Monday, October 20, 2014

Tuesday Tales - Picture Prompt

It's time for more romance!



We are still moving onward with a short Christmas serial titled Blue & Silver Bows. We have a picture prompt this week so the excerpt is written to reflect the image and must be three hundred words or under.   

This week Jonah and Dana meet up for their first date. Please do check out the other wonderful writers after you`re done reading by clicking on the Tuesday Tales link at the bottom. Thanks for stopping in!


Blue & Silver Bows





 Grinding the gears a little, I hurried out to Homestead. I had roughly fifteen minutes to meet Jonah at The Waterfront, a huge shopping complex along the mighty Monongahela River. It`s a monstrous place built on the site of the former Homestead steel mill with theaters, restaurants, and a comedy club among many other ‘cool’ places. Also, it was relatively easy to find.

I had nervously taken care of where we would eat and the evening`s entertainment as Jonah knew nothing about the local nightlife here. I swung off the bridge that spans the Monongahela. Christmas lights and twinkling decorated trees were everywhere. I drove around, swiping at the windshield occasionally. My trusty Toyota clattered into a slot and heaved a sigh of relief when I turned off the engine. 

Pulling back the sleeve of my coat I saw that I was ten minutes late. I swatted the clock above the radio then hauled ass to the front doors of The Improv. I saw Jonah chatting with some man and all that ‘Here comes the cougar! Rowr!’ spirit blew away like a balloon with a prick in it.

And didn`t my date pick that time to turn from his conversation to look at me as if on cue. I placed a hand nonchalantly on the wall hoping it looked like something like a come-hither glance. Jonah said something to the tall fellow he was chatting with then walked over to me. His long legs chewed up the distance quickly. He moved like a mountain lion, all sinew and stealth. I suddenly had a strong urge for a fancy drink. Perhaps several fancy drinks, all different colors.

Copyright 2013 ©by V.L. Locey

*~*~*

Click on the link below to return to the Tuesday Tales main blog for more great reads from the talented Tuesday Tales authors.




Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Twisted Sister Query



Alternatively, we can call my post today the 'What Do You Want to Do with Your Writing Life?' question. Dee Snider will not be making a guest writing appearance in this blog post, sorry Twisted Sister fans. Here`s a picture. Enjoy.



I'm repeatedly asked 'How are you so prolific?' Well, truthfully, 'What are you smoking up there on the mountain?' is the most frequently asked, but 'How are you so prolific?' is a close second. I have my stock answer of . . .


"I put my butt into the chair daily and I write."       


I know that`s a simple reply to a complex question so I`ll try to probe a bit deeper to show how I do what it is I do. Of course, what works for me may not work for others.  I'm just sharing what I have learned through a few years of trial and error. 


It seems to me that the people who are asking me how I write so much aren`t non-writers for the most part, they are other authors. I see so many of my fellow scribes struggling to put words down on the page for their novels but spending countless hours writing blog posts. They'll pen two or three thousand word posts daily, bi or tri-weekly, about a multitude of issues, concerns, rants, thoughts, etc. for their blog but lament about not having that book they started four years ago done.


So I will ask . . .


What do you want to do with your writing life?


You may have to choose. I know I did. While I enjoy blogging, my real passion is being a romance novelist. A few years ago, I had to decide which I wanted to do more. There is only so much time in the day. If I spend my time writing blog posts, my books sit untouched. So I
made the call and am now a full-time novelist. Sure, I blog about things in my life, the critters I share it with, and the general silliness that fills my brain on occasion, but I don`t let blogging hog up my writing time. I blog when I can. I do not blog heavily when I have novels to write. I consider blogging and my fan fiction side jobs. My novels are my full-time job, and as such, they get top priority.


What do you want to do with your writing life?


You may have to ask yourself this difficult question when you find yourself bemoaning/apologizing/explaining why you do not have time to write your book in your blog posts. I think it all comes down to what you want to do with your career. Or . . .


What do you want to do with your writing life?


If poetry is your love then embrace your poetry. If you love blogging, then blog away, my friend! Blog until you can't blog anymore. However, if you want to write books, then perhaps you need to sit down and reevaluate your goals. We are only human. We can't do it all. Multitasking does not work, the Mythbuster`s proved it.

If you're trying to juggle being a daily blogger with being a novelist/employee/parent/lover/marketing and promotion strategist something is going to suffer. Since we can't let it be the spouse, kids, or job guess what generally feels the time crunch the worst? Yep. Your novel. My husband is always saying that life is about choices. This may be one of those tough choices you have to make in life--blog when you have a spare hour or work on the novel? Only you can decide.


Whatever your choice is, I wish you the best with it. Love your choice. Own it, hug it, squeeze it, and call it George. Give it all your devotion, good karma, and spare time and I promise it will pay you back in joy, self-satisfaction, and knowledge that you have found your calling. 




Thursday, October 16, 2014

Throwback Thursday Tune

Oh yeah, now we're talking! Who else thought these guys were the cat`s pajamas?

Sorry, I had to go there and do that.



Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Two Guys Walk Into an Apocalypse 3 Cover Reveal! (Scroll Down for This Weeks Tuesday Tales)

It`s been a long time coming but finally the third novella is here. Paul, Gordon, and all their slightly wacky friends are back just in time for Halloween!

Check out this hilarious cover. Talk about a perfect fit for a zom-rom-com! Two Guys 3 will be released upon the world on October 29th exclusively from Torquere Press.





Here`s a bit of info and a PG-rated excerpt from the book:


Paul and Gordon aren't your typical zombie hunters. They're a loving couple of educators who might be infected by the virus that is turning the world's population into mindless, undead eating machines. So why haven`t they turned?  Well, Gordon has a theory about that. He suspects that those who march under the rainbow flag just might be carrying the cure for the plague in their bloodstream. Zendra, the massive pharmaceutical company where the mutated virus was made, certainly seems to be in a hurry to round up all the gay survivors they can grab.

To avoid the clutches of Zendra, Paul, his partner Gordon, and a ragtag band of survivors head into the Great White North - the land of maple syrup, hockey, lumberjacks, and thick bacon. Here they plan to spend the winter, hopefully safe from roaming bands of undead, militaristic companies with far too much power, seedy groups of other survivors, and the always dreaded moose. Can two guys in love lead a motley crew to safety?

Excerpt:

My sigh and a steady but thin stream of urine pattering on the pine needles and last fall's dead leaves were the only noises until something stepped on a branch directly behind me. The dead bough cracked like a pistol. My urine stopped flowing as my heart dropped into my gut. A hot breath blew over the back of my neck causing every fine hair to stand up on end. The exhalation stank of rotten teeth and pond scum. With one hand, I tucked the shriveled beast back into its BVD cage. If a phobie was going to rip me into strips I was not dying with my dick  out. That's just a thing I have. Death can claim me but my genitals will be covered if I can manage it.

With a very unhurried demeanor and a sudden weakness in my legs and knees, I simultaneously reached behind my back for the gun while I swiveled my head around. The largest brown eyes I have ever seen gazed down at me. The creature shook its massive head and blew snot from its nostrils. My fingertips skimmed the gun as a scream of sheer horror escaped me. The moose promptly freaked out. It bulled forward (I know, it's funny isn't it? Bull plus moose. Ha. Ha. God, I hate moose) as if someone had rammed a hot poker up its bunghole.

I pulled the gun free and fired. The moose got over being scared and got royally pissed off, which was rather a bit of irony since I now was fearful of losing control of my bladder. Where I hit the monstrous beast from hell I do not know but I think we can rest assured that it was not a killing shot. Bullwinkle threw his head to the left and right. I turned to run, was hit in the shoulder by a moose brow and was thrown to the side like some insignificant gay Raggedy Andy. My face met a tree, my gun flew from my hand, and Sir Moose attacked the nearest bush thinking -- in its brilliant moose way -- that the bush was the man who had screamed in its face and then shot beside its ear. I watched all this from the ground where I was balled up in a fetal position, whimpering about the sap on my lower lip.

My shot must have roused the camp, for within a moment (although between you and me it felt much more like several hours) the sound of people crashing through the woods broke through the snorting, thrashing, and pawing the long-headed cousin of Bambi was doing. A brilliant light swept the area. I screamed. The moose spun from his bush battle. Rider and Gordon skidded into the scene, the beams from their flashlights hitting the moose right in his ugly, flubbery face. Gordon raised a shotgun into the air but never got the chance to shoot. The moose plunged between the men, sending both diving to opposite sides. Bouncing shafts of light accompanied the departure of the moose as he crashed away into the land of nightmares.

"Sweet Jeezus," I heard Rider pant somewhere in the darkness. "Damned shame I didn't have my deer rifle, we could have eaten on that bitch for a month."

"Paul, are you okay?" my partner called as he struggled to get to his feet and locate his flashlight.

A mousey sound tumbled from me. I coughed and tried several times to find my voice. When I located it down by my spleen, I had a question for my saviors. "Did-- Did he mean 'bitch' like that animal was a female, or like some sort of rural Southern expression like 'Damn son, we could have eaten on that bitch for a week!' when in actuality the beast was a male?"





Monday, October 13, 2014

Tuesday Tales - Letter

Welcome back to Tuesday Tales! 



It's time for  more romance. Today we have the first installment of a short holiday addition that spanned White Moon, Yellow Leaves and Wind in White Birch. We'll have four short issues of Blue & Silver Bows that details Dana and Jonah`s first date.

Our word prompt this week is 'Letter'. Please do check out the other wonderful writers after you`re done reading by clicking on the Tuesday Tales link at the bottom. Thanks for stopping in!

Blue & Silver Bows





Pittsburgh, PA



“Mom, if you and Jonah get married will I be Rhett Big Deer? I think that would be a cool name. Better than Rhett Waters. Mr. Boyer said it was cool that we knew Indians and that they were purse and cutie.”

I stopped at the red light and stared at the six year old chatterbox buckled into the seat at my right.

“Your teacher said what?” Rhett stopped drawing a bear in the steam of his window and turned lovely blue eyes to me. Ever since hearing Jonah relay a Seneca legend about a magical bear Rhett was bruin obsessed. He wrote his name over the bears head in large awkward letters.

“That the Indian people were purse and cutie. I didn`t never seen Jonah with a purse and I don`t think he`s a cutie either. I think Mr. Boyer sniffs glue,” the first grader announced then returned to his steam bruin. A blaring horn got me moving again.

“Okay, let`s handle these one at a time. First, Jonah and I are not getting married. We`re going on a date. One date doesn`t mean I`m marrying the man. Second, even if I did marry Jonah - which I`m not – but if I did your name would still be Waters.”

“Your name would be Big Deer. I like that better.”

“Yes, my name would but I`d be his wife. You`re a Waters, you`ll always be a Waters. It`s beside the point because I`m not marrying Jonah." I turned the clunky heater up another notch. “Third, the Native American people were persecuted, not purse and cutie,” I explained working quite hard to suppress a smile at the lads expense.

“Is persecuted like hated?”

“It is, yes.” I glanced at his profile. He was so very much Rhick`s son right down to the way his nose turned up a bit on the end.

“It`s stupid to hate people. I like Jonah and Andy. I wish I was Indian,” Rhett said with the kind of enthusiasm only a six year old can muster.

“I agree. It is stupid to hate,” I replied while pulling into Rhick`s driveway.

Two cars sat in front of the modest home my ex and his new wife owned. I started chewing on my bottom lip. The porch light came on and I exhaled loudly when Rhick came down the steps, hands in his pockets and shoulders hunched against the cold. I sat behind the wheel of my Toyota, watching the man jog to his son`s door then try to tug it open. It took more than a tug, it took the Incredible Hulk to wrench it open but this was the only car I could afford after the divorce. His new wife had a nice green Prius. I hate green cars. The door groaned and freezing cold air blew into the car. Rhick stuck his head in. He was still just as damned cute as he ever was, the bastard.

“You`re early." He ruffled his son`s hair as the boy struggled with the sticky seat-belt. “We didn`t get the lights up on the porch. Must be your mother is in a hurry to meet her date.”

“At least I waited for our marriage to be over before I – You know what, why don`t you get his bags out of the trunk?” I pushed the damned little button with the image of an open trunk on it.

God, that was close. I promised myself that I would not be that woman in front of my son. Rhett loved his father. Rhick loved his boy. He just didn`t love me. Screw him and the horse he rode in on. I had a date with Jonah Big Deer in thirty minutes. Rhick`s bullshit was not going to sour this night for me.

“Mom, you`ll be getting me tomorrow, right? Will Jonah be here?” Rhett asked. Rhick, who has bionic hearing when it`s something not of his concern, arrived back at the open passenger door, two duffel bags in hand.

“Yeah, Dana, will Jonah be here tomorrow?” Rhick asked, his breath clouding in front of his smug face.

The denial was on the tip of my tongue. Instead of giving my ex the benefit of seeing me squirm I decided to play it cool.

“If he`s here you`ll see him,” I told my son then kissed his pink cheek. “Now go have fun and make sure you show Inga how to decorate a Christmas tree properly.”

“She`s Swedish, Dana, they know about Christmas. Unlike the kid you`re seeing tonight,” Rhick snarled, hurried our son out into the cold then slammed the door as hard as he could. I grimaced, fearing for the car in general. One good slam could be all it took for the rusted out POS to disintegrate, leaving me sitting alongside the curb in my best black dress with a steering wheel in my hands.

“Did I detect a tint of racism?” I asked my rattling heater. “Or was that jealousy?” Rhick was going to be forty in eight weeks. Jonah Big Deer was twenty and six. It was pretty obvious that age was just one of many differences between the two men.



Copyright 2013 ©by V.L. Locey

*~*~*

Click on the link below to return to the Tuesday Tales main blog for more great reads from the talented Tuesday Tales authors.





Katherine Halle Pays a Visit!

Please give Katherine a big welcome! She's here to share a character interview with us. I just love getting to know those wonderful creations authors come up with better, don`t you? So get comfy and meet Julian Hart!



*~*~*

Interview with Julian Hart
I'm talking with Julian Hart, member of the Stone Pack, mate to Alpha Stone, and former werewolf hunter.
"Hey now, I still hunt, it's just ever since the Werewolf Co-Op the rogue population has been drastically reduced so I don't hunt so much anymore. But I’m still a hunter."
So how does that work? Being mated to an Alpha Werewolf and being a hunter?
Julian laughs. "Well it certainly has made things interesting," he wiggles his eyebrows and gives me a bit of a leer.
I laugh right along with him. "So you would say it's spiced things up in the bedroom?"
"I'd say things were pretty spicy already," he winks at me. "That's just another facet of our dynamic."
So what's a typical day look like for Julian Hart?
"Hmm, well, breakfast with the Pack, I check my contacts, my email, see if there's any jobs that I've been contracted for, check in with Stone, lunch with the Pack, I don't know, most days are pretty routine, boring," he laughs again.
I can't imagine life with Alpha Stone is boring.
His cheeks pink up and he ducks his head, rubbing at his upper lip with a finger. "Nah, life with Stone is anything but boring, that's for sure."
How are you getting on with Eve? I know things started out tense.
"Eve's good. She's a good second, no doubt about that."
Second? I thought Mitch was second.
"Yeah, well there was a bit of jostling, Eve is second now, Mitch was happy to take a step back for a bit."
Huh. That got a bit heavy, so lemme lighten things up a bit. Top or bottom?
"HA HA, wouldn't you like to know. You read the our story, what do you think?"
Favorite color?
"Blue."
Favorite food?
"Pizza and beer of course. But then Bastien makes this exquisite shrimp dish with bacon and cream sauce, oh man, it's to die for."
Leather or lace?
He snorts. "Both? But I prefer leather." He winks at me again.
Okay, last question. Is this it for you? I mean you and Stone?
A slow content smile spreads across his face. "Yeah, yeah it is."
Thank you for being with us today Julian and giving us a look into your life.
https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F4.bp.blogspot.com%2F-P9vK-LqXK5s%2FVC6x2r2hd1I%2FAAAAAAAAHnc%2F3sKCCI4ZXoA%2Fs1600%2Fcastthefirststone.jpg&container=blogger&gadget=a&rewriteMime=image%2F*

You can read all about Julian and Alpha Stone in Cast The First Stone by Katherine Halle which you can find here:

Torquere Press

Amazon

All Romance eBooks

Official Blurb:

On the trail of a rogue werewolf, hunter Julian Hart takes on more than he can handle when he meets up with Alpha Stone. His hunt uncovers secrets within lies and a plot for vengeance no one saw coming. When the smoke clears, what Julian finds at the end of the trail will forever change his life and the lives of everyone he holds dear.

Excerpt:
"I took the liberty of moving your stuff from the motel. I had it put into one of my guestrooms. You'll stay here tonight."

"Now wait just a damn minute." I could feel the anger whirling inside me. How dare he move my things without my permission? I didn't want to stay here in his house. The sole human amidst a pack of wolves. Literally.

In a flash, he had me pinned to the wall, his arm across my throat. Just as fast, I had my knife out and pressed against his side. He laughed, the rich sound washing over me, sending my blood places I didn't want it to go. "Touché." The pressure on my throat loosened minutely. "Seems we are at an impasse. I want you here. I can't keep you safe at
the motel. There are some in my territory that don't take too kindly to hunters."

"You mean like Eve?"

"Yes, like Eve. I can't control every single werewolf activity that happens. There will always be someone that makes a bad choice, despite my orders that you are offlimits.
I would hate to have to punish someone after the fact. I'd rather just prevent it from happening in the first place."

"Who says I would be safe under your roof?" I met his blue eyes defiantly, pressing the knife into his side enough to slice through the fabric of his shirt. He hissed as the blade laced with wolfsbane bit into his skin. I felt a momentary pang of regret, but it vanished when he pushed closer, nosing at the pulse in my neck.

"I can smell your excitement," he breathed out, his lips moving over my skin.

I pushed against him. "Can you smell my anger?" I snarled.

Another dark chuckle washed over my skin. "Yes, and it smells delicious. Now, are we done? You're not going back to that fleabag motel."

Bio:
Katherine Halle is known as the “Queen of Happy Endings.” She firmly believes that no matter what the obstacles, what the struggles, or how much angst is involved in the journey, that the ending should always be a happy one.

Katherine’s love of the written word started at a very early age with repeated demands of “read to me” to any who would listen. It was only natural that writing would follow. As a child, she could often be found daydreaming, thinking up fanciful stories and writing them down. Now she does it on a laptop. Much faster.
Katherine’s favorite animal is her dog. She likes books, movies, and quirky television shows, such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Hart of Dixie. She loves cooking and watching cooking shows. She has lived in both Europe and the United States and loved both. When she’s not writing or plotting, Katherine enjoys spending her time listening to music, reading books written by other people, and being with her family.

You can find Katherine on:

Dreamwidth:  http://thraceadams.dreamwidth.org/ 
Wordpress:  http://katherinehalle.wordpress.com/
Email: katherinehalle@yahoo.com




Sunday, October 12, 2014

Please Welcome Elise Hepner

The lovely and talented Elise is here once more to share some excerpts and info with us from her novel, Ex-Retreat. 




Excerpt 1:

With a reserve of energy she didn’t feel, Chloe bounded up from the bed. Not the best idea, considering her brain’s penchant for rattling around in her skull the minute she moved because of her hangover. Maybe she could get Noah to make a Bloody Mary to take the edge off before she left? Chloe climbed the plush carpeted stairs back up into the living room.
“Since it looks like we’ll be spending a bit of time together, care to enlighten me on why you took a reservation when it’s off season and your sister wasn’t even here to run it?”
Chloe sat back across from him and took a slow drink of her juice, using the added time to get a closer look at his slightly freckled face. Cute. Whatever attraction rose up tightening her throat she quickly squashed it down. A man had gotten her here in the first place. If it wasn’t for her mother’s penchant for psychological healing, without the aid of television and a quart of ice cream—she would be surrounded by piles of good books, take-out, and new workout DVD’s she wouldn’t attempt to use for a solid month.
When Noah caught her watching him, she deflected her stare to the bookcase behind his head, cringing at the A to Z self-help tomes. When she came out of rehab she might have more of a complex than when she went in last night.
“Didn’t feel like turning down company. Plus I could use the extra hands around the house getting the place weatherproofed for hurricane season.”
Chloe had to cover her mouth to keep from shooting citrus out of her nose.
“Nice plan, right?” He waggled his dark brows and took another bite of bacon.
“You purposely let me come here because you were looking for a playmate while you babysat the house?”
“You’re much more fun than building model cars and searching for the meaning of life.”
“Gee, thanks.”
“Plus, I won the genetic jackpot. You’re quite the looker,” he said it offhand, meeting her eyes, and winking with darkness in his gaze that left nothing to imagination.
“What are you, sixty years old?”
“That was a compliment, in case you’ve never heard one.”
“Yeah, great going, complimenting a woman who probably just got out of a debilitating relationship, is emotionally vulnerable, and ready to kick some ass. What a charmer you are, Noah.”
He cleared his throat, picked up his plate, and headed toward the kitchen. Despite her resolve to let his comment slide off her back, she’d opened her big mouth. But more than anything she wished she could close her eyes to get the image of his fine ass out of her mind as the swinging door closed behind him. Pathetic didn’t cover it. She needed another dictionary definition. What were the odds of finding a dictionary in this house?
Was she even thinking about staying? The idea was idiotic at best. In a house with a total stranger in the middle of nowhere for any span of time—when did that choice go from youre crazy, to eh, its workable? The fact that she managed to miss kind of a big decision when she was the one making the choice in the first place made her feel like she’d come to the right place for her discombobulated mental state. Yet…she trusted her gut. There was something to women’s intuition and Noah didn’t scream psycho killer. Of course, she didn’t think they made a t-shirt for that type of thing. But either way her first layer of apprehension peeled back with the knowledge that she had basic knowledge of self-defense and there were plenty of knick-knacks around the house to double as weapons should the need crop up.
It would be an adventure, right? He wasn’t keeping her here. She could leave and walk away—literally—at any time.
“Oh, by the way—”
Noah stuck half his body through the swinging door, large fingers splayed across the pastel green paint. He licked his lips, mouth shaping into a wolfish grin that left her fingers twisting together in her lap. Noah raised one of his hands in the air.
“One, I’ve been told I’m not relationship material. Two, I’m great rebound sex in case there isn’t anything else in this boarded up hole to occupy your mind. And last, but not least, if you want to kick my ass on behalf of my species that’s all well and good—I’m a gentleman, I’ll let you—but you bet your sweet ass you’ll be playing nursemaid afterward. And that’s with the kinky outfit, or no deal.”
There were no words. Chloe sat there without a single retort even close to her mouth. Was he kidding? Before she could regain her senses he’d popped his head back into the kitchen, and water ran in a loud rush. Almost, but not quite, blocking out the joy in his gruff laughter as it echoed through the door. Gentleman, yeah that was a joke. He was a gentleman like Rhett Butler wasnt a cad—and Rhett was the best bad boy of ‘em all.
She should know, she’d only watched that movie over a hundred times growing up because it had the prettiest cover in her mother’s old movie collection. No matter what, Rhett was a cad. And, though she tried not to be flustered, Noah gave off the same swarthy I-know-what-you-look-like-without-your-clothes-on vibe.
So what if she’d tried a relationship with the solid, wet-blanket, Ashley type and that hadn’t exactly worked out? That didn’t mean a damn thing.
“Plan on throwing me any other fastballs? Or are we not speaking because I dared to mention how beautiful your smile is and hurt your girl power pride?”
His voice shook her out of her reverie.
“You haven’t even seen me fully smile.”
“I’ve seen the ghost of one. Maybe if we keep playing this “getting to know each other” game I’ll get to see more. What do you think?”
He wiped his damp hands on his jeans leaving dark smudges that led Chloe’s eye elsewhere. She crossed her arms, determined to pay attention to the hideous, metal deep sea fish sculpture on the wall.
“I think that you haven’t given me jack squat to go off of in terms of getting to know you. I also think, Noah, that it’s probably in your best interest to start chatting, otherwise these hands might not feel like working.”
“Please tell me those hands will be doing other, more delightful things,” he practically purred, clutching his heart. “Oh, also, unless you’re a shrink, there isn’t much else to do around here. No radios or TV. Consider yourself promoted to first foreman. Better than reading the self-help crap, right?”
“Oh will you can it? Jesus, I’m not sleeping with you!”
He shrugged, making the move mean far more than it should have, while also showing off the hard muscles in his chest.
“I never really asked, did I?”
She couldn’t help it—she made a pure noise of frustration and glared sharp, lethal icepicks his way. What did he do? Only the second most infuriating thing ever after all his cheesy come-on’s. Noah threw up his hands in front of his body making a mocking face filled with fake terror. Eyes wide, mouth an “o,” he sprinted to the corner folding his large frame until he cowered hiding his face in between his knees. Heaven help her, a bubble of laughter floated out through her mouth and broke into pieces.
Youre hopeless.
Noah peeked his head out from his lap with a goofy grin.
“That impressed you, huh? Didn’t know your host took several unwanted years of drama in high school in order to make up for failing math grades. Pretty genius performance, wasn’t it? Might have won me an Oscar.”
Well, there was her first tidbit into the brain of her new hot—er, host. When Noah stood up from his crouch he quickly stretched his arms up above his head, leaving a delectable piece of pale flesh with a smattering of dark, treasure trail hair leading beneath his jeans. Chloe snapped her eyes away and thinned her lips pretending to adjust on the coach and folding her legs up under her.
“You’re getting better.”
“At what?”
“Nothing. You ready for your lesson on how we’re going to work together to keep this place in tip-top shape?”
“Do I get to say no?”
He made an obnoxious beeping noise in the back of his throat that sounded like a game show buzzer.
“Wrong answer. But you do get handy demonstrations, your own tool belt, and dinner tonight if you do a good job.”
“Do I get a gold star, too?”
“I can probably figure something out for you.”
Noah snatched her hand, a shock to her system tightening all the muscles in her upper arm. His warm palm engulfed her whole hand. Was this what it had been like when he’d carried her inside last night? Had she folded up in his arms like she fit? She swallowed and met his serious look.
“Come on, I’ve got a whiteboard downstairs.”
Chloe couldn’t deny his excitement. When he pulled her up and raced them down the stairs she followed—telling herself it was only because he would have dragged her anyway. But when he pulled her into a spare bedroom, it had been converted into an office with a white board that took up three of the four walls, her mind was boggled. Not one inch of board was free.
“You’ve been busy.”
Chloe took in the myriad of checklists, bullet points, and definitions scrawled in a neat sloping hand. One of the notations caught her eye. The roof needed fixing? He wanted her up on a slope a million feet in the air? Oh, that was priceless. With a careful eye she tried to stuff the overload of information into her brain.
“You need to be trained.”
Noah took a seat in the office chair, swiveling his body around a few times before he came to a full stop with his long legs stretched out. His hands were laced together in the middle of his chest, while he regarded her with an expression she couldn’t quite place—and probably didn’t want to think too hard. She went back to studying the notations.
“This is almost everything you need to know about construction and what we’ll be doing as early as tonight. Think you can handle it all?”
At least he’d given her a head start—with his help a day of intense study might be enough to keep her safe. Besides, the busywork could keep her mind in the right place and off of any thoughts of the ex. She could admit—begrudgingly—that she kind of couldn’t wait to see Noah in a tool belt, shirtless, and a little dewy with sweat. His verbal banter wouldn’t hurt as a distraction either. With a long exhale, she shoved the thought into a little box, readying herself for the oncoming storm.


Excerpt 2:

“Hello? Mothership to Chloe? You there or is there a break in transmission? Because I don’t have any experience in bringing back patients from a catatonia. That’s Phil’s job and he’s not coming back until the fall.”
“Sorry.”
“I was asking which you’d rather start with, the pipe work, or weatherproofing the three decks out back.”
“The second one.”
“Thought that would be your pick. Stand up, please.”
She shrugged and did what he asked, but didn’t move an inch from the chair.
“Hey, so, thanks for taking care of me last night. You didn’t have to do that and I appreciate it.”
“Sure.”
His one word answer exuded gentleness. Maybe it was the soft-spoken respect behind it, like he wouldn’t have dared do anything else. Two large steps and he was in front of her, so close she sharply inhaled and her fists clenched tight behind her back. She actively avoided looking at him. Too close for comfort. Her focus scattered as she tried to ignore him, looking everywhere in the room. Tension threaded and wound tight through every muscle and she wanted more than anything to step away from him—but she sure as shit didn’t want Noah to know exactly how vulnerable one little movement had made her.
“It really wasn’t a problem.”
“Mmmhm,” she replied, weighing her options, trying not to look weak in the face of so much male muscle.
“Hey…”
His hand cradled her chin and she jerked back, almost tripping before his arms cinched around her waist anchoring her against his firm chest. With a yelp she planted her hands on his shoulders, unable to do anything else. She scrambled to stay upright, their gazes locked.
Why hadn’t he let her go the minute he sensed she’d gained her balance? She fumbled for words. But there was nothing as his thumb slid along her lower back in small, smooth strokes as if he were trying to calm her down. But it only served to set her whole body on fire while time stood still and she weighed the merits of pulling away. Whether he would let her go at all.
A smile barely brushed his lips. His hands tightened on her waist, fingers twisting in her cardigan. Without too much thought, her fingers mirrored his tension resting on his shoulders. Beneath her palms he was warmer than she thought possible. He must have been burning up in his sweater. Which begged the question—what would he look like without it?
“That could ha-ha-ha-have been bad,” he stuttered and she watched his Adam’s apple work as he swallowed hard.
“Yeah.”
That was all that came out of her mouth. She processed his cocky swagger crumble to an endearing affect that made her pulse slide into overdrive. His face lit up, beet red, as he blinked behind his glasses. Her fingertips traced the foreign lines of his collarbone. She couldn’t bring herself to break their sensual embrace.
They’d never been close enough for her to notice his scent—like ink and citrus. The odd mixture suited him. His nostrils flared as she continued tracing him with her thumbs. But he hadn’t drawn away. Flat against him, Noah wasn’t tense, only watchful with his strong, unbreakable grip above her hips. How much longer would they stray into this land of intimacy? One of them had to have the willpower to pull away, before this went way too far. Chloe hadn’t been dragged to the beach house to have rebound sex with a stranger for three days. An hour ago she wanted nothing to do with men, but she couldn’t bring herself to pull away when she was chomping at the bit for any kind of touch.
Yet, Chloe couldn’t check her urge to go on tiptoe, inviting his kiss with a firm squeeze to his shoulders. That’s when he broke away like he’d been burned. Noah must have cleared three feet away from her and she was left with a stone weighing down her stomach. Okay, so that went badly. Think.
“Uh…” he said.
Think. Think. Think, damn it!
Chloe bit back a noise of hurt. Yeah, that’s the last thing he needed—a mental case chick who couldn’t check her own impulses while she was in rehab for being a relationship ditz. Although, he’d started all the flirty-flirty.
“So, don’t I need some kind of safety gear or something?”
Voice only a little bit like Minnie Mouse—she could work with that.
Noah nodded and spun marching out the door.

She’d made no comment. Not a single joke, laugh, or snide remark. He moved blindly through the house feeling as if his head was going to float off his body. His body still bristled from his expectations—the inevitable end result of his stutter and he ran a hand through his hair. A low breath later he rested against the banister on the top floor living room.
“Why the hell did you move out of the way, you dingbat?” He said under his breath while his fingers tightened on the banister behind him.
When she’d moved in, all but inviting him to kiss her, he’d wimped out. Practically hightailed it out of there as if even touching Chloe would give him frostbite or something. He squeezed the banister trying to shake his trembling, but there was no other way to react to her hinting when he was still coming to grips with her reaction to his deformity. It wasn’t that he didn’t want her, come on, that was obvious. He just had to look the gift horse in the mouth first.
Noah groaned and cracked his neck. What the hell was wrong with him?
Which was worse acknowledging his stutter and getting it out in the open or glazing over it altogether, as if it wasn’t a glaring black mark? His face heated and he paced the cheap carpet uncaring if he wore holes in it. Did he want to kiss Chloe? Stupid question. Next. Hell, if he had kissed her well enough he was pretty sure he could erase all memory of his screwup and give him enough time to play with that he’d make a better impression. Until he did it again. She just made him so…so…nervous. Even admitting that made his gut twist until he licked his lips and took a restless seat on the couch.
“Get. Yourself. Together.”
It was his fault that it had been an embarrassingly long time since…yeah…since that had happened. Even admitting it in his own head was pathetic. There was no way to salvage the moment. No way to storm back in there, clasp her to him, and plant one on her until she was trembling and breathless. Noah didn’t have it in him. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. God, it wasn’t for lack of trying—the image was seared into the back of his brain. He could almost feel her soft lips pressing against his own in surprise before she gave in and took his mouth completely and with no mercy.
But then he lost himself too. Until she plunged her tongue into his mouth and he gave himself up to her petite body as he wrapped around her body like a vine to a tree. The vivid imagery nearly knocked him flat out. One second they were locked in an embrace that made her thick and hard thinking about it, and the next she was shoving him down on his knees with one pale, petite hand. Her face was unreadable, a twinkle in her eye that made his mouth dry up as he tried to keep his breathing steady, but breathing in her light floral scent with every second.
Noah groaned, fisting his hands in his hair. This was absolutely absurd, what the hell was wrong with him? He forced his eyes open and blinked away from the images playing across his eyelids like dirty movies only for his enjoyment. Every guy fantasized about women, but this, this was different. He shook his head. Blinked. Tried to get a grip on reality while stalwartly ignoring the aching hard on in his jeans. Even reaching into his jeans to adjust through his boxers made him bite back a low moan that sizzled up his spine.
There was something about Chloe. Something. He yanked his hand out of his pants and glanced down the stairs, as if she’d come up them any second and see him. The idea of going back down there made him bristle. Would she see everything he’d laid out in his skull despite the fact that he was locking it down? Noah bit his lip and grumbled an inarticulate stream of frustrated nonsense. Sure, it had been awhile in the bedroom department…but, Christ, that imagery kicking up in his head! He could still sense her fingers running through his hair, prickling his scalp—before she yanked his gaze upward to rest on her simpering smile.
Noah shivered, every muscle in his body tight with confusion.
He’d had fantasies…but never like these.
What the hell did he get himself into?






Warning: This book contains a geeky, secretly insecure but overly cocky handy-man with a penchant for pleasing, a dominatrix in training who’s on the rebound, and enough smut to strip a couple layers off your soul. Plus there’s mac n’ cheese with a smattering of self-actualization for good measure.
After Chloe Barrons’ fiancé cheats on her via webcam, she begrudgingly accepts her Type-A mother’s offer of a spur of the moment luxury spa weekend. But things don’t play out quite from point A to point B when she arrives drunk and disoriented on the front porch of a deserted North Carolina beach house. From the very start she’s caught off guard by Noah Knightly, a sinfully sexy, self-proclaimed commitment-phobe who’s a handyman for his sister’s relationship rehabilitation center—a rehab where Chloe is the sole guest during off-season.
But faced with temptation, to stay guarded she’ll have to call the shots.
Noah shouldn’t have taken Chloe’s reservation. But in need of a second pair of hands to fix up the beach house, he throws all his sister’s rules out the window. Soon he worries that maybe he’s bitten off more than he can chew: each day Chloe cracks more of his cocky façade bringing down his guards to reveal a stuttering geek who has a hidden will to please her in any way possible.
With no way to ignore her pain, Noah sets himself up as a guniea pig to prove to Chloe that not all men are created equal—in or out of the bedroom. As Chloe comes into her own through every sexual session, Noah needs to decide if he’s man enough to accept the one thing he never thought he wanted—love.

Bio: Elise Hepner lives with two spastic cats and a very supportive, slightly crazy husband. There is never a dull moment in the house, unless the caffeine runs out, which it never does. She's a multi-published erotica author with Cleis Press, Ellora's Cave, Xcite, and Secret Cravings Publishing.
She's driven by her tea addiction and a tiny stuffed turtle her husband picked up from Disney World that sits on her desk and "supervises" her work.
When not writing (which is rare), she's watching countless hours of reality television, playing the Sims or shopping online. Plus there's that odd obsession with the color purple. Everything is purple. Visit Elise at her website www.elisehepner.com to keep up with her naughty ramblings, random tidbits and future work.
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