Monday, March 31, 2014

#Excerpt: MR RIGHT AND MR WRONG by Grigory Ryzhakov

Book & Author Details:
Mr Right and Mr Wrong by Grigory Ryzhakov
      Publication date: September 1st 2013
      Genres: Adult, Comedy, Romance

Having two admirers can be a real headache, especially when a tough agronomy course at Imperial College comes on top of that, not forgetting a part-time job at a florist’s and a mother desperate to marry you off.

Have I mentioned a stalker who keeps sending roses, and a Professor who thinks it’s fine to bury you under an extra pile of academic papers? Arrrgh!

Blake may be cute and charming, but Terrence is no less attractive in his business suits. What is a poor girl to do? Dating both of them is the right thing if you listen to Trish and that’s exactly the way Kurt handles his men.

Party after party, you have to deal with these bouts of guilt mixed with hangovers while mulling over the same dilemma over and over again – Blake or Terrence? Terrence or Blake?
Think, Chloe, think!

Mr Right & Mr Wrong is a wonderfully warm and witty yet thoughtful romantic comedy, from which you will not only pick up tips on the intricacies of London dating, but also discover a few moral and ethical aspects of plant neurobiology. Not so much chick lit as chic lit, offering sophistication alongside Chloe’s amusing complications.


Grigory (a.k.a Grisha) Ryzhakov grew up in the Russian Far East, bathing in the icy waters of Seas of Okhotsk and Japan and playing hide-and-seek in the snowdrifts that carpeted his native town of Korsakov.
He later travelled thousands of miles to vibrant London, on the way collecting his MSc degree in biochemistry at Moscow State and PhD in molecular biology at Cambridge University.

Meanwhile, Grigory has been ceaselessly creating poems, songs and prose until eventually he wrote his debut novel "Mr Right & Mr Wrong". "Usher Syndrome" was his first published story, also adapted for the stage and performed at London's Barons Court Theatre in 2010.

To connect with Grigory, please visit his blog:
You can also find him on Twitter/Facebook - @GrigoryRyzhakov
     His songs are available on SoundCloud -


Chloe wakes up in someone’s bed ... in someone’s house

Don’t panic, Chloe.
I try to lift myself up, but a wave of nausea overwhelms me. It will be better if I keep my head on the pillow for now.
The good news is that I presumably didn’t have sex while I was knocked out, because I’m still dressed: my skirt, tights and undies are all in place. I’d have loved to get rid of them now if I was at home.
Now that my biggest worry is resolved, I’m considering going back to sleep, but I can hear someone else breathing nearby. Trying to make as little noise as possible I slowly roll around to the left and face a sleeping man.
It’s Blake. Thank God! He must’ve brought me here.
I look at his gorgeous facial profile. If I wasn’t in this wretched state, I might be able to gather enough bravery and kiss my saviour.
Blake is sleeping on his back, his right arm behind his head like a prop. His bare armpit is shaved, and I don’t know if it’s a good thing or not.
Speaking of bare, Blake’s not covered since I’ve hogged his blanket. My gaze travels further down his body and stops.
He’s got a stiffy. Though the Calvin Klein trunks cover Blake’s manhood, they fail to conceal his size. I’m impressed and I don’t feel ashamed at all to inspect him, since I’m feeling extremely nauseous.
At least I distract myself with Blake.
God, Trish was right, he is so fit. I want to touch his pecs and belly muscles, they look so fine. He’s like some sort of living sculpture.
Another wave of nausea interrupts my admiration. I have to do something about it; the way my stomach is turning now can only mean one thing. Where’s the loo, I wonder.
I roll back to the bed edge, look down and see a large plastic basket full of laundry two metres from me. As fast I can I slip off the bed, holding my mouth with my right hand.

Friday, March 28, 2014

#Excerpt: PERFECTLY BROKEN by Prescott Lane

Book & Author Details:
Perfectly Broken by Prescott Lane
Publication date: March 2014
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Even after years of trauma therapy, Peyton still believes she’s broken.  She has little desire to date or show off her natural beauty, content simply to hang out with her best friends and run her pie shop in New Orleans.  But her world turns upside-down when a handsome architect and self-confessed player shows up in her shop and thinks she’s perfect, much more than the usual hook-up.  While Peyton does her best to resist his charms, believing she could never be enough for him, she can’t deny the obvious heat between them.

With Reed determined to have her, Peyton must decide whether to continue to hide behind her apron and baggy clothes or take a chance and share her scars with Reed, a man with a playboy reputation and scars of his own — a dark past he can’t possibly share with Peyton, not after learning the horrors she’s endured.  But if they can find a way to trust each other, and themselves, they just might be able to heal, to save each other, to live perfectly broken together.


Prescott Lane is originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, and graduated from Centenary College in 1997 with a degree in sociology. She went on to Tulane University to receive her MSW in 1998, after which she worked with developmentally delayed and disabled children. She currently resides in New Orleans with her husband and two children.

Author links:


Reed woke up in a sweat, breathing heavily, as if from a bad dream.  But it hadn’t been bad at all.  He’d been dancing with Peyton in Audubon Park, feeling her soft skin, tasting her lips, smelling the vanilla.  He cursed the dream was over then looked outside, the moon shining brightly through his bedroom window.  He thought about calling her and reached for his phone.  He saw it was the middle of the night, so any call would have to wait.

Then he decided he wasn’t going to call her at all.  He’d be seeing her tonight at the engagement party -- for the first time in 36 days.  He flipped through the photos of her on his phone, landing on the one he loved the most, her resting her head on his chest, a small smile on her pink lips.  He’d give anything to go back to that moment, to have her in his arms again.  It seemed as if Griffin had held her more than he ever did.  He threw the covers over his head, trying to get back to sleep and desperate to return to his dream.

But thoughts of tonight, thoughts of Peyton, kept him awake.  Over several weeks, he’d tried to let her go but just couldn’t.  Despite all the boxing, all the exercise, trying to bury himself in work, he wasn’t strong enough.  He’d fallen in love – the first time ever – and now couldn’t recover.  She’d been his soft spot, and he’d hit concrete without her, shattering his heart.  He had no idea if she was as tortured, conflicted, unsettled as he was, or whether she’d just moved on without a second thought.  He hoped she felt like he did.  But she sure found a roommate pretty damn quick!  His talk with Quinn helped put some things in perspective, but he still didn’t trust Griffin living in Peyton’s house, just a few doors down from her bedroom.    

His mind flashed to the possibility that she was bringing some guy tonight.  Griffin?  And he wasn’t going to ask Bret if he knew whether she was.  That would be pathetic and weak.  He needed to be calm and strong, though not too strong.  He couldn’t just wail on some new guy tonight, not even Griffin -- no matter what he saw, even if her lips, God forbid, touched Griffin’s or some other man’s.

He gripped his pillow tightly then threw the covers off his head, the moonlight hitting him again, shining down an unmistakable truth, one he already knew all too well.  He needed Peyton.  He needed her to love him.

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Unlocking the Social Potential

Unlocking the Social Potential_Final_ShadowsTo your dismay, your child has received a diagnosis of autism. Along with this alarming news comes the barrage of emotions that suffocates you like an avalanche— denial—confusion—depression—guilt. You want to fix your child; you have a million questions; and you want answers immediately. Autism is a journey in which the child and her family navigate challenges and experience achievements along the way.

To guide you in this rewarding journey, Dr. Karina Poirier offers her expertise in this book that parents will find incredibly useful. In this book, you will find the answers you’ve desperately been seeking. Dr. Poirier has provided in simple, easy to comprehend language, an overview of child development, a descriptive explanation of how autism affects each developmental area, and guidelines for advancing your child’s functioning in all developmental domains. You will appreciate the multitude of hands-on, full-color sample lessons for teaching social and emotional skills, language, problem-solving and decision making, and play skills to children with autism.  

Publisher: Social Cognition Publications | Irvine, CA Color: Full-color illustrations Pages: 300 ISBN (Print): 9780988798205 ISBN (Digital): 9780988798212 Available: March 2014
Available at:

Improving social and communication skills in children with autism

Dr. Karina Poirier, author of Unlocking the Social Potential in Autism, says that understanding a child’s unique needs is the key step to dealing with concerns and developing their strengths. “Bring everything into the light. The worst thing you can do,” she said, “is to ignore the issue. Parents can help their children learn how to communicate better and develop social skills that will help them thrive later in life. Get help early, identify the specific issues you are facing, ask questions, learn everything you can, and devise a concrete and detailed strategy for engaging your child so key skills are developed and strengthened”.


Here are her answers to some key concerns that parents of a child with autism are faced with.

Q: My child can sit through a learning task on the iPad or television; however, he becomes restless and fidgety when working with a teacher. Why? A: Your child’s attention system is reactive. Consider how much children learn from viewing television. Teachers struggle to get children’s attention when an activity does not include the sensory kaleidoscope children are used to receiving when sitting in front of the television. Key Action: Children must be taught at an early age how to develop the mental tools (attend, remember, think) to engage in deliberate and self-directed learning experiences with an adult’s guidance.  

Q: My child does not respond appropriately to mood changes in others (e.g., when a peer’s mood changes from happiness to distress). Why? A: Your child may be lacking the ability to read nonverbal cues. Children with autism often have impaired ability to read, interpret, and process social and emotional messages. Children who are unaware of others’ thoughts and feelings risk not developing the sense of self. Key Action: Treatment to teach the child the emotional codes that are part of the social experience. The child needs to develop the ability to understand other peoples’ emotions from their facial expression, tone of voice, and body posture. The child should be taught to recognize and interpret how people around him think and feel.  

Q: My child has difficulty with describing his/her day at school, recounting an experience, or relaying a message. Why? A: Delayed recall skills utilize episodic memory. Episodic memory allows us to remember past events and share these events with others. In other words, it is how we engage in reciprocal conversations with others. Episodic memory produces a conscious awareness of events that have occurred at any one time; it enables people to remember what happened to them in the past or to conceive the future. Key Action: Effective treatment is required for the child to learn about memory strategies and to practice remembering. Through repetition, the child develops not only better recall of past events, but also the skills to communicate the memory of the event to peers or adults during a conversation.  

Q: My child is verbal and has good command of language; however, he has trouble initiating conversation with others and taking turns during a conversation. Why? A: Children with autism have difficulties in social initiation and social-emotional understanding. Engaging in a reciprocal conversation with others requires the development and interaction of memory, information processing, and expressive communication skills—all of which are pervasive deficits of children with autism. It is not that these children do not desire involvement with their peers. On the contrary, they do have the desire to be socially engaged with others; however, the dilemma lies in the fact that these children lack knowledge of social norms. Key Action: Effective treatment that emphasizes social norms and rules, and teaches children how to process social information by distinguishing between relevant and irrelevant information in a social situation. Initiating and maintaining a conversation requires a person to have social knowledge, which is knowledge of event schemas.  

Q: How much play time is appropriate to include in my child’s learning routine? A: For a young child, teaching through play is extremely important. Play gives children something to do with their ample free time; it also serves the important purpose of honing children’s physical, social and emotional development. Play does not occur spontaneously in children with autism the way it does for typical children. Key Action: Investing significant time teaching through play focuses the child on developing fine and gross motor skills, interpreting the social cues of other children and adults, and responding to those social cues appropriately. Play can be used to develop the ability to interact with, explore, and, ultimately master their surroundings. Play is an essential part of the learning process, and its ability to mimic real-life scenarios makes it an ideal way to stimulate overall development.

About the author:

Karina Poirier, Psy.D., BCBA-D Dr. Karina Poirier is the Director of the Center for Social Cognition , a board certified behavior analyst at the doc-toral level (BCBA-D), and a certified cognitive educational therapist. Her clinical practice is devoted to providing outstanding individuals and group therapy that improves social and cognitive outcomes for individuals with autism, ADHD, Traumatic Brain Injury, and related disorders. Learn more at



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Thursday, March 27, 2014

New #Thriller Release: FALL OF ASTRALIS by Matthew Keith

Book Blurb: 

Everyone, including Paul Bennett, was sure that United States Senator Alvin Stoll and his rogue agency had been beaten. But upon returning to Astralis, Paul and the rest of the Walkers only have a few hours of respite before Stoll's next act of treachery shatters their false sense of security and puts the agency on the brink of collapse. With Dr. Abrams injured and unable to lead, it is up to Paul to find a way to beat Stoll at his own game -- with the entire world watching over his shoulder.

Can Paul outwit Senator Stoll and keep the agency together, or will this be The Fall of Astralis?

Amazon buy link:

Read the entire trilogy - the first book is only .99! Amazon buy links:


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What a Deal! $5.99 Boxed set - COLORADO BILLIONAIRES by Regina Duke

USA Today Bestselling Author Regina Duke presents:

The boxed set in ON SALE for $5.99, (regularly $7.99) until 3/29/14
Colorado Billionaires Boxed Set  

Contains the first three novels in the Colorado Billionaires series. Set in the idyllic town of Eagle's Toe, Colorado, which seems to have more than its share of billionaires!

Amazon buy link:

BN buy link: 

Individual book recaps - Amazon and BN buy links:
The Wedding Wager 
Kevin Wake hates being rich. He despises everything his father stands for, but he can't abandon his kid sister and baby brother. Their future is tied to his own. When his father threatens to rob them all of their mother's legacy, Kevin takes bold action to protect what should be theirs.

Megan Mully is out of the hospital at last. But she's homeless, jobless, broke and alone. Love is the last thing on her mind. Kevin is just a means to an end. She never expected him to steal her heart! 

Amazon buy link:
BN buy link:
The Wedding Hazard
Ashley Clair needs help. Her father has died, her estranged mother has disappeared without a trace, and now someone is after Ashley. Alone, broke, and in danger, she turns to Thor Security looking for protection, but what can she do to afford a bodyguard?

Thor Garrison moved to Colorado trying to forget the tragedy in Texas that changed everything. When the most beautiful woman he ever saw walks into his life, he vows to do whatever it takes to save her and win her heart. Too bad Ashley isn't looking for love.

Amazon buy link:
 BN buy link:
The Wedding Venture  - on sale for .99 (until 3/29/14)
Jason Darby needs a wife or he'll lose the family billions. Vicky Winn has pawned everything she owns and is still broke. Their marriage contract should solve all their problems. Neither counted on falling in love.

Amazon buy link:
 BN buy link:

I've read 2 of these books and loved them. I've posted my reviews in the right side bar and on amazon.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Interview with Pauline Creeden

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
In the beginning, I became a blogger, and made connections with several authors, some published by small press, some by large, but most were self-published. I learned the ins and outs of becoming published, and put my foot out there with a few Christian Devotionals that I intended to make free, and by writing short stories which I sold to magazines.  In 2011, I completed and won my first NaNoWrimo – that book, Abiding Flame, will be published by Prism Book Group this summer.

Where do you get your ideas?
For my fiction, I tend to write better when I have a concept, a goal or a writing prompt. It’s the situation or the problem that intrigues me. Then I create a character who must deal with this problem.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
In First Impression, I really have a penchant for the beginning, so I love the whole opening scene. And my opening line has gotten been getting good feedback from critics, so I’m very happy with it.

How did you come up with the title?  
Ben Oscuro, my enigmatic love interest (book boyfriend), can see ghosts. He declares that there are only two kinds within the story. Impressions and possessions. I used that and the fact that Ben and Chira are just beginning to get to know each other to come up with the title.

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult
Stephen King was my favorite author when I was in high school, and though I stopped reading his books after college, I still prefer a dark, character based tale. But when I became a writer, I kept had this fear niggling in the back of my mind that I was doing it wrong. I didn’t start with outlines. I didn’t plot it out. And I never knew the ending when I started. It stifled me, and I couldn’t ever finish anything. Then I read Stephen King’s On Writing and found out that he writes in exactly the same manner as I did. My eyes were opened. I confidently strode to my laptop, and now have more than 4 finished novels and 3 partials.

What do you do when you are not writing?   
My day job – I’m a horse trainer and have several state champion hunters and jumpers to my name. I teach riding lessons. The work around a farm is never done. I also read. A lot. And reviewing books is also one of my favorite hobbies.


Doctor How’s famous megalomaniac brother Doctor Who sold his fictional life story to the BBC half a century ago, painting himself as a lone hero. Disillusioned, their four cousins dropped out. For fifty years, Doctor How has held the line against the forces of darkness and stupidity. And he’s not that happy, since you ask. 

Illegal aliens try to hack How’s Spectrel (TARDIS is a very rude word where he comes from), just as he suspects his estranged cousin Where has been compromised. When reports come in of mysterious attacks by alien creatures, Doctor How has to rely on his new companion Kevin, a petty criminal from south London, and Trinity, a morphing super-predator, as he counters this threat to humanity’s existence. Bungling agents from MI16, long desperate to capture the Time Keeper’s technology, hamper How’s efforts to combat the alien menace. Can Doctor How keep ahead of MI16, save Where and combat the alien threat?


AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Mark Speed has been writing novels since he was fifteen. His comedy writing has appeared in newspapers as diverse as the London Evening Standard and The Sun, and been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra. He performed his solo comedy, The End of the World Show, at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2011 and 2012. He is currently working on the five-volume Doctor How series.

Amongst other postgraduate and professional qualifications, he has a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from City University, London. In 1995 a chiropractor told him he’d never run again. Sensibly, he gave up chiropractors, runs every day and has completed several marathons and a couple of Olympic-length triathlons.

NLP founder Dr Richard Bandler called him a ‘polarity responder’.

Contact Links:
Twitter: @doctorhow_tv

Kevin lowered his window and said, “Come on, Doc. We haven’t got all night.”
Where honked lightly twice, and Kevin laughed.
Doctor How smiled and took a couple of steps towards the cab.
There was a crash from inside the house, and the sound of splintering wood. The Doctor whipped around to see the sofa burst through the front window and tumble into the garden. It came to a stop upside down against the wall. He took a couple of steps back, pulled out his Ultraknife and held it towards the house.
“Get in the bleedin’ cab and let’s go!” yelled Where.
“I want to know what it is. Kill the headlights.”
“Kill the headlights? You’ll kill us all. Get inside!” Nevertheless, Where turned off the headlights.
“Get in, Doctor!” shouted Kevin.
The wall beneath the living room window collapsed outward in a cloud of dust, and the radiator that sat underneath it fell with a resonating clang onto the rubble. Water gushed out of a piece of broken central heating pipe.
A pair of black antennae waved through the dust. They were followed by two interlocking pairs of black mandibles two feet wide that scythed back and forth in the night air.
“Oh, you absolute beauty,” said the Doctor, lowering his Ultraknife a fraction.
“Oi, nutter! Get in the bleedin’ cab, will ya?” Where turned the headlights back on, lighting up the rest of the creature. It was six feet wide and six feet tall, with a rounded shiny black body.
“I wish you hadn’t done that,” said Kevin. “Get in, Doc. Let’s go!”
“It’s after you, cousin,” said Doctor How. Or your Spectrel. Or your cab. Or all three.”
“Well, I don’t want to stick around and find out which, do I? Get in, you bleedin’ maniac!”
The Doctor opened the door and got in the front beside his cousin, who jammed the vehicle into reverse just as the creature edged forward a few feet, to where the cab had been two seconds before.
“Wait!” said the Doctor. He slammed the cab into neutral and jerked the handbrake.

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Monday, March 24, 2014

Pre-Release #Excerpt: KISS ME TWICE by Lauren Hawkeye

Book & Author Details:
Kiss Me Twice by Lauren Hawkeye
(Three Little Words #3)
Publication date: TBD
Genres: New Adult, Romance

The sequel to the New York Times bestselling Three Little Words… a steamy new adult rock star romance!
(love story, new adult romance, contemporary romance, alpha males, heroes, sexy romance, bad boys, falling in love, college)

Can three people have a happy ever after in a world that runs two by two?

After two years of hiding, Adele Cavanaugh has finally found happiness with her first love, serious law student Malachi Hunter… and with sexy Australian rocker Dorian Marshall, the lead singer of the band Three Little Words.

But the universe doesn’t seem to want Adele to be happy. Just when she thinks she can finally be free, the demons from her past make a devastating reappearance… and so does Malachi’s ex-girlfriend. Combined with an opportunity for the band that will take Dorian away from her, Adele wonders if she has been fooling herself all along.

Will Adele find the strength to let love win, even when it comes in a non-traditional form?

The third book in the Three Little Words series, Kiss Me Twice is a steamy New Adult romance that explores the love between two men who would rather share their woman than let her go. Two years ago Adele’s world fell to pieces… this books asks if she’s strong enough to put herself back together again.

Lauren Hawkeye/ Lauren Jameson is a writer, yoga newbie, knitting aficionado and animal lover who lives in the shadows of the great Rocky Mountains of Alberta, Canada. She's older than she looks--really--and younger than she feels--most of the time--and she loves to explore the journeys that take women through life in her stories. Hawkeye's stories include erotic historical, steamy paranormal, and hot contemporary. Make sure to check out her work as Lauren Jameson, where her erotic romances take a walk on the wild side.

Author Links:

Seeing Mal had unsettled me more than I cared to admit, even to myself. I found myself shaking as I walked, my muscles trembling like one of the orange leaves that danced in the wind around me.
I had never imagined that he had come for me, that he’d gotten over our stupid, stupid fight just as I had. It made what had happened to me at that horrific party all the more tragic.
If I’d know I still had Mal, I might have been able to get through the taunts, the humiliation that had been heaped on top of the pain of what had already been taken from me. I might have found the guts to stay.
No one had ever gotten under my skin like he had, and it was beyond annoying that time had failed to diminish his effect on me. When he’d wrapped me in a hug, it had felt like coming home. When he’d cupped my face in his hands…
The touch had startled me with its intensity, with the need that it pulled from my very core. Half of me had wanted to jump right back in, to pull him down to that ugly couch and lose myself in the bliss I knew he could provide.
The other half of me hurt. Malachi Hunter was a reminder of who I’d once been, back before that one night had changed my life.
And to top it all off, I was horny as hell, which blew my mind. I didn’t even think about sex anymore—I wanted nothing to do with it. But while Mal had been gorgeous two years ago, now…
Damn. He looked like sin, like a man any and every woman would kill for a chance to be with.
“Forget about him, Adele.” I lectured myself as I hurried around my condo, stripping off my jeans and hoodie and replacing them with the spandex shorts and snug pink T-shirt that I wore to roller derby practice. Though I would wear a jacket or hoodie with long sleeves on the way there, derby was the one place where I felt comfortable exposing the tattoos that colored my arms.
The ones that reminded me, as Mal had, of the wild, carefree girl who had once lived inside my body.
Once at the school gymnasium where we practiced, I threw myself into practice with even more vigor than usual. I’d always loved to roller skate, had been drawn to the solidity of four wheels beneath my feet even after my mom had decided that skating was no longer an appropriate activity—and when I say she had decided, really I meant her husband.
I’d gotten into derby just over a year ago after seeing a posting for tryouts on a flyer at Java the Hut.
Derby was wild and unpredictable, full of strong women who didn’t take any shit. When I skated with my team, I basked in that strength, pretending that some of it was mine. Rounding the corners of the track again and again was hypnotic, nearly sexual in its intensity. Feeling the burn in my muscles, the quivering in my thighs as I pushed my way around the track just one more time…
It was an outlet for so many things.
“Watch out for fresh meat!” One of my teammates called to me, and I feinted to the side just in time to avoid tripping over one of our newer teammates, who had clearly not yet learned to fall small. I smiled at her reassuringly as I whirled past.
I noticed that her attention was fixed on the bleachers of the high school gymnasium. Trying to focus as I continued to push past the burn in my thighs, I made out the good looking face and long, rangy build of some random hottie who was otherwise alone on the bleachers.
For the second time that day, I felt my libido perk up. Huh. Maybe I wasn’t dead down there, after all. Still, just noticing him made me feel guilty, like I was cheating on Mal or something.
And that made me panic. Finding out that Mal hadn’t abandoned me after all had thrown me for a loop, but I was no longer the kind of girl who could even contemplate a relationship... and I knew, deep down I knew, that Mal would settle for nothing less.
The look on his face had told me that while he’d once fucked things up between us, now that he’d found me again he’d do whatever it took to fix things.
It excited me as much as it terrified me, so I focused on the hottie.
Maybe... maybe I was ready to think about having sex again. Of touching, of being touched. After what I’d been through, surely no one could blame me for that. And so I found my gaze narrowing, zeroing in on the stranger in the stands.
He was sex on a stick. No wonder Marianne had tripped over her own feet. I could feel my own interest percolating as I skated, no doubt an overflow of the lust that Mal had stirred up in my gut that afternoon, but still.
I was feeling something other than the chill of the ice that had coated me for so long. I’d been cold for two years, and I didn’t think anyone could blame me for reaching towards the warmth.
Still... if he was here watching practice, then he was probably somebody’s boyfriend. And you didn’t mess with a teammate’s man—derby girls were fucking vicious.
Completing the last circuit of the drill, I skidded to a quick, neat stop beside the water cooler. Grabbing my bottle, I filled it and then chugged greedily, the icy liquid spilling down my cheeks as I drank.
When the bottle was empty I slammed it back on the table and wiped my mouth off with the back of my hand. It was then that I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. I turned to find the hottie watching me intently.
He was better looking than any guy had the right to be.
Arching an eyebrow at his blatant stare, I bent to refill my water bottle. When I straightened back up, the blond god of sexiness was ambling over to me casually, a rakish smile curving his lips.
Despite my own better sense, despite the confusing sensations that Mal had churned up in me only a couple of hours ago, I felt interest stir, hot and tangled in the pit of my belly.
“You’re ace on those things.” He nodded to my feet, on which my skates were still tightly laced, edging into my personal space like he had every right to. “You look good.”
Usually if someone moved closer to me than I liked I would give them a ferocious glare while retreating post haste.
This guy, however… he wasn’t setting my nerves to screaming. And he smelled good. Like, really fucking sexy good. And he was eyeing me with undisguised interest.
You’ve got to get back out there sometime, Adele. And no matter that Mal was still able to peak my interest, there was too much history there. Heartbreaking history.
Swallowing deeply, I turned and offered a cautious smile. The satisfaction that crossed his face was panty-melting in its intensity.
“We don’t get many spectators at practice.” I tried to throw some flirtation into my tone, and the words felt heavy with rust. “Are you with someone?”
He shook his head, running his tongue over his lips.
“I like derby girls.” The stranger shrugged, unabashed, as heat shot straight to that space between my legs. “Actually I was walking by and saw the sign. Never heard of derby before and I was curious. Apparently I don’t get out enough... ‘cause now I know that I like really derby girls.” He wiggled his eyebrows at me lasciviously. Damn it, he had an accent. British or Australian, I never could tell, but combined with the thick, messy gold hair that looked like he’d just rolled out of bed, the densely lashed hazel eyes, the scruffy chin, the devil may care expression and look that said he got whatever he wanted, when he wanted it…
Something churned in my gut, a kind of need that I hadn’t experienced for a long time. The kind that had once led me to approach hot guys at parties and the bar for no reason other than hot sex.
“I’m Dorian.” He held out a hand for me to shake. I stared at it for a beat before offering my own, which he lifted to his lips for a hot, moist kiss.
“Smooth, aren’t you?” The rustiness was receding, and I felt a hint of my old tendency to flirt pushing through the layers with which I’d surrounded myself. “I’m Adele.”
“I try.” He grinned and kept hold of my hand, like he had every right to. The prolonged contact should have made me freak out, and instead I felt pleasant little frissons of heat radiating outward from the touch.
I’d spent two years avoiding the males of the species entirely, and now here in one afternoon were two who not only didn’t completely freak me out, but who made my body respond.
Maybe it was a sign. It was time for me to try to move on with my life.
“Nice tats,” Dorian massaged the tender spot between my thumb and forefinger. I shivered, partly from the touch, and partly because my instinct was to grab my sweatshirt and hide the ink, the symbol of who I used to be.
Fuck it. Let him look. I wanted to bring that old me back.
“Thanks.” Not sure what, exactly, had come over me, I leaned forward and lowered my voice to a conspiratorial whisper. “I have more.”
Oh my God. Where were those words coming from? Surely then weren’t mine.
My heart thudded in my chest when Dorian whistled, long and low. “Don’t make promises you can’t keep, sweetheart.”
I couldn’t help it—I grinned. Something about this guy’s ridiculously overt style of flirtation was irresistible, though I sensed a core of steel underneath. Maybe it was the fact that I couldn’t have found someone more different from Mal if I tried.
Or maybe I was just ready to move past that awful night, to take control of my life again. This guy was a stranger, but he made me feel relaxed, like the girl I’d once been.
“What are you doing after practice?” The teasing was gone as Dorian looked down into my eyes, and I shivered at the intensity I read there.
The last guy I’d been this attracted to had been… well… Mal. And though I’d admired him from afar for a bit before finally deciding to approach him, the attraction had been a slow burn compared to what I felt right now.
Instant heat, the kind that might burn me but would be intense and amazing before it did.
Pulling my hand free, I considered, still not able to make a snap decision like I once would have done. On a normal day I would never have considered encouraging attention from any guy, not even one as hot and overtly sexual as this one. But seeing Mal had stirred me up, and I was feeling all kinds of reckless.
All kinds of needy.
“You tell me.” I smiled slowly before skating backwards, away from Dorian, giving him time to peruse my body with his eyes, which he did. Blatantly. A tremor of nerves made my knees shake when I realized what I’d just done, but I set my resolve and stayed the course.
I’d fought my way through some serious shit, and had triumphed. But I was an empty shell of what I’d once been.
Was it so bad to welcome a little bit of recklessness back into my life? Just a bit? I’d be careful of course, but the events of the day had teased out a need to do something a bit wild, something that would remind me that I was still alive.
Surely if anyone deserved just a moment of happiness, it was me.