Posts Tagged ‘Multi-Author Series’
I’m so excited! Today is a release day for me. The third book in the Draven’s Crossing series is out. *Grins* I hope you like it. I have another book or two planned for this series.
Excerpt: Meeting With Draven
Out Now at Purple Sword Publications
Draven’s Crossing: Hidden Diversions
With so many distractions, can they catch a killer before someone else dies?
Their passion may be the death of them…
Werewolf Chief of Police, Torger, is running into walls while tracking the Draven’s Crossing serial killer. No matter what he tries to do, he can’t find the clues needed to stop the terror that stalks the streets of his city. Things aren’t helped by his attraction to dragon shifter, Draven City News Reporter, Isadora Jones. With political pressure and bodies mounting, can he get through all these distractions to the truth before it’s too late?
Reporter, Isadora Jones wants to help with the investigation into the serial killer but Torger refuses to let her. She decides to do it on her own, but her world goes upside down when the killer sets his sights on her. Under Torger’s protection, they start to put the pieces together but will it be too late for them?
Things go from bad to worse when another killer appears. Draven’s Crossing just got a whole lot more dangerous.
Purple Sword Publications:
Torger tossed and turned in his bed. He could smell her on his covers. Her scent drifted around the room like an enticing trail he wanted to follow. His skin burned as his muscles contracted. Blood flowed straight to his cock, thickening the shaft. His balls hardened and throbbed with the need for release. With a groan, he rolled onto his stomach. His mind was split into two parts: one half didn’t think it was right to want sex much less have it with so many bodies piling up, and the other didn’t give a shit and needed to feel something good in a world full of crap. He didn’t want to think about anything. He had the All Packs meeting that was coming up after the full moon. His mind was abuzz with thoughts and lists. There were things he had to do and things he had to discuss. Torger hadn’t met with his Beta yet, nor had he met the new leader of the Branson pack after the old one had been ousted. Then he had to make sure that Draven would get the old ones to meet with him about the killer. There was Evanson to deal with, and he didn’t want to think about the shit storm that could come out of accusing him of anything, especially not with the man’s wife dead. Whether he had anything to do with it or not, the public wouldn’t be happy. Muffy Evanson was a beloved figure in the community. If the Representative had anything to do with her death, there would be chaos. He needed to be sure, to dig deeper. Torger knew he’d have to ask Isy to dive into the archives and see what she came up with.
The sweetest perfume drifted under his door. He snorted and sat up. She was near. His eyes had already adjusted to the darkness. He saw a shadow move in front of his door but it didn’t go to the guest room across the hall. He waited; the seconds ticked by. Each moment like a drip of water on his face, it seemed to last forever and there was no end in sight. He swallowed. His lips became dry as his heartbeat sped up. The jangle of a hand on the door handle rang in his ears. The delicate shells prickled at the musical sound. He waited. His heart stuttered and then crashed against his ribcage in a heavy drum beat. His body heat spiked as his wolf waited. Need coiled in the pit of his stomach. He licked his lips again, hoping, praying for what, he didn’t know. All he saw was that if she didn’t do something soon, he would. And then there would be no turning back. Everything would change for them, and he wasn’t sure how everyone would react or how everything would land.
As the seconds ticked by, her shadow remained at the door. The hand had stopped jiggling. Opening up his senses, he allowed her emotions to wash over him. He tasted the tang of hesitation with the sweetness of eagerness. All of it was tinged with the bright spice of lust. Underneath it all, there was Isy’s own unique natural scent. Not wanting to let the torture for both of them continue, he called out, “Isy, you can come in.”
There was a moment and then the door knob turned. Her perfume and emotions rushed into the room, driving away the stale trail she’d made before. It was as if someone had turned on the sun in his room. Heat poured over him in waves as she advanced into the space and shut the door behind her. Both of them were covered in darkness and yet he knew she stood between the door and his bed. So close and yet so far away as the cliché went. His fingers ached to hold her, to feel the silken warmth of her skin and bury his face in her neck and inhale deeply. Torger’s lips tingled with the need to kiss her, to feel her lips against his and slide his tongue into her mouth and taste her. He wondered what he’d find there. He didn’t want to think about it anymore.
“Isy? What’s wrong?” Torger knew what was wrong but didn’t want to come out and say it. His wolf on the other hand wanted him to get up off the bed, strip off her clothes, bury his face between her thighs and eat her out until she came. His cock jerked at that urge. Heat flared along his skin, flushing through is cheeks, down his throat, and crashing into his chest. Prickles danced along his flesh as his nerve endings came alive. His sense sharpened as his wolf came into play, pushing at its restraints, demanding that they finally get what they’d longed for after so much denial. And he couldn’t move. Frozen by his guilt as his responsibility pushed forward to the forefront of his mind. Pack. Duty. Draven’s Crossing. Those words screamed in his head, and he felt a tinge of shame.
No shame! His wolf cried out and growled at its master’s retreating libido. His skin cooled as his heart went back to its normal rhythm.
“Torger. Shut up. Stop thinking.” Isy’s voice came out as a low, husky command. Just like that, the fire inside burst to life. It went from simmer to all out firestorm as Isy advanced toward his bed. How she knew about the war going on in his head he didn’t know. Do dragons smell things the way other shifters do? The question pushed back some of his doubts.
The bed dipped under her weight, which served to shove back more of the pressure on his mind.
“Can you…” The question caught around a lump in his throat. It had formed when he wasn’t looking. A nervous sweat began on his forehead. He felt large and unsure of himself, like a teenager during his first experience. “Your stress and frustration reeks. It’s time to put an end to that. Your doubts and concerns won’t save the people of Draven’s Crossing and it sure as hell won’t help you catch the killer. Now didn’t I tell you to shut up?” Her hands closed around his ankles. He felt them slide up his legs. The cloth abraded his skin. Even though it was smooth cotton, it felt a thousand times rougher than before. He swallowed again, not used to this side of Isy. Rather than ask, he did as she said and stayed quiet. He didn’t move or even dare to breathe without her say so. His thoughts drifted away with her touch. She ran her hands over his thighs. The scrape of her nails over the cotton intensified his sense of touch. The blunted pain only enhanced his need. Desire crawled through his body as blood thickened in his veins. Her unique aroma became his air. Each gulp sent his head spinning and his mind drifting. He was lightheaded with her nearness.
“You’re going to let me take care of you. I’ll be handling your pleasure tonight. You do what I say and want without a single word, understand?” She placed a butterfly kiss on his stomach, so light it could have been the brush of the wind for all he knew. Her humid breath told him otherwise.
Torger nodded his acquiescence. He let out a yelp when he felt her teeth sink into one ridge of his abdominals. “No. Let me hear you say it. Tell me, yes, Isy, I understand.” She lapped at the pained flesh with quick licks of her tongue. Each lap pulled a soft groan from his throat as the pain turned to pleasure.
“Yes, Isy, I understand. Please.” He reached for her, wanting to bury his hands in her hair and pull her close but did nothing until told to. His alpha male self went to war over giving power to Isy. It had nothing to do with her being a woman or even a dragon. Everything in him was designed to take care of people, solve problems, and yet he was rescinding control to her. He was allowing her to take care of his problem, solve it for him and take care of him. He wasn’t sure how to respond so he did nothing. Curiosity peeked out from the wolf. It wondered how this would go, not in the least bothered by the shift in power.
A few thoughts from Conlan Trowbridge, the hero of ADDING HEAT by Cris Anson
I?ve been reading all these posts on Selena?s blog about the women who accepted the Cougar Challenge and found themselves a younger man, and I think it?s wonderful that they all bared their souls for your readers.
My name is Conlan Trowbridge, and I?m here to tell you this Cougar thing works two ways. When Giselle Sheridan walked into my office a week before income tax deadline, all I could think of was, ?I want her!? I didn?t think about her age, or mine, I just saw an earthy woman full of luscious curves in snug jeans, intelligence and curiosity in those mesmerizing dark eyes, and a lust for life radiating from her. Dang, it was almost enough to make me forget that her aunt needed to get her taxes done.
The old woman must have been a matchmaker, because she insisted I hand-deliver that completed tax return to Giselle for forwarding, even though I couldn?t afford to take the time off (you wouldn?t believe how many people wait until the last minute to file). With an ulterior motive, I agreed then used the opportunity to invite Giselle for a bike ride afterward. She assumed it would be a motorcycle ride. No, geeky accountant that I am, I arrived in snug biking shorts with a spare bicycle for her in the back of my truck. Still, the ?date? turned out pretty good, as is hinted in the excerpt Selena is posting.
Giselle did tell me later that she thought I looked hot in spandex, making particular mention of my butt. And other, uh, areas. She also liked the way I looked splashing around in her tub with her. In her bed with her. In her office and mine. And?
But, a gentleman doesn?t kiss and tell, so you?ll have to use your imagination as to what I wore and we *ahem* discussed. I have to say, our dozen-year age difference never once entered my mind except in the plus column. I told her flat-out, I was old enough to appreciate her maturity and life experience, and young enough to take advantage of it. She got the idea after I showed her. And showed her and showed her.
One of the many things I love about Giselle is that she?s gutsy. After her husband died, she kept his landscape contracting business going and is putting her two kids through college. Another thing is, she?s not afraid to make difficult decisions. With my forensic accounting background, I had to deliver some bad news about her business and she took a deep breath and fixed the problem.
With her busiest planting season upon her (four crews out on jobs), I volunteered to pinch-hit for her on this blog thing. I thank Selena for allowing me to post a male point of view about cougars and their mates. Oh yeah, I want to thank Cris Anson, too, for telling our story so well.
I?ll say it to anyone who will listen: An older woman is a good way of ADDING HEAT to a man?s life.
Encouraged by friends she met at RomantiCon, widowed landscape contractor Giselle Sheridan decides she?s finally ready to take the cougar challenge and find a younger man to have sex with. Except she?s too busy during planting season to go on the prowl.
CPA Conlan Trowbridge is battling the IRS deadline for his clients, but when Giselle saunters into his office with a tax question, all he can think of is sex. She?s all luscious curves and smoldering brown eyes, and he doesn?t care if she?s a dozen years older, she?s a wet dream come true.
Oh yeah, they?re both ready for some hot and heavy sex?in the tub, parking lots, their offices?anywhere and everywhere. But Giselle is afraid her age will bother Con, and her long-time foreman has designs on her, in more ways than one. When Giselle faces some hard decisions, will it all add up to her being able to keep the heat?
Excerpt of ADDING HEAT:
Copyright ? Cris Anson, 2010
All Rights Reserved, Ellora?s Cave Publishing, Inc.
As they leisurely made their way over mildly rolling hills, Con noticed some fields awaited the plow and some had already been turned, exuding the unmistakably fecund smell of the rich Bucks County soil.
But only half his brain was engaged in rural delights. The less relaxed half decided that Larry Pulaski was going to be trouble. A couple inches taller and fifty pounds heavier than Con, the foreman had scrutinized Giselle as though she was a marble goddess in a museum come to life. He?d damn near seen drool seep out of the older man?s mouth, and he couldn?t blame him. The sight of Giselle Sheridan in tight spandex had brought whips and blindfolds to mind and sent blood straight to his cock, enough that the other man had noticed.
And he?d been ready to jump her bones with just the slightest encouragement. Which encouragement his testosterone-drenched brain thought he?d detected in the way she?d all but ripped off his shirt while they?d kissed. Hell, the luscious feel of her sandwiched between him and the truck pushed him to the edge of his control.
It was so unlike Con to lose it like that. But his companion epitomized his dream woman. Petite but possessed of curves luscious enough to make the devil weep. Skin so glowingly healthy in the sun she couldn?t possibly be wearing makeup. Eyes like a bottomless bowl of chocolate sauce.
Why on earth he hadn?t suggested, say, bringing some chick flicks to watch while snuggling together on her sofa and sipping a good shiraz, he couldn?t answer. She?d simply pole-axed his brain the day they?d met at the Senior Center. He?d been a little surprised when she?d offhandedly mentioned her age?she sure didn?t look forty-four?but his cock certainly didn?t care about their dozen-year age difference. He hoped she was broad-minded enough to feel the same.
A glance at his watch told him they?d been at it for a half hour. How the hell could he have thought biking was a good idea? He?d dropped back every now and again for the sublime pleasure of watching her ass cheeks tauten and loosen as she pedaled. He was getting hornier by the minute.
Just as he was about to suggest turning back, he recognized the street they had turned onto. She?d led him in a long square and they were heading for her property.
And in the slanting late-afternoon sun, her sweat-kissed skin shimmered golden. A picture of her lounging sweaty and smiling?and naked?between his navy-blue sheets instantly made more blood pool between his legs.
Whoa, cock. Down. He?d have to get off the bike and stand pretty soon, and he?d better not look like an adolescent with his first surreptitious copy of Hustler.
He followed her down the long, dusty driveway, the lush smell of burgeoning spring swirling around him. They alit at the rear of his truck. She rested her bike against the back bumper then made a small sound of distress.
?Did you hurt yourself?? Con reached a hand out to her, ready for any excuse to touch her.
She lifted one racerback strap a few inches off her shoulder. A delicately pale stripe bisected a rather bright red curve of skin. ?I figured the shade trees along the road would protect me. I should have slathered on some SPF.?
?Oh my,? he murmured. ?It looks painful.?
?I?ve survived worse. It?s just, I spend a lot of time outdoors in the nursery or on the job and I should have known better.?
?I keep some aloe vera gel in my biking kit.? He bent forward to unbuckle the kit from behind the back seat of his bicycle and rooted around. He dearly wanted to stroke her skin himself, but the gentleman in him forced him to say, ?Here?s the tube. The label says to apply lavishly.?
Instead of reaching for it, Giselle said, ?I should probably wash the sweat off it first, you know, so it would absorb better.?
Con blinked. Stood stock-still, trying not to picture her doing just that, suds dripping down those firm, heavy breasts. He fought to keep control of his nether regions.
?Do you think you could help me?? Without meeting his eye, she turned and climbed the three steps to her porch, pulled out her key from her fanny pack and unlocked the door.
Bio of Cris Anson:
After the death of my husband of 22 years, it took me three years to come out of my grief and feel alive and open to new experiences. Now I consider myself a senior citizen and ?cougar? ?hey, one is never too old to dream about, or experience, romance.
I enjoy my garden during warm days (it was sad the other day to cut down the peonies and dahlias for the winter) and have discovered Zumba for fun exercising. I?ve been writing since the ?90s and read voraciously across all genres. I?ve published five erotic romance novels, two novellas and two ?Quickies? with Ellora?s Cave, plus a pair of contemporary novels featuring male twins with Cerridwen Press, their mainstream imprint.
Cris Anson?s Website: www.crisanson.com
MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/crisanson
Buy link ? will be available Wednesday, November 24, 2010: http://www.jasminejade.com/ps-8891-50-adding-heat.aspx
I’ve always been fascinated by the cougar craze. I even tried it on for size – once. I much prefer to write about it. Though I have to admit younger can be better in a lot of ways. In fact the DH is younger, but only by a few years.
When the ladies of the Cougar Challenge asked if I’d be interested in writing a book I jumped at the offer. I’ve written a few older women/younger men stories, so I was up for the challenge.
My story – Gettin’ Lucky will be available from Ellora’s Cave on November 17th. Here is a little interview I did with my heroine.
Amber: Marcy what made you decide to take the challenge?
Marcy: Lucky is a massage therapist and knows what to do with his hands. Need I say more?
Amber: I heard your husband left you for a younger woman, was this your way of revenge?
Marcy: No. I was hesitant to go after Lucky because I didn’t want people calling me a cradle robber like my ex, but again, Lucky’s a massage therapist and he finds all the right spots.
Amber: So how did you find out about the cougar challenge?
Marcy: Through my mother if you can believe that. My mom was in the recovery room and flirting with the young doctor. I was so embarrassed, but the nurse said it was normal. She gave me a card for my mom to visit the Tempt the Cougar blog. Needless to say I kept the business card for myself. *grins*
Amber: So do you ?get? Lucky?
Marcy: You’ll have to read to book to find out. Oh and for those of you who like m?nage, Lucky has a brother. *wink*
You can find this and all the other Cougar Challenge books at Ellora’s Cave.
Amber is a multi-published author who spends her time crafty sexy, steaming romances for readers to indulge in. When away from creating fantasies she spends time with her husband, kids and three dogs.
Amber can be found in the following places:
email: amberskyze AT gmail DOT com
A standalone story in the Cougar Challenge series.
Marcy Brown can’t get enough of Lucky, her massage therapist. Lucky’s fingers linger dangerously close to her womanhood and ignite a fire deep within. Marcy isn’t looking for a relationship, but a friend with benefits would be right up her alley. The women of Tempt the Cougar blog swear by younger men, but Marcy doesn’t want to train someone. She wants a man who can give her orgasm after orgasm.
Lucky offers to be her secret lover and help her realize all her fantasies. Marcy will discover the excitement of being taken from behind and unexpectedly. She also savors the deliciousness of being with two men.
All bets are off when this Cougar is challenged to get her growl on.
Copyright ? AMBER SKYZE, 2010
All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.
?Isn’t he hot, sweetie??
?Mom!? Marcy groaned.
?What? Is there something wrong with me thinking the young doctor is sexy??
?Mother, please.? Not that there was anything wrong with her admiring the younger doctor. Shit Marcy fantasized about younger men, but she kept it under wraps. She didn’t speak the words out loud.
Marcy wished she could crawl under a rock and die. They were in the recovery room. Her mother had just undergone surgery for her broken wrist. It wasn’t like they were alone. The room was full of other people who had come from surgery too, along with their family members. Marcy looked around to see if anyone else was listening to her mother’s tirade. She couldn’t believe her mother was talking about how hot the doctor was in front of all these people. Christ, he was young enough to be her son, possibly grandson.
?Thank you,? the doctor said. ?Now I want you to rest for the next few days. No using those fingers, either. You need to give your body time to recuperate.?
?Anything you say, Doctor.?
Marcy watched as her mother made googly eyes at the doctor.
?Do you make house calls?? she asked, reaching out with her good hand to touch him.
?They don’t allow us to go to patients’ homes, but I’ll see you in a few days at my office. All right??
?If you insist.?
?I’ll see you soon.? He patted her mother’s leg before rushing off to his next patient.
Marcy looked down at her mother.
?I can’t believe you just said those things to the doctor, Mother,? she whispered.
?It’s all right, Ms. Brown,? the nurse said. ?There’s nothing to be ashamed of. Lots of women enjoy the company of younger men.?
Not my mother and certainly not me. Though she couldn’t deny the growing attraction she’d been feeling for Lucky. Lately every time he massaged her he came dangerously close to her pussy, stirring up tingling sensations she hadn’t felt in a very long time. Thankfully her vibrator gave her the relief she craved after leaving her weekly massages, because she couldn’t risk losing Lucky. Entering into anything sexual with him would cross too many boundaries for her. She might have to change massage therapists and that would be a pity.
?I appreciate your understanding, but that doctor could be her grandson.? She knew she was exaggerating, but seriously. Her mother was too old to be drooling over the doctor.
The nurse laughed.
Marcy didn’t find anything funny about her mother fawning over the young stud. Yes, he was cute, not her type, but nice-looking.
?Stop being so uptight, Marcy. Just because Dan wasn’t smart enough to stick around doesn’t mean you’re a dead fish. You can have a little fun if you know what I mean.? Her mother winked.
Marcy wanted to flee the recovery room.
?It’s the anesthesia.? The nurse patted her hand.
?Thanks.? Marcy looked at her name tag. ?Elizabeth.?
?No problem. I have a few things to check on, but I’ll be back shortly. Don’t worry about your mother. Once the anesthesia wears off she’ll probably forget the things she said.?
God she prayed the nurse was right. She couldn’t have her mother talking like this.
?I appreciate your understanding.?
The nurse nodded before heading off. She returned an hour later.
?Here are your discharge papers,? Elizabeth said. ?And here’s something just in case your mom is serious.?
Marcy took the business card.
?Tempt the Cougar? What’s this??
In a hushed tone, Elizabeth explained. ?It’s a blog where women who want to experience the thrill of younger men gather.?
?Oh no. My mother definitely doesn’t need this.? Marcy attempted to hand the card back to her.
?Take it. You never know.?
?I’m sorry, but I do know. This is not something my mother would be interested in.?
?Then keep it for yourself. You never know, you might find it interesting.? She rushed off before Marcy could object.
Shifting Gears Interview:
Lynn Madison: So, Sloan, we meet again. How do you like being on this side of the questions?
Sloan Desai: Somehow it’s a little less fun over here.
Lynn: Ha! Well, don’t expect me to go easy on you. You certainly enjoyed harassing me a few months ago.
Sloan: Yes, but that was before we were friends. Before we realized we shared a love for erotic romances and ended up dating inseparable men.
Lynn: Is that what you’re calling it?
Sloan: I mean, that sounded bad… what I meant was…
Lynn: I’m not embarrassed to admit our friendship is a little more involved than most, you don’t have to hedge for my sake. Look, our guys are best friends, we’re best friends, the four of us hang out constantly as we travel the world on the race circuit. I don’t think it’s a big stretch to admit we’re compatible in a lot of ways.
Sloan: I suppose you’re right as usual. Remember the day we all went to Cheung Chau off the coast of Hong Kong? I think I knew from that day on that the bond between the four of us would last forever. It was also the first time I noticed the tension between Sebastian and Marco.
Lynn: Good thing you channeled that energy into something constructive, a positive way to work off all that excess energy.
Sloan: You know there are lots of strangers out there reading this, right? I’m not sure Sebastian and Marco are ready for the world to know about their feelings for each other.
Lynn: Too late, hon. Didn’t you know Jayne Rylon wrote a book about us? There are no secrets left. You can read all about our foursome in Shifting Gears.
Sloan: I hope she made me hot.
Lynn: You and me both! Come on, let’s head back to our guys before they can get into trouble without us.
Sloan: I hope they get into trouble with us.
Lynn: You and me both. Again.
An Excerpt From: SHIFTING GEARS
Copyright ? JAYNE RYLON, 2010
All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.
?Oh my God!?
The woman on the corrugated aluminum bleacher several rows in front of Sloan turned with wide eyes when Sloan shouted. She caught Sloan?s stare on the sexy cover of her erotic romance novel and flipped it closed?cover side down?discretely.
?Sorry, didn?t mean to startle you.? Sloan smiled. ?I know how it is when you?re lost in a good book. And that book is fan-fucking-tastic! I love Mari Carr. Her stories are smoking hot. Especially the m?nages. Yum.?
The woman grinned and nodded. ?I?ve read almost all of hers. My reading group back in the US mailed me this one. It arrived last night and I?m halfway done already. I tried to ration it out?a chapter a day?but it?s impossible.?
?Thank God for ebook readers, huh? I don?t know what I would do if I didn?t have access to all the new releases from this side of the globe.? Sloan stepped into the stands then picked her way down the incline, closer to the woman, careful not to slip in her three-inch heels.
At least she?d worn jeans to the race site today instead of her usual skirted suit. ?I hear that. It can get lonely being a foreigner in a country where you don?t speak the language. Especially one as difficult to pick up as Mandarin or Cantonese. Reading keeps me from getting too homesick, though it leads to other?complications.?
When the woman laughed, her entire face brightened. Around Sloan?s age, close to forty, she seemed carefree and infectiously happy. ?I know what you mean. Or at least I used to. Now I have a young stud to keep me occupied when I get revved up. I?m engaged to Sebastian Fiori. The driver for??
?Oh! Don?t worry, I know who he is. Sexy as sin and a four-time world champion rally car racer to boot. So you must be Lynn Madison, you bitch.?
The humongous diamond flashing on the woman?s finger had confirmed Sloan?s suspicions.
Talk of Bastian and the alluring cougar who?d tamed him had run rampant this season. Scores of young sex goddesses mourned their loss. Many had tried for years to snag him or his luscious navigator Mark Rossi, but none had succeeded in tempting either guy into more than a one-night stand.
Until Sebastian fell head over heels in love on first sight last season. Everyone agreed he?d never performed better. Lynn must be good for the man.
What was good for the driver was good for the sport.
And that was good for Sloan.
?It?s true.? Lynn sighed and her eyes took on a faraway look. ?I?m the luckiest woman alive.?
?I?m Sloan Desai, by the way.? She held out her hand, but Lynn hugged her instead of shaking it.
?Sorry, but after two minutes I feel like I?ve known you forever. Have a seat.? Lynn gestured with the spine of her novel toward the racetrack, which snaked past the base of the stadium they sat in. ?You know, Bastian?s mentioned you before. I think we might?ve even talked on the phone once when you scheduled some of his interviews. You?re the publicist for the league, right??
?Yep. That?s me.? Sloan winked. ?In charge of keeping the boys out of trouble with the media, managing their images and bringing fans in by the truckload.?
?Seems like you?re doing a great job. I heard the first couple days of the exhibition are sold out.?
?They are. Thanks.?
?So how do you like China so far??
The event would take place in Guangdong province, about a half-hour outside Guangzhou, in a few weeks?a great chance for the teams to tune up or experiment in the off-season. The crews had arrived early to acclimate, which meant Sloan had to be on-site to defuse any?situations?that could cause trouble with the local hosts.
Full of testosterone and daring, the guys in the league sometimes crossed the line.
?I haven?t been able to do much sightseeing. I have to stick fairly close-by.? Sloan shrugged.
?Yeah, I know what you mean.? Lynn grimaced. ?The teams do tend to get rowdy on occasion. Maybe you can take a day trip or two with me. I write travel guides for a living, so I like to check out as much as I can in the areas we visit. Sebastian gets nervous when I?m out on my own though. Especially in locations a little more exotic.?
?You don?t seem like the kind of woman to sit around and wait for a man simply to ease his mind. A woman after my own heart, by the way.?
?You?re right, I?m no shrinking violet.? Lynn grinned. ?But I worry that if he?s worried, he?ll be distracted. The sport is dangerous enough as it is. Plus, I miss him if I stray too far.?
?I hope ?him? is me.? A deep growl sounded from behind their spot on the bench. Sitting side by side, neither woman had heard the soft soles of Sebastian?s racing sneakers on the concrete as he approached. ?Or I?ll have to kick some ass and those days are supposed to be behind me.?
Sloan swallowed hard at the jibe from the other guy who strode toward them?Mark Rossi. It was either that or moan aloud at his spectacular build. Thick muscles filled out his racing jumpsuit to perfection. She wished she?d seen him going instead of coming so she could check out his killer ass, but the bulge at his crotch and the humor in his warm eyes made for scrumptious consolation prizes.
She?d spied him from across the room at events she?d arranged, but usually she had a job to do while in attendance. Of course she?d found herself staring at promo shots of him on more occasions than she cared to admit, but never before had she been able to take her time and study his legendary features in person?bold cheekbones, olive skin and glossy, sandy hair.
And, shit, now she was staring.
Maybe her imagination played tricks on her, but it seemed as if he might be gawking in return.
Interview with Trey Sandoval (character in HAT TRICK by Cerise DeLand)
The unique aspect of my relationship with my partners?Belle Sterling and my old buddy, Gage Wagner?is that we each know how to share.
True, for two men to share one woman is different. For one woman to enjoy two men together and equally, even more rare.
But the three of us do it. Every hour, every day.
How can that be, you ask?
It started when Gage and I went to college together and learned that cooperating was better than competing.? Years ago, we formed a business together and we?ve made a fortune. In real estate development.
And in our private life together?
A few months ago, Gage and I found Belle together and made a fantastic life.
Belle is older than Gage and me. But that doesn?t worry any of us. We adore Belle, sexy, funny, savvy lady that she is.? She loves us both equally in and out of bed. So Gage and I count ourselves among the luckiest men alive.
To have one woman who loves you, admires you and adores you back is one big bonus. That for the three of us, we?ve got a rare thing going on is the best hat trick of all.
BIO: What?s a gal to do if she hails from D.C., lives now deep in the heart of Texas, travels often everywhere, and adores Paris, Florence, London, Tokyo and all points east and west?
She becomes an author who can write about those romantic places. And if your sweet tooth craves spies, pirates, body guards and gutsy women of today and yesteryears of medieval and Regency England, then she is the author you crave for smoldering erotic encounters and delicious love affairs!
Her name? Cerise DeLand.
What?s more is that Cerise is the award-winning author of 18 print novels of mystery, mainstream and romance with St. Martin?s Press, Pocket Books and Kensington. Her books have been on every book club list you can name, including Featured Selections of The Mystery Guild, Doubleday and Rhapsody. And when she isn?t dreaming up fiction? Cerise also writes non-fiction.
Busy lady. Happy writer.
A story in the Cougar Challenge series.
Fit, fab and forty-five, Belle Sterling chomps at the bit to accept the Cougar Challenge. But finding a younger man in her one-horse Texas town is one giant problem?until two scrumptious men stroll into her office.
Gage Wagner and Trey Sandoval have been best buddies since college and know how to share?everything. When they meet luscious Belle, they know she needs the good lovin? two men can provide?together.
Belle?s a regular gal and putting two men in her saddle seems like a dream. Then she tries it. More than once.
An Excerpt From: HAT TRICK
Copyright ? CERISE DELAND, 2010
All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.
?I know for certain, honey,? Belle Sterling told her newest client, twenty-two-year old bride-to-be Marilee Betterton, ?that sleeping single in a double bed does not make for a happy life. Not after you?ve been married to a man you adore.?
She smiled at the young woman who sat opposite her in her office. ?In fact, I have just three pieces of advice for each new bride who hires my planning services. Love the man you marry. Love him so well that ?keeping only unto him? is no hardship. And commit to doing whatever you each want in bed where all great marriages are made.?
?Oh, you needn?t worry on that score, Miz Sterling. My mama says exactly the same thing.?
Does she now? That?s why Doreen?s had more lovers than a bonobo monkey in her forty-five hectic years on this earth? ?Not hard to do, either. To love a man.?
?I reckon I have loved Brent since we were in kindergarten. And definitely since high school. He?s going on to pro football, you know.?
?I?m just so excited. We?re moving to Dallas and I get to meet all the men on the team.? Her eyes lit up like the year-round Christmas lights on her mama?s front porch. ?Imagine that.?
Belle did. And she tried not to wince at the feeling Brent Fuller was gonna get when he saw his new little wife bat her baby browns at his buddies. ?Well, Marilee, let?s meet again next week. Is this a good day and time for you?? Belle looked at her calendar on the computer screen as the young woman agreed. ?Good. Do bring your tentative list of invitees and we?ll see what our potential sites are for the reception.?
?Mama wants to come, too.? The girl was fishing for feedback.
Doreen Betterton and Belle were not friends. Never had been since Doreen tried to scoop Walt Sterling from Belle when they were all in high school. But Belle was ready to let bygones be bygones. Walt had never cottoned to Doreen. Never took her bait, either. Besides, Walt was gone now and their married life had been twenty-two years of the finest bliss a woman could imagine. Plus, Doreen was welcome to the pickings around here. No man within a hundred miles interested Belle enough to get her pussy wet, and even if he succeeded, he wouldn?t know what to do with it.
Belle cleared her throat and smiled. ?I hope she does come with you. There are so many things to decide, Marilee, and your mother will be a great help to you in this.?
?That?s right. Mama says I?m gonna be a better wife than she ever was.?
Belle couldn?t resist the lure. ?How?s that??
?She says she just knows that Brent is the right man for me and that we are going to be married forever.?
But minutes later, watching spoiled-rotten Marilee preen, rise from her chair and strut her toned little ass out of her office, Belle wasn?t going to give a plug nickel that the young filly would or could take any of her suggestions.
?Of course, the girl is twenty-two,? Belle muttered as the tiny bells on her door knob rang out Marilee?s exit. ?Who knows what love or marriage is all about at that age?? Belle whispered to herself.
Yeah. Well. I had a mother and father who taught me how to love. Totally. No one and nothing else greater than the union. Not too many who know how to do that nowadays.
Belle sighed, hit a few buttons on her computer screen to close the files on the Betterton-Fuller wedding and pushed away from her desk. She stood, ran her hands down her slim skirt and strode to the window. The brilliant Texas sun hit her in the face and even though she had jacked up the air conditioner to seventy-five this morning, August in southwest Texas meant triple digit heat by noon. She inhaled the steamy beauty of her little hometown. Main Street was humming. The Duck?s Bill Bakery was jumping with customers hot for their German crullers. Jack?s Auto Shop was buzzing with a couple of ranchers who had scraped the paint off each other?s pick-ups yesterday. And one of her two best friends, Aurora Mansfield, waved at her while watering her geraniums in front of her flower shop.
And me? I?m standing here wondering if my life is now only about helping twenty-somethings get hitched.
Sure. She loved the wedding business. The organization. The cake. The bouquets. The fun of invitations and receptions and gowns.
The thrill of watching a man eye his bride. The way his gaze would flow over her face, her throat, down to her breasts.
Belle would often play a silent game with herself noting how long it took for the bride to sense her groom?s eyes on her. How long before she would squirm, feeling the cream in her pussy, the throb of her labia, the need to have his fingers play with her and open her wide for his mouth. And his cock.
Belle squeezed her own thighs together. Felt her own insides gush with moisture. Remembering desire.
Remembering Walt Sterling. His blue eyes on her lips. His firm mouth on her throat. Her nipples. His teeth nipping her areolas. His rough tongue licking her until she squealed. His fingers drifting down her ribs, caressing her stomach, twining in her cunt hair. ?Love your pretty red pussy hair, Belle of mine,? he would croon as he?d lift her against him, by that time both of them stark naked. ?Like a beacon. Gonna make you come hard for me, baby. How would you like me today?? he?d whisper as he bit her earlobe. ?Slow or fast??
Wild. Often. Furious. She?d tell him anything she wanted that day.
?In my mouth? In your sweet ass?? He?d offer her a few more options.
She loved sex with him any way at all. All the time. Any time. Day. Night. In the barn standing up. In their truck sitting down. In their kitchen on their table, their breakfast dishes bumping to their body-rocking rhythm.
So long ago. Three years to be exact.
?God. I loved you, Walt.? Belle jumped, stunned at herself that she?d said it out loud. ?Isn?t there any man alive who?s your equal? I?m lonely here, honey.?
Her gaze ran up and down Main Street and the answer she got this morning was the same as the one she?d had yesterday and the month before and the year before that.
?I?m not finding one I want to be with. In bed or out.? Not in this one-horse town. Too small to offer variety. And few strangers strolled in.
Problem was, Belle knew precisely two local men who were eligible. Both were widowers. Nice guys. But over sixty. Fifteen years older than she! And frankly, she needed a man who could not only get it up, but get it going on for more than five minutes of slam-bam. She liked sex. Really liked sex. Funky, funny, feverish sex. Walt, who had been two years older than she, had taught her to need it, crave it and initiate it. So she wasn?t about to settle for lukewarm lovin? when she knew how lusty, sweaty, energetic fucking could improve a woman?s attitude, to say nothing of her complexion or the ability of her hungry little kitty to howl.
?I can?t go on like this,? she muttered and strode back to her computer. ?I need a young man with class, imagination and raging hormones. But damn if I know how and where to find one!? She plunked herself in her chair, revved up the internet and surfed over to her friends? blog at Tempt the Cougar. Belle had discovered their exciting personal stories about hooking up with younger men, then three months ago she?d begun to correspond with a few of them individually. Over the last year, each of the women had consciously decided to seek out younger men to satisfy a need for great sex. To date, each of them developed satisfying relationships with their partners. Belle didn?t need a long-term relationship so much as she needed a good romp in the hay.
BUY Link for HAT TRICK 😕www.jasminejade.com/ps-8700-50-hat-trick.aspx
Okay, so this is me, Darci-Rae Whitlam, a mild-mannered albeit somewhat quirky high school English teacher from Newcastle, Australia who only recently became a cougar. Never thought I’d grow fur and a tail, but I have to admit, they suit me.
How did I transform from a forty year old woman into a sexual creature who makes love every night to a man more than ten years younger than her? A woman with a stuffy, conservative, famous writer for an older sister and an even more famous literary icon for a father? A woman who quite cheerfully thumbed her nose at society in just about every aspect of her life except for the one that really counted – affairs of the heart? Ohh, that really is a tale to tell. And the equally quirky erotic romance author, Lexxie Couper told it very well (check out her account of how I became the fastest cougar of the Tempt The Cougar members in her rather naughty book, Copping A Feel. Yep, that’s me on the cover…lol)
So, what do you want to know about me? I should start by saying one of my very good friends is a New Yorker with attitude called Rachel Bridge. I’ve been friends with Rachel for so long I can’t remember a time when she wasn’t giving me a hard time in that sexy accent of hers. One day I was chatting with her via Skype (gotta love that thing, don’t you?) when I let it slip how damn sexy I thought the new but young PE teacher was (that’s Phys. Ed. teacher for you non Aussies). Rachel didn’t say anything about the age difference and by the end of the conversation I’d forgotten I’d even mentioned it. Rachel of course, hadn’t.
Two days later, I received an email from her with an invitation to join Tempt the Cougar (www.TempttheCougar.com)?Apparently and unbeknownst to me, Rachel had been through her own transformation from woman to sexual feline. She was a cougar and threw down the challenge to me. Find a young, hot stud and “cougarize” myself. Of course, I thought she was a lunatic. Remember I mentioned my older sister? The stuffy, conservative famous one? Yeah, well, for reasons I can’t really explain, that sister of mine had a habit of being in my mental ear all the time about the way I behaved. Vivian would be horrified, mortified and any other negative “ied” you can think of if I had a relationship with a younger man. Truly. And the Australian newspapers would join in her horror and the headlines would begin. I was going to say no, I really was, but then, Rachel rang me (it was 3am in the US) and before I knew it, I’d not only joined the blog but accepted her challenge – find a younger man and live out a fantasy I’ve long denied.
Five minutes later, that’s kinda what I did.
At this point I should point out I was in the middle of organising a trip to RomantiCon in the US. Have you been? A convention for readers and writers of erotic romance, RomantiCon was my Mecca (and the first time I would actually get to meet Rachel in person). It was an innocent but stupid click on the internet that introduced me to my “cub”. Or maybe it was fate? Or the cyber gods? Anyway, to travel to the US Aussies need a US visa waiver. We do this online at a very official site run by the US government. Of course, me being me, arranged my visa waiver at a fraudulent site, a site set up to specifically steal people’s identity. I was so excited about the convention I didn’t realise I’d become the victim of identity theft until a very fine, very sexy, very cute detective from Sydney’s Cyber-Crime unit turned up on my doorstep. Detective Jarrod St James thought I was the criminal. I thought he was gorgeous. There was some misunderstandings, some not so subtle flirting, a discussion about copulating teddy bears and seven hours later, I wrote my second blog for Tempt the Cougar, proclaiming challenge very successfully met. Four hours after that I had the best breakfast ever cooked by the sexiest Detective ever. My detective. He still makes me breakfast every day since and he’s still as sexy as ever. Yes, life is good for Ms Whitlam, it truly is
There’s something to be said for accepting challenges in life.
(If you’re still with me after all that rambling, here’s an excerpt from Lexxie Couper’s Copping A Feel. I’d like to say she exaggerated the situation a little for laughs, but I can’t. It’s pretty much exactly how it happened. Including the prank phone call from one of my students. That boy has been on permanent detention since *grin*)
A standalone title in the Cougar Challenge series.
Darci-Rae Whitlam doesn?t know which is more disturbing, receiving scads of obscene phone calls?or getting so turned-on by said phone calls. Then there?s the email from her American friend, Rachel, taunting Darci with something called a Cougar Challenge. Just the thought of seducing a younger man is enough to permanently soak her knickers. No wonder her ever-disapproving sister thinks she?s oversexed!
Cybercrime Detective Jarrod St. James is investigating a case of stolen identity. He quickly learns the fiery redhead claiming to be Darci-Rae Whitlam is the real deal (his shoulder trapped in the jaws of her gargantuan dog might have sped that decision along). He really should go back to Sydney, continue tracking the imposter who?s operating a phone-sex business in Darci?s name?but the woman proves too tempting. Job be damned, he has to have her. The fact she?s got a titillating challenge to complete only helps his case.
Darci just may be the fastest cougar to snag her cub yet. Being the victim of a crime has never been more fun!
An Excerpt From: COPPING A FEEL
Copyright ? LEXXIE COUPER, 2010
All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.
Pursuing a case of identity theft beyond the computer lab was exciting?but wasn?t meant to end up in a quiet street in coastal?Newcastle. What kind of criminal mastermind lived in a neat little two-story surrounded by gum trees, wattle and tree ferns? With a 1996 Volvo in the driveway? A Volvo wearing a ?Public Education. It?s Our Future? bumper sticker, no less?
Jarrod breathed another drawn-out sigh. Maybe he?d been too long in front of a computer after all. This couldn?t be right. This felt wrong.
?But this?is the only address for someone claiming to be?Darci-Rae Whitlam,? he muttered, scanning the front windows, the gauzy curtains and wide awnings concealing the interior from his inspection. ?And it?was someone claiming to be?Darci-Rae Whitlam who spoke to you on the phone a mere three hours ago.?
With alarming ease, his cock twitched at the memory. The woman?whoever she really was?had the most amazing voice. A voice created to send a man wild. She?d said very little that could condemn her. Asked a very husky question about what he would do with his tongue after he brought her to orgasm with his fingers, wondered if he had staying power,?pondered?what it would be like to be tied up by him. But in that voice of hers, like smoke and velvet playing in the back of her throat?it was enough to set his groin on rock-hard alert and his pulse quickening beyond fast.
Is that the real reason you?re here? ?Cause a possible crook got you horny with just her voice?
For the third time he let out a protracted sigh, this one tainted with deprecating disgust. Fuck, what was he doing?
?Catching a criminal, Detective.? His growled whisper rumbled deep in his chest. ?That?s it. Catching a criminal who?s stolen the real Ms. Whitlam?s life?and making her pay.?
He forced away the sensation of stirring steel in his cock, narrowed his stare on the front door of the house and crossed the front yard, the delicate perfume of the native violet ambling through the flowerbeds wafting into each breath he took.
Climbing the five steps leading to the front porch on silent feet, he unclipped the holster on his?Glock, planted his feet slightly apart, squared his shoulders and raised his hand to knock on the door. Ready to take on whatever came?
The door flung open and a goddess with brilliant green eyes and wild, fiery-red hair smacked straight into him.
Followed immediately by a bear cleverly disguised as a dog. A?growling dog.
He stumbled back a step, grabbing the goddess?s upper arms even as the bear?err, dog?slammed two paws roughly the size of the Opera House against his chest.
?Eep!? the goddess cried, and Jarrod?s balls prickled in instant interest as the sexiest voice he?d ever heard caressed his ears for the second time that day.
Still struggling under the dog?s massive force, he tightened his grip on her arms, his fingers telling him exactly what his mind had already decided. The goddess was smooth, warm and firm to the touch. Sex and sin and toned feminine strength in one incredible package. He could feel her triceps flex and coil beneath his hands, a realization that made his balls not just prickle with interest but rise up and grow heavy.
Fuck, he was in trouble.
The dog shoved him, teeth bared, muzzle wrinkled, and before his stupefied brain could process the situation, he fell backward, stumbling down the front porch steps, dog and goddess joining him?reluctantly, by the sounds of the dog?s snarls and the goddess? surprised shout?in a very undignified free fall.
The ground hit his ass, or more to the point, his ass hit the ground, at the exact moment the dog decided snarling just wouldn?t cut it anymore and the goddess decided she needed to slam into him with her entire weight. Wicked teeth latched onto his shoulder just as a slender, curved knee rammed into his crotch, followed by a palm heel to the solar plexus.
Jarrod?s groin and chest exploded in black stars of pain. He let out a shout that sounded like a croak, thanks in part to the strangled pain in his chest and the dog?s canines threateningly latched to his shoulder.
Yep, definitely been in front of a computer for too long, Jarrod.
The surreal thought flittered through his reeling mind, seconds before another palm heel struck him in the jaw.
?Let go of me, dickhead,? the husky voice growled, a dangerous caress. ?Or I?ll let my dog eat you.?
?Wait, wait,?wait!? Jarrod choked out, struggling under the massive dog?s rather insistent attack. Thank God for his thick cotton shirt, otherwise his shoulder would look as if it?d been through a cheese grater. He gripped the goddess?s arms tighter still, the base?male part of his mind pointing out she reclined full stretch atop him now,?her?firm softness separated from his body by nothing more than two layers of clothing and a seriously protective mutt.
The thought sent a surge of eager blood through his veins, flooding his already semi-hard dick with wildly inappropriate intent. Unable to do anything else, Jarrod flipped the goddess and her hellhound, dislodging the dog?s teeth in the process, and straddled them both. ?Wait!? he panted, staring down into eyes the color of raw emeralds. With an abrupt shift in position, he pressed his knee?gently but forcefully?on the dog?s neck, pinning the animal to the ground so the bloody thing couldn?t take any more bites out of his hide, and then grabbed the goddess?s wrists and pinned them to the ground beside her head.
?Get off me!? she snarled through clenched teeth, squirming beneath him. ?Who the hell are you? Get off me, you prick.?
She bucked again and Jarrod bit back a groan. With all her thrashing and writhing, there was no way she would have missed the growing bulge in his jeans. Damn it, his bloody erection kept poking her in the belly every time she moved, contained by his jeans or not.
Way too long in front of a computer, Jarrod. Way too long.
?Wait,? he snapped one last time, and for a dizzying moment he wondered what the hell had happened to his vocabulary. Maybe he?d left it on the front porch along with his pride and professionalism.
Hi! My name is Larissa Cross but I?m better known as Rissa. Thanks, Selena, for giving me this opportunity to tell others about myself, the Cougar Challenge and the author who wrote my story, Nicole Austin.
I first heard about the challenge quite by accident while surfing the net for pictures of hot younger men and stumbled across a very interesting blog, Tempt the Cougar www.TempttheCougar.com. Discovering other women who enjoy younger men and were willing to share their experiences was a welcome surprise. Monica?s challenge for each of us to get out there and find a younger man to fulfill our fantasies couldn?t have come at a more perfect time for me.
You see, with the big four-oh looming, I was in the process of making major changes in my life, going from Army widow and soccer mom to cougar on the prowl. My son left for college and I was living alone for the first time.? I sold the house, bought a condo, shopped for a sexy new wardrobe, traded the mini-van for a red convertible and got tattooed. With eight weeks of vacation from teaching grade school, I was looking forward to a summer full of hot lovin? with younger men and headed for the beach to stalk my prey.
That new-to-me used convertible had some problems. A former student and his friends?a rather protective band of alpha males-in-training, helped save the essentials, including my precious e-book reader loaded with yummy erotic romances. But as my car went up in flames so did my wonderful summer plans.
Yeah, to heck with that! I decided to take advantage of the situation and have some fun checking out the emergency workers. My luck changed when sexy fire god JD Harmon, a prime hunk of cougar bait, headed right for me.
Score! First time out and a tall, buff younger man asked me out. Whoo-damn!
With his shaved head, tattooed biceps and erotic body piercing, JD was just what I need for my first tumble. While the only thing on my to-do list was a one-night stand, JD had plans of his own. JD was out to tame me and capture my heart, and it turns out there?s a lot more to him than those bad boy good looks. He?s the kind of man Nicole Austin would refer to as a triple threat?sexy, sophisticated and charming.
I finally got to meet all the other ladies from the blog in person at RomantiCon. What a blast! If you get the chance to attend, I highly recommend doing so. Having your picture taken with the delicious Cavemen cover models is a thrill every woman should experience at least once. Meeting them out on the dance floor? Heaven!
While at RomantiCon, I also met my favorite erotic romance author, Nicole Austin. Her scorching hot, provocative stories push boundaries and release inhibitions, resulting in extreme reader satisfaction. Read my story, Summer of the Cougar, and you?ll discover why a book reviewer dubbed Ms. Austin, ?The queen of steamy romance scenes.?
Copyright ? NICOLE AUSTIN, 2010
Rissa plopped down on top of the sturdy molded-plastic cooler with a heavy sigh as her wonderful plans for the summer disintegrated. In need of some emotional support, she longed to call one of the cougars.
What would they do in this situation?
A wicked grin tugged at her lips. The cougars would tell her to check out the emergency workers and if possible get pictures. They?d also tell Rissa to flirt her ass off and get one of those hot young studs to take her home.
?Who owns the car??
She looked up as one of the firemen headed in her direction while scribbling information on a battered clipboard.
?Uh?me. I do.?
Oh yeah, I do. Please and thank you!
Damn, the man was gorgeous. Better than any of the pictures the girls posted on their Tempt the Cougar blog.
He was tall, at least six-one, and had a shaved head. A bit of dark stubble covered his scalp, ran along his square jawline and above his mouth. A very sexy mouth. He had to be in his early twenties by her estimation. Not too young or old. Perfect age for cougar prey.
Yes, what is your name, hot stuff? Please tell me.
Broad shoulders blocked out the sun as he moved to stand before her. What she wouldn?t give to have him strip off the fire gear and let her see his body. From his solid build she guessed he had lots of yummy muscles. Maybe even a six-pack. She easily pictured running her fingers over his tanned skin, feeling the sinew ripple beneath her fingertips.
?That?s Miss Cross,? Tyler, her proud protector, stated. ?She?s a teacher in Tampa. Elementary school.?
What a wonderful, helpful boy.
The fire god nodded toward the police officer ready to ticket the boys? pickup. ?If that?s your truck, you might want to move it.?
?Aw crap,? one of the boys groaned. The group loped off, leaving Rissa alone with the hunk whose sharp focus all of a sudden made her nervous and fidgety.
He might have been preoccupied earlier but now she had his undivided attention. Coal black eyes took a slow journey from the top of her head down her see-through cover-up, pausing at breasts nearly spilling out of tiny bright blue triangles before dipping down to linger on her tattoo then stroke her legs. And boy did his gaze ever have the impact of a physical caress. Everywhere his eyes touched her skin tightened and long-ignored nerve endings tingled.
If he can do that with a look, imagine what he?d be able to do with those big, strong hands.
That thought notched up the temperature by a good ten degrees and had sweat trickling between breasts that felt swollen. Her body hummed with sexual need and her nipples were standing at attention, clearly visible beneath the thin material of her bikini top.
?Hi. I?m JD Harmon.?
He extended a hand and she slid her fingers into his firm grip, biting back a gasp as lightning bolts raced up her arm and headed straight for her core. All those erotic stories she?d been reading had left her ready for some action. And JD the fireman was looking like a prime candidate.
?They?re going to send a wrecker for your car. Insurance company will probably total it since the entire electrical system is toast.?
Rissa held on to his hand as if it was a lifeline and stared up at those mesmerizing dark eyes. She knew he was talking to her but the words didn?t penetrate the haze of lust that had swallowed her whole.
?Rissa,? she absently mumbled. He let go of her hand and a wave of disappointment crashed over her. But then he turned and bumped her hip with his, making a space to sit down. Right next to her on the narrow cooler. Close enough she caught a whiff of sandalwood cologne and clean, masculine sweat. Mmm?he smelled wonderful. Hot and spicy. The right side of his body pressing against her from shoulder to ankle felt even better and gave her a rush of positive vibes.
I am cougar, hear me roar!
?Do you have a way home??
?I?home?? Her voice once again disappeared, along with the original question.
Good idea. Your place or mine?
Summer of the Cougar is currently available in e-book from Ellora?s Cave Publishing and will be part of the print anthology, Cougar Hunt, coming soon. The anthology includes Locked and Loaded by Samantha Cayto and Copping A Feel by Lexxie Couper.
Nicole lives on the sheltered Gulf Coast of Florida, where inspiration can be found sitting under a big shade umbrella on the beach, sipping cold margaritas and watching all the hunks at play. Always an overachiever, Nicole stayed busy earning three college degrees and now splits her time between working in a health care career and writing.
A voracious reader, she never goes anywhere without a book, but started looking for something more. Something hotter. Her passion for erotic romance lead to Nicole?s creation of sizzling characters and boundary pushing stories. Now she lives in an incredible world where fantasy comes to life in bold, vivid detail.
She can often be found conducting research for her steamy stories while chatting with her muse and people watching. Turns out those voyeuristic tendencies are useful after all, who could have guessed.
Locked and Loaded Interview:
Samantha: Welcome Grace. Thank you for giving all of us some insight into how you ended up in the Cougar Challenge. I won?t ask why you looked for a younger man; that?s pretty obvious. <g> But how did you work up the nerve to take that first step and answer the challenge?
Grace: The truth is that I didn?t have to because Mark called me first. I had made up my mind to do it, although I can?t say my decision happened for any particular reason. It was a bunch of little things adding up.
Samantha: Such as?
Grace: Mostly my growing awareness that it was time to do something for me. I had been so focused on others for so long that I pushed aside my own needs and wants. Frustration, longing if you will, built up slowly until I acknowledged that I had to make a move. It helped, too, that my friend, Elizabeth Winters, kicked my butt in gear!
Samantha: So were you always interested in younger men?
Grace: Well, obviously, I used to be interested in guys my own age, and we all just happened to be young. Then as I got older, I found the guys I wanted were staying the same age! LOL But I was in the army and fraternization rules are very tough. It wouldn?t have been appropriate to pursue younger, lower ranked men.
Samantha: Military guys are so hot. It must have been torture to be around them all the time, looking and not touching?
Grace: Oh, yeah! Give me a man in sweaty fatigues and I?m a goner. Now I have my own soldier to play with. Sometimes I have Mark drop and give me twenty as foreplay. Yum.
Samantha: Mark?s still on active duty. How do you cope with the separation and fear of losing him?
Grace: God, it?s hard. I miss him, of course, and I worry. That?s the story for a lot of women (and men) these days. I try not to think too far ahead. I?m hopeful, though. Mark is the perfect man for me in so many ways. His age is really just a bonus ? a really, really arousing bonus!
Samantha Cayto is a Boston-area native who practices as a business lawyer by day while writing erotic romance at night?the steamier the better. She likes to push the envelope when it comes to writing about passion and is delighted other women agree that guy-on-guy sex is the hottest ever.
She lives a typical suburban life with her husband, three kids and four dogs. Her children don?t understand why they can?t read what she writes, but her husband is always willing to lend her a hand?and anything else?when she needs to choreograph a scene.
She is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the New England Chapter and credits RWA, NEC and the wonderful friends she?s made there with helping her become a published author.
Copyright ? SAMANTHA CAYTO, 2010
All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.
?Here you go, Doc Mac, the film for your next patient.?
Dr. Grace McKinnon took the x-rays from the emergency room nurse and flipped through the patient?s file. She raised her eyebrows. ?Drunk and hitting walls at four o?clock in the afternoon. My, my, this young man is ambitious.?
Silvie, a veteran of the ER, merely shook her head. ?I don?t think he?s drunk.?
Grace frowned and took another look at the patient?s chart. ?It says he?s acting belligerent and had to be persuaded to get the x-ray.?
?That?s right. His friend brought him in under protest and cajoled him into being seen. There?s a lot of tension in that young man, but the good news is that the friend not only seems to have the upper hand, he?s also totally ripped. I didn?t feel the need to call in security or anything.?
?Great,? Grace replied with a complete lack of enthusiasm. She was at the end of her shift. Tackling an angry guy who may or may not have been drinking, and who was not happy to have her help was not something to look forward to. She braced for confrontation as she entered the treatment cubicle.
She stopped short when a set of hard eyes locked onto her. Light blue and crystal clear, they were set deep into a square-jawed face right above a strong nose with bit of a crook from a long-ago break. Every detail stood out starkly because the man?s blond hair was cropped short. Not quite a buzz cut, but close. He was tall and muscular, his impressive biceps visible under his t-shirt, and his hands jammed inside the pockets of his jeans.
The sight of this man took her aback. She stood staring at him, drinking in the primal perfection he provided. Her tired body perked up with interest, and she forgot what she was doing for an instant. He was military, had to be given his bearing and the hint of a dog tag chain around his neck. Seeing him brought her back to her own army days. A wistfulness joined the heat flaring in her belly. She had loved serving and loved soldiers, too. But the doctor in her couldn?t ignore the look on the young man?s face. His expression was both weary and concerned.
Grace pulled away from the lure of the man in front of her and turned to the man who had spoken. He was sitting on the examination table, an ice pack over his right hand. This was her patient, not the guy she?d spent a second or two, or hell three, ogling. This one was equally well-built and made her think military, too. His face, though, was haggard and angry, his hair a shaggy mass of reddish curls and his clothes were worn. His expression was pure mad. She worked to be patient.
?Mr. Conroy? I?m Dr. McKinnon.? She put her best doctor tone into her voice, the one that said she was both the detached professional and the caring one. When he didn?t answer, she continued anyway, taking the film out of its folder and shoving it into the light box.
?I have your x-rays here.? She stood back to take a look at the film and bumped into something hard. Blue Eyes had moved up behind her for a closer look. He pulled back with an apology.
?Sorry, ma?am.? There was a slight Southern drawl to his voice. ?I?m worried about Sean?s hand.?
?I understand we have you to thank for getting him in here,? she replied, keeping her tone even, trying not to show how his proximity unnerved her. He was only a kid, for goodness? sake. She could have fifteen years on him, and damn her soul if that point didn?t tickle her deep inside.
Hands still in his pockets, he shrugged and glanced at his friend who stared at the floor, petulant look still plastered on his face. ?I was afraid he?d broken it.? With a nod toward the x-ray, he asked, ?Did he??
Grace pulled away from the lure of the unnamed friend and concentrated on her patient?s test results. ?No, fortunately not.?
?Shit, Mark, I told you so.? Conroy was surly and ungrateful. He was also suffering emotionally. It didn?t take a doctor to see it.
?Watch your language, mister,? the friend, Mark, retorted. ?Sorry, ma?am,? he added with a rueful grimace aimed at Grace.
?Not a problem,? she assured him. ?I?ve heard the word before. I served in the army for over fifteen years.? Now why had she gone and told him something so personal? It was unlike her, unprofessional. Mark?s face lit up at the news, however.
?Who cares?? muttered Conroy, but he shut up and stared at the floor again when Mark shot him a stern look.
Okay, time for her to get her head out of her ass and get these guys on their way. Besides, there was something far more important for her to speak to this Mark about than her military service. ?Mr. Conroy, I?m sending in a nurse to bandage your hand.? Turning to Mark, she added, ?May I speak with you a moment??
?Yes, ma?am.? He gave his friend another look that said, ?Behave yourself? before following Grace out.
She gave the high sign to Sylvie before continuing farther away from the cubicle so she could talk freely. When she judged they were far enough away from Conroy, she turned and hit that wall again. Mark muttered another apology as he backed up a pace. He acted as flustered by the contact as she felt. But that was ridiculous. Her reaction was normal. He was young and ripped and designed by God to get a woman?s juices flowing. She was forty-two and while pretty and fit, also ragged from a tough shift in the ER. No way this guy was into her. A pity because as a younger man, he fitted her idea of a fantasy lover. This wasn?t one of those erotic romance stories she loved to read, however. She put aside her growing attraction and tackled the important issue at hand.
?Why isn?t your friend being seen at the VA hospital?? She crossed her arms as she demanded the answer, trying to put emotional distance between them. This wasn?t a bar, after all.
Mark opened his mouth and then shut it again. A few seconds ticked by before he finally answered. The look on his face told her he had waged some inner battle before picking a reply. ?I had a hard enough time getting him to come here and it?s right around the corner from his apartment.?
?I?m not talking about his hand, Mr.?? She paused waiting for an answer. She was surprised at how interested she was.
?Bennington. Mark Bennington.? He cleared his throat. ?It?s ah, Captain Bennington, actually, of the United States Army.? He grinned briefly, a boyish grin with a cute-as-a-button dimple on the left side. The kind of grin that said he was proud as punch. As well he should be because God, if he was older than his late twenties, he wore it well, and to have the rank of captain was a real achievement.
He extended his hand and she took it. ?Grace McKinnon,? she supplied which was stupid because she had already announced that she was Dr. McKinnon. Everybody knew that doctors stressed the title because they were proud as punch, too, of their achievement and needed to maintain a professional detachment from their patients. Of course this was not her patient. Still.
His hand was warm and rough and squeezed hers with just the right amount of pressure before he let it go. In fact if she used a little bit of imagination, she?d think he held her hand a few seconds longer than necessary. Wow, she must be really tired to think a thing like that. Focus, Grace.
?Okay, as I was saying, Captain Bennington, why isn?t Mr. Conroy being treated at the VA for PTSD? You do know he?s suffering from it??
His expression turned pained. He stared at his feet and rocked back and forth on his heels a few times before heaving a big sigh. ?Yes, ma?am.? When he looked at her again, his eyes were clouded with worry.
It was a kick to her gut. Hot and vulnerable, a deadly combination. She wanted to wrap him in her arms and hold him tight, make everything better. Crazy but the urge was strong. Instead she went with the mundane. ?You don?t have to ma?am me. I?m not in the army anymore.?
He shrugged. ?I am. Habit. Besides, I?m from the South so I grew up calling every woman ma?am, from my mother to the gal serving me fries with my burger.?
?I understand.? To be honest, being called ma?am by this guy turned her on even more. Best not to think about it. She was revved up enough. ?How long has your friend been out?? Yes, talk about your patient, Grace. That?s your job, remember?
?Almost a year. He was up and didn?t reenlist. I had hoped being a civilian would help him. The emails he?s been sending me said otherwise. I?ve got twelve days left of a two-week leave before I deploy again. I?m worried about him.?
?Does he have family around here??
?Yes, ma?am. Sean?s from Boston, but they?re not much help. His father has always told him to man up and deal, you know??
She did know. It was hard for men, especially military men, to face emotional problems. Yes, she had seen plenty of good, strong men fall prey to post-traumatic stress while serving. She was worried. It helped, though, to have a friend who cared. Sean was lucky to have Mark, if only for a few days. Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out her business card and handed it to him.
?Here. I?m not a psychiatrist, and I?d really like your friend to get the help he needs from the right people. But call me if things get worse and you need to talk to someone.?
He took the card and studied it for a moment before putting it into his own pocket. ?Thanks, I will.?
He smiled and man it made him even more attractive and younger looking. Her body jolted in reaction, arousal erupting in all the usual places. Good thing she had crossed her arms. As a doctor, she understood she couldn?t help her body?s response. Her female parts were capable of imaging how good the captain?s male parts would make them feel. They didn?t care that his body wasn?t looking for her middle-aged one with its wrinkles and sags. It wanted an equally young, hard female body to rub against. Even if she was wrong about that and this was the perfect chance for her to take the Cougar Challenge that her friend, Elizabeth Winters, kept urging her to do, the situation was all wrong. Captain Bennington was not her patient, but his friend was and hitting on a guy in the ER was unethical if not downright illegal.
The really dumb part was how much her brain was getting in on the act. Images of her tangled with all those perfect male muscles popped up unbidden. Her body didn?t care about the practical or the ethical. It only knew what it wanted and what it wanted at that moment was Captain Perfect naked in her bed. She mentally shook herself. The whole attraction was ridiculous under the circumstances. This was reality, not a romance story.
She was tired, that was all. All she really needed was to clock out, go home, order delivery from her favorite Chinese restaurant and catch up on episodes of 30 Rock. Then she could retire to her comfy, albeit empty, bed and read her latest book until her body exploded with a sleep-inducing orgasm. Wow that sounded pathetic. A little self-help once in a while was fine, but it had become her way of life. She needed to get out more and date real men, age-appropriate real men. Or, maybe she did need to take the Cougar Challenge. She?d been lurking for a while on the Cougars? blog site. Those women were obviously happy with the way their challenges worked out. They inspired her, although she was still uncertain. She had always been such a sensible, duty-bound woman. Throwing caution to the wind and having a fling with a younger man was so unlike her. Could she do it? She didn?t know. Hanging around any longer with the tempting Captain Bennington wasn?t making her head any clearer. Seeing Sylvie leave the cubicle, she jumped on the opportunity to make a getaway.
?Looks like your friend is all set. Take care and good luck.?
Mark glanced over his shoulder, his mouth tugged in a hard line. ?Thanks.? Wagging her card, he added, ?For everything.?
?You?re welcome.? Grace wheeled around and walked away, trying not to hurry. It was hard. She sensed Mark?s eyes on her all the way down the hall. Damn, maybe she?d better pull out her DVDs and run a Johnny Depp marathon. She needed to put this guy out of her mind and fast.
Hi! I’m so excited to have been invited to do an interview on your blog, Selena! My subject is the heroine of my Cougar Challenge novella, “Nothing but Sex”…Lee Blackhorse.
Fran: Welcome, Lee! I’m so happy you could join me here today.
Lee: I’m a bit nervous, Fran, but here I am. Thanks for inviting me.
Fran: Lee, could you tell our readers a bit about yourself, and how you decided to become a Cougar”?
Lee: OMG! I am still not certain how I finally decided to jump into Cougardom, but I know that it was mostly because of the gals over at the Tempt the Cougar Blog. If I hadn’t found them, I would probably still be single and I would never have taken that leap.
Fran: What do you mean? You didn’t actively set out to snag a hot younger guy?
Lee: Me? No way! Well…maybe…after I finally got up the nerve to post a comment on the blog, they e-mailed me back and encouraged me to at least try. I tell you, it scared the tar out of me to think of tangling with another hot guy at my age!
Fran: Tell us a little about this hot younger guy.
Lee: Um…well…I’d known Mike for a long time. I mean, hell, he was just a kid when he came to my front door and asked me for some odd jobs. He was barely out of high school. I sorta thought he looked kind of hot back then, but you know how it goes…cradle robber stuff. Besides, I was still trying to make a bad marriage work. When I finally grew a brain and divorced Howard, I did my best NOT to think of Mike as a possible lover. I’m twelve years older than him.
Fran: When did you finally start seeing him as a possible lover?
Lee: I had a really bad day…a nasty argument with the ex…and I was crying my eyes out on my front porch when he showed up early for the chores he always did every Saturday. He’s always been such a great guy about helping me. Well, I have always thought he was hot…built…the kind of guy you always wanted to find. But I just couldn’t get past the age difference. Until after the fight with Howard. I found myself looking at those long legs in skin tight jeans…and the way his T-shirt hugged every muscle. OMG! I ran inside and got a big glass of ice water, and looked out the kitchen window…there he was, tugging that sweaty T-shirt off and tossing hay to the animals…I almost orgasmed looking!
Fran: Yeah…I saw the picture you uploaded to the blog. YUM! So what happened then?
Lee: I headed for my computer and logged into the blog. I decided to say how I felt. I thought just commenting would be enough, but then the gals started to IM and e-mail me, and I realized how silly I was being, letting my age stoop me from enjoying looking…and touching…
Fran: So, the others encouraged you to get past the cradle robber ideas?
Lee: And how! If not for their encouragement, I would have let that man slip through my fingers.
Fran: I’m so thrilled that you didn’t! And even more thrilled that you allowed me write your story. Would you mind terribly if I let the readers have a little excerpt from Nothing but Sex?
Lee: Not at all. Please do!
Nothing but Sex
She was unnerved by the feel of his hard, eager body shoving her out the clinic door and toward the car, but when she felt his cock ram between her butt cheeks, she almost gave a yelp of shock. Heat flashed through her as she fumbled to climb into the car and when he asked for help with his seat belt, she tried to hide her hot face from him. Dear Lord! The scent of him nearly made her lose control of her hands. He smelled like a dark pine forest?and like man. Probably from using pine cleaner on the concrete floor of the tack room, and working hard. The combined scents did not repel her. They made her damn mouth water.
But when her knuckles grazed his cock through his jeans and she heard his intake of breath, she lost hold of the buckle and had to fish it back over his lean frame. She clicked the buckle into the latch and sank back into her own seat as he breathed what sounded sort of like ?Heaven?. And then she managed to pull her thoughts back together enough to start the car and pull out of the gravel parking area and back onto the highway.
?I?ll get you back to the ranch and bring Shorty or Jack back to take your truck.?
?Take me to your place.?
She jammed on the brakes and jerked her head around to stare at him. ?My place? Why? It?ll be easier to just take you home, so you can be comfortable.?
His dark eyes were in shadow, but she could feel them on her face as she hesitated in the entrance to the clinic parking area. ?I want to be with you.?
His quiet statement nearly put her into cardiac arrest. It took a few moments to compose her thoughts to reply.
?Just turn left and drive. Please.?
She found herself turning toward her place and she drove slowly, terrified that her agitation would show in her speed. Not another word passed between them until she pulled into her own rutted driveway and cut the engine. As she unfastened the buckle of his belt, then her own, she murmured softly, ?If you?re hungry, I have some leftover stew??
Before the words were out, his left hand slid into her hair and caught the back of her head and she was pulled halfway over the small console between the seats as his mouth covered hers in a hot, sensuous command. The hand swathed in metal, leather, and tape was cupped over her left cheek and as she opened her lips to ask what he was doing, his tongue slid in to stop her protest cold. O.M.G. No one had ever kissed her like this. Her belly was doing a hot tango and her breasts ached to be touched. Her pussy clenched and warm cream flooded her panties as she gave a throaty groan of surrender and let him plunder her mouth.
The sound of the deep, visceral growl that rolled from the wide chest beneath her flattened palms almost made her orgasm on the spot. Thoughts of a shifter romance she had recently read tore through her and she moaned as he eased the kiss and nibbled her full lower lip gently, while his injured hand slid down her throat and over her collarbone to cup her supersensitive, aching breast. The unexpected and very embarrassing orgasm that rolled from her pussy to her nipples and back brought her off the seat with a mewling sound of pleasure and white-hot sparkles of lust threaded their way through her body, bouncing around joyfully.
He slowly squeezed her throbbing breast through her shirt and lifted his head to stare down into her glazed eyes. His lips curved wickedly into a grin and his voice whispered huskily, ?Damn, I must be good.?
Lee: I can’t believe I did that! But I loved every minute!
Fran: I loved writing your story! Thanks so much for being here today…and thanks for being a friend!
Thanks, Selena, for letting us have your blog today!
Jayne Rylon?s stories usually begin as a daydream in an endless business meeting.? Her writing acts as a creative counterpoint to her straightlaced corporate existence.? She lives in Ohio with two cats and her husband who both inspires her fantasies and supports her careers.? When she can escape her office, she loves to travel the world, avoid speeding tickets in her beloved Sky and, of course, read. Jayne is a member of the Romance Writers of America (RWA), the Central Ohio Fiction Writers (COFW) and Passionate Ink.
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Sloan Desai, Rally Race League Publicist:? Hello and welcome.? I’m here today with Lynn Madison, the woman we’ve all been dying to meet.
Lynn:? Hi Sloan, so nice of you to have me.
Sloan:? It’s my pleasure.? After all, we’re all curious about the woman who’s caught the attention of our bad boy superstar driver, Sebastian Fiori.? What’s it like to be the focus of such a young, sexy man?
Lynn:? Hmm.? I actually don’t think of our ages very often but I’ll give you sexy.? He’s every bit as amazing as you’d imagine, how about we stick with that?
Sloan:? If you won’t give up the juicy details I suppose that will have to suffice.? So, how did you two meet?
Lynn:? It had to have been fate.? I was on my way to Europe, to start a new career when my flight got diverted.? Sebastian ended up in the same situation and he offered me a ride in his limo that I’ll never forget.
Sloan:? Now that sounds interesting!
Lynn:? Mother nature had my back, that’s for sure.
Sloan:? So, tell me, is there any truth to the rumors?? You know, the juicy ones about just how close Sebastian is with Marco Rossi?
Lynn:? Absolutely.? You know Mark is his navigator.? They work together.? They’re exceptional partners and lifelong friends.? I can’t imagine two guys closer than they are.? They share everything.
Lynn:? *coughs*? Pretty much.
Sloan:? Well, in that case… I suppose I have to offer my congratulations on taming the league’s most notorious bachelor.
Lynn:? Thank you, though I think it may have been him who tamed me.
An Excerpt From: DRIVEN
Copyright ? JAYNE RYLON, 2010
All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.
?Ladies and gentleman, this is your captain speaking.?
Lynn Madison strained to hear the distorted announcement despite the shitty airplane speakers and the baby who?d been screaming since they?d taken off over an hour ago. She didn?t blame the munchkin. She would bawl too if she didn?t get that the gray clouds causing the turbulence, which bounced their regional jet across the sky, weren?t as ominous as they appeared.
?We?ve been in a holding pattern, circling New York for the past fifteen minutes. Air traffic control just radioed. They?re closing the airport until this cell blows over. No one?s allowed in or out. We?ll be diverting to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania but the delay shouldn?t cost us more than an hour.?
Groans of disappointment and frustration drowned out the sporadic whispers of concern proliferated by less-seasoned fliers. Lynn jumped straight to rearranging her tight schedule in her mind as the pilot droned on.
?We?ll grab some fuel then wait for an update. If the situation changes, we?ll let you know. We should be on the ground in about twenty minutes. Thank you for your patience. Be sure to keep your seat belt fastened; the air will be bumpy during our descent. Flight attendants, please prepare for landing.?
Before the beady-eyed flight attendant could scold Lynn about stowing her netbook, she clicked to her browser window then hopped on the Tempt the Cougar blog she shared with a circle of friends. Her college roommate Rachel had introduced her to the group of erotic romance enthusiasts after Lynn had bitched about her bland sex life. The ladies had recommended several novels that had her eyebrows climbing and her fantasies growing spicier by the minute.
They?d quickly become very close, welcoming her into the fold and encouraging her to follow their lead in prowling for a younger man to seduce. She had to admit, the stories she?d heard since hanging around them had inspired some wicked fantasies.
Lynn envied the women who?d found love along with their wild adventures. But their proactive attitude in snatching the reins of their lives had resonated with her more than their steamy affairs. Enough to spur her to some serious introspection on what she wanted to do with the rest of her time on earth.
She?d set up a get-together with the members who lived in the tristate region while she killed time during her layover. She hadn?t wanted to wait until next year?s RomantiCon to meet them in person.
Thank God she?d splurged on the in-flight Wi-Fi.
LynnLuvs2Travel: Only have a few seconds, ladies. Flight is being diverted due to weather. Looks like I might have to bail on dinner. Was so looking forward to it! Sorry L Expecting an update when we land. Fingers crossed I don?t miss my connection to Europe!!!
Lynn sighed as she snapped the lid closed then tucked the netbook into her seatback pocket. Figured this would happen on the first day of her new life. The monumental changes she?d implemented had almost seemed too easy so far. Like blowing out the single candle that had topped the cake Rachel had baked for Lynn?s fortieth birthday.
In the instant before she?d snuffed the flame, she?d wished her destiny were her own. No more wasted years, working on someone else?s clock. Figuring out what she?d rather do, since retiring early would mean living in a cardboard box for twenty years or so until her investments kicked in, had taken a bit longer. But not much.
Three months later, she?d quit her job as a sourcing agent for a high-end retailer. Instant lightness had pervaded her soul when she turned in her resignation, reaffirming her decision.
After a dozen years of dreadful stays in spartan hotels, eating meat-and-potato meals or hauling ass through sketchy parts of foreign cities?all on the recommendation of her male counterparts?she knew better than most that a series of travel guides aimed at professional women going solo constituted an undiscovered niche in the market. It wasn?t that the guys had deliberately sabotaged her, but her priorities ran more to a clean room, a spa and healthy meals than the number of strip clubs in a half-mile radius or a smoky bar with nonstop sports playing on a bazillion flat screen TVs.
Preoccupied with reliving the whirlwind of the past couple weeks, she was surprised at the squeak of the wheels meeting the runway.
As soon as she peered through the fogged plastic porthole to the tarmac, she abandoned hope. No fewer than a dozen jets kept their stranded plane company. Even if the sun shone bright at JFK in the next half-hour, the snafu had induced a logistics nightmare.
Sure enough, the pilot emerged from the cockpit to address the cabin face-to-face. ?I?m sorry, folks, but things look worse than we originally thought. Traffic is being rerouted along the entire East Coast. We?re going to let you head into the terminal until we receive a better estimate on our revised departure time.?
Lynn?s heart raced in her chest. She had lived well within her means despite her hefty corporate paycheck. The nest egg she?d accumulated had supplied her a shot at pursuing her dream but, in this economy, she?d had a hell of a time securing outside investors to back a no-name upstart. If the delay caused her and several hundred other people to camp out and compete for the limited vacant spots on cramped international flights, her itinerary could be ruined.
Everything hinged on making it to her starting point as scheduled. Train passes, local guides, connections, sold-out hotels?
The idea of all the lost work, not to mention cash for the original reservations and the last-minute bookings, had tears stinging her eyes. Would her old job consider rehiring her if this venture flopped? Probably not.
She gathered her belongings then filed down the stairs onto the tarmac for the march into the dinky terminal. On top of everything else, they had to be stranded at a two-gate airport with rudimentary facilities and limited options for connections.
Note to self? Include a chapter on travelers? insurance and the appropriate amount of time to leave between flights. Not that the six hours she?d allotted would help much in this situation. The insurance policy she?d selected would cover her flight arrangements if necessary but nothing could recoup the lost time. She?d have to drop chapters of her book.
As the herd of disgruntled passengers trundled up the ramp into the steel and glass building, which seemed out of place in the surrounding fields, they merged with the unfortunate occupants of the other impacted flights. A red-faced man doused in cheap cologne yelled into his Blackberry. He cut her off in his dash to hit up the airline representatives waiting inside. He rammed into her shoulder, knocking her oversized purse containing her netbook onto her elbow. The shifting weight threw her off balance on the slick surface.
Lynn skidded several feet toward the railing before a warm, muscled arm wrapped around her waist and a grumpy mumble washed over her earlobe. ?Asshole.?
She flinched, attempting to shy away. ?What is wrong with people? I tripped.?
One touch from an unknown man and she just about swallowed her tongue despite his rude treatment. Lame!
A carefree laugh replaced the foul temper she?d attempted to deflect. ?Sorry, gorgeous. Not you. I meant that asshole who shoved you. He?s lucky I don?t kick his inconsiderate ass.?
Her imagination ran wild at his tone?confident, worldly, bold, gallant but not too stuffy. The midnight voice colored by subtle hints of a Mediterranean accent inspired a million dirty thoughts that had her squirming. The broad hand on her ribs flexed so close to her breast she sucked in a gasp, willing her nipples to stop hardening beneath her thin, silk blouse.
?Damn, are you hurt?? He spun her into the shelter of his arms, his palms bracing her shoulders.
So young! Heat blossomed in her cheeks. Here she was, lusting after a man at least a decade younger than her who probably thought himself a good Samaritan for helping his elder. As quick as she chastised herself, a naughty whisper invaded her embarrassment. The Cougar ladies had scored men like this. Those lucky bitches!
Hell, some of them had even managed to bag two virile studs.
?Let me help you inside.?
Did he think her deaf and dumb on top of clumsy after that giant space out?
?I?m fine. Really.? She shrugged from his hold, instantly regretting the loss of his touch. Her skin tingled where his fingers had rested. ?Thank you.?
She picked up the pace to avoid an awkward silence as he shuffled along next to her through the crowd, but he somehow managed to dodge a harried mom pushing a double stroller, a gentleman wrestling with a cello and a couple holding hands to keep even with her.
In her peripheral vision, she admired the agile maneuvers of his lean but built body. His black duffle, peppered with logos, rode against a trim hip covered in the dark navy denim favored by recent trends. The lighter creases around his upper thighs led her straight to dangerous territory. She jerked her gaze upward but had to cant her head pretty far to glimpse his unruly brown waves beneath a red baseball cap with something embroidered on the front.
His scruffy jaw couldn?t obscure his sculpted cheekbones. The shadowed skin highlighted the contrast of his bright blue eyes. The impact of his stunning looks almost had her tripping again. It?d been fifteen years since she?d gotten her hands on prime beef like that.
Lynn Marie, how crass! Maybe the Cougars really were rubbing off on her.