UPDATED: Aug 2, 2016
A throwback to the beginning of the year for readers exploring my backlist. Read on for a #SampleSunday from my January 2016 book, THE MARRIAGE HE MUST KEEP.
Happy New Year!
I started mine like this:
I was feeling very keen to get back on track with exercise and eating right. I went for a walk to buy healthy vegetables and promptly slipped on the ice and hurt my wrist. It was swollen and many pretty colours showed up, but I'm quite sure it's only a sprain. (I'm still typing! That's the important thing for me.) I have a doctor appointment on Tuesday just to be sure it's nothing more serious.
For now, the real news is...
The Marriage He Must Keep is available on all platforms (and shelves!) now!
SampleSunday - The Marriage He Must Keep
This scene happens after Octavia has left the hospital, but they're still in London. Sandro is re-courting his wife. They're at a restaurant in an old house that has a number of small dining rooms. They're alone in theirs.
~ * ~
“The music has started. Let’s dance.”
“I—Here?” She glanced around at the room containing a handful of empty tables, sparks of light glancing off the glass of the framed sketches. “There’s not a lot of room.”
“We don’t need a lot of room. I’m going to hold you very close.”
Little shivers went through her as he picked up her hand and she found herself standing, letting him draw her to him. He’d done this before, on their honeymoon, when she’d been so apprehensive about their wedding night she had bordered on telling him to “just get it over with.”
He had done this, though. Held her. Soothed her. His touch was light, yet confident. He was warm and strong, his arms a place of safety while the brush of their bodies revealed he was aroused.
She wanted to weep with relief that she could still affect him, but anxiety struck at the same time. “You know I can’t—”
“I know. I still want to hold you,” he murmured, lips brushing her brow. “I wish you’d told me about your parents before. You want a better life for Lorenzo, don’t you? We can have one, Octavia. I promise you we can. Give our marriage another try,” he coaxed, more gentle than dictatorial, but it was a command, not a request. “We’ll both give it a proper try.”
Oh, he was smooth, lulling her with the lazy circles of his palm on her back.
“I suppose I should take heart from the fact you’re saying that even though we can’t sleep together,” she muttered, turning her curled fingers on his chest to look at her fingernails.
“We’ll sleep together, cara.” He stopped swaying and tilted up her chin. His strong thumb caressed her skin while he lightly cupped her throat in his wide hand.
She instinctively turned her hand on his chest to press, staying him from making an advance.
Their gazes locked.
He must have felt the way her pulse was kicking. Beneath her palm, she was surprised to feel his heart punching with similar ferocity, making her tingle all over, as if they were caught in a force field that held them joined and motionless, frozen with anticipation.
He was going to kiss her.
“Do you want to?” he asked in a graveled tone. He wasn’t asking about a kiss. He was asking if she wanted to sleep with him.
She wished she could look away from his gray-green eyes. “I just told you I can’t,” she reminded him.
A very faint smile tilted his mouth. “That’s not what I asked.”
And she was transported back to the first time he had kissed her. After spending two hours locked in her father’s office, days after their first meeting at the gala. He had left the room and his tracking gaze had found her on her mother's settee and locked in. He’d come across to put a ring on her finger and asked, “Shall we seal the deal?”
She’d already been nervous while he spoke to her father, then terrified as she realized what he meant. It hadn’t been her first kiss, but it had certainly been the first one she’d felt like pure spirits burning down her middle. Heat had poured across her skin and made her fingers and toes tingle. She’d opened her mouth instinctively, accepting the exploration of his tongue. She’d loved it.
A thousand kisses had followed, all of them exquisitely delicious. She loved kissing him. Nothing compared.
But if she kissed him now, it would imply agreement.
Doubts continued to float and burst like rainbow-colored bubbles around her, but her gaze dropped to his mouth. She was giving in. She could feel herself surrendering the fight…
Because she really, really wanted him to kiss her.
His head lowered.
She expected a crush of ownership. Triumph even.
He kissed her like he had that first time. Lightly. Sweetly. Gradually coaxing her to part her lips and let the heat and dampness spread.
She was the one who slid her arms around his neck and leaned in and encouraged him to increase the pressure. She opened her mouth and fisted her hand in his hair and punished him for making her wait so long to feel alive. She had missed the sexual energy, the rush of excitement, the provocative differences in their bodies that stimulated her in ways she couldn’t even explain. She kissed him hard and drove her tongue into his mouth and made a noise of anger and relief.
He locked hard arms around her, holding her tight, just short of squeezing her. His hands moved with possessive familiarity, one splaying under her bottom and angling her hips into his groin.
She rubbed against him, inciting him with the grind of her hips and the scrape of her teeth against his lips. She wanted to bite him. Hurt him.
He grunted, kissing her harder as he took control, holding her with restrained power just short of crushing her while he pulled at her lips and ravaged her mouth.
To hell with her recovery and the tenderness across her belly. She wanted him. Her body went weak, signaling her willingness to be taken.
She felt the reaction in him, the gather of his muscles as if he would pick her up and carry her to the nearest surface. The floor. He had in the past.
He tore his mouth from hers instead, one hand moving to the back of her head to tuck her crown under his chin where he held her as though protecting her from the fireball that had exploded into flames between them. They panted, hearts slamming.
To her eternal shock, she realized they were in a restaurant. Voices drifted over the music from the other rooms.
She closed her eyes, needing this moment to collect herself. That had been raw and voracious. Alarming. They’d never been like that before. It made her a little frightened for when they could make love again. They might shred each other to pieces.
“It hurts,” he said gruffly. The hand low on her spine pressed just enough to make her aware of the iron-hard muscle digging into her tender abdomen. “It hurts to touch you and not have you. To smell your hair and feel you against me and kiss without having the rest. It damned well hurts, Octavia. That’s why I stayed away. But I’m not letting you leave me.”
Fine trembles gripped her as she tried to think and couldn’t. She just wanted to feel. She wanted him. She wanted to believe this was something they could build on.
“You haven’t even said you’re sorry,” she managed to say, forcing herself to pull back enough to see him. Pathetic as she was, she needed his support to stand, even as her voice cracked with suffering.
~ * ~
Love it? Want it? It's everywhere, including store shelves like Walmart, grocery and drug stores.
The Marriage He Must Keep is Book One in The Wrong Heirs duet. Next week I'll post a scene from Book Two, The Consequence He Must Claim (available now on the Mills & Boon site!)
Want to pre-order The Consequence He Must Claim to deliver to your device auto-magically on Feb 1?
I hope you have a terrific start to 2016. Do be careful through January. Mercury is retrograde for most of the month. Apparently February and March will be strong months for initiating new things, but April through August will be a slower pace for everyone. I'm okay with that. The last few years have been frantic. What are your plans for the year?
HOROSCOPE UPDATE: Mercury retrogrades for end 2016 are Aug 30-Sep 2 and Dec 19-Jan 8. You're welcome.)