Category Archive

Bonus scene

Words for Kerry: INKING HIM, a Garrick & Bliss short story

Last May I met an incredible group of women. 

Molly McAdams and I were doing a signing at a University bookstore in the Dallas area right after the semester had ended. So, of course, all those college students we’d been hoping to find were long gone.

But luckily, we didn’t have to sit alone in that Barnes and Noble because a few awesome fans came out to see us, including a group of women that had made a long drive from Oklahoma. I’ve since seen these awesome ladies at several signings (all of which were outside Oklahoma, but they made the trip anyway). You’ll even find them mentioned in the acknowledgments of SEEKING HER because they will forever and always hold a place in my heart and my memory.

Why?

Well, after that Dallas signing (which was only my 2nd or 3rd signing EVER if I remember correctly), we got to talking. They’d come so far, and the signing lasted less than an hour, and we wanted to hang out a little longer to make the trip worthwhile for them. Someone (it might have even been me) jokingly said we should go get tattoos. We looked around the circle, Molly and I shrugged because we both have and love tattoos. And we said, “Sure!”

So, we took to Yelp and found a nearby tattoo parlor that had good ratings, and we set off. And as we all sat in the tattoo parlor talking about tattoo ideas and looking at pictures and portfolios, one member of our group was the first to step up and into the tattoo chair.

Her name was Kerry (bottom left on the picture above), and she got this gorgeous tattoo of a four leaf clover that said “Luck of the Irish.”

I will always remember that day. Hell, I have ink on my skin that means I’ll absolutely never forget it. But today I’m writing because our friend Kerry has not been so lucky. A few months back, one of the other awesome tattoo ladies, Angela, reached out to me on Facebook with bad news. Kerry had had a seizure at work, and after a few terrible days and lots of tests, they found out she had stage four lung cancer that had spread to her brain. The tumors there were too risky to chance an operation, and a few days later, more tests revealed that the cancer had spread into even more parts of her body, including her lymph nodes, adrenal glands, and pancreas. Since then, despite chemo and other treatments, Kerry’s prognosis has continued to decline.

When Angela contacted me, I was so devastated for her and Kerry and their families. These women never fail to put a smile on my face when they show up at signings full of enthusiasm and love and unwavering support for the NA and Indie communities. I wanted to be able to do something special for Kerry, and I know LOSING IT was her favorite book of mine (Hamlet is her favorite character, in fact). So, between deadlines for books I wrote a Garrick and Bliss (and Hamlet) short story inspired by our first meeting. It’s called INKING HIM. And yep, you guessed it… Garrick gets a tattoo.

I wrote this story for Kerry, but I’m sharing it all with you in the hopes that you’ll help me give a little something back to her. The days ahead aren’t going to get any easier for Kerry and her family and friends. She’s exhausted, and they’re all in pain, and they could all use a little hope and love. And if you’re reading this, you most likely know the way that books (and book people) can touch and change your life. So, here’s what I would ask of you.

Using the hashtag #WordsforKerry on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram or wherever, post something for Kerry to see to help brighten up her day. It can be a cute guy with a cat, an inspiring or funny quote from a book you love, or just your well wishes, thoughts, and prayers for her and her family. As a community of book lovers, we might sit alone in our homes, reading our books alone, but I hope you’ll help me show this book lover that she’s not alone. It’s such a small thing, and I hope you’ll take the time to do that and show your support.

There are more ways you can help, too. You can email Kerry at dgroover4jb@gmail.com (or perhaps send your love by gifting an e-book that you love because those are better than cards anyway, am I right?). If you’re an author, blogger, or a reader who wants to send Kerry books or swag or anything else to brighten up her day, you can do so here:

Kerry Brown
C/O Kim Koumbis 1532 West Onyx Way 
Mustang, OK 73064

Or if you’d care to donate to Kerry and her family, they’ve set up a paypal account where you can easily contribute to the following email: dgroover4jb@gmail.com. If you don’t know how to send money via paypal, you can read instructions here. Even if it’s just $.99, the amount you would pay had I published this short story instead of posting it here, that can add up if enough people read and contribute.

Please know that this is me asking these things of you, not Kerry, or her family. I planned this with her friend without Kerry’s input in the hopes that the book community would reach out and give this wonderful woman back some of the love that she’s poured out over the years. And whether you’re donating to her family or just tweeting her a message, I’m thankful for whatever you’re willing to do.

Here’s the tattoo I got that day in Dallas:


It was inspired by one of my favorite books, Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly. Specifically to remind me of this quote from the book:
 “Life’s all about the revolution, isn’t it? 
The one inside, I mean. You can’t change history. 
You can’t change the world. 
All you can ever change is yourself.” 



I wish I could do more for Kerry. I wish I could take away the pain and the stress and the fear. I wish I had more than words and prayers to offer her, but I’ll give her what I can. And I hope you’ll join me. And Kerry, I love you girl. Thanks for touching my life and loving my books and being such a beautiful person. I’m praying for luck and a revolution for you.

So without further ado, here’s Kerry’s story… INKING HIM:

I hope you enjoyed this little peek back into the world of Garrick and Bliss. And please don’t forget to spread the support using #WordsforKerry. And if you don’t mind sharing this blog post so more people can read and support, I would be so very grateful. Just so you know… this is not the same Garrick and Bliss short story that you’ll receive if you pre-order All Lined Up. That’s a separate campaign through my publisher that you can find out more about here.

Thanks again for stopping by and spreading the word! I appreciate it so much, and I know Kerry and her people do, too!

Football Friday: Meet Dallas Cole & an ARC giveaway!

We’re one week closer to the release of All Lined Up on May 13th! ARCS are out in the world, reviews are rolling in, and I’m SO excited. If you haven’t heard about ALL LINED UP, you can check it out on goodreads. You can also read the first thirty four pages. AND… if you need more incentive, those who pre-order ALU and register here will give a BRAND NEW Garrick and Bliss scene Post-Losing It/Keeping Her. Last week, I introduced Carson McClain, the first of multiple sexy football player book boyfriends in my new Rusk University series.

Today, I’m giving you the skinny on our heroine.

I try to get a new perspective in each of my books in an attempt to make sure as many people as possible can “see” themselves in my books and characters. So, with Dallas… I wanted to take a different route from most NA books. One reason it’s so fun to write NA is that the characters are experiencing all kinds of new freedoms and getting to decide who they’re going to be for the rest of their life. For All Lined Up, I threw that out the window and decided to take a look at what college is like for those who don’t get to start over or get the freedom to do whatever they want. There are plenty of people who stay at home after they graduate high school, or go to college in the same town, or with people they knew from high school. 
Dallas has spent her whole life surrounded by this: 
All she wants from college is to get away and start fresh. She’s a dance major, dying for the day when her father doesn’t control her entire life, and she can move out of Texas and pursue what she loves. 
Then she finds out her father has taken the open coaching position at Rusk University, and that escape she’d planned gets crushed by the same thing that always seems to screw up her life: football. 
And she feels a bit like this: 
But you know… Dallas is a good ole Texas girl. We don’t just take things lying down. So, she sucks it up and heads to her first college party in an attempt to have some fun and blow off steam. That’s where she meets Carson McClain. He’s the kind of guy that can make a girl forget all about why she had decided to hate college. 
Then she finds out he’s on her father’s football team. And, well… you see where this is going. 
A little more about Dallas: 
She’s feisty and direct (aka… brutally honest). That’s what happens when you’re raised by a football coach. She’s snarky and just a touch insecure (aren’t we all?). She’s unemotional and unattached and that’s how she likes it. She prefers to push all of her emotions into her dancing where they’re useful. 
And some of my favorite quotes with some potential Dallas’s:
(Thanks to Amber, Yvette, and Kim for the awesome graphics. Love you ladies!)
And that’s my Dallas. I can’t wait for you all to meet her. As a Coach’s daughter, it’s hard for me not to see myself in her, except, you know, way cooler than me. 
And now that you’ve met Dallas, you can enter to win a signed advanced copy of All Lined Up! 
And if you want to Pre-Order ALU, you get 10 extra entries in the giveaway (plus that new Garrick/Bliss bonus scene I mentioned)! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The One With Foreplay


It’s Friday Flash Fiction time!


On select Fridays, I’m going to make a post on my Facebook page calling for writing prompts. You can pick any character from my books– main characters like Garrick or Cade or minor characters like Rusty and Spencer. Comment on my post with that character’s name and then a place or object for a prompt. Heck, you can even post things like songs or pictures. Anything you’d like to see me write. Then, I’ll pick one and write just a fast and fun little snippet to post here on my blog.

Today’s prompt comes from Cohlina: Bliss and Garrick in the bar where they first met


So, without further ado, here’s my Flash Fiction Friday entry #4

(This week was a hard choice… there were SEVERAL awesome prompts. Feel free to repost your prompt next time if yours didn’t get picked). 

WARNING: DEFINITE SPOILERS FOR LOSING IT.

WARNING PART TWO: This is unedited. So, if there are errors, don’t judge me. 

NOTE: This is NOT an excerpt from LOSING IT, KEEPING HER, or some future book. This is special, original content just because I love you guys.

P.S. The book that gets mentioned is Foreplay by Sophie Jordan, which just released this week and is awesome!

I fiddled with the little black straw in my drink, and resisted the urge to tug on the disastrously short mini-skirt that I swore I would never wear. The bartender came up to check on me, and asked if I wanted another. I shook my head, wanting a clear head for the evening.
It wasn’t the same Bartender Boy as that night, but it might as well have been. He was the same type—all smiles and winks and too charming for me to feel comfortable.
Maybe it was the anticipation making me crazy, but I swore I could feel it the second he caught sight of me at the corner of the bar. A zing of electricity shot down my spine, sparking low in my belly. I didn’t sit in our old table, wanting him to have to work a little bit.
Still… sitting on the barstool, I felt on display.
But I didn’t mind. Not for him.
I felt the barest touch against one of my curls before the seat beside me was filled. His long fingers picked up a napkin before placing it back on the bar carefully. I smiled down at the book in my hands. I hadn’t read more than one paragraph since I sat down, too distracted, but he didn’t know that.
“That must be some book you’re reading,” he said, his accent smooth and sinful.
I looked up at his gorgeous face and the blue eyes that captured me all those months ago, and the butterflies in my stomach lurched forward, splatting against my ribcage like moths that didn’t know any better but to dive toward the light.
“It is,” I answered with a smile. “Very… interesting.”
He leaned forward to catch the title of what I was reading, and his jaw went slack. He’d expected Shakespeare, no doubt, and I’d been eagerly awaiting his reaction to my slight detour from our history.
The way his gaze darkened when it swung to me told I’d made the right choice. He leaned closer, and his knee brushed the bare skin of my thigh, and I had to close my eyes to keep my reaction under control.
“Tell me what this interesting read is about. Let me guess… something forbidden?”
His voice dropped low, and I’m suddenly remembering every stolen kiss— from the first in this very bar to the one in the theatre and in my apartment and the computer lab. I’m remembering every other time those dark eyes were directed at me, so full of passion and restraint.
Only there was far less restraint in his eyes tonight than I remembered.
I bit my lip, wanting to make him wait for it. “Not a forbidden love. Not this time.”
His eyes narrowed on me. “Then what is it about, love?”
My legs go weak at the endearment even after all this time.
Knowing it would drive him crazy, I didn’t meet his gaze. Instead, I latched on to Bartender Boy, who caught my stare and started moving my direction.
“It’s about a really hot bartender.”
When Bartender Boy was a few yards away, a low rumble sounded in Garrick’s chest, and he pulled me off the barstool and against his chest. When his lips crashed against mine, I figured the game was pretty much over, so I threw my arms around his neck in acceptance.
His tongue split my lips as his hands wandered down. One ghosted over my hip and down to my thigh, fingering the short hem of the blasted skirt he’s so obsessed with.
He pulls my bottom lip between his, scraping his teeth against it.
“I am bloody tired of fighting bartenders off of you,” he breathed against my lips.
I rolled my eyes. “Like any of them would stand a chance against you.”
He must have liked the sound of that because he tugged me in for another hard kiss before pulling me away from the bar and toward the table that had set everything in motion.

FAKING IT and the Fourth and Final Garrick Bonus Scene

OOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHH MY LOVELIES!

Less than a day left until FAKING IT goes live. In fact, we can start counting HOURS now! How awesome is that? In case you’re out of the loop, and have no idea what I’m talking about. FAKING IT, book 2 in the Losing It Series, follows Cade, our lovable best friend from Book 1. First, check out this cover. *DIES* I’m obsessed with it. And it looks SO pretty in person.

And here’s a little bit more about it:

Mackenzie “Max” Miller has a problem. Her parents have arrived in town for a surprise visit, and if they see her dyed hair, tattoos, and piercings, they just might disown her. Even worse, they’re expecting to meet a nice wholesome boyfriend, not a guy named Mace who has a neck tattoo and plays in a band. All her lies are about to come crashing down around her, but then she meets Cade.

Cade moved to Philadelphia to act and to leave his problems behind in Texas. So far though, he’s kept the problems and had very little opportunity to take the stage. When Max approaches him in a coffee shop with a crazy request to pretend to be her boyfriend, he agrees to play the part. But when Cade plays the role a little too well, they’re forced to keep the ruse going. And the more they fake the relationship, the more real it begins to feel.

I’m so unbelievably excited to share this book with you all. It’s a little bit different in feel than LOSING IT, as our heroine and hero aren’t quite as awkward as Bliss. But it’s still got humor and romance and some angst. It’s close to my heart, and I hope that you all will love the story of Cade and Max as much as I do. When you’ve read it, please do tweet or facebook me and tell me your thoughts! And the ever important question… Team Garrick? Or Team Cade?
In the mean time, if you need a little something to tide you over until the book releases tomorrow, I bring you the final Garrick Bonus scene! You guys did a fabulous job spreading the word about pre-orders, and I hope that you all have enjoyed these special scenes from LOSING IT in Garrick’s POV. Please do note, these are just bonus scenes. They are NOT content from the upcoming novella, KEEPING HER. That novella is set after LOSING IT, and is a short sequel. It’s also already up for pre-order in most places.
So, without further ado… I give you MORE GARRICK!

The One Where Bliss Gets Her Way, and Well, Garrick, too.
Let’s Just Say Ways Are Had

My girl was made of joy.

It seeped from her every pore, shined from her eyes, and sang with the sway of her hips. I watched her jumping on her bed, screaming silently into her hands, and I knew then that I wanted to make sure she was this happy always.

With a smile, I asked, “What are you doing?”

She squealed and collapsed onto her mattress, and I couldn’t put into words what her adorable look of shock made me feel.

You think you know what an emotion feels like—grief, anger, jealousy—but then a moment will come along so fierce in it’s effect that it redefines the feeling and puts what you thought that emotion was to shame.

Bliss redefined happiness for me.

With her hands criss-crossed over her chest like her heart was about to leap out of its cage, she asked, “What are you doing here?”

“I saw your car outside, so I came over. I didn’t realize you’d already started the party without me.” I loved that she didn’t even try to hide her embarrassment with me anymore. She’s accepted it. “I take it you’re excited about how the show went tonight?”

She climbed off the bed, stumbling over nothing. My smile spread wider.

She said, “The show was great, but I’m glad to be home.”

She put a hand on my chest as she said the word home, and I wondered if she could feel my heart jump toward her touch. I grabbed her waist and pulled her forward into a hug. I closed my eyes, put at ease by the familiar smell of her hair and warmth of her body.

One month. One month, and she would be mine– no hiding, no lies, no worries. Just us.

“You were great tonight.” Great was an understatement. She got better every time I saw the performance, braver and bolder and more beautiful. “And now I get to have you all to myself.”

One month from now, I was going to steal her away from the world. Maybe we’d go somewhere. We could take a trip; find a place where no one knew us. Maybe drive down to Galveston and the coast. It was a long drive, but it would be worth it to see her in a bathing suit, to have her really all to myself.

“How was the celebration?” I asked. I was pretty damn proud of myself that I didn’t toss her over my shoulder as soon as the show was over, and kidnap her. I’d given her some time with her friends. Well, as much as I could bear.

“Good,” she said. “Really good. I’m going to miss everyone when we graduate. It’s a little crazy to think that’s only a month away.”

I grazed her pink cheek with my thumb, and said, “One month.”

She smiled, and I leaned down for a quick taste of the joy on her lips.

Her arms went around my neck, and her mouth pushed harder against mine.

“Mmm…” She was going to be the death of me.

I slid my hand up from her waist the to curve of her ribs. Her shoulders pulled back, pressing her chest closer to mine. I opened my mouth, and her tongue slid in, eager and impatient.

I needed to get this girl on stage more often if this was what it did to her.

Our mouths tangled, and our bodies followed, pulling closer, exploring. I had to concentrate to keep my grip on her body light. But her kisses were intoxicating, coaxing me closer and closer to losing control. Her arms slid down my chest, and my spine tightened with a shiver. She slid one hand beneath my shirt, and pressed her fingers into my lower back. I could feel the five little points pressing into my muscle, and I flexed my hands to keep from pulling her hips tight against mine.

But feeling her body, pliant and warm, beneath my hands did nothing to help me stay in control. And I had to stay in control. I didn’t want to spend the night with a foot between us on the couch because I couldn’t keep myself in check. I loved her. I should be able to kiss and hold her without needing more.

Her other hand slid over my abdomen and up to my chest, and I exhaled heavily from my nose.

Shakespeare. Maybe I should recite Shakespeare. Surely my abhorrence for the stuff could balance out my obsession with the little vixen in my arms. I was trying to decide on a play when her hand on my chest, pushed, and I fell back onto the bed that sat behind me. How did the bed get behind me?

I didn’t have time to pinpoint the moment our position had shifted before Bliss straddled me, and my whole body became painfully aware of how very not in control I was. Her hips tilted against mine, and I swallowed a slew of curse words.

“Bliss.” My voice was barely audible. Who could think about things like speech when it took all of my willpower not to toss her on the bed and introduce myself to all the parts of her I’d not had the privilege of meeting.

She pulled back, and I resisted the urge to say thank you. I took the reprieve and with it several deep breaths. When I was a little farther away from the edge, I opened my eyes.

She was biting her bottom lip, and I forced myself to look away and meet her eyes. Then I wished I hadn’t. There was a glint there that I didn’t see often. A few times on the night we first met and on the rare occasion since. It was a boldness in her gaze that told me in was in a hell of a lot of trouble.

She reached down, and then her sexy but tame dress was travelling between us, and over her head. A noise– one part barbaric and one part pain– escaped my throat, and it was like trying not to look down when you’re standing on the a tightrope wire. When her chest brushed not-so-innocently against mine, I couldn’t resist anymore. I looked down.

I sucked in a breath, and then it stuck in my throat.

She was stunning. The most gorgeous fucking thing I’d ever seen. Not touching her was torture.

Shakespeare. Shakespeare. Think about Shakespeare.

“Bliss. You’re overestimating my self-control.” With my jaw clenched and every muscle in my body pulled taut, Batman had better inflection than I did.

“Oh, I’m pretty sure I estimated your control… perfectly.”

Her hips beared down into mine, and I knew I wasn’t going to make it. I was ten seconds away from touching all of her or having to bolt to stop myself. Her breath fanned across my mouth. She shifted, and her hips rocked ever so slightly into mine.

I perched a hand on her back, and tangled another in her hair. Just to keep her balanced, of course. And to hold her back, if I needed a second. Her hips rolled into mine again, harder and on purpose, and I nearly lost it.

My hand dug into her back, and my other fisted in her hair.

“Bliss,” I warned.

She blinked up at me, sweet and innocent. Or playing at it anyway.
“Garrick.”

“This is the opposite of slow.”

I should take my hand off her back. Touching her made this harder.

She swayed toward me, and every place we touched—from the slight graze of her lips to her chest to those damn hips—felt like it had been set on fire. She grinded into me, and I was acutely aware of every article of clothing that stood between us. Namely, I was very away of how few there were.

She whispered, “I think we’ve gone slow enough.”

If that meant what I thought it meant… God, just thinking about the possibility made black dance around the edges of my vision. I wrapped my arm completely around her waist, stilling her hips, but also bringing her closer.

“What does that mean?”

“It means…” Her fingers fiddled with the hem of my shirt, “that I’m done going slow.”

She pulled my shirt, and I was too much in shock to do anything but follow. I raised my arms, and then her bare skin slid against mine, and I was gone. Adrift at sea. Lost in space. Catapulted into an oblivion where nothing mattered but the thin space between her body and mine.

“I’m going to need you to be very clear about what you’re saying right now, Bliss.”

Her eyes met mine, wide and a little afraid. She kissed me, and I wanted to crawl under her skin, to be surrounded by her.

She pulled back, and added another quick, sweet kiss. In a small voice that was completely at odds with fire she’d been playing with so far tonight she said, “Make love to me?”

Who knew a voice so small could send tremors through my heart? God knows I wanted her, had wanted her from the moment I met her. But we’d made a deal.

“Bliss, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do for me.”

One month. As difficult as it was to wait, I never wanted her to regret a single thing about our time together. There was something both empowering and terrifying about knowing I would be her first. It meant she was mine, totally and completely. And if I didn’t fuck anything up, she could stay only mine. But it was also an incredible amount of pressure.

She said, “What about tonight has felt like I was being forced to do anything? In fact, I feel a little like I’m forcing you.”

Her shoulders hunched, and she pulled away from me every so slightly. I could see the weight beginning to drag down the corners of her lips, so I kissed it away. I used the hand in her hair to angle her head, and I kissed her with zero restraint, with almost no softness. I made sure she knew exactly how much I wanted her. So much that I felt like I was going to spontaneously combust beneath her.

My heart was hammering when I pulled back. “You’re not forcing me to do anything. I just want you to be sure. You can say stop at anytime.” And I would want to shoot myself in the face, but I would stop. Something flashed in her eyes, and my heart twitched with a nervous electricity. This was happening. I pulled on an easy smile and added, “You don’t need to make up a new pet.”

Her hands settled on my shoulders, and she stood. My body felt incomplete without her wrapped around me.

“If you’re going to keep trying to talk me out of it…”

My hands shot out with possibly the fastest reflexes of my life. I curled my arms around her, pulled and spun, placing her on the mattress beneath me. I held myself above her with one arm. Just seeing her laid out beneath me raised something like hunger inside of me.

“I wasn’t trying to talk you out of anything. I was trying to be a gentleman.”

But now that I was above her, and I could see the way her body moved with each pant of breath. Gentleman was a foreign word. She tucked her fingers into my belt loops and pulled me down on top of her. Her body molded to mine, and I held myself up on one elbow, just enough that I could look her in the eye as the weight of my body pressed into hers. She bit her lip, making me desperate to kiss and bite across her pale, pink skin.

“Do me a favor? Be a gentleman tomorrow?”

I said something. It might have been words. Then I let down the walls of control, and I kissed her hard and fast and with every bit of fire that I’d spent weeks trying to tame.

I lost myself in her—in the beads of sweat across her collarbone, the valley between her breasts, the snare of her legs around my hips.

And I didn’t want to be found.

Maybe that is the point of love, losing yourself entirely to another person.

Only it doesn’t feel like you’ve lost anything at all.

 


EEEP! Hope you enjoyed getting to know Garrick a bit better! If you love our favorite British Professor, consider nominating him (and Cade) in the NA Alley NA Crush Tournament! Nominations go live tomorrow at this website!

And I’ll talk to you all when you’re done getting to know Cade! <3

In Awkward <3,

Cora

The One with the THIRD Garrick Bonus Scene

GUYS!!!

FAKING IT comes out SOOOOO SOON. Like just days from now. And we’ve hit our third pre-order goal, which means another bonus scene! Read it below and then keep scrolling to find out how to get the very last Garrick bonus scene 🙂


The One Where He Changes His Mind

I could die happy watching Bliss dance. She held her hands up to her chest, opened her mouth in a silent scream, and bounced from side to side. She shook her head, her hair whirling.

Just watching her made me feel younger, happier. And I loved that she could be this girl—carefree and exuberant—and also put forth the kind of performance she’d given yesterday at auditions.

Her performance burrowed under my skin and tore me open. She transformed on stage, and she took us all with her.

Last night had been the hardest night yet to stay away from her. Seeing her out with her friends, celebrating, I had wanted her to be with me.

I tore my eyes away from her waist and the strip of skin revealed there as she danced.

I said, “I’m guessing you saw the list.”

She froze, and it was so hard to hold in my laugh. I imagined the blush creeping across her skin, and then got to see it a few seconds later as she turned.

“Hi Garrick.”

I would never get tired of hearing her say my name.”

“Hello Bliss. Congratulations.”

She ran her hands through her hair, taming it, and I had to fist my hands to keep from assisting.

Every morning when I woke up, I told myself this wasn’t a big deal. I could handle it… resisting her. But then I would see her in person, and it would be so much harder than I anticipated.

She said, “Thank you. I’m ,uh, pretty excited.”

“As you should be. Your audition…” There were so many things I wanted to say, but all of them seemed too telling. I stepped closer, and lowered my voice so no one else could hear. “Your audition was fantastic. There was no competition.” Then again, I was biased. I never saw anyone else when she was around.

Her voice was breathy and tempting when she said, “Thank you.”

“But Friday night…”

“Oh God—“

There were so many things I wanted to say about that night. How much I’d hated seeing her with Cade, how tempted I’d been to accept her invitation and join their party. I chose the most innocuous of my thoughts.

“As ridiculously cute as you were, please don’t get that drunk again. Eric will need you to be at your absolute best for this role.”

“Of course.” Her eyes were wide and panicked. “Absolutely. I promise.”

“And… I was worried about you too.”

Mostly that.

“Oh.”

I looked from the circle of her lips to the wisps of hair that still stood out of place and down to the leg she’d burned on my motorcycle.

“I don’t like being worried about you.”

She looked up at me from beneath her lashes, and I couldn’t resist not touching her in some way. I restrained myself to just touching a curl instead of her skin.

She smiled, and it devastated me. Leveled me completely.

“You should probably worry about yourself. Calling me ‘cute’ again is bound to get you injured, possibly maimed.”

I loved when she got cheeky. With how she made me feel, I might willingly let her maim me.

Like her skin was magnetic, my hand in her hair swayed in, and my knuckles brushed against her cheek.

I should have held my tongue, but I had impulse-control problems where she was concerned. “Since I can’t very well call you the alternative here, ‘cute’ will have to do for now.”

I’d just have to call her sexy in my mind. And maybe someday…

I cleared my throat and put a few feet between us. That was dangerous territory, thinking we had any possible future. I was her teacher, and she had Cade, and that was only the beginning.

I said, “why don’t you go take a seat for class?”

She left and I took a few moments to collect myself and put on my teacher persona before I had to face her again.

When class ended, I was eager to escape up to my office for a break, but then Bliss re-entered the theatre with Eric. I’d forgotten he wanted to talk to her about callbacks tonight.

She took a seat right beside me, and I concentrated on not reacting to her presence. The last thing I needed was for Eric to detect whatever was going on between us. Or not going on.

I looked at her, and her expression was strained, lined with fear. I wanted to take her hand and put her at ease, but I settled for a smile instead.
Eric said, “Bliss… I have to admit I’m surprised.”

She exhaled sharply, her hands fisted, and I realized what had her so scared. She thought she was in trouble. She thought we were in trouble. I wanted to assure her, but she didn’t look at me again. Her dread-filled eyes stayed locked on Eric. I hated that I’d even put her in a situation where she felt she had to be afraid.

When Eric began talking about her audition and callbacks, she released an audible breath. I didn’t realize how tense I was until she relaxed, and I allowed myself to follow.

That evening she took a seat in front of me in the theatre while Eric went to grab a few last minute things before callbacks started.

She sat stiff and uncomfortable. I leaned down, wanting to say something to diffuse the tension, but she beat me to it.

She said awkwardly, “Hey… friend.”

I laughed. How was it that even when she was adorable, I found her irresistibly sexy?

I said, “Not quite believable, but A for effort.”

She scoffed. “Someone’s an easy grader.”

“Someone just has a soft spot where you are concerned.”

She shivered slightly and tipped her head to the side. My eyes went to the neck that had fascinated me from the beginning, and I clutched the back of her seat to keep my hand occupied.

I had to learn how to hold my tongue around her.

“Sorry,” I said. “Sometimes I forget.”

Wishful thinking, mostly.

One of these times that wishful thinking was going to get me into serious trouble. Or slapped. If I were a better man, I would have backed off by now.

Instead, I leaned closer. I cleared my throat and said, “I have to ask you something.”

“Okay.”

Before I could let reason catch up to my impulses, I said, “Cade.”

She turned, and the scent of her hair nearly did me in.

She raised an eyebrow and said, “That’s not a question.”

Ah, hell. I’d already gone this far.

“You’re still with him?” I asked.

“With him?”

Damn, she was really going to make me say it.

“I just—I can’t tell. You still sit together in class, but it’s different now. So, I thought maybe you two had broken it off.”

Hoped was the better word. I had not business hoping for that kind of thin, but it was one of those things you just couldn’t fight. Like the sun rising in the sky, the coming of spring, the fall of rain. Hope wasn’t something I could turn off; no matter how much easier it would be to do so.

She said, “There was nothing to break off.”

“What?”

“Yes! Cade and I aren’t together. We never have been.”

That hope burned so bright that there were two suns for just a moment.

I tried to make sense of everything that had happened. I thought for sure it all had stemmed from Cade—her leaving the night we first met, that crazy cat excuse, all her odd behavior since then.

She insisted, “I didn’t run out because of Cade. I had to get my cat…”

I signed. “Bliss, I’m not an idiot.”

“I have a cat! I do! Um… she’s gray and adorable and her name is… Hamlet.”

My brows furrowed. “You have a cat named Hamlet?”

“I do.” She was so confident. “I definitely, definitely do.”

Maybe I was completely off. I hadn’t exactly had the best judgment as of late. It was possible I’d misjudged everything. Maybe.

“Fine. So, if you’re not dating Cade, what’s going on between the two of you?”

Her cheeks began to pink before she even answered, “Nothing.”

So maybe I wasn’t so far off after all.

“You’re a terrible liar.”

“It’s nothing. It’s just something that happened Friday when I was… how do you British people say it? Pissed? Sloshed?”

My stomach sank like it was weighted with concrete.

“Did you sleep with him?” I asked.

Just the words made me nauseated. If I let myself think beyond that, I’d go mental. I didn’t realize I had a death grip on the back of her chair until she said, “What? No!”

The relief was overwhelming.

“Good.” That was an understatement.

“Garrick…”

I was so glad I couldn’t even conjure an ounce of guilt. I was tired of beating myself up over this.

“What? Just because I can’t have you right now, doesn’t mean I’m okay with him having you.”

God, it felt good to be honest.

She blinked and shook her head. “I’m going to pretend you didn’t just refer to me like property to be owned.”

“Can’t we own each other?”

If I was going to go around feeling guilty all the time, I sure as hell intended to do something worth feeling guilty over.

“What has gotten into you?” she asked. “I thought you promised me we wouldn’t do this again.”

Now that Cade was out of the picture I was having trouble remember why I made that promise.

“I don’t know. I just… I’ve been going crazy thinking about the two of you together.”

“We kissed. Nothing else.”

Those words stung like a slap, and I flinched back.

She added, “It was just a kiss. It didn’t mean anything.”

“I don’t want anyone else to kiss you.”

Just knowing my lips hadn’t been the last to touch hers made me want to do something bad… something I definitely should do when Eric could walk back in at any minute.

“Garrick…” I didn’t like that exasperated tone she kept using, but I’d take it as long as she kept saying my name.

“I know I’m not being fair.” The way things had happened between us… that wasn’t fair either. “I’m being a right bastard actually. I keep telling myself to leave you alone, but the truth is… I’m not sure I can. And now that I know you’re not with Cade…”

“What are you saying?”

I was tired of saying everything. Words just got in the way. Words made me think I had to stay away from her, and for what? A job that was only lasting a few more months anyway?

No, I’d had about enough of words.

I’d always been an action kind of man anyway.


 

 

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The One with the SECOND Garrick Bonus Scene

My loves! We’ve hit another FAKING IT pre-order goal! And that means that you all get another Garrick BONUS SCENE! If you have no idea what this is all about go here. If you missed the first Bonus Garrick Scene go here. Otherwise… DIVE RIGHT IN.

The One Where They Meet… Again.

When I woke Monday morning, I thought maybe I’d dreamed her. That she was the strangest, most elusive siren ever. Or maybe that the universe was punishing me for breaking Jenna’s heart.

Mostly, I spent my morning guzzling coffee and resisting the urge to walk back over to her apartment and knock on the door.

I would give it a few days, and then go back. See if I could make sense of whatever the hell happened the night before. It was obviously an excuse, but I just couldn’t understand why. I’d given her several opportunities to get out, but she’d been the one to keep pulling us along. So, either I’d done something wrong or… I had nothing. I had to have done something, said something that made her change her mind, to make her literally run away from me.

I left bright and early to get to the university. As I settled onto my bike, I couldn’t help but think of the burn on her leg, and wondered how it was.

That could be my excuse to check in on her. Maybe tonight. That would be long enough, right?

Damn it.

I made myself focus on the road.

It was strange to pull onto campus and not have to join the hoards of students circling the parking lot like vultures for a spot near the Fine Arts building. Instead I zipped around the lot and pulled into one of the reserved faculty spaces.

I pulled off my helmet and shook the hair out of my face.

Faculty. Jesus.

I was less than an hour away from being a professor. People in their twenties, only a handful of years younger than me, were going to call me sir or mister. I could almost hear the ominous slasher movie music playing behind my thoughts.

I had a real job. I was a real adult.

And I’d done it by accident.

I’m not sure if everyone feels this way or just actors, but I felt like I was in a movie as I entered the building, and made my way to my office. Well, Professor Jackson’s office anyway. I kept expecting to see a camera out of the corner of my eye or a catchy and yet appropriate song underscoring my movement. It was that surreal.

Sometimes in life you make these tiny little choices that at the time seem miniscule in the grand scheme of things. But you veer a little left, then a little more, and more, and then suddenly you’re facing an entirely different direction and have no idea where you’re heading.

My first class of the morning was a group of graduating seniors in their last semester. What could I possibly offer them? I’d been out of college just long enough to rack up even more debt in the form of a post-graduate degree, work less than a year in the regional theatre scene before mangling my personal and professional life into an unrecognizable carcass of failure.

My first lesson plan should be called: Life. No one knows what the hell they’re doing.

I sunk into Professor Jackson’s chair, surrounded by his books and his files and his things, and rubbed at my eyes.

I had to believe there was a reason.

I had to believe that even though nothing about my life made sense at the moment, I was getting to where I was supposed to be.

I had to believe that even though I couldn’t see the map, and I was making wrong turns and taking not-so-short cuts—the destination was there.

Maybe I was supposed to be here. Maybe I was supposed to lock myself out of my apartment, and meet Bliss. And as bizarre as it seemed, maybe it was a good thing that she’d run out on me.  I liked her. She was sweet and silly, and when everything else seemed complicated, being with her felt simple.

There was more than a one off there.

A knock on the office door pulled me out of my thoughts, and I sat up straighter at my desk. The department head, Eric Barnes stood filling up the doorway, his hands in his pockets. He was a lanky man, twice my age, and had taught me theatre history and directing in my days here, among other things.

“You get all settled into your place?”

I smiled, trying not to think too much about last night, and said, “Yes, of course. Thank you.”

I stood, and he leaned over the desk to shake my hand.

I felt again, like this was some movie, rather than my life. Five years ago, I’d been getting sloshed and doing impressions of him and the other professors in a room full of college friends. Now, he was my boss.

“I thought I’d go down to your first class with you to get you all introduced. Most of the students will have heard the rumors of your coming by now, but I’ll be there just to get you settled.”

“Of course. That would be great. Thank you.”

I felt like a bobblehead, nodding along and just spouting ‘thank you’ every few seconds.

He said, “I think you’ll like this group. They came in the year after your class left, and they really stepped up. They’re a strong group.”

“Good. That’s good.”

God, I hoped I was better at figuring out what to say during class.

“ I think you’ll have a blast teaching them. But make sure to hold your ground, too. They’ll push the line as far as you let them. But be firm, and keep them on track, and you’ll do fine.”

“Right.” Be firm. God, I was going to make a bleeding mess of this whole thing.

“You’re looking a little yellow, Garrick.”

I forced a smile and said, “Just a bit of nerves, that’s all.”

“You’ll be fine. You may not feel experienced enough to do this, but you’re still light years beyond these kids. Most of them leave college, determined and passionate, and half of them give up within the first year. You’re past that phase. You’re in the trenches, but you’re still hanging on. Your perspective will actually be more valuable to them than a seasoned professor who has forgotten what it’s like to go on a dozen auditions a week. This is a clean slate. These kids don’t know you, and you don’t know them. Just tell them what you wish someone had told you when you’d been sitting there. It’s a simple as that.”

It did seem simpler when he put it that way.

I didn’t have to have all the answers. I just had to get them past the first hurdle.

I nodded. “Thanks Eric. That helps a lot.”

He gave that cheesy teacher shrug that said, ‘I do know what I’m talking about.’ He clapped a hand on my shoulder. “Let’s go down and get you settled. You’re in the blackbox.”

My nerves spiked, and I turned to my desk, desperate for anything to stall. I grabbed a pen. What I was going to do with it, I had no idea, but I felt better holding something.

“Okay,” I said. “Let’s go.”

We descended the stairs in silence, and as soon as we entered the theatre wing, I could hear the students in the green room down at the far end of the hallway. They were laughing and screaming, and someone was playing music, and I envied them. I missed being where they were… not just in the green room, though I did miss that. I missed being on the cusp of things. That feeling before you jump when you know you’re going to fly, so falling doesn’t even cross your mind. I missed feeling like I had all the time in the world.

We entered the small theatre, and I smiled. I inhaled the familiar scent of dusty curtains and old furniture and props. Black, moveable curtains encircled the entire room, and the flexible seating was set up in a thrust style with risers on three sides of the audience. A prop table had been pulled to the middle of the room, along with a chair. I took a seat, but that didn’t feel right, so I stood. Then I tried leaning on the table, but it tipped under my weight, so I settled for standing with my hands in my pockets.

Eric laughed at me, and said, “It’s actually kind of refreshing to see you like this. You’ve always been very confident and comfortable, even as a student.”

I cleared my throat.

Yes, well. I was a bit off my game lately.

I uttered, “I’m fine,” just as the door swung open and students started filing in.

“Eric!” A few of them called as they piled onto the chairs in the center section. A pretty redhead turned toward Eric and said, “Did you miss us over the holidays?”

Eric laughed. “I’m saving my missing until you’re all gone for good.”

She held a hand over her plentiful chest and frowned, “I’m hurt. You’re going to cry for days when we graduate. Admit it.”

I cleared my throat, and pulled my eyes away from her. The last thing I needed was to get caught ogling a student. I squeezed the pen in my hand and tried to clear my head. Last night had really done a number on me. The sooner I saw Bliss again and got things settled, the better.
For the most part, the students ignored me.

Well, they stared, for sure. But they went back to their conversations, talking about who had said what and who was seeing whom. It was like looking into the past and seeing my class right before we graduated.

I started labeling them as my friends from college. The red head was Emma definitely. Spunky and pretty, but a little bit off-putting. There was another guy they called Dom that was hands down Jack from my class. He tried too hard to be cool, and every time he spoke I saw half a dozen eyes roll.

This was simple. I could do this.

By the time nine A.M. came, and Eric introduced me to the class, my nerves had all but disappeared. This would be no different than the conversations my friends and I used to have before graduating. We debated the pros and cons of graduate school and regional theatre and moving to New York. Only now, I had the added benefit of having already made those decisions, as had my friends. At least now, I knew what the hell I was talking about.

He was mid-sentence when the loud theatre doors creaked open. Those things had ruined many of my own attempts to sneak in and out of class in college.

Eric called out, “Late,” and two girls called back, “Sorry, Eric!”

They pushed through the curtain, snickering, their coffees held in front of their bowed faces.

The first was blonde, again pretty.

I hadn’t anticipated this particular issue with teaching.

Eric took and breath and started talking again, but I didn’t follow what he said. The second girl had lowered her coffee, and even though her head was bowed searching through her purse, there was something about her that pulled my eye.

Something about her hair and the curve of her back was familiar, and I wondered if maybe she was the little sister of someone I’d gone to school with. That happened a lot, family legacies.

Then she lowered her bag and leaned back in her chair, casting light onto her face. I knew when I saw her lips, those lips that I’d spent so long staring at the night before, but I told myself it wasn’t possible.

But as I took in her pale skin, her small nose, and her faintly pink skin, my world flashed hot and then cold. I squeezed the pen in my hand, and felt the plastic crack under my palm.

A roaring filled my ears, and it took me several long seconds to realize it was the students clapping, and not my world coming apart at the hinges.
Then her eyes flicked up to mine, blue and wide and so familiar that my whole body tingled with recognition.

Her jaw fell open, and it was like there was a wall in my brain that I couldn’t get a thought past. I knew I should look away. I knew I should acknowledge whatever Eric had just said and the other students in the class.

But more than all of that, I knew her. Bliss.

And I wished to God that I didn’t.

I was back in that surreal world, like a movie. And everything that had seemed simple and right turned out to be a complicated bloody mess.


 

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The One with the First Bonus Scene!

We did it! We reached our first Pre-order threshold for FAKING IT!

And you know what that means! MORE GARRICK! Here is the first excerpt, which covers the first two chapters of LOSING IT in Garrick’s POV. There’s still three other Garrick Bonus Scenes left. The more #FakingIt Pre-Orders, the more Garrick you get!

Note: This scene is unedited, so please forgive any typos or errors.


The One Where They Meet

When the bartender asked me what I wanted, I almost told him one of everything. Getting mind-numbingly pissed wouldn’t bode well for my first day of work, but it would make me feel better.

So, I settled for a bourbon and took a seat in the back of the bar.

I laid the book containing the complete works of Shakespeare on the table, and fixed it with a glare.

I couldn’t believe I was teaching Shakespeare. When Eric had told me, he looked at me like he expected me to throw a damn parade. I suppose all Brits are supposed to love the guy, or Americans think that anyway.

So I’d bought the stupid book, threw it in the saddlebag on my motorcycle, and then put off making lesson plans for that class until the last possible minute.

Lesson plans.

What the hell had I gotten myself into?

My life in Philly had gone up in flames, and I’d thought this job was my way out, my open window. I was only thinking about getting away when I jumped, not about the pavement I was hurdling towards.

When I couldn’t put off reality and lesson plans any longer, I’d gone out to my bike to get the book, and I’d forgotten that the door to my new flat automatically locked behind me, and left my key inside.

So while I waited on a locksmith, I decided a drink was in order. Or several. Anything to help me swallow down a bit of Shakespeare before I had to teach it tomorrow.

Life, meet pavement.

I opened to Romeo and Juliet first, and then immediately flipped another chunk of pages. No, thank you.

Macbeth.

At least that one was bloody.

If I remembered correctly, it was the shortest Shakespeare play, and I’d still never managed to get all the way through it. The history of the play’s cursed performances was infinitely more interesting than the play itself.

I dragged myself through the first act. The writing in this damn book was tiny, and every time I turned to a new page filled with miniscule print, I had to battle thoughts of suicide… and book burning.

I’d just gotten to the scene where Macbeth hallucinates a floating dagger as a sign that he should kill Duncan.

I swallowed a yawn.

I could go for a floating dagger right about now.

“If that’s supposed to be a way to pick up girls, I would suggest moving to an area with a little more traffic.”

A voice broke through my boredom, and I looked up to something much more preferable to a floating dagger.

I said, “Excuse me?”

My distraction was brunette with pale, almost porcelain skin that nearly glowed against the tiny black top she wore.

She said, “Shakespeare. No one reads Shakespeare in a bar unless it’s a ploy to pick up girls.” People actually did that? Jesus. “All I’m saying is you might have better luck up front.”

She put a hand on her hip, and gave me the cheekiest smile.  I took it as a sign from the universe that I could be done with Shakespeare for the evening.

I smiled and said, “It’s not a ploy, but if it were, it seems to me that I’m having great luck right here.”

A faint blush chased across her cheeks, and that tempting smile froze on her face. I used a napkin to mark my place in Macbeth. Her eyes went a little wide, and the hand on her hip dropped. Her back straightened and she said, “You’re not trying to pick up a girl?”

Confusion crept across her eyes as the blush crept from her cheeks down her neck. It was a lovely neck.

I said, “I wasn’t.”

But this seemed like a much better use of my time.

Her eyebrows lifted, and I couldn’t help my grin. She’d come over blazing, and now she looked like I’d pulled the rug from beneath her feet, and maybe the floor too.

I turned my head to the side, trying to figure her out. Her outfit matched her bold approach, but as my eyes were drawn back to her face, I noticed how little makeup she wore. Maybe that was why her blush was so vivid.

“What’s your name, love?”

She pressed her lips together for a moment, like she was trying to keep herself from speaking, but then she said, “Bliss.”

I eyed her, trying to decide if she was playing with me.

“Is that a line?”

Her blush migrated to her collarbone, drawing my eyes to the curved neck of her shirt. My mouth went dry. I cleared my throat, and dragged my gaze away from her chest.

She said, “No, it’s my name.”

For months, I’d been pushing any interested girl away. Because even though Jenna and I had been split up, I knew it would make our already messy issues messier if I started seeing someone else. And despite the fact that she’d turned all our friends except for Spencer against me, the last thing I wanted to do was hurt her more. For the thousandth time, I wished I’d never crossed that line from friends to lovers. If I hadn’t, I’d still be in Philly. I’d still be acting, instead of running away here to teach. I’d still be happily ignoring all things Shakespeare.

But I wasn’t in Philly anymore.

Jenna wasn’t going to walk past or hear it from a friend.

There was one benefit to letting my former best friend run me off, and she was standing right in front of me.

Bliss. I smiled. What a name. Maybe the universe thought I was dense, and decided to be especially overt with its signs.

I said, “Lovely name for a lovely girl.”

I pushed the Shakespeare book over until it sat forgotten at the corner of my table. I’d spent long enough wallowing over the disaster that was my life in Philly, and I’d carried that over to my new life here.

Sure, being back in Texas at the same Uni I’d attended wasn’t something I’d ever thought I would do, but I had some ideas about how to make the most of it.

I told her about the mishap with my apartment key, and then talk turned to Shakespeare. She looked intrigued, so I tried not to grimace too much.
I said, “Don’t tell me you’re a Romeo and Juliet fan?”

For a brief second, my stomach dropped. It wasn’t that I was against the idea of love, but I just didn’t get their relationship, or the way women fawned over it. Romeo goes to that party obsessed with another girl, and then somehow in a matter of hours, he and Juliet fall so deeply in love that they’re willing to risk everything just to be together?

Doubtful.

Bliss answered, “Othello actually. That’s my favorite.”

Now that was a relationship that I bought. Obsession can be an even more powerful motivator than love.

“Ah. Fair Desdemona. Loyal and pure.”

Looking at Bliss, I understood that obsession even better. The way her skin flushed set my blood pumping. I wanted to trail my fingers across her collarbone, just to see if her skin was as soft as I imagined it would be. But I had a feeling that I wouldn’t be able to stop there.

She started to stay something, but stuttered over her words. Flustered, she was even more attractive. She was real, unlike half the bints I’d dated over the years.

Finally, she managed, “I like the juxtaposition of reason and passion.”

As a soon-to-be teacher, I probably should have been impressed by her thoughts. As a man, I was only really paying attention to that last word.
“I’m a fan of passion myself.”

I’d always been direct, probably because I’d grown up with a mother who never filtered her thoughts, not because she couldn’t, but because she didn’t like to. She liked to watch people squirm.

I’d quelled that directness with Jenna, and ignored the gut feeling that told me we were better as friends. I thought that just because I wasn’t initially interested in her didn’t mean I couldn’t be. Look where that had gotten me.

From now on, I was following my gut. And it was pulling me toward this girl in a way I hadn’t felt in a very long time.

I said, “You haven’t asked me my name.”

She cleared her throat, and I knew she was nervous. Nervous was a good sign.

She asked, “What’s your name?”

“Join me, and I’ll tell you.”

She took the seat across from me, and my lips spread in a victorious smile.

I told her my name and that I was going to buy her a drink.

“Then we can chat some more about reason… and passion.”

And then maybe we’d have time for some hands-on study, too.

I waived down an employee and asked for another bourbon. When the waiter turned to Bliss, he put a hand on her shoulder and said, “I remember—Jack and Coke right?”

A few strands of her caught beneath his hand and laced between his fingers. I stiffened.  I’d been thinking of touching her hair since she sat down, wanting to run my fingers through it, and now a waiter had beat me to it.

I’d never been particularly jealous, but when he winked at her, I felt the liquor sour in my mouth. Her eyes stayed locked on him the entire time he stood by our table, and I was fighting cave man impulses to pull her chair around to my side of the table and away from him.

He started to leave, but then said, “Should I tell your friend up front that you’ll be back?”

Still not looking at me, she said, “Oh, um, sure. I guess.”

When he finally left, I took a long, slow breath.

And then because I’d given my gut free reign, I said, “You know, sometimes I wonder if Desdemona was as innocent as she let on. Maybe she knew the effect she had on guys and enjoyed making them jealous.

Her eyes met mine, and she leveled me with her stare. I saw that brassy girl who first spoke to me step back into the ring.

“Or maybe she was just intimidated by Othello’s intensity and didn’t know how to talk to him. Communication is key, after all.”

That was definitely something I could give her.

“Communication, eh?”

“It could have solved a lot of their problems.”

It could have solved a lot of mine, too. But this was a new town, new leaf. Instead of cave-maning her chair over to mine, I picked mine up and placed it directly next to hers.

“In that case, I’ll endeavor to be as clear as possible.” She smelled sweet, floral. I resisted the urge to lean in to her ear and communicate exactly what I wanted to do to her. Instead, I said, “I’d rather you didn’t go back to your friend. Stay here with me.”

I tried to make it sound like a question, but my gut had other ideas. I was not going back to Shakespeare. And I was not giving her up to some friend. Or that damn waiter.

“Well, my friend is waiting. What will we do if I stay?”

I had to bite my tongue to keep from uttering something that would scare her off. Instead, I did what I’d been longing to do and reached forward to touch her hair. It was soft and the low light in the bar picked up strands of gold among the brown. I brushed it back over her shoulder, revealing that delicate neck that was still painted in tones of red. And I couldn’t stop myself from touching her there, too. I trailed my fingers over her skin, pausing at the place where I could feel her blood pulsing through her veins. Her heartbeat was almost as fast as mine.

This was what was missing with Jenna. I’d loved her. A part of me still did, despite how shitty everything had turned out. But there had never been this primal need to touch her, to keep touching her whatever the cost.

“We can talk Shakespeare.” It was a small price to pay, really. “We can talk about anything you want. Though I can’t promise not to get distracted by your lovely neck.” I trailed my fingers up smooth skin to her jaw. I followed the curve of bone to her chin, and narrowly resisted continuing up to her lips. I used a finger to crook her chin forward, drawing her closer to me. I felt her inhale, and it was like she’d sucked the breath right out of me. She was a distraction, every part of her. I said, “Or your lips.” She bit down on her bottom lip, staining it red. God, she looked good in red. “Or those eyes.” A deep blue green. “I could woo you with stories about my life, like Othello does Desdemona.”

“I’d rather not parallel our evening with a couple who ended with a murder-suicide.”

And she was funny. Even better. Maybe Texas wouldn’t be so bad after all.

“Touché.  I don’t care what we do as long as you stay.”

After a torturous pause, she said, “Okay.” Her voice was low and breathy, and I fisted my hands to keep from pulling her to me.

“Maybe I should lock myself out of my apartment more often.”

A small smile unfurled across her lips, and I was a goner. I couldn’t take my eyes off her lips, not even when her friend called. She took the call, but I didn’t hear what she was saying. Her mouth mesmerized me.

I liked her, enough that I wanted to see her again. Logically, I knew I should cool it and take things slow, if that was the case. But the part of me that wanted to see all of her and see it now spoke so much louder.

My resistance was shaved down to a miniscule thread when the waiter came back with our drinks. His eyes fixed on Bliss and barely left her as he set down our drinks. I slipped my arm around the back of her chair, and it took all of my restraint not to lower it to her shoulders.

When we were alone again, she asked, “Are you the jealous type, Garrick?”

Right now? Absolutely.

“Not really.” I shrugged.

She raised a disbelieving eyebrow, and I smiled. She didn’t seem angry, so I wasn’t about to feel guilty.

“Maybe this discussion of Othello has set me a bit on edge.”

I was halfway to obsession already.

When she hinted that we go back to my place to wait on the locksmith a few minutes later, halfway went out the window.

I kept up conversation as best as I could, but my mind was already wandering onto other things, like how the short ride to my apartment wasn’t short enough. Like the way her hair would look spread across my pillow, how her hips would feel in my hands, and what her lips would taste like.
It was akin to ignoring an itch. Every second that passed, my world seemed to narrow until I couldn’t focus on anything else, but how badly I wanted to close the distance between us.

And like a tiny pebble causing an avalanche, she looked up at me from beneath her lashes and gave me an opening, a window.

And I took it.

And the walls of self-control I’d been straining to hold up crashed completely. I took hold of her elbow, and pulled her to her feet. And I followed the pull in my chest straight to her lips.

She froze against me, and I wanted to bloody pummel myself. I waited for her to shove me away or slap me, but that didn’t come either. I’d already hung myself out to dry, what was the harm in tightening the noose a bit?

I pulled her bottom lip between my teeth, and felt her shiver. She swayed toward me, and her neck tilted back. I threaded a hand through her hair at the same moment that her mouth opened.

Another window.

The first taste of her would have been worth any pummeling she or I would have given. By the second, I was addicted. Her hands pulled at my back, and I was starving for her. I tugged her closer, until the curve of her chest pressed against me, but it still wasn’t close enough.

I needed more.

So, I slipped my hand underneath the hem of her top, sliding my fingers across her lower back.  Her skin felt like silk, and I traced the slight dip just to the side of her spine. I spread my hand, wishing I could touch more of her, sink my fingers deeper. A moan flowed from her mouth into mine, and I pulled back, wanting to touch more of her. My hand on her neck was heading for the hem of her shirt when my peripheral vision reminded me exactly where we were.

Damn it all.

I looked back to her lips, pink and slightly swollen, and God I wished we weren’t in public. She leaned closer, tempting me almost past what I could bear. I couldn’t look at those lips anymore. I dipped my head down toward her shoulder, inhaling her sweet scent.

My resolve broke for a moment, and I tasted the skin of her neck just for a few seconds.

With my eyes close, I tried to pull myself back together.

I said, “Sorry. Got carried away.”

EEEEP! I hope you enjoyed that!
Check out the thermometer below to see how far we have to go until the next scene:
You can keep track here on the blog with me. OR… the thermometer and bonus scenes will all be housed on my facebook page in the tabs section (right by the like button).

And if you enjoyed Garrick’s POV, don’t forget, KEEPING HER releases August 13th, and is an entire novella from his POV set after the events of LOSING IT.