Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Arcane Heart excerpt!

When the lion butted her hip for the third time, Erica almost fell on her ass. Jake caught her elbow. She was sharply, acutely aware of the warmth of his big hand cupping her through her uniform shirt.
"Clarence, cut that out," he told his Familiar, then added to her, "Sorry about that. He can be really pushy."
“I noticed.” Her voice sounded a bit breathy as the cat circled their legs.
Despite her better judgment, Erica’s attention fell on Jake’s mouth, lips full and tempting under that strong cleft chin. Dragging her eyes away, she tried to think of a more neutral topic. "Did I thank you for saving my ass?" The words came out throatier than she’d intended, so she added a smartass grin. “Tooth Tank to the rescue. Ooo-Raar.“
“Yeah, you thanked me. But I don’t mind hearing it again.” His voice dropped into a seductive rumble. “I’m interested in anything you want to give me.” His eyes fell to her lips, and his blond head lowered. “In fact, I have some suggestions.”
Erica could have stepped back. God knew she'd done it often enough when her ex-boss had tried to force an unwelcome kiss. But Jake wasn’t forcing anything, and the warm, gentle brush of his lips was the opposite of unwelcome. She’d been craving this for months. Years.
With a sigh, she parted her lips under his, wanting to taste him. To drink him in, as she’d longed to do for the past five years. His mouth tasted of maple syrup and Jake. Heat gathered in her belly, the tips of her breasts.
An uneasy voice spoke from the back of her mind. But what if it all goes sideways again? I barely survived losing Bobby. I wouldn’t survive losing Jake.
The thought made her draw back a few inches, breathing hard, to meet the burning gold of his eyes. This is stupid, her common sense insisted.
“Erica,” he murmured softly, cupping her face in one broad hand, his thumb brushing back and forth over her cheekbone. “I want you.” A wave of heat rolled over her body at the stark, simple need in his voice.
And she realized she didn’t care about common sense or guilt or simple self-preservation. Not with the touch of his aura triggering a wave of hot, carnal awareness that made her catch her breath. Something deep inside her seemed to flower, a delicious quiver of sensation rolling from her head to her toes.
Oh, fuck it. I want this. I want him. Rising onto her toes, she kissed him, eager, hot.
Jake growled softly against her mouth — a human growl rather than leonine. His tongue explored her lower lip in a wet velvet stroke.
And God, it felt so good.
It had been too damned long. Too long since she'd felt the swirl of a lover's magic rousing her body to desperate, trembling heat. Too long since she’d felt alive.
Opening her mouth, Erica let him in. His tongue stroked along her tongue, and her breathing roughened. So did his.
He licked deep, once, twice, then retreated, inviting her to explore his mouth in turn. She closed her teeth on the soft pillow of his lower lip in a teasing bite, then licked his gently thrusting tongue.
His hands came to rest on her hips, drawing her close as he angled his head, deepening the kiss, offering her more.
And God, she wanted more.
Rrrrrrollll rumf. Clarence’s psychic voice held a moaning note of warning.
They jerked apart as if physically tearing free.
For a moment, Jake stared down at her, breathing hard, gold eyes glowing. Erica stared back, her heart slamming in her chest, need a hot, dark burn in the base of her belly. As if from a great distance, she heard a car rumble past. Which must have been what Clarence was trying to warn them about.
“We can’t do this standing out in the parking lot.” Erica’s gaze focused on his lips, the damp, full curves of them, the hungry, eager way they parted. “Somebody’s going to report us. We’ll get fired.”
“Not sure I care.” Jake sounded hoarse. “I need more of you.” Feral eyes flashed gold, reflecting the parking lot lights, the glowing not quite human. “Now.”
Despite the cool spring wind, a wave of heat poured through her. She’d thought she wanted Bobby, but it had never felt like this. As if she were under a spell that stole her will and self-control, leaving only aching lust. And yet…
“You know how it is with a cat’s libido.” She shook her head hard, trying to banish the memory of Bobby’s sneer.
Jake’s eyes narrowed, taking in her reaction. “Do you know where the Greenbriar Mall is?”
The strip mall stood a block away, closed and unoccupied since its big box anchor store went bankrupt. “Yes, but…”
“We can talk there.”
“Is talking really what you have in mind?” She’d intended the question to sound arch, but breathlessness sabotaged the effect.
His mouth curved in a smile so hot, she felt a responding fire leap in her own blood. “What I really want is you in my bed all night long, but I strongly suspect you’d chicken out before you got there.”
Her inner twelve-year-old was offended. “I’ve never chickened out of anything in my entire life.”
A dimple flashed in one corner of his sinner’s mouth. “Then you’ll meet me behind the Greenbriar in five minutes.” 
 Look for Arcane Heart in late August, 2018.