before directing his attention to a couple guys at the bar.
I looked for the boy in blue as I cut through the club, but he was nowhere to be seen. He wasn’t in the crowd milling out front, either. I stood out on the sidewalk and looked in both directions, and finally spotted him and his little group halfway down the block. I went after them, and as I got closer, I saw they were still debating. They had their backs to me and didn’t notice me as I approached. “Let’s just go back,” the guy in the fedora was saying. “It’s your birthday, we’re supposed to be celebrating!”
“Yeah somehow, after humiliating myself in front of him of all people, I don’t feel all that festive, Leo,” the guy in blue said.
I was just a few feet away by now, so I stopped walking and said, “So, you probably don’t mean me, which is going to make me feel like such a dumbshit for coming after you.”
The foursome turned to face me, the nerd herd beaming ear-to-ear as the boy in blue went full-on deer in headlights. He still clutched the empty bar glass. “Oh, he definitely means you,” Fedora Guy said. He glanced at his friend, then took a second look and poked his arm. “Isn’t that right, Shea?”
I hadn’t quite caught that so I asked, “Sorry, what was your name?”
Cricket, cricket.
His friends stared at him in anticipation, and finally the buttoned-down blond boy answered for him. “His name’s Shea. Rhymes with gay.”
His dark-haired counterpart added, “Today’s his birthday, he just turned twenty-five.”
I stepped a little closer and looked into those wide blue eyes, noting that he and I were the same height, six-one. “Happy birthday, Shea. I’m Christian.” I tried giving him a friendly smile, but that just seemed to freak him out more.
“Dude,” the buttoned down brunet told his friend in a loud stage whisper, as if I couldn’t hear that, “say something.”
“I...um...hi,” Shea finally managed.
I smiled cheerfully. “Hi.”
His posse took that as their cue. Fedora Guy chimed in, “Our work here is done! We’re going over to Bas’s apartment, Shea, so you’ll have the whole house to yourself if you know what I mean. Nudge nudge, wink wink!” Everybody knew what he meant, and Shea once again turned a vivid shade of pink. 
  I stepped a little closer and carefully extracted the glass from his hand. It was surprising that it hadn’t broken in the fall. As I handed it to one of his friends, my eyes never leaving Shea’s, I murmured, “You are absolutely beautiful.”
Awwww yeah,” buttoned-down blond boy said with a huge smile, throwing his hands in the air and swiveling his skinny hips. “It’s on! Have fun, Shea! But don’t forget dude, no glove, no love!”
The guy in the fedora grabbed the blond’s arm and started dragging him down the sidewalk as he called, “Bye, Shea. Bye, hot guy. We’ll be out late. Real late! Y’all will have plenty of time to get it on!”
“Oh God,” Shea whispered, still staring at me. “I’m so sorry about that.”
“Don’t be. What’s life without perfectly certifiable friends?” My gaze drifted to his full, luscious lips. I slid my hand around the back of his neck, pulled him to me and kissed him gently. Every part of me came alive, my pulse quickening and my cock swelling. I wanted this guy, no doubt about it. He was absolutely terrified though, and I was a little concerned that he’d throw up on me out of sheer panic.
A chorus of cat-calls came from his friends, who by now were down the block but apparently still watching. I ran my hand down his arm and asked, “Do you want to go back to your place?”
He nodded but remained rooted to the sidewalk. Maybe he’d only recently come out and wasn’t used to being with guys yet. That might explain the terror. I draped my arms around his shoulders and kissed him again, lightly. Then I rested my forehead against his and told him softly, “I’d love to go home with you and fuck you all night, Shea. But that won’t happen unless we actually start walking.” 

 #####

Christian and Shea have been overdue for a check-in, so I'm going to make a point of bringing them back in my work-in-progress. I'm currently writing Quinn's story. He's a new character I introduced in the latest book in the series, All I Ever Wanted. It should be out sometime in September. 


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Way Back to the Beginning

For this week's Throwback Thursday, I decided to revisit the moment Jamie Nolan met Dmitri Teplov in Way Off Plan, book one of the Firsts and Forever Series. These two will always hold a special place in my heart. I was a total novice when I wrote their book back in 2012, but somehow, this couple came to life and not only kicked off the Firsts and Forever Series, they also launched my writing career. I'll always be so grateful for that!

In the following scene, Jamie is a young cop sent to gather intel on a suspected major player in the Russian mafia. Dmitri is a nightclub owner who seems to be speed-dating his way through all the cute guys in his club. When Dmitri's associate asks Jamie to join his boss for a drink, Jamie is less than impressed:


Burgundy Jacket gave me a dead-eyed once over and said in a low monotone, “Mr. Teplov would like you to join him at his table for a drink.”
I raised an eyebrow at him. It was tempting to tell him to shove it up his ass, but I actually felt kind of bad for the guy. Sifting through young gay guys for his fickle employer couldn’t be this man’s idea of a good time. I said politely, “With all due respect sir, if Mr. Teplov wants to have a drink with me, he can ask me his own damn self.”
The man didn’t look impressed. “You really want me to tell him that?”
I shrugged and said, “Tell him whatever you want,” then turned away from the man and tossed back the last of my ten dollar beer.
I shouldn’t have said no to that. I was there to try to gain information about Teplov. But between watching him burn through men like a forest fire and that unshakeable feeling that I’d been whored out by my department, I was in no mood to play nice.
I watched in the mirror as Burgundy Jacket went up to Teplov and whispered in his ear. His employer scanned the crowd, his gaze finally resting on my back with a raised eyebrow. It was probably the first time he’d ever faced rejection. He was probably stunned that anyone could resist his good looks, the money, the power, the total fucked up package that was Dmitri Teplov. I looked down at my empty beer bottle, mentally putting together the politely phrased fuck you I was going to deliver to my police captain on Monday morning when I told him where he could shove this assignment.
 “Hi.”
I turned to glare at whoever was currently trying to pick me up, and my eyes went wide. Teplov reclined against the bar beside me, head tilted to one side as he studied me closely. Amusement sparkled in his blue eyes, his full lips barely concealing a grin. He leaned toward me, and I caught a whiff of expensive cologne as he said, “Would you please do me the honor of having a drink with me?”
He was even more stunningly attractive close up. In fact, he was the most gorgeous man I’d ever seen. It occurred to me that he’d probably bedded every gay blond boy within a two hundred mile radius with no effort whatsoever. Well, at least those who passed whatever random screening process he subjected them to.
His appearance was distracting as hell. I could barely think straight while staring into that dazzling face. “I don’t think so,” I managed. That was again the wrong answer, but I’d already decided I wasn’t going through with this assignment.
“Funny. You don’t strike me as the coy type,” he said before unleashing a thousand megawatt smile at me. Oh Christ, he actually had dimples!
“I’m not being coy. I sincerely don’t want to have a drink with you,” I told him, trying to bring up a veneer of indifference and drag my eyes away from that smile.
He laughed at that, a surprisingly genuine, uninhibited laugh. “So you wanted me to ask you to have a drink in person, just so you could shoot me down?” The dimples were still out in full force. He looked really young and innocent when he smiled. What an illusion.
“I wanted you to ask me in person,” I said, “because it’s annoying and degrading to be fetched by your lackey. I didn’t say anything about agreeing once you asked.”
That cornflower blue gaze slid to my mouth, and despite myself, I licked my lips. In response, his full lips parted in a silent gasp. God, that was some mouth. A spark of desire slid down my spine, coming to rest in my groin, and I mentally slapped myself for being so easily distracted by a pretty face. He leaned in closer and said softly, his voice a bit husky, “Please? Just one drink.” My cock leapt to attention at his proximity, as much as it could in the confines of those incredibly tight jeans.
Teplov was so close that if I tilted my head just a few inches, I’d be resting my forehead against his. He had serious personal space issues. Apparently I did too, because I impulsively reached up and ran the tip of my index finger along the sensuous curve of his thick lower lip. His eyes slid shut and he leaned into my touch.
Holy shit, what was I doing? I pulled my hand back quickly and mumbled, “Sorry. I didn’t mean to do that.”
“No?” he whispered. “What did you mean to do?”
I slid off my barstool and took a step back from him, thoroughly rattled. “I really should go.”
He caught my wrist and said softly, his eyes locked (pleadingly?) with mine, “You really should stay.” My heart actually fluttered. What the hell!
I could not think clearly around that man. The sight of him, the smell of him, the fact that sex oozed from every one of his molecules was too much. Another minute of this and I’d forget who and what he was and jam my tongue down his throat. I turned and bolted.
I left the VIP room and pushed my way through the crowded club. The night air was wonderfully brisk as I emerged outside. It helped clear my head as I hurried down the sidewalk and around to the quiet side street where I’d lucked into a parking space.
When I reached the generic loaner car, I patted my pockets for my keys, then swore vividly. Damn Jess and those manslut clothes! The keys were in my hoodie back at the bar, because the jeans were too tight to hold more than my driver’s license and a couple bills. I sighed with frustration, splayed my arms over the green Hyundai, and lightly whacked my forehead against the roof of the car.
“You did that wrong, Cinderella,” a now familiar voice behind me said. “You’re supposed to leave a shoe behind, not the keys to the carriage.”
I turned to look at Dmitri Teplov, stunned that he’d actually followed me. My jacket was draped over his arm, my key ring looped around his long, graceful index finger. He smiled, but (was I imagining it?) seemed slightly unsure of himself. I stepped forward and took hold of my keys, and he closed his hand around my fingers and asked softly, “What exactly is it about me that you find so repulsive?”
The answer to that question should have been, the fact that you’re a lowlife criminal, or at the very least, the fact that you treat men like pieces of meat. I stared at him for a long moment, my heart trying to jackhammer its way out of my chest just from his proximity. We were close to the same height, right around six feet tall, and stood eye to eye as he held my gaze steadily. I answered honestly, my voice a bit rough. “Nothing.”
“Then why are you running from me?”
“Am I the first man in history to turn down your advances?” I hedged as I slid my hand from his.
“No. But you are the first man to turn me down who wanted me as much as I wanted him.”
I crossed my arms over my chest and tried to play it off. “So, just because you’re good looking you assume I want you? That’s probably true for every other gay man in that club, but don’t make that assumption about me.”
“It’s not an assumption,” he said simply and moved to lean against my car, tossing the jacket onto the roof.
“You’re incredibly arrogant,” I told him.
“You’re right. But that doesn’t change the fact that your entire body responded to me the moment I got near you.”
“What? No it didn’t.” Okay, it had, but he couldn’t possibly know that.
“Your eyes dilated, your cheeks flushed, your pulse when I grabbed your wrist was positively racing, and, not to be crude, but those tight jeans made it perfectly clear that you wanted to fuck me as much as I wanted you to,” he said matter-of-factly. “Which begs the question: why are you running from me?”
“Christ,” I muttered, running my palms over my gelled hair. That had actually been incredibly perceptive. “Fine. I’m attracted to you. But then so’s everyone, right? What difference does it make that I am, too?”
“All the difference in the world,” he said quietly.
“Would you please give me my keys so I can get the hell out of here?”
 He pushed off my car, came to stand in front of me, and handed me the keys. Then he shocked the hell out of me by sinking to his knees and reaching for my belt. “What are you doing? Are you insane?” I gasped as he unfastened the buckle and unbuttoned my pants.
“If you want me to stop, just say the word,” he said as he slid my zipper down.

#####

I love the fact that more than four years later, we're still following Jamie and Dmitri's story. They have a supporting role in All I Ever Wanted, the latest book in the series, and it always makes me happy when we get to check in with this couple and see where life is taking them. 





Thursday, June 22, 2017

Throwback Thursday: When Christopher met Kieran

In All I Ever Wanted, the newest book in my Firsts and Forever Series, we get to check in with several couples from very early in the series, including Jamie and Dmitri (Way Off Plan), Hunter and Brian (Gathering Storm), and Christopher and Kieran (In Pieces). I thought it’d be fun to look back at how Christopher and Kieran first got together in today’s TBT blog post.

The couple first met at a Christmas party. Kieran was very drunk (and dressed in an ugly Christmas sweater with a light-up Rudolph), and he planted a big kiss on Christopher under the mistletoe, right before passing out. In this scene, it’s New Year’s Eve, and they’ve run into each other at Charlie and Dante’s wedding. The clock just struck twelve:
“Hi.”
I turned toward the voice behind me, and my smile widened. Without another word, Reindeer Sweater stepped forward and scooped me into his arms, and delivered a New Year’s kiss to end all New Year’s kisses. I wrapped my arms around him, my eyes sliding shut, my lips parting for him. My God, this man could kiss! It was passionate, electric, and it made my heart race.
He pulled back long enough to ask, “What’s your name?” before kissing me again.
“Christopher,” I whispered against his lips. “What’s yours?”
“Kieran.” He pushed me against the wall and ran a series of kisses along my jaw, and licked my earlobe before saying, “I was worried that I’d only dreamt meeting you under the mistletoe, that you weren’t real.” His hands slid under my tuxedo jacket and he untucked my shirt, his big hands finding bare skin as he clutched me to him.
“You were really drunk.”
“I know.”
I slid my tongue into his mouth, and he sucked it gently before whispering, “Just in case you weren’t a dream and I ran into you again, I made sure I was ready.”
“What do you mean?”
He grinned at me, his beautiful blue eyes sparkling, and fished in his jacket pocket. Then he held up a little brown sprig of something. “I’ve been carrying this around every day since Christmas Eve.”
I laughed and asked, “Is that mistletoe?”
He dropped the crispy leaves back into his pocket and ran his fingers into my hair. “Yup.” He kissed me once more, then rested his forehead against mine.
“I think mistletoe’s magical properties expire after Christmas.”
“I was hoping if I saw you again, you’d grant the mistletoe an extension. But as it turns out, I found you right in time for the biggest kissing excuse of the holiday season. Happy New Year, by the way.” He smiled brightly, bringing out a lone dimple in his left cheek.
“To you, too. Why do you need an excuse to kiss me?”
“Because most people aren’t okay with a total stranger doing this to them.” His mouth found mine yet again, and it was a couple minutes before we said anything else.
“I guess it all depends on the stranger.”

*****


Those two still make me smile, and I love the heat between them! One of my favorite things about writing a series is getting to check in with past couples, so we can all see how they’re doing and what they’ve been up to several years down the road. Christopher and Kieran from In Pieces truly found their happily ever after. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Throwback Thursday: The Long Road Back

This week, I published the 14th book in my Firsts and Forever Series. It’s called All I Ever Wanted, and it’s River and Cole’s story. This is the first time I’ve written a second chance romance, and I loved getting to bring these two into the spotlight! They’ve been a part of the series since the beginning, but always just as background characters. Now we’re finally getting to know them as we follow their journey to happily ever after.


River and Cole were a couple earlier in the series, but then they had a painful break-up, including a very public argument in front of all their friends. I’ve had a couple readers message me to say, “I don’t remember the big fight that’s referred to in the new book. When did that happen?” So, I thought it’d be a good idea to take a look at that in this week’s Throwback Thursday blog post.

River and Cole broke up in The Distance, #11 in the Firsts and Forever series (Jessie’s book). Their relationship had already begun to unravel, and Cole had been sleeping on a friend’s couch before he and River had a big, public blow-up during a masquerade ball and art exhibit. But that fight actually happened off-page, which is why some readers might feel like they’re having a hard time recalling it.

Not going into the details of that fight was a deliberate decision. I chose to go that route because I believe it doesn’t matter what was said. River and Cole were both hurt, and they said things out of anger. I think many of us have said things in the heat of the moment that we didn’t mean and later regretted. That was the case with this fight, so it didn't feel right to focus on the gory details.

We did see the aftermath of that painful argument in The Distance, and the following scene is part of that. This is told from Jessie’s perspective. It’s the night of a big masquerade ball fundraiser, which also includes an exhibition of Skye’s artwork. It takes place at a warehouse on San Francisco’s Embarcadero. Skye and River are brothers, and all their friends are at this event:

When we returned to the Embarcadero, I hopped out of the limo full of energy and optimism, but then I murmured, “Oh no.”

“What’s wrong?” Kai asked, coming around to my side of the vehicle.

“That looks like my friend Cole over in the far corner of the parking lot. By the way his shoulders are shaking, I think he’s crying. That means I messed up.”

“How?”

“I gave him a ticket to the masquerade ball, knowing his boyfriend River would be here. I was hoping they’d reconcile, but it doesn’t look like things went according to plan.” I locked the limo door as I said, “I’m oh-for-two. I tried to fix up Zachary and Six tonight too, and that also backfired. I suck as a matchmaker.”

“It’s sweet that you tried, though.”

“I’ll meet you inside in a minute, okay? I’m going to go see if he’s alright.” Kai kissed my forehead before heading to the warehouse.

Cole’s back was to me, and he wasn’t just crying, he was sobbing. “Hey,” I said softly as I walked up to him. He jumped a bit at the sound of my voice and spun around, then quickly wiped his face with the sleeve of his black dress shirt. “I guess it didn’t go well. I’m so sorry for setting this up.”

He took a couple shaky breaths as he pulled off his glasses and ran a hand over his swollen eyes. His voice was raspy when he said, “Don’t apologize. I knew he’d be here since his brother’s sculptures are in the show, and I came anyway. I guess I needed to know if it really was over, and I sure as hell have my answer now.”

“Did you talk to him?”

“I tried, and it just turned into a huge fight. I’m so embarrassed. The last thing I wanted was to start screaming at him in front of a crowd. But see, that’s why we never brought up anything serious the whole time we were together, because we both knew it’d turn into a yelling match.”

He took a couple more ragged, deep breaths, and I said, “Why don’t you come back to the warehouse and get a drink of water?”

But he shook his head. “River’s still inside with his brother and a lot of their friends. I’m just going to go home to Miranda’s apartment. Shit. I really need to find my own place.”

Jamie and Dmitri came up to us just then, and Jamie asked, “Are you alright, Cole?”

“Oh great, so that also happened in front of my employers.” Cole put a hand over his face. “I didn’t know you guys were in there.”

“Hey, shit happens,” Jamie said. “You have no reason to be embarrassed.”

“I really do,” Cole muttered.

“We’re heading home because my sister’s babysitting and can’t stay late,” Dmitri said. “Why don’t you come with us and crash at our apartment tonight? I’ll drive your car for you if you want, since you seem pretty shaken up.”

“You don’t have to take care of me,” Cole mumbled as his hands dropped to his sides.

“You’re our friend, Cole, and we want to help. Come with us,” Jamie said. “As an added incentive, the bar is right downstairs. That might be a really good thing tonight.” Cole had to agree. He put his glasses back on and gave Dmitri his keys.

*****

In the new book, Cole and River have spent the last year apart, and that fight is part of the reason they’ve been afraid to talk to each other, let alone try to reconcile. They’re both hurt, and they’re also ashamed it got so ugly. But even though they both messed up, they’ve never stopped loving each other. In All I Ever Wanted, they’re fighting their way back.