Excerpts, Meet Me in the Middle, The Writing Life

Beginnings: Meet Me in the Middle

Meet Me Meme Home (1)I’m visiting “beginnings” with this month’s excerpts, and today is a peek at my October novella, Meet Me in the Middle, which is part of the Falling For You anthology of small town romances. Meet Me in the Middle is set in the small town of Gallant Lake, which is also the setting for my upcoming Harlequin Special Edition series called…yup, you guessed it–the Gallant Lake Series.

Schoolteacher Sarah is feeling bad that breaking up with her ex has messed up her best friend’s wedding plans, since they’re still both in the wedding party. She doesn’t anticipate her friend’s solution to the problem, though, which puts Sarah much too close to her old high school crush–bad boy Ben Conway.

Ben’s only in town long enough to see his kid sister get married, then he’s hopping back on his bike and following the sun to Florida, determined to maintain his rolling stone lifestyle despite the loneliness he’s been feeling lately. But sweet Sarah Lowery makes him rethink his plans, and his life.

…………………………………………….

Sarah Jones dropped her head to her desk with a thunk and a groan.

“The full moon got to your monsters, too?”

She rolled her head just enough to open one eye and see her best friend, Jacqueline Conway, standing in the classroom doorway. They both taught at Gallant Lake Elementary School. The small resort town of Gallant Lake, nestled in the Catskill Mountains of New York, had seen better days, but it was working hard to make a comeback. Kind of like Sarah.

“Just kill me now, Jackie. No, don’t bother—I’m already dead.” Sarah raised her head, rubbing her temples with her fingertips. “I’m trying to teach them about the Middle Ages, and all they want to talk about is Game of Thrones and whether Westeros is a real place. I lost control completely once someone mentioned dragons.”

“At least sixth-graders can discuss something interesting. My little minions revolted shortly after lunch, and I swear for a minute there they were plotting to lock me in the closet and take over the school.” Jackie kicked off her stylish pumps and sat on the corner of Sarah’s desk, hiking up her skirt to cross her legs. “I was trying to explain the difference between odd and even numbers, and that rotten little Billy Johnson started labeling everyone in class as odd or even. There were tears and a general meltdown of decorum, including mine. I dread the emails I’ll be getting this weekend.”

Sarah winced. Technology meant teachers were available to parents 24/7, and those ranting emails that mommies and daddies fired off at midnight were so much fun to wake up to. She nodded in sympathy. “Yeah, I used to think your second-graders would be more controllable because they were smaller, but…”

Jackie finished the thought. “But they have the attention spans of gnats.” She brushed her long, dark hair back over her shoulder, looking like a poster girl for Hot for Teacher. “So about the wedding…”  

Sarah grimaced. Jackie was getting married in a week, and Sarah felt responsible for messing up a year’s worth of careful planning.

“You know I love you…” Jackie hesitated. They’d been best friends since kindergarten. Long enough for Sarah to know there was always a “but” coming when Jackie said those words. “…but I don’t have a lot of options. The only solution is to have you with Ben…”

“Ben? No. No.” Sarah was not sitting with Jackie’s big brother at the wedding.  

“It’s not that big of a wedding party, Sarah. Carl and Nicole are best man and maid of honor. I planned on having Lashonna sit with Ben, and you with Aaron. But unless you want to spend my wedding sitting with your cheating bastard of an ex, I have to put Aaron with Lashonna, which leaves…Ben.” Jackie patted Sarah’s arm. “It’ll be fine, as long as you don’t mind being with a shaggy-haired biker. He’s probably forgotten all about you following him around like a puppy dog when we were kids.”

Note: Ben definitely did NOT forget about Sarah, or the two kisses they shared way back when. Maybe the third time will be the charm….

 

Excerpts, Nora's Guy Next Door

Beginnings: Nora’s Guy Next Door

Nora's Guy Next Door HPG2What could possibly be more romantic than a grocery store, right? Hey–I don’t argue when inspiration hits me, and the opening scene for Nora’s Guy Next Door came to me as I was fighting my way through a crowded grocery store. I went with it, and it may be my favorite story opening.

I’m spending April revisiting the openings of each of my romances. Nora’s Guy Next Door is part of The Lowery Women series, but this book also inspired my upcoming Gallant Lake series with Harlequin Special Edition.

………………………………………………

Nora Lowery Bradford didn’t come close to losing her good Southern manners until the third time someone smacked their grocery cart into hers, nearly toppling a package of fancily frosted cupcakes. She spun on her heel, but the angry words died on her lips. The offender was an elderly lady, even shorter than Nora, pushing a cart loaded to the brim with Thanksgiving fixings.

Bless her heart.

Nora smiled and was about to wish her a happy holiday, but before she could speak, the woman rammed her cart into Nora’s again–on purpose!

“What’re you doin’, sightseeing or something? Move over! Other people got things to do.” With that, the woman pushed on by, scraping her cart along Nora’s to drive home her point.

Nora stood there for a moment with her mouth open, then rolled her eyes and pushed on. With Thanksgiving just two days away, the grocery store in Gallant Lake, New York, was mobbed with people. And the mob was cranky. Maybe she was biased, but people seemed just a bit more genteel back home in Atlanta. Unless, of course, you went grocery shopping on senior discount day–then all bets were off, Southern or not.

…………..

The produce section was even more crowded than the aisles, and Nora slowly worked her way through the veggies, taking in the dramas unfolding around her.

A woman threw a round head of pale lettuce into her cart, glaring at the balding man by her side. “Of course your mother thinks iceberg lettuce is the best. Your mother wouldn’t know a romaine leaf if it bit her in the ass!”

Two men leaned intently over a tomato display nearby. “Derrick, trust me. Vine-ripened tomatoes are better for salad than that monstrosity you picked up.” He gave his partner a wink. “I know you love the word beefsteak, honey, but bigger isn’t always better.”

Just a few minutes later, the drama jumps up a notch when Nora runs into a gorgeous, furious man cursing to himself in the fruit section of the produce area. They don’t exactly hit it off, but they can’t seem to stop running into each other…especially once they find out Nora’s daughter is having a baby…with Asher’s son. 

Excerpts, She's Far From Hollywood

Beginnings: She’s Far From Hollywood

She's Far From HollywoodLast month I shared “first kisses” from my books, and it was so much fun that I wanted to do something similar this month. Since April is a time of renewal and new beginnings, I’m going to share the beginning of each of my stories every Wednesday. If there are any you haven’t read yet, maybe you’ll be intrigued and want to know more (psst – just follow the link!).

I’ll start the beginnings with my beginning – the opening of my debut romance, She’s Far From Hollywood.

……………………………………………………….

Brianna Mathews hated North Carolina.

Seriously.

She hated it.

She’d left the cosmopolitan appeal of Charlotte a couple of hours ago, and now it was just field after field of…what? Corn? Tobacco? Cotton? What did they grow in North Carolina, anyway? Cotton, right?

Some of the fields looked like golden-green grass and were undulating prettily in the wind. Was that wheat?

…amber waves of grain…

Wasn’t wheat a grain?

She cursed softly behind the wheel of her rented red Mercedes. She was completely out of her element driving through farm country, and she laughed at her reflection in the rear-view mirror.

“You’re a long way from Hollywood, girlfriend.”

This seemed like such a good idea last night. But last night she was still in the civilized world. She’d been happily ensconced at her cousin Amanda’s palatial stone castle, Halcyon, in the Catskill Mountains of New York, sipping pink champagne at Amanda’s baby shower. Then she got the news that upended her tidy little world. The concensus was she needed a place to stay that was out of the public eye. Amanda’s best friend, Caroline, offered her mother’s rural farm as the perfect place to avoid both paparazzi and crazed stalkers.

“‘Go to North Carolina,’ Caroline said. ‘You’ll be safe there.'” Bree glared at her reflection as she continued her one-sided conversation. “‘Mom has a cute little cottage you can use.’ Didn’t that all sound delightful last night at Halcyon? And look at me now. Driving down country roads in the middle of nowhere. Me! Miss California!” She shook her head. “I haven’t been here three hours and I’m already talking to myself. How am I supposed to last a month?”

[HINT: The hot, grumpy farmer next door makes Bree’s time in North Carolina a lot more interesting than she ever expected!]

Excerpts

A First Kiss: From a Work-in-Progress

Halcyon Ghosts

One last week in March – – – one last first kiss. And this one is from a book that doesn’t even have a final title yet. Or a publication date. Or a publisher. It will probably be independently published as a digital book in time for the holidays. It will probably have a title like…Her Castle in the Catskills. Or maybe not – – – haven’t decided that yet.

This book is connected to my current series with Harlequin Superromance, The Lowery Women. In fact, it will be a prequel to the series. This is the story of Blake Randall and Amanda Lowery, who appear in all of the other books as an existing couple. But the story of how they met is a favorite of mine, and I’m hoping it will be a favorite of yours, too.

He’s a successful man who doesn’t believe in love, and she’s a damaged woman who’s afraid to trust. A slightly haunted American castle, along with a lonely little boy, bring them together to create a thoroughly modern family.

And, just as in any other romance, there’s a first kiss. And because it’s a real-life romance, it happens at the kitchen sink. And because there’s a little bit of magic in this story, the kitchen is in a castle….

……………………………………………………………..

 

Amanda’s hair tumbled off her shoulders and down her back in golden curls. Before he knew it, his free hand was slowly twisting into those curls. She didn’t pull away. Didn’t look away. Blake lowered his head until his face was just above hers. He felt her breath on his skin. She smelled like citrus and spice and blueberries and red wine. Her lips parted and she stared up at him.

His voice was a raw whisper. “Please let me kiss you.”

His words came out as a plea, and he closed his eyes. He’d never begged for anything before in his life. But here he was, begging this sweet little thing for a kiss. Ready to drop to his knees if that’s what it took. He heard his father’s voice in his head, mocking his weakness. That’s when he started to straighten; started to come to his senses. Then he heard her whispered answer.

“Yes.”

Was there any sweeter word in the world? Adrenalin surged through his body, and his hand tightened in her hair. His eyes opened to meet those two oceans of blue. Dangerous blue. Deep enough to drown in.

She was trusting him. And that realization scared him to death. He raised his hand to cradle the back of her head as his lips brushed back and forth against hers. She shuddered in his arms and his mouth pressed to hers.

She stiffened for a heartbeat as his tongue ran along her lips. One hand slid down her back and he pulled her into him. He groaned, trying to be careful with her. But he wanted this so bad. A soft sound rose from her throat and, wonder of wonders, she opened her mouth to him. He was almost afraid to go further, but his body had a mind of its own. He tried to hold back, to take it easy, but there was just no damned way to do that. Her hands fluttered nervously at her sides, then moved up to clutch his shoulders. And her tongue…her tongue was pushing into his mouth now. Brave, beautiful girl. He growled and pulled her closer. He didn’t want to let her go. Ever.

When she finally pulled back, she was nearly gasping for air. He was surprised to realize he was, too. She looked at him in amazement.

Right there with you, sweetheart.

Excerpts, The Life She Wants

A First Kiss: The Life She Wants

Life - Checklist

Time for another First Kiss! This one is from my upcoming Harlequin Superromance, The Life She Wants (June 2018). Shane Brannigan is a brash go-getter – he’s a sports agent who’s driven to be the best of the best. Melanie has already seen the view from the pinnacle of success, and it wasn’t all that great. All she wants now is to settle down and feel safe and healthy again. She doesn’t need a complication like Shane in her life, but there he is, every time she turns around.

They don’t pick the most private spot for a first kiss – they’re walking Mel’s dog in a public park. But one thing leads to another, and they end up stepping off the path and into each other’s arms. Fearless Shane is suddenly hesitant, but not for long….
…………………………………………………..
A furrow appeared between her brows.

“Shane…” His name was a whisper on her lips.

“Say that again.”

Her eyes darkened, and the furrow faded as a smile teased her lips. Her voice was stronger this time.

“Shane. What are we doing?”

“Damned if I know, but I’m not stopping unless you tell me to.”

He waited, and she didn’t say a word. His head dropped until his lips touched hers. He waited again, until she tipped her head up to meet him. Her lips parted for him with a sigh, and still, he hesitated. Was he afraid for her? Or for himself? This moment…this moment felt big. She murmured his name against his lips, her arms wrapping around his neck. And he was a goner.

He held her face in his hands, holding her still while his mouth took control. A soft moan rose from her throat, and his heart started banging in his chest. He had to hold back or they’d be naked on the ground in a heartbeat. She wasn’t making it easy.

One of his hands slid down her neck, his fingers wrapping around the back of her head, his thumb tipping her jaw up. She tilted her face just enough to let his tongue reach places he hadn’t managed to explore yet. His chest vibrated with a low growl and he pulled her closer.

He didn’t know how long it lasted. He didn’t care. He had no intention of stopping.

Until the dog barked.

 

Excerpts, Meet Me in the Middle, The Writing Life

A First Kiss: Meet Me in the Middle

Meet Me GraphicYes, I’m still sharing First Kisses this month! This one is from my novella, Meet Me in the Middle, which was part of the anthology Falling For You. The anthology features ten small town romances from me and fellow award-winning and best-selling Harlequin Superromance authors. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you really should!

And here’s a special announcement…Meet Me in the Middle will soon be available as a stand-alone novella. Stay tuned over the next month or so for a cover reveal and release news. Ben and Sarah’s story takes place in Gallant Lake, the same town Nora’s Guy Next Door was set in (and the same town June’s The Life She Wants will be set in). While the anthology was released a few weeks after Nora’s Guy Next Door, the events in the novella technically take place a few weeks before Nora arrives in Gallant Lake for Thanksgiving.

Technically, this is Ben and Sarah’s third kiss, because this is a second chance romance. Ben just came cruising back into town on his motorcycle for his sister’s wedding, and schoolteacher Sarah’s not ready to face her bad boy high school crush again. Those first two kisses years ago didn’t stick, but this one (in the coatroom) just might…..

……………………………………..

       The logical thing would be to go back to the wedding reception and finish the night with their friends and family. That would be the safe choice. Her shoulders straightened. Maybe Ben was right. Maybe it was time to take a risk.
      “Well, I think we need to communicate more clearly about what we’re planning. No more blindsiding. We need to meet in the middle. To have a mutual agreement…”
       “And what exactly are you planning, Miss Sarah Jones?”
       She swallowed hard. “I’m planning on walking toward you. And I hope you’re planning on walking toward me. And when me meet, I’m thinking we should have a mutually agreed upon kiss.”
        She took a step, and he did the same. Then another. Until they were just inches away from each other. His hands cupped her face, his eyes so intense she could hardly bear to look into them, but she couldn’t look away. His head lowered and his lips brushed back and forth across hers. They’d never kissed like this before—tentative, careful, tender. He pressed his mouth against her and his tongue teased her for a moment before she let him in. A groan vibrated through her body, and she wasn’t sure if it came from Ben or her. She reached up and buried her fingers in his hair, while his hands slid down her body to pull her hips into his very obvious arousal.
      Those kisses in the past had been all about pent-up desire and an explosion of passion. This kiss was more like a furnace slowly being turned up until the heat could melt steel. Their moves were slower and more measured, but no less intense. A tremble started in Sarah’s chest and rolled out to her skin until her whole body shook with it. Ben must have felt it, because he growled and wrapped his arms around her, pressing her against the wall so she no longer had to worry about her legs holding her up.
        Their mouths came apart only long enough for a ragged breath, then crashed together again. This felt more like old times—heads twisting, hands moving quickly over bodies, frantic incoherent whispers. The two of them were combustible together.
Excerpts, Nora's Guy Next Door

A First Kiss: Nora’s Guy Next Door

Nora Checklist (1)

I am all about first kisses this month! This week, I’m sharing the all-important first kiss from Nora’s Guy Next Door (The Lowery Women Book 2). This is a Seasoned Romance, with both Nora and Asher in their forties, so they’re not new to this kissing game. But this kiss is different. With her daughter pregnant with his son’s baby, things are beyond messy. Falling for each other will complicate the family dynamics even further. And yet here they are, right or wrong, no longer able to deny the incredible chemistry between them.

……………………………………..
Asher’s lips were hard and tender at the same time as Nora pushed up onto her toes and kissed him. She kissed him! Because he was right.

She wanted this as much as he did.

At first they were gentle, tentative. Butterfly kisses, teasing and tempting. Making contact, then pulling back. But when his hands moved to her waist, up and around, slipping under her sweater, the feel of his calloused hands moving across her skin unlocked something inside her she’d never known existed, and suddenly she was on fire. Her fingers twisted in his hair and her lips parted. She felt the vibration in his chest as he growled before moving his tongue across her teeth and into her mouth.

Their heads turned and bumped as their tongues twisted together and pushed against each other. Was that him moaning in pleasure or was it her? She didn’t care. She just wanted more. Their mouths came apart only long enough to gasp for air before crashing together again. Her arms tightened around his neck and she pulled herself higher, fairly climbing the poor guy, and he didn’t object. In fact, his hands dropped to cup her buttocks and he lifted her, pinning her against the door. His mouth moved down her neck, devouring her inch by inch, and she lifted her chin to give him full access. He sucked at the base of her throat, and a loud groan echoed in the hallway. Oh,God, that was her!

“Asher…”

She didn’t have any words other than that. She just needed to say his name out loud. How had she come to be here in his arms, moaning his name like some wild woman? It didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was the feel of his lips on her skin, of his fingers gripping her, of her own name being whispered over and over as if he was breathing her in and out.

Excerpts, She's Far From Hollywood

A First Kiss – She’s Far From Hollywood

Hollywood Checklist

Over the next few weeks, I’m visiting the First Kiss in each of my novels/novellas.

Sigh….that first kiss. One of my very favorite scenes to read in any romance, and one of my favorites to write, too. The whole story has led to this pivotal moment. The characters’ personalities definitely impact the scene.

In the case of Cole and Bree in She’s Far From Hollywood, they’ve basically hated each other at first sight. Or at least that’s what they tell themselves, but all that heat has nothing to do with hate.

When they finally kiss, it’s explosive!

………………………….
Cole lowered his head until their noses were brushing against each
other. She still hadn’t blinked. “But I’m not feeling very smart right
now…”

Those last words were spoken against her lips. His hands cupped her
face softly and she sighed, her breath blowing across his skin. This
was still a bad idea. But when her hands twisted into his T-shirt, he
was lost.

He wanted to take this slow, to be careful. Really, he did. But that plan
detonated on contact. Her lips were soft and pliant when their mouths
met, and she parted them with a soft moan that went straight to his
core.

Men had been plunging their tongues into women’s mouths for
centuries. Staking their claim. Grabbing the first taste of a woman.
And yes, hinting at that other penetration they had in mind. Kissing like
this, tongue against tongue, was natural. Primal even.

But Cole knew that never in the long history of kissing had there ever
been a kiss like this. Things quickly spun out of control, their heads
turning and their mouths moving against each other aggressively. She
tasted like cognac and toothpaste, and hell if it didn’t hit his nervous
system like crack cocaine.

His hands started to slide up and down her body, fingers grabbing at
every curve. She was trembling in his arms like a tuning fork, like she
was ready to come just from this. Just from kissing like this.

It wouldn’t be Bree’s style to just passively let him kiss her. She gave
as good as she got, tugging, pushing, sucking, biting. She was staking
her own claim, holding his head in place while she devoured him.
Twice their teeth clashed together, and neither of them flinched.

This was Bree, and he damned-well knew her.

Excerpts, Nora's Guy Next Door, Teaser Tuesday, The Writing Life

Teaser Tuesday: Two Days Before Thanksgiving

Nora's Guy Next DoorToday is the exact day my romance novel, Nora’s Guy Next Door, begins – two days before Thanksgiving.

The book opens with Nora (a Southern belle) in a crowded grocery store – you know how crazy they can get, right? I originally come from “Wegmans Country” in the Northeast – if you live anywhere near a Wegmans grocery store, you know how amazing they are (it’s like the Disney version of grocery shopping), and yes, I miss them. I don’t think the little town of Gallant Lake is big enough for a Wegmans, but I did envision their produce section while writing this scene.

I am partying up a storm today over at the Facebook group Coffee, Cupcakes and Contemporaries, with some fun giveaways to celebrate “Two Days Before Thanksgiving” – come join us!

……………………

Nora Lowery Bradford didn’t come close to losing her good Southern manners until the third time someone smacked their grocery cart into hers, nearly toppling a package of fancily frosted cupcakes. She spun on her heel, but the angry words died on her lips. The offender was an elderly lady, even shorter than Nora, pushing a cart loaded to the brim with Thanksgiving fixings.

Bless her heart.

Nora smiled and was about to wish her a happy holiday, but before she could speak, the woman rammed her cart into Nora’s again—on purpose!

“What’re you doin’, sightseeing or something? Move over! Other people got things to do.” With that, the woman pushed on by, scraping her cart along Nora’s to drive home her point.

Nora stood there for a moment with her mouth open, then rolled her eyes and pushed on. With Thanksgiving just two days away, the grocery store in Gallant Lake, New York, was mobbed with people. And the mob was cranky. Maybe she was biased, but people seemed just a bit more genteel back home in Atlanta. Unless, of course, you went grocery shopping on senior discount day—then all bets were off, Southern or not.

The miserable weather wasn’t helping anyone’s attitude. Three inches of snow were on the ground when she arrived in the Catskills yesterday, and she was not happy about it. Oh, sure, the stuff looked like sugar frosting on the rooftops and tree branches, but the air was cold and raw.

The forecast for the week was snow, rain, wind, more rain, then snow again. Her cousin Amanda assured her that was typical for November, which was little comfort. No wonder people were so grumpy here in the North! She’d tried to convince Amanda and her  husband, Blake Randall, to fly south for Thanksgiving with their kids, but they owned a large lakeside resort here and couldn’t be gone during a busy tourist weekend. So the family was gathering at their historic castle-turned-home, Halcyon, located right next door to the resort.

Nora unfolded the store flyer she’d picked up at the door, trying to remember where the produce section was. The only good thing about being in Gallant Lake this week was that her favorite person in the whole world, her daughter Becky, would be arriving later today. Somewhere along the line, Nora had failed as a proper Atlanta mother, because her debutante daughter had inexplicably fallen in love with the Catskills the first time she came here after Amanda and Blake’s wedding. It was disappointing, but not surprising, when Becky hopped the first plane out of Georgia when Vassar offered her a scholarship.

The produce section was even more crowded than the aisles, and Nora slowly worked her way through the veggies, taking in the dramas unfolding around her.

A woman threw a round head of pale lettuce into her cart, glaring at the balding man by her side. “Of course your mother thinks iceberg lettuce is the best. Your mother wouldn’t know a romaine leaf if it bit her in the ass!”

Two men leaned intently over a tomato display nearby. “Derrick, trust me. Vine-ripened tomatoes are better for salad than that monstrosity you picked up.” He gave his partner a wink. “I know you love the word beefsteak honey, but bigger isn’t always better.”

A young woman pushed a cart past Nora with a toddler in the seat and a little boy and girl in tow, all three complaining loudly. The girl stomped her feet.

“I don’t wanna eat turkey! I wanna eat ice cream!”

“You gotta eat turkey on turkey day, dummy.” Her older brother gave her a shove. “And you can’t have ice cream. You gotta eat pie!”

The littlest one, sitting in the cart, started to scream. “No pie! No pie, Mommy! No pie!”

The mother’s face was pinched and tired. Nora reached out, resting her hand on the woman’s arm. “Don’t worry, darlin’, these days will pass. Enjoy these babies while they’re young. Before you know it, they’ll be off to college like mine.”

She got a tight smile in return. “Right now, it feels like that can’t happen soon enough, but thank you.”…

 

A deep voice started cursing behind her as she reached for a bag of lemons. She glanced over her shoulder and spotted a tall, lean man in jeans and a faded flannel shirt. His gray-blue eyes were frosty with anger, but she couldn’t tell where it was directed, since he seemed to be alone.

“Damned idiots. They’re nothing but stupid-ass idiots.” He roughly tossed a bag of apples into his cart, making it rattle, causing a few heads to turn. “Stupid, stupid, stupid…” Another bag of fruit landed in his cart with a bang, and he pushed it closer to hers.

She couldn’t see a Bluetooth device in his ear, so he seemed to be having this conversation with himself. Flat out raging at himself, from the sounds of it. His face was sharp and angled, but the dark stubble along his jaw softened those lines just enough to make him strikingly attractive in a rough-hewn way. Layers of dark brown hair brushed his shoulders, and he reminded her of an aging rock star getting ready to smash a guitar somewhere.

Nora gave herself a mental shake. She hadn’t looked twice at anyone since Paul’s death, much less ogled someone in a small-town grocery store. And this bad-tempered stranger was very much not her type. But still, she couldn’t take her eyes off Hot Produce Guy.

Excerpts, Nora's Guy Next Door, Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday – Nora’s Guy Next Door

Nora - Enough - DarkIn Nora’s Guy Next Door, Nora’s daughter is having a baby. With Asher’s son. Neither Asher nor Nora are happy about it. And now they’re neighbors. And that’s when things get really complicated. In this scene, she’s just brought lunch to his furniture shop after they shared an evening together. Just an innocent lunch, so they can talk things over. And they’ve decided to take things slow and keep the relationship quiet, because people might talk. Luckily, it’s Asher’s pal, Sheriff Dan, who walks in, and Dan already has a pretty good idea what’s going on….

“Slow works for me. And quiet, too.” Asher’s thumb brushed across her cheek. “When you blush like that, your cheeks turn into little roses, all pink and sweet. It makes me lose my concentration, and all I want to do is this.” He slid off the stool and stepped up to her. She parted her legs to let him come closer, and he pressed his body against hers. Then he kissed her—long and deep, slow and possessive—and she would have slid off her stool into a puddle on the floor if he hadn’t been gripping her shoulders and holding her upright. Good god, this man could kiss!

The jingling of the bell over the shop door pulled them apart abruptly. She felt like a schoolgirl who’d been caught kissing the quarterback behind the bleachers.

Dan Adams stood in the doorway, in uniform, with a wide grin on his face.

“Let me guess—Nora passed out and you decided she needed a little mouth-to-mouth?” Dan snapped his fingers. “No, I know what happened! She has a sore throat and you were checking her tonsils, right?”