I've been posting excerpts from my September book over on my website, but thought I'd repost here so you can catch up if you've missed it.
Vows of Revenge is... you guessed it. A revenge romance. Roman thinks Melodie is acting as an industrial spy for her father and brother. The men sell security software programs. Melodie is a wedding planner and hates her father and brother quite passionately. That's why she doesn't use the family name.
But today I skipped ahead to a scene I particularly enjoyed writing for its punchline. Melodie has returned to Roman's house with her clients, Ingrid and Huxley, to finalize details about the wedding:
~ * ~
The conversation moved on to contacts and wedding arrangements. Iced coffees replaced the white wine everyone had sipped with lunch. Huxley said something about the dock and took Ingrid to inspect it.
Melodie made no move to follow, choosing instead to shift forward slightly and remove her sweater, revealing a matching sleeveless top that clung lovingly to her breasts as she twisted to drape the sweater over the back of her chair.
“I didn’t expect it to be this warm. It’s fall at home. Quite wet and chilly.” She sat straight and, as if she felt the chill across the Atlantic, her nipples rose against the pale lemon of her top.
A base male fantasy of baring those breasts formed in his mind. He saw pink tips resembling cherries melting off scoops of ice cream. He wasn’t a breast man per se, but the languid image of caressing and licking the swells, working his way to the sweet, shiny niblet at the peak, was so tangible he had to part his thighs to accommodate the pool of erotic heat that poured into his groin.
At the same time he realized conversation had stopped. She was very still.
He lazily brought his gaze up and realized she’d caught him blatantly ogling her. A strange jolt hit him like an electrical charge, deep in his gut and far stronger than a zing of static. It was like a full current that reverberated in his chest, making his heart skip a beat and his abdomen tighten.
Her blue eyes held his, fathomless and not the least offended. In fact, her reaction to his masculine interest was arousal. He’d seen it in the tightening of her nipples and read it now in the confused shimmer of excitement and indecision expanding her pupils. Her lashes quivered, eyes shiny, and the tip of her tongue wet her lips.
The pull between his thighs became more insistent. He wondered if he had ever experienced a more carnal moment.
She swallowed and jerked her gaze from his as though it was a physical wrench of muscle from bone.
He mentally berated himself for letting her see his interest, highly irritated by how easily she had got to him. It was time to drop the ax.
“Does, um, he come around the office much?” she asked, gaze scanning restlessly toward the water. “Are you used to their displays?”
Who? he almost growled, then remembered two other people were here. Ingrid and Huxley. They held hands and bumped shoulders as they staggered, love drunk, across the sand.
Roman was behaving almost as inebriated, forgetting they were even here, manufacturing lurid fantasies of possessing a woman too lethal to imbibe. He tried to shrug away the strongest wave of sexual attraction he’d ever felt and almost wondered if she’d slipped him something.
“He might, but I don’t,” he replied belatedly, forcing his mind back to the conversation. “The whole point in being on the cutting edge of technology is to use it.” He chinned upward to his office, rebaiting his hook. “I often telecommute.”
“And Ingrid is your avatar in New York?” she guessed.
That took him by surprise. He almost chuckled, then caught himself, dismayed by how easily she kept disarming him. He eyed her, searching for the source of her power. “I hadn’t looked at it that way. I suppose she is.”
“Working from home always seemed so ideal to me,” she mused, propping her chin on her hand. “But now I’m doing it, I find I’m becoming a workaholic, never letting it go. I keep sitting down for one more thing and losing another two hours.”
“You live alone, then,” he said, picking up what he thought she wanted him to deduce. It shouldn’t please him to hear she was single. She was nothing to him, certainly not a woman he’d bed. Not in these circumstances. Perhaps his libido found her leggy build stimulating. That faint scent of citrus and roses emanating from her skin was pure seduction, but as much as he hated her family and wanted revenge, he wouldn’t stoop to grudge sex. He didn’t intend to touch her.
She could go ahead and offer herself, though. Rejecting her advances would make for a delightful twist. He wondered if she’d take this game of hers that far and decided he would make it easy for her to humiliate herself.
A pulse of expectancy tugged at him.
This was a chess match, not a flirtation, he reminded himself.
“I do,” she answered, fingertips grazing the pearls at her throat where he thought he saw her pulse fibrillating. Her glance went to the house. He suspected she was mentally recalling whether she’d seen evidence of a paramour in there. She hadn’t. He kept his companions out of his private space.
“Me too,” he provided.
Melodie’s flushed cheeks darkened with a deeper blush as she cut a glance toward him, perhaps trying to work out whether his remark was a signal of attraction.
There was no use pretending otherwise. She’d already caught him lusting so he let her see that, yes, something in him found her appealing. He didn’t understand how it could happen when he held her in such contempt, but he rather enjoyed the fact that she was so disconcerted by her own response as she read his interest. Her reaction was too visceral to be fake, which was probably why he was aroused by it.
It was a bad case of misguided chemistry. She certainly wasn’t desirable to his rational mind, but maybe it was the risk of the situation that he found compelling. He’d developed a taste for plundering in his early years. Not of women. He was actually very cautious with how he approached relationships, but he loved finessing his way past defenses, exposing closely guarded secrets. He liked to prove he could. It filled him with enormous satisfaction.
“Where is home?” he asked. He’d read the answer yesterday, but he liked seeing how his attention put her in a state of conflicted sexual awareness.
“Virginia,” she answered, smile not sticking. “For now. I’m considering a move to New York though.”
“Don’t bother,” he said instinctively, then closed his mouth in distaste at reacting so revealingly. “It’s a perfectly livable city, but I don’t care for it,” he said in explanation. “More than my share of unpleasant memories,” he added, to see if she’d pick up that the filthiest ones involved her family. Others were so heartbreaking he pushed them to the furthest reaches of his mind.
She only murmured, “I feel like that about Virginia.”
Her tone exactly reflected his feelings, as though she’d opened the curtain and stepped inside the narrow space where he stored his soul. It was so disturbing he bristled, but she didn’t seem to notice.
Her wrinkled brow relaxed and she forced a cheerful smile. “I need a fresh start. And you’ve inspired me now with your talk of telecommuting. Tell me how you manage it. Ingrid said you’re a global company, so I assume you travel a lot? I expect I will, too, as I become more established. What are the pitfalls and best practices?”
She was very smooth in her way of bringing the conversation back to his business. He had to admire her for her dogged stealth.
“The happy couple is returning,” he noted, avoiding answering by directing her attention to where Ingrid and Huxley had stopped at the far end of the pool, admiring the view of the beach.
Ingrid glanced at him and he inferred that a consultation was requested.
He stood and held Melodie’s chair, getting another eyeful of her breasts, not intentionally, but he was a man and they were right there.
Her sultry cloud of scent filled his nostrils, imprinting him with the image of marble and turquoise and sunlight off dishes so he would never forget this moment of standing here, her lithe frame straightening before him. She had a slender waist and hips he longed to grip so he could press forward, bend her to his will, cover and possess. He had to school himself against setting a proprietary hand on her back as they moved to where the bride and groom were debating logistics.
What the hell was it about her?
She moved with remarkable grace, he noted. Not so much skinny as long limbed. A thoroughbred. Not a mutt like he was. If he didn’t have so much contempt for her bloodline, he might have questioned whether he was good enough for her.
Instead, he was the one with ethics while her sort wore an air of superiority that was only a surface veneer of respectability provided by old money.
Perhaps she wasn’t overt about thinking herself better than those around her, not the way her father had been, and perhaps she didn’t act entitled, but she was among her own with Ingrid and Huxley. She took it for granted she was accepted. He couldn’t help but appreciate that confidence.
“Would the guests moor here overnight?” Huxley asked.
“That’s up to Mr. Killian,” Melodie deferred, turning to him.
“Roman, please,” he said dryly. She could use his first name until he made his position clear, which would be about five minutes from now. “There’s a shoal to be wary of,” he said to Huxley, stepping forward so he could point.
He was fully aware of Melodie’s proximity to his own. He had no intention of bumping her and actually reached out absently to ensure he didn’t.
Melodie was the one who recoiled in surprise, taking a hasty step backward.
He caught the movement out of the corner of his eye, heard her squeak of shock and snatched again, more deliberately.
She was already tipping backward. He missed her, tried again. Their fingertips brushed, but he failed to catch her.
Her face pulled into a cringe as she fell backward into the deep end of the pool.
Roman stepped back from the splash and stared at her one shoe caught in the grate.
~ * ~
Next week I'll be posting the scene that follows. Hint: first kiss!
The print copies of Vows Of Revenge will be available in a couple of days on Amazon, but you can grab the ebook now on the Mills & Boon's website or you can pre-order it here: