Mmm...first encounters. I love it when characters in both movies and novels meet for the first time. It sets the tone for what's to come. Sometimes there's snap, crackle, sizzle...or maybe there's that slow burn of borderline contempt that you just know is gonna be fun to watch.
Today we're getting a glimpse of "Fur Ball Fever"...yes, it's as fun as it sounds...and Maureen has been kind enough to offer a giveaway from one of the comments. Yay!
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Lust at First Sight: Guest Blog & Giveaway
Many thanks, Amber, for the chance to be a guest blogger on Lust at First Sight. It’s great to be here to share the first meeting of the heroine (Grace Donnelly) and hero (Nick Jackson) from Fur Ball Fever.
One lucky reader who comments on my posting will be randomly selected to win a copy of one of my ebooks, either Fur Ball Fever or my award-winning paranormal romantic suspense, The Jaguar Legacy.
So without further ado, I hope you enjoy my excerpt:
Although the sun barely streaked the sky with orange, Grace Donnelly's morning had already thundered downhill with the speed of a Japanese bullet train. As much as it galled her to come crawling, she needed Nick Jackson's help, she needed it now, and she refused to leave without it.
In her opinion he owed her. Big time.
Once she reached her destination Grace stopped walking. Set alight by the rising sun, Nick’s house glowed amber in its setting of faux-Victorian seaside homes. Four months ago she’d have unlocked the door and dashed inside for some chocolate breakfast pastries, a triple espresso, and a little early morning delight. Not necessarily in that order. Today she wished she was doing anything else—like cleaning toilets perhaps, or undergoing root canal surgery.
In case Nick was watching she smiled with a serene, I've-got-it-all-together confidence she was far from feeling.
A cascade of excited yaps jolted her back to reality. She tightened her grip on the schnauzer’s leash and made soothing noises. Undeterred, Murphy strained toward familiar turf.
“Behave, Murphy. We are so, <so> over Nick,” she said, more to convince herself than to calm the dog. She gave his wiry head an affectionate scratch as she studied the house. “We don’t need an overbearing chauvinist to make us feel fulfilled.”
Murphy gave a mighty tug.
She let him pull her across the street, along the walkway, and up onto the front veranda. As she’d foreseen, the vine she’d planted last spring had climbed the trellis to provide dappled shade. She could hear Sublime belting out the alternative rock Nick loved. Based on the gurgle of water gushing through pipes he was in the shower.
Suppressing a twinge of conscience she jabbed the doorbell. Bad luck for him, but the first forty-eight hours were critical in crimes of this nature. As Security Director of the gated community where they lived, he controlled access to the surveillance system. The security video was her best bet for identifying the crook who’d broken into her house last night and turned her world upside down.
The chimes faded, leaving only the thump of rock music and Murphy’s enthusiastic panting. Overhead a bird tootled its greeting. She took it as a sign of encouragement and punched the doorbell again.
The music stopped in mid-sentence. Behind the house, clearly audible in the morning stillness, waves sighed against the Jersey Shore.
Grace withdrew to the patch of landscaping stones out front to toss a pebble at the second-floor bathroom window. She smoothed a palm over hip-hugging jeans, guaranteed, according to the label, to diminish butt and thighs. A crimson tank top maximized the cleavage Nick adored.
The window swung open, releasing a cloud of steam, a billow of curtains, and a muttered curse. Murphy yipped his adoration. She shaded her eyes against the sun’s dazzle to squint at the dripping figure. Her platform sandals, selected for the height boost, wobbled on the uneven ground and spoiled the cool, collected image she wanted to project.
A familiar bourbon and cream voice said, “For crying out loud, it’s way too early for …” Nick’s gaze locked onto hers. His mouth flattened into a thin line. Streaky brown hair, sable now with dampness, spiked against his forehead.
She beamed an airy, carefree smile in his direction.
Predatory grey eyes were cold as the North Atlantic in January. “Well, well, well,” he drawled. “If it isn’t Grace Donnelly, girl crusader.”
He leaned out a little more, providing a breathtaking view of powerful shoulders and a manly expanse of torso. From the way his face creased into a sardonic smile she knew he hadn’t forgiven her.
Not that there was anything to forgive.
Although her heart galloped in her chest, she met his gaze with queenly calm. No way would she let him glimpse how much she’d missed him during the four months since their romance had crashed and burned. “My goodness,” she chirped, going for the light approach, “don’t tell me you’re still calling grown women ‘girls’.”
He took a corner of the towel and dabbed his neck. “Still the same fire-breathing feminist I see.”
Gah! “That’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said,” she replied, hoping her unruffled expression hadn’t congealed into a grimace.
His eyes scanned her face. “I barely recognized you with dark hair.”
The return to her natural color was a small but meaningful step toward reclaiming her power. With a jaunty flip of her hand she said, “I needed a change.”
He leveled his gaze at her. “That’s not exactly the change I was hoping for, darlin’.” All traces of moonlight and magnolias vanished from his voice. “I was thinking more along the lines of a big old attitude shift.”
“My attitude’s peachy. Let me in. I need to talk to you.” He’d managed to get under her skin already, dammit. Remembering her objective she added a belated and heartfelt, “Please.”
“You’ve had all summer to talk to me.” He paused long enough to make her fidget before continuing, “Seeing as how you hung up on me three times, I figured you were happy with the way our little arrangement ended.”
She lifted her chin a notch. Sure, he’d called. And each time, he’d refused to listen to her explanation. Did he seriously expect her to roll over and apologize? Her temper spiked, simmering close to the surface. She reined herself in enough to say, “Can we discuss this inside—like two adults?”
His silent scrutiny made her want to squirm. After an eternity he said, “Only if you’re here to admit you’ve developed common sense and prudence over the summer.”
How dare he think for one moment he had the right to lecture her? She enunciated her next words with precision. “I don’t want to have this conversation through a bathroom window. Let me in.”
“Not until you admit that what you did on our last date was dead wrong.”
She reviewed the events of that fateful date. Okay, so her actions might have been a tad risky—okay, make that downright dangerous—but how could she have ignored someone who needed help? She’d only been protecting her elderly neighbor from a robbery. Surely Nick knew another heart attack would have killed poor old Elvira.
She drew in a calming breath. “I did what needed doing.”
“You risked your life.”
“I had no choice. If I hadn’t—”
“You nearly got yourself killed. I hate it when my dates do that.”
“The bullet missed by a mile.”
“The bullet missed by a hair. You might not be so lucky next time.”
“But you saved me. No harm, no foul.”
Nick’s throaty growl left no doubt about his agitation. With visible effort he collected himself. “You’re a loose cannon, darlin’,” he drawled. “Keeping you alive and out of trouble takes too much out of a man.”
His icy tone jolted her back to her senses. “Wait,” she said, remembering she needed to watch the security video. “You’re the Security Director of Saltwater Estates. I’m here on official business.”
The air sizzled between them. When he spoke, his tone was curt. “In that case, Ms. Donnelly, I suggest you phone to schedule an appointment.” He pulled his head inside and started to close the window.
She forced her tongue around the next words. “Please, Nick. I need your help.”
The window halted its inward swing. His face reappeared.
A white knight couldn’t resist the call of a damsel in distress. That was the upside of dealing with a male chauvinist. Concentrating on looking needy, which wasn’t too difficult all things considered, she added, “It’s an emergency.”
He merely grunted, but she noted his eyes brightened with interest. She dangled one final carrot. “It’s life-and-death. I’ll explain everything once you let me inside.”
She let out her breath and was preparing to admit defeat when he ground out the words she needed to hear. “You’ve got exactly five minutes.” His head disappeared.
Find out what happens next. Is Nick wearing only a towel and a scowl? (Spoiler Alert: Yup!) Does he agree to help Grace or does he have his own agenda?
Universal Amazon URL for Fur Ball Fever by Maureen Fisher: http://amzn.to/150fiHb
Universal Amazon URL for The Jaguar Legacy by Maureen Fisher:
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