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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

FREE READS from Liz

For just a few more weeks, you can get 3 of my personal favorite Liz novels for JUST a buck ninety-nine on all the usual sites!
As a treat today Sweet n' Sexy gang I am offering a full chapter excerpt for all 3 of them PLUS an ebook giveaway! Each title is a live buy link to Amazon but note that both Barnes & Noble and All Romance Ebooks have these titles on sale for only 7 more days.....
happy reading!



PARADISE HOPS

A brutal attack left Lori Brockton convinced she was damaged goods. By the time she emerges from hiding two years later, ready to run her family's famous brewery, she's determined to be independent--never rely on anyone ever again. Nearly a year of working in every corner of Brockton Brewing Company, from warehouse to pub, front office to kitchen, teaches her all she needs to know about the business. Then, she comes face-to-face with masculine perfection in a suit and her world is rocked in more ways than one. Garret Hunter is the new Brockton business manager who takes one look at the beautiful, sad young woman and his entire existence coalesces around winning her heart. But standing between Garrett and what he believes is his true love, is a six-feet six-inch blond-haired bad boy brewer. Eli Buchannan is a craft beer rock star, recently hired by Brockton to drag the company into the 21st century. He brings innovation and attitude plus a prima donna ladies' man reputation. But he's sworn off anything resembling commitment, personal or professional, after getting burned at his last job on both fronts. Garret Hunter is "The Perfect Man" -- handsome, successful, stable, eager to settle down. Eli Buchannan... is not. Compelling, smoking hot, creative and elusive, he represents everything Lori Brockton should avoid. But just as she makes a difficult choice, a drastic life-changing shift occurs, and nothing is ever the same again.

FREE CHAPTER!
 
She cleared her throat, squared her shoulders, and channeled the anger building in her chest. “I’m Lori. Lori Brockton. This is the first day of my brewery rotation.” She hated how thin her voice sounded.
“Your brewery rotation eh?” She stumbled back at the vision that emerged from between towering stainless steel fermentation vessels. “What is this? Brewing Day Camp? I’m supposed to babysit the Brockton kids?” He glared at her, making her blink in the glare of his bright, steely blue gaze. Eli Buchanan was larger than life. At least six foot five, with long blonde hair held back by a small piece of leather. Clad in light blue jeans and a Brockton Brewing grey T-shirt, the span of his shoulders and definition of his torso forced an exhale from Lori’s lips. He kept quiet as her eyes took him in, from rubber boot clad feet to the light red hair covering his jaw. “Well? See anything you like?” He glared at her.
“Uh, no, I mean, it’s not camp. I mean, you are…I’m….” she stuttered, then stopped. The man remained stock still, still holding her gaze as if challenging her. She stood up straighter. “I’m here for the next six months to learn this part of the business. You know, so I can be your boss someday.” He frowned at her. She frowned back.
Then he tilted his head back and laughed, stepped into her personal space and smacked her ass so hard she yelped. “I look forward to that day girl Brockton. Yes, I do.” A couple of the men started forward as if to protect her, but she waved them back. This asshole had another thing coming if he thought she’d be intimidated by him. As much as she felt she should have been, something about him was as non-threatening as Garrett, but in a different way—a much more spine-tingling way.
The following ten hours of back breaking work nearly made her throw in the towel. But, after an hour scraping out the last of a twenty barrel’s worth of wet, heavy spent mash—the leftover grains from a batch of beer made on their smaller system, she felt sore as hell, but invigorated. The smells, sounds, and sights in this heartbeat of the entire operation—the reason all three hundred of her father’s employees came to work every day—this she loved.
“Brockton!” An angry voice behind her made her jump. Wet, sticky malt grains dripped from her face where she’d accidently splashed some onto herself as she cleaned out the large vessel. She swiped at them, smearing even more of the mess across her cheeks. Without warning, Eli wiped her face with a clean white
towel, his touch surprisingly tender, lingering longer than necessary. But his frown stayed stuck in place. She stepped away from him, confused and aggravated by her own automatic response to his brief touch.
“Some guy in a tie is looking for you,” he jerked a thumb over his shoulder but didn’t move. Lori had no experience with hypnosis, but she’d swear at that moment he’d done it to her. They locked eyes. Then the sound of harder heeled shoes on the concrete floor forced her look past him. Garrett’s bright smile was familiar, yet somehow strange and out of place at the same time.
“I’m actually here to see you, Eli.” Garrett stuck out a hand and the other man looked at it, glancing over to Lori then back over before gripping it without a smile. “Glad to have you on board.”
Eli took his hand back, and swiped at it with the towel he’d used on her face. If he noticed the rude gesture, Garrett didn’t indicate it in the slightest. Impressed, Lori moved a step closer to him and glared at the tall, arrogant, blonde man.
Eli shot her an unfathomable look, but spoke to Garrett. “Sorry, but no suits in the brewery. Wouldn’t want to get you messy.” He walked away, waving over his shoulder. “Glad to be on board, boss, thanks.” The sarcasm dripped from his words like venom. Garrett turned to her, his handsome face calm, as if the odd exchange with the rude employee had never happened. He stepped close and whispered in her ear. “What’s up his ass?” She shrugged and leaned the trowel she’d been using for the last hours against the wall. Rolling out the stiffness in her upper back, she sighed when Garrett tugged her into his arms, the connection surprising but pleasant all at once. “Mmm…you smell great,” he muttered into her hair, pressing soft kisses along her jaw and neck. Lori relaxed, realizing this was as far as they’d gotten two nights ago on her front porch before he’d given her an utterly mind blowing kiss and then sauntered back to his car, leaving her open-mouthed and wanting more. Feeling strong and unafraid for the first time in years, she molded herself into his lean frame, the expensive wool fabric pleasant against her exposed arms, the warm, malty smell of the day’s brew still filling her nose. She pulled them into an alcove between the small brew house platform and a nearby fermenter. Her
body sent a cacophony of mixed signals to her brain—fear at letting go, utter terror at the touch of his hands mixed with a pure burst of lust that left her breathless.
The sudden vision of Eli, the single day’s memory of his large hands, rough jaw and strutting attitude shot through her brain, making her gasp and pull away. Garrett tilted her face up to his, concern in his eyes. “You okay? I’m sorry. I guess seeing you covered in sticky malt turns me on. Sick, I know.” He shrugged, and ran his thumb over her lips. She shivered and wrapped her arms around herself, suddenly freezing cold.
Garrett’s eyes darkened, slipped his jacket off, and tried to drape it around her shoulders. She stopped him. “No, no, Garrett, I’ll ruin it.”
He folded it over his arm and propped his other hand on the fermenter at her back.
“I gotta finish this, or he’ll make me stay all night. Guy hates my guts.”
Garrett chuckled. “I doubt that very much.” He pressed firm lips to hers once more, but she cut it short. “Anyway, sorry for attacking you like that.” He grinned which lifted her heart. “Can I take you out for a drink later? Beer? Wine? Coffee? Tap water? Anything, really, if I can only….” He sighed and wrapped an arm around her waist, pulling her close, so close she felt it—the unmistakable press of an erection. White hot anxiety made her gasp, turned the room an eerie shade of orange as her vision narrowed, and her body went into flight mode.
She struggled out of his embrace, unwilling to let him see how lame she was but knowing if he held her much longer she’d likely scream and run away, and that would be a disaster. She grabbed the nozzle and started spraying out the inside of the metal container, holding back tears with everything she had. Garrett was a good man. He wouldn’t hurt her, but she obviously was not ready for much more than a few kisses. Poor guy. She should cut him loose now. Let him find somebody normal.
“Hey, hey, it’s okay.” He tossed his suit coat onto a stack of malt bags, took the hose from her hands and turned it off. “Didn’t mean to rush you. Sorry for being so pushy.” The noise of the slowly cooling metal vessels, the clank, clunk of their contracting sides filled the silence. He reached out and touched her cheek with
a fingertip, pulling it back with a single tear quivering from the end. She hadn’t even realized she’d been crying.
He started to speak, at the same time she opened her mouth to tell him why she was so skittish.
“Hey, love birds, cut the shit and let her finish!” Eli’s loud voice boomed through the space. “I would like to go home sometime today, if that’s okay with the boss lady there.” He sauntered over, plucked Garrett’s suit jacket off the malt bag as if touching road kill and handed it back to him. “Save yourself a dry cleaning bill and head out, Hunter. I’ll send your girlfriend after you soon enough.” Garrett ignored him, kept his eyes on Lori as he shrugged back into the dark blue coat. Straightening his tie, he turned and put a hand on Eli’s shoulder, making the other man blink.
“Take good care of this one, Buchanan.” Garrett’s voice dropped an octave lower, giving warning in spite of the jovial tone. “As you said, she is the boss lady.” The two men locked eyes, and Lori’s face warmed at the raw, testosterone fueled tension between them. Garrett walked away without another word, leaving Eli glowering. And apparently pissed as hell—which he took out on her for the next two hours, making her wash down every exposed piece of stainless steel in sight. Twice.


OK LEAVE ME A COMMENT IN THIS POST TELLING ME WHY YOU LOVED THIS BOOK IF YOU READ IT AND WHY YOU WANT A FREE COPY OF IT IF YOU HAVEN'T!
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go....



 and......

VEGAS MIRACLE

 Ryan and Grace Sullivan have all the outward indications of a happy life: money, success, an undeniable physical attraction that quickly evolved from whirlwind relationship to marriage. But lately, Ryan’s become moody and distant. As their relationship starts to crumble, Ryan discovers something about himself he can’t admit just as Grace realizes the young man she encounters at an invitation only party, Henri Christophe, a celebrity chef with the most successful restaurant in Las Vegas, is her husband’s lover. But Henri holds a secret himself. He wants to be more to both of them.

Trying to make their unconventional arrangement work, Ryan’s deep-seated fear of relationship failure continues to thwart everyone’s happiness. When he finally walks away instead of confronting the emotional connection the trio share, he returns to find their lives flipped inside out. A sought after hotel and resort consultant, Ryan has yet to meet a problem he couldn’t solve. But when it comes to his own heart, Ryan may be too late.
FREE CHAPTER!

Ryan spun the thin platinum band around his left ring finger. The plane was late and as it circled the small airport, he clamped down the urge to get up and pace. For an expert frequent flier, he sure as hell wasn't a patient one. This trip pissed him off anyway and he'd balked at the necessity of convincing some prima dona resort cook who managed to gain some publicity by winning a stupid Iron Chef reality TV show to come and open a restaurant. The manager at the Aria had his heart set on this guy though, hence Ryan was dispatched to the South of France to fetch him.
Glancing down when the soft "ping" of his Skype indicator sounded on his laptop, Ryan shook his head at the latest missive from the big money investor for the Vegas resort. It included a photo from the chef’s media kit. Jesus, a media kit?
"This guy is a former physical therapist or some shit who put himself through French cooking school giving massages."
Ryan glanced at the photo. Long dark hair framed a noble, exotic face.
"Bet he gets his fair share of pussy, eh?"
Ryan grimaced. What did that have to do with anything?
"You guys will get along great. You can compare cocks man notes."
Ryan had to respond although he usually ignored this asshole.
"I bet I have more notches."
"I bet you do too. Well, used to anyway. This guy, Henri, he was married too, He has a kid but he's divorced."
Ryan sipped his drink and waited for the next missive.
"When are you gonna knock up that hot wife of yours anyway, Sully?"
Ryan rolled his eyes. Nobody ever called him "Sully" except this blow hard. As for "knocking up," well, he and Grace had an understanding about that. No kids. Ever.
"Not anytime soon. I gotta go, plane's about to land." He closed the chat window but not before he saw Grace’s icon appear in the corner.
"Hey." He smiled at the thought of her. Ryan never dreamed he’d be so lucky to find his perfect woman. He repressed a shudder at the memory of how he very nearly screwed it up with his overwhelming need to take care of her.
"Hey," he answered back, his mind full of his wife’s beautiful eyes, her laugh, her body under his hands. He shook the bad memories of his near miss with her away. "Guess what--thinking about you just now made me hard."
"Pig."
"Maybe. But all yours."
"I have a guess what, too..."
"That right?"
"Alice's pregnant."
Ryan’s throat constricted. Alice was Grace’s younger sister, married about three years. The two girls were as thick as thieves. Luckily, Ryan folded right into the tight knit group of Grace, her sister, Trevor, Alice’s attorney spouse, and their dad, Joe. Alice was a darker version of her older sister and had a smart mouth but Ryan liked her.
"Is that good?"
It took a while to get an answer and Ryan rubbed his eyes, unable to sort through how
this conversation could possibly end well.
"It's what they wanted."
"Good for them then."
"Ok, well, I just thought I’d tell you. Have a great time."
"Wait! How did it go today? How were Matt and Katie?"
"It was nerve wracking and I’m glad it’s over."
"I’m pretty sure I set the DVR to record it but you never know with those damn things."
"Yeah, well, let’s talk later, k? I have to go down and meet some reporters before dinner."
"I love you, Grace."
"I know."
He'd have given a million of his dollars to be with her right now but instead he clicked the laptop shut, tucked it into his bag and sat back for landing knowing the whole "no baby" thing would eventually make its way back to the floor for discussion. But Ryan was bound and determined to not screw up some poor kid with his shitty parenting. It just wasn't an option and Grace would have to deal with it.
Chapter Four
The sun baked the few bodies still lazing by the salt-water pool as Ryan strolled by headed for the cabana-encased lounge. Admiring the various female forms scattered between him and his destination, Ryan caught a few eyes and nodded. He was no slouch and has dressed carefully in hopes of blending in and not seeming like the obvious American in this group of sophisticated tourists. His cream linen shorts and soft blue silk shirt fluttered in the breeze as he stepped into the gloom under the striped canvas tent.
He took a seat at the bar and glanced around, which was full at four p.m. in Nice. The sun was at its hottest and the interior here pleasantly cool.
"Monsieur?" The drop dead, model gorgeous woman standing behind the bar put a napkin in front of him.
"Ah, yeah. I’ll take a glass of Mortimer if you have it." It was his favorite French beer, a frothy lager made from peat smoked whiskey malt. The woman raised an admiring eyebrow and pulled a tap to fill his glass which he raised to her before taking a sip. "Cheers."
Noting her eyes as they flickered over his shoulders then to the subtle silver colored band on his left hand, he set the glass down and smiled at her.
"I was told Henri Christophe was here."
"Oui," she jerked her chin to a spot behind him. Ryan turned his head and was struck by the sight of the man he’d been studying from photos bent over the shoulders of a famous movie star, his hands working her neck as she let out little yips of pleasure and pain. Ryan reddened. Jesus, it sounded like the woman was having an orgasm.
He finished his beer, put enough Euros on the bar to satisfy any bartender and stood. The dark skinned young man looked up as if sensing his presence and his face broke into a wide grin. Ryan grinned back as he made his way over to him. The movie star stood, took in Ryan’s tall, blond, athletic form then turned and planted a kiss on Henri’s full lips.
"Darling, so lucky," she glanced over at Ryan who waited, hands in pockets.
"Oh please, he’s here to hire me or something, make me move to the godforsaken American desert, I don’t know." Henri patted the woman’s ass as she strolled away and Ryan caught the lilt of South American in the man’s speech. But before he could introduce himself, a small body launched itself out of the shadows and into Henri’s arms. The young man laughed and planted kisses all over the little girl’s face. The little-girl version of the man he’d come to hire clambered up and down her father’s torso and he flipped her around, upside down, then up onto his shoulders before kissing both of her knees and turning to Ryan.
"So sorry, I don’t see my darling Renee much. She's about to leave me again, going to back her her maman, eh my love." He pulled the girl down and set her on the floor where she promptly stared at Ryan then held out a small hand.
"I'm Renee Christophe. Please to have meeting to you."
Henri patted her head. Kids made him nervous, always had.
"Lovely, my dear. The English nanny has come in handy after all."
Ryan took her hand.
"I'm Ryan Sullivan. I'm here to see if your Papa will open a restaurant for me." He looked up and caught Henri’s eye. The man’s dark chocolate stare was intense. Ryan took a step back, uncomfortable with the sudden rush of blood that flooded his face.
Henri turned his attention to his daughter once more.
"Allez-y maintenant. Votre maman est en attente. J’taime."
Ryan recognized the formal French used by non-native speakers and he stepped aside as the bikini-clad girl bolted down the steps. Turning back, he was surprised to see the man’s eyes glistening with unshed tears. Suddenly embarrassed, Ryan looked away.
Henri flopped down onto the cushioned bench lining the far wall of the lounge and sighed.
"Her bitch of a mother won’t rest until she poisons that child against me." He glanced up at Ryan, motioned to the chair across from him and snapped his fingers over his head.
A large glass of red wine appeared at his elbow.
"Need anything," he asked Ryan.
"Uh, no, I’m fine." Ryan was clearly invading a private moment. He started to stand.
"No, no, please," Henri put a sandal clad foot up on a nearby chair as Ryan felt his eyes drawn to the man’s compact form, his deep brown skin. The tight tee shirt caressed muscle tone and his white shorts were tight, making the outline of his…Ryan shook himself. What the fuck? Had someone slipped him a roofie? He sat up and crossed an ankle over his knee, suddenly at a loss for words.
Henri sipped his wine while Ryan fidgeted with his collar. Finally the younger man spoke.
"Las Vegas? Really?"
Ryan was relieved to have common ground.
"Yes, the Aria, the newest, most exclusive hotel casino on the strip. It has all the most expensive shops and a couple of great places to eat but it lacks one thing." He held out a hand, indicating Henri.
"Sounds like hell to me." Henri stood and stretched and Ryan averted his eyes, unwilling or unable to acknowledge that the sight made him flush red again.
He stood, willing to walk away. He was not about to beg this punk for anything.
"Ok, well, I’ve got a couple of others I need to talk to."
"Who?"
Ryan grinned. These guys were all alike.
"Oh, you know Wolfgang wants a presence other than in the MGM and there’s always Jamie."
"Oliver? There's no way in hell he'd do it. You are a liar, Ryan Sullivan."
Ryan shrugged.
"I can’t really say. But if you won’t even consider it I won’t waste any more of your time."
Henri stepped in front of Ryan closer than any man really ever had if there weren’t blows to be exchanged and Ryan leaned back.
"Let’s go somewhere quieter." Henri nodded at the bartender who gave him a little wave. He put a hand on Ryan’s back and Ryan’s skin nearly caught fire with the heat. Ryan cleared his throat.
"No, that’s okay. I need to get back home anyway. My wife..."
Henri’s smile suddenly seemed genuine for the first time since Ryan stepped into the lounge.
"Ah yes, the writer, Grace."
Ryan glared at the man.
"How do you know that?"
"You aren’t the only one who does their homework. I read her book. It’s fantastic."
"She just got a cable deal for it."
"You must be very proud." Henri held out an arm indicating Ryan should go ahead between the various bronzed, shimmering bodies draped around the pool.
"I am," Ryan muttered, his mind spinning with the scene and his own reaction to the man following him out.
"We’ll just go over to my villa," Henri led the way to the parking lot and stopped at a late model Fiat. "I’ll cook."
By the time they reached Henri’s villa, Ryan described the tough road Grace travelled to publication and how he’d tried to help find her an agent but in the end, she’d done it without his assistance.
"This is a problem?" Henri downshifted as they climbed the dirt driveway through lush green trees. The play of the man’s muscles in in his thigh as he clutched and braked had Ryan mesmerized.
"What? Oh, well no, but you know I like to help."
"Sounds to me like she'd rather you not."
Henri hopped out of the little car and bounded up the steps into his house which featured floor to ceiling windows open to the evening breeze with a breathtaking view of the crystal blue Mediterranean. How the hell he afforded this, Ryan had no idea.
Ryan walked into the immense open room as Henri brought him a glass of wine, showed him where the stereo was and said he’d be a few minutes in the kitchen and Ryan should make himself at home. As if that was possible. Every single one of his nerve endings was singing in unison. As he sipped the rich, crisp liquid, Ryan was certain this was some sort of surreal, alternative universe.
He grabbed the back of a chair thinking he’d drag it closer to the open window with the view just as the shoulder he’d injured years ago breaking up a bar brawl in Vegas then somehow pulled again last week ago playing tennis sang out in agony. Ryan put the glass down before dropping it and clutched at his upper arm, which had gone numb as the nerves were pinched beneath Ryan’s clavicle.
Henri emerged with a plate of dark red tomatoes scattered among bright white chunks of cheese and deep green basil leaves, a bottle of olive oil in the other hand. But his eyes narrowed when he saw his guest in pain.
"I’m fine," Ryan clenched his jaw and sat stark still. "Just a shoulder injury. Do you have any ice?"
"No, this is France. We hardly have enough ice for the occasional mixed drink."
Ryan burst out laughing as the absurdity of the day enveloped him. Henri put the plate down and motioned for Ryan to come sit on the stool near him.
"No, I’m okay, really."
"Don’t be silly. I can fix it."
Somehow, the thought of the man’s hands on his body made Ryan’s c*ck stir which left Ryan in the middle of what was easily turning into the strangest moment of his life.
He moved over to the stool and sat, grimacing as the pain shot through him with every
step.
"Take off your shirt."
"What?"
"I can’t see how bad it is unless you do."
Ryan shrugged and started unbuttoning but as he reached the top two buttons, his bad arm stopped cooperating. Henri blew out a puff of air and came around to help him. Ryan got a long look at the coal black hair curtaining the man’s face and had to clench his fists against the sudden urge to touch it--to see if it was as silky as it looked. He cleared his throat and looked up at the ceiling.
With smooth efficiency, Henri moved around to Ryan’s back, letting his hand trail along the injured shoulder. He clapped his hands together so hard Ryan jumped and blinked. When he felt the heat from the young man’s palms in his shoulder, he nearly came up out of his chair.
"Relax." Henri’s voice was smooth, soothing and extremely disturbing all at once.
Ryan tried. The man’s hands were amazing, seeming to push and pull at once, separating the bone from ligament, releasing the nerves, bringing exquisite relief.
"Holy shit," Ryan breathed, rolling the formerly injured joint around with full range of motion for the first time in weeks. Henri kept working at his upper back, going deep into his neck, bringing relaxation where Ryan didn’t even know he held stress. But when he sensed Henri’s body press against his back as his shoulders received both hands, he tensed. At the same moment, his cock sprang to attention and he shifted uneasily.
As if sensing Ryan’s discomfort, Henri patted his shoulders.
"Okay, that should do it. Excuse me while I throw some food on for us."
"Uh, yeah, sure." Ryan leaned forward, unwilling to stand and let the other man know what his hands provoked.
He could hear Henri rummaging around in the kitchen so he took the opportunity to pull in deep breaths trying to ramp down his mysteriously overheated libido and while putting his shirt back on.
"Wine’s on the table," Henri called from the other room.
Ryan noticed his glass was empty and paced the few steps over to the dining area. A laptop was open with a very familiar photo on the screen. One of Grace and him on the beach. Their honeymoon actually, the picture taken right after the lavish party they threw in St. Bart's in lieu of a formal ceremony. Ryan’s gut clenched at the sight of her gazing out over the bright blue ocean. He wasn’t sure who snapped the photo but it caught her hair whipping around her face with him sitting on a lounge chair nearby. The picture made the soft tabloids like People and Us magazine after Grace signed the contract for her cable show. She was already well known from writing "In The Limelight" but the promise of a television show with a famous cast really brought out the "who is this woman?" stories.
He’d been amused and proud of Grace. But this photo, from a short Vanity Fair article about rising literary stars with a bent towards selling out, used photos from their honeymoon which Ryan found alarming while Grace had taken it in stride.
"Hey, at least we aren’t hard to look at," she’d thrown the magazine down beside the bed before climbing up and straddling him that morning. He knew she was trying to distract him and he let her. It was usually a very pleasant distraction and that time had been no exception.
Ryan peered a little closer at the computer screen. He'd forgotten this one but the sight of it brought the whole day back to him. The look of open adoration on his face as he gazed at the woman he loved had been reposted on thousands of Facebook profiles and Twitter posts within the writing community. His assistant Janice kept it in a frame on her desk telling him it proved he had a soul after all. The sight of Grace made his scalp tingle with the reality of what he thought might happen to him today. He did adore her. And he'd do anything for her, but somehow, the undeniable attraction he felt for the man making dinner in the next room had him morbidly curious, and more turned on than he’d been since he first laid eyes on his wife.
"Dinner will be ready just as soon as I sear these chops."
Ryan startled as Henri passed by him. He caught odors of garlic, a hint of lime and curry, and the underlying vanilla essence of the man who was undoubtedly about to seduce him.
"Nice photo by the way," Henri pulled the top off a charcoal grill, held a hand over the white hot coals he’d started earlier and tossed several small morsels onto the grill, the he mouth watering aromas instantly snaking in and curling around Ryan’s head.
Ryan filled his glass and brought the bottle out onto the small patio. It was nearly perfect between the smells of grilling lamb chops, the view of the ocean and his sudden calm just being around Henri.
"Yeah, I caught a lot of flak for it though. I look like such a sap."
"You look like you're in love with your wife." Henri stood, spatula in hand and gazed at Ryan.
"I am." Ryan couldn’t explain his need to defend this.
"I know you are. I think that's fantastic. She's beautiful, talented, I’m sure she's a worthy partner in many areas." He lifted the grill lid and pulled the chops onto a wooden tray, which he then dropped onto the table. A couple of place settings were there and Ryan wondered when he’d set them out. This whole day was turning out to be something of a strange, dream-like fantasy.
Henri brought out a bowl filled with spinach, feta cheese and dark purple onion slices and set it bedside the wood board. A loaf of fresh bread in a basket and a lump of real butter completed the simple meal.
"Bon appétit."
Ryan nodded and sliced into one of the chops. His mouth was flooded with heat from a touch of curry and garlic that was balanced with the rich, creamy flavor of lamb. He devoured his chop without speaking.
Henri watched him, a crooked smile on his face.
"Did you taste any of that?"
"It was amazing. Sorry, I’m a fast eater. Occupational hazard."
Ryan sipped his wine and took a few bites of the salad. Henri sliced into his chop and chewed, never taking his eyes from Ryan’s.

*****************************************
.....hmmmmmm.......yes, it sounds like a pretty "traditional menage romance" set up ....but I'd encourage you to read MORE and see how it is...but perhaps it is not! I will award ONE ebook copy of this, easily my hottest book to date to ONE commenter on this post.



And finally
ESSENCE OF TIME (One of the stand alone intro options for my best selling Stewart Realty series)
For years, Rob Frietag has resisted anything resembling a true emotional connection, preferring instead to explore life, and his own desires, without committing to anyone for very long. The reason remains known only to a few, among them Jack Gordon, his college cohort in female conquests, and life-long friend. At thirty-seven, while he is close to achieving his career goal, head chef at a five-star restaurant in Chicago, he is still very much alone.

After an intensely emotional relationship with Suzanne Baxter in Ann Arbor, Blake's heart is left shattered. Completely broken by what he believes was his one true love, he arrives at a Chicago food and beer festival, prepared to drink his sorrow away. When the two men meet, their lives change forever. But time is of the essence. When Rob acknowledges his true feelings, he will stop at nothing to keep them together, including finding a surrogate mother for the child Blake so desperately wants.

Lila Warren is recovering from a nasty divorce, needs cash and believes carrying their baby will fulfill her in ways marriage never did. None of them could suspect that the connection they share would provide the final emotional key to their life-long puzzle.

When Rob s secret is revealed, time becomes the one luxury they don't have, setting in motion a chain of events that destroys the fragile illusion of happiness for them, and everyone who loves them.

FREE CHAPTER!
(WARNING, 2 men in love if that is not your thing, skip it. Oh, it's not a sex scene but it chock full of real emotion)

“You do realize that you are making an ass of yourself, right?” Rob’s voice cut through the thick tension between. Blake kept his eyes on the road, not willing to rise to the bait. So many emotions swirled through him he couldn’t put his finger on one and pin it down much less identify what he’d done that made him an ass.
He pulled into their driveway and sat, trying like hell to stay calm. “I think this whole thing is a mistake.” He finally spoke, turning the key off but staying put. He gripped the wheel, unwilling to look at Rob. “We, you and me, we will not share well.”
Rob’s harsh laughter startled him. “Really? Funny, seems like you were all about sharing her earlier. Especially after you guys spent about thirty minutes in the bathroom. … you know, ‘talking,’" he hooked his fingers into quote marks. “Jesus.” He spit out, looking away from Blake. “I mean, I get it. She’s hot and all and obviously willing. But I… I don’t know.”
The defeat in Rob’s voice made Blake’s chest ache. He reached out to touch his lover’s face but Rob jerked away.  He kept his voice low, even, realizing that it was his turn to make the mature decision. He’d spent many years letting Rob take care of him. The tables were about to turn. Blake took a breath and looked over at the man he loved. “I don’t want this enough for it to hurt you. I mean it.”
“Bullshit,” Rob muttered and looked at the roof of the truck, then got out without another word. Blake watched him walk toward the house, shoulders slumped hands in his pockets. Cursing his own selfishness and the moment he’d decided that kissing Lila today was a good idea, he followed Rob up the steps to the large front porch.  At the last minute Rob turned and faced him, his eyes dark with anger. “Look, I understand what’s happening. I’m okay with it. I’m not going to be around much longer and you…”
A lick of raw fury lit Blake’s brain. He grabbed Rob’s arm, shoved him back against the door. Putting his face mere centimeters from the other man’s equally angry one, he growled. “Can the fucking pity party will you? This isn’t about replacing you or whatever the hell it is you’re pissed about. As a matter of fact, it isn’t about you at all for a change. It’s not about me either. It’s about us, our future, and our happiness as a family.”
Rob shoved him back so hard he stumbled. They stood and stared at each other for a split second. “You know what, you have no idea what I’m going through. Trying to placate me with concepts of our family is not helping.”
Blake’s face burned, his chest was so tight he could barely breathe. Anger made him speak before he thought. “Well it’s the only thing getting me through it. So fuck you and your defeatist, shitty attitude.”
Rob’s eyes narrowed, his face set in hard lines Blake knew well. He was shutting down, as usual. He kept talking, willing to deal with the fallout later. “That’s right, it’s shitty. Just like you waiting years to even tell me you were sick. Or how the whole of fucking Ann Arbor knew about poor Rob and his cancer before I did. And I’m the one you claim to love.”
He watched Rob’s face, realized he was being a dick but unable to stop. He’d danced around this long enough. He took a step closer to him, head pounding with stress. The urge to grab the man, hold him close, apologize and promise to be more supportive—all the things he’d been doing for the last however many months - nearly overwhelmed him. Nearly. He shoved his hands in his pockets and turned away but kept talking. “I don’t begrudge you your friendships even with that colossal ass, Gordon. But, I feel like even he knows more about you that I do. I mean, you guys have had a few years to adjust to the fact that you are…that you have…shit.” Blake mind would not settle. He put his hands on the thick post at the corner of the porch. He wished Rob would approach him, touch him, take some of this incredible burden off his shoulders. He turned, and tried to keep the tremor out of his voice. “I’m sorry you’re sick, Rob. I love you. And the very real concept that you may die soon makes me even more sleepless than I already am. So, as much as I want a family with you, we won’t do this thing with Lila unless you are one hundred percent bought in. Period.”
Rob sighed and leaned back. He crossed his arms and stared hard at Blake before speaking. “I already feel left out.” The matter of fact way he spoke these gut-wrenching words made Blake gasp.  “I can’t stand the thought of you with her without me. You and her, with our child, without me. The goddamned fact of the matter is, Blake, that’s exactly what will happen. You know it and I know it, and me blowing sunshine and roses up everybody’s ass with a good attitude doesn’t change it.” He held up a hand, stopping Blake from bridging the few feet between them. “I want this for you because I love you. I want you to be happy. Nothing makes me feel better than when you are happy. Trust me when I say, this is not for me. None of it.” He jerked open the door and stomped inside leaving Blake dry-mouthed with dismay.


Rob’s entire body ached. The last round of chemo, while not nearly as rough as it had been in his life, made him feel like ants were crawling under his skin. He wanted nothing more than to flop down on the couch and sleep, preferably with his head on Blake’s lap. This whole thing, his attempt to find Blake some kind of happiness so he could be sick in peace, had imploded.
He leaned on the sink, gulping down water that tasted like copper, thanks to the poison still lurking in his system. He berated himself for the millionth time. It wasn’t enough that he’d let go, allowing himself to feel and love, and to be loved back. After all the years of running, first to Christine, then from René and Kyle, he had finally found Blake. The time and energy he spent convincing the man to trust him, and now, he was doing exactly what he swore he would never do again. He was going to hurt someone because his miserable excuse for a body would not stop ganging up on him.
“Fuck!” He slammed the glass down on the counter, knowing full well it would shatter. The satisfaction of the mess did nothing to improve his mood, low-level headache or bone-deep exhaustion. He’d been affected by Lila too. He knew it and could admit that part of his issue today was a mere matter of testosterone-induced jealousy when he figured out what Blake had been doing with her. Blake, ever the caretaker, had had his radar pinged by yet another damsel in distress.
A hand settled on his shoulder but he shrugged it off, retrieving a broom and dustpan from the closet. There were too many harsh words clogging his throat and he really didn’t want to fight. The recent memory of Blake’s dazed face, slightly messy hair and Lila’s blush when they returned to the table made his ears burn again. Blake tried to help with the cleanup. “Don’t.” He barked. “Just, leave me alone. All right?”
“Sure,” Blake lifted both hands and backed away. The look in his eyes one Rob had seen so many times before, in his parents’ gaze as they watched him wither away in a hospital bed.
He dumped the shards in the bin, slammed it shut and walked out still ignoring Blake, knowing he was being unreasonable. He flopped on the couch, closed his eyes, tried to relax. But for the first time in a while, Blake did not get the message and stay away. He sat across from him, leaning on his knees. “Funny, I sort of thought this whole thing was about you.” His voice stayed low.
 Rob’s eyes flew open, staring at the ceiling. Blake kept talking. “I mean, I wanted this for you. I want a baby, don’t get me wrong. But I want our baby, you know? Not just because you think I want it.”
Rob put a hand over his aching eyes. “You do want it, Blake, you told me so, remember? On the cruise?”
“Yes, I remember. But…” Blake rose and settled in next to him. Rob tried not to shift away. He wanted nothing more than to be held, but something in him would not give. This was his role. He was the soother of ruffled feathers, the keeper of the easy button, the guy who knew immediately what to say, or do, or not do to keep everything on an even keel. This reversal thing was just one more example of his weakness.  “Would you just relax?” Blake admonished him. “Let’s not talk about it anymore. You need to sleep. You have another chemo appointment tomorrow.”
Rob groaned and slumped against Blake’s strong torso, letting the other man hang onto him. He felt Blake’s lips against his hair.
“I love you.” He whispered against Blake’s chest.
“I know,” Blake eased him down so his head was on Blake’s legs, smiling when the television came on tuned to a European soccer game. The sounds of the call, the smell and feel of Blake’s legs underneath his head, his hands smoothing Rob’s hair made his eyes droop and finally close.


Want to know how this plays out???
leave me a comment and tell me why and I might give you a free ebook copy!
cheers
Liz
http://www.lizcrowe.com
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2 comments:

Tina Donahue said...

What a deal! Your fans are going to be in ecstasy, Liz. :)

Melissa Keir said...

I love them all! Certainly if you haven't read Vegas Miracle, you should. Bring Kleenex. The ending will have you cheering!

Also the same could be said for Essence of Time. I love those two books...by far my favorite!