Snippet Saturday – First Night, First Kiss

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For those of you who haven’t read First Night, or may not even know it exists, First Night is a short story I wrote back in 2008 as part of a Samhain holiday celebration. Since it came out before Private Property, it was my way of introducing the world to my writing and Jodi and Mark, the hero and heroine from Private Property. (At the time I had no idea Private Property would be the start of the Hauberk Protection series.)  Two years ago, the head of my street team started nudging me to lengthen it and put it up on Amazon and other vendors so more readers could find it. Well, I finally sat down and followed her advice. First Night is now doubled in length and explains how Mark’s company ended up becoming part of Hauberk Protection (yes, Sam is in it — on a video call at least).  It is currently available on Amazon, Scribd and Kobo, and will be available through Barnes & Noble and iBooks shortly.

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First Night

copyright© 2014 Leah Braemel

“What do you say, Mark? Do we have a deal? You ready for a little R&R?”

First-Night-400x600-(300dpi)The breathy hitch in her voice told him there was no misunderstanding her intention.

He caught her hand. “Are you aware of what I might ask of you?”

Her gaze dropped to the tent in his pants, then slowly raised to meet his. The heat in her eyes seared a path all the way up his chest. “I’ll be at your command for the night. In the bed. Up against the wall. Or on the floor if you prefer. Whatever you say, I’ll do.”

He forced his mind from the image of tying her hands behind her, of pressing her to her knees, when he realized she was still talking.

She ran a finger along his jaw, tracing her thumb over his lips. “Just tell me what you want.”

He pulled her toward him so she tumbled onto his lap. He cupped her head with one hand until her mouth hovered a hairsbreadth from his. “Let’s start with this.”

Despite the danger signals ringing in his head, he couldn’t pull back if someone held a knife to his balls. She tasted of champagne, and paradise. There was no hesitation from her when he slid his tongue past the part in her lips, no regrets, no second thoughts. If anything, there was a tenderness he’d rarely experienced, and never expected from his hard-ass operative.

Everything about her softened, and when he stroked her throat she leaned into his touch. A need to protect her, to treat her gently, while at the same time the need to master her roared over him.

Snippet Saturday – real life romance mimics fiction

So this happened on Christmas Eve.

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You may remember that Guitar Hero asked his girlfriend to marry him in October. They said at the time that the future Mrs. Guitar Hero had always wanted to elope rather than spend tons of money on a big church wedding. (This was reinforced after they’d attended a few of their friends’ weddings and seen the silliness of spending $30,000 for a single day event, especially when some of those marriages didn’t even last a year.) At the time they planned to get married in the spring up in the Canadian North. But apparently my son made a comment two weeks ago about how neat it would be to take their vows in front of a big Christmas tree in one of the small towns north of Toronto, and his girlfriend jumped on the idea.

Campus Martius Christmas TreeSo on Christmas Eve they drove up to the small town at 4 in the morning (there’s a big long explanation as to why that hour, mainly based out of practicality considering the timeframe for all the other places they needed to be during the day), said their vows to each other in the town square in front of the tree, then drove to a small chapel they’d reserved in downtown Toronto and recited their vows in front of two witnesses without telling anyone in the family in advance. (I’ve seen the photos they’ve taken, and they’re beautiful and romantic, but I don’t have copies yet — I’ll share one or two when I get some. And the bride’s mother plans on throwing a barbeque in the summer to allow members of the family to celebrate together. I imagine there will be more pictures then too.)

When they arrived Christmas morning, Guitar Hero handed me an envelope. I opened it and found a copy of their certificate inside. Yes, I cried tears of joy, and hugged them both.

When things quieted down later in the day, Gizmo Guy took me aside and said he liked how I’d handled it.  At the time I didn’t understand what he meant, so he pointed out that some women might have been upset that they hadn’t been invited to help plan the event, or share in the moment. He’s right — I have seen first-hand some women who expect to be part of the wedding planning, or worse who try to micromanage their grown children’s lives still, to insert themselves into all decisions even after those children are married and living their own lives. And I suspect a few extended members of my family think that I may be upset, or are upset on my behalf that my son and his wife didn’t include anyone else in their celebrations, but I’m not.

32089000_sTheir wedding day was not about me. Weddings are about celebrating the bride and groom, and the love they’ve pledged to share for the rest of their lives. It’s not about flowers that would be dropping before the end of the day, or a tuxedo that has to be returned at the end of the night. They won’t have to worry about paying a bar bill for booze that made someone (who they probably arrived at someone’s plus one and didn’t know anyway) act like an ass.  It’s not about what cousin is invited or which isn’t. Or about who sits next to whom. It’s about a celebration of love as the bride wants it. I’d said that from when I realized they were serious about their relationship — I told them to do whatever made THEM happy.

So I’m genuinely thrilled that they’ve taken my advice, that they created a memory exactly to their wishes.

But late that night, as I was scouring Etsy for a perfect wedding gift, I started thinking about the couples I’ve written, and their weddings (no, they haven’t all ended with a proposal or a marriage scene, though I feel confident their relationships would all endure long-term.)  So I started going through my stories to figure out how many actually included a proposal or wedding or a mention of a wedding.

***SPOILER ALERT***

Some that went well, and others…well, in Private Property, Mark had a scary moment waiting for Jodi’s answer…

“Babe? I, uh, have something to ask you.” He swallowed hard. She’d said she loved him, but that didn’t mean she wanted to marry him. What if she said no?

She pulled back to look at him, her eyes wide, almost fearful, held her body still. “What?”

He took a deep breath and leapt into his future. “Will you marry me?”

Jodi stiffened in his arms. “M-marry? Marry you?” The words seemed forced, as if they’d stuck in her throat.

Somewhere in the back of his mind, he’d wanted her to throw her arms about his neck and shout, “Yes, yes, yes! Of course, I’ll marry you.” Instead her hold on him loosened and blank shock filled her eyes. The bright light that he’d hoped would be his future turned out to be a heat-seeking missile racing toward him, its target his heart.

 

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And there’s the entire story line of Perfect Proposal where Sam’s plans to propose to Rosie didn’t go so well either.

His plans had just been shot to hell. He wasn’t going to be able to propose in their suite at the Waldorf. There wouldn’t be candlelight and flowers and champagne; he was going to have to do this on the corner of Forty Ninth and Third Avenue. Not the most romantic place for a proposal, but he was going to make damned well sure she believed him. Right here. Right now.

Ignoring the pedestrians skirting around them and the few who stopped to watch, ignoring the honking horns of the cabs, he lowered himself to one knee.  The slush soaked through the fabric in an icy grip, not to mention the pavement was fucking hard.  His knee was gonna hurt like a sonovabitch if he had to be down here for too long, but if he was doing to this, he was going to do it properly.

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Sam ends up grovelling a while longer…after he is convinced his proposal will end up on YouTube filed under Proposal Gone Wrong.  

Then there is my latest, Feeding the Flames, where Zac’s proposal to Tabatha isn’t shown, but the wedding is:

Wow. Married. Though it had been his idea, and he’d proposed the moment he’d awoken that day of the fire, it had taken him three months to convince Tabatha to say yes. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to marry him, she’d explained, but because she didn’t want people thinking she’d jumped into marriage or that they had to get married. Not that he gave a goddamn what other people thought, but it took him a while to get her not to care. But who knew weddings could take so long to arrange? It wasn’t that they had trouble booking the venue—hell they’d both agreed his place would be the perfect setting, with its landscaped backyard. It had been arranging everyone’s schedule, and taking the weather in account—and they both agreed on a fall wedding rather than under the scorching hot summer sun. Now, one year less a day after their first official date, it was finally here.

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And like Guitar Hero and Mrs. Guitar Hero, Jake and Paige get married off-scene in No Accounting for Cowboys

Ben and Allie stood beneath a handmade “Welcome Home” banner they’d hung over the entrance. Gabe stood to the side, grinning.

The moment the bus’s door opened, Pebbles and Brewskie dashed down the steps, yipping and barking, their tails wagging in joy. Jake wondered if they knew they were actually home or if they were just happy not to be cooped up in the luxurious tin can with the strange humans for once.

He stepped off the bus into hugs from Allie and Ben, handshakes, a slap on the back from Gabe who rolled his eyes and then hugged him too. Eagle-eyed Allie immediately spotted Paige’s diamond with its plainer wedding band beside it and demanded the details. Scolding them when she learned they’d gotten hitched in Vegas, but was mollified when Paige explained they planned to hold a big party down by the lake and retake their vows in front of their friends and family.

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Hmm, looks like some of my advice to Guitar Hero and Mrs. Guitar Hero came out here — though this scene was written almost a year before the wedding. Now back to searching for the perfect wedding gift for them…any ideas?

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.

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…

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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

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Snippet Saturday – Getting into the spirit

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Since we are now to less than 3 weeks until Christmas, I figured it was time for some seasonal reading. I Need You for Christmas takes place in my own back yard, and mentions places I’ve been to, and describes some of the weather we encounter around this time of year. Which makes it one of my favorite books because it has so much of “me” in it.


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I Need You for Christmas

Copyright © 2012 Leah Braemel
Instead of leading her back to his loft as she’d expected, he headed to the far end and slid aside a panel she hadn’t noticed before. She followed him up the rough wood staircase, the wood creaking with each step. Shadows shifted and moved in the light of the single bare bulb swinging on a wire from the rafters high above. The walls of the stairwell ended at the floor above, opening into what must have once been a storage area when this had been used as the sawmill barn.

Moonlight streamed through the massive window at the far end and streaked across the floor, highlighting the rough planks on the floor, the wood still bearing the tool marks from when they’d first been hewn the century before. Many of the beams on the walls had drawings tacked to them, wood and clay carvings lay half-finished or abandoned along the sides, though a few perched on cross beams as if they’d gained or sought his approval. The parachute he’d used on his single jump billowed from the ceiling, a multicolored canopy over the mattress in the corner. A swing unlike any other she’d seen hung from the central beam, moving slightly as she walked past.

An easel commanded the best view over the pond, a dozen or more drawings lay scattered on the floor by its feet. A rounded plaster cast leaned against one wall—the cast Amy had said they’d had done of her belly that Ryan had volunteered to paint. Even though the design wasn’t finished, tears sprung to Meg’s eyes at the beauty of the twin babies staring back at her, their eyes large and filled with wonder.

If she’d thought his workshop below was his inner sanctum, she’d been wrong.

“This is not just another erotic hot Christmas story, but much much more…A must read…”  ~Jeriha, Coffee Time Romance

Feeling like an intruder, she explored the room, examined the sketches, some done in pencil or ink, others in pastel. Almost all of them were of her. Usually of her asleep. In his bed or hers up north. “Are these done from memory or do you sketch them while I’m sleeping?”

“A bit of both.” He studied the pencil sketch closest to him, a profile. “I like looking at them on those nights you’re not beside me.” He stroked a finger down the cheek of the drawing as tenderly as if he’d been touching the real her. “You’re so relaxed, blissful. I keep trying to capture you, but I haven’t got it right yet.”

Oh God. Her chest ached not just from the love in his eyes, but the frustration in his voice. He walked back to the stairwell and turned off the light, leaving the moonlight as their only illumination.

“I need you, Meg.”

The rawness in his voice stirred her need to please him, to calm him. To tame the wildness stirring restlessly inside him.

“I’m yours.”


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