Between You and I by Beth D. Carter
A broken engagement left Madeline Shawl feeling like a shattered woman. When she meets Hunter Caligari, he seems to be the perfect man for some friends-with-benefits action. But when the easy affair turns into something more, it threatens her comfortable grief.
The passion of the younger man nearly infects her until Hunter tries to articulate it with the three words she refuses to hear. When she pushes him away, wounding his heart, she finds her own broken all over again.
Still, Madeline struggles to leave the past and accept that when Hunter said, “I love you,” he wasn’t just speaking for himself.
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“Where do you live?” she asked once they reached her sedan.
“Off Silverado,” he said. “The Mustang Apartments.”
Madeline nodded and a few minutes later she was driving out of the parking garage, easing into traffic to head toward his home. The entire time she was acutely aware of his presence in her car, the warmth that his body generated inside the small confines. Or maybe she was simply hot and bothered.
All too soon she pulled in front of the gate that sealed off his apartment complex, and then slipped into an empty slot designated for future residents. She put the car in park and turned off the engine. For a moment neither one moved. She simply sat there, with her hands on the steering wheel, her heart pounding, and every nerve ending standing at attention. Waiting. Anticipating. He shifted and she felt his gaze on her, so slowly she turned. The overhead parking lights illuminated his face through the front window, highlighting his chiseled good looks. Suddenly the small confines of her car seemed hot. A bit overwhelming.
“I had a great time,” Hunter murmured.
Madeline wet her dry lips with her tongue. His head moved fractionally closer.
“Me…” She had to clear her throat from the huskiness coming through. “Me too.”
He smiled and their gazes met. Locked. She had this sense of free falling, just plunging head first into an unknown abyss. Had she ever felt like this with Kevin? With him everything had been easy. Simplistic. Nothing like what she was feeling now, with Hunter. He brought his hand up to cup her cheek, and she leaned into it, absorbing his heat. His eyelids narrowed a bit and his attention shifted to her mouth. All sorts of delicious tingles spread through her body because she knew he was going to kiss her. God! She wanted to kiss him back so much it was an ache deep in her gut. His head descended and her eyes fluttered shut just as the first touch of his mouth on hers brushed her lips. So gentle, like the dewy wisp of butterfly wings, and she wondered if he had kissed her at all.
I like writing about the very ordinary girl thrust into extraordinary circumstances, so my heroines will probably never be lawyers, doctors or corporate highrollers. I try to write characters who aren’t cookie cutters and push myself to write complicated situations that I have no idea how to resolve, forcing me to think outside the box. I love writing characters who are real, complex and full of flaws, heroes and heroines who find redemption through love.
I’ve been pretty fortunate in life to experience some amazing things. I’ve lived in France, travelled throughout Europe, Australia and New Zealand. I am a mom to an amazing little boy. I’ve walked a red carpet event and visited the USS Voyager. I hate washing dishes but I love cooking. I hate washing clothes but I love wearing them. Writing my bio is difficult because I never know what to say so I hope you like this one. My favorite color is red but I look best in black (it’s slimming). I hate people who don’t pick up their dog’s crap in public places, people who don’t use turn signals, and I really hate people who are rude and condescending. I especially hate discrimination in all and every form. And although I love holding a book in my hand, I absolutely adore my ereader, whom I’ve named Ruby. I love to hear from readers so I’ve made it really easy to find me on the web.
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/BethD.Carter/e/B00EOTD1T0/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1385417145&sr=8-1
Release blitz hosted by Writer Marketing Services.
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.
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She is wickedly awesome.
Book Two of the Midnight Kiss Series, set in the dynamic world of ONE KISS…
An Excerpt From: HER PERFECT LIPS
Copyright © LISA FOX
All Rights Reserved, Harper Impulse, a Division of HarperCollins Publishers
Bourbon Street was just as she remembered—loud music and neon lights, frat boys in muscle shirts and girls in crop tops, the stench of beer and pine-scented antiseptic cleaner, the sidewalks littered with garbage and puke. Their little entourage stumbled into the first club they found, which had “Play That Funky Music” blaring from the speakers. Stacy shook her head. Some things truly never changed. Bars on Bourbon Street would play that song until some ultimate, catastrophic apocalypse finally managed to wipe the city out for good.
The barker at the door proudly announced that the club was now offering their world famous three-for-one happy hour. The vodka tonic Stacy ordered was served in a plastic cup the size of which was rarely seen outside of a 7-Eleven. It contained more alcohol than any human should probably ever consume in a single serving, and she was glad to see that in addition to the bad music, the drinking culture had not changed either.
She headed toward the back of the club, outside into the little courtyard area where the music was somewhat blunted and she was less likely to have a drink spilled over her. The others followed, people in the group talking amongst themselves and goggling at the drunken antics on the dance floor. Peter had fallen back to walk alongside Melanie, and they ambled slowly, their heads close together, taking softly. Stacy sighed. So much for the whole reason to participate in this journey. Not that she could blame him. Melanie was gorgeous. Still, the rejection stung. Not that it would’ve worked anyway. The distance between them would have eventually become a hassle.
She sipped her cocktail, watching the dance floor light up red, then blue, then green as the strobe light pulsed over the dancers. Once again, she had a choice and none of her options were all too appealing. She could go back to the hotel and try to find a new group of people to talk with, she could go to bed, or she could stay right where she was and basically drink alone.
“Let’s go someplace quieter,” Peter shouted over the music and everybody agreed.
She followed them back out onto Bourbon Street, seriously considering her next move. Should I stay or should I go now? She let the chorus play out in her head and in that one millisecond pause, a drunken man wearing only jeans shorts and plastic beads lunged at her from the crowd. She sidestepped around him and almost collided with a woman exiting Pat O’Briens. The woman squealed and Stacy veered off the sidewalk into the street. A group of tourists swept her away, forcing her backward along with them. She fought against the wave of bodies, but it was a losing battle. And then, out of nowhere, a hand grabbed her arm, a lifeline in the storm.
The tourists continued on their journey, but Stacy was held in place, firmly anchored by that strong grip. The hold on her arm was a little too familiar for a stranger and she wasn’t sure if she wanted to thank or berate her rescuer. She turned, and her breath caught when she recognized her savior. “Hello, Ten.”
He grinned and every single part of her tingled. He was as attractive as she remembered—tall and strong, with rich, chocolate-brown hair, and a twinkle of mischief in his startling green eyes. The years had changed him only slightly, taking away the softness of youth and adding hard ridges and planes to his handsome face. His hair was a little too long, and he had a two-day beard, but the scruffiness didn’t take away from his almost poetic good looks. And though she would never admit it out loud, just the way his thighs filled out his well-worn blue jeans sent a thread of wicked heat trickling down her spine. Ten was the stuff of all kinds of naughty fantasies, and a few of her favorite ones instantly flashed through her mind.
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