No “i” in team

So you may remember a little project me and the ladies of Love, Lust and Laptops has going a little while ago, Lucky’s Charms.

Lucky's Charms Cover small

well we have started working on another project and no, no matter what you offer I shall not tell you! You can’t force that information from me! I shall take it to the grave! Ooohh alright since you asked so nicely I’ll give you a little hint….

Get your glad rags on ’cause we got a party to go to!

there, that’s all I can give you…already I have said too much *whispers* this will be our little secret.

Ok on another note….my crit group and I have also got a little group project coming out this week.

7sinful secrets is a group of short stories all with a little twist in them.

Blurb:

Marriages shouldn’t have secrets, should they? Follow our seven couples, as they come to terms with the fact that their partner has been holding something back from them. Will it make or break their relationships? Read on to find out, and have your fan at the ready, because these secrets are hot!

7SecretsThis is out on August 2nd!

See there really is no “I” in team……..but there is a whole lot of fun!

Remember until next time: no matter how annoying your Dom/me is, making an “L” sign with your fingers and holding it against your forehead in the universal sign of Loser, at them…..just not smart….just saying

The cover art process: like giving birth?

I have to admit, seeing my new book covers for the first time has got to be one of the most thrilling aspects of being published. And yet, with my eighth book coming in August, it remains a bit of a mystery to me as well.

I’ll share a bit of the process with you. With my publisher Liquid Silver Books, the authors are sent a cover art request form after a book has been contracted. In this form, we detail what the main characters look like (tall, blonde, brown eyes, muscles, tattoes, etc.) The publisher takes this information away and the graphic artist proceeds to develop a cover that best represents the feel of the book and the characters.

And while we wait for the results, we authors can often feel as if we are on pins and needles. I’ve never been disappointed with any of my covers, and rarely have I had to go back and request tiny changes. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not nerve-wracking waiting for that cover to take shape.

It’s a little like giving birth to a child. Even though you may be able to imagine what your progeny will look like, it’s hard to picture how the miracles of genetics will arrange all those attributes. And it’s exciting to receive the email in which you get the first glimpse…kind of like that first ultrasound photo. You spy arms and legs (and often a bare, male chest in the case of romance books) and absorb the beauty of this new creation. I am always astounded and tickled and don’t think I’ll ever stop looking forward to new cover art.

Well…imagine my surprise and delight this past week when I got to meet not only the photographer of my newest cover, but also the models! Online, at least. 🙂 We get to converse with the graphic artist in our line of work- always a pleasure- but I’ve never met any of my photographers and models before. This week, I did, thanks to wonderful graphic artist Lyn Taylor, the creator of my upcoming cover for Predator’s Serenade (release Aug. 12).

Predator's Serenade

Through Lyn, I met photographer Taria Reed and my lovely models Louis Bottone (my dashing hero) and Alisa Sharoikina (my gorgeous heroine). We have since all chatted on Facebook and I am so excited that we all had the chance to work together. Being able to meet these partners added another element of excitement to an already-exciting process for me, and I am thankful to all of them.

I don’t think I will ever take a book cover for granted, knowing the work that goes on behind the scenes to make one.  And I am particularly proud of this new child of mine and all the partners who were involved in conceiving it with me.

Gosh, that did sound dirty… 😉

Predator’s Serenade will be available August 12 from http://www.lsbooks.com

Going Back Home

Trinidad - vew from 17 072813Home. The word has so many different meanings for so many people. It’s challenging if you’ve lived in more than one place and downright confusing if you’re an immigrant, like me. Though my mother gave birth to me in Georgetown, Guyana, we moved to Trinidad when I was five, and I spent most of my formative years in that country. At sixteen and a half, I headed off the college to the University of Guelph in Canada. There, I met and married my Dutch-born husband. We lived in various parts of Canada for over seven years before moving to Trinidad.

My kids were born in Trinidad and Tobago and we spent fourteen incredible years there before, once again, changing countries. To date, we’ve lived in Florida for thirteen years. As I write this blog, I am back home.So where is home? I’ve come to believe it’s where your parents lived during your formative years. I am blessed to have my mother with me still, but I wonder if Trinidad will still be home when the inevitable happens.

My three boys are divided on the subject. They spent every summer while we were in Florida in Trinidad. They have friends here as do we, yet, for them home is Florida. And as for my poor hubby, he calls both Canada and Trinidad home. Truth be told, he’s way more Trinidadian than I’ll ever be. He took to Trini like a duck to water.

I haven’t been back to Trinidad in ten years and the changes are incredible. The country is not the one I remember and I feel like a stranger. So, have I come home? Or is that definition changing?

Where’s your home?

Cheers,

Jianne

 

P.S. The pic is of the view from my mom’s home and the house where I lived in my early teens.

Guest Blogger Aneesa Price!

It is a great pleasure for me to welcome Aneesa Price to Love, Lust and Laptops today! Aneesa and I became friends online through various romance channels and she is just delightful and so supportive of her fellow authors. To boot, she writes some very sexy romance and PNR.

Welcome Aneesa!

Take a Trip With a Romance Novel

My romance journeys began, like many little girls’, with travels to the fantastical lands of princesses and princes, dragons and evil witches.  With hormonal surges came a need to venture to young adult reads such as Sweet Valley High. Later, went on a school ‘tour’ to visit Elizabethan England in Shakespeare, the dark moors in WutheringHeights and the Southern gentility in Gone with the Wind. I made many pit-stops to my mom’s Mills & Boons (without her knowledge of course). Yes, the stamps in my romance passport are many, and varied now in adulthood as I’ve visited a myriad of paranormal realms and a number of cities world-wide. I’ve become a bit of a tour guide as I’ve begun reviewing books and lately, a travel company, as I invite you to encounter the worlds I’ve created in my novels.

This blog post is neither a controversial one, nor do I purport to wow you with my wit or humor. Instead, feeling rather nostalgic, I shall share what I love so much about romance, knowing that you probably feel the same. Think of it as a comfortable chat amongst girlfriends over a cuppa about things they enjoy. And sometimes, like a good romance, we need that. No hype, no drama, just comfort and familiarity.

So why romance?

I do read other genres. However, I avoid expeditions to worlds where children or parents are harmed. My reasons are personal – I have worked as a psychologist and having seen enough abuse and harm done to children, I don’t see the point in subjecting myself to more. Living in South Africa, where violent crime is a common occurrence, and having children of my own, horrors are a daily reminder I want to escape from.

Reading and writing romance allows me to escape to worlds where there is hope and the promise of a better tomorrow. With the emotional and mental escapism comes stress-relief. As a mom, until very recently a full-time corporate manager, part-time writer and wife, any stress relief is more than welcome. It is not just the journey of the imagination – it is a mental and emotional one too. I pick up my kindle and relax in a bath or my spot on the sofa and I do so with excitement and anticipation for the delights to come. Usually, poignancy sets in as I discover the internal conflicts of the characters. Sometimes the characters’ pasts I read and write about are soul-destroying and I shed a tear or two. That is cathartic. After a long week at work, there is nothing better than a good cry to get it all out and start the weekend feeling lighter! Depending on the book, I may find myself applauding the characters when they have an ‘ah-ha’ moment, feel like throttling others that persist in making the hero or heroine’s lives miserable or I laugh hysterically at a particularly ridiculous moments. I remember laughing while reading a Susan Mallery novel last week where the heroine used to stalk the hero as a teenager. She went so far as to glue his windows shut so that he couldn’t go to the prom with his girlfriend. I had a giggle too when I wrote a funny incident a silly groom had at a wedding in my forthcoming novel and shared yet another giggle with another author who wrote about a cow suicide. So, emotionally, I get to go through all that the characters go through – from conflict to challenge and trauma to humorous moments and ultimately love found and fulfilled.

Mentally, I am privileged to escape to new worlds, learn about other cultures, meet new people and take my imagination on a journey that mirrors my emotions. It’s a vacation from start to finish in a few hours instead of two weeks. I loved discovering the levels of hell in Rosanna Leo’s Sweet Hell and learnt more about Greek mythology in Sherrilyn Kenyon’s novels than I ever did during history lessons at school. Writing romance is also nothing if not an educational experience. For each book we write, romance writers extensively research the locations and subject matter within their novels. I’ve read the books on witchcraft so I could accurately craft spells in Coffin Girls and literally watched street activity on Google maps in Alaska. Zrinka Jelic, another romance writer whose work I enjoy, wrote her historical paranormal romance, Treasured Chests, so well that anyone reading it would swear that she had somehow travelled back in time to re-live the era of privateering.  And of course, there is the untouchable, Nora Roberts, who introduces me to vocations I’ve never heard of and details that can only come from research. Romance novels weave facts into the fiction so that pieces of it resonate and others educate. And so, the writer travels first be it physically or virtually while doing research and in doing so, is able to create a place for readers to visit as many times as they wish and have a vacation.

I’ve recently discovered that romance novels outsell any other genre. Given the many travels it allows us, I can completely understand why. That bit of knowledge also tells me that there are many wonderful places to discover and interesting people to meet. So, I’m signing off now to pack my suitcase (by hitting 1-click on my kindle), settle into the hotel (aka my frothy bath) and enjoy my vacation (the newest romance novel on my kindle).

Yours in Romance and Reading,

Aneesa Price

Author, Reviewer and Blogger

 

Connect with me:

Connect with Aneesa Price:

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Aneesa-Price/e/B008NA62CO

Facebook Fan Club: https://m.facebook.com/groups/390755617667441

Facebook Author and Reviewer Page:  https://www.facebook.com/AneesaPriceSugarandSpice

Twitter: www.twitter.com/aneesaprice

Blog: www.sugaryspicyreads.com

 

Author Pages: 

Amazon:   http://www.amazon.com/Aneesa-Price/e/B008NA62CO

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/AneesaPrice

Image of Aneesa PriceAbout Aneesa Price:

Aneesa Price writes romance and lives it with her university sweetheart and husband. After having surmounted the challenges of being in a bi-racial marriage in the newly democratic South Africa, she now attributes her marital bliss to purposefully added spice and passionately resolved differences. After living in a variety of cities in South Africa, she now lives the life of an expat and sees the world as the playground she enjoys with her husband and two daughters.

Aneesa completed her internship in counselling psychology and went on to work first as a therapist and then in Corporate Finance in on projects and in organizational change. This diversity in experience, coupled with her understanding of the human psyche, is translated into her writing through the creation of believable, flawed characters with the innate ability to overcome adversity.

She writes to give her readers the gift of experiencing the new and fascinating, something she strives for herself when she explores new places, reads, cooks with her kids or goes picking for antiques with her husband.

Aneesa’s works include:

Coffin Girls New Final Cover for kindle

Coffin Girls, Elegantly Undead (Book 1 of the Coffin Girls Series)

A sexy, female vampire with secrets. A sinfully-handsome witch prince on a mission. A formidable Vampire Council with something to hide.
A vampire descendent from the original Coffin Girls, Anais runs a successful event and wedding planning business from her majestic New Orleans plantation house. To the Vampire Council, she is seen as an exemplary hostess and household head of a misfit bunch of vampires.
When Yves, her maker and head of the Vampire Council requests her assistance in hosting the mysterious, yet dashing Prince of Witches, Conall, she has no option but to accept. But Anais is the keeper of secrets; secrets that can kill. Protective of her family’s undiscovered uniqueness, Anais is guarded, yet intrigued by the enigmatic witch prince.
Conall and Anais are drawn together when confronted with fatal encounters and an unimaginable destiny… if she’s willing to accept it and fight.

http://www.amazon.com/Coffin-Girls-Elegantly-Undead-ebook/dp/B008N0GWVA

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/205913

Ghosts and Lovers - First Confession cover 2

Ghosts & Lovers: First Confession (An Erotic Novella)

“I am female, I am a slut, and most days, I think I’m a loon too, but those are my secrets to keep except from you. … I ask you to play the role of a priest – nonjudgmental, understanding, and to atone me for my sins…” ~ Simone

Simone, the quintessential desperate housewife, is primarily absorbed on settling her family into their new home in the vibrant, metropolitan city of Johannesburg, South Africa. Unbeknownst to her, the greatest threat lurked not outside of the eight-foot walls and electric fencing but within the walls she seeks sanctuary. But the threat comes disguised as tantalizing pleasures of the most carnal nature that challenges her views of love, marriage and sex. Can Simone resist and rescue her family from the evil she’s let into their lives?

This is her first confession.

http://www.amazon.com/Ghosts-Lovers-First-Confession-ebook/dp/B00AB4C530

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/292287

A Matter of Faith by Raven McAllan #guestblogger #ravenmcallan

I always considered I was an easy going, glass full, take me as I/you/we are sort of person. Even tempered and laid back.

Er no, evidently not.

I was sitting in a rather nice pub beer garden, when three shall we call them well groomed 40-50-ish women came out and sat opposite. Bottle of wine, glasses. And preening.

You know (bitch alert here) long flowing perfectly coiffured blond (highlighted?) tresses, sunnies pushed on top of those aforementioned tresses, and jewelry. Lots of jewelry. One of them swung round and nearly hit a barman in the eye with her pendant.

Oops.

Now maybe I was already on the defensive, I mean toned, honed, and well, why don’t I look like that? Answer, I don’t tone, don’t hone and aren’t 40-50-ish, but so what? Snigger
I would have just looked on, felt envious, and forgotten about them, as at this point DH came back with our wine, but OMG the voices. Loud? You’d have heard them on the beach, and that was three streets away and across the golf course.

And the subject was sadly made to make my blood boil.

Books. Or rather dissing books unless they were ‘tomes’. I tried to keep my temper until they got more and more negative, and no they weren’t talking about ‘that book’. It morphed from general, dissing to specific, and romance specifically. Okay maybe they had such fabulous sex lives they didn’t need a bit of fantasy or romance when they read, but me? I enjoy it and judging by sales of books all around the world, so do millions of other people.

One said that unless a book was at least 100k it actually wasn’t a book at all. And added in the most derogatory way that “after all anyone could dash off those silly little novella things that are brought out at a drop of a hat.”

I restrained myself from going over and asking for the titles of the silly little novella things she’d written.

One of the others nodded in a sage and agreeing way. The third looked uncomfortable, and didn’t say a word. She just drank her wine. (Bet she had some on her ebook.)

Now I know we all are different, and thank goodness for that. Some people, like long serious books, others stories of a more frivolous nature. One person might go for chick lit, another mysteries and yet someone else biographies. That’s the joy of reading and writing, something for everyone.

But, and there had to be a but now didn’t there, rolls eyes well there does when I’m chatting, just because something isn’t to your taste, doesn’t mean its silly, or unworthy. It’s just not your cup of tea. (Or glass of wine.)

So you can see why I was annoyed. I’d love to see what she considers dashing off a silly story, and accepting it’s not something you do over a glass of wine and in your tea break. (Well I don’t, not sure about anyone else.) I—and I am sure, every one of us who write a short story, a novella, a book, or indeed a tome—put in as much care, effort, and research, as any other writer. We want our work to be the best it possibly can. To be entertaining in whichever way our work needs, and to give our readers value for money.

In this day and age, no one wants to feel short changed, or less worthy than the next person, and why should they? Now I didn’t know this person from Adam, and I didn’t take her words personally (oh yes I did giggle) but I did think she was being snarky, and why? I assume it makes some people feel good to denigrate others, but personally, what a waste of time and effort.

I subscribe to the ‘if you can’t say something nice keep shtum’ walk of life. Life is too short to be nasty!

So on that note, you’ll know why my own blog is called Raven’s Ramblings, I do sort of go on a bit, but well…

Raven lives in Scotland, along with her husband and their two cats—their children having flown the nest—surrounded by beautiful scenery, which inspires a lot of the settings in her books.

She is used to sharing her life with the occasional deer, red squirrel, and lost tourist, to say nothing of the scourge of Scotland—the midge.

A lover of reading, she appreciates the history inside a book, and the chance to peek into the lives of those from years ago. Raven admits that she enjoys the research for her books almost as much as the writing; so much so, that sometimes she realizes she’s strayed way past the information she needs to know, and not a paragraph has been added to her WIP.
Her long-suffering husband has learned to work the Aga, ignore the dust bunnies and realize when a glass (or two) is a needed.)
Her latest book, sorry silly little novella thing, A Matter of Faith is now out, and ready to be dissed…er devoured.

A Matter Of Faith,

amatteroffaith 600x900
Leonora knew she’d wait for Justin to come home. She hadn’t expected it to be so long or so fraught.

When Justin joined his regiment, and was sent to the continent, Leonora promised to wait for him to return. She didn’t think it would take so long, or she’d have so many difficulties to face. Her life changes as she struggles to cope without Justin and keep his estate running.

With someone out to destroy all she holds dear, Leonora has to fight for her beliefs and her family, and hope they get the happy ever after they deserve.

http://www.breathlesspress.com/index.php?main_page=product_free_shipping_info&cPath=17&products_id=457&zenid=ha5b6fdadkki4gem4o3i730k87

http://www.amazon.co.uk/A-Matter-Of-Faith-ebook/dp/B00DJ75FCE/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1374039659&sr=1-2&keywords=Raven+McAllan

http://www.amazon.com/A-Matter-Of-Faith-ebook/dp/B00DJ75FCE/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1374039659&sr=1-2&keywords=Raven+McAllan

http://www.bookstrand.com/a-matter-of-faith

https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-amatteroffaith-1223858-340.html

Raven is generally harmless, and you can find out more about here…

http://www.ravenmcallan.com
http:/ /www.ravenmcallan.blogspot.com
https://www.facebook.com/rmcallan     (my page)
https://www.facebook.com/ravenmcallan      (author page)
https://twitter.com/RavenMcAllan

One Hot Knight!

Hi, everyone! It’s been a hectic week. On Monday, my new paranormal romance, One Hot Knight, released with Entangled Covet. I’m in the middle of a book tour, so I’ve been all over the place the past few days. But never too busy to drop in at my favorite spot to chat. And not only do I have a new release, but I also contracted Just Right, a sexy contemporary coming soon to Liquid Silver Books.

If you haven’t joined OHK’s book tour yet, please visit http://christygissendaner.webs.com to get the full schedule. Drop by any of the tour stops and leave a comment for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card. On 7/29, there will be an additional $10 gift card giveaway for my Birthday Celebration stops. (See the tour schedule for the blogs participating.)

Curious to know more about the book being hailed on Goodreads as “funny and sexy”? One Hot Knight tells the story of a dog groomer and a cursed knight, who just happens to have spent the last nine centuries as a dog. Here’s a sneak peek at my latest release….

“You want me, Regina. Admit it.”

Her gaze flickered to the side as if she were planning her escape route.

“Running won’t help you.” He took another determined step forward. “I want to kiss you. Touch you. Feel what it’s like to be inside you. And you may not want to tell me, but you want me just as much as I want you.”

“Your ego never ceases to amaze me. Is this what you told all your medieval women?” The words were clearly intended to turn him away.

“This doesn’t concern them.” The palm of his hand came to rest against her smooth, warm cheek. “It’s about you and me.”

Regina held her body away from him, yet her cheek nuzzled his palm. It was a small movement, but there nonetheless.

“Aren’t you curious?” Turning his hand, he slid the backs of his fingers down the side of her face to her neck, where he softly caressed the strand of hair that fell over one shoulder. “God knows I am.”

“Yves, we can’t.”

Frustration nearly made him curse. “Why not?”

“Because…” Her eyes shuttered. “Because you’re not the man for me.”

“How do you know?”

“For one thing, you’re from a completely different century.”

“That’s not a good enough reason. Keep trying.”

A hand against his chest tried to keep him away. “You were a dog for nine centuries.”

“Emphasis on was.”

Her lips quirked upward. “Do you have an answer for every argument?”

He nodded. “Yes. I want you, Regina. Nothing you can say will convince me we’re not right for each other.”

She put her other hand on his chest as well. Her energy was a wasted effort. She was no way near strong enough to hold him back. Not that he would use force, but he would have her. And even if it took all night or even the whole two weeks, he would convince her.

“You’re cursed and you have no idea how long you’ll be in human form.” The words tumbled out of her mouth like a waterfall.

He sighed. She had him there.

“Our taxi should be here at any minute.”

“Trying to change the subject?”

“No, just stating a fact. And—I need time. There is an attraction between us. I can’t deny it, but we’ve only known each other a few days and it’s been a weird couple of days. You’re the one who wanted to go out, so let’s do this.”

Time. It was the one thing he didn’t have.


 One Hot Knight is now available at Amazon, B&N, and ARe.

Happy reading!

Christy

Shadow of Sin – A sneak peek

It’s been a day to remember! I’ve got incredibly exciting news about the next installment of the Martin Family series – Shadow of Sin, but since I can’t yet share that news, I’m going to keep my promise and give you a sneak peek inside. This is the only excerpt I’m releasing before the book comes out (est. October/November 2013).

Here’s your taste of Caleb and Samantha from Shadow of Sin…

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: SHADOW OF SIN by PARKER KINCADE

“Can I stay with you?”

Caleb jerked, surprised by her request. “That’s not a good idea.”

Even as he said the words, his cock came to life. Seems the lower half of his body thought it was a very good idea. And seeing her in nothing but his T-shirt wasn’t helping. Jesus, he hoped she had panties on under there. A bigger, harder, part of him hoped that she didn’t.

Samantha shifted, exposing more of her delectable thighs. “It’s not like I’m asking you to get a root canal. You can wipe that horrified look off your face.”

Caleb checked his expression, doing his best to appear calm, bored even. She’d surprised the hell out of him, coming in his room like she had.

He was angry. Angry with himself and the past that wouldn’t free him. Angry at her for being here, for looking as if she belonged here. This was his space, damn it. How was he supposed to relax with her prancing around half naked, knowing she’d pleasured herself and called his name?

He wasn’t stupid. He suspected he’d woke her and now she was here, checking on him as if he was a child who needed coddling. He didn’t need coddling. His body demanded the satisfaction that would only come from pounding his aching flesh deep into her soft, wet pussy. As tempting as that idea may be, he was still trying to wrap his head around how he felt about her.

“You’re tired. You don’t know what you’re asking.” And he couldn’t think straight. He was low on sleep and even lower on patience. He shoved his hands into his hair and blew out a breath. “You can’t be in here. Go back to bed.” Before he forgot all the reasons he shouldn’t fuck her silly.

“Why did I think…God, I’m such an—” She closed her mouth, her lips drawn into a thin, tight line. Her cheeks flushed as she advanced on him. “I’m sick of you judging me. Telling me what I should and shouldn’t do. If you hadn’t noticed, my night sucked. Hell, the last year has sucked. So, you can shove your overinflated male ego up your own ass. I’m not asking you to have sex with me for chrissake.” She stumbled back and planted her butt on the edge of the bed. “God, just for once, Caleb, can’t you set aside your feelings? Forget your stupid sense of responsibility where I’m concerned and just be here for me like a normal person?”

What the fuck?

“My stupid sense of what?

The laugh that escaped her lips made him uneasy.

“You heard me, horseman.” She eased back to her feet and advanced on him. “You think I don’t know how you feel about me? Let me see…troublemaker, instigator, bad influence.” She ticked off the words on her fingers. “Oh, and my personal favorite…menace. Really, Caleb. Menace? That’s a little strong don’t you think?” She fisted her hands on her hips, her eyes glittering with unshed tears. “I know you don’t like me. If it weren’t for Amanda and Alec, I wouldn’t be here and we both know it.” Her chest rose and fell in rapid succession as she glared at him. “And I’m sick of being your charity case.”

Caleb fought the urge to look away. She hadn’t lied about the words he’d uttered to describe her over the years, but to have them slung back at him just pissed him off.

“You want to know what I’m sick of, Samantha? I’m sick of you pushing my buttons. I’m sick of your stubborn-assed attitude when it comes to your own safety and I’m fucking sick and tired of you calling me horseman!” His shout rattled the windows, but he didn’t care. He was on a roll now, like a fucking train wreck, unable to stop.

Crossing his arms over his chest, he glared down at her. “If you and Amanda hadn’t decided the woods were the best place to partake in a little underage drinking, the boys and I wouldn’t have had to saddle up to go find your drunk asses before some wild animal made you a snack. Did you ever think of that, Samantha? During your little adventure with my baby sister, did you stop to consider the consequences? Do you ever?”

Samantha made a noise of disgust and stormed from the room. “This is what I get for trying to be nice,” she yelled.

Caleb went after her, following her into the spare room. “Nice? Nice?” The floodgates were open, his anger and frustration leaving any sense of self-preservation in the dust. “You think calling us the horsemen of the apocalypse is nice? Is that fun for you? Because all it does is remind me of being scared out of my ever-loving mind that something was going to … that Amanda …” No, he wasn’t going back there.

Not. Going. There.

“And as for my stupid sense of responsibility, I protect what’s mine, damn it!”

Samantha’s sharp intake of breath drifted through his angry haze and punched him in the gut. She sank back to the bed and wiped that the tear that escaped the corner of her eye.

It was like ice water to his soul.

God, this woman tested his restraint. No other woman, save his sister, had ever pushed him so hard. It was infuriating and intoxicating at the same time. She left him off balance, out of control—two things that spelled disaster where he was concerned.

Caleb ran his hands through his hair, settling his palms on the back of his neck.

“Samantha.”

His heart skipped a beat as emotion played out on her face. Sadness, regret, and finally…resolve.

“Get out.” Her voice was soft. “God, what was I thinking? Just get out.”

He stood there, unable to move as he struggled to comprehend the vulnerability pouring out of her. His gaze traveled over the delicate features of her face, the line of her shoulders. The rise of her breasts, her slim waist and long legs. Her feet were bare. Her toenails were painted a rich red that spoke of fire. Passion.

She shifted on the bed and winced, making him feel like a total ass. Again. Her night had sucked. With her tough-as-nails attitude, Caleb hadn’t considered she might actually need comforting.

He took a deep breath. “I’ll stay.”

Her eyes, blue and blazing, snapped up. “Of course you will. Because why in the hell would you listen to me?”

“You asked me to stay.”

“I asked you to leave.”

“As you so diligently pointed out earlier tonight, I don’t listen.” And he still had things to say.

She rubbed her temples, as if their argument had given her a headache. “Fine. Whatever.”

“Samantha. Look at me.” When she didn’t move, he crouched in front of her. He tilted her chin until she looked at him. “I don’t dislike you. I need you to know that.”

She offered him a sad smile. “The gesture is appreciated, Caleb. Thank you.” She pulled her face away.

Refusing to let her retreat, he tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear and cupped her face. Soft, warm skin greeted his palm. He brushed his thumb across her cheek, amazed by its smoothness. “It’s the truth. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean—”

She put a finger to his lips and he barely resisted the urge to open his mouth and taste her.

“Yes, you did. And it’s okay. We may not get along, but at least you’ve never lied to me. Please don’t start now. I’m a big girl, Caleb. I can take it. And I owe you an apology. I’m sorry for not considering your feelings where Amanda is concerned.”

Her touch rocked him. Revamped his desire to have her wet and screaming his name. “I’m sorry for all that.” He offered her what he hoped was a reassuring smile. “I’m so used to you calling me horseman now, I’m afraid I’d never answer to anything else from your lips.” Those sweet, succulent lips. “What is it about you that makes me so crazy?” he murmured.

She chuckled. “I’m too tired to fight anymore, Caleb. The best course of action would be to find the evidence I need to bury Matteo. Then we can move on.”

The mention of her stalker snapped his brain back to attention. He had a job to do. Eliminate the threat and protect Samantha.

Best he remember that.

Distractions led to mistakes. He couldn’t afford any more mistakes.

He forced his voice level, undemanding. “It’d be a lot easier if you’d let us help. Let me help. Trust me to take care of this for you.”

Asking for her trust was a long shot. In truth, he probably didn’t deserve it. But, he had to try. Needed to try. He would protect her.

“Trust you.” She seemed to consider his words. After a moment, she surprised him by nodding. “I can’t promise miracles, but I’ll do my best to follow your lead…until this is over.”

Caleb resisted the insane urge to pump his fist in the air.

She caressed her fingers over his jaw. He leaned into her gentle touch, feeling it all the way to his bones.

“And Caleb?” She looked him dead in the eye. “Once Matteo is caught and the threat against me is gone? You’ll go on with your life and I’ll go on with mine and hopefully, we can stay out of each other’s way.”

She dropped her hand to her lap.

“After this, Caleb, we’re done.”

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Look for Caleb and Samantha this winter! I hope you’re as excited as I am!

Until next time…