Here's an excerpt of my romantic suspense novel, RIPTIDE. This story is one of my favorites. The characters truly struck a chord with me and stay with me as two of my favorites. If I could have a magic wish and manifest my dream man, Noah Reynolds, the hero of this book, would be "the one."
I actually wrote it before KISS ME SLOWLY, but it was published second.
I love how life works, always throwing in a twist to keep us on our toes.
One violent night shatters Lauren Biltmore’s life. As an anchorwoman, she's accustomed to reporting the news rather than being the lead story. She escapes the spotlight by fleeing to her brother's home in the Cayman Islands. Haunted by nightmares, all she wants is a distraction from reality.
Distraction arrives via sexy screenwriter, Noah Reynolds. His take-me-to-bed looks mask a past ripe with scandal. He knows he should stay away from Lauren, especially when the worst night of her life unlocks his writer's block and while he's dealing with a stalker of his own, but ethics are his weakness.
Attraction sizzles beneath Caribbean sunshine. As their relationship grows, Noah's stalker intensifies her torment. Lauren wonders if her paranoia is justified or a carryover from her past. What's real? What's imagined?
Tentative trust is tested as their love is swept up against a riptide of deceit, murder, and revenge.
He toweled himself off, his thoughts centered around Lauren and their last date. It hadn’t exactly gone as planned given the dead guy face down amidst the fish. Not that he’d helped the situation with his not-so-smooth-moves-on-the-beach later. The past two days had given him perspective. He wanted her. Right or wrong, mistake or not, he needed to see where this could go. He couldn’t get her out of his mind. Maybe tonight he’d get another chance if he could track her down.
“Noah.” Lauren cleared her throat from where she stood outside the open bathroom door. She leaned against the wall in a Caribbean blue tank dress that hugged her body in all the right places, legs exposed from mid-thigh down, ankles crossed, long hair glistening over lightly tanned shoulders, gaze averted to the floor and smile playing across lips he desperately wanted against his skin. “Sorry to barge in. You left the deck door wide open.”
“No problem.” He cinched the towel around his waist and wondered exactly how long she’d been standing there. The thought of her watching him shower and dry off did crazy things to his nervous system. “I’ve been looking for you.”
“Erin told me.” She leaned her head back against the wall and dragged her gaze from his toes upward. “Heard you were on private charter for the past few days.”
He leaned his shoulder against the doorframe and let her gaze soak him up. He liked the way she looked at him as if he were dessert.
“About the other night...I’m sorry. Can I make it up to you? Dinner tonight? Etcetera?” he asked.
She caught her lower lip between her teeth, gaze lingering on his chest. “Are you sure this time? No running away when things get hot?”
Electricity zapped in the three feet separating them.
Damn, the woman did insane things to his rational thinking. He’d decided on the boat that he needed to see her, make things right, take it slow, get tangled up in some strings. Seeing her live and in person threw common sense out the window.
“I can’t decide if you’re hotter when wet or dry...I’m thinking it might be a tie,” she said.
Oh, what the hell. With an opener like that, how could a man resist? He crossed the space between them, slipped his hand behind her neck, and kissed her on that mouth he’d been fantasizing about all week.
Her hands slid over his damp chest while her mouth moved slowly beneath his, her teeth lightly catching his lower lip. Eyes open, they smiled against each other’s mouths.
“Miss me?” he asked.
“It would be very uncool of me to answer that.” She slid her hands over his abdomen and lingered on the towel. “Are you still wanting to back off, or have you come to your senses?”
He braced his hands over her head. The only thing he wanted to do was kiss her slowly and make her beg for more. He looked into her eyes. “You’re making me forget all of the reasons this is a mistake.”
“A sexy mistake.” Her fingers touched his chest in a featherlike caress. She licked her lips.
“Good point.” He smiled. “We’re headed into the danger zone.”
“You have no idea how dangerous.” She tugged on the towel, a dare in her eyes.
Oh, he had an idea about the level of danger. He’d thought of nothing else for the past forty-eight hours and ranked this situation a solid Level Red. Despite that, all he could think about was how good it would feel to have her long legs wrapped around his hips while her nails clawed against his back. He needed to pull the emergency brake. Slow, he reminded himself. Slow.
He leaned against her, enjoying the way her body arched toward his like a magnetic pull. He tangled his fingers in the hair at the back of her neck. “What do you want, Lauren? After the other night, you know I’m more complicated than I seem.”
Her gaze flicked up to his. “I know what I’m doing.”
“You have no idea what you’re getting yourself into.”
“Show me. Let’s make some mistakes together. We’re both consenting adults. What the hell?” she whispered, her teeth pulling at his lower lip.
“Does that scare you?” she asked.
He paused a fraction over her lips and looked into her eyes. Yeah, she was scary reckless, but that turned him on more than he could say. So what if she wanted to use him for a distraction from her own demons? He knew that had something to do with it—the woman oozed intensity.
Her mouth widened, taking his like a woman starving for the taste of him. Ravenous. Her fingers fisted in the back of his hair. Her bare foot slid up the outside of his leg. Tongues clashed in a passionate dance that left no doubt about mutual desire.
He pressed her against the wall, uncaring about the slipping of the towel down his hips. This woman made him want more than he had dared want in years. His hands roamed up her sides, thumbs caressing the outline of her breasts. Closer. He couldn’t get close enough.
She pressed her hips against his. “Five days ago I didn’t think I’d feel any emotion ever again. Now here I am making out with you. Insane.”
“A little bit of crazy is good for a person.” He wrapped his hands in her hair, holding her face close to him. “What do you feel now?”
“You. I feel you.”
“You say all the right things,” he said against her mouth. His skin rippled beneath her touch. He couldn’t explain his reaction to her...he felt like an addict in desperate need of a fix.
Her body arched against his, arms circled his waist, hands teased beneath the towel that inched lower on his hips, mouth moved against his with an urgency that tested his self-control. He grabbed her shoulders, intending to urge her back, but instead pulled her toward the bedroom.
Mouths clinging to each other, they stumbled onto the bed. Giving in to the sensations of her soft curves and long legs against him, he kissed her as if he’d been dying and she were his lifeline. He peeled the dress up past her hips and squeezed her ass.
Her hands moved over his shoulders, against his neck, into his hair. Everywhere. Her leg curved over his thigh.
He kissed her face, her neck, her collarbone. One hand moved over her breast while the other inched her dress higher. She squirmed beneath him, breath hot against his skin, hands holding him tight against her.
Towel ancient history, he moved down the length of her and pushed the dress up until he could kiss her abdomen. He hesitated at the sight of the scar, evidence of the violence she’d suffered. He felt her stiffen, as if she’d forgotten what he’d see. He smoothed his thumb over the raised skin that ran from her right hipbone, zigzagged across her flat abdomen toward her left breast.
Her hand snagged his as she propped up on one elbow. Hair partially covering her face, she shook her head. “It’s ugly, I know, don’t look at it. Please.”
“You’re beautiful.” He pulled his hand free and smoothed it over the scar.
“Don’t lie to me.” She reached to pull her dress down.
He caught her hand and looked her in the eye. “Not lying. You’re so damn beautiful I can’t take it. Why do you think I’m breaking all of my own rules for you? Pity?”
“I don’t know,” she whispered. “I hope not.”
“Don’t hide from me, and I won’t lie to you. I promise.” He pushed her dress up over her bra. His gaze devoured the marred skin over taunt muscles, proof she’d survived. In his mind, nothing could be more beautiful than that.
He kissed every inch of the scar. One hand on her breast, he propped himself over her and captured her mouth with his. His erection throbbed against her thigh, aching to be inside her.
“Hey, Noah,” Larry yelled from the living room. “You left your wallet on board the boat. Thought you might need it.”
He pressed his forehead against hers and struggled to control his breathing. More aroused than he’d been in years, he remained motionless. Passion quaked through him, demanding release.
“Just tell him to leave it on the counter.” She squeezed his hips. “For God’s sake, don’t you dare stop.”
He laughed against her lips when Larry yelled again. “He’s not going anywhere. He thinks we’re a bad idea and obviously knows you’re here. Isn’t Austin’s jeep in the driveway?”
“I should’ve taken a taxi,” she muttered, not letting him go. “Do you think we’re a bad idea?”
He propped himself up on his hands and looked into her eyes. “Does it look like I think we’re a bad idea?”
She slid her hands down his hips, her fingers skimming over his erection and sending little earthquakes of need through his body. Her slow smile told him all he needed to know.
“I need a minute,” he said with a smile. “Can you please distract him for me?”
Slowly, she slid her leg over the back of his without breaking eye contact. Still smiling, she kissed him before sliding from beneath him and pulling down her dress. “At least I know what I have to look forward to later. Lucky me.”