UPDATED - July 15, 2016
For readers exploring my backlist, here are some excerpts I posted from Vows Of Revenge when it came out last year.
At the time, we had a lot of smoke from wildfires in the area. Check out this comparison of the view from our deck. You can't see the water at all. We often have misty days through the winter when visibility is low due to cloud cover (we're in the mountains), but this was all smoke and really starting to feel claustrophobic. Thankfully (so far!) we've had a wet summer this year.
Have you missed any posts? The previous ones are here:
- Melodie arrives to plan a wedding
- Roman doesn't plan to get married, ever
- Roman realizes who she is and plots his revenge
- Melodie has a fall from grace
- Roman gives Melodie the kiss of her life
Here I've jumped ahead again to the moments after Ingrid leaves. Melodie is wearing borrowed clothes and goes to tell Roman she's leaving. FYI, she doesn't. Not yet:
~ * ~
“I’m afraid I have to ask you to call me a cab.” She tried to act casual as she moved forward. “I didn’t bring my phone and…”
She came even with the open doors of the office and discovered him standing before his clear screens. He had changed, dispensing with a shirt altogether, and now wore only a pair of drawstring linen pants that hung with rakish sexiness off his hips, accentuating his smooth, powerful back and the curve of his buttocks.
“I’d ask Ingrid for hers, but she and Huxley just left…” She could hardly speak. Her throat had gone dry.
He turned. His flat abs and nicely developed chest fixated her. Animal attraction gripped her.
Why? She didn’t understand it and lifted her gaze to his, trying to work out where this attack of sexual craving was coming from.
He was scanning down her low neckline, taking in the outline of tiny triangles that barely covered her nipples beneath the translucent cotton, eyeballing the towel that she gripped around her hips.
His Adam’s apple worked. “Why are you here, Melodie?” His tone was graveled with intolerance and something almost erotic. Desire?
“I— What do you mean?”
“Here, in my home.” He joined her on the balcony, confrontational and ominous, arms and shoulders tanned and powerful, bare feet planted firmly. “Why are you here?”
“The wedding,” she stated, nerves strummed by the suspicion in his tone.
“What do you mean? I didn’t plan this,” she said, waving at her borrowed garb, suddenly realizing how it could look. But she hadn’t made this happen. She wasn’t using it as an excuse to stick around and throw herself at him. Not really. Okay, maybe she was throwing herself at him a little, but— Oh, good grief. Could this get any worse?
“I didn’t bump you,” he bit out, eyes narrowing. “I didn’t even touch you.”
“No, I know. I was just…nervous,” she stammered, attacked by the same hit of discomfiture that had made her avoid him by the pool. She’d instinctively known his touch would have a devastating effect on her. She’d leaped back from his reaching hand as though he could have burned her. He had burned her. When he’d kissed her in the cabana, the contact had seared all the way to her soul.
“Nervous,” he charged, brows elevating like he’d caught her out. “Why?”
Because he was a force, not a man. Her reaction to him was so strong it petrified her.
“You’re different,” she hazarded, but couldn’t explain it even to herself.
Boy, he was like an extension of his technology with those robotic commands for more information.
She crossed her arms, annoyed, but Ingrid’s words were ringing in her ears. Was he reacting to her and feeling as out of sorts by this situation as she was?
The thought brought a soaring of buoyancy that she quickly tried to tame. A million things were running through her head, all her thoughts coming back to the fact that she was finally meeting a man who made her feel alive. She was interested and excited. Running away like a teenage girl too shy to speak to him would be silly. She’d kick herself forever if she did that. They were grown-ups. She was, by nature, an honest person.
“I find you attractive,” she admitted, and immediately blushed. It was as if she’d deliberately stepped onto a gangplank high over the concrete. Her footing seemed wobbly and threatened to drop her into a hard fall.
“Do you,” he disparaged.
His tone peeled a layer off her composure. She told herself she was being mature and didn’t have enough invested to have anything to lose, but her self-respect grew thin and strained. She heard her half-brother's voice all over again. Bug eyes. Don’t talk to my friends. They all think you’re ugly anyway.
At the same time, she put herself into Roman’s shoes and thought she knew the source of his cynicism. “If you think I’m making some kind of awkward play for the rich guy, that’s not true.”
“You’d think I was just as attractive if I lived in a cardboard shack in a back alley?” he scoffed, arms folding and chin coming up with arrogant challenge.
Dear Lord, he was attractive. Like a Greek god with all that burnished skin over toned muscle, his aura one of superiority and might.
She almost blurted out how she’d walked away from the sort of wealth and education that would have made any job unnecessary for the rest of her life. If he only knew how much contempt she reserved for powerful men and how sorry she felt for the women who loved them…
But all of that was behind her, and this moment was only about her and him. Who they were in this moment.
“I might,” she allowed with a weak shrug. This was a physical thing. She suspected no matter where she had encountered him, she would still be unable to control her response to him.
“You don’t even know me,” Roman derided. “Why—?” he bit off the word, looking out to the water, gripped by an angry frustration that went beyond his response to her. He closed his hand on the rail, trying to retain his grip on the situation.
But his gaze tracked unerringly back to Melodie. The low neckline of her shirt accentuated her slender neck and delicate collarbone, offering a teasing glimpse of the upper swells of her breasts. Her damp hair fell in waves around her bare face. She had the sensual innocence of a maiden from a primitive jungle culture, pure temptation in her open regard, Eve-like in her patience for him to succumb to the desire drumming through him. The message was subliminal and as irresistible as a siren’s.
Come to me.
All he could think was, This is a damned sight more than attraction. He was blind with lust, trying to hang onto a cool head while his body still felt the writhe of hers nudging against his erection. She’d inflamed him with their kiss, promising untold pleasure, appealing straight to the basest part of him and completely undermining his capacity for logical thought.
~ * ~
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