Excerpt Fun

New Apple Trail Release!!!

Making Her Nights, fourth in Apple Trail, Arkansas is NOW AVAILABLE!!!

Love love love this book! Oh, Tiffany and Mike just set my keyboard on fire while writing them! As I wrote this story, I was continually taken back to when I wrote Through The Wall. Both of these novellas seemlying wrote themselves with very little trouble and the tension between the two characters are just OFF. THE. CHARTS. ….in my opinion, anyway :)

He never loses control and she always tests the rules.

Chief Deputy Mike Gabel is the man in charge in Apple Trail. No one gives him more trouble than a certain blonde. While her stunts are frustrating to deal with, it’s the constant way she keeps him trapped in knots.

Tiffany McBride has a reputation for being a trouble maker. She’s been betting and causing trouble since her parents died when she was a teenager. What looks like a young woman sowing her oats, it’s actually desperate measures to gamble for extra money to put food on the table.

When these two acknowledge their attraction, sparks fly…that is if Mike’s public position can survive Tiffany’s frowned upon reputation.

The official release date isn’t until Monday, June 20th, so it’s still popping up here and there. As of the moment, it’s available for $1.99 from  Amazon Kindle | Smashwords | All Romance Ebooks and Omnilit

Want to know more? The first two and half (or thereabouts) chapters are posted HERE!

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Welcome Renee Vincent!

You’ve Got A Friend In Me

Friends. They are the people in our lives who mean a great deal to us. Some of us have more than we can count, while others have only one worth boasting of. In any case, good friends are hard to come by and we should never forget the much needed joy they bring to our lives.

As necessary as friends are in real life, they’re also needed in romance novels. They not only help to establish realism within the story by putting the characters in believable conversations and realistic situations, they also assist with character establishment and development. Through a simple conversation between the protagonist and their friend, the reader gets to glimpse deeper inside the hero/heroine’s persona by seeing how they interact in a comfortable environment.

In Ræliksen, my hero’s friend was Tait. In Mac Liam, it was Marcas. And in Silent Partner, Grayson has a good friend that he, too, can confide in. His name is Richard and today, I’m featuring a conversation between the two of them. It’s one of my favorite scenes with these guys because, like normal male friends, there is a lot of humorous banter going on. With this scene, I’m able to roll the story forward through the pace of the dialogue, while allowing the readers to know more about the hero without actually describing him.

To set the scene, it’s the morning after Grayson and Chloe’s one-night stand and he’s in the process of realizing he’d like to know her better now that the “sex” has been had, which is completely unusual for him. I hope you enjoy.

*And remember to leave me a comment on this post with your email address so you can be entered in my Blog Tour Giveaway! The prize includes an autographed print book from my backlist (winner’s choice), assorted bookmarks, and a $15 gift certificate to Amazon! See HERE for contest details.

 

Silent Partner

By Renee Vincent

Turquoise Morning Press

ISBN (Print): 9781935817581

ISBN (Ebook): 9781935817598

Available Now At:

AmazonKindle | NookSony1Place For RomanceAll Romance EBooksSmashwordsDigi Books | Joseph BethCoffee Time RomanceDiesel |Turquoise Morning Press Book Strand

Excerpt:

A knock at the door broke apart Grayson’s thoughts, and for a split second his heart leapt.

Had she come back? Was she not able to stay away from him any longer than he could from her?

Elated to find out, he ran to the door, his bare feet almost slipping out from underneath him as he turned the corner. Grabbing the door handle, he threw it open, a huge smile plastered on his face.

“Oh,” Grayson mumbled, after setting eyes on his friend, Richard, dressed in the normal suit and tie. “It’s just you. Come on in.”

“Nice to see you too, Gray.”

Grayson turned on his heels to hide his rolling eyes as he wandered into his living room, plopping down on his plush black leather couch. “Is this going to take long? I’ve got some place to be.”

“Dressed like that?” Richard asked sardonically. “Doubt you’ll get very far unless you’ve taken up exotic dancing now.”

Grayson glanced down at his bare chest and half-opened fly. Grimacing, he zipped his jeans. “So, what do you want?”

Richard casually strolled into the room, paused at the other sofa across from him, and sat down just as purposefully. There was a certain air of cautiousness in the way Richard unbuttoned his Italian suit coat before sitting, almost as if he were about to address a panel of uptight board members from his downtown artist cooperative, R. Fitzgerald Gallery.

“What’s up with you, Richard?”

His friend took a deep breath and smoothed his tie. “We have to move forward.”

Grayson drew backward. “All right,” he said with hesitation. “But don’t I, at least, deserve dinner and a movie first?”

Richard sighed. “I’m serious, Gray. I agreed to take on this dance club and studio as your friend, but I’m speaking to you as a co-owner. We’ve been open now for more than five months, but the studio has lagged behind. I know you are searching for that perfect female partner but—”

“Richard, I’ve—”

“Dammit, Gray, let me finish.”

Grayson threw up his hands, giving his friend the floor. “Have at it…”

“Thank you. As I was saying, I know you don’t want to open the studio until you find your dance partner, but we need someone by the end of next month. I have contractors coming in this afternoon to renovate and that is that. I don’t like pushing you or stepping on your toes, you know that. But this is a business arrangement and banks don’t give a fuck about your perfect partner. They want payments at regular intervals and we don’t have the budget for putting this off any longer. We barely have enough for the labor. There. I said my piece.”

Grayson laughed and headed toward the kitchen. “You want a drink?” he asked over his shoulder, still amused by Richard’s subtle tyrant.

“No,” Richard replied, following him into the next room as Grayson pulled an Evian out of the fridge. He leaned across the marble countertop. “I want an answer from you. I want an ‘Okay, Richard, let’s do this thing.’”

Grayson twisted the top of the water bottle and drank heavily, his eyes fixed on his eagerly awaiting friend. After gulping down half the water, he smiled and quoted verbatim, “Okay, Richard. Let’s do this thing.”

“Gray, could you at least take me seriously for once?”

“I am taking you seriously. And I said Okay.”

It was Richard’s turn to draw back. “Really? You’re fine with this?”

Grayson took one more drink and replaced the cap. “Yeah. Give the keys to the contractor and let’s get this baby up. Why are you so surprised?”

Richard thought for a moment. “Because…you’re never this appeasing. Normally, you are adamant about taking things on yourself and not letting others take charge. I half expected you to refuse the idea of the contractor coming in, and I planned on getting an earful of why we shouldn’t open next month. So, why the change of heart?”

Grayson continued to smile. How could he not? The thought of dancing with last night’s woman, night after night, was worth smiling about.

A light bulb went off in Richard’s head. “You found a dance partner?” he asked in disbelief.

“Yeah, I did.”

“Excellent!” Richard exclaimed, slapping his hands together. “What’s her name?”

“No idea.”

Richard’s face fell. “You don’t know her name? Then how did you meet her?”

Grayson heard the coarse speculation in his friend’s voice. “I met her last night at Gyrations.”

“So, you were able to see her dance,” Richard tried to reason. “This is good.”

“Yeah, it’s good.”

Richard gave him a sideways glance. “I’m assuming she left you with some type of contact information?”

Grayson turned around and replaced the water bottle inside the fridge. “Not exactly. She left early this morning before I could ask her.”

Richard’s eyes widened as he drew in a deep breath. “You slept with her?”

An automatic smile returned to Grayson’s face despite his friend’s blatant disapproval. “Yes, I did.”

“Oh, don’t look so proud, Gray. This is a legitimate business we’re trying to run here, not some underground escort service.” Richard pinched the bridge of his nose. “And how in the hell can you bring a woman into your home, into your bed—a woman you know nothing about—and still sleep at night?” He threw up a quick hand, silencing Grayson. “No. Forget I asked. I don’t want to know. And wipe that smirk off your face. This is not in the least bit funny.”

Grayson gave it his best shot, rubbing his taut grin downward with a stiff hand, but it was useless. Watching Richard sweat was quite entertaining.

“I’m serious!” Richard barked. “Don’t get me wrong, I know you have impeccable taste in women and it never ceases to amaze me the caliber of ass you’ve had in your possession, but sleeping with a future employee for the sake of determining her qualifications is no way to run a business. I don’t need a bunch of prostitutes hanging out on the corner. I have a reputation to uphold.”

“Will you relax, Richard,” Grayson waved off as he walked through his living room. “She’s not a prostitute, nor have I ever resorted to being a ‘skip.’ By the way, I resent that, too.” He was done with this conversation, done with being reprimanded like a gullible teenager, and decided to prove his friend wrong by doing what he had intended all along—find her and offer her the dance position.

As Grayson strolled down the hall into his bedroom, he found Richard close behind, his mouth still going. “How do you know she’s not a prostitute? You don’t even know her name for shit’s sake! For all you know she probably skipped out with your wallet, caught a cab for New York, and is at Nordstrom’s right now, buying her pimp-daddy a really nice shirt.”

Without looking back at his friend, Grayson grabbed his wallet out of his dresser drawer and threw it at him.

Richard caught it, relieved he was wrong, but continued to berate him. “Okay, so she’s a stupid whore—”

“She’s not a whore,” Grayson corrected as he pulled out a clean pair of jeans and boxers, and laid them neatly on the edge of his dresser.

Richard flipped the tri-fold on the unmade bed to his right and leaned against the doorframe, crossing his arms. “Fine. Let’s say she’s not ‘turning tricks’ with you. What if she’s just a lonely, desperate housewife and you were nothing more than a good fuck on a Saturday night?”

Grayson turned his back on Richard and entered his walk-in closet, ripping a white button-up shirt from the hanger, his irritation climbing. It was not so much that his friend was insulting him in the same breath as he was the unknown woman, but that he knew Richard was probably right. What if the woman’s only purpose was to get laid? She sure fit the criteria if he had to look back on it. Skipping out before sun-up…never mentioning her name or asking for his. Hell, when he thought back on last night, she never even said one word.

Not a damn thing.

He walked back out to face the music, his lips tight against his teeth. As he looked at Richard, his unmade bed nagged at him. Without a second’s hesitation, he walked passed his friend and began making his bed while he spoke. “You and I are very different. We always have been, Richard. You were born into money, I wasn’t. You found your soul mate in high school, I didn’t. You’ve traveled the world, and I’m grounded here in Boston. But we do have one thing in common. And that is we’ve always trusted each other. Hence, this business arrangement. So, I’m going to ask you to find that faith in me and realize my name is on those papers too. I may not have a prestigious gallery with my name plastered across the expressways, but I have just as much invested in this club as you do. I’m not going to do anything to damage this opportunity or our friendship. But I do need you to trust me.”

“I’ll be a sonofabitch,” Richard muttered, shaking his head. “You’re into this chick, aren’t you?”

Grayson ran his hand threw his hair, those words settling heavy in his gut. He didn’t like admitting a woman was finally able to get into his heart, a heart heavily guarded by walls of reluctance and aversion—especially a woman as elusive as his one-nighter. But damn there was something different about her. Something alluring…something he had to have more of.

“Yeah, I’m into her,” Grayson allotted grudgingly. “So what?”

Renee Vincent’s Blog Tour Giveaway:

Follow me through my blog tour and leave a comment at each blog to be entered to win big prizes!
*For complete contest details and rules for entering, go HERE:

 

#1 – April 12 Romance by Chance
#2 – April 13 History Undressed
#3 – April 18 Coffee And Romance…A Book Blog
#4 – April 19 Tina Donahue Presents…
#5 – April 20 Beyond Romance
#6 – April 20 Tess MacKall’s Hotter Than A Sultry Southern Night
#7 – April 20 Romance Junkies
#8 – April 21 Sweet N Sexy Divas
#9 – April 21 Romance Books R Us
#10 – April 25 – 29 Chicks of Characterization
#11 – April 26 Heart of Romance (Interview)

#12 – April 28 Keri Ford’s blog

 

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In The Hay ~ Now Available

….two strangers visit Apple Trail. When they get together will they put in roots in this small town or go back to their lives?

It’s been a White Picket Fence life for Nicolette. Charming, but tedious. She graduated high school, raring to go. Nothing is ever as easy as it seems though. The fear of being stuck in a rut, living a dull day-to-day life keeps Nicolette from settling on a career, despite her six years of college. When the chance arrives for her to housesit, she takes opportunity by the horns for a little playtime. She would experience life and find something that would make her happy.

Drew knows exactly what he wants. To run the family construction business. Too bad his dad doesn’t think he’s ready. They make a deal. Drew will help his cousin put up a new fence and after he’s learned hard work, the construction business is his. Drew’s not sure learning how to string fence line together will see him suitable for a career of paper pushing, but he’ll do it.

When Drew meets the wanna-be-free-spirited Nicolette, his determined thoughts of what he’s always worked for begins to sway. Nicolette’s finding the fun in life. But their relationship is temporary. A week tops.

Available in ebook format for only $1.99 from Amazon Kindle | UK Kindle |  Smashwords | Sony | Diesel | Apple | Barnes & Noble (Nook)| Digibooks Café | 1PlaceforRomance | All Romance Ebooks and Omnilit| CoffeeTime Romance eBookstore | BookStrand

~Excerpt~

She stared up at him. Her little chin upturned, pouty lips parted as she gasped for air. Freckles dusted over a nose framed by wide brown eyes with long, thick lashes. Hmm. Not just simple brown eyes, so much more than that. Golden and bright and flecked with bits of green. “You’ve been watching me.”

He shrugged a shoulder. “I have.”

She pressed her lips together and glanced away for a brief second before looking back at him. “What’s your name?”

“Drew. Yours?”

“Nicolette.”

She didn’t look like a Nicolette. Nicolette was too formal, too proper. This girl looked like honey fresh from a hive. “Having fun dancing?”

Her lips split to a wide grin, hands came up and clasped before her chest. “I’ve never danced the night away before.”

“Ah. That makes sense.” Not really, but she smiled, liking the response, so that was good enough.

She glanced around and bit her lower lip, kicked at the old concrete floor with her toe, and twiddled with her fingers. He started to ask if she wanted to get out of there, but he wasn’t given the chance.

Her gaze returned to his as she grabbed the front of his shirt, tugged him forward, and planted her lips to his. No sooner did their lips touch and the tangy sweetness of what he thought was peach bubble-gum filled his mouth, she pulled away, red-faced.

“I’ve never done that before.” Air gushed from her in a rush. “So sorry.” She spun on her heels and started away. Her heat and fire was slipping through his fingers along with her red curls.

“Not so fast.” He wrapped his arm around her slim waist and spun her back against him. “For your first time, it ought to be done right.”

Her lips parted, her eyes widened. A soft gasp escaped as he tugged her hot and sweat dampened body flush to him. Fully and right as he’d been wanting her all night. She was taller than he’d thought. Her hips were against his. Chest on chest. He waited no longer to take what’d he’d been wanting and pressed his lips over hers. She stiffened for only a moment before she melted against his body and sighed into his mouth.

He stroked his tongue along hers and finally got his hands in her thick hair. It curled over his arms, the thick strands wrapped around his fingers as he tipped her head back and deepened the kiss, giving her a full taste of what he could deliver. By the purr vibrating in her throat, he’d say she was onto the idea.

Besides, he was only doing his civic duty here. He had promised that officer he’d see her out safely. What better way to keep his promise than if they left together?

Hoots and hollers shouted out in deafening volumes, breaking the all too quick moment. Her hands landed flat on his chest and she started to push, but he linked his hands together at her lower back to keep her close, to hold the sweet, peach scent close.

He leaned over and whispered in her ear. “We could get out of here together.”

She blinked. Her fingers curled against his chest. Breath filled her twice. He waited for another push from her, ready to release her if that’s what she wanted. There was no shove. She wouldn’t meet his eyes, but stared toward the base of his throat. “What about my dancing the night away?”

“Haven’t you heard of the horizontal tango?”

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On The Fence ~ Six Sentence Sunday pt2

Last week was my first time posting and I was so blown away by all the comments. I’d nearly forgotten to post in the first place and grabbed the snippet I did, not even realizing the cliffhanger! So what kind of man is Riley Hamilton? …here’s six more sentences for another clue!~~~

“And what kind is that, Riley? I’m not going to ask you to do anything you don’t want, but I’m having a hard time believing you don’t desire me right now.” She wiggled best she could, catching her crotch against the firm ridge nudging his zipper.
 
 
 
 

“I don’t have casual sex anymore on the spur of the moment.”
“Me either. I’ve been thinking about it since yesterday when I saw you again.”
 ~~~
 
 

Available in ebook format for only $1.99 from Amazon Kindle | Smashwords | Sony | Diesel | Apple | Barnes & Noble (Nook) | Digibooks Café | 1PlaceforRomance | All Romance Ebooks and Omnilit | CoffeeTime Romance eBookstore | BookStrand 
~~~
(ps, today I’m coming home from a conference, but I’ll read all yours later this afternoon!)

 

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On The Fence ~ Six Sentence Sunday

and here are six sentences for Six Sentence Sunday from On The Fence, my small-town contemporary romance. This comes from part of the book I haven’t yet shared in excerpts! 

 
~~~~
 

His hands came around her hips and he gripped her bottom. His fingers kneaded and squeezed the curves of her cheeks. Little by little, his tense muscles and heavy shoulders loosened and relaxed and came against her. And then he broke the kiss. Gasping for breath, he lowered his eyelids and shook his head. “No. I’m not this kind of man anymore.”
~~~~
Available in ebook format for only $1.99 from Amazon Kindle | Smashwords | Sony | Diesel | Apple | Barnes & Noble (Nook) | Digibooks Café | 1PlaceforRomance | All Romance Ebooks and Omnilit | CoffeeTime Romance eBookstore | BookStrand 

  

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On The Fence ~ Excerpt

Excerpt Monday LogoOnce a month, a bunch of authors get together and post excerpts from published books, contracted work or works in progress, and link to each other. You don’t have to be published to participate just an writer with an excerpt you’d like to share. For more info on how to participate, head over to the Excerpt Monday site! or click on the banner above.~~~~~~~~~~On The Fence is second in the Uninhibited In Apple Trail, Arkansas series and boy are things heating up in this small town!Available in ebook format for only $1.99 from Amazon Kindle | Smashwords | Sony | Diesel | Apple | Barnes & Noble (Nook) | Digibooks Café | 1PlaceforRomance | All Romance Ebooks and Omnilit | CoffeeTime Romance eBookstore | BookStrandChapter One from On The FenceThere was no way around it. Catching Mr. Right was damn hard work. Shellie had worn all different styles of clothes, fluttered her eyes, sipped sophisticated looking drinks, and still, nada.No, that wasn’t entirely true. Not nada-nada, there had been plenty of Mr. Wrongs. Lord have mercy, but there had been plenty of Mr. Wrongs. She shuddered. Sorry to the boyfriends and one night stands of her past, but dull and arrogant dropped her pulse to dang near dead levels.Her mother and her ridiculous ideas about flirting to catch the right kind of man—AKA, wealthy—was putting Shellie on a fast track to becoming the next weird cat lady on her block. That was a serious problem for Shellie. She didn’t like cats. Honestly, she wasn’t a fan of anything that pissed and shit on her carpet. There’d been only one thing she could do. Get out of town to catch a breather. She turned to the one person she knew in all the world who could revive her. Riley Hamilton.Riley handed her a glass of iced tea and sank into the rocking chair next to her. “What are you thinking so hard about?”She smiled. “My carpet.”“Your what?”“Never mind.”Ah, Riley Hamilton. In elementary school he’d put grasshoppers in her Hello Kitty backpack. In Jr. High he’d constantly untied her hair ribbons. In Sr. High, he’d kissed her. Just once. She sighed as memories washed over. She’d been shocked at the moment and froze. He’d pulled away immediately, muttering an apology. Later she glowed, then she was weirded out by it. They did what any good friends would do—they ignored the moment and fell back into their routine. Looking back, she still found that kiss a bit…weird.It’d been Riley. They had no business kissing, but still, of the handful of men who had ever kissed her, Riley’s was the only one who could make her toes curl by the memory. And it had just barely been a kiss. Not even a kiss, really. A peck. A whisper of lips over one another.She swirled the ice around in her glass and sighed. “I was thinking about my mom.”He pulled in a slow breath, unsure likely, on how to comment. It was a common side-effect when speaking of her mom. He rocked in his chair and tapped his glass against the wooden arm rest. “Dangerous territory.”She smiled, appreciative of his honesty. “No kidding.”“Are you getting homesick?”She shook her head. “No. I was thinking about dating and how I follow her advice.” A laugh, hollow to her own ears, slipped over her tongue. “I guess I don’t know what to do with myself now.”Riley shrugged. “Do what you want. You’re better than what your mom lets you believe.”“Thank you.” She warmed over at that. When the idea of a breather struck her, she knew Riley was the man to find. He’d been the one who’d showed her how to sneak out at night and how to spend the day on the river bank instead of the mall where her mom believed she was. Taught her how to “borrow” the car and top it back off with gas after she was finished.Shellie was in desperate need of some of that bad-Riley-behavior. She couldn’t push her mom off forever, not if Shellie wanted to keep her sanity. And honestly, married to some stuff shirt banging his secretary would be a hell of a lot easier than sticking it out with Mom and her never-ending list of Shellie Faults.Sit up, dear.What are you wearing? Comfortable? No, wear the dark wash jeans and low cut red silk shirt I bought last week.Why in God’s name did you tell him there was sauce on his cheek? You’re not his mother! You should have situated yourself closer and nonchalantly removed it yourself.Knots wound through her stomach. If she didn’t stop, she’d have to get her antacids.Shellie rested her head against the worn wooden back of her rocker, soaked in the cool autumn breeze, and stared off across Riley’s property. The weathered chair squeaked against the old, paint-peeling porch, lulling her into a dazed zone.It was so different from Dallas here. Seemed to be miles of open fields and swaying grasses enclosed within a circle of pines. Brown cows speckled the grounds and a small pond rippled next to a grouping of trees with leaves varying in fall colors from brilliant yellow to fiery red. It was nice and peaceful, but so unlike where she’d pictured Riley, the boy with the quickest hands to ever graduate Jones High School, to have settled down.God, she’d missed him over the years. They’d graduated high school and been tugged in different directions with only the internet keeping them tied together. This was the first time seeing him in some six years.He reached across the tree trunk serving as a small table and covered her hand with his for a moment. “I’m not just saying that. You are better than what your momma tells you. Go to college or do whatever you wanted.”If only I don’t know what to do with myself resembled a career path. No, she knew what she wanted. Something with flowers. Growing them, arranging them, she wasn’t sure. It was risky business since she tended to kill any plant she dared to breathe on. Still, the idea of being surrounded by that quiet beauty appealed. She’d never voiced that thought, as her mother would likely croak at the idea of her doing anything with her hands which didn’t involve flirting. Anytime she’d mentioned doing something other than following in her mother’s footsteps of marrying a rich man, the woman broke out into hives and cold sweats.But no, what Shellie had meant was her love life. She frowned. No, not a love life. She wasn’t there. Just figuring out a dating life. Since her mom was about to fling her in front of every eligible, wealthy man across the U.S. as part of some supposed vacation, she had better start puzzling out some dating dos and don’ts. Nothing was worse than being flung in front of a man—boring or not—and being painfully aware she had no idea how to flirt and be herself. Her mother’s words were always in her head, making her analyze every little line before she spoke, throwing off the whole conversation.Smile. For God’s sake, at least make your smile look real.Relax your shoulders. Straighten your back. Shellie, can’t you even stand normal without me correcting you?Would it be too hard to look like you’re having fun?Is that your second piece of cake?Shellie inhaled a deep breath, one not tainted with her mother’s advice. That right there was what she was talking about. Her mother had directed her on behavior for as long as she could remember. She didn’t even know what was natural and what had been rubbed in. She glanced around, wishing an easy answer was written somewhere. Instead she caught sight of Riley.His breath slipped out in slow, but heavy exhales. A white knuckle grip held his tea. The flannel sleeves of his shirt were rolled up a bit, showing the flexing tendons of his arms. A thick swallow moved down his corded throat. With her heart beating unexplainably fast, she lifted her gaze to his dark eyes and found him staring at her.Their stare lasted for only seconds before he looked away. Something was a bit different about him than the man Shellie had known. Where he used to be light and fun, she now often caught an intense look etched on his squared jawed face. A look capable of tossing her breath for a loop. Dashing and charismatic features had become honed into dark and careful.Dark and careful was far more intriguing. Exciting.She tugged the skirt of her gray sweater dress down, not recalling him ever looking at her quite like that before. “Thanks for letting me crash here for a while.”He took an intense interest in knocking dried mud off the side of his boot. “If you keep feeding me like you have been, I may never let you leave.”She chuckled, thankful for his attempt at a light-hearted remark, even if it came out strained. “If that’s all it takes, you’re the one being dangerous now, Riley Hamilton.”He saluted her with his Mason jar of tea. “You do get my underwear soft when you wash them, too.”“Mmm…I’ll keep my laundry secret and you’ll have to keep me around then.” She’d arrived that morning, saw his laundry room while he’d been out and tossed a few things in the wash. He’d been shocked and then pleased.“Or I could just quit wearing underwear.” He winked.She laughed and then stopped as the idea of Riley stripping out of his jeans, his lean hard body, that would no doubt be sweating, filled her head. She cleared her throat and tugged at the thick turtleneck suddenly choking her. Where did that thought even come from? Riley was Riley. He used to put peanut butter in her hair and prickly things in her shoes. The kind of guy her momma would say to stay away from.Oh, Shellie, no, her mother had said. He’ll never make something of himself. Just look at him. Look at his parents. White trash. No, stay away from him before you find yourself knocked up and then nobody will want you. Not even him.A little brown and white speckled cow trotted around the side of Riley’s house. Shellie blinked. Holy shit, there was a cow in Riley’s front yard. Riley still stared at his boots and didn’t seem to notice. She flicked her hand out, trying for his attention, but failing for words. Mother never schooled her on this situation. “Cow.”Riley looked up and set his tea aside with a heavy sigh. “Now where did he get out?”The animal moved around and munched on grass by the porch steps, like it wasn’t a problem. Like this was just a regular routine for the animal.Dear God, there was a cow in Riley’s front yard, steps away from the porch. Should she be scared? Was the thing going to climb the porch and stampede? Stampede? Eep! She turned back to the animal to keep her eye on it just in case she needed to make a run for it. But instead of one, there were now two.“Riley! There’s another cow.”“Where there’s one, there’s usually another.” Riley stomped down the steps and walked right past the pair of cows chewing on grass along the side of the house. He even patted one on the ass on his way by. Lord, but it was a wonder the thing didn’t kick him.Growing up, Riley hadn’t hunted, fished, or any of those other things. He was into sports, girls, and fast cars. When she’d arrived, the last thing she’d ever expected to find was him surrounded by open fields with cows in a little town called Apple Trail, Arkansas.“What are you going to do?”Riley glanced over his shoulder, his brows rose. “Put them back up. They’ll get hurt and ruin stuff if they run free.” He stared at the horizon and she followed his gaze to dark clouds hunkering and sweeping over the tree tops. “Looks like the rain will be here faster then they called for. It’s rained every afternoon this week. My hay fields are mush.”She swallowed as he walked on, completely sure of his actions and his plans. Confidence. He may have changed in some ways, but he still had that. And she was still jealous how he just always seemed to know what to do and how things would work out in the end.He marched onward and her gaze dropped to his jeans fitting around his ass. No longer was she concerned about the cows because, Lordy, how had she never noticed the way his jeans cupped his very nice ass? She blinked and stared again. She’d never noticed because he’d worn baggier jeans in high school. Except for those football pants…she cleared her throat, suddenly hot on the cool day.Cows. On the loose. Right. “How?”He spun, taking a few steps backward. “You could come with me and find out.”She glanced down at her black suede boots and frowned.“What’s the matter?” He laughed and spun again so that he was walking forward and around the corner he went.She grabbed the handles of her chair, fully intending to shoot from her seat and march after, but she stopped. The cows didn’t follow, but seemed content with lazily munching on the weeds around the house. She had to admit, that would be a handy animal to have around to help with the lawn. Which also made her admit something else, it wasn’t fear of the wild cows standing right there stopping her from following.She walked the long porch to the edge and peered around the corner, but didn’t see Riley. The side door of the wooden barn was open. It was too dark and far away to tell what he might have inside there.Would the cows go to him like dogs? Though if they did, he probably would have called them already, wouldn’t he? This was all so rustic and fascinating. Her only encounter with cows before this week included a table and a side dish.The breeze moved a bit cooler and stronger off this side of the house. It lifted hair from her ears and seeped through the thick, turtleneck sweater dress to prick goose bumps on her skin. No sign of Riley. Was he getting rope things like horses used? Not that she knew anything about horses, but she had watched a western movie or two in her day. She could follow and see as he suggested, but what if she got mud on her wool dress or boots?A groaned vibrated up her throat and she marched toward the steps. She was so tired of living with her mother’s words constantly nagging. Here she was, in the middle of freaking nowhere and she wasn’t following her curiosity because she might ruin her boots. Didn’t she come out here to get away from all that? To find the fun Riley had shown her in high school. Why was she hiding on this porch?She stepped out on the narrow walk in front of the house and just like that, lighting streaked overhead. Thunder rumbled through her body all the way down to her toes in her four hundred dollar boots. She hurried toward the barn, wanting to beat the rain.Why are you drenched, Shellie? My God, you look like a drowned rat. I don’t want you touching me looking like that, why would you think anybody else would?Shellie froze and fought against her mother’s words. She stood still in the middle of the yard and waited for the drops to pour down. And then those damn cows ran past, bumped her side, and sent her flying into an icy cold puddle.Available in ebook format for only $1.99 from Amazon Kindle | Smashwords | Sony | Diesel | Apple | Barnes & Noble (Nook) | Digibooks Café | 1PlaceforRomance | All Romance Ebooks and Omnilit | CoffeeTime Romance eBookstore | BookStrand~~~~~~~~~~~~Links to other Excerpt Monday writersNote: I have not personally screened these excerpts. Please heed the ratings and be aware that the links may contain material that is not typical of my site.Excerpt Monday Logo

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Through The Wall ~ Excerpt Monday!

Excerpt Monday LogoOnce a month, a bunch of authors get together and post excerpts from published books, contracted work or works in progress, and link to each other. You don’t have to be published to participate just an writer with an excerpt you’d like to share. For more info on how to participate, head over to the Excerpt Monday site! or click on the banner above.

 

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She doesn’t want wild and raunchy, just a little spice…

He wants commitment and long-term, not a quick roll…

Short-term doesn’t lead to long term. Or does it…?

Chapter One ~ Excerpt

Summer in the south was like living in a sauna 24/7. You had to be part fish to breathe in the high humidity. Anybody with even a little sense wouldn’t be outside in this mess, but Stephanie Faulkner was out there melting away, anyway.

And not for the sizzling burgers, that was for sure.

While the frozen margaritas were nice, it wasn’t those either. The kids running around were cute, but they were sweaty and none belonged to her in any related fashion. Only one thing persuaded her to brave August in Arkansas for a backyard barbeque.

Parker Madison.

He was her friend and neighbor. Their apartments were mirror images, their headboards sharing the same wall. From the moaning, screaming, yelping, and pleading she heard through that wall at night, until women left in the wee hours of the morning, Stephanie knew the man had some stamina and skills. And damn it, she wanted her world rocked by more than her vibrator. Parker could do that, without a doubt. Not only did he apparently have god-like abilities, the man was built like one, too.

Images of his muscular body and all he could do with it provoked the drinking of four margaritas already—drinks that were more José Cuervo and less lime. Somewhere between salting the third cup and mixing up her fourth, she decided tonight was the night she was going to ask.

Yes, ask Parker Madison to rock her world.

And this wasn’t like those other times where she was going to ask and then chicken out. No ma’am. This time, all the way or nothing.

She licked the last bit of salt from her now empty plastic cup and eyed the fine piece of hardened, tanned flesh prowling through the crowd. Yes, prowling. Parker took long strides, his eyes always searching and looking around; his mouth perfectly kicked up in this little grin that made the butterflies in her belly smile.

Ah, Parker Madison. How had she known the man for so long and not realized all this? Her thoughts darkened as her ex-husband’s face intruded. She kicked him out of her head. She would not have her day ruined with thoughts of the cheating bastard.

She’d rather lust after Parker, and returned to watching the man who’d haunted her dreams—both the nighttime and daylight ones. When a woman thought sex, she thought Parker Madison. The two just went hand in hand like socks and shoes. Only less smelly when things got sweaty. She giggled. Oh, Lord, too much José if she was giggling.

She cleared her throat, threw her shoulders back, and tugged her halter top straight. Serious. She needed to be a serious-sexy-woman. Cute wedges, short ass shorts and a halter top equaled serious-sexy-woman. At the very least, Jim Nolan, the neighborhood man-whore who was rumored to be so desperate he laid a girl carrying the flu, had thought so and told her as much. Stephanie shuddered and wished for a little more to drink to permanently kick that out of her memory.

As the muscular hunk of beef shifted through the crowd, she didn’t need a drink to forget about old man-whore-what’s-his-name. To wet her dry throat…yeah, a drink would have been handy. And to cool her blood. Man-whore forgotten.

“What are you doing over here off to the side and waiting by the gate?”

Stephanie started and glanced over as her friend, Jessie McBride, leaned on the gate next to her. “God, I didn’t hear you come up. You scared me.”

Jessie grinned. “With the way you’re studying something, a snake could have bitten you and you wouldn’t have noticed.”

“I’m waiting for Parker.”

“Looked like you were doing a lot more than waiting. You’re going to do it, aren’t you?” Jessie shifted until she faced Stephanie. “You’re going to ask him out finally. I honestly don’t know how you’ve waited this long. I mean, hell you two are in his garage all day, every day, mostly alone for how many hours?”

“Eight. And not every day.” Just six, but that seemed like too small a thing to point out. Also, they typically saw each other at some point on Sunday, too. “Customers come in too. And the phone rings off the hook. And the paperwork. Really, it would be useless to try to start anything there.”

Jessie raised her brows. “You’re blabbering.”

She stared into her empty cup. Wasn’t it just half full a few seconds ago? “I might be slightly drunk.”

“Good. It’ll make asking him out easier. What are you going to suggest? Not much here to do in town. Get him to take you to Little Rock for some fun.”

True. Apple Trail was a charming little town filled with mom and pop stores and little else. Luckily, Stephanie wasn’t interested in a date-date. “We already do movies and dinner all the time.” She studied her friend. If there was anyone to ask for advice on being naughty, it was Jessie. “I’m going to ask for more.”

Jessie flicked grains of salt off the rim and into her plastic cup. “More what?”

Just a little spice was all she needed. Nothing raunchy or overly kinky, but some spice. Was that too much for a girl to ask? She didn’t think so. She crossed her fingers and hoped he wouldn’t either. But man, if she couldn’t even say it to her friend, however would she get it out to Parker?

She steeled her spine. “I am going to ask Parker for sex.”

Jessie’s mouth dropped in mock horror. “You slut.”

She nudged her with her elbow. “Shut up. You’re supposed to give me advice to make this easier.”

“Then I suggest you make your move before that ‘ho,” Jessie tilted her head toward the crowd, “has him under her fingernails again.”

Stephanie glanced up to see Parker’s ex-of-the-week stop and whisper something in his ear. All the tequila in Stephanie’s belly rolled and threatened to come back up. Oh man. She stared at the tree-line in the far distance to settle the liquor. The tops swayed in the breeze though, making her sway with them. She dropped her gaze back to the ‘ho wrapping her hands around Parker.

She groaned. “I thought they broke up? I hadn’t seen her in a week.”

“I’m past ready for that chick to go back to college. Rumor is it her daddy’s not to thrilled to have her running around either. She keeps flirting with his customers and he’s losing business. Wouldn’t surprise me if she was shipped off to her momma’s in Louisiana for the last of the summer.”

Claire—the ‘ho—was a red-head made of sugar, spice and lots of silicone and doctor-tucking skill. Stephanie didn’t care where the hell the woman went, so long it was away from Parker. The pickings for new women must be getting slim for him, because she was by far the trashiest Stephanie had ever laid eyes on.

And it wasn’t because of the cosmetic work the woman had undergone. Her nose, boobs and tucked up ass were not bad additions. However, there wasn’t a doctor alive who could correct the woman’s language. Fuck was as fine and dandy a word as ever. Doesn’t mean it should be used every other breath. Furthermore, neither should bitches and ass and certainly not all in one sentence. Geesh.

The ex flattened her hand across his stomach, giving Stephanie a moment of panic. It wouldn’t do at all if Parker took the woman home. Not only would it throw a huge, wicked kink in her plans, but she wasn’t sure she could listen to another night of her screaming. She had a particularly high-pitched, gasping yelp. At first, Stephanie had thought Parker had bought one of those yippie dogs. Then his headboard started banging on the wall and the woman had managed to squeeze out Parker’s name along with some of her favorite obscenities.

Yippee, indeed.

Parker said something, making the girl laugh. Alcohol induced jealousy churned. It was a troublesome reoccurring thing lately. With each new woman Stephanie could hear gasping Parker’s name through the walls, her fingers dug deeper in her palms, and the green-eyed monster reared its ugly head.

She had no claim to Parker. They’d been friends for a long time, but they weren’t friends like that. Being friends like that never even came up between them. She licked her suddenly dry lips. At least, not yet. And it never would if that woman didn’t get her hand off his stomach and quit whispering things in his ear.

Parker laughed, the sun touched his slightly-too-long blond hair. She sighed. She’d had her hands in his hair before. What a waste of time as she’d shaken the golden locks and commented on him needing a haircut. A haircut. Yeah that was her. What an idiot. She should have yanked him to her while she’d had the chance. Pressed her breasts to his hard chest. Aligned her groin against his… Her gaze dropped to the place in question. She swallowed. Perhaps she should have stopped at three margaritas.

There was a fine line between sexy and trampy. Case in point, the red-head draped over him: tramp. Her standing over to the side leaned back on the fence: sexy. In her opinion anyway.

Jessie shook her cup and loosened the last of her frozen margarita from the bottom. “You’re going to owe me a free oil change for this.”

“For what?”

But Jessie was already walking away. “Claire! Hey, girl.”

Claire looked up from Parker and waved.

“It’s hot as heck out here and getting late. I’m headed over to Michael Bill’s place. Braves are playing and he’s got some people coming over tonight. Come with me?”

And just like that, Claire peeled her hand off his chest and the nausea in Stephanie departed. Michael Bill were magic words to having a good time. Jessie turned and winked.

Stephanie waved a two-finger thanks. “I’m throwing in a set of windshield wipers!”

She laughed. “You better!”

Parker swaggered to her looking all rugged and waiting to be tossed in sheets. Okay, maybe two drinks would have been plenty. Oh, what the heck. Two, six or none, it wouldn’t have mattered. In the past few months Parker always looked ready to wrestle naked. The alcohol went back to warming her blood. Need shuddered through, wetting her female department.

She leaned against the gate, hopefully looking cool, as Parker drew closer. He looked up. Surprise flashed on his face, but he smiled as he focused on her. Oh, the things the man was probably capable of. She didn’t know a lot about sexual variety. Her ex-husband had kept things very…civil. From what she’d heard through the sheetrock, Parker was anything but vanilla.

Sex with Parker must be like winning the Triple Crown, Super Bowl, and World Series all in one night. Things she’d been uncertain about in the past, she wanted to get down and do with Parker.

And get dirty even.

Sweaty and twisty and panting for air.

She shivered and pushed hair from her face. Wow. She was not supposed to be the tramp here, but man, she couldn’t help it. She thought of him at night when she could hear his grunts. In the mornings as his shower ran, she thought of getting in there with him. During the day while she balanced his books and ran the front office of his garage, she wanted to walk into the shop wearing a trench coat and get busy on a radiator.

A few times, though she’d never admit it and could barely admit it to herself, she’d used her vibrator along with his noise in the evenings. Oh yes, she had. Heat flamed through her face. Thankful for the August sun, he probably couldn’t tell.

His stride was long and smooth. Sure and confident, exactly like him. “Stephanie! When did you get here?”

Parker’s arm snaked around her shoulders and hugged her against his side. As usual, he looked glad to see her. She hoped he was super happy because he, too, laid awake thinking of doing the dirty with her. Then again, he could just be glad to see her because he was Parker and good to her. Either way, she leaned into him as he pulled her close.

See, this was something else about Parker. Any other man standing outside in August would be sweating and smelling like pig that had been rooting around in the mud. Not Parker. She could still smell the crispness of his soap and the spice of his deodorant.

She dropped her head against on his shoulder as she’d so often done. Only now, as she’d been doing for the past six or eight weeks, she imagined her head there while gasping for air. Pictured his big, coarse hands on her naked skin, gripping her hips. His big brown eyes stared back at her and she swallowed down her fear. It was time to get this out there and confront it.

She wanted scintillating sex.

Parker knew how to give it.

Doing it together seemed the natural choice.

Parker had always been there for her and she trusted him. When they’d walked in and caught Riley in the act, Riley had tried coming toward her with explanations rolling off his tongue. Parker had punched his childhood friend in the mouth and ever since then, he’d been beside her through thick and thin. If he said no to this sex idea, she was confident they could go back to their routine. It would be a silly request and nothing more, chalked up to the fact she hadn’t been laid in over a year.

Oh, and her four margaritas.

Ha! Finally having four made some sense. “Hey Parker. I came looking for you.”

He stared down at her, waiting, expecting more. And…there was more to say, but it lodged in her throat. It was just sex. And it wasn’t the man in question causing all these nerves, it was the act itself. The last man she had stretched horizontal with, she’d married. Said man had since left her for her best friend and moved five hours west. But Stephanie was over that. Mostly. The sting wasn’t so bad anymore. Mostly.

What hadn’t dissipated was a ridiculous, nagging curiosity. This dig had started very small and hidden away. For months, the thought had remained in the back of her head. When she’d found Jake and Crystal together, he’d been doing her from behind over the arm of the couch. They’d been doing the nasty, super nasty-like. He’d had her hair fisted in his hand, forcing her spine into an uncomfortable looking arch. It had looked excessively dirty compared to their missionary sex. After the initial shock and hatred wore off a few months later, Stephanie wondered why she and Jake had never had sex like that. Had he thought she wouldn’t have been open to roughing it up a little bit?

Parker squeezed her against his side, hugging her close and then loosened his grip. “Well, here I am, at your service all night long.”

That was a loaded statement if she’d ever heard one. If she had ovaries worth some salt she’d yell, okay! But she didn’t. Instead, she swallowed again and fumbled around for a polite way to ask for dirty-ish sex. She was pretty sure there wasn’t one. Well, bock-bock and cluck the walk home or take a risk. She was going to do it. “Parker, I need some help.”

He didn’t wait a beat. “I’m all yours, doll, ask away.”

She nodded and walked, drawing him away from the barbeque and the crowd, steering him toward home. Home was an apartment across the street, so it wasn’t much of a walk. Which meant she better get it out before they crossed the double yellows in the middle of the road. She would never voice her question out loud once they were inside the building where all the neighbors might hear. Plus the middle of the road offered the added bonus of being able to run anywhere if he laughed. Like head-first into a car.

He hugged her against his side, gently jostling her. “Never known you to be so quiet.”

Parker was right. And she needed this. She pulled in a deep breath, stopped right there in the middle of the dead Sunday afternoon road and stared right into his eyes. “I want rough…er, sex.”

He looked at her for a long moment and finally he chuckled. “Funny.”

There was her way out of this conversation. She could laugh with him and that’d be it. But she didn’t want out. “I’m not being funny.”

“Uh-huh. And how much did you have to drink?” He tugged on her hair. “Not like you to drink this much.”

“I’ve only had a few.”And she was feeling darn sober at the moment. “I’m serious.”

His mouth dropped and his arm fell away from her shoulder. His eyes drifted closed as he shook his head. “We’ve never…”

She was in deep now, she wouldn’t back away. The margaritas were a help. Ding! Point two for having four. She swallowed and sucked in a deep breath. “I know. I want to. To find out.”

His mouth snapped shut. His jaw tightened, giving her the first sign of just how big of a mistake this might be, but she refused to give up, so she forced onward. He had to at least think about it. “I want something more than plain vanilla. Nothing extreme like cherry blizzard blast, but maybe a little chocolate with syrup.” She rubbed her neck. “And a little squirt of whipped cream.”

Or a big squirt.

He wasn’t looking at her. In fact, he had turned away until his tight jeans curving along his nice ass faced her. The sun blazed down even hotter on the pavement somehow or maybe it was embarrassment burning her through and through. That scent of melting tar? That wasn’t from the hot sun on the pavement but her body catching fire from her blush.

Noise and laughter from the barbeque carried over and echoed off their apartment building and back to them. Which meant, their words could also go back to the barbeque. They weren’t quite as alone as she’d like, especially with a couple of kids coming down the sidewalk toward them.

Sweat trickled down her temple and she shifted her feet, kicking a stray rock from the road. There was no breeze or shade. She was sitting under a heat lamp while her future paced about in front of her trying to figure out if she was indeed serious or drunk off her ass.

Parker stopped and stared up at the bright blue sky. “Why me?”

Liquid courage pushed her on. “We’ve been neighbors for months now. Our beds are on the same wall.” He was turning. She could picture his slack-jawed mouth and yep, there it was, right along with big eyes. Not quite horrified, but then, he didn’t exactly looked thrilled. She squared her shoulders and forged ahead. “Well, I think, from what I’ve heard, that is, you could help me.”

Before he could say anything, the hum of an engine revved. She glanced back and saw a truck headed their way. Parker put his hand to her back and steered her off the road, toward their building. So much for being in the street to put her out of her misery should this little chat get any worse. And one thing was for certain, this conversation was surely going to get worse.

Parker was shaking his head again. “No. This isn’t a good idea.”

She shrugged, trying to maintain this casual I’m-so-cool-I-can-ask-for-sex look. “It would just be a couple of… encounters.”

“Encounters,” he echoed with a shake of his head. “No. We’re going to our apartments and we’re going to forget this.”

She shook her head. “I’ve never had anything exciting. It’s always been just a rub over my hip, a stroke down my thigh and that’s it. And that was okay, but I want more. I want to be used and—”

“I don’t want to hear this.” He jabbed his key in the main door and pulled it open for her.

She stopped in front of him and held him there in the doorway. The blast of the air conditioning slapped her with a whole new sense of drive. She could do this. She could push through. Maybe if she put her chest against his, and slid her leg up his thigh, but she hadn’t drank quite enough for those kinds of moves. “What I’m saying is, it was always the same. Eighty percent of the time, I’ve been on the bottom.”

“Not listening.” He put his hand to her back and turned her in the building.

But he was listening. He wouldn’t be wiping at his brow and tugging at his shirt otherwise.

“I’m not asking for a lot, just something up against a door. Or in the shower. I don’t want to be chained up and beaten with a whip. I just want a little something more. I need this, Parker.”

He turned and faced her. His eyes were narrowed. His hands were balled into fists at his sides. “So what, you’ll call after you get out the shower, after just shaving your legs and tell me to come over?”

She squirmed. “I hadn’t really worked out the details.”

“You can’t just decide one day to have wild sex with me.”

“I didn’t.” The words snapped out harder than she wanted, but she couldn’t help it. He’d struck a nerve. It wasn’t like she’d just decided this was a good idea thirty minutes ago. She’d been dithering over it for months. Considered it on those late nights while hearing grunts, groans, and moans from his bedroom. “Isn’t this every guy’s wet dream? To have a woman ready and willing anytime?”

“No. Not like this.” He looked downright angry.

“You’d have a woman at your beck and call. Anytime, anywhere.” She goaded him, trying to get a little laugh and the Parker she knew back, but he wasn’t smiling. It hit her then. He already has that.

Or maybe, worse. She sobered. “You’re not into me that way.”

“Stephanie.”

She shook her head and turned for the stairs, blinking away ridiculous tears. She knew this had been a possibility, but she had just… She sighed. She really hadn’t decided what to do if he said no. “It’s fine. I did just throw this on you all at once. I didn’t consider that you couldn’t think of me in that way.”

“I—”

Footsteps echoed through the old building silencing him, and had her looking ahead to see old Mrs. Colder rounding the white corner. The harsh overhead lights made her silvery hair look bluish and her overwhelming makeup like a kid who had colored her face with highlighters.

Thankful for the interruption, Stephanie hurried past and up the short flight of concrete stairs; the key to her apartment in her hand and ready to go. Too bad having her keys in her hand hadn’t helped her run faster. Parker was right on her heels.

“Stephanie.”

“Forget it.” His rejection pinched harder than she wanted to admit. Which was silly, because quick casual sex was all this had been about anyway. It wasn’t personal, it wasn’t a relationship he turned down, but it still felt like a rejection of her specifically. “It’s what you wanted, right? That’s what you said.”

And tomorrow, she’d play the drunk card and pretend to not remember a moment of it. Score three for the four margaritas. And hey, who knows, she had some pre-mix in the refrigerator—she just might drag the bottle out and finish it off so she would forget.

Parker spun her around at her door and leaned over her, around her, covered her. He was a winter coat and she the cold, lonely body beneath it. And boy, she was warming up. His gaze covered her face, seemed to linger on her mouth, but she wasn’t sure. She wasn’t doing much breathing on her own and it was making her lightheaded. He’d never been this close before, not like this. Not with this heat between them.

Parker leaned in close. His mouth was just there. His breath, scented of beer from the party caressed her cheeks so soft it was like his lips touched hers. Her eyes dropped closed and then he went and pulled back. “You’ve never made a move or looked like you were interested in me that way.” He shook his head. “Damn it, you can’t throw something on me like that and expect me to jump.”

“Fine.” She dropped her gaze. And fine was right because he was right. She’d thrown it on him out of nowhere. They had been friends for a long time. He’d been a friend of Jake’s, which was how they’d met. He’d been standing next to her, helping her bring in groceries, when she walked in on Jake and Crystal doing the doggie on her fifteen-hundred dollar couch. Parker had stood by her side through the good and the bad while Jake fought her for every fork, bowl, and pan out of the kitchen. Seven years of friendship and suddenly she wanted to change things. She could see his point. “So we’re at a, you’ll think about it and let me know?”

He straightened and swiped a hand down his face. “I suppose. And you need to think more on it, too. We take that step, things will never be the same.”

“They—”

He lifted her chin. “Will never be the same.”

Parting bit of advice offered, he pushed off the wall and walked the few feet down the hall to his own door. With him, he took his heat and his…just everything. Too bad he didn’t take her pounding pulse.

She hurried inside her apartment and leaned against her front door. For the first time since he walked her home from the barbeque, she felt like she could breathe fully. A talk that was supposed to be casual and off the cuff had become intense in two-point-five seconds flat. With her blood pumping at this rate, she should be stripping.

People made stuff like this work. Friends with benefits for a while and then back to normal on down the line. They were close enough to sustain that. Honestly, she could go for more, but Parker didn’t do long-term.

Despite his cut-and-dry thoughts, things between them would only change if they let it. And she wouldn’t allow a wedge to form between them. She needed him by her side above anything else.

But she wouldn’t lose hope yet for a little excitement. He was thinking about it. She pushed off the door, kicking off her heels and leaving them where they lay in the path to her bedroom. It was a step. Smaller than she would have liked. She had shaved after all, hoping for the full Monty with the possibility of an unfastening-buttons-while-kissing-up-the-stairs event.

While she had thought he hadn’t seemed into it, looking back, disinterest wasn’t the impression she got. Or maybe the four margaritas were at work here, causing a major case of desire fogging her memory. She stopped and rubbed at her head, trying to piece things together through lime sloshed thoughts and hoped she was getting it all right. There at the end, while standing at her door, he seemed more unsure than against the idea. She was fairly positive about that.

She sighed and hurried to her room where she crashed on her bed. If she was right, and she was, then she just needed something to push him over the line and convince him benefits were a good idea. But you’ll be having sex with someone anyway, why not me? probably wouldn’t be the way to win him over.

The day was over now. She’d attempted all she’d known to get her hands on Parker and there was nothing more to do about it for the night. Tomorrow was another day.

Oh, God.

Tomorrow was Monday. A work day. She’d be in the office of his tiny garage with him only steps away. His arms would be streaked with grease. A rag would be dangling from the back pocket of worn jeans. Sweat would be gathered at his lower back as he worked. That old Razorback ball cap of his would be switched around from front to back—depending on what he worked on. Somehow with all that going on and her desire for sex now out in the open, she was supposed to have a clear head to be able to bill-out piston rods and lube jobs.

Cheeks flaming hot, stomach crappie-flopping, and her thighs twitching, she sat up and ripped her shirt over head and tossed it aside. It caught on the lampshade on her nightstand and she stretched, brushing it off. The top drawer to her nightstand was cracked open, she knew what lay inside.

A grin stole her lips. Perhaps it was time to turn the tables a little. Let him hear her for once. She’d never been too vocal, but just maybe she should change that. She pulled Old Reliable out of the drawer and clicked it on. The plastic hummed in her hand. It tickled her palm and brought a giggle on her lips.

Oh, Lord. Not another giggle.

 

 

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*Excerpt Fun* by Ruth J. Hartman

 Today on the blog I have an excpert from Pillow Talk–latest from Ruth J. HartmanRuth is a published author and licensed dental hygienist. She lives in rural Indiana with her husband of twenty-eight years and their two extremely spoiled cats.<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> Don’t wake up. Please don’t wake up.She held her breath as she cautiously slid her petite hand from under the dark blue pillowcase. The sleeping powder on her gloves usually did the trick, but occasionally she’d come across a kid who was immune and woke up anyway. Silently, she padded across the carpeted floor to the open window. The evening breeze ruffled her short, layered dark hair. Two minutes later her phone purred softly.“Where are you?”She looked up at the upstairs window. “Standing outside Timmy Westfellar’s house.”“Wait. Weren’t you just there last week?”“What can I say? He’s prolific. The little guy shoots out teeth like bullets.”Trixie hated when her supervisor called to check up on her. She was great at her job and he knew it. She snapped her phone shut and closed her eyes. When she opened them, she was standing in her living room.“Oops. Sorry guys. Didn’t mean to wake you.” Three cats stretched and jumped off the couch. One of them meowed and yawned at the same time.She looked down at him. “Oh, you me-yawned. I love when that happens.” She laughed and knelt down to stroke the orange tabby’s chin. “Thanks for the chuckle, Oscar. It’s been a rough night.” Oscar bumped his head against her knee then raised his upper lip to rub his gums along her outstretched hand. “I missed you too.”“What about you two? Didn’t you miss me?” She stretched out her other hand and the all-black female sauntered toward her, purring loudly. “That’s better, Miss Lucy.” She ruffled the cat’s fluffy head.She scooted over to her third cat and stroked his striped face. “And what’s going on with you tonight, Sir?” The older gray tomcat sat and stared at her with huge green eyes as if he knew a delicious secret. “Hmmm. You’ve got that look in your eyes tonight, Cuspid. Just what have you been up to, you little furry instigator, you?” He was the only one of her cats to have a tooth-related name. She wouldn’t have minded giving them all a dental theme, but didn’t want to draw too much attention to that part of her life. It was hard enough hiding her other job from the world. A world that simply didn’t understand people like her even existed.~*~Her alarm went off the next morning at 6:00 a.m. Her body felt as if she’d only slept fourteen and a half minutes. She had difficulty rousting herself out of her warm comfy bed after a night of stealing teeth. Sneaking up on little kids asleep in their beds was exhausting. There was always the chance she’d get caught. That someone would wake up at exactly the wrong moment and shriek. But, that was just part of being what she was. A tooth fairy.Not the tooth fairy. Just one of many. It was a popular misconception she’d heard many times of one impossibly tiny fairy, with wings no less, who absconded with every lost tooth of every small child in the entire universe. Please! She was good, but nobody could handle all that pressure. Besides, there was no pay involved with being a TF. It was just an ability you were born with, and you either chose to use the gift you were given or it was taken away from you. She’d heard of lazy fairies who wasted their abilities and were rudely thrust back into simple human oblivion.After getting ready for work, she climbed into her 1989 yellow and rust (not the color) Jeep. She could, of course, be at work with a blink of her brown eyes, but chose instead to go the old-fashioned route. No sense giving the neighboring business people a collective heart attack when she suddenly just appeared. Now that would make headlines.The wind tousled her hair as she fumbled with the keys to her shop. She’d opened Necklaces, Bracelets, and Rings, Oh My! two years earlier. Her overhead was kept low because she created all of the jewelry herself. She had the uncanny ability to look at an ordinary object and create a one of a kind piece of wearable art. From acorns and buttons to small smooth stones and colorful paper clips, nothing was off-limits for Trixie’s imagination. And most people never even realized the necklaces and bracelets were strung together with waxed dental floss. A girl had to use what was at her disposal, didn’t she?Finally getting the stubborn lock to cooperate, she shouldered the heavy oak door open the rest of the way. A loud whoosh of wind followed her in and scattered the pamphlets she kept on her counter.“Good morning! Good morning!” squawked a raspy voice.Trixie shut the door with a loud whump and made her way to her office in the back of the building. “Morning Benson. I suppose you’re ready for breakfast.”The large green parrot hopped around inside his tall silver cage. “Yep! Yep! Hungry! Hungry!” His words were interspersed with squeaks and whistles.“Give me a second. Gotta put down my stuff.” As she unloaded her denim purse, a mauve briefcase, and a toaster-sized cardboard box filled with hopefully usable jewelry items, she crossed her office to a pink plastic tub sitting on the end table.“Here ya go, Benson.” Trixie briefly opened the birdcage to fill the food dish with stinky bird kibble.“Thank you much! Thank you much!” He flapped his shimmering wings as he bobbed his fluffy head in approval. His open beak looked like a silly grin.Trixie laughed. Why did her bird always say everything twice? Did he think that would get his message across quicker? Maybe he should have been named Benson Benson. And technically, he wasn’t even her bird. He came with the building when she bought it. The former owners couldn’t take Benson with them when they moved to another state. It was at that moment that Trixie got a crash course in bird care. All she’d ever had were cats. And for obvious reasons, her pets could never get together for a play-date (although her cats might enjoy it.)Her shop had become her life. That, her best friend, and her animals. Ever since high school, she’d longed for romance, but it had eluded her grasp. She knew that there probably wasn’t a man out there who would understand her nightlife, though. If he was out there, how would she ever find him? She doubted if there was an online chat room for “Tooth Fairies R Us”.She worked steadily on her jewelry and waited on customers until 11:00 when her business partner came in. Julie hated getting up early even more than Trixie did, so Julie started later and closed up every evening at 7:00.Trixie looked up from the purple and pink button earrings she was making. “Hey, Jules.”“Morning Trix. How’s the feathered one today?”“Good. Loud as ever. I guess if he’s ever quiet we’ll know something’s wrong, huh?”Julie smiled “Right.” She set her purse on the counter. “Oh, I brought in a couple of those hamburgers you like from Connie’s.”“Fries, too?”“Of course, you silly woman.”Trixie tried to keep a straight face as she said, “You’ll make someone a very good wife someday.” She couldn’t hold in a snicker.“Hopefully, if my boyfriend ever gets himself in gear and asks me already. Besides, if you thought that’s all it took to get a man, you would have tried that on some cute guy a long time ago.” She giggled and shook her head as she unloaded their lunch from the bright yellow sack.“Let me wash my hands and I’m all set.”“You go out last night?” Julie asked as she put ketchup on her fries.“Oh yeah,” Trixie answered as she dried off her hands with a cat print hand towel.“Uh-oh.”“You got that right.”Julie waited for the explanation as she munched on a salty fry.Trixie sighed. “It was Timmy.”“Again? Good grief. How many teeth does that kid have, anyway?”“I’m beginning to wonder if he’s human.”“Maybe he’s an extraterrestrial.”Trixie tilted her head. “Do they even have teeth?”“You’d know better than I would, Miss TF.”“Maybe he’s Sharkboy.”“Who? Oh, you mean that weird kid in the movie who grows new sets of teeth every month?”“Yeah. It could happen.”Julie just stared at her.“It’s not that much different than those polydactyl kittens that have extra toes.”“Mitten kittens?”“Right.”“But I’ve seen mitten kittens. Have you ever seen an actual Sharkboy?”“Well, no. But would it be stranger than being a tooth fairy?”Julie shook her head and laughed. “I see your point.”Trixie picked up a long French fry and took a bite. Her brown eyes grew large. “Oh no,” she said with her mouth full. She put her hand in front of her mouth as she spoke. “That did not just happen!”Julie’s eyes opened wide. “What? What?”Trixie took the half-chewed fry out of her mouth and examined the gooey, mulched remains.“What?” Julie asked again. She put her food down as she stared at Trixie.“Don’t mean to gross you out, Jules, but look at this.” In her hand, partially embedded in the French fry was a tiny charred fragment of potato.Julie leaned closer for a better view. She gasped. “Are you okay?”Trixie didn’t answer right away. After she ran her tongue over her teeth, she once again reached into her mouth…and came out with a large chunk of pointed tooth in her hand. Her eyes grew large. “I don’t believe this.”“Of all the people this should not have happened to…”Trixie groaned. “Just great. Wonderful. Well, hand me the phone book, please. It seems I need to find a dentist.”

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