Heat up your festive season! From the author of Bad Romeo, Broken Juliet, and Wicked Heart (one of my all-time fave books) comes an anthology of sweet and sexy novellas featuring beloved Starcrossed characters such as Ethan and Cassie, Liam and Elissa, and Josh and Angel; as well as the gang from The Grove…and I have an awesome excerpt for you.
December, a year ago
The Apartment of Ethan Holt
New York City, New York
Bing Crosby wafts through my apartment as snow flutters outside the window. Usually, this is my favorite time of year, but right now, I wish I were anywhere but here.
She’s looking at me. My Cassie. The love of my life I fought so hard to win back after too many years apart. The same incredible woman I begged to marry me a few months ago and who miraculously said, yes.
Right now, she’s gazing at me with nervousness and hope, and me being the asshole I am, I’m about to lie to her.
I don’t feel good about it, but it has to happen.
When she took me back, I promised to never keep anything from her, but I also said I’d never hurt her again, and if I tell her the truth right now, it will cause her pain. I figure I’ve done enough of that during our time together.
“Well?” she asks as she fixes me with those beautiful goddamn eyes that can melt me with a single glance.
I make a vaguely positive noise and smile. “Hmmmm.”
“Ethan, come on. Be honest.”
Nope. Not gonna happen.
My stomach’s churning and my palms are wet, and as usual when I’m around Cassie, my dick is more hard than soft. Hardly ideal conditions to give the performance of my life.
I summon the fortitude of Prometheus and smile as I stand and walk over to her. Then I realize I need a distraction, so I reach over my shoulder and pull off my T-shirt. Her eyes immediately widen as she rakes her gaze over my torso.
Yep. Distraction achieved.
It sounds egotistical, but I love seeing her react to my body. I could live to be a hundred and never tire of how her expression turns dark and sultry. Or how she subconsciously licks her lips when she reaches out to me.
I grab her and pin her against the wall, hands above her head. “If you want me to be honest,” I say, “then believe me when I say I’d honestly like to take off your panties and feast on you. Right … the hell … now.” I graze my hand up her thigh, but before I can touch anything interesting, she pushes it away.
“Does that mean you liked it or not?”
I make that vague positive sound again and press my face into her neck. “Hmmmm. Delicious.” And she is. As I kiss and lick, I can feel her caring less about what I have to say and more about the other things I can do with my mouth.
The point where her neck meets her shoulder is her sweet spot. If I suck on it in just the right way, I predict she’ll be putty in my hands, in three, two, one…
“Ethan.” She puts both hands on my chest and pushes. Shit. “Stop trying to distract me and tell me what you think about what I cooked for dinner.”
I drop my head and sigh. A long time ago I’d have had no problem lying to her. These days I’m out of practice. I look her in the eye and do my best. “I think you’re fucking amazing. That’s what I think.” Totally true.
“You liked it?”
“‘Liked doesn’t even come close to describing how I feel.” Also, true. I hated it with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. She told me it was chicken pot pie, but really, there was no discernible taste in there except horror and misery. While I was chewing, I swear my stomach tried to crawl up my throat and strangle me. Even now, it squirms and turns, threatening to vacate the building in the messiest way possible. Swallowing it and not spitting it into my napkin is a testament to our love.
And, God, I do love her. That’s why I want to protect her from the harsh truth that her ‘food’ is beyond terrible. I mean, I’m incredibly proud that my Cassie is amazing in a lot of ways, but cooking isn’t one of her talents.
Thankfully, my semi-truth seems to have worked. She beams at me and backs up so her butt is grazing my crotch as she does the world’s sexiest victory dance.
“Hell yes! I cooked you deenah. And you lahved eet. I am a genius. And you are sexay.” Her out-of-tune singing is made even more silly when she puts her hands against the wall and starts twerking. She makes me belly laugh. Fucking glorious woman.
See? Sometimes lying is necessary. I love how happy she is. How her eyes sparkle with pride over what she’s achieved. She should always feel that way.
“Okay, then,” she says, as she bounces on her toes and pushes me back toward my spot at the dining-room table. “Finish it off, then. I’ll get started on desert.”
Oh, fuck. “Uh … but—”
“You said you were starving, right? But you’ve only had one mouthful. Eat, babe. You’re a growing boy.” She stretches up on her toes and nuzzles my cheek. “And when you’re done, I’ll have a feast of my own.” She runs her fingers through my hair and pulls my head down so she can whisper in my ear. “In case you didn’t get it, I’m talking about your award-winning penis. I’m going to feast on that gorgeous cock of yours until you explode. Would you like that?”
I close my eyes and try to keep breathing. Usually she could talk me into committing murder with the promise of one of her spectacular blowjobs. But convincing me to eat the rest of her meal? Wow. Tough call.
I duck and weave.
“You think I have nothing better to do tonight than wait for you to put your mouth on me?” I scowl at her. “Fuck that. Let’s skip over everything except orally pleasing your man.”
She kisses my chest. “Stop it. You know how much snarky, asshole Ethan turns me on. Now, eat, before we both forget all about dinner.”
Yes, wouldn’t that be tragic?
She pushes me down into my chair and perches on the edge of the table. Then she gives me a generous glimpse of her cleavage as she loads up my fork and brings it toward my mouth.
In my head, the theme from Jaws starts up.
As the Forkful from the Black Lagoon approaches, I clench my jaw and beg my stomach to behave itself. I want to marry this woman, and if I projectile-vomit on her, she may never talk to me again.
When the fork reaches my mouth, I call on every goddamn ounce of acting experience I’ve ever had and force myself to smile as I wrap my lips around its heinous payload.
Oh. Fuck me. It’s like pure, undiluted evil. I blink and try not to let my disgust show.
“So good,” I mutter around the toxic substance. “Really. I can’t believe you cooked this.” Bred it from genetic waste matter? Yes. Cooked it? No.
Cassie leans over and kisses my neck. “I’m so glad you like it.” She trails one hand down to my crotch and strokes what she finds there. “Hmmm. You’re really enjoying it, aren’t you? Wow. Giant food boner.”
Wrong. Cassie-sitting-in-front-of-me-dressed-in-lingerie-and-an-apron boner. I could be eating rocks right now and still be hard as a … well … you know.
She looks down at my crotch and sighs. “As much as I want to play, I have to finish making dessert. You keep eating. I’ll be done in five minutes.”
She gives me a quick kiss and disappears into the kitchen. I look around, frantically searching for some way to dispose of what’s on my plate without breaking her heart. For a start, I spit out what’s left in my mouth. It distresses me that it looks better going out than going in.
I glance around and assess my options:
1) Throw it off the balcony. Hmmm … tempting but risky. If it hits anyone I could be arrested for engaging in chemical warfare.
2) Bury it in the potted plant near the door. Nope. She’d smell it. Hell, people in the apartment next door would smell it. Also, I really like that plant and don’t want it to die.
3) Shove it down the garbage disposal. Never going to work. Even if I walk into the kitchen naked and sporting the world’s largest hard on, she’s still going to notice the full plate of her food being dumped into the sink.
4) “Nuke it from space. It’s the only way to be sure.” Not a real option, but I just like using that quote from Aliens as often as possible.
“How’re you doing?” she calls from the kitchen. “Dessert will be ready in two minutes. Almost done?”
“Yep,” I say. “All gone. I was trying to savor every bite, but my mouth had other ideas. Just need to pee. then I’ll come help you, okay?”
I grab the plate and stride into the bathroom before quickly shutting the door. With a final shudder of disgust, I scrape the food into the bowl and hesitate before flushing. “Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, Donatello … if you boys are down there, I apologize for what I’m about to do. Forgive me.” I press the lever and hope like hell the nearest sewage treatment plant is equipped to handle what’s headed its way.