My favorite thing about romance is the tension and chemistry between the hero and heroine. Give me a couple whose opposing traits create friction and sparks, who are quick with the witty banter and who challenge each other, and I’m all in. With my own stories, the heroine is usually the first character to appear in my head. Once I have her figured out, I sink into the deeply satisfying process of creating her perfect match—although that’s not how she’ll see him at first.
When I was plotting THE EXORCIST WHO LOVED ME, I knew the heroine Holly had been in a bad marriage…after all, she’s being haunted by the ghost of her dead husband’s mistress. She’s a down-to-earth single mom who’s trying to do the best for her kids while recovering from trauma and loss. She needs someone who’ll be good to her, someone without the hard edges of a typical alpha male. Since the hero of MUST LOVE GHOSTS—the first novella in the series—was an alpha, I was excited at the prospect of writing a beta hero.
Enter Lawe Callahan, Exorcist. He’s a loner, more comfortable with the world of the dead than the living, but he longs for a deep connection with a partner. A hearth-and-home kind of girl like Holly is exactly what he needs…once he gets over his fear of putting down roots. And Lawe is exactly what Holly needs: a good guy who’ll push her out of her comfort zone.
Writing a beta hero was as much fun as writing an alpha hero. I’m not sure which I like better. What about you—do you fall for alphas or betas?
The Exorcist Who Loved Me
Hiring an exorcist is not something widowed single mom Holly Archer ever thought she’d do. But the blackouts she’s been having mean someone—or something—is hijacking her body and she wants it stopped, like yesterday.
The hottie who shows up at her door is the first man who’s sparked her interest since her awful marriage. It’s no hardship to give herself over to his skills, and in short order the spirit is ejected—and Holly comes face to face with Celia, the ghost of her dead husband’s mistress.
Lawe Callahan figured this would be an easy case, and by morning he’d be headed for another town, leaving Holly and her witchy amber eyes behind. Until she agrees to help the ghost, who refuses to budge until her killer is brought to justice.
As the investigation heats up, so does Lawe and Holly’s attraction. But their differences not only threaten any chance of something real, their quest for the truth could drive a killer to tie up all loose ends—permanently.
A thud sounded on the hardwood floor. He’d hopped down from the counter.
“Come here,” he said softly.
When she didn’t move, he took her gently by the shoulders and turned her around to face him. He smiled down at her, sure and confident and strong, and her heart hitched.
“I’m not leaving until this thing is settled.”
She put a hand on his cheek, ran her thumb across his prickly stubble. “Why? We’ve gone way beyond exorcist duties. I was awful to you at the graveyard, yelling at you about your fear of commitment. On the first night we met, no less.”
He kissed the inside of her palm and she shivered. “You were right. I’m lousy at relationships.”
“But you’re still here. Helping me solve a crime that has nothing to do with you. And I’ve been, well, you know…” She dropped her hand to her side and closed her eyes. The words tumbled together in her throat and heat flooded her face. She must be turning red as a cranberry, but she had to say this. Forcing herself to meet his eyes, she felt her skin go even redder. “I’ve been trying to get you into bed. For a short-term fling. The irony of that isn’t lost on me, that I lectured you about not committing, then turned right around and decided to…to use you. For sex.”
Lawe went still, not a flicker of emotion crossing his face. “You’re using me for sex?”
It sounded even worse when he said it. “Sort of. Or at least that’s the plan, since we haven’t actually slept together yet.” Humiliation burned the back of her throat. “Not that I have a plan plan, like something I’ve plotted. I mean, I’m attracted to you and you seem to be attracted to me, so I figured we’d naturally, you know, act on that.”
“So I’m your boy toy?” His tone was thoughtful.
“No! I like you, I really do. I feel more comfortable with you than with anyone I’ve ever known. You’re definitely more interesting than anyone I’ve ever known. That ghosts thing…wow. And you’re helping me when there’s nothing in it for you. Well, besides the paycheck, but you could do another exorcism for that and it’d be a lot easier. You backed me up today when we ran into Jake. I don’t know how I’d have made it through that without you. I selfishly took advantage of your willingness to help, and then I propositioned you in the car.”
Lawe hooked a finger in one of the belt loops on her jeans, urged her a step closer. His thumb slipped under her shirt and skimmed her belly button. If she took a deep breath, her chest would brush his. Her nipples hardened and she felt even worse.
“Thanks for being so honest,” he said. “It’s never easy to hear you’re being used. There’s just one thing I’m wondering.”
“Yes?” she whispered miserably, staring at his mouth so she wouldn’t have to meet his eyes.
“When you launched your nefarious plot to get me into bed, did you have anything specific in mind? Locations, positions, props…sex toys?”
“Well, I…” His lips quirked.
She glared and stepped back. “You’re making fun of me.”
“Hell yes.” His teeth flashed in a grin. Taking her hands, he laced his fingers deep with hers. One tug and the space between them disappeared. “You’re adorable when you’re nervous and babbling.”
“I’m serious. I feel really bad about things.” Although, pressed up against him, bad wasn’t the sensation that came to mind. Not when she could feel the rock-hard evidence he was A-okay with the situation. Still, there was something she had to know. “Why are you staying? Why are you helping me?”
His hands moved to her back, caressing. “Because it feels right.”
He lowered his head and kissed her, gently this time, his lips sweet and comforting against hers. She sighed and wrapped her arms around his waist, opening her mouth to him. This was what had been missing in her relationship with Paul. This physical give-and-take of caring and support and friendship.
And maybe something more.
Must Love Ghosts – Haunted? Call 1-800-GHOST-HUNK.
The Exorcist Who Loved Me – Digging up the truth could lead them to their graves.