Friday, April 17, 2015

There's No Place Like....


Yeah, I'm back. I'm not sure if this'll be an actual blog post, or just an excuse to show off more of the photos I took in Hawaii last weekend. Like this one...

Waimea Bay from the Puu O Mahuka Heiau
I ate and drank and reconnected with old friends. I climbed Diamond Head and took my first-ever hot yoga class. Even more exciting, I actually relaxed enough to step away from my iPhone for at least a couple brief periods of time.

Sweaty selfie with Bex from the top of Diamond Head

There was some writing involved - there's always writing involved - and two days in, I finished the first draft of my current project. I also got feedback on the first seventy pages of that project from my girls Amanda and Rhay. I've decided to upgrade them from beta readers to alpha readers, because, first draft. Hello! They had some pretty rough going, but they hung in there.

(HERE'S a link to a Janice Hardy post on the alpha reader concept.)

Sunrise over Kailua
The other writerly thing I've been thinking about is what to do with Aloha, Baby, now that the whole thing is published on the blog. I'm debating whether to make it a free download on Smashwords, post it on Wattpad, or just make a page for it here on the blog. While I work out the details, you can always jump HERE for the first section of my sweet contemporary(ish) romance. It's split into eight sections, but they're all linked so you can keep reading. It's a free read, and free is good.

My feet in the sand on Makapu Beach. TMI?
And on that not-so-serious note, I'm going to wrap things up. Mahalo for your support of Aloha, Baby and for visiting my blog. Below is a 30-second video I took from the trail on Diamond Head. It's looking out toward Koko Head Crater, with Black Point and Kahala in the middle. I took a number of these short videos, mainly to share little bits of the island with my kids, and this one captures how windy it was up there, and the intensity of the colors. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Show Me How To Love by Synithia Williams

Love. This. Cover.
Now you know I'm nothing if not a rebel, so when I heard my friend Synithia was having trouble with Facebook because there was too much skin on her new book cover, I immediately started thinking of ways I could help. Like, maybe, making a blog post and sharing it in the comments? We'll see if my sneaky idea works...

Above and beyond that, I'm pleased as peaches to promo this book, because it's one I beta-read a while ago and I thought it was a fantastic story. I love her writing (& I LOVE her heroes! *ahem Kareem ahem*), and I hope you check this one out, because it's too fun!


Just when Mikayla Summers is convinced dating her boss is a good idea, she discovers him having sex in the closet with someone else. Refusing to stick around for further humiliation, she escapes with the one other person affected by what happened, her now ex-boyfriend’s cousin, the sexy, Andre Caldwell. 
Though Andre believed the feud between him and his cousin over, he wasn’t surprised by what happened. What is surprising is how much he’s attracted to Mikayla’s personality and charm. As he gets to know her better, he realizes there is more than betrayal bringing them together 
But the Caldwell feud runs deep, and when family obligations threaten the fragile connection between Andre and Mikayla they’ll both question if their love is real or a result of revenge.


He smirked and shook his head. “My family doesn’t marry for love. You only briefly met my dad and step-mom, but a few minutes in a room with them will quickly reveal there’s no love between them. They started as an affair that resulted in both of them dumping their old spouses for a newer model.”

“Don’t you want to love someone,” she asked.


Simple, abrupt, with no explanation. 

“I’ve been in love.” Some of the wistfulness of what she’d once felt floated with her voice. “It’s not so bad.”

He leaned back and crossed thick arms over his wide chest. “Ryan?”

She shook her head. “No. My college boyfriend. We met our junior year and dated all of our senior year. He asked me to marry him.”

“What happened?”

“He died in a car wreck.” She said simply. 

Andre’s dark eyes lowered briefly. “I’m sorry.”

She shifted and toyed with the edge of her shirt. “I’ve come to terms with my loss. Cried enough tears to fill Lake Michigan and yes, I still miss him. But his mom insisted that I live after it was over. He wouldn’t want me to cry every day.”

“What was his name?”

Brown eyes that crinkled when he grinned in a thin face tanned from spending so many days outside flashed across her mind. “Brenden.” She smiled. “He made me laugh, all the time at the silliest stuff. He was such a great guy.”

Andre slid closer, wrinkling the patterned quilted bed cover and her will to slide away.  “The look on your face. You didn’t have that look with Ryan.”

She lifted then lowered her shoulders. “No, I didn’t.”

Andre lifted a hand and brushed the hair from the side of her face. His fingers trailed down the side of her cheek, sending shivers across her skin. A warning flared somewhere deep that they were getting too comfortable again. Mikayla ignored it and turned to rest her cheek against his palm. 

She met his gaze. His dark eyes were alive with desire. Heat sparked between them. She took a stuttering breath and blood pounded in her veins like a rushing stream. Too many emotions swirled inside of her. She hadn’t talked about Brenden in years, mainly because she didn’t want those old feelings brought up. Andre was the last person she should trust with those feelings, but after he’d spent the night keeping her nightmares away it seemed silly not too.

“You don’t talk much, but when you do you get right to places I don’t like going,” she said in a wobbly whisper. 

“If you’re going to talk, it might as well be about something.” He slid a hand to the back of her head. Long fingers gently twisted in her hair, which was probably now a mess. He pulled her closer.

Anticipation ignited and flared along her skin. As much as she’d wondered about Ryan’s kiss, she’d never longed for his lips to touch hers the way she did now for Andre’s. She called on reason to stop her now.  “We shouldn’t do this.” 

“No, we shouldn’t.” If she loved his voice before, she was completely enamored with the thick layer of desire flavoring the deep rumble.  “That’s why it’s just going to be a kiss.”

(Blogger's note: Sigh...)

Buy Links: 


Synithia Williams has loved romance novels since reading her first one at the age of 13. It was only natural that she would begin penning her own romances soon after. When she isn't writing, this local government gal balances the needs of her husband and two sons. You can learn more about Synithia on her website:, Facebook: and Twitter: 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Aloha, Baby (A Short Story Serial - The Big Finish!)

Blue eyes, dimples, and a hot surfer's body means trouble, right? There's only one way for Katie to find out...

Here we are, at the final installment of Aloha, Baby. If you've been following along, MAHALO! and if you're just checking in for the first time, you can catch up by reading  Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5 - Part 6 - Part 7 first. Or you can read the big finish, and wonder how we got here. (LOL!) At any rate, by the time you read this, I'll be on a plane to Honolulu for a little fun in the sun. Have fun with the story, and have a great week!

Our VRBO has a pool....hoping this guy is waiting....

Losing seventy pounds was sure something to celebrate, but at the same time it created problems Katie never expected to deal with. Like, what to do when the hot-bodied surfer, Jack, turned out to be the DJ at her roommate's favorite dance club. Katie was positive he had ‘Trouble’ stamped on his butt. Didn't he?

When we left Katie, Jack had just dropped her off after a most romantic ride home...

The next morning my head ached a little. The sky was partly cloudy, although the clouds would likely burn off and let the sun through by the afternoon. I said good morning to Hula Girl. When I passed by to open the lanai door, she winked at me. For a plastic doll she was kind of a smarty-pants.

I stepped out so I could watch the water and smell the plumeria. The traffic zipping along the highway hummed like a swarm of distant bees. My presence triggered a startled cough from Darla, who was out on her lanai in a purple and hot pink flowered bathing suit finishing her morning cigarette.

“Goodness, lady, you look like crap. I hope it was worth it.”

I was a little embarrassed. “Yeah.” I glanced down at my Swatch. It was ten thirty in the morning.

“Want some coffee?” Darla held up her cup.

“I would love some.”

Darla ducked into her apartment and, in a minute, she was back with a second mug. It tasted fine, clearing the fuzz off the back of my tongue and propping my eyes open. “Thanks,” I said, raising the mug as a toast to Darla.

“No problem. You have fun last night?”

I grinned, unable to find the right words.

“It’s about time.” Darla raised her mug, toasting my success. A muffled thump came from Meli’s room, and a minute later she stumbled into the bathroom.

“Look who’s livin’ large,” I called to her.

Darla laughed. “She’s a kicker, your roommate. I used to know her Auntie Esmie. We had some wild times, back in the old days.”

“Meli must have inherited her auntie’s genes.”

“She got her name. Esmerelda.”

“Ack, Darla, don’t tell her that.” Meli stepped out onto the lanai and dumped herself into our one plastic chair. She was wearing a man’s t-shirt and a flowered sarong skirt tied at the hip. “You have fun last night with Mr. Trouble?”

I felt my cheeks turn to flame. “Yeah.”

“Gonna see him again?” By now Darla was leaning over the lanai railing, anticipating my answer.


“Our work here is done, Darla.” Meli pushed herself up, gave Darla a high five, and went back into the apartment. She called over her shoulder as she left. “Let’s go out for breakfast.”

That sounded pretty good. A couple of over-easy eggs and some orange juice would be okay if I just had a salad for lunch. Meli would probably order eggs benedict, and normally I would weaken and help her finish what she couldn’t eat. Having Jack around was likely to be pretty motivating. As they say at Weight Watchers, nothing tastes as good as being thin feels. I got a fluttery feeling somewhere under my belly button. For sure, I’d be buying myself a couple new bras.

“You want to come with us, Darla?”

“Oh no. You girls go have fun. I’m glad you got out last night. For a sweet girl, you’re kind of distant, you know? I can tell you’re holding everything back.”

Sounded like someone you’d call Shave Ice. “I’ve heard that before.”

When the coffee was gone, I took a long shower. The red light on the answering machine was flashing when I got done. The message was from Jack, just checking in. He left phone numbers for his apartment and his car phone.

“I’ll call him back later,” I told Hula Girl.

Her skirt swished in the breeze as she laughed at me.

“What? It’s not like he’s really got ‘Trouble’ on his butt.”

“Who are you talking to?” Meli asked as she came out of the bathroom.

Hula Girl kept laughing.

“No one, Meli. Let’s go.”

Of course, by the time we got done waiting for the elevator and rode to the ground floor, I started freaking out. Maybe I should have returned Jack’s call before we left.

“What if he doesn’t call again?” I wailed at Meli. Guys could be so fickle.

She rolled her eyes and headed across the lobby, her flip-flops slapping on the tile floor. “He’ll call again.”

I followed her, wishing I had her confidence. She looked casually sophisticated with her flowered skirt tied on her hip, carrying a purse that should have looked too dressy, but didn’t. Beside her, my faded sundress was shabby. At least my hair looked kind of cute, done up in a messy bun, and I’d slapped on some tinted lip-gloss.

When we pushed through the double glass doors of the apartment’s main entrance, I wished I’d paid a little more attention to my appearance. A dark-colored Camaro pulled up in front of us. We stopped near the passenger door, and Meli glanced at me over top of her sunglasses. The tinted passenger window rolled down, and Jack leaned over from the driver’s seat.

“What’s up, chicas?”

“Morning.” I clipped Meli gently with my elbow because I knew she was about to start giggling.

“We’re going over to the Wisteria for breakfast and thought we’d see if you wanted to come. Since we were in the neighborhood.”

The restaurant he’d named was on the other side of town. Realizing there was no way they happened to be “in the neighborhood,” I started to grin. After a glance at Meli, I nodded. “Let’s go.”

“Get out of the car, Kalani.” Jack shoved his roommate’s shoulder.

Kalani was staring at Meli like she was a cobra and he was about to get bit. “You get out of the car. The girls can sit in back.”

“Get out.”

Kalani opened the passenger door, climbing out with an exaggerated sigh.

“Now be a gentleman and help her in.”

Kalani stuck a hand in Meli’s general direction and she gave him a look that said she’d slap him if he touched her. I bit my upper lip to keep from laughing out loud. They were going to be fun to watch.

When Kalani was in the back, I settled myself in the passenger seat and smiled over at Jack. He picked up my hand and kissed the back of it. The air around me started to glow, and I was pretty sure I could get used to the warm buzz that started in my heart and traveled south.

I had to clear my throat before I could speak. “Sorry I didn’t call you back. I was in the shower.”

“It’s alright, Cuddles.”

“Gah, are we going to have to listen to you get all mushy?” Meli bleated from behind us.

Jack and I started to laugh, and I let my hand rest causally on his thigh. As he put the car in gear, I heard Hula Girl tell me how much fun it was to fall in love.

Thanks again for reading!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Baron and the Mistress by Karyn Gerrard

Release date: April 7th, 2015
Approx: 29,700 words
KG Publishing
Great price! 1.99!

I'm pretty excited because this week I've got a bonus promo post, the newest release from Karyn Gerrard. I first met Karyn through Crimson Romance, and she's amazing. I've watched news of her new releases come through my twitter stream with impressive consistency. Whether the stories are set in the Victorian era or feature shifters, motorcycles, or bad boy rock stars, she's a writer you'll want to get to know. Therefore I'm pleased as pudding to feature The Baron and the Mistress here today. I have quite the soft spot for historicals - though most of what I've been reading lately has two boys on the cover, but whatevs. This one looks cool!


Forget the horrors.

A shivering young woman leans against a lamppost in the most notorious street of ill repute in all London. For Asher Colborne, Baron of Wenlock, this is a haunting vision of beauty and wretchedness. Uncharacteristically halting his carriage, he is shocked to discover the thin, dressed-in-rags creature is none other than Chastity Armitage, a beautiful angel who captured his heart at a grand ball more than two years past. For Colborne, her circumstance is a mystery he feels honor bound to unravel.

Chastity and her siblings have been on the run for more than two years. Desperate for food and lodging money, she is forced to sell herself. She never expected a tall, handsome man to appear as if from mist and change her life forever. She is given a choice, continue down the path of never-ending poverty or become the baron's mistress.

Though they are both determined the arrangement remain an emotionless business transaction, the attraction between them is scorching. Many barriers and obstacles lay in Chastity and Ash's path. Can the baron and the mistress embrace true love?

Heat Level: Very Sensual 


Chastity could not believe she allowed the well-dressed gentleman to take her away in his carriage. They did not go far nor did they speak during the short journey. They both sat in a private room at The Pig and Whistle tavern. Her stomach rumbled. The man, who introduced himself as Ash and insisted she call him by that name, ordered beef stew, ale, and extra bread and cheese.

Fifteen shillings? The obscene amount still rattled about in her bewildered brain. With proper planning the money would keep her and her brother and sister comfortable for some weeks. What in God’s name did he wish to do with her? Or to her? What perverse act would she be subjected to? His intense stare made her uncomfortable. This Ash was too handsome by far. After removing his hat and gloves, he ran his hand through his black-as-midnight hair. His eyes were the color of a fine cognac and the gleam of lust that shone from them sent waves of heat through her body. Ash removed his cloak. The silver lining appeared to be the finest silk. His tall frame was perfectly proportioned and how well it filled out the excellently tailored evening wear. A smartly tied silver cravat about his neck completed the look and he did look every inch the rake. Chastity caught a whiff of expensive cologne. The scent of bergamot and lemon invaded her nostrils. Her stomach dipped precipitously. Dear heaven, I find him attractive? Not wise. Chastity’s gaze darted about the small room trying to find a quick escape route.

“What is your name, my sweet?”

His voice was deep, resonant, and cultured. A sensual baritone as rich as melted dark chocolate. 
Should she give her name? What would it matter? “Chastity.”

The man’s eyes widened briefly as he shifted in his seat, but his concentrated gaze did not waver. “Interesting choice of name for a prossie.”

Fury boiled quick and hot in her veins. “It’s my real name and I’m not a...a...prossie!”

The corner of his mouth quirked in amusement. “Of course not, even though you offered me a quick tup—for coin.”

Chastity’s cheeks burned in humiliation. Before she could answer, the door burst open and the barmaid carried in a tray of foodstuffs. The tantalizing aroma of beef, grilled onions, and fresh bread made her salivate. For a meal such as this and fifteen shillings, she would agree to anything. And she would bet this arrogant, handsome man knew it.

AUTHOR INFO: Karyn lives in a small town in the western corner of Ontario, Canada. She whiles away her spare time writing and reading romance while drinking copious amounts of Earl Grey tea. Tortured heroes are a must. A multi-published author with a few bestsellers under her belt, Karyn loves to write historicals, particularly in the Victorian era. She also writes the occasional contemporary.
As long as she can avoid being hit by a runaway moose in her wilderness paradise she assumes everything is golden.
Karyn’s been happily married for a long time to her own hero. His encouragement keeps her moving forward.

Karyn's Site/Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest/Tsu/Amazon Page

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

SHRIKE: The Masked Songbird by Emmie Mears

This was a fun post for me to put together, because I know that on one level, the existence of this book is a HEA of a sort. I've been on-line friends with the author, Emmie Mears, since we both took a blogging class something like four years ago. I got sad when she was frustrated by the query trenches, got excited when she signed with an agent, and got even more excited when she contracted this book with a nice publishing house. It was released *cue the happy dance* but then it wasn't, and then it seemed like everything that could have gone wrong, did. 

(Check out Emmie's blog HERE if you're curious about the deets.) 

But now SHRIKE: The Masked Songbird is available again, and I'm pleased as peaches to feature it here on the blog today. Also want to give a wee shout-out to Jes Negron, who did the new cover art, because I think it's fantastic!


Edinburgh accountant Gwenllian Maule is surviving. She’s got a boyfriend, a rescued pet bird and a flatmate to share rent. Gwen’s biggest challenges: stretching her last twenty quid until payday and not antagonising her terrifying boss. 

Then Gwen mistakenly drinks a mysterious beverage that gives her heightened senses, accelerated healing powers and astonishing strength. All of which come in handy the night she rescues her activist neighbour from a beat-down by political thugs. 

Now Gwen must figure out what else the serum has done to her body, who else is interested and how her boss is involved. Finally—and most mysteriously—she must uncover how this whole debacle is connected to the looming referendum on Scottish independence. 

Superpowers don't make a superhero. Real strength isn't something you're born with -- it's something you build.

Available from Amazon.

Add it to your "Want to Read" shelf on Goodreads.


Emmie Mears is an author, actor, and person of fannish pursuits. Born in Texas, the Lone Star state quickly spit her out after a measly three months, and over eight states and three different countries, Emmie became a proper vagabond. She speaks four languages and holds a degree in history. She writes science fiction and fantasy and loves to weave in sociological and psychological threads through her novels...which was probably not what her university professors had in mind for using her degree. Emmie is the head of a pride of cats in the suburbs of DC, and she’s pretty sure at least one of them thinks she’s its mother. Slightly obsessed with Buffy and Supernatural, Emmie haunts the convention circuits and joins in when she can on panels and general tomfoolery. She is the author of SHRIKE: THE MASKED SONGBIRD (2014) and STORM IN A TEACUP (2015). Emmie is open to bribery in the form of sushi and bubble tea.

She spends most of her time causing problems and ruining worlds. 

Emmie is also the editor and Grand Pooh-Bah of Searching for SuperWomen, a geek hub focused on furthering the conversation about the role of women in geekdom and loving awesome things in the process.

Emmie may or may not secretly be a car.

She is represented by the indomitable Sara Megibow of kt literary.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Is There a "Right" Kind of Romance?

This book is about a BBW (big, beautiful, woman) who falls
in love with her shapeshifting motorcycle.

Before I get started, I just want to say that I do not mean to disparage anyone's tastes or put down any of the books I mention. If a certain book or trope scratches your itch, I'm glad there's someone writing it for you.

My friends Noni and Bex are both big readers. Bex likes a little BDSM with her billionaires, while Noni's more vanilla. (She'll probably kill me for saying that, but when I brought her a signed copy of the newest Robyn Carr from a convention, she was terrifically excited - but she'd already read it. And the book had been out about 45 minutes.) At any rate, I'm using two of my BFFs as examples because their preferences are so clear-cut. I can practically tell from the cover art whether either of them will like a book. 

Every so often one of them will tell me I MUST read something they love. I try to be polite, and sometimes I'll go there, but not always. Mainly, that's because right now I'm all about the men - as in m/m romance. (Hey, if I'm not judging you for your kinks, don't judge me for mine.) In everyday life, me, Bex, and Noni have a whole lot in common, but when it comes to reading, we've each got our own style.

So what's your style? Vampires? Regency fops and the women who love them? Dinosaurs?

That's right. I said DINOSAURS. Because there's apparently a whole subgenre called dino-porn.

This one is an April Fools joke.

This one is (mostly) not a joke at all.

This one is deadly serious. Sort of.

That's right. If you get turned on by triceratops, there's a book out there for you. This makes me think many things. First, in the interest of full disclosure, I have never read any dino-porn, so I can't really comment on the quality of the work. Maybe all three of these books are intended to be humorous. I know the first one, Their Virgin Velociraptor, is a fake cover created as an April Fools joke. The other two are available for purchase on Amazon, and while Gay Dinosaur Billionaire was created by a group of well-known authors as "satire", a spoof of the dino-porn genre, I gotta think there's a tongue-in-cheek element in all of them.

Is that a good thing? In a Facebook chat last week, my friend Bethany-Kris suggested that the romance genre has enough trouble being taken seriously without giving critics an easy target like dino-porn. For well-known authors to make fun of romance is "all-around bad juju."

She's got a point. (And this is the second week in a row Bethany-Kris has said something that inspired me to write a blog post. I'm going to have to give her a by-line.)

Think about it. If the group of authors who wrote Gay Dinosaur Billionaire were best known for their literary fiction, political thriller, or mystery chops (i.e., they were male), they'd be excoriated by the romance community for their disrespectful behavior. 

But because the authors are our own, no one seems to have said much. The person using the pen name Nicholas Sparx might be a guy, but he's hidden behind the heavy romance cred brought by the others in the group. 

They may not be bighting the hand that feeds them, but they're nibbling on the fingertips, at least.

Because maybe Bethany-Kris is right. Maybe it is bad juju to make fun of a specific subgenre. Romance as a whole is growing in popularity, and the number of subgenres seems to increase every day. Do you like to read about heavy girls gettin' busy? BBW is for you. Animal shifters? Check. Like m-preg? Gotcha covered.

(Sheesh. M-preg. A sub-sub of m/m where one of the heroes gets pregnant. I can't even...but if it works for you, I'm glad it's there.)

I'm glad it's there. That's actually a key concept, because most of contemporary culture frames sexuality from the male point of view. Almost all porn is about the guy. How many mainstream movies can you think of that took an honest look at female sexuality? Shit. It's hard to find movies that have actual female characters rather than cartoon cut-outs. Female vocalists who express their sexuality do it in lowest-common-denominator terms, appealing first and foremost to the men in their audience.

But when you turn on your kindle, no one can tell what you're reading.

All of a sudden, women have a whole genre of literature that belongs to them. (And yeah I said literature, because that's what a lot of it is.) The best romance is well-written and thought provoking, and can give women the opportunity to explore sides of themselves that are shut down by the way they were raised and shut out by societal expectations. 

And I don't think you should make fun of that.

Maybe I'm weakening my argument, but I can say with some confidence that I'll be unlikely to read any of the books featured in this post. They're not quite my thing, and honestly, I already can't see the top of my TBR pile. I might try to sell Bex on Riding Harley, though. That might be just her speed...

So what do you think? Did I neglect to mention your favorite kink? What do YOU like to read?


Friday, April 3, 2015

Aloha, Baby (A Short Story Serial - Part 7)

Blue eyes, dimples, and a hot surfer's body means trouble, right? There's only one way for Katie to find out...

Losing seventy pounds was sure something to celebrate, but at the same time it created problems Katie never expected to deal with. Like, what to do when the hot-bodied surfer, Jack, turned out to be the DJ at her roommate's favorite dance club. Katie was positive he had ‘Trouble’ stamped on his butt. Didn't he?

So it's been almost two months since I posted the first chunk of Aloha, Baby, and if you've been following along, you rock! Here are links to the previously posted sections: Part 1   -   Part 2   -   Part 3   -    Part 4    -     Part 5   -    Part 6. Net week will be the grand finale, and it should go live right about the time I'm leaving for my own little Hawaiian vacation. Aloha!

So last week we left off with Katie and Jack heading for the well after bedtime...did I mention we're finally getting to the good part?

I couldn't argue with his logic, so I slipped out of my pumps and followed him through the row of palm trees that separated the sidewalk from the beach. A college self-defense course had taught me to aim at his coconuts and scream loud. As I walked, I visualized what to do in case he really did turn out to be trouble. Smacking him with my pointy heels would probably be a good start. Too bad I’d left them in his car.

The steady slapping rhythm of water on sand calmed me. Jack paused to roll his jeans up to mid-calf. He padded out several feet, letting the baby waves break around his ankles. The sky was a deep purple black and between the moon and the streetlights at our back, it was fairly easy to see. Moonlight tipped the waves with pewter. Scallops of white foam cruised onto the beach, each one reaching a tiny bit further than the last. The tide was coming in.

He stood looking out across the ocean, off to the side of me so I could see his profile. From the backs of his bare calves to his broad shoulders, everything about him looked strong. I was having trouble reconciling my initial impression of him with all this new information. I hadn’t expected smarts and maturity in someone so good looking.

“I bet I’m freaking you out.” His voice was barely louder than the soft splash of the waves.

“A little.”

He tugged the legs of his jeans up over his knees, his shirt glowing white in the semi-darkness. “Well you’re making me work awful hard.”

I snorted out a laugh. “I’m…sorry?”

“I mean, I’ve seen you at the beach for months and you barely smile at me.” He took a couple steps in my direction, stopping when he was just about an arm’s length away.

A little gust of breeze tossed his bangs around, and I took a minute to breath in the mix of salty ocean smell and city air. My hidden fat girl was ready to burst into tears of frustration. I really didn’t want to add ‘first break-up’ to the list for tonight. “Yeah, well…”

“You’re a pretty girl, Katie.”

“I’m not sure…”

He came a few steps closer. “And that dress is slammin’.”

If the rough edge to his voice wasn’t enough of a hint, his heavy-lidded gaze told me exactly how much he appreciated the dress.

My breathing was shallow, and I was torn between grabbing him with both hands and running away. “Thanks,” I whispered.

“And you know what I think is cooler? You have such a great feel for the water. I love watching you hanging in the impact zone, waiting for the perfect ride.” He gently laid his palm against the side of my face. I turned towards his hand, and he ran a thumb over my lips. My lips took the initiative and opened a little. Though it was tempting, I was able to stop myself from licking him. It was a close call.

 My world was down to the swirl of water around my ankles, the glow of his eyes in the moonlight, and the rapid throb of my pulse. When I didn’t respond he continued, almost as if he was thinking out loud. “Every night in the club, pretty women line up to talk to me.”

I rolled my eyes. “Don’t be modest or anything.”

“It’s the truth. They’re all there wanting…whatever they want. To be seen with Mr. DJ. I’d rather be with someone who’ll go to the beach with me and hang out, you know? Maybe barbeque. Talk story.”
His other hand wrapped around my waist, and he pulled me against his body. “Okay?”


His lips were rough, a little salty, and he kissed me slow, like we had all the time in the world to stand there with the ocean twisting around our ankles. I’d never been kissed this way before, and when I pulled back, he rested his lips against my forehead. Then he wrapped both arms around my waist and hugged me close. The tropical night gave us our moment of privacy. I ran my fingers along the collar of his shirt, teasing the damp hairs at the nape of his neck. It earned me another smile, and I melted a little more.

“So we’ll go to the beach on Sunday? It’s my day off.”

I threaded a finger through one of his belt loops. “That would be cool.”

“All right then.”

And he kissed me again.

* * *

We drove to my apartment in an easy silence.

When we got there, Jack parked in the loading zone in front of the main entrance. He made a gesture out of opening my door for me. With a hand on my arm, he walked me to the front door.

“Hold on.” He knelt down and, very slowly, took off one of my black pumps and then the other. I supported myself by propping a hand on his shoulder. His firm, muscular shoulder. The way he rubbed his knuckles across my instep made me shiver. Standing, he pulled me close. “One more.”

Almost immediately the heat of him cut down through my core. His tongue brushed against my lips, and I opened myself up, let my energy respond to his.

It was a long time before he pulled back. “Damn, Cuddles, you’re a good kisser.”

I smiled, feeling shy. Another first: no one had ever told me I was a good kisser. Jack had turned out way different than I’d expected. He probably still had Trouble stamped somewhere, though I wasn’t too worried about it anymore. “Cuddles?”

“Well, I can’t call you Shave Ice anymore, and you need a nickname. Cuddles feels like a good one.” He ran his hands over my back. “We’re on for Sunday?”


“Good. I’ll call you tomorrow.”

And what happens next? Will he call? They always says they're going to call...
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