From the Author
"If this costume weren't so ... so ..."
"Sexy?" she prompts.
"Well, that's what you get for buying a costumethe day before Halloween. Everything is picked over by then. You didn't want togo as Jasmine and have your stomach showing, so this is what you got. Besides,it kind of fits you."
I gesture to the button over my chest that'sthreatening to pop with any sudden movement. "It does not kind of fit me."
"I mean, the schoolgirl vibe. It's like theamplified version of you. That's perfect for Halloween."
"There is absolutely no universe where theamplified version of me would not be wearing yoga pants and glasses."
"Fine. It's the bold and wild version of you.Nothing wrong with trying bold and wild for a change."
I groan and throw myself down on the toiletseat beside her. "I've changed my mind. I don't think I should go to this partyafter all. All those people, and costumes, and decorations. I think Halloweenis way too overwhelming for my first foray into the college party scene."
Dylan tosses her mascara into her makeup bagand faces me, her look now complete. She manages to appear both classy and sexyin a homemade Statue of Liberty costume. Only Dylan could make Lady Libertylook hot.
"Just take a deep breath, Nell. This isn'tnearly as scary as you're making it out to be in your head. I promise."
"Maybe not for you. But the idea of being insome frat house with a bunch of people I don't know--"
She cuts me off. "We're not going to one of thefrat parties. Everyone has been avoiding that scene since ... well, it doesn'tmatter. The group decided it would be better to have something smaller, moremanageable. It's at Silas's house. And it's only people they know and trust.You'll be fine. I know it."
Apparently "people they know and trust"translates into about thirty people on the lawn, fifteen on the porch, and morepeople than I can count on the inside. Dylan's hand is wrapped tight around myelbow as we step through the entryway to Silas's house. She's on her tiptoes,searching for him, and all I can think about is making a break for it andgetting out of there as soon as possible.
I'm so concentrated on keeping my short skirtdown and the too-tight white shirt buttoned up that I don't even realize she'sfound her boyfriend until she lets go of my arm. At the loss of her touch, Ilook up, panicked. Silas is dressed as a fireman, and he drops his helmet tocircle his arms around Dylan. His fist clutches at the material on the back ofher dress, just above her bottom, and I immediately look away, only to lockeyes with the one person I want to see even less than a very public display ofaffection.
He has a beer lifted halfway to his mouth, but hisjaw is slack, and he's staring at me. No, "stare" does not quite do justice to the look he's giving me. His eyes raze me, and when I lift my hand totouch my neck, subconsciously covering my all-too-visible cleavage, I'msurprised my skin doesn't flake away into ashes from the fire in his gaze.
Adrenaline surges through me, and for a momentit feels like a fight-or-flight impulse, and I wonder why my brain still readshis presence as dangerous. But then I stop and think. It's not quite the samesensation. Fight or flight generally makes me either panic or freeze up. It'sabout fear. This is different. When seconds pass and he still hasn't taken hiseyes off of me, I recognize the extra sensation riding on the adrenaline'sheels.
He makes me feel powerful.
I drop my eyes, overwhelmed by the rush ofpleasure I feel at that idea, and am faced instead with his costume that Ihadn't noticed before. Or more correctly, his near lack of a costume. His chestis bare, and I can't help but measure him with my eyes. His chest is broad,hewn in muscles that couldn't be more defined if an artist sculpted them. Hisskin is a warm bronze, and it looks so smooth to the touch. Everywhere. Exceptfor the small line of dark hair disappearing beneath a strange, leatherlikecloth.
God. A loincloth. He's wearing nothing but a loincloth.
Then he's moving toward me, and I don't knowwhere to look. His dangerous gaze. His naked chest. That cloth that hides only... oh, mercy.
A part of me likes hearing him say my name entirelytoo much. And that part ... is a fool.
"Still ignoring my request that you stay away?"I ask stiffly.
"If you wanted me to stay away, you definitelyshouldn't have worn that."
A furious blush steals across my cheeks anddown my neck. "Dylan insisted I wear a costume, and this was all that was leftat the store."
"Thank God for Dylan, then. And forprocrastination. Can you do me a favor and say, 'Hit me, baby, one more time?'Pretty please?"
Ratherthan answering, I actually hit him. But when my palm makes contact with thehard muscle of his shoulder, I wish I hadn't. Because now that I know what hisbare skin feels like, I'm not sure I'll be able to forget the sensation. Mybrain is already cataloging the feel, comparing it to all the other people I'vetouched, and coming up empty for comparison. Is it normal for him to feel so warm?
It's the alcohol, I decide. It must be. I readsomething once about it dilating blood vessels and bringing warmer blood closerto the surface of the skin.
Yes, that's absolutely it.
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4-ALL CLOSED OFF (coming soon in 2016)
The STEALING STORMS series (a Young Adult high fantasy)
1-ROAR (coming in 2017)
From the Back Cover
First person in her family to go to college? CHECK.
Straight A's? CHECK.
On track to graduate early? CHECK.
Social life? . . . Yeah, about that . . .
With just a few weeks until graduation, Antonella DeLuca's beginning to worry that maybe she hasn't had the full college experience. (Scratch that. She knows she hasn't had the full college experience).
So Nell does what she does best. She makes a "to do list" of normal college activities.
Item #1? Hook up with a jock.
Rusk University wide receiver Mateo Torres wrote the playbook for normal college living. When he's not on the field, he excels at partying, girls, and partying. As long as he keeps things light and easy, it's impossible to get hurt . . . again. But something about Nell gets under his skin, and when he learns about her list, he makes it his mission to help her complete it.
Torres is the definition of confident (And sexy. And wild), and he opens up a side of Nell that she's never known. But as they begin to check off each crazy, exciting, normal item, Nell finds that her list leads to something more serious than she bargained for. And while Torres is used to taking risks on the field, he has to decide if he's willing to take the chance when it's more than just a game.