The time is drawing near when Explosive is going to be in stores. I’m giving readers one more chance to win the book–I’ll announce the giveaway on Monday morning, before I post Vivi Andrews feature. Don’t forget…the winners of the BIG Explosive giveaway will be on December 1, 2010 here at the blog.
Authors go back and forth between whether long or short excerpts are good, but I’ve already offered shorter ones at other blogs and here on my site. So here’s a longer excerpt for you of Explosive. As most of you know, I tend to like super-charged tension between my heroes and heroines.
OH–I should add, if you read the excerpt here at my site on the Explosive page second after this one, , you’ll get an even longer excerpt. So read here, then the link I just provided. There’s some overlap, but you’ll get a bigger picture of the style and tone.
Comment on the excerpt (not randomly please) to qualify to win a copy of Explosive Monday morning. Enjoy, and good luck! Be sure to look for Explosive in bookstores on Dec 7.
Available in stores and online December 7, 2010.
The wraparound porch was a landscape of golden light and shadow when she led him up the side entrance to the house. The door squeaked open, and she led him onto the screened-in portion of the porch. Their hands were still locked, so she felt it when he paused. She turned back to see him staring at her work in progress. He glanced from the painting to the lake, and back at the canvas again, his expression unreadable.
“It’s not very good. I just do it for fun,” she said, wondering why she whispered. Maybe it was because the atmosphere suddenly seemed electrically charged, expectant . . . like the air before a storm. Her breath stilled when he suddenly transferred his gaze to her naked abdomen.
“I was wondering why you had purple paint on you.” She gave a small laugh when she saw how his well-shaped lips quirked—very slightly—in amusement. “I used to tell Rick you were like the little girl in the neighborhood who was always so clean; the kind that Mama wouldn’t let play rough with the other kids . . . the kind that was never allowed to get dirty.”
His palpable gaze flickered over her breasts and neck before he met her stare. Her mirth faded. “Rick said that was just my lame excuse not to ask you out,” he finished.
Sophie swallowed thickly. This situation just kept getting more and more bizarre. She knew from her friend Andy how close Thomas had been to his brother, Rick Carlisle. Not that she wouldn’t have already guessed it the few times she’d witnessed the two men’s easy camaraderie when she’d glimpsed them together in her office or in the building.
“You must be upset, Tom,” she whispered. “Is that why you’re here? Are you hurting . . . after your brother’s and nephew’s death?” His eyes glittered with emotion in an otherwise masklike countenance. “Come inside.” She tightened her hold on his hand and guided him down the dim hallway to the kitchen. The windows there faced east, depriving them of the sunset light. She flipped a switch, chasing away the dark shadows.
If she’d thought that electric lights and her cheery, homey kitchen would bring a sense of normalcy to this surreal situation, she’d thought wrong. One glance at Thomas’s tall, whipcord lean body and rigid features and she existed in the Twilight Zone all over again.
Perhaps it was the thick, nearly tangible cloud of tension that surrounded him that contributed to her sense of floundering for familiar territory.
She released his hand and headed toward the refrigerator, trying to shake off her sense of unease.
“I made fresh lemonade earlier today. Would you care for some?”
“Do you have anything harder?” he rasped.
She glanced back over her shoulder. “I have some wine in the pantry.”
“Never mind. Lemonade is fine.”
She studied him anxiously. Under the bright fluorescent lights, she could more easily see that a fine sheen of sweat covered his face.
Fever, she thought.
“Why don’t you sit down at the bar,” she suggested before she headed toward the refrigerator. She filled two glasses with ice and lemonade and handed him one. He hadn’t taken her advice to sit down and still stood in the precise spot where she’d left him. He took the glass and drained the contents in two seconds. When he’d finished, she took the empty glass and gave him the other one. While he drank, she encircled the wrist of his free hand with her own.
He swallowed the second glass of lemonade almost as quickly as the first. When he’d finished, she sensed him watching her from above, his head lowered while she concentrated, and counted the beats of his rapid, strong pulse and watched the seconds pass on her kitchen clock.
The silence seemed to press on them like a thick cloak.
“Would you like some more?” she asked after she’d finished and dropped his wrist.
“No. I’ve had enough.”
“Tom, you’re ill,” she said, looking up at him.
He blinked. He glanced around her kitchen with a slight scowl on his features. His confusion seemed to fade when he looked at her face again.
“You might be right. I’m not sure how I got here.”
She took the glass he held from his stiff grip and set it along with the other one on the kitchen island.
“Do you mean you don’t remember?”
For a few seconds he seemed uncertain. “I remember driving here. I had to get away.”
“Had to get away from what?” she asked slowly.
He just stared at her with those brooding green eyes flecked with gold. Sophie supposed that given everything that had happened to Thomas Nicasio lately, he had plenty of reasons for needing an escape.
He remained immobile when she reached up to touch his forehead and cheek. His skin felt clammy. She mentally cursed when she recalled she didn’t have a thermometer in the lake house. Still, she’d guess that if he ran a fever, it wasn’t an alarming one.
Her fingers delved through thick, surprisingly soft hair, searching for wounds on his scalp. A shiver coursed through him when her hand reached the base of his skull. She caught his scent. Despite his obvious illness and uncharacteristically disheveled state, Thomas Nicasio smelled good.
Cautiously, she met his stare.
For a few seconds, neither of them moved. Sophie suspected neither of them breathed.
“Did you hit your head, Tom?” she asked eventually, her fingers resuming their careful search.
“I don’t think so.”
“Have you been drinking?” she asked, even though she’d inhaled his breath and already suspected that he wasn’t drunk. He shook his head.
Again, he shook his head. She pushed back his hair. Her gaze shot to his when she saw the discoloration near his hairline on his left temple.
“You have been hit.” She reached for the wrist of his right arm, holding his stare all the while. Her mind churned when she glanced down and saw the abrasions and flecks of dried blood on his knuckle.
“You’ve been in a fight,” she stated tersely. Did a shadow of defiance cross his features, or was that her imagination? Well, perhaps she had sounded accusatory. It wasn’t her place to judge him, after all. “Are you in any pain?”
“Sick to your stomach?”
He shrugged negligently.
“How is it that you’re here, Tom?” she asked, despite the memory of what he’d said earlier.
I came looking for you, Sophie.
He wasn’t entirely lucid, after all.
“Do you know someone who lives near here?” she prompted when he didn’t speak.
“No. I only know you.”
“Well . . . why did you come looking for me?” she couldn’t resist asking in an anxious rush. “Did you find yourself getting ill on the road and need a doctor? Did you remember me telling you I was vacationing here, at Haven Lake?”
A spasm went through him and he cupped his right brow with his palm, squeezing his eyes shut.
“I’m taking you to the emergency room in Effingham,” she declared, alarmed by the sight of what must have been a jolt of intense pain going through him.
“I’m not going anywhere.”
“But you’ve got to, you’re not well and—”
“I’m not going to the hospital,” he grated out between clenched teeth.
She went completely still at his harsh tone. She considered calling the police, but then he opened his eyes.
The two words leaving her own lips surprised her a little, but she felt as if she didn’t have a choice once she’d looked into those twin pools of turmoil and anguish. “You might have a concussion, but you’re feverish, as well. I’ll get you some Tylenol and then you need to rest. Will you at least promise me to do that for now?”
“I’m not sleepy,” he said hoarsely. His gaze lowered. Heat flooded her cheeks. He stared at her breasts covered in the thin bikini top. Her body responded to his blatantly sexual gaze against her will. Her nipples stiffened beneath the flimsy fabric
He stepped toward her.