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1 Day: Hot Highlanders and Wild Warriors (Contest)
Monday, October 13th, 2014

Hot Highlander 600Since tomorrow is release day, I’m going to award the two previous days’ prizes tomorrow. So there’s still time to enter if you haven’t already!

Right now, it’s very early morning. I really should be off to bed—I have a 6AM alarm set. Relatives are in town and we’re off to the city for some shopping and sightseeing, so I’ll be away from my desk. I will do my best to post news about an upcoming blog tour on release day. We’ve got a ton of prizes and opportunities to enter, so keep watching here for the “deets.”

I’ll leave you with one last thought about the book. If you have ever had a love for warriors, this book will satisfy. They come from countries all over the world. They wear kilts or armor, wield swords and iron fists. They are men who think duty or ambition is their paramount concern until they meet The One.

So come on. Turn the page. Sink into a story set in some far away time inside a castle with cold stone walls where a man with an intense gaze and warm hands will seduce you with his powerful frame and deep, rumbling voice. I was the lucky girl. I met them all first. :)

For more information about where you can buy your own copy of the book, check out the Hot Highlanders and Wild Warriors website.

Post a comment today and you’ll get a second chance to win one of the books I’ve offered the past two days. Let me know whether you’d be willing to “touch the stone” and catapult back in time if you knew one of these warriors would be waiting for you!

2 Days: Hot Highlanders and Wild Warriors (Contest)
Sunday, October 12th, 2014

UPDATE: The winner of the free signed copy of COWBOY HEAT is…Cara! 

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Hot Highlander 600If you haven’t already guessed, I’m super excited about this anthology. I want it to do well, because I want my publisher to realize there’s a market for historically-themed sexiness. Yes, I doubt there’s many of us eager to actually touch that tall stone to be transported to some past era (unless we knew for sure Jamie F. was waiting there!). But I think we can leave behind the realities of poor hygiene and bad teeth long enough to enjoy some romantic fantasies.

Do you love Highlanders, English knights, Mongols, Samurai, or Vikings? This book has it all. If you’d like to read excerpts before you commit to purchase, be sure to check out the blogs each of the authors has posted to introduce you to their stories: Hot Highlanders and Wild Warriors Blog.

Let me know your favorite flavor of historical hero, and you’ll be entered to win a free, signed copy of Cowboy Heat!

Here’s a peek inside the table of contents of Hot Highlanders and Wild Warriors:

“Pleasure in Surrender” by Delilah Devlin
After the lady of the keep bars her gates to the barbarian the king commands she wed, the half-Viking knight scales the walls of her heart

“Wicked” by Susannah Chapin
The strong-willed daughter of a Scottish Laird learns it isn’t her surrender her father’s most powerful but wounded warrior craves

“The Keeper of the Keys” by Axa Lee
A Briton queen learns to lay aside the household keys of her responsibilities and ask her Saxon warlord husband for what she craves

“The Maiden’s Kiss” by Layla Chase
A Viking warrior tempts fate and his own control when an Icelandic maiden asks to be tutored in the art of kissing

“My Loveliest Vision” by Renee Luke
Despite a daunting affliction, the lady of the keep will protect her father’s holdings from a resolute knight come to claim what he was promised

“The Invasion of Nefyn” by Lizzie Ashworth
A Briton woman risks rape and death at the hands of invading Saxons in hopes of a visit from her warrior husband

“The Promise of Memory” by Regina Kammer
A Roman slave finds freedom in fantasies of a knight in the imperial guard—a warrior who evokes memories of a long lost love

“On My Honor” by Beatrix Ellroy
When a wounded knight is offered sanctuary by a widowed healer, the pleasure she also offers may strain his honor

“A Hawk in Flight” by Connie Wilkins
The Lady of Aragotsotn paid tribute to the Mongol conqueror to save her people, but her falcon-fierce heart remains undefeated—though it might be won

“To Love a King’s Man” by Emma Jay
At the Highland Games of 1589, a young widow risks all for a chance to win the love of a bastard favored by the king

“The Bodyguard” by Jacqueline Brocker
As a ninja stalks through the palace corridors, the daughter of a samurai lord is drawn to her wounded, pensive bodyguard

“Broken Vows” by Anya Richards
A marriage of convenience leads to most inconvenient desires and a threat to one knight’s immortal soul

“Poetry and Amber” by Axa Lee
A mighty passion ignites along the Volga River between a Celtic witch and the Rus king to whom she’s been traded

“The Squire” by Cela Winter
While traveling in France, a knight’s secretive new squire makes him question everything he knows about himself

3 Days: Hot Highlander and Wild Warriors (Contest)
Saturday, October 11th, 2014

UPDATE: The winner of the free signed copy of HIGH OCTANE HEROES is…Robin W! 

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Hot Highlander 600Sometimes, I think I’m the luckiest writer in the world. I write the stories I want to write (for the most part). I can write any length I want to write—and you know that for me, the shorter the better. There’s something about writing something super short, putting everything into a few sparse words. You really have to hone a sentence; nothing that doesn’t absolutely need to be there can stay.

I didn’t begin writing short stories. I wrote longer stories then discovered a market for sexy novellas, then almost by accident, I discovered the Cleis Press anthologies. I wrote story after story, short 3000 to 4000 word hot little numbers, and I was hooked.

Then I thought, “Why am I waiting for the next call for submissions to write a new one?” I came up with my own proposal for a collection and it was accepted. So far six anthologies have been published and on October 14th, the seventh releases! If you’re curious about the anthologies that came before, you check them all out on this page: Delilah’s Collections.

I’ve loved the whole process of pulling together these collections. Every time, I gather old friends and new-to-me authors, and we dedicate to finding readers for our stories.

This time will be no different. We’ll be blogging and holding parties. We’ll have prizes along the way—our ploy to get you reading our excerpts, because we know that once you get a taste, you’ll have to get your own copy to finish the meal!

So follow along. Join the excitement. All the authors are pretty giddy over this new release, and could the timing be any better? Anyone watching Outlander on Starz?!

How can you keep “in the know” about our current contests and events?

1) Subscribe to our blog. (Look for signup block in the left hand column of the page.)

2) Like us on Facebook page.

3) Check out our Pinterest board.

Any of these will work. We hope you’ll join us. And just as a reward for showing up today and reading through this email, I’ll offer a signed copy of High Octane Heroes to one lucky commenter. I’ll choose the winner tomorrow night! Tell me whether you’re doing any of the things I’ve mentioned to follow the fun.

Flashback: Strokes, Vol. 1 (Contest)
Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

UPDATE: The winner of this contest is…Suzanne!

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Those of you who read me, know I love to write short. Short stories, that is. I write them for publication in anthologies, and sometimes to release on their own, as I did with yesterday’s release, Big Brass Buckle. When I have a nice group of short stories written, I publish them together in volumes entitled Strokes. I have two volumes out at present. By Christmas, I hope to have a third. If you’ve never read my short stories and think you would never be satisfied with anything less than a 100 pages of manuscript, I challenge you to reconsider. Sometimes, something small can be quite edible and delicious!

Post a comment today, and you’ll be entered to win
a free download of
Strokes, Vol. 1!

Strokes

From New York Times Bestselling Author, Delilah Devlin, comes a naughty collection of seven bedtime stories for a week’s worth of nighttime reading pleasure—a little “som-som” to inspire sexy dreams or a one-handed orgasm, or to be read to a partner and enjoyed together.   Witness one woman’s desperate attempt to seduce her busy husband in “Lily’s Last Stand”. In “Nip ‘n’ Tuck” follow a shy seamstress’s adventures with an online suitor that doesn’t go quite as planned. Dive into “Dreaming by the Sea” where a woman with a mysterious past is surprised by a lover who strides naked from the ocean to claim her. An adventurous Victorian nurse learns the pleasures of steam-driven technology in “Dr.Mullaley’s Cure”. A New York commuter shares lustful daydreams of with another subway passenger in “The Morning Ride”.  A woman finds the limits of her inhibitions tested in a one-night stand in “All About Me”. In “The Obedient Wife”, find out what really happened between The Beauty and the Beast. Hint: It’s not your children’s fairytale!

Short excerpts:

From “Lily’s Last Stand”:
The F-bomb fell effortlessly from her mouth, leaving him feeling bemused. “Who are you?”
“Can I tell you who I want to be?”

From “Nip ‘n’ Tuck”:
She suppressed a grin. He was being a good sport about this. She’d been the one to design the scenario. Something she’d always fantasized about doing to a stranger, but had never had the courage to try. Not until “TallDarkBanker” teased her in a private chat room into revealing her innermost desires.

From “Dreaming by the Sea”:
He leaned his forehead against mine. “A kiss, Despy. Let me give you a kiss. I promise all will be answered.”
A kiss. How simple. How frightening. Everything would change. I knew it.

From “Dr. Mullaley’s Cure”:
“I feel…nearly…oh, the agony…oh, doctor!”
Mrs. Headley gave a choked little scream, her upper body arching on the table before settling again. Her flushed cheeks shone with sweat, but the smile she gave the doctor was so filled with gratitude I felt a stirring of something akin to pride for the doctor’s skill.

From “The Morning Ride”:
She saw him, or at least from the knee on down. Shiny black loafers. Knife-edged creases on his charcoal trousers. Sweeping her gaze upward, but still not looking directly, she eyed his tall, lean body, embracing the quickening tattoo of her heart. When he took his seat along the opposite wall and two seats down, she let out the breath she’d held, the pinpricks of darkness that had narrowed her vision to a tunnel, fading back. All was right in her world again.

From “All About Me”:
“Why don’t you go first?”
He shook his head, a smile twitching at the corners of his lips. “Now, see? That’s not what I want. And you said I could have anything I wanted if I made you come.”
I snorted. “How do know you I didn’t fake it?”
A sexy grin stretched across his face. “Baby, you came so hard you peed on me.”

From “The Obedient Wife”:
The door swung open, and every word she’d rehearsed flew from her mind, because a great hairy beast dressed in trousers and boots and nothing more filled up the door.
“This be the girl?” the beast rumbled.
The daughter shivered at the deep, warm sound, unsure whether it was pleasure or fear and also unsure which excited her more.

Longer Excerpt from “Lily’s Last Stand”:

Lily Newcomb checked her makeup in the rearview mirror. She wore a new shade of lipstick—“Waitress Red”—on her lips with a slick of gloss to wet them. Brent used to say red lips made him think of blowjobs. That ought to make him sit up and take notice.

Then bracing herself, she let herself out of her Volvo and tugged the belt of her raincoat securely around her waist, trying not to think about how ridiculous this was, how cliché. But she was at wit’s end.

Brent had just spent his last night burning midnight oil. They had enough now—enough money, enough things, enough of the right friends and associates. It was time Brent turned his considerable skills toward shoring up another relationship. One closer to home.

Lily used his spare set of keys to open the outer door of the law offices and let herself inside. The reception area was dark. As was the corridor. Only a sliver of light shone beneath her husband’s door. They were alone.

She unbelted the coat, letting it drop into a messy puddle at her feet. She fluffed her hair, combing her fingers through her bangs to tousle them. With a last deep breath, she strode on her four-inch patent leather heels to his office, grasped the knob with her sweaty palm and inched the door  open.

Brent sat at his desk. The neck of his white, buttoned down shirt was opened, his tie askew. His dark hair looked deliciously messy as he frowned at the document in front of him.

Before he lifted his gaze, she leaned against the doorframe in a seductive pose and tossed back her head, hoping he wouldn’t laugh when he realized she was there—and what she wasn’t wearing.

She heard a cough. Brent’s gaze rose and widened, giving her quick once-over before he bolted from his chair.

Too late, she realized he wasn’t alone. She thrust a hand downward to hide her sex, wrapped an arm around her breasts, but it was too little protection, too late.

Brent’s partner, Lou, rose from an arm chair, instantly averting his gaze. He coughed again. “I can see why you were in a rush to get home, Brent,” he said, sounding strangled. He turned to walk toward the door, shielding his face with a hand and offering a muffled, laughing, “Nice seeing you, Lily,” as she stood, slack-jawed beside the door. In the distance, she heard Lou whistling tunelessly as he exited the office.

Heat crept across her cheeks as she glanced at her husband. “This was a bad idea. I’ll just let myself out,” she said in a little voice, backing away.

Brent kept coming. His face wore that look, the one he assumed when dressing down an intern for shoddy research. “Lily, get back here. Now.”

Lily bit her lip, then dropped her hands. She eyed him with trepidation. Not because she feared him. Brent was never harsh. But because she hated disappointing him. Too late again, she realized she’d acted rashly. Would she ever learn patience? To let things happen in their own time?

As always, she’d seen a problem and rushed to solve it. It had seemed a simple plan. An ambush, really. He’d been staying later and later at work over the past weeks. And if she didn’t know he had a deep streak of integrity running through his core, she might have assumed he was having an affair. But she knew him. She used to work for him. She’d seen how deeply he could sink into a case to the exclusion of everything else. She’d just never thought she’d be shunted to the side for so long.

Tonight, she’d decided to give him a wakeup call. Remind him that he wasn’t alone. That he had responsibilities at home to consider.

Only now, she felt foolish. Desperate. Tears burned her eyes, but she lifted her chin, refusing to let her humiliation make her cower. She dropped her arms.

Brent strode toward her, his expression neutral. His firm lips tight and crimped. When he stood in front of her, he snagged her wrist and pulled her across the threshold, then shoved the door to close it.

He towered over her despite the heels—the only item of clothing she’d worn this night besides her abandoned coat. His gaze swept her again, but this time, she noted the flare of his nostrils. Did he catch the scent perfume he’d gifted her with last Christmas?

After she’d opened the gift, he’d held out his hand for the bottle, then tilted it to wet his finger. He’d traced a path downward, between her breasts. That had been the last time they’d gotten wild and reckless together. Since then, sex had been perfunctory, an afterthought once they fell into the bed at night.

His intense gaze bored into hers. His pupils expanded, darkening his eyes.

Her own body reacted in opposition to the tension rolling off him—liquefying, melting toward him. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I didn’t mean to embarrass you. I thought you were alone.”

He didn’t answer, but lifted one hand, palm up, and cupped a breast. His thumb flicked the tight, pearled tip. “Lou’ll be discreet, but what would you have done if I’d had the whole team in here?”

She wrinkled her nose. “Given you a lap dance?”

He snorted. “Lily, have I been neglectful?” he asked, his voice gruff.

“I’ve missed you, Brent.”

“I’m home every night.”

“You’re there, but…you’re not.”

His jaw tightened. He dropped his hand and stepped back.

Damn, was he really that angry with her, that disappointed that he’d reject her now? Lily blinked and lifted her chin, feigning pride when it lay in tatters all around her. “I’ll go home. I apologize again.”

“Did I say that you could leave?”

BIG BRASS BUCKLE is out today!
Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

Big Brass Buckle_600
What do you need to know about BBB?

It’s a short story. Just 7100 words. You can read it at the doctor’s office while you wait to see him, although you might have some ‘splainin’ to do when he raises a brow at your elevated temp and blood pressure!

It’s sexy. Duh. Want to know how two people who don’t expect to see each other again act when the attraction is powerful? No holds barred!

It’s only $.99. I pay more for my Keurig coffee cups. Yes, cheaper than a cup of coffee and you can re-read it as many times as you like. You only enjoy that coffee once!

If you need to read an excerpt first to see if it sounds like your cup of…er, coffee, click here.

And after you read my story, consider the question I’ve asked on the page after the story ends. Also, consider writing a review or telling a friend. Your opinion matters. You may sway a reader who’s unsure whether they want to spend their coffee money on my story. :)

New Book Blitz! (Contest)
Saturday, September 20th, 2014

UPDATE! The winner of the free download is Fedora!

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Hey there, lovely readers! Since I didn’t have a guest today, I thought I’d do something fun. A new book blitz! Any writers out there have new stories they want readers to know about? Email me your cover (300 pixel height), your blurb, and your sales links (embedded, please!), and I’ll post them as they come! Email to delilah@delilahdevlin.com!

Comment for a chance to win a free copy of one of my Adventure Girls, Inc. books!
And keep dropping by to check out the new titles! Enter more than once!
This contest will close Sunday night.

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Erin Bevan

perf5.000x8.000.inddJason Haverty is looking forward to the fall horse drive, until his boss and uncle informs him one of the new cowboys coming in to help will be riding his favorite horse. His annoyance is furthered when the cowboy turns out to be a cowgirl—a quick-witted and confident blonde beauty. Trying to avoid her doesn’t work. The more time he spends with her, the more an unexpected protectiveness toward her grows.

Bobby Jo’s Texas upbringing taught her to give just as good as she gets, a quality Jason finds frustrating and all the more endearing in this Southern Belle. When an accident on the trail places her in possible danger, Jason realizes she means more to him than he thought. The question is, does she feel the same?

http://www.amazon.com/The-Ranch-Hand-Erin-Bevan-ebook/dp/B00NESA51Y

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Margay Leah Justice

The Scent of Humanity3Lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice. In theory. But in one small town, in one family, that theory is put to the test.

Growing up in a rural town in Massachusetts was supposed to be safe, but for SILVIE CHILDS, that safety was shattered by a kidnapping attempt that forever changed her life. Now, nearly twenty years later, that sense of safety is challenged again by the kidnapping attempt on her young niece, and Silvie is left struggling with one question: How can something like this happen twice in one family?

It is a dilemma shared by NICK FAHEY, the detective assigned to the case. Arriving on the scene of the abduction attempt, Nick expects to run a routine investigation. Until he meets the victim, the niece of a woman he once considered a dear friend. Unfortunately, these days Silvie Childs can barely stand the sight of him.

Once there was a time when Silvie Childs worshipped Nick Fahey, believing he could do no wrong. Until the accident that nearly killed her brother; the accident that Nick reportedly caused. Coming on the heels of her own near abduction, the accident skewed Silvie’s ability to trust men – especially Nick. But now, with the attempt on her niece’s safety, Silvie finds herself in the untenable position of having to trust Nick to bring the kidnapper to justice.

That trust is severely tested when, after only two months, the case is closed for lack of new evidence. Feeling betrayed by the system in which she works as a paralegal and by Nick, Silvie takes matters into her own hands. Contacting local news stations to generate interest in the case, allowing herself to be filmed hanging sketches of the suspect on telephone poles, she will risk her own safety to protect that of her niece. When her efforts re-open the wounds of her past, she is once again forced to put her trust in the one man who still has the power to hurt her – Nick.

The Scent of Humanity – Kindle edition by Margay Leah Justice, Donna Collier. Romance Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Smashwords – The Scent of Humanity – a book by Margay Leah Justice

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P.J. Dean

paradox72SOMETIMES THE ENEMY OF YOUR ENEMY IS YOUR BEST FRIEND. ESPECIALLY WHEN THEY ARE YOUR LAST RESORT.

TAKEN! TINA HAS BEEN TAKEN BY FELIG FROM THE HOME SHE AND NATE SHARED AND THEY HAD BELIEVED FELIG-PROOF. JUST WHEN THE COUPLE HAD SMOOTHED OUT AND POLISHED THE JAGGED EDGES OF THEIR RELATIONSHIP.

JUST WHEN EVERYTHING HAD FIT TOGETHER SO PERFECTLY. NATE IS ON A MISSION NOW TO GET HER BACK, AND IS LEARNING NOWHERE IS SAFE AND NO ONE, UNTOUCHABLE. AND MOST IMPORTANTLY THAT ALLIES CAN BE FOUND IN THE MOST UNEXPECTED OF PLACES.

http://www.extasybooks.com/image/cache/data/4511paradox510web-220×330.jpg

 

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Karin Shah

ksphotoNever fall in love with a man in a photo. Especially, if he’s dead . . .

Balanced on the knife-edge edge of going feral, chimera Ethan Wade has no idea what he is. All the former Navy SEAL turned maritime treasure hunter knows is his explosive temper has destroyed his life, driving him to an isolated rental house in Western, NY, to lick his wounds. When a molotov cocktail of rage and alcohol triggers an uncontrolled shift, he is caught between shapes.

Disembodied, he can only come to one conclusion: He’s died and become a ghost.

Blowing the whistle lost lawyer Devon Daughtry her boyfriend, (not too much of a loss), her job, (a bit worse) and with the rents in Manhattan, a primo apartment (the straw that broke the camel’s back).

Now she’s run home to Cassadaga determined to re-build her life by hanging out her shingle as a psychic medium.

When she discovers a photograph of Ethan while moving in, she’s crushed to discover the man whose lonely eyes strike a chord deep within her soul is missing and presumed dead. Soon, she begins having passionate dreams about him. Dreams that Ethan shares.

But Ethan isn’t the only being in the house. A demonic presence has followed her home and it has diabolical plans for both of them.

Kindle price $2.99 $0.00 on Kindle Unlimited

www.amazon.com/Entity-Mine-Karin-Shah/dp/1619354950

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Lacey Thorn

Freeing_the_FelineFreeing the Feline
Awakening Pride Book Three

He’s only human…

The only thing Logan despises more than a weak man is one who preys on others. He finds himself in a battle between a group of people he never dreamed existed, and those who want them dead.

A captured lioness…

Clara has always known she carried the spirit of a lioness within her. An impulsive quest finds her at the mercy of a man she’s spent her entire life hearing of. She wants to claim her place as part of his pride, but to do so means turning her back on the one who reared her.

Mine…

One look at Clara has Logan chomping at the bit to protect her. Every moment spent together assures him she feels the same. She’s the one with a beast inside, but he’s the one feeling territorial. Every glance has his chest swelling with primal need. Every touch sends one word echoing through his mind. Soon he’ll show her exactly what it means to belong.

You can find it at the following places: Resplendence Publishing: http://www.resplendencepublishing.com/m8/694-978-1-60735-805-3–freeing-the-feline-awakening-pride-series-book-three-by-lacey-thorn.html
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Freeing-Feline-Lacey-Thorn-Awakening-ebook/dp/B00NGUGWQM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1410543938&sr=8-1&keywords=freeing+the+feline
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Freeing-Feline-Lacey-Thorn-Awakening-ebook/dp/B00NGUGWQM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1410543972&sr=8-1&keywords=freeing+the+feline
ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-freeingthefelineawakeningprideseriesbookthree-1618868-340.html
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/freeing-the-feline-lacey-thorn/1120348510?ean=2940150683907
Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/freeing-the-feline

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Brent Archer

HalfwayOutOfTheDark_200x300Humanity decimated itself in a global war with over six billion dead. The survivors mostly gather into gleaming megacities. Mark Jennings chooses to stay away from the jungle of metal and glass, and instead lives a life of farming in a rustic cabin outside the ruins of Billings.

One dark, snowy, December night, Shawn Templeton, lost and freezing, stumbles into Mark’s life. The two men have a passionate few days, but Shawn decides to continue on his journey. He pleads with Mark to look him up in New Bismarck when he comes to trade his crops.

At the end of the following summer, Mark takes his produce to the megacity. He decides to look Shawn up, but when he goes to visit, Shawn’s young roommate, wrapped only in a towel, answers the door.

Heartbroken, Mark returns to his cabin, but winter has a surprise for him as he trudges home through the snow with his Christmas tree.

https://museithotpublishing.com/index.php/coming-soon/october-2014/halfway-out-of-the-dark-detail#top

This story releases Oct 3, 2014 as part of the Wild Darkness Calls series
with MuseItHOT for only $2.50. Read the rest of this entry »

Big Brass Buckle… (Contest)
Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

UPDATE: The winner of the free Amazon gift card is…Karen (#4)!

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Some of you who’ve known me for a while might remember a short story I had out there a while back called “Cowboy.” Just 5000 words and very sexy. A girl who decides to jump the bones of a very sexy cowboy who comes away from the experience with more than she expects.

Well, I’ve been sitting on that old story for a while. I dusted it off. It’s been re-edited, lengthened by a couple thousand words. I think it might be the start of something, but I’ll let you be the judge of that. The story will release on the 23rd. Here’s a peak inside…

Leave a comment and you’ll be entered to win a $5 Amazon.com gift certificate!

 Big Brass Buckle_600

Lightning clawed the sky with a crow’s foot, illuminating thick thunderheads that glowed yellow-green and ominous. The color the sky often turned before a tornado twisted its nasty tail. Glad to be out of the rain and safe from the jagged streaks, I shivered against the cool vinyl seat as another flash lashed out like the end of a whip, lighting the sky so intensely that for a moment the darkened parking lot was as bright as high noon.

That was when I saw the pickup roll in towing a large horse trailer. The Ford F-160 ground to a halt beside the diner’s plate-glass window. The driver wasn’t going to bother trying to park it in the flooded lot.

I heard the muffled slam of the truck door when the end of the lightning strike flickered out, plunging the parking lot back into darkness. The driver would be soaked to the skin before he even hit the door. The distance was only twelve feet, but the rain was coming down in sheets. I’d been lucky, arriving before the worst of the storm struck. Mostly dry, I peered through the window at the deepening night, waiting for a lull before continuing my journey home.

Earlier, I’d read the clouds as well as any West Texas native could and headed to the nearest shelter. The tiny diner with its 70’s style brick façade, split vinyl bench seats, and chipped, laminated table tops was a welcome haven. The attached string of dingy motel rooms was part of Plan B, if the storm didn’t wane before midnight.

My arrival had been nearly forty minutes ago. Except for a bored waitress smoking a cigarette at a far table, I was the only customer. Until now.

The door squeaked open, and a cowboy strode inside. He pulled off his cream-colored hat and shook shaggy dark brown hair like a dog, sending droplets of water lashing against the glass door. His white T-shirt, soaked almost to transparency, clung to the hills and hollows of sharply defined muscles along his chest and abdomen.

I straightened in my seat, eyeing his tall, lean frame, liking what I saw. Instant lust drew me, stripping away my usual reticence with strangers. He wasn’t just my type, he could freaking set the mold. I licked my lips.

Setting his cowboy hat on the table, the deeply tanned man sank into a booth near the door, his expression a study in irritation. Dark brows drawn in a fierce frown, his lips crimped in a thin line.

This cowboy needed a reason to smile.

I pursed my lips and let out a low whistle. His green gaze sliced my way, taking away my breath. One dark eyebrow rose, his gaze sharpening, giving my face and chest a quick sweep.

His glance locked with mine again, and I figured I didn’t look exactly Coyote Ugly. Feeling brazen as hell, I smiled. “’Fraid you’ll melt?”

The corner of his mouth curled—just a slight easing of tension I found promising.

“I’m not that fragile,” he drawled.

I liked the raw texture of his voice—a scratchy rumble that started deep in his chest and scraped upward. Already I could imagine it softening to a rasp when he whispered. “Seein’ as we’re the only ones here, cowboy, wanna join me?”

With a nod, he gripped the top edge of the bench seat to haul himself up, giving me an interesting view of flexing biceps. He set his cowboy hat back on his head and sauntered my way. The easy roll of his hips and the dull clap of his boots on the tiled floor heightened the little flame of awareness growing inside me. The man certainly filled out a pair of blue jeans.

My gaze dipped only a moment, taking in the oversized belt buckle and the equally impressive bulge at the front of his pants before sliding up to cling to his mossy-green eyes, the corners wrinkling as he narrowed his gaze.

Something about him seemed familiar, like maybe we’d met once a long time ago. Only I knew I’d never forget someone like him. I shook my head, guessing I wanted a connection to this man that didn’t exist—something to make the plan unfolding in my mind a little less outrageous.

His eyelids dipped then widened, a subtle once-over that left my breasts tingling and my thighs tightening.

He nodded toward the window. “Storm catch you, too?”

So he was willing to exchange small talk to extend our encounter while he politely studied me to figure out where I was leading him and whether he was willing to be led.

I’d never considered myself especially easy, but I was quick to make up my mind when I saw something I wanted. Something I had to have—and this cowboy, I definitely had to have. “I don’t mind the storm. I needed a break anyway,” I said, trying to keep our conversation light and flowing. Soon enough, I’d figure out if he was ripe for a little more than flirting.

He continued to stare—at my hair and my breasts, again—until I warmed past the need to be cool. “You change your mind? Or you gonna have a seat?”

His soft snort, so typically male, plucked at my nipples. But he slid into the bench opposite me, stretching his bare arms wide across the top of the vinyl, all that lovely muscle and the shadows of his small male nipples coming into prominence with the stretch of thin, wet opaque cotton. “Travel far?” he asked, the texture of his voice deepening to a sexy growl.

Again, I pressed my thighs together, enjoying the slowly building heat. “From Atlanta.”

“Much farther to go?”

“Home’s just down the road a piece.”

He cleared his throat. “My name’s Da—”

“Cowboy,” I interrupted him, setting the rules of this game.

Interest flickered in his eyes. He nodded slowly and lifted his hat from his head to rake thick long fingers through his black-brown hair. “Am I gonna call you ‘lady’?”

I gave him a cheeky grin. “My name’s Carly.” My middle name. I’d used anonymity before when I’d been on the prowl. Kept a little mystery to heighten a man’s interest. “I saw you pull up with that horse trailer.”

“I took a string of horses to auction. I’m headin’ home now.” He sounded tired, but his steady stare told me he was waiting to see how this game played out.

I hated the awkward silence that followed, as though we’d run out of polite conversation. At this point, I had to cut or run. I cleared my throat. “So, it looks like we’re both stuck here for awhile…” I let my voice trail off.

His gaze sharpened, and I felt my bluster begin to fade. Had I been too bold?

“Look…” He glanced around. “I don’t know what you have in mind, but our options seem a little limited, sweetheart.”

The rusty rasp of his voice didn’t hold a single note of hesitation. He wasn’t pulling away. His gaze remained steady; curiosity gleamed—and maybe there was a little hint of challenge.

Something I never backed away from. I nibbled on my bottom lip, satisfied when his glance dropped to watch. My confidence restored, I arched a brow. “You don’t appear to be a man with a lack of imagination.”

“Not something I’ve ever been accused of,” he murmured. “But I generally like a little comfort for my partner.” He leaned over the table and whispered. “Something soft underneath her back or her knees.”