The earthship is decorated for Christmas, and it’s where the Drexels and their friends are all spending the holidays. Even the Villier brothers are coming, promising to bring homegrown macadamia nuts dipped in homemade dark chocolate. Dyami and Benny made paper snowflakes, hanging them from the ceiling in various corners of the Pearl, and in the nursery, while the scent of pine is everywhere, in the wreaths and boughs gracing the doors. It’s our version of heaven on earth.
I can feel Dax’s heart beating through his shirt and feel the muscles of his taut belly tighten as I run my hand over them through his shirt. His breath tickles the top of my head and I hear him chuckling, as if anticipating what’s going to happen next.
“Knock, knock,” I whisper.
“Who’s there?” Dax asks, grinning as I look up at him.
“Bless you!” This time I tickle him and Dax laughs, grabbing hold of my wrists to keep my hands away from his waist where he’s most sensitive. We wrestle on the couch like teenagers on babysitting night, failing miserably at being quiet until he kisses me deeply. It takes my breath away, and when he draws away to gaze down at me, I realize I have no words to describe just how much I love him.
Suddenly there are no more giggling, no more games. It’s just us now and as he kisses me again, I can’t believe that this man’s mine. I love the feel of his mouth on my lips, his tongue slipping between my teeth, teasing me with a promise of more.
He pulls me toward him so I’m straddling him, letting me take control. I catch his lower lip between my teeth and he moans, his arms tightening around me. I suck on his lip playfully. When I let go, it’s his turn and we’re back to being those teenagers on a school night, making out before the parents come home. He stops, pulling away to study my face, his gaze drifting down to settle on my lips before going back up to my eyes.
“You’re the best Christmas present ever, Mrs. Drexel.”
“I was just about to say that about you, Mr. Drexel.” I chuckle, feeling my cheeks blush. “So what are you going to do with your present?”
#ataoschristmas #merrychristmas #daxandharlow
I press Publish on my fourth novel, Everything She Ever Wanted, the story of Harlow James, a heartbroken surgeon and Dax Drexel, the cocky carpenter who helps her discover the meaning of life.
Of all the books I’ve written, this is the one that “wrote itself.” The moment I found Harlow’s voice, the race was on to capture it and the first chapter, as painful as it is in parts and to some, is where they put down the book and mark it as DNF, was one I would never change for anything. The same goes for Dax’s chapter (Chapter 2). Sometimes, when you write, the characters just come, the Muse.
And you welcome them in. Whether others love or hate them is out of your control. You simply write their story.
I was also at a terrible time in my life when I wrote Dax and Harlow’s story. I was struggling with my son’s autism diagnosis and the absence of any help that summer which meant it was just him and me all day every day. But each night, I wrote and every morning when I woke up and he was still asleep, I wrote.
Thanks to the Wattpad readers who believed in Harlow and Dax and who eagerly awaited each chapter, it was as if we were all going on a journey together (I was a pants-er then, which means I didn’t outline my stories ahead of time).
So two years ago today, I hit that Publish button on Everything She Ever Wanted, obtained permission from one of my favorite singer-songwriters to let me quote the lyrics of the song that inspired the story, and here we are. Not everyone will like their story but that doesn’t change anything on my end. Dax and Harlow saved my life that summer and every day I’m reminded why I write my stories whether anyone else loves them or not.
And to those who’ve followed me from the beginning whether we met during Sam and Erik’s story or Ashe and Riley’s all the way to Sawyer and Alma, thank you for coming along with me.
I laughed and cried. I got angry and excited. Durano took me on an emotional rollercoaster in Everything She Ever Wanted… This novel pairs well with Pinot and a nice hot bubble bath. What a super cozy read. I recommend this book to everyone looking for a damn good love story with some juicy conflict.
One of the things I love about blogging is that I get to meet wonderful people from around the world like Dacia Arnold, author of adult light science fiction and whose debut novel Apparent Power is set to be released later this year. She reviewed Everything She Ever Wanted and I’m so happy she enjoyed Dax and Harlow’s story!
She’s also giving away a signed copy so hurry on over to her blog and say hello!
One of my favorite scenes in Everything She Ever Wanted is the Anaya family dinner where Dax has to face Harlow after their not-so-friendly first meeting three days earlier. And with the holiday season in full swing, it’s one of the scenes that always brings a smile to my face.
“You forgot, didn’t you?” Sarah calls out from the dinner table the moment I step through the door before turning to look at our grandmother. “I told you he forgot. He was probably playing video games with the Villier brothers again.”
“So what if I was? I’m on vacation,” I mumble as I take the only available seat between Nana and my sister’s on-and-off-again boyfriend, Benny Turner, and father of their eight-year-old son, Dyami. Benny works for the Bureau of Indian Affairs as an environmental protection specialist on climate change as it affects the tribes in the region.
After a round of hi’s and hello’s, Nana finally introduces me to our guest, who’s sitting right in front of me, flanked between Sarah and Dyami.
“Hello, Dax,” Harlow says as I mutter something that sounds like Hi. “Nice to see you again.”
She’s wearing a pink top that plays up her key assets—her flawless skin, pert nose, and big beautiful brown eyes. And then there are her full lips that she just now licks, and as my eyes drift lower, my gaze lands on her perfect tits. Focus, Dax. Look up.
“Oh, so you’ve both met?” Benny asks as I tear my gaze from Harlow’s tits to her face and meet her big brown eyes. God, she’s beautiful.
“Yes, we have,” Harlow says. “Dax came by two days ago to say hello.”
“He did? That was sweet of him,” Sarah says, smiling as she ignores my scowl and I know she’s going to torment me all throughout dinner, and there’s nothing I can do about it. Not in front of a guest. “I never realized he took the time to say hello to any of his renters.”
“Stop it, Sarah,” Nana says. “Why don’t we say grace and eat before Dyami sneaks another piece of fry bread when he thinks no one is looking.”
“You guys didn’t have to wait for me,” I say sheepishly as soon as Nana finishes saying grace and begins to dish out the stew in bowls, handing each one to Sarah to pass around the table.
“And since when do you turn off your phone, mijo?” she asks, handing me a bowl of stew. “We’ve been trying to reach you for the past hour to remind you to be here before our guest arrived.”
I pull out my phone from my back pocket and place it on the table. “Turn off my phone? Why would I turn off my…” I pause, noticing that it’s dead. “Oh, shit–”
“No cussing at the table, and you know my rule about phones during dinner. All of them, off,” Nana says as I return the phone into my back pocket, as does Benny who makes a guilty face.
“So, were you working at the Pearl?” Benny asks as Harlow takes a warm tortilla from the serving plate in front of her. “Want a beer?”
“Sure,” I reply as he twists one open and hands it to me. “Nah, it’s currently rented, in case you didn’t know.”
Benny shakes his head. “Nope, guess I didn’t know that. I always thought you stayed at the Pearl whenever you’re in town.”
“Not right now,” Sarah says in a sing-song voice as she grins at Harlow, ignoring the glare I’m shooting her way.
“Unfortunately, I’m renting it right now,” Harlow finally speaks, and I pray she doesn’t mention anything about my little visit. I continue eating my stew, biting into the tortillas that Nana makes from scratch. I can’t wait to have some fresh fry bread for dessert. “I didn’t realize that Dax uses it for work. If I’d known–”
“—you’d still stay according to your original plans,” Nana says before glaring at me. “And don’t you dare let my grandson bully you into leaving early.”
“Dax? Bully you into leaving? Say it ain’t true?” Sarah teases, watching me squirm before she turns to look at Harlow. “Is it true?”
I stuff a tortilla in my mouth and pretend I don’t hear a word they’re saying. Sarah is eight years older than I am and has always loved teasing me since we were kids. She knows how much I hate it, and so she does it every time we see each other. If I glare at her, she’ll only keep doing it, but I’m not about to let her bully me into silence either, even if my mouth is full.
“I id not bully a-wone in-o leaving.”
“Don’t speak with your mouth full, mijo,” Nana says as Benny chuckles.
“Yeah, don’t talk with your mouth full, Uncle Dax,” Dyami chimes in just as Benny raises an eyebrow at his son.
“And you, too, young man.”
“Look, I’m sorry,” I blurt out as everyone at the table suddenly becomes quiet. I know they’re watching me as I take a deep breath and look at Harlow. I’m sure it’s no accident why Nana has me sitting right across from her. “I’m sorry I came over that day, Dr. James, but I swear, I was not trying to get you to leave early.”
“Call me Harlow,” she says, smiling before she pins her gaze on me. “So why did you come over?”
I open my mouth to speak but stop myself. Mentioning the suicide note and the gun would only tell her that I was there that night, and that’s the last thing I want anyone to know. “Does it matter now? I got my weeks wrong, that’s all, and that’s why I’m apologizing right now. And I don’t care if you forgive me or not, but I’m sorry.”
“Don’t you have your stuff over there?” Sarah asks. “Why don’t you just get them and do your work here?”
I shrug. “That’s alright. I figure I’ll head back to Flagstaff tomorrow and come back in two weeks. That should make everyone happy.”
It’s a chorus of voices that catches me by surprise, just as I see the hurt expression that crosses Nana’s face. I see her glance at me and then at Harlow just as I look away.
“But you can’t leave! You just got here, Uncle Dax!” Dyami exclaims. “Please stay! I still need to beat you in Minecraft.”
I actually had no plans of leaving but for the first time, the crowd around the table is getting the best of me, and I hate it. But it’s not their fault. Sure, I may look like my sister’s easy target but she’s just Sarah, the hospice nurse who sees so much death that she has to balance all that sadness out with something or she’ll go crazy. It’s one of the other reasons I look forward to coming home because when there are no guests around, I dish it back to her just as good.
No, it’s not them. But the woman sitting across from me is making me nervous. She even makes the butterflies in my belly flutter, and right now, I’m not happy about that. She’s a beautiful woman, and so out of my league, but I haven’t been able to stop thinking about her since I first saw her on my bed that night. It’s not even about the damn gun and the damn note anymore for she’s apparently changed her mind about killing herself, and now here she is enjoying my grandmother’s cooking.
No, this is about me and my damn knight in shining armor act, wanting to save every fucking damsel in distress. Only this time, it’s different, and I can feel it in my bones.
With Harlow James and her damn tits, I’ll be the one who’ll need the saving.
Photo of woman laughing by Lesly Juarez (Unsplash) and was one of two main inspiration photos for Harlow James
Everything She Ever Wanted is now out on AUDIO as of today and I’m so excited! And I’m so happy to have found Melissa Moran and Joe Hempel to voice Harlow and Dax respectively. They’re amazing narrators and I couldn’t have asked for a better team to work with.
Get it FREE when you sign up for an Audible 30-day FREE Trial➜
In other news, Falling for Jordan has been pushed back to November 3. It’s the earliest date that was available per the publisher/aggregator and I apologize for the delay.
Look what’s ready to go as soon as it passes Quality Control over with the folks at Audible. I’m crossing my fingers that it will launch just in time for Dax and Harlow’s FIRST BOOK BIRTHDAY!
It’s 1:13 am as I write this and I should be in bed. But I’m proofing an audiobook and so far, I have to say I’m enjoying it. There are places where I laugh out loud, and some places where I almost tear up. There are places where I bury my face in my hands because the couple’s about to do the nasty and I am blushing because I usually don’t listen to steamy audiobooks.
And then I remember it’s mine.
Yup, Dax and Harlow are coming soon to an Audible nearest you!
Today, someone posted this question in an author group I’m part of: If you had to choose only one of your books, (I know it’s like choosing between your kids), which book would you say is your favorite? And why?
It took me less than a few seconds to know what my favorite book was.
“Everything She Ever Wanted. After hubby asked me to stop using ‘his’ married name as my author name, I swore my next book under my maiden name would be a hit, and while writing it last summer, it was the book that wrung out everything I was feeling inside – desperation, sadness, loneliness – but also the happiness I found in the one place I found it (NM). It’s the story my soul wanted to get out of my system and I remember how calm I was when release day came because everything just felt right, typos and all.”
I love all the books I’ve written but this turned out to be the book my soul wanted to write, hoping I’d get the message.
I’m working on it, soul. I’m working on it.
Have you read my books? What’s your favorite? Why?
One of the songs that inspired Everything She Ever Wanted, was New Mexico by Dorian Spencer. I must have heard it around 2007 or so and I bought it and saved it into my iPod. Whenever I’d feel down, I’d listen to it and it always made me smile. Some songs are just like that – they make your heart and soul happy, and Dorian Spencer’s New Mexico surely did.
Last week, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to see if I could find a video of the song on Youtube so I could link it from the Inspiration page I’d created for Everything She Ever Wanted. Alas, I couldn’t find anything online except for a sample from Dorian’s website. Then I figured that I’d drop him a note to tell him how his song helped inspire my book’s setting. If anything, I wanted him to know just how much I appreciated him and his song.
Well, tonight he sent me this and gave me permission to share it:
Hope you guys like it!