This is the first and kind of my last #SampleSunday. Don't panic! My site is switching to a new hosting service on Monday, April 28th. It's been completely redesigned so I hope you'll pop by again soon to see the new look. I'll be blogging in a new platform called Ghost which is supposedly so seamless you won't even be able to tell. If all goes well, I'll set up my next #SampleSunday in Ghost and it will arrive in your inbox same as always. Much to do to make that happen, however, so I'll stay on task and post the first scene of An Heir To Bind Them below.
First I'll brag and post the review from RT Book Reviews, though. 4.5 stars out of 5!
You can get the gist of the story from the review, but I also want to remind you that An Heir To Bind Them is the third book in the Makricosta series.
The first book, No Longer Forbidden? features Theo's older half-brother, Nic (and Rowan.) Nic was removed from Makricosta family when the children were small. The trauma had lasting repercussions for all of them.
In the second book, More Than A Convenient Marriage?, Theo's older sister, Adara, goes looking for Nic. Her husband, Gideon, thinks she's meeting a man for a different reason. This sets off a badly needed rethink of their marriage.
In An Heir To Bind Them, we see Theo deal with his past and learn to love the son he unexpectedly fathered with Jaya--a woman he had no business touching in the first place.
Eventually there will be a fourth book about the youngest brother, Demitri, but his story won't be written until the fall of this year. Look for it late 2015 or early 2016.
On to the #SampleSunday. The prologue is quite short so I decided to add a nice chunk of Chapter One as well. Enjoy!
~ * ~
Theo Makricosta blinked sweat out of his eyes as he glanced between his helicopter’s fuel gauge and the approaching shoreline. He was a numbers man so he didn’t worry at times like this; he calculated. His habit was to carry twice the fuel needed for any flight. He’d barely touched down on the yacht before he’d been airborne for his return trip. A to B equaled B to A so he should have enough.
Except in this case B stood for boat, which was a moving point.
And he’d made a split second decision as he lifted off the Makricosta Enchantment to go to Marseille rather than back to Barcelona. It had been an instinct, the type of impulse that wasn’t like him at all, but uncharacteristic panic had snared him in those first few seconds as he took flight. He had wheeled the bird toward what felt like salvation.
It had been a ludicrous urge, but he was committed now.
And soaked in perspiration.
Not that he was worried for his own life. He wouldn’t be missed if he dropped out of the sky. His cargo would. The pressure to safeguard his passengers had him so tense he was liable to snap his stick.
It didn’t help that despite the thump of the rotors and his earmuffs plugged into the radio he could hear both babies screaming their lungs out. He already sucked at being a brother. Now he might literally go down in flames as an uncle. Good thing he’d never tried fatherhood.
Swiping his wet palm on his thigh, he pulled his phone from his pocket. Texting and flying was about as smart as texting while driving, but if he managed to land safely, he would have a fresh host of problems to contend with. His instincts in heading north instead of west weren’t that far off. The perfect person to help him was in Marseille.
If she’d help him.
He called up the message he should have deleted a long time ago.
This is my new number, in case that’s the reason you never called me back. Jaya.
Ignoring the twist of shame the words still wrung out of his conscience, he silently hoped her heart was as soft as he remembered it.
Eighteen months ago…
Jaya Powers heard the helicopter mid morning, but Theo Makricosta still hadn’t called her by five, when she was technically off the clock. Off the payroll in fact, and leaving in twelve hours.
Ignoring the war between giddiness and heartache going on in her middle, she reminded herself that normal hours of work didn’t confine Mr. Makricosta. He traveled so much that sometimes he couldn’t sleep so he worked instead. If he wanted files or records or reports, he called despite the time and politely asked her for them. Then he reminded her to put in for lieu or overtime and thanked her for her trouble. He was an exceptionally good man to work for and she was going to miss him way beyond what was appropriate.
Staring at herself in the mirror, packed bags organized behind her, she wondered why she was still dressed in her Makricosta Resort uniform. She gave herself a pitying head shake. Her hair was brushed and restored to its heavy bun, her make-up refreshed, her teeth clean. All in readiness for his call.
After everything that had sent her running from her home in India, she never would have seen herself turning into this: a girl with a monumental crush on her boss.
Did he know she was leaving and didn’t care? He’d never overstepped into personal, ever. If he had any awareness that she was a woman, she’d be shocked.
That thought prompted her to give a mild snort. If she hadn’t seen him buy dinner for the occasional single, vacationing woman, always accompanying her back to her room then subsequently writing off her stay against his personal expense account, she’d have surmised he wasn’t aware of women at all.
But he hooked up when it suited him and it made her feel...odd. Aware and dismayed and kind of jealous.
Which was odd because she didn’t want to sleep with him. Did she?
A flutter of anxious tension crept from her middle toward her heart. It wasn’t terror and nausea, though. It wasn’t the way she typically felt when she thought of sex.
It wasn’t fireworks and shooting stars either so why did she care that she might not have a chance to say goodbye?
Her entire being deflated. She had to say goodbye. It wasn’t logical to feel so attached to someone who’d been nothing but professional and detached, but she did. The promotions and career challenges alone had made him a huge part of her life, whether his encouragement had been personal or not. More importantly, the way he respected her as useful and competent had nurtured her back to feeling safe in her workplace again. He made her feel like maybe, just maybe, she could be a whole woman, rather than one who had severed herself from all but the most basic of her female attributes.
Did she want to tell him that? No. So forget it. She would leave for France without seeing him.
But rather than unknotting her red and white scarf, her hand scooped up her security card. She pivoted to the door. Stupid, she told herself as she walked to the elevator. What if he was with someone?
A few minutes later she swiped her damp palms on her skirt before knocking on his door. Technically this fortieth floor villa belonged to the Makricosta family, but the youngest brother, Demitri, wasn’t as devoted to duty as Theo, flitting through on a whim and only very seldom. Their sister, Adara, the figurehead of the operation, timed her visits to catch a break from New York winters, not wasting better July weather elsewhere when it was its coolest here in Bali.
Theo—Mr. Makricosta, she reminded herself, even though she thought of him as Theo—was very methodical, inspecting the books of each hotel in the chain at least once a quarter. He was reliable and predictable. She liked that about him.
Licking her lips, she knocked briefly.
The murmur inside might have been “Come in.” She couldn’t be sure and she had come this far, so she used her card and—
“I said, Not now,” he stated from a reclined position on the sofa, shirt sleeves rolled up and one bare forearm over his eyes. His jaw was stubbled, his clothes wrinkled. Papers and file folders were strewn messily across the coffee table and fanned in a wide scatter across the floor, as though he’d thrust them away in an uncharacteristic fit. His precious laptop was cocked on its side next to the table, open but dark. Broken?
Blinking at the mess—he had a drink in his free hand—Jaya told herself to back out. Men in a temper could be dangerous. She knew that.
But there was something so distraught in his body language, in the air even. She immediately hurt for him and she didn’t know why.
“Did something happen?” she queried with subdued shock.
“Jaya?” His feet rose in surprise. At the same time he lifted his arm off his eyes. “Did I call you?” Spinning his feet to the floor in a startling snap to attention, he picked up his phone and thumbed across the screen. “I was trying not to.”
The apology sounded odd, but sometimes English phrasing sounded funny to her, with its foreign syntax and slang. How could you try not to call someone?
“I don’t mind finding whatever paperwork you need,” she murmured, compelled to rescue the laptop and hearing the door pull itself closed behind her. “Especially if you’re dismayed about the way something was handled.”
“Dismayed. Yeah, that’s what I am.” He pressed his mouth flat for a moment, elbows braced on his wide-spread thighs. His focus moved through her to a place far in the distance. With a little shudder, he skimmed his hands up to ruffle his hair before staring at her with heartrending bleakness. “You’ve caught me at a bad time.”
For some reason her mouth went dry. She didn’t react to men, especially the dark, powerfully-built, good looking ones. Theo was all of those things, his complexion not as dark as her countrymen, but he had Greek swarthiness and dark brown hair and brows. With his short hair on end, he looked younger than his near thirty. For a second, he reminded her of the poorest children in India, the ones old enough to have lost hope.
Her hand twitched to smooth his disheveled hair, instinctively aware he wouldn’t like anyone seeing him at less than his most buttoned down.
He was still incredible. His stubbled jaw was just wide enough to evenly frame his gravely drawn mouth while his cheekbones stood out in a way that hollowed his cheeks. His brows were winged, not too thick, lending a striking intelligence to his keen brown eyes.
They seemed to expand as she looked into them. The world around her receded...
“We’ll do this tomorrow. Now’s not a good time.” The quiet words carried a husky edge that caused a shiver of something visceral to brush over her.
She didn’t understand her reaction, certainly didn’t know why she was unable to stop staring into his eyes even when a flush of heat washed through her.
“I can’t take advantage of your work ethic,” he added. “It could undermine our employer employee relationship.”
Appalled, she jerked her gaze to the floor, blushing anew as she processed that she’d been in the throes of a moment and hadn’t even properly recognized it as one until her mooning became so obvious he had to shut her down.
How? In the last few years, any sort of sexual aggression on a man’s part had stopped her heart. Terror was her reaction and escape her primary instinct. Wistful thoughts like, I wonder how his stubble would feel against my lips, had never happened to her, but for a few seconds she’d gone completely dreamy.
Her body flamed like it was on fire, but not only from mortification. There was something else, a curiosity she barely remembered from a million years ago when she’d been a girl talking to a nice boy at school.
If she had the smarts she always claimed to, she’d let his remark stand. She’d excuse herself to Marseille and never be seen again.
At the same time, as discomfited as she was, her ability to have a moment was so heartening she couldn’t help standing in place like someone testing cold waters, trying to decide whether to wade further in.
Not that she’d come here for that. No, she wanted to say goodbye and he’d given her an opening.
“Actually, we don’t have that kind of relationship anymore.” With jerky movements she set his laptop on the coffee table and pressed the lid closed. “Today was my last day. I should have changed, but I’m having trouble letting go.”
~ * ~
If you'd like to enter to win a signed print copy of An Heir To Bind Them, I'm giving away three copies over at Goodreads. Just click below. Or you can join my newsletter here. I always draw for a free copy among my subscribers right before the book comes out.
My Masked Desires Contest opens May 1st and will run until August 17th. Once it opens, you'll be able to enter here:
I've been neglecting my blog while I finished up at my day job and revamped my website and organized this contest and all the other promoting I have for my four books this summer. Wait, it's five. There's a short novella in there that I was also writing while I've been off the grid.
Take care and remember to come back and check out my new site. Happy Sunday.