I was the featured author for The Writing Mama blog talk radio show where we talked about love, dating, romance, writing, setting, title creation, emotionally charged writing, character development and...WHEW! I'm worn out. Check out the link to the replay, if you have the time. I'd love to hear your comments, too.
This is part of my virtual book tour for Riptide...just one more stop on my journey as a novelist.
Excerpt of Riptide to read while you're listening to the above link....or just because...ha:
To hell with island mode. Maybe she should have gone to New York City and gotten lost in a crowd.
She twisted her hands into the fabric of her dress, afraid to take one more step forward. All that blood. She blinked, reminding herself for the thousandth time that this had nothing to do with Lahey or Atlanta. This incident happened now, in the present, no connection to the past. She stared at the empty beach stretching back toward Austin’s. A normal person would run into the night and get home as fast as possible. Guess she was a long way from normal.
“Did you see someone come by here? A tall redhead?” Noah reached her side, out of breath and looking as terrified as she felt.
“Already replacing me with a redhead? I knew you were a player.” She forced a smile onto her trembling lips, knowing it looked fake as hell. “No, I didn’t see anyone.”
He closed his eyes, hung his head, and exhaled a long breath. “How can you be so damn strong with all of this happening?”
“Practice, I guess.” Wind blew hair into her face, but she liked feeling concealed. She stepped back toward the restaurant. “Maybe I need to call a taxi.”
“Don’t.” His hand caught hers. “We’ll walk together back to Austin’s.”
“What about the redhead you’re chasing?” She pulled her hand free of his and stepped back. She needed isolation. No one knew just how close she was to the breaking point and she didn’t want any witnesses for that. Panic clenched her chest. Past collided with present...blood on the floor...blood in the water. She blinked and shoved a fist against her forehead. “I need to get to Austin’s.”
“I’ll take you. Let’s go before someone points out that you’re a witness, that you talked to the guy. You said yourself—”
“I know what I said,” she interrupted with an anger that surprised her. “I came here to be alone, why didn’t you just let me be?”
He stared at her through the darkness, muscle working overtime in his jaw. “If you don’t want me to take you, then fine. I’ll call Austin.”
“I’m not a baby. I can call a damn cab myself.”
“Do you know how many cabs are on this island? Not many. This isn’t Atlanta. You’ll need to wait. Either let me call Austin or walk you.”
She ripped her gaze from him and stared ahead at the dark beach. Someone had just been murdered within inches of her, and she’d ditched a crime scene. She rubbed her hands over her hips. The anger pulsing through her veins was raw and unexpected. All she wanted to do was scream at the top of her lungs, hit something, run, fall to her knees and sob until all the pain disappeared. All she could think about was the blood...and Larry’s words.
She looked down at her dress where blood still stained the material despite her frantic scrubbing with the napkin.
“I don’t want Austin to see me like this.” She took a step toward the beach but froze. What if the bullet had been meant for her? Paranoia whispered through her mind. Ridiculous. “I can walk.”
“I’ll walk with you.” He reached for her hand, but she pulled away.
Dating wasn’t exactly her forte. She needed to stay away.
“Suit yourself.” Thankful for his presence, but scared of the raging emotions surfacing within her, she walked by his side into the darkness beyond the restaurant and away from the chaos behind them.
What had been a romantic walk an hour earlier now danced with tension and unspoken thoughts. She slipped off her sandals and inhaled the rich sea air. Reporter instinct told her that he knew more about what happened back there than she probably wanted to know. If she weren’t about to scream, she’d confront him about that. Then again, she knew going into this that he wasn’t exactly a saint.
“We probably should have stayed,” she whispered. “Someone probably noticed me talking to him before he was shot. It’ll look suspicious that I left.”
“People weren’t paying attention to you, I’m sure. It was busy tonight.” He kicked absently at the sand with his bare foot. “Are you thinking about Atlanta?”
“You obviously are.” She cringed and resumed walking. It always came back to Atlanta. She couldn’t even be involved in a new murder without someone bringing up her past. So much for anonymity on this piece of rock they called an island.
“I didn’t mean it like that.”
“Stop dancing around the subject.” She stopped and confronted him. Moonlight illuminated his face. She saw compassion, worry, and guilt swirling in his eyes. “You and everyone else in my life are waiting for me to snap. I see it. Larry’s the only honest one amongst you. At least I know where I stand with him. I was on a date with a sexy guy who I thought wanted me for the right reasons—”
“I do want you for the right reasons even though it feels pretty damn wrong at the moment.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Not what you think.”
“Really? Because I think it means you regret being with a woman you think is so fragile she can’t...” She motioned helplessly to the side, all of her steam dissipating with the reality that she was a fragile woman who couldn’t even walk the beach alone at night because of the dark.
He gripped her shoulders and shook his head. The sea breeze tossed his black hair into his eyes. “You’re wrong. I think you’re the strongest woman—person for that matter—that I’ve ever met. You left because you didn’t want to be interrogated, maybe because you wanted to protect me and maybe because you wanted to protect yourself. It is what it is. It’s done. You can go to the police tomorrow if you want, but nothing about this situation makes you weak.”
“Larry thinks I’m a murderer.” She hated that her voice caught on that last word. “He’s right.”
“No, he’s not. Larry’s an ass, but a harmless one. He has no censor.” He moved his hands up and down her bare arms.
“Shouldn’t I be crying?” She laughed, but not out of amusement. “Any other woman would be crying, right? A man just got shot within inches of me, and I’m walking on a beach with you arguing.”
“Please don’t cry.” He grinned. “I don’t do well with women and tears, makes me nervous as hell.”
Surrendering, she leaned her head against his shoulder and held on as if her life depended on it. When he wrapped his arms around her, she closed her eyes. He felt like a safe haven in a storm.
“When you look at me, do you think about why I’m here or what I’ve done like Larry does? Tell me the truth,” she whispered against his neck.
“No, I don’t. That’s the truth.” Fingers on her chin, he tilted her face up to look at him. “I see a beautiful woman who’s my friend’s sister and who I’ve been having elicit fantasies about for nearly forty-eight hours even though I know it’s a bad idea.”
“It is a bad idea.” She stared into his eyes as if trying to see his soul. She needed at least one person in this world who didn’t think of her as damaged. “You don’t know me. You don’t know what I’m capable of. I saw the way you looked at me back there. You were wondering if I’d snap.”
“Because a man had been shot next to you, not because of your past. Damn it, I’m shaken up myself.” He pressed his forehead against hers. “You tried to protect me, wanted me to tamper with evidence, that’s sexy as hell.”
She grinned despite the weight that had fallen on her shoulders. “I wanted to see what was in the envelope.”
“Ahh...so you were driven by curiosity.” His thumb traced the curve of her lower lip. “You’re one helluva woman, Lauren Biltmore.”
“You don’t know me.” She looped her hands around his neck and leaned closer. Damn, the man felt like heaven. “Is someone trying to hurt you, Noah?”
In the darkness, it was hard to tell if the shadows across his face were caused by clouds over the moon or unspoken emotion.
“No one’s trying to hurt me.” His grin seemed fake. “Let’s get you back to Austin’s.”
She held him when he would have stepped back. “You’re lying.”
He pushed his hands through her hair, gaze scanning her face. “Like you said, I don’t know you, and you don’t know me. Maybe it’s best if we stop this before it goes any further. You don’t need my kind of trouble in your life right now.”
“Maybe your kind of trouble is exactly what I need.” She kissed him because the adrenaline surging through her body needed release, and he was the perfect outlet.
He matched her intensity with a fierceness that weakened her knees. She sagged against him, hands clinging to his shoulders for support. Trouble or not, the man kissed like a porn star. Damn, he melted the skin from her bones with every stroke of his tongue against hers.
Her hands roamed over his shoulders to his back. She pressed closer, craving skin on skin. One thought and one thought only penetrated her mind...sex. She wanted him inside her. Now. Fast. To hell with the consequences.
Together they fell against the sand with laughter tangled between their lips. Somewhere between fleeing a crime scene and kissing, fear had transitioned to passion. She needed his touch, his mouth, his body heavy against hers. Desire consumed every cell of her body.
“We’re the most unethical people I know,” he said against her mouth. “I shouldn’t be proud of that, but strangely I am.”
“Take me back to Austin’s. Stay with me.” She caught his lip lightly between her teeth and stared into his eyes.
His hand slid beneath her skirt and up her thigh. “I don’t know if we’re good or bad for each other. I’m not thinking clearly at all around you, making bad decisions, dragging you along with me.”
“I’m going willingly.” She nipped his neck, her hands smoothing down his back before grabbing his ass. “We have too many clothes on.”
“And we’re on a beach within view of anyone who happens to walk by and look closely enough.” He laughed against the side of her face. “Let me take you home.”
“And you’ll stay with me?” She kissed him again, unwilling to let him go. He felt too damn good pressing her into the cool sand at her back.
His kiss softened and teased as his hand caressed her naked thigh beneath the skirt, his thumb moving over her panties. She hungered for him like a woman coming off a diet craved chocolate.
“I’m such a bastard,” he whispered before rolling off of her and covering his face with his hands. “I can’t do this. It’s not right.”
The abruptness of his absence rattled her. They laid side-by-side, their breathing labored and a sea of stars above them.
“Do what? Me? Us? What can’t you do?” she asked even though she didn’t want to talk. No, talking was the furthest thing from her agenda.
“I can’t be the man you need me to be.” He sat up and looked toward the ocean. “That’s just how it is. I’m not a good guy. It’s for the best. Trust me.”
She sat up and brushed sand from her arms. Lips swollen from his kiss and nerves scattered all over hell and back from their night, all she could do was nod. Maybe it was for the best, but not for the reasons he thought. But, damn, if only she’d gotten him naked at least once.
She took his hand as he helped her stand, but then he abruptly let go. In silence, they walked past The Lazy Turtle. People laughed, a band played, and couples danced.
They stepped around the L-shaped palm tree, hands grazing each other but not touching, each lost in thought as their footsteps filled with water behind them.
She ascended the stairs to Austin’s condo with heavy feet. So much for a simple night out with a sexy man. The reality that nothing in her life would be simple again assaulted her heart like a torpedo sinking a ship.
She unlocked the door and faced him. “Are you sure you can’t stay?”
He brushed sand from her bare shoulder, a sad smile on his face. Without saying a word, he left her standing alone, turned and walked down the stairs toward his car parked beneath a light.
She closed the door, locked it, and walked as if on autopilot to her bedroom. Standing at the window, she saw Noah sitting in his car and looking up at her. She leaned her shoulder against the glass, but wished she had the nerve to run out and tell him to take her home with him. But she didn’t. Not anymore. She doubted she had much fight left in her.
If he wanted to walk away, so be it. Alone was best. Happy endings weren’t her style.
Riptide's Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/2YWX6FDUbfUhttp://youtu.be/2YWX6FDUbfU
Riptide's Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/2YWX6FDUbfUhttp://youtu.be/2YWX6FDUbfU