Copyright © LISA FOX
All Rights Reserved, Harper Impulse, a Division of HarperCollins Publishers
Grace looked at Ryan and sipped her coffee. Suddenly the pressure was on. He had to make the right impression, but now that Kat was gone, the funky feeling in his gut was insanely distracting. He would be willing to wager a considerable amount of money that she was just as interested as he was. It was loud and clear in the tension in the air between them. But he couldn’t act on it. Couldn’t even consider it. She was his client.
“So, okay,” he said, fumbling a bit. What did he need to know? He looked her over again. Was she free tonight? How did she feel about shameless, hot, animal sex? He took a deep breath and bit down on the inside of his cheek as hard as he could. “Let’s start with the basics. What kind of pages would you like your website to have?”
“Hmm,” she said, thinking it over. “A page for my books for sure. A bio, a contact page, maybe news and appearances? That can be one page.” She tapped her index finger against her lip and his gaze fixed on her mouth. She was turning him inside out and she didn’t even know it. “I think that’s it.”
He struggled to keep his face professionally plain. “Do you have a fun kind of page? Or a blog? We’ve found that authors who give readers a little something extra get a lot more traffic and repeat hits.”
She curled her upper lip, obviously not liking the idea. “I don’t have time to constantly update things like that. I have a tight schedule.”
Ryan nodded. “I understand. I could do the updating for you, but the information would have to come from you. Quirky things that you’ve come across while researching, free reads, giveaways. These things really help traffic. It gives people something beyond the basic, ‘here’s my book, buy my book, please’ kind of thing.”
She blew air out of her nose. “That does make sense. I’ll have to think about it and get back to you.”
“Great,” Ryan said. “Make me a list and we’ll build something from there.”
“Have you done this before?” she asked. “You sound like you know what people want.”
“No,” Ryan admitted. “You’ll be my first author.” He did not allow himself to fully contemplate the possibilities and implications of that statement. “But Sharpe Designs has a lot of authors for clients, in all different genres. We know what works.”
Her smile turned playful, flirtatious. “How’d you get that black eye? An unsatisfied client?”
He laughed. “No, I box.” He rubbed his stubbly cheek and the flare of pain was a welcome distraction. “I’m usually more put together than this. Sorry. I was in a tournament last night.”
She leaned across the table toward him, offering him an outstanding view of her plump cleavage. “Did you win?”
His mouth went bone dry, and he quickly lifted his gaze up to her face. “I did.”
“You must be pretty good.”
“I’m very good.”
“But not the best?”
He grinned. “I don’t like to brag.”
She responded with a slow curve of her lush lips. How was he going to get this woman into his bed? That had to happen. Because he wanted her a whole lot.
Her cell phone vibrated, and she jumped. The way she scrambled for it made him think she was expecting an important call. Or maybe dreading one. Her face was tight and tense as she looked at the screen, and then she visibly relaxed. Whatever it was, she decided not to answer it now and tucked the phone back in her purse.
“Sorry,” she said, looking back up at him. She took a deep breath, let it out. “I actually need to get going. Is there anything more I can tell you? I have to get my words in for the day.”
“I think we’re good for now.” He wanted to see her again. Needed to see her again. And it was perfectly reasonable. It was for the site. Today was Thursday. He thought about the earliest he could have something done. He didn’t want to stress Kat out with a tight deadline. She had at least three other projects going on. “Can we meet again on Wednesday? I’ll have a solid working outline for you by then.”
She bit her lower lip, looked away. “Do we have to meet? Can’t we just do it through email?”
Ryan tried not to take it as hard as he did, but his heart sank as the rejection set in. “Whatever you’d like, Grace. It’s your site. We can do it however you want.” But please say you’ll meet me, that I’ll get to see you again.
Grace grimaced. “No, never mind, it’s okay. I can come in.” She gave him a beseeching look. “I just… I have tight deadlines and daily word counts that I have to meet. This is just a bad time.” She let out a long breath. “But I guess there never is a good time, is there? And I do want this done. Wednesday is fine. Is the afternoon all right?”
“The afternoon is excellent.” Technically, he could do everything by email. But he was selfish and far too happy to let any guilt ruin his good fortune. “How about four?”
She nodded. “Sounds good.”
She rose out of the chair, and Ryan held the door open for her as she exited the meeting room. He wanted to offer her his arm, not for support like with Kat, but because he wanted to be close to her, touch her in some way. He couldn’t get quite close enough to get a whiff of her perfume and he was intensely disappointed. He really did want to know what she smelled like.
She left the building, and he smiled to himself as he watched her disappear into the crowd on Spring Street. He was a little pained to see her go, but he would be seeing her again. They had a date. Well, an appointment. Whatever. He was seeing her again and that’s all that mattered.
Back at his desk, he sat down and cracked his knuckles. Before he could even begin her project, he had to do a little research on the author. He needed to get a sense of her books, her style, before he could know what was right for her. He tried not to feel like a creeper as he typed her name into Google. It was for work. It was what he would have done with any client. His personal interest had no place in it. The fact that he was thrilled when he saw that she was single meant nothing. She was just another client. He scrolled through the returns, picking up little tidbits about her professional life. She’d won quite a few awards and was part of a reading series last month at The New School. He opened a new tab, went to Amazon, and downloaded her first book to his tablet. He’d read that over the weekend. He went back to his search list and clicked on her Wiki page. It was time to get to know Grace Betancourt.
Harper Impulse: http://www.harperimpulseromance.com/books/a-kiss-in-the-dark
Amazon UK: http://goo.gl/KmdKw7
Google Play: http://goo.gl/lLWg5r
I do love this pole dancing holiday!
I’m off to the New England Chapter of the Romance Writers of America conference in Boston!!!
Heart in Chains by Elodie Parkes
I so enjoyed writing ‘Heart in Chains’. I’d just written, MM romance, ‘A Forever Kind of Thing’ for an Encompass Ink anthology to be released later this year and I was still in MM story writing mode.
Connor and Jay my heroes just gelled in my mind immediately as I considered the kind of adventure Connor might have on vacation in an exotic place such as Indonesia. Jay is a mysterious character, tough, driven, but on the verge of changing his dangerous life when he meets Connor. Connor is still getting over a relationship break up, but it’s been long enough and he’s tired of being single. His former boyfriend’s betrayal stays with him, but as soon as he sees Jay, attraction is seeded in his heart.
These two characters are dear to me. Tenderness lies beneath Jay’s composed and tough exterior and courage lies beneath Connor’s sexual vulnerability. I think both will surprise you as you read their story.
When Connor Douglas takes a tropical island holiday, he hopes to leave heartbreak behind. Little does he know the extent of the danger and sexual temptation that awaits him.
Long after Jay Levesque has closed down his operations on the very same tropical island, the memory of Connor haunts him.
Warm nights and scorching sex has someone’s heart in chains.
Read a teaser:
Darkness was falling as Jay arrived back with another man. They carried a tray each and the other man carried a stool. The other man left, but Jay smiled at Connor as he waited by the bed. Jay flipped a switch on the wall by the door and lit the place. Light streamed downward from the little white coolie-hat shade.
“Come, let’s eat.” He indicated the chair and sat on the stool himself.
Connor dragged his chain as he went to the table. He sat and took the cover off the plate of food. It looked good and the fish was already cut up, which was great since there was no knife, only a fork by his plate. He didn’t expect to be hungry, but after tasting the food, he ate almost all of it before he put down his fork and gave a sigh.
Jay ate slowly. When Connor stopped eating so did he and he placed his fork on the tray.
“It’s good to see you eat. Kiku, the man who brought the food with me, is going to bring coffee. Tell me about yourself.”
Connor turned to face Jay. He felt better after eating. “I don’t get it. Why do you want to know? Why are you being kind?”
Jay frowned. “There’s no need not to be kind. Humor me. Tell me a little about yourself.”
Connor shrugged. “I’m a marine biologist. I’m on vacation. I needed something completely different in my life for a time. These islands seemed like a good idea, far away, warm, beautiful, and …” He stopped talking. What’s the point in this?
Jay pushed his dark hair back from his forehead and folded his arms. He smiled.
“Far away. From what, Connor? A love affair gone wrong I think.”
Connor looked down at the remains of his food in confusion. Did he really want to tell his captor about his heartbreak?
“Not that it’s anything to do with you, but yes … I guess.”
Before Connor could react or even know what was happening, Jay reached out a hand and slipped it around Connor’s head. He swooped on Connor’s mouth and kissed him.
The kiss was so unexpected and yet so delicious, Connor closed his eyes and let it happen. He drifted in the soft merge of Jay’s lips on his. The lingering pressure and the way Jay brought his other hand up to caress the back of Connor’s neck was addictive. Connor leaned into the embrace. His cock hardened. Tingles from the circle of Jay’s fingertips on his neck spread down his spine and made his ass feel melted. Thoughts left him. The only thing that mattered right then was the kiss, and he lifted his hands to hold Jay’s muscled shoulders and kiss him in return.
It was Jay who drew away from the kiss.
Connor leaned back in his chair then, shocked at his response.
Copyright Elodie Parkes 2016, Encompass Ink, All Rights Reserved
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I’m a writer who is in love with happy endings, currently based in southern UK.
I love: music, art, flowers, trees, the ocean. I work with antiques by day and words by night. Like a vampire, darkness is my friend, that’s when the silence is only broken by an occasional hoot of owls in the woodlands opposite my home, and I write.