This is my last excerpt for A Debt Paid In Passion--kind of. Please check back this Friday, Jan 31st, when I'll have a special guest post by my friend, Jennifer Hayward, fellow Presents author and fellow Canadian. Yep, she's the full package! She will be hosting me on her site and we're both offering exclusive excerpts from our February books. Even Mills & Boon thought we'd make a great pair. Check out the UK 2in1 below.
We're calling our cross-promo Freaky Friday. I wanted to Hashtag it, but #FreakyFriday already exists on social media and it's genuinely freaky. Our version is more Jamie Lee Curtis/Lindsay Lohan--wait, maybe that doesn't work either. Think Barbara Harris/Jodie Foster. Pretty wholesome, really. Just spending a day in each other's cyber bodies.
This 2in1 won't be available in Canada. Jen and I, however, performed the Freaky Friday ritual via Canada post whereby we have each sent the other a handful of signed author copies, thus allowing us to offer giveaways SIGNED BY BOTH AUTHORS!
To be entered to win one of these double-autographed 2in1's, join my newsletter before Feb 28, 2014. I'll be doing two draws, one on Feb 1st, the other on Mar 1st, so two chances to win!
On to #SampleSunday! We left Raoul issuing Sirena an ultimatum. If you missed that or any other previous post, you can read them here:
- Raoul learns Sirena won't go to jail
- Raoul learns Sirena is pregnant
- Sirena claims the baby isn't Raoul's
- Sirena weighs the risks of lying about paternity
- Raoul issues an ultimatum
Here Raoul confronts her, unwilling to put up with any more delays:
~ * ~
As Sirena entered the alcove that housed the front of her building, she was still preoccupied by the lecture from the obstetrician about taking time to relax. She needed to read up on side effects of the medication he’d prescribed, too.
Distracted, she didn’t notice anyone until a lean, masculine body stepped out of the shadows. Her pulse leapt in excited recognition even as she jerked in alarm.
Her keys dropped with a clatter. Pressing herself into the glass door, she pulled her collar tighter to her throat. His familiar scent overwhelmed her, spicy and masculine beneath a layer of rain and damp woolen overcoat and wind-swept hair. The late afternoon gloom threw forbidding shadows into the angles of his strong features and turned his short spiky lashes into sharp blades above turbulent eyes. He was compelling as ever and she was as susceptible as always.
“Hello, Sirena.” That voice.
“What are you doing here?” Her knuckles dug into her neck where her pulse raced with dangerous speed. She was supposed to be avoiding this sort of elevation of her heart rate, but Raoul had always done this to her. Thank God she’d spent two years perfecting how to hide her girlish flushes of awareness and awe-struck admiration. With a tilt of her chin she conveyed that he didn’t intimidate her—even though she was in danger of cracking the glass at her back she was pressed so hard against it.
“You didn’t really think I’d wait until Friday?” he said, uncompromising and flinty.
“I didn’t think you’d be waiting at my door,” she protested, adding with admirable civility. “I’ll review the documents tomorrow, I promise.”
Raoul shook his head in condescension. “Today, Sirena.”
“It’s been a long one, Raoul. Don’t make it longer.” Her voice was weighted with more tiredness than she meant to reveal.
His eyes narrowed. “What sort of appointment did you have? Doctor?”
A little shiver of premonition went through her. Something told her not to let him see how unsettling the news had been, but the reality of all those tests and personal history forms had taken a toll. If she had thought she could avoid signing a shared custody agreement with Raoul, today she’d learned it was imperative she did.
“Is the baby all right?” Raoul demanded gruffly. The edgy concern in his tone affected her, making her soften and stiffen at the same time.
“The baby is fine,” she said firmly. If the mother could keep herself healthy enough to deliver—and ensured there was at least one parent left to rear it—the baby was in a great position for a long and happy life.
“You?” he questioned with sharp acuity. Damned man never missed a thing.
“I’m tired,” she prevaricated. “And I have to use the loo. It’s only five o’clock. That gives me seven hours. Come back at eleven-fifty-nine.”
Raoul’s jaw hardened. “No.” Leaning down, brushing entirely too close to her legs, he picked up her keys and straightened. “No more games, no more lawyers. You and I are hammering this out. Now.”
Sirena tried to take her keys, but Raoul only closed his hand over them, leaving her fingers brushing the hard strength of his knuckles.
The contact sent an electric zing through her nervous system, leaving her entire body quivering over what was a ridiculously innocuous touch.
She’d been too stressed and nauseous to have sexual feelings these last months, but suddenly every vessel in her body came alive to the presence of this man, the avenging god who had never had any genuine respect or faith in her in the first place.
Tamping down on the rush of hurt and disappointment that welled in her chest, Sirena found her spine, standing up to him as well as a woman in flats could to a man who was head and shoulders taller than her.
“Let’s get something clear,” she said, voice trembling a bit. She hoped he put it down to anger, not weak, stupid longing for something that had never existed. “Whatever agreement we come to is contingent on paternity tests proving you’re the father.”
Raoul rocked back on his heels. His negotiation face slid into place over his shock. In the shadowed alcove, Sirena wasn’t sure if his pupils really contracted to pinpoints, but she felt his gaze like a lance that held her in place. It made her nervous, but she was proud of herself for taking him aback. She couldn’t afford to be a pushover.
“Who else is in the running?” he gritted out.
“I have a life beyond your exalted presence.” The lies went up like umbrellas, but she had so few advantages.
He stood unflinching and austere, but there was something in his bearing that made her heart pang. She knew he was the father, but by keeping him guessing she was performing a type of torture on him, keeping him in a state of anxious inability to act. It was cruel and made her feel ashamed.
Don’t be a wimp, Sirena. He could take care of himself. The only thing she needed to worry about was her baby.
“Let’s get this done,” she said.
~ * ~
A Debt Paid In Passion came available on Amazon in North America this week, but I'm learning that the more I learn about publishing, the less I know. I thought it would be up on all Amazon sites worldwide. Nope. Still listed as pre-order on a lot of them.
Don't forget I'll be in the Vancouver area mid-February, chatting with Readers and Writers at the Vancouver Public Library. And I'll still draw for a regular signed copy of my new release from my newsletter subscribers so lots to win. You can join by scrolling all the way to the bottom of this page and putting in your email address or click here.
See you on Freaky Friday! (Or maybe Thursday Thirteen. Possibly #TeaserTuesday on Facebook…?)