As promised, here’s an excerpt from my upcoming new release, Familiar! Enjoy!!
Available December 23, 2012 from Amber Allure!
I felt a tingling rush through my hand and fingertips, then a loud cracking noise split the night air, like wood splintering. Lots of wood splintering. The porch shuddered beneath my feet. Then I heard a crash, a loud, surprised grunt, and more wood splintering. That was followed by a bang, and a yelped, “What the hell?”
Oh shit, oh shit! My heart pounding like a drum in the marching band, I stood there in shock, wondering what I’d done. And to whom. The shadowy figure had just…disappeared. It had been there one second, and then, boom, gone from sight.
I heard scrambling noises, and then more wood cracking and crashing, followed by several colorful curses.
Oh double shit. I was pretty sure ghosts wouldn’t be making that much noise on the physical plane, nor would they be spouting swear words in a voice that sounded vaguely familiar.
Shaking myself out of my stupor, I crept toward the ruckus. Goddess, what had I done this time? I sure hoped whoever was over there wasn’t badly hurt. With my luck, it would probably be one of those cops I’d been worried about.
“Hello?” I called, cautiously. “Are you okay?”
“Stay back,” the voice ordered, sounding a little muffled. “The porch floor just collapsed where I was standing.”
So that’s what I’d done. Guilt hit me in the gut as it always did when I had one of my mishaps. At this point, I just hoped the guy, whoever he was, was okay. I mean, as long as he wasn’t a ghost.
Okay, clearly I was still feeling slightly hysterical.
I forced myself to rein in the crazy thoughts and do something useful. “Um…can I help you? Are you all right?” I asked. I dropped to my knees and eased forward, feeling with my hands for where, apparently, the porch had disappeared, so I didn’t fall in as well.
“Yeah…I think…yeah.” There was that familiar voice again. I couldn’t place it, though. “I’m just kinda stuck. Every time I try to get a grip on the edge of this hole to pull myself out—” His words were cut off by the sound of more wood cracking and crashing, along with another human-sounding grunt. “—more of it breaks and falls in,” he finished, sounding disheartened.
“I…I can’t see very well,” I called. “Where are you?” I was still trying to crawl across the shaky porch toward the sound of his voice.
“Here, let me get out my phone…” I heard a rustling sound, and then, a soft blue-white light glowed in front of me.
“Holy shit!” I murmured, staring wide-eyed at the mess I’d made as the dim light from a smartphone screen shone out of the gaping hole in the porch. The hole had to have been six feet across, and I could see an arm sticking up out of it, holding the phone up. Which meant whoever was down in that hole, was in over his head, literally. Which, I guess, made sense. I’d climbed several steps to get up to the porch, so the porch floor had to be a good six or seven feet above the ground. And now, someone was stuck down there because of me.
I swallowed hard. “Oh, man, I am so sorry,” I murmured, creeping closer.
“What are you sorry for? It’s an old porch with rotten wood, and you weren’t even near me when it happened.” The voice sounded fairly good-natured, which meant the guy was unaware I and my lame-ass magick had been the cause of his fall.
“Are you sure you’re okay? What can I do?” I asked.
“I’m fine, a couple of scrapes is all. But maybe, if you could lie on your stomach and sort of shimmy closer, then grab my hands and pull, I can stand on some of these boards down here and between the two of us I can get out without causing any more stuff to cave in on me.”
“Okay…I’ll try.” I wasn’t the strongest guy ever—mostly I was lanky on the verge of being thin—but I did haul boxes of merchandise for my parents at the store on occasion, and I did lots of walking for my job, which kept me moderately in shape, so I figured I should be able to keep a grip on whoever was down there and help get him out.
I did as he asked and sort of commando crawled on my belly until my fingertips were at the edge of the hole. The boards groaned under me and I wasn’t convinced they weren’t going to give way and dump me into the rubble, too, but geez, I had to try. This was my fault, after all.
As I eased closer and my head cleared the edge of the hole, all I could see was the light of the smartphone glaring in my eyes, blinding me. “Gah!” I squinted and turned my head to the side.
As I did, I heard a surprised, husky voice say, “Emrys?”
Say what? This was somebody I knew? I wasn’t sure if that was good thing or a bad thing.
“Oh, sorry.” The light turned away from me and shone instead onto the face of the person in the hole. It took a second for my brain and eyes to adjust, and then…
“Holy…shit,” I whispered, staring. “You… I…” Somehow, stringing semi-intelligent words together just wasn’t happening for me as I realized who, once again, I’d cursed with my useless, shitty magick.
“It’s David,” my long-lusted-after golden god said. “David Jennings.”
“I…I know who you are,” I murmured, stuck somewhere between tongue-tied and numb with shock.
And then he smiled at me and something inside my head exploded—all I could see was golden light, as bright as sunshine, searing through me in a sort of painful but giddy way.
“I know who you are, too,” he said softly, still smiling, and there was something warm in his gaze that made my stomach do a slow, quivering somersault. But, no, I knew I wasn’t reading it right. I was seeing what I hoped, dreamed of…a fantasy. Not reality. Earth to Emrys. Come back to the real world now.
His smile grew kind of lopsided and, if possible, even more sweet and sexy. “You want to grab my hands,” he said.
“Um…yeah. Yeah.” I shook my head to clear out the fuzzy, dreamy, sunshiny cobwebs.
“I’m going to need both hands to get out of here, so I’m going turn my phone off and stick it back in my pocket, which is gonna leave us in the dark again. But hopefully we can do this by feel.”
By feel? I almost groaned since that conjured up totally inappropriate pictures of things I probably shouldn’t be thinking about.
Stop! my inner nag scolded. He’s out of your league, not to mention straight, just like always. Remember? You do remember that, right?
Wow, that put an instant damper on my giddiness like nothing else could have.
But when David reached up and grabbed my hands, locking his fingers around my wrists, a new jolt of longing shot through me. His hands were warm and strong and…
Don’t go there, dummy! Concentrate.
See, this is what being around him always did to me. It’s why I’d done my best to stay away from him. My mind would start spinning, my body would start wanting, and then, whammo, trouble struck.
Just like clockwork, as if I’d willed it to happen (Crap, maybe I did, just by thinking it—it certainly wouldn’t be the first time, and I did maybe feel a slight tingle of magick in my body.) the moment he said, “Ready, pull!” and started trying to push himself up while I pulled back, the porch underneath me gave way. There was nothing graceful or gradual about it either. One second I was on the porch, the next, in a crash of broken wood, whump! I bellyflopped into the hole and landed hard. Hard enough it knocked the breath out of me and, for a few seconds, all I could think about was getting air into my lungs and nothing else mattered.
But then I felt a pair of hands smoothing up and down my back, and an urgent voice near my ear saying, “Emrys? Are you okay?”
I was still sucking for air and couldn’t answer. Agh, Goddess it hurt, and I was starting to get a little panicky. Finally, though, finally I managed to get a full breath in and it felt like heaven. Then a second breath, even more heaven.
When I thought I might actually survive, I lifted my head and blinked and…
“Ahh…um…” I stammered. Again I couldn’t get any words to fit together and was left making unintelligible noises.
“God, are you okay?” David’s voice in the damp, earthy darkness sounded even more concerned now. “Can you talk? Please tell me you’re okay!” He actually sounded a little desperate.
“I…ah…guh… Uh-huh…” I finally managed. How did I tell him my lack of speech wasn’t so much to do with the breath being knocked out of me anymore as it was the fact I had fallen directly on top of him. He lay on his back and I…holy crap. I lay stretched out like a lump on top of him, chest to chest, and, uh, yeah, everything else. We were both wearing shorts, I discovered, because I felt bare, hairy skin against the lower part of my thighs and calves. And the heat…and the… Whoa. Did he…? Was that…?
“Emrys, talk to me. Say something. Please.” He patted my head as if searching for my face, and in the process eased the hood off my head. His voice had the faintest quaver to it. He was truly worried about me. Wow.
“What is it?” he encouraged. One of his hands moved to cup my cheek, and it felt…again, the only word I could come up with was wow!
“Um…” I dragged in another deep breath. Finally, haltingly, I said the only thing that came to my addled brain. “Ooops.”
It was dead quiet for several heartbeats. And then, I felt his chest begin to shake, and a second after that, his warm, relieved laughter tumbled out around me.
“Ooops?” he said. “I’m worried you’re really hurt and all you can say is, ‘Ooops?’”
By this time I was smiling too. Couldn’t help myself. “Yeah, well…” I was still little bit short of breath, not to mention totally dazed by the fact I was lying on top of David Jennings. “I guess what I probably should say is, sorry I ruined the escape plan?”
He groaned. “I was a little more worried you’d skewered yourself on a piece of wood or something than about the plan.”
“Okay, well…er…I’m also sorry I crashed on top of you. This…this can’t be comfortable for you. Did I hurt you?”
He grew quiet again, really quiet, but I felt his breath, warm and faintly beer scented, against my face. He shifted ever-so-slightly beneath me and, oh man, no, I hadn’t imagined that hard press against my groin earlier. I felt like I’d been knocked breathless all over again, but for a very different reason this time.
“I’m not hurt. And would it be totally wrong of me to say I’m not sorry you fell on me, and I’m more comfortable than you might guess?” His voice had gone all husky again, and the hard ridge pressing into my groin seemed to grow even firmer.
“You…wha…” I found myself speechless once more. This wasn’t possible. Couldn’t, under any circumstances, be possible. I was dreaming this. I was not lying on top of the guy I’d been having wet dreams about since that blustery October night when I’d first seen him, the guy I was certain was straight and totally unaware of my existence, and he wasn’t sporting an erection against my own quickly burgeoning one, and he surely wasn’t telling me he was glad I’d fallen on top of him. No, couldn’t be.
“Emrys?” I heard uncertainly in his tone now, and for some reason that rattled me.
What was he uncertain about? That he’d told me too much? That I might not like what he’d said? That I might not want him? Okay, that last thought kind of shocked me, but was that what he was getting at? If so, wow, I hadn’t seen that coming either. This golden god might actually want me and was afraid I didn’t want him back? What world was this? ’Cause it certainly wasn’t the one I’d been living in before now, where he was the confident, untouchable hunk and I was the guy with the hopeless nerd crush, watching him from a distance.
“I should let you up…” he said, his hold on me loosening.
Oh, crap, had I just shouted that? Smooth. Real smooth, Emrys.
He froze, and I swear I could feel him staring at me. I could feel a bunch of other things, too. It was dark as pitch down here in the rubble under the porch. I couldn’t see anything, but I could definitely feel. The way his arms stopped their movement away from me and slowly came back to wrap around my waist. All that hard length of athletic body beneath me. The rising and falling of his chest. And the bulge of his boner pressed against mine and how good it felt when I shifted a little, creating a miniature jolt of friction that made us both catch our breath. Oh, I could feel it all. And I didn’t want to stop feeling it. Ever.
“Um…sorry, that shout was…awkward,” I mumbled. “What I meant to say, in a more reasonable tone, was…no, I…I don’t really want you to let me get up.”
Could that possibly have sounded any more lame? Gah! I felt my face burning and was glad he couldn’t see it. “What I mean is…well…I…I’m just kind of… I thought you were… I’m… You… Oh geez, just shoot me now,” I moaned. “I sound like a total moron.”
“No, you don’t.” I could hear a smile, maybe even a hint of a laugh, in his voice now instead of the earlier uncertainty. “I’m pretty sure I get where you’re going.” This time he was the one who shifted just a little, causing another shimmer of “oh hell yeah!” down south.
“So, I should probably stop babbling and just shut up then,” I mumbled breathlessly, feeling all hot and clenchy in my chest and low in my belly.
“Yeah.” His voice was husky and sexy and…wow, really close now. Oh man, I felt his warm breath against my lips. Was he…
“Are you gonna…?”
“Oh yeah,” he whispered. And then he kissed me.