Cherrie Lynn

Archive for the 'Excerpt Monday' Category

Monday, July 19th, 2010
Excerpt Monday: Sweet Disgrace

Look at this! I’m back for EM. Today I have a new clip from Sweet Disgrace for you. Release date for this one is October 12 from Samhain Publishing. Enjoy!

Excerpt Monday Logo

Once a month, a bunch of authors get together and post excerpts from published books, contracted work or works in progress, and link to each other. You don’t have to be published to participate–-just a writer with an excerpt you’d like to share. For more info on how to participate, head over to the Excerpt Monday site or click on the banner above.
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Through her hazy vision, Celeste saw Damael’s shoes step closer, saw him crouch down beside her. More of the world came into view as he pushed the hair from her face, tugging gently as he pulled out bits of leaves and broken twigs. She let her eyelids close when the whirling in her head intensified, but that only seemed to make it worse, so she opened them again. “Th-thank you. For stopping her.”

He didn’t reply, just continued his task. She found it soothing, now that she was oddly confident he would kill any threatening force that came near her. Soothing…until she looked at him. Remnants of his earlier anger was still in his eyes. The black irises were so large there was hardly a ring of white around them.

“Why did you do that?” she asked, not allowing herself to look away. Trying to figure out his motives herself proved too much for her clouded thoughts. “I’d have been one less for your kind to contend with.”

He blinked at her. “Do you think that’s what I want?”

“Isn’t it?”

“Well, there are those of us who would like to strike you all dead on sight, run rampant in the earth and maim and kill and destroy until it’s a wasteland. You just met one such as that. But I, sweet angel, rather like the competition.”

“But I’m no competition, am I?”

He seemed to debate with himself for a moment. “You won the Roman emperor that time. Nailed me on the basic required language I’d been writing for centuries.”

She managed to laugh. “I remember now. You took it with exceptionally good grace.”

It might have been her imagination, but she thought his expression darkened, a haunted shadow crossing his perfect features. For the first time in her existence, it occurred to her to wonder what consequences he faced for failing. She didn’t meet any repercussions except sorrowful embraces and encouraging words that gave no comfort. What did Damael’s masters do to him when he didn’t deliver?

She hadn’t seen him for a long time after that miraculous victory. A long, long time.

Which begged another question that sent a chill through her. Would he really risk whatever hell might be in store for him by releasing Adam if she gave in?

“How do you feel?” he asked, and she realized she’d been staring up at him longer than she should have. Behind him, the sky was black and glittering with stars, but it had to be nearing dawn. She could escape into that great open expanse right now, be done with all of this. Leave Adam to the doom he’d only brought upon himself.

But she wasn’t doing it. And it was becoming more apparent to her that she wasn’t going to.

She shifted on the ground and winced at the sharp pains that crackled along her limbs. There really was no reason to lie to him. “Not well. I still hurt.”

“Shall I make it better?”

“You can?”

“If you’ll allow me.”

Wariness crept through her, and she furrowed her brow at him. “That depends on what I must allow.”

He withdrew his hand from her hair and rested his elbow on his bent knee. Under ordinary circumstances, his smile might have been described as seductive, but at the moment she found it to be merely cruel. “A kiss.”

***

A sound of frustration escaped her, and she turned her face away from him, toward the ground. “You lie. I should have known all of this was leading back to your perverse—”

“It’s the quickest way to draw the energy into myself. Unless you’d rather—”

“Hush. No.”

“Don’t be like that. I can help you.”

“You only want to help yourself.”

“How is that? I’ve offered you everything you want. Adam’s soul. Your healing. I’m a regular good Samaritan here, am I not?”

She gave a bark of laughter and instantly cringed. He couldn’t deny that her vulnerability was tugging at every predatory sense he possessed. She was on the ground, crumpled, helpless. Like a little bird with a broken wing, and he was the cat creeping up on her, step by agonizingly slow step.

Her fingers dug into the ground as another spasm seemed to overtake her, and he made a production of sighing wearily.
“This is needless, I’m telling you. I can take it all away.”

“How long will I be this way?”

“Have you never come under attack before?”

“If I have, it’s been so long I can’t remember.”

“Well, then. You could lie here for days if I don’t help you.”

“And why should I believe that?”

“Because it’s the truth?”

“Ha. Unlikely. You only want me to kiss you.”

“That’s a given. But I’m being sincere as well.”

She glanced at him with a sort of desperation in her blue eyes that left him struggling to conceal compassion he had no business feeling. It made him hope his outlandish scheme to heal her would work, but it always had with humans. Maybe she would be no different. “I want to believe you. So much.” Even as a whisper, her words were strained, agonized.
“What does that say about me? Please, if there is any vestige of selflessness within you, leave me be. Don’t make me into a fool.”

The longer she’d spoken, the more strength her voice had gained, until finally those eyes were blazing at him with righteous anger. He realized his earlier assertion had been off base. Even while wounded, she was not vulnerable. At least not in spirit.

“You’re a worthy adversary,” he told her. “I’ve always thought that. You don’t give up until the end. You deserve more than to be left on the ground, wallowing in pain.” He reached forward and slid his hands beneath her, seeing her eyes fly open wide in alarm. Weakly, she struggled against him, but he was too strong for her at this point. He lifted her and shifted until he was sitting on the ground, cradling her in his arms.

She felt frail against him, insubstantial. The softness of the wings folded tight against her back made his mouth run dry. He’d never touched anything like that before in his life. Hadn’t known such suppleness existed, until she was in his arms.

Her chest was heaving, her hand gripping his jacket even as she stared up at him apprehensively. He couldn’t interpret whether her reaction was from fear or desire or perhaps a combination of both. Sudden frustration engulfed him whole and chewed him up without mercy.

“Stubborn angel, I give you my word, dammit, and I don’t do that often. Let me help you. But I won’t do it without your permission,” he added, hearing the tight, barely leashed desperation in his own voice. “Give it to me.”

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Note: I have not personally screened these excerpts. Please heed the ratings and
be aware that the links may contain material that is not typical of my site.
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Monday, January 18th, 2010
January Excerpt Monday: Unleashed

Excerpt Monday Logo

Once a month, a bunch of authors get together and post excerpts from published books, contracted work or works in progress, and link to each other. You don’t have to be published to participate–just a writer with an excerpt you’d like to share. For more info on how to participate, head over to the Excerpt Monday site or click on the banner.

Since I’m celebrating the release of Unleashed in print on February 2nd, here’s a never-before-released excerpt…and this one’s on the steamy side. Enjoy!
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Evan watched Kelsey giggle as she tried in vain to get control of her neck muscles. A sense of dread was fast overtaking his thoughts. “Are you okay?” he asked after a moment, and the question shocked her eyes fully open.

“Sure am. Why wouldn’t I be?”

“Because I realize now that pitcher of ’ritas I made is just about empty.”

“Ohhhh…’m sorry, didja want more? Is my head moving?”

Yep. Blitzed. She’d probably be puking in no time. “No and yes. Kelsey, how long has it been since you had anything to drink?”

She giggled again. She was doing a lot of that. Her eyes closed. “Dunno. Can’t remember. Long time.”

“Looks like you can’t hold your liquor, honey.”

Her brows drew together, her lips forming a perfect pout. She cracked open one eye to peer up at him. “I can too lick my holder.”

Evan burst into laughter and pulled her against him. She was damn near dead weight. Party’s over. “I bet you can. Come on, up we go.” When he stood, she flopped over on the couch without him there to support her. He slid one arm under her back and his other behind her knees. She grumbled incoherently when he lifted her… Christ, she was featherlight in his arms. He was glad he’d shoveled food down her all night. Now if she could just hang on to it. He should have noticed the gradual depletion of the pitcher of margaritas.

One small lamp in a far corner was the only illumination in his bedroom as he carried her inside cradled in his arms. The clock on his nightstand told him in glowing red that it was a quarter till three. Kelsey snuggled into his chest, and he tried to ignore the smoothness of her bare legs across his forearm. Like warm, tantalizing silk. He sat her on his bed, supporting her weight as he pulled back the comforter. Still, she managed to escape his grip and began to topple backward.

“Whoa,” he laughed, reaching for her as her eyes popped open and she grabbed for him before she could land. “I got you.”

“Evan…” she murmured, wrapping her soft arms around his neck. Their position had her lips near his ear. She’d lost her headband somewhere. He could smell the strawberry of her shampoo, feel the tickle of her sluggish breath stirring his hair. “Evan.”

“Kelsey. Move over here, lie down.”

She pulled back slightly, her bleary eyes trying to focus on his. The weight of her head still seemed too much for her neck to support and her hair flowed over his arm. “Evan, I always liked you.”

“I always liked you, too, honey.” The way she kept saying his name in that intoxicated purr, savoring the v between her teeth and her bottom lip, was unnerving. Unnerving, hell. It had his dick twitching in his pants. “Come on, girl, you need to sleep it off.”

“I mean I like liked you.”

Shit. Most people who uttered careless words while drunk tended to blame it on the alcohol later. He’d always found it to be the time when the truth came out. Danger signals were going off in his brain. “You’re drunk. Sleep.”

Though she was most likely oblivious to his commands, he didn’t like how desperate his voice was starting to sound to his own ears.

“No I’m not.” Her silly lopsided grin belied her words as she finally obeyed his coaxing and crawled to the spot he’d cleared. He pulled the covers up for her as she settled against the pillow and peered up at him. The heat in her eyes as she did so damn near destroyed him. “I don’ wanna sleep.” She kicked, flinging the covers off just as he got them arranged. “Don’ need all that, I’m hot. I’m too hot.”

Was she ever. He raked a hand through his hair. For such a little thing, her legs seemed to go on forever, long and sleek. He could only imagine the silken glide her inner thighs would be against his fingertips. Her shirt had ridden up to bare her flat midriff, where her belly ring winked at him in the dim lighting—damn, that was sexy, and so out of place on her. Her breasts strained against the tight little shirt, and the friction had her nipples peaking beneath the fabric.

Her hands caught his face, surprising him. He should have moved away from her long ago, before she could get her hands on him. As it was, he felt like a fly caught in the sticky gossamer of a spider’s den. “Always wanted to fuck you, y’know that? Even when I was a virgin.”

He drew in a breath, exhaled it shakily. So much for prudish.

Note to self: Kelsey now gets unbelievably horny when drunk.

She licked her lips, staring into his eyes with surprising clarity for someone who had nearly passed out moments ago. The glint of moisture her tongue left behind was mesmerizing. He wanted to taste it. The heat of her palms sank into his flesh. She was burning up. Her legs were haphazardly parted, still tangled in the covers, and he could scent her arousal, musky and sweet.

“It’s not going to happen, Kelsey.” His voice probably sounded as firm as a little girl’s, but he gave it his best shot. All his strength had drained to his dick. It pushed against his zipper until he thought it might burst through if he didn’t release it soon. “You’ve had too much to drink.”

That pout resurfaced, but he was astounded at the pain that leaked into her gray eyes. It was…real, and raw, not some byproduct of an inebriated mind.

“You don’ want me. Why’d you never want me?” She was rubbing her thighs together now, the action only causing her scent to waft stronger into his nostrils. Like witchcraft, it drew him toward her, made the mental filmstrip of tearing her shorts off and sinking into her tight wet heat play over and over again in his head…until it obliterated all else: morals, rationale, sanity. And he had never wanted her. Right.

God, she would feel so good closing in around him. He’d deprived himself for too long. She took one of his hands and laid it flat on her belly, then pushed it down toward the place she needed it. Her stomach muscles pulled taut beneath his reluctant touch, and that skin was hot and satiny. She leaned upward, parting her lush pink lips in wanton invitation.

No.

It was one thing for two people to get hammered and go at each other. It was quite another when one of them had full control of his faculties and the other had none. Criminal even, and he could never take advantage of her like that. But he’d never been quite so tempted, he had to give her that much.

He pulled his hand away from hers and went to stand. She emitted some incoherent whimper that ripped at his heart, completely decimating it when the sound formed into words. “Don’t leave…don’t leave me like this…please…”

No other hetero male on the planet could have endured the sight of her all disheveled in his bed, writhing and senseless and begging him to fuck her, without falling on her like a rutting animal. He should be declared saint of all the world to have lasted this long. If he hadn’t known her for all these years, he couldn’t have stopped himself.

Beads of sweat had formed on her forehead; one trickled back into her hair. The skin above her neckline glistened in the soft lighting. She was in flames, and he’d hardly put a hand on her.

“Don’t do this to me, Kel.”

“Please,” she whispered again, gazing up at him, utterly smashed but still capable of all the determined longing that came along with such a state. She wouldn’t let herself pass out until she got it. “Do something. Touch me. God, I need it…”

The husky plea pushed him past his breaking point. She sounded like a different woman. He couldn’t give her everything she wanted, but if he could satisfy her without losing his mind, maybe she would pass out.

“Take off your shorts,” he whispered, knowing with brutal certainty that he was going to hell. The only consolation was the hope that she wouldn’t remember anything in the morning. He knew her, and she would be mortified. But if she did remember…well, they would deal with it. “I’ll make it better.”

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Was it good for you? Unleashed is available here in ebook format. Or check out more excerpts here.

Links to other Excerpt Monday writers:
Note: I have not personally screened these excerpts. Please heed the ratings and be aware that the links may contain material that is not typical of my site.

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Monday, November 9th, 2009
November Excerpt Monday

Excerpt Monday Logo

Once a month, a bunch of authors get together and post excerpts from published books, contracted work or works in progress, and link to each other. You don’t have to be published to participate–just a writer with an excerpt you’d like to share. For more info on how to participate, head over to the Excerpt Monday site or click on the banner.

I’m back! This is my demon/angel WIP (which I did NOT finish in time for Samhain’s call, argh). It was once called Devil On My Shoulder, but that title actually referred to an earlier version of the story; I’m sure I’ll rename it soon. These two adversaries are negotiating over a rock star who signed his soul away almost twenty years ago for fame, and now his time is coming to a close. Meet Celeste and Damael. Enjoy!
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She held out her hand. “Let me see it.”

Gaze steady upon her own, Damael reached into the breast pocket of his satiny black jacket and pulled out a scroll tied with a black ribbon. One corner of his mouth tugged up with smug triumph as he handed it over. “The wording hasn’t changed since last time. You lost that one too, if I recall.”

Indeed, it was rare to find a loophole. Damael straightened his blood-red tie and lapels as she unfurled the thick parchment and read. The text grew smaller and smaller, and to human eyes would have disappeared altogether before the signature line. There was no way Adam had been able to read what he was signing, but yet there was his hastily scribbled signature amid splatters of blood like obscene teardrops on the pale background.

Her heart fell and cracked. So young. So desperate.

Without a word, she handed it back to him. He watched her, his expression unreadable, as he rolled it up and put it back in his pocket.

“Why do they send you now?” he asked, surprising her with his sudden intensity. “Why don’t they send you to talk some sense into these idiots before they destroy themselves? Perhaps then you could be somewhat useful.”

Secretly, she agreed. “It has to do with free will, choosing one’s own destiny—”

“Blah, blah, blah. If that’s the case, then he’s chosen it. It’s done. Let him suffer the consequences.”

She sighed, folding her hands in front of her as she met his dark gaze squarely. His irises were a starless oblivion. Black and bottomless, she feared they would pull her right into their void and stretch her into nothing if she stared for too long. Yet she would not allow herself to look away. Those eyes were far less frightening now than when he was caught in the throes of lust for a fresh soul.

“What would it take for you to release him from his contract?”

Flashing that singularly gorgeous smile, he stretched his long legs in front of him and laced his fingers across his stomach. Faint tendrils of smoke curled from his shoulders. Amazing, that a creature so beguilingly beautiful could be capable of such cruelty, but she was reminded of his origins with every wisp that rose from his body and every smolder in his eyes. She’d witnessed that cruelty first hand. She’d lost to him so many times. In fact, she couldn’t remember the last time she’d won.

The question that came from his lips then stunned her. “How desperate are you to win him?”

Celeste’s brows drew together. “Desperate? That’s hardly the word I’d use.”

“So then…you don’t care that much?”

“Of course I care. I’d like nothing more than to see him continue his life, and then to bring him safely home when his time is up.”

“Even though he essentially renounced all that is holy when he gave himself to me. And he’s lived a life of nothing but debauchery since, hurting everyone who loves him.”

“He’s no more lost than the others who eventually find their way.”

“Oh, I’d say he is,” Damael said. “I’d say he’s quite off the path, and a monster is eyeing him from the bushes, ready to pounce. It’ll strike in about seventeen hours. That monster is me.” He had never looked away from her once, and while she still found that unsettling, she began to relax somewhat. Damael was no threat to her whatsoever; she was off limits to him. “Don’t you get tired of watching it?” he asked softly. “You’re the only one of your kind who stays, you know. The rest of them flee in the final minutes. Why do you not?”

She dropped her gaze to the floor. “To punish myself, I suppose.”

“Why?”

“Because I lost.”

“How?” He unfolded his tall frame from the couch, walking over to stand in front of her. She knew because his black shoes came into her field of vision, a startling contrast to the pristine white of her robes brushing the floor. His voice was sardonic and cold, nothing at all like those she was accustomed to hearing in her realm. “He lost when he signed himself to hell. Just because you can’t undo his stupidity doesn’t mean you did anything wrong.” Two fingers slid under her chin, exerting enough firm pressure to tilt her chin up until she was looking into those extraordinary eyes.

Inhaling sharply, she couldn’t lend voice to her indignation. She should have backed away immediately and exhorted him to never touch her again. She should have, but she couldn’t. No dark magic he possessed could bewitch her as completely as the feel of his skin on hers. She’d never felt it before, had always assumed it would burn, or pain her in some other way, or at the very least, disgust her. It only called forth a desperate longing for the forbidden. For something beyond her realm of experience.

“You stay and subject yourself to the terror of those you’re trying to protect. Why?”

“Because…” She couldn’t find any more words, lost in the roiling black sea of his eyes. Usually flat and glassy, just now they were turbulent.

“Because?”

She didn’t owe him any answers, but… “Because in that moment you rip their soul from their bodies and take them down, I don’t want you to be the only thing they see. I want them to see me, and feel my love for them, and know they were loved. That they didn’t have to choose this path.”

“That’s noble of you. But under the circumstances, rather cruel.”

“Maybe my compassion for them is something they can hang on to throughout the torment they face.”

“Most of them deserve it.”

“No,” she said, finding firmness at last but not the strength to step away from him. He held her completely bound with nothing but his fingertips nudging the tender flesh under her chin. “If I allowed myself to believe that, I couldn’t do this.”

“So again I ask you, little angel, what you would do to win him back. To not have to witness the horror this time.”

She swallowed thickly, a tiny flare of hope and excitement coursing through her. “You keep asking me what I would do, but I have the suspicion you already have something in mind.”

One black wing-shaped brow edged higher in his forehead. His fingertips fell away, and all at once she felt as if the power that had been holding her upright buckled and collapsed. She almost stumbled, but managed to catch herself. “Perhaps.”

His gaze roved down from her face then, taking in the folds of her white gown. A liquid ache pooled at the juncture of her thighs, spreading farther the longer he looked at her. Why did he have to always have this effect on her? She wasn’t unaccustomed to this sensation where he was concerned, but still it dismayed her every time. Wickedness seeped into his expression…nothing perceptible, really, but a subtle shift she could sense rather than see. She had the terrible feeling that he knew exactly what sensations he was creating in her.

“W-what do you want?”

That flat black stare lifted to her face again. This time she felt certain it was pulling her in. “You.”

She blinked, pressing her thighs together in a feeble attempt to squelch the unsettling throb between them. “I don’t understand.”

“I think you do.”

“You want me to take his place? I cannot—”

“No. I want you naked and writhing beneath me.”

Stunned outrage flashed through her, followed too closely by a rush of heat that could have blown up from the very depths of hell. She should have stepped back, or struck out at him—at the very least, she should have demanded for him to not speak to her in such an appalling manner. It wasn’t proper, it couldn’t happen—

But his voice drew her along as easily as a bit of tissue caught up in a strong draft, blown this way and that, helpless as to the direction or the destination. “I want you, your sweetness, your light. I want to bury myself in it. You, crying out my name…that’s what I want. And I’ll set him free.”

“I’ll never say your name,” she snapped, as if this were the most offensive suggestion he’d made. “You want to ruin me.”

“Oh, no,” he murmured, and she closed her eyes as his hand came up and stroked her hair. “You’re the loveliest thing I’ve ever seen. For all my centuries of hatred, death and decadence, you…” He exhaled shakily, and she opened her eyes in time to see him close his own. “You are somehow perfection.”

He was insane. Or was she, for even allowing that sort of talk? This proposition from any other of his kind would send her fleeing. And as he implied, he should be repulsed by her, not tempted. Why he’d wanted her throughout all these centuries was a mystery to her. She’d always felt it, sensed it, though he’d never put his desire into words. Until now.

Gathering her frazzled senses at last, she straightened and lifted her chin. “There will be no deals struck between us. I want to take the matter before the mediator.”

He looked at her, his brow wrinkled. “For what? We have a contract. Adam agreed to this. Don’t make yourself look foolish because you’re angry at me.”

“No foolishness. I simply think it could be argued Adam was too young and impulsive to fully understand the consequences of his agreement. I’ll plea for intercession on his behalf.”

Damael scoffed. “They’re all too young, whether they’re eighteen or eighty. Don’t you think?”

“My mind’s made up.”

“Very well. But keep in mind, there’s an easy way to get through this, with guaranteed victory on your part.” His gaze took another journey down the length of her body and she fought the urge to wrap her arms around herself even though she was completely covered. “Easy, and dare I say, far more pleasurable than listening to Nicolae’s prattling.”

Still reeling from his suggestion, Celeste turned and exited the room. She had to get him out of her sight. Had to. It wasn’t because she was tempted—

Well, all right, she was. To the tips of her wings, she was tempted. If she let him see just how much, she’d be lost.

But Adam might be saved.

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Links to other Excerpt Monday writers:
Note: I have not personally screened these excerpts. Please heed the ratings and be aware that the links may contain material that is not typical of my site.

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Monday, September 14th, 2009
September Excerpt Monday

Excerpt Monday Logo

Once a month, a bunch of authors get together and post excerpts from published books, contracted work or works in progress, and link to each other. You don’t have to be published to participate–just a writer with an excerpt you’d like to share. For more info on how to participate, head over to the Excerpt Monday site! or click on the banner.

This month, I’m posting one final excerpt from Rock Me, my May ’10 release from Samhain. It occurred to me the other two were both in Candace’s POV, so I thought I’d pick one from Brian’s. Unleashed fans will rejoice that we hear from Evan in this one. :)

Also, just a note: it hasn’t been through edits yet.
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Physical pain he could take. It came, did its damage, and was gone. He didn’t know what to do about the ache that gnawed at his gut after everything crashed down around him. There had only been a handful of times he’d experienced it, and today was definitely one of them.

After one night with the girl? No way.

It couldn’t be just about Candace. The way she’d treated him was shitty, that was all, and he’d be pissed at any girl who screwed him over. God knew he didn’t mind using someone, and he didn’t mind being used. But that shit was supposed to be understood from the start. There were ethics involved. Two people getting each other off was one thing. But she couldn’t ask him to be her first, she couldn’t look at him as if she wanted to crawl inside him, she couldn’t cry on his shoulder for ten minutes in the shower only to turn around and treat him like crap afterward.

But she wouldn’t know a damn thing about how any of this works, dumbass. Remember?

That was the exact reason he was better off without the hassle.

It was too bad the memories from last night and this morning were tainted from her subsequent freak out. He could’ve still been drifting on the euphoria of it all. Even now, he could still smell the scent of her skin, still taste her on the back of his tongue. Still feel her wrapped tight and wet around his fingers. He’d been walking around all day at half mast, from that memory alone, and it was beginning to wear him down.

When he went back up front, someone had turned up the tunes, but the sounds of Static-X were doing nothing to soothe his savage beast. He got the next person in line—who wanted a tat, thank God, because it was his favorite thing to do to mellow him out—and got her prepped and under the needle in no time. She wanted a fairy on her shoulder blade, and it would probably take a good hour or so. Plenty of time to clear his head.

Until Starla stuck the phone under his face, totally destroying his already feeble concentration. “Here. It’s your brother.”

He frowned and leaned away from the offending instrument. “He can get me on my cell later.”

Starla rolled her eyes and brought the phone back to her ear. “Evan, he’s tied up, can you call him later?” She listened for a second and then held it back to him, laughing. “He says you need to learn how to multitask.” Even the girl he was working on giggled.

“Dammit.” He grabbed the phone, crammed it between his ear and shoulder, and picked up the line he’d left off on her skin. “We’re swamped, brother. I don’t call for you and tell them to drag your ass out of court, do I?”

Evan cut right to the chase. He and their mom were alike in that regard, at least when it came to Brian. “Why is Sylvia Andrews calling me out of court asking me to help her keep you away from her daughter?”

“The hell. Are you shitting me?”

“What have you done now?”

“Man, I ain’t done nothing. I can’t even begin to tell you how much nothing I did.” Well, okay, he’d done a little, but that was no one’s business but his and Candace’s.

“Ordinarily I wouldn’t believe that for a second, but because it’s Candace we’re talking about, you might be telling the truth.”

Did everyone know this girl was a virgin except for him? Did other guys have some kind of built-in hymen alert mechanism he was lacking? He never would have taken Candace for someone who took frequent trips around the block, but hell, at least once or twice. She was in college and she was gorgeous, for fuck’s sake. But somehow she’d managed to keep that hot little body under wraps all this time. Were the guys over there blind?

I’d still want to wait for you.

Shit.

“Why do you say that?”

“Her parents guard her like she’s Fort Knox. If they had snipers stationed around her place to take out anyone who dares approach her door, I wouldn’t be surprised.”

Then they must have surveillance cameras mounted somewhere across the street. Or spies. “I kinda get that now,” he muttered. “I’d already heard, but Jesus, I thought Michelle was always exaggerating at least a little whenever she talked about it.” Damn, it must have been hard for Candace growing up. Guys probably ran screaming from her at the very thought of facing down her parents.

Well, he wouldn’t have. He’d have proven it to her this morning, if she’d given him a shot.

“She wasn’t, trust me. I didn’t even know you were hanging out with Candace.”

“I’m really not. And I doubt I ever will be. So ease your mind.”

Evan paused for a second, losing the sharp prosecutorial edge to his voice when he spoke next. “You don’t sound too happy about that.”

“Look, does it matter?”

“I was already itching to tell the woman to take a flying leap. I would’ve done it, but I didn’t have the details. She didn’t like what I did tell her.”

“And that was?”

“I said I wasn’t aware of the situation with you and her daughter, but if she had a problem with it, she needed to take it up with you and Candace. Not me.”

Brian blew out the breath he’d been holding. Just when he thought he had his brother pegged, Evan surprised him. He could’ve shown the same outrage as Mrs. Andrews and trashed Brian on the phone to her for half an hour and promised her he wouldn’t let his evil thug of a brother near the poor defenseless maiden again. He could have, but he hadn’t. “Bless you.”

“They have to start letting her live her life sometime. But I have to say, if you’re trying to add a notch to your belt, then she really is better off without you.”

There was the Evan he knew. No matter what, he was always hiding in there somewhere. “Hey, just drop it now. All right? I appreciate what you said to her, but I can handle it from here without your input on who I should or shouldn’t hang out with. What the fuck am I, fourteen again?”

Evan sighed. “Sometimes you act like it.”

He bit down on a crude, juvenile comment that would only have proven his brother’s point, something like I got your fourteen right here, but suddenly, he was utterly exhausted. Spent. He didn’t want to deal with it anymore, just wanted to get through tonight and post up at home. For days.

“I gotta go. I do work, believe it or not.”

“I know you do, Brian. And believe it or not, I’m proud of you.”

He nearly choked. It was the first time he could ever remember hearing those words out of anyone’s mouth in his family. Focus, dude, he told himself, struggling to stay in the purple line on his client’s skin. Any second now it was going to start to blur, and how uncool would that be? Christ Almighty, he was a sap lately.

“Damn, for once I’ve stunned you into silence,” Evan laughed. “Hey, don’t be a stranger, okay? I dread to see you walk in the door, but Kelsey likes for you to come around, for some reason.”

“How’s the baby?”

His brother seemed taken aback that he would ask. “He’s great. He’s amazing. Come see him anytime you want, all right?”

“I will soon. See you.”

He clicked off the phone and tossed it back to Starla behind the front desk before things could become any gooier. He had a girl fully lodged under his skin and his brother trying to make him cry.

What the ever-loving hell.
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Links to other Excerpt Monday writers
Note: I have not personally screened these excerpts. Please heed the ratings and be aware that the links may contain material that is not typical of my site.

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Monday, August 10th, 2009
August Excerpt Monday

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Welcome once again to Excerpt Monday! Click the banner to learn all about it.

In celebration of my finishing Sweet Rebellion (working title only), this month we’re returning to Brian and Candace–go back to June for an introduction to them–and a hot little exchange they have after falling asleep watching a scary movie together. I hope you enjoy. :)

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The clock on Candace’s bookshelf revealed in glowing green numbers that it was after three a.m. “It’s so late.”

Brian stood and stretched his tall, lean physique in a way that reminded her of a sleek black panther. “I shouldn’t have crashed on you. You should go on to bed.”

She scrambled up next to him. “No, I mean, it’s late, and you’re sleepy, so, um…you don’t have to go.” She became lost in the flickering light from the TV reflected in his dark eyes. “I hate to think of you out driving right now. I would worry about you.”

“Trust me, I’ve been out later than this.”

He must think she was still a naïve little kid. Maybe in some ways she was. She was operating on auto-pilot here. “I’m sure you have, but I’d like for you to stay.”

“I really shouldn’t.”

“Why not?”

He just looked at her, a puzzled line appearing between his eyebrows.

“I’m not asking for anything,” she said in a rush. “I—”

Her voice gave out. How in the hell could she think she was ready for this, any of this, when she didn’t even have the guts to tell him out loud what she wanted?

She was a colossal failure at playing the seductress, and the humiliation bit hard and deep. If she struck out now, she would never be able to face him again, the only guy she’d ever felt…this…for.

Maybe it was twisted that she was contemplating exploring territory her cousin had mapped before, but that had become nothing more than an unhappy circumstance in her mind. Michelle had only seen him first. Michelle would probably do the same thing, were their positions reversed. Michelle would certainly know what to do in this situation, with a man she desperately wanted standing in her living room in the middle of a lonely night. She’d take him, make him hers, make him crazy with desire for her.

“You’re not?” he asked darkly, and her heart kicked against her rib cage. The look in his eyes terrified her far more than any movie ever could have, but it was a thrilling, exciting fear. Like the last heart-stopping second before the plunge of a roller coaster.

“Well, y-yes, I am, actually.”

He took a step closer, and another, until he was only inches away. So close she could’ve reached out and slipped her hand under his shirt. Or put her arms around his waist to pull him closer.

She couldn’t look up at him after her confession, focusing instead on the splotchy patterns on his shirt. The effort of keeping her breath steady and even was fast becoming a losing battle.

When his hand came up and his fingers brushed her cheek, she couldn’t help closing her eyes at the exquisitely gentle touch and leaning into its warmth.

“Candace,” he said softly. “You’re incredibly beautiful, and I—” He gave up with a sigh. She opened her eyes to see him lean his head back for a moment. “I would be fool to leave.”

He thinks I’m beautiful. She trembled, searching his face for any emotions that might cross it. His jaw clenched as his gaze locked on his hand lying against her cheek. Was that despair? Indecision? He gave her skin a light stroke with his thumb, sending tingles down her spine. “But this isn’t what I had planned when I came here. I promise you that,” he said.

“That’s okay. I didn’t have it planned, either.”

“But I don’t think you were opposed to the idea, were you?”

“Were you?”

“I’ve told myself it’s not going to happen with you, yes.”

Her heart withered in her chest. “Why not?”

“Because you’re you. I can’t explain it any better than that. I think about you all the time, but whenever I do, I feel like a scumbag.”

“What do you think about?”

His sensual lips twisted. “Are you really going to make me answer that?”

“Oh.” She forced her lungs to expand with air. “It’s okay. I think about you too. A lot. And I always wonder what Michelle would think, which makes me feel guilty, but I can’t stop myself. She’s with someone else now and seems really happy, so I don’t feel so bad anymore.” Another deep breath. “I’ve missed you. I don’t want to go back to missing you so much.”

“Sweetheart,” he murmured. Then he did what she had been fantasizing about from the moment he’d touched her: he slid his hand further along her cheek, into her hair. Past her ear. Until his fingers threaded deep and tight into the strands and he palmed the back of her head, bringing her closer until their lips hovered a breath apart.

She made a whimpering sound she hated herself for, and his other hand came up to smooth her hair away from her face. Trapped against him like this, she was powerless. Consumed by him. His breath on her lips, his scent filling her nostrils. The warmth of his hands and his lean body against her. But it was the hard column of his erection pressing into her abdomen that left her in ashes.

He wanted her. It was all the evidence she needed, all the encouragement. She transferred her weight to her tiptoes, closing the distance between his mouth and hers in one small movement. Her heart leapt for joy with the simple, soft contact, and she reveled in the silky scratch of his goatee. The brush of his warm, dry lips opening against her own. But it felt too tentative, too cautious. It wasn’t what she wanted. She wanted to-hell-with-the-world passion. She wanted him to feel everything she was feeling, the delight and the terror. How to break the dam?

She meant to put her arms around his neck, but where they went was under his shirt, to the hot, firm flesh beneath. His muscles tensed beneath her touch and, taking that as a good sign, she didn’t retreat but explored further. Tracing the subtle ridges of a six-pack, then the well-defined pecs above. He stiffened and moaned as her fingers passed delicately over the hard circlets of his nipple rings, and that was all it took.

The hand at the back of her head fisted in her hair and she had the crazy thought that this was a Jekyll and Hyde kiss. Reserved and almost passive one minute. Monstrous the next. His mouth claimed hers in a burning rush and she bent back beneath the onslaught, buffeted by sensation that had her gasping against him every time she could come up for air. His tongue invaded her mouth and coaxed hers into a sinuous dance behind her teeth.

She pulled her hands away to clutch fistfuls of his T-shirt and wrench it upward, desperate to finally bare his flesh to her sight. “Take this off,” she pleaded against his mouth. He broke the kiss to peel off his shirt in one fluid motion, tossing it on the couch as she marveled at the TV-lit expanse of skin he revealed. God. It would take hours to lie down and inspect the detailed markings on his arms. She would love to have that kind of time with him.

Smoothing her hands over his skin, she wondered if he noticed how they trembled. When she dared a glance at his face, his eyes were closed, his head tilted back. The star on his left pectoral was a beacon for her lips, and she leaned forward and brushed it delicately.

His hand clenched again in her hair and the hard line of his jaw rubbed over the top of her head. She flickered her tongue across his skin, savoring his answering groan. The rush of power was heady and intoxicating, and she gasped when he pulled her head back by her hair to brand her lips again with his.

Oh…Jesus. She’d never been kissed like this before. There had been the guy who tried to swab her tonsils and the guy who seemed to be trying to draw blood with his teeth and the guy who did it just right, but didn’t make her feel…this. Brian’s taste invaded her mouth, sensuous and dark and everything she had ever imagined. No, it was more. His tongue touched and teased hers until she melted away and leaned her knees into his in an effort to remain standing. The liquid ache in her sex had drained all strength from the waist down. She needed him to catch her before she fell. She was sliding…

His arms swept down around her waist, strong and solid. “I got you,” he murmured, one hand sweeping down to cup her ass and lift her against him. She took the welcome opportunity to wrap her legs around him, grinding her crotch against his erection. It felt huge. Oh, holy hell.

“Where?” he whispered, still sliding his lips over hers, scrambling her thoughts. Her trembling redoubled.

She managed to nod toward her bedroom door.

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Links to other Monday Excerpts:
Note: I have not personally screened these excerpts. Please heed the ratings and be aware that the links may contain material that is not typical of my site.

So, to kick it off, your hosts:

Mel/Alexia Reed, Urban Fantasy (R)
and
Bria Quinlan, Rom Com (PG)

AJ O’Donovan, Poetry (PG13)
Stephanie Draven, Paranormal Romance (PG 13)
Heather S.Ingemar, Dark Fantasy/Poetry (PG13)
Babette James, Fantasy Romance (PG 13)
Cynthia Justlin, Romantic Suspense (PG 13)
Kaige, Historical Romance (PG 13)
Julia Knight, Fantasy Romance (PG13)
Ansha Kotyk, Middle Grade Adventure (PG13)
Adelle Laudan, Contemporary Romance (PG 13)
Jeannie Lin, Historical Romance (PG 13)
RF Long, YA Paranormal (PG13)
Caitlynn Lowe, Epic Fantasy (PG13)
Shawntelle Madison, Paranormal Romance (PG 13)
Crista McHugh, Contemporary Erotic Romance (PG 13)
Bria Quinlan, Rom Com (PG)
Leigh Royals, Historical Romance (PG 13)
Megan S., Paranormal (PG13)
Dara Sorensen, Historical Paranormal (PG 13)
Bethanne Strasser, Historical Romance (PG13)

Melissa Aires, Futuristic Romance (R)
Melissa Blue, Contemporary Romance (R)
Jax Cassidy, Contemporary (R)
Christina DeLorenzo, Furturistic Sci-Fi (R)
Maya Doyle, Parnormal Romance (R)
Ginny Glass, Paranormal (R)
Amber Green, Romantic Suspense (R)
Cate Hart, Paranormal YA (R)
Kinsey W. Holley, Erotic Romance (R)
Ali Katz, Erotic Paranormal Romance (R)
Aislinn Kerry, Fantasy (R)
Inez Kelly, Fantasy Romance (R)
Mel/Alexia Reed, Urban Fantasy (R)
Rebecca Savage, Romantic Suspense (R)
Fae Sutherland, Contemporary Erotic Romance (R)

Stephanie Adkins, Paranormal Erotic Romance (NC 17)
Evie Byrne, Erotic Historical Romance (NC17)
Ella Drake, Erotic Contemporary (NC17)
Dawn Montgomery, Erotic Paranormal Romance (NC17)
Lauren Murphy, Erotic Romance (NC 17)
Kim Knox, Erotic Paranormal Romance (NC17)
Emily Ryan-Davis, Historical Western Romance (NC17)
Kirsten Saell, Erotic Fantasy Romance (NC 17)
Jeanne St. James, Contemporary Romance (NC 17)

Monday, July 13th, 2009
July Excerpt Monday — Eternal

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Welcome to the July edition of Excerpt Monday! For all the details, please go here and read all about Bria Quinlan and Mel Berthier’s most excellent brainchild.

This month I’ve pulled from one of my paranormals, a vampire historical I now call Eternal… but only until something better strikes me. It was titled Midnight Sun once upon a time, but that has since changed for reasons which are probably obvious. This one is completed and I’m about 2/3 of the way through revisions, though I’ve stalled to focus on other things. But I really love this story, and these characters.

My vampire hero is in a bit of a snit here. :-) He’s trying to protect the heroine from eeevil–namely, a cruel, centuries-old vamp who’s obsessed with her and stalks her through every reincarnated form she lives. But she’s testing his own restraint…

I hope you enjoy!

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When she was fairly certain the entire house was abed and Lily was resting comfortably, Fallon slipped outside into the darkness.

Her heart was pounding. It hadn’t stopped since seeing her sister again. Jonas’s shadow had seemed to hover over the entire encounter, as well as the rest of the evening spent in Lily’s company. She hadn’t been able to shake off its presence, to dispel the knowledge that she was in debt to him for her happiness, that he had brought to her the dearest thing in her life. She wanted to erase his pain just as he had erased her own. She was going to.

He would probably burst a blood vessel over her going out in the dark alone. Indeed, it was probably foolish. But she had glimpsed him heading out to practice with his daggers as he often did just after dark, and she knew right where he was.

Which was fortunate. He was dressed entirely in back and if not for the moonlight glinting from the silver blades as they flipped through the air, she might have missed him.

Dark eyes flickered toward her as she approached, then focused on his target once again. She paused, giving him plenty of space, reluctant to admit to herself that she was afraid to get too close. “Jonas?”

Surprisingly, he didn’t respond, not even to exhort her to go back inside. She watched the grace of his lean body as he took aim, the bunching of muscle beneath dark fabric as he released. A split second later, in the time it took lightning to shoot across the sky, the blade slammed firmly in bark.

She tore her gaze from it and looked at him, something trembling in the pit of her stomach. “I wanted to thank you for seeing to my sister’s safety. She’s very happy to be here. I think she looks better than I’ve ever seen her.”

Exhausted of blades, he strode toward the tree to retrieve the four that were planted there without another glance at her. For all the attention he gave her, she could have been invisible. Heaving a sigh, Fallon crossed her arms and looked toward the house where Lily was sleeping in her bedchamber. “Do you plan on ignoring me forever? If so, tell me now and I will never bother speaking to you again.”

“I accept your thanks.”

She waited for him to say more, but he took position once again, flipping three of the knives to the ground in quick succession, stabbing them into the earth. It wasn’t until then that she actually heard the finality in his tone. There seemed to be a delay between her ears and her brain where he was concerned. Just like that, she had been dismissed.

“I know you’re the only person in your universe, but need I remind you there is a big world out here, and other people in it who need you.”

A blade thumped into bark.

She drew a breath and rushed on. “You cannot keep shutting us all out. Your brother needs you, I need you…”

He didn’t care. The stiffness of his posture, the dark ice in his eyes, told her that much. Or else he was still so angry with her he refused to acknowledge the truth in her words. Either way, there was no need for her to stand here wasting her breath on him. But her mouth wouldn’t stop speaking.

“Ignore me, then. Forget me. Let Arric come and take me. At least then I’ll not be around to annoy you any longer.” He had the audacity to laugh then, the sound as cold as it was infuriating to her. “I see. Forgive me my lunacy for thinking you might give a damn.”

Skirts swishing about her legs, she whirled away, her strides too long and filled with too much purpose as she climbed the hill toward the house. Damn him! Damn his darkness, and his depression, and his damned gallantry, damn it all! Damn him even for knowing that he affected her this way…damn him mostly for that.

From behind her and through the rushing in her ears came the whoosh and thump of another knife hitting the tree, this one louder and harder than the ones before it. And then came his voice, bleak and sullen as the night enshrouding them.

“Fallon.”

She shouldn’t have turned so quickly, so readily, and she hated herself for doing so. She should have kept walking, ignoring him, subjecting him to the same humiliation she’d just suffered. But his voice…she could never defy that voice. She could never deny it something it asked for, and beyond all hope, it had asked for her.

Wordlessly, she stared at him, watched him glare at the spot where his blade had just punched through bark. Watched as he turned, and leveled her with those eyes that flashed strangely as the moonlight pooled in their depths.

Her heart pounded a searing tattoo through her veins. Fallon at first thought he didn’t look like himself at that moment, only he did. It was just some horribly magnified version of him, ragged and worn and savagely masculine, that stalked toward her then. His ebony hair blended with the blackness of the unlaced shirt that parted over his chest, cloaking him with the same velvet hues that colored the air around them. She could see the strong line of his collarbone, the shadow of dark hair that dusted his chest. He was so startlingly virile that she felt all at once stupid and contrite in front of him. A little girl who had just burned herself despite all his warnings not to play with fire. She swallowed thickly as he reached her.

“What in the hell do you want of me?” he demanded.

Anger rushed up to replace the muddle her mind had become. “You brought me here, protected me, but now that I need you, you ignore me. I don’t understand, and I can’t take this any longer.”

“Fallon—”

“What is it about me that offends you so? I’ve been afraid to inquire, but no more! You just asked what I want from you, Jonas, but don’t you see? Are you so blind?” Her chest heaved, words crowding around her lips, clamoring for escape. She couldn’t speak them. She couldn’t…

I only want you!

He was utterly still, watching her, waiting in some wrenching mixture of dread and enthrallment. She turned away. Her heart was going like mad and she couldn’t have him stand there and look at her that way, not after he had so ruthlessly shattered her all those nights ago. He would never want her. Why had she come here tonight? How stupid could she have been?

She hadn’t even the time to take a single step before his hand closed about her arm, gentle and yet with a firmness she doubted she could have broken even if she’d wanted to.

“Wait.” Just that. One word, and she was going nowhere. His fingers reeased her without turning her around. “’Tis not I who is so blind.”

She wanted to look at him. She couldn’t. If she did… “How do you mean?”

He exhaled slowly, deeply, and she felt his breath rustle the hair at the back of her neck. Her eyes closed as that little tickle seemed to turn into a full body caress. “Kiss me again,” he whispered. “I’ll show you.”

Oh, sweet, merciful God. She remembered how his lips had burned. She remembered the ache of longing. Surely if she felt that again it would shatter her, no matter how she wanted it. “I can’t. I didn’t ask for you to bring me here. I didn’t ask for your protection. I did not ask to feel this way about you, and I am not about to ask you to feel something you can’t. Coming out here has been a mistake. I don’t care anymore.”

She was scrounging the dregs of her soul for the one measure of pride she needed to walk away, to breathe truth into her bravado. It was nowhere to be found. Jonas had said her name again, damn him.

It was the only warning he gave. Just her name, whispered. Raw.

The next instant, she was swept around and into his arms. Like steel they surrounded her, unbreakable, inescapable. The only place on earth she wanted to be. The desire he wove about her as she was crushed against him was nothing short of preternatural, as if he were a sorcerer casting his dark enchantment. “You liar,” he said. And his mouth fell on hers.

She gasped his name against his lips, feeling in one instant as if she’d just been thrown from the earth’s surface and was spinning dizzily through the heavens. Finding an exquisite point between tender and ravishing, his tongue lined her bottom lip and she opened helplessly to it, let it delve between her teeth. Liquid heat flowed through her belly and spurred her own fierce reaction. She drank in the intoxicating warmth of his breath, buried her fingers in his hair and silently dared him to try and escape her this time.

He was right, after all. She was a liar. One of the vilest sort, if she’d ever tried to deny that she wanted him.

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Links to other Monday Excerpts:

Mel Berthier, Urban Fantasy (PG 13)
Bria Quinlan, Rom Com (PG)
Kinsey W. Holley, Paranormal (PG)
Caitlynn Lowe, Epic Fantasy (PG)
Dara Soren, Paranormal (PG)
Babette James, Fantasy Romance (PG13)
Christina DeLorenzo, YA (PG 13)
Nika Dixon, Romantic Suspense (PG 13)
Bryn Donovan, Paranormal Romance (PG13)
Kaige, Historic Romance (PG-13)
Julia Knight, Fantasy Romance (PG 13)
Adelle Laudan, Contemporary Romance (PG 13)
Jeannie Lin, Historical Romance (PG13)
RF Long, Paranormal (PG13)
Rebecca Savage, romantic suspense (PG 13)
Crista McHugh, Paranormal Romance (PG 13)
Leigh Royals, Historical Romance (PG 13)
Jax Cassidy, Contemporary Romance (R)
Maya Doyle, Paranormal Romance (R)
Cate Hart, Paranormal (R)
Ali Katz, Historical Erotic Romance (R)
Inez Kelley, Romantic Comedy (R)
Aislinn Kerry, Paranormal Romance (R)
Elise Logan, Fantasy Romance (R)
Alina Morgan, Urban Fantasy (R)
Vivienne Westlake, Erotic Historical (R)
Stephanie Adkins, Erotic Romance (NC 17)
Evie Byrne, Medieval Paranormal Romance (NC 17)
Kim Knox, Erotic SF Romance (NC17)
Lauren Murphy, Erotic Romance (NC 17)
Kirsten Saell, Erotic Romance (NC 17)

Monday, June 15th, 2009
It’s Excerpt Monday!

I’m joing the fun this month and participating in Excerpt Monday, the brainchild of Bria Quinlan and Mel Berthier from Romance Divas. I hope you all enjoy this excerpt from one of my WIPs, tentatively titled Sweet Rebellion. If you’ve read Unleashed, you’ve briefly met Brian, our tattoo artist hero. And now meet Candace, who, feeling brave (or not) on her birthday, has come to ask Brian to work his magic on her…

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She was so caught up in her appreciative perusal of the surroundings that she almost missed Brian’s emergence from the door behind the counter. At the sight of him, she lost her breath.

She hadn’t seen him in a few months, since his breakup with Michelle. It had been far too long, and that first sight of him was like a soothing relief to her sorely deprived senses even as her conscience grumbled at her. She couldn’t help but think of her cousin at that moment. The details of their demise were fuzzy at best; Michelle wasn’t one to talk about personal heartbreak, but it hadn’t taken any keen insights to see she’d been terribly hurt when the relationship ended.

Given the brilliant smile that lit Brian’s face when he saw Candace sitting in the waiting area, she could sympathize. She would weep oceans to lose a guy with a smile like that. It was infectious, and she was on her feet and crossing the room almost before she realized it.

Brian folded his arms on the countertop as she approached. “Hey, sunshine. What brings you out?”

She didn’t know why he called her that, but it had always made her as giggly as a teenager. “Guess.”

Brian’s gaze flickered to Macy, who had somehow mustered the courage to follow Candace to the counter. His smile intensified. “Bringing your friend in for a tongue ring.”

Candace laughed as Macy blanched and stepped back in horror. She grabbed the other girl’s arm before she could bolt for the door. “God, no. She’s a weenie.” And so am I, truth be known. Why in the hell was she acting so tough? One touch of the needle might cause her to dissolve in hysterics.

“And you?” Brian asked, one dark eyebrow raised.

“I was kind of hoping for a tattoo.”

“There’s no ‘kind of’ to it, girl. You get it or you don’t.”

“I know that.” Her gaze strayed to his arms resting on the counter. He was wearing a form-fitting black shirt with sleeves so long they almost covered his hands, but she knew that underneath, the flesh of both his arms was a riot of color from his shoulders to his wrists.

Pity that it was all hidden from her sight now. She thought his sleeves were beautiful, and always struggled not to stare…actually, on second thought, perhaps it was best he was covered. After going so long without seeing him, she might have very well embarrassed herself. How often had she fantasized about running her fingertips along all those lines and patterns and hues, deciphering all the meandering shapes, exploring the statements he’d found profound enough to mark on his skin for all time…

Plenty of times. She’d felt horribly guilty about every single one. But now Michelle was out of the picture, and in a happy relationship. Besides, it didn’t hurt to simply admire the scenery, did it?

Tonight, from head to toe, Brian looked quite subdued…for him, anyway. She was tempted to ask him what was going on. His hair was its natural lustrous black—she’d seen it every vivid color in the rainbow—worn just a little long so that it fell into his face. Not shaggy or messy like she so hated to see on guys, but silky and gorgeous and touchable… Okay, down, girl, stop right there. She noticed even his eyebrow ring was MIA.

Maybe he had a date later. Some ultra-gorgeous conservative type he desperately wanted to impress. Maybe she wouldn’t appreciate his body art. The very thought, speculative as it was, made Candace seethe. Brian was Brian. If he had to change for someone, anyone, he didn’t need them.

She cleared her throat, trying to chase the images away. “I do want a tattoo. It’s my birthday and I’m feeling rebellious.”

His perfect lips quirked at one corner. “You want me to do it, don’t you?”

She nodded and tried her best not to pout. “But they said you weren’t seeing clients tonight.”

He tugged up one sleeve and checked his watch. She caught a flash of his vibrant skin and felt her heart plummet to her toes. “I have an hour or so.” So he does have some place to be. “I can get it done unless you want something massive.”

Candace laughed and held up her hands. “Oh, no. Nothing like that.” Now, where she wanted it was another matter…

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Links to other Monday Excerpts:

Mel Berthier, Urban Fantasy (PG 13)
Bria Quinlan, Rom Com (PG)

Christina DeLorenzo, YA (PG 13)
Bryn Donovan, Paranormal  (PG)
MG Braden, Contemporary Romance (PG 13)
Babette James, Fantasy Romance (PG 13)
Cynthia Justlin, Contemporary Romance (PG 13)
Kaige, Historical Romance (PG  13)
Adelle Laundan, Contemporary Romance (PG 13)
Jeannie Lin, Historical Romance (PG 13)
RF Long, Paranormal (PG 13)
Crista McHugh, Paranormal  (PG 13)
Dara Sorensen, Paranormal (PG)

Evie Byrne, Historical Romance (R)
Grace Draven, Fantasy Romance (R)
Cate Hart, YA- Paranormal  (R)
Aithne Jarretta, Paranormal (R)
Inez Kelley, Contemporary Romantic Comedy (R)
Aislinn Kerry, Paranormal (R)
Kim Knox, Erotic-  Sci-fi Suspense (R)
Alina Morgan, Urban Fantasy (R)

Stephanie Adkins, Erotic-  Supsense (NC 17)
Ella Drake, Sci-Fi Romance (NC 17)
Annie Nicholas, Sci-Fi Romance (NC 17)
Kirsten Saell, Erotic – Fantasy (NC 17)