One More Day

… and Friends with Benefits will be live!

And from what I’ve heard from my ARC readers, they are loving it! Campbell has become the favorite right after Dax (sorry, but Dax, I guess is always first for many readers and I can’t blame them).

It’s also really steamy…

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Here’s an excerpt:

We stumble onto my bed, giggling as we land on the soft covers. I can’t get enough of her. My mouth travels along her cheek to the sensitive skin behind her ear, feeling her shiver against me as I continue my exploration down her neck. Her hands undo the buttons of my shirt, tugging it loose from my pants.

“Roll over,” she whispers and circling her waist with one arm, I roll onto my back while bringing her on top of me. As she straddles me, the lights from the neighboring buildings and the city below illuminate her exquisite form, casting her ginger hair in an ethereal glow.

I hold my breath, watching her slip off her dress in a slow striptease that makes me want to pull her down to the bed so I can take over. But I don’t. I like watching Caitlin take charge. I love watching her be herself with me, only this time, in a way that’s only meant for me.

Clad in only her bra and panties, she resumes her mission of getting my shirt off and with a little help from me, succeeds with a grin before blazing a trail of warm kisses on my neck and chest, all the way down my stomach. I’m so hard, her sex pressing against my erection not helping in any way. She’s determined to tease and undress me and by God, I’m letting her do it.

Until I can’t.

“You’re determined to tease me, aren’t you?” I murmur as she starts to unbuckle my belt, biting her lower lip in concentration.

“Maybe,” she whispers. “I never realized you worked out. You’re ripped.”

I trace her thigh with my fingers. “Thank you. But you never asked.”

“You never took your shirt off whenever you stopped by the house.”

“I didn’t have a reason to. Besides, it’s also been a year since I’ve seen you. I missed you last time, remember?”

My belt buckle forgotten, Caitlin slides up my body so we’re face to face again, her hair cascading along the sides of my face. I can smell her shampoo, sage and lavender. “Of course, I remember. I missed you. My partner in crime was MIA.”

“I was working, but I missed you, too.”

“No, you didn’t. You were traveling. Italy from what I heard.”

“Doesn’t mean I wasn’t working.” I gather her hair in my hand and push it to the side as we lapse into silence. I can feel her watching me, studying me. “What are you looking at?”

“You,” she replies, stroking my stubble with the back of her hand. “You’re all grown up.”

“I’m not the only one, Cait.”

diff-free-jordan

There are also two more days left to download Falling for Jordan for free. It’s where you get to meet Campbell and Caitlin for the first time before you get to dive into their story when it goes live on November 20.

Falling for Jordan http://getbook.at/jordan

Friends with Benefits http://getbook.at/campbell

Check out the series on Kindle Unlimited http://getbook.at/differentlove

 

 

Weekly Update #amwriting

I took this photo during my first trip to the Frick Collection in New York’s Upper West Side three years ago this week. It was from a free paper I picked up along the way and I still have it three years later. Sometimes I see the photo posted on other people’s social media feeds and it makes me happy knowing that the saying (and the photo) still makes its rounds years later.

It’s also a quaint reminder of why I write.

Now to the writing update…

So this week, I completed about 28k words but edited thousands out so my final word count is 23k. This is also the point of the story where I start to question myself and have to go back to the outline I had written. This is because I am faced with the option of extending the word count since, most likely, I will not be including the story in that holiday box set that requires closed-doors sex scenes. That’s not to say that the box set is a “clean romance” set. It’s just a holiday Romance box set featuring closed-door sex scenes. Unfortunately, I keep mistakenly referring to it as “clean romance” which baffles some readers and fellow authors as to why I signed up to be in a clean romance set when I write steamy romance stories.

Thing is, I didn’t sign up to be in a clean romance box set. I signed up to be part of a holiday romance box set with closed door sex scenes and no C, D, and F words. That I can’t remove the sex scenes without having my hero look like douchebag and the heroine a slut is simply one of the disadvantages of my style of deep POV writing.

This term “clean romance” also had me wondering. If a clean romance set meant no sex, what is a romance book WITH sex? The antonym to “clean” is dirty. So does that mean novels with steamy scenes in it are classified as dirty romance?

Oh, well… here’s an excerpt in the meantime.

I turn my attention back to the tree, not wanting to ruin a beautiful moment between longtime friends because in the end, that’s what we are—friends. Who cares if we’re sitting on a faux sheepskin rug buck naked? Besides, it had been my decision to have sex—and boy, other than the guilt I’m feeling right now, it was the best decision ever. I’ve always known Campbell to be this quiet, intense and driven kid and I’d never once considered him as anything but a friend mainly because I grew up with him. He’s the boy next door and whenever we get together, my partner in crime.

Who knew that between the sheets, he’s amazing? His hands, his mouth, his… I bite my lip. No, better not go there.

Still, I may not have the experience to make such a declaration that he’s an amazing lover—after all, I’ve only been with two men before tonight—but I’ve also never felt so comfortable, so sexy and so gorgeous with any man before. The way he makes love is just beyond words. And even if I could find the words, I won’t because most of it can’t be described using the alphabet, at least, not in a coherent arrangement.

I turn my head to look at him. I never realized how thick his lashes are. “I wanted it to happen, Cam.”

Campbell kisses my shoulder. “I did, too.”

Sunday Word Count #excerpt

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I got to 680 before everyone woke up and it’s time to get off the computer and step outside for a while.

That’s 11109 words into my holiday novella and so far, I think I may have found my groove. Caitlin and Campbell seem to be cruising right along and I couldn’t be happier. I’m hoping to get at least 2k more words in by tomorrow so crossing my fingers!

In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek at a section that I just finished.

***

By the time we make it to the theatre, the mere brush of his hand on my elbow or my hand leaves me feeling giddy, and somehow I can’t help but assume it’s no longer accidental. Even the theatre disappears whenever Campbell turns to look at me, all my senses heightened and focused on what he’s doing, on the words he’s saying. When he holds my hand as we make our way to the lobby during the intermission, I don’t see anyone else.

How long has it been since I’ve been with a man? Somehow I draw a blank. All I remember are the first dates that barely made it to first base, much less the second, my mind constantly on my research projects, meetings with my advisor, and that unwavering goal of making it to graduation and then finding a job.

But for tonight, I’m willing to toss all that out the window. I’m having way too much fun being with a man I’ve always felt safe with, my brother’s best friend and the boy next door. Only this time, something’s different. Somewhere between then and now, Campbell Murphy grew up and I never saw it until now.

Crack Open A Window

 

EXCERPT

From Barstow, we make our way to Flagstaff. I sit in the back seat next to Tyler, entertaining him with the toys I’ve brought along with me. Sometimes I catch Sawyer watching us in the rearview mirror. Sometimes he catches me watching him.

It’s a harmless game between us and I’m grateful for the distraction. I’ve never met any of Sawyer’s girlfriends before but I’ve seen pictures of them, or at least, one of them, a petite woman with a pixie haircut who Drew told me was a massage therapist and yoga instructor. I vaguely remember Drew saying that she was the reason Sawyer spent a lot of time in Sedona although that was a few years ago. The only thing I know about Sawyer’s love life so far these days is that he doesn’t wear a ring.

“You sure you don’t want me to take over driving?” I ask when I catch him looking at me again.

“Nah, I’m good. Take a nap if you want, Al. I got this,” he replies as I lean back in my seat. “You don’t mind country music, do you?”

So far, our playlist has included Phish and the Dave Matthews Band. No country music—yet. “I’d never have figured you for a country music fan, Sawyer.”

“I’m cycling through all the songs on my phone so I think country is next. I don’t think Tyler would appreciate heavy metal.”

I laugh, shaking my head. “I know I won’t, not with him in the car, but country’s fine.”

Sawyer grins. “Country it is then.”

By the time Kip Moore’s Bittersweet Company plays on the radio, Tyler is fast asleep. I prop one of the neck pillows I brought with me against the window and close my eyes. With nothing to look at but barren landscape and cars and trucks zipping past, I might as well join Tyler in his nap.

When I wake up, Tyler is wide awake and kicking happily on one of the stuffed animals by his feet. Sawyer looks at me through the rearview mirror before focusing his attention back on the road ahead.

“Are we there yet?” I stretch my neck, my body starting to get sore from all the sitting.

“Almost. About ten minutes.”

“Oh, good.” I look at Tyler who seems so content in his car seat before I realize why. He’s busy concentrating. “Uh-oh! I think Ty just went number two.”

“Eight minutes,” Sawyer says as he hits the gas. “You may need to crack open a window.”


PREORDER

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BTR-TEASER3 (2)

Three Days

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Already the ARCs went out and I really hope readers will enjoy Alma and Sawyer’s story. The paperback will be delayed because it took me forever to get things started and my cover designer won’t work on it until next week. But one thing’s pretty sure: I think I’m ready to let go and hand it to the universe.

Don’t forget to pick up a copy from your favorite retailer!

Excerpt

Alma sits in the front passenger seat this time, with a clip-on mirror on the sun visor allowing her to check on Tyler who is yawning as I get on Interstate 40. From here it’s four more hours before we get to Taos. We talk about music for a while before she turns quiet again, propping her bare feet on the dashboard as she leans back in her seat. Before long, she’s asleep, the neck roll cushioning her head against the window.

The deafening pop comes half an hour later and smoke and remnants of the rear tire go flying behind the trailer. A shudder reverberates through the SUV just before the vehicle veers to the right. Behind me, the trailer swerves precariously toward the second lane, the car behind me swerving just in time to avoid us. I ease on the brake as best as I can and make my way toward the shoulder, my knuckles white against the steering wheel.

Everything would have been fine but as the SUV slows to a stop along the side of the interstate, I might as well have been on the edge of some Afghan’s farm with my unit seconds before Smith stepped on the IED, the smell of blood and sulfur filling the air. And instead of Alma’s startled gasp, I hear the shouts of my fellow Marines as we do what we can to get out of the line of gunfire and RPGs.

Getdowngetdowngetdown!

Five More Days

While finalizing the playlist for Breaking the Rules, I realized I hadn’t shared some of the songs that inspired the story. There are a few but I’ll start with Sawyer’s song, Are We Too Late by singer/songwriter Tom Leeb.

Excerpt

Half an hour later, I step out of Tyler’s nursery and find Sawyer drying the last of the dishes and putting them away in the cupboard. Tall, broad shoulders, slim hips, he’s perfect in every way. He even puts the dishes away.

“How was the water pressure?” I ask as he turns to face me, drying his hands and setting the towel on the rack.

“Just like dinner, perfect,” he replies.

I hate having to put him on the spot but I don’t want to play any more games. “Sawyer, about the other day–”

“I’m not sorry for kissing you.”

“I’m not either. But why do I feel like you’re pulling away?”

“Because I promised Drew I’d take care of you, not take advantage of you.”

“Who says you’re taking advantage of me?” I ask. “You’ve helped me more than anyone I know. You offered this place when you didn’t have to. You drove with us when you could have flown instead. That’s not taking advantage of me at all. That’s being a… a good friend.”

“That’s the problem, Al,” he murmurs as he closes the space between us. “I don’t want to be just a friend.”

PREORDER

Amazon US https://amzn.to/2JFoRF0
Amazon UK https://amzn.to/2l6RFM4
Amazon CA https://amzn.to/2JBd66r
iBooks https://apple.co/2l3n6a2
Barnes & Noble http://bit.ly/2HIa5LZ
Kobo http://bit.ly/2JwDrTc

btr-4 (1)

 

“I’m Still Here.”

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Josh grabbed her wrist, his grip tight. “What are you doing?”

“I’m feeling for scar tissue, that’s all,” she said. “I’m a doctor, remember? Sure, I may not be practicing but I’m still a trained medical professional.”

“I appreciate your concern, Livvy,” Josh said. He leaned forward, his face close to hers. “But what are you really doing here?”

This time, Olivia avoided his gaze and her face turned pink. Even her chest turned pink, he thought, now noticing the dress she wore. It was white with red flowers, her chest rising and falling with her breath, her ample cleavage peeking from above the low neckline. Then there was her bright red hair and blue eyes that often looked green, shielded by thick lashes resting on her cheeks when she lowered her gaze. God, she was beautiful.

“Nothing,” she snapped. “I want to help you, that’s all. I care for you, Josh. You’re like a brother to me.”

That was it.

“Enough of this brother crap. That’s a crock of shit and you know it.” He brought his leg down on the floor and got up from the chair, striding toward the casita.

“Then tell me what it really is, Josh,” she said, following after him. “You and I both want this.”

Josh stopped but didn’t turn to face her. “Since when did I become an expert on what we both want, Livvy? How the hell do you know what I want?”

“Since you stopped looking me in the eye,” Olivia replied. “You never used to be like this, so… so angry. We used to be able to talk about anything. Everything.”

“Not everything, Liv.” Josh took a deep breath and exhaled. “But I think we just made things more complicated right now.”

“It got complicated a long time ago, Josh, long before you got shot and I thought I lost you.” Her voice broke and Josh felt a tug in his chest. But he still couldn’t look at her. “One day you were there and then the next day, you weren’t.”

His throat tightened. “I’m still here.”

Would You Run Away Then?

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“When I was growing up,” I began. “I learned early on that while there were people who cared for you, there were others for whom your well-being was the last thing on their minds. And satisfying their needs came above all else. I guess you could say I fall between those two extremes.”

“That’s a safe place to be,” Erik said. “Though you can’t play it safe forever, Sam. You can’t keep running away from what it is you want to do—or have. It’s okay to take risks.”

“Is that what you think I do then? Run away?” I asked. I began to be aware of how close he was to me as if the space between us had somehow disappeared. I could smell the scent of soap and rosemary. Erik leaned closer to me and my breath caught in my throat as I looked at him, his blue eyes framed with thick lashes.

“Not everyone is out to hurt you, Sam,” he whispered. “There are those who care for you.”

“Sure,” I snapped, wanting nothing more but to wrench myself out of the fantasy that was never going to be. “Like you?”

Before I could move away, I felt Erik’s fingers touch my cheek, brushing a strand of hair from my face.

“What if I do care for you, Sam?” he asked, his voice quiet and gentle. “Would you run away then?”

 

Focus, Dax. Look Up. (An Excerpt)

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.

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“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.”

“YOU’RE LEAVING?!”

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.

ESEW-knitting2


Photo of woman laughing by Lesly Juarez (Unsplash) and was one of two main inspiration photos for Harlow James

It’s a Heat Wave #TeaserTuesday: Meet Addy and Jordan

“So you just got back yesterday?” I ask, hating the silence that springs between us.

“Yes, and I’ve been catching up on stuff… and jet lag.”

“I imagine this wasn’t anywhere near the stuff you were expecting to catch up on.”

He smiles. “No, but it is what it is. I’m glad you told me.”

“Are you married?” I ask, glancing at his hands to see that he’s not wearing a ring. Still, I know many doctors who don’t wear them so I still have to ask. “I mean, if you are, then this would really be complicated.”

“No, I’m not married. Are you?”

I shake my head. “No, I’m not.”

“Boyfriend?”

“No boyfriend,” I reply. “You?”

“Boyfriend? Unfortunately, no.”

Suddenly we laugh, the tension between us broken. I should have followed it up with the next obvious question but that’s when the cab stops right in front of my building, and ignoring my protests, Jordan pays the fare. I don’t wait for him to open the door for me, not when the doorman gets to it first, greeting me with a polite smile.

By the time we make it to my apartment on the sixth floor, I can’t help feeling my anxiety grow with each step. What will Jordan say when he sees Piper? How will he react? Should I let Marcia stay, just in case he turns out to be a serial killer? Is this even a good idea? Why didn’t I just ask to meet him at the park? Holy shit, but this is a terrible idea.