Midweek Morsel – Special Delivery

It’s Wednesday, Hump Day, that midweek slump. Today I’m adding some zing to your week by sharing an excerpt from my short story Special Delivery. Enjoy!

shirtless man with gift wrapped box with red ribbon

Who says good things come in small packages? Corina believes beauty isn’t about size—it’s about attitude—and Zach can’t get enough of her confidence or her curves.

Curvy and proud of it, photographer Corina Saunders seeks to empower other females by shooting boudoir photos of plus-sized women in her home studio. When a charity needs a photographer to photograph twelve sexy men for a hunk-of-the-month calendar, she gladly volunteers her services. Sparks fly during the photo shoot when she snaps pictures of sexy delivery man Zach Moreno’s strategically placed package. When they cross paths again at a charity ball and bachelor auction, Corina surprises everyone—including herself—by placing the highest bid on Zach, the sexiest bachelor up for grabs.

Thanks to the frenzied atmosphere of the auction—and the complimentary champagne—she’s helpless to fight the insane chemistry between her and Zach any longer and the two celebrate her winning bid. With a bang. Afterwards, Corina’s mortified that she had sex with Zach in a cramped supply room at the bachelor auction. How can she face him again? Then again, after bidding an incredible six-thousand dollars to win him at the auction, she can’t afford to skip out on the date. Besides, the sex was unbelievably hot, and she really shouldn’t deprive herself that one indulgence. After all, what harm could come from one innocent picnic in the park lunch date?

She ran her hands over his shirt, vest and tuxedo jacket. She wanted to rip the finery off his body and expose his chiseled form. He ended their kiss abruptly and pulled back to look her in the eyes.

As if reading her mind, Zach said, “God, I’d love nothing more than to tear that dress off your delicious body.”

He thought her body was delicious? The thought made her giddy and even hornier. “As much as I’d love that, this dress does have a zipper. It’s right here, you see,” she said pointing to the zipper that was hidden in a seam along the left side of her gown.

“That will take too much time,” Zach said as he edged the hem of her dress up her leg. “We’ll have to be quick, and neat,” he added, almost as an afterthought. Once he’d bunched the heavy-beaded material of the gown over her hips, he knelt in front of her.

“God, those are hot,” he told her as he ran his fingertips over the top of her thigh- high stockings. He placed a soft kiss at the top of her thigh, where the silky material of the nylons met her flesh.

Corina trembled at the feel of his hot, wet mouth on her skin. She used his hands, which were wrapped around the back of her thighs, for support. He moved his fingers up and gripped her bare ass, hard.

“Oh, my God, you’re wearing a thong,” he said around a groan as he pulled the flimsy piece of material down her hips. “You’re so beautiful, and not just here,” Zach told her and brushed his fingertips over her labia.

Her clit throbbed in response to his words and the softness of his touch. She leaned her head against the door when she felt him explore her wet pussy. His touch was slow and soft. It was as though he were testing her. Teasing her. Corina wanted and needed more. She writhed against his hand, craving a release. He must have sensed her urgency, because he used the pad of his thumb to stroke the hard pearl of flesh at the base of her sex. He circled the slippery bud in a deliberate stroke that caused her to cry out.

“Please,” she begged softly. She was dying to moan, but she couldn’t risk the two of them getting caught. “Zach, please…”

“Please, what?” He released his hold on her throbbing, wet flesh. Standing to his full height again, he slipped her thong in the inside pocket of his tuxedo jacket. “Tell me what you need, Corina,” he challenged as he stared into her eyes.

“This,” she whispered as she reached for the waistband of his trousers.

Special Delivery is available for .99  at  AmazonAmazon CAAmazon UKiBooksKobo and Nook.

The Talk Nerdy to Me Series is the Perfect Summer Read!

Today I’m sharing a snippet from Nerdy Words, the first book in my series Talk Nerdy to Me! Summer’s here and if you’re looking for a new series to read, check out the Talk Nerdy to Me series. Learn more about it by reading this post.

About the series:

Imagine a bar where the wait staff dress up like their favorite comic book characters, where drinks are served in chemical beakers, where patrons can play a round of Dungeons and Dragons or other table-top role-playing games. Picture how fun it would be to hang with friends in big booths and play video games while sipping on an awesome craft beer. Imagine watching people in a glass enclosed room acting out dramas from their favorite live action role playing story lines. Imagine there’s a space for the folks who want to enjoy a drink while perusing their favorite comic books. 

All of that and more await the patrons of the city of Cascade Falls, Washington’s newest watering hole, the ultra-hip, geek-themed bar called Nerdvana. Talk Nerdy to Me is a series set around the romances that blossom between sexy, geeky heroes and sassy, smart heroines who meet in the geek-themed bar.

Nerdy Words blurb:

When Olivia Sands walks into the hottest bar in Cascade Falls, she’s swept away by the cosplayers, gamers, and larpers. The atmosphere at Nerdvana is truly a haven for geeks, and Olivia can picture herself spending every weekend at the nerd-themed hangout. Or at least, she could before she finds out the bar’s owner is none other than Dustin Bradshaw, her first crush and the man who fled her life with no explanation four summers ago. 

Of course, the years have done nothing to eliminate the magnetic pull between them, and now that they’re thrown together again they’re helpless to fight their attraction. Between working on her bespoke costume business Cosplaymates, attending grad school, and planning her future, Olivia doesn’t have time for dating. But Dustin will stop at nothing to finally make her his, once and for all.

Nerdy Words is book one in Talk Nerdy to Me, a series centering around the romances that blossom between bar staff and customers at Nerdvana.

Excerpt

“Come out with me tonight, Liv. You need to have more fun and I want to check out that new bar I’ve been telling you about.”

“Oh, yeah. What’s it called again, Nirvana? Is it some kind of spiritual place?” I asked Jamie. She was always on the cutting edge of the bar scene, and well, everything else. 

Nerdvana,” she corrected me. “As in, a haven for geeks and all things geekery.”

“Um, that could be…interesting.” I stepped out into the cool air and light drizzle the Pacific Northwest is known for. I readjusted the wool hat on my head, pulling it down further to keep my curly hair from frizzing. 

“I’m glad you said that because I’m on my way there now. Meet me at Nerdvana in twenty minutes?”

I stifled a sigh. “You assume I have nothing better to do.” 

“Come on. Don’t harsh my mellow.”

“Where is this place?” I asked around a laugh. 

“Evergreen Peak.” The neighborhood she referred to housed some of the city’s most prominent nightlife. 

“Okay, text me the address. I’ll see you there in about twenty minutes,” I said before hanging up. 

When Jamie’s text arrived on my phone, I put the address in the GPS and walked a couple blocks toward the bus stop that would take me to my destination. I took a seat and gazed out the window. I stared at the scenery that whizzed by. The lush greenery and historic architecture a subtle reminder of how much I loved the small city of Cascade Falls.

Despite the picturesque landscape, I couldn’t fully focus on it. Somehow Jamie always got me to do things I’d rather not. Like go out in public on a work night, even when the prospect of being among people sounded about as appealing as a cavity search. It wasn’t that I didn’t like people. I was just nowhere near as extroverted as my bubbly best friend. Forgetting about my intense desire to recoup and decompress at home, I shifted my thoughts to my evening. It would no doubt be fun. Just by being with Jamie guaranteed a good time. But still, the idea of my PJs and a starchy dinner had been the one thing that kept me going at work all day. So much for that dream.

My job wasn’t stressful, exactly. I wasn’t cut out for interacting with that many people day in and day out. My work study position at one of the university’s libraries was something I could scratch off my bucket list. I have always been drawn to the smell of old books and quiet spaces. The romantic in me thought the library would be the perfect place to marry those two loves. In reality, working at the library is nothing like that. On any given day there’s a constant stream of noise, the stereotype that library workers are dowdy curmudgeons who sit behind a desk and shush people all day couldn’t be further from the truth. But a big part of me loves it, and it pays the bills while I attend the Cascade Falls University. 

Realizing we were approaching my destination, I pulled the cord to request the driver to stop. I got off down the street from where my cell phone told me Nerdvana was located. After checking the cross streets at the intersection, I walked half a block until I stopped in front of a beautiful building rich with old architectural details. I craned my neck to take in the three-story structure. Sure enough, the neon sign that hung from the side of the building read ‘Nerdvana’ in red glowing letters. I looked left and right on the street and didn’t see Jamie, so I figured she must have already gone inside.

As soon as I crossed the threshold into the bar the soft sounds of electronic music greeted me. I nodded in time to the rhythm. The tune’s slow bass beat was heavy on the use of a soothing synthesizer. As I took in the sounds at Nerdvana, my eyes adjusted to the blue glow that bathed the bar. I scanned to the left and saw a group of guys sitting in a big, oversized booth. When a couple of them let out a whoop of excitement I realized where the bluish light that ensconced the bar was coming from. Half a dozen booths lined the side of the bar, and each booth had a flat screen mounted to the wall. Mario and Luigi bounced across the TV directly to my left. So Nerdvana was a video game bar? Quite a few were scattered around various Cascade Falls neighborhoods. 

As I walked toward the bar, I took in some of the other details and realized much more than video games took place in the space. It truly appeared to be a haven for geeks. To the right of the large glass and titanium bar was a wooden staircase that appeared to lead to a lower level. A basement in a bar? Interesting. A sign hung in the open doorway above the staircase that read “RPG leagues forming soon” and I knew just enough about the table-top role playing games to know they weren’t for me. 

I walked up to the bar and leaned on the shiny, silver surface and hoisted my barely five-foot frame onto a big, black leather chair. It was comfortable, but clearly the leather gaming chair had been modified into a bar stool. Clever. Between the oversized furniture and the overall gamer feel of the bar, I felt out of my element. I was much more bookish than game oriented. Give me a classic literary tome over a joystick or pair of dice any day.

When a pretty brunette dressed like Princess Leia in the gold bikini appeared behind the bar, I’d made up my mind. I’d hate it here. Scantily-clad waitstaff. Video games. The tech bro vibe. Why had my best friend brought me here? And where the hell was Jamie, anyway?

“What can I get you?” the Leia impersonator asked. 

I looked at the plethora of taps behind her. Nerdvana carried a wide variety of craft beer, but I was in the mood for something different tonight.

“I’ll take a gin and tonic.” 

“Do you want a beaker for two dollars more?”

“A beaker?” 

Her question roused me from my musings, and it caught me off guard. I wracked my brain. Beaker. What the hell was that? A nerd-themed tapas I didn’t know anything about? Leia held up a glass lab beaker and raised her eyebrows at me. Holy shit. For two bucks more I could drink my alcoholic beverage from a lab beaker. What the hell, as Jamie constantly reminded me, we only live once.

“Um, sure.” 

I glanced around again wishing Jamie would materialize and keep me company. The bartender placed my drink in front of me and I plopped my debit card down as a form of payment. I tipped my drink back and took a sip. The gin and tonic was nice and stiff, which was good since it set me back fifteen bucks. 

“Liv, you made it!” 

I turned toward the bubbly voice I knew and loved. The blue light in the bar made Jamie’s blonde hair glow almost platinum. At least the top half of her hair looked light blonde. The tips of her asymmetrical bob shone a bright hot pink. I’d always admired Jamie’s funky sense of style. 

“Hi, can I get a whiskey sour, but can you go easy on the alcohol? I don’t drink much,” she said with uncharacteristic sheepishness. Princess Leia nodded and offered her a beaker. Jamie took her drink in the larger container as well. The bartender passed the sour—light on the whiskey—to her. Of course my friend didn’t drink much, she didn’t need alcohol to loosen her inhibitions. I wasn’t even aware that she had any, honestly. Jamie and I clinked beakers.

“To nerd heaven,” I said with a wry smile. 

“Isn’t it awesome? Oh, good news! I think I might have found a job.”

“Great. Where at?” I asked as I sipped my drink. 

“Here.” She gave a saucy shake of her head, which caused the stud in her nose to gleam in the light.

Jamie went through things like jobs, college majors and lovers like most people went through underwear. It seemed like she was always trying something new only to quickly grow bored and pick up something else.  Life was too short for serious commitments, or so she believed.

“Really? That’s awesome.” I told her about the new job and meaning it. “Will you have to wear one of those barely there outfits?” I asked as I nodded toward Princess Leia as subtly as possible. 

“Please. When have you ever known me to give two fucks about a barely there outfit?”

“True.” I bit back my smile as I took another sip of my cocktail.

“Besides, you’re the last person I would expect to question wearing costumes.”

“You know I’m all about expressing yourself through clothes,” I indicated the rust colored vintage crushed velvet blazer I wore and my black top hat. “It just reeks of sexism to see a bartender wearing next to nothing.”

“Oh. My. God. Please don’t go down this rabbit hole.” She shook her head. “I’ll have you know that according to Quinn, it’s completely optional. I don’t have to dress up, but really, who wouldn’t want to get paid to dress in costume?” 

“And who’s Quinn?” I asked, feeling completely out of the loop. What was it about this place? It seemed like I’d stepped into a different universe ever since I’d crossed the threshold. 

“She’s one of the owners. She’s right there.” 

I trained my gaze to where she gestured discreetly to a woman that looked like a fifties era pin-up model, but with an edge. Her black hair was styled in a rockabilly pompadour, she wore a black dress with a cherry print, and her waist was cinched by a wide scarlet belt. Her lips were painted fire engine red, but even from across the room I could tell the color complemented her bronze skin and sloe eyes. Her left arm was covered in a full sleeve tattoo. 

Her fierce look had my attention right away. I’d always gravitated toward people who didn’t dress like the status quo. That was one of the things that Jamie and I had bonded over instantly. It was obvious that Quinn had a style all her own. I’ve always loved shoes, so I dropped my gaze down to her feet. Girlfriend was rockin’ adorable vintage black and white patent spectator pumps. 

“Damn, I want her heels.”

“Will you get off shoes for a minute and listen? This might be the solution to most of my problems. Remember, my parents, the ultimatum.” She paused and screwed her face up as if just saying the words had put a bad taste in her mouth. 

“Um, as if I could forget the stipulation that might rob me of my awesome roommate?”

 “Anyway,” Jamie said dismissively, swirling the liquid in her beaker. “I struck up a conversation with Quinn back by the larping room before you got here. She’s going to talk with her partner and give me a yes or no tonight.”

“The what room? You’re telling me there’s a room dedicated to larping here?” 

“Ah, I knew spilling that there’s a live action role playing room here would get you to focus on something besides shoes.” 

I just looked at her as though she had suddenly sprouted a second head covered with blonde and fuchsia colored hair. I wasn’t a larper, but I knew enough about it to be impressed that there was now a bar in Cascade Falls with a dedicated space for larping. 

“Come on, I’ll show you. Grab your drink.”

I gripped my beaker and wobbled behind her. As we walked through the bar I saw more booths with TVs displaying video games and gaming consoles from days gone by. It looked like every vintage gaming system was represented on the various TV screens, from Atari and Sega to Nintendo, Xbox, and Playstation. 

As we neared the back of the building, I spied a quiet corner that featured comfy-looking brown leather chairs and teak bookshelves built into the walls. The serene nook seemed more my pace. Until I noticed that a couple of people were flipping through glossy pages and sipping beers from beakers. 

“Are those comic books?”

“Yeah, isn’t it amazing? But look over here,” Jamie said and directed my gaze to a space in the left corner of the bar. “That’s the larping room,” she explained as she pointed at a glass area. 

The two-story room was completely enclosed in glass walls. I titled my head back and discovered there was no ceiling. Instead, a small cat walk and balcony stretched across the top of the glass room. A few people had gathered to peer into the larping room to watch the performance. A group of men were inside the glass room dressed in fifteenth century garb—complete with breast shields, swords, and capes—and they seemed to be acting out some sort of drama. 

“Okay, I think I finally get why this place is called Nerdvana. It’s like a damn nerd wet dream in here.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment.”

At the sound of the deep male voice close to me I jumped, nearly dropping my beaker in the process. I turned my head to address the speaker but had to drag my eyes up at least a foot to look him in the face. Once I met his stare, my mouth wouldn’t work anyway. 

Momentarily stunned by his arresting pale blue irises, I opened and shut my mouth several times before any sound would finally come out. It’d been several years, but I’d never forget that face. I started to greet him, but he broke eye contact. 

Before I could string together enough syllables to form a coherent sentence, he turned his attention to Jamie. It figured. Between her sparkling personality and brown almond-shaped eyes men—and women— constantly hit on Jamie. The fact that she was a D-cup probably didn’t hurt her chances either. But still, I wished the spark of recognition I’d felt when our eyes had connected had gone both ways. Of course, maybe he just didn’t recognize me. I’d changed a lot since that summer.

“Are you Jamie? My business partner let me know she gave you an impromptu interview earlier. I’m Dustin Bradshaw,” he told her and thrust his hand out toward her. 

Dustin Bradshaw.

As if I could ever forget that name. I dropped my gaze to their clasped hands. It was only a professional handshake, nothing more, but I felt like an idiot, just standing on the sidelines watching the two of them. I shifted my gaze to the ink on the outside of Dustin’s right forearm. In what looked to be an homage to the original 1UP gaming system, he sported a tattoo of the gray square controller on his flesh. My brother was a gamer and I had to appreciate the details of Dustin’s tattoo. The depiction of the controller was accurate down to the twin green circles and blue cross-shaped button. Seeing it made memories come back in a rush.

 I’d used my fingertip to trace the details of that tattoo on a warm summer night four years ago. God damn it, why was I thinking about what had happened between us when he hadn’t even bothered to spare a second glance at me? All this clearly one-sided reminiscing made me uncomfortable, like every inch of my skin was exposed under a microscope. The fact that Dustin  hadn’t acknowledged me made it all that much worse. I wanted to run from this bar like the building was on fire. Of course, I wouldn’t. 

Want to know what happens next? Get Nerdy Words at Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon AUAmazon CAAppleB&NKobo.

Excerpt from Nerdy Deeds, Book Three in the Talk Nerdy to Me Series!

Nerdy Deeds drops in three weeks! Today I’m sharing the blurb and an excerpt from the book. Working on book three was so much fun and I really enjoyed the dynamic between Quinn and Jonah. If you want to know more, read the blurb and excerpt below.

Quinn Whiteeagle, Nerdvana co-owner and burlesque performer, is falling for Jonah Stavropoulos, and that’s a huge problem. Not just because Jonah’s a customer and is developing the bar’s app. There’s something else about Jonah that makes a future with him a non-negotiable. It’s his dominant nature.

When it comes to Quinn, Jonah can’t help himself. He’ll forgo his safety, put himself in harm’s way, and make any sacrifice in order to have her in his life. Quinn resists his pursuit and that just makes him more determined to win her over.

After several dangerous encounters with a stalker, Quinn puts her pride and reservations aside and runs to Jonah’s waiting arms. He offers Quinn a safe place to stay, but makes no qualms about wanting to give her more than just temporary safety and shelter. Every protective instinct he has is activated and Jonah will fight like hell to keep Quinn in his life and in his care forever.

Jonah

When the opening strains of Wicked Games by The Weeknd started, I shifted in my seat. The woman on the stage moved her body in leisurely undulations in time to the slow, grinding beat. Quinn ran her hands down both sides of her body, letting her fingers skim the hemline of her black and silver dress. Her moves were deliberate, and they went along the lines of the song, full of raw emotion with a dark edge.

Her gaze connected with a few people sitting in the front row, and I was happy I’d taken a seat a few rows back and off to the side. I didn’t want her to know I was here. When Jamie, my favorite bartender at Cascade Falls’ geek-themed bar Nerdvana, had let it slip a few days ago that Quinn was a burlesque performer at Lettie’s Juke Joint, I knew I had to see her dance. I’d been flirting with Quinn for a couple months now. Or at least, I’d been trying to. She always regarded me seriously and shot me down.

But, watching her move on stage, I guess it made sense that her act was more angsty than playful. She unbuttoned her dress and slid it off one shoulder, then the other. The crowd let out hoots and whistles, myself included. Hell yeah. I wanted to see her take it off, obviously, but I was equally enraptured by the way she moved. She utterly commanded the stage, as if she were born to perform. The dress slid to the floor, but Quinn wrapped an arm around her breasts. My gaze roved over the slender waist and flare of her hips. When the lyrics of the song commanded to let me see you dance, she spun and rolled her body, tossing a sultry gaze over her shoulder at the audience. 

God damn. Her silver thong glittered under the stage lights, and I imagined what the plump globes of her ass would feel like filling my palms. I shifted in my seat. Shit, I was hard as a rock. Quinn turned again and lifted her arms above her head, rolling her hips. Her glorious breasts were covered in black pasties with silver tassels that gleamed in the lights. With an almost unnatural grace, she lifted her hands, placing a tassel in each, and tugged lightly while biting into her red lip. She let go and dropped to her knees. Leaning backward, she shimmied her shoulders in time to the beat, causing the tassels to spin in a circle. Damn, I was hypnotized. The song ended and Quinn stilled her body throwing her arms above her head then rising to her knees. She gazed at a few people in the audience and took the bills they offered. As Quinn gathered her dress from the floor, she walked off to the right, which was the side of the stage where I sat. Shit, I hoped she wouldn’t walk toward me. 

I watched as a man ambushed the edge of the stage. The guy was over six foot and massive, like he’d played linebacker in college. Quinn’s eyes grew large and I saw her mouth form a single word. 

Lance

So, she knew him? She didn’t look happy to see him here. He didn’t look happy either. His jaw was clenched and his fists were balled at his sides. What the fuck was this guy’s deal? I glanced at Lance’s mouth, reading his lips as he spoke to her. 

I’ll be outside, in the alley. Meet me there in five. I’m tired of you brushing me off, Quinn. And for God’s sake, put some fucking clothes on, you look like a painted whore.

My blood surged. This asshole. Where the hell did he get off saying something like that to her? I glanced at Quinn. She looked crestfallen, her gaze downcast, she nodded. How weird. I’d observed Quinn a lot in the past two months, and I’d never witnessed a reaction like this. She always projected confidence and carried herself in a way that let people know she had teeth and she wasn’t afraid to bite. This version of Quinn was odd. There was no way I was letting her meet this asshole outside alone. She scurried off the stage and Lance stalked away. I risked a glance at him as he passed by my table. Fury was clearly written across his face. Damn, I didn’t like this. Not one bit. I ran my hands across my face and wondered how to handle the situation. 

Get your hands on this scorching read on Tuesday, March 22, 2022!

Teaser from Nerdy Words

Today I’m sharing a teaser from book one in the Talk Nerdy to Me series, Nerdy Words. If you like cosplay and romance novels, this is an excerpt you’ll want to read!

Blurb

When Olivia Sands walks into the hottest bar in Cascade Falls, she’s swept away by the cosplayers, gamers, and larpers. The atmosphere at Nerdvana is truly a haven for geeks, and Olivia can picture herself spending every weekend at the nerd-themed hangout. Or at least, she could before she finds out the bar’s owner is none other than Dustin Bradshaw, her first crush and the man who fled her life with no explanation four summers ago. 

Of course, the years have done nothing to eliminate the magnetic pull between them, and now that they’re thrown together again they’re helpless to fight their attraction. Between working on her bespoke costume business Cosplaymates, attending grad school, and planning her future, Olivia doesn’t have time for dating. But Dustin will stop at nothing to finally make her his, once and for all.

Nerdy Words is book one in Talk Nerdy to Me, a series centering around the romances that blossom between bar staff and customers at Nerdvana.

Excerpt

“Do you even know who I’m supposed to be?” I asked. I hoped he didn’t think I’d just come to the bar in this get up. I mentally crossed my fingers that he’d figure it out without any hints from me.

“Of course, I know who you are, Lady Indy. Your costume is perfect,” he praised as his eyes raked over me.

“Well, you can thank Jamie. She let me borrow her hat, pants, and belt.” My cheeks heated under his appreciative stare. I guess I had my answer as to whether or not Dustin would like my outfit.

“Hmm. Maybe she deserves a raise. Thanks to her help, I get to indulge in a fantasy.” He wiggled his eyebrows at me.

“You’re making a lot of assumptions tonight.” I made a tsking sound, even though my pulse leapt. The thought of learning Dustin’s fantasies was a total turn on.

“I can’t help it. All I can think about is peeling those clothes off and worshiping your sexy body,” he said as he pulled me closer. 

He planted a kiss on the side of my neck. As his mouth traveled lower his thumbs stroked the base of my throat. I rolled my lips inward and stifled a moan. God, I wanted him. I didn’t know how I was going to get through this night. I was already becoming rapidly turned on.

Dustin pulled back and cupped my face. Our gazes held and his eyes looked soft. I shifted my gaze to flicker over his face. His expression was gentle and a little hopeful. 

“You haven’t ever let anyone in, right? Because your mom told you how important it was to stay single, so you didn’t repeat her mistake? Well, I’ve not let anyone in since Madison. Since you’ve been told to avoid relationships, you probably don’t know how to let someone in. I’m rusty, since it’s been so long for me, but maybe we can take this slow and figure out how to let each other in?”

My skin prickled with fear. What he’d said was sweet and, in a way, I wanted to let him in. In another, very real, very strong way, I wanted to get out. I wanted to leave and not look back. Dustin’s heart had been scarred badly. I didn’t want to add to that wound, but worried that somehow, I would. Even if my intentions started out good, deep in my bones I knew that I’d add to the battle scars on his heart.

“I…I don’t know if I can, Dustin, and I realize that’s an incredibly shitty thing to tell you after you’ve shared so much with me. It’s just a lot of pressure to put on someone who has no relationship experience.”

He shifted, pulled away from me slightly. His expression turned darker. I thought I read hurt and maybe anger on his face. He turned and I watched his jaw flex. “Can you at least think about it? Think about whether what we have when we’re together is worth taking a chance?”

His expression softened, the anger gone and replaced by tenderness. He trailed his fingers down my arm and I resisted the urge to let out a shiver. His touch made my resolve slip. Damn it, was that enough? The physical thing we had going on, was that enough to take a risk? I didn’t know the answer. All I knew was that I wanted to both lean into his touch, bask in it, and flee this situation. God, I was a chicken shit. But, all he’d asked me to do was consider it. I could at least do that. I owed him that, after he’d bared so much of himself to me. 

“I can think about it, Dustin. I want it to be worth it, I do…”

“I get what you’re saying and also what you’re not saying.” He moved his hands from my body and shifted, putting distance between us. I straightened my hat and tried not to get the wrinkles out of my blouse. Dustin busied himself straightening the office. It seemed like he was doing it so he didn’t have to speak or even look at me. I probably deserved his reserved behavior, but it still stung a little. 

“Maybe I should take off. We’ve been back here a while. I should let you get back to work.” I fiddled with the fedora on my head, feeling more than a little ridiculous wearing the get up now. Somehow the mood between us had shifted and I didn’t know what to say or how to make it better. I couldn’t tell him that, yes, I’d give us a chance. I didn’t know how I felt about that. It would be unfair to make a promise before I knew what I wanted. “I’ll call you.” I hated the way the phrase sounded, lame and like I was making excuses. 

“Yeah, okay,” Dustin said tightly.

Want to read more about Liv and Dustin? Get Nerdy Words now at Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon AUAmazon CAAppleB&NKobo.

Explosive Chemistry in Excerpt from Nerdy Thoughts

I’m sharing a short excerpt from Nerdy Thoughts, book two in Talk Nerdy to Me. One of the things I loved about writing this book was the juxtaposition of the innocent hero and experienced heroine, and I think that shows in the fun I had writing some scenes *winks*

Jamie Kurt is the most popular bartender at Nerdvana, the hottest bar in Cascade Falls. Her outlandish cosplay outfits, wicked wit, and flare for whipping up cocktails make her a target of one-sided crushes from the Nerdvana clientele. So when a customer named Les Wyatt captures her attention, she’s torn between wanting to know more and fighting the urge to stay away.

Les  is a shy, sweet political cartoonist and larper. Jamie is vibrant, complicated, and allergic to commitment. He’s everything she shouldn’t want and Jamie’s convinced he shouldn’t get involved with her.  

Despite their obvious differences, neither of them can deny their fiery attraction and combustible chemistry. Les asks Jamie to give him a chance to show her how good they can be together through a casual relationship. As they continue to date, and feelings grow, Jamie throws up every defense she has to try to push Les away. 

But Les is determined to have Jamie any way he can and once he gets her, he has no intention of letting her go.

Les

As soon as I saw Jamie exit the bar I hopped out of my SUV, I wanted to make sure she knew I was here. I walked toward the passenger door as she did.

“Hey, thanks again for doing this.” Jamie reached for the passenger door handle. I beat her to it and opened it for her, sweeping my arm wide, gesturing for her to get inside. “Do you need help? It’s kind of a tall vehicle and I’d hate for you to break your ankle in those.”  I pointed to her heeled boots and offered my open palm to her, but she brushed it off.

“I think I got this, but thanks, my good knight.” She curtseyed and gave me one of her big, flirty smiles. 

I knew she was capable of getting in by herself, but honestly, I just wanted an excuse to touch her. She’d placed her hand on my arm or over my hand more times than I could count, but that’d been different, I reasoned, as I closed the door behind her and walked around my vehicle to the driver’s side. She flirted with all the customers. Maybe I’d been stupid to fancy whatever I thought I’d read in her eyes before to be anything but her usual flirtation. 

“So where am I headed?” I asked as I fastened my seatbelt.

“Uh, fuck it, just give me your number. I can text you the address and you can put it in your GPS. It’ll be easier than me trying to explain. My sense of direction sucks balls, which is why I take public transit.” 

I bit back a smile and recited my number to her. God help me, but her potty mouth made my blood quicken. Screw the idea that women were supposed to be delicate flowers that didn’t utter a foul word. My tough as nails mom shattered that stereotype. My phone pinged. And now I had Jamie’s phone number. Hell yeah. I entered her address in my GPS and then anchored my phone on the cradle above the stereo. I glanced at the screen and listened as the robotic voice with the British accent told me where to go.

“That’s awesome. He totally sounds like Bruce Banner’s butler Alfred!”

“Um, I think you mean Bruce Wayne. Bruce Banner is the Incredible Hulk’s counterpart.” I made a tisking noise. “And here I thought you’d picked up a thing or two hanging out with us nerds every night at the bar.”

“Whatever,” she said with a dismissive wave. “Those damn comic book characters all start to run together after a while.”

“Ouch. You know comics are, like, my life, right?” I stole a glance at her, gesturing to the costume she wore beneath the coat. “And what the hell? You’re dressed like Harley Quinn. Are you telling me you’re not a fan, that it’s all just for show at the bar?”

“No, I like some of the movies based on comics. I’m just not that absorbed in the comic world, unlike some people I know who shall remain nameless.”

“Ah, that poor, nameless loser. Completely and totally absorbed in the fake comic world.”

“Hey, now, I didn’t say that. I didn’t even imply it. You’re no loser, Les.” 

She reached over and stroked the top of my hand as I shifted into second gear. My pulse leapt. Christ, what was it about her touch that drove me insane? Maybe it was the fact that she was the hottest girl I’d ever met? Combined with the fact that she wasn’t stuck on her looks and she didn’t treat me like I was a leper, like so many good-looking women did.

“That’s pretty impressive, you know?”

“What is?” I asked and stole another glance at her. She treated me to a big grin. Her expression clearly said she was up to no good. Okay, that was exciting. What was going on in that pretty head of hers?

“The way you handle your…stick.”

My balls tightened at the innuendo. I knew she meant the gearshift, but the idea of Jamie thinking about me handling my other stick made the blood course through my body, hot and rushing. I had no idea how to respond to a woman making sexual innuendos toward me. It had never happened before, and hell, maybe it wasn’t even happening now. I didn’t want to misinterpret her and come off sounding like some horny perv. 

“You mean my gearshift?”

“Yeah, but I prefer stick.” She let out a throaty giggle. Shit, was this beautiful, sexy woman flirting with me? Or just teasing me? “Double entendre aside, I am impressed. I mean, to drive a stick shift in Cascade Falls, with our hellish traffic and crazy ass hills downtown? Respect.” She thrust her fist toward me. I bumped it and felt warmth spread across my knuckles where our skin touched. Feeling like a complete fool, I roughly shifted into third as my vehicle picked up speed. 

The GPS blarred, and I was happy for the interruption. I had no idea what to say or do next. The British voice let us know we were less than a quarter mile from our destination. My heart plummeted. She’d be out of my car soon. I wanted to stay near her. She smelled like spice and a floral scent I couldn’t pinpoint, but damn it, I wanted to bury my nose in her neck and try like hell to figure out what flower it was that smelled so delectable. Shit. My cock pulsed and started to thicken behind the fly of my jeans at the thought of me getting that close to her. I did not need to get a boner in front of Jamie. 

 “Here. This is my place. Don’t even worry about trying to find a spot and parallel park. I can just hop out here.” 

 I ignored her and kept driving until I found an open spot around the block. 

 “What the—?” She gave me a sideways glance, then let out a huff when she realized what I was doing. “I told you not to worry about parking. Really. It’s fine, Les.” 

 “It wouldn’t be right to just let you out here at this hour. I’ll see you safely inside.” I finished parking and hopped out of the car. She was already opening the door and making her way from the passenger side when I reached her. Damn it, I’d wanted to be the one to open her door for her. For a moment, we stood on the sidewalk, Jamie giving me the weirdest stare, like I was a puzzle she just couldn’t figure out. 

 “Look, I understand you can probably take care of yourself and you don’t need me around to defend your honor.” She let out a trill of laughter. 

 “Oh, sweetie. I am so flattered you think I have honor worth defending.” 

 “You do. And I realize you don’t need me. Honestly, you could probably kick my ass, but I’ll sleep a lot better tonight knowing that you got in your apartment safely. So, come on.” I offered her my arm. 

 “Ever the honorable knight, to the very end.” Jamie affected a British accent and took my arm. Electricity zinged through me and I tried to keep my composure as we walked arm in arm toward her building. 

Jamie entered a code at the door and then looked at me, obviously trying to see if I’d give up or if I meant it when I said I wasn’t leaving until I saw her safely to her front door. I let go of her arm and settled behind her as we made our way up a narrow stairwell. Despite my best efforts, my gaze dropped and settled on the way her hips swayed and the roundness of her ass. 

 “Enjoying the view, my good knight?” 

 Damn, did she have eyes in the back of her head or was I that pathetic and predictable? 

She stopped in front of a door with the number nine on it and jingled her keys. I shook my head. “The deal was that I would see you safely into your apartment.” I gestured to her to unlock her door.

 “You know, Les, if you wanted to come up so badly, you could’ve just said so. I’d have gladly let you in. Still will. Just drop this bullshit chivalrous act.” She held her key poised above the deadbolt. 

“It’s not a bullshit act. I mean, I never had a sister, but I—” Oh, hell. I stopped myself just short of mentioning my mother. No need to get into all that. Jamie looked at me expectantly, still not opening her door. “What I mean is, I know you’re suspicious that I’m trying to worm my way into your place for some ulterior motive. I’m not. I just think a single woman should have some protection when she’s entering an empty apartment at three-thirty in the morning,” I said, consulting the time on my phone.

“I’m fine, Les. Besides, I have a roommate. You’ve met her at the bar. Olivia? Brown curly hair, cute as a button, great rack, and bodacious booty.” 

“I know who she is. She’s dating the owner of Nerdvana.”

“Shit, you picked up on that? And those two think they’re so damned slick.”

“Is your roommate home?”

She sawed her bottom lip with her teeth. I dropped my gaze to her plush lower lip and the bright red color. 

“No,” she said in a whisper.

“See? I can’t let you enter an empty apartment alone. So…” I gestured to her keys.

“Fuck, you’re relentless.” She opened the door with jerky movements and flung it open. “It’s perfectly safe, but please, after you.”

“You’re pissed.”

“Annoyed would be a better word for it.”

“This is a pretty sweet setup for two college kids.” I noted, as I walked in and assessed the living room and open kitchen.

“I may be in college, but I’m hardly a kid. I’m almost twenty-five.”

“Are you a grad student?”

She shook her head at me. “Look, Les, if you insist on playing twenty questions can you at least let me take these boots off and grab a drink?”

I nodded. Jamie closed the door and peeled off her coat. She unzipped the sexy footwear, letting them drop on the hardwood with a thunk and plodded the few steps into the kitchen and grabbed a glass of water. I knew I should leave, that I was probably annoying her, but I just couldn’t go yet. She rested against the breakfast bar, one bare foot on the peg of a bar stool, the other on the hardwood floor.

“I’m sorry if I was pushy, insisting on following you up, but I just feel…protective of you.”

A flicker of something resembling pain and then what looked like surprise flashed across her face, then the expressions were gone. She parted her lips and looked up at me, her brown eyes round and soft.

“Come closer to me, Les.”

Her voice was barely a whisper. I eased closer, eliminating the few feet between us until I was standing in front of her. Without her heeled boots her head only came to the middle of my chest. She reached out and grabbed the lapels of my coat and pulled me against her. 

“You’re so sweet and cute. You know that, right? You’re fucking adorable.”

Then her mouth was on mine and I was lost. Utterly lost in the warmth of her mouth, the swift glide of her tongue over my lips and into my mouth and the sweet taste of her. Her hands still fisted my coat and I wound my fingers through her hair. 

“Get this off.” She demanded and started taking my coat off.

I helped her by shrugging out of my coat and held my breath as I awaited her next move. I wasn’t sure what she wanted. God knew what I wanted. I wanted her. Any way I could have her. 

“Les, put your hands on me.”

 

Want to know what happens next? (as if you can’t guess ;D) Get Nerdy Thoughts at Amazon USAmazon CAAmazon AU, and Amazon UKApple booksBarnes & NobleKobo.

Nerdy Thoughts Release Day!

I’m super pumped that book two in the Talk Nerdy to Me series is out today! Nerdy Thoughts was a fun and challenging book to write. I put a lot of myself into parts of this book, so even though it feels a little bit like I’m exposing my innermost thoughts and fears, I’m proud to share it with the world.

Blurb

Jamie Kurt is the most popular bartender at Nerdvana, the hottest bar in Cascade Falls. Her outlandish cosplay outfits, wicked wit, and flare for whipping up cocktails make her a target of one-sided crushes from the Nerdvana clientele. So when a customer named Les Wyatt captures her attention, she’s torn between wanting to know more and fighting the urge to stay away.

Les  is a shy, sweet political cartoonist and larper. Jamie is vibrant, complicated, and allergic to commitment. He’s everything she shouldn’t want and Jamie’s convinced he shouldn’t get involved with her.  

Despite their obvious differences, neither of them can deny their fiery attraction and combustible chemistry. Les asks Jamie to give him a chance to show her how good they can be together through a casual relationship. As they continue to date, and feelings grow, Jamie throws up every defense she has to try to push Les away. 

But Les is determined to have Jamie any way he can and once he gets her, he has no intention of letting her go.

Excerpt

Jamie

“What can I get for you, sweetie?” I asked a tall redheaded patron dressed like an Arthurian knight. He pulled down his chainmail hood and leaned across the shiny surface of the silver bar. I couldn’t tell if it was a trick of the lighting or if the baby blues gazing my way were truly that rich in color. 

“Could I trouble the lady for some mead, for I am quite parched?” He asked in an exaggerated old English accent. 

I gave him a quick nod and my biggest smile. He was a larper, one I’d waited on a lot lately. His accent was expected, most of the customers who came here to use the live action role playing room refused to come out of character, even to place their drink orders. After working at Nerdvana, Cascade Falls’s hottest geek-themed bar for the past three months, I’d gotten used to the quirky—and sometimes downright odd—habits of our patrons. The men that came here might be a tad dorky and have uncanny hobbies, but none of them were ever rude or tried to grab my ass or tits. A relief compared to some of the other bars I’d worked at.

“I hope the mead is to your liking, good sir.” I said and put a beaker full of draft beer in front of him. 

When he picked up the glass vial and put it to his lips, I grabbed the ends of my short plaid skirt and did a small curtsey. I found that when I played along and humored the guys they tended to be much more generous with their tips. Leaning forward, I squeezed my arms toward my center and pushed my D cups together, causing cleavage to pop out of the top of my white t-shirt. Showing the customers a little something-something always helped line my pockets, too. I watched as the redhead’s gaze traveled from my face to my chest.

“Honey, your face is the same color as your hair. I’m Jamie. What’s your name?” 

I stuck my hand out. After a couple seconds he seemed to snap out of his daze and he brought his stare back up to my face. He clasped my hand and somehow turned an even darker hue of scarlet. 

“Maybe I’ll just call you Red. It can be my special nickname for you.” I gave him a wink and was about to turn away when he finally managed to speak.

“I’m Les. Sorry, it’s just…girls like you don’t usually talk to guys like me.” He shrugged and took another sip of his beer.

“What do you mean guys like you? Guys who larp? You should come to Nerdvana more often. Out in the real world people might not get larping or the appeal of video games, but in here it’s a whole different story.” I pointed to the row of booths across from the bar. 

Each booth butted against a wall and had a flat-screen TV attached to the end of the table. Video gaming systems ranging from the 80s to present day were installed on built-in shelves on the wall. Dustin, the owner of the bar and my boss, aptly named the place Nerdvana, and with the live action role playing room, comic book nook, and video game section, it was truly a haven for nerds. 

“You’re really cute, and in this place, you’re like a king—no pun intended of course.” I pointed to his Arthurian-esque garb. “What I’m getting at is you shouldn’t be so shy. I bet I could get you laid tonight, if that’s what you wanted.”

Les looked at me with his mouth gaping open. Damn, maybe I’d been too presumptuous. I probably shouldn’t have said so much. My roommate Olivia was always nagging me about that. I had horribly loose lips.

“Wh-who-who do you think would want to lay me?” He ducked his head and I had to strain to hear the next question he asked me. “Or is that offer coming from you?”

I burst out laughing. It didn’t matter how sweet and geeky they might seem, give a guy an inch… 

“Well, like I said you’re a cutie but…”

“I get it, you don’t do pity fucks. It’s cool. I need to get back to my game. Let me grab my wallet so I can pay for the beer.”

“Hey,” I said, and put my hand on top of his, all kidding aside. “I’m not trying to be a bitch. And I’m not rejecting you for the reason you think I am. Maybe that’s your problem. Maybe if you didn’t sell yourself short, you’d have better luck with the ladies.” I leaned forward again, this time I got so close my face was only inches from his. In doing so, it put the ledge of the bar under my sternum. I knew that the ginger cutie was getting a spectacular view of my cleavage.

“Between you and me, if we’d met somewhere else, I would take you back to my place tonight and fuck your brains out. It just so happens I’m trying to be good here. You don’t want to get mixed up with a girl like me.”

I kept my gaze trained on him, hoping he would take my advice and that maybe the next time a chick came on to him, he’d take it seriously and not brush her off. Les put down his now half-empty beaker and I couldn’t help but notice he did so with a shaky hand. Damn, he was totally adorable. I hadn’t been lying to him or just trying to flatter him in hopes of a fatter tip. A part of me wanted to take this shy guy with the deep blue eyes home with me and do wicked things to him.

“Jesus, Jamie. Don’t scare the customers. Dustin wouldn’t like that, you know.” 

At the sound of my roommate’s trilling tone I whipped my head to the left. She was sitting next to Les, but I hadn’t even seen her approach. I bit my bottom lip. I wonder how much of the conversation she’d heard?

“Liv…when did you get here?”

It was a bullshit question I used to try to gauge her mood. Not only was Olivia my roommate, but she and Dustin had been dating for the past couple months. I guess I should’ve been creeped out by the fact that my boss and roommate were shagging, but they made an amazing couple. I’d never seen Olivia as happy as she’d been since she and Dustin had become an item. 

A situation that might never have happened if I hadn’t stuck my nose into her life and told her she was making a mistake. Originally, she’d wanted to stick to her no dating in college motto when her and Dustin first started hooking up. I made her realize how pointless that rule was. A fact I tucked into my mental back pocket, should Liv decide to start lecturing me now. Maybe if she lectured me, I’d simply remind her that I’d been the one to talk some sense into her stubborn ass, and if she hadn’t listened to me in the first place, she might not be blissfully happy with Dustin.

“I’ve been here long enough to know what you’d do to this handsome knight if you weren’t on the clock.” My bestie shot me side eyes.

Shit. So, she’d heard. Oh well. Liv knew me better than anyone else. She couldn’t even claim to be surprised by my intentions.

“Look, ah, Jamie. I’ll see you around. I need to get back to the larping room.”

Before I could say anything else to Les, he turned and walked toward the two-story glass room in the corner of the bar. Damn, I guess I really had scared him. Or shocked the hell out of him. I didn’t know if I should feel confused or rejected. 

“Jamie, really? Him?”

“What? You think I don’t like redheads? Think they’re not cute as hell? ‘Cause I guess that means you’ve never seen Prince Harry?”

Liv rolled her eyes.

“Or Ed Sheeran with his oh-so-innocent looking face and that inked up body? I mean, who doesn’t love a juxtaposition like that?” 

“Wow, listen to you throwing big words around. I wasn’t referencing his hair color. You know that sweet guy’s probably never been propositioned like that before, right?”

“Propositioned? What the hell, Liv? You make me sound like a hooker.” I put a hand on my hip and did a sassy neck bob move at her. Out of my peripheral, I noticed a customer waving a couple of bills at me. I held an index finger up to the guy flashing his money, letting him know I’d get his order in a minute. “Do you want your usual?”

“Yeah, but you can wait on that guy first. He seems like he’s in a hurry.” I gave her a nod and turned toward the impatient dude. 

“I need a round for this table and that one.” He pointed to two tables behind him, then he turned toward the group in question. “Yes! You got to the next level. That’s legit, dude!” He let out a loud whoop, proud of his friend’s video-gaming skills.

Jesus, these fucking guys, I swear. Working at Nerdvana was awesome but sometimes the customers got so excited about their make-believe world, it was weird. I poured a round of cocktails for the over excited customer. He paid with several large bills and told me to keep the change, which equaled a nearly ten dollar tip.  Lucky for me, alcohol makes people generous. Most customers opt to pay the extra two bucks to drink their libations from a glass beaker—and sure, it looks cool—but it gets people hella inebriated, hella quick. Sometimes I wondered if Dustin and his business partner Quinn had really thought that aspect through when they came up with the idea. 

I poured a gin and tonic into a beaker and slid it across the counter to Olivia. Unlike some patrons, Liv knew her limits when drinking. One beaker of the classic cocktail and she was good for the whole night.

“So, what’s up with you tonight? Why are you busting my ass about a little harmless flirting? You should be doing the nasty with Dustin back in his office.”

“Whatever, that’s only happened once or twice.”

I shot my best friend a bitch, please look. She and my boss hooked up in his office more times than I could count. Not that I blamed her. Dustin’s a fucking fox. He’s a dead ringer for Adam Levine and I mean, what red-blooded woman in her right mind wouldn’t want to jump on that?

“Don’t try to make this about me, Jamie. You know I love you, right? So can I speak honestly and you promise not to get offended?”

I begrudgingly nodded my head.

“That knight was adorable, but you have to be…a bit less direct with the nerdy, shy types.”

I shrugged. “You know me, guys are like buses. One comes along every ten minutes. So, I screwed things up with Big Red. Now I know what to do next time I’m attracted to a cute, bashful dude. I gotta wait on some people. Catch ya later?”

“Of course.” 

My coworker, Sara, had been on her break, but she came back in time to start marking drinks for one of the groups. She’d treat me to her infamous stink eye if I didn’t stop talking to Liv, like, this second. I turned to walk to the other end of the bar, but Liv grabbed my hand before I could escape. 

“Are we good?”

“Always,” I said with a squeeze of her hand. 

That was the thing about our relationship, we made each other better. I encouraged Liv to be more adventurous and uninhibited. I had a tendency to be chaotic and, yeah, I’ll admit, flighty. She consistently called me on my bullshit and challenged me to rise to my potential and I loved her for it.

If you want more Nerdy Thoughts, it’s available at at Amazon US, Amazon CA, Amazon AU, and Amazon UK, Apple books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo.

Excerpt from Nerdy Thoughts, Talk Nerdy to Me Book Two

I’m so excited that book two in Talk Nerdy to Me will be out in less than two weeks! Seriously, no April foolin’! On April 13 readers can get to know more about Les and Jamie in Nerdy Thoughts. Their story was so much fun to write, mostly because the dynamic between them is amazing, but I’ll let you be the judge of that! Read on for the blurb and excerpt.

Les  is a shy, sweet political cartoonist and larper. Jamie is vibrant, complicated, and allergic to commitment. He’s everything she shouldn’t want and Jamie’s convinced he shouldn’t get involved with her.  

Jamie Kurt is the most popular bartender at Nerdvana, the hottest bar in Cascade Falls. Her outlandish cosplay outfits, wicked wit, and flare for whipping up cocktails make her a target of one-sided crushes from the Nerdvana clientele. So when a customer named Les Wyatt captures her attention, she’s torn between wanting to know more and fighting the urge to stay away.

Despite their obvious differences, neither of them can deny their fiery attraction and combustible chemistry. Les asks Jamie to give him a chance to show her how good they can be together through a casual relationship. As they continue to date, and feelings grow, Jamie throws up every defense she has to try to push Les away. 

But Les is determined to have Jamie any way he can and once he gets her, he has no intention of letting her go.

Nerdy Thoughts is book two in Talk Nerdy to Me, a series centering around the romances that blossom between bar staff and customers at Nerdvana.

Excerpt

I shifted on the bed, my arms wrapped around Jamie. She’d drifted off to sleep and I didn’t want to wake her, but I wanted to see her face. How could one woman be so confusing? Maybe it was my lack of experience, hell, I hadn’t had a girlfriend since high school and I knew that what I’d had with Allison wasn’t at all what I had—what I wanted—with Jamie. 

High school had just been kid stuff. We’d been more like friends who made out. Then when my mom’s health had taken a turn, everything else had taken a backseat for me and Allison hadn’t understood. Jamie said she wanted something casual, but…I swore when she looked at me, when we touched, it was anything but casual. 

What if that was all in my head? What if she was right, and my lack of experience had intensified everything? If casual was all I could have with her, then that’s all this would be, at least that’s what I would let her think. I wanted a lot more, but for right now at least, that was the scenario that kept her in my life. When the two weeks were up, I would figure out how to get her to open up to me, to the possibility of us.

I’d been prepared for her to tell me that what had happened Saturday had just been a mistake. That she wasn’t wasting any more time on me. Or that she had someone else she had her eye on. In short, I’d been prepared for her to dismiss me because I wasn’t experienced enough, or maybe because I was no good in bed, or because she’d just given me a pity fuck. But for her to try to push me away because she thought she wasn’t good enough? That wasn’t something I could let happen. How could she think that? 

I traced her cheekbone with my index finger. She was beautiful and vibrant and she made me feel…alive. Something I hadn’t felt in years. I’d spent too long in the darkness, feeling like I was drowning in grief and regret and when Jamie had smiled at me, talked to me at the bar, it was like feeling the sunshine on my skin after spending a decade locked away in a cave.

Maybe it was just because being here in Cascade Falls was a fresh start. Maybe it was because she didn’t know how sad I’d been, everything I’d gone through before we’d met. A lifetime ago. Maybe any woman I’d tried to get something started with would make me feel this way. But I knew that was bullshit. Because I’d lived here for six months and no one else had made me feel like she did. No one had made me forget and made me look forward to the future.

I can’t wait to share more of their story with you! Nerdy Thoughts will be available where e-books are sold on Tuesday, April 13, 2021!

A Small Town Escape

I’ve talked about how I’m finding more quiet time away from the city lately, and spending that time in nature has made me nostalgic for the days when I lived in a small town. Sure, there are drawbacks from living outside of a city, like not having access to arts and culture like museums and theaters. But, the allure of wide open spaces and the sweet serenade of birds over traffic and construction noise are powerfully persuasive.

Although I have no immediate plans to leave the city, I can visit a small town (based on the one I grew up in) called Clear Lake and so can you. Good With His Hands is about a hot small town mechanic and the reluctantly relocated journalist who fall for each other despite their differences and amid some small town gossip drama 😀

Here’s an excerpt if you’d like to know a little more about Jake and Gabby.

book cover with shirtless man in foreground with hot rod vehicle in backgroundEvery woman wants a man who is good with his hands…

He’s a sexy bad boy mechanic with a reputation. She’s a guarded reporter with too much to lose to play with fire. She tries to resist him but one touch from him changes everything. 

Recent college graduate Gabby Richards has big plans for her life. At the top of those plans is landing a job for a major magazine in Chicago. While Gabby is busy mapping out her career as a journalist, her father gets seriously injured. Upon hearing of his accident, Gabby drops everything, including her career plans, and heads home to her small, rural town of Clear Lake, but vows to return to Chicago as soon as her father is well.

On her first day back in her hometown she has a run-in with the town’s sexy new mechanic, Jake Harrison, and meeting him turns everything upside-down. Despite her wishes to remain single, she doesn’t see the harm in going on a few dates with him. Soon Jake is helping Gabby confront her past and bringing out a side of her that has remained hidden for years. Even though she wants to remain focused on her career and return to her city life, she begins to wonder if it’s possible to have it all—career, her dream life in Chicago, and Jake Harrison.

 

“Sorry, do I have something on my face?” Gabby asked him earnestly.

Jake merely chuckled and shook his head.

“Then what’s wrong? Why are you staring and how come you’re not eating?”

“I love how you’re always so subtle,” Jake said with a laugh. “I was just wondering why you don’t like Clear Lake. What is it about this place that you claim bothers you so much? I say claim because from the way you’re chowing down on that sandwich, and the sparkle I saw in your eyes when you talked about your stories, you seem pretty happy to me. I think you’re determined not to like this town, for some reason, but it’s not working.”

Gabby felt a knot form in the pit of her stomach and she put the half-eaten gargantuan sandwich on her plate. Despite the fact that she didn’t like where Jake was going with the conversation, she felt he deserved some kind of answer. She didn’t know if she wanted to tell him the truth. It was so personal. She lifted her gaze from her Big Henry up into his concerned blue eyes. 

“There are a lot of things about Clear Lake I’d rather forget. When I look around, I don’t see anything but a lot of bad memories and things I wish had never happened. I’m sorry if that doesn’t make sense to you, but it’s the truth,” she said as she threw her napkin down next to her plate.

“So you don’t have to worry about bad memories in Chicago? To you, it’s safe, in that respect, that’s why you’re so determined to run back there the first chance you get,” he said matter-of-factly.

Gabby was shocked at how rude he was being. She opened her mouth to speak, but didn’t know what to say to him. Jake could never understand what it felt like to lose a parent, to watch them suffer and waste away and know there was nothing you could do to help them or stop it from happening. 

She felt tears spring in her eyes, and at the risk of having Jake see her cry, she bolted for the restroom, while muttering an ‘excuse me’ over her shoulder. She nearly bumped into their waitress in her hurry to reach the bathroom. 

Gabby leaned over the sink and took several deep breaths, determined not to cry. She wanted to get angry at Jake, she wanted to march straight out to their table and give him a piece of her mind. She wanted to tell him what an ignorant comment he’d made and that their date on Saturday was off.

However, she didn’t want to make a scene in the dining area and be the talk of the town for weeks. If not months, she thought sardonically. She decided the silent treatment would be better and probably a lot more effective.

When she went back out to the booth, Jake was throwing some cash down on the table to pay their tab. Gabby headed for the door and was waiting inside the hot truck for him when he got outside and cranked the engine to life.

“I’m sorry if what I said upset you.”

Gabby sat staring out the passenger window, feeling all her resolve to tell Jake off fade away. “It’s not just what you said Jake. It’s okay. I don’t expect you to know what it feels like to lose a parent. You probably can’t even imagine the pain of driving by the hospital where your mom spent weeks lying in a bed under fluorescent lighting when she should have been at home, gardening, cooking dinner and living her life. 

“I don’t expect you to understand how everywhere I go and everything I see is overtaken by memories. I don’t expect you to know what it’s like to not only be haunted by what has happened, but also what could have been,” she wiped a tear that had rolled down her cheek and faced Jake. “So, you’re right in one respect, Jake. Chicago is safe, there are not bad memories, there are not good memories. It’s just a place. It’s some place I can just be Gabby, not poor Gabby who lost her mom to cancer, not a sob story, I’m just me. Like I said, you probably can’t get that.”

Jake let out a long sigh and Gabby thought to herself, I sure told him.

“It’s funny you say that I wouldn’t understand Gabby, when I understand perfectly. I lost my mom too. Not to cancer, a car accident. I don’t know what’s worse, watching your parent slip away, little by little, or to have her suddenly taken away, like my mom was. 

“I know exactly what you’re saying about the memories, Gabby. I felt the same way after my mom died and I had to pass by the stretch of road where she was hit. It was like a knife in my stomach every time I saw that spot. Then my grandpa died and when I found out my dad didn’t want to take over the business and move here, I jumped at the chance. 

“I left my hometown for the same reasons you’re trying to leave yours, Gabby and I don’t want you to make the same mistakes I have. Sooner or later the pain resurfaces, I may not have to see the spot where my mom died every day, but it doesn’t change the fact that she’s not around anymore. Maybe you can find a way to still be connected to your mom. I started running as a way to connect with mine, when I’m running, it’s like…I can feel her presence.”

He reached for her hand and pulled her toward him across the bench seat. 

“I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings, I was only trying to help,” he said as he stared deep into her hazel eyes.

“It’s not your fault, Jake,” she said in a husky voice. 

She was so close to him she could smell the shop fluids on his uniform, and feel the heat radiating from his body. She felt Jake remove his hand from hers and she experienced a pang of disappointment. When he placed his hand on the back of Gabby’s bare neck, her heart raced. Jake angled his head toward hers and she parted her lips in anticipation of his kiss. 

Gabby grasped his shoulders and felt Jake’s surprisingly soft embrace. Maybe it was the emotions of the moment, but his kiss wasn’t as insistent as it normally was. Despite it being a mellower kiss, her heartbeat accelerated, her anger totally evaporated now. She let out a contented sigh and was about to wind her fingers through his hair when someone honked their horn. Startled, she and Jake broke apart. 

“Way to go, Jake,” a man called from a vehicle nearby. 

He continued to grin goofily at the couple as he walked into the barbeque joint. Gabby felt her cheeks flame in response to their audience. So much for keeping her dates with Jake a secret and not being the talk of the town.

Interested in more? Find Good With His Hands at  Amazon, Amazon CA, Amazon UK, Apple, Barnes and Noble and Kobo.

 

Baby, Let’s Cruise…

I would love nothing more than to pack my bags and jump on a cruise ship. And, maybe I’m extra nostalgic for cruising this summer because last year around this time I was on a cruise ship.

Ah, what a difference a year makes.

If you’re like me and are jonesing for a nautical adventure, you can live vicariously through my novel Caribbean Caliente. It’s set on a cruise ship, during the early 2000s, and there’s LOTS of dancing and just plain joy in this book. If this sounds like something you could get on board with (see what I did there?) read on for the blurb and an excerpt.

She didn’t plan to fall for a man on what was supposed to be her honeymoon…

After Justus Kendall found her fiance cheating on her, she ended the relationship, but took the honeymoon with her best friend.

On a boat, in the middle of the Caribbean, she meets Miguel Amores, a Latin dancer and entrepreneur from Miami. A chance encounter leads to a dance competition and reveals their scorching chemistry. Justus and Miguel soon find out they’re compatible on and off the dance floor, knowing there’s no future, yet unable to deny their attraction.

When the cruise is over they agree to go their separate ways, but neither can forget about those seven days of Caribbean heat.

“This round show us you know how to dance to current music. Bust out your newest dance moves. DJ Wild, are you ready?” The DJ let loose with an air horn as an affirmative.

What’s Your Fantasy by Ludacris blasted through the speakers and Justus felt a blush creep up her neck. She was supposed to dance in front of all these people with Miguel to a song with lyrics that talked about licking someone from their head to their toes? And of course, Mr. Sexy Dancer himself was grinding his hips toward her in a way that made her want to squirm.

As the rap song continued to describe sexual fantasies, she couldn’t help but picture Miguel in some of the scenarios. Miguel with tortoise framed glasses playing the teacher and she the student. Miguel as a sexy vampire and her the helpless human unable to resist his otherworldly charms. Maybe the sexy situations depicted in the song weren’t that far-fetched after all. The music suddenly stopped and she wasn’t sure if she was happy or disappointed. She’d been so intent on the fantasies laid out in the song lyrics she’d danced on auto-pilot. The audience came through for them. She and Miguel made it to the final round.

“Our last round will be our most difficult,” Antnonio intoned grimly. “We’ll be judging our remaining couples with a full song, and you’ll have to infuse freestyle into this next type of dance.”

“Man, this prize better be pretty sweet. They’re making us work our asses off for it,” she murmured to Miguel.

He bit back a laugh. “I happen to know what the prize is, and I’m making sure you get it.”

Damn, this man is competitive. 

“DJ Wild, what’s our final dance style? Give us a hint.”

The DJ played a snippet of the song I Touch Myself, and of course, the crowd erupted into cheers at the lyrics.

“So the dance style is cheesy 90s songs?”

Miguel burst out laughing. “You’re bad, but I like it.” He arched a brow at her and she relished the devilish look in his eye.

“The style, ladies and gentlemen, is solo dancing.” Antonio threw his hands in the air. “I know! We pulled out all the stops with this last dance. So, to be clear you will dance solo, but will be judged as a couple. How do you do that? I’m glad you asked…” he ate up the audience’s laughter. “The couples will dance near each other, but not touching, not together. Imagine if you will that you’re in a crowded night club, you’re dancing…DJ Wild, help me out here,” Antonio snapped his fingers and the DJ put on a thumping track. The assistant cruise director swayed to the beat. “Now imagine you’re in a crowded night club, dancing, alone. And suddenly, across the dance floor you see that one person. Your eyes meet. Come on, ladies, gentlemen, you know what I mean. Make us feel that electricity.”

“Sure, nothing too difficult there, only have the pressure of tons of strangers watching. Oh, and I’m totally sober. Typically if I danced the way he’s talking about, I’d be tipsy.”

“Justus,” Miguel sputtered her name around chuckles. “You should do stand up.”

“I’m not that funny. I’m just snarky.” She shook her head and smiled at him as they took their positions on the floor. “Ready to help me win this thing?”

“Hell yeah.”

When the song about masturbation came over the speakers, at least Justus was prepared for it this time. And, she knew exactly what she would do to win this competition. She turned toward Miguel and held his gaze. The crowd, the noise, the lights, all of it faded away. It was only her, and him, and the music. Justus moved her body and ran her hands up and down her torso. She popped a hip left, then right and tossed her hair over her shoulders. In return Miguel, rolled his hips and stared her down.

They took small steps toward each other, but danced at least six feet apart. There was no way they could touch each other, but their eyes did all the things their hands and lips couldn’t do in that moment. She bent at her waist, then popped her booty out and ran her hands along the outer edge of her jean clad ass cheeks. Her face flushed and her breathing was shallow and quick. It wasn’t only from the movement. The intense sexual tension between her and Miguel was as thick as a rope. It pulsed between them and took on a life form of its own.

Miguel matched her sexy move with one of his own. He slowly unbuttoned his shirt, each one coming loose of its hold, his gaze never leaving hers. She was faintly aware of the shouts and catcalls from the women on the sidelines. That was the first reminder she had that people were watching them. That this was all a competition. It wasn’t a real thing. It wouldn’t end with her in his arms, his mouth and body crushed against hers. Her footsteps faltered, but she caught the nearly imperceptible shake of Miguel’s head. He held her stare and freed the remaining two buttons from his shirt and shrugged it off.

The screams and whistles from the observers almost tuned out the music. Her gaze took in the copper hued skin, stretched taut over muscles. The smattering of chest hair that led to the trail that ended at the waistband of his jeans. God damn, her fingers burned to touch him. It was more than her fingers that wanted to touch him. Her mouth salivated at the thought of the trace of salt she’d taste if her tongue followed the trail of that hair into his pants. She dropped to her knees and tossed her hair back and forth, swaying her torso to the music. The thought of what she’d rather be doing on her knees played out in her movements. Justus looked at him and slowly rimmed her lips with the tip of her tongue. Heat burned in Miguel’s eyes and without breaking their gaze he thrust his hips in a seductive rhythm. The invasive squawk of an air horn broke their lusty spell.

“Wow. Like…wow, right? I’m just speechless. That was crazy.” Antonio fanned himself with his hand and looked at the audience.

Miguel walked to her and extended his hand and helped pull her to her feet. “I’m impressed,” he murmured and pressed himself against her. She felt how impressed he was. Without breaking their gaze he bent and picked up his shirt, but didn’t put it back on. The two of them walked to the side of the dance floor and stood next to the other couple remaining in the competition.

“As amazing as all our couples have been, there can only be one winner. Are we ready to vote?” The crowd roared. Antonio gestured to the other couple and the crowd broke into mealy applause. That had to be a good sign for her and Miguel, right? Antonio stood in front of them and gestured for the crowd to vote for them. The noise was deafening.

“Couple eight has won. Now, for your prize.” Antonio treated the crowd to a broad grin, drawing the suspense out and loving it. “You win two free excursion trips of your choice. We’ve got the trip to our private island coming up, so you can do any side trip you want there. Horseback riding on the beach, helicopter tour. Your choice.”

Justus squealed and turned to Miguel. He’d won this for her. Overcome with joy she threw her arms around him and planted a kiss on his lips. Laughter, shouts, and whistles surrounded her.

What the hell did I just do?

“Well someone’s very happy to win.” Antonio’s Captain Obvious comment was met with laughter.

Heat flooded her face and she followed Antonio to the side where he took her details and gave her two vouchers for the excursions. She couldn’t even look at Miguel. Yes, they’d performed a semi-pornographic dance routine, but hell, she’d just planted one on him in front of a huge crowd. Surely she’d compromised him in some way, since he taught and gave lectures on the boat. Antonio asked Miguel something and she used that as her excuse to break free from him. She ran across the floor and found Krystal in the crowd.

“Holy shit. I need a cigarette after watching that.” Krystal treated her to a high five, then wrapped her in a quick hug.

“Yeah, yeah. I’m mortified. I need to get the hell out of here.”

Caribbean Caliente is available at Apple BooksBarnes & NobleKobo, and Amazon USAmazon CAAmazon UK, and Amazon AU.