First Chapter Friday – Four Letter Words

fourletterwordsbycharlottehoward-500

ISBN: 9781311701978
ASIN: B01F82U040

Laying my head back against the black leather seats of the Jag and gazing ahead, I lifted a finger and touched my lips that were swollen from his kiss. The weariness of the past few weeks was beginning to take over, weighing on my eyelids as they began to droop. I should have been reassured by the man sitting next to me.

I shifted in my seat so I could watch him as he drove on. He was a force that even nature had no hold over. There was an urge to reach out and cling to his broad bicep, a need to feel the security of his physical strength, aching somewhere deep inside of me.

We didn’t speak as he pressed all his weight onto the accelerator, urging the car until it was over the speed limit. I half expected the shine of blue lights to fill the inside of the car, with sirens blaring around us. But they didn’t. Of course they didn’t. Even if a marked car was to pass, I doubted Vance Ellery would slow down, and I had even less that the police would attempt to pull him over. I suspected that the personal phone number of every single high-ranking officer in the country, was tucked away in a neat Rolodex on Vance’s desk or even stored in the memory bank of his mobile phone for easy access.

The silence should have been soothing. I should have been able to let my lashes flutter against my cheeks, and slip into a relaxing slumber. Instead the lack of conversation added to the tension that built behind my eyes. I closed them, hoping that soon I would drift off into a deep sleep, where I would be surrounded by falling flowers, rainbows, and sunlight. Ha! If only I was deserving of such luck. There were no pleasant dreams awaiting me after the sandman visited. Only nightmares wanted to be part of my night. They tormented me, bringing memories that I’d tried to bury and forget. They hounded the darkness, giving me nothing but misery and pain and suffering. It was as though all my sins from a previous life had been rolled over into this one.

If the visions of his face, the sound of his voice had been the only elements of my slumber, then I might have been willing to slip away and let the desperation of rest take me to the shadowed places I dreaded. My soul was destined for torture though. I was to be punished for his crime.

The mere suggestion of sleep forced my blood to pulsate until it was the only thing I could hear, throbbing in my temples. The searing pain of anxiety and panic stabbed at my chest, pins pricking my skin, as I let my eyelids fall. A shudder fell down my spine, waking me from the light doze I’d stumbled into.

Breathe in, breathe out. In with the good, out with the bad. In through the nose, out through the mouth. Breathe in, breathe out. A mantra, taught to me by a yoga instructor years before hell had entered my life, repeated over and over in my mind. I inhaled the cool air through my nasal passages, allowing it to slip down into my painfilled lungs, exhaling all the bad out of my mouth in a gigantic whoosh.

Ahead, the roads were empty, weaving out of the village and headed towards Richart Courts, the hotel that was to be my sanctuary for the next couple of days before I had to face the next challenge. New York City.

How anyone could expect me to go back there was beyond belief. The only logical explanation for their plans for my future was that facing New York was the lesser of the two evils that haunted me, threatening to rip away the seams that had begun to fray around my already tattered edges.

I reached above my head, flipping the visor down and peering at my reflection in

the tiny mirror. My God, I looked a mess. I’d always strived for perfection. I worked and played in a male-dominated world, living with two fully-grown boys, spending my free time being rugby tackled or defending myself against a martial arts master, and until recently, acting as a secretary-cum-personal-assistant-cum-receptionist at a local car body shop. My appearance had been an escape, showing off my femininity and sexuality. I wore my brunette mane long, although it spent most of its time restricted by a piece of elastic. I made sure that my wardrobe was bursting with dresses, fitted jeans, and heels of a ridiculous height. My makeup was always immaculate.

Not now though. I stared at the ghost in the mirror. Ashen skin in desperate need of a deep cleansing facial, lank hair that could have been anywhere between dark blonde and light brown, but the grease on it made it difficult to tell, and puffy, naked eyes, ringed by a distinct lack of rest.

I made a mental note to book myself into the spa once we arrived at the hotel. I was long overdue for some pampering. A Swedish massage wouldn’t go amiss either. The idea of a good-looking man, pressing down into the aching sinew of my shoulders and neck brought a small smile to my lips. Perhaps I would take a long-needed trip to the hairdressers as well, maybe even treat myself to a makeover…

Flipping the visor back into place, I glanced towards the man driving and wondered if he’d oblige on the massage request. It was doubtful. Vance Ellery paid for masseuses, he didn’t act as one. Not unless it was leading somewhere that would pleasure him as well. I clucked my tongue against the roof my mouth and shifted back into my seat, keeping my eyes on him.

A smirk flickered across his lips as though he could read my sordid thoughts.

Chewing on my bottom lip, I stared straight-ahead as Richart Courts came into view. Illustrious and grand were the only words I could think of to describe the hotel, with its rolling grounds that spread over at least a hundred acres, if not more. I knew that behind the building was a state-of-the-art eighteen-hole golf course Vance played on when conducting business with local councillors and MPs.

Inside was as palatial, with gold-leaf filigree, marble flooring, and impressive Colonial columns supporting an expansive ceiling. And that was just the hotel lobby.

The rooms were even more decadent.

The Jag rolled to a stop at the bottom of the steps. Vance stepped out, and I waited as one of the young boys, dressed in a fine combination of cream trouser, wine-red coat with gold buttons, and gleaming white gloves, standing by the front of the hotel skipped down the stairs and opened my door for me. Words were exchanged along with keys, but no tip was given. Why would he hand a few notes over to the lad when he already paid his wages? It still hadn’t sunk in that my lover not only owned Richart Courts, but hotels around the world, including in New York, as well as several other affluent businesses.

We walked past the front desk without saying a word. There was no need to inform reception of our arrival, sign ledgers, or accept key-cards when the entire top floor was ready for him at all times. I followed in his shadow, side-stepping into the lift, and watched as he pressed the button marked ‘Private’. I’d never noticed that before…

I glanced up at him. Dark indigo eyes stared straight ahead. The muscles in his cheeks twitched. I could watch him all day, with those hooded eyes, always looking beyond my skin, and that straight nose leading to lips that urged me to kiss them.

I opened my mouth to say something to break the silence, but nothing came to mind. What would I say? Sorry? He wouldn’t want to hear it. Thank you? Again, a pointless remark that would garner me nothing but an astute glare and perhaps a kiss to shut me up. The thought of a kiss was almost tempting. I could… No. I was powerless beneath him, even when we didn’t touch. He was a formidable man, one that most feared to anger. Yet somehow, it was the one thing I was good at, infuriating him.

Shifting my stance, I felt the cold glass behind me press into my back and shoulders. It was almost as soothing as a hot bath would have been at that moment.

I opened my mouth and let out a sigh of relief. He looked down and smirked. Goddamn his smirkiness. It was a trait I’d noticed ran in his family, finding its way to his son’s lips as readily as it did his. A snarl rumbled in the base of my throat as I thought about him and his son.

That was it. My mind sprang towards Matthew Jackson, the other man in my life. I hated myself for the way I’d left things with him. But it was for the best, or so I kept trying to convince myself. The best for whom? Certainly not me. He’d confessed his undying love to me. Well… Perhaps not undying… But he had said that four letter word most women long to hear. It only hurt that it had come from the wrong person.

Still, looking up at the man beside me, I knew that he loved me. He didn’t have to say it. He showed it on a regular basis. The way he held me, the way he would do anything to protect me… I didn’t need to hear it slip from between his lips.

The bell of the lift dinged, the sound reverberating off the reflective walls, indicating our arrival. We stepped out and headed towards the door that separated the hallway from our privacy. I took a deep breath before stepping over that threshold, preparing myself for the future I was about to bring upon myself.

I had to face up to my past. But I was unsure. Was I ready for the fight that lay before me? Only time would tell. Time, and Vance Ellery.

 

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First Chapter Friday – Seven Dirty Words

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ISBN: 9781310160417
ASIN: B00XB8JCH0

I died for a short while the first time we met. There was no fluttering in my chest, no somersault of my stomach, no burning in my loins; my heart literally stopped. He was tall, at least six foot four, and dressed in a pair of worn indigo jeans that perfectly matched his intense stare. A silk black shirt covered what I imagined to be a ripple of hard muscle, and opened at the top, showing a dusting of tight dark curls. His thick neck led towards a razor-sharp, square jaw line, a straight nose that had clearly never seen the ill-effects of rough play, and deep hooded eyes. His hair had been styled with a slight wave. I was sure it was dark brown, but it could have easily been black, and had shots of silver-grey streaking through it.

My face was lined up with his toes, or more precisely, his pristinely polished black patent Chukka boots. Palms down in the thick mud beneath me, I pushed up and sneaked a glance at the man in front of me. He looked none-too-pleased to see his clothes spattered with flecks of dirt from where I had landed and splashed him. I struggled to get to my feet as my boots slipped against the wet grass. Eventually I got to my knees and leant back, looking up at him. I forced a grin onto my mud-covered face, but he didn’t return it. Finally able to stand, I wiped my hands down the sides of my bare thighs.

His glare speared through the apology that I tried to splutter, words failing to come. In the distance I heard someone call my name. Looking over my shoulder I saw my teammates beckoning me to re-join the group.

“Sorry.” The word leapt forward.

A dark eyebrow flicked upwards. “Are you going to pay for the dry-cleaning?” he asked, enunciating each word as though he was talking to some insolent child.

“It’s a muddy field, you’re watching a rugby match,” I countered, my eyes narrowing. “Try stepping away from the lines.”

“You’ve got a mouth on you.” A smile twitched at the corners of his lips.

I’ve got a mouth on me? What the hell was that supposed to mean? I was about to make some comment about him being arrogant and conceited, but the captain of the team had already reached my heel.

“You coming?” Lou tugged on my elbow, throwing a smile towards the man who loomed over me.

“Yeah,” I said, racing back into the game.

“Who’s your friend?” Lou asked, nodding towards Tall, Dark, and Smouldering.

“I haven’t got a clue, but he wasn’t impressed by my skidding halt!” I laughed, tossing her the ball.

We finished practice at two o’clock, as we did every Saturday afternoon. I listened to the laughter and loud chattering of my teammates and friends as I scrubbed at the mud that caked my arms, legs, and face. Warm water pummelled at my aching muscles. I rubbed away the dirt and sweat with a floral shower gel. I made a point of using feminine scented products, since I lived in such a masculine world.

Not only did I play rugby—a game that my mother always told me was unbecoming for a woman of my standing—I lived with two men, and worked in an office where I was the only female. I was also incredibly single. My exes were exes because they found my lifestyle impossible to deal with, and non-conquests refused to believe that I wasn’t a lesbian. Saying that, it had been over a year since I’d even tried to get anyone into my bed…

After the game, I decided to forego the usual routine of drinks at the local pub, and instead headed home to nurse the scrapes and scratches that marked my elbows, knees and chin.

Walking back to my Volkswagen Golf, I saw Tall, Dark, and Smouldering leaning against a tree. His arms were folded tightly in front of him, and he had a foot resting on one of the many boulders that separated the car park from the fields.

I threw a nod and a smile towards him as I rummaged in my jean pockets for my keys, dumping the battered and muddied holdall next to the wheel.

“Good game?” he asked, but when I looked up I realised he wasn’t pointing the question in my direction. A stick-thin, terribly young blonde had appeared by his side and kissed him on the cheek. She clutched a hockey stick in her right hand, and handed him a pink rucksack with the other.

Part of me felt almost embarrassed that I had wanted him to be talking to me. I hurriedly bundled into the car and went home.

Home was an old farmhouse at the edge of a well-to-do village, nestled in the heart of Hampshire, shared with two men; and no, neither of them were gay. I’d occasionally questioned the sexuality of my brother Mark, what with his flair for style, and his love of shopping and spas. Then again, I’d also been introduced to the many girls that had graced our home for a single night.

The other man to reside with us was Daniel Turnbull. Danny was gorgeous in every sense of the word, but may as well have been my other brother. I’d known him all my life, since he and Mark were best friends. He was also ultra-macho to the point of being a Neanderthal. It would not surprise me if one day I caught him dragging the lifeless body of some poor girl he’d clonked over the head, taking her back to his cave.

When I arrived home, both men sat in the living room, feet resting on the coffee table, beer bottle in one hand, Xbox controller in the other.

“Jeez,” I muttered, as I tried to resist sniffing the air in fear of my gag reflex reacting to the scent of primal male. Unfortunately, when you live with two men under the age of thirty, it is impossible to avoid the stench of sweaty socks, stale beer, and cheesy nachos. Combined with the fact that it was the height of summer, and you have one highly stink-filled house.

I dumped the holdall next to the washing machine and looked around the kitchen. Bowls filled with the residue of the morning’s breakfasts, an empty milk carton, several empty booze bottles, used newspapers, and layers of shed clothes were scattered around the room.

“We seriously need to tidy up,” I yelled, knowing full well that the only reaction I’d get would be an annoyed grunt or two.

Opening the dishwasher, I peered in, sighing as I discovered that it was still full of dirty pots from two days ago. The stench of old food was unbelievable, and my head snapped backwards with such force I was surprised I still had neck bones. Ripping open a packet from under the sink, I aimed the blue and yellow tablet at the little box in the door, before slamming it shut and pressing the white button. It whirred and chugged noisily as I ran the water in what little space I could find in the sink and began to sort through the pots and rubbish, attempting to find a clean spot.

Peeling a pair of boxer shorts from the back of a chair, I grimaced and flung them towards the holdall by the washing machine. “Disgusting men,” I chuntered, even though I knew that our living arrangements were as much my fault as theirs.

But that didn’t stop me from blaming them.

“Stick the kettle on,” called a voice from the front room, grating on my final nerve.

A deep growl vibrated in the base of my throat as I stormed into the room and began yelling several obscenities at them.

“All right, chill Butch!” Mark laughed.

He knew I hated that school nickname. I wanted to throw something at my brother’s head, but knew that Mother would only chastise me for having put him in hospital with a split skull yet again. Golden Boy could do no wrong. Fortunately, our father always took my side when it came to arguments, so we were evenly defended.

Danny saw sense and ducked into the next room to make tea for everyone. That is the glorious, if not slightly annoying, thing about living in England. We are the country that truly believes, without any shadow of a doubt, that a simple hot beverage can solve all issues. Arguing kids? Cup of tea. Problems at work? Cup of tea. World war, mass hunger, poverty? Have a cup of bleeding Rosy Lee.

I marched after Danny, spitting my annoyances out as he busied himself by the kettle. Throwing dirty clothes towards the washing machine and chucking empty packets in the bin did nothing to soothe my frustrations.

“Bad game?” Danny asked in an attempt at small talk.

“Not really,” I grunted, sinking into the one chair that no longer had clothes, newspapers, and pots covering it.

“Go on then.”

“Go on then, what?” I asked, squinting to emphasise my annoyance.

“Go on then, tell us what your problem is.” By this time Mark had joined us, shoving everything off the chair opposite me to land on the floor. I glowered at him like an angry cat threatening to hiss and spit.

“Jesus H. Someone’s pissed you off,” Mark groaned.

“No,” I said, my eyebrows furrowing into a tight knot. Confusion settled in. Had someone pissed me off?

“Seriously Butch, we know you far too well. Spill it.”

“Nothing!” I snapped, perhaps too quickly.

“What’s his name, and what did he do?” Danny this time, his voice getting deeper as though ready to go into full-blown protective mode.

I rolled my eyes and tried to ignore him.

“Sis, you have to tell us now.” Mark leant forward and grabbed my hands. I pulled away and threw him a ‘What-the-hell?’ look. He laughed and fell backwards into the seat again.

Danny plonked a mug each in front of us. The liquid sloshed over the sides, giving me yet more to clean up.

“Okay, okay,” I relented, picking up the mug and sipping at the too-cool drink. Danny always added too much milk for my taste, but it was still welcomed, helping to massage away the aches and pains that plagued my muscles.

I proceeded to tell them all about Tall, Dark, and Smouldering—whom I’d already shortened to TDS—even though I wasn’t sure why he was the one in my head. I could have come up with a thousand excuses for my foul mood. Rough game, bad drivers, untidy house, but the truth was that he was still at the front of my thoughts.

He had riled me in a way that I had never been riled before.

“Sounds like you’re in L.O.V.E!” cooed Mark, ridiculing me.

I wanted to slap him, but couldn’t reach, and didn’t dare throw lukewarm tea across the room, so I settled for a scowl.

Downing the rest of my drink, I headed for the holdall and dirty clothes piled on top of it, shoving them all into the machine before filling it with powder and liquids to get rid of the muck and smells, and switching it on.

“You two can finish the kitchen,” I yelled as I went up to the sanctuary of my bedroom.

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The Trouble with Holly by Kirsti Ahlers

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Blurb:

Holly McIntyre has just been invited to join a group of her friends who are traveling to France for a wine tasting trip that will end in Paris. Holly has dreamed of taking a trip to France since she was a little girl. Now the only thing standing between her and her dream trip is her checking account. Well, she’s not going to miss out on this chance, even if it means getting a demeaning job as an elf for Santa Clause at Harrington’s Department Store. Holly hates Christmas, finds it too commercial and just can never seem to get into the holiday spirit. Of course the Santa she’s being an elf for has way to much holiday happiness, so this is not going to be an easy task, but Paris is on the other side. Now if she could only ignore the red hot attraction burning between Santa and herself. Oh, Santa, baby!

Christopher Harrington loves the holidays and volunteers every year as Santa at his family’s department store. This year his elf is anything but a happy little soul. And yet, he is drawn to Holly and her sassy personality and realizes she poses as a holiday challenge. He’s going to get this prickly little Scrooge to come around and see there really is magic to the Christmas season and that not everyone is interested in things bought in a store. Holly might mean trouble but Christopher is not afraid of that. Trouble can be fun.

Extract:

Holly McIntyre blew out a breath as she frowned down at her checking account balance and worked hard to resist the urge to scream in utter frustration.

“Well, do you think you can swing it?” Dahlia asked as she continued to file her nails, smacking on her gum without a care in the world.

“I don’t think so.” Holly nibbled on the inside of her lower lip.

“You’ve got to come, Holly; we’re talking France!”

“Yeah, I know.” Holly wanted to spend Christmas in France, going on wine tasting trips and strolling the Champs-Élysées. She wanted to experience the city she’d been dreaming about since she was a little girl. And here was her chance to leave the cold and windy city of Chicago for Paris.

Dahlia set her emery board down and pinned Holly with a determined look. “You’re going to go; you deserve this trip, and I won’t take no for an answer.” She reached over for the legal pad that had Holly’s budget written on it and ran her perfectly manicured fingertip down the yellow lined paper. “Girl you’re so organized you give professional organizers like me a bad name.”

Holly laughed. It was true; although Dahlia owned her own organizing business and could organize a hoarder into a happy Zen place, she didn’t prescribe to the same thought process.

Dahlia pushed the legal pad back across the table. “Maybe you could pick up another job?”

“Yeah, because interior design jobs are just dropping out of the sky like snowflakes.” Holly was an interior designer but business had fallen off with the turn of the economy and people just weren’t redoing kitchens and other rooms. She had enough clients and projects to keep the wolf from the door as it were but not enough to buy a ticket to Paris.

“Get a second job!” Dahlia clapped her hands together in glee. “Find a part time job; the holidays are right around the corner,and you can find something that will pay well enough for a plane ticket and a week of hotels.”

“Gee, is that all?” Holly pushed her dark hair behind her right ear and continued to look at her pitiful budget. She really needed to save and put money aside, for when trip opportunities like this arose, she could go without any guilt.

“You know what I mean.”

“Yeah, I do.” Holly stood and went into the kitchen and grabbed a glass before filling it with some water. “I need to find something that will allow me to work on the jobs I’ve got and still be able to fund a trip to Europe. I doubt seriously I’ll find that.”

Dahlia, one never to sit around and wait for things to happen, was already looking in the want ads. “Here you go! This will be perfect.”

That was just too easy, and Holly went over to the table and leaned over to look at what advertisement had her friend so excited.

“Oh no. Hell no.” Holly shook her head back and forth. “No way.” She backed away from the table and went back to the kitchen to put the glass in the sink.

“Come on, Holly. It will be fun. And you would only have to work a few hours a week.”

“Are you high? I’m not going to do that.” She pointed her finger at the offending paper. “I’d rather sling drinks at a bar, or ask if someone wants to supersize their fries with their order.”

Dahlia shivered. “Eww. Food service is not for you, my friend.”

“Well, that,” she pointed once again to the newspaper, “isn’t for me either.”

“What if I applied with you? Would you do it then? Just think you could go to Paris! The Eiffel Tower, the Champs-Élysées, the Louvre! And don’t get me started on the wine!”

Holly crossed her arms across her chest and sighed. She did want to go to Paris; she wanted to go badly. But the idea of dressing up as an elf for Harrington’s Department store’s Holiday Village made her want to break out in a rash. She loathed the holidays, found Christmas to be nothing but a “Hey, what are you gonna get me” grasping holiday.

The meaning and the magic was gone and had been since she was a little girl and learned Santa was really her Uncle Matthew. Still, there had been something about those country Christmas’s she missed. Perhaps it was the family or the innocence of the whole thing. Now, Christmas was all about money and what big electronic thing was going to be sitting under the tree. Her family was scattered; none of them in Illinois anymore and with lives of their own. In fact of all her brothers and sisters—there were six—she really only seemed to talk to them on Christmas Eve and on birthdays. It was sad really. This is why going to France with her girlfriends seemed like such a wonderful idea. She wouldn’t be sitting alone watching movies and eating ice cream by the ton.

“Okay, I’ll do it.” Holly uncrossed her arms and walked back to the kitchen table, dropping down into the chair. “I mean how bad could it be?”

Picture of Kristi Ahlers

About the Author:

Kristi Ahlers is a California girl! She grew up in Northern California in a small city called Yuba City. Since then she’s lived in Brussels, Belgium, and England along with a myriad of other locations. A former flight attendant, she was able to continue to feed her love of travel. This has greatly influenced her writing, allowing her to pen stories about places she’s managed to visit and things she’s experienced.

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#tirgearrtuesday – One Night in Cape Town by Lily Harlem

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Blurb:

The week before her big day, Tia catches her fiancé getting down and dirty with her best friend. She quickly washes her hands of them both. But why waste a perfectly good and very expensive honeymoon to her dream spot–South Africa?

After bumping into the same cute guy three times in Cape Town, Tia’s reminded she still has desires. Before long, they’re hiking over Table Mountain together, and getting to know each other. Levi is charming and funny, sexy and strong.

When trouble brews in the African sky, a wild storm leaves them stranded on the mountain as night falls. Levi’s survival skills provides them with quick shelter as the storm rages above. But for Tia, another storm rages between her and her sexy saviour. Will he teach her to trust again? Or is there more to the hot American than meets the eye?

Extract:

By the time they reached the cable car station they’d been plunged into darkness and the raindrops were like bullets hammering down.

“Fuck.” Levi banged on the locked door.

“It doesn’t look promising.” The building was in darkness, clearly abandoned by the staff. “What are we going to do?” Tia stepped behind a wall to give herself some relief from the driving wind.

“I guess we’ll have to hike down.” He took out his map and shook it. “Shit!” The wind tore it from his hands. “Jesus Christ.” He scrabbled for it, but it was too late. A current of air had claimed it and sucked it upwards.

Tia clenched her fists; her hands were cold, but her body was warm from the exertion.

“Damn it.” Levi stepped behind the wall with her and leaned his head back on the bricks.

“I don’t think we can hike down,” Tia said. “The weather is too bad. We’ll get struck by lightning or slip to our deaths.”

Levi pressed the heels of his hands against his eyes. “Damn it. I’m so sorry.”

“Why are you sorry?” Her brain was ticking through their options, which weren’t many.

“For getting you into this situation, it sucks.”

“Hey, I came with you of my own free will. It’s no one’s fault.”

He dropped his hands. “That’s kind of you to say.”

“Damn shame this door isn’t open. We could have just sheltered in there for the night.”

“Shall I go and see if the gift shop or café is open?”

“Yeah, good idea.”

“You wait here.”

“Okay.”

He disappeared around the corner. Tia stared at a bush to her right that shook and shivered in the wind. Another huge clap of thunder made her jump and she pressed her hand over her mouth.

A few minutes later Levi returned. “No luck.” He pushed his fingers through his hair, flattening it on his head. “We’re on our own up here for the night.”

“I know.” Under any other circumstances a night alone with Levi was very appealing, but right now Tia was thinking about survival.

“What have you got in your bag?” he asked.

“Some food and water, not much. A torch, my phone—”

“Phone.” He tutted. “Let’s just call for help.” He scrabbled in his pocket and pulled out his. “Damn it. Out of battery.”

Tia shielded hers from the rain. “No signal.”

He shook his head and sighed. “What else you got?”

“A cap, sun cream and a scarf.”

“Okay, that’s not bad, we’ve got food and water covered, and we’re warm and waterproof.” He looked at her jeans. “Sort of.”

“We have to get out of this, though.”

“Yep. I’ve got a square of tarp in my bag. It’s not huge, but if we find an indent in the rocks we could block ourselves in.”

“Oh, I saw one, not far from here. When you said about wild animals I thought it looked like a small cave, a lair or something.”

Through the darkness she saw hope flash over his eyes. “Great. Lead the way.”

About the Author:

Lily Harlem lives in the UK and is a best-selling, award-winning author of contemporary erotic romance. She writes for publishers on both sides of the Atlantic including Totally Bound, HarperCollins, Evernight Publishing, Pride Publishing, Sweetmeats Press, and Tirgearr Publishing. Her books regularly receive high praise and industry nominations and have been USA Today reviewer’s recommended reads.

Before turning her hand to writing, Lily Harlem worked as a trauma nurse, and her latest HarperCollins release, Confessions of a Naughty Night Nurse, draws on her many experiences while nursing in London. Lily also self-publishes: The Glass Knot, The Silk Tie, In Expert Hands, and Scored have been blessed with many 5* reviews.

Lily co-authors with Natalie Dae and publishes under the name Harlem Dae.

One thing you can be sure of, whatever book you pick up by Ms Harlem, is it will be wildly romantic and down-and-dirty sexy.

 

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One Night in Sydney by Jan Graham #TirgearrTuesday

This week, we welcome Jan Graham and her contribution to the City Nights series!

ISBN: 9781370633944
ASIN: B01J4VS2EQ
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Blurb:

Abigail Devon is all about business, until the dream of keeping her company alive fails and she finds herself seeking distraction in the arms of a tempting stranger she met on the plane. Kane Matheson is a man like no other, and once Abby gives into her attraction to him, passions spark and a night of erotic pleasure begins.

Kane can’t believe his luck when his flight to Sydney places Abby along his path to a fun filled weekend. She’s his kind of woman—business minded, clever, and with curves in all the right places. When he discovers they have more in common than savvy business expertise and undeniable sexual heat, he’s faced with a daunting choice, and left wondering if pleasure can win out over wise business sense in one of the most beautiful harbour side cities of the world.

Extract:

“You know, if you like, we could hang out together in the city for a bit, maybe when you’ve finished your busy day.” Kane didn’t look at her this time; speaking from his reclined position, head tilted back against the rest with his eyes closed. “I only have to try on a suit and then I’m done for the day. You could meet me there, let me know if you think I look okay, you know, thumbs up or down, and then we could grab a bite… or something. Whatever takes your fancy, beautiful.”

He raised his lids and angled himself slightly to look at her for the final part of his statement, the wicked expression and cheeky glint in his eyes giving Abby the distinct impression he hoped that he’d be the something that took her fancy. He did. But it couldn’t happen.

Abby didn’t believe in love at first sight, but she did believe in lust at first sight and Kane ticked all her boxes. Feeling breathless, hardened nipples, feeling flushed when they touched, and that increasing ache between her legs. Luckily the flight was a short one, so she’d be able to escape him soon enough. In her party days they probably would have been in the bathroom, reaffirming her membership in the mile-high club, but those days were behind her. She doubted she’d renew that membership again any time soon.

“I really don’t think that’s possible. But thanks for the offer.” She wondered if he knew she was lying. Of course it was possible, all she had to do was say yes. She merely chose not to.

“That’s a shame. I have this feeling we’d get along really well.” He tore the edge off the bottom of a page in his magazine, grabbed a pen from his shirt pocket, scribbled a number on it and handed it to her. “In case you change your mind.”

Abby laughed and stared at the mobile number in her hand. He certainly was persistent.

“I assume you’ve run out of business cards?” She continued to chuckle as the plane began its descent. “You did say you understood business, right?”

“I did. I also said I was on a pleasure trip. I’ve left all business accessories at the office. This weekend, I’m just a regular guy who uses any piece of paper on hand to give the woman he likes his number.”

Oh Lord, thank heavens the plane had just touched down. She folded the paper, slipped her fingers into the front of her shirt and tucked the number into her bra. It was a mistake to put it there, and Abby knew it the moment her gaze met Kane’s, who was now standing waiting for her to step out into the aisle.

“What?” she asked innocently as Kane stared down at her cleavage with a devilish grin on his face. “It’s just a silly habit I picked up in my partying days. I’d pop anything important in my bra and that way I wouldn’t lose it.”

Grabbing her handbag from the floor, she stood and moved to walk out into the aisle but Kane blocked her way. His body forming a human wall as he retrieved her bag from the overhead cabin. Luggage sorted, Kane didn’t move, fixing her in place with his heated gaze.

“I’m glad you think I’m important.” His devilish grin didn’t waver and he spoke in a tone laced with lust. “I’m also delighted to know that when you take off your clothes tonight and get naked, you’ll be thinking about me.”

She was about to burst into flames. Abby raised her hand, placing it on his chest with the intention of pushing him back, only to find her fingers lingered on the defined muscle beneath her touch.
“We’ll see,” she whispered.

Kane placed his hand over hers, gently gripped her fingers and raised them to his mouth. He kissed her knuckles tenderly and smiled. “We will. Now off to your very busy business day, Abigail Devon.” Stepping back, Kane handed over her bag before ushering her into the aisle. “I look forward to receiving your call later today.”

Unsure how she made it to the plane’s exit on trembling legs, Abby breathed a sigh of relief once she made it into the terminal. Allowing the disembarking crowd to carry her forward, she picked up her pace. The more distance she put between Kane Matheson and herself, the better. Today was all about saving her company, not indulging in a quickie with a man she met on a plane.

About the Author:

Jan Graham is an author of contemporary romance and romantic suspense; all her writing is erotic, some of which includes BDSM elements. She has numerous published titles to her credit, with more to come once she overcomes her current bout of procrastination.

Jan lives in Newcastle, Australia where she writes, reads, feeds her Netflix addiction, and drinks coffee with friends.

For those who enjoy labels and tags, as well as being an author, Jan is a blogger, a submissive, an aunt, dyslexic, a lover of all things erotic, naughty, a participant in the BDSM community, a widow, an orphan, and a member of The Australian Sex Party (no it’s nothing kinky, they are a legit political group).

In short, she is generally a bit of an eccentric who lives her life slightly left of center.

You can find out more about Jan and her work by stalking her on the various social media sites where she occasionally hangs out.

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• Find Jan Online •

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One Night in Budapest by Lucy Felthouse – an extract #tirgearrtuesday #erotic #romance #citynights

From the Tirgearr City Nights series, I’d like to introduce Lucy Felthouse!

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Blurb:

An unexpected break-up means Hermione’s visiting Budapest alone. Determined to make the most of it, she goes on a night-time river cruise and meets Emil, sexy cocktail server. When he asks her out for dinner, she’s tempted, but she’s a long way from home and he’s a complete stranger. She decides to take a chance, and what follows is an unforgettable night which will transform her life forever.

Extract:

Locating the correct pier, Hermione pulled her ticket from her pocket and showed it to the girl welcoming passengers onto the boat. The girl—the badge pinned to her blouse giving her name as Reka—glanced at the ticket, and smiled. “Thank you. Please take a seat inside until the boat arrives. Enjoy your trip.”

With a nod, Hermione gingerly headed along the gangplank and boarded the vessel, wondering what Reka meant. Surely this was the boat? She shrugged, smiling at the other members of staff she passed, and followed the buzz of chatter to find the other passengers. Maybe it had been a misunderstanding, her meaning lost in translation or something.

Heading up a couple of steps to a bar room full of other tourists, she quickly took a seat at an empty table by the window. She’d have a great view of Budapest’s riverside highlights from here—and she was sure they’d look different again once night fell. Already the sky was darkening—it was almost four p.m. on a chilly January day.

She was so intent on admiring the Chain Bridge that she didn’t know there was anyone beside her until someone said, “Excuse me, madam? Would you like to take advantage of our special drinks offer?”

Turning to the source of the voice, her fluttering heart the only indication that she’d been startled, she smiled. “Maybe. What’s the offer?”

Her smile widened as she studied the man who’d spoken. He looked to be around her age—early twenties, and damn cute. Dark, slightly overlong hair curled on his head, deep brown eyes gave him an intensity that increased the flutters in her heart, and the dimpled smile he flashed as he replied lit up his handsome face. “It is happy hour. Two drinks for price of one.” He paused, looked at the empty seat beside her, then glanced over his shoulder as though checking if anyone was coming to join her at the table. “But perhaps you would only like one? Maybe I can see if yours can be half price…”

“It’s okay,” she replied firmly. “I’m going to be on the boat for a while, I’m sure I can manage two drinks. I don’t have to have them at the same time, do I?”

He shook his head. “No. I will be serving on the other boat in a moment, so I will look after you and your drinks to make sure you get special price.”

Immediately following his mention of an additional boat, a loud voice rang out. “Ladies and gentlemen, we are now ready for you to board the tour boat. Please be very careful while stepping from one boat to the other. As soon as you are all seated, we will begin the trip. Thank you.”

It was then Hermione realised that as she’d been gazing out of the window to one side, a smaller boat had pulled up alongside the one she was on. Everyone was getting up and moving to the staircase. “Thank you,” Hermione said, glancing at the man’s name badge. “Emil. I would absolutely like to take you up on your offer.”

He smiled, and she returned the gesture, only allowing the grimace to take over her face once she was out of his view. She was glad of any language barriers at that moment—hopefully it had prevented Emil recognising the blatant double entendre in her words, inadvertent though it had been.

Meet the author:

Lucy Felthouse is the award-winning author of erotic romance novels Stately Pleasures (named in the top 5 of Cliterati.co.uk’s 100 Modern Erotic Classics That You’ve Never Heard Of, and an Amazon bestseller), Eyes Wide Open (winner of the Love Romances Café’s Best Ménage Book 2015 award, and an Amazon bestseller) and The Persecution of the Wolves. Including novels, short stories and novellas, she has over 150 publications to her name. She owns Erotica For All, and is one eighth of The Brit Babes.

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• Find Lucy Online •

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Smashwords Sale (Facebook sucks…)

Yes, it’s that time of year again! It’s time for a Smashwords Summer Sale.

Facebook found this ad extremely offensive and sexually explicit, so any kind of marketing has failed miserably. But, I know my lovely readers, fans, and followers will be happy to share either this post or the Facebook ad on my page.

Smashwords Sale!

Getting ready to hit the beach? Need something to read in the airport or by the pool? Are you a teacher looking for a book NOT aimed at children? Head over to Smashwords and take advantage of their summer sale. Load up your e-reader with fabulously sexy books, with up to 50% off!

Stranded – FREE
City Nights Titles – 99c
A Different Kind of Therapy – 25% off
Tirgearr Titles – 50% off

 

Take advantage of the sale and fill your ereader with some great books!

What The Reviewers Are Saying:

Stranded: 5-STARS “I would imagine that things could easily get pretty intense when you’re in a spot like theirs. As it turns out, intense and steamy would be a better choice of adjectives!”

One Night in Edinburgh: 5-STARS “This story had me wanting more and definitely had me wanting to visit Edinburgh.”

One Night in Inverness: 5-STARS “It’s a very real and believable story with realistic characters who for once are not perfect. Hot sex scenes, emotionally charge story, splash of humour, lovely setting. A very enjoyable read for anyone who likes a sexy romance.”

One Night in Aberdeen: 5-STARS “Super, sexy read with great characters. Finished reading it in one sitting. Loved it!”

The Final Straight: 5-STARS “Keep [sic] me on the edge of my seat the entire time.”

Seven Dirty Words: 5-STARS “People are linking it with 50 shades of grey…but in my opinion this book is so much better…better story and definately [sic] better written!”

Four Letter Words: 5-STARS “A fantastic fabulous read, couldn’t put it down, an excellent conclusion to the story, for me I prefered these books to 50 shades. I will look out for more Charlotte Howard to read.”

The Black Door: 5-STARS “A really well written getaway. I enjoyed loosing [sic] myself in the story, so much so that I can’t believe I have finished and it’s time to go back to real life.”

A Different Kind of Therapy: 4-STARS “This is a quick, filthy, fun read, suitable for anyone getting into kink. It’s particularly good if you prefer your heroines sparky and smart, and are happy with the idea of switching and table-turning.”

And of course, don’t forget that Later is still available to read for free on Kindle Unlimited! You can also buy both Later and Taking Care of Leah in paperback if you prefer.

 

Later: 5-STARS “It takes a lot for a book to draw me in – but this one I couldn’t put down! I really enjoyed the storyline and was intrigued as to how it would end.”

Taking Care of Leah: 4-STARS “I liked the real-life developing intimate relationship, where Ty is keen to encourage Leah into BDSM, and she’s curious to try it. The need to develop trust, respect and care is nicely woven into the storyline.”