One Kiss by Lisa Fox
Sometimes one kiss can change everything.
New Year’s Eve is supposed to be a night for celebration and new beginnings. For best friends Kat and Dean, it is a nightmare filled with disastrous dates and enraged ex-girlfriends!
Lucky for them, they’ve got each other to help laugh off the embarrassing, and downright inappropriate, moments. But then midnight rolls around and neither of them have anyone to kiss…
There’s no doubt this is a night they will always remember.
The real question is whether it will be a night they want to forget…
An Excerpt From: ONE KISS
Copyright © LISA FOX
All Rights Reserved, Harper Impulse, a Division of HarperCollins Publishers
Kat spun around when her cell phone rang, and the stiletto heel on her brand new shoes snapped, knocking her off-balance. She crashed down on the living room carpet with a loud thump, grunting out a string of vile curses. Her short, sparkly dress twisted around her hips as she scrambled to get up, and a few sequins fell off when she collided with the coffee table. The phone slid off the glass top, bounced twice, and hit the floor. She snatched it off the ground as the last bars of “Tank!” played, brought it to her ear, and winced as the missed call beep blasted her eardrum.
“Son of a bitch,” she muttered, and checked the caller ID to see who had caused her all this grief. Dean. It figured. Her eyebrows furrowed. She hadn’t expected to hear from him for another few days. He was supposed to be out somewhere swank tonight, spending a very expensive, very exclusive New Year’s Eve with his girlfriend, Marine. The more expensive, the better. Marine wouldn’t settle for anything less. And she would not be happy if she knew he was calling Kat in the middle of their date. There had to be something wrong.
She slipped off her broken shoes as she called him back, grimacing when she tossed them into the trash can. It was a damn tragedy to have to throw out a cute pair of shoes. This was not a positive omen for the evening.
“Hey, Kat,” he answered on the second ring, and the familiar sound of his deep voice made her smile. Dean had a way of always making her smile. He also had a way of getting under her skin and driving her crazy too, but right now it was good to hear his voice. She’d missed him a lot during the Christmas break.
“Hey, yourself.” She switched the phone to her other ear and pushed open her bedroom door. Going out tonight was probably a bad idea. She was beginning to regret letting Ron talk her into this ridiculous blind date. If there was any time left to back out, she would have. Well, maybe that wasn’t entirely true. She was kind of excited. Curious anyway. She’d been so stagnate lately. It was time to shake things up. “What’s going on?”
“Nothing. I just got back and I wanted to say hi.”
“Huh-huh,” she said, allowing him to hear the skepticism in her voice. This was not a “just say hi” call. Something was up. She could feel it. “I thought you’d be out with Marine by now.” She knelt down in front of her closet and pushed her half-unpacked suitcases aside. Her shoulders sagged as she peered into the dark, chaotic recesses. She was never going to find anything in there. Why had she never organized? Maybe that ought to be her New Year’s resolution. She dug around and pulled out a pair of red, patent leather Mary Jane’s, which she examined and promptly tossed aside. Definitely not right. “What are you guys doing tonight?”
He took a deep breath and exhaled. “Mari and I broke up.”
Kat sat back on her heels. That was news—and not the bad kind. The last time she’d seen them together, Marine had been clinging to Dean’s arm as hard as usual. Found someone with a bigger wallet, did she? formed on her lips, but she bit the words back. He knew exactly how she felt about Marine. He didn’t need to hear it right now. “What happened?”
She heard the phone shift and knew that he was raking his fingers through his thick, curly hair. It was what he did whenever he was upset. “It started out like it always does, you know? She bitched about my job, cried over all the money I was ‘losing’ by not going somewhere else, and then she got all twisted, went on this rampage about how we can’t get married if—”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa.” She shook her head so violently, her hair got caught on a button of the only business suit she owned. She winced as she pulled herself free, ripping out a fair amount of hair in the process. “Please don’t tell me you proposed to her?”
“What? No. But it’s what she wants.”
I’ll bet. Marine was no fool. She was entering her late twenties and while she was a working model, she wasn’t one of the elite. One day very soon she was going to be nothing more than an old face in a sea of younger, fresher faces. For women like Marine, marrying well became the next logical step. Dean was an excellent candidate. He was young, ambitious, an award-winning designer on the ground floor of a successful boutique web design and marketing firm. He’d already been headhunted a number of times by the corporate giants. If he ever decided to make a move, he’d be able to name his price. And, as an added bonus, he looked great in a suit. “I don’t understand. You broke up over that? You guys have had that fight a million times before.”
“Well, this time when she left, I didn’t stop her.” He paused. “I haven’t heard from her since.”
Good riddance, she almost said aloud. He deserved so much better. “When was this?”
“Tuesday.” She heard him sit down on his couch, the familiar creak of the springs in the background. “Right after the holiday dinner.”
Kat’s mouth dropped open. “Before Christmas? Dean, that was over a week ago! You’re just telling me now?”
She could feel him shrug, see his sheepish grin. “You were in California, and I only got back from Colorado last night. There was nothing you could do.”
She huffed in reply and dove back into the closet. There was probably something she should be saying, some comfort she should be offering, but he didn’t really sound all that upset, and a deep, mean, little part of her was glad Marine was gone. A deep, selfish little part of her actually rejoiced. “So, what happens now?”
He didn’t get a chance to answer because Kat yelped as a pile of boxes fell down around her head.
“Kat,” he called, his voice sharp with alarm. “Are you all right?”
She couldn’t help but smile. She knew without any doubt that he was on his feet, that he’d leapt up the moment she screamed, and was ready to jet over to her place to save her immediately. Sir Galahad had nothing on Dean. Sickening as it was, it never failed to strum a cord way back in the depths of her black, little heart. She wasn’t used to people wanting to care for her and every time he did, it left her feeling a bit unbalanced, yet oddly touched. But, no matter how sweet, it was the reason behind most of his problems. He was a sucker for a female in distress—or at least the ones who were convincingly in distress.
“I’m fine,” she said, pressing her palm against the side of her head where the corner of a box had struck. She supposed she should have been grateful there was no blood. A great, big river of blood gushing out of her head would only have made the night that much more awesome. “I’m trying to get ready for Ron and Alan’s party.”
“I didn’t think you were going.”
“I wasn’t.” She had intended to stay home and work, maybe have a glass of champagne alone at midnight, but then Ron approached her the day after the holiday dinner with his idea, and she had randomly said yes, surprising both him and herself. A sigh escaped her lips as her gaze touched the disarray spanning out into the center of her bedroom. She should have stuck with her original plan.
Finding My Highlander by Aleigha Siron
On a windswept cliff above San Francisco Bay in 2013, 27 year-old Andra Cameron, the last member of her family, prepares to scatter her family’s ashes to the wind. An earthquake catapults her to the Scottish Highlands in 1705. She wakes, aching and bloody, to the sound of horses thundering through the trees. Terrified and with no other options, Andra accompanies these rugged warriors. She can’t deny the undeniable attraction that ignites between herself and the handsome but gruff Kendrick. Will she trust him to provide protection in the harsh reality of 18th century Scotland and with her secret, or will she find a way to return home to the 21st century?
Laird Kendrick MacLean and his men, escaping a recent skirmish with their worst nemeses, clan Cameron and their Sassenach allies, are shocked to find an injured, unprotected female in their path. How could she not know her kin and how had she landed in the middle of the wilderness alone? His men suspect she’s a spy or a witch. Still, Kendrick will not abandon an injured woman, even if she speaks unusually accented English, and her name is Cameron. Will he ransom her to others or will their closed hearts open to each other? Although he questions her every utterance, this feisty, outspoken woman inflames his desire like no other.
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1SZ766h
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“Lass, can I help you?” His voice was softer than the others, his stance relaxed, composed, despite the dirt and blood splattered over his massive arms and clothing. He seemed to be a quiet, gentle man, though physically as imposing as the others.
“You could bring me my bag.”
He moved his hand from behind him and cautiously extended her mother’s old carpetbag. “Do I need to check it for weapons?” A slight crinkle lifted the corner of his mouth. A piece of leather cord tied wavy, light-brown hair at the nape of his neck and tight braids spilled alongside sharp, scruffy cheeks. His eyes were dark and shadowed.
“Thank you…it’s Rabbie, correct?”
“Aye,” he nodded.
Andra granted him a guarded smile. “I’ll pull no further weapons if you promise to be kind.” The slight attempt at humor from both of them eased the tension coiled in her gut.
He swept an arm gracefully in front of him and bowed, “Always, m’lady, as I learned at me mother’s knee.” Then he left her to tend the horses.
She searched her bag for the washcloth, hand towel, and first aid kit she always carried when traveling. The washcloth came to hand first. She dipped it into the cold water and wiped the dried and clotted blood from her face and hair. Then she dunked her head in the pool several more times.
“I seem to be awake,” she whispered, just for the comfort on her own voice. “My surroundings feel solid enough,” she pounded her fist on the dirt, “so it must be real. Accept it, Andra, and decide what to do next.”
She could hear the men speaking Gaelic, hushed yet clearly distraught about the condition of their clansman. They gathered near another pool of water several yards from where she knelt. She watched them over her shoulder for a few minutes struggling to fit the scene into her new reality. A million questions rose in her throat.
“Not now. Patience and observation are what’s required. All will be revealed in time.” What a stupid cliché.
Should she offer her help with their friend; would they accept it? She could not sit here and do nothing when one of them was seriously injured. Besides, anxiety always spurred her to take action. Her father had always said, “Move, keep busy, and don’t let dust gather under your feet.” With her father’s words ringing in her ears, she approached the men cautiously, keeping her eye on the mean one, Struan.
“May I be of assistance?” She stood with her feet firmly planted on the hard-packed, dirt floor, her head held high, one hand pressed flat against her side, the other rested on the cross dangling on her chest. It took an extreme effort to control her trembling body. Her palms moistened with sweat. She steadied her focus on Kendrick. His strong hands moved carefully over his brother’s body. The mean one harrumphed and growled.
A growl? Really?
Kendrick looked up, concern etched on his face. His dark, probing eyes bore through her. “Are you a healer, then?” he asked.
“Not a healer exactly, but I have cared for ill and injured persons and have some training in first aid. I wish to help if you’ll permit me.”
“I dinnae ken your meaning. What’s the first aid of which you speak? As you can see, we give him aid, but if you can do anything to help save my brother’s life, I will gladly accept your offer.”
The mean one growled again. “Don’t trust her, she’s the enemy and will just as soon slit his throat.”
Ignoring the slur, she continued, “Have you determined the extent of his injuries?”
“Aye, his shoulder is dislocated, several fingers broken, which we have straightened and bound as best we’re able. We need to stitch multiple, deep wounds, and he’s lost a lot of blood, though blood no longer flows freely.”
The injured man lay on a plaid, stripped completely naked, his kilt torn away from his battered body. Mud, blood, and all manner of vile debris caked the hard planes of his bronzed chest. Andra couldn’t identify the severity or location of all his injuries. He moaned but appeared unconscious, or so she assumed, since he hadn’t opened his eyes. Clumps of dried blood crusted over wounds on one leg and foot. Dark, matted refuse covered the entire other leg.
His manhood lay flaccid against his thigh, and none of the men seemed concerned about his state of undress in front of a strange female. She stood quietly, waiting for several breaths.
After more than twenty years writing and delivering management and other training programs for modest-sized to Fortune Five Hundred companies, and ten years developing community crisis-intervention training programs, Aleigha turned her writing efforts to her first loves, fiction, and poetry. Her poetry has appeared in numerous anthologies and university presses over the past few decades. Following a difficult period in her life, she discovered solace in romance novels that inspired her to write in this genre. As she says, “who doesn’t desire a guaranteed happy-ever-after scenario?” Always interested in the concept of time-travel, she knew her first few stories would follow that theme.
When not writing, her trusty four-legged companion/helper, Strider, accompanies her on sunset walks along the shore. During these quiet walks under an expansive sky, with the whoosh of waves across the sand and her gaze drifting over the rolling sea, her best glimmers of inspiration come to mind. Following the recent discovery of distant Scottish ancestors, she embarked on a trip to the Highlands. Although she had already developed the characters for Finding My Highlander, her trip to the Highlands enriched the characters and enhanced the story direction. This is her first full-length romance novel. Aleigha is working on a prequel to Finding My Highlander, and another time-travel novel set in a later period.
WWW (Aleigha Siron’s Webpage) http://aleighasiron.com/
Aleigha Siron’s Book page at Tirgearr Publishing: http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Siron_Aleigha/finding-my-highlander.htm
Tirgearr Publishing Home Page: http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/index.htm