Hey everyone! Welcome to the Baby It’s Cold Outside Blog Hop! I hope your holidays were merry, bright, and just a darned good time. Here’s to a wonderful 2014.
With the Baby It’s Cold Outside Blog Hop there are tons of author sites to visit, so be sure to click on the banner at the bottom of this blog to register to be entered for all the prizes and to visit each author’s site. There’s a grand prize and most authors in the hop are also offering another book or swag as a prize. My prize, to be drawn after January 5, is Love From The Ashes, my 1906 historical set during the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire.
Below is an excerpt from Maneater, the first story in my Special Investigations Agency series at Ellora’s Cave. Maneater is what I’d describe as a tongue-in-cheek paranormal romantic suspense because of the humor. It’s over the top! In this scene, the hero and heroine are trudging through the snow and revealing things to each other. Beware the gritty language because this is an erotic romance. Hope you enjoy it.
When Destiny Tremayne and fellow agent Mac Tudor are assigned to investigate mysterious disappearances at a strange lab high in the Colorado Mountains, they clash at every turn. Destiny thinks Mac is a throwback. Mac thinks Destiny hates any man who has balls. When they realize something monstrous stalks the secluded high-mountain lab, they’ll face a terrifying enemy—and a blazing sexual inferno they may not survive.
They left the wreck and trudged up the road. Wind rustled pine needles and created a backdrop to the winter wonderland. As her breath puffed out in front of her, a frosty tribute to winter, she matched his brisk pace. She’d be damned if later on he said she couldn’t keep up. Besides, she enjoyed physical challenges that kept her in tiptop condition.
For about a mile they stayed mum and conserved energy as wind whistled and blew snow into their eyes.
Destiny decided to broach a question spinning around in her mind for several minutes. “I’m guessing the Hummer was from the lab. I wonder why they didn’t stop and help?”
Mac shrugged, all but his eyes, nose, and mouth obscured by parka hood and knitted face mask. “If something weird is going on up there, like a serial killer, maybe the rest of the lab occupants decided it was time to cut and run.”
“Did you see how many people were in the vehicle before it ran us off the road?”
“One, I think. I was pretty busy trying to keep us from plunging into the sweet by and by.”
Again they lapsed into silence. As dry snow made a fluffy white carpet beneath her feet, she wrestled with unexpected feelings. She didn’t like this rising sense of admiration she felt for Mac. No, that wouldn’t do at all.
“I don’t suppose a rousing rendition of song would be appreciated?” she asked.
“Why? Can you sing?”
“Not worth crap.”
He chuckled. “That’s what I like. A woman who doesn’t give a rat’s butt what anyone thinks. I think you’re up for the world championship title.”
“Is that what you really think? That I’m just a big-mouthed ass?”
His glance zipped from her head to her butt and held there. “Well, your butt is world class, and your mouth is warm and—”
“Stuff it, Mac. That’s not what I meant and you know it. Don’t try to get out of answering the question.”
“Okay, okay. Yes, I think you can be pushier than you need to. I hear people making comments, especially men who don’t always want to be around you because you’re almost too assertive.”
She absorbed the words and tried not to react. It didn’t work. “Too assertive how?”
“Men rarely hit on you right?”
How did he know that?
“Not lately, but they used to when I first joined the Agency.”
“Why do you suppose that is?”
“Because I kick male chauvinist ass and they don’t like it?”
“Partially. But there’s more to it. Many men want a woman who can stand up for herself, but not one with a cast-iron bitch façade plastered on their face three hundred and sixty-five days a year. You never let up. It’s always work, work, work and no relationships allowed to form.”
Shocked to the core by the brusqueness of his evaluation, she almost struck back with a snappy comment. Instead, she stewed.
He spoke before she could. “This isn’t just a case of some men saying that if you’re assertive you are a bitch. Those men aren’t worth your time, Tremayne. They aren’t looking for the real woman inside. But what about the men who would love to get to know you, but they can’t make it past the message in your eyes that says ‘don’t bother’?”
Destiny let the silence stretch as she absorbed what he’d said. “So you’ve been gossiping about me?”
“No, but I hear rumors just the same. And I overheard two guys last week in the gym talking about wanting to get up your skirt.”
“I’m not saying you should let those two particular guys get up your shirt.”
“Who are they?”
“Right, right. Sure. You’re making up this crap, Mac.”
“I am not.”
“You are, too.”
He veered towards her and stopped in front of Destiny.
“What are you doing?” she asked. “We haven’t got all day to get to the complex.”
“Not until we have this out. Right now. I heard those two Neanderthals say that about you and it sickened me. Not because I thought it was disgusting they wanted you, but because they would talk about you like a piece of meat right there where everyone else could hear them. That’s what pissed me off. And because…”
He shook his head and surveyed the forest surrounding them. “Because they’re cowards with no balls. They wouldn’t know a good woman if she sat on their face.”
“And you’re not that kind of man?”
Anger tightened his mouth. “I’m no coward.”
“Of course you’re not.” She spoke hastily, worried their partnership could be shot to hell if she didn’t explain. “You’re a great agent, Mac.” She smiled a little. “Even if you are a Grade-A pain on some days.”
Mac seemed to relax, and although the face mask obscured his expression a little, she could see the softening in his eyes. “You just need to ease up a little so a man can get through. You might be missing out.”
“I’m not giving up who I am to assure some man might want to date me.”
“What I’m saying is you shouldn’t be surprised by men’s reactions when you come on like queen bitch of the universe.”
“Queen bitch—I ought to—you—”
“Spit it out, Tremayne.” He turned away and started walking.
“Who are you to give me advice?”
“A fellow agent who would like to be your friend, if you’d let me.”
Within her an echo rang. He wanted to be her friend?
Part of what he said made sense. Other than Mac, she couldn’t recall the last time a man attempted to strike up a conversation that showed he wanted to know her either mentally or physically.
As she followed along beside him, she glanced at Mac through the blowing snow. “Why do you want to be my friend?”
“Because you’re extremely intelligent, a crack agent, and tough.”
She snuffled a laugh. “Sounds like a resume for a guard dog.”
He shifted the big pack with a shrug of his shoulders. “You have some of those qualities, too.”
“Wonderful. Now you’re calling me a mutt,” she said in half seriousness.
“No way, Tremayne. You’re a babe.”
Heat filled her face at his blunt compliment.
“You’re a gorgeous woman who drives me beyond crazy,” he said. “I want to strangle you sometimes as much as I want to fuck you.”
To her mortification, a shocked gasp slipped out of her mouth. “Mac!”
He laughed. “Come on, if you don’t know I want to get inside of you by now—”
“All right, I get the picture.”
Her entire body reacted to his no-holds-barred statements. Warmth spread into her abdomen and down to the sensitive folds between her legs. Her breathing quickened and her heart followed the pace. Whether Destiny liked it or not, his admission turned her on, and the power it gave her added to the aphrodisiac. She wanted to challenge him, to play a game to prove she didn’t want him.
“We’ve already crossed a line, Mac. If Quinton found out anything was going on between us…” She faded out, afraid to say it.
“At least you’re admitting there’s something between us. And it’s pretty damn powerful.”
Overwhelmed by confusion, she didn’t know how to respond and didn’t wish to confess. Instead she went silent.