The Big D—–Disappointment.It’s one of the toughest realities around, isn’t it?Our first ones come early in life. We don’t get the toy we’re reaching for. We can’t have the dog’s bone to chew on (why not? HE likes it!). We aren’t able to stay up late…
If you had said to me, oh, about six years or so ago “Liz, you are going to write books that people love to read, are willing to pay money for and you are going to offer some of them for free,” I would have choked on my beer.
Antony Ian Love has a lot on his ample shoulders. He owns and runs a small business, is estranged from his teenaged daughter AliceLynn, his beloved mother is dying of cancer, and he’s come face to face with his youngest brother Aiden’s sudden reappearance into the Love family circle. Years of sublimating his true self in deep mourning for his long dead wife have hardened the surly, emotional shell he’s nurtured, but one woman seems to have broken through. Rosalee Norris is the young widow of Antony’s best friend Paul and their mutual sorrow and close friendship has slowly morphed into something more.
From Safe Love
by Liz Crowe
All Rights Reserved
A sharp rap on the door made her jump. “Come in,” she said, pulling her hair into a clip, not looking up at the sound of Antony’s low, growly voice.
“Hi,” he said. “So…I’m here. Now what?”
Margot believed she could hear the ligaments in her neck creak as she looked up at him. She swallowed, smiled and stood, deciding to just go with her gut and see where it took her. She’d never been cautious but getting dumped by the one man she’d allowed herself to love made her hesitate. It would be all right. Antony was engaged and to a lovely woman who did not deserve to be treated this way.
“Sit,” she said, pointing to the chair near her window.
He shrugged and did as she said, slumping down and crossing one ankle over the opposite knee and hooking his hands behind his head, taking a classic male stance of defiance. Confidence surged through her once she realized he was already taking on a role she wanted him to—one she would need to break down in order to help him, whether he realized it or not. Problem was, her sort of “breaking down” would end with sexual intercourse, and she couldn’t allow that. It would be wrong.
She slid one of her desk drawers open and put her hands on something she’d placed there, almost without thinking after his last, awkward visit. The silky fabric slipped through her fingers. Antony frowned at the sight of it in her hand, his posture shifting ever so slightly from defiance into fear. She could almost see it shimmering off him and it made her feel powerful yet sad at the same time.
“I’m going to try a little experiment with you.” She came around the side of the desk and headed to him just as he jumped to his feet. “Sit down, Antony,” she said, using her best take-no-shit voice as she invaded his personal space, the blindfold in one hand. “It will be all right, I promise.”
He shook his head but sat, leaving her standing over him, which gave her a shiver of anticipation that she promptly quelled. His strong arms hung loose at his sides, his jeans-clad legs sprawled out, too long for the chair. She stood behind him and placed the black silk cover over his eyes, noting how he shook. After tying it in such a way she knew would be nearly impossible to release, she placed her palms on his broad shoulders. As she had hoped, his thrumming, nervous energy calmed under her touch.
Too easy, she thought.
Not good, she also thought, tamping down the extreme urge to lean over him and lick her way up his neck.
Instead, she spoke into the air over his head. “Now, tell me one thing you miss about Crystal.”
“Uh…” he said, clenching and unclenching his fingers. “It’s…um… been such a long time and I…”
“One thing Antony, quick, without thinking too hard.”
He took a long, shuddering breath. “Her lips.”
“Okay, now another thing.” She kept her hands pressed on his shoulders, willing him to be calm and to open up to her.
“Her ass,” he growled. She smiled.
“Now we’re getting somewhere. One more thing, please.”
“Her…” he sucked in a breath. “The way she’d be in charge.”
“Hmm…” Margot said, willing herself to stay put, to not place herself in front of him and do what she really wanted. “And what do you mean by that? She balanced the checkbook?”
“No,” he whispered.
“Okay then. Where was she in charge?” She caught herself even as she said it, implying that Antony’s wife had been “in charge” in a specific place. But it cut to the chase, so why not?
“I’m, um…not really comfortable with this.” His leg was jittering up and down. The tension was rising in him again. Margot took a deep breath cursing her body for betraying her. She squared her shoulders.
“I know. That’s why we’re not looking at each other.” Unable to stop herself, she leaned down and put her lips near his ear, sucking in a huge breath of leather, a hint of smoke, cotton and a clean, soapy-ness that made her want to weep. “Relax. It’s all right. I’m in charge in this room so you can just…relax.”
She saw him grit his teeth and knew he was trying hard to do the exact opposite of what she was telling him to do, so she tightened her grip on his shoulders, not an easy feat considering how firm they were. But a point had to be made and she knew her options for making it were limited, considering she’d promised herself that this would be nothing more than a therapy method.
“The bedroom,” he ground out, so low she barely heard him. “Crystal was in charge in our bedroom, in private. It was…something we…liked.” Margot stood up, smiling but shaking at the same time, even more confused about how to proceed. Keeping her hands on him, knowing he required at least that much from her, she got herself under some modicum of control and plowed forward.
“How was she in charge?”
“Oh, I’m pretty sure you know,” he said, surprising her with the strength in his voice. “And I’m also pretty sure I’ve told you enough.” He jumped up, ripped off her un-rip-able blindfold, sending it fluttering to the floor in two strips of black fabric and kicked the chair out of the way. She stumbled, blinking fast, brain spinning and body going into overdrive at the look on his face. He was begging her now, using his unconscious body language, but she could not—she would not—give into the urge to shove him to his knees.
Ok so, back to the “giving books away” bit. For the next 14 days starting right now YOU can get a FREE COPY of this compelling, sexy novella, complete with the should-be-patented Liz style of storytelling–the sort you should never, ever consider predictable.
Enter below. All you gotta do is prove you bought book 1 (Love Garage) in an email to me. Why, you ask? Because honestly, this novella is less “prequel” and more “companion” to that first book. Yes, you could read it first but the stories of the two brothers and their complex and sometimes funny love lives are best read in tandem. Snag Love Garage on Amazon first for just $2.99 and follow the directions in the rafflecopter and you WILL receive a copy of SAFE LOVE for FREE in the ebook format of your choice by return email.
Safe Love will be available for purchase on Amazon on March 2, the same day Love Brewing (Dominic’s story) is also available.
Want to know more? Click here for blurbs and excerpts for the first 3 books.
Check out the trailer! It was featured on the USA Today book blog!
Want to know more but would rather have a professional narrator read it to you? Both Love Garage and Coach Love are available on audible!
Welcome Monday! It’s a week to Valentine’s Day and I have a few things to say about THAT as you might imagine.
Jack woke with a start, and immediately regretted it. The hangover that had been lying in wait pounced hard, landing somewhere between his eyes before spreading down into his gut. Groaning, he rolled over and found himself on the floor, trying not to puke all over his expensive Turkish rug. He sat back against the couch and attempted to get his bearings. When the room cooperated by holding still, he ran a shaking hand over his eyes and stood. Leaving explanations for why in the hell he woke up on the couch, still half-dressed in pants and an unbuttoned blue shirt for a time when he gave a shit, he stumbled into the kitchen. The sun streaming through the large window smacked him upside the head, bringing fresh life to the agony.
“Fuck.” After consuming what amounted to about a gallon of water, he leaned against the cold granite counter top. “No, seriously. Fuck.” He yanked his phone out of his pocket and squinted at the missed calls from nearly an hour before. It was Saturday but he didn’t have any serious work to do until nearly four. A few fumbling minutes later the comforting sounds and aroma of a coffee-fix floated around him. He looked up when the shower noises from the master bathroom stopped.
It came rushing back in bursts of idiocy and epic drunkenness. He’d been exhausted after a long week. Wanting to “go out” after a week of unbelievable frustration at City Hall like he wanted a root canal. They’d both been irritable but had subjected themselves to a pre-arranged dinner party. Once home she’d started in on the wedding plans again, and he’d lost it. He stared at his blood-red eyes in the downstairs bathroom mirror. In the way of most disagreements fueled by stress and alcohol, he barely remembered how it started. But he had full memory of how it ended.
One fact he knew with crystal clarity: he had been a colossal prick.
Maybe he wasn’t cut out for this total commitment thing. He’d started zoning out every time she brought up any detail of the “classy” event she wanted to pull off in about six months. “Classy” seemed to translate into “horrifically expensive” if his newly minted Wedding Decoder Ring worked right. Not that they weren’t more than capable of paying for all the white lily-strewn tables at the country club and top-of-the-line videographer themselves, but last night she’d informed Jack that her father, the estimable Doctor Matthew Clay Thornton, wanted to pay for his only daughter’s nuptial ceremony. And that he was flying in from Florida with Sara’s mother and had invited them to a nice, intimate dinner to discuss the matter.
After the week Jack had spent in the city planning offices trying to convince a bunch of pinheaded politicians that the massive renovation of a long-abandoned office building on a busy downtown corner would actually be good for their city, he’d not a single ounce of patience left. Those assholes had hemmed and hawed him into nearly fifty grand more in architect’s fees. Yet, he still had no approval. And he’d agreed to walk down the aisle a mere week after the scheduled building opening and gala party he wanted to throw – an opening that now looked jeopardized if not decimated by short-sighted bureaucrats.
Ergo, the “daddy’s coming to dinner and bringing his checkbook” bomb Sara had dropped in his lap had detonated, leaving him furious and unable to watch his stupid mouth.
“Ah, hell.” He pushed himself away from the sink, the need to hurl the three bottles of red wine and two ill-considered bourbons from last night out of his system quelled for the moment. He had to face this. He’d said some colossally stupid things. While he’d managed to avoid the wedding talk like a trooper, saying stupid shit like, “Just tell me when and where and I’ll be there in the dark suit,” he knew that would not cut it much longer. He’d sprung the proposal on her. It had been, no, it was, what he wanted: Sara, in his life, forever and ever, until death, or whatever.
If only she’d agreed to marry him at the resort, these arguments would be a nonissue. They could be here, at home, married, and moving on with their lives together. They’d had such a great time learning their way around the milder elements of BDSM fun while they were there. It had been perfect. Eloping would have kept all this stress out of his life.
But she was being so bloody stubborn on this thing. He knew it had to be tough for her, submitting to him on any level, and he admired her for it. But he sensed his control slipping and that pissed him off in ways he couldn’t express. He couldn’t, or wouldn’t, exert the full force of his naturally dominating nature on her. She wasn’t ready for that—probably never would be. Maybe he wasn’t, either. Maybe…
Jack squinted at himself once more. His face bore lines from lying pressed against the couch arm all night. His jaw was covered in rough stubble, his jet-black hair tousled. He ran a hand over his dry lips and squared his shoulders. Apologies for bullshit behavior ought to come easy. He’d been wrong, and he knew it. Still, something kept him downstairs, unable to form the right words. He made his way back to the kitchen, poured some coffee into a heavy stoneware mug, and sighed.
Sara toweled off, her mind focusing on the long list of houses she had to show a new client in a couple of hours, her heart still pounding in anger. She’d passed out alone in Jack’s huge bed the night before after the argument that she only half remembered thanks to the booze and stress of the previous day.
The sunlight caught the diamond on her left hand, throwing prisms of light around the large bathroom. She’d never put much stock in jewelry, or flowers, or any of the usual shit women seemed to get off on. So when Jack Gordon, the man she’d been literally fucking around with for months, had sprung a marriage proposal on her in front of their entire real estate company last fall she’d been shocked, to say the least. She stared at the four-carat rock on her finger. It was a work of art-deco beauty. The best that money could buy.
Her fiancé’s handsome face, strong body, snapping blue eyes, incredible sales skills—and masterful talent with his lips, hands, tongue—everything about him had compelled her for months; driving her, making her work harder, turning into a newer, more mature version of herself. But lately, every day brought more doubt about her decision to marry him. She wrapped her body in the large white towel and brushed her teeth, listening for sounds of life downstairs. He had even made her more organized, tidier. Something about him pushed her to be better.
Which made her completely insane with a combination of frustration and something resembling jealousy. Crazy, really. Which just brought her full circle to the small nugget of “why?” she nurtured more and more when pondering her answer to the “will you marry me Sara?” question.
They had definitely spewed ugly words to each other last night. She shuddered, remembering calling him “no better than a man-shaped dildo” at one point. Accusing him of things just short of the Kennedy assassination and global warming. He’d spent the evening sulky and uncommunicative with their friends. She’d simply exploded when they got home. He had met her halfway, no doubt about it. And what had made her think telling him that her father was coming to town and wanted to pay for “his share” of the wedding was a good idea in the middle of all of that, she had no idea.
He’d made it clear all the “wedding crap” was hers to manage. That he would pay for whatever she wanted. But when it came time to start doing so he’d balked, questioning everything she’d arranged, demanding estimates from florists, photographers, bakeries, generally making her second guess herself. The doubt about her ability to plan a simple wedding had leached over into a lot of worry about the whole situation. She sighed, listening again for noise from downstairs.
When her mother called last week and informed her that they wanted to spend the weekend in Ann Arbor so her father could give her the money for the wedding, she’d been relieved. No more answering to Jack. But at the same time something in her knew that wasn’t right. They were supposed to be husband and wife and learning to communicate about shit like this.
Sara took another sip from her water bottle, wincing at the queasy feeling in her gut from the previous night’s overindulgence and anger. The whole damn thing felt impossible now—the magic date they’d set, November eighth, was one week after Jack’s new downtown renovation opened. The project she’d gotten into as much as he had, with many late nights spent poring over drawings, contemplating possibilities of retail versus residential versus rentals.
Maybe her brother was right. Blake had given a whole new meaning to “vitriol,” specifically as it related to Jack Gordon. Claimed Jack would be nothing but a serial cheater, couldn’t resist women, would never settle for just one. After she’d agreed to marry Jack, Blake had backed off some, but had more than once suggested that two people as alike as the two of them would have nothing but misery ahead. That comment stuck in her psyche for weeks. The very concept seemed ludicrous, even insulting. She was not like Jack. No way. But the more they clashed, the more she wondered.
Tears threatened at the thought of calling it off, but the last week or so she’d been questioning her sanity. The fact that office gossip about Jack had ramped up and even taken on a bitter tone—as all the women who’d hoped to be in her four-carat-diamond-wearing shoes started griping—had not helped one bit. The man obviously had not been able to keep that impressive dick in his pants much; that had become pretty clear.
He’d taught her so much about how relinquishing her tight control to him was a pure turn on, fueling her libido in ways she had no idea were possible. It also terrified her at the same time. Ceding control like that, to a man like Jack, inevitably left her feeling cold, scared, and vulnerable. He’d made a promise to her. She would never, ever be left unsatisfied or made to feel humiliated by anything they did. He’d kept his promise. However, sometimes she’d shut down afterwards, as if that sort of trust was a thing she had no idea how to give, or get.
The niggling words “you two are too much alike to work” kept coming back, tickling her brain.
After rubbing her hair with styling gel, she blinked the tears back and tried to focus on the day ahead. Saturdays were notoriously long days for Realtors, and today promised to be a doozy. To top it off, she had the pleasure of dinner with her parents; Blake and his partner, Rob; and her fiancé to look forward to. That was if Jack decided to attend. After last night’s blowout, she wasn’t so sure.
She grabbed the hair dryer and ignored the growing ache in her chest—the spot she’d come to call Jack’s place. He alone had the ability to fill it with joy and ecstasy one moment, fury and frustration the next. He remained a cipher to her. She still knew very little about his family, and he seemed disinclined to share much. He preferred keeping them both “in the here-and-now,” which usually meant in bed, on the floor, or back in his office, with his talented body teasing orgasms out of her at will.
Fortified by caffeine, Jack made his way upstairs. The hair dryer fired up as he entered the bedroom suite. His head still pounded but he knew part of it was dread. Failure threatened large on his horizon. He knew it and didn’t want to subject her to the messiness. The “down the aisle” concept was making him go numb with terror, while the thought of Sara not in his world made him want to lose his lunch. He leaned on the doorjamb, watching her. She’d given him her trust. He’d wanted it—demanded it, even. But did he deserve it? Sometimes he wondered.
Christ, what a mess.
Only he had the power to fix it. That kind of responsibility for another person’s emotional well-being had been easy for him once, and something he thought he knew how to handle—until recently, when he doubted everything about his ability to do that very thing for the woman he loved.
Her dark blonde hair formed a curtain over her face as she worked the hair dryer under its many layers. Jack’s hands clenched into fists, resisting the urge to bury them in it, drag her to the bed and apologize with his body and not his words.
She’d called him on that, too, hadn’t she? Yes. She had.
He suppressed a groan and looked up at the ceiling as he sat on the edge of the large bed, only messed on the side she’d slept in alone.
His base nature had emerged when she’d given him the “dinner-with-the-parents” news after the insufferable dinner they’d attended at her insistence. He had no desire to meet them, but knew it had to be done. He’d sloshed bourbon into a crystal glass and knocked it back before turning to her and accusing her of ambushing him with that little tidbit. He’d reminded her that he was perfectly capable of paying for their wedding, even if she wanted to ship all two-hundred invitees to fucking St. Bart’s on private planes. She had no business involving her father.
But she did, didn’t she?
The man had every right to be involved in his only daughter’s wedding plans. Jack knew damn good and well, thanks to a conversation with Rob over a few beers, that Sara’s father was a class-A prick who had been a shitty role model relationship-wise. That certainly didn’t preclude him from financial participation. He ran a hand over his face again.
Things had quickly devolved from there. Sara had her own shot of brown liquor and accused him of being a man-whore, expressing her unhappiness with the constant stream of gossip about all his escapades from their real estate colleagues. Jack didn’t regret much in life, but at that moment, he had nothing but remorse for all the women he’d pissed off if their animosity caused the kind of pain he’d seen in Sara’s eyes.
Of course, he couldn’t have just said that, could he? Oh no. He’d laughed, like an asshole. Told her to get over it. He was what he was and she damn good and well had partaken of the “Jack fun” herself, hadn’t she?
He looked up in time to see her bend over to give her hair a final heat treatment. The sight of her ass up in the air, barely covered by a thick towel brought his body to strict attention. He shifted, staying out of her line of sight. He narrowed his eyes at the sight of her face as she brushed her hair.
She dropped the towel, making Jack’s skin tingle in anticipation. Lotion came next, smoothed over her long, strong legs, across her luscious ass, around her firm breasts. He sucked in a breath at the sight.
He had to learn to communicate better. His head kept buzzing as he stood, walked into the cavernous bathroom, stood behind her and put his hands on her smooth shoulders. She looked up into his eyes, gaze flat and noncommittal.
The words he’d prepared froze in his throat as he ran both hands down her arms, letting the essence of her infuse his senses. He wanted this, more than he wanted to draw a breath. He wanted her here with him every morning. The concept of screwing it up with his usual bullshit made him almost blind with fury. But right then, he wanted nothing more than to touch, to caress, to soothe and kiss.
She didn’t respond, just stood stock still as he kept his hands moving down to her hips and thighs, then turned her to face him, his hand alongside her cheek. Unshed tears glinted in her deep green eyes. He swallowed but words still refused to form. His lips found hers, desperate, seeking to fix it but unable to as she sighed and molded herself against him, wrapping her arms around his neck as he picked her up and carried her to the bed.
“Jack,” she muttered as he pushed her back against the pillows and made his way down her body with his lips.
“Shh.” His entire body ached for the now-familiar connection with hers—the one time he felt truly complete. His brain engaged long enough to acknowledge that he’d meet her damn father, suck up properly, and let the guy pay for some of the ceremony. If not doing so meant he would lose this woman then he simply had no choice. He smiled against her flesh as he sucked her flesh into his mouth before sliding two fingers inside her, brushing that magic spot, sending her over the edge. He rode out her loud orgasm, then licked his way back up her torso.
“Look at me,” she whispered. He did, caught off guard by the depth of emotion he found in her gaze. “I love you, Jack. I truly do. But I’m afraid. I’m… oh, God.”
Jack let his body speak for him. He stroked deep and firm, filling her, groaning at the amazing tight glove of her body that enveloped him as he eased in and out. She put her hands to his face. As always, the deeper connection he felt with her roared over him, deafening him with urgency and no small amount of fear. They hadn’t used condoms since the New Year’s trip and the whole barebacked thing was, in a word, glorious, although they were playing with fire, and he knew it.
“Tell me.” Her voice was low, rasping, and sexy. “Tell me, Jack.”
“Ah God, Sara,” he ground out, as her orgasm gripped his cock, tightening and pulling him to the precipice. “I, I love you, oh Christ. Yes!” With a final thrust, he sensed his world burst into a thousand pieces behind his eyes. She held on tight, arms and legs wrapped around his body, bringing him utter and complete happiness.
Sara smiled at the man next to her. He’d taken her world and yanked it into his orbit so hard and fast her head still spun some days. God help her, she did love him. She put a hand on his sweat-slicked chest, draped a leg over his and propped up on her elbow.
“Hmm?” His sleepy voice reminded her how much they both needed more shut-eye, having passed out rather than actually rested last night. He pulled her close. “I’m sorry,” he muttered into her hair. “It’s just…” She nodded into his shoulder. “Shit week, you know. All this wedding talk is not my thing or something. I don’t know. I do know I don’t deserve you.”
“Yeah, that is true. Look, we still have dinner with my parents tonight. My dad is a know-it-all doctor. I dread having the two of you in the same room, frankly, but we have to do it. They’re my family and they want to meet you.”
She felt him tense beneath her before he spoke.
“That’s fine. I’ll be on my best behavior. But I don’t want him paying for any of this.” He swept a hand toward the small table where she’d piled up magazines and spreadsheets of wedding planning paraphernalia. “I’m doing it. You’re grown, not some little girl needing daddy’s money anymore.”
She bit her lip. “If he wants to I’m not going to stop him. It’s his prerogative. Can’t you just go with it?” She sat up and swung her legs to the floor, shocked all over again at the depth of his caveman stubbornness.
He sang the same song, different verse every time. They’d fight, make up by making love. She’d let him get away with it. They wouldn’t talk about whatever it was.
Sighing, she stood, stretching her sated and tingling body, her mind back on the day’s massive to-do list. She allowed herself a long look at the man who would be her husband. His six-foot-five-inch frame firm, strong legs and arms covered with a light dusting of black hair, torso mostly bare but for a line of jet-black hair beneath his navel leading down to the part of his body that he had, apparently, shared with so many. Her eyes trailed up to his firm, square jaw in need of a shave. Her palm itched to reach out, feel the sandpapery rasp of it, keeping him real.
How completely unreal that still seemed, even now after he’d given her yet another mind-boggling set of back-to-back orgasms. That should’ve been solid evidence he was there, with her, “hers” even. But he wasn’t. That small voice in her head, the “Old Sara,” with its nagging and worry, poked her psyche once again.
You’re too alike. It will never work.
Jack’s eyes opened at the sound of his own light snore. His sleepy grin made her smile in spite of her heavy heart.
She was no sap. Her own parents’ relationship had made her a cynic in the extreme when it came to men. She knew it. She fully acknowledged her own emotional constipation. Yet she let the man who currently held her heart in his large, talented hands tug her down onto the bed, into the circle of his arms. His skin, smell, and feel eased her as always. She closed her eyes, just for a few more minutes.
Yeah, so “Jack & Sara….frustrating hard core romance readers for the last 3 years” and NOW with new covers!
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Lonely thoughts on a cold, February night….I had someone say to me recently:”You’re just frustrated because you’re not successful.”Well…..let’s see. Yeah. I guess that’s the truth.This author thing is lonely.It’s not easy.It’s about as far from the…