Love is...complicated. Being hounded by the press doesn't help. Enjoy this sneak peek at Sexual Politics.
Sean knew it was coming. They hadn’t reached the end of the block before Trent started in on him.
“She’s a beauty.” Pulling up to the stop sign, Trent looked at him incredulously. “Are you out of your fucking mind?”
Trent laughed. “It’s me. I won’t sell you out.”
“Read my lips. We. Did. Not. Have. Sex.” Shaking his head, Sean admitted, “Yeah, all right, I want to, bad, but she won’t. I only took photos of her last night.”
“You’re telling me she spent the night at your place and nothing happened?”
“That’s exactly what I’m saying. It was perfectly innocent.”
“What about the elevator this morning?”
“That was…unfortunate. We were saying goodbye.” He couldn’t hide how depressed he felt right now.
Trent glanced over, reading him as only a best friend can. “I’m sorry. Obviously you care for her.”
“I do.” Snorting, Sean dropped his head back and rubbed his temple. “You know what really pisses me off? Can I talk about this?”
“Go for it.”
“The rumors about her husband are true. The guy’s a total dick. Can’t keep it in his pants. I don’t know what kind of hold he has on her, but the marriage is basically over. She’s just waiting until November to divorce him. She doesn’t want to hurt him in the next election.”
“That’s fucked up.”
“Tell me about it.” He dropped his hand to his lap and sighed. “She’s a good person, Trent. Honest, warm, kind. I admire her.” Pausing to watch a meter maid ticket a parked car as they rolled by, he finally confided, “I’m falling for her and I can’t do a damn thing about it.”
Sean sighed. “Yes.”
“Is she strong enough to weather this?”
That was a good question, one that chilled Sean to the marrow. “I don’t know.”
“And those pictures you took?”
“Would only hurt us both at this point.”
“I figured. How did she look?”
Remembering the unblemished delicacy of her skin against the white muslin and those graceful feminine curves, Sean had to smile. “Spectacular.”
Trent’s soft laugh died out and he turned serious. “What are we doing now? Do you want to stay at my place for a while and wait for this to blow over?”
“I can’t. I’m too busy to hide out.”
“Bet you get even more clients now.”
Sean snorted. “I wouldn’t be surprised. Justine’s downfall just raised my profile outside the art world.
People are going to want to take potshots at her and throw money at me.”
“Forward your calls to the gallery. I’ll only pass the legitimate numbers back to you.”
“You’d do that?”
“My staff will, but I suggest you do something nice for them as a thank you, like scoring tickets to a show or dinner at one of those trendy restaurants you’re going to be promoting. It’s next to impossible to get a table in some of those places.”
Trent glanced at him. “So I’m taking you home?”
“Then check the glove box.”
Curious, Sean popped the button and saw a hat and dark glasses inside. He laughed at the ridiculousness of his situation. “Thanks.”
“No sweat. I don’t play personal taxi for just anyone.”
“I appreciate it.”
“I hope things work out for you two.”
Trent had a shit-eating grin on his face when he asked, “Any chance I can see those pictures you took last night?”
That earned him a backhanded cuff on the arm. “Never.”
Enjoy the teaser.
“Hey!” Melissa shrieked and hugged her bridesmaids one after another. Their unfettered excitement reminded Naomi of high school all over again.
She groaned and massaged her temples, barely coping with the increased decibel level her friends brought to the already noisy restaurant.
Becky stepped free of Melissa’s embrace and noticed Naomi hanging back. She strolled over wearing a knowing smile and flicked up Naomi’s dark glasses to get a look at her eyes.
“Not as bad as I thought they’d be,” she admitted. “How’s the head?”
“And your tummy?”
Becky laughed. “I’ve got aspirin, antacids, and that chalky pink liquid just in case.”
Naomi gave her a one-armed hug. “You’re a good friend.”
“Well, well…look what the cat dragged in.” Melissa sidled over with a wicked grin. She cocked her head at Naomi and her dimples deepened. “How ya doin’ this morning?” she sang in an unnecessarily loud voice. Since she was already coming forward with her arms wide open, Naomi had no choice but to return the hug.
“I get it. You’re chipper and excited, but you don’t have to be so loud about it,” Naomi muttered.
“It’s my wedding day. I’m allowed. But for your sake, I’ll be nice.” Melissa turned and noticed the host. “Looks like our table’s ready.” She hooked both Becky’s and Naomi’s arms and led them into the dining room, following the other three bridesmaids.
“I thought the guys were going to join us?” Becky said, drawing out a chair.
“They should be here any minute.” Melissa pointed around the table, figuring out the seating. “Let’s do this boy, girl, boy, girl. That’ll be fun. Heidi, scoot over one. Leave a spot for Todd.”
“Sorry ladies, I need coffee—right now.” Naomi wandered off, cutting between tables, her tired eyes on the cabinet of beverage options set along the distant wall, well away from the extensive buffet in the middle of the dining room. She filled two cups and brought one back for Becky as well.
Becky looked up at her with concern when she accepted the cup Naomi handed her. “You’re looking a little peaked. You going to be okay?”
“Not sure.” Naomi settled gently into a chair and covered her mouth, stifling a gag. “I think the smell of sausages is getting to me.”
Becky pulled the bottle of bismuth out of her purse and plunked it down on the table between them.
“This is brand new.” Naomi picked it up and quickly peeled the protective plastic away from the cap.
“Yeah? I stopped at the store on my way here. Call it a hunch.”
“I could kiss you. Thanks.” Naomi tipped it back, forgoing the coffee until her stomach settled a little. She was right in the middle of a healthy swallow when she spotted Ryan walking toward her with two of the other groomsmen in tow. She choked at the slow smile he gave her when their eyes met.
What was that supposed to mean?
To her growing alarm, he came right over, put his hand on the back of her chair, and leaned in.
“Hair of the dog might work better,” he said with a wink.
Becky’s eyes darted back and forth between them, her brow furrowed with suspicion. “What was that?” she asked him directly.
“Nothing.” His hand landed on the chair between them. “This seat taken?”
Whether it was or wasn’t, he’d claimed it now. The two women shared a look as he kicked back comfortably and contemplated Naomi.
“Guess the bottle in your hand answers my first question.” His eyes twinkled. “Anything I can do? Don’t be afraid to ask.” His offer was more like a reminder, dripping with innuendo.
Naomi actually felt her pallor flush from sickly green to deep pink.
“What’s going on?” Becky broke in, her left eyebrow rising sharply. Then her eyes bulged and she gasped under her breath, “You didn’t.” She grabbed Naomi’s arm. “Tell me you didn’t.”
Ryan gave Naomi an equally interested look, no doubt wondering what she’d admit to. She was going to get him for this.
“It’s not what you’re thinking,” Naomi told Becky then glared at Ryan. “And you’re not helping.”
His hands went up innocently. “Have I said anything?”
“You’ve said enough.”
“You were supposed to go right to bed,” Becky reproached, her head shaking with disappointment.
Ryan opened his mouth to speak—his smile a little too mischievous for comfort. Naomi gave him a hard poke in the ribs to shut him up. “Don’t.”
“Fine.” He reached for Naomi’s cup of coffee. “Are you drinking this?”
He took a sip, set the cup back down, and looked at Becky. “Would you excuse us?”
To the clear surprise of both women, Ryan shot to his feet and drew Naomi up with him. She felt his fingers link with hers and suddenly they were moving toward the front of the restaurant and the parking lot beyond.
She didn’t have the energy or wherewithal to fight so she just stumbled along after him. When the sunlight struck her full force, she groaned and flipped her glasses back down in front of her eyes.
He glanced back at her, chuckled, and cut left, walking her around the building and away from the big windows. Landscaping rocks crunched under their feet as he towed her over the curb and into a shaded corner out of site. A couple of small trees offered a little cover from the prying eyes of patrons who might walk by.
Naomi was glad she was wearing tennis shoes. She could have turned an ankle walking across the rocks in heels. “What the hell?”
The next thing she knew, she was up against the cool stucco wall and Ryan was invading her space, his right hand cupping her neck, the left curled around her waist.
“We need to talk,” he said, his face much too close. “But first.” Then he laid a kiss on her that dissolved her muscles and turned her skeleton to rubber.
Oh, you guys. I have a fun scene for Wingman Wednesday. It's a favorite of mine. Well, this book is full of favorite scenes.
Have a smile on me this morning. Enjoy it with your coffee. <3
Accidents Make the Heart Grow Fonder.
Read the ebook today.
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Hear it on Audible.
Listen and laugh on iTunes.
“You’re looking a little green around the gills there Jackson. Anything wrong?” Van asked when Jackson wandered through the studio.
Hard to argue with him. He felt shell-shocked. “I have another date.”
Van slapped his thigh and burst out laughing. “God, I knew it! I knew you’d cave and call her.”
“Yeah, you’re so smart.” Jackson’s retort dripped with sarcasm. “How much money’s riding on this?”
“It’s twenty to play.”
“Well, I’m thinking she knocks you right off the gang plank before you even reach the boat, but then
I’m an optimist.”
“Derek is betting you’ll make it halfway and take a cold dive over the side.”
“So I’m basically getting wet.”
“That’s the consensus, though Yeager sees you getting knocked down the stairs between decks and breaking your leg.”
“Yeager’s in on the pool?”
“It keeps us going. Can’t wait to see how it plays out. I’m taking Tawny to a nice hotel without the girls for a special night if I win.”
“Is Tawny playing?”
“Of course. She’s guessing you get your hand caught in something. I tried to explain to her that this kind of boat doesn’t have rigging, but she’s adamant.”
“You’re all lunatics.”
“To be fair, we’re not the ones who keep throwing ourselves on the grenade.”
“Screw you all,” Jackson shouted to the entire room. To his disgust, everyone was chuckling when he stormed out.
Damn. They were right. He did deserve the grief and embarrassment. He pulled out his phone and punched in his brother’s number. It was after hours now. The good doctor shouldn’t be tied up with a patient.
“Hey, Rob.” Jackson squeezed the bridge of his nose, a pained expression on his face. “I did it again.”
Jackson slammed his office door and rounded his desk. “I asked her out.”
Very funny. “Sabrina.”
“Ass.” Jackson dropped into his chair with a heavy sigh.
“Are you looking for sympathy and understanding because I’ve gotta tell ya, this isn’t doing it for me.”
“They’ve got a pool going at work.”
“How fast and in what way she wipes me out.” At Rob’s laugh, Jackson scowled and flicked a pen across his desk. “It’s not funny.”
“Hell, yes it is. Can I get in on it too? Better yet, can I come and watch? It’s been a long time since I saw good slapstick.”
“No,” said Jack tightly. “It’s for staff and their dates only.”
“Can’t blame a guy for asking.”
Elbow on his armrest, Jackson pressed deep circles into his temple with his thumb. “Why did I bother calling you?”
“Pfft. You tell me.”
“I wish I knew now.”
“My guess? You want me to tell you you’re not crazy.”
“Might be it.” Jackson conceded.
“Can’t do it.”
“Love is one of those things that defy reason. You’re not in your right mind, i.e. you’re falling in love and you want someone to save you. But you know that’s impossible.”
“I’m not falling for her and you’re fucking useless. No goddamned help at all.”
Rob was laughing again. Ass. “This is awesome. She’s got you running scared and meeting yourself again in tight little circles. I can’t wait to see this woman. Now who do I call to get in on the pool?”
“Kiss off. I’m hanging up now.”
*Have a happy Wednesday - Tara
Who says wingmen have to be human? Enjoy this little scene.
Ariela waited in the car while Dylan jogged up the path to the side yard. He let himself into a chain link enclosure and disappeared. At the sound of desperate barking, she leaned across the center console and braced her hand on the driver’s seat, trying to see what was happening out there. Unfortunately, the corner of the house blocked her view.
Without warning, Max blew through the chain-link gate and sent it crashing against the fence while he dragged his master behind him. Dylan’s impossibly long strides seemed to defy the laws of nature. Every step was more like a leap, coming alarmingly close to actual splits. It looked both painful and comical. Then Max spotted Ariela. He ran around to the passenger side and jumped up, planted both front feet on her window, and gave her a friendly woof. She was laughing when Dylan wrestled the dog to the back door.
“Get in the car, you irritating animal,” he muttered.
Smothering her giggles, she instantly sobered when Max bounded into the back and stuck his head between the front seats. He moved up Ariela’s arm, sniffing the entire way before finally resting his chin on her shoulder. His hot doggie breath steamed in her hair.
“Um, good dog, nice dog.” She gave the top of his bony head an uneasy pat.
Dylan climbed into the car and reached around, shoving Max’s muzzle back with one hand. It didn’t take. The golden set his chin right back on her shoulder again.
“Sorry about that.” Dylan tried once more with the same result. Grinning sheepishly, he said, “Don’t worry. I have a trick up my sleeve.”
Firing up the engine, he hit the power button on his door and opened the back window. All interest in Ariela evaporated and Max took up his position behind Dylan, facing into the wind as they pulled onto the street.
While inside, Dylan had put on a blazer. He reached into the left-hand pocket and pulled something out.
“Here, this is for you.” He dropped it onto her lap.
Ariela picked up the lint roller, biting her lip with amusement.
“It’s for your nice outfit,” he explained.
“So I gathered. Did I mention how weird this date is?”
He shot her a playful grin. “Once or twice. Still a good thing?”
Ariela smiled. “It’s a very good thing.”
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The recent MBLU conference prompted me to format my novella for print so I'd have paperbacks to sign.. They turned out great!
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