Looking for a weekend read?

The fabulous Kari Lemor has a new book out this week!

Running Target –  Kari Lemor – July 2017

An innocent in the crossfire . . .

FBI agent Jack Holland broke every rule in the book falling for the girlfriend of Angelo Cabrini, son of a New Jersey mob boss. But even if Callie Lansing’s relationship to Angelo was actually a cover and her heart was free, her relationship with Jack put both of their lives at risk. Nothing, though, could make Jack regret the liaison that led to the birth of their son, Jonathan.

After Angelo discovered Callie’s pregnancy, he went after Jack and wound up dead. Now Jack is on the run with a target on his back. The only thing keeping Callie and Jonathan safe is the mob boss’s belief that the baby is his grandchild. But if Victor Cabrini discovers the truth before Jack can put him behind bars, it could mean death for his sweet covert family. . . .

 

Early praise for Running Target

“Thrilling . . . Lemor once again features a dynamite protagonist who’s easily relatable, and her talent for incorporating romance and forgiveness against the odds makes Running Target even more enticing.” —RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars

“Ms. Lemor has delivered a scintillating read in this book where the chemistry was riveting; the secondary characters entertained me just as much as the main ones; and the ending took me completely by surprise.” ~ Book Magic Book Reviews

“Running Target is about finding one’s way back home. It’s about beating the odds when it seems like everything is going against you. And most importantly, it’s about family. I would recommend this for readers who enjoy their romance mixed with a light level of suspense.” ~Harlequin Junkie

Excerpt:

An infant’s cry broke the stillness of the maternity ward as Jack crept through the hallway. He looked toward the nursery. Should he go there first or to where Callie was? The room was less risky and he needed to see her. Assure himself she was okay.

The door was ajar so he slipped through, closing it enough to allow a sliver of light to filter in. He made out the petite shape of the sleeping woman then saw the bassinet next to her. His breath left his body. The baby was here with her.

Stepping closer, he looked down on the clear container, the blue tag proclaiming this child to be a boy. Squinting in the dim light, he read the words. Mother’s name: Callina Lansing. Baby: Jonathan.

Jonathan. She’d named the baby after him. A lump clogged his throat. A son. Damn. He had a son and wouldn’t be able to get to know him, see him grow, share in his life. This fucking world was too cruel at times.

He shouldn’t take the chance but he needed to hold him. It was vital that he touch the life he and Callie had created. He wanted—no needed—to let his child know how much he loved him. The powerful emotion emanated from his heart even as he gazed down at the tiny figure. How could love grow this fast? His first glimpse was only a second ago. Now the feeling consumed him.

Reaching down, he stroked the side of his son’s face. The baby turned his head, his bow-shaped lips opening slightly. Jack’s heart beat faster. The protective instincts that had always come into play when he was around Callie, throbbed to life and expanded as he gazed at the sweet face of his son. Heat like an electric storm surged through his blood. How could he protect this child in his current situation? He’d bring more danger upon him if he hung around. Eight months of running, trying to escape the long arm of Victor Cabrini, had shown him what hell was. Now he glimpsed a small piece of heaven.

He slid his hands under the infant, lifting him from the bed to hold him close. Jonathan barely weighed anything. His heart constricted yet again. The innocent baby scent wafted into his nostrils and he blinked back the moisture filling his eyes. The reaction was primitive and territorial. This was his son.

Their child’s eyes opened but no cry erupted so Jack relaxed. It shook him to the core knowing Callie had named the baby after him. After deserting her she had every right to hate him. As much as he hated himself. Leaving her hadn’t been in his plans but the choice had been ripped away from him. It had taken a while to recover from the stabbing. Then the fuck-up by the Bureau had happened.

He stared again at the unfocused eyes of his son, his forehead touching that of the infant’s. Kissing his face, he absorbed every little facet he could. Who knew if he’d ever see him again.

Gazing at the sleeping woman, her innocent face relaxed in slumber, caused more pain to rip through his heart. Her dark hair, streaked with natural reds and golds, was a riot of curls that framed her peaceful face. Long lashes fanned over high cheekbones, highlighting the lovely structure of her eyes. His beautiful Calico Cat.

Had the pregnancy and labor been hard? She must have looked amazing, all round and filled with his child. Regret tore through him, anger warring with that emotion. Anger that his life had been stolen from him. He’d been fighting to get it back, but didn’t seem any closer now than he’d been eight months ago.

Jonathan let out a small mewing sound and Jack snuggled him close. “I’m right here, pal. I might not be around much but I wanted to let you know…I love you very much.” His voice cracked with emotion. “I’m your Dad.”

He had a son. Was now a father. But he couldn’t be a father—not in the way that it mattered. He’d swore he’d be better than his dad. But this—he’d be worse. As it began to sink in, his hands shook with the enormity of the situation.

A noise from Callie drew his eyes to the bed. She shouldn’t see him. It was too dangerous. Still he wasn’t ready to give up holding his son quite yet. You might as well rip his heart from his chest and throw it on the floor.

 

Buy links:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01GYPLR6A/

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/running-target-kari-lemor/1125166579?ean=9781516100736

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/running-target/id1178479419?mt=11

https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Kari_Lemor_Running_Target?id=zhGJDQAAQBAJ

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/running-target

 

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Monday Mayhem – Diving in

Here we go, kids!

I just turned in the manuscript for LOVE AND ROCKETS (Coastal Heat #3) last night. Wooohoo! What does this mean? It means it’s time for me to get to work on RANSOMED HEART (Warrior #2)!

I’m excited to start on something new, but that doesn’t mean I’m done with the Coastal Heat series. I’m preparing a proposal for two more books in the series, so cross your fingers and toes. I’m also excited because the first book in the series, GOING DEEP, is on sale!

Going-Deep3

Brooke and Brian started it all. Now they’ll have company as Laney and Harley’s story comes out in April and Jake and Darla’s in October. It’s so much fun to see this world grow to encompass so many new love stories.

WellsMaggie_FlipThisLove

A new year means new plans. As 2016 starts, I’m working on 2017 and beyond. I can’t wait to share these new adventures with you!

 

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Teaser Tuesday – Lucy Parker

ActLikeItWeb

This just in: romance takes center stage as West End theatre’s Richard Troy steps out with none other than castmate Elaine Graham

Richard Troy used to be the hottest actor in London, but the only thing firing up lately is his temper. We all love to love a bad boy, but Richard’s antics have made him Enemy Number One, breaking the hearts of fans across the city.

Have the tides turned? Has English rose Lainie Graham made him into a new man?

Sources say the mismatched pair has been spotted at multiple events, arm in arm and hip to hip. From fits of jealousy to longing looks and heated whispers, onlookers are stunned by this blooming romance.

Could the rumors be right? Could this unlikely romance be the real thing? Or are these gifted stage actors playing us all?

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Teaser Tuesday – Marina Myles

 

 Cinderella and the Ghost.ebook

 

Excerpt – CINDERELLA AND THE GHOST

 

All at once, Ella remembered standing in front of the long-case clock, precisely like this. But how could that be? She must have repressed memories from her visit here as a child. Yet, she couldn’t explain the vision of herself dancing with the handsome man.

Once she confirmed that a life-sized painting wasn’t hanging in the ballroom, she made her way up the grand staircase. Inexplicably, she felt drawn to where she was going. When she reached the second floor of the house, she studied a wall of faded frescoes depicting late seventeenth century life. When something told her to go on, she padded to the third floor landing.

A palpable hush filled the corridor ahead of her. Then a charged stream of energy rushed forward. Since all the curtains were drawn over the arched windows, the hallway sat in darkness and shadow. Ella should be doing so many things. Unpacking. Cleaning. Deciding which bedroom would be hers. But a sense of urgency prompted her feet to continue.

What will I find in this part of the house? Glimpses of the valiant but very dead Jean-Daniel Girard?

Gulping, she opened door after door and peeked in each one. She finally came to a storage space, with an additional staircase leading up to an attic. Creeping up those stairs, she surveyed the articles on the landing. Broken mirrors and articles of furniture draped in white sheets lay strewn about. Tangled strings of cobwebs swathed the wood paneling.

A glowing beam of sunlight angled into the room. Ella’s pulse sped. In the corner, she spotted an item covered with a black cloth. The object reclined against the far wall—and appeared to be larger than she was. Pushing the curtains open, she allowed more sunlight to bathe the space. Hands quivering, she moved back to the draped item and pulled away the black cloth.

The painting’s gilded frame was stunning. On it, Ella located a nameplate.

Jean-Daniel Girard—Viscount de Maincy

1677-1703

 Slowly, as though her life was being altered with every centimeter, her stare ascended to the nobleman’s astonishing face and instantly, the world fell into a compelling silence.

Jean-Daniel Girard was tall, muscular, and inarguably handsome. In fact, his striking good looks affected Ella so deeply that she could barely breathe as she gazed upon them. More than that, she knew she’d seen the viscount’s face somewhere before. While she racked her brain about where she’d seen it, her gaze roamed over Jean-Daniel’s sold body, penetrating aquamarine eyes, and angular features. He could be described as classically handsome. The epitome of male beauty, really. And thankfully, that classic quality helped him transcend the fanciful clothing and wig he wore.

Ella took a step in and studied him some more. True to subjects painted in that era, he wasn’t smiling. Rather, he seemed a pensive and a bit melancholy. However, she could tell from the laugh lines bracketing his generous mouth that he grinned often.

Incredibly lifelike, the nobleman seemed capable of emerging from the painting right then and there. Ella’s skin tingled.

Her gaze drifted to the adorable dog sitting at the viscount’s feet. A splendid example of a hound, it possessed a gleaming brown-and-white coated, an open mouth, and a protruding tongue. Oddly, the dog seemed to be smiling.

“I can tell you loved your master,” she murmured.

Mesmerized by the man in the painting, Ella stared at his image for what felt like hours. The more she analyzed it, the more she noticed its “lost soul” quality. She crossed her arms. No, that wasn’t it. Instead, there seemed to be something underlying the viscount’s solemn face. As if he weren’t solemn at all. As if he possessed a sense of unfinished business.

To die so young…

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Buy links:

http://www.amazon.com/Cinderella-Ghost-Cursed-Princes-Book-ebook/dp/B00NZZJ5N0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1418060732&sr=8-1&keywords=cinderella+and+the+ghost

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/cinderella-and-the-ghost-marina-myles/1120419439?ean=9781601832832

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/cinderella-and-the-ghost/id923819973?mt=11

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/cinderella-and-the-ghost

http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Cinderella-Ghost/Marina-Myles/Q392155177?id=5953492178836

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Teaser Tuesday – Sandra Jones

HIS MOST WANTED

By Sandra Jones

HisMostWanted72lg
It’ll take more than a badge to get her to confess her secrets.
Kit Wainwright only meant to stop the thief making off with his beloved uncle’s ashes. He wants to hang up his gun, become a law-abiding citizen and leave his violent past behind. But the mayor takes notice of his sharpshooting skills, slaps a badge on his chest and puts him in charge of cleaning up this lawless town. Starting with tracking down the notorious Velvet Grace.

Bordello owner Cora Reilly never meant to become a crusader. But after shooting the last corrupt sheriff in self-defense, she’s spent the last few months turning her hastily donned disguise into a local legend to defend the girls in her town from riff-raff.

There’s no way Cora can trust the handsome new sheriff. Yet Kit’s kisses leave her wanting to open her arms—and her bedroom—to soothe his grief. Even if it brings him too close to the truth that could send her to the gallows.
Warning: Contains a reluctant sheriff with a keen eye for a moving target, and a take-no-crap madam who isn’t about to let him get close. Okay, maybe just a little bit closer. Just this once…

Available in Print and Digital:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/His-Most-Wanted-River-Rogues-ebook/dp/B013HUVF4O/

Barnes & Noble:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/his-most-wanted-sandra-jones/1122473891?ean=9781619226258

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/his-most-wanted

Itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/his-most-wanted/id1027696511?mt=11

All Romance Ebooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-hismostwanted-1873637-162.html

Samhain: https://www.samhainpublishing.com/book/5635/his-most-wanted

Author Bio
Sandra Jones is a multi-published author of historical romances. A former bookseller and librarian, she’s always had her nose in a book.

When not researching or writing her next novel, she enjoys being with family, reading, cooking for her husband, and watching British TV. At home in the South, her house overlooks a river and a farm, where most days you can find her working to the sounds of wildlife and cattle.

Sandra loves to hear from her readers. Visit her website at www.SandraJonesRomance.com

Sandra Jones Pic

Author Links
Website: http://www.sandrajonesromance.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sandra-Jones-Author/428923117143918
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SJonesRomance
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/SandraJones

Teaser:

The gun, still warm from shooting the sheriff, fit just right against Cora Lynn Reilly’s ribs, wedged beneath her breasts between her corset and her blouse. Her heart thundered like a cannonball as she looked for a way to exit the room that wouldn’t require going near the body on the floor, but unfortunately, there wasn’t one. The sound of the blast would likely bring someone upstairs to check on the man, and she couldn’t be caught alone with him.

Balancing on her toes to miss the blood spreading across the boards, she stepped over the first booted leg, her skirt spanning Bill Sidlow’s bloated thighs. She lifted her hem to avoid dragging her petticoat across the man’s torso, now damp and crimson, and set her left foot down with care between his side and his spread-eagle arm.

Don’t look, don’t look. But morbid curiosity got the better of her. She had to be absolutely certain the bastard was dead, so she glanced down at Sidlow’s face. His sightless eyes stared back at her, familiar enough to make a frisson of terror run down her spine again after he’d cornered her against his apartment wall with demands of sex.

“Shoulda known better,” she scolded beneath her breath. But whether she’d directed her words at the sheriff or herself, she wasn’t sure.

He gave no response, his flaccid mouth and sagging jowls glistened with spittle—no different than in life, she supposed. When he’d visited the club earlier that night, he’d pulled her aside to invite her here to his place for a private word, and even then his breath against her ear had been wet and disgusting.

She’d assumed he wanted to talk about business away from the girls and their customers, because if he’d wanted to make any advances of a sexual nature, where better than the Willows, the popular social club she owned on the Row? But she’d been wrong. The sheriff had wanted more than to talk. He’d wanted to take, and that was something Cora wouldn’t allow.

Now, one mistake and a bullet later, she had to get out of his apartment fast before anyone found her here.

Tearing her stare away from the sheriff ’s corpse, she set her body in motion for the door, but the sudden tread of boots on the stairs outside stopped her in her tracks.

“Sheriff? Was that your gun I heard?” Mrs. Murphy, wife of the boarding house owner, called from a short distance below.

Cora’s pulse raced. She scanned the room again. There was a window, but she didn’t
recall seeing a way down. She was certain no one else had seen her enter the building. She couldn’t let Mrs. Murphy find her now, for who would believe a bordello madam who’d shot the sheriff with her pearl-handled pistol in his own bedroom?

No way would she allow anyone to hang her for the likes of Bill Sidlow. She’d never shot anyone else in her life and hadn’t even taken her gun out of its case before tonight. The only reason she’d brought the weapon was in case she was accosted by one of the drunks in the streets outside.

Besides, her girls needed her. Especially now that there would be no one to keep the town’s worst ruffians from their doorstep, and God knew, Fort McNamara had its share of those.

She swept another glance around the room for something she could cloak herself in. The bed was stripped to the sheet, but a long blue velvet drapery hung above the lone window. It would have to do.

A knock sounded at the door. “Sheriff? You all right?” Mrs. Murphy asked again.

Cora vaulted over the body and yanked the heavy fabric from the rod. Returning to the door, she swirled the drape around her head and shoulders until she’d fully cocooned herself, then she waited for a chance to escape.

The door metal rattled. When Mrs. Murphy peeked in, Cora threw her weight against the wood panel, knocking the woman outside off balance, and then barreled past. She descended the stairs, running as fast as she could in the tight wind of her drapery cloak.

As she reached the front door of the boarding house, she heard the woman’s shriek of horror at discovering her boarder’s remains. “Murder! Help, the sheriff ’s been murdered!”

Bursting outside into the darkened street, she kept to the shadows, holding the fabric closed at her neck as she dodged drunken cowboys looking for good times. She averted her face, praying no one would recognize her until she made it back to the bordello.

One thing she knew for certain, after this night, she had better get used to carrying her pistol.

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Teaser Tuesday – Jen Crane

Rare Form

Descended of Dragons, Book 1

by Jen Crane

Jen Crane eBook cover (1563x2500)

Purchase Rare Form:

Kindle: http://bit.ly/RFAmazonBuylink

B&N Nook: http://bit.ly/RFBNBuylink

iTunes: http://bit.ly/RFiBooksBuylink

Kobo: http://bit.ly/RFKoboBuylink

 

A Secret Past

Fiery redhead Stella Stonewall can’t decide between a margarita and a manhattan.
The rest of her life? Please. Stella has never really fit in, and her pretty world comes crashing down when she learns it was never her world at all.

Rowan Gresham is domineering, brooding, and as sexy as chocolate-dipped sin. When he transports Stella to the magical realm of her parents she recognizes her rightful place immediately. Gresham’s motivations are less clear.

A Scorching Chemistry

The enigmatic Gresham aids in Stella’s metamorphosis and their chemistry ignites, though a long-time girlfriend and a significant age difference stand in the way.

A Battle for the Rest of Her Life

Stella’s life fast-tracks to extraordinary when she enrolls at Radix Citadel for Supernatural Learning, an enchanted college whose students turn furry on the regular. As Stella learns to navigate the magical new world of Thayer she must also find her animal form, a task as elusive as her ancestry. Stella soon faces an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to learn to manipulate an animal form she never knew she possessed.

In this scene Stella runs into her newfound mentor Rowan Gresham

at a school mixer. This time he has company.

 

“Mmm-hmmm,” I hummed playfully. Riling Rowan Gresham up was just too easy. Was I flirting? Maybe.

My attempt to hide my grin behind a sip of my drink was unsuccessful, and the tension soon left his shoulders. As I inquired further about Gresham’s “special projects,” I caught sight of a lovely brunette in her late thirties as she approached him from behind. She ran her hand through Gresham’s arm and clasped his bicep possessively.

“Hello,” she said coolly. “I’m Livia Miles.”

She pronounced this la-VEE-yah. Her gray eyes were sharp and assessing as she took in my proximity to Gresham. I backed up a step instinctively. She extended a bony hand, and I took the time to do a little assessing of my own. Now, I like to consider myself fairly well-groomed, but Livia was the type of woman who always looked…pristine. Her nails were perfectly manicured, and the shine on her toe polish caused me to blink. Her smooth skin had obviously been exfoliated and buffed to perfection, her makeup was flawless, if on the heavy side. Her jewelry was tasteful and expensive, and her hair…god, her long brown curls absolutely gleamed reflecting the overhead lights. A tight black lace dress revealed a runner’s legs and no breasts to speak of, thank the good lord for small mercies.

“Livia, this is Stella Stonewall,” Gresham put in. “Stella is a primos, and will likely be in your department’s Intro to Craft and Ritual class.”

“I know who she is, Gresham,” she said icily.

“Oh, uhm… Nice to meet you, Professor Miles,” I stumbled. “Craft? I’m sorry; Orientation is tomorrow. I know very little about the coursework here.”

“Dean Miles,” she corrected. “Craft. The art and science of causing change in accordance with one’s will.”

I must have looked as clueless as I felt, because she turned to Gresham.

“Ugh. Rowan. She is an imbecile. Wherever did you find her, and what moron allowed her into this institution? If this is the caliber of student my department is expected to instruct, I…”

“Stella is new to our ways, as you know, Livia,” Gresham growled. “She is a bright young woman, and will catch on quickly, I am sure, with the help of exceptional teachers like you.”

To this obvious schmoozing, Livia seemed appeased. I had a sneaking suspicion he had just saved me from some serious in-class discrimination.

I couldn’t recall the last time I had been so flagrantly insulted. Fifteen responses and backhanded insults raced through my mind, as did a speedy synopsis of my circumstances—new town, new school, new teacher. Don’t make enemies, I told myself. Swallow your pride. Hold your tongue.

But the fact was I had real difficulty with those particular virtues.

 

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Weekend Writing Warrior – 10/4/15

Hey, gang! Thanks for celebrating the release of Going Deep with me last month. I’m so excited about this series. I just finished copy edits on FLIP THIS LOVE (Coastal Heat #2 – April 2016) and now I’m working on LOVE AND ROCKETS (Coastal Heat #3 – October 2016). I’m going to be sharing some bits from this one as I work on it. Ready? Here we go!

****

“Stop squinting. You look like you’re constipated.”
Jake Dalton went straight from squint to grimace as his mother’s sharp elbow found the soft spot between his sixth and seventh ribs. Instead of protesting, Jake simply covered his bruised side with his hand and leaned down to speak directly into his mother’s ear. “I wouldn’t have to squint if you’d let me wear my glasses. It’s just a little tape.”
Julia Dalton huffed an impatient breath but didn’t bother sparing him a glance. “There are dozens of eligible young women here, Jacob.” She scanned the Starlight ballroom with a practiced eye, muttering almost to herself as she took in every tiny detail. “I’ll be damned if I let my handsome boy go walking around like some kind of Poindexter all night.”

****

That’s it for this week. Be sure to check out all of this weekend’s Weekend Writing Warrior posts!

Don’t miss book #1 in the Coastal Heat series, Going Deep!

Going Deep – To the heart of the story.

Making Headlines

Brooke Hastings almost won a Pulitzer Prize for her hard-hitting reportage. Now she’s sitting on the story of a lifetime and wants to prove she’s not a one-hit-wonder. But in order to get the world to take notice, she’ll need the help of the one person she loves to hate—Brian Dalton.

Brian Dalton stumbled into celebrity when he landed a show on the Earth Channel. But the hunky marine biologist never forgot the serious, studious boy who left Mobile a decade before. Now back in Alabama, he’s looking for the quiet life he always wanted and hoping for a chance with the girl he always loved. When Brooke asks him to help expose some of the lingering effects of the Gulf oil disaster, Brian jumps at the chance to help preserve the place both call home…

All Romance ~ AmazonAppleB&NGoogle ~  Kensington Kobo

 

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Teaser Tuesday – Seducing Steve Sale!

Get your clicky finger ready!

 

To celebrate next week’s release of Going Deep, I’m making Seducing Steve FREE on Amazon September 10-14, 2015!

SSHiRes

Grab him now!

EXCERPT:

“So, I asked you here for a reason.”

Steve cocked his head as he took the bottle of beer Sara offered. She tucked one leg under her bottom and sank onto the couch next to him, sitting a little closer to him than normal. He swallowed hard and did his best to ignore the fission of electricity that danced up his arm when her sleeve brushed his. All in all, he was pretty proud of himself for not flinching or jerking away. He’d honed his defenses a long time ago.

He set his beer aside and raised the lid on the pizza box. “Not because you wanted me to buy your dinner and let you torment me with whatever chick flick was mailed directly to your door?”

“Those would be the surface reasons.” She used the hem of her sweater to twist the cap from her bottle. “There’s a deeper reason.”

Swallowing hard, he focused his attention on liberating a loaded slice of pizza from its cardboard confines. God, he loved that little flash of hip and bare belly. “Oh yeah?”

“I want to talk to you about my next book.”

Ignoring the impulse to touch, he lifted the slice and prepared to take a bite. “What about it?”

“I need your help.”

He cast a puzzled glance in her direction. “My help? I’m not a writer. Why would you need my help?”

Sara lounged against the cushion. He resisted the urge to fidget under her steady gaze. A prickling sensation crept up the back of his neck.

“The story I’m working on has a friends-to-lovers angle.”

The statement struck him with only slightly less impact than Sharon Stone’s infamous leg-crossing scene. Friends-to-lovers. Holy shit.

“We’ve been friends a long time.”

She threw that line out there like an expert fly fisherman. Woman. Whatever. It just dangled there, waiting for him to take the bait. He shot her a wary glance and leaned forward, preparing to take a giant bite of his pizza. “Yeah. So?”

“I thought you might help me with the sex.”

He choked and sputtered. A piece of pepperoni lodged in his windpipe. She gave his back a solicitous pat, but the shift in proximity only made his throat close up more.

“I’m sorry, bad timing.”

Her hand slid up to his shoulder. His fingers went lax and the slice slipped from his grip, landing in the box with a splat. Graceful fingers curled into the muscle, kneading the knot of tension at the base of his neck. Her touch had the same effect it always did—his brain stutter-stepped, his breathing slowed, and his cock stirred. He was almost pleased to note there was nothing new there. He could handle this. He’d been handling inappropriate thoughts about his best friend for years.

He washed the pizza down with a healthy pull from his bottle of beer. He gasped, lowering the bottle. “Sex?”

His dick perked, prepared to sit up and beg on command. He stretched one leg, hoping to make an unobtrusive adjustment to the denim biting into his crotch.

“You remember sex, don’t you?”

The husky tease did little to slow his racing pulse. “Vaguely.” He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand as his mind raced. Her fingers slipped into his hair and his Johnson all but stood up and cried ‘Hallelujah!’ Desperate, he grabbed the pizza box and hauled it onto his lap, hoping mounds of cheesy sausage would camouflage the pepperoni threatening to burst from his jeans. “We don’t talk about sex.”

Sara scooted closer still, angling her body toward his, and he stopped breathing altogether. “I need to talk to someone about it.”

“Why?”

“Because it’s been a long time since I’ve had sex.”

He glanced at her. Her blue eyes shone with earnest intensity. He was glad for the cardboard buffer between them. “Why me? Isn’t there a, uh, girlfriend, or maybe your mom…”

“I need a man’s perspective on things. A friend’s, so I can figure out how the transition would go.”

“Transition?”

“From friends to lovers.”

He gaped at her as she gently pried the box from his grasp and set it aside. His cheeks flushed, and he feared they glowed as red as his hair. “What kind of things do you want to know?”

“Haven’t you ever thought about it?”

“Thought about what?” he asked, though he knew damn well what she meant.

“Steve, how long have we been friends?”

His brow puckered. Wavering between fight and flight and wishing ‘fuck’ was on his list of options, he shook his head in disbelief.

“I don’t know… Eight, nine years?”

“And how many times have we come close to kissing?”

His heart stopped beating. A well-worn montage of near-kisses flashed in his mind’s eye. “We don’t kiss.”

“We don’t kiss because we both know once we start, we won’t want to stop.”

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