Snippet Saturday — A sneak peek at some old friends

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Back in 2008, I wrote a short story, FIRST NIGHT, as part of Samhain’s newsletter The Samhellion’s Holiday celebration. Since my first book, PRIVATE PROPERTY–a story about a couple who had previously been in a no-strings-attached affair had just gotten amped to relationship status–was due to be released the following month, I thought I’d give readers a teaser about how my hero and heroine had first entered into their friends-with-benefits arrangement. I love the title because it fits in both with the theme of the New Year’s Eve party which is often referred to as First Night, and how it is the first night Jodi and Mark hook up.

Up until now, First Night has been available as a free read on my website, and as a PDF on Goodreads and Manic Readers. But with some prompting from a few people, I’ve decided to pull it down from my website and the other two sites, and revamp it. It is now twice as long as it was before, and I think gives an even better peek into Jodi and Mark’s mutual attraction.

While the original story was edited by Angela James, who edited the first two books of my Hauberk series, and the majority of my stories with Carina Press, the additions meant I wanted to ensure the new matter was properly edited too. So the new version is currently out with Anya Richards of Grammar Goggles. Once she gets it back to me, and the edits are finished, I’ll be putting it up on Smashwords, Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and other vendors, so more people can find it.


First Night

Copyright © 2008, 2014 Leah Braemel

It might have been the two glasses of champagne that drove Jodi Tyler to consider Terri’s dare. Or maybe, she told herself for the fifth time, she really was concerned her boss was working himself too hard.

First Night Cover ~ Final_400x600_compThough her mouth was moving, Jodi could barely hear a word Terri said over Hector’s attempts at singing and the amps blasting full-power. The music itself wasn’t bad—Juan and Tyrell both played a mean guitar but Hector needed to be muzzled.

Champagne sloshing over the side of her wine glass, Terri gestured toward their boss who stood in the farthest corner, his cell phone covering one ear, and a hand covering the other. The suit jacket Mark Rodriguez had worn earlier was nowhere in sight. His tie had disappeared too, leaving the top two buttons of his shirt splayed open. What was it about that peek-a-boo V that she found so attractive? He twisted to allow a waiter to pass which caused his shirt sleeve to pull taut. Damn, the man must work out five hours a day to maintain those shoulder muscles.

Though he had an excellent body, his recently-earned MBA spoke to his intelligence, a trait Jodi found just as sexy as his kick-ass body.

From the deep furrow in his forehead, whoever he was talking to was pissing him off. Bingo, there was his tell of running his hand over his dark hair, something he only did when he was trying to keep cool. Normally he kept it in a Marine’s high and tight, but he’d been so harried lately, he’d let the top part grow longer. Long enough that every time she’d seen him, she’d been tempted to run her fingers through it.

Poor guy. Celada Security had the best rep in the Metroplex, yet their damned competition kept swiping their clients by undercutting their rates in an effort to get Mark to sell out to him. It wasn’t that Mark was doing anything wrong—the man had a flair for keeping both his clients and his employees happy—but he didn’t have the type of money their competition had at his disposal. Which meant this might be the last party they’d celebrate together. Unless he pulled off whatever Hail Mary pass he’d hinted at during today’s staff meeting.

Terri put her mouth to Jodi’s ear and repeated, “Come on, Jodi. Mark brought his laptop to the party, and when he’s not working on it, he’s been on that damned phone. You need to get him to loosen up.”

Jodi rolled her eyes. “And just how do you propose I do that?”

Terri flattened her free hand over her stomach and wiggled her hips. “There’s no better way to start a New Year than with some hot monkey sex.”

“Terri!” Laughing at her friend’s antics, Jodi shoved Terri’s shoulder.

“Jodi,” Terri mimicked Jodi’s exasperation. “He’s not seeing anyone, and neither are you since you finally saw the light about Jace and kicked him to the curb. Sex is the perfect way to relax, and honey, you both need to relax. Besides, I’ve seen the way you eye Mark when you think no one’s looking. You’re dying to get him naked. Don’t deny it.”

“I am not!” Yes, I am. I want to pull his shirt off and run my fingers—hell my tongue—down his pecs, over his abs. To trace that line of dark hair from his navel to where it hid beneath his fly.

“It’s time you get back up on the horse and Mark’s the perfect stallion to ride.” Terri grabbed a champagne flute from a passing waiter and pressed it into Jodi’s hand. “Here. Give him this. Tell him there’s a private party and he’s invited. I bet he’ll have you seeing fireworks before the ball drops in Times Square.”

As Jodi argued internally about whether it was a good idea to have sex with the boss—which she knew wasn’t smart at the best times, Terri fumbled in her purse, withdrew a package and shoved it in Jodi’s bag. Jodi peered inside to see what her friend had given her. “Holy crap, you brought a box of condoms to the party? What the fuck were you expecting? An orgy?”

“No. But it never hurts for a girl to be prepared.”

With an entire box? Terri obviously had far more to her than she let on beneath that standard Celada uniform.

“You know you’ve been fantasizing about him for months. It’s time you go hook up with him and ride that man into the sunset.” Terri shoved her in Mark’s direction. “Or let him ride you.”

What the heck am I doing? Jodi asked herself as she maneuvered her way through the crowded room.

Taking responsibility for your own happiness, that’s what.


Keep an eye out here for when First Night is available for download from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other vendors — I’ll be making it available for a short time only, then it will be priced at 99 cents.

Pay it Forward Friday — Lissa Matthews

I’ve talked a lot this year about the struggles I’ve had, and along the way I’ve mentioned on Facebook and Twitter how the romance community rocks, about how many authors have contacted me in person at a conference, or emailed me, or IMd me on Facebook and in one way or another have offered support.  Some of them may know what they’ve done, others may be totally unaware of how much something they said affected me (in a good way), and how much I appreciated the time they took talking with me.

So I’ve decided to thank them by featuring their books here. I’ve gone to their websites and gathered their bios, covers and blurbs from their latest books (or the first book in their latest series) and am sharing them here in hopes that you’ll discover some new authors to love and support. I’d originally created today’s post a few days ago and set it to post the first Friday of 2015, but after a conversation today I knew I didn’t want to wait even two weeks.

The authors I’m featuring have no idea I’m doing this, or who will be featured next. They’ve not contacted me asking to be included — it’s not an advertisement. It’s my way of publicly saying “thank you!”

Pay-it-forward-Friday


 

Lissa Matthews_webToday’s featured author is Lissa Matthews. While I’d seen her online when I was first published, Lissa was one of the first authors I met in person at my very first RAGT in 2011. (That’s Lori Foster’s annual Reader and Author Get Together in Cincinnati.)  We chatted briefly in the conference insanity, but we’ve chatted more online the past year since we’ve been in the FIVE ALARM ALPHA bundle. And found we have a lot in common about what we’re prepared to do–and not do–when it comes to our writing process.

Living in North Carolina, talented, multi-published author, Lissa Matthews, has many loves in her life: Family, friends, NASCAR, football, music of all kinds, cooking, BDSM, and last, but not least, coffee. She loves it so much she and those who know her are surprised she hasn’t floated away on a caffeine-induced cloud while giving life to feisty heroines and hunky heroes.

Lissa’s love of romance came from every book she has ever picked up. No matter what she read, she fell in love with the written word. The promise of escape, the deep, intriguing characters, and the winding journey from beginning to end, constantly drew her into bookstores and libraries as she was growing up.

Her first stories were written in junior high and she kept it up through college. She would stay up late at night when her kids were little reading romance and still penning her own stories. In 2007, when she and her family moved to North Carolina from Florida, she began pursuing writing as a profession and she couldn’t imagine doing anything else… Well, except maybe writing in her own cupcake bakery/coffee shop. But that dream is a ways down the road… Lucky for Lissa, she believes in dreams coming true.

Lissa is married with two children and seven, yes, seven cats. She blames her oldest child for the cats.

Lissa’s Website ~ Lissa on Facebook ~ Lissa Matthews on Twitter


 

The Cupcake Cowboy, Lone Star Sweets, Book 1

CupcakeCowboy300blackJackson Dawson had known only one way of life: ranching. That is, until he went to college in the city. There, he was introduced to a whole new world of people, food, and way of life. He never dared to imagine that he could do or be anything other than a rancher’s son, but with his mother’s words ringing in his ears and his sister’s encouragement, he took a chance. And in the process, found himself and met the woman of his dreams.

Pastry Chef Cass Jamieson’s only desire had been to own a bakery. After a stint in pastry school, she quickly learned that trying to make your dreams come true wasn’t easy. She was dejected when her bakery closed and soon returned to the classroom as a teacher to eager young bakers with the same stars in their eyes that had once been in hers.

So, when the stubborn, determined, and hot as summer in Texas cowboy walked into Cass’s pastry kitchen, it turned her life and libido upside down. When he seeks her out for heated kisses and her thoughts on his cake bakery idea, she gives in to the lust, but gives cautious business advice born of experience, only Jackson didn’t see it that way.

Who will bend first in this battle of wills involving sugar and spice and everything naughty and nice? Come take a ride with The Cupcake Cowboy and find out…

Warning: Uses of frosting that frosting was never intended for. A dirt road showdown. A lesson in milking cows. A whole truck full of mouthwatering cupcakes (some with liquor). A little family drama. And dreams on their way to coming true…

Read an excerpt

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Or if you prefer paranormals, there is Lissa’s…

Shifting Currents

ShiftingCurrents300x450Blake doesn’t want a mate. No way. No how. And he certainly doesn’t want her camping on his land, floating down his stretch of river, or looking like she belongs in his bed.

But that’s exactly what he gets when he happens upon a curvy woman with shades of sunset hair named Leah.

She’s on vacation and isn’t looking for any complications, especially in the form of a shifter or the possessive MINE signal he gives off.

So, what are two bears to do when they’ve convinced themselves they don’t want, much less need anyone else?  They give in to the pull and mate, of course, but in sex only. No life commitment. No cubs. No changing the way they live: Separate and independent of each other.

Except when she leaves his mountain, Blake can’t get her off his mind and Leah can’t stop craving his particular brand of gruffness. Now, the one thing neither wanted, has come full circle, and is ready to bite them both.

This is a fun shifter story. It’s not angsty. It’s not death defying. It’s not filled with external conflict and danger. It’s a short story about two people who realize, they need each other, despite the fact that they’ve lived their lives never needing anyone. read more…

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(Leah here — LOL, I just noticed the heroine’s name. Totally unintentional on my part in choosing this book — I simply looked for Lissa’s latest.)

Snippet Saturday – One Hot (and conflicted) Cowboy

To give you a reason to vote for Jake Grady as the Hottest Cowboy in the Inner Goddess Forum’s Save a Horse, Read a Cowboy Hottest Cowboy contest, here’s a snippet from No Accounting for Cowboys…

Vote for Jake

Buy No Accounting for Cowboys

Carina Press ~

Amazon ~ B&N ~ iBooks ~ Google Play ~

Snippet-Saturday-card

Ignoring the sounds of disappointment around him, he strummed the guitar and locked his gaze with hers once more. He launched into Blake Shelton’s “Who are You When I’m Not Looking.” As he sang, the lights on the rest of the band faded, until he alone was illuminated. Unsure if it was his singing or the lyrics that moved her, the hairs on the back of Paige’s neck raised, spread down her spine and along her arms. The clank and clatter of the other patrons faded away until it was just him, her and the music. As if he sang to her. For her.

Recommended Read…a sexy read that sizzled off the pages…well penned with twists and turns that added intrigue to a strong cast of characters. There’s family, love, hope, endings, and new beginnings, everything that will have anyone with a romantic heart cheering in the end. ~ Lace, BlackRaven’s Reviews

His voice grew husky as he sang about wanting to get to know her better, about how she kept herself hidden. Fear that he might actually be able to see inside her welled along with the music.

What was he doing playing at a small bar like Slick’s instead of somewhere like Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth? He was too good for Joshua Falls, damn it.

By the time his last note hung in the air, the entire bar had fallen silent, caught in his spell. Applause thundered around her, many of the bar’s patrons on their feet. Paige’s palms burned as she joined them.

NAFC_200x300“Did I tell you JT could sing or didn’t I?” Cam shouted into the mike. “Hang around folks, because we’ll be back in fifteen minutes.”

JTs shoulders hunched again as people reached out to shake his hand.

“Aw, he’s shy,” one of the girls behind her cooed.

Or didn’t like his personal space encroached, Paige silently added. Especially the way several of the women grabbed his ass. If a guy did that to her, she’d be slapping his face.

“Thanks, ladies, I’m glad you enjoyed my singing.” He wrangled himself free of yet another enthusiastic fan. “But me and my lady friend would appreciate a little space until I have to be back up for the next set.”

Paige’s eyes widened when he slid into the seat opposite her. “Hey, darlin’, thanks for saving me a seat.”

Daggers shot her way from at least four different women.

Once they retreated, he grinned, his mouth pulling up higher at one side in a crooked smile. He leaned in and lowered his voice. “Thanks for not feedin’ me to the lions.”

“How do you know I’m not their leader with even bigger claws and teeth?”

“I don’t. But then I’ve always liked to live life on the wild side.” His expression grew guarded when one of the girls from the booth behind them shoved a paper at him, demanding an autograph. Which he signed. “There you go, darlin’.”

The moment he handed it back, another woman slid into her place, and another. Though he smiled when they each insisted on having a picture taken with him, Paige wondered if any of his fans noticed there was no laughter in his eyes.

Once they left him alone, he sat back in the shadows of the booth. “Don’t worry, if your friend comes back, I’ll move.”

“That was my aunt, not my friend, and don’t worry, she’s gone.” Huh. He’d seen Reba. Which meant he’d been checking her out too. “Were you watching me, JT?”

“Hard to miss someone as pretty as you, darlin’.” He tilted his head to one side, his slate gray eyes considering her, and held out his hand. “It’s Jake, by the way. Only Cam calls me JT.”

“I’m Paige.” She shook his hand, the calluses rough against her skin, not just at the fingertips from long hours of guitar practice, but on his palms as well. As she’d guessed, this was a man used to manual labor. And to taking charge, from the way he continued to hold her hand.

“Nice to meet you, Miss Paige. As I said, I’m obliged.”

Oh wow, a true old-fashioned cowboy right down to the manners. If she ever met his momma, she’d have to thank the woman for raising him right. And his daddy for raising a strong man.

A waitress—not the one who had waited on her earlier—slid up to the booth. She touched her bottle blond hair and simpered as if Paige were invisible, tugged at the overly tight Slick’s Swamp Box tee, then smoothed her name tag proclaiming her to be Holly in an obvious attempt to draw his attention to the bounty that threatened to overflow the scooped neckline. As if anyone could miss her double Ds. “Can I get you anything, hon? A beer? Bourbon? Jack and coke?”

Jake barely gave the waitress a cursory glance. “A Shiner Bock would be great.” He gestured to Paige’s almost empty glass. “You need a refill?”

The bill she’d asked for almost an hour ago? “It doesn’t matter.” Paige gestured to Holly’s retreating form. “She’s left already.”

“Sorry. We’ll catch her when she comes back with my beer.”

Her fingers itched to stroke the silky russet locks brushing his shoulders. She’d always had a thing for guys with longer hair. Not to mention the prickle of crew cuts never felt right compared to the brush of long locks when they lowered their heads between her thighs. “So if the J stands for Jake, what does the T stand for?”

He grinned, amusement and heat filling his eyes. “Trouble.”

Sang to her

Vote for Jake

Buy No Accounting for Cowboys

Carina Press ~

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Jake Grady needs your vote as Hottest Cowboy!

Jake Grady, from No Accounting for Cowboys, has beaten 60 other cowboys, including his big brother Ben, and made it into the finals of the Inner Goddess Forums’ Hottest Cowboy contest!

Now he needs you to show him a lot of love and vote for him again!  I’m shamelessly begging — Help Jake Win! Vote Today!  Click on the Hottest Cowboy contest graphic, or on the link above and go cast your vote! (And there are lots of prizes you can win by voting.)  But don’t delay, voting is only open today and tomorrow! (Dec 12 – 13)

cowboy contestAnd to remind you why Jake is hot?  Here are some quotes…Promises

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Love You Paige

Sang to her