If she’s not working on her latest sexy story, you can find her reading, watching reality television, or indulging in her unhealthy addiction to rockstars, er, rock concerts. Yeah, that's it. She is the National Bestselling Author of The Loving on the Edge series from Berkley Heat.
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“Andre, this isn’t a good time. Can I call you back?”
I did my best not to let my cell phone slip from between my ear and shoulder. Just don’t drop the tequila. I adjusted the enormous bottle my friend, Bailey, had given me as a graduation present from my right hand to beneath my left arm and tried to dig my keys out of my purse so I could open the main door to my apartment building.
“I’m so sorry I wasn’t able to make it, Cela,” my older brother said, his guilt obviously trumping my request to call him later. “I got caught at an investigation site this morning. I thought I’d be able to get there in time, but we had a witness wanting to talk and….”
I cursed silently as my keys hit the pavement. I crouched down, doing my best not to flash my underwear to anyone who may be passing by. “Really, it’s fine. They called my name. I walked across the stage and got a piece of paper and a sash for being summa cum laude. Papá yelled my name like he was at a baseball game instead of a ceremony. Mamá cried. We all went to lunch at Rosario’s and then the two of them headed back to the airport. Not that interesting.”
My brother’s heavy sigh said everything. I almost felt guilty that he felt so guilty. “Before you move back home next month, we’re getting together to celebrate. My baby sister, the doctor. I’m so proud I could burst.”
I smiled. I did like the sound of that. Dr. Marcela Medina, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. Seven years of exams and studying and clinics, but it was finally done. Now it was time to leave Dallas and head back home to Verde Pass and take up the slack in my dad’s practice.
That last part had my smile faltering a bit. I hooked my key ring with my finger and wobbled back to a stand. “That’s sounds great. But I really have to get going. I have my hands full and need to get through the door.”
“Cela, you know better than to carry too much. Parking lots at night are one of the most dangerous places for women. Are you holding your mace?” he asked, his voice going into that bossy cop tone I was all too familiar with.
“It’s in my hand,” I lied, trying to remember where I’d stowed the last little canister he’d given me—probably in my junk drawer. “But I don’t have a free hand to pull the door open.”
“All right,” he said, placated. “Congratulations again. I love you.”
“Love you, too.”
The phone call ended but I didn’t have a way to take the phone off my ear, so I just shuffled forward in a sideways hunch, trying to juggle everything I was holding to get my key into the door. After two attempts, I got the lock turned and pressed my back against the glass door to push my way into the lobby.
As soon as I’d cleared the entrance and turned toward the stairs, male voices sounded behind me. Of course someone would show up right after I didn’t need help anymore. I peeked back to see who it was, Andre’s danger warnings still echoing in my head, but found something more distracting than criminals—my neighbors, Foster and Pike.
Foster stepped through the main door first and glanced my way. As usual, everything went melty inside me, his smile like a zap of heat to my system. Ridiculous. “Need some help, neighbor?”
I straightened, but forgot about my phone in the process. My brand new I-
Phone went sliding off my shoulder.
“Crap!” I lurched forward, trying to save it from its imminent demise, and accidentally dropped my plastic bag of Chinese takeout on the way.
“Whoa, there.” Pike, Foster’s roommate, was at my side in a second. His hand caught my elbow, saving me from losing the ginormous bottle of liquor along with my balance. But my phone clattered to the ground, the harsh sound mixing with the splat of my noodles hitting tile.
I winced, anticipating a broken screen. “Dammit.”
Foster bent down, his tie brushing the ground as he swept my phone off the floor. He peered at the screen, dark brows lowering over pale eyes, then he turned the phone toward me—the happy puppy screensaver staring back at me in tact. “All is well. Luckily, these things are built to take a licking.”
My brain got snagged on the work lick, and the back of my neck went hot. My lips parted, but words failed me. Great, imitate a gaping goldfish--that’s cute.
Pike cleared his throat, easing the tequila from my arms, and then crouched down near the open bag at my feet. He grabbed a noodle from the spilled box of Chinese food, tipped his head back and dropped it into his mouth, his eyes watching mine. “The lo mein’s a loss, though.”
I swallowed hard, his gaze even more bad boy than the tattoos peeking out from his open collar. His pierced tongue snaked around the noodle. Look away. I forced my face upward, but then ended up focusing on Foster again. Say something. God, I was standing there like an idiot. This was why I always avoided these two like they were contagious. They made me go stupid.
Foster held out my phone, and I managed to take it, the slight brush of his fingers against mine hitting the reset button in my brain. I managed a feeble, “Thank you.”
Foster glanced at the mess on the floor. “I’m really sorry I said anything. I didn’t mean to distract you from your intricate juggling act.”
I shook my head. “No, it’s my fault. I shouldn’t have been trying to carry everything at once. It’s been a long day, and I was hoping to save myself a second trip up the stairs.”
“The joys of a walk-up.” Pike grabbed a few napkins and started cleaning up the noodles at my feet like it was his mess to worry about.
“Oh, you don’t have to do that.” I lowered down to my knees. “I’ll take care of it.”
Genre: Contemporary Erotic
Length: 432 pages
Publisher: Berkley Trade (November 4, 2014)
Cela knows how to be good. She’s had a lifetime of practice. But on the night of her college graduation, she decides she’s earned one wild night before she has to move back home to her overprotective family. So when the hot neighbor she’s been quietly fantasizing about for a year suggests a game of Never Have I Ever, she’s ready. But what starts out as a simple game takes an unexpected turn. Because Ian Foster doesn’t play games he can’t win.
Foster knows his desires aren’t for the faint of heart, especially not for someone as sweet and innocent as his pretty neighbor. But when Cela shows up at his door with an invitation that surprises him, he can’t resist indulging. Cela has no idea what she’s in for. The secret dark side of this man’s need will both intrigue and terrify her. But Cela has a secret of her own—and a new game to see just how far they’re both willing to go, and how much they’re willing to risk by crossing every boundary of desire.
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