I recently completed and submitted my thirtieth book. I'm celebrating by offering a taste from each one. Enjoy!
No Longer Forbidden? was my first sale and initially came out exclusively in the UK. In the story, (tiny spoiler alert) Nic reveals to Rowan that he is the product of his mother's affair and has a younger sister and two brothers. He was removed from the family and sent to boarding school when the affair came to light.
After I wrote it, I wondered about Nic's siblings. When I came to write my third book, More Than A Convenient Marriage?, I had Nic's sister seek him out. Harlequin then packaged the books together as a 2-in-1 for Presents in North America. It looks like this:
This scene takes place after Nic saves her from nearly drowning. She cut her feet on the rocks. Note: her mother was married to Nic's father. They died last year, bodies never recovered.
~ * ~
Rowan jerked her head out of the shower spray. Nic?
“What the hell? Rowan!” His voice grew louder. The bathroom door opened and he was right there on the other side of the steamed glass, glaring like an angry drill sergeant.
Rowan squeaked in shock and turned her back on him, but she couldn’t ignore the fact she was stark naked in front of him. The underside of her skin began to warm even though she was still frozen at her core. She tensed her buttocks, aware her bottom was on blatant display. Since when did he even know which room she used? Strategically hugging herself, she cried, “Get out of here!”
“What have you done? It looks like a crime scene out there!”
“Oh, did I stain the precious hardwood you’re planning to tear up? I’ll scrub it once I quit bleeding to death, I promise. Now get out!”
The door slammed with firm disgust. She sniffed in disdain at his impossible standards and stared at hands that looked worse under the running water. They scorched with protest at the pummel of spray, but they had to be cleaned. Her feet were begging her to get off them, but her leg worried her most. Not the sting on the rashed skin, which was acute enough to make her clench her back molars. No, there was a deeper pain that concerned her. All the walking today hadn’t helped. She was afraid to look but had to. No one else would.
Rolling her eyes at her decline into maudlin self-pity, she switched off the shower and dragged a bathsheet around herself. It wasn’t as if her mother would be any use in this situation so why bother getting weepy? Olief would have been solicitous, though.
Shaking off wistfulness, still deeply chilled, she closed the lid of the toilet and sat down to pat herself dry. The door swung open again.
“Really?” she demanded, instinctively curling her feet in and closing a hand over the knot of her towel. She was in a high enough state of turmoil without Nic accosting her with his potent male energy every ten seconds. He’d already got her all bewildered on the beach then seen her naked in the shower. Sitting on a toilet in a bathsheet shaking off a near-death experience put her at the worst disadvantage ever.
He hesitated at the door, but it wasn’t with doubt. She had the impression he was gathering himself. Bracing for a challenge.
Odd. She searched his expression for more clues, but he revealed nothing beyond a clinical interest in her hands as he set bandages and disinfectant on the counter. “You scraped yourself on the rocks, I assume?”
“Good work, Holmes. I should have consulted government issued safe work plans prior to retreating from the tide, I assume?”
A pithy look then, “It’s a wonder your mother didn’t drown you at birth. Do you want help or not?”
“I don’t even know why you want to help me.” She grudgingly held out a hand.
“I don’t,” he replied flatly, going down on one knee and reaching for supplies. “But I am an adult and adults take responsibility rather than doing whatever selfish thing they want.”
“Is that a dig? Because I’m almost twenty-two. A fully-fledged adult.” Even to herself she sounded like a petulant child and really, reminding him it was nearly her birthday was the last thing she ought to do.
“All grown up,” he said with an ironic twist to the corner of his mouth. Renewed tension seemed to gather in his expression as he smoothed a bandage against her wrist.
“Yes,” she claimed pertly. Her pulse involuntarily tripped under his dispassionate caress, making her subtly catch a breath.
His gaze came up sharply, the blue like the center of a flame.
She was transported back to the feel of his arms as they stood wet and trembling on the beach, his penis hardening against her. Heat flooded into her, chasing away the last of her chill, cooking her alive. She should have felt appalled and disgusted, but to her eternal shame she was energized by this crackle of sexual awareness in the air.
“All grown up,” he repeated with flint in his tone, lifting her hand to press his lips against the bandage, a cruelly mocking glint in his eye.
She flinched and pulled her hand away even though she’d barely felt the pressure of his mouth. That so hadn’t been a kiss-and-make-it-better!
Derisive amusement darkened his eyes. “No? That’s not like you, Ro.”
Her heart took a long plunge of disgrace. At the same time she felt herself begin to glow with heated longing and other weakening sensations even as uncertainty and intrigue muddled her mind. Desperately, she reminded herself how unaffected and ruthless he could be.
“What are you doing, Nic?” she asked, trying unsuccessfully to clear the huskiness from her throat. “Offering a clumsy seduction in hopes of getting what you want out of me?”
“Oh, I’m far from clumsy. I know exactly what I’m doing when it comes to seduction.” The hard tone was coupled with a look that might as well have swept the towel from her body and left her as nude as she’d been in the shower.
Had she really wished over the years for him to notice her? Really notice her? This was a horribly defenseless feeling! Every single occasion of testing a flirty glance or enticing him with a smile came back to her as mortifyingly obvious behavior that was giving him the chance now to get the better of her.
“You’re having a go at me,” she accused, as much to remind herself as to let him know she saw through him. “I’m sure other women wither at your feet when you bring your best game, but I’m not one of them. Act solicitous all you want, but I know you don’t care. You don’t want me. You don’t even like me.”
He took a moment to silently smooth a plaster over her second palm, finally asking with detached interest, “Do all of those things have to be in place at once?” He met her gaze with a look of cool consideration.
She pressed her lips into a tight line, stung by the implied agreement that he didn’t like her. Yet still wanted her? That shouldn’t excite her, but her blood seemed to slow and thicken in her arteries, making her feel hot and full of power.
“Since when did you even think about me before you decided I was in the way of something you wanted?” she managed, trying to ignore the internal signals bouncing with anticipation inside her.
His shoulders went back and his jaw hardened. “One has nothing to do with the other. I may want you to sign some papers, but that has nothing to do with physical chemistry.”
“Chemistry that cropped up today of all days,” she scoffed, flushing with anger because her reaction to him had been torturing her forever. “It certainly wasn’t there two years ago, was it?” she prodded, thinking Shut up, Rowan.
“You want to go back to that?” With a flash of the tested anger he’d shown her then, he reached forward to cup the back of her wet head and pulled her forward to meet the crush of his mouth over hers.
“Nnn!” she almost got out, but it turned into a whimper of surprise, then disintegrated under the assertive rake of his very knowledgeable mouth.
No champagne and romance of a wind-swept beach this time. This was raw, unapologetic and incredibly beguiling. He kissed with the same command and purpose that emanated from the rest of his being. He was in control. He would take what he wanted. Their last kiss and the biting lecture that had followed had been a warning she should have heeded. Nic was a powerful, dangerous man.
Who knew how to level a woman with a kiss.
She brought her hands to his wrist and shoulder, overwhelmed yet helpless to the enthralling press of his lips over hers. There was no fighting him as he took her mouth, not because he was stronger, but because he made it so good. She could practically taste his contempt, his selfish demand that she give up everything to him, but there was skill here too. A wicked appeal to the primitive in her. He drew her into the kiss even when she knew she shouldn’t let herself be drawn.
Her inner being expanded toward him, tendrils of heated pleasure reaching for connection. She moaned, unfamiliar imperatives climbing with primal force in her. This was Nic. He didn’t want her. He was messing with her. But this was Nic. She’d fantasized about him for years.
The light scrape of his teeth suffused her with heat. The proprietary thrust of his tongue, the captivating taste of his mouth over hers, stabbed excitement through her, nudging her into a dark world of wild sensations and ravenous desire. Her limbs curled toward him like stems toward the sun, wanting more. It was crazy. Distantly she recognized this possession of her mouth had a purpose: arousal. He intended to take her all the way.
Her heart skipped. She shouldn’t let this happen, but she wanted to. And he wasn’t a force to be stopped. He reached to her lower back and pulled her hips toward him, forcing her knees to part and bracket his waist. Her shin struck the register. A ringing pain slashed through her wanton stupor, making her jolt in shock. Her towel slipped. Oh God, what was she doing?
Want to read more from this book? You can read the opening scene here, but I've had some website updates since this posted and the links to older posts don't work. I'm as disappointed as you are, believe me!
Eventually I published stories for all four siblings. I called the series The Makricosta Dynasty and even had post cards made that look like this.
If you'd like me to mail you one, send me your postal address through my contact page.
If you like to read in order, here are the other books in the series:
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