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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Guest post with Willa Edwards!

Ultimatums : Do they work?


We’ve all had relationships in our lives that aren’t working, that have some issues in them that makes them not as fulfilling as we’d like. Whether it’s your relationship with your spouse or significant other, your boss, your parents, your siblings, it’s a part of life (if you have never experienced this, you are one of the lucky few, and I’m green with envy). Sometimes we can talk to the person were having an issue with, and try to work it out, but when the two parties are incapable of seeing eye to eye, what other choices are there to solve the problem.

When desperation hits, some people grab for the ultimatum to get what they want. Do what I say or else. Maybe (probably in a better economical time) you went into your boss’s office and said give me a raise, a promotion, better vacation days, etc… or I’m leaving. Maybe you told your brother to drive you and your friends to the movies or you’d tell mom he’s been buying dirty pay-per-view movies at night. Or maybe you told your significant other, do this or I’m gone.

Patti Stanger, the Millionaire Matchmaker, encourages ultimatums, or what she calls Me-o-matums. She says after a certain period of time, you should turn to the person you’re with and ask them if they think the relationship is going in the same direction that you do. If they don’t see the same future, the one you want, whether it be with kids, married or just happily living together, you have to leave. You have to walk away so you can find someone that will give you what you really want.

In the end an ultimatum is a threat. An act of desperation. Some psychologist even claim that it’s the result of poor self-esteem, since you might be giving someone another chance to hurt you just so you don’t have to leave them (This is especially true in a relationship, but could be true in a job or with family. You’re definitely giving them the opportunity to fail you again, but you don’t have as much freedom to leave your family, or your job these days).

The only way an ultimatum works is if you follow through on that threat. If you’re willing to leave if the boss doesn’t give you what you want, or you’re willing to walk away if you spouse starts drinking again. And that is the reason so few ultimatums actually work, because following through on the threat is the hardest part. We don’t want to have to walk away from our loved ones, if we did, we’d just do that in the first place.

In my mind, ultimatums are never the solution. If the ultimatum is used in a relationship it shows a genuine breakdown of the communication between the two people (or the lack of it from the very start) and an inability to compromise, which is the basis of any good relationship. In a relationship you should be able to have an honest conversation about what you want and find some common ground. The same can be said for business associations, you should be able to have honest and straightforward conversations with your boss, or your clients, to improve situations or at least know the likelihood of certain goals being met (such as raises and promotions). If those are not to your liking then move on. Don’t threaten too, just do it, they always have the option of giving you what you want before you walk out the door. More than likely you won’t call in sick for your last two weeks.

While walking away might be the answer to some issues, I don’t think threats are ever the way to get what you want in the long run. You might get it for a short time, but it will always come back to haunt you later on. But what do you guys think? Do ultimatums work? Have you ever had one work out in your life? Or have you used one to disaster? I’d love to know.

In my newest release, Heart’s Ultimatum, Krista wants more from her boyfriend James. She wants love, commitment, marriage, and babies. And since he’s not getting it done, she knows what she has to do. Give him an ultimatum. He either steps up, or she leaves. But leaving isn’t so easy, especially when all she wants is to be with James. Here’s a little snippet from Heart’s Ultimatum to whet your appetite.





Blurb

Krista Matthews has been in love with James for two years, but he's never mentioned commitment. After she plans him the ultimate naughty Valentine’s Day surprise, and he doesn't say those three magical words, she know it’s time to move on. She may be plushy and curvy, but she still deserves someone who loves her for all she is.

Wounded by the past, James Peterson became principal at a new school to escape his mistakes. What he never anticipated was meeting someone as amazing as Krista. She fits him in every way—except her need for a ring. When she dishes out a Valentine's Day ultimatum, give her more or end their relationship, all those old fears come racing back. Does James have the courage to face his past for the woman he loves? Or will he lose her on principal?

Adult Excerpt

The moist tip of his cock rubbed along the sensitive engorged lips of her pussy, stealing all her worries with its tantalizing brush. He teased and tortured her with his slow, methodical movements.



“I could never want anyone the way I want you.” His voice was low, primal, demanding, and her body surged with life from his rough words. If only he could say words of love instead of lust they could do this until they both were too old and gray to care who saw them.



Krista bit her lip so hard she tasted the metallic tang of blood on her tongue, but she didn’t care. She’d bite through her arm if it prevented her from screaming out, from begging James to slam into her hard and fast. She’d do anything to prevent herself from telling him again those words she desperately wanted to hear from his lips.



But she didn’t have to beg. It was only moments before James positioned himself against her slick cunt and slammed deep inside her. He plunged into her, so fast and hard it hurt a little, but it felt so damn good Krista feared she might pass out. He was so thick and hot and hard inside her, it overwhelmed all her other senses.



Krista leaned her forehead against the cool Formica countertop, needing to ground herself in the moment. Feeling too much like a hot air balloon filled with all the love she felt for James, the pleasure he gave her clouded her mind until she forgot the rest of the world. Her entire being focused on his cock buried deep inside her. His arms wrapped around her, right where they were supposed to be. Her insecurities floated away like smoke from a candle flame.



“How can you give this up, Kris?” he groaned into her ear as he pulled out of her and slammed back in.



She wanted to argue with him. She wanted to scream at him she wasn’t the one giving up anything. He’s the one who’d thrown in the lingerie, who’d sacrificed everything they had. But his demanding, dizzying rhythm stole her breath and her wits. She gripped the edge of the counter as his speed multiplied, his body slamming into her so hard, as if he wanted to imprint the memory on her mind, or his, with the physical act.



“What’s so important you’re willing to deprive us both of all this?” James bent his knees and slammed into her higher, harder, and Krista couldn’t fight the scream that escaped from her lips.



James leaned over her, pressing his chest to her back. His warm, sweaty body brought every nerve along her spine to life. His soft breath ruffled the hair at her nape. He threaded his fingers together with hers on the opposite edge of the counter while continuing to thrust into her, deep, demanding.



Krista let out a whimper as her eyes blurred with tears. Pleasure rolled through her, not just from the overwhelming ecstasy of each dig of his thick cock, but the sweet sensation of his fingers infolded with hers, his forehead resting against her shoulder blades.



“Tell me what’s so important you’re willing to give all this up.” He nuzzled her neck. He brushed kisses along her crown, throat, and shoulder as he continued to pump into her. His unshaven jaw scraped across her back, sending pinpricks of electricity through her entire system.



Shaking her head, Krista focused on the beige countertop, afraid of what’s she’d see or feel if she looked anywhere else. Arching her hips backward, Krista thrust toward him, needing to feel as much of a connection with James as possible. Their bodies moved against each other, with each other, until she could barely breathe.



“Tell me, Kris,” he demanded, pounding into her mercilessly. He slammed into her hard, hitting that spot deep inside that made her entire body quiver and melt. “Tell me why you left. Tell me why you’re doing this.”



Krista clenched her jaw tight to prevent the moan that burned her throat from escaping and to stop the chattering of her jaw as it shook with the rest of her body. She couldn’t tell him. She couldn’t ask him to say those three words. If she did, she’d never really know if he meant it or only said the words to end a fight. She couldn’t live with that doubt. She needed to know he loved her.

Buy Link: http://www.bookstrand.com/hearts-ultimatum

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Why do we Read?


Hey everyone! I'm Charlene Lokey w/a Charlene Roberts and I'm a new member author here at SSND.

A little bit about myself - I live in Toronto, Canada. My mom's retired and lives with me, I'm currently single (and enjoying it!) And trying my best to find another job in my current admin field, or just tossing it all in and doing something completely different. Freelance writing and editing is looking better and better.

Tell me, what compels us to read?

I know that I like a fantastic story. But why read it, when I could probably find its equivalent in a movie, documentary or TV series? It's hard to explain, but I love the feel of a book in my hands. I like knowing that I can open it at any time. And there's something more complex, more layered in a book. Granted, there are shows out there that do have elements and layers of sophistication, but a book is different.

Why? I don't know.

Not the answer I even suspected! Maybe it's knowing how much work the author put into their story. Or how a story can drag me in and not let go until I read that last word. Or how the story's description is so vivid I want to live there.

I also read because I like to spend a few hours away from the the real world--curled up on the couch, a cup of tea or hot chocolate at hand, my cat at my feet and all electronics turned off. Reading allows us the opportunity to "get away from it all"--a chance to recharge and renew ourselves in comfortable silence.

What do I read, you ask? Besides romance, I love fantasy and sci-fi myself--alternate worlds, different civilizations, the perfection of elves! I'm currently reading Cast in Silence by Michelle Sagara from her Chronicles in Elantra series. The description of her alternate world is so detailed, I'm surprised we don't have anything like that now! I'm on book 4 and I think there are 8 books so far in the series which I will get to at some point.

Horror stories are good too, but I tend to frighten myself to the point where I can't get to sleep! :( If a horror book can do that, then it was a darn good read!

As romance authors, what other genres do you enjoy reading? Also, has it broadened your view with regards to your writing?

I look forward to talking to all of you about writing and reading!

Monday, February 27, 2012

A rose by any other name...is The Voice

East Door: Killing of the First Born Sons 
Nope. Not talking about the show.  But the most memorable quality to any fiction. (Actually non-fiction, too, but we're focused on fiction here.)
I just finished reading my wonderful set of Rita entries for this year. And what can I tell you about the ones I have read and judged in the past 6 weeks?
Not the characters, save one, whose antics frankly irritated me by the end more than thrilled me.
Not the plots, save two, which were so very unique I smiled as I read and still do, weeks later.
West Door: Peter's Denial in the Garden
What sticks with me most are the authors' voices.
Voice, that indefinable "something" that editors go into raptures over. Voice, that sparkling-vibrant-uniquely can't-do-without quality that

makes a book memorable.

This lot I read this year had copious, delicious heaps and heaps of voice.
And yet what precisely defines Voice? Could I put my finger on it?
Ah.
Voice. That essence of prose that lifts it above the ordinary.
That quality of rhetoric that distinguishes the work from others in its genre, period and peers.
That certain something that matches the mood of the work to the characters' conflicts and the plots twists and turns.



West Door: Judas's Kiss
That element that makes the reader smile or frown or gasp. And through it all, that quality that compels the reader to have more, more, more by god! before dinner must be prepped, or the dog walked, or the bedroom beckons with the demand that you must sleep now or you cannot make it up when that darned alarm goes off!
We can speak of it with eloquence when we talk about the works of visual artists. Leonardo. Van Gogh. Picasso. Antoni Gaudi. Mies van der Rohe.
Voice. Like Jane Austen's. Daphne du Maurier's. Elmore Leonard's. Jacqueline Winspear's.
Voice. It is what I strive for. It is why I look at every sentence. Why I go with a flow. How I edit myself.
What is your definition of voice?
Which voices do you like?  What are the works that represent that author best?
Do note the above photos: These are my pictures of La Sagrada Familia, the Sacred Family Basilica in Barcelona, Spain designed by Antoni Gaudi, which years after his death is still under construction. His more classical representations on the East Door of the Nativity are as much a part of his Voice as the one's on the West Door, commonly known as the Door of Death. Here you can see the stark, harsh modern representation of Judas Kissing Christ, and the lonely and despairing Peter who has just Denied Christ in the Garden. All, to me, are stunningly beautiful evocations of Gaudi's voice.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

TEN THINGS YOU DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT ME


Oh,this is so embarrassing. But really, I figured, since I am the new girl on the Sweet n Sexy blog, that I really should let you know a bit more about me.
I think I’ve already told you I live in New Zealand.
So here goes.


1. We’ve just moved house – 1st time in 24 years – do you know you start off with one dinner set and 24 years later you have at least 4! Scary how they breed! Anyway, we’ve just moved to the country, not far from the beach where we were, but now we’re on 10 acres of lovely private bush.

2. I have had three artificial hip replacements on the same leg. I had my first one at the age of 16 – in fact at the time (and yes it was a long time ago) I was the youngest in New Zealand to ever have a hip replacement (16 years and 1 month old). Hip number 3 is going well – and long may it last.

3 I’m passionate about interior design, and secretly would read a design mag before I pick up a book – I know completely and utterly sacrilege. I studied through correspondence years ago and have qualities as an interior designer, but writing got in the way! These days I’m addicted to DIY decorating blogs!

4. I’m sadly height restricted. Yes. I’m short. I always say I’m five foot 2, but recently when I had to go to hospital they measured me and I’ve SHRUNK. I mean for someone who is height challenged, that is so not fair. But I keep telling myself that nice things come in small packages, just wish that meant skinny too.

5. I’m the mother of 2 daughters adopted from Russia in 1996 and traveled their, staying in a small Russian town for 5 weeks while paperwork went through before I brought my new family home. Yesterday, my eldest just got engaged. How cool is that.

6. This year I decided I wanted to cook better meals. I mean I can cook okay, but wanted to improve my repertoire. So each new dish gets rated out of ten by the family. So far my curry has hit 9 on the scale! Still on my list to cook are a Pavlova, a Christmas fruitcake and a sponge cake. I’d also like to do some recipes with fish.

7. I saw one of my heroes once. In my book HE’S THE ONE, the hero walked into a café I was at with a couple of fellow authors. I just about fell off my seat. He even drove the same Mustang I described in the book. But did he stop and talk – nope – this hunk just sauntered on by without a look in my direction.

8. I’ve lived in England, Israel, and Canada, though I was born in New Zealand. I love to travel. Next year hubby and I are hoping to drive route 66 in the USA as we’re mad keen (read that as he is) on old cars.

9. And talking of hubby, I’m proud to say we met on a blind date, married eleven months later and this year we celebrate our 29th wedding anniversary.

10. Now the last of these awesome facts about moi that you did not know should be the most uber-awesome. I’m wracking my brains for something so weird/wonderful/fascinating to tell you all…. Um…..Oh I know… much to my children’s embarrassment (when they were younger) sometimes when they came home from school the stereo was blasting the Beatles or the Beach Boys and I was boogieing up a storm. I can rock with the best of them LOL. Okay, I’m a tad slower now as I’m aging but… heck, you can’t keep a good chick down.


Here’s an excerpt from HE’S THE ONE

Then he kissed her.
Taylor gasped and inhaled his scent. Pure sex. Pure male. It almost sent her over the edge, to a place she hadn’t known about. Till now.
She kissed him back.
He teased her mouth, grazing her bottom lip with the scrape of his teeth and, once again, Taylor began to drown.
“You can’t bury yourself in your fantasy weddings, Taylor.” His voice almost purred against her cheek.
But Taylor’s brain had shut down to everything but the taste of him and the aching need that swelled deep inside her.
“This is our fantasy. Is this what you want?” he asked.
Definitely. But she didn’t say so. She couldn’t admit it. Not out loud. Not even to herself, really. She pulled away and grappled for oxygen. She needed to breathe. But, oh, how she needed Cade’s kiss to go on forever.
Nothing is forever.
With shaking fingers, she battled for control, fumbling in her purse. She refused to look at the condoms. “Here’s my card. If you…”
“I haven’t changed my mind.” He looked at her, dark eyes earnest. “It’s still yes.”
The card slipped from her fingers. “It is?”
“Uh-huh. So what’s next?”
“I don’t know.”
“It’s your call. You’re the boss. Or did you think you’d just jump my bones and get it over with tonight?”
Taylor swallowed her embarrassment. Yes, that was exactly what she’d thought. Businesslike. Organized. Get it over with and get on with life.
He lifted her hand, turning it over as if trying to read her palm. He smiled—slow and sweet. It made her want to reach up and trace his mouth, to feel his smile.
“Sorry, no can do.”
“Why not?” God, did she actually ask that?
“Because, call me old fashioned, but I think we need to take it slow, let it smolder, heat up and get us in the mood. Making love isn’t ‘wham bam thank you ma’am’. It’s an art form.”
Mood? An art form? Lord. She was in the mood now. One kiss and her body burned for him. She had to get out of here before she did exactly what he said and jumped his bones.
“Well, thank you for being a…gentleman.”
“No problem. When would you like to meet again?”
How about ten minutes time, her subconscious offered.
“Um…maybe tomorrow. I’ve got to check my diary.”
“Of course. Business before pleasure.”
Taylor’s head jerked up. She caught Cade’s amused grin. Those dimples sure were a temptation.
“Business is what pays the bills.”
“And love is what the makes the world go ’round, or so they say.”
“This isn’t about love.”
Cade’s grin slipped. “No, it’s not. It’s about giving you some experience. Don’t worry. I’ll phone you.”
Taylor realized she’d been summarily dismissed. Thrusting open the car door, she jackknifed out as fast as her trembling legs allowed and, although she bent down to say thanks, Cade didn’t give her time. He gunned his hot car and, with a squeal of tires, sped off into the night.
“Just like a knight in shining armor,” Taylor murmured as she watched the retreating vehicle.
Trouble was, she wasn’t sure she could handle being rescued by Mr. Harper.



Happy reading everyone
Jane Beckenham
www.janebeckenham.com

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Novel Inspirations


I’m not sure where plotters get their inspirations. During a recent conversation with a plotter, she said she thinks in terms of umbrella themes and plots that then lead her to characters, their goals and their conflicts—both internal and external.
Just thinking about all that mental labor makes me tired. But it certainly accounts for that author’s depth of character and intricate storylines.
As for pantser me:
Many of my story inspirations begin in bed. Not because I’m an erotic fantasy writer doing research… When making love, I ‘m totally in the moment.
My subconscious self, however, may have conjured two people arguing at the top of their lungs. That argument may provide their external conflict and may also be part of their own internal issues. Either conflict may or may not have led to the argument. At this point, I haven’t a clue. I just have these characters who need to resolve their issues—whatever they may be.

News stories or magazine articles sometimes inspire stories. A romantic suspense I’m still noodling on raises its hand and beckons with enticing, bejeweled fingers every presidential election year. Another romantic suspense that I’ve written and sold came from an article about emerald mining in Colombia. It Takes a Thief came out of that article. I’m hoping to see it release from Ellora’s Cave (EC) in 2012.

Sometimes another author’s work inspires me. I’m not talking about plagiarism, but something more like a spin-off. Mary Stewart’s Arthurian Quartet (The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, etc.) not only left me awestruck but reluctant to let go of the magic. Whether hers or Merlin’s I can’t say.
Anyway, those books led me to write a Regency and a Victorian sequel sort of rooted in those Arthurian legends. Both sucked. But someday I may resurrect them as erotic fantasies.
My first erotic novel and first ever sale was inspired by a short story by Charlotte Boyett-Campo titled The Windsday Club. Only two chapters long, it made me hot. It made me laugh. It made me wonder if I could write something that funny, that sexually arousing.
Apparently I could. Ellora’s Cave (EC) bought Passion’s Four Towers (PFT) and the rest, as they say, is history.

Your own work can inspire you. For example, I set myself up to write a sequel to Passion’s Four Towers—maybe even more than a couple of sequels. But when I finished I had a problem. Two of my secondary heroes had let themselves be led into sexual satiation. Which meant my sequel went into the toilet.
Lucky for me, my heroines’ dead mother rescued me. Kerrie dragged her ghostly chains, wailed like a banshee and in general made herself a pain in the… She kept at me until I wrote Kerrie’s Quest for Passion (KQ). That filled my time until Gerard and Edgar had recovered enough to take their heroic roles in Passion’s Twins (PT).

And then, due to circumstances beyond my control…

Between writing KQ’s and PT, Angela Lansbury’s Murder, She Wrote caught me in the what if of virtual reality. Sexy Hercules star Kevin Sorbo played a VR designer accused of murder. The crime aspect didn’t inspire me, but the VR did.
That’s when I set out to become the Sue Grafton of erotic fantasies. Since every series needs a foundation story, I wrote His Virtual Virgin, followed by a sojourn I’m still taking through the alphabet. I’m up to G—His Virtual Gift—which released February 15, 2012 from eXtasy Books.

Your publisher may also inspire you to write a themed story. EC did and I wrote four short stories/novellas around food and the arts. EC didn’t buy one of them, but eXtasy Books contracted for all four. In fact, I now have a series called Sensuous Seasonings.

Chapter members may also inspire stories. I have almost total recall of hooking up with SVR members at the Denver RWA national convention in 2000. We were talking about what we were writing and I described a plot I was noodling on and our own resident humorist, Judy Ashley said, “Oh, so you’re writing Saving Ryan’s Privates—which became my first sale to eXtasy Books.

Sometimes there’s just something in the air. How often have you seen stories by different authors that have the same core theme? Over the fifteen plus years I pursued becoming published, I’ve encountered this phenomena a lot. I don’t know if Laurel K. Hamilton got her inspiration for Jean-Claude from Anne Rice, but it’s easy to think that’s what inspired her vampire stories. And Shanna Abe’s magical, marvelous Drakons could certainly have inspired shape-shifting dragons.
Obviously, I’m a fan of all these talented authors.

Faces. I based a couple of my heroines on a little girl with reddish-blonde hair and sea-foam green eyes I saw on a cruise up the Sacramento River. A craggy-featured old man missing some teeth might inspire my next excursion into VR.

All this is by way of saying inspiration can come from anywhere. You just need to listen and look.

Dee Brice
Erotic Fantasies Where Nothing is Forbidden

Friday, February 24, 2012

SWEAT EQUITY and a VERY HOT Man Love Moment

REPEATING THE BLOGGER WARNING HERE:  THE FOLLOWING IS NOT MEANT FOR ANYONE UNDER 18 OR ANYONE IN ANY WAY OFFENDED BY LOVE SCENES BETWEEN MEN.  JUST STOP READING NOW...MOVE ALONG.  otherwise.....allow me to introduce you to
Blake and Rob....



But FIRST... I'm just too excited NOT to share....
My series "THE REALTORS" which began with Floor Time continues this week.
SWEAT EQUITY is the 2nd in the trilogy and so far, the series is getting rave reviews.
Here are a few, excerpted.

Hesperia Loves Books:
What is it then – it’s raw, emotional, strong, confusing (to them at least), heart-wrenching and completely FANTASTIC!  Their love & sex burn the pages and make me want that fabulous ending, since their road has been so tough, I have to know the rest of their journey and what the future holds for them.

Melissa @ Sizzling Hot Reviews:
Floor Time is a sexy thrilling ride of passion and real estate. When Jack and Sara come together, they combust. It doesn’t matter where they are or who is around them, they can’t keep their hands off each other. As they explore their cravings, they experiment with a little BDSM and Dom/Sub during their love making. The scene at the open house will leave you breathless.

Harlie Reader:
If you are looking for a sweet story, this is not for you.  You will read one of the most gut wrenching, emotional, off the wall sexy and utterly exceptional stories that will leave you wanting to read more about Jack and Sarah and the road that they take with each other.  The beginning of their journey together is one of the most emotional filled stories that I have read in a long time.  I look forward to reading about their journey together soon.

MyBookAddiction Reviews (from a REALTOR reader):
The secondary characters are well written and add to the story.  Crowe’s descriptions of the life of an active REALTOR are spot on although I’ve never had the kind of fun selling houses that her characters do!  I’m really looking forward to the next two books in the series because Jack and Sara still have a lot to work out!
Link:  http://mybookaddictionreviews.wordpress.com/2012/02/14/floor-time-the-realtors-by-liz-crowe-review/












In honor of the release of Sweat Equity I am giving all you Sweet And Sexies a HOT EXCERPT....My heroine, Sara Jane Thornton has a brother Blake. Blake is her touchstone, her advisor, the guy she turns to for most everything including the food he and his lover, Rob cook for her.  


Rob and Blake own a brew pub, The Local, the hottest thing in gastro-pub concepts in South East Michigan.  But Rob is aggravated with Blake. He's getting way too involved in Sara's issues with Jack. AND he is still having a tough time letting go of his last lover, a beautiful woman named Suzanne who owns a brewery across town.....leading us to this moment (WARNING: GRAPHIC M/M SEX DESCRIPTIONS.  please do not read any further if you are offended by this sort of thing.  Otherwise, get a glass of cold water....)























Noting the late hour, Blake realized he ought to be tired, should have be exhausted really, having been up at five a.m. for a punishing workout, after which he spent two stressful hours across from a lender on a task he was foisting on his partner. Trying to prove his worth, needing to see his products on store shelves and not just in the restaurant. Something else Rob was most likely correct about—but Blake refused to acknowledge it.  Then he'd proceeded on to his usual ten hours of brewery work. But his skin crawled as if covered in ants. His brain hummed with a strange energy and his hands shook as he held a clipboard and tried to focus on the graphs indicating temperature changes in the fermenter in front of him.
“Fuck!” The board made a satisfying clatter against the wall where he heaved it, splitting apart and sending chunks of metal and molded plastic flying across the room. He put his hands against the cool stainless steel. Closing his burning eyes he pictured her, her deep red hair, infectious smile, the woman who’d given him a chance as a brewer, taken his heart in her hands and then squashed it like a fucking bug.
“Calm down.” Rob’s voice in his ear, the sudden sensation of the man’s body pressed against his back made him nearly leap out of his skin. “Shhh…It’s okay. You’re gonna give yourself an aneurism. Then I’d have to kill you.” Blake took a deep breath as Rob put his hands over the ones he had pressed against the fermenter, threading long fingers through his. His lover’s lips at his ear, then his neck brought his cock to immediate attention, making him groan with the pain of keeping it trapped behind his zipper. A need so strong roared up from the soles of his feet, making the room darken, then get suddenly bright.
“I need you,” he could barely hear his own voice. “Please, Rob.”
“I know,” the other man soothed, keeping his lips against Blake’s skin. Blake leaned his head against Rob's shoulder, arched his back and pressed his body even closer against his partner's. Rob released one hand, keeping the other one tightly clasped in Blake’s, still pressed against the cold metal of the brewing vessel. Blake sighed as his lover stroked his rock hard shaft through his jeans, ran his hand down Blake’s thigh and back up, cupping his need, never stopping the trail of kisses down his neck.
“Are we alone in here?” Rob’s voice was breathy, rough with lust. Blake nodded. “Cause I’m gonna fuck you baby. You want that? I know I do.” Blake felt his chest loosen, sensed his own pure need for everything about the man touching him pour through his psyche.
“I love you.” He whispered, as Rob unzipped him, releasing his already weeping cock to the cool air. “Oh God,” he groaned as the man passed a hand up and down his length, over the aching head of him.
“I love you too.” Rob’s voice anchored him, held him to the earth. Blake’s natural tendency to lose control, the side of him he held tight around Sara so he could be what she needed from him, he’d only shown to two people. The woman who’d broken his heart and the man now gripping his jaw, turning his face around so their lips could meet.
Blake turned all the way around, needing the full contact, wanting to put his arms around his tall blond lover. Rob pressed into him, keeping his hand on Blake’s cock, shoved his tongue between his lips, sweeping into his mouth like he owned it. Their groans filled the room, as Blake threaded his fingers through Rob’s thick hair and the other man increased his speed, using Blake’s own fluid as the perfect lubricant. He broke away, staring deep into Blake’s soul. “Let her go.” He demanded. Blake nodded, more than a little confused as to who Rob meant until he realized he meant both of them. Let his sister live her life. Let go, once and for all, of the redheaded brewery owner who’d nearly killed him.
“Okay. I promise.” He sighed as Rob turned him back around. And he would. Anything to keep this man in his life. 
“Huh, not likely.” Rob eased his jeans down and Blake stepped out of them, planning his feet apart, his hands back on the stainless steel vessel in front of him. “I know you Blake Thornton. Better than anyone. I know how your mind works.” Blake felt the other man’s thick shaft against his ass, his strong hands gripping his shoulders, trailing down to his waist and hips. “But it’s okay.” His voice dipped lower as he positioned himself behind Blake.
Blake groaned as his lover touched a cum slickened fingertip against his ass, pressing in, breaching the tight ring of muscles. “Let go Blake. I’m here. I’m not going anywhere. Because I know you. And I still love you.” He shoved in deeper bringing a loud grown to Blake’s lips, making him arch his back, offer himself to the man. Rob shoved his tee shirt up, pressed lips to his back, licked up to his neck, then bit down hard as he pulled out his finger and pressed his cock into Blake’s body with a hiss and a soft moan. “Oh God. You feel so good.”
Blake braced himself, letting his body accept his lover’s invasion, going beyond the pain and reaching the extreme pleasure as Rob’s long cock reached deep, caressing his gland. His own cock jerked, leaked more and he closed his eyes, trying to do what Rob said—trying to let go, to fall and let someone catch him. The smell of their mutual lust swirled around him, the feel of his man’s body against and inside his and his own deep need for it all made him gasp. When Rob gripped his hips and eased out and back in he grabbed his own cock with one hand, keeping himself braced against the vessel with the other.
“Harder,” he grunted. “I know you want to. Take me like you want.”  Rob groaned, dug his fingers into Blake’s hips and pounded into him. He felt the other man’s intensity, his need to prove something and he pressed back, pumping his fist against his own cock as the orgasm gripped him, deep and Rob’s cock pressed up against his prostate, making him cry out and cover his hand and belly with his own fluid. His body jerked and his brain continued to buzz when he felt Rob change his angle and the speed of his thrusts. With a grunt, Rob released inside him.
“Dear God, what you do to me,” Rob draped across Blake’s back, wrapped strong arms around his waist, keeping their bodies joined. Blake reached back and laced his fingers through his lover’s hair as his own body calmed, finally after the last two days of sheer stress. “I’m sorry.” Blake felt tears prick the back of his eyes.
“No.” He stood, wincing slightly as Rob’s cock slipped out of his ass. “You have no reason to be.” He pulled his jeans up, wiped his hand on a nearby towel and turned, smiling, watching as his lover caught his breath, hands on hips. He tugged the other man’s jeans back up, then held his face between his hands.  “I’m sorry. You are the best thing that ever happened to me. And you’re right.”
Rob raised an eyebrow, but returned his kiss, his lips firm and blessedly reassuring to Blake’s orgasm fuzzy brain. “Hold on, let me get that on tape.”
           Blake pulled away, started to speak but Rob put a hand over his mouth. “No talking. Let’s go home.” He brushed Blake’s lips once more then draped his arm over his shoulders and guided him out of the brewery.


Buy Floor Time:
http://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-floortime-675855-144.html
then
Buy Sweat Equity:


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Finding My Writing "Voice"

Finding our "voice" in writing is a process. I struggled for the last two years to figure this out. Would it be an extension of my personality? Or would it be a part of me that would only come out in my fiction? I kept hearing "write what you know" and still struggled. One day an idea popped in my head. I thought about the small newspaper I interned at when I was in college and the people I met that summer. Characters started popping into my head based on people I'd met over the years. I grabbed a notebook and started jotting down ideas. Next thing I knew I had an entire town of characters "talking" to me. I started a blog with posts from my new characters to help me flesh out the characters while I was writing the stories. It turns out finding my "voice" and "writing what I know" meant remembering an experience from over 30 years ago when I was a young college kid on her internship. Who knew?

Below is one I thought I'd share today to give you all a glimpse into New Harvest, Michigan. This is written by Dotty, the owner of the Full Moon Cafe.


I've been cooking for the cafe since I was 15 years old, and helping my daddy out in the kitchen. I learned the basics from him: fried chicken, meatloaf, roast beef and all the diner food folks came to expect from our cafe. I was always trying to convince him to let me try new dishes, but he'd say "Dotty, our customers don't need any new fangled food. They like our menu just the way it is. They count on it." Daddy was nothing if not steadfast and reliable.

One year I talked him into letting me make a special dessert for Valentine's Day. I was 16, and it was called "Orange Kiss Me Cake". I made up a sign for the window, and had baked it at home several times earlier in the month, which is how I had convinced Daddy to let me make it for the cafe. I remember that day clearly for so many reasons. The lunch crowd had bought out the first cake, and I had just put out the second cake. I looked up and saw a young man walk in the cafe. He was six foot tall with sandy brown hair, and looked like a young Steve McQueen. He sat down at a table near the door just as I headed his way. I asked what I could get him, and he said in a slow Southern drawl:

"Darlin', I have to try a piece of the Orange Kiss Me Cake."

He hit me with a smile that made my knees buckle. Turns out his name was Ben, and he'd just moved to New Harvest from Alabama. I've made him the Orange Kiss Me Cake for 49 years now, and every time he gives me that smile it still weakens my knees. He waited two years to propose to me, sitting at the same table he sat at that first day. Turns out my daddy had threatened to ruin his pretty smile if he didn't wait to ask me until I was 18. It's okay, he was worth the wait.

I thought you all might like to bake the Orange Kiss Me Cake for someone you love. I remember cutting the recipe out of a newspaper all those years ago, but it's not exact. I changed it slightly and frost it with whatever frosting or glaze catches my fancy each year.

Orange Kiss Me Cake

Ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 large orange
1 cup milk

Using a grater, carefully zest the orange all around. Set aside. Sift together flour, soda and salt. Cream the shortening and sugar. Blend in the eggs one at a time. Add the orange zest. Add the milk, alternating with the dry ingredients, using an electric mixer. Pour into greased 9x13 pan. Bake in a 350 degree F. oven for 30-35 minutes. Cool.

This cake can be frosted with a cream cheese or buttercream frosting.

~Dotty

Brenda Hyde has been a freelance writer of home and garden articles for over 20 years, and now she's working on a series of cozy mysteries while blogging about her characters in the fictional town of New Harvest, Michigan. Visit her at http://harvestmoongazette.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I Love Books (In Every Format!)

I have been an e-published author for six years—before traditional publishers adopted electronic formats and considered them “real books.” Year by year, I’ve enjoyed watching my readership grow along with the popularity of e-readers. Every time I hear that another million Kindles, Nooks, or iPads have been sold, I cheer. The adage, ‘everything that’s old is new again’ holds true for e-published authors waiting to be discovered.

I also cheered when Books A Million moved into my local mall, renting the space Borders once occupied. To me, browsing though a bookstore and leafing through its titles is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Add a hot cup of coffee to the experience and I’ve described the perfect day. Though I love my e-reader, I love physical books, too. I’ll keep buying paperbacks until the day they disappear from the earth. Honestly, I hope that day never comes. I love having choices. E-book or paperback. I want both.

I’m thrilled that my trade paperback release REV ME from Ellora’s Cave has offered the physical book some readers prefer. REV ME contains my full-length contemporary erotic novel REV ME UP and its stand-alone sequel REV ME TWICE sold until now only in e-book format. Having my books sold in both trade paperback and e-format is a dream come true.

How about you? Do you still enjoy reading physical books, or have you gone strictly electronic? Do you want both?



REV ME by Adele Dubois (trade paperback)
http://www.jasminejade.com/p-9910-rev-me.aspx

Night Owl Reviews Top Pick! Five Hearts!
Harlie’s Book Blog Recommended Read! Five Harlies!

REV ME UP (e-book)

Lisa has always been a Good Girl. When she flashes her breasts at the hunk riding by on his Harley, her wild impulse seems like harmless fun. How could she know he’d hit the curb and land at her feet? To make amends with the cop from Santa Fe, Lisa agrees to a cocktail with him. When she slides on the bike and wraps her arms around Antonio’s buff body, they take off on the ultimate ride.

Antonio’s in town for his brother’s graduation before heading to FBI training. Lisa’s there to break up with her cheating midshipman boyfriend. Revenge sex with a hot cop may be the perfect way to unleash her inner Bad Girl. But can she keep her feelings casual?

With sexy Antonio by her side and the lust blazing between them, this Bad Girl may have a chance to have it all. As long as an ex-boyfriend out for revenge doesn’t destroy her new happiness.



Buy! REV ME UP: http://www.jasminejade.com/p-7639-rev-me-up.aspx

REV ME TWICE (e-book)

Crystal is a bad, bad girl in the most delicious ways. She tries to be good and is tempted to commit to her Navy MP boyfriend, Tomas, but has no experience with an exclusive relationship or healthy family structure. She likes her life as a stripping weathergirl and sex-party host, and resists conforming to the traditional lifestyle Tomas craves. Without her weekly ménages and wild orgies, can she become the partner Tomas wants?

When Crystal receives death threats, a media frenzy erupts. Tomas spirits her away in an effort to protect her, but a deadly crash changes everything. Faced with the choice between self-interest and self-sacrifice, Crystal must decide if she’ll embrace a new life with Tomas, or walk away.


Buy! REV ME TWICE: http://www.jasminejade.com/p-8865-rev-me-twice.aspx

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sweet N Sexy Soulful Quotes

Hello everyone and welcome to another addition of Soulful Quotes. Today, I have several great stories I think you will like for this month's feature. Each one of these authors has a book or novella in an anthology centered around the romantic holiday of Valentine's Day.


The books I feature today are from authors who were not afraid to be soulful, sappy, and/or suggestive when it came to their heroes. So, grab a seat, and pick up a pen and paper so you can add these to your TBR list.

Happy reading!


“Hi, baby,” he whispered, one big fist sinking into her chignon and destroying it. “I missed you something fierce. Let me kiss you. Now that I’ve found you, I’m not letting you go until we know so much about each other, you’ll either hate me or never leave me again.”
***
He knew he was brash.

But sweet Jesus, she melted against him just as she had that night a year ago in the room at The Drake. She was hot and supple, her fine amber hair streaming over his hand like a warm river, her breasts flush to his chest, and he ached for more of her.

“Let me put this down,” he got out, his voice raw with all the pent up need, the worry, the longing all year long to have her once more. She looked enchanted, less stunned, but compliant as she watched him put his grocery bag on the table. Then her hands grabbed his lapels and pulled him against her.

Good start, baby. His arms surrounded her, his mouth took hers and oh, Christ is she food for my soul. Her lips were the same satin that he kissed in his dreams. Her tongue, the same eager partner to his in a duel to seize more of the other.

“Mara. Mara, honey.” He couldn’t stop saying her name as he claimed her with his lips on hers and his hands all over that toned body. “I’ve looked for you everywhere.”

“Did you?” she asked in a tiny voice, her gaze sweeping his features, her fingers tracing his cheekbones, the outline of his mouth, his jaw.

At once a wall clanged down between them—and she shook her head.

Reality changed her features from ravenous lover to confused teenager. “You can’t tell me that you— You aren’t—”

He lifted his hands in surrender. “Sweetheart, let me explain.”

“No.” She took a step backward. “You? You are the President of Capitol Communications? No. No, no.”

Jason knew if he rushed her, if he crowded her, she’d freak. He had no idea if she had a hard-assed-broad persona, but he was definitely not interested in bringing any out. He stood his ground. “My name is Jason Sherwood. I am the president and CEO of Capitol. I was a year ago. I am now. I have been looking for you ever since last Valentine’s Day at The Dr—”

“Is that what you’re doing here?”

“What?”

“Using that night to blackmail me into giving you my company?”

So much for not wanting to summon the bitchy female exec. He turned on his heel. Went for his bag and a bottle of the wine. Calmly putting them on the kitchen counter, he sensed her watching him. Like a trapped animal watched a hunter. Why was that? She was not his. Not by a long shot. Yet.
~ Cerise DeLand, Be Mine


Jack slipped his hand into his pocket and pulled out the box of candy hearts. Ellie gaped at him when he shook a handful into his palm. “Here. Hold this,” he ordered, thrusting the box into her hand.

Her fingers closed around it automatically. Her forehead creased into puzzled lines as she stared at the box. “Were you afraid we’d run out of things to talk about?”

“Nope. I just like these,” he said, sorting through the candies is his palm. A smile quirked his lips when he found the one he wanted. He plucked the tiny pink heart from his hand and offered it to her. “But this is what I really want to say.”

“Be Mine,” she whispered, her gaze fixed on the chatty confection.

“I don’t know why, Ellie, and I don’t know how. I just know I have to try.”
~ Margaret Ethridge, Be Mine
(from BE MINE, VALENTINE Anthology)


* * *

His compassion touched her heart. “Are you betrothed or belong to a woman in marriage?” she asked.

The arrow snapped as his startled gaze met hers.

“If you ask because your breast is bare and my hand is upon you,” He tossed the broken shaft aside, and shed his shirt ripping it into strips. “I assure you my only intention is to render aid.” His hands covered with her blood, he retrieved a small flask from a leather pouch secured to his breeches and pulled out the stopper.

“What is that?”

“Communion wine.”

Valentina gasped. “You think I am dying.” She lowered her gaze to her bosom and saw the broken arrow, blood leaking around it which had soaked the front of her dress and shift beneath.

“Not for your last Eucharist. To clean the wound. The Lord be praised, the arrow is not deep. Your angelic flight distracted me when I shot and lessened the force of the arrow.”

“You are a priest?”

“Still want to know if I have a wife?”

“I am a believer. I would be a good wife for a priest.”He laughed. “I shoot you in the chest, and you propose marriage? Let us preserve your life before we begin our courtship.” He poured the wine around the wood protruding from her chest. “Although, I must admit, we are beginning rather poorly. Sit up, there’s a girl.”
~ Jennifer Johnson, Valentina: The Untold Story
(from BE MINE, VALENTINE Anthology)



“I bought them when I stopped at a store on the way up here,” she said, taking the small box from him. She shook out the slender deck and showed them to him. “Each one has a question on it, it’s a game for Valentine’s Day. Want to play?”

“What’s the purpose?” Suspicion and amusement vied for dominance in his expression as he looked at her.

“They’re called The Conversation Cards, they’re meant to stimulate talking to each other,” she said.

“I can think of better stimulations, sweetheart.” He laughed.

She rolled her eyes and selected a card. “What’s the first thing you notice in a person?”

“Is there a point to this?”

She made a face at him. “It’s a game of sorts, allowing you to get to know things about the person you’re with,” she said. “It wouldn’t pain you to play along, would it?”

He took the card from her and looked at it. White and red, simple and sweet. The kind of thing teenagers might enjoy, and yet there was something very sweet about the hearts and red script. He shrugged.

“The first thing I noticed about you was your honesty,” he told her. “But that was in your letters. When we met, I noticed the light in your eyes. You were so alive and filled with passion.” He leaned forward and touched her cheek, his thumb tracing the curving slope. “You still don’t seem to understand how much beauty that can create in a woman, or how seductive it is to a man.”
~ Denysé Bridger, The Conversation Cards
(from PAS DE DEUX Anthology)

* * *

“I think from the first day that I saw you struggling with the sign out front I’ve been in love with you. Fierce, honest, independent, someone who could stand on her own or next to the person she loved. That is how I see you, how I have always seen you.”
~ Brigit Aine, Her Secret Admirer
(from PAS DE DEUX Anthology)


Monday, February 20, 2012

Fickle February



What is it about February that's so blah. It's like the Thursday of months - not bad enough to be a Monday, but lacking the excitement of a Wednesday or Friday. Depending on where you live, February can be a dreary time as well.

Cold? Check. Snow? *looks out window* Check. Grey sky? Oh yeah.

The only great thing about February is that it's short. Oh well, and that Valentine's Day thing. But many people are mixed on how awesome VDay really is. (I personally think it rocks, but that's because my husband is amazing and it's also my sister's birthday).

All this said, I find February becomes my month to write and scratch things off my To Do list. In other words, I Get Shit Done. This year is no exception. So far I've sold one manuscript (more to come on that next month), should hear on a second, and have finished writing a third. I've also taught an online course, which was a blast. With nothing else to distract me, I'm finally hitting my stride.

But as March rolls around and the world looks to spring, will that momentum keep going? Only time will tell. :)


Christine's latest release is Spectral Bond, book five in her Eternal Bond series from Ellora's Cave.

Jumping inside the tube, Moira huffed out a breath, turned around and froze. No, that was impossible.

A man stood in the middle of the passageway, his back to her. He was dressed in one of those old 2245 memorial uniforms she’d seen pictures of lining the conference rooms back at Eurus. It looked to be the Briel version, though the man appeared to be human. The black fabric of the fitted back was highlighted by silver edging around the collar and waist. He was far enough away to almost blend into the darkness of the passage.

Almost.

Of course the intruder showed up now. “Hey!” There was no response from the man. “Idiot, there’s a solar burst coming. You’re going to get stuck! It won’t be safe down here.” Dressed like that and being in this part of the outpost meant he was most likely a scavenger from off planet. He’d probably landed at Eurus and ventured out to what he guessed to be easy pickings.

Fool.

Moira slammed her hand against the side of the tube door, trying to hold it open long enough to give him a chance to run. “Move! The radiation will kill you if you’re trapped in the corridors. The shielding has been compromised in this sector!”

The man cocked his head to the side, continuing to stare at something further down the passage. Moira thought there was something vaguely familiar about him, the shape of his shoulders and the tilt of his head, but at this distance it was difficult to know for sure. She was about to call out to him again, when the words died in her mouth.

He’d vanished.

Not stepped to the side or hidden behind a wall. He wasn’t transported by a beam somehow or fell through a hole. One second he was there, Moira blinked and then he was gone.

Vanished.

“What the hell?” she muttered as the tube doors slid shut despite her grip. “No!”

Moira pounded on the door to the tube before slamming her palm against the emergency release button. Nothing stopped the ascent of the platform, taking her to safety and leaving that poor bastard to his doom.

Chaos had exploded in the control center as everyone checked the outpost’s defenses, frantically getting ready for the inevitable blast of radiation. She caught sight of the frazzled McKillan racing around. How a man as short as he was could move as quickly as he did, Moira hadn’t a clue. Careful not to get in his way, she tapped the top of his head with her finger.

“You’re a bastard.”

He snorted. “That’s not news. What did I do now?”

“You said there were no other bio signatures in the basement. We must have another gap that the scavengers found. There was a man down there with me and now he’s going to get himself fried because I couldn’t get him out in time.”

“Move your bony ass.” He pushed his way past her. “There wasn’t another bio signature down there. You’re seeing things.”

“I’m not blind, McKillan. I know what I saw. Big guy standing in front of me.”

“The scanners only registered one life sign. Yours. Everyone else has been accounted for. And I had Security Chief Taber come out and do the security upgrades after the last time we had a break-in. No one is getting past that. You’re seeing things.”

“But—” She snapped her mouth shut. It was only going to make her look more of a troublemaker than people already thought she was if she argued the point. And as much of an ass as McKillan was, he’d never once shown he was incompetent.

Which meant it was possible she was losing her mind.

Rahn!”

Moira spun around on instinct and snapped to attention. “Yes, Commander Taggert?” The Briel was the only one who’d been assigned to the outpost. The colony administration had needed a secondary location to conduct experiments on the silicate from the mines. The initial results had been deadly to the Briel. Only Taggert remained while the rest of the Briel scientists and security had been evacuated back to Eurus. He didn’t seem to mind that his lifespan would be considerably shortened.

Taggert crowded her, his normally impassive face now lined with tension. “We can’t contact Ryans. There could be a problem with his com unit, given all the other issues he’s had with equipment recently. Go check the archives to make sure he’s aware of the solar burst.”

Moira couldn’t look away from his sea-green gaze. Instead, she nodded. “Yes sir.”

“Burst has erupted!” McKillan pushed past Moira again. “Impact with the outpost in standard thirty standard minutes. We’re heading for lockdown. Eurus has been informed and is stepping up their precautions. This will be a hard one.”

Rahn, move it, now.” Taggert barked at her before turning back to the station monitors. “Check on Ryans and then get to your quarters.”

Thankful for the excuse to get out of Command, Moira left quickly and jogged down toward the station archives room and the man she hoped was inside. Men and women raced down the corridors, blasters and emergency packs equipped. No one could anticipate what would happen when a flare slammed into the outpost. They had to be ready for anything, while they prayed for the best. The closest help Eurus could offer would be at least ten hours away. If they were compromised, they were in trouble.

Despite the congestion en route, she reached Archives in record time. Moira bit her bottom lip and fixed her gaze on the floor as she approached her destination. There was no reason to be nervous or coy. She was here under orders, checking to make sure a member of the crew was indeed safe. Peeling her gloves off, she wiped them down her pants before she reached up to fix her hair. He always seemed to like touching her hair.

Connor Ryans was older than she by a considerable number of years. His quiet intelligence intimidated the hell out of her anytime they were in conversation, which was becoming more often the longer she was here. Slowly, she’d grown to admire his wit, and realized that he appreciated her sarcasm. Their friendship had blossomed over the few months she’d been here.

She remembered the day he’d arrived on Eurus. She’d been sixteen and had been trying to persuade Security Chief Taber to let her join the Eurus security team, despite her young age. He’d been in the process of explaining with barely contained annoyance that she was far too young to be putting herself in the line of danger. Connor had jumped down from a ship recently out of cryo travel from Earth, looking disheveled and grinning like he’d been given a million credits. In that moment, Moira was certain she’d fallen in love.

Not that she would ever tell Connor.

Despite the difference in ages, Connor would let Moira into the archives where he’d taken a posting and make her feel at home. He never intentionally made her feel stupid when she’d ask questions that were clearly basic for even someone new to science. Connor would often get a soft smile on his face whenever he realized she had stopped following his train of thought and back up to begin again. She fell a bit more in love every time he did.

Moira enjoyed watching him, despite those feelings of inadequacy. Connor was tall, broad, built more like a soldier than a researcher. His brown hair was longer than regulation, but not by much, and his hazel eyes never seemed to miss a thing. When he moved around the archives, he did so with a grace that seemed out of place with his large body. Moira was endlessly fascinated with how he could pick up the tiniest of objects with his large hands. Not that he was as large as some of the Briel, but plenty for her liking.

He was gentle and handsome. The kind of man who normally didn’t pay the least bit of attention to someone like her.

On their first few meetings, she thought he simply tolerated her as one of the annoying station brats. But the more she prodded him into conversation, the more she came to think he was simply shy. How such a giant of a man could ever be shy was a constant source of amusement to her.

As she’d grown older, Connor became the center of her personal fantasies. Moira would picture herself down in the archives where he’d be working. She’d be stripped down to her undergarments and shivering in the cool air. Her curiosity would be piqued by some object and she wouldn’t be aware of his presence at first. Her dream self would gasp as he pressed her against the wall, heat from his body firing her blood. She would arch back against him, and with a smooth flip, he’d spin her around only to smother her with a kiss.

She would feel his cock against her groin, the steady press of heated flesh against cool fabric. Moira would slide her fingers over her clit and into her wet cunt as she imagined trying to wrap her hand around his thick shaft. She’d scream out her release, his name heavy on her lips and her body shaking from his phantom touch.

Gods knew if the reality would live up to her fantasy, but someday she hoped to find out.

The alarm screamed at her to abandon her daydreams and get back to the crisis at hand. “Warning, solar burst impact in twenty minutes,” the too-calm, melodic voice of the computer system trickled over the coms.

Moira pressed the door chime before stepping into the archives. The rooms, normally cooler than the rest of the base, felt hotter today than out in the hall or even down in the service corridors. Shit, she’d forgotten to report the heat spike to Crenshaw. Connor had mentioned it had to be kept cool in order to prevent some of the artifacts they’d found from decaying.

“Professor Ryans?” When she was certain no one else was around, she cleared her throat and tried again. “Connor? Are you here?”

Silence. She moved further into the room, shivering as a weird vibration traveled through her body from the floor. The odor of sweat and something very male rode high on the air, barely masking a hint of something rotting. Moira hadn’t noticed anything like it before. Something was wrong.

“Connor? There’s a solar blast coming. I need to make sure you’re ready.”

She spun around at the sound of shuffling. It wasn’t until Connor stepped out from behind the computer stacks that everything seemed to snap back into place. Even the scent vanished and her body relaxed. Smiling, she moved closer. “There you are. You weren’t responding to coms and Taggert was worried. He nearly took my head off when I didn’t move fast enough to find you.”

Connor stared at her, but otherwise didn’t respond. Moira shivered as the ventilation system finally kicked in, sending a blast of cool air rolling through the room. Connor jerked and cocked his head to the side, frowning.

“Moira?” His voice sounded rough, like he’d been yelling or drinking some of that bootlegged hooch someone had brought over from the mines a few weeks earlier. “What are you doing here?”

Despite her longing for the man, Moira had hesitated pursuing anything with him. Not that there was a hard-and-fast rule about security officers having relationships with nonmilitary personnel, but she found that the more she got to know and like him, the more she realized a bed-hopping relationship wasn’t what she wanted. If she were to go down that road, it would be for nothing less than a relationship. Moira was patient if nothing else.

“We’ve got a solar burst heading for the station, “she repeated, not sure what was wrong with him, but not willing to risk his safety. “You weren’t responding to coms. Is there a problem that I can help you with?”

“I’m fine. I was studying an artifact and must not have heard the com call.” He reached up and pinched the bridge of his nose and gave his head a shake. Looking up at her, he smiled softly, though it didn’t quite meet his eyes. “Sorry to have worried you.”

Without thinking, Moira stepped close and pressed her hand to his cheek. “Are you feeling okay? You look like hell.”

He jerked, as if surprised by her touch, but didn’t pull away. Something in his face changed and he seemed to retreat from her, deep into himself.

“I’m fine, Lieutenant. I’ve just had a few too many late nights recently.”

Connor hadn’t used her rank when speaking to her alone in ages. She tried to keep the hurt out of her voice, hoping he would let her help with whatever it was bothering him. “I noticed it was hotter in here than usual. Same as down in the sub levels. I can let Crenshaw know about it if you’d like.”

Connor continued to stare, a slight tremble running through his body as his muscles tensed beneath her touch. “I will let him know myself.”

Moira stepped back from his sharp tone. “Of course. Sir.” What the hell was wrong with him?