A BONUS EXTRA SCENE FROM MY INCLUDED NOVELLA: HOUSE RULES
18 and over only.
HOUSE RULES is part of the What to Read After 50 Shades of Grey Gemstone Collection Part 3!
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An Exclusive Stewart Realty Extra Scene
By Liz Crowe
All Rights reserved.
The Blonde Client
Jack sighed and wiped at the sweat that had gathered on the back of his neck. The day had proven unseasonably warm for late April. He had toyed with cancelling this last listing appointment at the tag end of a very long day of appointments, closings, showings and varying levels of bullshit paperwork at his desk in the main Stewart Realty office on Ann Arbor’s north side. He had more listings than he knew what to do with at the moment and had considered hiring a second assistant in the last few days. He did not need this listing. But the inner competitor in him wouldn’t allow him to pass up at least the opportunity to see the place.
Resisting the urge to tug his tie loose, he climbed out of his car and took a long, deep breath. The house was a non-descript tri-level. No different than a third of them in this sixties built popular neighborhood on Ann Arbor’s southwest side. But the builders had had a reputation for superior quality that had held through the years, and so despite having a nearly unworkable, practical floor plan, the place was in many ways superior to ninety percent of the crappy, generic, three thousand square foot two-stories that had been tossed together in the last decade or so on the city’s outskirts.
He squared his shoulders and made an attempt to settle himself. He had no real reason to be so keyed up. He’d just surpassed the Stewart Realty sales record for the second time, and had more money in the bank than he’d ever imagined possible. His own Burns Park renovation project was done, and he now lived in his dream house, complete with man cave ideal basement, gourmet kitchen, and fully equipped master suite, all completed to his exact specifications, and much of it constructed with his own two hands. He lived alone of course. He had his pick of women in five different real estate offices, plus the many who peopled his email and text message inbox. While the whole BDSM scene had gone sour on him for a lot of reasons, it turned out that having the odd somewhat vanilla sexual encounter in empty houses or emptied out realtor offices suited him quite well, thanks. As long as he did not have to bring them home, to his bed, or wake up with them in his space the next morning.
Jack shot his cuffs and narrowed his eyes at the various deferred maintenance items on the house, readying his game face for the coming hour or so of convincing a random housewife to let him list her mother-in-law’s pile of bricks and vinyl siding in one of Ann Arbor’s choicest neighborhoods. He’d sell the damn thing inside of a week. The trick was snatching the five or eight new buyer clients he wanted along the way.
He stuck his hands down in his trouser pockets as he waited for Missus Desperate Daughter-In-Law to answer the doorbell. He never brought a dog-and-pony show for listing appointments. He would listen, allowing his mind to drift to all the things the house needed done while the potential seller would explain all the various “updates” they’d done. Then he’d take a tour, mentally noting deficiencies and problems and finally he’d take control of the kitchen table conversation, making sure said target understood that he, Jack Gordon, was the one and only real estate pro who could effectively handle their “unique situation.”
Jesus. Everybody thought they had a unique situation. If only they knew how much their situation was not that. But he could handle it, no matter what. He never took notes, or shoved some sort of lame ass power point in their faces. He had himself, his eyes, his facial expression and his laser-sharp memory. And his impeccable powers of convincing follow-up.
He smiled at his own awesomeness, and then focused on the woman who’d just opened the door to him. He blinked, just to clear his vision and make sure he was seeing correctly.
“Hi, Jack, right?”
The woman was tall, slender, attractive and dressed in a short black skirt and simple cream blouse and camisole. Her long, light blonde hair fell in rich gold curls around her shoulders. He licked his lips and held out his right hand without a word. She took it. At that moment, Jack knew he had this powder puff listing in the bag.
She gave him the tour. He took in the horrific gold and green bathrooms, the basement paneling, the dated HVAC, and the somewhat saggy roof and her amazing ass the entire time. When they wound up in the kitchen he turned to her with his best, thousand-watt grin.
“This looks great. There are some things I’ll want you to address before we throw it open to the public though. Let’s go have a seat and talk about it.” He held out a hand. The woman stared at it a half second, and let her gaze travel blatantly up his suit-coated arm, across his wide shoulders and to his own eyes. Her full lips turned up in the sort of grin that made his scalp tingle. He cleared his throat, and let himself touch her, just her elbow of course, as he guided her into the shag-carpeted horror of a living room on the upper level.
She sat. He sat next to her and leaned forward, pretending to be deep in thought and let her soak in his quiet for a few minutes. The situation could go one of two ways, he figured, but at that moment, the sexy, older, blonde woman’s aura was impinging on his and making him flat out horny. He repressed it, channeling it, unwilling to let her have the upper hand. She sat back, crossing her long, tanned, bare legs in front of his eyes. He grinned. He loved it when a woman knew what she wanted. And this one did, he could feel all up and down his spinal column.
“I’ve met with three other realtors,” she said, letting her backless high heel dangle as she swung her leg ever so slightly. “You’re the last one I’m interviewing.”
Jack did not miss the emphasis on that last word. He turned his head to look at her. The woman’s color was high, her long blonde hair swept up into a messy sort of thing on top of her head. She was staring right at him.
“Well, I expect I’ll make your short list,” he said, shifting ever so slightly so his thigh touched hers. He turned his torso so as to take in the full measure of her tall, thin, perfection. She was forty five if she was a day but the best sort of preserved maturity. She grinned and cocked her head at him.
“Are you flirting with me, or do you always pull the full frontal charm thing with potential women clients?”
“Yes,” Jack said, leaning back and putting his hand on her upper thigh. A shock wave shot through him. She put her hand over his.
“Good,” she said. “I like it when a man wants to work for it.”
He raised an eyebrow at her, but could feel it in his bones that he was about to not only snag a primo listing, he was also gonna get epically laid. He tightened his grip on her leg, loving the play of muscles under his palm, and slid his hand higher until it was under her skirt, his fingertips skirting the edges of her panties.
“I’m not that easy,” she said, making him look up into her snapping blue eyes. “Jack.”
“Oh,” he said in a whisper, his body hardening and his mind going a little numb, already calculating if they should fuck on the shag carpet or on grandma’s couch. He cared little either way at this point. She sucked in a breath and un-crossed her legs, giving him the access he wanted. He leaned forward, slanting his mouth over hers, loving her taste and the way her pussy warmed his fingers. His brain went into a familiar shut-down, the small noises of satisfaction she made and her lusty odor suffusing his senses. “Something tells me you might be,” he muttered, breathless, as he broke their kiss.
She tugged him down over her, using his tie as leverage and had his belt unbuckled and his zipper down in an eye blink. He loomed over her, unsure but eager at the same time, shoving aside her easy-access camisole and latching onto one huge, rock-hard nipple as he kept up his finger work down below, drawing the most delicious and groan-inducing orgasm from her on her mother-in-law’s smelly couch.
She cupped his face with one hand after she’d stopped shuddering and moaning. When she reached down to grip his aching cock, he shivered, wondering what the hell he was doing right now, but wiling to go with it. He grinned and bit her fingertip.
“Get up, luscious,” he said, tugging her to her feet and kissing her as he walked them into the dated, sixties nightmare of a kitchen and down the few steps into the wood paneled family room. She tugged at him, teasing him and her kisses were all sorts of perfect. The family room had a better carpet anyway, he recalled as he guided them there, lowering her down onto it and licking his way up from her ankles, taking a moment each time to latch onto her clit, sucking hard and making her squeal and her hips buck into his face before crawling up between her legs and staring into her face.
“Got a condom I assume,” she said, making him admire her even more.
“Of course,” he said, taking a second to pull his wallet out of the inner pocket of the suit coat that he still wore.
She took it and rolled it over his length quickly before arching her back, giving him a mouth-watering view of her ripe, ready body. “Fuck me Jack,” she said, staring up at him. “Please?”
“Well, I hate to disappoint such a lovely lady,” he said, dropping down over her and angling his hips, as regret draped over his consciousness.
What in the hell was he doing? He just met this crazy woman. This was a very bad plan.
“Oh…Jesus,” he groaned when she wrapped her legs around his waist and pulled him in. Closing his eyes as he pounded into her, meeting her thrusts, groaning with her, he berated himself even as he came with a loud cry of satisfaction, relishing the way her body seemed perfectly matched to his, pulsing and clutching at his dick just as he released.
They lay gasping for breath, entwined on the ugly orange shag carpet of a sixties-era family room. Jack could already sense himself withdrawing from her. But she sighed and tugged him close so he kissed her, already concocting excuses so he wouldn’t have to do anything else with her, like get a drink, or worse, take her home to his house that night.
“Okay, where do I sign?” she asked into his lips.
He grinned and disentangled himself, feeling somewhat sordid, but a whole lot victorious. “I’ve got the contract in the car,” he said, tugging off the condom, pulling up his never-quite-shed trousers and buckling his belt as she got slowly to her feet. “Wait right here.”
As he stepped out into the cooling, late April Michigan evening, his head was clear thanks to the monster orgasm but his heart pounded in a way that alarmed him.
Was this what he’d been reduced to? Fucking his way into great listings? He grabbed his laptop from the backseat and straightened up, catching sight of her…of…oh shit what in the hell was her name? He grinned, gave her a little wave, and trotted back to the door.
“All right then,” he said, shouldering past her and trying to retrieve the woman’s damn name from his addled memory banks. “Let’s get this done shall we?”
She sat at the dining room table, staring at him in a somewhat proprietary way. He cleared his throat, cursing his own weakness when she leaned forward, her bare foot teasing his thigh and making him want to fuck her all over again.
“So, Vanessa,” he said, relieved that her name had popped into his consciousness. Her grin made him congratulate himself and think that maybe he’d play this one out a bit, see what else they could conjure between them before he moved on to whatever he had waiting for him around life’s next corner. “Let’s sign your listing contract.”
She watched as he fired up his laptop and highlighted the e-signature boxes at the bottom of page one. He blinked, waiting and fully expecting her to add her initials here, sign her full name there and then drop to her knees for an epic blowjob. His ever-ready cock was already hardening in anticipation.
But she just sat, swinging her slim leg and eyeballing him. His chest tightened in frustration but he kept his smile fixed in place, leaning towards her just enough to remind her of their little close encounter in the next room.
“I think,” she said, inspecting her perfect manicure before pinning him with an ice-blue stare that probably rivaled his own. “I want to sleep on this. I met a really nice lady realtor yesterday. She had me convinced but I wanted to keep my scheduled appointments so, you know, I kept ours today.” Her half lidded eyes met his. He frowned and started to speak but she put her cool fingertips over his lips. “Don’t worry Jack,” she purred, as she gripped his thigh a little harder than was absolutely necessary. “You made a lovely first impression. I think I just might need an encore. Like, you know, a date. Dinner, dancing, wine, that sort of thing? So you don’t get the wrong impression of me.”
“I, uh, thought this was your mother-in-law’s house,” he said, cursing himself for sounding like a stuttering dumbass even as his eyes were drawn into her cleavage.
Smooth, very smooth, you numb nuts.
She chuckled and leaned back in her chair, keeping her gaze on his. He bit back the urge to lunge forward and yank her up by the hair, then force her down to her knees where he wanted her. Shutting his eyes against that impulse, he took a long breath. She was in his space then, lips near his, hand on his still rigid zipper.
“Oh sweetie, don’t be mad,” she whispered, as her tongue flicked out and touched his lips. “Although you are cute when you’re flustered.”
He stood up, glaring at her. She sat there, completely in control of herself and her surroundings.
Yeah, you gave her what she wanted, you colossal idiot, he thought, noting that she was a pretty brittle around the edges. But his body was already betraying him, pushing him forward. He put his hands on the arms of her chair, keeping his lips hovering over hers, trying to snag the tenuous control over the highly charged situation and pull it back into his realm.
“All right, Vanessa,” he said, before standing back up without kissing her and snapping the laptop closed. Gratified that she looked miffed at his snub, he tucked the device under his arm. “Dinner it is. Pick your favorite place and text me. I’ve got to get on with my evening.” With that, he turned on his heel and headed for the front door, stopping at the last minute to look at her. “Which lady realtor,” he asked. “Someone from my company, I assume.”
Vanessa remained seated, looking satisfied, which gave him a jolting buzz of pleasure. She flicked her fingers dismissively. “Oh, um, Sara I think her name was.”
Jack narrowed his eyes, trying very hard not to launch himself across the room at the woman and fuck her until he couldn’t walk, if for no other reason than to drown out the clanging gong of underlying dissatisfaction in his own head. “Sara, huh? Well, tell her you’ve already chosen your new favorite realtor,” he said with a grin and wink before heading out the front door.
Today at the bar, my eager drinker/fans will meet the lovely and talented JESSICA SUBJECT…
Liz: Welcome to my bar, Jessica. What can I pour for you to start?
It’s a pleasure to be here, Liz! I’ll take whatever you recommend. Got anything new I should try?
Liz: Well, seeing as how I got “freed up to pursue my other opportunities” from the brewery in Ann Arbor, let’s try something from Short’s Brewing shall we? A Huma Lupa Licious IPA….
Tell my readers about your hockey themed novel.
Sudden Breakaway is a 1Night Stand story that takes place at a hockey game. Paige is dedicated to her job and needs a break. Though she wants to find love again after the end of her marriage, she knows that’s pretty much impossible because of her constant travelling for work. Jared is a former military man who ended up leaving the Marines to take care of his orphaned niece and nephew. He has very little time to himself between working for the government and the children in his care. But, a family friend offers to babysit for him and hands him a ticket to a hockey game.
While writing, I intended the hockey game to be between my favorite team, the Ottawa Senators, and the Washington Capitals. Due to copyright issues, those names cannot be mentioned in the story.
Liz: You tend to write a lot of science fiction romance. Why do a sports one?
In some ways, this story is still science fiction romance, in that the heroine, Paige, works for the Space Service, recruiting new members. I do enjoy watching hockey though (live is the best), and I thought it would be fun to have one of my stories set at a hockey game. It was summer when I wrote the story, and I think I was craving cold weather, too.
Liz: Oh look empty glass, what can I get for you next?
I think I had a pumpkin beer last time. Do you still have that one?
Liz: Well, now that my options for great Michigan craft beer options have really opened up, let’s try this one from one of my personal favorite Michigan Breweries New Holland. The Ichabod Pumpkin Ale:
Are you a huge hockey fan? If so,why? And were you pleased or not by the Stanley Cup playoffs this year?
I wouldn’t say I’m a HUGE hockey fan, but I do enjoy watching it. I was glued to the television when the Canadian men’s and women’s hockey teams were playing earlier this year though. As for the NHL, I don’t watch it as much. I’d rather see hockey live. It’s much more exciting. Only one Canadian team made it to the playoffs this year, so it was rather disappointing. But, there’s always next year.
Liz: Any more sports-themed books in your future? If not, what do you have coming up we can look forward to?
Not in the near future, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be one. This year, I’ll be submitting The Star Princess for the Beyond Fairytales line at Decadent. I’ll also be finishing up the Alien Next Door series with Angela’s story, Alien Attraction and re-writing a sci-fi romance novel series that I’ve had sitting around for a while. Under my pen name, Paisley Brown, I’m hoping to finish two more stories as well.
Liz: Time for a nightcap, what’s your poison?
I’m good, thanks! Seriously, two drinks and I need help out and a ride home. Thank you for having me!
Liz: (opens door and hails a taxi then sits down for 3rd one, pondering just how high her tolerance must be).
a 1Night Stand story
By Jessica E. Subject
Erotic Sci-Fi/Military Romance
Dressed in her black designer suit, Paige Brown recruits men and women for the Space Service. After the end of her marriage, and several failed recruiting missions, she yearns to find a way out of her lifelong contract to live a normal life. To find love again.
Jared Barnes’s life had been flipped upside down by two little kids. When his former Commander’s wife shows up to give him a reprieve, he jumps at the chance for a break, and to visit his former squad. But it is not his buddies he meets in the private suite at a hockey game, instead a woman who has been the star of all of his recent fantasies, fulfills his wildest dreams except the one that binds his heart.
Has Madame Eve made a mistake or can two lonely hearts overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles?
Jared shucked his towel and stroked his rigid cock. That woman made him hard every time she came to the door, trying to persuade him to sign up for the Space Service. Her claims had seemed far-fetched when she’d first approached him, yet his commander had confirmed her credentials, having been approached to join by another many years ago. While Jared would never add his thumbprint to the contract he’d read, he wouldn’t mind if she stopped by to try and convince him again.
Ms. Brown, with her black blazer revealing a hint of cleavage and a skirt that showed the perfect curvature of her ass. When he’d answered the door fresh out of the shower and seen her on his porch, he’d gripped the door handle to hold himself back from yanking her inside and tearing off her fine-pressed suit.
He squeezed his balls; no time to jack-off. Dylan and Madison would arrive in an hour, and he had to take one last run through his house to get rid of any lingering dust bunnies before Children’s Services appeared. No obvious dirt in the living room, he headed toward the kitchen, but his mind kept flying back to Ms. Brown.
She had the whole librarian thing going on, with her dark hair tied up in a bun and glasses resting on the end of her nose. Though, none of the women who worked at the local branch made his cock throb. Perhaps there was some truth to the naughty librarian tale. He wished.
Most women’s version of naughty did not come close to his. While the whole BDSM club scene didn’t appeal to him, he enjoyed a little bondage during foreplay. He’d spent months at a time deployed in the Middle East. While home, he appreciated the opportunity to date the pretty women who found a guy in uniform sexy. But once he fetched the cuffs, they bolted. They hadn’t even wanted to use them on him.
Ms. Brown was no girl, though. No more than a couple years his senior, she exuded experience with her seductive glances, her posture that plunged her cleavage into his line of sight, and that damn wiggle of her ass as she sashayed back to her car. She could teach him a thing or two. He yearned for the chance to find out.
No, his next lay could no longer be at the forefront of his mind. In less than an hour, he would become the father-figure to two impressionable young children. His sexual urges would have to take leave for the foreseeable future.
He’d been in his last month of deployment to Afghanistan when the call came in. And it took another day for his commander to reach him with the news. His brother-in-law had been killed in a car accident, leaving his niece and nephew orphans. And as much as he loved the Marine Corps—Semper Fi—he couldn’t let the kids be raised by strangers. They had no other family left.
Jessica E. Subject is the author of contemporary and science fiction romance, ranging from sweet to erotica. In her stories, you could meet clones, or a sexy alien or two. You may even be transported to another planet for a romantic rendezvous.
When Jessica isn’t reading, writing, or doing dreaded housework, she likes to get out and walk. Fast. But she just may slow down if there is a waterfall nearby.
Jessica lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband and two energetic children. And she loves to hear from her readers. You can find her at jessicasubject.com and on twitter @jsubject.
Today I welcome an author who is bringing the heat in the form of Australian Rules Football in her books!
Welcome to my sports bar Leesa what can I pour for you to start?
Leesa: Thanks Liz. I’ll start with a Pinot Gris. I live in Adelaide, South Australia and surrounded by beautiful vineyards so I love wine.
Tell us how “Australian rules football” is different from American football.
Gosh they are very different. One similarity is the shape of the ball. Aussie rules is continuous, play only stops momentarily and they pass differently, kick frequently and the goal posts differ. Oh and we don’t wear any protective clothing. Better eye candy
Here’s link to explain it better
I have included a picture of what we call a mark.
What inspired you to write a novel with Australian rules football as a central
setting? Tell us a bit about Winning the Player …
Leesa: My husband played the game so writing the story came naturally. Although my inspiration to write came when my second daughter was diagnosed with bone cancer. All four of my daughters are athletes and play basketball. When my daughter was diagnosed with cancer, all her dreams of playing college basketball in the US were ripped away. With her permission, I integrated some of her experiences into my character Aubree.
Winning the Player is about second chances, not only in love but for Aubree to find herself again. As an elite athlete, a knee injury ended her future as a professional basketball player. She took off overseas and returned two years later, only to bump into Hunter Stone, the guy she ran out on the night before her flight. Hunter is a star footballer, arrogant, and a player on and off the field, but Aubree also knows his other side.
Aubree is tough and doesn’t need a man to make her feel loved or needed. But in time she lowers her guard to Hunter, and hopes he doesn’t crush her heart and devastate her world all over again.
Do you like sports? if so which are your favorites?
Football (all types)
whoops! am empty glass…what can I pour for you next?
Leesa: Oh thank you. This time I’ll try a Sauv Blanc. But I’m easily pleased. I also like red wine like Shiraz. I’m not a beer drinker (yes hard to believe an Aussie who doesn’t drink beer haha) and I like some liqueurs like Midori, Vodka, Baileys, Ouzo. Oh and I love cocktails, so bring on Happy Hour
I was sorry to see the Socceroos out of the World Cup so early. Are you a soccer fan?
Leesa: I’m not a huge soccer fan although I enjoy watching it. The World Cup is sensational and I love how it connects the world. The posts on Facebook and Twitter show such true passion of the fans.
I wrote a fun post for my publisher Destiny Romance Australia. Here’s the link.
Who is your pick to win the soccer World Cup?
Leesa: I’ve always been bias to Brazil and since they are the host country I think it goes in their favor.
Do you have plans for more sports themed books?
Leesa: Yes. My next book Charming the Outback will be released on August 19 this year. It’s a follow on from Winning the Player and is Maddy’s story. Sport is not the main focus in this book, and much of the story takes place in rural Australia.
Here is the cover for it:
Although my current WIP is a sport themed book about a ruckman football player. In Aussie Rules Football the ruckman is the tallest player in the team. Here’s another pic for you.
Nightcap time! What’s your poison?
I’ll take a Baileys on the rocks. Thanks Liz, I’m going to sleep well.
When injury destroyed her dream of playing college basketball, Aubree Taylor fled overseas. Now she’s finally home again and ready to move on with her life. Until she runs into Hunter Stone on her first night out, the only guy who’s ever meant anything to her – and the last person she wants to see.
Since she ran out on him two years ago, Hunter hasn’t been able to get Aubree off his mind. The sexy football star has had girls all over him for years, but Aubree is the only one to have ever seen behind the cocky persona he puts on for the crowd.
Despite her attempts to keep her distance, Aubree is unable to resist the strong attraction between them and it isn’t long before they fall into a passionate relationship. She has never been afraid of a challenge, but Hunter’s arrogance and inability to trust are testing her to her limits. Aubree must decide whether to follow her heart and lower her guard…or risk losing the best thing that’s ever happened to her.
‘ID.’ A beady-eyed security guard held out his hand. I handed over my driver’s licence, stepped back and waited.
He stared longer than necessary and I wished I’d taken the time to apply makeup. For God’s sake, I’m almost twenty-one. Do I really look underage? If he declines my entry based on the fact I don’t look as though I’m trying to pick up —
‘Date of birth?’ He scratched the side of his jaw.
‘Come on,’ my best friend interrupted. ‘Give her a break. She’s been away travelling for two years and we want a drink to celebrate her homecoming. Her hair is longer, and it’s darker than the photo because —’
‘Maddy, it’s fine.’ A shiver ran down my spine and it wasn’t just from the icy wind. It was this place. I inhaled the cold night air heavy with salt, and waited.
‘Go ahead.’ He shoved the card in to my hand and unlatched the rope. Heels echoed off the wooden floor as we weaved around the room towards the entrance of the Shores nightclub. My gaze followed the white walls and despite the dim light recognised the same outback artwork from the last time I was here.
‘Nothing’s changed in —’
‘A bloody long time,’ Maddy finished.
My stomach tightened at remembering the last time. I looked to the stairs to the iron-balustrade balcony where I’d made my big mistake. My guard shot up, blocking the memory. I focused instead on faces in the crowd and burrowed between girls modelling tacky long lashes.
‘Come on, it’s my shout. Let’s head to the upstairs bar.’ Maddy grabbed my hand and yanked me in line behind her.
I had never liked the upstairs bar where football players, who thought they were someone, congregated. This bar was famous for ‘picking up’. Guys got what they wanted—no strings attached—and girls bragged to their friends the following day. I failed to understand why females thought sleeping with a sports star for one night presented bragging rights. Two years ago I vowed not to become a notch on a football player’s belt, promising myself I deserved better because I’d almost slipped up.
Maddy pulled me through the crowd towards the bar. She managed to lean one arm on the bench and wave a fifty-dollar note at the barman. She caught his eye and yelled, ‘Two red Vodka Cruisers.’
Conscious of my short dress just covering my butt, I tugged at the hem and saw guys on my left checking me out. Wearing a dress—short enough to pass as a top—in a nightclub with sleazy guys, with the additional stench of stale alcohol, somehow didn’t add up to my hope of meeting a guy who would respect me.
‘Well, I don’t believe it. Aubree Taylor has returned to Adelaide.’
Oh, God. My stomach dropped. I knew who that voice belonged to. I looked over my shoulder and forced a smile.
‘Emily, what a surprise,’ I said in a high tone, feigning delight. My luck of not running into Emily since high school had just dried up. I had never got over her snide remarks about my body being too muscular and how if I had short hair I’d be mistaken for a boy.
She waved her hand at me. ‘I thought you were in America playing basketball or something. Oh, that’s right, you injured your leg and can’t play anymore. I remember. You ran off to America to hide.’
Air froze in my lungs. ‘I wasn’t hiding. I travelled for two years,’ I lied.
Maddy turned and pushed herself between me and Emily, handing over a Cruiser. ‘Hi, Emily. I see you’ve caught up with Aubree.’ Maddy winked. I relaxed a smidgen knowing she had my back. ‘How good is it to have her home? She looks terrific, doesn’t she?’
Before looking back at Emily, I placed the bottle to my lips and skolled half its contents. She studied me for a moment and raised a brow. Seriously, Maddy’s comment didn’t require an immediate assessment.
‘Your hair has grown.’
‘I couldn’t afford to get it cut.’
Her critical gaze flicked away from my face, wandered down my body. ‘Well, not bad for someone who’s been slumming it overseas.’ She twisted her blonde bob-styled hair behind her ear and her expression softened, as though she’d seen something she liked. Guess I finally passed as female.
‘So how’s your leg?’ she continued. ‘Can you play basketball again?’ I tensed, realising her tone was sans sympathy.
My chest tightened and a lump grew under my diaphragm, making every breath difficult, just like every other time when someone questioned me about basketball.
Don’t let her get to you. Don’t let her get to you. This isn’t school.
I sucked in a deep breath and composed myself before answering. ‘My leg’s better, but no, I can’t play ball.’ My stomach twisted at the memory of the devastating knee injury three years ago and how my dream of playing basketball for Australia had been shattered.
‘Too bad.’ She shrugged. ‘Anyway, Maddy, where’s that gorgeous cousin of yours?’
‘Hunter? How would I know,’ Maddy sneered. She turned her head so fast her long, black ponytail almost whipped Emily’s face.
The tension in my shoulders had eased when Emily’s attention was diverted to someone else, but on hearing Hunter’s name my entire body stiffened. An uncomfortable bubble grew inside me. I needed space. ‘Well, it’s been nice catching up, but I have other people to see.’ I grabbed Maddy’s arm and dragged her to the back of the room before she insulted Emily.
‘Biatch,’ Maddy said, walking away. She wasn’t blind to girls using her to suss out her cousin. In fact, it plain pissed her off.
I found a corner table near the wall and stood on the far side as though it offered protection. It had been Maddy’s idea to come to the club – our old stomping ground – to de-stress and relive the good old times. After talking to Emily, it had the opposite effect.
Maddy clinked her Cruiser against mine and winked. ‘To you. I’m glad you came home.’
‘Me, too.’ I’d missed my mum and Maddy the most, and two years away qualified as a reasonable amount of time to forget. Well, that’s what I told myself as I downed the drink. Maddy followed my lead and banged her empty bottle on the table. ‘Come on, let’s dance.’ Without waiting for an answer, she pulled me in the direction of the dance floor.
I wasn’t sure how much time had lapsed while grinding moves on the dance floor, but judging by my achy feet and internal Cinderella clock, it was time to go home. My mind drifted to tomorrow and starting work at eight at the community nursing home. It wasn’t my dream job, but I couldn’t afford to be choosy after ignoring tertiary studies to travel. Mum had helped secure the administrative role since she worked there as a chef and had put in a good word to HR.
‘I think I’ll call it a night. I’m already dreading the morning.’ I pulled a face, hoping for understanding.
‘Bullshit to that. I’m buying you another drink. The real fun hasn’t started yet.’ Maddy latched onto my arm and tugged me through the suddenly swelling crowd. It could only mean one thing—more football players had arrived. We headed to the same table at the uncrowded corner of the upstairs room. Everyone else strived to be near the players, surrounding the heroes in large oval-shaped groups near the bar. I reached for a stool and almost fell on it, rubbing my knee more out of habit than from pain caused by dancing in heels.
‘I’ll get us drinks.’ Maddy flashed her money before I could object.
I glanced towards the crowded bar and cringed. Being alone made me uncomfortable, although worrying about bumping into Emily again seemed pointless. The football players, as I remembered, captured her attention. I scanned the room, and despite my time away managed to identify players from both teams that played in the Australian football competition.
At almost seven feet tall, Darcy Rayne, ruckman for the Thunder, stood head and shoulders above the crowd. Known for his womanising ways and a regular at the Shores nightclub, I guessed many women came here just to see him.
The hum of conversation faded when three tall guys entered from the stairs. The crowd parted, offering a clear path to the bar. ‘Who do they think they are?’ I muttered under my breath. ‘Bloody gods?’ It hardly mattered that I couldn’t identify them with their backs turned because I felt the air of arrogance waft across the room. Two were blond; the third guy had longer dark hair falling around the nape of his neck. I watched out of curiosity rather than interest as they stopped to talk to someone at the bar. Their presence consumed every person in the room and I cursed, acknowledging that I, too, was drawn to them.
The dark-haired guy leaning on the bar straightened. At around six-foot-five, and not as tall as the ruckman, he also stood out in the crowd. He turned slowly, surveying the room, but not in the casual checking-out-the-opposite-sex kind of way.
Something was wrong. I strained my neck to see what troubled him. My heart jumped as I recognised his side profile—the long straight nose, generous lips and chiselled jawbone. A long fringe swept his face, reminding me of a boy-band look; that’s why I hadn’t recognised him when he’d first walked in. His gaze wandered across the sea of heads until blue eyes met directly with mine. I froze in my seat. My heart pounded in my chest, and I felt like a kangaroo held prisoner in the dark by a blinding spotlight.
Heads turned to see who Hunter was eyeballing in a not-so-friendly manner. Despite my hammering heart, I stared back with a straight face—my competitive nature from years of basketball taking control—refusing to succumb and smile at him. Moments later he turned to resume his conversation at the bar. Girls standing between us glared and I wanted to laugh, no cackle, at the notion of being their competition. I’d be the last person Hunter would choose.
My chest tightened at recalling the last time, and what almost had eventuated. Panic clawed its way up my throat. I needed fresh air. I grabbed my handbag and looked up as Maddy came bounding through the crowd smiling ear to ear, before handing me another red bottle.
‘Guess who I just ran into?’ She pulled down her green miniskirt a little before edging herself up onto the stool.
‘Hunter,’ she said in a higher-than-necessary voice. ‘I told him you were back and he seemed eager to say hello.’
‘Yeah, he paid for our drinks and said he’d buy you one later to welcome you home.’
‘Kind of him.’
Maddy tilted her head at me. ‘What is it?’
‘Nothing, I’m tired and need some rest before work tomorrow.’
‘Fine, but promise me we’ll do this again soon. I’m not about to let you turn into a hermit.’ She narrowed her sapphire eyes at me, reminding me of the same scowl her cousin had aimed at me minutes before.
I crossed my fingers behind my back. ‘Sure.’
The excerpt and purchase links can be found on my publisher Destiny Romance website
Leesa Bow grew up in Broken Hill. Sport played a major role in her life growing up in a small country town, and Leesa had a passion for basketball. Although she loved to read books with happy endings, she never believed she would end up a novelist.
Leesa started her professional life nursing at the local hospital before moving to Adelaide in her early twenties. She married a football player, and inevitably her four daughters were also sporty. Leesa began writing seriously when her second daughter became sick with cancer. Initially writing was therapeutic, but when her daughter got the all clear, she decided to continue writing seriously. Stories about sport, romance, and characters aged eighteen plus seemed logical since her daughters were of a similar age, and often surrounded by athletes.
In her spare time Leesa writes New Adult romance. On weekends she enjoys watching basketball and football, having beach days with the family, catching up with girlfriends, and daydreaming about strong heroines.
Here’s my social media links.
Good Reads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/8106454.Leesa_Bow
You can also purchase this title at:
· Amazon Australia
· Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Winning-Player-Destiny-Leesa-Bow-ebook/dp/B00JEUKI5E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1404001147&sr=8-1&keywords=leesa+bow
Well, I don’t know about YOU guys but I may have a new sport to “research!”
Thanks for stopping by the Liz Sports Bar Leesa!
Check out my info on her blog here:
I am tickled red, white and blue (hey, it’s on both of our flags) to announce that LILY HARLEM is across the sports bar with me today. We are gonna talk about one of my favorite subjects: soccer.
If you like you can hop over to Lily’s Blog where I am revealing an EXCLUSIVE first chapter peek at “SET PIECE” which will be the 4th Black Jack Gentlemen novel, releasing in late spring/summer 2015!
Welcome to my Sports Bar Lily, what can I pour for you to start?
Oh, thanks for inviting me in. I don’t usually frequent sports bars as we live in a rural part of Wales UK, I’m more a village pub kind of girl but this is fabulous and I’ll have a chilled white wine please.
We share a mutual love of football/soccer and my review of your book “Scored” is below. What is your favorite thing about the sport?
I do love football, you’re right, and hockey and tennis and gymnastics and anything equestrian. Having a ton of brothers and brothers-in-law (I was the only girl for years until some of them married) who are all football crazy it was a case of “if you can’t beat them join them “and I ended up getting in the thick of it, going to matches, hosting match day lunches (parties for big tournaments) and cheering on the players. I even took on the administrative responsibilities for one of their local teams for a few years. Once I got involved it didn’t take long to get favourite star players and to be able to chip in with the endless football orientated conversations. My favourite thing about football therefore has to be hanging out with my boys, and of course, secretly admiring the on-pitch talent!
Do you anticipate writing more soccer-based novels?
Mmm… Scored was a one off really, but I did have a reader asking me if Nicky’s fellow reporter friend Phil was going to get his own story so I could write a spin-off in the future. Perhaps it could be m/m. I have a hockey series, Hot Ice, maybe I should think of a Scored series.
Who is your team?
I’m a Tottenham Hotspur supporter through and through but I also follow Swansea. I love a trip to White Hart Lane in London though it is a bit of a trek and gets expensive. Swansea is easier and just a train ride away and they’re an awesome team, they are brilliant to watch and the atmosphere is always incredible.
Oh look an empty glass. What can I pour for you next?
I’ll have another white wine please, it’s all I drink apart from copious amounts of tea!
You write for all sorts of publishers. Do you also self publish? Why or why not?
I do write for a variety of publishers, yes, Ellora’s Cave, HarperCollins, Totally Bound to name a few. And I also self-publish, Scored is self-published. I started on that route a few years ago as a bit of an experiment, but I now have four self-published novels (one of which, Breathe You In, was named a USA Today Reviewer’s Recommended Read of 2013) and seven co-authored titles with Natalie Dae. (We write under the pen name Harlem Dae and our work together is definitely on the edgier end of the erotica scale.) I enjoy the independence of self-publishing, the immediacy of finishing a book and being able to get it straight out onto the shelves and the total control over the final product. The royalty rate is also higher which means I can offer the book cheaper to the reader and still make more – it’s win-win and since writing pays my bills and puts food on the table it’s something I’ll continue to do.
Who’s your pick to win World Cup 2014?
Now, give us a taste of your favorite scene from SCORED.
Okay, here goes, this is taken from a few chapters into the book. Football journalist Nicky has found herself in the same hotel as the England football squad. With a team manager enforcing a ban on wives and girlfriends around during the tournament she is the only female there and keeps bumping into the gorgeous captain, Lewis Tate. She’s trying hard not to be a bumbling fool or an adoring fan whenever she sees him but it’s not going particularly well. Lucky for her, he likes this side of her and things soon heat up…
* * *
Sipping on a cup of tea, I flicked through the hotel brochure. The restaurant menus looked divine, as did the treatments on offer at the spa. Perhaps I should treat myself to a facial or a massage, or better still put one down to expenses. I scanned the price list. Okay, maybe not.
But they did have a pool. A very luxurious-looking pool with hydrotherapy jets, large loungers around the edge and a jungle of potted ferns and palms that led out onto a terrace. I could go for a swim; that was free for hotel guests.
I dragged a white bikini from the side pocket of my case. It was a designer brand, bought in a retail outlet for a fraction of the price it would have been sold for originally in some swanky London store. I’d been waiting for an opportunity to wear it for the first time.
I nipped into the bathroom, freshened up using the complimentary lemon and neroli fragranced toiletries, then slipped into my bikini. Pulled a big, fluffy robe around myself and checked the hotel map in the information booklet. I only had to get to the elevator and head down to the basement and I’d be at the spa. I was sure plenty of people just wore robes when moving between their rooms and the pool.
I was just about to leave when a thought hit me. Damn. How could I go to the pool now? Lewis had been holding trunks and goggles when I’d seen him. If I showed up for a dip he would definitely think I was tailing him. I clicked my tongue on the roof of my mouth in irritation. I’d been looking forward to stretching out in the water after my long day. Letting those nice hydro-jets pound onto my aching shoulders.
A sudden noise in the hall outside caught my attention. Footsteps, a door being opened. A few seconds later the loud thud of it shutting.
Great. That sounded directly opposite. Lewis had obviously finished his swim and gone back to his room. That would leave the pool free for me to use, and of course, anyone else in the hotel, but as long as it wasn’t him that was fine. The last thing I needed was to bump into him for a fourth time in less than twenty-four hours. A restricting order would be knocking at my door faster than I could say penalty shoot-out.
After dropping my robe onto a wicker lounger with deep cream cushions, I waded down the steps into the pool. Cool water wrapped around me, caressing my aching limbs like soothing hands. Bliss. Even more blissful because I had the place all to myself.
There were voices coming from the terrace. Three double doors were flung open to the sunshine and the breeze. I couldn’t hear what was being said, just the low hum of conversation.
Kicking out, I swam on my back toward a large silver tap-like jet and watched the shimmering reflections on the roof. They shivered and shook, the sunlight rippling across the ceiling in sparkling waves. Sighing, I moved beneath the jet, let the blasting water jostle and jolt me, bash against my travel-weary shoulders.
I shut my eyes. The heavy pounding was heavenly, massaging away several days of stress and strain. I tipped my head back, smoothed my hair from my face and allowed the water drag the sodden strands over my scalp and down my back. Later I would use the luxurious-smelling shampoo and conditioner in my hotel bathroom and tame my curls ready for tomorrow’s match. I was bound to see Phil there. I hoped he wouldn’t ask me too much about the Donbass and the players. Likewise, I hoped Reg wouldn’t give me a hard time later when I just did a report about the architecture and history of the hotel rather than a detailed account of my meeting with the team captain.
Just the thought of Lewis conjured an image of him in my head. His smile had had a devastating effect on my lusty hormones, sending them skittering this way and that. Prodding and poking me, and reminding me that it had been just over a year since I’d taken a man to my bed. How blessed was Naomi to get her hands on his hot body? She must know she was the luckiest woman on the planet.
I rubbed my fingertips over my shoulders and chest, blindly making sure my bikini was still covering my modesty. Sure Lewis was drop-dead gorgeous, but he was also a really nice guy. He’d been kind enough to make sure the press conference was fair, polite enough not to use the word vibrator in the elevator, and then more than happy to help out a stranger struggling with a keycard. And to top it all, he went to church like a good boy. He was perfect, there was no other way to describe him. I wondered what he saw in Naomi, whose reputation as a diva preceded her. Perhaps it was all for show and beneath the veneer she was a sweetheart.
Somehow I couldn’t imagine it.
I sighed and decided to relax on one of the soft loungers and let the breeze tickle over me as I dried.
Opening my eyes, I stepped out of the blasting jet.
Standing at the side of the pool were four England players staring straight at me.
Suddenly I was glad of the extra support the water gave me. My knees felt weak, and my stomach turned a cartwheel.
What the hell?
Neil Bryers stood at the far left, his dark skin gleaming and a wide, white grin on his face. Next to him was the goalie, Ted Hatton—he was tall and skinny, famed for his big hands, and right now he also had big eyes. Then came Liam Taylor; the baby of the team at only nineteen, he wore bright orange flowery swim trunks and was gripping a towel at crotch level, twirling it around his fingers. Finally, Lewis stood with his hands on his hips and his mouth slightly parted. He didn’t have the
soft, smiley expression he’d had in the mental image I’d been enjoying. In fact, he looked beyond pissed off.
Damn, I really should have stayed in my room. I could hear that restricting order winging its way toward me.
But what could I do? I was here now, in the water, and they were there, waiting to get in.
I took a deep breath and waded toward the steps, wishing there was a little more support in my bikini top. I could feel my breasts shifting as I moved. With each step they bounced and jiggled. There wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it.
The players stayed stock still and continued to stare. I wondered about flashing them a smile then decided against it. That would just make me look like a footy groupie. And I certainly didn’t fall into a WAG-wannabe category. I was a serious reporter, here for the game, not the players.
Gripping a steel bar, I exited the pool, the water splashing away from my body as I rose. Typical that was where they were standing and I had to walk right past Lewis to reach my robe. I caught his eye briefly. He’d pulled down his brows, narrowed his eyes and was gnawing at the inside of his cheek. I dropped my gaze and admired, for the shortest pocket of time, his broad chest and the scribble of blond hair at the center that led a tantalizing trail downward, past his naval to the waistband of his shorts.
I reached my robe and used it to dab against my face, wiping away the drips. Thankfully, I heard the shuffle of feet, someone mentioned the sunshine outside, and I was aware of the players moving out of the pool area.
Dropping the robe onto the lounger, I took a deep breath and sagged my shoulders.
“It’s see-through, you know.” Standing directly in front of me was Lewis.
I was shocked to see him when I thought I was alone again. “What?”
“Your bikini, it’s completely see-through.”
I pulled in a sharp intake of breath and glanced down. Oh fuck! He was right. My white bikini was opaque. My nipples were dark and erect, poking at the pathetically thin material, and my little strip of pubic hair…fuck, you could make out every strand and the first indent of my labia.
“Shit.” I scrabbled for my robe, but Lewis was already holding it open for me.
“Here,” he said.
“I, er, thanks.” I shoved my arms in and pulled it tight around my body. Every millimeter of my flesh prickled with embarrassment. “Shit, I didn’t know, it’s new, I—”
“Hey, these things happen. Trouble is, these guys are all on enforced celibacy. Seeing a beautiful woman standing in a see-through bikini underneath flowing water might just tip them over the edge, if you know what I mean.”
Oh my God. Had I heard him right? Had Lewis Tate just called me beautiful?
“I’m really sorry,” I gabbled. “I didn’t know. I’ll just go and…and…” And what, get dressed, curl up under a stone and die?
He cocked his head and studied me. “I’m not complaining on my behalf, but Liam’s just a baby. He barely has the self-control needed to cope with Fellows’ damn rules.”
I gripped my hair into a ponytail and squeezed it to wring out the pool water. “Like I said, I’m sorry.”
“No apologies.” He was watching me fiddle with my hair. “But if I catch him trying to bed some Ukrainian chick later then I’ll know who to blame.”
“Well, I’m sure it won’t come to that.” Words and thoughts were tumbling in my head. Was I really having a conversation with Lewis about his team’s struggle with celibacy?
“You’d better hope it doesn’t.” He twitched his mouth into a half smile. “Perhaps I’ll go and order him to have some quality alone time. Take the edge of it. That usually helps, doesn’t it?”
My intestines knotted. “I don’t know what you mean.”
He shoved a hand through his hair and it flopped messily around his face and temples. “Sure you do.”
He turned and walked away, in the direction of the terrace. His movements were so easy and graceful he almost glided, his body under absolute control. If I hadn’t been so ruffled at the bizarre conversation we’d just had and his parting comment, I would have enjoyed seeing the way the sinewy muscles in his back sat taut beneath the skin, shifting ever so slightly with each step.
But I was seriously ruffled. My cheeks were burning and the traitorous bikini felt cold and sticky against my skin. There was no way I could chill out by the pool now. The relaxed state of a few minutes ago had evaporated and in its place sat yet another dagger of mortification.
There was only one thing for it. Clearly, I couldn’t be trusted out of my hotel room, because each time I did venture out some humiliating incident occurred with Lewis. I would shower and change and order room service. In fact, I would only come out for matches over the next few weeks. That would be the best thing. I would live there, it was certainly sumptuous enough. Perhaps then I’d be able to avoid any more toe-curling episodes of shame.
* * *
Of course Nicky doesn’t stay in her room and it seems Lewis can’t stop thinking about her in that bikini. Her luck soon changes for the better and before she knows it she has the England captain exactly where she wants him!
Nightcap time! What’s your poison?
Eeek, I guess I can’t go for more wine. Okay, I’ll have a change and go for a port, a little bit of cheese to go with it would be wonderful. Thanks for asking me over today, it’s been fun.
Lily Harlem lives in the UK and is an award-winning author of contemporary erotic romance. She writes for publishers on both sides of the Atlantic including Ellora’s Cave, HarperCollins, Totally Bound, Xcite and Sweetmeat Press. She also self-publishes novels that range from emotionally charged erotic romance, to steamy ménage a trois and, with Natalie Dae, (Harlem Dae) dark BDSM that pushes all the boundaries.
Her HOT ICE series regularly receives high praise and industry nominations and Lily is sure that she’ll never run out of inspiration for penning more sexy stories about her bad boys of the ice and the women who tame them.
One thing you can be sure of, whatever book you pick up by Ms Harlem, is it will be wildly romantic and down-and-dirty sexy so make sure you hang on tight for the ride!
Facebook author page https://www.facebook.com/LilyHarlemAuthor
Raw Talent http://rawtalentseries.co.uk
Hockey Romance http://www.hockeyromance.com
Newsletter Subscription http://www.lilyharlem.com/newsletter-subscription.html
Harlem Dae http://www.harlemdae.com
And now ladies and gents let me fill you in on what I thought about SCORED, by Lily Harlem:
There are a zillion and one novelists out there and about three quarters of them write “erotic romance.” I try to keep up by reading the “big names” and find myself nine times out of ten, setting the books aside in bored, frustrated disgust. I prefer characters to be well-rounded that is to say with more than one dimension to them emotionally speaking and so many that are popular right now might as well be cut right out of the same tired length of cardboard.
But not Nicky and Lewis. Lily Harlem has really scored big with this one for me for a lot of reasons not the least of which she brings an English football team to full, technicolor life with plenty of details to suit a fanatic like myself but that would also appeal to someone less enamored with the beautiful game.
I also prefer sex in books to feel like it’s occurring naturally, not forced or stuck in to manipulate readers. The explicit scenes in Scored were not only gorgeously written but deliciously placed at the right time within the narrative. That, to me, is the difference between what I consider “erotic dime novels” that keep getting cranked out, rehashing the same stories with new names over and over again and something like SCORED which, while predictable by the end, was so satisfying I wanted it to end the way I predicted it.
A give Scored a 5-Brew Rating!
Go buy it and be ready to drop into a lovely, sexy, funny, distraction from your day.
Welcome to the Beer, Books and More blog!
Today I introduce you to a fascinating book: The Atheist’s Prayer. I participate in a fair number of “book blitz” style tours for my fellow indie authors. Every little bit of publicity helps, I always say and I am happy to provide it when I can. However, sometimes a book is presented that really compels me to take time out of my hectic life and read it. This was one of those times.
*****NOTE!******Amy will be awarding a signed copy of The Atheist’s Prayer, and a free subscription to Underground Book Reviews’ Weekly Newsletter to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.
First, a bit about the novel:
The Atheist’s Prayer
by Amy R. Biddle
After a solar eclipse, nineteen people were found dead in a remote area of the California National Forest. They were lying in a circle, holding hands and wearing plastic fairy wings.
Years later, on the other side of the country, no one in the southern city of Jefferson is concerned about fairies or fairy-worshiping suicide cults. Except for Candy. She might not have proof, but she’s damn sure it’s going to happen again.
The problem is, Candy is a coke-dealing stripper and the only person who will listen to her is an alcoholic mall Santa named Hank, who’s only listening because, well…she’s hot.
There are seven days until the next eclipse.
I’m including 2 excerpts because they are both so amazing:
AN EXCERPT FROM HANK: the alcoholic mall Santa
Hank spent the drive convincing himself that being a bouncer would be an awesome job. Girls, drinks, drunks, late nights. Really, he was being paid to do exactly what he would be doing if he wasn’t working. Maybe they would give him a gun. No, they wouldn’t. But maybe they would give him a bat to keep behind the entrance, just out of sight. Or a Taser. There was a lot of fun to be had with a Taser.
Hank frowned at his five-o-clock shadow in the rearview mirror, trying to look tough. His gap tooth added to the effect. Actually, he looked like a damn good bouncer. As he drove, he imagined using the self-defense moves and choke holds that he’d seen in movies. The more he thought about it, the more he realized that this new job was a perfect fit. He decided that he should try to get a full-time position bouncing and quit his shenanigans at the mall.
By the time Hank arrived at the strip club, the sky had lost its reds and purples and was assuming a murky shade of city gray. The front of the club was just as drab in the twilight as it had been in the dark and rain on Sunday. Its plain cinderblock walls stood silently, with a single metal door in the middle. Hank had always found the dichotomy between the inside and the outside of strip clubs amusing. Hidden in back alleys and tucked away behind supermarkets, strip clubs were the Narnia of a grown man’s world.
AN EXCERPT FROM KEVIN: the seven-year-old
“Oh, my God,” said his mother when she picked him up. “What happened?” The car smelled of new textbooks, and there was a pile of them on the backseat.
“I don’t think the boys at school liked my clothes,” said Kevin. This was true. It wasn’t why they were all muddy, but he was sure no one liked them.
“Did they hurt you? Do you want me to talk to someone?” she asked.
“Luna made them go away,” he said.
“Hunter’s daughter, from church?”
“Well, that was nice of her. Maybe she felt bad for tripping you. Still, if it happens again I’m going to say something.”
Kevin hoped she would say something about letting him wear jeans, but they merged onto the highway in silence. Kevin watched the white dotted lines on the road as they were sucked under the car.
“What did you learn in school today?” she asked, finally breaking the silence.
“We came from monkeys,” he said after some thought.
“Oh, no,” said his mother, shaking her head.
“E-vo-loo-shun!” He sounded out the word, feeling smart.
“Sweetie…” she started. But Kevin was already on a roll. He had learned a lot, he realized.
“And, I’m a bass-turd,” he said. “Because I don’t know my daddy.”
“That’s a bad word, Kevin!” she snapped.
Kevin felt guilty but he didn’t know why. He also wasn’t sure why his mother’s face was so red or why she stopped the car on the side of the interstate. Traffic was whizzing by and Kevin could feel the energy deep in his bones.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Born and raised in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Amy now spends half of her life at sea and the other half wherever the hell she pleases. An avid traveler and dangerous daydreamer, she is most at home when surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains or the great blue sea. In her spare time, Amy co-runs Underground Book Reviews, a website dedicated to finding and reviewing quality, independent novels. Her short fiction and poetry has been published by a smattering of online publications including Every Day Fiction and Revolt Daily.
Yeah, so how can I resist reading THIS? I couldn’t and I was not disappointed.
This book provides a sort of “Neil Gaimon-esque” surreal reading experience crossed with a “Christopher Moore” humorous touch that I really enjoyed.
Nothing is what it appears to be, which is another trait I love in a well- crafted novel.
While ostensibly about faith (or a lack thereof, if you take the title into consideration) The Atheist’s Prayer is very much about personal salvation and how that is found not so much in religion but in our fellow human beings. Hank and Candy, both disturbed and pretty amusing characters in their own right, discover the good in each other through their attempts to save a couple of kids from a cult. And along the way everyone (and I mean everyone) makes mistakes, missteps and bad choices in the sort of gritty realistic way that I LOVE to read.
I guarantee that this is one of the most creative and well-handled renderings of a slice of screwed up American life I have personally ever read! Realistic characters, down to earth dialogue and a plot that turns in on itself just enough to keep you guessing.
It’s a 5-Brew Read! Go buy it NOW!