Two years ago this month, I published my third book about the unexpected adventures of an introverted shopkeeper and an arrogant CEO struggling to maintain control of the family company. While it was still being serialized on Wattpad, it attracted the attention of RT Book Reviews who described it as a “mistaken identity story that straddles romance and chick lit.” During a Twitter pitching session, it also caught the eye of a small publisher.
After learning the terms of the contract, I ended up publishing A Collateral Attraction on my own and while I’m happy with their story, I’ve never been completely happy with its original and subsequent covers. Sometimes it feels like they’re the kids who end up with mismatched clothes, simply because they just haven’t found their perfect fit… yet.
Well, last night, while putting together my promos and ads for January, I finally found Heath Kheiron, that cranky East Coast billionaire who finds his match in California girl Billie Delphine.
So for their second (book) birthday, what’s a more fitting belated gift than a set of new threads (I mean, cover)?
But first, an excerpt:
Heath is settled in one of the armchairs when I emerge from the bathroom, my negligee hidden beneath the hotel bathrobe and my damp hair wrapped in a towel.
“All yours,” I say as he folds the paper, sets it aside and gets up. He’s gorgeous, his windblown hair sticking up in places even when he runs his fingers through them, and I can’t help but wonder how it would feel to run my hands along his body, feel his weight over me–
“Excuse me, Billie,” he murmurs as he brushes past me for I’m standing by the door, like a deer in the headlights. I’ve probably been staring a little too long, and I feel myself blushing as I move away.
“We’ve had a long day,” he says, before shutting the door behind him. Minutes later, I hear the shower running, and I head to the bedroom to dry my hair and pretend to be busy.
Why am I so nervous all of a sudden?
A part of me wants to live as vicariously as my sister does, maybe even slip back into the bathroom and join Heath in the shower. I want to sleep in the same bed with him and not have to set up the sofa bed and pretend I don’t want him. But being Billie, the rational part of me overrules my thoughts, and I’m back to being boring Billie again.
Half an hour later, I’ve pulled out the sofa bed and set the pillows and the spare blankets on top when Heath emerges from the bathroom wearing only a towel around his waist. I’m still wearing my robe over my negligee, the one that Alicia probably chose for a specific reason and because of that, I’m not keen on walking around the suite like I’m some Hollywood superstar.
“You didn’t have to set up the sofa bed,” he says. “I would have done that myself.”
“Oh, that’s okay. I just needed to be busy.”
“You’re still wearing your bathrobe. Are you cold?” Heath asks. “Would you like to light the fireplace?”
“No, no I’m fine,” I say as he walks toward me. His hair is slicked back, still damp from his shower. I take a step back, my nostrils flaring at the manly scent of his cologne. I’m glad he didn’t shave for I love the way he looks with his stubble.
“I’ve decided to take the sofa bed so you can have the bed-”
“You’re doing no such thing,” Heath says, pulling me back to the bedroom. “You take the bed, and I’ll take the sofa.”
I don’t know why I’m so nervous all of a sudden as if the touch of his hand is enough to set my nerves on fire. Not only that, but it’s as if my mouth goes on auto-pilot and I start to ramble.
“I… I just wanted to say thank you for this afternoon, for taking me to the beach so we could go horseback riding. It was the most fun I’ve ever had in a very long time.”
“You’re welcome, Billie,” he murmurs, and I can feel my face burning, the blush beginning on my face all the way down to my chest.
“And thank you for that dinner on the beach-”
“That was Lorna’s doing, and as far as I know, you already thanked her.”
“I know, but it was sweet of them to let us visit on such short notice.” I continue to babble, the words spilling out of my mouth as Heath studies my face, though my gaze drifts lower as I ramble, down to his bare chest, tanned and muscled, and glistening with water from his shower. He smells of sandalwood, vetiver, and tonka bean, and I tell myself that if it weren’t for the individual essential oils I carry in my shop, I wouldn’t be able to discern each note. But I do, and the blend is so masculine and sensual, neural messages from my brain traveling down the base of my belly, making my stomach knot in anticipation.
But anticipation for what?
When Heath brings his hand behind my head and pulls me to him, crushing his mouth against mine, I find the answer to my question. It’s anticipation for this moment when words are no longer needed.
So happy belated book birthday, Heath and Billie! Sorry I almost forgot but it’s still December 2017 so it counts!
P.S. There’s even a paperback I can hug! Crossing my fingers it passes quality control fast!
Edited to add: It did pass quality control, both mine, and Createspace and now the version with this brand new cover is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble!