Unless you’ve been in a turtle shell for the past little while, you know I’ve been reissuing some of my out of print books in digital form. Others have too, and we’ve formed a little group at http://www.backlistebooks.com. Spreading the word is sometimes more difficult…okay, it’s lots more difficult to do independently without the huge publicity machines of the Big Six publishing houses, but we try new things, explore new avenues to let readers know we are out there and we are trying to let them know our backlist books, many of them award winning, are available again.
So we’re going to try Sample Sundays, giving readers a peek into what other authors at BacklistEbooks have to offer.
First up, is Lori Devoti with an excerpt is from Love is All Around, a contemporary romance set in the Missouri Ozarks. Lori worked for three different newspapers in two different states before deciding to stay home with her children and begin writing fiction. Author of urban fantasy, contemporary romance and paranormal romance, Lori has been a finalist for many awards including the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award. She lives near Madison, Wisconsin with her husband and children as well as two dogs.
A peek at Love is All Around
“It’s not polite to sneak up on people.” Patsy’s head came even with his chest. For a second Will thought she was going to retreat, he was definitely in her space, but she cocked her head to the side and looked up at him.
“Didn’t your momma teach you any manners?” she asked. He could almost hear her heels digging into the soft dirt.
What was she thinking? Was she afraid of him? She, or at least his reaction to her, was beginning to scare him a little, and, aside from the sly remark after lunch, she hadn’t mentioned their accident. Even when Dwayne asked why they were late, she’d covered for him. Why?
Remembering his resolve to play it cool, he replied. “Oh, but it is polite to taunt people into falling on their ass in ice-cold water?” Will shook his head, letting water drops fly like she had earlier on the log.
“Hey, watch it.” Patsy jumped back a foot to escape the spray.
“Are you afraid of a little water?” Two could play at this game.
“If I am, I picked the wrong canoe partner today, didn’t I?” She stared him in the eye.
Will flushed; here it came. He knew she wouldn’t be able to resist for long. “About that…thanks.”
“For what? Not like I jumped in and saved you.”
No teasing, no taunts? “And you didn’t tell the others either. You could have.”
“And listen to Dwayne go on? Why would I put myself through that?” She rubbed her hands up and down her arms. The gesture forced her breasts together, making the small mounds visible above her bikini top. A bead of water rolled down tan skin into the crevice between her breasts. His gaze followed it, wishing he could trace its path with his lips.
“I like the other idea too.” Longing for another drop of water to roll down her chest, he grasped a lock of her hair, twisting it around his finger.
“What idea?” Her gaze flitted to his chest, then up to his mouth.
“You saving me.” Her hair was soft and strong. He could feel her breathing, the cool cloth of her bikini top brushing against his chest when she inhaled. He wanted to wrap her hair tighter around his finger, pull her closer until no space remained between them.
“Do you know mouth-to-mouth, Patsy Lee?” He grinned, hoping to give the question a light note.
“Patsy. It’s Patsy now. I quit going by Patsy Lee when I was in the first grade.” She looked annoyed and he could feel her withdraw.
Over the name?
He dropped his hand to his side. Fine. He wasn’t going to make a fool of himself. “Is that so? Dwayne still calls you Patsy Lee.”
“Yeah, well, I call him a donkey’s patootie too, but I haven’t noticed him sprouting a tail.” She glanced around, the moment broken.
It was the name. Only the name. Wanting to regain the intimacy, Will reached for her hair. He tucked a strand behind each of her ears, then traced the now visible skin with his thumbs.
“Okay, Patsy, do you know mouth-to-mouth?” This time, he didn’t bother with the grin.
“I know a lot of things.” She caught her lower lip between her teeth. Her eyes glimmered.
She did look afraid. Of him? He should be polite–back off. He should, but he couldn’t. He wound the pale strand tighter around his finger and lightly ran his other hand up the back of her arm. She shivered and he wanted to pull her close, keep her warm, safe. He was sailing dangerous waters, without a life preserver or that elusive mast on which to secure himself.
“Anything you’d like to share?” he asked.
“I got the feeling last night you didn’t want my help,” she murmured.
He tugged slightly on her hair and she fell against him. “That was different.” Will lowered his head, his lips grazing hers.
She shivered. Was she cold? Will wasn’t. Even fresh from his second plunge into the river, he was hot. Another minute and steam would be rising from his damp shorts. That, and something else. Get closer, something deep in his brain urged.
Patsy’s fingernails scratched against his chest, luring him, encouraging him. Focused on her parted lips, he bent forward. His lips caught hers.
She tasted sweet with a hint of spice, like the cookies they’d shared. He slipped his tongue into her mouth, urging her lips further apart. She hesitated for a second, then met his tongue with her own. Her nails scraped up his chest as her hands made their way around his neck. As she tugged on his neck, he reached behind her, cupping her butt.
He paused for a minute, feeling the elastic of her bikini bottom through her shorts, remembering that white V of skin. He willed her to move her body upward. The smooth skin of one thigh edged up past his swim trunks toward his waist. Moving his fingers from the temptation of her buttocks, he ran his palm down her thigh, following the line of her hamstring. When his hand reached the underside of her knee, he prepared to pull her up, to wrap her legs around him.
“Patsalee, where the hell are you?” Dwayne bellowed from the other side of the rock path. “Beer’s running low and the creek’s running high. Time to get moving.”
“Damn it,” Patsy muttered. She attempted to jump away just as Dwayne clomped into view. Still in a haze, Will kept her firmly hidden in his arms.
“There you all are. What’s going on?” Dwayne eyed the pair. His gaze lingered on Will’s hands, which again cupped Patsy’s backside.
“Nothing. We’re doing nothing.” Patsy shoved Will’s arms down and stumbled toward the stones.
Will bit down a curse. He wanted to grab her and yank her back, but Dwayne still stood on the other side of the stone path, grinning like an idiot. “Hell.” Ignoring the rocks, Will stalked toward him through the fast-flowing, frigid water.
Apparently unaffected by Will’s glower, Dwayne greeted him, “Guess this means you don’t mind if I give Jessica a little rub-a-dub-dub, huh?”
Patsy rolled her eyes, and Dwayne turned his attention back to her.
“You’re just lucky Randy seems to have lit onto Ruthann, Sis. Or I’d be on you like a fat kid on a Twinkie.” Dwayne wiggled his index finger at Patsy. “As it is, with this opening the door for me with Jessica and all, I’m willing to let your indiscretion go on by.”
Was there something between Patsy and Randy? That was an irritating thought. Will narrowed his eyes and evaluated her reaction.
“You’re full of it. There was no ‘indiscretion.’ You’re just inventing things in your minuscule mind.” Patsy glared at her brother.
“Sure I am, and you must’ve taken a belly flop into the river when I wasn’t looking too. ‘Course, even then, I’d have thought the back of your shorts would’ve got just as wet as the front.”
Will glanced at her recently dried shorts where the wet imprint of his thighs was now obvious. He smiled. Nothing like proof positive. For some reason, he was annoyed she was denying their “indiscretion,” and the fact that Dwayne had noticed the damp evidence of their encounter pleased him. He crossed his arms over his chest and watched Patsy. It would be interesting to see how she explained that. If Dwayne had been two minutes later, she would have had a lot more to explain. Or, if you were talking clothing, a lot less.
She turned as if to deliver an angry retort, but stopped short when Randy, Ruthann, and Jessica appeared, peering at them from behind a bush.
Patsy stomped past them, leaving an amused and frustrated Will behind.