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Archive for May, 2017



Elle James aka Myla Jackson: Life, Love and Dogs!
Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

Yesterday, my book Montana Dog Soldier released. I loved writing a war dog in this story. Another author recommended a book about bomb-sniffing dogs used in the military. These animals are wonderful creatures and they do an important job. I have a friend who adopted a retired war dog and loves him dearly. It makes me happy to know these animals are being given second homes once they are retired from active service. These animals are heroes and should be treated as such. I hope you like Six. He’s the dog in Montana Dog Soldier. He and Kujo (the human) are insuperable and help each other heal from their wounds and the loss of the purposeful lives they led in the military. Transition to civilian life can be more of a challenge than going to war for most military men and women. So, please, thank veterans for their service to our country and welcome them home.

Montana Dog Soldier

Prior service Army Dog Handler Joseph “Kujo” Kuntz and his dog Six team with a female FBI agent to locate and neutralize a terrorist training camp

Discharged from the army after sustaining a shrapnel injury that left him with a limp, Joseph “Kujo” Kuntz is angry with himself and the world, and forced to start over with the injured military dog “Six” that saved his life. Kujo accepts a job with Brotherhood Protectors in the Crazy Mountains of Montana, hoping to find new purpose and come to terms with his losses.

Following a lead that a terrorist faction is near Eagle Rock, Montana, training to launch terrorist attacks, FBI agent Molly Greenbrier thinks she’s on a wild goose chase. She’s operating a drone, pretending to be a photographer for a GPS mapping company, when she’s attacked in the mountains and left for dead. Discovered by former military service dog Six and his owner, Molly is taken to the owner’s cabin where he administers first aid.

Now targeted by the faction, Molly is in danger. Kujo informs his new boss of the situation and is assigned as Molly’s protector until the team can neutralize the source of the threat. Determined to complete her mission, Molly accepts Kujo and Six’s protection and discovers an electric connection to the cantankerous former soldier. Together they struggle to locate the faction while fighting their burgeoning desire.

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The next Lone Star Lovers story is out!
Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

Dear Readers and Friends,

First, thanks to everyone who wrote and said you want more of my stepbrother SEAL mini-series. I do love writing them, so it’s good to know someone wants to read them!

Today, the next story in my Lone Star Lovers series is out! You remember Dani, Rowe, and Justin from the first story, Unbridled. Well, Dani’s very pissed off brother is about to have a lesson in forgiveness. It’s not a story for everyone. Infidelity is a hard thing to get past. But for Cutter, it’s a lesson he needs to learn before he can hope to find any happiness. I hope you’ll give the story a chance. And never say never until you’ve walked in another’s shoes—if only in a make-believe story :)

Unforgiven is here!

Unforgiven 600

One lonely cowboy’s revenge was never so sweet!

Cutter Standifer is a man with a rigid personal code, who’s having trouble “acclimating” to the fact his little sister is marrying one cowboy and shacking up with a second. That the man she’s marrying is the same one who shattered his world a year ago isn’t something he can get past. Forgive and forget? Like hell. Not when he lost the only woman he ever loved.

It’s been a year since Katie Grissom shared the same air as Cutter, but she can tell he’s still simmering with anger over her betrayal. However, she’s been praying for a chance to make it up to him, so when Cutter offers her a no-strings affair, she jumps at the chance, hoping to either break through the rigid wall he has built around his heart or get him out of her system for good.

When Mother Nature complicates their arrangement, she’s scared he’ll do the right thing for all the wrong reasons. Now, she may never know whether she’s truly forgiven or whether he’ll ever learn to love her again.

Get your copy now!

Remember, this too is just out!

SOWithHisSEALTeam4 600

I’m Hunter. It’s the name I was born with, and the name my SEAL buddies let me keep, due to my uncanny instinct for finding enemy combatants. I’m not an easy guy to know. Most women might give me a look, but there’s something in my eyes I’ve been told, that makes them wary about coming closer. A hint of violence that only freaks find sexy. Freaks—and Sara, my little sister. Stepsister, that is.

Get your copy here!

Ready for pre-order now!

FourSworn 600
BreakingLeather 600
Sacchi Green: Strong Women, Fairy Tales, and a Short Story Writer’s Lament (Giveaway)
Monday, May 15th, 2017

UPDATE: The winner is…Annie Chanse!

* * * * *

I like to write and read about strong women.  Probably all of us do, from time to time, but even if I start out trying to write a more submissive character, by the end she’ll be as strong-willed as any hero. In my very first long ago erotic short story (eventually published in Dream Lover, an anthology edited by Kristina Wright for Cleis Press,) the central character is a prostitute dominated and brutalized by her pimp, a woman who has given up on herself and drifts through life. By the end, though, she has saved a demon imprisoned in a huge gargoyle outside her penthouse window, and become a powerful demonic angel herself. Yes, I also love fantasy stories.

I love to write historical fiction, too, but I don’t even bother any more to try giving my heroines a softer edge. In “Flight of the Falcon” (in Delilah’s anthology Hot Highlanders and Wild Warriors) the Armenian Lady of Aragatsotn is every bit a match for the Mongol General from Ghengis Khan’s Golden Horde. In the other relatively few straight erotica stories I’ve written, I have heroines like a hot-air balloon pilot in 1800s San Francisco, a WWII Russian bomber pilot in the factual all-women Night Witches squad, and a semi-witch who saves the supposed “ogre” in the Puss in Boots tale. All strong women letting you share in their fun, and their sex.

With my preference for strong women, it’s not surprising that most of my work in recent years has been centered on lesbian characters, where I can have two (or more) strong women to play with. When I was invited several months ago to write a lesbian superhero novella, I wavered for a while—I’ve never actually been into superheroes, and I’ve never written anything longer than a short story. But I had a hint of an idea, and it seemed like a good time to take the plunge into a somewhat longer form than a short story, so I signed a contract, did great amounts of research, and actually got my piece done by the deadline. Whew. But—let me rephrase that. BUT! I was then told that I’d squeezed so much plot into the novella that I had to expand it into novel length. Which I’m trying to do, but there’s more difference between short stories and novels than just the word count. The pacing is different, and so is the way the characters are developed, and my editorial inclination to say the most in as few words as possible (I edit short stories for anthologies) makes it hard to adjust to the novel form. In short, this project is really kicking my butt. I love my characters, and I’ll finish the book, but it may well not be any good. It certainly won’t be what superhero fans expect, but it WILL be about very strong women. The title, probably, will be The Shadow Hand, from Ylva Books in 2018

I am now officially in awe of people who can write novels.

Back on the short story anthology front, I’ve been trying for years to get my main publisher to let me take on a fairy tale theme that would center on strong women and tweak the traditional expectations.  Finally, success! My newest anthology, Witches, Princesses and Women at Arms: Erotic Lesbian Fairy Tales, is written for those who have had to settle for envisioning “he” as “she” when they’re reading fairy tales. I know similar books like this have been done every now and then, but I got such great stories from excellent writers that the stories themselves are worth reading as stories, regardless of the orientation of the characters—or of the readers.

Most of you probably don’t do this private re-gendering of characters in stories you read, and you may not like to read fairytales at all. Or if you do reimagine the characters, more likely you try now and then to envision “she” as a second “he”, which is fine. I’ve dabbled in m/m fantasy myself. Any variety is good exercise for the imagination (and the senses.) All else being equal, though, I take a story where it needs to go, with the characters who can best get it there. More often than not, these characters turn out to be lesbians, and this new anthology is a prime example. I know there are many readers who have longed for flights of imagination that could sweep them up into worlds of magic and sensual delights—if only all those heroes winning the day (and, of course, the girl) didn’t get in the way. Why can’t we have heroines who win each other?

As it turns out, we can. I asked writers for erotic romance, magic, and wild adventure, with women who use their wits, special powers, and/or weapons, and come together in a blaze of passion. The writers didn’t fail me. Some adapted traditional tales, and some updated old stories to contemporary times, in every case not merely changing the gender of a character but making the female aspect essential. Some created original plots with a fairy tale sensibility, while some wrote with merely a subtle aura of fantasy.

Their heroines are witches, princesses, brave, resourceful women of all walks of life, and even a troll and a dryad. There is laughter, sly wit, and an occasional tear; curses and spells, battles and intrigue, elements of magic and explorations of universal themes; and, yes, sex, sensuality and true love, all bound together into complex and many-layered stories. Whether a character is royalty or a miller’s daughter, a woman warrior passing as a man, a sorceress in flowing robes, or even a window inspector dangling in harness on a modern high-rise building—who better to rescue a long-haired captive in a tower?—all the relationships are passionate, intense, sometimes quick to ignite, sometimes all the hotter for restraint that flares at last into a fierce blaze.

If this just isn’t your thing, though, that’s okay. Maybe you could imagine that one of the “shes” is a “he”, although the fact of the characters being female is essential to most of the plots. But you might well discover that these stories of strong women in fantasy settings are well worth reading just as they are.

The Library Journal Review says of the book, “There is one creative hit after another…An excellent series of Sapphic fantasies. Highly recommended.”

Here’s a very non-representative excerpt from my own story in the book, but really, the stories are so varied that it would be hard to cite one as being representative. I went for humor in this one, but with more than humor at its core.

Trollwise by Sacchi Green

Trip, trop, trip, trop. Hjørdis stood back in disgust as Princess Tutti pranced across the bridge, hips swaying, the false tail strapped to the seat of her gown twitching. A coy toss of Tutti’s head knocked the goat horns on her headdress slightly askew. “Oh, Mr. Troll,” she piped in a falsetto voice, “are you there today? Don’t you want to eat us up? Look, this time there is a meatier prey than just we little goats!” She cast a mocking glance back toward Hjørdis. “A buxom brood mare!”

Hjørdis would have swatted the silly girl’s rump if there had been enough of it to be worth the trouble. Or, more truthfully, if she herself had not been bound by oath to abide peaceably among these puny southerners. For now. As it was, she took a threatening stride onto the wooden planks. Tutti ran off giggling toward the meadow, from which sounds of pipes and laughter and occasional playful shrieks rose above the lazy burbling of the stream.

Princess Vesla, also adorned with horns and tail, came up timidly beside Hjørdis. “There truly was a troll under the bridge a week ago,” she said in a tremulous voice. “When Tutti called out, I heard its voice, like the rumbling of stones. She thinks it was Werther, the dancing master, trying to frighten us, but I’m sure it wasn’t!”

“Oh? What did he say?” Hjørdis made some small effort to tolerate Vesla, who was not so spiteful as her sister Tutti. She felt also a slight sympathy for the girl, who had formed a hopeless passion for Hordis’s captive brother Harald. At least accompanying them on their outing, however nasty it promised to be, was an excuse to leave the castle.

“It said, ‘Scrawny bones not fit to pick my teeth! Get you gone!’” Vesla shivered. “But we haven’t heard anything since.”

Hjørdis knew a great deal more about trolls than these little twits ever could. More than anyone could who had not known Styggri. That sounded all too much like what Styggri would say, in a humorous mood. But Styggri had crossed into another world from which there was no return.

Hjørdis looked more closely at the bridge. Its sides and the pillars beneath were stone, with wooden planking wide enough for two carriages to pass side by side over its double arch. And wide enough for a troll to lurk beneath, although why one should wish to, or venture this far south at all, was beyond her. Still… She gazed far upstream to where water surged out from a cleft in a rocky hillside. Nothing to compare with the jagged mountains and plummeting rivers of her home, but still part of a long arm of hills and ridges reaching out from those same mountains.

“You go on to your frolicking.” She gave Vesla as gentle a shove as she could manage. Gods, these pampered southern girls were brittle, twiggy things! And their brother the prince—her husband under duress—was no better. “I’ll sit a while here in the shade of the birches. This heat annoys me.”

“Oh! Are you, then…already…”

“No! And if I were, it would be too soon to know. Go along now!”

Vesla went, trying to keep the gilded wooden heels of her shoes from making as much noise on the bridge as Tutti’s had done. Once safely across she looked back over her shoulder. “Give Werther a few stomps from me,” Hjordis called. The foolish dancing master deserved whatever he got, with his tales of ancient times in foreign lands where satyrs danced on goat hooves and bands of women ran wild under the spell of a wine god.

Get your copy here!

Giveaway

Comment about strong women, fairy tales, or short stories versus novels, and be entered for a drawing to win a paperback copy (in North America) or an ebook (elsewhere) of Witches, Princesses, and Women at Arms.

About the Author

Sacchi Green is an award-winning writer and editor of erotica and other stimulating genres. Her stories have appeared in scores of publications, including eight volumes of Best Lesbian Erotica, four of Best Women’s Erotica, and three of Best Lesbian Romance. In recent years she’s taken to wielding the editorial whip, editing thirteen lesbian erotica anthologies, including Lesbian Cowboys (winner of a Lambda Literary Award,) Girl Crazy, Lesbian Lust, Women with Handcuffs, Girl Fever, Wild Girls, Wild Nights (also a Lambda Award Winner,) Me and My Boi, and Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year 20th Anniversary Edition, all from Cleis Press, as well as Through the Hourglass: Lesbian Historical Romance and Thunder of War, Lightning of Desire (Lethe Press.) Sacchi lives in the Five College area of western Massachusetts, gets away to her NH mountain retreat as often as possible, and makes the occasional foray into the real world to do readings in New York and other exotic locales. She can be found online at www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com and on Facebook..

N.J. Walters: Back from the Dead
Sunday, May 14th, 2017

Why do we love vampires so much? Why do we find them endlessly fascinating? From the dark and creepy Nosferatu and Dracula, to Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles and Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight Saga, we can’t seem to get enough of these dark, compelling figures.

Depending on the mythology the author creates, vampires are either loathed or desired. They tap into our darker passions and fantasies where the normal rules of society do not apply. They are powerful, drawing their strength from blood, usually that of humans but not always. Sometimes they must feed from others of their own kind. There are endless possibilities when it comes to the world of the vampire. It is only limited by the imagination of the writer and the kind of story they want to tell.

Vampires are survivors. They hide among us, all the while keeping their true identities a heavily guarded secret. They often have skills beyond our human capabilities and understanding. Some are stronger and faster. Others can shapeshift. Yet almost all need our blood in order to survive. Deadly and dangerous, they lure us, willing or unwilling, into their sphere. They are often loners, walking in the shadows of our world. Sometimes, they band together to create a family of sorts. They are poets and warriors, rock stars and recluses. We fear them even as we are drawn to them. They allow us to examine and even delight in the darker aspects of our own nature.

I admit I’m a sucker for a wounded hero. And who is more wounded than a vampire who is destined to be alone unless he can find that one special woman who completes him? And what will that vampire do to protect her when he finally finds her after centuries of searching?

Now you can find out, because the Dalakis vampires are back. They weren’t really dead, just gone for a few years from the online bookstores because of a publisher closure, but they’re getting a second life.

LUCIAN’S DELIGHT

Book Two in the sizzling Dalakis Passion vampire romance series!

For years Delight Deveraux suffered from a recurring nightmare of being savagely attacked and assaulted, until the night a mysterious stranger appears in her dream to rescue her. When the same scene plays itself out in real life just days later, with the same mesmerizing dream man coming to her rescue, Delight suddenly finds herself swirling in a haze of passion and confusion, between what’s real and what’s not. But Lucian Dalakis is real, and he intends not just to save her but to bind her to himself for all time.

Lucian is a creature of the dark and must endure the same curse as all Dalakis men: they love only once in their lives, and may search for all eternity without ever finding their mate. When Delight shows up unexpectedly in Lucian’s life, he knows immediately that he has found his one true love. But her life is still in danger from the same vicious attackers, and he will do everything in his power to protect her, even as he uses every one of his seductive powers to keep her close.

As Delight surrenders to the searing passion that erupts every time they’re together, she’s also torn by the fearful prospect of giving herself fully to a vampire—even as Lucian secretly knows that the one woman who could complete him and be his for all time also has the power to destroy him…

This is a revised edition of a previous published book.

BUY LINKS:

Amazon: https://amzn.com/B071DW31BJ
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/722244
Barnes & Noble: https://tinyurl.com/m7uu26u
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/lucian-s-delight-2

About the Author

N.J. Walters is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, time-travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smoldering good looks—all vie for her attention. It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to live it.

Visit me at:
Website: http://www.njwalters.com
Blog: http://www.njwalters.blogspot.com
Newsletter Group: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/awakeningdesires/info
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/N.J.WaltersAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/njwaltersauthor
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/NJWalters
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/njwalters
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/n-j-walters

A ramble and a question…
Saturday, May 13th, 2017

I’m late! It’s 11:30 AM, and I just got home. My dd (dear daughter) and the 3-year-old left at 2 AM to head to the Little Rock airport. They are now in DC, visiting their father/grandfather. So, while dd’s hubby dropped her off in the middle of the night, I stayed over in their house, which is just across the highway. Couldn’t sleep worth a dang. Then I was up cooking breakfast for the other two girls (12 and 8), because that’s what their mom does on weekends, and I didn’t want them too lonely. I did that while dad got a much-deserved lie-in. After breakfast, I organized the girls to do some housework. When dad rose and decided to do a grocery shop, I decided it was time I headed home and get some work done.

That was my morning. And now, I’m ready for a nap. :)

Yes, my life is probably a lot like yours, even if I have this weird job. I live in the country, about five miles outside a small Arkansas town. It’s quiet. We have animals—dogs, cats, horses (that we don’t ride—they’re just giant-sized pets). My life is filled with work and family—trying to balance both is a constant struggle. I tend to let family draw me away from my desk, because I can’t resist the girls when they call and want their “nina”. I used to be pretty focused, but the older I get, the more I love to spend my hours wallowing in their affection. Yes, I said wallow. Like a pig in mud. I head to their house, and even if I just saw them hours before, they’re covering me in kisses and hugs and wanting me to look at their drawings.

They think my job is pretty weird.  Just this morning, the 8-year-old asked who my boss was. I told her, I was. “No, Nina, who tells you what to do?” I raised my eyebrows and told her I was the one who decided what I wrote, what my schedule (ha!) would be, etc. She didn’t think that was so great. “I wanna use one of those clock things, where you put your card in, and it tells you how long you have to work.” I thought about that, and for just a second, I thought, God, that wouldn’t be so bad. Clock in. Clock out. I could leave the job behind once I drove out of the parking lot. But then, I realized that if I had a “real” job, I’d have to head home, jump into the shower, and hope like hell I had everything in my purse that I needed for the day. I’d have to work with people I might not like, maybe deal with customers or clients who I liked even less. “Real” jobs have their own versions of stress. That everything I accomplish, good or bad, rich or poor, is of my own making, well that’s the trade-off.

So, tell me. Do you have a “real” job? Do you ever wonder whether the grass is greener for those of us who don’t?

And remember, I have a brand new short story (a naughty menage) out right now, and a sexy Western coming Tuesday!

Stepbrothers Stepping Out: With His SEAL Team - Part 4 

Cate Tayler: How do you do it all?
Friday, May 12th, 2017

How do you do it all?

That’s the question I’m asked most often once people hear I’m a writer. And a mom. And a military wife. And I have a day job.

Sometimes I answer flippantly. “Lots of caffeine!” I’ll say, or “I have a wine cellar.” But my real answer? I just do.

I don’t mean to sound sanctimonious. That just happens to be the answer. I just do. Because there is no alternative, not at this point in my life.

Years ago, when I was single, being a writer was a dream in the back of my mind. Something I’d settle down to do after I’d conquered foreign relations as the first female Secretary of State. (Damn you, Madeleine Albright, that was supposed to be my job!). Then it became something I dabbled in on occasion, in-between my full-time military job and college courses. It took a backseat again when I married and moved overseas, earned my degrees, and spent five years focused on having that family I’d always wanted, but which my body seemed intent on denying me.

But through the pain of recurrent miscarriage and infertility, I found that spark to write again. The little embryo of the dream I had of becoming a published writer grew. Until life happened, yet again, and I put it on hold to focus my energies on my growing family.

Now, here I am, with four little wombats (as my uncle calls them), all of whom play sports and have social lives far more active than mine, a husband who is thisclose to retiring from the military, and a demanding day job, and I choose now to pursue this writing dream full-steam ahead.

Because what is the alternative, really? To shelve it until the kids are grown, the hubby is retired, the day job is done? Sorry, but that’s no alternative. Writing is what fulfills me. Writing romance is my calling, the thing that keeps Cate from being lost in the blur that is “Mom” and “Sweetheart”.

In Love Me Now, my heroine and hero both have dreams they’ve pushed aside because of family obligations. It’s tough to balance the needs of others with your own needs. And make no mistake, pursuing a lifelong dream is a need, not a want. It’s something I’ve learned over the years. I’m a better wife, mother, and friend when I’m not feeling restless and resentful. It’s a realization that my hero, Miles, eventually makes and helps Calista, my heroine, see. Though he takes it to the extreme at one point, going so far as to sabotage his fledgling relationship with Calista. You’ll have to read my book to see what ends up happening. *wink*

Langston Hughes once famously asked, “What happens to a dream deferred?” For a long time, mine sagged like a heavy load. But now I am watching it explode. And it’s marvelous.

What is your dream? What is holding you back from making it happen?

About the Author

Cate Tayler is a beach baby, born and raised on the Connecticut coastline. She met the love of her life while serving in the US Air Force, and after extensive overseas travel, they are now raising their four children in the wild suburbs of Maryland.

When she’s not living her own happily ever after, she’s creating them in her small-town romances. Because the world always needs more happy endings!

In addition to writing, her passions include cooking, everything 80s, sappy Hallmark movies, Arrow (specifically, Stephen Amell’s abs), and the Miami Dolphins. You can connect with her at her website: http://www.catetayler.com.

About Love Me Now

A sassy good girl. A rebellious billionaire. A pretend proposal. What could possibly go wrong?

Calista Markatos is failing miserably at saving her family’s Greek diner. Without a miracle, her parents will lose everything. And it’s all the fault of a land developer whose big ideas are destroying her family’s livelihood.

Driven by guilt over his brother’s death, Miles Gardner plays the role of dutiful son. But he rebels against his father’s choice of a bride. A fake engagement can help him avoid the marriage trap. All he has to do is convince the Greek goddess to go along with his plan.

She doesn’t have to like him to pretend to love him.Thirty days later, they’ll both get exactly what they want—and maybe something they didn’t know they needed.

Love Me Now will be available May 23, 2017. You can preorder a copy at all major
e-book retailers for a special price now until Memorial Day!
https://books.pronoun.com/love-me-now/

Lizzie Ashworth: Tell me how the story ends…
Thursday, May 11th, 2017

Hi Delilah Fans! Have you ever had one of those dreams where you feel like you’re so awake that when you wake up, you still think all that really happened?

That’s where this story came from. I can still see the man, still remember the magical touch of his skin. So I’m sharing it with you in hopes you can help me out. That’s because I don’t know how the story ends!

He wasn’t my type. I went for the slightly shorter, less sinewy man whereas this guy loomed several inches taller with an almost lanky frame. My tastes had ranged from blond and blue-eyed to dark and dangerous. I’d never given much consideration to men with light brown hair and eyes that were—what, amber? I stole another glance.

Damn. He noticed my brief examination. One of his eyebrows rose slightly, asking. I quickly looked down and broke out in a little sweat. Damn damn damn.

I told myself no. A chorus of reasons shouted in my head—that I didn’t know him, that we were standing in a hotel hallway waiting for an elevator. Anyone could walk up. Additional major point: accosting a stranger simply wasn’t something I would do.

The handle of my heavy briefcase itched against my sweaty palm. I could assign this momentary insanity to fatigue. Like all such conferences, this one had turned into a three-day blur of classes on everything from specialty cost coding and catastrophe adjustment to the latest on defining a collapse under a property insurance policy. But I was ready for home, a long hot soak in my tub and a mindless couch session with a bottle of wine and my cat Winston.

My body responded to his attention. There was this urge, whatever recess of hell it sprang from, that caused my thighs to clench. I licked my lips, hoping my libido would tuck its tail and slink away. Maybe if I gave myself a few more minutes and a couple of deep breaths…

Nope. Not working. Jesus, how did anyone exude such sensuality?

I couldn’t avoid another furtive glance. His lips fascinated me, halfway between full and thin, sensual with a little flare at the bow and curling upwards at the corners. Tan and weathered, his skin stretched over prominent cheekbones and a bold jaw. And his neck, which happened to be directly in my line of vision—its intriguing cords and hollows disappeared into the open throat of his white shirt.

Oh, I could almost taste the salt on his skin. Feel the pulse in his throat against my lips.

I had seen him around the hotel, once passing along the corridor when I arrived for the first day of the conference, another time on the other side of the cocktail lounge where I hid at a dark corner table and sipped my wine. He’d been alone there, and I fantasized that he would appear at my table. I would allow him to join me and we would sit smiling in the dim light to pursue witty conversation with just enough innuendo. I refused to imagine what would happen afterwards, but I dreamed about him that night and woke up wet.

What the hell was wrong with me? I’d been around. Mild wear and tear, enough to consider any potential hook-up through slightly jaded eyes. No big hope left that some special ‘one’ lurked out there for me.

Now this? I wanted to slap myself for being ridiculous.

But, damn it, here I was at the elevator feeling as if my body had disconnected from my brain and would do what it pleased no matter what I thought.

Maybe it was that we were both leaving and I’d never see him again. Really, it wasn’t a choice I made. I was standing there with my briefcase gripped in my hand and a garment bag slung over my arm, my other hand seized on the handle of my wheeled travel case. Hands sweating. Knees trembling. Wanting a stranger so much I was about to embarrass myself in public.

The elevator was taking forever. He was standing a couple of feet away, looking up to watch the elevator numbers frozen on floor twelve. He too had a garment bag over one arm and his travel case handle in his other hand, looking so incredibly fabulous in that simple white dress shirt with the sleeves rolled halfway up those tan forearms and in khaki slacks that looked a little wrinkled. I even checked out his shoes, Sixties style cordovan loafers, winey brown color, well-polished and clearly loved.

I could almost hear the switch flip in my head. Brain turned off. Instinct taking over.

I turned into him holding my gear on either side of me. He accommodated me by holding his luggage away from his body. With only a brief glance up at his face, I registered on his amusement, his welcome. As if we had known each other forever and this was going home.

I nestled my full length against him and brushed my lips against his neck, and oh god he felt good. At every point of contact, which actually was the entire front of me, he felt good. The strength of his thighs, the solid press of his loins, his hard chest—right there against me, holding his own, not backing away. And his neck—Jesus Christ, this was chocolate and musky wine and that skin, that soft velvet flesh that had served its time in the sun, warm and strong and scented with a heavenly fragrance of aftershave and soap and him.

My lips savored him in that brief moment, brushing along the column of his neck as if he was my last sip of water in a desert. In those few seconds—minutes?—that I stood there pressed against him, I had no sense of shame, no regret, no worry, no question. My mind stood still. I wanted never to move.

Millennia existed between us, former lives, lost memories. A tremor passed through him. Or maybe it was me. Nights we would hold each other. The touch of his lips against mine. Joys and agonies, the raw force of life energy surging through us.

All that could ever be existed in that moment, in us. Children. Stormy nights wrapped in his arms, soup bubbling on the stove. Old age bestowed gently as we held hands.

And then it ended. I don’t know how it ended. Maybe it was the elevator. A musical ‘ding.’ We moved apart. On the way down, I fought to overcome the searing embarrassment of what I’d done. One minute I was in full body contact with a man I didn’t know, oblivious to anything but him, and the next minute we were on opposite sides of the elevator with a crowd of people between us including two kids and a dog.

The elevator reached the lobby. People filed out and I didn’t dare look up. Mildly heartbroken, I started toward the door to hail a taxi.

He was standing there in the lobby, waiting for me as if we’d made a plan, a promise. My heart lunged against my ribs. Had we? Could it be that simple?         (to be continued?)

~~~

Dear Reader, is there more to this story? Do they say a few words then walk away? Do they ride together to the airport then wait for their flights in a quiet booth at the nearest cafe?

What would you do? Send me your idea at ashworthlizzie@gmail.com. I’ll post all replies in my next newsletter.

~~~

Lizzie Ashworth lives in the wilds of the Ozark Mountains with three cats, two hound dogs, and too many deer in her yard. She’s been writing her entire life and wants her readers to know how much she enjoys sharing her naughty stories.

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